Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Great God

Todd Agnew and Rebecca St. James

Eternal God, unchanging
Mysterious and unknown
Your boundless love, unfailing
In grace and mercy shown
Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight around Your glorious throne
They raise their voices day and night in praise to You alone
Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Lord, we are weak and frail
Helpless in the storm
Surround us with Your angels
Hold us in Your arms
Our cold and ruthless enemy, his pleasure is our harm
Rise up, O Lord, and he will flee before our sovereign God

Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird
Let every mountain, every field and valley of the earth
Let all the moons and all the stars in all the universe
Sing praises to the living God who rules them by His word

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This is what I am presenting not only to our pastor, the elders, and the students themselves, but I'm going to mail this home to every parent of our youth so they know "what we're doing" when we gather together and what the goal of our meeting together is. I trust this will be helpful to those who check out this blog...


I want to make clear some of the foundational truths that we stand on here at Christ Community Church’s youth ministry:

Our youth group is built upon 5 pillars

  1. Extolling God’s Character

It is our commitment to extol the absolute and utter sovereignty of God (Ps 93:1; Isa 46:10; Rev 19:6). The Bible clearly explains that God is holy (Lev 19:2), just (Deut 32:4), loving (1 John 4:8), merciful (Deut 4:31), gracious (Neh 9:17), angry with sin (Ps 7:11), and able to save (Eph 2:8-10; 2 Tim 1:9). We commit to extolling God’s character as we come together to worship corporately (Heb 10:25), and individually in the privacy of our own lives (1 Cor 10:31). Soli Deo Gloria.

  1. Explaining God’s Word

It is our commitment to explain God’s Word as we faithfully interpret and accurately apply God’s Word to the hearts and lives of our students (Neh 8:8). First and foremost, this requires the teacher to make certain his heart is right before God as he studies and prepares his own heart in order to be a pure vessel fit for the Master’s service in explaining and teaching the Scriptures to others (1 Tim 4:13-16). We commit to make the teaching of God’s Word the primary focus of our youth meetings—whether we are working through a book of the Bible, going through a topical study, or simply observing a singular text—so that the students know what God has to say. For after all, God has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3-4).

  1. Enthusiastically Worshiping God

It is our commitment to worship God in a way that is true, spirit-based, controlled, and yet enthusiastically joyful (Ps 100:1, 4). We desire to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We believe that God has revealed that He is, indeed, the God of gods and must solely be worshipped (Ps 96:5). He is to be worshipped with awe and joy (Ps 2:11). However, it is altogether recognized that this enthusiasm in worshipping God only comes from the Holy Spirit (John 3:8) when one has been born-again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3) to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4; Eph 4:1) growing in sanctification (1 Thess 4:3; Heb 12:14). Therefore, worshipping God is something that is never dull or boring but rather sincere and joyous (Ps 32:11)!

  1. Encouraging One Another

It is our commitment to habitually encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11). This may take several forms. First, this may evidence itself in a loving rebuke (Prov 27:5). We are confident that a loving confrontation when another brother sins is the loving thing to do (Gal 6:1; Matt 18:15-18; 2 Tim 4:2). Second, this may be evidenced in verbally encouraging and giving glory to God for what another individual has done (1 Thess 5:14; Heb 3:13). Our goal in encouraging one another is to stimulate one another toward love and good deeds (Heb 10:24) and becoming more Christlike in our private walk with Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:17).

  1. Evangelizing Lost Sinners

It is our commitment to make evangelism a central mark of our ministry. It is clearly stated in the Bible that most people are unbelievers and headed for an eternity in torment in hell (Matt 7:13-14). Therefore, we take it as our responsibility to proclaim the gospel (2 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Cor 3:6) and let God change the heart and draw the sinner to Himself if He deems it best (1 Cor 3:7-8; John 6:44; 1 Pet 1:2-3). Therefore, we make it our ambition to clearly and faithfully proclaim the biblical gospel during each teaching session when we corporately gather together (Acts 17:1-3; 1 Tim 4:13) as well as to personally share the gospel with those we come in contact with day by day (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 8:34-36).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Blessings.

Pastor Geoff

Thursday, September 25, 2008

= Busy week

1 Timothy 4:13-15 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm studying for a series of sermons I'm giving on the Second Coming. We have finally reached the climax in the book of Revelation as our youth group has traversed through the whole book with me!

I am struck with the normality of life which was going on at the time of the flood (Gen 6:5ff). Yet, God suddenly destroyed the world (all of it!) and those who lived on the world except for Noah, his family, and the animals aboard the ark with him.

Interestingly, the same is true today. Many people will live life as normal when Jesus Christ returns (the rapture and the Second Coming). But most Christians who would profess to believe in the soon-coming of our Savior are totally oblivious to the sudden and imminent return of Jesus Christ. Many believers live life without giving any thought to the possibility of meeting Christ at any moment--literally.

I was just pondering this truth. For instance, I'm sitting at my desk at church eating an oatmeal cookie. I had the thought that the Lord could rapture the saints before I take the next bite of my cookie. But to me, that next bite is so certain to happen (Amen!), but how naive we can be to think that Jesus Christ and His catching up of His own could "interrupt" my schedule! How wicked is that thought!

May we all sit back for a moment and ponder the all-too-near reality that Jesus Christ may come before the end of today. And whatever activity you were engaged in; whatever thought you were pondering; whatever place you were visiting, you may be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before that activity or thought is over or before you leave a place you're visiting. Let us remember afresh the fact that in a "twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor 15:52), we may be transported to the very presence of our Glorious Savior.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From Tom Schreiner's recent New Testament Theology:
“The purpose of life is to honor God, though again, John insists that God
cannot be honored if Jesus Christ is not honored (John 5:23). The purpose of
every life is to honor God in Christ, which fits, of course, with the major
thesis that I put forth in this book [“the centrality of God in Christ is the
foundational theme for the narrative unfolded in the NT”; p.119]. The Father is
glorified if people bear much fruit (John 15:8), and this fruit likely involves
both Christian character and the spread of the gospel so that others receive
eternal life (p.138).

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's said when so many OT scholars today question the historicity of the biblical accounts. In fact, would it be an overstatement to say that "most" scholars question Iron Age Israel? Can the biblical account speak for itself and be authoritative enough to lay the foundation upon which everything else is built? Apparently not.

"The modern state of OT scholarship is in a state of crisis," says Dr. V. Philips Long ("Introduction," in Windows into Old Testament History: Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of "Biblical Israel," Ed. by V. Philips Long, David W. Baker, and Gordon J. Wenham [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002], 1), and I concur with him.

I wish that the biblical accounts in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles were sufficient enough--but apparently not.

I like what Jesus has to say referring to God and His Word (of which the OT is a part):
John 17:17 "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

I don't want to disagree with my Savior.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I was a privileged man today. I had the great opportunity of visiting a friend in the hospital. If there could be a man who talked too much about heaven--this would be the guy! Every time I see him (literally!) he reminds me that we will, one day (soon!), be with the King of kings and Lord of lords! He always speaks of being in Glory and seeing our Savior face to face and worshipping him without any sinful tendencies or motives.

While he was lying in bed, I asked him what I could read for him from God's Word to encourage him. He said he wanted to hear 1 Peter 5. So I read the chapter slowly and with a loud voice (for the doctors in and outside the room to hear and afterwards we had a great talk on that day "when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1 Pet 5:4).

If there was one truth which convicted me today, it was the simple fact that I--as a seminary student and as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--don't exemplify the exuberate and joyful and unquenchable longing for the soon return of our Savior as I should. If you were to ask me: "Geoff, do you long for the return of Christ?" I'd respond by quickly affirming, "Yes, I do." But, I want, I really want, that kind of constant, unquenchable, and joyful attitude knowing that I will, all because of God's unconditional grace and mercy, receive that crown of glory--soon! I went to the hospital to be a blessing to another. Yet, I was the one who was truly blessed! Praise God.

On a not too distant note, I like what Phil Johnson wrote today about God loving all men yet being angry with the sinner:
I believe Scripture plainly teaches that there is a true and significant
sense in which God loves even those whom He hates. Scripture says His mercies
are over all His works (Psalm 145:9). He cannot hate His own
creatures with a pure and undiluted hatred, because they are the works of His
hands. Jesus said in
Matthew 5:44-45 that the way to be
like God is to love even our enemies.God's eternal love for his elect is unique,
and reserved for them alone. But we understand that there is more than one kind
of love, even in the realm of human relationships. My love for my wife is vastly
greater—and a different kind of love—from my love for my neighbor. But my love
for my neighbor is no less love, and not a mere pretense.In a similar way, God
loves the reprobate differently—a love of compassion; not a redemptive love. But
He does love them and His plea for them to be reconciled with Him (
2 Corinthians 5:20)
is well-meant.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Really? Can this be true?

According to a recent poll taken at Covenant College, it is true.

Specifically, a blog stating the matter says:
After the above, no one will be shocked to find out thirty-five percent of
Covenant's faculty members say they're likely to vote for Senator Obama. That's
one third of the faculty supporting the presidential candidacy of the most radically pro-baby slaughter politician in Washington

And again--and even more shockingly:

Interestingly, only half the faculty members considered "abortion" to be
"Very important" in their selection in their anticipated vote for a presidential
candidate. This means half of the faculty members made a conscious decision to
respond that abortion was not "Very important." What got a higher rating than
"Social justice." Abortion had a rating average of 3.23 whereas
"Social justice" won with 3.40. (Ten faculty members responded that abortion was
either "Not important" (2) or only "Somewhat important" (8), but only one
faculty member responded that social justice was "Not important" and just two
that it was only "Somewhat important."
For the top rating, "Very important,"
three issues tied in the faculty's vote: "Abortion," "Health care," and "Social
justice," with "Social justice" taking the honors.
Covenant's president, Niel
Nielson, might suggest the school's chaplain invite Submergent (they
themselves call it Emergent) Church leader, Donald Miller, to visit the campus
and preach in chapel along the theme of his mini-sermon given as a bendiction to
the Democratic National Convention in Denver last month.

Let us pray that our Christian faculty in some of the leading schools--which are very scant these days--would repent of this wishy-washy theology and take a stand for biblical truth.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here's a quote with which I'm concluding my sermon on Revelation 19:1-10 by the old 19th century preacher, George Livingstone Robinson:

Let us picture to ourselves that celestial coronation scene. Jesus our King
seated on the throne of heaven, surrounded with glory, His kingdom universal,
His enemies under His feet, Satan vanquished, earthly magistrates and
potentates, sages and kings, armies and emperors, bowing submissively before Him
as King of Kings and Lord of Lords; hymns of praise chanted by the heavenly
choir; tributes of adoration by the saints clothed in white; His elect singing
hallelujahs to Him that sitteth upon the throne of God most high, and worshiping
multitudes raising their voices in songs of triumph, as God the Father
places upon His brow the crown of victory! Oh, Jesus, thou art the monarch of
the skies, thou art king of heaven and of earth!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ah, my dear friends, we want nothing in these times for revival in the
world but the simple preaching of the gospel. This is the great battering
ram that shall dash down the bulwarks of iniquity. This is the great light
that shall scatter the darkness. We need not that men should be adopting
new schemes and new plans. We are glad of the agencies and assistance
which are continually arising; but after all, the true Jerusalem blade, the
sword that can cut to the piercing asunder of the joints and marrow, is the
preaching of the Word of God. We must never neglect it, never despise
it. The age in which the pulpit is despised, will be an age in which
gospel truth will cease to be honored….God forbid that we should begin to
depreciate preaching. Let us still honor it; let us look to it as God’s
ordained instrumentality, and we shall yet see in the world a repetition of
great wonders wrought by preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here's my quote for the day:
There is a clear progression [in human history] toward a goal. The goal is
the consummation of the kingdom of God, in which human beings glorify God by
exercising rule over this planet in his name and by serving and enjoying him
forever. The glory of God is the highest of all ends and purposes (Larry R.
Helyer, Yesterday, Today, and Forever [Salem, WI: Sheffield, 1996],

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I love Galatians 2:20:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
"Indeed, the Christian believer possesses an ideal completeness in Christ. Since the fullness of the Godhead indwelt Christ, and since believers are in the exalted Lord, Paul could affirm, "you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority" (Col 2:10; John 1:16).

Hear Martin Luther speak to this:

Through faith you are so closely united with Christ ... that you can say with
confidence ... Christ's righteousness, victory, life, etc., are mine; and
Christ, in turn, says: I am this sinner, that is, his sins, death, etc., are
Mine because he clings to Me and I to him; for through faith we have been joined
together into one flesh and bone!
Praise God!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Well, I'm off to six flags tonight to see if my youth group can hang upside-down with their youth pastor. Yes, you are reading my intended meaning; I intend to go on the roller-coasters that go upside-down over and over and over again! Can they handle it?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Gospel

I want to be quick to follow yesterday's post with the gospel truth that you can be saved from hell. Here is a simple reminder from Ephesians 2:1-10 that the Gospel is the greatest news one could ever hear!

1. We are dead in sin (1-3)

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in
which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to
the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the
sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts
of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by
nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
2. We are helpless apart from God’s intervention (4-6)

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love
with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions,
made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and
raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ
3. We are made to demonstrate God’s glory (7)

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing
riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

4. We are saved by grace through faith (8-9)

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so
that no one may boast.
5. We are saved resulting in a life of good works (10)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for
good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Finally, recognize the urgency to heed these biblical truths and do not linger!

2 Corinthians 6:2 Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION "—

Hebrews 4:7 He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let us not forget that we stand at the edge of eternity. Whenever God sovereignly chooses to end one's life, we must bear in mind that heaven (for some) and hell (for most) are closer than we may think.

I heard read this quote today and it gripped me. If you read it and it doesn't make you stop and think: read it over again--and again.
"Religion inflames the imaginations of men with a good opinion of their own
state, so that nothing can disturb them."

Let us not forget that many people who are religious will close their eyes in death and awake in the shrieks and torments of eternal hell. We must not minimize the reality of eternity--an eternity under the wrath of an infinite Being. Hear Jonathan Edwards speak regarding this subject:
"If it seemed real unto men that there is a hell of everlasting burnings,
that all that die impenitent and unconverted must immediately be cast
into as soon as they die, and never be delivered from, it would be impossible in nature and a self-contradiction that they should be easy
and merry, and that they should go cheerfully about their worldly business and
recreations while they are in an impenitent and unconverted condition--as
impossible as it is for a man to love pain and delight in being miserable"

Edwards is dead on. If the world recognized that they walk along an old, ragged, moth-eaten cloth over the pit of hell, and yet it is the sheer mercy of God that, at any one moment, doesn't drop them through that garment into the eternal misery of hell, there is no way that people could rejoice in life because of the eternity that awaits them.

There is a problem, however. And that problem is that people don't believe this truth. Either they don't know it or, most probably, they refuse to believe this truth. For a believer who truly understands the glorious truth that he has been saved from sin, saved from God's wrath, and justified because of Jesus Christ's substitutionary death, then that concept will instill the fear of God him.

Yet, as it has been said, "If you are not afraid of hell, you are almost certainly going there" (Gerstner, Repent or Perish, 13). We as preachers must not shy away from preaching on the horrors and agonizing torments of this eternal place--even if it scares people. As Spurgeon said: "I'll scare people into the Kingdom if I have to."

Is it appropriate for a preacher to herald the horrors of hell? Some think so. Here is a proposed proposal that preachers should wrestle with:
1. The sinner is threatened with the horrible hell he so justly deserves
unless he accepts Christ's undeserved salvation.
2. But he hates the Christ who alone can save him.
3. That hatred can only be removed, and a believing heart bestowed in its
place, by sovereign divine mercy and the irresistible call of God the Holy
4. So the sinner must seek God's mercy, which will come, if God pleases,
only by divine regeneration.

Therefore, the effect of biblical scare preaching is, therefore, to set a sinner to seeking salvation. In a word, scare preaching is to produce: not salvation, but the seeking of salvation.

Monday, September 1, 2008

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