On August 31st, having been invited by Pastor Steve Kopp, I preached my first for-realz sermon at Wyoming Park Bible Fellowship!

I’ve given sermons before but only in the classroom. I’ve spoken in front of large groups before but never preached. It felt good, really good.

I’ve been in Bible college/Seminary for seven years now, entering my eighth year as of this past week with two more years ahead of me. These many years are a great benefit to me as I’ve lead Sunday school classes, small groups, engaged in church meetings, worked through personal studies in the Bible, and of course for my own spiritual development! But nothing is quite like actually using that education to prepare a sermon, working through the Greek and the theology, and then preaching it in a church on a Sunday morning. It felt good. It felt right! And I was incredibly nervous! (See James 3:1)

A year ago Hananiah and I were looking for a church where I could engage in a residency program with a pastor. My friends Katie and Joel Morgan, Starbucks regulars, advised WPBF. On our first visit Pastor Steve approached me and asked if I happened to be looking to do a residency! I thought we would have to try several churches before finding one that we would fit into. It blew my mind how God was working to bring things and people together. Now a year later, Steve and I have written up a ministry resident contract and I will be working under him for the next two years! Praise God!

Well, here’s my sermon. As I said, I was nervous! I rush through my points faster than what I intended and I make a couple of lame jokes (especially my greeting in the first few seconds), so if you take notes you might have to listen through it a few times just to catch everything. It’s about 30 minutes long. Post a comment if you have any feedback!

Confession on the Church, the Body of Christ

This was a very good exercise for me. If you’re a Christian, take a minute to write down what you believe the Church is.
What is important to say? What can be left out? What absolutely MUST be said? Does your definition match up with mine? Let me know if it doesn’t! Let’s talk about it and find out where we fit in the bigger picture.

Confession:

I believe…

the Church is composed of those who have been redeemed by grace through faith in relationship with God. The Church serves God in their dedication and loyalty to Jesus Christ in all things. (Romans 5; Ephesians 2; Hebrews 10-11)

Under the New Covenant, the dispensation of grace, this group is defined as all who publicly profess faith in Christ, uphold the testimony concerning Christ in the New Testament, and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 16:13-19, 26:56; Mark 8:27-29; John 5:39; Acts 17:2, 15:6-11; Romans 9-11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Peter 3:15-18)

The Church is the Body of Christ. As the parts of a body work with unity under the head, so the Church operates with Christ as its head. (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:1-16)

The Church is the living temple of God. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit the Church embodies God’s presence upon creation. (John 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

The Church, wherever it is present, stands as a testimony of Christ’s rule and power over all things by subverting the evil powers and the fallenness of all those who seek to dominate creation in rebellion against God. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Ephesians 1:15-23, 6:10-20; Colossians 2:6-15)

The Church is most clearly recognized by its preaching of the Gospel, obedience to Scripture in accordance with truth and love, and worship of God in Trinity. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 4:8; John 4:24; Acts 19:23-27, 24:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Philippians 3:3; 1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:4-11)

Only God knows who ultimately belongs to his Church, but through a biblical process of loving and truth seeking, Christians are able to discern those who stand against God and his Church. Those whose actions and beliefs are in accordance with the Gospel, obedience to Scripture, and worship of God in Trinity may be declared of the Church. This is to maintain the unity and good work of the Church. (Matthew 18:15-35; John 10:1-18; Titus 1:10-16; Hebrews 10:26-31)

I believe… 

the work of the Church is holistically centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and impacts all of creation as Christians constantly surrender their lives to Christ’s lordship. (Romans 15:1-7; 1 Corinthians 2, 4:1, 7:22, 11:1; 2 Corinthians 4:5, 10:7; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 2:6-7)

The critical work of the Church is surrendering everything to Christ. (Romans 8:12-30; 1 Corinthians 3:23; Galatians 4-5; Philippians 2:1-11)

Surrender results in obedience to Scripture and the conformation of every pattern of life to the truth of biblical standards. (Galatians 4-5)

Acts of obedience to Scripture are most clearly Baptism, the Eucharist, and the good works of faith. (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16; Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 3:1-17)

I believe…

Baptism is the act of publicly confessing Christ, in Trinity, in a symbolic action of dying to oneself in order to be raised in new life with Christ. It is achieved by the willing participation in the sacramental symbol of Baptism. The mode of Baptism may alter as long as the covenant reality it symbolizes is fully realized. (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:25-27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21)

True Baptism occurs only once, just as the reality of birth occurs only once. Only those who fully understand what it is and means should participate in it. It is not necessary for full participation in the Church but it is a natural part of that participation. (1 Corinthians 1:14-17; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:25-29)

I believe…

the Eucharist is a meal initiated by members of the Church, in local churches, in obedient memory to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The drink and food, elements notwithstanding, symbolize Christ’s blood spilt and his flesh destroyed in order to redeem mankind from its sin against God. It is the celebration of the defeat of sin and death, and yet, a solemn memory of the price paid, like a victory feast after a war. (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34)

The Eucharist meal is physical representation of the invitation for all mankind to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. For Christians, it is a means to serve one another in the unity of our shared faith by enjoying a meal together despite social status, age, and power. For non-Christians, it is a testimony of the Church to Jesus Christ and an invitation to accept him as Lord. Thus, non-Christians may partake in the Eucharist and witness the glory and power of God present in the Body of Christ at the dinner table of any local church. (1 Corinthians 11:20-34)

I believe…

the Church is governed by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit in accordance with properly exegeted Scripture. Christ and the Holy Spirit have given leaders from among the Church to guide the Body of Christ in obedience, resulting in the good work of the Church. (Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 12:28; Ephesians 4:11, 5:23)

These leaders are defined by two roles: Elders and Deacons. (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)

Ideally, both positions should be appointed through a process beginning with an Elder board interview, then a waiting period of prayer and contemplation, a commendation to the congregation for a vote, and, if their number exceeds that of available positions, a random selection from the remaining candidates. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:7, 3:10; Titus 1:6-7)

Ideally, both positions should have clearly defined means of accountability, exit procedures, and maximum term limits. (1 Timothy 3:2, 3:6-7; Titus 1:10-16)

Elders serve the Church through teaching, preaching, and spiritual guidance to maturity in the faith. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4)

Elders must be Christians who: are sexually pure- married or not-, good parents, long standing members of the faith, above biblical reproach, free from sin, hospitable, gentle, free from addiction, self-controlled, respected in the Church and out, and able to teach and defend sound Christian doctrine. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)

Deacons serve the Church by managing the practical business details required for Church functions and efforts. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Deacons must be Christians who: are truthful, dignified, free of addiction, lovers of honest gain, long standing in the faith, tested for competency and purity, sexually pure- married or not-, good parents, and of good personal financial history. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Doxology: Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The Bible has a lot to say about the end times. Christians have said even more, making a real mess out of it. Most avoid the topic altogether- and there is wisdom in holding loose opinions here! Lot’s of the debates don’t really matter in any practical way, but I do believe in having a logically coherent eschatological system.

Before I loose anyone in my crazy words and convoluted logic, I ask that you at least give my confession a read. Find a single point that you don’t agree with and latch onto it. Ask me about it, push me, force me to work through it. Everyone has something to bring to the table, if they’re willing to listen themselves.

_____

Confession on Biblical Eschatology

Information:

This confession is an Amillennial view in a non-denominational church assuming an Advanced level Sunday class for future leaders. The goal is to clearly define everything of importance, plus a few extra non-critical points to stimulate further development.

Importance of Eschatology:

Three reasons why a biblically coherent eschatological perspective is important:

1) End-times oriented passages are given to us in the Scriptures.

2) The confusion surrounding eschatology breaks down good Christian fellowship, fosters poor doctrine, and impedes the good work of the Church, (2 Peter 3:3-4).

3) The goals of the Christian faith are realized in the future, thus having immediate impact on the patterns of Christian life and practice (2 Peter 3:11-14).

Confession:

I believe the millennium is the current age of the Church in which Jesus has defeated all evil and initiated his kingdom, his reign over all things in New Creation. This victory is not fully realized until Christ returns to bring judgment against all things which resist his lordship. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:20-23; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 20:6)

The Church is the faithful New Creation community embodying and testifying Jesus’ reign until his return. (2 Corinthians 5:10-21; Ephesians 2:4-10, 4:22-24)

I believe death is the separation of the soul from the body in which the soul departs to be with God and the body turns back to dust. (Genesis 3:19; Job 17:13-16; Psalm 30:9, 73:24; Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59-60; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1)

The souls of God’s people enjoy joyous relationship with Jesus in Heaven, but they long to re-unite with their bodies. (Luke 23:43; John 11:1-44; Revelation 6:10)

The souls of the unsaved are in Sheol and will also be re-united with their bodies. (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19, 38:18; Psalm 115:17-18)

All souls will be re-united with their bodies in order to face God’s judgment. This judgment will determine their eternal future state. (Luke 20:35-38; John 5:29, 11:25-26; Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:42; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Hebrews 9:27)

I believe Jesus will return to Earth, making his reign a reality for all peoples and powers. (Matthew 24:30, 25:31-46, 26:64; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7, 22:7, 20)

The second coming will occur at an unknowable future time. (Matthew 24:36-51; 2 Peter 3:10)

The second coming will bring the full presence of God’s kingdom to Earth by purging the old heaven and earth of sin. God will remake them into the New Heaven and Earth, without evil or the taint of evil. (Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 3:10, 13; Revelation 21:1)

The second coming will usher in an eternal age of perfection between God and mankind. (Isaiah 65:19, 24; Revelation 21:3)

I believe God will consummate his judgment upon all at the return of Jesus. (Matthew 24:45-51; Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 4:1; Jude 14-15)

Mankind will be judged for their deeds: God’s people will be saved by grace through faith and then rewarded according to what they deserve. The unrepentant and haters of God will be put forever in hell. (Matthew 13:41-42; 16:27, 25:14-46; Romans 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 11:18, 20:12)

Fallen angels, spirits, and powers will also be bound eternally in hell. (Matthew 25:41; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 20:7-10)

I believe Hell is the ultimate and eternal destination for unrepentant sinners and evil beings. (Psalm 11:6, 21:8-9; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 23:33, 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Hebrews 10:26; Jude 7; Revelation 20:10-15)

Hell is an eternal place of torment because it is: punishment for rebellion against God, total separation from God, and chosen by its occupants in their rejection of God. (Mark 9:43-48; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Hebrews 3:7-12; 1 Peter 2:4)

I believe the New Heaven and Earth are the ultimate and eternal destination for God’s people, redeemed by the grace of God through faith in Christ. (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4)

The Old Heaven and Earth will be purged by fire in order to make way for the New. (Psalm 102:25; Isaiah 51:6, 65:17, 66:22; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 1:10-12; 2 Peter 3:7-13)

Any promises and covenants God made with Israel will be either fulfilled by Jesus or reconstituted through Jesus to fit the Church as the true seed of Abraham in New Creation. (Genesis 12:2-3; Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44; Romans 2:28-29, 4:1-13, 9:4-8, 11:25-32; Galatians 3, 6:15-16; Ephesians 2:11-22)

The occupants of the New Heaven and Earth will enjoy life uninhibited by sin and fallenness. Culture will develop richly and eternally, God will always be present with mankind, there will be no death or pain, sin will be impossible, and the grace of God will overwhelm the imaginations of all to God’s glory. (Matthew 5:3-12; Luke 20:35-38; Romans 8:18-22; 1 Corinthians 15:22-28; Revelation 21:1-7)

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