A Helpful Way to Remember the Doctrines of Grace

T - Total Depravity
People are sinful to their core and in their extremities. We cannot, in and of ourselves, choose Christ. We are “dead in our trespasses” and need to be “made alive together with Christ—by grace” (Ephesians 2:5).

U - Unconditional Election
God chose to save certain individuals based on the condition of His will and nothing else. Not only did “He [choose] us,” He did so “in Him,” and He did so “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). In fact, this is how God shows His love “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And the only reason that “we love [is] because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

L - Limited Atonement
The atoning work of Jesus’ blood actually saves those whom God elected. It did not merely provide a way for all to be saved. Jesus was the “propitiation by his blood” (Romans 3:25) and actually “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), “and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I - Irresistible Grace
In addition to the general call of salvation (that merely point people to salvation in Christ), there is an effective call to God’s elect (that does bring them to salvation in Christ). “Many are [outwardly] called, but few are [effectively] chosen” (Matthew 22:14). “All that the Father gives [to Jesus] will come,” and “whoever comes [He] will never cast out” (John 6:67). And, in fact, “no one can come to [Jesus] unless the Father … draws him” (John 6:44a).

P - Perseverance of the Saints
Those who are unconditionally elected by God the Father, atoned for by God the Son and are brought to salvation by God the Spirit are eternally saved. “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6) because “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son … and those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). If a person is drawn to Jesus, He “will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44b).

Christ and the Pharisees by Ernst Zimmerman

Alternate Title: Loving Your Neighbor in Lockdown

Our Need to Love

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

The elders also wanted to share several resources (which usually cost money) that are being made freely available in light of COVID-19.

These include:

Paul Writes His Letters, by Valentin de Boulogne

The Ministry of Paul
After Paul’s conversion, he went to the synagogue preaching boldly the name Jesus, proving that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 9). When he and Barnabas went on their journey, they would go to the synagogue every Sabbath and preach (Acts 13). The same was true when he went with Silas (Acts 17). By Acts 20, the day had changed to Sunday, but still Paul would preach; they would break bread and, no doubt, address one another in song.

We are currently not planning to gather for any of our corporate events this week, and we will do our best to keep you posted about future weeks.

It is the position of the elders of Flint Reformed Baptist Church that …
Baptism by immersion is the God-given ordnance to be once administered by the church as an outward sign of the recipient's faith in Jesus Christ and their repentance of sin acting as their public profession of faith and the church’s corporate recognition thereof.

We, the elders of the Flint Reformed Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude the following three affirmations and denials concerning the doctrine of the Sabbath.

In 1793, William Carey sailed to India to bring the good news of the gospel to the unreached Hindu people. A majority of the religious adherents were crippled by the rigid caste system that divides Hindus into four castes—Brahmins (priests and teachers), Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaishyas (farmers and merchants) and the Shudras (laborers).

In 1841, Dr. David Livingston took up his first medical missionary trip through Africa with the London Missionary Society. Early on in his diary he tells the story of himself, along with some of the locals, defending the village from lions. While Livingston was loading his gun, he was attacked. He writes that the lion pounced on him, biting his shoulder and landing with a paw on his back. The lion growled and shook him like a rat. Livingstone recalled, in this moment of absolute terror, being surprised at the absolute numbness that he felt—like a patient under an anesthetic—unable to feel the knife.

“This peculiar state,” he wrote, “is probably produced in all animals killed by the carnivora; and if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death.”

the way he should goQuestion:

How can I teach my kids to be good christians when they aren’t even saved?

Recently our city was hit with not one but two series of tornadoes in a three week time span.  The storms uprooted century-old trees, cause incalculable damages to buildings, claimed the lives of citizens and destroyed the lives of many more.  In the face of such devastation one is prompted to take a step back and try to wrap one's head around it all.  It's impossible of course, but one is prompted to try.  As I attempted to do just that there were a few things that continue to come to the surface, and I'd like to share some of my thoughts here.

Andy Stanley is currently being criticized by many in the evangelical world for saying in a recent sermon that parents who take their children to a small church are selfish. Specifically, Mr. Stanley said:

I am often asked about the Children's Ministry here at Flint Reformed Baptist Church, and I am always happy to give an answer.  The reactions to my answer vary from a lack-luster stare to an enthusiastic conversation.  The disparity here, I think, is not really a result of how we do things but of why.  This question is seldom asked, but its undergerds everything else.  If your why does not line up with our how the whole thing seems weird.  Conversely, if our how resonates with you, it's probably because you align with our why.

“And then the two guys started kissing.”  This was the statement a first grade neighborhood kid made to my seven year old homeschooled son about a television show that he had seen on a family-friendly network.  There were days when Christians parents could live quiet and tranquil lives in a way that allowed them to tackle worldview issues in their own timing.  It would seem those days are behind us.

6) Preaching through books of the Bible models the best way to study the Bible

It seems likely that many in a congregation will model their own personal Bible study after what the Pastor does on Sunday morning. If they see me skipping around, avoiding the hard texts, and not dealing with things that can be difficult to understand, then they will assume that this is how they should study their Bible as well. 

7) Preaching through books of the Bible gives the congregation a better understanding of individual books of the Bible 

Jonah was the first book that I preached through. In my experience, if you asked most professing Christians “what is the primary message of the book of Jonah?” Or “what does Jonah tell us about God, and grace, and our mission in the world?” they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Perhaps they have heard sermons on “Jonah and the whale” but beyond that, they don’t have a great understanding of the book as a whole. I am convinced, though, from my experience that over the long-haul, congregants will have a much better understanding of individual books of the Bible and the Bible as a whole if they have been exposed weekly to consecutive expository preaching through books as opposed to other methods. 

Next Sunday, 7/5/2015, I will be concluding my sermon series preaching through the Book of Galatians. In total, I will have preached 23 sermons from the book over the course of about six months. The week after I conclude Galatians, I will be starting a new series preaching through the Book of Ecclesiastes. I anticipate spending about five months preaching through the book. 

Now after hearing that, several obvious questions may emerge in your mind. For example: Why would you do that? Why would you plan to spend five months preaching through an obscure book like Ecclesiastes? Wouldn’t it be better to preach from the Gospels? Won’t your congregation get restless being in the same book for so long? Wouldn’t it be better to “shake it up some” by preaching a week in the gospels, a week in the epistles, and then a week in the Old Testament?

Great questions.

While preaching through books of the Bible has been growing in popularity in recent years, it is still looked upon as something strange in large sections of Christendom. Even within evangelicalism, preaching through books of the Bible in an expository fashion has been cautioned against by some, and dismissed as easy by others. My goal, then, in these next series of posts is to explain why I am convinced that preaching through books of the Bible is the best way to provide a balanced diet of scriptural truth for the congregation. 

Why do I preach through books of the Bible?

1) As a pastor, I have a responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God

Paul was able to declare to the Ephesians Elders in Acts 20: “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” He famously told Timothy in his second letter to him, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” By preaching through books of the Bible, we honor the fact that every verse of scripture is the word of God and needs to be declared. If we only preach certain parts of certain books, we neglect the truth that all of the scripture is indeed breathed by God. This leads to the second reason. 

From time to time I have been asked what Bible I would recommend for kids.  I think this is an important (and pretty tough) choice.  For those of us with the means, there is a difficult balance between showing a sense of respect and value for a Bible (as opposed to a Little Golden book) and knowing that it will be put through the ringer (like a pair of jeans).  Where is the balance?  How much should I spend?  Shouldn't I try to make it fun?  Is a kid-specific translation a good idea?  These are all tough questions.

I'll try to help you answer some of them, but let me express a few thoughts first:

  • The Word of God is special and powerful—not the paper and the binding.  The Word of God is living and effective, wonderful and working regardless of how it is printed.
  • The Word of God is to be treasured in our hearts—not on our shelves.  The most expensive leather-bound Bible in pristine, never-been-used condition is nothing in comparison to a $1 paperback Bible that is falling apart from honest use.
  • The Word of God is to be done—not only read.  James urges us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.  To do otherwise would be foolish, forgetful and even fatal.

That being said, I have been blessed enough to be able to spend some money on Bibles for my little readers.  I decided to get some that were nice and would last.  I have chosen and would recommend to you the ESV Kid's Thinline Bible.  I feel sure there are other good options out there, but this has been the most ideal Bible for kids that I have seen to date.  Why?  I'm glad you asked.

It is difficult to turn on the news, browse the web, or open a newspaper without hearing something about gay marriage. From “controversial” laws in Indiana and Arkansas, to Supreme Court decisions, to judges overturning state constitutions defining marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman, to Christian denominations changing their stance toward gay marriage, the issue is simply everywhere. Anyone who does not wholeheartedly accept, embrace, and celebrate gay marriage as something intrinsically good is automatically dismissed as a bigot. As Pastor Kevin DeYoung recently said, “We should not expect our ideas to be debated fairly when it has already been concluded that there are no ideas to consider, only bigotry to suppress. As I’ve said before, why argue about dogma when stigma will do?”

In the midst of all of these conversations, there have been calls for the evangelical church to change its position on the issue of gay marriage if they want any chance of being seen as relevant in the culture. Speaking concerning the issue of gay marriage and the church, former pastor Rob Bell recently said, “I think culture is already there [accepting of gay marriage] and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense…”

Much could be said concerning Bell’s views such as his dismissal of scripture as merely “letters from 2,000 years ago,” but I want to focus on the main point that he is articulating and that I have read countless times in recent years. The position that the church must change its position on gay marriage or else it will shrink into irrelevancy. 

Recently, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association released the best-selling Christian books for 2014. That list is as follows:

1) Jesus Calling-Sarah Young

2) Heaven Is For Real: Paperback-Todd Burpo

3) Heaven Is For Real: Movie Edition-Todd Burpo

4) The Five Love Languages-Gary Chapman

5) Four Blood Moons-John Hagee

6) I Am A Church Member-Thom Rainer

7) The Total Money Makeover-Dave Ramsey

8) You Can, You Will-Joel Osteen

9) The Daniel Plan-Rick Warren 

10) The Mystery of the Shemitah-Jonathan Cahn 


Granted, I don’t know what one has to do for a book to be labeled as a “Christian Book.” Some of these books may or may not offer helpful points with regards to relationships, finance, and diet, but they are not explicitly Christian. Some, like Jesus Calling, despite their immense popularly are unhelpful and even dangerous as argued by Michael Horton here and Tim Challies here. It’s not just the best-sellers though. A quick trip to Lifeway will reveal a myriad of books with varying levels of theological soundness. It is no surprise, then, that many evangelicals simply don’t know what to read. They are either left overwhelmed by the amount of books that are available and therefore don’t read at all, or they are, unbeknownst to them, reading books that are leading them away from what accords with sound doctrine as many of the aforementioned books would undoubtedly do. 

 “What do you mean by that?” “How do you define the term *insert theological term that was just used*?” Those are two questions that I find myself asking more and more. While I have undoubtedly annoyed many by constantly asking them what they mean by the words that they use, it is a practice that I am finding to be more and more necessary. The reason is simple: with many terms, but especially with theological terms, there is a wide array of definitions that may be attached to the same word.

For example, consider this statement: “The Bible says that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved.” Is that a true statement? Certainly. The problem, however, is that it is a statement that many people can agree with including Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, as well as countless other groups in-between. Now many would rejoice over this reality and declare it an ecumenical victory, but the reality is that any “agreement” is only because the terms have not been properly defined.

For example, what does one mean when they use the word Bible? The Protestant Bible? The Catholic Bible? Is the Book of Mormon included? The Bible as interpreted by the Watchtower Society? Is the Quran included in one’s understanding of the Bible?

What does one mean when they use the word believe? What does it actually look like to believe? Muslims argue that one must believe that Jesus Christ existed in order to be a faithful Muslim so they could get on board with this statement.

 What does one mean when they refer to Jesus Christ? Is Christ fully God and fully man as Christianity has historically taught? Is he only a man as the Jehovah’s Witnesses say? Is he the spirit brother of Lucifer as the Mormons say? Is he the second to last prophet who pointed to the prophet Muhammad who was to come? What did Jesus actually say? What did Jesus actually do?

What does one mean when they use the word saved? What are we saved from? What does salvation entail? Even among those who profess to be Christians, you will find many different ways in which the word salvation is used. Many individuals who hold to Liberation Theology will use terms like “salvation” and “saved” but their understanding of those words is drastically different from historic Christianity.

Consider again the statement: “The Bible says that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved.” A true statement, but it is meaningless until we define our terms.

With this understanding in mind, we must define our own terms and ask others to do the same for three reasons.