Monthly Archives: September 2013
There won’t be pony rides, face painting, clowns or bouncy houses, but there will be an emphasis on how we are striving to help individuals and families who are a part of our faith family. There will be:
- Testimonies of how God has used our church to advance people in the process of Christ-like progress.
- A time for families and individuals to pray together.
- Highlighting as many ministries as we can, while also reminding what our purpose is for those ministries.
- A 10 minute introduction of a new “Legacy Ministry” that will help families prepare for the future while also emphasizing stewardship.
- A short sermon of about 20 minutes to accommodate children.
- A time to evaluate our Building Up Giving Progress by asking people to submit a new Building Up Commitment Card.
- A time to praise God in song for what he has done, is doing and will do.
Prime-time (Kindergarten through 2nd grade) will still be available, but we would like you to consider having your children (Kindergarten and up) in the service so that you can worship as a family.
Also, I want to be clear that this is not a one-trick-pony type of Sunday. It is not just about Building Up, various ministries, children in the worship gathering, legacy endowment, etc. This is a celebration of the many good things God is doing in our church. This is a time to think about what God would have us to be together as we help each other as a local body in Christ Jesus.
Pray with us for this day. Pray for God to use it for His great glory, the good of others and our joy.
One of the most important things a preacher must do is be clear. I clearly wasn’t clear this past Sunday.
I walked into our home on Sunday after preaching Romans 7:13-25 and I was soon asked in a very gentle and loving way, “So you think Paul wasn’t a Christian when he wrote Romans?” I knew then that I had blown it. I clearly failed at being clear and I had created confusion.
(To listen to the Q&A Podcast in which Ryan and I answer questions, click on this link: Q&A From Romans Part XXV)
It never occurred to me (an epic preaching fail) that someone would even consider that I meant to say that Paul was not a Christian when he wrote Romans 7; that Paul was unconverted as he wrote that text in the first person and present tense. Paul wrote Romans more than two decades after his conversion that is recorded Acts 9, which scholars estimate to be around 33 A.D. So again, let me be as clear as I can possibly be.
I believe Paul was a Christian when he wrote Romans 7.
What I was trying to communicate was that one of the interpretations of Romans 7:13-25 was that Paul was writing and portraying his own past struggle under the Law as an unconverted Law-Keeper. The present tense then, would be his attempt to identify with those who have and are experiencing the same struggle under the Law of Moses. If I could summarize my understanding of Paul from this interpretive perspective, it might go something like this: “Before I became a Christian, this is what my life looked like as I tried to live under the Law. I was constantly failing to do that which I knew the Law required of me to be righteous before God. The Law showed me what I should be doing, but without union with Christ by Faith in Christ, and without the Power of the Spirit, I was constantly failing in serving by the oldness of the letter (The Law – 7:6).”
That’s what I meant to try to communicate, and I apologize for any confusion I caused. I was not trying to start a new understanding of Paul.
Having confessed and made an attempt to clarify my textual mismanagement, I now raise a sincere concern. Please receive this. I hope what was clearly right about the sermon was not lost in what was unclear. Whether you hold to the position that Paul was saved, honest and struggling, or whether you hold to the conviction that Paul was portraying his once upon a time story as an unconverted Law-keeper, I hope that all Christians can agree on at least two truths.
First, no one earns righteousness by law keeping and nor can they produce sanctification by their own power. Jesus saves and the Spirit empowers. The wrong use of the Law prevents both.
Second, Romans 7:13-25 should not be used as an excuse to diminish the power of the Spirit to progressively kill sin in our lives. We are in fact a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) by faith alone, though we groan in expectation of the renewal of all things (Rom. 8:23) when sin and death will be swallowed up in sweet victory by the power of God.
Those were the two points I wanted to make to make a difference in the lives of those who were listening. I hope that which is certain was not lost to that which is up for reasonable debate.
I appreciate all the emails, text questions and face-to-face questions that were the result of sincere concern. They make me a better Christian and preacher and I hope the discussion is edifying to you.