PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #31: What Do We Believe By True Faith?
Answer: Everything taught to us in the gospel. The Apostles’ Creed expresses what we believe in these words: We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Verse: “I…urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” Jude 1:3
Prayer: “Meet and just is it to worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided. Meet and just is it to hymn Thee, to bless Thee, to praise Thee, to thank Thee, to worship Thee in all places of Thy dominion. For Thou art God unspeakable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, always I AM, still I AM: Thou, and Thy Only-Begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit. Thou it was that from non-existence to existence broughtest us; and when we were fallen aside raisedst us again, and leftest nothing undone to bring us to heaven and bestow on us Thy kingdom to come. For all these things we thank Thee, and Thine Only Begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit, for all that we know, and for all that we do not know, of the seen and of the unseen benefits that are come upon us…. We also, O tender Lord, cry and say: Holy Thou art and All-holy, Thou and Thine Only-Begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit. Holy Thou art and All-holy, and great is Thy glory: Who didst so love Thy world as to give Thine Only Begotten Son, that every one that believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life…. Remembering…all that came to pass for us, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into the heavens, the Throne at the right hand, the second and glorious Coming again…thee we hymn, thee we bless, to Thee do we give thanks, Lord our God. Amen.”
John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (from which this prayer is taken), and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.
From The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople (London: Joseph Masters, 1866), 61–63.
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #30: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his Word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Verse: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
Prayer: “Let us pray with the disciples, “Lord increase our faith” and with the poor man in the gospel, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as “the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes.” Preacher at Gray’s Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.
From the sermon “Fountain Opened: or The Mystery of Godliness Revealed” in The Works of the Reverend Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (Aberdeen: Chalmers & Co., 1809), 213.
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #29: How Can We Be Saved?
Answer: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Verse: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Prayer: “Offended Sovereign! I am justly under sentence of death, and should I eternally perish, yet thou art righteous…. But is there nothing in thy revealed character that may encourage a miserable creature and a guilty criminal, to look for mercy and hope for acceptance? Art thou not a compassionate Saviour, as well as a just God? Is not Jesus thy only Son, and hast thou not set him forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood? To him, therefore, as my only asylum from divine wrath, I would flee…. I have no claim on thy mercy. Only, if it seemed good to thee to save the vilest of sinners, the most wretched of creatures; if it please thee to extend infinite mercy to one who deserves infinite misery and is obliged to condemn himself; the greater will be the glory of thy compassion…boundless grace shall have the glory.”
Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this prayer is taken).
From “The Reign of Grace” in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 1 (London: Button, 1813), 87–88.
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #28: What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?
Answer: At the day of judgment they will receive the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them. They will be cast out from the favorable presence of God, into hell, to be justly and grievously punished, forever.
Verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son…. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:16–18 and 36
Prayer: “Our heavenly Father…we want Thee to look among the thousands and millions round about us who know Thee not. Lord, look on the masses who go nowhere to worship. Have pity upon them; Father forgive them…. Give a desire to hear Thy Word. Send upon the people some desire after their God. O Lord take sinners in hand Thyself. Oh! come and reach obstinate, obdurate minds; let the careless and the frivolous begin to think upon eternal things. May there be an uneasiness of heart, a sticking of the arrows of God in their loins, and may they seek too the great Physician and find healing this very day. Ah! Lord, Thou sayest “To-day, if ye will hear His voice” and we take up the echo. Save men today, even to day. Bring them Thy Spirit in power that they may be willing to rest in Christ. Lord hear, forgive, accept and bless, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London’s New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.
From “Prayer XI: Under the Blood” in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 65.
Last Sunday, TFC was blessed to welcome several new members to our body. God is at work among us, and this is a very tangible reminder of that. What this means is not merely an increase in our numbers, or that our pews are a little less spacious. Rather, the triune God is at work growing the body of Christ and our local church is a part of that work. The Father calls, Jesus saves, and the Spirit equips every believer with gifts for the building up of the church. That means with these new members comes an increase in the gifts God has ordained for our body. As His work continues among us, we are better equipped to serve each other and the community around us as we seek to live life together through Christ.
Our newest members are Shaz Anderson, Jonathan and Jennifer Porter, David Shaw, Shawn Shahi, Lloyd and Micki Webb, and Rick and Carrie Whittlesey. Take some time to welcome and get to know these brothers and sisters in Christ. We praise God for leading each one to worship with us.
Shaz Anderson’s Baptism
Joining a church is joining a family. This is powerfully illustrated in the lives of two of our new members, Shawn Shahi and Shaz Anderson. Shawn and Shaz are brothers by birth, and now brothers in Christ. It has been so exciting to witness their spiritual journeys. After professing faith in Christ, Shawn was baptized this past May. He invited his brother to witness his baptism, not at all aware of the work Christ was already doing in Shaz’s heart. In fact, Shaz had been reading the Bible and the gospel had already begun to impact him, so he decided to come early for the service that Sunday, not just for the baptism afterward. Shaz recalls from that day, “The church atmosphere was very welcoming but spiritually very powerful for me. It all completely made sense. At 11:30 I witnessed my brother’s baptism. The church sermon and my brother’s baptism experience as a whole was spiritually overwhelming for me. I totally felt the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart and in those moments I knew I was finally at home.” At his own baptism two weeks ago, Shaz said, “Now I truly appreciate the Amazing Grace lyrics, ‘I was once blind but now I see’ and ‘I once was lost but now I’m found.’”
Shawn summed it up this way: “We both were lost for a long, long time, but both our journeys brought us to the same undeniable truth of Jesus Christ as our lord and savior.” It is a special blessing to Shawn not only to share faith in Christ with his brother, but to have become members together, on the same day. He called it, “Truly a gift in the highest order.” As we are reminded of God’s work among us, that is what Shawn, Shaz, and all of our new members are. Gifts to our body.
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #27: Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?
Answer: No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith. Nevertheless God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of culture for human well-being.
Verse: “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17
“From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.”
C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.
From “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer” in Poems by C. S. Lewis (Orlando: Harcourt, 1964), 129.
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #26: What else does Christ’s death redeem?
Answer: Christ’s death is the beginning of the redemption and renewal of every part of fallen creation, as he powerfully directs all things for his own glory and creation’s good.
Verse: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19-20
Prayer: “Our heavenly Father…give us…a call…to bow our hearts more completely and not let other things get in the way…and then, Heavenly Father, to realize that everything belongs to the Lord Jesus. That He died not only to take our souls to heaven—but that our bodies will be raised one day from the dead. The one day, as Peter said, just right after His ascension, “He’s going to heaven until He comes back to restore all things.” That His death there on Calvary’s cross is for us individually, but it’s not egotistically individualistic. Our individual salvation will one day be a portion of the restoration of all things. It is our calling until He comes back again that happy day, to do all we can—while it won’t be perfect as when He comes back—to see substantial healing in every area that He will then perfectly heal…. That if there is a true preaching of the Gospel, it carries with it then an action out into the social life around us into the world. That the Church is to preach the Gospel, but it is also to live the Good News…. Help us! Forgive us! Use us!… Help Thou us, so we ask, and we ask it in no lesser name than the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb and our God. Amen.”
Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984). An American Presbyterian pastor and philosopher, Schaeffer is most famous for his writing and his establishment of the L’Abri (“The Shelter”) community in Switzerland. He wrote 22 books, the best known being the trilogy The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent as well as his A Christian Manifesto.
From an address “A Christian Manifesto” at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1982, available from www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=36268
This past Sunday we took a brief excursus from our study in the Gospel of John on Father’s Day to consider how God designed every home to be a discipleship center. God designed family to multiply His glory in the world through relationships that honor His image so that faith in His salvation would be discussed and lived in all of life’s circumstances. And the church is the family of God through which we find the support, encouragement and grace of Christ to share the love and hope of Christ with our close and extended family relationships. That was the theme of the sermon and exposition of Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
If you missed it, you also missed the unique opportunity and challenge presented to the body we called Real Life @ Home. The challenge was for everyone to identify a few simple goals or activities for enriching their marriage, engaging children, grandchildren, relatives, or parents in faith discussions over the next 90 days. The aim is to make it more likely for faith conversations and experiences to take place in the home. And the change in rhythm of daily schedule of summer provides a great opportunity for a new or renewed intentionality.
The accompanying opportunity was a very brief and simple survey designed to collect feedback for the church to provide additional support and prioritize ministry resources to make it more likely for folks who attend TFC to have growing marriages and discipleship taking place in the home. It is not a measure of anyone’s spiritual maturity. Nor is it the beginning of any new additional ministry programs. Instead, we want to be as intentional as possible in the places we are already living and growing to make discipleship more likely in the God-designed context of the home. It will only take 5 minutes to complete. We will have copies of both the survey and the 90-day Plan available at the welcome center and brand new Path to Real Life Center this week. Please take 5 or 10 minutes and complete this. It will be a great help for us as a body.
If you included in your 90-day plan to initiate some faith-directed conversation in your home, at your dinner table, with your grandkids, or extended family members you might welcome some conversation starter questions. Here are a few to try. Be patient with them. Don’t give up – at least on the first or second time through them. Make space for quality conversations. And may you be blessed to share the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ at work in you as we share His real life together.
Some family questions:
• Who is your all-time hero?
• What is your most prized possession?
• What is your favorite meal?
• Who’s your best friend?
• If you had $20 to spend, what would you buy?
• What would you like to do when you grow up?
• What do you most like to do with me?
• What causes you to lose sleep?
• What were your greatest achievements and disappointments in the last year?
• What’s one area in which I can support you in the next six months?
• What would your friends say they like about you?
• What do you wish was different about our family?
• Do you think our family is too busy, not busy enough, or just right?
• What’s your idea of the best day ever?
• What do you like about your teacher these days?
• What do you wish were different?
• What’s your favorite dessert?
• What do you do all day at school or work?
• What should we do during the next FAMILY time?
Keep these key themes and questions in mind. Everyone needs to address them. And they are often at work in the background.
• Does God exist?
• Does God love me?
• Am I living the life God wants?
• Is Christianity true or the only way to God?
And, don’t avoid sharing what God is teaching you, or even your doubts or struggles – remember that faith is the point. Christ is the answer.
Grace and peace,
PART 2: Christ, redemption, grace.
Question #25: Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Answer: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
Verse: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:21
Prayer: “O Lord, I do not deserve a glimpse of heaven, and I am unable with my works to redeem myself from sin, death…and hell. Nevertheless, you have given me your Son, Jesus Christ, who is far more precious and dear than heaven, and much stronger than sin, death…and hell. For this I rejoice, praise, and thank you, O God. Without cost [to me] and out of pure grace you have given me this boundless blessing in your dear Son. Through whom you take sin, death…and hell from me, and do grant me all that belongs to him. Amen.”
Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.
From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 15–16.
“Live life the real way.” That’s how Gary Turks’ immensely popular 5-minute video concludes.
It begins with the compelling confession: “I have four hundred and twenty-two friends, yet I’m lonely.” The truth apparently struck a chord with six million views in one week, and a total YouTube count approaching 43 million. The irony of his message becoming a social media phenomenon is not missed. If you haven’t yet viewed it, it’s worth the time. VIEW HERE.
The responses have fielded intense debate (good art often does) about the nature of real relationships. Does technology help or hinder relationships? Will looking up from one’s computer or smartphone really lead to a great marriage and relational life?
The Bible begins with God declaring the creation of humans in His image, presuming a fundamental design and capacity for relationship. “Male and female,” He created them. When we relate well with others on all levels – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – we reflect and find meaning in the nature of the Trinitarian God, who exists eternally in intimate relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. I love it that when we enter the sanctuary at Trinity Fellowship and look up, we see the three stained glass windows representing the Father, Son, and Spirit bringing color and beauty to our lives and especially our gathering. Because even though many excellent resources are available via the internet and social media, they could never replace the Spirit-filled and Spirit-enlivening privilege of looking up together and joining physically and interpersonally in worship of God for His glory revealed to us through Jesus Christ. Real life, lived the real way.
So, check out Gary Turk’s video. And look away from technology-dependent social interaction as he suggests. But don’t stop short of looking to Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of faith and true life lived with the Trinity and shared among the saints. That is one reason why corporate worship is so important.
And you might even take some time to talk with your friends or family about the kind of connecting that matters most.
Here are some discussion questions offered by Ken Sande via his ministry called “Relational Wisdom” (www.rw360.org).
- What are some of the benefits you have personally experienced through the modern social media you can access through your computer, tablet, and smart phone?
- What undesirable or detrimental effects has the use of these devices had on your life?
- How do you see these devises affecting your relationships?
- Studies show that empathy levels among college students have dropped by 40% in the last ten years, while bullying incidents have increased, both on and off school campuses. How might this be related to the increased use of electronic communications?
- A Pew foundation study shows that 40% of young people prefer texting and video chats over meeting in person. One out of two young people believe it’s OK to end a close relationship with a text message. Why do you think this is?
- What do we miss out on when we communicate through text messages, emails, Facebook, or cell phones? What skills are we often failing to exercise and develop? How could this affect our long-term relationships and job performance?
- What are you more likely to say at the end of your life: “I wish I’d spent more time on my iPhone” or “I wish I’d turned off my iPhone more often and spent more time talking and laughing face-to-face with my family and friends”?
- Which of the following disciplines would you like to develop in your personal, family, or work life? (1) Unless I’m expecting a vital message, I will not allow a text message or phone call to distract me from a personal conversation or meeting (which may require me to silence my phone or leave it in another room if I can’t avoid checking it). (2) I will not use text messages and emails to convey emotional information. (3) As a family, we will all silence our phones and leave them on a counter when sharing a meal, having a significant conversation, or watching a movie together. (3) I will turn my mobile phone off (or at least my email and texting features) in the evening so I can enjoy my family without distraction. (4) I will take a “technology fast,” periodically disconnecting from all non-critical electronic communications for a [day] [weekend] or [week long vacation].
- What else might you do to make sure you and your family are using electronic in a way that strengthens rather than weakens your relational skills?
Sharing the Real Life of Jesus Christ together,