Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Audio: Matthew 2:1-12 Responding to Jesus

Audio from December 27, 2009 has been posted here:

Click to stream, right-click to download. You can also find this on our iTunes podcast.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Resolved: To glorify God in the ordinary ...

Following is my article for the January issue of The Messenger, the monthly newsletter of Immanuel Baptist Church:

As we enter 2010, undoubtedly many are making New Years Resolutions. As I thought about some resolutions that need to be made in the upcoming year, I sense God teaching me that I need to learn to value more of what we might call the "ordinary" things. Unfortunately, too often we are led to believe that God is most at work in the spectacular, the miraculous, and the moments of spine-tingling excitement. This can lead us to become spiritually disillusioned, discouraged and depressed. After all, I think it is safe to say that most of us do not experience the spectacular on a regular or frequent basis. If the miraculous were commonplace, it would not be miraculous. I think of Elijah, who likely experienced the miraculous on a more frequent basis and at a more spectacular intensity than anyone else in the Old Testament. Yet, in the wake of one of the most extraordinary displays of God's power in Scripture (the showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18), Elijah experienced fear and discouragement like never before in his life. As he hid in the cave at Mt. Horeb, God spoke to him and said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And Elijah beheld a number of spectacular phenomena in that moment. There was a great and strong wind that literally shook and shattered the mountain. But the Bible says that the Lord was not in that wind. And then there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After this there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire either. But then the Lord's voice came to Elijah from a gentle blowing breeze, or as the King James Version states it, "a still, small voice." It was in this still, small voice that God spoke encouragement, comfort and direction to His prophet. Perhaps we are too much like Elijah in that we expect God to only work and direct us through the hair-raising excitement of the miraculous. In truth, God is God all the time, and He is at work all the time, even when we do not expect or perceive Him. In the coming year, may we all be more focused on seeking, hearing, understanding, and glorifying God in the quiet moments, the ordinary times, and the mundane tasks we find ourselves doing each day. As we glorify God in these things, we may find that we are walking closer with Him than ever before, that our witness for Him is even more impressive to the unbelievers we know, and that our lives take on an entirely new level of significance and spiritual depth. May it be so for us all in 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Miracle of Jesus’ Birth (Matthew 1:18-25)

Audio available here:

Sermon text as originally written follows. (When I preach, I do not follow my manuscript verbatim, so there are variations).

An unwed teenage girl turns up pregnant. The only man in her life knows with certainty that the child is not his. She claims that she is still a virgin, and that her pregnancy is a miracle of God.

This sounds like the stuff of daytime television; however, in this case at least, it is rather the stuff of New Testament Christianity. This is how Jesus entered the world – under these circumstances which would be nothing short of scandalous. In fact, in our day, we have become accustomed to the news of unwed teenage pregnancy, even those where the identity of the father is not known. In that day and in the moral culture of 1st Century Israel, the scandal would have been even greater than in our day and culture. Critics of the Bible say that the ancients were more willing to believe in a virgin birth because they lived in a pre-scientific age. Unlike them, the critics say, we must reject this belief today because we know that science simply will not allow for a human child to be born to a virgin mother. However, the ancients were sufficiently informed scientifically to know how babies are made. The claim of a virgin conceiving a child would have been as far-fetched for them as it is for people of the 21st Century.

In fact, this is one of the many evidences of the historicity of the virgin birth. Suppose early Christians wanted to invent details to make the claims of Jesus more believable … do you really think they would have invented a virgin birth story? That would seem to make the story harder to believe, not easier. Plus, considering that most of the earliest Christians were Jews, it would be a high act of blasphemy to speak of God’s involvement in this way if it were not true. By even telling the story of the virgin birth, these Jewish Christians risked death at the hands of the religious leaders of Israel. The most likely explanation for why the Bible records these stories of the virgin birth of Jesus is that the story is true.

It is amazing to read Matthew’s account for several reasons. First of all is the straightforwardness of it. He spends no time trying to give a defense for the virgin birth. He simply states it as a fact, saying, “The birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:” Second, Matthew’s account is very interesting because in it we find the events unfolding through the perspective of Joseph. The Christmas narratives with which we are most familiar are from Luke’s Gospel, and are told from Mary’s perspective. As we look at the birth of Jesus through Joseph’s eyes, we see an ordinary man, presented with information that would strike any of us as unbelievable, and then processing that information and responding to it. Though the story is told from Joseph’s viewpoint, he is not the main character here. The main character in this story is Jesus. It is a story of his birth – the miracle of His birth. And in this story we find at least three points about His miraculous birth which are relevant for us today, in the Advent season, and at every other time of our lives.

The first of these points is …
I. The Miracle of Jesus’ Birth is a Revealed Truth (vv18-20)

On my first day at seminary, I went to the bookstore to purchase my textbooks. One of them was Allen Ross’s Introducing Biblical Hebrew. I thought I would be a good student and come home and get a head start on this course, so I attempted to dive into Chapter One. It didn’t make sense. Hebrew has a different alphabet; it’s written right to left; the parts of speech and rules of grammar don’t correspond to anything I was familiar with. I tried to use a dictionary to help me grasp some of the concepts, but the words I was reading weren’t even in the dictionary. I was terrified when I walked into class the first day. But I had a good teacher, and over the course of two semesters, Hebrew became my favorite subject, and I went on to study it in depth over the next few years. But at first, it was an unfathomable mystery to me.

Have you ever had an experience like that, in which you are presented with information that seems absolutely impossible to comprehend? I am sure we all have. But with the right instruction and help, we find that we can eventually grasp it. There are some truths, however, which would be forever impossible to understand without divine revelation. By this, I mean that God Himself must make these things known to us because they defy human explanation and comprehension. The virgin birth is one such truth. It not only escapes comprehension for us in the modern age, it also did for those who were directly involved in the event.

Luke tells us about the angel Gabriel’s visit and announcement to Mary, making known to her that she would conceive and give birth to the Messiah, the Son of God. Her initial reaction to this news was to say, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). As the angel explained to her that the Holy Spirit would accomplish this miracle, Mary humbly submitted herself to the revealed will of God and said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to you word.” (Luke 1:38). But remember that Joseph was not party to this conversation. While we may assume that Mary would have immediately told Joseph of this, in Jewish culture, the two may have had very little contact with one another, even during the days of their betrothal.

Jewish marriage typically occurred through a process I like to call “The ABC’s.” First was the arrangement. The parents of the young man and young woman would arrange the marriage of their children, often while they were merely children, and seldom with any input from their children. After the arrangement was settled, the young man and young woman would become betrothed. In many cases, the girl would be as young as twelve, and the boy merely fifteen or so. Betrothal was a form of engagement, but was a more binding covenant than we practice today. It is not unusual for young couples today to end their engagement, but a betrothed couple would actually have to legally divorce to end their relationship. At betrothal, they became husband and wife in a legal sense, but they continued to live apart for a year or more, during which time they prepared themselves for life together, the husband preparing the home in which they would live, and both parties demonstrating their purity and faithfulness by remaining committed to each other and sexually chaste in their relations. Then, following the days of preparation, the marriage would be consummated by the ceremony of marriage and the coming together of husband and wife.

Matthew tells us that it was in the days of their betrothal, before they came together in consummation, that Mary was found to be with child. The fact of her pregnancy became known. Pregnancy is one of those things that you can only hide for so long. Whether Joseph and Mary had previously talked about the angelic announcement she had received is unknown. What is known is that at this point, Joseph becomes aware that she is pregnant, and he knows that he is not the father of the child, because he has maintained his sexual purity. The only human explanation for her condition is that she has not.
At this point, Matthew tells us that Joseph was a “righteous man.” This is not the “righteousness” that later New Testament writings refer to, the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to Christians by faith through the divine act of justification. Joseph’s righteousness was one of devotion to the Mosaic law and concern for spiritual, moral, and ritualistic purity. Therefore he knew that he could not go through with marriage to an adultress. The law even allowed for her to be put to death. But Joseph’s righteousness exceeded the mere letter of the law, and was heavily saturated with mercy. Out of love for Mary, he did not desire death, punishment, or humiliation for her, but rather he contemplated “sending her away secretly.” In other words, he was considering a private and discreet divorce. This was seemingly the only solution to the dilemma. Human wisdom could fathom no other explanation for her condition than that she had been unfaithful; and no other resolution than divorce.

As Joseph considered this, we read that he received divine revelation for himself. Verse 20 says that “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” The angel addressed him personally, “Joseph, son of David.” And the angel acknowledged Joseph’s dilemma, reassuring him with, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Surely at this point, he has heard Mary’s far-fetched attempt to explain her pregnancy and has written it off as a clever cover-up for her apparent sin. But the angel’s message to him confirms that her story is true – “The Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps it would be na├»ve for him to believe these words had they only been spoken by Mary, but now they have been spoken by God Himself, through His angelic messenger. Where human explanation fails, divine revelation breaks through to make this truth known to Joseph.

Much of modern science has attempted to explain the unexplainable in strictly human ways. Beginning with the assumption that there is no supernatural being, and therefore no real miracles, secular science has crafted a theory of how the world came into being, how human life began, and how the universe operates. In fairness, we must admit that they have done a spectacular job explaining how these things occur in a universe where God is absent. But, as Francis Schaeffer so eloquently put it, God “is there, and He is not silent.” He has made truth about Himself, His creation, and His plan for redemption known to us through His revelation in nature and Scripture. The mystery of cosmic origins, human origins, and theological doctrines such as the virgin birth, the Trinity, the atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus, defy human grasp in naturalistic logic. But these truths have been made known through divine revelation, and we like Joseph, must decide if we will believe that God is there, and that He has spoken, and whether or not we will believe what He has spoken. Otherwise we will merely resort to human wisdom and explain away the unexplainable with cleverly crafted theories. Yes, the virgin birth is a mystery that escapes comprehension if we insist on a merely naturalistic and humanistic framework. For that reason, this doctrine is commonly rejected, often with ridicule and scorn. But for those of us who are willing to believe that God exists, that God creates, and that God redeems those who trust in Him, we accept His divinely revealed truth on the birth of Jesus and every other doctrine that Scripture affirms.

The miracle of Jesus’ birth is a revealed truth. It required divine revelation for Mary to believe, and for Joseph to believe. God gave each of them His Word through angelic messengers. But we will not receive angelic affirmations of this truth in dreams and visions. We receive this truth through the revelation of His Word. And we must decide if we will believe it or not.

The second relevant point for us in this text is …

II. The Miracle of Jesus’ Birth is the fulfillment of a promise (vv21-23)

When I was in Africa a few years ago, one of the local Christians asked me if I would provide something for him. I really didn’t want to do it, and I knew that financially I and my church would be unable to, but I didn’t have the heart to just say, “No,” so I said, “Maybe. We’ll see about that.” We Americans understand that to mean, “No way. Not going to happen.” Well, a missionary friend pulled me aside and gave me a lesson in cross-cultural communication. He said, “You better go explain to him that you aren’t going to do that, because you just promised him you would.” I said, “No, I said Maybe.” He said, “In Africa, ‘Maybe’ means yes.” He said, “In fact, even if you say, ‘No,’ it still means ‘Maybe.’” I asked, “What do I say if I really mean ‘No?’” He said, “I’m not sure, I haven’t figured that out yet.” See, sometimes we say “Maybe,” when we really mean “No.” But when God promises something, it’s never with a “Maybe.” It means that we can be assured that what He has promised is going to happen.

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, God gave a promise to all of Israel through the prophet Isaiah in a confrontation with King Ahaz. You can follow along with me in Isaiah 7 if you like. The background is this: Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria was rapidly encroaching on the region and threatening to overtake every nation he encountered, and he had the might to do it. Rezin, the King of Aram (aka, Syria) and Pekah, the King of Israel’s Northern Kingdom, had formed an alliance hoping to protect themselves from the Assyrians. They tried to persuade Ahaz to bring Judah (the Southern Kingdom) into the alliance. When Ahaz refused, Rezin and Pekah began what has come to be known as the Syro-Ephraimite War against Judah and they gained ground all the way to Jerusalem. It was a costly war for Ahaz and all of Judah. One biblical account says that Pekah slew 120,000 men in one day and captured 200,000 (including women and children). In spite of all this, Isaiah 7:1 says that they were unsuccessful in taking Jerusalem. But they didn’t give up. They set up camp and threatened to keep attacking until they had overtaken Jerusalem and installed their own puppet-king on the throne there. When Ahaz learned of this, Isaiah 7:2 says that “his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.”

King Ahaz is more than just a character in a story. As a descendant of David reigning in Jerusalem, he “embodies all that God is presently doing to fulfill His promise and all that God will do in the future for the whole world!” A threat against the reign of Ahaz is a threat against the promises God has made to all Israel and to the house of David. And Ahaz faced a threat on two fronts now – the Syro-Ephraimite forces and the more powerful Assyrians. But God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz with a message. Isaiah told the King in verses 4-9, “Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted … (they) have planned evil against you (but), thus says the Lord God: ‘It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. … If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.’”

So the prophet has assured Ahaz that God Himself will be the protector of His people and all that Ahaz must do is believe – to trust God to keep the promises He has made. But Ahaz is not faithful to God. He was a pagan idolater, and he did not trust God. In order to persuade him to believe, Isaiah 7:10-11 says that the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven.” But in a false display of piety, Ahaz says, I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” So now Isaiah speaks God’s word with even more boldness, not only to the King but to the entire house of David and he says in v14, “The Lord Himself will give you (plural) a sign.” And the sign that is given is this: “The virgin (there is a definite article present in the Hebrew, so it is not “a virgin,” but “the virgin”) … will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Now the scholars have spilled much ink here on whether or not the Hebrew term used means “virgin,” or simply a “young woman.” In point of fact, every time this word ha’almah is used in the Old Testament, wherever context enables us to determine the precise meaning, it means a virgin. Besides that, she is to be a sign: something out of the ordinary that captures one’s attention and points us to a divine truth. There is no sign value in a young woman being pregnant. But a virgin who is pregnant, now that is definitely out of the ordinary. So the sign that God appoints is that a pregnant virgin will give birth to a son who will be called “Immanuel,” a compound Hebrew word that means, “God with us.” This baby who is born will Himself be God. This is made clear as the prophecy unfolds over the next two chapters of Isaiah and speaks of a child who will be born “unto us” and a Son who will be given “unto us,” whose name shall be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This child will be divine … God in human flesh. And how will we know when He has come? When the pregnant virgin gives birth.

Centuries pass by following the statement of this prophecy. The Northern Kingdom falls to Assyria, the Southern Kingdom falls to Babylon, the people return to the land under the Persians, the Greeks overtake the entire region under Alexander the Great, and no heir of David occupies Israel’s throne ever again following the Captivity. It appears that God’s promise has amounted to nothing. 700 years of suffering come and go, and no pregnant virgin has surfaced to bring this promised Divine Deliverer into the world. Until Mary. Never before has a virgin conceived, and never since.

Now the scholars differ over where the quotation marks belong in Matthew 1:18-25, and that is evident by surveying our English Bible translations. Most of them end the angel’s statement at the end of verse 21, and then verses 22-23 are handled as an editorial comment thrown in by Matthew. If that is the case, then it seems oddly out of place (a few verses too early). I tend to side with those who believe that the angel is still speaking through the end of verse 23. I believe that the message that God has sent to Joseph through this angelic messenger is a reminder to him that the promise He made so long ago has come to fruition, and it has come to pass through the virgin to whom he is now betrothed. And so the angel tells him, “She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation.” And the promise here is that Jesus will save His people. Not all people, but His people, which we can understand through the progressive revelation that follows this in the New Testament as being those people, Jew and Gentile alike who come to Him by faith as Lord and Savior. But He will not save them from the enemies that the people in Ahaz’s day and in subsequent generations feared. Jesus had not come to free His people from Assyria, Babylon, Greece or Rome. He had come to deliver them from an even greater enemy – an enemy that was not attacking from the outside but from inside the human heart. He had come to save His people from their sins. And then the angel goes on to remind Joseph of that promise given in Isaiah that this child would be Immanuel. And for the sake of his readers who don’t know Hebrew, Matthew tells us that this means “God with us.” As God in human form, Jesus is able to enter our world and live the life that satisfies completely the righteous demands of God’s standard, and to die as our substitute so that our sins are punished in Him on the cross. And following His death and resurrection, He promised His followers that He would be with them even until the end of the age; that He would never leave us nor forsake us. And so according to His very reliable promise, Jesus, our Savior, is still our Immanuel – He is still with us and will be until the end, indwelling each of His people in the person of the Holy Spirit. And every promise He has made in His Word which is applicable to me and to you will come to pass just as He has spoken it. Though time may pass and we may feel like the promise has failed, Joseph was reminded on that night by the angel that all God’s promises are certain.

Now the third and final relevant point I want to call our attention to in this account is …

III. The miracle of Jesus’ birth calls us to a response (v24-25)

Many of us are familiar with Henry Blackaby and Claude King’s book Experiencing God. In that book, the authors say, “The moment God speaks to you is the very moment God wants you to respond. Some of us assume that we have the next few months to think about it and to try to decide whether this is really God’s timing. The moment God speaks to you is His timing. That is why He chooses to speak when He does. He speaks to His servant when He is ready to move. Otherwise He wouldn’t speak. … When God speaks, He has a purpose in mind for your life. The time He speaks is the time you need to begin responding to Him.”

We see in Joseph’s life this very thing happening. Notice how Joseph responds to God’s message that this angel delivered to him: he believed the message, and he obeyed immediately and completely. Verse 24 says, “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” There was no delay. He went to sleep, he had a dream, he heard an angel, he woke up, and he took Mary as his wife. Obviously he believed the word spoken to him, and he obeyed immediately.

And notice that he obeyed completely. The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” And he did that. The angel said, “The Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit,” and Joseph preserved the integrity of that message by keeping her a virgin until Jesus was born. Had they physically consummated their marriage prior to Jesus’ birth, there would have been some question about whether He was indeed born of a virgin or not. And the angel said, “You shall call His name Jesus.” The passage concludes by saying that Joseph “called His name Jesus.” It was complete obedience. Everything the Lord commanded him to do, he did, without delay, without complaint, without excuse, and without exception.

Now, the writer of Hebrews tells us in the opening verses of that great New Testament book, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” In other words, in the former days, God spoke to His people through prophets, angels, dreams, visions, etc. But in Jesus Christ, God has spoken His final word to humanity. John tells us in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” It is futile to expect God to speak afresh to us new revelation through new prophets, through angels, dreams, or visions. He has spoken finally through Jesus. We know Him and His truth as we encounter Him in the pages of Scripture, which God has authored by the inspiration of His Spirit, so that we have an infallible record of God’s Word and God’s Will. This written word points us to the living Word, the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. And this written word tells us that Jesus took our sins upon Himself as He died on the cross, and that He arose from death, and that He will save all who call on Him by faith and impart to each one His very own righteousness. We are promised in this written Word the forgiveness of our sins, the empowering of the Holy Spirit for service in God’s Kingdom, and eternal life in heaven because of what Christ has done for us through His life, death and resurrection.

God has spoken, and now it is up to us to respond. Will we believe what God has spoken? And will we obey what God has spoken? Will we put our faith and trust in this Christ to save us? Will we turn from the sins from which He has come to save us? Will we devote ourselves to His work and the fellowship of His people through the remaining days of our lives? Joseph shows us the importance of responding in faith and obedience both immediately and completely. May each of us follow his example in so doing.

The birth of Jesus Christ is a miracle. He was born as no other person has ever been – born of a virgin. This is a revealed truth that defies human explanation apart from God imparting this information to us. And His birth is the fulfillment of a promise, a series of promises really, that God has made throughout the centuries to deliver us from sin. This promise has come to pass in Him. And in Jesus, God has spoken salvation to us, and called us to respond. Today I pray that we each have done so, or will do so in the moments we have even now. And I pray that we will extend that opportunity to others by sharing this good news of Jesus and His coming into the world with them.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

John Rymer -- Sticking By the Stuff

When I began my academic preparations for ministry, I sensed God leading me to Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute. One of the people who influenced me to take that step was Dr. John Rymer. On a whim, wondering if God may be drawing me to Fruitland, Donia and I drove up to Fruitland one day and met Dr. Rymer and had lunch with him. That experience and conversation confirmed that this was where God was leading me. I was blessed to spend two quarters studying under Dr. Rymer in Old Testament and Theology. To this day, I find myself going back to information I learned in those classes. On my second day at Fruitland, July 5, 1995, Dr. Rymer preached in Chapel. He preached a sermon that I understood he had become well-known for -- "Sticking by the Stuff." By his own admission in that message, it was not one of homiletical greatness, but it certainly has been a blessing to me in encouraging me to be faithful to what God has called me to do.

Today, Dr. Rymer is being honored at Fruitland for his retirement from 56 years of service as a professor, many of which he also served as Vice President and Academic Dean. I couldn't be there, but my heart is there with this great man of God whom God used in my life in so many ways as I started out in ministry. But I am doing what I can to honor Dr. Rymer in my own way today. I have pulled out some tapes of sermons he preached while I was at Fruitland, and I am listening to them all over again. What a blessing! As I listen to "Sticking By the Stuff," I can feel myself sitting there in that old plastic chair in chapel with the flip top desk (you who never were in Fruitland Chapel before about 1996 have no idea!) listening to this man bring this wisdom from Fruitland's old BIG wooden pulpit (which has been replaced, sadly, by a small plexi-see-through-plastic job). Here are some of the more salient points that strike me today even more proundly than they did almost 15 years ago when I first heard them.

Click here to listen to this message, or right-click to download.
"One of my gifts is not preaching to great crowds of people, but one of my gifts is teaching. And I've tried to hone that gift, and sharpen that gift, and practice that gift, and fulfill that gift in the light of the will of God for my life."

"When we graduated from the seminary ... we just all left. They went their way. I climbed into a 1938 Chevrolet, that was in 1953. I drove up the mountain 40 miles, and I ain't been nowhere since. Except I've spent a lifetime at Fruitland. Hundreds of students all over the world have come through my classes. I'm sure not all of them appreciated my methodologies. Not all of them appreciated my expertise. Or my mannerisms, or my personality. And come to think of it, some of them, I didn't appreciate. My calling has been here. I don't brag about it. I'm just saying that I did what God told me to do, and the thing that He equipped me with which to do it."

"God never called you to be successful, but He did call you to be faithful."

"First church I pastored had a pot-bellied stove right in front of the podium. You could see the ground between the boards in the floor. Very small, insignificant place. And Mr. N. A. Melton, for 40 years pastor of the Fruitland Baptist Church and one of the first four faculty members of this school, he was a real small man, N. A. Melton, Noah Abraham Melton, he came up to here on me and looked up into my eyes as a young preacher, and he said, "John, you go to Mills River, and you love those people, and you minister to those people, and you work with those people as if you are going to stay there a lifetime. And for a while I thought I was going to stay there a lifetime. But if God had wanted me there, I'd have stayed. I was determined to love those people and minister to those people in Jesus' name as long as He wanted me to do that. And if you have that kind of philosophy, you'll be successful. You may not be prosperous, but you'll be successful. You may not be popular, but you'll be successful. God wants faithful people."

Today, I give thanks to God for Dr. John Rymer and the influence he has had on countless men of God who have come through Fruitland these last 56 years. Dr. Rymer has taught every one of Fruitland's students in the entire history of the school except its first seven years. He has stood by the stuff! And his influence and example keeps us standing by the stuff too.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

David Cornelius - Acts 1:8 or Acts 8:1

This past Sunday, David Cornelius of the IMB was with us for a combined worship service of IBC, Greensboro Chinese Christian Church, and Ethiopian Christian Fellowship Church. David challenged us concerning the example of the Church at Antioch, and walked us through the book of Acts to show us how the Gospel advanced to Antioch. The question he challenged us with was "Will you be an Acts 1:8 church or an Acts 8:1 church?" His message can be heard here:
Click to play, right-click to download. The message will also be available on iTunes in our podcast.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Matthew 1:1-17 - The Record of Jesus

This Advent season, I will be exploring Matthew 1 and 2. We begin this series with the genealogy found in Matthew 1:1-17. You can listen to the audio of this message here: (click to stream, right-click to download).

It is also available on our podcast on iTunes.