Sunday, December 2, 2012


William Borden was from the wealthy Borden family.  For his eighteen birthday he was given a trip around the world.  That trip changed his life.   There is a tragic story in the book about a Hindu woman in India, whom William Borden came across in his travels.  Having means of her own, she had visited all the most important temples in India to try to escape the burden of sin.  She carried awful guilt over her husband’s death at a young age, when she was only a child of thirteen.  She attributed it to some wickedness on her part in a previous life.  To atone for this unknown sin and to obtain relief for heart and conscience she spend seven long years traveling on foot from shrine to shrine, facing untold hardship and danger; but the burden grew only heavier as time went on.

She then determined to become a fakir (a Hindu ascetic). Deciding that she had not suffered enough, she gave three years to self-inflicted torture, honoring the formulas in the sacred books for pleasing the gods.  She carried out her plan, though the sufferings she endured seemed incredible.

For one period of six months she sat without shelter in the sun all day with five fires burning around her, perspiration streaming from every pore.  Even wealthy men brought wood and kept the fires burning as an act of merit.  With no clothing but a loin-cloth, her body smeared with ashes, and her long hair dubbed with cow-dung, she was an object of veneration to the pilgrims, many of whom worshiped her as they fed the fires.  At night she took her place in the temple, standing before the idol on one foot from midnight until daylight, her hands pressed together in the attitude of prayer, imploring the god to reveal himself to her.

Then, to increase her sufferings, when the cold season came with chilly nights, she went down at dark to the sacred pond and sat with water up to her neck, counting her beads hour after hour till dawn appeared.  And so she called upon Ram day and night with no response.

“If thou art God,” she used to plead, “reveal thyself to me.  Reach forth and take the offering I bring.  Let me see, hear, or feel something by which I may know that I have pleased thee, and that my sin is pardoned”--but there was no sign, no rest, no peace.

When the years of her long struggles were finished, she went to Calcutta, cut off her once-beautiful hair, and threw it into the Ganges as an offering, exclaiming, “There--I have done and suffered all that can be required of mortal man, yet without avail!”

She lost her faith in the idols and ceased to worship them.  “There is nothing in Hinduism,” was the conclusion forced upon her, “or I would have found it.”

There is no record of what became of her, but the experience was a part of what God used to change William Borden’s life.  He returned home with the desire to become a missionary.  He went off to Yale and as a student gave himself to sharing the gospel with his fellow students.  He formed Bible studies, started prayer meetings, and shared the gospel with the homeless and in the rescue missions.  He gave himself to the preaching of the gospel.  Why?  Because the gospel, the good news of salvation through faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, provides the sole means of cleansing from sins.  The person who is born-again through faith in Christ is forgiven, transformed, and given assurance of a future home in heaven.

Monday, November 26, 2012


A man came to visit me one day some months ago.  He shared with me about his past.  He told me that he was a disabled veteran and that he was homeless.  Life’s wanderings had brought him back to his home town.  He wasn’t sure where God was leading him, but expressed to me his desire to head in that direction wherever it might take him.  A believer in Christ, he asked some questions about the beliefs of our church.  He had been disappointed by the shallowness that was his experience in a previous situation.  We engaged in some great conversation about theological matters and personal concerns pertaining to his difficult circumstances.  He promised to visit the church.  He kept his promise and started to attend.  “How would our church respond?” I wondered, though deep down I had little doubt.  Spirit-led people know what to do.

I thought of a previous event in our church’s history that shaped the direction of our church for many years to come.  Years ago, in the early 70s, some teens from the church went out knocking on doors in a local community.  They happened upon a house where, unbeknownst to them, there was a drinking party going on.  The man at the door invited them in, but only to make fun of them in their endeavor.  They spoke of Jesus and invited him to church.  He gave no indication that he would.  They returned to the church and asked for prayer for the man.  Surprisingly, he decided to visit, but his intentions were not good.  He wore the dirtiest and smelliest clothes that he could find.  He drove his pickup truck and brought his dog along, knowing that the dog in the back of his pickup would bark incessantly throughout the service.  His plan was to prove the young people wrong.  They (God) would show no interest in him.  Surely, they would refuse him at the door and send him on his way.  But that’s not what happened.  The people warmly greeted him.  At the end of the service he saw a stern looking older man approaching.  Undoubtedly that man would respond as he had assumed.  But instead he approached and said to our friend, “So glad that you are visiting us today, this is exactly where you need to be!”  You know what happened?  He came back.  What’s even more exciting is that he kept coming.  He heard the gospel.  He was saved.  He started sharing the gospel with others.  His brother was saved.  He prayed for me.  I was saved.  He wanted to be a missionary, but God led him to be a pastor.  He’s served faithfully in ministry ever since.  That man is my uncle Bob and that’s what happened when he visited LCBC.

Our more recent homeless friend was warmly greeted as well.  He was invited over to homes and for meals by various members of our congregation.  Members of the church famiy offered assistance for gasoline and food supplies.  One family invited him along on family outings.  He began to attend various church functions including the men’s Bible study.  He built relationships within the church.  One of the elders reached out to him and offered him a place to stay in his home.  He lived there for several months.  A plan was in place to replace our church sign.  He did most of the carpentry work.  All this time our friend has been looking for work.  Jobs are hard to come by in this area.  He had one for a little while, but medical problems forced him to quit. 

I got an email from our friend today.  He had long been praying about what God would have him to do.  The prospect of a job, in the Lord’s leading, has taken him to the Tacoma area.  He emailed me to thank me (and us) for the ministry of our church.  He was especially thankful for the “men in the Saturday Men’s study.”  He earnestly desires to serve the Lord and is very glad for the spiritual benefit and physical assistance he received from the Lord through the ministry of our church family.

I’m so glad—I praise God—that I can write of such a thing.  What is supposed to happen if a person in need visits a church?  I’d like to think that God’s love would be expressed to them by God’s people.  Sometimes we might doubt whether that can truly happen.  It does happen—praise the Lord—and when it does it reminds us of the greater love from which all true Christian love flows—the love of Christ!

Pastor Jerry


Charles Spurgeon, “To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one”? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, “Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless… Unite, unite!” Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord’s prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel."

Friday, November 16, 2012


1 John 1:2, “And we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”

That a man named Jesus once lived is an undeniable truth. Secular historians spoke of Him. Even the numbering of years on our calendars testifies to the reality of His existence. The question is: “Who was (is) He?” (Cf. 1 John 4:2; Matt. 16:15). A corresponding question is equally important: “Why did He come?”

The Apostle John wrote his first epistle in part to refute some heretical teaching. False teachers were distorting the truth concerning Christ’s person and work. They claimed to have an exclusive understanding of the truth. They believed in Jesus, but denied that He had actually come in the flesh (1 John 2:22, 4:2). They likewise denied the reality of His sufferings. These heresies reflected perversions of the gospel that undermined the spiritual health of the church.

The Apostle John was an eyewitness of Jesus. He saw Him, heard Him, and touched Him (1 John 1:1). What did he see, hear, and feel? John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John saw Jesus. He saw Him as He truly was (and is), the Divine Son of God who came in human flesh (Cf. 1 John 4:2). The Christmas we will soon celebrate is a celebration of these very truths. “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me.”

A common theme runs through both John’s gospel and epistles. That theme is “life.” In seeing, hearing, and touching Jesus, John was a witness to life, specifically “eternal life.” We…”proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:2). Jesus = “eternal life.” Amongst the many definitions provided by Webster’s dictionary for life, you will find this: “spiritual existence transcending physical death.” As a song says, “There is more to this life than living and dying.” This is true. True life is bound up in Jesus--eternal life, meaningful life, abundant life, satisfying life, the life we were created to experience in fellowship with God. John repeatedly testified to this:

• John 1:4, “In Him was life.”
• John 5:26, “He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.”
• John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.” (The terms “life” or “living” are used some 18 times in this chapter).
• John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”
• John 10:10, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
• John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
• John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
• John 17:3, “And this eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
• John 20:30-31, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed…but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
• 1 John 5:11-12, “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

The Apostle John was an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He devoted his life to proclaiming the truth that he himself had witnessed. He willingly suffered persecution to defend and proclaim these truths (Rev. 1:9). He yearned for others to experience the true life that is bound up in Jesus. He testifies to us this day through God’s inspired and inerrant word that eternal life is found in Him. He who died on the cross and rose from the dead is able to impart life to sin-dead souls (Cf. Eph. 2:1). That very same Jesus who called a rotting Lazarus from the grave, is able this very day to revive any man and bring him into an eternal fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3). Life is in the Son. Do you have the Son? If so, you have the life—it is yours by His gracious provision! If not, don’t delay in calling on Him. He came that you might have life (John 10:10).

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Heb. 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, a heavenly one.”

2 Peter 3:13, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

According to a recent news story the White House petition website has been flooded by a series of secession requests from over 20 states.  Thousands of our fellow citizens have expressed a desire for their state to secede from the union.  Frustrated by the direction of things, they see no other alternative.

The longing for a “better place” is a part of our human makeup.  Deep in the recesses of our collective thinking lay “clouded-over” memories of a sinless paradise.  Adam and Eve sinned and that paradise was lost (Gen. 3:1f).

Sin has been our unwelcome guest ever since our forebears made that foolhardy decision to do that which God said no to.  A curse was pronounced and all of history bears testimony to the tragic reality of its fulfillment (Gen. 3:17-19).  There is no place on planet earth that is not infected by sin’s influence.  “The whole creation groans” under the weight of it (Rom. 8:8:22).

Surely there must be some better place, some safer place, some healthy and happy place—“where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.”  Our hearts yearn for such a place.  “We (ourselves) groan,” longing for a better existence devoid of troubles and trials and fears (2 Cor. 5:4).

The travel section of the Sunday paper includes stories about great places to visit.  Advertisements for destinations and resorts and beautiful locations promise happier places devoid of trouble.  Experience reminds us that there is, in fact, no paradise on earth.  We have it in our minds that perhaps we could escape to some deserted and trouble-free island.  But no matter where you go, there you are, and wherever you are, sin goes with you.

As it is with this planet so it is with people.  Though “one man sin entered the world, and death spread through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).  By God’s influence men and societies have experienced varying degrees of righteousness, but there has never been a man without sin—save One.

Jesus Christ was without sin. Sin had no part in Him.  He was and is perfectly righteous in every respect.  He never thought a sinful thought, never did a sinful deed, and never uttered a sinful word.  He was tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:25).  He was a perfect man.  The answer to our longing for a “better place” must start with Him.

The frustrations that we experience in life are all rooted in sin--our sins and the sins of others.  Sin darkens everything on this planet, and man has no solution for it.  Jesus does.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).  The sinless one was made to be sin--our sin was imputed to Him on the cross--that we might be saved from sin (2 Cor. 5:21).  He works in the life of those who trust in Him to save them to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).  He forgives, transforms, and delivers them safely home (2 Tim. 4:18).

A foretaste of a place “where righteousness dwells” is the experience of every Spirit-indwelt believer. In Christ, he possesses perfect “positional” righteousness.  By the Spirit we experience His presence and by His power a transforming work goes on.  No perfection can be obtained--this side of heaven—but the Spirit relentlessly and patiently works towards this end.  Growth in Christ only works to fan the flames of desire for release from that which holds us back (2 Cor. 5:4).  The “desire to depart and be with Christ (which is)…very much better” (Phil. 1:23) is rooted in a desire to be released from sin and transformed “into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21).

Heaven is a wonderful place, in part because there will be no sin there.  It is hard for us to imagine such a place--having been bathed in a sin-filled experience from our births.  In many respects the Bible is like a travel brochure.  It reminds us of the short-comings that are a part of our present location (by way of sin), and draws our attention to a place to a place in “which righteousness dwells.”  There is only one who can arrange our travel arrangements (John 14:6).  He not only works to get us there, He Himself is what makes our destination exceedingly attractive.  Righteousness dwells wherever He reigns, wherever the “Sun of Righteousness” shines (Mal. 4:2).

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


2 Peter 2:9, “Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.”

A few weeks ago Hurricane Sandy brought massive destruction to the northeast coast of the United States.  Over 100 people died.  Damage estimates exceed $50 billion dollars (damage plus costs due to lost business).  Its fierce winds led to massive power outages and coastline destruction.  Some incredible stories have come out of the storm.  During the storm, in the middle of the night, over 100 homes in Queens, NY burned to the ground.  Amazingly courageous rescue workers were able to evacuate every single person from those homes.

A much greater storm is brewing.  The storm clouds are on the horizon.  No human power will stand in its way or avoid its destructive path.  Most are living their lives unaware of its approach, making no preparations for its landfall.  It will come “as a thief” and lead to widespread and eternal loss of life.  Peter had much to say regarding this pending “storm” in his second epistle:

  • God has judged sin before and He will do so again (2 Pet. 2:4-9; 3:7).
  • God’s judgment will assuredly come, though there be those who think and behave as if it won’t (2 Pet. 3:3-7).
  •  God is patiently delaying His judgment “not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
  • But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief (2 Pet. 3:10).
  • The earth and its works will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10; Cf. 1 John 2:17).
  • We, as believers, are to “fix (our) hope completely on the grace to brought to (us) at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13; Cf. Tit. 2:13; 2 Tim. 4:8; Phil. 3:19-10).
  • The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Pet. 2:9; the church will be “raptured” into His presence before the tribulation; Cf. 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 4:13-18).
  • We are “looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).
  •  Eagerly anticipating His return, we are to be people characterized “by holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).
  • We are to do our part in making the gospel known to others (2 Pet. 3:9; Cf. 2 Tim. 2:1-4).

Our hope (confident expectation) does not ultimately lie in a better world or improved political environment.  God has not promised us such things, but God has promised other things of infinitely greater value.  2 Thess. 1:8-10 summarizes what will be the ultimate destiny of each and every person.  There are only two possibilities:

1.       Those who “do not know God (who have refused to obey the gospel) will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
2.       “He will be glorified in His saints (those who have believed) on that day” (2 Thess. 1:10a).  We will marvel (be amazed, filled with wonder, be astonished) at Him (2 Thess. 1:10b).

Most survived Hurricane Sandy, few perished.  In the coming judgment it will be the other way around.  1 John 5:11-12, “And the witness is this, that God has given us, eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”  Do you have the Son?  Are you born again?    Make no mistake, a Judgment Day is coming!  Have you trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9)?  If so, are you eagerly anticipating and living for Christ’s return (Phil. 3:20)!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


2 Peter 1:13, “And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.”

This past Sunday we celebrated Veteran’s Day at church.  We had our Veteran’s from all the branches of the Armed Forces come to the front of the church so we could recognize them.  Recognizing our Veteran’s is important lest we forget their sacrifices made in ensuring our freedom. 

There is One who has intervened in our lives to grant to us an even greater freedom.  Peter wrote to those believers that he might “stir (them) up by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1:13).  What did he want to remind them of?  The work of Christ through which they had received “purification from (their) former sins” (2 Pet. 1:8).  Through Christ’s work on the cross the believer has been saved from sin—it’s penalty, it’s power--and one day--it’s very presence.  His work on the cross, through which we’ve been saved, is the One Thing we dare not forget. 

Peter’s concern was that these believers would be“applying all diligence” (2 Pet. 1:5) to their growth in Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-7).  To do otherwise would render one “blind and short-sighted” (2 Pet. 1:9) to the very purpose for which Christ died.  His work on the cross was to save us from sin in every respect.  This salvation, rooted in His cross work, represents an escape from “the corruption that is in the world by lust” in order that we might “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).

It is good to be reminded of what Christ has done for us!  We need to ongoingly think about it, sing about it, and confidently speak to others about it.  We regularly celebrate communion “in remembrance” of Him for this very purpose.  The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, recognized this tendency we have to forget: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2:8). 

Have you forgotten that day when you first trusted in Jesus?  Have you forgotten how the burden of sin’s guilt was lifted from your soul?  Have you forgotten how that Spirit-imparted joy filled your heart?  These things were but “first-fruits” of the work that God began in you.  Peter wanted to “stir them up by way of reminder” of these things.  These matters are of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). An elderly John Newton (that ex-slave trader turned pastor; and writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace”) was quoted as saying “my memory is nearly gone, but these two things I remember: that I am a great sinner and Christ is a Great Savior!”  God tie a yellow ribbon as a “forget-me-not” around my heart lest I fail to remember the One Thing I dare not forget! 

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

Pastor Jerry

Monday, November 12, 2012


1 Peter 5:7, “He cares for you.”

Life is filled with troubles of various kinds.  Personal sins, past regrets, future fears, and other matters work to steal away our peace and joy.  And sometimes we think—“This is hard, does anybody care?”  It’s good to have someone who cares.  I’m so thankful for a loving wife and family and friends who care about me.  They are a true blessing from God.  But above all else I’m thankful for Jesus.

The fact that He cares for me is an amazing thing in itself.  I am so undeserving.  Yet He “loved Me and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).  He knows all about me—my sin failures, mistakes, inadequacies, immaturity, etc.-- yet He has loved me and loves me still.  His loving concern is beyond measure and my capacity to comprehend (Ephesians 3:19).  He cares.

He knows what I’m going through—He “knows all about my struggles.”  No matter the temptation or trial Jesus is able to sympathize with my weakness.  There is nothing in this life that I will confront that He didn’t triumph over (Hebrews 4:15).  He is intimately aware of the struggles that I am facing.  And able to intervene on my behalf.  He cares. 

Jesus is the best friend any of us will ever have.  He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  He stands by us when no one else can or will (2 Timothy 4:16-17).  He is at work in our lives to complete the work that He started in us (Philippians 1:6).  He can even cause my troubles and trials to work together to accomplish His perfect plan for Me (Romans 8:28).  One day by His power he will transform  the body of my humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Philippians 3:21).  He cares.

1 Peter 5:7 exhorts us to bring our cares to Him.  What an invitation!  We bring our requests, not to a reluctant and overburdened stranger, but to a loving and powerful friend.  He has proven that He cares inasmuch as He died for you and me.  You’ve got some concerns this very day.  He’s extended an open invitation to you.  “Bring them to Me,” He says, “Let me deal with them.  I care!”

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Nehemiah 8:3, “And all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”
Spiritual apostasy is always preceded and accompanied by a disinterest and disregard for God’s Word.  This is especially evident in the history of OT Israel.  And nowhere is this more graphically demonstrated than in an episode that took place in King Josiah’s reign.  God’s people somehow lost “the law of the Lord given by Moses” (2 Chronicles 34:14).  That law, through which God promised to impart to His people “life and prosperity” (Deuteronomy 30:15), was somehow misplaced.  It sat displaced and neglected in the temple.  No yearning for it was expressed.  No search for it was undertaken.  The spiritual apostasy into idolatry and disobedience was accompanied by a complete disregard for God’s ordinances.  The law remained lost until Hilkiah the High Priest found it.  He had been instructed to go to the house of the Lord, not to look for the law of the Lord, but to gather some money (Cf. 2 Chronicles 34:14-20).  It was then that he found the book.  He gave it to Shaphan.  Shaphan took it to the King.  “Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, ‘Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.’  And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king” (2 Chronicles 34:18).  Josiah “heard the words of the law and…tore his clothes.” He commanded his servants to inquire of the Lord “concerning the words of the book” (2 Chronicles 34:21).  Josiah initiated reforms (2 Chronicles 34:22-33), but they ultimately did not stem the tide of the growing apostasy and eventual judgment of God’s people.
Spiritual revival is always accompanied by a sincere love and devotion to God’s Word (Cf. Psalm 19:7a).  Ezra “was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6).  He was the author of 1st and 2nd Chronicles and knew all about the troubles that had led to Israel’s expulsion from the land.  He wrote about the evil kings and the idolatry of the people.  He was well versed in both the cause and consequences of Israel’s spiritual apostasy.  “The hand of the Lord…was upon” Ezra (Ezra 7:6).  He “set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).  He organized a return of a remnant to Jerusalem and God brought the people safely through that arduous and dangerous journey (Ezra 8:31).  Temple reconstruction occupied the days of God’s remnant in Jerusalem.  It was not until many years later that Ezra was given the opportunity to widely declare that which he himself had devoted his life to.  But then that day came.  Ezra stood on a platform with six men on either side.  All the “men, women, and those who could understand” (Nehemiah 8:3) were gathered there.  Ezra “read from it (the law)…from early morning (dawn) until midday” (Nehemiah 8:3).  The Levites explained the law to the people, “translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:7-8).  Most notable in the account is the response of the people.  They “were attentive to the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:3).  They wept with conviction when they first understood (Nehemiah 8:9).  They later rejoiced because they had been enabled to understand (Nehemiah 8:12).  Ezra taught the leaders (Nehemiah 8:13).  They responded to the law in obedience (Nehemiah 8:14-18).  They devoted themselves to the daily reading of the Word (Nehemiah 9:3).
These two instances speak to an important spiritual reality.  Neglect of God’s Word contributes to spiritual apostasy; devotion to God’s Word accompanies spiritual revival.  We live in the day, foretold of by the Apostle Paul, when “they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3).  The text refers not to the condition of the unchurched, to whom sound doctrine is wholly irrelevant, but to the professing church.  In its apostasy a component of the professing church will have no appetite for the sound (healthy) teaching of God’s Word.  The day in which we live is a day of growing spiritual apostasy characterized by increasing spiritual immorality despite its religiosity (2 Timothy 3:1-4 and 3:5).  Paul’s admonition to Timothy, in the midst of such an environment was to “to continue in the things which you have learned” (2 Timothy 3:14; i.e. “the sacred writings”, 2 Timothy 3:15).  In other words—pay attention to the book!
The Apostle Peter wrote to believers who were suffering persecution.  His advice to them has great relevance to every NT believer.  The rise of secularism in our society has borne the ugly fruit of new expressions of immorality and its accompanying downward spiral into the abyss of God’s judgment.  The professing church lacks discernment and readily compromises to maintain its supposed “relevance.”  In these dark days Peter’s exhortation bears great importance: “And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart” (2 Peter 1:19). 
Pay attention to The Book.  OT Israel didn’t and suffered the consequences.  The returning remnant did and it led to revival.  The professing church of our day isn’t and the consequences are obvious.  You can pay attention to it and as you do it will be to you as a “lamp shining in a dark place” leading you onward in your walk with Christ until the need for a lamp is extinguished in the glorious manifestation of His presence. 
Pay attention to The Book—hear it (Cf. Romans 10:17); read it (Cf. Revelation 1:3); study it (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:15); memorize it (Cf. Psalm 119:11); meditate upon it (Cf. Psalm 1:3); and practice it (Cf. James 1:22).  Let His word richly dwell within you (Cf. Colossians 3:16) that it might do its transforming and equipping work preparing you for His soon return.
Pastor Jerry

Sunday, October 14, 2012


CHARLES SPURGEON on the nature of God’s saving work: “Every good thing that is in a Christian, not merely begins, but progresses and is consummated by the fostering Grace of God through Jesus Christ.  If my finger were on the golden latch of Paradise and my foot were on its jasper threshold, I should not take the last step so as to enter Heaven unless the Divine Grace which brought me so far should enable me to fully and fairly complete my pilgrimage.  Salvation is God’s work, not man’s!”

F. B. MEYER on God’s ability to finish that which he starts:“We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvas, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete.”

CHARLES SPURGEON on the relationship of the doctrine of eternity security to the need for diligence of the part of the believer in Christ: “If any of you should be well assured that, in a certain line of business, you would make a vast sum of money, would that confidence lead you to refuse that business, would it lead you to lie in bed all day, or to desert your post altogether?  No, the assurance that you would be diligent and would prosper would make you be diligent…Even so the belief that we shall one day be perfect, never hinders any true believer from diligence, but is the highest possible incentive to make a man struggle with the corruptions of the flesh, and seek to persevere according to God’s promise.”

GEORGE WHITEFIELD on the need to be pliable with respect to what God, the “Master Potter,” is doing in us: “Will you not see reason to pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you, and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily expect many turns of God's providence and grace, before you will be wholly delivered form it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands. He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith. Yet a little while, and we like him shall say "It is finished;" we shall bow down our heads and give up the ghost. Till then, (for to thee, O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in patience to posses our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever the dispensations of thy future will concerning us may be, “Why dost thou deal with us thus?” Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in Thine hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy sight, only let every cross, ever affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping of thy blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of Thy blessed Spirit, we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of glory hereafter, with Thee O Father, Thee O Son, and Thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honor, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all eternity. Amen and Amen.”


I received a mailing the other day, an advertisement, for “invite cards” to be used to invite people “back to God and church.”  The mailing asked this question—in large and bold type—“Why aren’t people going to church?”  It drew attention to an alarming statistic: “Right now, fewer than 20% of people in the United States regularly attend church.”  That’s a startling number, especially considering the fact that ~80% of Americans identify themselves to be “Christian.
Why go to church?  It’s a good question.  Many go out of a sense of obligation.  Parents, friends, or relatives exercise some degree of influence and a person is led to dutifully attend.  That was my situation when I was but an adolescent and my Mom took me and my siblings to the Catholic Church.  I myself had no desire to be there—I would have rather been fishing with my Dad—but I went because she made me.
Some go to church because they believe that going might somehow contribute to their salvation.  They have been led to mistakenly believe that salvation is by being a good person or doing good works.  “Good people go to heaven,” they assume, and going to church is a part of what makes a person a “good person.”  The religious cults operate according to this way of thinking.  But there are many professing Christians who think this way about church attendance as well.  But--as has been said--going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian anymore than going into a garage would make them a car.
In our day many churches have responded to this alarming trend of decreasing church attendance by attempting to make church exciting, cool, and fun.  They cite the need to be culturally relevant.  They cater their music to the lost and endeavor to make church both comfortable and non-demanding.  Christ-less and cross-less “self-help” messages substitute for the teaching of sound doctrine (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:3).  The person and work of Christ are de-emphasized in an attempt to gain a hearing with those who have little interest in such matters (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23).  Because so little attention is given to sound doctrine or edification these churches remain anemic and self-serving.  Rebel sinners are content to attend week after week apart from any conviction of sin.
The classic text on the matter of fellowshipping together is Hebrews 10:25 which reminds us to not be “forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.”  A part of the answer to the question, “Why go to church?” is answered by the context of this verse.  The “assembling together” is for those who have made a “confession of hope” (Hebrews 10:23).  Of what confession is the verse speaking?  The obvious answer is the confession of hope which accompanies one’s faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.  The text is addressed to those who have already trusted in Christ for salvation. 
It has long been said that the church gathers for edification and scatters for evangelism.  This statement represents a Biblical perspective on the ministry of the local church.  The gathering of the believers on Sundays (or any other occasion) is primarily for the purpose of the edification (building up) of the church.  Though the church is commissioned to share the gospel, the primary purpose of the assembling together is not evangelistic.  That’s not to say that it can’t or won’t happen.  It is a good thing when an unsaved person finds his way to the assembly of believers and a great thing if he is saved as a result.  But evangelism happens not as a result of the cultural relevance of the church to the lost, but the God-relevance of the saved (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 which speaks of the convicting influence on the unsaved of God’s presence amidst His people).  The church gathers for edification and scatters for evangelism.  The born-again believers who make up a local church constitute a team of missionaries, ambassadors for Christ, sent out to reach that particular community with the gospel.  Every believer in Christ lives amidst a unique group of family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and/or classmates.  To the extent that the believer is growing and walking with Christ--and his understanding of and ability to share the gospel--he is sovereignly and strategically enabled and equipped to reach people that a church pastor or leaders could never reach.
All that being said--the question remains, “Why go to church?”  The question is not really that difficult to answer.  The worshipping church is appealing to those who have been born-again through faith in Christ--for those who have been loved by Jesus and who love Him in response (1 John 4:19)!  It is His church (Matthew 16:18).  He paid a high price for it and deems it beautiful (Cf. Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-29).  Jesus loves His church—the Spirit-led believer is led to do the same.  The new believer is instinctively driven in love to fellowship with other like-minded believers (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9).  And though it be true that the church is not now perfect (many professing believers excuse their non-attendance by finding fault with the church and/or its members)--the discerning believer sees things from God’s perspective.  He understands that God is at work, by His grace, to work a miraculous transformation in His people (Cf. Ephesians 5:25-27; Philippians 1:6)—which is to the praise of the glory of His grace (Cf. Ephesians 1:6).  The faults and idiosyncrasies of others represent God-given opportunities to learn to love others as Christ loves and thereby grow in Christlikeness.  “Speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).  The believer is Spirit-led to serve and use his or her gifts towards this end (Cf. Galatians 5:13; Romans 12:4-8).
Jesus, in His person and work, is to be the attraction in His church!  He was the attraction when you first trusted in Him for salvation (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6) and He is to be so today (Cf. 1 Peter 1:8).  He will be the attraction when you depart one day to the heavenlies where you will marvel at Him and praise Him, with all the redeemed, forever and ever (Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 5:9-10).  Why go to church?  Because you love Jesus and you want to worship HIM (Cf. Philippians 3:3), hear HIS Word (Cf. Colossians 3:16), love HIS people (Cf. 1 Peter 1:22), and be better equipped to share HIS gospel (Cf. Philippians 1:27, 2:16).  The gospel has the power to save church-avoiding, rebel-sinners and make them to be Christ-adoring, worship-loving saints (Cf. Romans 1:16; Colossians 1:13).  If you, as a believer, are not now driven to maintain regular fellowship with His saints by love for HIM, He has offered a remedy for that too: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).  Going to church should not be a “have-to,” but a “want-to,” a “get-to” (Cf. John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).  It is not good enough to go to church simply because it is expected of you, God-pleasing worship of Christ demands more.
Why go to church?  Because you love Jesus!  There are other good reasons, but no other single reason is sufficient to stand on its own.  Spirit-led devotion to Christ will endure, where other motivations falter and fail (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 6:24).  Love for Jesus is the same reason why you should do all that you do (Cf. John 14:15).  It is the right reason to WANT TO GO to church.
Pastor Jerry

Friday, September 28, 2012


1.      Set apart Sunday as “The Lord’s Day” (Cf. Revelation 1:10).
2.    Anticipate Sunday worship with the saints and encourage others to do the same (Cf. Psalm 122:1).
3.    Be mindful of Satan’s attempts to distract or detour you from Sunday worship (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3).
4.    Pray for the Sunday gathering of the saints (Cf. Ephesians 6:18-19).
5.    Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
6.    Arrive at church early.
7.    Go to church, not with the intent to be served, but to worship God and serve others (Cf. Philippians 2:3-4, 21).
8.    Actively look for ways to encourage and serve others (Cf. Hebrews 10:24-25).
9.    Make it a point to greet/welcome visitors and new attenders.
10.  Engage yourself in the corporate prayers (Cf. Acts 4:24).
11.  Engage your mind, will, and emotions in the singing.  Sing with enthusiasm (Cf. Colossians 3:16).
12.  Listen to the sermon with the intent to obey (Cf. James 1:22).  J. I. Packer, “Congregations never honor God more than by reverently listening to His Word with a full purpose of praising and obeying Him once they see what He has done and is doing, and what they are called to do.”
13. Consider taking notes (Cf. Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15).
14. Endeavor to take home at least one truth from Scripture that God can use to change you (Cf. Psalm 119:18; 139:23-24; Hebrews 4:12).
15. Find ways to teach and admonish others in the truths that you learn (Cf. Colossians 3:16).

Thursday, July 26, 2012


2 Corinthians 4:7-9, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of this power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I recently finished reading a great missionary biography entitled “Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime.” It tells the story of her missionary endeavors in China. Gladys was born to a working class family in Edmonton, London in 1902. She heard of the need in China and felt compelled to go and serve. But she was turned down by missionary training school because she lacked the academic ability to keep up in her classes. Undeterred, she saved up money and spent her life savings on a passage to Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, China. Single and 29 years old she undertook a perilous journey across Europe and through Siberia by train. She was once abandoned along the tracks and nearly froze to death when a war stopped the train in Siberia. She later narrowly escaped being kidnapped. She ultimately made her way to China only to find that her mentor, Jeannie Lawson, had previously departed for the interior.

She finally made her way to the village and to Jeannie. Her first venture into the remote village was met with a rude response—the residents threw dirt clods at her, calling her a “foreign devil.” Gladys and Jeannie had a home—they were able to rent it at discounted rate because the townspeople thought it to be haunted—but they were unable to make any progress in sharing the gospel. One day it occurred to them both that they could turn their home into an inn—a place to stay for the muleteers who transported people and goods from village to village. By showing loving hospitality in a place “without fleas” they would gain a hearing and an opportunity to share. They remodeled their home and named it “The Inn of the Eighth Happiness”--thus began their gospel outreach in that remote part of China.

That ministry was established, only to be abruptly disrupted by Jeannie’s death. Jeannie had been subsidizing the rent and costs of the inn—how would they be able to afford to keep it open? The problem was resolved in a remarkable way. The government of China issued an edict that prohibited “foot-binding.” Foot-binding was a practice in which, supposedly for beauty’s sake, a young girls toes were tied back under her feet. The practice caused both pain and disability, so in the 1930s it was banned by the government. The Mandarin (local government official) was given the responsibility of enforcing the edict. He called upon Gladys to do it. She was thus hired to go from village to village to inspect the feet of all the young girls. The job not only provided the needed funds for the inn, it gave her ample opportunities to share the gospel in homes and villages throughout the region.

One day in the village she came across something especially disturbing. A woman was attempting to sell a young girl. She expressed her concern to the Mandarin. He told her it was none of her business and that she should not interfere. Undeterred, she went back to the woman and bought the girl. Thus began her ministry to orphan children which grew and grew until she was caring for over 200 children. In 1938 the region was invaded by Japanese forces. 100 of the children were led to safety by an assistant. She herself led the rest over mountain passes and through many hazards away from the fighting. At the end of that journey she so weak and diseased she nearly died. She eventually recovered and was there in China when the communists took over. She witnessed the tragic and brutal execution of fellow believers who refused to bow down to the new regime. She returned to England in 1948 and then to Taiwan in 1958 where she founded the Gladys Aylward Orphanage. She worked in that orphanage until her death in 1970.

Gladys Aylward faced many obstacles in her ministry efforts. Her desire to serve was met with rejection, her efforts to serve were met with troubles and trials. Her ministry involved great sacrifice, but she was undeterred. It would have been easy to give up countless times along the way, but she persevered. While she was serving God was working—He opened doors in amazing ways and many heard the truth of the gospel. Eric Liddell, another missionary to China, once said, “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love.” Don’t be discouraged or deterred by obstacles, they may appear insurmountable to you, but they are miniscule to Him. Indeed, “(He) is Able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20)!”

Pastor Jerry

Benge, Janet and Geoff (1998), Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, ISBN 978-1-57658-019-6.


1 Corinthians 16:15, “They have addicted themselves to the ministry.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary to be addicted is “to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.” There are a great number of things to which people are prone to become addicted—alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, video games, etc. People can even be addicted to shopping. Oniomania is the technical name given to that disorder.

We are prone, by nature, to addictive behavior. The lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16) constitute desires within us that beg for fulfillment. Pleasure in sin quickly diminishes (Hebrews 11:25), leaving in its path a hunger for more. Every lost person is a sin-addict (Cf. Ephesians 4:19), attempting in sin to fill a vacuum which God alone can satisfy. Sin-addictions are consistent to the “futile way of life inherited from (our) forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18), of which Paul spoke: “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).

There is a healthy addiction to which God would direct us. Indwelt by the Spirit of God, the believer in Christ is freed from sin-dependence (Cf. Romans 6:7). The Spirit is at work to transform us and impart to us the mind of Christ. Jesus was an addict of another kind. His life was utterly devoid of sin (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). He was addicted to serving—indeed, that was the purpose for which He came (Mark 10:45). To be delivered from sin-addiction and to be made a “slave of righteousness” is a glorious work He alone can do (Cf. Romans chapter six).

Paul commended the household of Stephanas. “They have addicted themselves to the ministry,” he said. The term “addicted” translates a Greek term means “to arrange, assign, order.” The thought here is that they had so ordered their lives that ministry came first (Cf. Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:5). The term “ministry” is the Greek, “diakonia,” which speaks of service. It is the same term elsewhere translated “deacon.” The household of Stephanas was addicted to ministry in the sense that they had prioritized their lives such that the service of others came first. They were given to it. Their lives were characterized by it. They were devoted to serving Christ by serving others.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to “be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors” (1 Corinthians 16:16). Many in the church in Corinth were walking as “mere men” and behaving in selfish and childish ways (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 13:11-13). Paul directed them all to the better example of the household of Stephanas. They were walking in an exemplary fashion (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17). The church of our day (in America) is characterized by a selfish brand of Christianity that bears little resemblance to its Biblical counterpart. Servanthood—as a virtue--has fallen on hard times amongst some who profess Christ. But there are still many who walk in same the manner that Christ has established (Cf. 1 John 2:6)—let’s be careful to look to their example.

Selfless service is the manner of life to which God has called us. It constitutes true worship (Cf. Hebrews 13:15-16; 2 Corinthians 9:12); will be rewarded at the judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10); and blesses others in many ways. “Through love serve one another” Scripture says (Galatians 5:13). Don’t worry about becoming addicted to serving; it is a healthy addiction of which God approves.

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, July 12, 2012


1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”

The sad estate of the unbeliever is described for us in graphic terms in an extended list of sinful careers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). These activities work to forge an identity for the lost sinner. He doesn’t just fornicate, he is a fornicator. He doesn’t just worship idols, he is an idolater. He doesn’t just steal, he is a thief. And the tragic reality is that he is enslaved in and given over to such practices, the wages of which are death (Romans 6:23). A strong warning is repeated in the text: such individuals “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).

We were all in that list somewhere, having inherited a sin nature from Adam (Romans 5:12). Left to ourselves we were by birth all destined to a career of sin and its tragic consequence.

Praise God for His glorious intervention in the life of the believer in Christ! “But you were” speaks to that intervention. The phrase is repeated three times in verse 11. At the moment of saving faith a wonderful reorientation and regeneration is accomplished. It does not happen via human effort. It is God’s doing. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30). By His doing three marvelous realities take place.

“But you were washed.” This washing was not by human hands. The blood of the lamb has worked to bring about a complete cleansing from sin. The precious blood of the lamb unblemished and spotless has power to cleanse to the innermost being (Cf. 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 9:14). “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power; are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” If you have, you’ve been thoroughly cleansed from sin.

“But you were sanctified.” The term sanctified means “to be made holy, to be set apart.” It is related to the term “saint.” By God’s gracious intervention the believer in Christ has been set apart from sin and to God. The believer in Christ has been “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” We are “saints by calling,” literally “holy ones” (1 Corinthians 1:2). A person is either an “Aint” without Jesus or a “Saint” in Him (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12). Are you a “saint” in Christ?

“But you were justified.” To be justified is to be declared righteous. In the courtroom of divine justice we were all guilty—we were all by nature career criminals in sin. But God intervened. At the moment of saving faith the righteousness of Christ was imputed to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21). The certificate of debt in sin was cancelled out (Colossians 2:14). We were declared righteous by God Himself on the basis of Christ’s “once for all” payment for our sins’—“the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18).

By God’s intervention the believer in Christ has been cleansed from sin, set apart to God, and declared righteous in Him. “But you were” has made all the difference. This “but you were” speaks to God’s glorious work in Christ “who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Have you had a “but you were” experience in your life? The “but you were” speaks to being “born again.” “You must be born again,” Jesus said (John 3:7). No amount of church-going or religious activities or experience can substitute for being born again. By God’s intervention, “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” these things take place (Titus 3:5). They happen at the moment of saving faith. They are but three of what Lewis Sperry Chafer calls, “The thirty-three stupendous works of God…(which) are wrought “instantaneously” (“Systematic Theology” by Lewis Sperry Chafer; p. 234).

“Born of the Spirit with life from above into God’s family divine. Justified fully through Calvary’s love, O what a standing is mine! And the transaction so quickly was made, when as a sinner I came, took of the offer of grace He did proffer--He saved me, O praise His dear name.” Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, when at the cross the Savior made me whole; My sins were washed away and my night was turned to day—Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!”

“But you were.” Praise God for His glorious intervention in the life of the believer!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Acts 12:1, “Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them.”

Acts 13:49, “And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.”

The exciting message of the book of Acts is not just how the gospel spread but that is spread despite intense opposition. This opposition was ongoing and pervasive and was directed towards the church in various ways. But the gospel spread nonetheless. God’s work done God’s way for God’s glory will always be met with opposition, but God is greater and He has His own ways of supporting and encouraging His children. Take courage, believer, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” but “whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:19, 4).

There are those who seek to DESTROY the church. Saul himself had been amongst them: “For you heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13). Herod the king was too: “Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them” (Acts 12:1). He had “James the brother of John put to death” (Acts 12:2). He put Peter in prison (Acts 12:4). But Peter was set free from an angel of the Lord (Acts 12:7f). God dealt with Herod (Acts 12:23). And “the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied” (Acts 12:24).

There are those who DESERT the ministry. God called Barnabas and Saul to go forth from Antioch to preach the gospel (Acts 13:1-3). They took along John (Mark) as their helper (Acts 13:5). We are not given the reason why, but later he deserted them (Acts 13:13). The situation so grieved Paul that he refused, on a subsequent journey, to take Mark along (Acts 15:37-38). The desertion of a fellow soldier is a discouraging thing to those who remain to fight the conflict. Every servant of the gospel knows of such instances. But God is able to strengthen and restore His children. Mark was likewise restored and later proved himself useful for service (2 Timothy 4:11).

There are those who work to DISTORT the message. Paul and Barnabas made their way to Paphos (Acts 13:6). They found there a magician, Elymas, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who sought to hear the word of God (Acts 13:7). While Paul and Barnabas were sharing with the proconsul, Elymas was working to “turn the proconsul away from the faith” (Acts 13:8). Paul understood him to be “full of all deceit and fraud,” working “to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord” (Acts 13:10). For every action there is a reaction. The preaching of the true gospel is met with enemy opposition. The evil one is at work to undermine and distort and keep blinded the eyes of the unbelieving. Many distorted gospels are widely taught and are readily accepted in our day (Cf. Galatians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4). God used Paul to blind Elymas (Acts 13:11). “The proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts 13:12).

There are those who work to DISTURB the hearers. Paul and Barnabas made their way to Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13) and preached the gospel on a Sabbath day in a synagogue (Acts 13:14-41). “As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:42). “The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:44). But the enemy was at work. “The Jews saw the crowds” and “they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 13:45). But Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46). The Gentiles heard the message of salvation and rejoiced and “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:47-48). But the disturbing and distorting efforts of the Adversary did not stop. “The Jews aroused the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district” (Acts 13:50). So Paul and Barnabas “shook off their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51). In Iconium “a great multitude believed” (Acts 14:1).

The early church flourished in spite of such things. And the true gospel is met with similar opposing forces today. Any proclamation of the true gospel, be it from a pulpit, a Sunday School class, at a VBS, with a friend or neighbor, or via missionary endeavor, will be met with opposition. Such is the clear teaching of Scripture and the reliable testimony throughout church history. A gospel that does not incite opposition is likely not the true gospel at all. The devil is well-pleased with contrary gospels that diminish Christ and His work and entertain the notion of salvation by human effort. The gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and His finished work—that’s a different matter. It is this gospel--the glorious gospel and the power of God unto salvation--that the devil hates. It stirs up trouble. It did exactly that throughout Paul’s ministry. He preached the gospel and riots broke out. Persecution intensified. Trouble came. But he fought the good fight of faith and was not deterred. His counsel to his “beloved son,” Timothy serves as a great encouragement to us: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).

Don’t be surprised by opposition! It is standard fare for those who endeavor to speak God’s truth (2 Timothy 3:12). Remember that the God who raised Christ from the dead is at work to guide, strengthen and provide for His children in the midst of it (Cf. Ephesians 1:19-21). Paul and Barnabas were fiercely opposed, but “the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region” (Acts 13:49). People heard the message and were saved.

Pastor Jerry

Friday, May 18, 2012


  • Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
  • Acts 10:22, “And they said, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.”
  • Acts 11:18, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Peter had a message to share. Cornelius had a need to hear the message. The challenge was bringing the two together. God sovereignly and miraculously did just that.

Approximately seven years had passed since Jesus’ commission to the Apostles to be His witnesses “even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But it did not go forth from Jerusalem until persecution scattered believers “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). Even then there was no apparent attempt by the Apostles to take the message to the Gentiles. The gospel outreach to the remotest part of the earth was apparently of remote concern (with the exception of Philip’s outreach to the Ethiopian eunuch and the Mediterranean coast—Acts 8:40).

The problem was that there were longstanding religious traditions and prejudice that stood in the way. It was unlawful for “a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him” (Acts 10:28). It was unlawful for a Jew to eat with Gentiles (Acts 11:3).

In NT times the Jews had little regard for the Gentiles. So strong was their animosity that a common Jewish prayer went something like this, “God thank you that I was not born a woman or a Gentile.” There were a number of Jewish laws the prohibited contact with Gentiles. The very dust of heathen countries was unclean, and it defiled by contact. It was not permissible to enter a Gentile’s home. It was not permissible to converse with Gentiles. A Jewish woman was not permitted to help a Gentile woman, even when she was about to become a new mother. A Jew was not allowed to drink milk drawn from a cow by a Gentile’s hands or eat bread prepared by a Gentile. If a Gentile was invited into a Jewish home he was not to be left alone, lest every article of food and drink be henceforth regarded as unclean. If cooking utensils were bought from them, they had to be purified by fire or by water. It was not lawful to rent a house or field to a Gentile, or to sell cattle to them. The animosity by the Jews towards the Gentiles (and vice versa) was pervasive. It impacted every aspect of life. It was possible for a Gentile to be proselytized to Judaism, but as a matter of course, it rarely happened. Gentile converts were rarely treated fairly. They were commonly looked on with suspicion. There was little desire or effort to see Gentiles converted.

The Apostles had been Jonah-like in their outreach efforts. God would have to intervene if the gospel were to be taken to the Gentiles. And of course, Christ’s sacrifice had already worked to include them. From the cross He declared “It is finished.” The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. He “broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-15). But the benefits and consequence of His work had not yet borne fruit in this sense. Religious traditions and prejudice kept the gospel message bound up in Jerusalem. God worked though Peter and Cornelius to set it free.

Cornelius was Spirit-prepared to hear the message. He lived up the degree of revelation he had received. And angel of God appeared to him. He instructed him to “dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man named Simon” (Acts 10:5). And so he sent them on their way.

The next day, as they were on their way, Peter went up on the housetop to pray. Being hungry, while others were preparing food, he fell into a trance. He was given a vision (Acts 10:10-15). Three times (Peter experienced many things 3X) a sheet was let down from heaven. It was filled with creatures of various kinds. He was instructed to “kill and eat.” Peter refused recognizing the creatures to be “unclean.” A voice came to him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy,” it said (Acts 10:15). But the vision had to do with much more than just food. While Peter was perplexed and considering the meaning of it all, the men sent by Cornelius arrived. They spoke to Peter. He went away with them to Caesarea (accompanied by some others from Joppa). Peter and Cornelius then met. They explained to each other how God had sovereignly worked to bring them together.

Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:34-43). “While Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message” (Acts 10:44). The seed of the gospel message fell on the fruitful soil of well-prepared hearts! What a joyous day! What a wonderful scene that must have been. Circumcised believers had accompanied Peter. They were there with him. They were “amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45). They would have never expected it. They were unprepared for it. In an instant the gospel message worked to tear down century old barriers.

The news of that event spread. The apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard of it. Peter went to Jerusalem and those who were circumcised took issue with him. Peter carefully explained to them all that had transpired. He knew that the news would be both hard to believe and to accept. They heard Peter’s explanation and declared; “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). It wasn’t long afterwards that men of Cyprus and Cyrene “began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20). The hand of the Lord was with them and “a large number…believed” (Acts 11:21).

The good news of the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). It had the power to save a Christian murderer like Paul. It had the power to break through strong prejudicial boundaries to bring salvation to those who were thought to be “unsavable.” It spread from that day forth to faraway places. It has been taken since to the four corners of the earth. One day a great multitude, people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” will be gathered in heaven and will sing a new song of praise to the Lamb who is worthy” (Revelation 5:9). We will praise Him. “In Christ Jesus (we) who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

Praise God, brethren, inasmuch as He has made the good news known to you. It was a wonderful day indeed when your Spirit-prepared heart heard that message! But long before that day God divinely directed a man with a message, Peter, to meet a man who needed to hear, Cornelius. The gospel has been spreading throughout the globe, by divine appointment, ever since. God has some divine appointments in store for you. He has given you a message. There are those who need to hear.

Pastor Jerry