The Problem with Predestination - Part 2
Sun, Jan 20, 2019
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” - Romans 9:6–7 (ESV) Struggling to understand God's purpose, plan, and predestination is not unusual. In fact I expect it. Many people over the centuries have. One of those was a British Monk named Pelagus in the 4th century. His story and objections provide us some insight not only into church history but the orthodox boundaries of the debate. In wanting to reconcile these things he denied some clear teaching of scripture and fell into heresy. It's worth some time to read his story. This week, we will continue to struggle with these truths alongside Paul. He raises important questions. Did God's Word fail when he chose Israel, but now they aren't following Christ? Or is God unjust to choose some and not others? I encourage you to read through Romans 9 before Sunday so that you can be ready for us to struggle together with it.
The Problem with Predestination - Part 1
Sun, Jan 13, 2019
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.- Romans 9:1–3 (ESV) When it comes to Romans 9-11 many people want to skip over it. It deals with a few subjects that can be not only difficult to understand but controversial. The outline and explanations of God's work in salvation in Romans 1-8 lay out this grand landscape of what God has done. Romans 12-15 give us direct and practical applications to live out this new life of faith, but in the middle people see some theological doldrums, Romans 9-11. These chapters contain some important pieces that connect us to the character of God, situate us in the Biblical storyline, provide us assurance, and motivate us to live out the mercies of God. As we head into these chapters I want to encourage you to read through them and become familiar with them. We will examine the sovereign call of God by first looking at the place and plight of the nation of Israel. Did God change His mind about them? Or did his plan fail?
Romans 1 to 8 Recap
Sun, Jan 06, 2019
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 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 (ESV) When it comes to cars there are people that want to know all the specs and there are those that just want it to run. (The details of horsepower, fuel injection, compression ration, head pressure, and gear ratio are music to some people's ears. To others that list sounded like a bunch of words that were indistinguishable from a flux capacitor or oil flange.) At one level both those positions work with a car. Even knowing a little about a car can help you maintain it. And give you some basic understanding when something goes wrong. Theology, and specifically the gospel, are a little different. We may just want it 'to work'. Understanding what God has done in Christ is critical not only in our initial profession of faith, but for our ongoing growth, trust, and rest in Christ. Through our series in Romans we have been taking a look under the hood of salvation. Maybe you have missed some parts. Maybe you don't see the big picture. Maybe in all the craziness of the last few months it all seems a bit fuzzy. This week before we dive into Romans 9-11, we are going to try to get the big picture. I'm going to attempt to review the first 8 chapters of Romans. This will get us oriented and ready to tackle this important section in Romans 9-11 and help us see the connections and arguments that Paul has been laying out. Will you take a few minutes to read through Romans 1-8 in the next couple days? Also, this is a great time to invite someone to join you. This message will attempt to lay out the grand scope of God's gospel work. It should be a great Sunday. See you at 10:30.
Abound in the work of the Lord
Sun, Dec 30, 2018
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. - 1 Cor 15:58
Sun, Dec 23, 2018
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:10–11 (ESV) What part of Christmas celebrations are you most looking forward to? Receiving presents? Giving presents? Spending time with family and friends? We all desire to be loved, especially around Christmas time, but we want that love expressed in different ways for it to seem meaningful to us. Some people call this your 'love language'. Built into Advent is true love. It is love that has been expressed. It has been given not just to those who 'deserve' it or to those who will return it, but has been given to rebels in their rebellion. It's a love that is grander than we can imagine. This Sunday we want to look at this love. Take a few minutes to read John, the 'Apostle of Love', writing to his 'little children' in 1 John 4. It's a simple but important passage not only to display this love, but draw us toward living it out to those around us.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:8–9 (ESV) The angels told the shepherds that their message was 'Good news with great joy.' We throw around the word 'joy' in our decorations and songs of the season, but what is 'joy'? Is it the warm feelings and happiness that we are to find in this season? Does it come from the gifts or celebrations we attend? What happens when the season isn't filled with joy but sadness? How do we find it again? This week we continue in our Advent celebration by looking at the theme of Joy. Take a few minutes to read through 1 Peter 1. These people were scattered and struggling. They feared, wondering if what they heard and believed was worth their lives. In response, Peter points them to true joy. Come this Sunday and see how he points us to find true joy in this Advent season. Also, this is a great week to invite someone to join us.
Sun, Dec 09, 2018
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” - Luke 2:13–14 (ESV) During this season we see the word 'Peace' beautifully adorned cards and pictures. We echo the words of angels as we sing about peace. We watch the peaceful snow-covered scenes in the movies of the season. We fantasize about experiencing those moments in one of the most frantic, busy, stress-filled times of the year. What ever happened to Peace on Earth? This week as we continue to approach advent we consider this idea of Peace. What were the angels really talking about? How do we find this peace? Is it just something for the Christmas season? Take some time and read through Ephesians 2 which will be our text for Sunday. See if you can find that peace.
Hope in 2018 and Beyond
Sun, Dec 02, 2018
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. - Acts 20:26–28 (ESV) How many churches did you pass in your travel yesterday or today? I bet for most of us we would have a hard time counting or remembering. In some places they seem to be around every corner with different names and stripes of Christianity. That wasn't the case in the early years of Christianity. One city meant one church. It meant one mission - the spread of the gospel and the encouragement of the faith. This week we want to pause and think about our place and our mission in God's greater story. This Sunday we will take a look back at 2018 to see what God has done in and through Hope Church. We will consider what God wants us to be about as a church and how we desire to step toward those goals in 2019.
A Sure Hope in a World of Suffering
Sun, Nov 11, 2018
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. - Romans 8:18–19 (ESV) One of the biggest obstacles for many when considering Christianity is the pain and suffering that we see around us. Globally we see and read about famines, wars, or worse. But most of us identify with this painful world in much more personal ways. Our lives seem like a trail of suffering and pain punctuated with only brief, fleeting moments of joy. So when Christians describe God as good and filled with love for us, I can understand the discontinuity this presents. This week Paul addresses not only our personal distress but the global pain. And in fact, in one aspect he points to God as the cause of this futility. But it is meaningless. Take a few minutes to read through Romans 8. Slow down and focus on the last half (Romans 8:18-39). And join us this Sunday as we unpack it.
From Debtor to Son to Heir
Sun, Nov 04, 2018
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. - Romans 8:15–17 (ESV) Adoption is a concept that is personal to me. I'm a second generation product of adoption. My mother was adopted. I can't imagine what her life would have been like without the kindness, love, and sacrifices my grandparents made. When Paul writes that the Spirit confirms our position with God by bringing us through adoption it comes with some added personal significance. As he says in this passage, it not only changes who you are and how you relate to God, but also how you respond to Him. I hope you plan to join us on Sunday as we continue to unfold this amazing chapter of Romans 8.
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