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Archive for May, 2016

Right Doctrine, Right Emotions

By Blake Loy

“There never was anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things.[1]

I saw a video on the internet called, “The Worst Worship Ever.”  I will spare you the details, but it absolutely made me nauseous.  What I saw was 10 minutes of emotionally charged jumping and crying and swaying and spinning without even a reference to the Cross of Jesus Christ.  There was a lot of activity and a lot of expression, but was there actually worship?  Worship is our response to God’s self-revelation; which predicates that the truth about God be revealed (in song, in preaching, in scripture) and that we understand it, internalize it, and express it through proper affections back to God.  This insidious, emotional worship, as demonstrated by Youtube, is obviously off-base but it reminds me of two other dangers that even we at FCC are susceptible to.

First, there is the danger of misplaced emotion; that we are moved emotionally by mRight Doctrine Right Emotionsusic and not the truth in the lyrics.  We do everything we can do to avoid affecting some kind of emotional “high” with the songs that we select, the arrangements of music that we use, and the order of service.  This does not mean, however, that there are not people here because of the music.  Not everyone likes a hard drum beat or a heavy baseline, and because we lack both of those things at Faith, I am sure there are many here because they find their expression in our style of music rather than raucous or outlandish music at other churches.  If that is the case with you, beware!  The source of our emotion can only be God the Father as revealed through Jesus Christ the Son through the stirring power of the Holy Spirit.  When our mind processes deep truths about God through song, through scripture, and through the preaching of the gospel, the result is properly placed affections and a proper response in worship.  Jonathan Edwards warns us in his treatise on religious affections that proper affections do not mean proper understanding. Emotions, however, are a good thing which brings me to the next danger that we face at FCC:

Equally dangerous to the emotions that are improperly placed is the total lack of emotion in worship.  We want the deep truths about God to be preached and sung every time we meet at FCC.  This requires a great deal of introspection and thought in our worship.  However, when we truly encounter those deep truths, our souls should be stirred to experience matching emotions.  Ranging from exuberant joy to brokenness and contrition, there are appropriate affections for every song we sing and every truth we proclaim.  It is sinful to perpetually sit in stoic emotionless thought while the greatest truths of all time are played out before us.  As we walk through the stages of the gospel (God, repentance, grace, and thanksgiving) I hope you find that your emotions match the lyrics and that you do not worship passionlessly.  Edwards also warns us that while proper emotions that do not originate from truth do not represent true “religious affections,” if our souls are cold and callous to the truth, we may not have experienced true conversion.

Anyone who has recognized his depravity before God and tasted of the grace which God bestowed to us through Jesus Christ cannot help but be overwhelmed by emotion.  I would encourage you to read John Chapter 4 this week and ponder what it means to worship in “spirit and in truth.”  I will promise to pack as much truth into the lyrics of our songs as I can.  Will you search your heart and worship with appropriate emotions as we lift our voices together on Sunday morning?

In Christ

Blake

[1] Edwards, J. (2004). A Treatise Concerning The Religious Affections: In Three Parts. In E. Jonathan, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Vol. 2, pp. 234-343). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. (p. 238)

Posted in: Worship

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Reflections on the “Day of the Lord”

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Now, I understand that Jefferson was a deist and he said this it was in the context of slavery (which he owned many), but that in no way diminishes the truth of what he said. In fact, the more I reflect on these words, the more I see the truth of God in them.

At the end of Revelation, John says in verse 20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Many Christians have taken this verse, and some others in the New Testament, and saying them often. And I’m afraid they do this without much reflection. I do understand where they are coming from. I see what they see. I see the evil in the world. I have stood at an abortion clinic and seen people go in to kill their child. I have watched the news and I get the Amber Alerts on my phone. I have been to India, Africa, and Brazil and have seen evil that just makes you want to scream out “Come, Lord Jesus!” So don’t hear this as a rebuke because I have very rarely found people who desire the Lord’s return more than me (although I’m sure you’re out there). Instead, hear this as a call to reflect more deeply.

Amos 5:18-20 says,

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

Death on the Pale Horse, Gustave Dore.

When I read this passage it immediately made me think back to what Jefferson said. Do we really know what we are asking when we ask for the Lord to return, for the “day of the Lord?” Because what we must realize is that we are asking for the justice of God. We are asking Him to make all evil in the world right. Yes, we are asking Him to right the wrongs of every death in the abortion clinic, every stolen child, every starving child, every corrupt man. And we rejoice at that!  Justice for that kind of evil makes it easy to desire for the day of the Lord! But, did you also know that you are asking Him to bring justice down on everyone who ever had an evil thought? Or everyone who ever looked lustfully at a woman? Or anyone who dishonored their parents? Or every unkind word you have ever spoken?

When I think of what Jefferson said, my heart breaks and my soul, with him, trembles. I tremble at the justice of God. I tremble at what that means for our country. I tremble at what that means for family members. But where Jefferson stops, I continue. Where his trembling never stopped, mine does because of the blood of Jesus Christ. I do not have to be in a paralyzed fear that God’s justice will awaken on me because it was already roused and poured out fully on Christ. The just demands of God have been met.

So what I am calling for is a balance. Christians should be ones who tremble and, yet, stop trembling. We should know what we ask for when say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” It should make us tremble to think of His justice. Yet, we do not continue in that state because the justice of God has been satisfied by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Let us together cry for the Lord’s return with joy knowing that we have escaped the wrath of God! But, let us never forget what we are asking for when He returns. A somber joy. A trembling assurance.

Marty Beamer is Assistant Pastor at FCC and an M.Div. and Biblical Languages student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Sin, When viewed by Scripture Light

Sin, when viewed by scripture light,
Is a horrid, hateful sight;
But when seen in Satan’s glass,
JohnNewtonColourThen it wears a pleasing face.

When the Gospel trumpet sounds,
When I think how grace abounds,
When I feel sweet peace within,
Then I’d rather die than sin.

When the cross I view by faith,
Sin is madness, poison, death;
Tempt me not, ’tis all in vain,
Sure I ne’er can yield again.

Satan, for awhile debarred,
When he finds me off my guard,
Puts his glass before my eyes,
Quickly other thoughts arise.

What before excited fears,
Rather pleasing now appears;
If a sin, it seems so small,
Or, perhaps, no sin at all.

Often thus, through sin’s deceit,
Grief, and shame, and loss I meet,
Like a fish, my soul mistook,
Saw the bait, but not the hook.

O my Lord, what shall I say?
How can I presume to pray?
Not a word have I to plead,
Sins, like mine, are black indeed!

Made, by past experience, wise,
Let me learn thy word to prize;
Taught by what I’ve felt before,
Let me Satan’s glass abhor.

By John Newton, in Olney Hymns. Read more about John Newton in this biography:

         Aitken, Jonathon (2007), John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, Crossway Books, ISBN 978-1-58134-848-4

Posted in: Christian Living, Poetry

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Role of Old Testament Law to the Church

BY MARTY BEAMER

The Old Testament has baffled believers for centuries. What do we obey? Is it applicable for us at all? There are some people who think that the Old Testament law has no bearing on people today while others believe that it should be obeyed. The former will quote verses like Galatians 2:16, “… yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” The latter usually take their position based on 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” However, the second group will usually do their best to avoid passages like Leviticus 11:17 “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” So what role should the Old Testament law play in the church today?

“All Scripture” is profitable. Wait. “All?

Let me start by addressing those who say that the Old Testament has no bearing on the life of the church. While these people are usually right in stating we are under a different covenant, they are wrong in their application of the covenant. Usually, the book of Galatians is the go-to defense for this position. But a close reading of the book will easily refute this interpretation. Paul never once says in the letter that the law has no bearing on the life of the Believer. What Paul repeatedly says is that the law cannot save a person. Those who take this position are falling into a common fallacy known as the “either-or-fallacy.” Either the law has complete bearing on our life or it has none at all. The problem is that this creates a false dichotomy and places the New Testament against the Old Testament. Paul himself will strongly go against this when he says, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not!” (Gal. 3:21). What these mistaken interpreters fail to realize is that a New Testament faith has its foundations on an Old Testament faith. In fact, I am bold enough to say that there is no New Testament faith without the Old Testament faith because they are one and the same. Those who had faith in the Old Testament looked forward to what God would do, and we look backwards to what God has done. To say the Old Testament has no purpose for the life of a New Testament believer is to lay the axe to our very own roots. We need the Old Testament. And, it is just as much the breathed Word of God as the New Testament.

So then, what do we do with the law? If it is the foundation for the faith we hold today and the Word of God, then wouldn’t we be negligent to skip over portions of Scripture? If you answered yes, then how do you read the law and interpret it correctly? Let me try and give you a few principles that might help. These aren’t exhaustive but it might get you started.

First, try to understand the reason God gave the specific law you are looking at. What is going on in Israel’s history when the law is given? What is God’s main concern in giving the law? Almost all of the laws are dealing with how Israel is to live with a holy and perfect God. God demands holiness for those who dwell with Him. The law usually answers the question: What does it take to be His people?

Secondly, understand that the reason behind God giving the law is still applicable today. God still demands holiness to be in His presence. Christians today question what it means to be in communion with a holy God. The difference is that the sacrificial demands have now been met by Jesus. We are holy and beloved before God because the sacrifice has been made! There is nothing we could ever do to be made right with God (the argument of Galatians). But that does not mean we shouldn’t live holy lives. God desires for us to be in communion with Him and still desires for us to live in obedience for that to happen. Sin still breaks that communion. Again, the difference is that we do not go to the temple to sacrifice in order to restore that communion. It has already been restored by Christ!

Finally, let the New Testament help inform your view of the law. The New Testament, specifically the teachings of Jesus, are an extension of the Old Testament law, and consequently, the correct interpretation. If it is said in the New Testament, you can be sure that it has binding implication on your life. For instance, Jesus says adultery is sinful (Matt. 5:27), therefore the Old Testament law is still binding on us. However, the law about not eating pig (Lev. 11:17) is not restated in the New Testament. Instead Jesus says in Mark 7:19 that it isn’t the food that makes us unclean but what is in the heart. Therefore, the principle of being holy before God stays the same, the practice of being holy before Him looks different.

I hope we will not take the Old Testament law lightly. The New Testament church should honor the law and understand the principles God taught, and still teaches, today. But, we should not be bound to it for our salvation. We are under a different covenant and so the application of the law looks different, but it is still, as Paul said, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” Do not neglect it but profit from it.

Marty Beamer is Assistant Pastor at FCC and an M.Div. and Biblical Languages student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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What Do Visitors Think?

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

As a pastor, I don’t visit a lot of different churches for obvious reasons.  Looking for a church has taken on a whole nWhat do visitorsew dimension for Lori and I as we pray that our older sons find good healthy churches to attend.  Last month I described the importance of a statement of faith for the church.  It should be essential.  But there is more than just creed, isn’t there?  Yes, much more.  Orthodoxy without love is obnoxious.  After scrutinizing one church from afar, and being cautiously optimistic, one son ventured a visit.  It was small – maybe 60 or 70 people.  He sat near the front.  The sermon was decent; the music good.  After the service, he hung around the literature table for awhile and then left.  He probably won’t ever go back.  Why?  They had good theology, but they lacked warmth.  During the entire service, even when he was at the literature table, no one ever spoke to him or greeted him.  My first response was anger; my very next response was, “O, Lord, do not let us be a church like that!”   Please take the time and effort to make the stranger feel welcome; you never know who you might be reaching out to.

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We Believe . . .

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

As our older sons are serving in the military, Lori and I have been involved in trying to find good churches for them to attend.  It has been, sadly, a very difficult job.  The internet is an amazing tool to advertise, promote, and find a church, and it has helped us immensely in acquainting us with churches in their perspective areas.  One of the first things I want to know about a church is what do they believe?  Ironically, that seems to be information that churches are less and less concerned with sharing.  I am suspect of a church that doesn’t publicly declare its creed.  Jesus taught that Christians are set apart from the world by truth (John 17:17).confession

A statement of faith should serve two basic functions:  First, it provides an outline of the church’s theology.  This outline serves as a parameter for the preaching and teaching ministry of the church.  Prospective attendees should be able to get an idea of what the pulpit ministry of a church is like by looking at their confession.  Secondly, a statement of faith also serves to protect the church from false teachers and heresy.  The statement of faith is a “not welcome” sign to wolves parading as sheep.

I am thankful that if someone is considering FCC in the Kansas City area they won’t have to look hard to find out what we believe.  Of course, it is possible that a statement of faith can be forgotten or neglected or become irrelevant through lack of use.  This is one of the primary tasks of the elder:  to guard the deposit of truth (1 Tim 1:3-11; 2 Tim 1:13-14).  And we have to remember that statements of faith themselves are not inspired, they must be continually checked and reformed according to the infallible rule of Scripture.

Here’s the link to Our Confession of Faith:

http://www.fcckansascity.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/confession.pdf 

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