Thursday, September 21, 2017

How was Abraham Saved in the Old Testament?

“Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6)

A common misconception about salvation for Old Testament believers like Abraham centers on how they were saved.  We know that the New Testament era has brought salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8-9). But what was the way before Christ died on the cross?

Abraham represents the beginning of the Jewish people. It would be through his family that all people of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). In many ways, Abraham was the first Jew, the earthly father of their nation. But Abraham was not always a God-fearer! God change his Abraham. Abram’s name to  In fact, Abraham was born and raised in Ur of the Chaldees, which is in modern Iraq, near Nasiriyah in the southeastern part of the country. Joshua 24:2 says that Abraham and his father worshiped idols. So Abraham was a gentile, who became a believer, but how did this happen?

Following a struggle with the promise, God gave Abraham over his heir. In Genesis 15, Abraham suggested that God use Eliezer of Damascus. Eliezer was born as a slave in his house. He must have been like a son to him. But this was not God’s plan. God reaffirmed his promise to Abraham, and Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram BELIEVED the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Salvation came to Abraham the same way it comes to us, by believing the Lord’s promises. Notice the verse does not say:
    “Abram offered burnt offerings to the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
    “Abram prayed harder to the Lord, and He credited it….”
    “Abram kept the commands of the Lord, and He credited it…”

The verse reads he BELIEVED! What was required for Old Testaments to be saved? It was salvation through belief in God’s promises. The Hebrew construction translated “Believed” means to place trust in someone with confidence(Exodus 19:9; 1 Sam 27:12). In this verse, Abram’s trust is placed in the Lord, whom he believes will carry out his promise. Genesis 15:6, emphasizes that Abram “entrusted his future to what God would do for him as opposed to what he could do for himself to obtain the promises.”[1] Abraham had continued to believe in the Lord. Abraham received salvation the same way we do, by trusting God and his promises. He was not saved through law-keeping, he was saved through belief in God and believing God’s promises. What about you do you believe and trust God?

[1] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 166.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Common Ground One Year Later!

“To reach our communities with the unchanging truth and love of Jesus Christ, we may be required to remove the cultural wrapping in which we have cloaked the Good News. Frequently it is not the Word of God people are rejecting as irrelevant. It is the outdated clothing in which we have dressed our Lord.”’ -Arnell ArnTessoni

It's hard to believe that we launched Common Ground a year ago. The Lord has done some amazing things since the launch. I would like to take a moment to reflect on what the Lord has done since it has been launched. I will do this by reminding us why we did it in the first place. And here it is:

1.    We planted Common Ground to Reach the Unchurched, and we did!
We baptized eight people in July 2017 (half of which came from Common Ground), double the mouth of last year which was 4! We doubled the number of individuals we effectively reached through the new worships service.

2.    We planted Common Ground to minister to more people, and we did!
Our average Sunday morning attendance at the end of 2016, measured before we had common ground was 187 on Sunday Morning. Since we added Common Ground the traditional service averages, 158 people on Sunday Mornings and Common Ground averages 45 on Sunday Mornings bringing the combined total to 203 average Sunday morning attendance. It may not feel like it if you are in the traditional worship service every week, but we have experienced an 8.6% growth in overall Sunday Morning attendance! Most churches would love to see that kind of growth over a year’s time in their average Sunday Morning attendance, and don’t forget that is in the face of those who have passed away, moved, or fallen out of fellowship.

3.    We planted Common Ground to reach new kinds of people, and we have!
We have not only reached more people but some who would not have joined our church family otherwise! See above for confirmation of this.

4.    We planted Common Ground to help break the normal life cycle of the church, and we did!
Based on the growth in Sunday morning attendance we are not headed in the right track to begin a new growth curve! Praise God!

5.    We planted Common Ground to allow for change while retaining the familiar, and it has!
Traditional Worship holds a place in many people’s hearts in Grace Baptist and Carter County; It is not going anywhere! So let’s keep singing those hymns and praises to our King!

6.    We planted the Common Ground to activate inactive members, and I would say not so much.
While the hope was to see some who have became inactive, active again, we could do better. Give those friends who are sitting around Sunday morning a call and encourage them to join us again!

7.    We planted Common Ground to empower more church members to use their Gifts and passions weekly, and it has!
Without a doubt, we did this! The praise band, set up the team, and reset team was not always engaged in weekly service at Grace Baptist. Now they are, we have also created new needs for others to join in!

8.    We planted Common Ground to help the Southern Baptist Convention to survive.
See 2!

9.    We planted Common Ground to fulfill our Church’s Mission Statement, “To Know Christ and To Make Him Known,” and we have. 
Four new souls for Christ and he used Common Ground to get them there! I would say that is making Christ Know for sure!