Friday, November 17, 2017

Two Kinds of Belief

What must a person do to be saved? The answer from Scripture is clear enough: Believe in Jesus! Some of the most familiar words of Scripture are found in John 3:16 which says whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have eternal life. Similarly, John 3:36 affirms that whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (see also John 5:24; 11:25; 12:46; 20:31; Acts 16:31). But what does it mean to believe in Jesus? In the Gospel of John, we read about belief numerous times and learn that there are at least two kinds of belief: belief that is superficial and belief that is genuine. I will cite an example of each from John’s Gospel.

First, an example of superficial belief. In John 2:23-25 we read, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” In these verses, a number of people are said to have believed in Jesus’ name, and yet Jesus didn’t entrust himself to them because he knew what was going on in their hearts. Jesus knew that their belief was superficial. The people who had believed in Jesus’ name had done so because they were enthralled by the signs (miracles) he had performed, but their belief was not genuine.
Thus, it is necessary to ask, “What is the nature of true belief?”  

We can look at the account of Jesus’ healing the official’s son in John 4:46-54 as an example of true belief. In this passage, an official comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his son who was extremely ill. Jesus told the official to “Go!” and that his son would be healed. In verse 50 we learn that the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. In other words, the official trusted that what Jesus said would happen, namely, that his son would be healed, would indeed happen. The official believed in Jesus (John 4:54)! We can conclude that true belief is trusting in Jesus.

We return to the question, what must a person do to be saved? The answer remains the same: Believe in Jesus! We understand that believing in Jesus is more than mere intellectual affirmation of the truths about Jesus. True belief is placing our full trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Blake Gerber

Friday, November 10, 2017

Youth and Membership

On next Saturday, November 18th, Pastor Daniel is teaching a membership class. For the most part, it will be the same as all the classes that have gone before it, however, there will also be one difference. For this membership class we have very intentionally and specifically invited our High School students to join it. This doesn't mean they weren't invited in the past, just that we've blatantly invited them to this class and all our future classes. All this may lead to a few questions about membership in our church and how that relates to our youth and why we have made this shift, or at least, extra emphasize.

I think a few main questions might be similar to, "Why should teens be members when they already act as and feel a part of the church?" or "Why should teens be members when their parents already have membership?"

With those questions in mind I have a few thoughts that might help us process through this…

1) Contrary to what our culture seems to emphasize with a weird hybrid category of "adult-kiddom" known as adolescence where a young person is seen to not be very accountable or responsible and yet is placed in positions where those are necessary, the Bible seems to present us with 2 main categories… that of child and adult. Within this model, Scripture always presents the constant process of growth and striving for adulthood (not for the perks and freedom, but instead for having godly actions and character as an adult) as that which it to be pursued. To see models of this look at Eph 4:13-14, 1 Cor 13:11, Heb 5:12-14, & 1 Cor 3:1-2. 

All that said, there is no unique category for youth/adolescence/teens in the Bible in relation to church involvement. Either you are saved and part of the church or you are not saved and not part of it... There aren't any other options. If you claim to be saved and part of it then that means the next steps are to proclaim that to others (baptism), submit to the leadership in it and commit to it (membership), and begin helping others (serving). That is the Biblical model given for all believers, whether 13, 30, or 130 years old.

2) Somewhat connected to the premise of #1, we need to have a shift in our thinking. Teens are called to take responsibility and serve like everyone else in the church. We strongly believe this and intentionally have started ministries within our youth program to help emphasize this. Our Age 2 Age ministry gives our students a chance to interact with and share life and a relationship with saints in our church who are older than the youth. Our Students Ministering to Students ministry gives them opportunities to care for those in their own peer group. Our service projects allow them to care for other in our church and community. Actions of service like these are a huge part of maturing toward adulthood through the teen years. 

With this in mind, while membership does mean that the church will intentionally give focused care to you both for growth and correction, it is also much more. Membership is not just about what I get, but even more about what I give. Membership is a way doors are opened for a believer to more fully serve others. This applies to older adults as well as our youth.


With commitment and selfless service on the decline over all in our society, what better way is there to help train up the youth of this generation than telling them that God has built and calls them toward more. Our youth are built with hearts, emotions, energy, and strength God has given them to radically invest into His kingdom work. Membership is a very helpful means toward that end. Our youth are longing for connection and community that can't be found online or in secular institutions. Membership brings them into a community that lasts and has an eternal purpose. 

In short Membership is not just for the older adults of our church. It is for our teens, who by God's grace, are striving toward adulthood, using their gifts and abilities to benefit the Kingdom within the context and community of our church.

May the Lord continue to bless and grow our church!

Want to think about this more? Here are a few articles to read through…

2. Overview of Why be a member:

3. Good in depth look at becoming a member:

Friday, November 3, 2017

7 Questions to Nurture God-Honoring Conversations

Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I can still “see” Miss Farley preaching that with great emphasis to my 4th grade class. She’d raise her voice and shake her fist in the air as if she was beating this into our heads. I would look around the class wondering if other people were buying this; I certainly didn’t. Even as a 7-year-old, I knew that wasn’t true. I’d been on the harsh end of a few confrontations, in fact I can still ‘hear’ my class-mate John’s voice on the south side of Edison School playground calling me a name. I’m sure you can relate to being on both sides of conversations and conflicts like this. When you’ve said some hurtful words to another person, do you ever wish for “a do-over”? I have many times.

I’d like to offer the following seven questions to help us plan ahead so that we can be more likely to offer 
“words that build up and not tear down.” Perhaps you can share them with your children or grandchildren and begin training little minds with a different way to approach others who may disagree with them. Maybe we might learn to model this in the process.

1. Am I willing to pray first?    Pray for a Christ-like attitude. Eph. 4 begins with Paul’s urging to live and act in Christ-like humility and gentleness. If you notice, this is the first application of the life-changing power of the Gospel as revealed in chapters 1-3. This also is the beginning of a very practical treatise of how to live in harmonious human relationships. Notice the practical commands and heart-attitudes in chapter 4 alone. Pray for God’s help Pr. 3:5b says we are to acknowledge God in everything we do. John 14:13-14 says, “13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Pray, believing that God will in fact give you all you need to think and act in a way that will please Him.
2. Am I fostering a “Log-hunting” mentality? Jesus, in Matt. 7:5, commands us to “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The clear implication is that individual who fails to “log-hunt” is unable to see clearly regarding any imperfections in another person. “Log-hunting” is clearly one of the most important elements in redeeming conflict.
3. Am I sure that I have the facts right? Pr. 18:13 says that a person who makes statements or comes to conclusions before having the facts is a shameful fool. Make sure that you understand both sides of an issue before coming to conclusions. Always encourage yourself and others to take personal responsibility to respond with godly attitudes and responses, regardless of other’s failures. 
4. Should love cover? 1 Pet. 4:8 says that “love covers a multitude of sins.” When you are sinned against, meditate on the immense amounts of mercy that God has given you each day before responding to others. Christ-exalting love will choose mercy first and be willing to overlook many offenses. Pray for wisdom to know when love should speak and when love should cover. Thankfully, God does not confront us about our every single sin; if he did, we wouldn’t survive.
5. Is my timing wise? If a conversation is necessary, Pr. 15:11 describes the effects of words offered at the right time and the right way. The KJV version puts it this way, “A word fitly spoken [is like] apples of gold in pictures of silver.” You’ve no doubt heard true words that were spoken at an inappropriate time; these words can be very painful and debilitating. 
6. Is my attitude right? Eph. 4:15 says that the goal or our words should be to strengthen or build up the other person’s soul. Truth can be spoken in such a way that actually harms or discourages another person. Truthful words without grace is painful at best, and is often hurtful and harmful.
7. Are my words loving? Eph. 4:15 says that our words should be motivated out of love for the other person. “Love is contra-conditional, other-focused, selfless giving (in this case, the giving of words), for the eternal good of the other person, to the end that God is glorified.”

Kent Kloter