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Resurrection and Missions

It was our joy and privilege on Sunday to have Dr. Ron and Faye Rogers join us for worship. The Rogers are missionaries to Brazil and we have known them since Stan and I met Dr. Rogers at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Rogers’ sermon provided a glorious look at the relationship of the resurrection of Christ to the missionary work of the Gospel. The providence of God was clearly demonstrated as we have been studying in-depth on the subject of the resurrection and also through Isaiah, and in March, I started preaching through the first chapter of Acts. All of these studies came together in Dr. Rogers’ sermon.

After our worship service, Ron and Faye shared with us of the specifics regarding their work in Brazil. We heard many encouraging testimonies of the work as a whole, and specific men who have given their lives to starting Bible studies, planting churches, and taking the Gospel throughout their region.

The passion of Ron and Faye for the Gospel’s advancement is a testimony of the power of the Spirit of God. Ron’s personality is not charismatic. His preaching is not loud nor excitable. Instead, he demonstrated yesterday that in the simple preaching of the simple Gospel there is power as the Spirit attends it. His passion shows the transforming power of union with Christ and love for the people whom Christ has redeemed throughout the world.

These thoughts led us in delightful conversation in our Men’s fellowship in the evening. We all recognized that this day was special. The Lord had answered our prayers and been merciful to us. Our great and mighty God displayed for us true power as the Arm of the Lord continues to go forth, displaying the power of the Gospel for the salvation of all who believe. We were able to share the opportunities that God had presented to us over the past few weeks to share the Gospel. Then, we joined together in prayer, petitioning God to strengthen us for His service, to use us as leaders in our families, and to continue to provide for our needs by His great grace.

All of this is humbling and encouraging. We must not let this moment depart without changing us. Our prayers ought to be changed. Our desires ought to be changed. May God forgive us of our failures to pray for this work of the Gospel as we should have prayed. May God grant to us a renewed heart for missions and evangelism as we serve the risen and living Lord!

Science and Faith

On the first day of my Historical Geology 300 class at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, my professor began stating “The first question on your first exam will be multiple choice. It will ask you how old the earth is. If anyone answers 6.000 years, I will flunk you. No questions asked.”

I graduated from UMKC with a degree in Earth Science. It is the same thing as a Geology degree except I was able to take electives in environmental policy instead of taking several liberal arts classes, and I did not have to spend several weeks in Geology field camp my senior year. After graduation, and until this day, I have been employed by Terracon Consultants, a nationwide Environmental and Geotechnical Engineering firm. I have served multiple positions, beginning as an Environmental Scientist and now employed as the Manager of IT Solutions, which basically means I oversee the development of software packages for our clients to maintain environmental compliance with State and Federal Agencies.

Throughout my educational and employment history I have been in the midst of the scientific community. However, I am also a pastor. I have studied theology and biblical languages at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. My faith rests in the Gospel and in the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God.

I am unabashedly a Creationist. I believe in a young-earth view of history. So, where does this put me in the scientific community?

To quote from the famous Richard Dawkins:

“If you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane.”

Such people would have us believe every scientist feels this way. In most educational systems, this sentiment is echoed. In the media and PBS specials, it is taken for granted that all “scientists” know that Darwinistic thought and the naturalistic history of the origins of the comsos have been tried, tested, and shown to be irrefutable truth.

However, as a scientist, as one who has been trained by the naturalistic professors, I am keenly aware that these claims are terribly problematic for the scientific community. There is a reason Dawkins resorts to name-calling. There is a reason the recent debates to allow or prohibit the teaching or even mentioning of alternatives to Darwinism in Kansas public schools was another example of hatred, name-calling, and bullying by the Darwinistic scientific community. There is a reason why even some of the most highly respected scientists in the world are being shunned, fired, and persecuted when they begin to make known in public the devastating problems and scientific failures of Darwinism. (See this linked article for an example)

That reason is being explored in a movie that is to be released in April of this year.

** Public Disclaimer **
I, nor Heritage Baptist Church, do not necessarily endorse the views promoted through the film discussed in this article. I have not seen the film. I am not encouraging you to view it yourself.
** End Disclaimer**

The movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is being led by Ben Stein (Yes, that Ben Stein). It by no means is a faith-based film. I do not know much about Ben Stein, nor the others involved in the production of the movie, but it’s pretty safe to assume this isn’t the Jerry Falwell crowd.

The basis of the movie/documentary is to investigate the fact that “educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired – for the ‘crime’ of merely believing that there might be evidence of ‘design’ in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance.” The website goes on to say that it is a “heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few.”

I watched the extended trailer and I must say that I am intrigued. It was very well done, communicating effectively the issues that face the scientific community, the educational system, and those who are at all interested in the origins of the universe and of life.

I haven’t seen the movie (it is being released on April 18th), so I cannot say whether or not there is any foul language or immoral content. Ben Stein’s approach, as demonstrated on the web site, is to be a bit rebellious (at least for the sake of appearance), and the theme song appears to be “Bad to the Bone”. But, if you are interested, I wanted to pass along the above information to you. The website is http://www.expelledthemovie.com.

Study: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Peter’s epistle reminds us continually that believers are resident aliens in this world. As such, we should not think it “to be a strange thing” when the residents of this world treat us as our Lord was treated. Resident aliens had no rights, they could not expect fair justice in the land of their sojourn. The were not treated in the same manner as citizens of the land.

Last evening, we had a wonderful time of fellowship around the Word as we discussed these things. This passage reminds us that there are many throughout history and throughout the world even today who undergo fiery trials. As we saw in our text last Sunday, we see here in 1 Peter 4:19 as well that this suffering is by the will of God. Therefore, there is comfort. The strange and sometimes fiery trials are not beyond the scope of God’s power, but as the nations rage against the Lord, our God takes note and our vindication is sure. If this world persecutes us, if they judge us and bring persecutions upon us from a small degree to large persecutions, their judgment awaits. As Peter puts it, if judgment has now begun upon the house of God by the unbelieving people of this world, what will their fate be when the Judge condemns them for their disobedience to the Gospel?

Therefore, as believers, we are to conduct ourselves with confidence and know that we ought to glorify God in the midst of whatever suffering this world will bring to us for the name of Christ. As we discussed last night, let us entrust ourselves to our faithful God, with Christ ever-present in our minds as our example, who entrusted Himself to God as He bore our sins to heal us by His wounds.

How sweet and wonderful is the Great Shepherd and Guardian of our souls!

The Trophy of Christ’s Victory

Last year, Kansas Citians had the privilege of hosting the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit. It was a wonderful opportunity and I am very thankful that I went to view them. However, the most impactful moment for me during the tour was not viewing the scrolls themselves. There were only about 10 scrolls shown, and while it was neat to see the authentic originals, the small display really was not as interesting as reading about the scrolls and viewing pictures in primary source journals.

However, there was one moment in the exhibit that took my breath away and brought me to tears. Prior to arriving at the rooms with the scrolls, several rooms were set up with other artifacts from the 1st century. As I was gazing at a pile of ancient coins, one of them caught my eye. It was a Roman coin issued in honor of the Roman victory over Jerusalem. It was very similar to the coin in this photo (click image to enlarge).


You will notice in the right image, there is a woman seated and weeping with “Judaea” written below her. She is representative of the Jews defeated after Rome sacked Jerusalem. However, notice the figure next to her. This form is called a “trophy” in the ancient world. It is formed from the weapons and military dress of a soldier who was killed. The victorious army would disarm their enemy and set up these trophies as displays of their victory.

Here is another example of a coin with a Roman trophy (click image to enlarge):


Seeing this coin in person brought about many emotions. First, there were the tears when I considered that this was a primary source example and testimony of the wrath of God against the Old Covenant people. The prophets spoke of this event, and our Lord told his disciples that Jerusalem would soon be leveled. As such, this coin brings fear to my mind. God is powerful and His wrath is certain towards those who are not covered by the atoning blood of Jesus through faith in the Gospel.

But also, this coin is a beautiful illustration of a passage of Scripture that is rarely seen in its proper context. Consider the following passage from Colossians 2:14-15:

Col 2:14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

This passage speaks of the work of Christ on the cross. In verse 15, our translations often struggle to convey the idea that is clear in the original text. The NASB, as shown above, states “He made a public display of them”. The words “public display” lead English-speaking readers to think of some abstract idea instead of the very concrete and powerful meaning of the original text. The word used in this passage is the word for the “trophy” in the ancient world as described above. The vivid picture of the text is that Christ has conquered his enemies (and ours). He disarmed them, just as the Romans disarmed fallen Jewish soldiers, and He made a trophy of their remains. In verse 14, we see this was done through the work of Christ on the cross. The cross is Christ’s trophy. It is there for all to see that He is victorious and that He has defeated the enemies of His people!

We ought to rejoice and know that He is Lord! Amen.

Worship 3/23

Our worship service on Sunday provided a bounty of themes that gave each of us much to consider in devotion and thanksgiving. Our hymns included:

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today”
“Victory in Jesus”
“O Sacred, Head Now Wounded”
“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”

We experienced a wonderful time of open testimonies displaying the Lord’s provision in answering our prayers and also showing the joy that we have in Christ for being redeemed as God’s choice possession, the Body of Christ.

Stan’s Bible study continued his discussion on the extent and efficacy of the atoning work of Christ. This study led into many edifying comments and points of discussion. I must add that it has been one of the best studies upon the subject that I have been involved in. I am tremendously grateful that the Lord has blessed us with unity and with a desire to seek the truth of the Word. Such blessings are only by His good grace.

My sermon came from the text of Acts 1:12-26. In this passage we find many important points as the apostles chose a replacement for Judas after his betrayal of the Lord. First, we find that while these followers of the Messiah obeyed the Lord’s command to wait for the power of the promised Holy Spirit they were immediately encouraged by the knowledge of God’s sovereignty, even in the terrible betrayal by Judas. This trust in the sovereignty of God gave them a sure hope that God would indeed give them power to be his witnesses to the entire world. As such, they were bold in the midst of persecution and even facing certain death. In fact, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

Obviously, God’s judgment is presented often throughout Acts, and is here displayed in graphic manner in the description of the tragic end of Judas after his betrayal of the now risen Lord. As believers, covered by God’s mercy and free from condemnation, we must never think of God’s judgment in a light manner. It is God’s wrath towards sin that took our Lord to the cross on our behalf. And though our sins be atoned, we must never use mercy as a license for sin, but we must instead now live for His glory and for the good of His people.

Finally, on the day when the world considers the resurrection of Christ, we too found our passage calling our attention to the fact that Matthias was chosen to be a “witness of the resurrection”. The resurrection is central to the Gospel. Without Christ’s resurrection, our faith is in vain. Without it we would lack the power of the newness of life (Romans 6). In Acts we see verses that link the resurrection with our personal salvation. But we must not miss the critical focus of the resurrection – Jesus was raised in exaltation to the right hand of God the Father and is now Lord! He is ruling over his kingdom. He is active in the church. The resurrection of Jesus is presented as proof throughout Acts that Jesus is the promised Messiah, fulfilling the Law and the Prophets (Acts 28:23-31).

Therefore we left an appeal to all in attendance, as we do to you, repent and believe in the Gospel of Christ…who is the promised Messiah. As Spurgeon has beautifully said:

“Follow only one track: Jesus is the one and only way to life. In the old times of slavery in the States, when men escaped from their masters, they did so by knowing that the north star would lead them to freedom, and by following that heavenly guide. They had to travel by night, for fear of being captured and taken back; and therefore they learned little of the geography of the country: they cared for nothing but the star. As they hastened through the woods, they did not study botany; as they flitted through towns and villages along the road, they learned nothing of poetics or social reform: they knew one thing, and minded that one thing only: they kept on following the pole-star. Brother, there are hosts of things that you do not know at present, and many things that you will never know; but see that you know Jesus, who is the pole-star of salvation. Keep Christ in your eye. Follow the crucified and risen One. Trust him, rely upon him, follow him, receive the life of which he is the Prince, and it shall be well with your soul. May you live in Christ Jesus, and glorify him as “the Prince of life” for ever and ever! Amen.”

Sell your shirt…buy a book!

About two weeks ago I received my copy of the Commentary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by D. A. Carson and G. K. Beale (great biblical scholars only use initials – no first or middle names). It is available at Amazon for about $35.

So far, I have been very impressed. Of course, I’ve only read about 30 pages of the 1,239 that are in this book, but those 30 pages have already proven to be more useful than any study Bible and almost any commentary in handling the context of the OT quotation and the intended meaning of its use in the New Testament text.

Each chapter is written by a different scholar, so some variety of quality and theological position may be expected, but the breadth of research in the volume appears to be second to none.

Sadly, as a scholarly reference, there is the token discussions of some issues that deal with higher criticism, so you may have to let your eyes glaze over as you flip past some of the introductory material to each New Testament book and get to the good stuff.

With that said, I would highly recommend this resource to you as a tool for biblical study. Hopefully, you will find it useful as well.

Your humble friend,
S. A. Ward

Study: 1 Peter 4:7-11

Last night we met and looked at 1 Peter 4:7-11. It was good to be together again on a Wednesday night…we have missed the last two weeks do to illnesses.

The text led us into a very honest discussion of the seriousness of this life. As the passage says, we are to be sound in judgment and sober minded for the sake of prayer, especially in light of our duty towards one another as fellow resident aliens in this world.

Therefore, we must exercise fervent love for one another. We must view our lives as critically important and use our speech and our deeds to build one another up, knowing that we should reflect the power and the glory of Christ through our conduct towards one another. Hence, the passage ends the exhortation to this godly conduct saying that our lives must glorify Jesus Christ in this manner to show forth the glory of His power and His dominion.

Let love therefore cover our sins. Let us not give up on one another. Let us not turn from one another, feeling betrayed, feeling as if others have failed us. As we discussed last night, such love is beautiful and it ought to be the desire of our heart to seek this godly love which will carry us forth while we are still pilgrims in this land.

This text has led me to consider the blessings in my life through those in the Church that have shown me and my family hospitality; who have served and ministered to us in our times of need and throughout our lives. May God be praised for the power of His Spirit in the Church!