The Gospel Is Everything

Admit. Believe. Confess. You probably are familiar with the ABC’s of the gospel. The ABC’s have helped lead many to the saving faith in Jesus Christ throughout the years. However, far too often, we allow ourselves to lose focus of the gospel in our lives as we move on to bigger and better doctrines and issues with life. Tim Keller once wrote, “The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.”
 
The gospel is everything. Let us never lose focus on the cross. Let us never forget our Risen Savior. Let us live in the gospel and experience day after day the life that Jesus has for us through our faith in Him. Jesus is not done working in your life. If you have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to consider doing so today. God loves you and is offering you peace and life if you will give your life to Him. If you already believe in Christ but it’s been a while since you’ve been faithful to Him, I encourage you to not waste another day. The apostle John wrote his gospel down so that we may believe in Jesus and have life in His name. I’m inviting you to experience life in Jesus Christ. He gives life to the lifeless, hope to the hopeless, and forgiveness to all those who trust in Him. Will you trust Him today?
 

Without Him I could be dying, without Him I’d be enslaved, without Him life would be hopeless
But with Jesus, thank God I’m saved!
Jesus, O Jesus, do you know Him today? Do not turn Him away! O Jesus, O Jesus, without Him, how lost I would be!

 

Your Youth Minister,

Rev. Evan Alexander


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Gray Areas

 

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I spent the last 6 ½ years watching soccer with my (now) wife. In any sport, there are certain rules that are always called because they endanger the players or are unsportsmanlike. Other penalties are only called depending on the circumstance (or the quality of the referee). It’s not uncommon for players and coaches to push the boundaries to see how much they can get away with without getting in trouble. 
 
Children do the same thing. They’ll push and prod with their eyes upon mom or dad to see just how much they can do before getting placed in timeout. 
 
Is it possible that believers can be guilty of the same desire? I’ve seen this demonstrated time and time again as peers and church members beg the question: “Is this really sin? The Bible does not definitively say it is wrong.” We ask these questions trying to get someone to justify our way of life, attempting to push the boundaries of what we can get away with before God. We put others on trial so that they have to defend whether or not drinking, homosexuality, abortion, or tattoos are truly sins. Though some may offer compelling and biblical arguments, we seek loopholes and cling to our reasoning so that we can continue doing what we want to do.
 
However, I would like to propose another way. Since we are the ones that will have to give an account of our lives before God, we should place ourselves on trial when determining whether or not a way of thought or life is sin. Instead of demanding answers of others, let us ask ourselves a few questions:

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Together for His Kingdom

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In just a few weeks, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, we will also celebrate His continued work by giving in the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. This offering supports the North American Mission Board’s missionaries that are serving in the U.S. and Canada. North America has over 269 million lost people, and 100% of this offering helps support about 5,684 missionaries that are working to plant churches, engage the lost, and equip Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in our own backyard.
 
Annie Walker Armstrong (1850-1938) dedicated her life to the gospel mission in 19th century Baltimore. She had a vision of Christians and churches rising up to give themselves fully into this mission. Annie organized what is known today as the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) to fulfill this vision, and now we continue to support this vision by giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
 
By giving to the AAEO, we are joining together for His Kingdom and gospel to be displayed and declared for the 269,000,000 who remain in darkness in North America. Will you join me in praying for these missionaries and the offering that we will receive for this mission? Will you start now by praying what the Lord would have you to give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering?

 

Your Minister of Education and Outreach,

Rev. Evan Alexander


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The Temptations of Tranquility

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People do not like change. Church people really do not like change. Some seemingly even brag about this truth, and when change is presented, we long for the glorious days of the past. We often find ourselves learning this truth: “where change abounds, conflict abounds all the more…” Because of this truth, many are opposed to change in the church because they have a genuine desire to avoid conflict with those who may disagree with the change. Others may be opposed to change due to more selfish motives, but many are motivated by the banner of church unity. For the sake of unity, change is avoided at all costs.
 
But there’s a dilemma. Out of the 7 billion people in the world, only 1.9 billion claim to know Christ. This means that if the world were to end as you read this sentence, at least 5.1 billion people would spend the rest of eternity in hell. Furthermore, at least 2.2 billion people have little to no access to the gospel, meaning this: they have no Bible, no Christian, nothing whatsoever to tell them of the love of Jesus. What hope do these people have?
 
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

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For When We Fall

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For a just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked shall fall into mischief (Proverbs 24:16).
 
One does not have to look far inside the walls of the church to find people who fall. Every Christian can peer back into the pages of their lives and note times that they have fallen spiritually and emotionally: those times when anger gets the best of us or that temptation overwhelms us. In these times, it is easy to shame oneself, to feel worthless in the eyes of God, to feel as though you’ve let down those you love.
 
But note what Solomon wrote in the verse above: the just man, the righteous man falls seven times and rises again, while the wicked man falls into darkness. So when we come to these points in our lives, when we fall, understand that falling or failing does not mean that you are a helpless cause that has lost favor with God. It is not whether or not we fall but what we do when we fall that defines us. So will you stand up, repent, and draw near to God, or will you remain in the depths of your sin? Will you allow God to lift you back up and trust in Him more fully, or will you continue to trust only in yourself? Do not be discouraged, friends, when you fall. Instead, stand back up to lean more on God and foster relationships with others in the family of God that will build you up (Ecc. 4:10; 1 Thess. 5:11).
 
This life is a journey, a marathon, a fight. So keep fighting against the Enemy that seeks to devour your soul (1 Peter 5:8), and trust in Jesus Christ, the One Who saved your soul, to keep you from this day forward (Eph. 2:8). 
 
Your Minister of Education and Outreach, 
Rev. Evan Alexander

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Hope in the Midst of Darkness

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How could God allow so much evil to be in the world? This question is a stumbling block for everyone at some point in their life. It is a major obstacle for many in keeping them from a relationship with God, and for many Christians, it can become a hindrance to their trust in Him. So, why would God allow so much death and suffering? The Bible has many answers to this question, but one of the best places to begin this discussion is in Genesis 3. In Genesis 1-2, God creates the heavens and the earth, the birds and the fish, the stars and the trees, and even mankind itself, claiming that it is good.

Then we turn the page in the biblical narrative to find that something went wrong. Mankind rebelled against God, and that goodness was corrupted. We now live in the broken world that remains, but God has a plan. He has a marvelous masterpiece in the making, a beautiful blueprint to how all things will work out as He willed. Even in one of the darkest chapters of the Bible, Genesis 3, where sin enters into the world, we have the beginning threads of a crimson cord that stretches across the pages of Scripture to the manger in Bethlehem, the cross upon Golgotha, to the empty tomb itself. This crimson cord is still stretching across our lives toward the moment the heavens will open and Christ returns to reclaim His children. On that day, all things will be clear, no tear will be shed, and His glory will be made fully known. Even in the midst of darkness and suffering, we can find hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that today, you may look through the murkiness of life, through all the darkness and despair, and see the arms of God reaching out to you to pull you from the sorrows of this life and into an eternity with Him.

 

Your Minister of Education and Outreach,

Rev. Evan Alexander


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Praise the Lord (Psalm 113)

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People praise the Lord for all sorts of reasons; even the lost or backslidden can be heard offering up a “praise the Lord!” or “thank you, Jesus!” for good hair days, dates gone well, rain during a drought, weekends, athletic victories, etc. Though it is great that some express their thankfulness in this way, if we were honest, these trite phrases more resemble using the Lord’s name in vain rather than expressing genuine thankfulness to the One, True God of the universe. There are also seasons of life when praising the Lord is difficult. In either circumstance, praising the Lord stands as a difficulty for the Christian at times.
 
Luckily, the Bible is filled with reasons we should praise God, and the Psalmist provides a great foundation for worship in Psalm 113. He writes that “the Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! God is the highest and most supreme being in the cosmos. Higher than any political leader, nation, and even the stars above. He is to be praised for His absolute greatness for all time in all places, especially by His servants, who have experienced the great love and mercy only known through Jesus Christ our Lord (113:1-4).
 
He is also to be praised for His absolute humility (113:5-6). God humbled Himself in sending His only Son to die for humanity. The Son’s humility is on great display throughout His entire earthly ministry, climaxing towards Golgotha’s hill, where He would be put to the most publicly humiliating death possible: upon a sinner’s cross. The Righteous King of Kings dwelt among peasants and was willingly put to death for the peasants’ sins…for your sins and for mine. God is worthy to be praised for His absolute humility.

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Finish the Mission

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Have you ever witnessed something so unbelievable that you had to tell someone? Imagine being the disciples: imagine seeing what they had experienced. Blind men gaining their sight, dead people with a second chance at life, the man whom you had spent three years with brutally tortured and murdered just to see him again walking amongst you days later. At times you may have doubted what he was saying, but then you experience life with him, experience the miracles, and suddenly, it all starts to make sense. You witness him being lifted into the heavens, but before he ascends, he gives you a mission and promises you his own Spirit. Had it not been for witnessing these events with your own eyes, you may have been left questioning, but instead, because you have experienced it to be true, you know what must be done. You must tell the world. You’ve seen it first hand: Jesus Christ is the giver of life, the forgiver of sins, the One True Messiah. The only appropriate action to what you’ve experienced is to obey Him and tell the world about Him so that they may experience what you have: a relationship with Him.

When confronted about their preaching and commanded to stop proclaiming Christ, Peter and John replied “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” To stop proclaiming Christ would have been unnatural for them. They could not keep such good news bottled in. Have you experienced it? Have you experienced a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ? If so, how can we keep such good news to ourselves? If we truly believe, we must joyously proclaim the gospel: it’s the only action that makes sense.
 

Your Minister of Education and Outreach,

Rev. Evan Alexander


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Show the Word: Share the Word

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Christians are called to help people in need, to be the good Samaritan. Churches across the globe are active in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, and aiding the sick. We fight against racism, sex trafficking, and social injustices that plague our very existence. I think of the church during the Black Plague of Europe in the 1300’s, where when everyone else fled to save themselves, Christians stayed behind to care for those in need. I think of Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China who helped establish local schools and hospitals. I think of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, who are consistently first responders in the face of natural disasters to help clean up and rebuild. Christians are called to and historically are known for helping those in need. We strive to make this earth a better place and help those in need.
 
 Humanitarianism is great, but it’s not the Great Commission.
 
Don’t get me wrong: helping people with physical needs is a core principle of the church. However, more importantly, we have been called to spread the gospel to the ends of the world. If all we do is help physical needs, then we merely make this earth a nicer place from which to go to Hell. We have been called to make disciples of all nations so that God may receive the worship and glory that He rightfully deserves from people of every tribe, nation, and tongue.
 
“at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
 
One day Jesus will return, and all will know Him as the Lord. The question for us is will humanity know Him as Lord now or everlasting too late? We cannot merely be a helpful organization; there are plenty of atheistic, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist organizations that help people. What separates us is that we can meet the true spiritual need of Jesus Christ, the only way, truth, and life. There is much more to people than physical needs but spiritual needs of a Savior. The stakes are high, but the gospel is good. So, I beg of you: help people, but do so knowing that those we help also have souls. Therefore, we must share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
Your Minister of Education and Outreach,
Rev. Evan Alexander

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To Those Who Doubt

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Dear Friend, 

You may have come across the passage in Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” This passage is a difficult one, and many read this wondering, “what will God say to me when I stand before Him?”
 
Whenever you begin to try to understand a passage, it is helpful to read the passage before it and the passage that follows it. Have you ever walked in on the middle of an episode and had no idea what was going on because you missed the first half of the program? That confusion is the same that we can experience when we jump into the middle of a book of the Bible or larger passage of Scripture. So, what is the bigger section that Matthew 7:21-23 is a part of? Starting in Matthew 5, Matthew begins to record Jesus’s famous “Sermon on the Mount” that carries through chapter 7. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says a lot of things, but a key passage that helps understand these three chapters is 5:17-20, where Jesus states that He has fulfilled the Law because mankind cannot. He says that unless someone is more righteous than the Bible teachers of the day, then they can cannot get to heaven. Essentially, Jesus is saying that mankind cannot be righteous enough to get to heaven on their own; therefore, He came to fulfill the Law while they cannot. This idea impacts the way we should read Matthew 7:21-23 because essentially, based off of what Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount, we are all workers of lawlessness. On our own, we fall short of the standard that Jesus has set for us to get into heaven. Therefore, in order for us to be anything other than workers of lawlessness, we need something else: we need Someone else. Our salvation rests on Jesus Christ alone, who fulfilled the law in whole, paid the penalty for our sins, and justified us before God through His glorious resurrection.

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