Category Archives: Gospel

The Missing Illustration

Yesterday we looked at “Are You A Christian, Evaluating Your Claim To Christianity” at Kitwe Church.  In Mark 4 Jesus answers the question why so many professing Christians “fall away” and never bear fruit.  Here is the “missing illustration” that for sake of time was dropped from that sermon, but is so helpful to our understanding of sharing the gospel message.  It comes directly from the book, Hells Best Kept Secret, written by Ray Comfort.

The way we present the gospel determines the kind of response the sinner makes. Let me illustrate.

Two men are seated in a plane. A stewardess gives the first man a parachute and instructs him to put it on because it will “improve his flight.”

Not understanding how a parachute could possibly improve his flight, the first passenger is a little skeptical. Finally he decides to see if the claim is true. After strapping on the parachute, he notices its burdensome weight, and he has difficulty sitting upright. Consoling himself with the promise of a better flight, our first passenger decides to give it a little time.

Because he’s the only one wearing a parachute, some of the other passengers begin smirking at him, which only adds to his humiliation. Unable to stand it any longer, our friend slumps in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart because as far as he is concerned, he was told a lie.

Another stewardess gives the second man a parachute, but listen to her instructions. She tells him to put it on because at any moment he will be jumping out of the plane at 25,000 feet.

Our second passenger gratefully straps the parachute on. He doesn’t notice its weight upon his shoulders nor that he can’t sit up upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without it. When other passengers laugh at him, he thinks, “You won’t be laughing when you’re falling to the ground!”

Inoculated Backsliders

Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience.

The first man’s motive for putting on the parachute was solely to improve his flight. As a result, he was humiliated by the passengers, disillusioned by an unkept promise, and embittered against the stewardess who gave it to him. As far as he is concerned, he will never put one of those things on his back again.

The second man put the parachute on to escape the danger of the coming jump. Because he knew what would happen to him without it, he had a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart. Knowing he was saved from certain death gave him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude toward the stewardess who gave him the parachute was one of heartfelt gratitude.

Now listen to what the contemporary gospel says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ; He will give you love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.” In other words, He will improve your flight. In an experimental fashion, the sinner puts the Savior to see if these claims are so.

What does he get? Temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock his decision. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he is offended for the Word’s sake; he is disillusioned and embittered, and quite rightly so.

He was promised peace, joy, fulfillment, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed at those who gave him the “good news.” His latter end is worse than the first – another inoculated, bitter backslider!

When the sinner sees the awful consequences of breaking the Law of God – that he cannot escape the certainty of judgment – he will see his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach future punishment by the Law, the sinner comes to Christ solely to flee from “the wrath to come.”

Instead of preaching that Jesus “improves the flight,” we must warn men about the inevitable jump. Everyone must pass through the door of death.

It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27.

But doesn’t Christianity offer the abundant life? You bet it does! Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of the Spirit. But we do sinners an injustice by enticing them with only the benefits of salvation. Our misguided efforts only result in sinners coming to Christ with an impure motive void of repentance.

Remember why the second passenger had joy and peace? Because he knew what that parachute was going to save him from. In the same way, the true convert has joy and peace in believing because he knows that the righteousness of Christ will deliver him from the wrath that is to come. “The kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Why is righteousness coupled with peace and joy? Because “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Proverbs 11:4).

Man-Centered Preaching.

Now let’s take a look at an unfortunate incident on board the plane. During some unexpected turbulence, the stewardess accidentally drops a cup of hot coffee onto the lap of our second passenger.

What is his reaction? Does he cry out in pain, then rip the parachute off his back in anger?

No! He didn’t strap it on for any other reason than the jump. In fact, he doesn’t even relate the incident to his parachute. Instead, it only makes him cling more tightly to his hope of salvation and even look forward to the jump!

If we put on Christ to flee the wrath to come, when tribulation strikes we wont get angry at God. Why should we? We didn’t come for a better lifestyle. Trials drive us closer to the Lord, and we cling more tightly to Him. Like the apostle Paul, we only stay around to encourage other passengers to put on the parachute. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Sadly, multitudes of professing Christians lose their joy when the flight gets bumpy. They are the product of “man-centered” preaching.

One Fellowship – The Fellowship of the Gospel

One Fellowship.001
Our text is taken today from Philippians 1:3-8.

We all live for something, each of us have a purpose in our life. Whether or not you could articulate what you are living for right now or not, doesn’t change the fact that it exists. When people share a common goal, there is a very high level of sacrifice, and a minimizing of self-centeredness… and in that moment, there is a camaraderie and joy that is inescapable!

My boys have a favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings.  This movie is based on the book by JRR Tolkien. In The Fellowship of the Ring, nine of the most unlikely characters come together bound by a single great mission to defeat the forces of darkness and save middle earth. Four hobbits led by Frodo Baggins, two warriors from Gondor, Gandalf the wizard, Legolas came from the race of elves and a dwarf named Gimili. In the end they gave themselves for one another and became honored friends.

Such earthly fellowship can happen when the conditions are right, but our text speaks of a depth of fellowship that exceeds any earthly fellowship.

We have been called dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ, abandoned to His glorious purposes among men! The proclamation of the gospel! We are engaged in what Bunyan called a “holy war” we march to the tune of a different drummer, we answer to the call of a different master. We are a band of brothers, consecrated to the grandest and noblest of causes – the carrying out of God’s eternal purposes in our world. We are ministers of the new covenant, proclaimers of freedom to those in bondage, soldiers of the cross! We will be opposed, we will suffer hardship, we will be required to give our all and for some of us very lives!

But brothers and sisters, it is worth it! In the midst of spiritual conflict there is a glorious fellowship to be enjoyed! In suffering and deprivation and hard work and opposition, there is a deep, blessed fellowship that cannot be understood by the world.

The world seeks to manufacture this wonder, but it cannot be reproduced in the disco house or the football stadium. The world longs to experience just a taste of this wonderful gift of fellowship, but they seek it in all the wrong places. We find that this fellowship can only be found as passionate disciples of Christ abandon themselves in partnerships of sacrifice and service to the gospel.




It is in the context of this “partnership of the gospel” that we experience joy, love and overwhelming thankfulness!  Notice how Paul describes this fellowship! Notice how this gospel ministry will affect our lives and our relationships with those we minister?

Verses 1-2: The Context

  • Preachers – Paul & Timothy- Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting trial.
  • Position – bondservants
  • People – saints / Bishops & Deacons
  • Place – Philippi. City in Europe, Roman colony. City of about 10,000. Paul had established the first church on the continent of Europe in @50AD. Now 10 years late he is writing this letter
  • Pronouncement – Grace & Peace, from God.


His Thankfulness For Them (3)

His thankfulness is stirred by his memory of them. In this personal letter Paul begins by telling them that every time he thinks of them from his prison cell he is filled with joyful thanksgiving to God that naturally translates into prayer for them. (3-4)

  • Paul remembers the first time he arrived in this city (Acts 16:7-10).
  • He recalls meeting outside the city walls by the river with a handful of gentile women who met there to worship God. He rejoiced in the conversion of Lydia and her household. (16:11-15)
  • He remembered the grief he felt when the demon-possessed girl prophesied that they were representatives of the true God and he cast the demon out of the girl. He recalled the uproar that occurred there in the Agora when her masters dragged them to the authorities and they were arrested and beaten and thrown in prison. (16:16-24)
  • Oh that glorious night – hearts aflame with love for God they loudly sang praises to God in the hearing of all the prisoners and God moved in to release them from their chains. The conversion of the jailer and his family! (16:25-34).
  • He thinks of these people who are now part of the persecuted church in Philippi and his heart is filled with joy and thankfulness to God!

His thankfulness is coupled with JOY (4)

Their joy (15x in the letter) was in the midst of affliction – (2 Cor. 8:1-2), and Paul’s joy was while in prison!. Joy is not based upon happenings (happiness) it is grounded internally.

The first lesson in this for us is this:  Joy is an attitude of the heart, not an emotion or a feeling. And the second lesson is: This joy is found outside yourself! Note that Paul points to the Lord as the source, Rejoice in the LORD (3:1, 4:4)

His thankfulness is expressed in PRAYER (4)

Paul rarely thanks God for stuff/things, he thanks God for people! Paul was a people person. He was not glorying in an achievement, a building or a program but in a people who were called by God’s name!

How much of your praying is giving thanks and how much is complaining

The Joy & Thankfulness that Paul is talking about is a direct result of receiving “grace and peace” from God (2).  If you have not partaken of His grace then you do not have peace with God.  If you do not have peace with God you cannot know this thankfulness and joy!


Thankful for their Fellowship in the Gospel (5,7)

They were partners with Paul in the gospel! Fellowship (koinon) – lasting, committed fellowship. “From the first day until now.

“For your fellowship in the gospel.” This is a committed, lasting fellowship! It is the idea of people of very different cultures, Ideas, families, places in the world etc., having an indestructible bond, a oneness and unity that cannot be shaken. In all of our diversity we have one common goal, one common agenda, one common purpose, one common motivator… the Gospel of Grace (7b, (2 Cor 8:2-5)

  • They were committed to the evangelization of the Gentile world, to sharing the gospel with everyone who would listen.
  • They were committed to suffering and poverty for the sake of the gospel!
  • They were committed to giving selflessly to the cause of Jesus Christ!

The Philippians identified with him in his imprisonment for the gospel. This at a time of persecution when others fled from Him (7a).They also identified with him in his defense of the gospel (apologia). Apologetics refers to speech in defense of the gospel. (7b). And they identified with him in a positive confirmation of the truth of the gospel. (7c)

Their fellowship was:

  • A fellowship of Grace (7)

1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

  • A fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2:1)
  • A fellowship of suffering (3:10)
  • A fellowship of Sacrifice (4:14-15)

This kind of fellowship is experienced as we serve God together. Last month many of us here at Kitwe Church came together to sing Christmas carols at the Mukuba Mall and to give out gospel tracts and New Testaments.  Remember the joy we had serving God together?  Remember the testimonies that many of you gave about what a blessing this was? We experience fellowship as we give ourselves to the gospel here and around the world!

The world seeks to find a means of experiencing this kind of fellowship – but they fail. This fellowship is for a cause that is greater than any selfish ambition, it is the emptying of self, the giving over of my dreams and aspirations for a common cause – the sake of the gospel. It is an absolute abandonment of brothers who partner together for the sake of His name to carry the glorious gospel to the shores of Morroco, the deserts of Somalia, the swamp villages of Sudan, the remote peoples of western Kenya, the villages of Northern province, the working class people of Kitwe, Zambia.

Confident in God’s Faithfulness (6)

Paul has a rock solid confidence in God. He who began it will complete it! What began with the acceptance of the gospel message preached by Paul in Philippi, continued until the present will be completed in the future. (“from the first day until now…”).

God will complete in every Christian what He has begun! (Acts 16:24) Nothing will prevent Him from completing His Work. He began a work of Grace at salvation, He will complete His work of Grace until the Day He comes again.

Don’t grow discouraged at your failures, Don’t forget that God will bring to reality the work of perfecting us, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.

I don’t have to control, I don’t have to worry and fret, I can confidently, joyfully, thankfully commit my ministry and those with whom I serve to Him who will finish what He has started! Ministry is not about YOU, it is not about ME! We are God’s chosen vessels to carry the gospel, to faithfully proclaim it, to plead with men to surrender their wills to the Savior. But it is all of GRACE! He calls them, He opens hearts, He saves men and women, boys and girls, and the One who calls and saves them will keep and complete them! OH JOY! What a cause for thanksgiving!

So what should you do now?
Will you commit to the “fellowship of the gospel” by joining in sacrificial service for God through the ministry of this church? Does not the grace of God lead you to such fellowship?

As you commit to God’s purposes you will know the thankful joy and love this fellowship brings.

Are you experiencing real joy – based upon your relationship to Jesus Christ and your fellowship in Him? Will you partake of the gospel today? You can be saved from your sin! You can have new life in Jesus Christ!

The Calling of the Church


Back in 2010 I received an envelope in the mail from our local courthouse.  Inside was a letter stating I was being summoned to appear at the courthouse on a specific date for a specific purpose – to serve as a member of the jury of fellow citizens who would decide the guilt or innocence of an individual who was accused of a crime. The word summon is defined as “an authoritatively or urgently call on (someone) to be present, especially as a defendant or witness in a law court.”

Today, as we continue to series on “The Pattern of the Church,” we are going to recognize an important truth that clearly defines what a church is and in doing so we are instructed on how we should behave.

The word church is a translation of a Greek Word, Ekklesia, which means “a called-out assembly or congregation.” The term comes from a Greek verb “kaleo”, which means “to call.” When you think of “the church” that is exactly what you should think of.  According to Scripture, we are “the called – the summoned.”

In Romans 8:28 there is a wonderful definition of the assembly of believers as, “the called according to his purpose.” We meet in a building that is owned by a human organization. This building is the property of the Moth’s Club.  That is a human organization.  The church is something totally different.  We are a group summoned together by God for His purpose.  We are not a human organization resulting from man’s ingenuity or power.  We are not built by good, religious people.  Rather, we have been called into existence by God.

The one big idea that I hope you take with you when you leave today is this:   The Church exists because called God called it into being for one purpose – for the praise of His glory. This fact makes the church special and must be regarded as such.

This idea of the church being called is obviously found throughout all of scripture, but for the rest of our time today we are going to focus on Ephesians 1: 3-14 to see several important truths about our calling.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In the Greek language, this passage is one long elegant sentence to paint the beautiful picture of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit beginning and completing the reconciliation and redemption of the all those who put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin (Grudem 1661).  At the very core of this beautiful passage of scripture is the word “called”.  Today we will see eight distinct aspects of the church’s calling.

1. Called Before – Election v. 4-5, 11

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

What did God do?

  • He Chose
  • He predestined – determine (an outcome or course of events) in advance by divine will or fate:

When did he do this?

Before the foundation of the world

The church is not something that accidentally came into being.  It is the result of God’s predetermined, sovereign call (MacArthur 119).

2 Timothy 1:9 says, “(God) saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Remember, God exists outside of time and space.  He created those aspects of the world.  He is eternal.  In God’s mind, there is no time frame.  For Him, everything is an immediate eternal present.  The church was as real to Him before the world began as it is now” (MacArthur 119).

2. Called Out – Redemption v. 7,13

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

What have we been called out of?

  • Sin
  • Death
  • The World System

Romans 6:8-11 says, “8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” I John 2:15-17 says, “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

The church is a redeemed community, born again by the Spirit of God.  Unredeemed people who assemble in a religious/ritualistic ceremony are not part of the Church that Christ is building (MacArthur 119).

Sadly, there are many human institutions that call themselves churches all over the world.  They appear to be “alive” when really there are dead (Rev. 3:1).  Rather than being called out from the world, they are part of it, in spite of all their religious activities (MacArthur 119).  Such groups are only partially fulfilling the definition of a church.  Yes, they are an assembly, but not a called-out assembly.  Really they are just a social club that may or may not promote good morals. Having a church membership that is truly comprised of people who are saved or born-again, is so important.  We don’t want to play church.  We want to be a church.  The church should always have people in attendance who are seeking to understand the truth of God’s Word.  Never a week should go by when we don’t have unsaved people sitting in these seats listening to God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can open their spiritual understanding and draw them to faith in Christ.  However, never should a person who is still lost in sin, blind to spiritual truths, and living according to the passions of the sinful human nature be admitted as an official church member.

With membership come both privileges and responsibilities that are reserved for those who have been redeemed from sin – called out of the world. What we do not want to see at the end of time when all mankind stands before the Judgment of God is for someone who was considered a “Kitwe Church Member” to be one of those spoken of in Matthew 7:21-23 where it says,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Before we move on to the next point, let me share with you a quote that can be found on a painting in the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany (MacArthur, 120).

You call Me Master, and obey Me not;

You call Me Light, and see Me not;

You call Me the way, and walk Me not;

You call Me life, and live Me not;

You call Me wise, and follow Me not;

You call Me fair, and love Me not;

You call Me rich, and ask Me not;

You call Me eternal, and seek Me not;

If I condemn thee, blame Me not.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”   The church is called out of sin, out of death, and out of the world.  Have you truly been redeemed? Are you part of God’s church?

3. Called From – Sanctification v.4

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

“Christians are supposed to manifest the holiness of our heavenly Father, our Savior, and the Spirit who dwells within us” (MacArthur 121).

I John 2:15-17 says,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

As a church we must emphasize the importance of humility, confession of sin, and pure worship.  We have been called to live holy lives.  That means leaving sinful pleasures and sinful habits behind.  One of the reasons we often fail to do this is because we don’t have an understanding of the holiness of God.  In our pursuit of holiness, we must first recognize the holiness of God the Father and Christ.  Although God’s love should make us confident to approach Him, God’s holiness should produce within us a profound sense of awe and respect even to the point of fear if we attempted to approach Him in an unholy manner with presumptuous sins in our lives.

4. Called To – Identification v. 4-6

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Here we see three important things about the calling of the Church that each believer is a part of once they have come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

  • How God Sees Us – Holy & Blameless
  • How God relates to us – As sons/daughters – children adopted into his family
  • How God satisfies us – He has blessed us in the Beloved

I once read a story about a high-society luncheon where an actor was guest of honor.  The host asked the famous actor to demonstrate his skill by reciting something for the guests.  The actor asked for any specific requests.  An old pastor in the crowd requested Psalm 23.  The actor agreed as long as the pastor would do the same.  When the actor finished reciting the 23rd Psalm the he received much applause.  However, the audience wept when the pastor was finished.  The actor humbly addressed the crowd saying, “You clapped for me, but you wept for him.  The difference is obvious: I know the Psalm, but he knows the shepherd” (MacArthur, 121).

As Christians, we have a special relationship with God that should be evident to the on-looking world.  They should be able to identify us as adopted children of God. “Romans 8:14-17 teaches that Christians have become intimately related to God, having been adopted as His sons.  That makes us joint heirs with Christ.  The church isn’t a group that you join by signing your name.  It isn’t merely a society committed to a system of teaching” (MacArthur 122). We don’t believe God is an all-powerful tyrant or monster waiting to step on us if we break one of His rules.  Rather, we have an intimate love relationship with Him.  We are called to a sweet intimacy with Jesus Christ – a personal, living relationship with God the Father.  As a loving Father He has rules to protect us from what He knows will be harmful to us, but He is not waiting for us to mess up so he can enjoy punishing us.  No!  He desires that we trust Him and obey Him so we can experience all the joy that comes from this loving relationship.

5. Called Under – Revelation v. 7-9

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

As a pastor, one of the most common questions I have been asked by Christians over the years has been, “what is God’s will for my life?”

Everyone seems to want to know some inside information from God.  Yet sadly, many people are ignorant of the one place where such information can be found.  The Bible!

“God has filled us in on great spiritual truths concerning life, death, God, man, and eternity” (MacArthur 123). He has also given us many principles for wise living. All of this is found in this book.  The Bible is the very word of God, not the opinion of any man. Therefore, Christians are called to submit to the Word of God.  We don’t get to need to help God out in figuring out how to run His church or run this world.  God’s ways have not been proven to be outdated or unproven.  Sadly, however, they have been untried by most who call themselves Christians and sadder still, they have been largely ignored by the leaders of God’s called out assembly – the church.

“When we meet together to plan. Pray, and serve the Lord, one thing should be central in our minds: What does the Word of God say about the matter” (MacArthur 123).

As I keep asking many of you why you come to Kitwe Church, I repeatedly here that it is because we preach and teach God’s Word clearly.  Excellent!  If we ever stop doing that then you should stop coming.

“Christians mature through the study and application of Scripture.  The job of church leaders is to equip people with the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).  That means more than merely owning a Bible; rather, our people need to understand the Bible so they can use it as a weapon for good” (MacArthur 123).  Why?  Because we are in a spiritual battle.

There is a song I want us to learn here entitled, “O Church Arise,” by modern hymn writers Keith and Kristin Getty.  Let me read to you the words of verse two: “Our call to war – to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor.  And with the sword that makes the wounded whole, we will fight with faith and valor.  When faced with trials on every side, we know the outcome is secure.  And Christ will have the prize for which he died – an inheritance of nations!

6. Called With – Unification v. 10

10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

“The ultimate purpose of God is together all things together at the completion of redemptive history.”  Revelation 5 paints a beautiful picture of that day when people from every family, tribe, nation, and language will be gathered around the throne of their redeemer Jesus Christ.  No longer will there be cultural, racial, or national barriers.  Their will be total unity caused by the one thing they all have in common – their Savior!  Oh, how I look forward to that day. However, until then the Church is the symbol of that unity.  We are the “sneak preview” of what is to come.

We are called to be one in the family of God. In the earliest years of my life my family was part of a church that called itself fundamental, but sadly that was a code word for “isolationist.” There was not fellowship or unity within the local church.  There was suspicion and fear.  People were more concerned about image than substance.  People certainly didn’t let out anything our about their inner selves for fear of being judged, rejected, shunned, and shamed. The leaders were more concerned about their control than the well-being of the sheep.   Such an environment did not foster spiritual growth.

Our assembly meetings should be a safe place to let down our guard, confess our questions, fears, doubts, and sins so that we can help one another grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Everyone should sense that although we hate sin, we love the sinner.  And everyone should recognize that even after our salvation, we still have a sin nature.  We must recognize that there is no sin that anyone has ever done that you and I are not still capable of doing.  When we have these two mentalities then we will join together in unity to attack sin, but love one another.

In Philippians 2:2 Paul says that Christians should be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in the spirit, intent on one purpose.” 

That is why I love inter-church fellowships, where one local church gathers with others.  That is why I love conferences.  We can unite with those who are equally committed to the truths of scripture to encourage and strengthen one another. Of course, there is danger in going to far.  We want to avoid both extremes of isolationism and ecumenicalism.  We do not want an ecumenical fellowship which promotes unity at all costs – including doctrine.  We must be in agreement on the core doctrines of the faith,  but let’s make sure we are not being isolationists and dividing over traditions, or small differences in interpretations. If we can agree on the major doctrines of the Bible then Scripture says there can and should be unity.

7. Called Unto – Glorification v. 11

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

An inheritance is something that is promised at one point in time and given in another.  The focus is on the future. Paul says, that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance.  What is it?  It is the final state that we experience only on the other side of heaven.  It is glorification.

“Christians are committed to glorification.  Our focus is future.  We are not citizens of this world” (MacArthur 124).

Colossians 3:1-2 says,

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Can we say that we are investing in eternal things?  Sadly, I think all too often we get sidetracked by less valuable, temporary, earthly treasures.

8. Called For – Proclamation v. 12

12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Yes, if we have been saved, if we are part of God’s called-out assembly of believers in this world, then there are privileges that await us in our glorification.  But notice, God has not taken us to heaven yet.  The glorification is still a future reality.

That leads us to take note of an important truth.  God has left us on earth for a reason.  We were “called for” something.  We have a job to do.  We were saved to serve!

“We have been called to proclaim the glory of God’s grace.  God should be glorified in how we live and in what we say” (MacArthur 124).

We have been called -we have been summoned to be witnesses of God’s grace! Think back over your life this past week.  Have your words, actions, and attitudes pointed people to your great God?The unsaved, unbelieving world should look at us and say, “Look at the group of people.  What a gracious God they have.”

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said,

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”

My fellow believers, we are the primary manifestation of God in this world because many of those who are lost in sin will never read the Bible.  As you life out the truths of scripture, your life may be the only Bible they read.  Are you being faithful to proclaim God’s glory in word and deed?

Those who are religious, but have no relationship with Christ – those who have a form of religion, but deny the power of the Gospel should look at Kitwe Church and say, “What is different there?  They have God’s power.  They have God’s peace.  That must mean they have God’s presence.”  And it should drive them to abandon empty religion and come to seek a relationship with Christ as well.

Perhaps some of you in this room would fall into that category.  Perhaps you know that before you leave here today you need to respond to God’s free gift of righteousness, forgiveness, and eternal life.  Perhaps you need to trade in your religious activities for a relationship with Christ and become a true member of God’s church – His assembly of called-out ones by putting faith in Jesus Christ.


The entire church has been called into existence by God Himself.  That helps to explain the church’s overall success and blessing.  However, we all have seen instances when a church has failed to live up to this holy calling.  The weaknesses and failures of the church are explained by the fact that God has chosen to work through human agents to accomplish His purpose – His will.

We must remember that when we succeed it is because of Him, not us.  When we fail it is because of us, not Him.  The main goal of the church is to let God work and build His kingdom as we obediently submit to His Word and Spirit (MacArthur 118).  I pray that our study of Ephesians 1 has helped us to understand the extent of what it means to be called.

If you would like to study this more for yourself, I would encourage you to read chapter 9 of John MacArthur’s book, The Master’s Plan for the Church. Bibliography: Grudem, Wayne Dr. editor, ESV Global Study Bible Notes (Wheaton: Crossway Publications, 2012) MacArthur, John. The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1991)

Download the audio sermon here.


Biblical Baptism.jpg.001I have entitled this study: “Biblical Baptism – an ordinance of the local church” (listen or download) because my intent this morning is to appeal directly to Scripture to get a clear understanding of this important and often misunderstood subject.

An ordinance – authoritative order, a religious decree. There are two ordinances given by Christ to the Church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

There is much confusion about what baptism represents and what baptism does. Today we are not appealing to traditions or opinions we want to go directly to Scripture with a heart that is open to God showing us His truth.

John 7:17 says “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.”

Just to be clear about what I am referring to when I use the term: baptized or baptism. The word Baptism or Baptized in the New Testament means to place a person under water.

Baptism has beautiful spiritual significance as we will see in our study.

In order to discover what Scripture teaches about baptism let’s answer a series of six questions:

What Is Biblical Baptism? (Romans 6:1-8)

Baptism is a picture of the DEATH, BURIAL, & RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:1-4)

The Holy Spirit baptized each of us into Jesus Christ when we were saved. (Gal. 3:27)

Baptism is the believer’s confession and identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. ILL. Wedding Ring

Biblical Baptism is the believer’s statement of faith that in Christ they are “dead to sin” and intend to “walk in newness of life.” (Ro. 6:4)

Baptism is an act of obedience on the part of the believer. (Mt. 28:19)

Baptism is also an expression of the believer’s love for God. (Jn. 14:15)

Who Should Be Baptized? (Acts 2:41)

Those who are saved by believing in Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:25-33).

What is Biblical Salvation? (John 3:14-18,36 with Numbers 21:9, Romans 10:9-11,13)

You can be saved and not Scripturally baptized (thief on the cross), but you can not be scripturally baptized and not saved. (Luke 23:39-43)

This is Believer’s Baptism. In the Bible, water baptism always follows salvation.

  • Cornelius – Acts 10:47-48
  • Ethiopian Eunuch – Acts 8:35-38

How Should One Be Baptized?

Understanding the terms: In the Greek language the language most of the New Testament was written in, there are three different words used:

  • “Echeo” – pouring water
  • “Rantizo” – sprinkling water
  • “Baptizo” – to dip under the water, to immerse.

In the New Testament, the only word ever used for baptism is “baptizo” – meaning to immerse, dip under the water.

  • Jesus was baptized by immersion. (Matthew 3:16)
  • John the Baptist baptized by immersion. (John 3:23)
  • Philip baptized the Ethiopian by immersion. (Acts 8:38)

Baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and can only be pictured by immersion. (Romans 6:3-6)

Comments on baptism:

Martin Luther (Lutheran) – “Baptizo is a Greek work and may be translated immerse. I would have those who are to be baptized to be altogether immersed.”

John Wesley (Methodist) – “Buried with Him in baptism – alluding to the ancient manner of baptism by immersion.”

John Calvin (Presbyterian) – “The word baptism signifies immersion. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the early church.”

For the first 250 years, the early New Testament church always baptized by immersion. Scholars of all denominations admit that in the original meaning and in the New Testament use, baptism meant immersion.

It was not until AD 1311 that the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Ravenna made sprinkling or immersion allowable.

It was not until 1644 that the Church of England adopted sprinkling by a vote of Parliament.

When Should One Be Baptized?

As soon as you can after you are saved. (Acts 2:41; 16:31-33; 10:44-48)

Where Should One Be Baptized?

In the local church. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion) are the two ordinances of the local church. There are no private baptisms in the Bible, with the exception of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8.

Why Should One Be Baptized?

Jesus has commanded you to. (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 10:48)

  • Command given by Jesus.
  • Command relates to all nations.
  • Command is given to the local church.

Jesus did as an example to us. (Matthew 3:16)

The early New Testament Church did. (Acts 2:41)


Believer’s baptism:

  • Baptism by immersion is ESSENTIAL not to salvation, but to obedience. (Jn. 15:4)
  • Baptism by immersion is IMPERATIVE – it is not optional (Acts. 2:38).
  • Baptism by immersion is a BLESSING to be enjoyed not a burden to be endured. (Acts 8:39; 22:16)


Here is the pdf download Biblical Baptism

Understanding The Solution To Pressure & Strain

Solution Pressures.001

 2 Co 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

  • A mind renewed by the Spirit of God with the truth of God is the only antidote for guilt, anxiety, anger, and despair. It is the only cure for a noisy soul.
  • Pressure = those things that weigh on us
  • Strain = the effect of the weight

Understanding Pressure and Strain

Pressure is first evaluated by the mind. The weight is determined by the mind.

When you get your school bill, it is first evaluated by the mind. If you have the money in your account, you withdraw and pay the bill and there is no pressure. If you don’t have money, your mind tells you that you have a real problem and you feel the strain.

Notice that the pressure is the same in both situations.

  • If the mind cannot deal with the pressure, it causes physical problems.
  • Our minds must evaluate the situation with the truth or we will have problems. If our problems are bigger than our God, we will struggle.

Persistent anxiety has negative effects (strain) on the body.

When we are mentally pressured, our body begins to feel it. The weight of the first beam when it cannot hold, is transferred to the second beam. Headaches, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, heart beats changing, stomach issues (can be caused by other issues too) all are made worse by our thoughts. It can lead to depression, boredom, listlessness, lack of interest, irritability, touchiness, fears, panic attacks.

A disciplined mind and body have greater ability to withstand pressure with fewer debilitating effects on either the mind or the body.

  • If there is some discipline, we can stand more pressure. If there is no mental discipline, some people just give up and quit.
  • A disciplined body can take more pressure as well.
    • We must have enough sleep.
    • We must have the right nutrition.
    • We must get enough exercise.

God, however, never intended for man to be able to handle the pressures of life on his own

  • This is true even if his mind and body are disciplined to the highest level. (Matt. 4:4; John 15:4-5; II Cor. 3:5, 4:7, etc.) Discipline of mind and body alone are very helpful, but never enough. God intended life to be lived in dependence on Him.
  • Most people only strengthen their lives in areas that they like. They leave things out. (fig. 3). No one gets just one pressure at a time. We have multiple boxes at the same time. The things we like, we manage ok. It is the other things.

Handling Pressure Biblically

Eliminate the pressures God does not intend for you to bear.

  • Eliminate sin and its results (Heb. 12:1; I Jn. 1:9; Eph. 4:22) – sin is supposed to pressure us.
  • Eliminate responsibilities you have assumed outside the will of God. Motivation for good activities can come from sinful lusts  (I Jn. 2:16).
  • God does not give grace for what God does not ask you to do. Saying “no” might be the most spiritual answer when someone asks you to minister in yet one more way.

Reinforce your mind so that it will withstand the weight of the pressures you bear in the will of God.

  • A disciplined body is helpful: adequate rest, nutritious diet, regular exercise
  • A renewed mind is essential.

The Result—A Different Way of Looking at Life and Its Pressures

      • A renewed mind possesses a Bible-taught and Spirit-illuminated belief that God is more than enough for me. See Figure 3.
      • A renewed mind possess a Bible-taught and Spirit illuminated belief that God is more than enough for me.
      • Pressure is all about evaluating the pressure against my belief in God’s goodness.
      • This takes much time. You have to know what God says. Saturation in the Word begins with an intentional plan.
      • It ends with what you believe about God.

Conclusion: You must spend much time beholding God if you are to have a renewed mind—and, thus, a quiet soul.

Download the pdf version The Solution here.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Berg for allowing us to use his material. Berg, Jim. (2005). Quieting a Noisy Soul. Greenville, SC: BJU Press

The Root Of Our Problems

Breaking Through Noise.001

Today we want to discover how to unmask the source of your noise.  Our text is found in II Peter 1:2–3.

2 Pe 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Let’s break down the parts of this verse to be sure we understand what Peter is saying:

  • Grace and Peace are multiplied to us. Why do we struggle so much to find it?
  • Knowledge of God – this is the only way to get the peace God gives. This is a 
relational knowledge of God, not a factual knowledge.
  • All things – God left nothing out
  • Life and godliness – the chance to have eternal life and the ability to live godly all 
come from the same Source with the same power.  If we trust God totally for salvation, why can’t we trust Him totally for the power to live a godly life?

Someone going through this material recently told me that it is not logical to drop our focus on Scripture to fix our problems and pick up a focus on Scripture to know God. Yet this is exactly what II Peter 1:2-3 is telling us. Godliness comes from knowing Him!

The Nature of Truth

There are things that all people understand to be true through creation and through their own conscience (Romans 1:18–21, 25, 28, 32).

KJV Ro 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Note that the invisible things are clearly seen: His eternal power and Godhead

Ro 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

The natural bent of the unsaved heart is idolatry (anything that comes before God often revealed by where we spend out time). This tendency is not completely removed for the believer, we still have a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9).

Definition: Truth = reality.

The Danger of Unbelief

A belief is what you accept to be true.

This can be things that are real or things that are fantasy. What we believe or don’t believe does not change the truth. Reality does not change. This is the way it is. There is never a situation where the facts on this side are not true.

Our situations do not change who God is. He is always good and always in control.

Unbelief is rejecting what God says is true.

You must labor to find out what is true according to God, resolutely 
reject any deviation from it, and cling to the things that are true about God no matter what is happening to you.

So how much do you want the peace? Are you ready to rearrange significant portions of your life to be able to have the time to “labor” to find the truth?

The Glory of God

Unbelief robs God of His glory (Romans 1:21).

His unique excellence is tarnished in our view. He becomes in our mind no better than the creatures He made—weak, untrustworthy, unloving, unkind, and unwise.

The temptation of the sinful heart is to “[exchange] the truth of God [for] a lie” (Romans 1:25).

Stabilizing Truths for Noisy Souls: The Knowledge of God

We encourage you to print a copy of “The Stabilizing Truths for Noisy Souls.” You can download it at this link. http://

Labor, labor, labor to know these truths—look up the above verses and find other verses that teach these truths.

  • Memorize these truths and verses that support them (Psalm 119:9–11).
  • Meditate upon these truths (I Timothy 4:15– 16).
  • Fellowship with others about these truths (I John 1:3).
  • Test every stray thought of your heart by these truths (II Corinthians 10:3–5).
  • Don’t despise preaching about these truths (II Timothy 4:2–4). THIS IS THE “LABOR.”

To reject truth is to believe a lie. THIS IS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE!

So here we conclude for today: Unbelief is the primary cause of the noise in your soul. You do not yet see that God Himself is more than enough for you.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Berg for allowing us to use his material.
Berg, Jim. (2005). Quieting a Noisy Soul. Greenville, SC: BJU Press

Chronology of Events the Week of Christ’s Death

passion week_wide_t_NVJesus determined to go to Jerusalem, knowing completely what was going to take place!  He would be crucified and on the third day rise from the dead.  His death and resurrection is the means by which any person can be reconciled to God.  Here is the Chronology of events of Passion week.

There are several suggested chronologies as to the timing of the events of passion week.  Christ may have been crucified on Wednesday and the chronology would look like this.

Merril F Unger charts the chronology of these events as follows:


  • Supper at Bethany


  • Disciples bring colt,
  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem,
  • Jesus in the city and temple,
  • Retirement to Bethany


  • The fig tree cursed,
  • Second cleansing of the temple


  • The last day in the temple,
  • Christ’s authority challenged,
  • Parable of the two sons,
  • Parable of the wicked husbandman,
  • Parable of the rejected stone,
  • Parable of the marriage feast,
  • The question of tribute to Caesar,
  • The question of the resurrection,
  • The greatest commandment,
  • David’s son and Lord,
  • Denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees,
  • Lament over Jerusalem,
  • The poor widow’s gift,
  • Greeks desire to see Jesus,
  • The Olivet Discourse,
  • Parables: The fig tree, The porter, The master of the house, The faithful and evil servants, The ten virgins, The talents, The sheep and the goats,
  • Judas bargains to betray Jesus


  • Day of quiet at Bethany


  • Preparation for the Passover,
  • The Pascal meal and the Lord’s supper,
  • Jesus washed the disciples’ feet,
  • Judas signaled as the traitor,
  • Apostles warned against desertion,
  • The great upper room discourse (Jn. 13-17),
  • The agony in Gethsemane,
  • The betrayal and arrest,
  • Peter and the healing of Malchus’ ear


  • First Jewish trial – before Annas,
  • Second Jewish trial – before Caiaphas,
  • Third Jewish trial—before Sanhedrin,
  • Jesus declared His messiahship,
  • Jesus mocked; Peter’s denial and remorse,
  • First Roman trial – before Pilate,
  • Second Roman trial – before Herod,
  • Third Roman trial – before Pilate again,
  • Pilate handed over Jesus to the Jews,
  • Pilate again attempted to rescue Jesus,
  • Judas’ suicide,
  • The road to the cross,
  • On the cross: First three hours: 9:00 to 12:00 a.m. Three sayings: ‘Father forgive them…’ ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ ‘Dear woman, here is your son’
  • Second three hours: 12:00-3:00 p.m. Four sayings: ‘My God, my God…’ ‘I am thirsty…’ ‘It is finished’ ‘Into your hands I commend my spirit’
  • Supernatural phenomena accompanying Jesus’ death: Darkness, earthquake, Rending of the temple veil,
  • Burial of the body in Joseph’s tomb


  • Body in the tomb, spirit in Sheol


  • The resurrection

Source: The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Merrill F. Unger, Revised by Gary N. Larson, Moody Press, Chicago, 1984, p. 418