The Ten Most Important Chapters in the Bible

Have you ever considered what the most important chapters in the Bible are? Certainly any attempt to list chapters as more important than others might inadvertently suggest that one chapter is inferior to another, but that is not the purpose of this list. Since I can’t be familiar with all 1,189 chapters in the Old and New Testaments, it seems quite reasonable to ask: “What are the chapters I should be the most familiar with?” Twelve chapters would be the top 1% of chapters, so this list is actually less than the top 1 percent! On November 26, 2013 the pastors of Berean Baptist Church, Fayetteville, NC assembled to create such a list. The discussion that ensued to construct the list was recorded and uploaded to sermonaudio.com (Click Here to Listen) for the purpose of educating the listener as to why each chapter was selected. The list below presents the top ten along with bullet comments below each chapter in an attempt to explain why each chapter made the list.

#1 Genesis 1

·       God the Creator: Six Days of Creation
·       Man Was Made in the Image of God
·       Man is Mandated to Be Fruitful, Multiply, and Have Dominion Over the Earth

#2 II Timothy 3
·       The Last Days Will be Perilous
·       All Scripture is Given By Inspiration of God

#3 Genesis 3
·       Fall of Man
·       Promise of Redemption Through the Seed of a Woman

#4 Exodus 20
·       Ten Commandments

#5 John 1
·       Incarnation of Christ and His Preexistence
·       John the Baptist the Forerunner of Christ

#6 Isaiah 53
·       Christ, the “Suffering Servant”
·       Prophetic description of the life and death of Christ
·       Penal Substitutionary Atonement

#7 Acts 2
·       Pentecost: Great Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
·       The Church Begins in Earnest

#8 Romans 3
·       All Have Sinned and Come Short of the Glory of God
·       The Righteousness of God is a Gift Received Through Faith in Christ

#9 1 Corinthians 15
·       The Gospel
·       The Resurrection of Dead
·       Death through the First Adam versus Life through the Last Adam

#10 Matthew 28
·       Resurrection of Christ
·       Great Commission to the Church


In addition to these chapters there are many more that should be considered: Genesis 2 (Creation, Part 2), Genesis 6-8 (The Flood), Genesis 12/17 (The Abrahamic Covenant), 2 Samuel 7 (The Davidic Covenant), Psalm 23, (The Lord Our Shepherd), Psalm 51 (David’s Great Confession of Sin), Psalm 119 (176 Verses of Truth), Jeremiah 31 (The Promise of a New Covenant), Matthew 3 (Christ’s Baptism), Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount), Matthew 6 (The Model Prayer), Matthew 24-25, (The Olivet Discourse), John 3 (Nicodemus’ Encounter with Christ), John 14 (The Promise of the Holy Spirit), John 17 (Christ’s Prayer for Future Disciples), John 19 (The Death of Christ), Acts 1 (The Ascension of Christ), Acts 7 (Stephen’s Amazing Sermon), Acts 9 (Saul’s Conversion), Acts 10 (Cornelius the Gentile’s Salvation), Acts 15 (The Jerusalem Council), Romans 12 (Marks of a True Christian), 1 Corinthians 13 (Love Is the Greatest Gift), Philippians 2 (Christ’s Example of Humility), 1 Thessalonians 4 (The Rapture of the Church), 1 Timothy 3 (The Qualifications of a Bishop), and Revelation 21-22 (New Heaven and New Earth).

Calvinism & Evangelism

Someone might reasonably ask the question, “why preach the gospel and witness to unbelievers if God has chosen all those who will be saved before the foundation of the world as described fairly clearly in Ephesians 1:4ff?” The verse says: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; it then goes on to say: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will (v. 5). Based on these two verses (and others), some have concluded that the elect will be saved without regard to human actions; therefore, evangelism is unnecessary. The people who adopt this perspective are known as ‘hyper-Calvinists.’ I intentionally added the word ‘hyper’ because I am not aware of any leading Calvinists who don’t believe in the importance of evangelism. Interestingly enough, we do have Baptists who are hyper-Calvinists; they are ‘Primitive Baptists’ or ‘Hard Shell’ Baptists. Now, while I do agree with the ‘hyper-Calvinists’ that God doesn’t need us to do anything to bring about someone’s salvation, I cannot agree that evangelism is unnecessary. Let me define evangelism as the efforts of an individual (the evangelist) to bring someone to a point of conversion by a declaration of the gospel of the LORD Jesus Christ. You see evangelism is the means that God has ordained to bring the elect to salvation. If you knew that God had predestined that your house would not burn to the ground, but instead, it would be saved from destruction, yet you saw it on fire, would you do nothing? Or would you do everything in your power to extinguish it? Evangelism is sort of like spraying water on the fire; it is the means that God has ordained that the house be saved from destruction. (Granted, this is not a perfect illustration because it is Christ alone who saves us from destruction.) The Apostle Paul is a great example of what I am talking about. According to Acts 9:15, Paul was a chosen vessel of God to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Yet, Paul still needs to be converted, and the means whereby God brought him to a point of conversion was evangelism—that is to say, the LORD Jesus appeared to Paul and confronted him with his sin and his need to repent and believe that Jesus was the resurrected Son of God who died for his sins. So, not only did God choose and predestine that Paul to be an apostle, God (the son of God) also served as the evangelist to bring Paul to Himself. At this point, we can look at Paul’s life and writings and see that his takeaway from this personal encounter with the Lord was not that God would continue to serve as the sole evangelist to bring whomever He predestined to be saved to salvation. No. Paul reaches just the opposite conclusion, as he now sees himself as the evangelist. The same Paul who wrote Ephesians 1:3-11 which has some of the strongest language about predestination in the Bible was the church planting, gospel preaching apostle and evangelist who helped spread the good news all over the known world. For Paul, the fact that God had elected souls to salvation before the foundation of the world was the very fuel for his evangelism. It is what drove him to preach from city to city. Paul knew that God had elected all kinds of people to Himself, and the means that God had/has established to bring about conversion was intentional evangelism. Paul wrote that faith comes from hearing the word of God (Romans 10), so he told anyone who would listen about Jesus and what He had done on their behalf. And clearly, Paul never caveated what he said to people with the disclaimer that the gospel only applies to the elect. The same Paul who wrote Ephesians 1 is the same Paul who wrote 1 Timothy 2:4, which states that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The Greek word for ‘will’ in this verse is rendered ‘desires and desirous’ 16 times in other verses in the KJV. So, if we insert that rendering into the text instead, the message seems to be even clearer: God desires that all men be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth. The Sovereign God of the Universe desires that all men be saved, and it is the evangelist who brings them the truth (Jesus—the Truth). And it is to this desire that we appeal to God to save their souls, and it is with the knowledge that there are still elect souls on this planet that we continue to evangelize. When was the last time you were an evangelist?

Fighting for a Wife: Lessons from Othniel

Working through the middle of the book of Joshua is challenging. Huge sections of the book are dedicated to the names of the cities given to the tribes of Israel and the boundaries of the allotment of land for each tribe.  But right in the middle of chapter 16 which describes the land Judah received we find an interesting story.

Caleb offers his daughter in marriage to the man that will capture and destroy the city Debir. From this story I see a man willing to ‘Fight for a Wife’ and today I believe that is absolutely missing in our American culture.

And I know the numbers support my premise. More people are waiting to get married and fewer people are getting married period. And I would strongly contend that that isn’t God plan. In fact. long before God gave the church the ‘Great Commission’ God gave the family a ‘mission.’ And that mission is found in Genesis 1:28 where human are told to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Then in Genesis 2 we see God uniting Adam and Eve in a union for life. This union was designed to produce children and this union was between a male and a female especially and specifically designed by God as a helper for Adam.

Yet, today it seems more than ever this very idea and plan is being challenged and the church is walking away from the mission given to the family by God.

In this Sunday morning sermon, I challenge men and women with six lessons from the Word of God concerning marriage and I conclude with four signs of a healthy church.

See if you agree with me about my four signs of a healthy church:

  1. Men are Fighting to Win the Hearts of Future Wives
  2. Serious Sanctified Courtship is Happening
  3. Couples are Frequently Getting Married Under God and Before the Church
  4. Children are being Born and Adopted
Listen or watch the sermon to see what to Fight For and what to Fight Against in Fighting for a Wife: Lessons from Othniel.


Two Second Comings in 1 Letter--Could It Be That Way?

As I was studying for my Sunday night sermon I again noticed that Paul makes another reference to the coming (parousia) of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 5.23. This is the 4th time Paul has specifically identified the parousia in this letter. Since I was at the end of the 1st letter I went on to read the 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica and I noticed that Paul immediately goes into describing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in chapter 1. In verse 1:7, Paul speaks of the Lord Jesus being revealed from heaven with his might angles in flaming fire inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God.

Now at this point I want to know has Paul made a 7 year jump in time and events. If I assume that the reference to the parousia in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is a pre-tribulation rapture I must now ask: Is Paul now talking about something completely different? Is this the same “coming” as in v. 23 of the last chapter in the previous letter written by the same man and to the same church? Or is it a different event?

So what happens if I keep reading? When I get to chapter 2 v. 1, I see that Paul is talking about the coming (parousia) of the Lord Jesus again. Only in this verse he specifically mentions ‘our being gathered together to him.’ So I wonder has Paul made another shift in comings. Is Paul going back and forth with another jump back in time? Is our gathering different from the rapture? Certainly not! But in the context of the chapter it would certainly need to be. It seems that the gathering is closely associated with the parousia.  

Is Paul going back and forth between the pre-tribulation rapture and the post-tribulation Second Coming? Is this what is happening? I know for sure that the coming of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2 is NOT a pre-tribulation coming because Paul specifically identifies the revelation of the Beast, the man of sin or lawlessness—the Antichrist as happening before Christ comes. So our gathering together to him must not be the pre-tribulation rapture or we are gathered in him twice.

Perhaps the rapture gathers us the first time from the earth but then after 7 years in heaven we need to be gathered again to go back to the earth. Is this what is being described? If the answer is ‘yes’ I want to know how would I know this from what the Bible says. In other words what in the scripture alerts me to the transition back and forth from one chapter to another since Paul doesn’t switch words? 

Why don't you study it out for yourself and make a list of the 7 reference and write rapture or 2nd Coming next to each of the references to the parousia and then ask how did I make my decision?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Jesus Christ kills the Antichrist with the “breathe of his mouth and brings to nothing at the appearance of his coming (parousia).”

So what am I to make of all these references to the parousia? There are a total of 7 of them between both letters. Will I actually have a standard of interpretation that says Paul is using the same word to describe two different events separated by 7 years when he specifically identifies things that give a time marker with the parousia in 2 Thessalonians 2?

How inconsistent should I be? If I am going to inconsistently interpret the text should I not have a reason for doing that?

Wouldn’t I need some text to tell me that the same word is used in a different way for two different events one that happens before the tribulation and one after?

Why don’t you read it for yourself from chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians to the end of 2 Thessalonians and see if you don’t agree with me that Paul is in all probability describing the same event which occurs at the end of the tribulation and includes our gathering together to him (the rapture)?


The more I study the Bible, the more convinced I am that I have previously let a particular system of eschatology--pretribulational dispensationalism determine how I read and interpret the scriptures.  

Have you?

Our Gracious God

As I was studying for Sunday morning’s sermon I came across this great verse and I want to share it with you in the middle of the week.  The verse is found in Nehemiah 9:17.

Nehemiah 9:17 (ESV)
17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The ‘they’ in the verse are the Israelites who did not want to go into the Promised Land. Instead, they decided they wanted to return to the bondage of living in Egypt. In the verse, I want you will notice that Nehemiah states they stiffened or hardened their neck—this refers to their steadfastness in their commitment to return to Egypt. In fact, they went so far as to appoint a leader to take them back into bondage. But Nehemiah says the LORD is ready to forgive. Then he goes on to articulate God’s attributes. God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. And He does not forsake his people.

Let me ask you: Could there be a greater list? He is forgiving, gracious, merciful, slow to anger, rock solid in his love for His people and faithful to keep his promises!


What an example he is to me! In fact it is the gospel that flows out of these attributes. And since it is that gospel that saves me from hell I must be motivated to apply and live out these attributes with others. Don’t you think?

Jesus is Coming like a Thief in the Night

There are seven specific references in the New Testament to Jesus coming as a thief in the night. Two are found in the gospels (Mt. 24:43; Lk. 12:39); two are found in 1 Thessalonians 5: 2 and 4, one is found in 2 Peter 3:10, and two are found in Revelation 3:3 and 16:15. Both Paul and Peter associate this coming of the Lord like a thief with the Day of the Lord. Paul says, “that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” and Peter says, “the Day of the Lord will come like a thief.” Jesus told the Apostles that “if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming he would have stayed awake” (Mt. 24:42). This verse takes on even greater significance when it is compared to the words Christ communicated to the Apostle John in Revelation 16:15. Revelation chapter 16 describes the out pouring of God’s wrath upon the antichrist, his kingdom, and those who have taken the mark of the beast in the form of seven bowls each described in detail. In each case, an angel of the Lord is instructed to pour out his bowl on the earth. First, second, third, and so forth until the sixth bowl is poured out. Then there is a very interesting verse almost out of nowhere presented in a parenthetical sense. Revelation 16:15 presents the words of Christ:

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

And then the very next verse gives a particular reference to the Battle of Armageddon which is understood by all premillenialists as the battle that occurs at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. So it seems that it is very reasonable to conclude that references to Christ coming as a ‘thief in the night’ should be understood as the coming that occurs when He returns to destroy the enemies of God, to judge the wicked, and to establish his kingdom on this earth. The intentional placement of this warning from Christ that He is coming like a thief after the sixth bowl of God’s Wrath precludes any suggestion that references to Christ coming “as a thief” should be understood to occur before the tribulation. Some believe that Jesus coming as a thief is a surprise coming before the signs of the tribulation, but that does not fit with the context of the chapter or with the many ways in which ‘thief in the night’ is used.  For example, in chapter 3 the church at Sardis is to repent—they are to wake up—so that the coming of Christ does not come upon them like a thief.  And Paul seems to provide a similar idea where he states that the believers in Thessalonica are not in the darkness. Therefore, the day of the Lord will not surprise them like a thief. It is not good to be in the darkness. Christians are to be watching for the coming of Christ—they know the signs of His Coming, and they will not be shocked when He comes. Only those who are not watching or are in the darkness are surprised.

We must then conclude that references to Christ coming as a thief are not meant to be understood in a positive sense. The church at Sardis must wake up so Jesus doesn’t come upon them as a thief; the master of the house needs to be looking for Christ so that his house is not broken into; and all of us need to watch for Christ’s coming so we don’t get caught with our “pants down” and are ashamed at His Coming! Do you know what to be watching for? There must be signs to watch for or Christ would not have promised blessing to the one who stays awake, is alert and on guard and is looking for Christ’s return! In fact, this is the very question the Apostles ask in Matthew 24:3, “what will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?” When was the last time you read Jesus’ answer to their question so that you know the signs of His Coming? Study the words of Christ in detail and know what to look for so you are in the light and are not caught surprised by the thief!

The Sovereignty of God in Election

What are we do with the number of scriptures in the NT that identify an elect of God?  For example, what about 1 Thessalonians 1:4: 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. What is Paul talking about? Can you believe in the election of God unto salvation and not be a 'Calvinist?'  I used a a cart full of groceries to help explain this important doctrine. 

Understanding the OT with 8 Eras

For many years, the Old Testament was overwhelming to me with 39 books covering 1,000's of years. I couldn’t imagine how I was supposed to learn the entire story and where everything fit from the beginning till the birth of Christ. And it really wasn’t until I saw how it could be organized into eras that I was able to grasp and articulate the entire narrative. Once someone gave me a method of organizing the story, I was able to put things in their proper place. The system that I think is the easiest to learn has 8 divisions or eras. They are: Creation, Patriarch, Exodus, Conquest, Judges, Kingdom, Exile (Captivity) and Return. These 8 eras cover 39 books worth of history. They begin with Adam and end with Nehemiah finishing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem before the 400 years of silence between Malachi and Matthew. The first era is Creation, and it covers at least 2,000 years of history beginning with Adam and Eve and ending in Genesis 11 with the Tower of Babel. The era includes the creation of the world, the fall of man and the curse, the promise of redemption, a global flood and the scattering of people by God. Genesis 12 introduces Abraham, the first patriarch of the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel, and the rest of the book of Genesis tells the story of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Rachel and the 12 sons of Israel. In the Patriarch Era, the reader learns of the covenant God made with each of the patriarchs and sees how God’s Sovereign hand guides all events toward His will. The third era is the Exodus Era. In the exodus, God leads Israel out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land. He plagues Egypt to the point of surrender and submission to His will, parts the Red Sea, provides manna from heaven and gives His people the law and a tabernacle. Israel lacks the faith to conquer the Promised Land and is sentenced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses dies in Deuteronomy 34 having seen the Promised Land but not allowed to enter it. God subsequently raised up Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land, and for 45 years, Joshua lead until the era we are calling the Conquest Era. After Joshua’s death, a series of judges led Israel’s tribes for about 400 years in a semi-disjointed arrangement with men and women like Deborah, Gideon, Samson and Samuel serving as quasi-political and military leaders until Israel insisted they needed a king like the surrounding nations. Israel’s first king in the Kingdom Era was Saul, followed by David and then Solomon for about 40 years each. Upon Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into a northern kingdom and southern kingdom, with each having kings who led Israel mostly into sin. Only a few kings were righteous. In most cases, God raised up various prophets to confront Israel in their sin. Some of these prophets did not write books of the Bible like Nathan, Elijah and Elisha. Others like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 Minor Prophets recorded much of what they preached on scrolls that became our books of the OT. Both the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah) were conquered. First, Assyria conquered Israel in 722BC and, then about 150 years later, Judah was carried off into exile by Babylon. Jeremiah, the prophet, had warned Judah that their failure to repent would result in 70 years of judgment. It was during this era that Daniel served in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and Ezekiel preached as a prophet of the Lord. This era called the Exile Era (or Captivity) lasted until God raised up Cyrus the Great who would grant Ezra permission to lead a group back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. This final era is called the Return Era. Men like Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and others lead a concerted effort to rebuild both the physical and spiritual foundation of the city including the temple and walls. Prophets like Malachi and Haggai lived during this time, and Jews like Esther served Yahweh even in a foreign land. And this is how the story of Israel ends in the OT with a remnant of Jews trying to rebuild what was destroyed and neglected for decades. Obviously it is impossible to properly summarize the entire story of the OT in a single paragraph, but that wasn’t my intent. Instead, I am hoping you will be inspired to follow the OT Survey Class I am teaching by watching the video lessons we have uploaded to sermonaudio.com and the church website. This online series of classes will help you fit the puzzle pieces together so much better.

Do I Accept Christ or Does He Accept Me?

Recently, I was corresponding with a young man that no one in the church knows, and I asked him this question: How is a person saved from hell and guaranteed a place in heaven for all eternity? To which the young man (who, by the way, stated that he was a Baptist preacher) answered: "A person is saved from hell by accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. After doing this in order to guarantee a place in heaven for all eternity, you must live your life in a way that would please God." What do you think of his answer? Are you ok with it? What would you correct, if anything? Let’s start with his first sentence: "A person is saved from hell by accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior." May I suggest that his word choice of "accept" is unfortunate? And the reason I say "accept" is not the right word to use is because we can’t find that terminology being used in any evangelistic encounters in the NT. Instead, the word that is used most often is "believe." Accept and believe are not the same and cannot be considered equivalent. I accept the fact that it might rain today, or I accept your invitation to dinner. However, nowhere in the Bible are there any suggestions that we accept Christ. In fact, it is just the opposite. He accepts us into the body of Christ (Eph 1:6, KJV). While it is true that one must accept the gospel as truth in order to be saved, mere acknowledgement of the Gospel does not save. James 2:19 tells us "the devils also believe, and tremble"; only true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf justifies the believer. First, I want to define "faith" to ensure that you understand that it is not the same as "accepting." Again, my acknowledgement of the fact that Christ died on a cross for my sins is not the same as putting my faith in Christ as my Lord and Savior. The former is different from the latter. When I have faith in something, I am expressing my confident assurance in the reality of its existence. To accept the fact that a ladder will hold my weight is not the same as standing on that ladder and trusting in it to sustain me. While you may think that this difference is just a matter of semantics, a careful study of Scripture reveals that the Bible doesn’t agree with you. Second, I want to expand on the idea of saying one "accepts" Christ as Savior. The Bible teaches that one believes in the gospel to be saved. This sounds simple, but the reason I emphasize this is because faith in a Christ who did not die and was not resurrected is not sufficient for salvation. The only Christ that can save you from hell is the Christ; He is the Son of God, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day. Any other Christ simply will not do. A person is saved when he or she puts his or her faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). When a believer shares the gospel, Jesus Christ must be the central character of the story—the Jesus Christ who was crucified, buried, and rose from the grave on the third day for our sins ("our" pertains to the recipient of the gospel and to all who believe). This, of course, implies that believers recognize themselves as sinners in need of a savior, which is an indispensible component to becoming a born-again follower of Christ. Finally, we must take exception to our young friend’s final statement: "After doing this in order to be guaranteed a place in heaven for all eternity, you must live your life in a way that would please God." Are you ok with this statement? Does my living a life pleasing to God guarantee me a place in heaven? Of course the answer is an emphatic "no!" It is Christ, and Christ alone, who secures my position in heaven for all eternity; He is the One who redeemed me; His shed blood on Calvary’s cross freed me from my bondage to death; He grants eternal life to all who believe. Jesus said: "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:15). Notice that this is not a conditional expression. Jesus did not say, "whosoever believes in me and lives a life that is pleasing to my Father will be granted eternal life." On the cross Jesus declared, "It is finished." If my eternal life is conditionally based on the life that I live, then I may rightly ask: "What was finished on the cross?" Certainly, the salvation of the elect was not finished because God would then be waiting to see if each of the elect lives a life that is pleasing to Him. Following that premise, one may logically ask—how pleasing is pleasing enough? I know that I don’t live a life that is pleasing to God at all times. While I try to live a life that is pleasing to God, and I recognize the importance of living a life that is pleasing to God, I know that I don’t do it consistently enough. Therefore, I am thrilled that my eternal life is not dependent upon my behavior being pleasing to God! Instead, it was the Father who was pleased to accept the Son’s work on the cross on my behalf, and I am trusting in that good news—are you?

Applying the Gospel to Our Relationships in the Church


Have you ever considered how important it is for you to be able to forgive those who sin against you either by what they do or what they fail to do?

Are you guilty of thinking that you need to wait until the person asks for forgiveness before you can forgive them for the offense that is wearing at your heart and causing you to struggle with speaking to them?

If these questions resonate with you and the struggles you are experiencing, you are not alone. The Apostle Peter wrestled with a very similar question. In Matthew 18, the apostle records a conversation Peter had with the Lord Jesus concerning this idea of forgiveness. And since nothing has changed in terms of people sinning against people, I suggest we eavesdrop on this conversation and see what we can learn. Peter asked, "Lord, how often will my brother [or sister] sin against me and I forgive him?" Wow! Two thousand years ago, brothers and sisters were sinning against each other just like today. In Israel, folks were sinning against each other, and in the church today people are still sinning against each other. We say the most unkind and uncharitable things to one another, and we are often guilty of using forums like Facebook, blogs and other social media sites to air our grievances to the world. And like detectives doing an investigation, our readers are able to connect the clues so we all know who we are talking about even when specific names aren’t mentioned.

So, what is the answer? How many times must I forgive my sister or brother when they say something nasty about me on a social media platform? Peter asked the Lord "Is it seven times?" Surely seven times for the same offense would be enough. Certainly the Lord does not expect me to keep on forgiving the same sister or brother over and over again, does He? Can’t I just be done with them? Can’t I simply unfriend them on Facebook, stop following them on my Twitter account, and sit on the opposite side of the church from them? The answer to this very tough question is found in the gospel. Yes, the gospel! Jesus answered Peter with, "I do not say to you seven times, but 70 times seven." And to drive His point home, Jesus went on to tell a story that comes directly from the gospel. In modern English, the story might sound like this today.

The Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him tens of thousands of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, "Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all." Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him 58 dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. "Be patient with me, and I will pay it," he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, "You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?" Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Then Jesus said, "That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart."

But you say, "I am saved. I don’t have worry about being sent to hell." Yes, you are correct, and that is the point of the story isn’t it? Saved people forgive each other. They aren’t easily offended and are quick to restore the broken friendship. They breathe grace and are known as peacemakers, and as such, they are blessed.

Glorious Crowns of People

Perhaps you have heard of the "soul-winners" crown, I don't think Paul is referring to a literal crown in this passage. But what then is he referring to in 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20?

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.



Is Pastor Tim Keller Waffling on the Issue of Homosexuality?

Ten Points of Instruction for the Church from Our Lord’s Final Days on the Earth


Introduction

After Christ’s resurrection, He spent forty days on this earth eliminating any doubt that He physically rose from the grave and provided His disciples final instructions for their future mission. He was not going to be with them; He was going back to be at the right hand of the Father. He would send them the Holy Spirit, and by following His instructions detailed in the four gospels and in the first chapter of Acts, they would be God’s instruments for building the church. By diligently comparing the words of Christ found in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, and Acts 1, His instructions can be organized into ten points for the purpose of study and application.  

Ten Points

1. In John 20:22, Acts 1:8 and Luke 24:49, Christ emphasizes that the power to accomplish the mission He has given us comes from the Holy Spirit. After the ascension, the disciples were told to wait for the Holy Spirit. and clearly, the importance of the Spirit’s power, leadership, and involvement in the church cannot be overemphasized. Oftentimes the Holy Spirit is relegated to second-class citizenry within the Godhead, leading pastor and author Francis Chan to describe the Holy Spirit as the “Forgotten God.” Clearly the role of the Spirit is integral in the NT church in so much as effective preaching, teaching, evangelism, and ministry is impossible without Him.  We must pray that the Lord of the harvest will send the Spirit to the do the work that only He can do.

2. From John 20:23 and Luke 24:46, we see the importance of forgiveness. The KJV uses the word remit in John; the idea is to clear one from the guiltiness of the offense. The message that the disciples preached had at its core the truth that sins can be forgiven through Christ Jesus. The reality that God has forgiven our sins through the gospel has obvious implications in the way that families interact within the church. Offenses will inevitably occur, but the gospel demands that we forgive. Paul instructed the church at Ephesus to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake had forgiven them” (Ephesians 4:32).

3. Luke makes specific reference to the suffering of Christ in Luke 24:46; Peter does the same four times in 1 Peter. The writer of Hebrews says Christ suffered outside the gate, giving particular reference to the necessary location of Christ’s death. The church must tell the world what Christ did for sinners. He suffered, and every way in which Christ suffered must be proclaimed; His emotional and physical suffering must be detailed and articulated to the church on a regular basis. His love is fully displayed for the world beginning with his departure from the glories of heaven and culminating in His death on a tree.

4. In Luke 24, Jesus also directs the disciples that repentance must be preached. Repentance is a demand to change; it is literally a change of mind created by God the Holy Spirit at the moment of regeneration. In Acts 11, God granted the Gentiles repentance leading to eternal life. Repentance is not optional, and it reminds both the converted and the unconverted of the truth that God has graciously accepted us, not that we are accepting Him. In Acts 17, all men everywhere are commanded to repent. Nowhere does the Bible command men to repent of sins in order to be saved. This may be implied in cases where a particular sin is keeping one from believing the gospel. Such as the example of the idolatry that the members of the church of Thessalonica turned from to serve the one true and living God (1 Thess.1:9). In a larger sense, repentance toward God and belief in the risen Lord go hand-in-hand; one cannot truly exist without the other.

5. Each church executes the mission to preach the gospel, baptize converts, and make disciples in its own Jerusalem first. This is what church planting is all about. Our objective must be to position a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church in every village, town, city, state, and country on the globe. In this way, each church will reach a maximum number of people with the gospel with maximum efficiency. An exceptional focus on overseas missions does not excuse a church of the typical inward “us four and no more” mentality and culture that plagues many dying churches with dwindling membership.  Jerusalem is mentioned in Matthew 28, Luke 24, and Acts 1:8 as the starting point for the disciples and as the model for all churches to follow.

6. While attempting to reach local residents of each church’s community with the gospel, there is also an expectation from Christ that the church preach the gospel to the uttermost (Acts 1:8), and to every creature without regard to ethnicity, race, creed, and/or socio-economic class divisions (Mark 16:16). Churches are often racially segregated as though the Bible is bereft of a requirement to reach a diverse audience. This fault comes from ignoring the commandment to reach every creature with the gospel and imposing our own social and racial biases into our approach to who deserves to be offered salvation.

7. With great specificity the church must emphasize that the means of avoiding damnation and receiving the forgiveness of sins is to believe on (faith alone) (trusting/depending) Christ and His gospel (Mark 16). To a great fault, the modern church has committed a critical mistake in teaching that one must “ask” Jesus to be one’s savior, much like one asks if someone will loan them money or join them for dinner or accompany them on a date.  The gospel of John is overwhelmingly replete with an emphasis on believing (96 references in 85 verses). Because the gospel is a promise (Romans 1:1-2) to all who believe, there isn’t a need to “ask” Christ to save one’s self. Christ has already promised that all who will believe upon Him will be saved, and permission is unnecessary when a binding promise from a holy and righteous God has been enacted. Instead, what is required is faith in the person (Christ) and the promise (the gospel). And since the one making the promise is God, and God cannot lie, there is no doubt that He will fulfill His promise. Moreover, we do not accept Christ; He accepts us. God is the one that make us “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, KJV, NKJV). We can no more make ourselves acceptable in the beloved than we can raise ourselves from the grave.  Our faith is in the One who imputes His righteousness to our account.

8. The primary instruction given to the church from the Lord found in Matthew 28:19 is to “make disciples” (or fully functioning followers of the Lord Jesus Christ) of all nations. Unfortunately, the emphasis in making disciples of men and women from all nations is lost with the translators’ choice of the word “teach” in the KJV. Recognizing that the Greek word behind teaching is the verb form of the noun disciple, it becomes very apparent why all modern translations, including the NKJV, translate mathēteuō as "make disciples." Can you believe that I have had Baptists tell me the church I lead puts too much emphasis on making disciples? Is that really possible? I certainly can see how a ministry could put too much emphasis on one or more of the ten points of instructions contained in this short article, but is it really possible to put too much emphasis on making disciples? Our Lord spent three and one half years making disciples; those twelve (minus one) in turn dedicated the rest of their lives to making disciples.  Disciples are followers or learners or pupils of Christ; they pattern their life after Christ; they seek to know Christ and live according to His Word; they believe the gospel, and the gospel guides their lives. God’s plan is for disciples to make more disciples beginning in each home where one or both parents are disciples themselves. Supplementing and undergirding the family is the church with an emphasis on making disciples. Together, God’s first institution, the family, joins with Christ’s church in order to work together cohesively to make disciples of all people groups from all nations to the glory of God.

9. In both Matthew 28 and Mark 16, we find specific mentions of baptism, with Matthew 28 providing an imperative that disciples of Christ are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The church as a whole has done this in varying ways for various reasons, but Christ’s example and words do not leave as much flexibility in mode and candidacy as one would think based on what different churches do today.  In Matthew 16 belief precedes baptism—they believe and are baptized. In Matthew 28, the church is to focus on making disciples and these disciples are to be baptized. An infant cannot profess belief and therefore could not be classified as a disciple of Christ. Without evidence that a person is a follower of Christ, a church should not baptize a person. John the Baptist insisted that candidates for baptism exhibit fruit that provided evidence that their repentance was genuine. If the church of the 20th century would have insisted upon fruit worthy of repentance before baptizing converts (Luke 3:8), far fewer bodies would have been sprinkled and immersed, and  fewer unregenerate converts would have been given false assurance of salvation.  Christ’s example is worthy of consideration: Christ was baptized in the Jordan River as an adult at the age of 30 years old. This is a far cry from an infant being sprinkled or a five year old being dunked.  The church would do well to make baptism part of its discipleship program. Baptism should be a serious step of obedience with a clear expectation that one is converted and will remain in submission to the will of the Lord for the rest of his or her life before being baptized as a public confession of being a follower of Christ.

10. Finally, Matthew 28:20 concludes with an expectation that “teaching” the Word of God will be a part of the life of the church. In fact, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” is specifically what the Lord told his disciples to do.  The simplest definition of teaching is to cause someone to know something they did not previously know. With sixty-six books of Scripture, all profitable for doctrine, correction, reproof and instruction in righteousness, there is a seemingly infinite amount of information that can be taught from the Bible.  Elders and pastors must be “apt to teach” in order to be qualified for their respective offices (1 Timothy 2). Far too many preachers are not capable of teaching the Word of God. The next time you hear a sermon, ask yourself at the end: what did I learn from this sermon? If the answer is “nothing,” was it because you know everything already, or was there not an attempt to truly teach during the preaching? In the four gospels, we find either an equal emphasis on teaching and preaching or a scenario wherein more attention is given to teaching than even proclaiming or preaching the truth. As a young adult in fundamentalism, I often heard, “How will they know if we do not go?” But the reality is that they will surely not know if we do not teach. I can remember hearing teaching being undermined and even mocked; all that mattered was souls that needed to be won to God through personal evangelism.  This is based on an understanding of a single focus in the clearly multifaceted commission the church received from Christ.  However, as you can see from the words in Matthew 28 alone, there is absolutely a greater focus on teaching in order to make disciples. Yes, the gospel must be communicated, but that is not the single focus of the church.

Conclusion

We see that the power of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to everything we attempt to do in obedience to this great commission, and the central message of all we do is to proclaim Christ beginning in our Jerusalem and ultimately to the uttermost parts of the world. Recognizing that the world does not know Jesus, we must tell them about His miraculous virgin birth, sinless life, exceptional suffering, death on a cross, burial, resurrection on the third day, ascension to the Father, and glorious Second Coming. They will not know if we do not teach the amazing message that the Creator God of the Universe has made it possible through Christ Jesus for sins to be forgiven. And with the mention of sins, we are reminded that the world may not even know what a sin is, and therefore once again, we see the need to teach. The gospel of Jesus Christ must be taught. Can you teach it? How well can you explain the narrative and the implications of the narrative? Do you know why Christ had to be born of a virgin? Do you know why He had to suffer? Who killed Him and why did He die? These questions and more are what the world needs answered for our message to be received, and we must teach them both before and after they are converted. We must explain why baptism is important and who baptism is for and what it pictures. We must continue to teach the gospel and the implications of the gospel in life experiences including marriage, parenting, coworker relationships, and all other aspects of life, as well.  While the reception of eternal life in heaven is a glorious by-product of Christ’s work on the cross, Christ died so that the sins of the whole world could be forgiven.  Or it could be said like this: Christ died so that I could be released from the guilt or penalty of my sin. Recognizing that God has forgiven my sins has epic and far-reaching implications into how I forgive others when they sin against me.  A culture of forgiving one another must be created in godly families and throughout the body of Christ. Finally, after the new disciple is baptized, we must continue to teach him the Word of God in such a way that he will be able to reproduce disciples for the glory of God. This is God’s plan, and it has worked for 2,000 years; He has promised that it will continue to work until He comes again. Christ said “the gates of hell will not prevail against His church,” and His church must be uncompromisingly obedient to following the instructions first given to his apostles some 2,000 years ago. 

Church Won’t Do Weddings For Straight Couples Until Same-Sex 'Marriage' Is Legal

Sunday—Whose Day Is It?

I am very concerned about the way in which the body of Christ and our society is completely abandoning a commitment to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. (Note: I am not talking about people being sick with the flu.) John the Apostle wrote in Revelation chapter 1, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” It is on that day—the Lord’s Day—that we still assemble for prayer, worship in song, worship in giving, meditation, fellowship, baptisms, the Lord’s Supper, member’s meetings, and Bible study. We need bracket the day by opening and closing it in the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1). Is it the Lord’s Day for you and your family? Is it a day set aside for the Lord? Have you noticed churches conducting services on Fridays and Saturdays now? Have you noticed churches conducting services café style? It seems that every effort is being made to accommodate the world and its lifestyle. All of this accommodation is a modified form of idolatry. It relegates God to second place and man remains on the throne. God gets fit into the busy family schedule between a pleather of other activities none of which are sinful individually but when they are combined in such a frenzied life that Sunday becomes just another day of the weekend to do more then we have inadvertently crossed a line into idolatry. Families frequently skip Sunday worship to have ‘family’ time. With six other days to choose from, why must the Lord’s Day be sacrificed? It is not surprising that people who stay up till 1 and 2 am on Sunday struggle with being alive, alert and awake on Sunday mornings. Students are told to get a good night’s rest before a big test, examination or college entrance test—yet that same reasoning doesn’t apply to being ready for a day of concentrated focus on the Word of God on Sunday. I am especially concerned that many in the body of Christ struggle at being punctual to Sunday school or a preaching service yet are impeccable in their timeliness at work. Perhaps each Sunday as many as 100 people completely miss our time of worship in song! Songs that teach, encourage, motivate, and praise God are not sung because a concerted effort to be early to church was not made by all. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Basketball tournaments, soccer games, family reunions, etc. should all be planned and attended on the six other days of the week. Please do not take offense at this if it doesn’t apply to you. But if it does apply then recognize that the authority for which I am writing comes from the Word of God. My authority comes from Scripture which is profitable for ‘correction and reproof.’ Let’s start bracketing the Lord’s Day with a morning and evening time in the house of the Lord. (Again I am not talking about the plague of sickness.) With the deepest regard for you and in great love that is genuine, Pastor Sean Hebrews 13:7

Where did Jesus Go When He Died?

Have you ever thought about what happened after Jesus said, "It is finished" and before Christ was resurrected?

Learning about God

Use these words to complete the sentence below:  angry, glory, need, one, beauty, omnipresent, sovereign, wise, love, omnipotent, jealous, righteous, holy, good, omniscient, Spirit, eternal, invisible, light, true, know, gracious, kind, immutable,

1. Through the Bible humans are able to ____________________ God; however, He is incomprehensible.

2. God has neither beginning nor end; He is ____________________________.

3. God is ________________________________________ or unchangeable according to Malachi 3:6.

4. God is _____________________________; He is present in every point of space with his whole being.

5. God is not a material being; instead, He is a ______________________________________.

6. While humans have seen the Son of God; God is __________________________________________.

7. God is not fool; He is _______________________________.

8. God knows everything; there isn’t anything he doesn’t know. He is ___________________________.

9. According to 1 John 4:8 God is __________________________________________________.

10. God is the source of all that is __________________ because he is ________________ (James 1:17).

11. God is completely set apart from everything else in the Universe; He is ______________ (Psalm 99:9).

12. When His subjects worship and serve other gods, He is ____________________________ (Ex 20:5).

13. God will not share His ___________________________________________ with anyone else (Isaiah 48:11).

14. Jesus said God, our heavenly Father, is _____________________________________ (Matt 5:48).

15. Nothing is too hard for God because He is _____________________________________________.

16. God is in charge; He is the King of Kings; He is the LORD; He is ____________________________.

17. The Lord our God is _________________________________ and merciful (2 Chronicles 30:9).

18. In Psalm 27:4 David wishes to behold or gaze upon the ______________________________ of the LORD.

19. According to Psalm 7:11, God is _____________________________ with the wicked every day.

20. Acts 17:24-25 teaches us that God does NOT ________________________________________ anything.

21. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is ________________________________________ LORD.”

22. But the “LORD is the ___________________________________ God; he is the living God and an everlasting king…”

23. From Psalm 129:4 we learn that the LORD is ___________________________________________.

Mixed Martial Arts and Christians

In the podcast below the pastors of Berean discuss whether Christians should participate in mixed martial arts as either a spectator or a participant. I think you will hear a genuine desires to be balanced and thoughtful in our conclusions. What do you think?

 

The Potential Heresy of the Sinner's Prayer

This conversation has been downloaded over 3400 times, with 8 comments. Obviously it is something that people are confused and troubled about. People know that salvation is not secured by the mere articulation of words any more than a dip in a baptismal pool of clean water.  Listen and comment.

Defining the Gospel


The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for the sins of the whole world, was buried and rose again on the third day in order to deliver from sin’s penalty and power all who turn (repent) to God and believe the Gospel (this truth); furthermore, He grants to believers His Holy Spirit, Christ’s perfect righteousness, and eternal life.

We reject any suggestion that this salvation is secured outside of the sovereign gracious work of the Holy Spirit and faith in Christ alone, such as praying a sinner's prayer or asking Jesus into one's heart. We further decry anything that modifies the gospel by adding a social or economic focus, water baptism—any requirement that could be construed as a work accomplished by man or that teaches there is more than one way to be saved.

Moreover, we believe that because many mistakenly think themselves to be saved, all should work out their own salvation with fear and trembling: examining themselves to see if they are in the faith and ensuring their calling and election is sure.

Berean Baptist Church Pastors

My Experience at a Church and What We Need to Do


Each week I use this part of our weekly bulletin to communicate with the congregation. This morning, I want to tell you about my experience at a different church last Sunday. I was the guest and visitor. I was unknown to the church and wanted to drive onto the parking lot like a visitor drives onto our parking lot for the first time to remind myself of what this feels like. I would like to tell you about my experience so that we at Berean can be different. During my visit, I was greeted with nothing more than the cursory “good morning” numerous times, and once I had found my way to a Sunday school class, only one person asked me an engaging question. Then after SS, I was left to find my way to the auditorium, and again no one said a thing to me in the auditorium. Remember, I wanted to sense what a visitor goes through when they visit Berean; so I sat there waiting for the service to start. Sitting on a pew alone, not one person said anything to me until a friend saw me. Each Sunday, Berean has an amazing number of visitors, so we need to all be reminded of what needs to be done each and every Sunday. And the first Sunday of the year seems like a great Sunday to remind the church.

When we do not recognize a face, we cannot assume it just means we don’t know who they are. Instead we must ask the question: “Good morning. Are you visiting with us for the first time this morning?” If they say “yes” then we must ask them more questions, and they should be the kind of questions we would want asked of us.  And if they say “no”, then let us ask some more questions about who they are and how long they have been visiting or attending Berean.  Our questions need to be relevant to location and time. If the person is walking down the hallway before Sunday school, then I am going to ask, “Can I help you find a Sunday school class?” If I see children, my focus will be upon them and helping them to the children’s wing. I will ask, “Did you see the sign for the restrooms?” “Have you been to a preaching service before?” “Do you know anyone here?” “Are you passing through or do you live in Fayetteville?” “Are you a soldier?”  “Where are you from?” If they are not in the auditorium yet but it is after Sunday school or before the 8.30pm or 6pm service, I will ask them if they have someone to sit with in the auditorium.

Second, in our large auditorium it is critical that once you have secured the place where you like to sit, that you not remain in your spot but venture out beyond your favorite pew and greet others. Please force yourself to love visitors in the way that you would want to be loved if you were visiting for the first time. Yes, I know that some of you are uncomfortable with this practice and therefore are hesitant to be so bold, but just do it. Once you make this your practice, you will realize just how fulfilling it is to be friendly. It is absolutely critical that you strike up a conversation. Begin with some of the same questions mentioned above. If you see they have small children, ask them if they know about the nursery or our children’s Power Hour service for 1st through 4th graders in the chapel. If they have Awana-age children, ask them if they know about our Wednesday night Awana program at 6:15pm.If they have teenagers, ask them if they have met our student pastor, David McManus, and if they know about our Wednesday night youth program. If you don’t know if they attended a Sunday school class, ask them if they did, and if their answer is “no” then use that as an opportunity to tell them about your Sunday school class.

Third, in Sunday school we must all be watching for people who slip in late.  Often visitors will not arrive early. If they slip in after the teacher has already begun the lesson, then someone must take the initiative to slip over to the visitor in order to greet them and hand them a visitor’s card. While this may appear intrusive, it is far worse for somebody to think “nobody cares that I am present in the body of Christ.” Then when Sunday school is over, someone needs to extend a greeting to the guest and invite them to sit with them in the auditorium so they do not have to sit by themselves or be left to be lonely in a pew full of people. You can make the difference!

Fourth, we can’t over emphasize how important it is to put our weekly bulletin in the hands of every guest before church begins. Reading through our bulletin is a great way to learn more about the church. Visitors are nervous, and reading will help fill the time until the service starts. Please look at each person sitting in a pew to see if they have a bulletin in their hand. If they don’t have one, get them one. Give them yours, and then put a white connection card in their hands. Give them time to fill out the card before the service begins; explain how the card is used to get to know everyone who attends Berean each week. And then use the rest of the time to engage them in conversation. (See all the questions you can ask above.)

Finally, when you get back to your seat, get out a white card or a small piece of paper and write down the name of the person you just met and what you learned including where they are from, what brought them to Berean, etc. This will help you greet them after the service. It is impossible for you to remember everyone; so just like you write yourself a note to pick up toilet paper at the store, write yourself a note on a card or your smart phone with the name and information you learned. Then on the following Sunday when the visitor returns, you can open up ‘notepad’ on your smart phone and remind yourself of their names. (Yes we are giving away the ‘company secret’ but so what! Being a friendly church that cares is so much more important.)

So will you help? Will you greet our guests each week as though angels from heaven are visiting among us inspecting Berean for friendliness? Will you engage the visitor like you will want to be engaged when you PCS (move to a new town) and are visiting new churches for the first time? If your answer is “Yes, I can do this to the glory of God”, then I want to thank you in advance for joining the effort make our guests feel the warmth of the love of God each Sunday they join us to worship our Lord, Savior and God.

Pastor Sean

P.S. It is very difficult to help if you are habitually arriving late. Find excuses to be on time. Helping with visitors is a great one!

Note for Berean Baptist in 2013


Happy New Year! 2012 was a wonderful year for Berean, and we have so very much to be thankful for in so many different areas. The year 2013 brings us just as many opportunities to impact lives and do so much for our Lord and the furtherance of God’s will in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, and throughout the world through our national and global partners. So let me use this note to describe some of the areas where we have an opportunity to do more.

1. Sunday school: Our first priority this year needs to be in increasing the percentage of people who faithfully attend Sunday school. This involves making sure the time invested in coming to church early is well worth it and teaching people that they don’t just come to SS for themselves but to give back to others. We need to achieve an average of 80% of those who come to corporate worship at 8.30 or 10.45 also attend a SS class. While just 8 out of 10 seems like a low goal, let me assure you that 80% is a lofty but attainable goal. Joey Kellett will be overseeing a plan to achieve this goal.

2. Pastor Bill will be leading the effort to involve Berean in the construction of an orphanage in Togo, West Africa. Missionary Jonathan Huff is a veteran missionary and partner with Berean. He was here in October and gave us his vision for this additional work in Togo. Two Bereans came forward with $45,000 in love offerings, and the work is moving forward.

3. We need to raise the cash to install two large awnings to protect people walking out of the back of the church from the fellowship center all the way to the Jr. High module and youth building. Pastor Steve will be developing a plan for how best to accomplish this goal.

4. Camp Anchorage is planning to reconstruct an entire pier on the lake. This is a huge undertaking requiring support from as many people and churches as possible. I will be taking the lead in determining how Berean can get behind this huge project. Several of us from the church will run, walk or bike to raise money for this March Mania project, but many more will have to participate in 2013 to make a new multistory pier a reality.

5. We want to improve the effectiveness of our Awana program. Brian Howell will be interacting with Awana commander Nick Gore and the entire supervisory team to determine how Awana can be improved. We, the pastors, want the children and workers to know how important we feel this discipleship program is.

6. I will be working with both principals to create an official Berean Baptist Academy Parent Teacher Organization. This PTO will help each parent feel invested in their student’s education and should potentially improve the quality of the education.

7. Pastor Steve Wilson will continue to oversee the establishment of a fully functioning church library. Our biggest need is volunteers to help organize books.

8. Pastor Steve and others will work with the city to determine if it is possible to expand the Fellowship Center. It could be that this is not possible or feasible, but we know our Lord is in charge and we know our fellowship center is too small.

9. Little by little, the construction outside our walls will be bringing more people through the doors of Berean. Plan to spend a couple of extra minutes before and after services getting to know the new faces that will be sitting around you.

While I am sure there is more that can be done and should be focused upon, this is a good checklist of ideas for 2013.