Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sermon, July 13, 2014 – James Jennings: May No Fault Be Found With Our Ministry (2 Cor. 6:3-4a)

3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:

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81 Weeks Of Art (Azurdia, That Is) Preaching Through The Book Of Revelation: The Cosmic Crescendo (5:8-14)

Arturo Azurdia III is one of the pastors of Trinity Church, Portland, Oregon. Almost fifteen years ago, while pastoring another church in California, he preached through the book of Revelation over a course of 81 sermons.  In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Azurdia’s approach to this book may be a little different than what you may be accustomed to.  If you will be patient with him, I think you will find that he brings much light to what can be a confusing book and makes it rather easy to understand.  If you do not attend a Sunday evening service, this would be well worth your while as a substitute. You will need your bible open in front of you while listening to this series.

This week: Chapter five, verses eight through fourteen.

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sunday School, July 13, 2014 – David Butterbaugh: Maintaining A Consistent Devotional Life

Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sermon, June 29, 2014 – Tim Conway: Offering Sacrifices Pleasing To God (Heb. 13:15-16)

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Dale Ralph Davis: The Lament

From his commentary on 2 Samuel. We post this remembering our son Jonathan, who would have turned 32 today had he not died in 2002.

A lament is a formal expression of grief or distress, one that can be written, read, learned, parcticed, repeated. A lament differs from the informal, spontaneous, immediate outbursts of grief like those of [2 Samuel] 1:11-12. A lament is no less sorrowful or sincere; but it is a vehicle for the mind as well as the emotions. A lament is an expression of thoughtful grief.

In a written lament then words cannot simply be dumped or gushed or mushed as in initial grief. Here one cannot simply vomit out feelings but must choose words. Not that the lament is cold, objective, and detached. rather the intensity of one’s emotions unite with the discipline of one’s mind to produce structured sorrow, a sort of authorized version of distress, a kind of coherent agony. In a lament, therefore, words are carefully selected, crafted, honed, to express loss as closely yet fully as possible.

I wonder if there is a principle here for all Yahweh’s people when they lose, especially, Christian friends or loved ones. Along with our emotional grief should we not also express our reflective grief? Why not write down our grief in careful, thoughtful lament form and offer it up to God as such? And do so again and again?

The sorrows and wounds God’s people receive from their losses are not miraculously healed after a short time of emotional catharsis. And sometimes in the church there is such an impatience with grief. Why isn’t Allan ‘over’ Carol’s death or Connie over Tom’s since it’s been eighteen months – why can’t that mother get beyond the death of her ten-year-old? But the lament-form of the Bible assumes that our grief is deep and ongoing, and it invites us to enter the discipline of expressing that grief in words that convey our anguish, in images that picture our despair, in written prayers that verbalize despondency. Why should God’s people be shoddy in their sorrow?

81 Weeks Of Art (Azurdia, That Is) Preaching Through The Book Of Revelation: The Lion Who Is The Lamb (5:1-7)

Arturo Azurdia III is one of the pastors of Trinity Church, Portland, Oregon. Almost fifteen years ago, while pastoring another church in California, he preached through the book of Revelation over a course of 81 sermons.  In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Azurdia’s approach to this book may be a little different than what you may be accustomed to.  If you will be patient with him, I think you will find that he brings much light to what can be a confusing book and makes it rather easy to understand.  If you do not attend a Sunday evening service, this would be well worth your while as a substitute. You will need your bible open in front of you while listening to this series.

This week: Chapter five, verses one through seven.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

The Doctrine Of Predestination Does Not Hinder Effectual Evangelization, But In Fact Guarantees It

A common objection to the doctrine of God’s sovereign, free, eternal decree of predestination in the salvation of sinners comes along the lines of this:

“If that’s true, then why evangelize? What good would it do?”

Such an objection seems at first to be not only natural, but definitively logical. If God has eternally decreed who would be saved, then indeed, why evangelize? God will save them anyway.

The problem with the objection is that it is decidedly unbiblical. The doctrine of predestination does not stand alone apart from other teachings in the Scriptures concerning salvation. As clearly as the Scriptures state that there is a group of people known as”the elect” whom God chose in eternity, those same Scriptures also state that God has decreed the means by which the elect are brought to Himself. What means? The primary mean in evangelization. The proclamation of the gospel. Commanding sinners to repent – to “change their mind” – and believe the gospel, that gospel being the Person and work of Christ. Christ is the “good news.”

Where does the Scripture state that? Romans 10 states it very clearly. Romans 10, interestingly enough, occurs right after a chapter which gives one of the most clear descriptions of the doctrine of predestination (and reprobation, for that matter) in the Scriptures. What does Paul, writing not only his personal thoughts, but also the breathed-out words of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17) state concerning evangelization? Keep in mind Paul writes this hot on the heels of just having written what he wrote in Romans 9 – that salvation is absolutely, totally, up to the free, sovereign will of God and God alone, and that God also goes so far as to harden the hearts of men so they cannot believe – still holding them accountable for their unbelief, by the way, to which Paul states his classic, “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” in response to the one who dares accuse God of being unjust in doing said hardening.

In chapter 10, Paul states this – that ones confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, he will be saved. He says whoever does this will be saved – Jew and Greek, because the Lord bestows riches on all who call on Him, and that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But Paul had begun chapter ten by stating this his desire was “that they (his fellow ethnic Jews) be saved.” He says this right after he explained in chapter nine why all his fellow Jews would not be saved (9:6b-33) – and having done so to prove that the word of God has not failed (9:6a). Paul says that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, whether Jew or Greek (10:12-13).

Paul then gets to the heart of the matter: how are these people (Jews and Greeks) saved? Paul calls upon a technique he uses extensively in Romans: the rhetorical question. Read the earlier chapters of Romans. He uses the rhetorical question as a teaching tool many, many times and he does so here again. How then will “they” (Jew or Greek) call on him (Jesus) whom they have not believed? That begins a chain of questions and let’s look at the chain as a series of bullet points because the visual will help us see the building of Paul’s argument – and argument he builds from the end to the beginning:

  • How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
  • And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
  • And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
  • And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

He then cites Scripture from Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Then he says that yes, not all believe – but those who do? By what means? “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

That is how people are saved. That is the means by which the elect are drawn to God – through the preaching of the good news.

That was all just introduction to the point of our post, referring back to the title. Here’s the question: does evangelization accomplish a purpose? If so, what purpose? If so, to what degree does it accomplish the will of God?

Yes, evangelization accomplishes a purpose – as our example from Romans shows, it is the means by which the elect are drawn to God. Then…what is the will of God in evangelization? Is God’s will that every single person be saved? If so, is his will “successful?’ Or better, is his will “effectual?” Does his will for evangelization accomplish his own will for the salvation of sinners – without fail?

If it is God’s will that his purpose for evangelization is that doing so will bring every single person without exception to Himself, then his will has failed miserably and will continue to fail. As Matthew wrote the words of Jesus, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:14) If this is his will – then his will only effects salvation for some and if so, then his will and evangelization fail most of the time.

However…however…if we affirm the doctrine of predestination, stating that God has an elect people chosen in eternity to whom the word of Christ comes as Paul wrote in Romans 10, and that every single one of these people whom God has chosen will indeed hear the word of Christ and will thus believe, then evangelization accomplishes the will of God perfectly. The will of God, for the believer in predestination, actually does effect – or cause, or result in – the salvation of those whom God has chosen to give ears to hear at some point in time and space.

I cannot tell you how many times I had colleagues in prison ministry ask me why I evangelized if I believed in predestination. My response? “I evangelize because I believe in predestination.” If the Lord wills, twice before month’s end a brother from Grace Community Church and I will enter a prison in South Texas and proclaim the gospel. Why do we go? We are commanded to go. Why go? Because how can anyone call on him in whom they have not believed? And, how can they believe in him of whom they have never heard? And, how can they hear without someone preaching? And how can we preach unless we are sent? The Lord says by doing so, our feet are acknowledged as being lovely. And, in doing so, we proclaim the word of Christ and those who hear will believe. Who will believe? Those predestined, those chosen before the foundation of the world. (Rom. 10, Eph. 1)

Do we know who the predestined are? No. We are to go and proclaim to every person – besides, perhaps every person we go to is one of the elect. Is that possible? Sure it is. We need not be frustrated or think we must do something more or make a “better argument” in order to convince our listener of the validity of our point. All we must do is proclaim, and pray. When we do so, God’s plan for evangelization will be accomplished and accomplished perfectly. Evangelization thus does “effect” salvation for those whom it is intended. We know not who the elect are as we proclaim – but we do know that they will hear and they will believe.

Therefore, that is why the title of this post is true: predestination is in no way a hindrance to evangelization, but it is the fuel for it. Such evangelization will accomplish salvation. It will “effect” the receipt of eternal life for whom it is intended in the divine, perfect will of God.

Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sunday School, July 6, 2014 – Tawfiq Cotman-El: What Makes Jesus Marvel

81 Weeks Of Art (Azurdia, That Is) Preaching Through The Book Of Revelation: A Vision Of God’s Throne, Part 5 (4:6b-11)

Arturo Azurdia III is one of the pastors of Trinity Church, Portland, Oregon. Almost fifteen years ago, while pastoring another church in California, he preached through the book of Revelation over a course of 81 sermons.  In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Azurdia’s approach to this book may be a little different than what you may be accustomed to.  If you will be patient with him, I think you will find that he brings much light to what can be a confusing book and makes it rather easy to understand.  If you do not attend a Sunday evening service, this would be well worth your while as a substitute. You will need your bible open in front of you while listening to this series.

This week: Chapter four, verses six through eleven.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

Gordon H. Clark: Empiricism Can Neither Produce Nor Justify Any Universal Proposition

From “Lord God of Truth.”

Now whether the subject be theology, morality, or plain ordinary physics, empiricism can neither produce nor justify any universal proposition. The explanation is quite obvious: Experience is never universal. Quite aside from the variable error involved in all laboratory measurements, agordon_clark dozen or a thousand experiments never cover all the pendulums that are now, ever have been, and ever shall be. Worse, the law in physics is not true of even one visible pendulum, for physics assumes that a pendulum swings from a frictionless point, on a tensionless string, with the weight of the bob concentrated at a point. In addition to these possibilities, a pendulum in London does not swing like one in Washington, for the latitude changes the equation. These four reasons, and there are probably others, prevent the physicist from having any logical grounds for asserting, “All pendulums…” Physics indeed has universals; not one of them is true.

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