Propitiation, Propitiation! Read all about it!

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Propitiation is a word that we seldom (if ever) use in our daily conversations and is only found three times in the KJV Bible. However, it is a very important word and we certainly need to understand what it means to us as believers in Christ.

“Propitiation properly signifies the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift.”
[1] Propitiation describes the means whereby the wrath of God is properly appeased so that He may express or exercise His love and favor toward humans—through Christ—without violating His Glory.

Some people really struggle with God being angry or full of wrath toward man or man’s sin. They believe that because God is love He cannot also have a component of wrath in his being. However, God is also holy,and the holiness of God cannot ignore man’s sin, nor can the justice of God ignore the necessity for the wrath to be appeased. Read the OT and you cannot miss the wrath of God. God is angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7.11).

Now you may say, why can’t God just get over His wrath? God’s wrath is not based on selfishness, greed, irritation, or any other human like reaction. It is a holy indignation toward all that violates His law and thus His Glory. It cannot be ignored or suppressed without compromising the very character of God. Instead the Son of God was the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4.10).

So then propitiation refers to the act of Christ receiving the wrath that was intended for me, a disciple of Christ, such that I can now experience love, compassion, mercy and grace; instead of punishment, suffering, wrath, and separation from God. It was my sins and your sins that need to be covered or atoned for; therefore, He is my propitiation. In the OT, sins were usually put away from the offering of a sacrifice. This served as a temporary solution and pointed to the work Christ would do on behalf of the believer as our propitiation.

God’s character and glory are inexplicably linked so much so, that His glory would be lost or diminished were He to do anything other then punish man in order to appease His wrath. Only because Christ was without sin was He able to be an acceptable substitute. Thus the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is directly linked to propitiation, but we shall save that for another short blog in the future.

Aren’t you glad my debt and your debt was cancelled—propitiation—from beginning to end through faith in Christ?

[1]Wood, D. R. W., D. R. W. Wood, and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. electronic ed. of 3rd ed., Page 975. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996, c1982, c1962.

Monergistic Regeneration

Monergistic Regeneration are two words that are occasionally used to communicate God’s work in saving man. Now I realize those are ten dollar words and need some explanation; furthermore I believe it is important that Christians understand words like sanctification, justification, regeneration, propitiation and other similar doctrinal words.

But this note will focus exclusively on monergistic regeneration. What do these words mean and what do they have to do with me you may ask. (Well, at least I hope you ask?)

Now I am quite sure you have heard the word synergistic. Synergy is when two or more agents work together to achieve a desired or greater result. Some people may think of man’s salvation as man and God working together to achieve a greater result. To some degree this could be described as correct if by salvation one is referring to the continual process of becoming more like Christ, which is often more specifically referred to as sanctification.

But if by salvation you are talking about the initial work of God in which man moves from a state of being (spiritually) dead to (spiritually) alive which is more specifically referred to as regeneration then I would say that the Bible teaches that it is NOT synergistic. Thus man uses the term monergistic to describe regeneration in contrast to synergistic.

In terms, monergistic regeneration communicates and acknowledges that it is God and God alone that moves men and women from a state of being spiritually dead to alive. Monergistic regeneration gives God all the honor, glory and praise for mono clearly describes that it is God and God alone that saves man.

I praise God that he did not require me to have, to produce, to decide, think or do anything ALONE to save my soul. If I believed that I had to think, say or do anything, then I would be continually left with the possibility that what I did was not sufficient. This is often the case when you meet someone who doubts their salvation because they believe regeneration is synergistic. My prayer plus God’s grace combine to save my soul. More often than not, the person will express doubt because they have been told that they must be sincere when they pray. This leaves us with the question of how sincere must I be? How then do you measure sincerity? And who would make the assessment, God or man? Synergistic regeneration relies on man and God to work together to move someone from dead to alive.

Monergistic regeneration describes God’s sole work in giving me a new heart and imparting His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, in my being so that I can believe, repent, trust, have faith and depend upon Christ’s redemptive atoning work.

Now what I am describing is linear: regeneration, repentance toward God, faith in Jesus Christ, which results in justification and thus salvation. I describe it as linear because I think in a linear manner, but God is a NOT man nor does He think or operate like man. The time between regeneration and justification by faith cannot be measured by human instruments of time.

So then you may now ask, Sean, what in the world is your point? My point is that with monergistic regeneration God gets ALL the glory. Man cannot say I believed and therefore God saved me. Many want to contribute something to his or her salvation, even if it is as insignificant as a choice. But the Bible teaches that with man salvation is impossible but with God it is possible (mono). It does not say with God and man all things are possible.

I praise God that my salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone to His glory alone.

God's Glory in Sin and Suffering

One of the most difficult questions men and women wrestle with is why a Sovereign God permitted and/or ordained sin and suffering to enter into the world through Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, when He was fully capable of preventing this sin.

Perhaps we can take a point from the Joseph story, in Genesis 39-50, and overlay it on the Garden of Eden to answer this question. Do you recall the story? I have been preaching through it and will get back to it in time. Joseph was sold into slavery and carried off into Egypt where he was rejected, imprisoned and eventually released to a position of prime minister by God’s sovereign intervention and grace. In the end of the historical account of God’s dealing with Joseph, Joseph makes this statement, “But as for you [the brothers who sold Joseph], ye thought evil against me [selling him, abandoning him]; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive [from starvation and death]” 50.2.

Now it is very apparent to the reader of the entire story that God used Joseph to preserve his entire family, Jacob and the brothers, and the lives of thousands upon thousands in Egypt. We clearly see how God does take what was initially thought to be evil and work it to good.

However, have you ever considered the idea that God knew, before the foundation of the world, that He would take the sin that Adam and Eve meant for evil, when they sold their souls for a piece of fruit from a forbidden tree, and would use that evil as the means to display His glory by saving souls. And not just His glory but the greatest and most amazing display of glory through the innocent suffering of the Son of God, so that Adam, Eve and all those in the book of life may be redeemed to the praise and honor and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

God did not use just sin; He also uses suffering. In fact, He introduced suffering into the universe. If suffering were not a part of the curse from the beginning of the fall, where would it come from to cause the Son of God to suffer? If there was no suffering in death we would not see Calvary the way we do when we fully and completely attempt to comprehend what it meant to undergo all that Christ endured on the cross. Suffering existed and presently exists to magnify what Christ did for man in His death. The words “I thirst” communicate extreme dehydration—suffering. When he said “my God, my God” mental anguish—suffering—is being communicated. When they beat Him with a whip He suffered. Without suffering, the beating is nothing. When He struggled to breathe, He was suffering. “Everything that Christ accomplished for sinners, He accomplished by suffering” Pastor John Piper. Suffering exists to magnify the grace of God to the glory of God. We must recognize that Jesus Christ should not have had to die. He did not deserve my wrath—He suffered for me. He was wounded for my sins; He was bruised or crushed for my iniquity—if there were no suffering associated with being wounded or crushed then the magnitude of what Christ did for me on the cross is lost. But this is not the case—in fact the opposite is the case—Christ suffered a most excruciating death undeservingly for all those who believe.

If there was no suffering, there would be no tears to wipe away. If there was no suffering what would we anxiously look toward. What would be the significance of a glorified body were it not for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and every other kind of suffering.

1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.

God used, uses and will use both sin and suffering to magnify the glory of His grace in the face of the Lord Jesus now and for all eternity. So the next time you see or hear of someone suffering, think about what suffering our Lord endured to bring about your redemption if you believe.

Facing the Giants

Have you seen the movie Facing the Giants? It is out on DVD and last weekend my family watched it for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie. (I like a DVD because I am in control via the remote). What a wonderful thing Sherwood Baptist Church did in making this movie. Furthermore, what is even greater is the centrality of God throughout the entire movie.

Yes it has a happy ending and yes all things work out exceptionally well in the end, but let’s not forget it is a movie and in a movie that’s the way it is supposed to be. Sometimes I want to be uplifted and reminded that God can and does involve Himself in all aspects of my life regardless of how temporal the event may be.

Grant Taylor (Alex Kendrick) is a Christian high-school football coach who has not had a winning season in six years and is on the verge of loosing his job as the head coach. As a couple, he and his wife are broke, the car often will not start, and on and on. You need to watch the movie. At the end of his rope Grant turns to His God and the Bible to find some answers to his problems. What Grant discovers and what each of us must understand is that we were made in the image of God in order to glorify God in everything we do including winning or loosing on the football field.

Walls that prevent us from seeing that we must glorify God in all that we do must be torn down. It is easy to glorify God on Sunday morning, but what about on Tuesdays at the ____________.

When a church or company endeavors to make a movie that honors the God whose Son is the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians in America need to support these projects. Goodness knows we buy enough junk that indirectly supports every other anti-God agenda in America.

I praise God a bunch of Christian brothers and sisters in GA gave the time and effort needed to make this excellent movie.

The Preacher's Job

I am a preacher, more specifically, I am a lead pastor, but you know that already if you are on this blog. Having only been a pastor for less than one year much of this is new to me and I am learning everyday. Pray for me. I beg God for wisdom beyond my years of life and experience and believe that occasionally God answers your prayers. The rest of the time I rely on a great team of pastors to help me make decisions and lead the church.

In the Army every job has a duty description that articulates the expectations for those in that duty position. This is great. The more detailed the paragraph the better for the person trying to be his best. In the church everyone also has expectations for the lead pastor. Everyone has the image of the perfect pastor and many are seeking to mold their current pastor into what they want. Fortunately for me—I don’t experience much of this in Berean, but I have read enough by other preachers to know this is a common problem across the church in America.

Like an Army manual, the Bible also contains instructions for the pastor, a bit of a job description if you will. Paul, the apostle, tells Timothy, the lead pastor in Ephesus, to “preach the word.” Then he adds what I see as clarifying instructions, reprove, rebuke, exhort, but the central message is clear. Preach the Word!

So there it is. There’s my duty description. My job is to preach the word. Now there certainly are various ways that people understand and interpret these three words so let me share with you how I understand Paul’s guidance. I see these instructions very similar to the ones Jesus left Peter with in the last chapter of John. Three times Jesus told future lead pastor Peter to feed his sheep (one time he calls them lambs).

Preach and feed. James Strong defines feed as, “portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church.” So my preaching must result in spiritual growth if I am striving to obey my Lord. And if I look to Paul’s words, I know that I must preach the Word. The word is the logos which can and does simultaneously refer to both the Bible and Christ. So when I preach from the Bible, Christ must be central.

Preachers who preach the Word and feed their sheep strive to promote an appetite, no a passion, for the centrality and supremacy of Christ in all things in their people’s lives. Now think about how difficult this is in the 21st century. I get one hour a week with most of my people. I get one hour to say something that will cause a desire to evoke a change in your life that will reflect that Jesus is Lord. One hour a week to encourage, exhort, rebuke, and chastise people in their thinking toward God and His sovereign right to rule in their lives.

In contrast most of my men spend more time on just Sundays watching the garbage between football (or basketball) plays in the form of commercials that encourage everything other than the supremacy of Christ. Nearly every commercial is an advertisement that interferes with a passion for Christ—its consumerism, materialism, sex titillation, idolatry and on and on. It is everything and anything but God. Think about the previews that you and your children sit through prior to watching a movie at the theater. I like Google’s webpage. I like the white clean background. I don’t want any pop-ups. I don’t want to see anything that will tempt me. My job is to get (at least for a moment) behind that pulpit and boldly proclaim the supremacy of Christ in the 21st century and I must be clean for you. My job is to rattle your cage. My job is to provoke you to rethink your priorities, actions, thoughts, decisions, desires and determine if they reflect the centrality of God in every aspect of your life. Walls have been erected which keep God in particular boxes, areas, sides and compartments of our lives that must be tore down. Like former President Ronald Reagan, today’s preacher must demand that “Mr. Christian, tear down that wall” that keeps God out of any area of their life.

With only one or two hours a week with some of you, will you give me more time through this blog? I need your time, attention and the grace of God to have a fighting chance.

Christians we must use the technology of the 21st Century to help keep the supremacy of God, through Christ, in our minds and the junk out. TiVo© is a great example of how this could help. When the commercial comes on the disciple of Christ picks up the remote control and presses the pause button and does something productive. Then when sufficient time has elapsed Mr. Christian comes back and flips through all the garbage to watch the great pass, the scoring run or the winning shot.

What about Someone Who has Not Heard the Gospel

Last Sunday night, a member asked me a question that many ask, have asked, and will continue to ask in the years to come:

Pastor Sean something has really been bothering me lately is how the question started. Will God send people to hell who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel?

(You know those people in the middle of country xyz where the gospel is NOT freely proclaimed. People like the Shaikh in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan or the Japanese in the remote regions of Japan’s mountains and tiny villages.) What about them?

First, God is under no obligation to ensure everyone hears the gospel before He judges them. Romans 1:17-21 and 2:14-16 state that He gives everyone an opportunity to follow the Light. He is the Potter and I am the clay. It is my sin and their sin upon which the wrath of God abides. A person is not condemned to hell because they rejected the gospel—the wrath of God abides on them because of the sin in their life which may or may not include rejecting the gospel (Romans 1.18). All men everywhere are commanded to repent—this is a universal expectation. I am born spiritually dead and remain that way until the Holy Spirit makes me a new creature in Christ. Outside of the mercy of God from birth I am a hell bound sinner in need of forgiveness and redemption. I do not become hell bound after I reject the gospel. I remain in that condition.

Sometimes someone may say, “God will not send them to hell; people send themselves to hell.” But this is not biblically correct. It sounds good to say and makes God appear kinder, but it is Jesus Christ, the judge, who said and will say again, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25). But that is God who is speaking and He is sending people to hell for rejecting the gospel, failing to repent, and every other sin that was not forgiven.

So then does this tough presentation leave people without hope? Are there people out there who might otherwise accept the truth and become followers of Christ, but because they live in a remote region of the world, and from our perspective appear, outside the reach of the gospel miss the opportunity to be saved? Is God going to still condemn such a person?

Acts 10 provides the answer to this question. Read the chapter; it is a great story. John Piper writes concerning Cornelius, “Cornelius represents a kind of unsaved person (among an unreached people group) who is seeking God in an extraordinary way. And Peter is saying that God accepts this search as genuine (hence "acceptable" in verse 35) and works wonders to bring that person the gospel.”

In this historical account, Cornelius in a spiritually dead state is seeking, but his seeking is NOT sufficient to bring about his own salvation. However it is such that it gets God’s attention to the point of sending the Apostle Peter on a mission to a particular person, in a particular region who would otherwise not hear the gospel. Praise God for missionaries; they never know when they are on divinely ordained trips to reach men and women for whom God is working wonders to bring them the glorious gospel.

The point from this account is clear. I am very confident in saying that their isn’t anyone who truly desires to know God that God is ignoring and will one day say depart from me. No one will stand up at the great white throne of judgment and call God unjust! No one will declare that they were devout, prayed, feared and sought God but He ignored them. No not one.

Commitment to the Lord on Sunday

Having spent some time analyzing the attendance records to our Adult Bible Fellowship Classes and children’s Sunday school one thing is clear to me. Many are not committed to faithful attendance. Why is this I wonder? What can we do better?

I know some of these people they are wonderful people who consistently go to work everyday. I know some of these people their sons and daughters never miss Upward basketball practice, karate or gymnastics practices.

And the reason is clear these practices are important. In fact, they pay money for their children to participate in these sports; whereas, our Sunday morning activities are of no cost so their value is minimized, isn’t it?

What are we communicating to our children about priorities when we sleep in on Sundays and stay home for the slightest headache? (And I know headaches; my sinuses act up nearly everyday.) Sunday is the Lord’s Day isn’t it?

What can we do better?

Simple Church or Not?

Having nearly finished reading Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger I am confronted with the question: Is Berean doing too many things? Over and over again the authors present statistical proof that vibrant churches are doing less NOT more.

They use lots of illustrations to try and communicate their point—Google is presented as a shiny example of how simple is better. (By the way Jon, I wonder how a would look with a Google format.) The simplicity of an Ipod is another example they present.

I know in my heart we are doing too much but how do you change. Everyone has such a vested interest in their piece of the pie and tradition is strong in Berean.

For example, I know it would be better to combine our Thursday night FAITH evangelism into our Wednesday night service, but how about those who think the Apostle Paul started the three services a week plan 2000 years ago. What will their reaction be? No preacher wants to lose a member over such a thing yet can anyone really lead an organization based on fear of losing members or participants.

I know it would be effective. I know more people could be involved. I know it would serve as a means of combining discipleship and outreach into the same night and give back a night to families who desperately need time. I know we would find more people home. In the past, anytime we hosted a meal before the service it was always a big success. I wonder could we start each Wednesday out with a low cost meal so that families would not have to rush home to eat or leave the house a mess to get to church in time. I wonder would we be more effective if more effort was directed to discipleship. What if FAITH teams visited the same people over and over again until they grew spiritually or were told never come back? I wonder what if we brought the Bible study to those who will not come to the Bible study. Again I am serious. What if my Wednesday night service/ministry was meeting with someone at their home week after week for personal discipleship until they were connected and growing. Is it reasonable to consider the idea that I would eat dinner at the church, drop off my son to AWANAs and then head directly to a particular home for a 30 minute devotion/Bible study/discipleship time?

And surely most who now participate in FAITH would enjoy having Thursday nights off. Imagine a single adult at Berean, on Tuesdays they go to a Bible study at church, on Wednesdays they work AWANA or go to the main service, on Thursdays they participate in FAITH and on Fridays they go to RU. Somehow they are expected to work in a date night so they don’t stay single their entire life. No seriously—are we doing too much.

Let’s make sure we define success the same way. Success is not seeing/hearing someone profess Christ through a prayer. Success according to Christ is making disciples who are reproducing themselves. So if I led two people to the Lord each year and spent the rest of the time discipling them would that be success. I think the answer is an unequivocal—Yes.

What do you think?

Is Everyone Saved who Says they are Saved

I was talking with someone yesterday who mentioned that someone s/he knew was saved yet had no appetite (my word) for the things of God and most especially His church. So I inquired as to how s/he knew this person was born-again (s/his word) and s/he told me because that is what his “saved” person said.

I wonder about that. So many people believe that they are born-again, yet there is no evidence as to their salvation. I mean fruit, the fruit of the Spirit (for example) or love for the brethren or love for the church that Christ died for. Is there a proof text that shows that many claim to know God and claim to be born-again yet they are lost?

My Lord and Savior Jesus addressed this exact point when he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Mt. 7).”

Do you see that word “doeth?” It implies that doing the will of the Father is a regular practice in this person who will enter the kingdom of heaven. Then Jesus said that in that day, the Day of Judgment, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we….” And these (the many) communicate various things that seem to prove they must be born-again, but He tells them to depart from me for He never knew them. Never: not that they were saved and lost their salvation. No the text is clear there was never a time when they were born-again.

Oh how I want to live in such a way that my life portrays that I know Jesus and that He has made me a new creature. Oh how I want to know God and love Him with every fiber of my being.

There is a big difference between saying and doing. The Apostle James addressed this idea in his short epistle when he says “I will show you my faith by my works” good works (of course) that glorify the name of God. Lord Jesus, please help me to be a doer of your word. My prayer is that Christ would be formed in me and every member of His church at 517 Glensford Drive.

Membership Matters

This is a simple brochure I wrote as the pastor of Berean to try and effectively communicate that Berean is not looking for any more spectators to become members and stay spectators. Now let me emphasize anyone is allowed to come and spectate as long as they want, but membership must mean something in the local church.

Question: Have you ever considered what the expectations of a member of a local church are?

Answer: Yes, as the Pastor of BBC, I certainly have given that question quite a bit of thought and would like to share my view of church membership.

Please know that my thoughts are based on a love for our Lord, His Church, His Word and you. Some of what I say will be challenging, and this may be the first time you have thought in these terms. My goal is NOT to discourage anyone from becoming a part of this family of believers; we welcome all. However, I want to clearly communicate the expectations for the members of this fellowship.

The single most important expectation is that members of Berean have been radically changed by the power of God’s grace into sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within them and He, as the Spirit of Christ, has regenerated their heart. This means that Berean’s members are new creatures in Christ and are different from the world because of the power of conversion. Additionally, members of Berean are expected to be baptized by immersion after repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—their Savior.

Members are expected to be faithful and dependable. A person should not unite with a church if they are not going to be faithful to the church. Occasional attendance is NOT acceptable for members. Members of Berean are expected to be faithful in their attendance to our Sunday worship services and Bible study opportunities. Furthermore, members will make knowing and learning God’s Word a priority in their life.

No church needs another person to join it that isn’t going to give something back to the ministry. All members need to give something back to their church. If your children enjoy the nurseries, Sunday school, or Power Hour, AWANA, Upward—you need to be giving your time back to a similar ministry. Some volunteers are being completely worn out while other members do very little—this simply is unacceptable. Every member of the church is expected to consistently and routinely give some amount of time back to the church as a volunteer. If you enjoy the music, preaching, air conditioning and cushioned seats, realize that they are not free. We make no money outside the tax-deductible gifts of our members and other attendees. If you do not plan on giving to the ministry, please, recognize that every member who does not give limits the growth of the ministry. Now I understand there is a great variance in the financial situations of our members, so I am not talking about a specific amount. However, I am saying unequivocally that the goal is for everyone to do their part. Members are expected to help with the ministry’s needs. In the Bible, God’s people are taught to give no less than a tithe or 10% to the work of the Lord.

In the New Testament, the local church made decisions, based on the consensus of the congregation. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and His Word, members are expected to attend the quarterly business meetings and vote.

When we assemble to remember the death of our Lord and celebrate the resurrection, every member should go out of their way to be present. Imagine that other brothers and sisters in Christ, members of your church, are assembling to worship and celebrate a very significant ordinance given to us by the Lord Himself and some members are at home watching football or HBO. God is not mocked; God’s grace does not hold back all judgment. If you are not going to go out of your way to be present when we remember the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord again, ask yourself why you are uniting with a church. I must remind you that Christ gave His life for the church.

Prayer makes a difference. Members are expected to pray for themselves and others in a consistent and routine basis. Prayer is the means in which we beseech God’s blessing upon the members of the church. Prayer is a way we can share in another’s burdens and sorrows. Members pray one for another and pray for God’s help in living according to His Word.

According to God’s Word, disciples of Christ are commanded to be separate and different from the world; therefore, members of this Bible-believing church would live lives that are morally upright. In short, how we live matters. Members of Berean Baptist Church are expected to abstain from gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, infidelity, smoking, gossip, lying, and any other conduct that would bring discredit to God’s name and His church. This does not mean that our members will not be struggling with these sins, but as disciples of Christ they know their sin is against God’s law and they are working to have the victory. They are repentant and have established accountability partners to win the victory. If you are battling one or more of these sins or other habitual struggles, we have support groups that help you gain the victory.


Membership means something and matters. This does not mean that all are not welcome because they are, but there is a distinct difference between a member and an attendee. Nor does it mean you have to be perfect before you can be a member, for each of us are battling through sins, but members realize that they cannot habitually remain in sin. If all this seems overwhelming to you let me encourage you to be faithful in your attendance to worship, Bible study and prayer and submit to God’s work in your life. God’s grace is powerful. The decision to unite with a local New Testament Bible-believing church (Baptist is this case) is something that should be prayed about. One should sense a clear direction from the Holy Spirit before proceeding forward. In many cases an interview with a pastor from the church will be very helpful in seeking direction or confirming a decision. Finally, members must affirm that they agree with the doctrinal statement of the church they are joining.

Pastor, having read what you believe membership in the local New Testament Bible-believing church means, I am still interested in becoming a member of this fellowship. Can you tell me the steps of membership?

The FIRST step is to begin acting like a member. The first expectation of our members is that they faithfully attend the Lord’s Day services and that they involve themselves in a small group Bible study/fellowship group. These groups meet on Sunday mornings before the worship service all over the campus. Someone at the welcome center, or a pastor, can give you the details. The Lord’s Day—Sunday—is just that. It is not another day to catch up on what I didn’t get done at work or to stay to home to read the Sunday paper and wash the car. If you are not ready to be faithful to God on Sundays, quite frankly, you are not ready for the commitment that church membership involves. Please continue to attend our services and pray that Christ will give you a love for His church. If there is something that routinely keeps you out of church, it would be good to discuss that with a pastor prior to uniting with the church.

The second or simultaneous step is to pray about this significant decision. When a person becomes a member of a church, he or she is entering into a covenant between God, the church and themselves. Before you unite with any church it is imperative that you know the Holy Spirit is guiding your decision. God is not glorified by the church-hopping and unfaithfulness of so many so-called disciples of Jesus today. Today people join a church and four weeks later leave after the preacher offends them with a solid Bible based message. So-called Christians are routinely offended by the truth of God’s word. Once you are sure the Holy Spirit of God led you in your decision, you must then conclude that the message you heard, which may be offending, is in reality the convicting power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word of God. Hopefully this confidence in God will help you to remain committed to your decision.

Once you are sure God has called you to Berean you will need to let someone know you want to be a candidate for membership. You can do this after any service by walking down the aisle during our invitation or by seeing a pastor, deacon or your small group Bible study teacher anytime. The counselor, or your teacher, will ask you for your address, home and cell phone numbers, e-mail, dates of birth, and the church from which you may be transferring your membership. If you were not a member of a church prior to Berean, then you will not have a church from which to transfer your membership. The next step in membership is a personal interview. If you do not want to provide contact information like cell phone numbers and e-mail then I must honestly ask why you want to be a member of the church. Church membership involves mutual accountability. While I am your pastor you are a member of this congregation.

You must be born-again and baptized by immersion after your conversion. A pastor and deacon will listen to your testimony of salvation and baptism. This is your opportunity to share how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed your life. This can be done in your home or at the church, in the pastor’s office or one of our conference rooms. If you are not sure you are born-again our pastors and deacons will share God’s plan of salvation with you.

Finally, members must complete our First Class. One of the pastors teaches this class. In First Class you will learn what Berean Baptist Church believes to be truth from the Bible. In this class you will have the opportunity to get your questions answered and be able to ensure you know what the church believes before you finalize your membership. This class meets for 6 or 7 weeks on Sunday mornings and must be completed before a candidate’s membership is confirmed by the congregation. If you are not willing to complete this class on Sundays or through a DVD lesson series, you may not be ready for the commitment membership involves. I hope you will continue to be faithful to Bible study and worship services and pray God strengthens you in your love for His church.

Those who complete First Class are confirmed as members by the vote of the church and welcomed into the fellowship.

If all this seems too much to you, I want to encourage you to attend First Class to determine whether you agree with what is taught and then upon completion you can make a more informed decision about church membership.

Adult Small Groups Important or Not?

For the life of me I can’t figure out why so many in the church I pastor refuse to become a part of an adult Bible fellowship small or medium size group (ABF). The importance of connecting with a small group cannot be overstated in a church. I know of no thriving church that does not emphasize adult small groups.

The level of commitment required is awaking 1 hour earlier each Sunday, yet we struggle at getting there. How is it that we can get to work 5 days a week early or on time but when it comes to Sundays we struggle so much? What is the difference? Isn’t it really just a matter of priorities? Small groups are a priority to some and not to others.

I was part of a small group in Iraq and it made all the difference in the world toward spiritual growth and discipleship. Tommy, Rob and I met frequently and then sometimes Rob, Cody and I met. I also had the privilege of leading a small group Bible study on Wednesday—what a time that was. We studied through the book of Daniel. I will never forget that group and the growth that was experienced.

I would love to hear from you why you think people do not connect to a ABF group.

Blogging for the First Time

Blogging this something completely new for me. Now I don't mind writing and sharing but sharing through a blog is new for me. This blogg is a result of a prompt from first a new friend from Brazil and then the author of Simple Church, which is an outstanding book. I know many in my read blogs, but I am not sure if they will read this one.

Today is Saturday, which a great day for me because I get to spend the day with my wife and son. They are truly the priority in my life and I thank God for giving me them both.

Tommorrow in Sunday and I am so excited about preaching the Sermon: "Proclaiming Christ in the 21st Century." I hope to be able to show all in attendance what the mission and purpose of the church is today and forever.