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Hitler and Jews vs. Choice and Abortion

I would take the half our and watch this video showing a relationship between the holocaust thinking and justification of Nazi Germany and the current “freedom” and “legal” abortion system in America.

 

Caveat: Please go HERE and contemplate the gospel. We hold to a sovereign grace that enables a man, woman or child to repent and believe. This is not something that man can do on his own, it is by grace, not of works.

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Reformed Perspective of Elders

This was sent to me today by a dear friend who is in the middle of a battle over sin in the local church and the elder’s office and command to deal with sin.  The problem stems from a misunderstanding of “democracy” which only moves under the teaching of scripture, and “rule” that the scripture does holistically.

I pray this article will give some insight on the role and rule of elders in the life of the church.

Of the three special offices in the church, that of the ruling elder represents Christ as king. Nations that have a king customarily speak of him as “His Majesty.” And anyone at all familiar with Holy Scriptures knows that it, too, associates much majesty, dignity, honor and glory with kingship. Small wonder that the glory of the Christian church is reflected brightly in the office of the ruling elder.

Its Momentous Duties

The New Testament has two names for ruling elders. Sometimes they are called presbyters, which simply means older men or elders; at other times they are called bishops, which means overseers. It is significant that these are two names for the same men. Nowadays the term bishop is ordinarily used to denominate a clergyman who stands above other clergyman in both dignity and authority. But such is not at all the Biblical usage of that term. When Paul, on his way to Jerusalem at the conclusion of his third missionary journey, arrived at Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called the presbyters of the church (Acts 20:17). When they had come, he spoke to them and said: “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops” (Acts 20:28, ASV). It is clear that according to Scripture every presbyter is a bishop. And that is a way of saying that the work of the elder is to oversee the church.

Usually church members regard ruling elders less highly than ministers. In so doing they are not altogether mistaken, for it is true that a special dignity attaches to the ministerial office in virtue of the fact that the minister, being both a teaching and a ruling elder, holds two offices in one, which two offices take up, or ought to take up, all his time. On the other hand, there is great danger that the dignity of the ruling elder’s office in comparison with that of the minister’s office will be underestimated. Read the rest of the article here.

May God be glorified in His grace for His people!

James

Also: Elders Do Rule the Church

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True Biblical Evangelism

We have been preaching a conference on the true picture of a biblically healthy church. Last night the topic on the table was evangelism. I pray the word of the Lord would shine into your heart. Be blessed.

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Elders Do Rule Over the Church

Due to some churches who are newly introduced to the idea of biblical church leadership, I felt that it would be good to review the role and rule of the elder and consider John MacArthur’s thoughts on the matter to be very truthful and biblically based.

I pray that you might grow in your understanding of God’s desire for the church.

The following is adapted from the Grace Church Distinctive on Biblical Eldership and is posted fully below:

Biblically, the focal point of all church leadership is the elder. An elder is one of a plurality of biblically qualified men who jointly shepherd and oversee a local body of believers. The word translated “elder” is used nearly twenty times in Acts and the epistles in reference to this unique group of leaders who have responsibility for overseeing the people of God.

The Office of Elder

As numerous passages in the New Testament indicate, the words “elder” (presbuteros), “overseer” (episkopos), and “pastor” (poimen) all refer to the same office. In other words, overseers and pastors are not distinct from elders; the terms are simply different ways of identifying the same people. The qualifications for an overseer (episkopos) in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and those for an elder (presbuteros) in Titus 1:6-9 are unmistakably parallel. In fact, in Titus 1, Paul uses both terms to refer to the same man (presbuteros in v. 5 and episkopos in v. 7).

All three terms are used interchangeably in Acts 20. In verse 17, Paul assembles all the elders (presbuteros) of the church of Ephesus to give them his farewell message. In verse 28 he says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [episkopos], to shepherd [poimaino] the church of God.” First Peter 5:1-2 brings all three terms together as well. Peter writes, “Therefore, I exhort the elders [presbuteros] among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd [poimaino] the flock of God among you, exercising oversight [episkopeo] not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God.” The different terms, then, indicate various features of ministry, not varying levels of authority or separate offices, as some churches espouse.

A Plurality of Elders

The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that each local body of believers is shepherded by a plurality of God-ordained elders. Simply stated, this is the only pattern for church leadership given in the New Testament. Nowhere in Scripture does one find a local assembly ruled by majority opinion or by a single pastor.

The Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete and instructed him to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). James instructed his readers to “call for the elders of the church” to pray for those who are sick (James 5:14). When Paul and Barnabas were in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, they “appointed elders for them in every church” (Acts 14:23). In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, the apostle referred to “the elders who rule well” at the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:17; see also Acts 20:17, where Paul addresses “the elders of the church” at Ephesus). The book of Acts indicates that there were “elders” at the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:30; 15:2, 4; 21:18).

Again and again, reference is made to a plurality of elders in each of the various churches. In fact, every place in the New Testament where the term presbuteros (“elder”) is used it is plural, except where the apostle John uses it of himself in 2 and 3 John and where Peter uses it of himself in 1 Peter 5:1. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a reference to a one-pastor congregation. It may be that each elder in the city had an individual group in which he had specific oversight. But the church was seen as one church, and decisions were made by a collective process and in reference to the whole, not the individual parts.

In other passages, reference is made to a plurality of elders even though the word presbuteros itself is not used. In the opening greeting of his epistle to the Philippians, Paul refers to the “overseers [plural of episkopos] and deacons” at the church of Philippi (Phil. 1:2). In Acts 20:28, Paul warned the elders of the church of Ephesus, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which God has made you overseers [plural of episkopos]” (Acts 20:28). The writer of Hebrews called his readers to obey and submit to the “leaders” who kept watch over their souls (Heb. 13:17). Paul exhorted his Thessalonian readers to “appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thess. 5:12)—a clear reference to the overseers in the Thessalonian assembly.
Much can be said for the benefits of leadership made up of a plurality of godly men. Their combined counsel and wisdom helps assure that decisions are not self-willed or self-serving to a single individual (cf. Prov. 11:14). If there is division among the elders in making decisions, all the elders should study, pray, and seek the will of God together until consensus is achieved. In this way, the unity and harmony that the Lord desires for the church will begin with those individuals he has appointed to shepherd His flock.

The Qualifications of Elders

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. That’s why Scripture stresses the importance of qualified church leadership and delineates specific standards for evaluating those who would serve in that sacred position.

The qualifications for elders are found in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-8. According to these passages, an elder must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money, not fond of sordid gain, a good manager of his household, one who has his children under control with dignity, not a new convert, one who has a good reputation outside the church, self-controlled, sensible, able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict, above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, loving what is good, just, and devout.

The single, overarching qualification of which the rest are supportive is that he is to be “above reproach.” That is, he must be a leader who cannot be accused of anything sinful because he has a sustained reputation for blamelessness. An elder is to be above reproach in his marital life, his social life, his business life, and his spiritual life. In this way, he is to be a model of godliness so he can legitimately call the congregation to follow his example (Phil. 3:17). All the other qualifications, except perhaps teaching and management skills, only amplify that idea.

In addition, the office of elder is limited to men. First Timothy 2:11-12 says, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” In the church, women are to be under the authority of the elders, excluded from teaching men or holding positions of authority over them.

The Functions of Elders

As the apostolic era came to a close, the office of elder emerged as the highest level of local church leadership. Thus, it carried a great amount of responsibility. There was no higher court of appeal and no greater resource to understand the mind and heart of God (as revealed in the Scriptures) with regard to issues in the church.

The primary responsibility of an elder is to serve as a manager and caretaker of the church (1 Tim. 3:5). That involves a number of specific duties. As spiritual overseers of the flock, elders are to determine church policy (Acts 15:22); oversee the church (Acts 20:28); ordain others (1 Tim. 4:4); rule, teach, and preach (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:2); exhort and refute (Titus 1:9); and act as shepherds, setting an example for all (1 Pet. 5:1-3). Those responsibilities put elders at the core of the New Testament church’s work.

Because of its heritage of democratic values and its long history of congregational church government, modern American evangelicalism often views the concept of elder rule with suspicion. The clear teaching of Scripture, however, demonstrates that the biblical norm for church leadership is a plurality of God-ordained elders, and only by following this biblical pattern will the church maximize its fruitfulness to the glory of God.

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Blown over by God’s Divine Love

This past weekend, we hosted a conference on Biblical Evangelism sponsored by Christian Soldiers Ministries in Fremont CA.  I have to say that of all the conferences in my life time, this one cuts the cake.  Not only was the fellowship and dialog divinely driven through the Holy Spirit, but the content and measure of God’s divine love was ineffable.

From the lectures on the cannon historically and theologically, to the understanding of God’s divine usage of common Greek during the first century began to paint an even greater picture of His grace than ever before.  It’s not just what God has done but the small details of how He has accomplished salvation for His people.

Join this with glorious proclamation of the gospel, a call to evangelize and some Greek lessons on the atonement you have a reason to burst into tears of joy for God’s immeasurable grace!

I want to encourage you to begin listening to these lectures and informal discussions at your leisure, they are truly inspiring and for His glory ALONE!

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9 Days Till Evangelism Conference | Register Today FREE

Register today for the conference in Newark. If you are interested in getting the mp3’s after the conference, please let me know and I’ll shoot em to you! Pray for the healthy church conference in South GA Oct 2 through 9th.  www.biblicalevangelism.info 

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A Call to Church Planting | To the Flock of FBCN

Dear Church Family,

This prayer request is one of personal labor, and I ask that each of you make petitions to the Lord for FBCN and for Robyn, me and the children. Throughout the past four years, we have been actively praying for God to multiply His church across California and into other parts of the world.  Many of you have labored with us in this journey as we hold fast to the confession of our hope who is Jesus Christ, and many of you have seen God do many things as FBCN has been equipped to “go make disciples”.

As the elders have urged the church to be a planting church in 2009, 2010 and Jan of 2011, I know you have all been praying to this end.  My role in church planting and expansion of the gospel has always been to equip and teach others the truth of God’s word, and we have seen God transform many lives and bring life to a body of believers.

This calendar year, we have seen God make opportunities for new birth in several cities, and my personal prayer has been that I could be used to assist and facilitate these churches as FBCN stands as a mother church to these mission churches.  In May of this year, God struck my heart that maybe I was to step out in faith and answer the call to plant a new church.  As we returned from the East Coast, God was clear that we were going to be doing just that.  So our prayer began to change that God would make clear how and when this was going to take place.

By divine arrangement, God has shown us that the time is now and has opened the doors wide and given us a clear direction to indeed become missionaries and answer His call to church planting.  Please pray for us as this is not easy and our love for you is great.  Just as the churches we left in the past are still dear to our hearts and our ministry to them is yet to be severed, neither will your souls leave our concern.

The elders at FBCN have been aware of this possibility as we have all prayed for God’s timing and clarity.  God is preparing them to continue to serve and lead you effectively as you have entrusted yourselves to their care in accordance with the scriptures.  The elders that remain will continually labor for your joy in Christ.

My last Sunday preaching will be September 4th and after that time we will be in active missions status and head back to the rural south east for a season of fighting the good fight and defending the faith.  Although I am the primary teaching elder for FBCN, the other elders have great care for you and will effectively lead this church to find another man who will teach in my absence.  You have entrusted yourself to the word of God and through the calling and election of your elders, they will continue to watch over you, guide you and correct you as you stray, stay and work out your salvation together as a family.  My ministry with you as your pastor of preaching is coming to an end, but my ministry with you for the kingdom is just beginning.

We will be actively returning to the Bay Area as the Lord allows to walk with you in ministry.  We seek your prayers and for some of you, you might even pray how else God might have you participate in the efforts of church planting.  I will be making a personal announcement this Sunday.  We are holding fast to the word of God and His grace to sustain us all during this time of transition and rest assured that the continued pursuit of unity will be maintained in my absence, as will the strong affection for the gospel through the teaching of God’s word with zeal and truth!

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

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What it Costs to be a True Christian | JC Ryle

The following are the words of Bishop JC Ryle and were shared with me today by a brother in ministry.  Read and relish the great wisdom and truth straight from the word.

“…and counteth the cost…” Lk. 14:28

Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:6). But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question: “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self–denial or self–sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction or some sudden death or an awakening sermon has stirred his conscience and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.

1. True Christianity will cost one his self–righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer Book words, that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible reading, church–going, and sacrament receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

2. True Christianity will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written, “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” “Break off your sins…and iniquities.” “Cease to do evil” (Ezek. 18:31; Dan. 4:27; Isa. 1:16).

This sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come. “Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner’s mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not,” yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved (Job 20:12, 13). He and sin must quarrel if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins. [click to continue…]

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Last Saturday as the elders and those in training for ministry gathered, the continued discussion on sin the life of the believer launched itself into a new puddle.  As we splashed around for a bit an object lesson jumped into my mind.  Writing on the board a list of sins from the brothers in the room gave a clear picture as to the measure of our depravity but also to the evidence of God’s grace in our lives.  One of the brothers made the comment that for many professing believers that continue to sin actively and openly, it seems they hide behind the scripture and use the bible for an excuse for their sin.  This comment opened a door of great dialog and here is how we landed our plane that day.

  1. Sin is always sin and it is an abomination to God because God’s worthiness is His holiness.  Holy defines God.  God is LIGHT John says and in Him is no darkness at all.  (1 John 1:5)
  2. Sin is always in the life of all humans.  Although we grow in grace and are sanctified more and more, there is always sin. (Romans 7)
  3. As one grows in the Lord, he or she sins less, but is never sinless. (1 John 2:1)
  4. The sins of the “saints” are not purposefully visible but for the most part are the root sins of the heart and mind. (James 1)
  5. As a person acts on the sin of the heart and mind, it gives birth to more sin that compounds. (James 1:15)
  6. For the person who claims fellowship with God but continues in active and open rebellion, it is hard to see regeneration through grace in that life and thus, the reason for church discipline in the scripture – to prove the work of the Lord. (1 John 1:5)
Here’s the point of this.  Sin hides within the flesh and often times one likes to abuse Romans 7 as an excuse to just keep on sinning because God will use the sin to show His grace.  Well, Paul says that we should not sin so that grace may abound, so that type of thinking is anti-christ at best.  Furthermore, if one desires to use Romans 7 as the proof text for continual rebellion in the life of the believer, then let us look at the sin that Paul says he struggles with inside his members.  Paul’s sin is clearly stated in verse 8; covetousness.  So now we must look at how this is seen in his life.  Well, it really isn’t.  Had Paul not confessed this sin, it would have never been known.  Now, he could have envied others and talked about it and pursued the path of covetousness, however he fought by grace through faith to stand in righteousness outwardly.

The outcome of our discussion:  We must never give an excuse for sin.  Never in the life of a believer must we abuse scripture to prove that we are just normal.  Paul’s sin was contained within his heart.  It did not diminish the severity of sin, however, Paul lived as a slave to righteousness and exhorts all believers to do the same.  It’s like the mobile in the picture, the gears and controls are all hidden, but then when they are wound and let go, the little animals spin around very visible.  My thoughts on this issue is that our internal struggle with sin is enough, as saints, let us fight and make war with the word of God as our sword to fight the visible and active sin in our lives.  Let’s cut the animals off the mobile and quit winding up the spring.  Repent and trust in Christ.  That is the daily command of the called of God.

Thank God each day for His grace and let us live as though He has truly done a work in us.
For His Glory by His Grace

James Tippins

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This won’t be a long dragged out treatise on affection and eternal focus, it’s really a theological gripe stemming from a world-view that I should not fuss over because it is expected.  I recently was forced to watch a hip-hop video that was auto played in my browser by a prominent artist who just released a new song revolving around his desire to live for himself.  He made the statement that if haters laugh, they will stop when the “paper” or money piles up.

Not that we should have no money, but recently I see so many young people leave the faith to pursue the treasures of the world.  It discourages me.  The reason this happens is not because of the churches inability to draw and keep them, but because they never loved Jesus.  Don’t crucify my generalization, but at large, the main stay of people who come to Christ (per se) and walk away were never His.  Those who do walk, or rather step away who are His are drawn back by His grace.  The temptations of the world are strong and highly seductive and many youth and young adults feel empowered to be successful financially and empowered by the prestige of worldly success.  This is the problem we see with the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 who desired eternal life, just not enough to give away his true love, his possessions of rot and decay.

I pray that each of us would look around our homes, at our bank statements and realize that there is none that doesn’t have idols.  Even some of my favorite bibles can become idols at times.  However, the reality for the children of God is that they pursue HIM above the world and what they have that is of the world they realize it comes from Him hand for His glory.  Our stewardship of stuff is a clear indicator of our affection toward Christ.  We should pray for God to help us be generous, frugal and focused on eternal glory rather that the glory that comes from men.

Just a minute ago I tweeted a statement that said, “For tha paper chasers, know that if it ain’t scripture paper it might as well be toilet paper… The World is DYING, #ChristAlone 1Jn2:15″  Many people began to comment privately to me in support of the truth behind it.  Money and wealth (paper) is nothing but additives to the dung heap of this dying world.  Pray for yourself and your siblings in Christ and for sure the lost around us that they might see and savor the greatest treasure of the cosmos; Jesus the Christ!

Matthew 7:13-14
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Hebrews 11:36-40
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

1 John 2:15-18
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Matthew 13:44-50
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let us continue to pursue Christ by means of His marvelous grace.  Thank Him for what we do have, but hold it loosely.  I am very very thankful that my identity is in Christ and not the things of this dying world.

For His Glory by His Grace,

James Tippins

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