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March 28, 2019, 6:59 PM

New Vlog Post - Interview with Viktor John Part 3

Watch the 3-part vlog interview with Viktor John here.

March 6, 2019, 12:05 AM

New Vlog Post - Interview with Viktor John

Bob Lewis interviews Viktor John, minister to the Muslim community, in this video blog. 
Watch it here.

December 6, 2017, 1:47 PM

How to Get Worship Right

How to Get Worship Right
by David Briscoe

It seems ironic and foolish to speak of churches having “worship wars.” Nevertheless, over the past couple of decades many congregations experienced conflict over that very issue. Some worshipers preferred a more formal, meditative style that promotes a deep sense of reverence toward God. Others wanted a freer, louder style that expresses joyful praise and celebration. In response, many churches either developed a blended worship style or established multiple worship times with varied worship styles.

Differences in congregational worship styles go back to the earliest years of the New Testament church. Worship by Jerusalem believers no doubt looked different from worship by Christians in Corinth or Ephesus. Then and now, a formal, meditative worship style is neither better nor worse than a celebratory style. The Lord deserves both our deepest reverence and our most joyful praise.

That said, there are some ways to get worship wrong—or to frame it positively, to get worship right. We find these qualities revealed in an event that took place when Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the gospel in Lystra. The event had nothing to do with the style of worship; it had everything to do with having the right faith, worshiping the right God, and believing the right message.

Getting worship right involves having right faith. In Lystra, Paul and Barnabas happened upon a man sitting along the road. Presumably the man was begging for money since he was unable to walk. In fact, the man had been lame from birth. Paul looked at the man, however, and saw that “he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9). What does such faith look like on the face of a lame man? The text doesn’t say. Nonetheless, Paul recognized it and directed the man to get up on his feet. The man proved he had the right faith—faith in the Lord who can meet our deepest needs—by jumping to his feet and walking around for the first time in his life.

Getting worship right means worshiping the right God. The crowd of people in Lystra who saw the lame man suddenly jump to his feet reacted by getting it wrong. The onlookers were steeped in pagan Greek mythology, so they shouted that Paul and Barnabas must be gods. The uproar led the local pagan priest to organize a sacrifice so that the people could offer worship to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:11-13). Too often, worshipers today are tempted to give more attention and praise to their favorite worship leaders than to the Lord those Christian leaders serve. True worship—right worship—adheres to the most important command in Scripture: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Getting worship right includes the right message—the gospel message of truth. Paul and Barnabas quickly corrected the people of Lystra, using the opportunity to turn people’s attention to “the living God, who made heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15). The message Paul proclaimed was similar to the message he later spoke to the philosophers in Athens (see Acts 17:22-31). That is, he started where the people were in their understanding of spiritual matters and guided them toward the one true God who provides all that people need for abundant life (Acts 14:17). That is the message of the gospel! God loves sinners so much that He gave His only begotten Son to provide salvation from sin, death, and the grave. Right worship reverberates with the message of good news in Jesus Christ.

How do you distinguish between preferences regarding worship styles and basic requirements for right worship? What are some ways that your church’s worship services encourage faith, praise God, and proclaim the gospel?

David Briscoe is a content editor at LifeWay for Explore the Bible resources.
Originally published on LifeWay's Explore the Bible Leadership Extras Blog:
Used with permission.

August 10, 2017, 1:07 PM

3 Reasons We Observe the Lord's Supper

Every year on May 10 my wife and I observe our wedding anniversary. Why? Obviously, because that’s the date on which we got married. And yes, because if I didn’t remember that date, I’d be in the doghouse. We mark that day to remember a significant past event, but more than that, to celebrate together the lasting relationship that event made possible.

Beyond the fact that Christ commanded it, why do believers observe the Lord’s Supper?

1. To commemorate

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24,25).

He intentionally chose to establish the Lord’s Supper during the celebration of the Passover (Matt. 26:17). The Passover was instituted by God to be a memorial of His deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of the deliverance from sin He would give to those who trust in Him (Matt. 26:28).

The bread and the cup remind us of the one time sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. We partake to remember what He did on our behalf.

2. To anticipate

With the words, “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29), Jesus anticipated a reunion with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom. Likewise, He instructed them to partake the Lord’s Supper in anticipation: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

Therefore, we observe the Lord’s Supper in anticipation of Jesus’ return and the end time consummation of His kingdom. We are looking forward to that time when we will celebrate with Him at His great banquet table (see Matt. 22:1-14; Rev. 19:6-9).

3. To participate

More than a time of passive and individual reflection, to the observe of the Lord’s Supper is to participate in a congregational act by which we corporately affirm our faith, celebrate the completed work of Christ, focus on our unity, and visibly proclaim to the world that Jesus is the only way of salvation.

In Paul’s discussion of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, he made the point that the way we participate matters. In Corinth, the celebration that was supposed to unify the church actually brought disunity to the church. Paul repeated the phrase “come together” five times in that passage (1 Cor. 11:17-18,20,33-34). His intent was for the church to focus on their unity in Christ. By participating together in the Lord’s Supper, we give visible expression that unity.

Further, the Lord’s Supper is an act of proclamation, giving public testimony to the message of the gospel (1 Cor. 11:26). By observing it, we announce to those outside the church that Christ is the only way of salvation.

Lastly, participation involves personal examination. “Let a person examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:28). The call to personal examination before taking the Lord’s Supper is a call to participation.

Why do we observe the Lord’s Supper? We observe to commemorate a past event, to anticipate a future event, and to participate in the celebration of life between the two.

Mike Livingstone is a content editor at LifeWay for Explore the Bible resources. Reprinted with permission.

August 10, 2017, 12:54 PM

The History of Baptism

From a blog by Jennifer Siao from LifeWay. Reprinted with permission

Did you know that baptism can be traced all the way back to the Old Testament? In the Book of Genesis eight individuals were saved from the flood. Peter pointed to this in 1 Peter 3:21 when he said that “Baptism, which corresponds to this [the flood], now saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The great flood in Genesis 7 destroyed everything and was a display of God’s judgment on mankind. Water and submersion by water brought death in the Old Testament, but Noah and his family found favor in the sign of the Lord. As a result, God spared he and his wife, as well as each of his sons and their wives from the flood.

God again chose to spare His people in the parting of the Red Sea, which is referenced in 1 Corinthians 10:2. Prior to the new covenant, water was an agent of death, yet God used Moses to save the Israelites from the immersive water in Exodus 14:21-22. The Egyptians did not survive because they did not fear and serve the Lord.

It is also interesting to take note of the Scripture in parenthesis in 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism is not the removal of filth of the flesh, but rather “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” It is crucial for us to understand that baptism is a symbolic act of obedience in following Christ. Old Testament prophets used water as an outward symbol for internal cleansing (Isa. 1:16; Ezek. 36:25; Ps. 51:2). 1 The new covenant and Christ’s arrival changed this when he made baptism a symbol of the rescue His resurrection provides believers from death (1 Pet. 3:21).

John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ and helped to usher in the new covenant. He was the final prophet of the old covenant. Matthew 3:11-16 recounts John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and also set an example for believers to follow Him in baptism. We must not forget the substance of baptism—Jesus’ blood which removes our sinfulness. While water cleanses our outside, the blood of Jesus cleanses our hearts from sin.

Romans 6:4 says “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.”...

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