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Pastor's Blog - Entries from February 2011
Pillars of Harvest - Preaching
Here at Harvest Bible Chapel we are passionate about the preaching of God’s Word, and this week in our core group meeting we looked more closely at why we are so passionate about it.
The foundation of Harvest Bible Chapel is seen in our four pillars and the first is:
• We will proclaim the authority of God’s Word without apology!
In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul challenges Timothy to “Preach the Word,” and that’s exactly what we are going to do. We believe that God has all authority to guide, command and direct our lives since he is Creator and Redeemer. Because God has chosen to speak to us through his word, we will be faithful in proclaiming his word as the sole authority for all of life and godliness.
• We will proclaim the authority of God’s Word without apology because God has ordained preaching so that we will boast in him alone (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
In a culture where the one true gospel of scripture is being trumped by different forms of social and relational gospels, we will stand firm on publically proclaiming what God has said and letting his words be the vehicle for transformation in people’s lives.
• We will proclaim the authority of God’s Word without apology because the power of God is found in the foolishness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:21).
Many churches are trying to get farther and farther away from the public proclamation of God’s Word and are exchanging preaching for more pragmatic and trendy ways of trying to reach people which only leads to self-reliance and elevates our own creativity above the Creator.
• We will be known for Expository Preaching!
We are passionate about preaching the whole counsel of God’s word, which is why here at Harvest you will find us preaching verse by verse through passages and complete books of the Bible.
• We will be known for Expository Preaching:
o In order to say what God said.
o In order to teach the whole counsel of God.
o In order to deal with difficult text and doctrine.
o In order to elevate the word of God.
o In order to avoid misinterpreting God’s word.
o In order to live and think biblically.
o In order to understand the unity of Scripture.
Our desire is to be doers of the word, not hearers only and in order to make sure we are applying Scripture to our lives and not just listening to it, we will be very high on the application of God’s Word. As we work verse by verse through passages of Scripture it will always be with the intent of applying the truths of God’s word so that we don’t become a people filled with just head knowledge of God’s Word that puffs up. We want to be a church that is intentionally living out God’s Word each and every day together as we move forward accomplishing the mission of making disciples that God has given to us.
• We will proclaim the authority of God’s Word without apology because when we do the Power of God is on Display.
In Ephesians 1, Paul’s prayer is that the church would grow in it’s knowledge of the greatness of God’s power and we believe that by preaching God’s Word boldly we will see the power of God on display in awesome ways as he transforms people’s lives.
Marriages will be reconciled, prodigals will come home, relationships restored, bondage to sin will be broken and people will be saved by the power of God working through his word, not by lofty speech or man’s wisdom.
So if you are hungry for the preaching of God’s word and are passionate about making disciples come and join us at Harvest Bible Chapel Chattanooga.
Overwhelmed by Grace?
Have you been overwhelmed by God’s grace? In our core group this weekend we walked through Ephesians 1:3-14 to cast the vision for a church where grace abounds. But before we can ever be a grace filled church we have to be grace filled people.
Being overwhelmed with God’s grace for our lives should lead us to have a great grace for others. It is when I realize that I am the greatest sinner I know and begin to comprehend the great grace that God has shown me that I can start to show that same kind of grace to others.
The reason that so many people walk into churches today and sense a judgmental, arrogant attitude is because our churches are filled with people trying to live the Christian life apart from God’s grace. When people pull themselves up by their bootstraps in order to live a holy life, they begin to feel confident in their own ability and look down upon those that aren’t as successful.
Living the Christian life in your own strength does not produce holiness, it produces legalism. It produces arrogance and a lack of grace for others. Harvest Bible Chapel is a church where we recognize that we don’t have it all together. We are a church where being vulnerable and transparent isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of power; God’s power working in our lives.
In Ephesians 1 we see Paul pointing over and over again to God’s grace being lavished upon us before, during and after our salvation in order to result in his praise. He begins this passage by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and goes on to explain that the basis of his praise is the grace of God bestowed on us through the spiritual blessings we have received in Christ.
• Praise God! Because of His Grace He Chose Us!
In vs 4, Paul points out that “the Father has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” highlighting that our election by God could have nothing to do with us. It is not our ability, appearance or strength that is the basis for God’s election, it was accomplished before we were ever born.
Some would say, “God knew we would choose him, so that’s why he chose us.” Paul is pretty adamant throughout this passage about why God chose us and it has nothing to do with us.
In vs. 5 he says that he predestined us for adoption as sons (and daughters), according to the purpose of his will.
In vs. 9 he says that “it is according to his purpose.”
In vs. 11, “we have been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” HIS WILL! Not ours, ”to the praise of his glorious grace.” Over and over again Paul is going to highlight God’s grace by God’s will to show us it is God’s desire alone that has chosen us for salvation in hopes that it will overwhelm us and result in his praise.
That’s God’s grace before salvation, but we also see God’s grace at our salvation.
• Praise God! Because of His Grace He Redeemed Us!
Vs. 7 says that, “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…making known to us the mystery of his will…”
His provision of redemption comes through his making known to us the mystery of his will. It is this enlightenment of our hearts and minds that has made redemption possible. Paul is once again pointing to God’s grace that has given us the ability to ask for forgiveness. He goes on in chapter 2 to show that because we were dead, God had to make us alive and it is by his grace that we are saved through faith.
Our faith is only possible because of the grace of God in making himself known to us, opening our eyes, and cultivating the soil of our hearts so that we can respond to the Gospel through faith.
• Praise God! Because of His Grace He has Sealed Us!
God’s grace provided our salvation and preserves our salvation. Verse 13-14, “he has sealed us with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it…”.
Genuine salvation is brought about by God and protected by God. If it’s up to me to keep my salvation, I am going to fail. If it’s up to me to be good enough to please God so that he doesn’t take away my salvation I am in big trouble.
The only way that I will be blameless before God is because he has given me the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:19). If God only sees the righteousness of Christ, how can my unrighteousness make me lose my salvation? Praise God! He has sealed us for the day when we will receive the inheritance he has set aside for us.
We are not planting a church for people to just attend, we are asking people to join us on the mission that God has given us: To GO and MAKE Disciples!!!!
The mission statement of Harvest Bible Chapel is “To Glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission, in the spirit of the Great Commandment.”
Our mission is found in Matthew 28:18-20 when Jesus tell his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
The mission that Harvest Bible Chapel is on is to:
• Lead all types of People...
God’s passion is for “people of all nations” (19a). We want the worship of God in our church to be a precursor to our worship in heaven, including people from every tongue, tribe and nation. It has been God’s passion and mission from the beginning that the fame of his name would go forth to all people resulting in the praise of his name from all people.
Ps. 67:3 says, “Let the people praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” Our desire at Harvest is to have the praises of God lifted up by people from every nation here on earth, as it will be in heaven.
Jesus Christ commands us to “go and make disciples” of all types of people (19a). There are two aspects of making disciples that we must focus on if we are going to be successful on this mission. He wants us “to lead all types of people to…”
• Have Faith in Christ
• Grow Up in Christ
First and foremost we want people to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we want people to hear the incredible message of the Gospel so that when they hear, they acknowledge and respond with repentance and faith to the salvation that God provides. But that is not the end.
We will not be a church that leaves people at the foot of the cross. We want to see people grow up in Christ as they move forward and grow in their love for who God is and what he has done that results in being able to live a life by the power of God’s grace resulting in bearing fruit that proves the genuineness of their salvation (John 15:8).
We also want to lead all types of people to:
• Identify with Christ
Once we are a son or daughter of God, we are no longer our own. Jesus commands us to …”baptize these disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit” (19b). We were bought with a price and belong to him who redeemed us and ransomed us from the penalty of sin. We want to challenge believers to no longer be identified by their culture, job, hobbies or personality, but to be known by their identity in Christ.
Here at Harvest we believe that Baptism does not save a person, but it certainly identifies a believer as a follower of Jesus Christ. We take baptism very seriously and devote entire services to people standing up in the waters of baptism to declare that their identity is now being a follower of Jesus Christ and that they are no longer living for themselves, but for Jesus Christ who has saved them (2 Cor. 5:15).
Check out these links for some past Baptism Service Highlight’s from our sending church: Harvest Bible Chapel Davenport.
Verse 20 calls us to “teach these disciples to observe all that I have commanded you.” So we want to lead all people to:
• Obedience to Christ
We recognize that in our own strength this is impossible, and only through the power of Christ living within us can we be obedient to his commands. Our desire is to live a life that is worthy of the calling that Christ has given to us and we want in everything to point back to him.
Our motivation for obedience to Christ is not a list of rules and laws, but is motivated by an overflow of love for God and for others, from a heart, mind, soul and strength that has been set apart by God and devoted to God (Mark 12:30-31). Our desire is to live as he lived, love as he loved and forgive as he forgave.
And because Christ has promised “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (21b) we will strive to do and teach all of these things:
• While guided by Christ.
Jesus Christ is our foundation, our comfort and our guide. We will head out on this mission following our Lord and Savior as he guides and directs us into and out of the days ahead. We hope you will come and join us as we follow Christ on the mission he has laid out. You have a role to play in this mission “to make disciples”; we hope you will find it here at Harvest Bible Chapel.
© Harvest Bible Chapel - Chattanooga
Offices located at:
6150 Shallowford Rd, Suite 102
Chattanooga, TN, 37421