March 31st, 2015
Victory of Christ over the Grave
At Grace Church, we recognize that every day is a day to rehearse the gospel, every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and every moment is to be lived in the reality of our King’s soon return. However, this does not negate the benefit of observing Christian holidays and festivals. If there is a high point in the Christian year, it is Easter, when we especially celebrate the victory of Christ over the grave.
As we prepare to honor this special day, we’ve been learning a new song called Jerusalem, and it was written by a group of church musicians in Australia called City Alight. Here’s whatTim Challies had to say about it recently:
What do I like about it? I like that it is written in the present tense rather than the past tense; I like the constant calls to action: See, Hear, Feel, Lift; I like the progression from the streets of Jerusalem, to the cross, to the empty tomb, to the New Jerusalem; I even like the simplicity of the melody.
Listen, Download, Watch
My hope in introducing this is that our congregation will be able to offer it up skillfully in worship on Easter Sunday. I encourage each of you to take time this week to listen to the song a few times. If you’re a musician, take a look at the sheet music and play it through. Everything you need is found right here, on iTunes, or (listen for free) on Spotify. If you really like it, I’d encourage you to support these songwriters by purchasing the song on iTunes. They also have a full album available that sounds excellent.
I’m certain this song will become a staple in our repertoire for Sunday morning worship services at GCA, and I’m greatly looking forward to singing it with you.
~ Garrett Lee, Pastor of Worship
November 5th, 2013
Sermon Title: The Basin and The Towel
Speaker: Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Text: Matthew 20:17-34
Series: Jesus Messiah-The Gospel of Matthew
Listen by clicking the audio player at the end of this post.
- A Personal Revelation (v. 17-19)
- A Principle Stated (v. 20-28)
- A Pattern to Follow (v. 29-34)
October 30th, 2013
Stephen Enjaian, a friend of Grace Church, provides this helpful review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s book, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence. Thabiti is a converted Muslim and now Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands. You can also find a video of a helpful conversation between Thabiti and J.D. Greear, another pastor with a heart for Muslims, entitled Loving Our Muslim Neighbors, here. This book is the basis of an upcoming study at Adult Bible Class.
Title: The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence
Author: Thabiti Anyabwile
Publisher: Moody Publishers (April 1, 2010)
Length: 176 pages
Thabiti Anyabwile [on yob WEE lay] knows that most Christians are afraid to talk to Muslims and are intimidated by the theological expertise they think is required. With a joyful style, he shows why every Christian who understands the Gospel is equipped to share it with Muslims. Having left Islam for Christ, Thabiti is living proof that the Gospel is the power of God to Muslims. His new book is the ideal introduction to Muslim evangelism.
Though Part 1 has a greater theological emphasis and Part 2 more application, both parts have a balance of doctrine, example and practical suggestion.
Part 1: The Gospel
Chapter 1: God by Any Other Name?
Chapter 2: Man’s Sin: Resting Lightly on the Muslim Conscience
Chapter 3: Jesus Christ: Fully God and Fully Man
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ: the Lamb Slain—and Resurrected!
Chapter 5: The Response: There’s Repentance and Faith . . . and Then There is Repentance and Faith!
Part 2: As You Witness
Chapter 6: Be Filled with the Spirit
Chapter 7: Trust the Bible
Chapter 8: Be Hospitable
Chapter 9: Use Your Local Church
Chapter 10: Suffer for the Name
Chapter 11: The Good News for African-American Muslims
Thabiti invites his readers to listen as he excitedly tells of his many conversations with Muslims. These conversations illustrate his points in a way that invites us to follow him out the door and join the next encounter.
Thabiti’s own conversion resulted in part from reading the Qur’an’s affirmations of the Bible as God’s Word. He quotes several Qur’ anic passages that show why even according to the Qur’ an, the Bible could not have been corrupted, contrary to what Muslims are taught.
Though Muslims frequently talk of God’s forgiveness, their system ultimately gives them no guarantee of forgiveness. Thabiti recommends explaining the Bible’s unique and rich descriptions of conversion (i.e., the new birth, raised from death to life, united with Christ).
Most Christians have the fear of not knowing “the right answer.” Thabiti shows that we already know what we need to know. Our role is “to lift the hands of suppression [of truth]” and “draw out the knowledge of sin, unrighteousness, God and judgment that God has already placed inside their hearts” (p. 48).
Unless we intentionally seek out Muslims and befriend them, they will never see a vital witness to Christ. This is especially true of Muslim women, who usually have very limited social contact outside their families. Thabiti makes a heartfelt plea for Christian women to reach out to them with hospitality, and offers practical suggestions.
Thabiti gives five action-provoking reasons to be prepared to suffer for our witness. As an African-American, his insights in the closing chapter on African-American Muslims give valuable insight into the unique barriers and opportunities of witnessing to these individuals.
Authors are pleased enough that people buy and read their books. I will go a step further. I am actually using The Gospel for Muslims to evangelize Muslims. Read this little treasure and be ready to share the Gospel with Muslims—with confidence.
You may purchase the book here.
Stephen Enjaian is a member of our sending church, Heritage Bible Church and regularly writes at www.activefaith.wordpress.com.
May 28th, 2013
Do you want to learn what the message of Christianity is all about? Are you wondering why Christians are so compelled by Jesus of Nazareth and live by his words even today? Do you have questions you’ve been wanting to ask about the credibility or reliability of the Christian faith? I invite you to join in on a short series of discussions called Christianity Explained where you can learn the core message about Jesus Christ.
Someone from our church would be delighted to introduce you to the message of Jesus in six brief discussion studies in the Gospel of Mark, a biography of Jesus in the Bible. The booklet show below, Christianity Explained, will be your guide. You are welcome to ask any questions that you have, and no question is too threatening, or off-the wall. Jesus made staggering truth claims and issued incredible promises to his followers. We’d like to show you what he said, and give you a comfortable atmosphere to think through those claims and promises for yourself.
Interested in going through Christianity Explained? Contact me, Pastor Jonathan Matías, at 703.639.4077 (press 4 to reach the pastoral staff) or email the church here.
In addition, here is a visual explanation of the gospel, the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ, that has changed our lives. It’s called “The Story” and it tells how you can find peace with God and enter into an everlasting relationship with him!
April 12th, 2013
The Bible records a wide range of true stories, from the dramatic Red Sea crossing of the Exodus, and the sordid adulterous relationship of David and Bathsheba, to the courageous missionary journeys of Paul which are as dramatic as an episode with Jack Bauer in 24. One of the most difficult narratives to grapple with and understand is the time in Genesis 22 the Lord God commanded Abraham to take his one-and-only son to the top of Mount Moriah and sacrifice him on an altar.
If God is moral, how could he order a man to murder his only son? What legitimate reason could God ever give a believer to do that to his child? Where is the love and compassion Jesus preached in this bloody story? If you’ve wrestled to accept and understand this biblical account, I commend you to read Jean Williams’ thoughts on that difficult scene. Here’s an excerpt as she probes why this story is in the Scriptures:
“How strange Genesis 22 has always seemed to me. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? What kind of Father asks another father to kill his child? Did Sarah know what was going to happen as her husband and son left that day? What psychological scars did Isaac carry into adulthood? (A very modern question, I know.)
“What did it cost Abraham to take each step on that three-day journey? Did he stare at the knife as he cut branches for the fire, thinking about what else it would soon cut? What thoughts ran through his mind as he reassured Isaac that God would supply the sacrifice, knowing he had supplied it in the boy who walked by his side?
Jean tells speaks of Abraham’s rock-solid faith that God could resurrect his son from the dead. She recounts how in the nick-of-time, God sent a ram caught in a thicket to replace Isaac on that altar. And then, she brings home the meaning of this story, and what it points to–
“What God asks of Abraham, he gives himself. Once again, a father offers up his only son. But this time there is no reprieve, no last-minute escape clause. The sky is unbroken by a voice. Instead, darkness gathers, and the full weight of a father’s anger descends. A cross instead of an altar. Nails instead of a knife. A Lamb instead of a ram. Blood thick on the ground. A voice whispering, “Father?”. A life given so that others may live.
“Three days later, the Father receives his Son back from death.
“And suddenly the story of Abraham and Isaac doesn’t seem so strange, but inevitable, a line drawing for the future to fill in.”
God instructed Abraham to take his son up on that hill because this is exactly what God himself would do generations later, on our behalf. We need this story to understand just how dreadful our sins are and how much it cost the Father gave up to atone for our sins. Oftentimes missed in the story by critics is the fact that God never had Abraham kill his son….instead, he provided a suitable substitute. In our own story, God doesn’t crush us for our sins…he provides a suitable substitute in his Son Jesus who ascended the cross for us.
December 14th, 2012
Looking for a great Christmas gift that shares the gospel? Look no further. I just read Christmas Uncut and my heart is pounding from how clearly and compellingly this short Christmas-themed booklet presented the gospel to me. I came away amazed at our Lord and the rescue plan he carried out for us which we call Christmas.
Carl Laferton’s book cuts through all the holiday tradition to get to the real Christmas story– Scandal. Controversy. Massacre. Mystery. Above all, the person of Jesus Christ. I’m going to give this book to several non-Christians I know, confident that if they read it, they will come face-to-face with the real Jesus who has won over my heart and owns my life.
It’s short and readable. And only $3.59 at WTSBooks.com. And they’re fast! My copy arrived exactly 24 hours after I ordered it, having paid for regular (not rush) shipping.
Here’s a nifty trailer video with the author–
September 10th, 2012
The Gospel In Song
Recently our son Jadon became very fussy whenever we try to feed him breakfast. But then, we started playing the new kids album Rain For Roots during breakfast, and he now loves to eat! I’m thrilled about this because Rain for Roots is one of the most powerful, understandable, and moving presentations of the gospel and God’s majesty for children that I’ve ever heard.
Kids Music For Kids…and Adults!
I’ll admit it–Rain For Roots is such a clear, compelling presentation in music about God’s power and redemption, that it makes me cry whenever Jadon and I listen to it. This album for children is composed by some of our favorite musicians, including Sandra McCracken, and puts to song the words from Sally-Lloyd Jones’s stunning Bible story book The Jesus Storybook Bible. It thrills me to see Jadon smiling, and trying to sing along to words like this:
Track 9 – “Jesus Is Alive
“Who died, but came alive again?
Who came to rescue you and win?
Who came to make all things brand new?
Who did it all for love of you?
Who did this all for love of you?
So sing and dance and leap and run;
His name is Jesus, little one.
Sing and dance and leap and run;
His name is Jesus, little one.”
As Jadon learns to speak, I am eager for him to know and to sing along to these simple folk songs about God. They move his dad’s heart, and I hope they’ll move his too, to become a worshiper of the Mighty God.
p.s. I just love this photo from last Saturday night’s release party! Gotta love that they have quilts and blankets out for the little ones to gather round and hear the gospel in song.
p.s.s. For other great Christian children’s music, here’s a great blog post called “Children’s Songs and Parents’ Sanity” written by my fellow pastor Garrett Lee with several more recommendations.
June 20th, 2012
Conflict in marriage. It’s inevitable. Because a husband and wife are both sinners who need to be changed, even the most sanctified of couples is bound to disagree and experience conflict in their marriage. If marital conflicts aren’t dealt with wisely, they’ll spin out of control and over time devastate a marriage.
So, how do you bring resolution to a conflict? What does God require on your part when you find yourself in an argument? Where do a husband and wife start in unraveling years of hurt and pain that have built up due to unresolved arguments? What hope is found in the cross for restoring a fragile marriage?
Biblical counselor John Hagen of Grace Harbor Ministries gives wise, practical guidance for marriage in a 6-part video series entitled “Conflict Resolution. Each video is just 10 minutes long, and there is a study guide with questions to guide a husband and wife with applying counselor Hagan’s guidance.
I have found these brief videos to be helpful in instructing me in my marriage. I intend to go through this series with my wife Christy to remind us of a solid, biblical foundation for responding whenever one of us sins against the other (usually, I’m the culprit).
Here’s a sample. Take a look at Session 1, The Heart of Conflict
You can wach all 6 videos here: Conflict Resolution in Marriage (6-part video series)
Part 1 – The Heart of Conflict
Part 2 – The Ultimate Conflict
Part 3 – Owning the Offense
Part 4 – Making a Plan
Part 5 – Paying It Off
Part 6 – Release and Resolution
Download the.pdf Conflict Resolution Study Guide
May 29th, 2012
Title: Assurance of Salvation: Implications of a New Testament Theology of Hope
Author: Matthew C. Hoskinson
Reviewer: Dan Olinger, elder at Heritage Bible Church, which is Grace Church’s sending church.
Summary of the Book
Anyone who works with young people–especially high school or college age–soon realizes that young people have questions about assurance of salvation. Lots of questions. Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of confusion about the matter as well, and not just among the young people themselves. The counseling field is filled with theories, tips, and tricks about how to get the kids to quit worrying about it all. Matthew Hoskinson, formerly Pastor of Ministry Vision at Heritage, explores the biblical basis for assurance of salvation and then brings it to bear on the current theories, providing a solid basis for counseling anyone struggling with assurance.
Overview of the Book
This work is a publication of Dr. Hoskinson’s dissertation at Bob Jones University. (Full disclosure: I was a member of the author’s dissertation committee and served as the editor for the published book.)
Six chapters cover both a historical survey of views on assurance and a biblical theology of assurance.
Chapter 1 – A History of Assurance
Chapter 2 – Contemporary Views on Assurance
Chapter 3 – Abraham and Hope
Chapter 4 – Hope in the NT Historical Books
Chapter 5 – Hope in Paul’s Writings
Chapter 6 – Hope in the General Epistles
Hoskinson’s conclusion is that the biblical data form a moderating position between two competing contemporary views:
1) the view that objective assurance comes from the fact of our salvation event and consequently our memory of it (what Hoskinson terms the “time of conversion view”). This is the view that is sometimes caricatured as “writing today’s date in the margin of your Bible.” This view is more common among those who hold to eternal security.
2) the view that subjective assurance comes from spiritual fruit–evidences of growth in Christ-like character (what Hoskinson terms the “present only view”). This view is more common among Arminian groups.
In short, Hoskinson argues, the Bible bases full-bodied assurance objectively in Christ and His work on our behalf. But that work unfailingly issues in subjective results: character development and the succeeding perseverance. He writes, “Theologians must carefully teach that a faith that saves is a faith that endures, all the while maintaining sola fide” (213).
Assurance of Salvation is a doctoral dissertation, but it is a readable one. It is a valuable resource for anyone counseling believers struggling with assurance, and it is not beyond the reach of laymen interested in the subject. It is exegetically based and therefore provides balance in the current debate. Mastery of the material in this volume will leave a believer well grounded to live out biblical hope in confusing times and to encourage others to do so as well.
Dan Olinger is an elder of Heritage Bible Church and serves as the Chairperson of the Division of Bible at Bob Jones University. This review originally appeared at Heritage’s blog.
March 7th, 2012
I’d like to tell you about a beautifully illustrated children’s book that teaches to children the point of a recent Sunday sermon at Grace Church. A few Sundays ago during the Lord’s Supper, I preached about “The Empty Cup,” how at the cross Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against our sin down to its very dregs. And now there’s not a drop of judgment left for the believer; forever we stand in God’s favor! The book The Prince’s Poison Cup teaches the “cup” motif from the Bible in a kid-friendly way.
In this book, R.C. Sproul, a master storyteller and teacher of doctrine, tells a fascinating allegorical children’s story to teach children how Christ served as our substitute and drank the cup of God’s wrath so we don’t have to. This hardcover volume is wonderfully illustrated by Justin Gerard, some of whose art we have on display in the living room of our home. Best of all, the last few pages of the book outline and explain the Scripture passages that form the basis for this book, passages such as Matthew 26:39 where Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
I highly commend this book as an effective way to help your children understand and glory in the gospel. I love re-reading it myself! The Prince’s Poison Cup is a fitting tribute to the Son of God who exhausted God’s wrath against our sin at the cross. It’s available from Westminster Bookstore for just $10.80 (as of 3/7/12).