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Archive | Salvation

Are You Longing for Home?

Longing for Home

Today’s post is a giveaway! My guest blogger today – Susan Booth – is a dear friend and the author of the new book “Longing for Home.” Comment below for a chance to win a copy!

Have you ever been homesick? The deep feeling of “longing for home” resonates with people across many walks of life. A couple of weeks ago, a woman from my spin class posted a picture on Facebook of her former home in South Africa. When I commented that it was lovely and she must undoubtedly miss it, she wrote: “I think I left part of my soul there.”

Surely all of us have experienced the pangs of homesickness at one time or another. In today’s rootless world, people crave a place where they are well-known and well-loved. Even for those whose walls reverberate with love and laughter, there will come a time when the clamour fades, and favorite chairs sit empty.

Are you longing for home?

If we are honest, sometimes a restless yearning for home even steals its way into our hearts even when all looks well from the outside.

But what if home is not a place, but a Person?

Perhaps our vague yearnings for home point to none other than God himself. Intriguingly, Scripture whispers that the eternal God has been our dwelling place throughout all generations (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:1). Astonishingly, Jesus promised that the Spirit of God himself takes up residence in the life of anyone who trusts and obeys him (John 14:16, 23).

Do you realize what an astounding statement that is? Almighty God desires to make his home in you! And he invites you to find your true home in him! That precious communion with God begins now—on this side of heaven.

Our deepest longing is for God Himself

What does it actually look like to make your home in Christ? Recognize that when you wake up, he is there; when you lie down, he is there. Weave his Word through every hour of your day.

Although you may still face an empty nest or an empty chair at the table, your heart will not be empty. The presence of God himself can fill you with his peace and strength and purpose. The God of reconciliation can mend broken hearts and broken homes. He adopts us into his family and knits us together into his dwelling place—the church.

No matter what you’re facing today, rest assured that Jesus is with you. Set aside time to linger in his presence. Heed his invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). As you do, listen for the words you long to hear: “Welcome home!”

What are some ways you sense the deep longing for your true, eternal home with God? (Comment below for a chance to win a copy of “Longing for Home.”)

Longing for Home

Longing for Home?

In her new book, “Longing for Home,” Susan Booth beautifully describes God’s answer to our spiritual homesickness – His presence with us. Beginning with the creation account and mankind’s once unhindered communion with God, Booth traces the thread of God’s promise of full restoration. This beautiful, unique book will give you a new perspective on God’s big story and His promises to us. This versatile resource can be used on your own or with a group. Each chapter begins with an imaginative re-telling of key biblical events. Each chapter also includes questions for group discussion and meditational readings for personal reflection. “Longing for Home” reminds us of awe-inspiring truth – God Himself is our true home. 

Susan BoothSusan Maxwell Booth serves as the Professor of Evangelism and Missions at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. Susan and her husband Steve are under appointment with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. They lived in Budapest, Hungary, for seven years before transferring to Canada in 2000. Susan has a PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of “Longing for Home” and “The Tabernacling Presence of God.”

Other posts you may enjoy:

 

 

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5 Reasons the Cross is Not Enough

resurrection, Easter, cross

Jesus’ death on the cross is not sufficient to provide the abundant and eternal life God has promised us.

Does that statement shock you? Maybe even offend you? You may not want to read another word. But if you’ll hear me out, I think you’ll agree with me.

The apostle Paul firmly believed the cross alone was not enough. Read what he wrote to the Corinthian Christians:

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 1 Cor 15:17-19, NLT

Peter also knew that our eternal hope depended on the resurrection of Christ:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

So why do we so often leave out the Resurrection when we share the Good News of Jesus? We don’t forget to talk about the Cross. And yes, praise God, the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary provided the payment that my sins – and yours – had earned. Our sins deserved the death penalty. Our sins brought us spiritual death and separation from our holy God. But Jesus Christ took that penalty on Himself. Without the cross of Christ we would still be condemned by our sins. But that is only part of the Gospel message.

Without the resurrection, the Gospel message is incomplete

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul succinctly expressed the Good News of the Gospel. In this passage, he boils down the message to its most important components.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  1 Cor 15:3-4, NIV

5 reasons we need the resurrection

Yes, Jesus’ death paid the price of our sin, but His resurrection provided our hope for life – both now and eternally. Don’t miss these important truths:

  1. Jesus’ resurrection proves everything He said and did was true. See John 14:20
  2. Jesus’ resurrection defeated death! That victory is His and ours! See Romans 6:9
  3. Jesus’ resurrection provides us with new life in God. See Romans 6:10, Col 3:1
  4. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our physical resurrection. See Rom 8:11, 1 Cor 15:20-21
  5. Jesus’ resurrection gives us power for this life. See Philippians 3:10, Romans 8:11

The resurrection is the power of God for those who believe! We will be raised because Christ has been raised! Believers, we have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead! Let’s shout it out!

Do you tend to forget about the resurrection? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the power of the resurrection in your life.

Other posts you may like:

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6 Ways to Impact Children with the Message of Easter

Easter
Rich memories of childhood Easters keep popping up in my mind. I can still feel the cold metal of the folding chair as I sat with my family in the church parking lot waiting for the first rays of the sun to make their appearance. And with the sun, the somber notes of “low in the grave He lay…” became the joyous thunder of “up from the grave He arose (He arose), with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” After prayer and singing, everyone escaped the chilly air and enjoyed pancakes and sausage in the church fellowship hall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact Easter had on me as a child. I also have wonderful memories of Christmas, but Easter took root in my soul from an early age. Even then, I must have sensed the eternal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. As parents and grandparents, we have a great opportunity – and God-given responsibility – to make sure our children understand the great truth and power of Easter.

6 Ways to Share Easter with Your Kids

Below are six easy, but memorable, ways to help your children understand the Easter story. Make sure you check out the links for details and more information:

  1. Make a set of Resurrection Eggs – This is a fun way to “concretely” share the Easter story with your kids. You can purchase a ready-made set, but putting them together with your kids is part of the fun. Here are the instructions for making your own Resurrection Eggs.

2. Watch a movie together – One great way to start a conversation with your children about the Easter is by watching a movie that portrays the Easter story or illustrates its truths. Several great ones are available. Just choose one that is age-appropriate for the kids in your life. Here are a few suggestions:

3. Attend a Good Friday service or event – Many churches have services on Good Friday to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death and what it accomplished for us. Cochrane, the small town where we lived in Canada, had a “Cross Walk.” Members from all areas of the community met downtown and prayerfully followed the cross as a volunteer carried it through the streets.

4. Make Resurrection Cookies – Use this tasty object lesson to teach your kids about the empty tomb. Make them on Saturday night and enjoy them first thing Sunday. Here’s the recipe and how-to’s for Resurrection Cookies.

5. Share the Gospel from Scripture – Your kids are never to young to hear that “Jesus died to save us.” Of course, the way you share this truth needs to be age appropriate. For instance, tell the biblical Easter story using tangible objects such as 30 coins, a large nail, and a small wooden cross as visuals to keep their attention. See this article on Crosswalk.com by Sandy Coughlin. And here are five Easter Mini-lessons for your family from Focus on the Family.

6. Experience the Easter Sunrise – Like the women who went to the tomb, be up and ready to greet the first light of Sunday morning. You can do this at an official sunrise service or in your own backyard. Friday was somber. Sunday is a celebration! (And don’t forget the pancake breakfast!)

I’d love to hear about your childhood Easter memories! Also, please share ways you celebrate Easter with your kids, grandkids, and other children in your life.

Other posts you may find helpful:

How to Know Jesus

Keep Watch with Jesus Tonight

5 Reasons We Need the Resurrection

Top 10 Bible Verses for Evangelism

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Does Jesus Speak to You?

Does Jesus speak to Christians? Does God communicate with those who love Jesus and follow Him? That question came to national attention last week.

A Quick Review of the Controversy

It all started when former White House aid Omarosa Manigault Newman made derogatory comments about Vice-President Mike Pence’s faith on Celebrity Big Brother. Omarosa said Americans should be worried about the possibility of Pence as president because:

“He’s extreme. I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things… It’s scary.”

Then the cohosts of the TV talk show “The View” picked up the topic. Joy Behar, who says she is a Christian, said:

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”

A couple of the other cohosts worked to balance her opinion, but the audience obviously sided with Behar. The conversation ended with the tone that anyone who claims to hear God speak isn’t quite right in the head. 

Then Vice-President Pence responded. He called for ABC to take a stand for religious tolerance, citing the millions of Americans who cherish their faith.

Does Jesus Speak to Christians?

I noticed that both Omarosa and Behar claim to be Christians. Yet, they think people who “hear” Jesus speak to them are either crazy or scary or both.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what Omarosa or Behar or anyone else thinks. What matters is the truth. Does God speak to Christians?

The short answer is “yes.” God does indeed speak to believers. The Bible tells us God speaks to us.

In the well-known Christian book “Experiencing God,” written by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, the authors make this statement:

One critical point to understanding and experiencing God is knowing clearly when God is speaking. If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!

What does the Bible say?

Although this topic needs much more time and space than a brief blog post, we can hit the highlights to confirm the truth that yes, indeed God speaks to us today.

The Bible tells us that before Jesus came, God spoke to His people through the prophets and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1). Examples fill the Bible – angelic visits, dreams and visions, fiery bushes and more. Now, in these “last days” – the time between Jesus’ post-resurrection ascension and His return – God speaks to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus is present with His people, speaking to His people, today. The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – lives inside every true believer (Romans 8:9-11). We can hear God speak to us because His Spirit dwells with us.

The Spirit’s Job in Believers

Here are just a few of the things the Spirit does within believers that helps us to hear from God:

  • Gives Spiritual Understanding – The Spirit helps us understand the Bible and the things of God. Much of this seems like foolish gibberish to the world because they don’t have the Spirit to give them understanding  (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
  • Testifies to Jesus – The Spirit always makes Jesus known to us. He reveals truth in our hearts and minds about Jesus (John 15:26).
  • Teaches and Reminds – The Spirit not only gives us understanding, He helps us see how God’s truth – the Bible – should be applied to our lives. He helps us see how God’s principles throughout Scripture work together. And when we need specific truths or principles for specific life situations, He brings those things to mind (John 14:26).
  • Guides into Truth – The Spirit helps us recognize God’s truth and distinguish it from error and false teaching. The Spirit shows us know how to specifically apply those truths to the current situations and relationships of our lives.

Ways God Speaks Today

So, how does the Spirit’s job translate into a Christian hearing God speak?

  • The Bible –  The Bible is the primary way God speaks to Christians today. In His Word, God has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways. As we read, and the Holy Spirit does His job, we “hear” Jesus speak. His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Holy Spirit wields it like a sword – to pierce our hearts and prick our minds with God’s truth. (See 11 Tips for Spending Quality Quiet Time with God)
  • Prayer – Christians have the very Spirit of God living inside us. When we pray we aren’t just tossing words into the air. And it isn’t a one-way conversation. In prayer, God uses His Spirit to bring us into alignment with His truth, with His will for us. The Spirit miraculously works in our hearts. The Spirit brings Scripture to mind that God wants us to apply to specific situations. The Spirit reminds us of ways we need to act, reach out, love, help, forgive. And when God speaks, we should respond.
  • Secondary Ways – Although the Bible and prayer are the primary ways God speaks to His children today, He will often confirm what He wants us to know through circumstances and the counsel of godly people. But, God will never “speak” to us in ways that contradict His Word.

So why does Omarosa, Behar, and many other “Christians” deny that God speaks to His children today? I can’t answer that for every individual, but there are two primary possibilities. First, they may be members of a religious group, but don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the truth that God speaks to His children sounds like crazy foolishness. Second, they may be new, immature believers who are just beginning to learn God’s truth.

What about you? Do you hear Jesus speak? What would you say to a “Christian” who scoffs at the idea of God speaking today?

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This Certain Hope

The daffodil bulbs I planted in the fall have raised their fresh green blades above the ground. This morning’s discovery was a touch bittersweet.

Late last spring, I dug up those same bulbs from the back yard of my childhood home – right after all my parents’ belongings rode off down the street in a moving van.

Because of their health, Mom and Dad needed to be close to either me or my brother. They now live a mile from my brother, in a comfortable duplex, with round-the-clock help.

Honestly, I had not been optimistic that the bulbs would live. First, it wasn’t the best time of year to dig them up. But I didn’t have a choice, the house was going to be sold. Second, we soon moved ourselves and the bulbs weren’t constantly stored in a “cool, dry place.”

But I did hope they’d grow.

I dug them up with hope. And I planted them with hope.

When I saw those green stems this morning I also thought about my dad and the future hope God says is his. Really, it’s the hope that belongs to all of us who belong to Jesus.

Since that first sin in the Garden, sin has been taking its toll. This world, our souls, and our bodies have been held in bondage to sin, broken by corruption, and groaning under sin’s burden.

Jesus paid the price of our redemption. And while we are no longer slaves to sin, all creation still waits for the full, future consummation of our redemption. That day when God will restore all things, including our bodies (Romans 8:18-25).

For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:24

Groaning while waiting with certain hope

Parkinson’s has taken a terrible toll on Dad’s body. Once athletic and strong, age and disease have robbed him without mercy. Now he struggles to rise from a chair and needs a walker to get across a room.

But one day… one day Dad will have a resurrection body that is whole and strong.

Like the daffodil bulb that went into the ground brown and dry has been raised green and supple, our weak bodies will one day be raised in glory and power. One day, all those who know Jesus will be raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-43

Do you have this sure hope? The secure and certain hope that one day your weak, perishable body will be raised strong and imperishable? If you’ve never entered into a saving relationship with Jesus, don’t spend another hopeless day. Find out How to Know Jesus now.

What is your deepest “groaning?” Remember God will restore all things. Where do you need to apply this certain hope?

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4 Christmas Gifts from Jesus

One of our family’s Christmas traditions has been to read the biblical Christmas story together on Christmas Eve. We read those chapters from Matthew and Luke about the angels, the shepherds, the star, the magi, and the infant Christ born in a stable in Bethlehem. These beloved passages are so dear and familiar I can recite huge chunks of them from memory.

But did you know there is also a Christmas account in John’s Gospel?

Christmas gifts

John gives us a different perspective. He didn’t write about the earthly circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. Instead, John’s account is more of a heavenly perspective. He wrote about the eternal, divine nature of Jesus the Word and His purpose in coming to earth.

4 Christmas Gifts from Jesus to You

If you have time, read John 1:1-14 now. Or read it tonight with your family. As you read, look for the 4 things Jesus brought to the earth with His first coming. They are His Christmas gifts to us.

  1. Life – In his Gospel, John uses the Greek word zoe, translated as “life,” 36 times! True life – eternal, spiritual life – is in Jesus. He embodies life (John 1:4). He alone can give life (John 5:24-26; John 11:25-26). And He came to earth to bring it to us (John 3:16).
  2. Light – This world and everyone in it is dead and dying without Jesus. We stumble around in the darkness and can’t find our way to God. Jesus came to light the way to God (John 1:4-5). Many claim to know the way, but Jesus is the “true light” that gives light to everyone (John 1:9).
  3. Grace – Jesus came from the Father to bring us grace (John 1:14). Jesus’s death on the cross is the ultimate act of grace. Our sin separates us from God and we cannot save ourselves. But Jesus’ death paid the penalty our sins deserve. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus and His death and resurrection we receive God’s gracious gift of salvation (John 3:16-17).
  4. Truth – Jesus came to bring us God’s truth (John 1:14). During His time on earth He testified to the truth of God (John 18:37). Many reject it. Many cling to the world’s “truth.” But only Jesus gives us God’s truth (John 3:31-36).

You may receive gifts this Christmas that cost a lot of money. But none compare to the 4 gifts Jesus longs to give. Open them up. Embrace them. Share them.

May God abundantly bless you with His life, light, grace, and truth this Christmas.

 

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Following Jesus is either the BEST Decision or the WORST

Yesterday, while visiting another church in our new area, one of the ministers said something that bothered me the rest of the service and into lunch. The children’s minister introduced a ten-year-old girl who had recently decided to follow Jesus. Right before he baptized her he said, “It’s one of the best decisions she will make in her life.”

As soon as we got in the car, we began our after-church, church search routine. We shared our thoughts about the church, the service, and whether we think this might be the church God has for us.

“I was really bothered by the minister’s statement about that girl’s decision to give her life to Jesus,” I said.

“Yeah. That struck me too.”

“It’s not the first time I’ve heard a Christian say that. He probably didn’t even realize what he said. But it puts a decision to follow Jesus right up there with who to marry, what career path to follow, and how to invest your money.”

Maybe you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Getting on a soapbox over a slip of the tongue. But I don’t think so.

There are other vitally important decisions in our lives, ones that impact our health, relationships, and livelihood. There are even decisions with eternal consequences like whether to tell others about the salvation found only in Jesus or to keep it to ourselves.

But the decision to follow Jesus – or not follow Jesus – is the only decision a person can ever make that determines her or his eternal destiny.

If there is life after death… If we need a Savior because of our sin… If trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the only way to be made right with a holy God… Then choosing Jesus is the BEST decision you’ll ever make.

But if this life is all there is… Or if your soul gets absorbed into the universal cosmos (or some other silly nonsense)… Or if you can choose your own path to God… Then choosing Jesus is the most ridiculous, time-wasting, WORST decision you’ll ever make.

Choosing to give your life to Jesus in exchange for the eternal life He offers is either the BEST decision you’ll ever make or it’s the worst decision you’ll ever make. Period.

Have you made the BEST decision in your life? If you want to know more about eternal life found only in Jesus, click here.

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5 Signs of Authentic Faith

Are we living out true, authentic faith in Jesus or simply fooling ourselves? It’s easy to tell, if we take an honest look. The apostle John challenged first century believers – and believers today – to do just that. In his first letter, John clearly laid out signs of authentic faith. And he clearly stated his purpose in writing:

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

John wanted his readers to be sure they were saved. He longed for them to stand firm in God’s truth and not be swayed by false teachers. And he wanted “false believers” to wake up.

He did not tip toe around the truth. That would not do them, nor us, any good. In the first two chapters of First John, the apostle gave us 5 signs to test our faith. His “If we…, then…, but…” style describes what a true relationship with Jesus will – and won’t – look like.

5 Signs of Authentic Faith

  1. If we walk in darkness, then we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light we have fellowship with God.
  2. If we claim to have no sin, then we are deceived and we call God a liar. But if we admit and confess our sin, God will forgive us and give us Jesus’ righteousness.
  3. If we do not obey God’s commands, then the truth is not in us. But if we obey God, it reveals we truly know Him and His love is made complete in us.
  4. If we do not love fellow believers, then we still live in darkness and prone to fall. But if we love other believers, we live in the light.
  5. If we love the world, then it proves we do not have God’s love. But if we do not love the things of the world it shows we truly have eternal life.

So, how are we doing? Are we walking in the light or in the darkness?

You may also be interested in: How to have a relationship with Jesus

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6 Ways to Connect with Others for Jesus

evangelism We don’t have to travel to a foreign country to encounter a different culture. Not only has the world come to America, but also the American culture embraces values far different than the godly standards Christians seek to live by. How can we connect with others so vastly different than ourselves in order to share Jesus and His priceless gift of salvation?

The apostle Paul purposefully worked to fit into the culture where he ministered. He removed all the roadblocks he could and sought to build bridges to earn trust and to gain opportunity to share the Gospel. He kept his prime directive in mind: “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, NIV).

 

Paul did everything he could to open doors to share the Gospel. Most of us probably won’t be given the opportunity to talk to Greek philosophers about Jesus on a hilltop in Athens (Acts 17:16-34) or share our testimony with a king (Acts 26:1-32) like Paul. However, we can work to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means we (I) might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22, NIV).

6 Ways to Follow Paul’s Example to Connect with Others:

  1. Find a common life experience or interest – In Acts 17, Paul the evangelist found affinity with the Athenian philosophers. They both liked to engage in deep, thoughtful conversation. Even if your new neighbor comes from the other side of the world you can find common ground. Maybe you’re both parents, or like to garden, or are both trying to get rid of fire ants in your yard. Whatever it is, it’s a place to start.
  2. Adopt their speech – As long as it’s not profane or “unedifying,” use their style of conversation. For instance, when I lived in the north, I said “you guys” and “soda” instead of “y’all” and “coke.” Paul used general sentiments and words his hearers would have known, understood, and accepted. Too often we use words and phrases that are very familiar to Christians, but they sound very foreign to the non-Christian (See “7 Churchy Words”).
  3. Compliment them – Of course, this must be genuine. Paul found something about which to commend the Athenians (Acts 17:22). Look for something about them on which to positively comment or admire. This small effort will help them understand you’re not “against them.”
  4. Find a launch pad – In Athens, Paul spotted an altar to “an unknown god.” This altar gave Paul the opening he needed to talk about Jesus. We may learn of a cultural idea we can use as a springboard to introduce spiritual truth. Or perhaps your new friend is struggling with difficult circumstances, and therefore open to words of spiritual encouragement.
  5. Respect their cultural mores –Paul did not demean or insult their culture or customs. He even conformed to them when they did not conflict with God’s holy standards. When Paul began ministry to the Gentiles, he began going by his given Greek name and did not stick to a kosher diet.
  6. Serve the truth with grace – Christians sometimes try to force God’s standards of values, beliefs, and behavior on non-Christians. We forget that to a person without the indwelling Holy Spirit, the things of God seem “foolish” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Our first priority should be to introduce them to Jesus. But honest, grace-filled conversations about “controversial” topics within the context of relationship can spark interest in Jesus (Colossians 4:5-6). So let’s always be prepared to lovingly, respectfully, and biblically speak to specific topics when asked (1 Peter 3:15). (See “Grace or Truth?”)

I would love to hear how you have purposefully worked to find ways to connect with the people around you to build relationships and ultimately share Jesus.

 

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Does it Matter What My Church Believes?

church doctrineJust last month, my husband and I moved to a new town. Yesterday, we began the search for the church God has for us. Our actual address may be small town Texas, but since we live on the fringes of the Dallas/Ft Worth area, church choices abound. We could visit for months – maybe even years – without attending the same church twice.

How do we begin? How can we narrow our search? Before we made the first visit, we narrowed the possibilities significantly based on what the church believes.

What? Doesn’t the preaching and the music and the programs and the community involvement carry a lot of weight? Does a church’s doctrine really matter that much?

Yes, a church’s doctrine is that important. Not only do the biblical truths and principles on which it stands shape its people and its ministry, but if what it believes does not align correctly with God’s Word, then the church is not following Christ.

I realize that’s a bold, brazen statement, but it’s based on the teaching of the New Testament. For instance, in Paul’s letters to the churches in Corinth and Galatia, one of his primary purposes in writing was to combat false teaching and to admonish them to cling to the truth of Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-9). Paul describes the warped gospel they were following as “no gospel at all.”

And in the book of Revelation, Jesus Himself called the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira to repent from following false teaching before they experienced God’s discipline (Revelation 2:14-16, 20-22).

Yes, what a church believes – and therefore teaches and acts on – absolutely matters.

I can hear wheels turning. Do you mean everything? What about the differences between denominations? Are you saying that only one denomination is right?!

Many differences between denominations and even individual churches within denominations are peripheral to the heart of God’s gospel. They do not impact key doctrinal truths. These kinds of differences can be held loosely. In fact, we can enjoy and even celebrate the variety within God’s church.

Things like style of music, order of worship, and areas of ministry focus broaden and strengthen the worldwide church. Even other beliefs like the role of women in ministry, the view of end times, and the structure of church leadership are not considered core essential truths. These types of areas are considered “minor doctrines.” There is room for differences.

But in other areas, those considered to be “major doctrines,” there is little if any room for difference. With these doctrines – ones that are central to Christianity and have significant impact on other doctrines – we must hold firm. These fundamental truths flow from the nature and character of God and His saving work.

We can’t fully cover all these major doctrines in one blog post. But here is a quick list of many of these essential truths:

  • The nature of God
  • The Trinity
  • The deity of Jesus
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The nature of mankind and our need for salvation
  • Salvation solely through faith in Jesus
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The return of Jesus

What a church believes about essential doctrines are deal breakers for me and my husband. For instance, if a church believes there is something more required for salvation than faith in Jesus – or that salvation can be found anywhere else – that one doesn’t make the cut. If a church doesn’t hold to the truth that God is one God yet three distinct persons, there is no need for us to visit.

Why are we so dogmatic? A church that does not hold to the essential truths of the Christian gospel is not following the gospel at all. Overall, as believers, we can be gracious in those minor doctrines, the non-essentials, but we must be hold tight to the essential truths of our faith.

If you aren’t sure what your church believes about the major doctrines, find out. Many churches have “statement of beliefs” on their website. (I even have one on this website!) If you aren’t sure what you believe, start studying! Of course the Bible is your first and primary source. But if you’d like some additional resources, check out the list below.

Do you know what your church believes about the major doctrines? Does it matter to you?

Suggested Reading:

 

 

 

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