Teacher Appreciation Dinner
Sunday, Mar 26, 2023
… prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21, NLT). We affirm that both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures are divinely inspired, in their entirety, as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Written originally to specific people and specific times, today it has fresh application for men and women of every nation. Through it the Holy Spirit continues to illumine each generation with the light of truth. It reveals the wisdom, will, nature, and glory of our unchangeable God. Through its record of the history of humanity, it explains what we see and experience in the world today and communicates what is necessary for humans to have a relationship with God.
He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:35, NLT). We affirm our faith in the One, Eternal, Creator, Provider, Sustainer, and Lord of the world. Father, Son and Holy Spirit comprise our triune God. God is Sovereign and governs everything by His wisdom, purpose and goodness. As the apostle Paul told the people in Athens, By his power we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28, NCV). He created humans in His image, but that image has been spoiled by sin, which is why our world is messy and groaning. He is calling people out of the world for Himself, then sending His people back into the world to be His servants and witnesses to further His Kingdom, build up the body of Christ, and glorify His Name.
The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of grace and truth (John 1:14, GWT). We affirm that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the one and only begotten Son of God. Humans have found it difficult to relate to an invisible God, so God took on flesh and lived on earth for roughly 33 years. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). As God, His experience in the flesh makes Him a perfect Mediator. His mission to earth was not social; it was a mission of justice – to perfectly meet the standards of God and pay the penalty for our inability to meet those standards (sin) in order that we might be reconciled to God. By His innocent sacrifice on the cross, He displayed God’s mercy while satisfying God’s justice. His sacrifice revealed God’s deep love and desire to save all men and women while preserving His righteous nature. Hence, Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and His story is the only gospel, and we reject as insulting to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and discussion which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. There is no other Name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Rather than elitism, such an exclusive claim is meant to invite everyone into the way, truth and life of Jesus Christ. God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9, NIV). We look forward to the day He will return and take us home to be with Father in heaven.
… be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, NIV). We affirm our belief in the Spirit of Truth, the third and perhaps lesser known, but no less important, Person of the Godhead. In creation, He hovered over the dark waters of the formless and empty earth (Genesis 1:2) as the Agent of Power when God spoke the Word. He became that same promised Agent of Power for the early disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven. In a sense, He became Jesus to them, but rather than live with them, He lived within them, empowering them with understanding and heavenly abilities. He is the Helper, without the limits that Christ had while in a human body, who comes alongside disciples of Jesus Christ to transform us from the inside out. Through Him we are born again to newness of life and grow in spiritual maturity as we submit to and walk with Him. In short, He renews us, inspires and confirms the will and Word of God to us, teaches us the mind of God, stirs us to great things, strengthens us, and enables us to die to the flesh. He mediates between believers and God and speaks to God for us when we do not know how or what to say. The apostle Paul warned, And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live (Ephesians 4:30, NLT), pointing to the fact that it is possible to resist, quench, insult and even blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
No one needed to tell him [Jesus] about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart (John 2:25, NLT). The first human, Adam, was created in God’s image. He and the wife that God formed from taking one of Adam’s ribs were put in a garden paradise to care for it and enjoy relationship with God and each other. They were also given choice, or free will, when they were told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, their decision to sin by eating the fruit ushered in curses that have resulted in the pain and suffering we see today. Human hearts became deceptive and easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). The apostle Paul summarized our condition this way: For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused (Romans 1:20-21). Still with a capacity for good or evil, humans were separated from God by sin. Quoting from Psalms, the apostle Paul wrote, No one is righteous — not even one … For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:10,23, NLT). Due to our own individual sins, we are each lost and in need of a Savior and salvation. But thanks be to God, He did send a Savior to restore in us the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2b) so that we can once again live out the purposes He intended when He created us in His image.
The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them (Luke 19:10, NCV). The Son’s trip to planet Earth was more than a social visit; He came to address our sin problem that separates us from God. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as "the Savior of the world" is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God's love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Savior and Lord in a wholehearted, personal commitment of repentance and faith.
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, NIV). The mission of Jesus was to pay the price for our sin against God’s love and reconcile us to God, making us His adopted children. To receive that priceless gift, we are to respond with faith. Calling on the Lord through faith includes a belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It includes repentance, a turning away from self-will, and submission to God’s will as we seek Him with all our hearts. And it includes baptism in the Name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2). With this, we are born anew, cleansed from sin, clothed with Christ, saved and added to the family of believers in order to live lives that continue the mission and ministry of Christ.
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God (1 Peter 2:5, NLT). The Lord has given each member of His spiritual body gifts and abilities meant to edify, or build up, His Kingdom (places, like our hearts, in which He reigns). Through followers of Christ, God continues the mission to reconcile lost people to Him and restore a broken world to its original design. Followers serve as living sacrifices to please and honor our Lord. Using our Spirit-given gifts, we work with the body of believers to build one another up in faith and spiritual maturity. Using many of those same gifts, we work outwardly to love and reach lost people and minister to a world that struggles under the curse of sin. We speak truth in love to a world that has lost connection with God. We gather regularly, particularly on Sunday, to refocus on our Lord, revive our spirits, and remember Christ in communion.
We confess with shame that we have not always lived up to the Name of Jesus Christ. We have often denied our calling and failed in our mission by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Transformation is an ongoing process even for the saved. Yet we rejoice and give thanks that despite our flaws and deficiencies, we are privileged to bear and share the precious treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Groups that meet almost every day of the week for Bible study,
relationships, support, prayer, and sometimes just plain fun!