Tag Archives: Gospel

You Can Laugh, But I Believe

It is 1:27 in the morning, and I just finished preaching to the congregation in Pakistan. It was a sweet time of fellowship with brothers and sisters 10 time zones away.

This time I told Pastor Victor that I would provide to him a transcript from which I would preach so that he would be able to know exactly what I said. But that being said, having a transcript made things easier for me, too. As some of you may understand, it is not at all easy to preach through an interpreter.

So, doing the best I could with the little time I actually had – because a 10-minute sermon can take 15 minutes to translate – I preached a sermon on the Rapture. Honestly, it was a VERY SIMPLE sermon, one which was meant more to encourage the believer than convince the skeptic.

After all, how many unbelievers do you expect to show up to a Christian service in a 98% Muslim country?

I hope the following sermon transcript encourages you, too (even if you didn’t vote for Trump – LOL).


Good morning, brothers and sisters, I am so happy and honored to be worshipping with you today.

It is also my honor to have been asked by Bro Victor to preach to you each Sunday the rest of this month.

When Bro Victor asked me if I would preach each Sunday in February, I asked him what it was that he thought I should preach.

That is not something I normally do; I normally never ask another man what I should preach, only God.

But this time, because your pastor knows you better than I do, I wanted to hear what you needed or desired to hear from God’s Word.

So, today I am going to talk about something that should be an encouragement to all of us… to every Christian in every country… This morning I am going to talk to you about the Rapture of the Church.

I am going to ask Bro Victor to read to you my opening text…

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

This year in America we had a very controversial election. According to the numbers reported, this year more people voted than ever before – the most for a Republican candidate, the most for a Democrat candidate.

Unfortunately, many Americans just like myself think something was not right.

We look at the crowds President Trump had at his campaign rallies, then compare them with the tiny crowds Joe Biden had, and it’s very hard to believe that more people voted for Biden than Trump.

So, when people ask me, “Anthony, do you think the election results were manipulated?” I say, “Yes, I do.”

Now, the problem is that anyone who thinks like I do these days is laughed at and mocked. It is now being said by some people that those who voted for Trump should be sent away to re-education camps!

They even say that Trump voters are as crazy as Christians – and as dangerous – for believing in a “fairytale,” a “myth,” even a “lie.”

This should come as no surprise to us, for Jesus said that His followers would be hated by the same people that hated Him. Those who mock the name of Jesus will mock Christians, too.

But what do people think of you and me when they ask if we believe in the Rapture of the Church? Should we be surprised if they laugh at us?

Just like those of us in America who think something went wrong with the election, they will laugh at us and say, “Show us the evidence!”

But this is nothing new, for they have been saying the same thing for 2,000 years! Saint Peter wrote about these people…

2 Peter 3:3-4 – Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.

But let me tell you, dear church, that things have not always gone on the same from the day of creation. For one thing, everything changed when a Virgin gave birth to a Child and called His name Jesus!

The world went on like normal for thousands of years until the King of the Universe, the Living Word of God, became flesh!

John 1:1-2, 14 KJV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

This was the First Coming of Jesus Christ! The fact that Jesus came to earth the first time is all the evidence I need that he will return again.

For you see, for thousands and thousands of years a Messiah was promised, even as far back as the Book of Genesis when Eve rejoiced at having a man child.

Throughout the Old Testament we read of One who would be our Kinsman Redeemer, our Great Shepherd, our Fountain in the wilderness, our Rock in the storm, and the Servant who would suffer for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53).

The Messiah was promised, His birth, His life, and His death… especially His resurrection… were all prophesied, and it all happened just as we were told it would!

Acts 1:9-11 KJV – And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Did you hear that last part? This SAME JESUS shall so come!

Jesus told us that He would return. Do I believe Him? Yes, I do!

As the Apostle Paul said, one day a trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and we who are living will be caught up! We will be snatched up, like pulling a fish out of the water! We will be taken out, like pulling a cork out of a bottle!

In the blink of an eye, when the trump of the Lord shall sound, we shall be “caught up,” raptured to be with Jesus!

IF I can do nothing else this morning, dear church I want to encourage you!

You live in a world that hates you for what you believe, for you believe in grace, not works.

You believe in freedom, not slavery.

You believe that all men and women, boys and girls, are made in the image of God.

You believe that God became flesh, that Jesus died for our sins, and that He rose again.

You believe in Jesus, yet you are mocked, you are laughed at, you are hated.

But you and I have a HOPE! Our HOPE is not in our good deeds.

Our HOPE is not in how many times we pray or in what direction we pray.

Our HOPE is in Jesus! Our HOPE IS Jesus!

And one day, whether we live or die, one day He will receive us unto Himself!

Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to encourage the church at Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Some people are full of sorrow and fear because they don’t know where they will go when they die, but you know! You have hope in Jesus!

1 Thessalonians 4:14-15 – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

You see, Paul was trying to encourage the Church, for many thought that those who had already died would never see the return of Jesus. But Paul said that not even death would prevent the Christian from receiving a resurrected body!

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Did you hear that? Those are the words of COMFORT! That is TRULY encouraging! One day, we don’t know when, but one day a trumpet is going to sound…

Do you believe that?

One day the Lord Jesus is going to descend from heaven with a shout! Do you believe that?

One day we will be caught up, taken out of this world, and given a new body fit for eternity in heaven!! Do you believe that?

Then, church, be COMFORTED WITH THESE WORDS! HALLELUJAH!

Do I believe that Jesus is coming again? Yes, I do.

Do I believe that at any moment a trumpet could sound and I could be raptured out of this world to be with Jesus? Yes, I do!

And why do I believe that? Because God keeps His promises! If Jesus came the first time as promised, then I believe He will come again just as He promised.

The only thing is that none of us knows when, so we must always be ready to meet Him.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? Are you ready to meet God?

Please be sure you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, dear friend. For if the trumpet doesn’t sound, we are also promised something else, that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgement (Heb. 9:27).

You could die today, even before the rapture, and you want to know your soul is right with God.

Brother Victor, I will now give the service back to you.

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Christmas IS the Gospel

This month will see a lot of Christmas sermons preached, and if you actually go to church somewhere, you might actually get to hear some 😉

But if you aren’t planning on attending any church services this December, or if you just can’t get enough of sermons on the subject of Christmas, I would encourage you to listen to the one I’m attaching below.

Several years ago (2012) while pastoring at another church, I delivered a sermon entitled “Christmas Is the Gospel.” It was recorded on my iPhone that was sitting on the pulpit, so don’t expect too high a quality of production.

Why did the angels tell the shepherds what they are about to hear was “good tidings”? Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of Luke, chapter two, and follow along.

Listen: Christmas IS the Gospel

And remember, “sharing” is caring 🙂

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Filed under Christmas, God, Preaching, salvation

Controversial Tuesday: A White Man Speaks

It’s Controversial

Just think about where we are right now… It’s controversial for a white man, a Caucasian, a human with less melanin in his skin to speak out about almost anything, especially issues revolving around the very color that makes him controversial.

It’s controversial to say that “all lives matter.” It’s controversial to ask why there’s no “white national anthem” to be played at professional ball games. It’s controversial to even suggest that law and order should be maintained instead of rioting being the common response to anything … well, … controversial.

But even the word “controversial” is controversial, now that I think about it. It carries with it the idea of public disagreement and disputation. Yet, what is the common reaction to anything disagreeable or worthy of dispute? Conversation? Deliberation? Compromise? Debate?

No. If you dislike something or someone, the new normal is to riot, burn and break things, and kill cops in cold blood.

But I guess just suggesting that is controversial is controversial. Welcome to “Controversial Tuesday”!

Controversial Fear

So, now that we’ve open the floodgates of controversialness, let me dive into the rushing tide and try to stay alive amidst the foaming white (no offense) waves (because there aren’t black waves, even if I wanted to be politically correct).

As you are aware, the wisest people in the world act and play games for a living. One such game player, LeBron James, recently made a statement that was shared on ESPN’s Twitter feed.

If you can’t see the words in the link I shared above, Mr. James said: “We are scared as Black people in America. … Black men, Black women, Black kids. We are terrified.

OK, so let’s discuss it (like sane people are supposed to do). 

Why are people of color, specifically “Black” people, scared? From what I understand, the men, women, and kids are afraid of the police, right? Because all police are racists and can’t get enough of black men’s blood, right? That is the narrative the media is telling us, correct?

But here’s a bit of a news flash to which the African-American community should pay attention: A lot of white people are afraid of black people! Oh, and here’s something else…. because of the regular reinforcement of “black power” stereotypes, they have every logical reason to be! Add to that the senseless violence that has been perpetrated on white people and police in the name of “Black Lives Matter,” and what are white people supposed to think?

As a matter of fact, let’s look at where we are when considering the potential for incurring personal, bodily harm.

  • A black man or woman might be afraid that a policeman stopping them could lead to a misunderstanding, racial profiling, excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, false charges leading prison sentences, or maybe even death by asphyxiation or gunshot.
  • A white police officer now has to assume that any approaching black man could shoot him in the face for no apparent reason other than hate.
  • A black man or woman can wear garments featuring any and every anti-American, pro-revolutionary, Marxist, racially-provocative, or even blatantly racist image or statement without fear of being questioned due to the overwhelming intimidation factor BLM support has garnered in the media.
  • A white man, woman, boy, girl, or even toddler risks having eggs thrown at her head, drinks poured over them, being mercilessly beaten in the street, or simply shot for nothing more than wearing an American flag or MAGA hat.

So, who’s afraid, LeBron?

Fearing the Answer

What’s the answer to all this? How do we step back from all the violence on the streets? How do we restore a sense of peace that doesn’t assume danger anytime someone of a different skin color approaches us?

Well, random violence and killing police officers in cold blood is not the way to win an argument. Face it, people … black lives matter, but that’s because ALL lives have inherent value being that we are made in the image of God. Killing non-black lives in order to raise awareness that black lives matter is a failed strategy doomed to reap the opposite result.

But the real answer to the violence will probably require more than many are willing to sacrifice. It will require vulnerability, humility, and love. That’s terrifying.

Here’s the real answer: Forgive. 

If you truly want peace, no profiling, no baseless assumptions, and our children growing up colorblind (like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted), then we are going to have to forget vengeance and seeking reparations; we are going to have to start with a new baseline: FORGIVENESS.

Right now we are headed in the direction of chaos, lawlessness, and a never-ending cycle of revenge and death. Ultimately, it will end, but how that will happen should be what truly scares us.

On the one hand, the very thing that the political Left accuses President Trump of wanting will actually come to fruition: tyranny. You see, at some point those in power will have to do what Rome did in order to stamp down insurrections… kill on sight. There will be no more trial by jury, just peace at the edge of the sword.

Think Tiananmen Square, or Russian “peacekeepers.” For example, when the Spetsnaz rolled into Moldova to restore peace after protests had broken out (I was 90 miles away when this happened), they didn’t use rubber bullets.

On the other hand, there is the example of the Waorani tribe in Ecuador (the “Auca” Indians whom Elizabeth Elliot reached with the gospel after they murdered her husband). At one point it was determined that every single man in the tribe who had died had died by the spear. Usually, it was as the result of revenge.

You see, the Waorani culture had been locked in a centuries-old cycle of revenge killing that, according to some, resulted in every death being a homicide, not natural causes or old age. Yet, when they were introduced to the love of Christ, exhibited by the forgiveness Elizabeth Elliot, the cycle was broken!

(See: “Through Gates of Splendor” and “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”)

My advice to LeBron is to clear the court and start a new game: Forgive. 

I’ve spoken. I just hope somebody listens.

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Is There Really a “Universal” Gospel?

The following is an outline (nothing but an outline) that I prepared to preach one Sunday several years ago. I found it while searching through some documents on my computer and felt led to share it with you. Feel free to use it, if that’s what you do. Other than that, maybe you could use it as a study tool. 

Maybe I’ll share it with the folk at Bethlehem Baptist one day 🙂 


“Examining the Universality of the Gospel”

I.   Introduction

Luke 2:9-10. Is the Gospel good news for all people?

The word “people” was “pointing specially to the people of Israel.”

II.  What does it mean to be universal?

The term universal is described by one dictionary as an “adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.”

III. What is the Gospel?

Dictionary Definition:

The gospel is the The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Act 15:7; 20:24; 1Pe 4:17.[3]

Paul’s Definition: In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul makes it very clear that the gospel is simple, not complicated, and consists of two central features:

  • Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and
  • He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.[4]

IV. Objections and False Gospels  Some object to a Universal Gospel because race, culture, past experiences, etc.

  1. From those who have been hurt or don’t understand. “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?”[5] – Chief Red Jacket, 1805, in a speech to the Six Nations and an American missionary, Mr. Cram.
  2. The Jews. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts, for instance, we read how that Peter, when he went to Jerusalem, “contended” with the Jews over the issue of the gospel being presented to the Gentiles. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul mentioned those who forbade him to “speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.”
  3. Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly not a gospel that expects “blessing and favor” as evidence of God’s grace.

V.   A Gospel that IS Universal

  • Not limited by race, gender, age, nationality, boundary of any kind, or economic status. It is truly “good news” to anyone and everyone as long as they first realize they have a need for it.
  • Meet the most basic needs of Humanity.
  1. Sin. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of Adam, sin entered the world, and death by sin; therefore death has passed as a consequence upon all men (Rom. 5:12). Jesus Christ died for the sins of all, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
  2. The gospel is universal because it addresses the world we all live in. It answers the questions of pain and suffering. It gives meaning to the struggles of life. The gospel is not a drug or panacea of some sort; it is a reality pill.
  3. Love and Compassion. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe they are starved for bread in Africa. You are starved for love in the United States.”[6] What greater message of love can one share than that of the gospel of Jesus? “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

 VI. Conclusion  The gospel that is truly universal in its scope and application.

  1. All men are born in sin – Romans 5:12
  2. There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  3. All have sinned – Romans 3:23

But…

  1. Jesus is the only Way – John 14:6
  2. One day ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess – Phil. 2:10-11

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 KJV

A message of love to every “creature” (κτίσις , εως f creation, what is created, created order, creature [7]) – how much more “universal” can a gospel get?

 

 

 

[1] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), Lk 2:10.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[3] W. E. Vine, “Gospel (Noun and Verb: to Preach)”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 3 Dec 2012.

[4] Donny Mathis, “Gospel” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 671.

[5] Bryan, William Jennings, ed. The World’s Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906; New York: Bartleby.com, 2003. www.bartleby.com/268/. [Accessed Dec. 2, 2012].

[6] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986), 257.

[7] Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 104.

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The Light Beckons

Image may contain: indoor

As I was walking through the darkened auditorium of our church, I saw the light beaming in through the stained glass. I couldn’t help but be impacted by the profound truth I was seeing, that there was no light inside these walls; the light was outside.

***********

For so long we’ve known it, we’ve taught and preached it, but where God wants his Light to be seen is outside, in the world, where Hope is needed. Yet, it took an “act of God” to get us out of our hallowed walls and out where we’ve been needed.

So, for now, the lights inside are off and the pews are empty. God, the Great Teacher, has taken us on a field trip. He’s causing us to regain or acquire a better perspective and understanding of what matters, what is needed, and what it truly means to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Because, if you haven’t noticed, we’re all in this together.

Will the real Church now stand up and walk in the Light, as He is in the light?


Image may contain: sky, tree, house, outdoor and text

 

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Tips for Beautiful Feet

My Bare Feet

Alicia, our oldest daughter, commented on Facebook to a lady in our church, “That’s a confident man posting pictures of his feet!!!!” And she’s correct.

There are other aspects of my body image of which I’m not too proud. For example, before I cringed at the weight blinking at me on my new scale, I had to lean over the energy reserve I’ve accumulated over many years.

But when it comes to my feet, even my lovely wife and daughters are jealous. I’m not even joking. They have to worry about callouses, the hair on their toes, missing toenails (due to a tractor accident), and whether or not the color of the polish matches their shoes.

My feet are just beautiful (handsome) the way they are. I don’t even need to keep them moisturized; they’re naturally baby-soft.

Beauty Tips

But if you are the type that needs special help to keep your feet looking beautiful, here are four simple beauty tips that will keep the podiatrist away:

  1. Soak them periodically. Not too long, or they will end up dry and cracked.
  2. Exfoliate once a week. Remove dead skin cells with abrasives.
  3. Wear proper shoes. Improper shoes contribute to body aches and sore feet.
  4. Don’t walk in the dark without a flashlight. A badly-stumped toe can not only ruin your day but lead to life-long issues.

Some people aren’t blessed with naturally healthy, attractive, baby-soft feet, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to achieve beautiful results.

Preaching Feet

Some of you could care less about your feet. You probably don’t even care if they stink, have nails poking through your socks, or leave painful abrasions on your spouse in the middle of the night.

But what about preachers? Are you a preacher? If you are a Christian, and if you are one that cares about telling others about Jesus, then yes, you are! What does Scripture say about your feet?

“… as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:15b

If you are preaching the gospel, sharing your faith with the lost, your feet are already beautiful! “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings . . . that sayeth unto Zion, ‘Thy God reigneth!'” (Isaiah 52:7).

However, when you walk around a lot, especially in this world, your feet will need some attention in order to stay beautiful. Here are four simple beauty tips that will keep you in tippytoe-top shape for tiding telling.

  1. Soak them periodically.
    [When thou saidst], Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. – Psa. 27:8
    My heart heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” – NLT
  2. Exfoliate once a week.
    Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psa. 57:1
  3. Wear the proper shoes.
    And [have] your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; – Eph. 6:15
  4. Don’t walk in the dark without a light.
    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. – Psa. 119:105

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'I toed you so.'Just remember, lots of people are counting on you being able to get around. Those longing for the Good News will think even the most unattractive feet are beautiful when you “bring glad tidings of good things.”

But if you don’t take advantage of the above beauty tips, not only will you feel self-conscious and shy, but your mistreated, crusty, aching, bruised feet will keep you at home when you should “go tell it on the mountain.”

Don’t be pedi-ful. Be beautiful!


Note: Middle-aged foot model looking for work. Goes by the professional name of Arch Healy.

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Christmas IS the Gospel

This month will see a lot of Christmas sermons preached, and if you actually go to church somewhere, you might actually get to hear some 😉

But if you aren’t planning on attending any church services this December, or if you just can’t get enough of sermons on the subject of Christmas, I would encourage you to listen to the one I’m attaching below.

Several years ago (2012) while pastoring at another church, I delivered a sermon entitled “Christmas Is the Gospel.” It was recorded on my iPhone that was sitting on the pulpit, so don’t expect too high a quality of production.

Why did the angels tell the shepherds what they are about to hear was “good tidings”? Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of Luke, chapter two, and follow along.

Listen: Christmas IS the Gospel

And remember, “sharing” is caring 🙂

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Filed under Christmas, God, Preaching, salvation

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings!

Ringgold, Georgia

Did you know that Ringgold, GA is the “Wedding Capital of the South”? Well, it is, and that’s because hundreds and hundreds of couples get married there every year.

And where do many, if not most of them choose to tie the knot? The Ringgold Wedding Chapel. Go check out their website and read about its history, including some of the more famous names who’ve gotten married there (Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Bob Harvey from Jefferson Airplane, etc.).

Anyway, I’ve been conducting weddings at the Ringgold Wedding Chapel for a few weeks, now. It’s been interesting, to say the least. 🙂

A Ministry

Some of you may think me crazy, or even a heretic, for agreeing to marry people in a wedding chapel. Believe me, I get it. There used to be a day when I wouldn’t do a wedding for anyone unless they first agreed to extended pre-marital counseling. Now, I marry people the same hour I meet them.

But why do I do it? You see, the people that come into the chapel to get married don’t just walk in and say, “Marry me!” No, they have to book the chapel and pay a fee, plus have all their paperwork in order. However, those that want to get married could just as easily go to a courthouse, but they don’t; they choose to be married by a minister.

If these couples are going to get married somewhere, no matter what, I figured why not seize the opportunity to present the Gospel to them through a ceremony that highlighted a biblical model of marriage? It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s a chance to plant a seed, if nothing else.

So, I wanted to share with you guys my wedding script. It’s what I read for each and every wedding, making adjustments as needed, sometimes adding more when appropriate. When the service is over, I give the couple the script I used (with their names written in the blanks) for a keepsake, Scripture references and all.

Wedding Ceremony

The Greeting

   Greetings, everyone! My name is Rev. Anthony Baker, and on behalf of __________________ and ________________, I would like to welcome you to this wonderful occasion.

   We are gathered together here, today, in the sight of God and all you witnesses, to join this man and this woman together in holy matrimony. It is holy because marriage was not invented in a court room or a judge’s chamber, but in ages past by God Himself. Therefore, it should not be taken lightly, but should be entered into reverently, advisedly, and in the fear of God.

   He is watching, and He will never forget the vows you two will be exchanging. And, not to leave anyone out, God also knows every one of you here as witnesses, and He will know whether or not you encourage and support this couple in the days and years to come.

   To Bride: ______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Answer: “I am.”

   To Groom: _______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Ans.: “I am.”

The Giving of the Bride (optional)

   Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Response: “I do,” “We do,” “Her mother and I do.”

Prayer

   Father in Heaven, Creator of all things, we thank you this day for your mercy and grace and for giving us the wonderful gift of marriage. Lord, please bless us with Your presence, bless the union of this bride and groom, and be glorified by all that is said and done today. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen!

Statement of Marriage

   As I mentioned before, marriage was not created by men, nor was it ordained in a courtroom; marriage was created by God Himself. We know this from reading the second chapter of Genesis. There, God created Adam, then Eve, and brought her to the man. Adam then said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Genesis 2:24 reads: “This is why a man shall leave his father and mother and bond with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

   Marriage is the institution in which God ordains a man and a woman to come together in love, with undying commitment, as a testimony to others of God’s love for us.

   When times get hard, you don’t run away, throw in the towel, and say, “I quit!” Why? Because Jesus, as our example, said to His disciples, “I will never leave you” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). As a further example to us, even after all we did to Him, after all He went through, He still carried the cross – He gave His all.

   Marriage is more than a 50/50 relationship; it’s 100% both ways. But even when one of you doesn’t live up to the other’s expectations – it will happen  – true love carries the extra burden, forgives, shows mercy and grace. That is one reason why the apostle Paul tells us in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). The sacrificial love of Jesus was to be mirrored in the marriage relationship. To sum it up, Paul went on to say in verse 33: “…each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

   _______________ and _______________, the greatest love of all, the truest love of all, is not a love that demands of each other, or expects of each other, but gives all that one has without any expectations. 1 John 4:10 (NLT) says, “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Therefore, the greatest advice I can give is if you want a long-lasting, wonderful marriage, love each other more than yourself, for loving each other IS loving yourself.

The Vows

   _______________  and ______________, now that you understand something of the reason for marriage, are you ready now to confirm your commitment to each other, before God and these witnesses, by the saying of your vows?  Response: “We are.”

   Then please turn to each other and join hands.

   _______________ (groom), in taking ______________ to be your wife, do you so promise to honor, to love, and to cherish her in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you?  Groom responds: “I do.”

   _______________ (bride), in taking ______________ to be your husband, do you so promise to honor, to love, and cherish him in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you?  Bride responds: “I do.”

Do you have rings?

The Exchange of Rings

   You will now seal your vows “to honor, to love, and to cherish” by the giving and receiving of rings. I would like for you to look at your rings for just a moment. What you see is symbolic of two things. First, of course your rings are round. That symbolizes something that is never ending, a union that cannot be broken, and that is what your marriage should be.

   But secondly, I would like for you to think about the precious metal that these rings are made of. The metal is precious because it was hard to find and what it endured to become what you will wear. The metal in these rings went through a furnace, through testing, through times of purifying. Your marriage will also have times of trials and tribulation, times when you’ll be put through the fire. And when those times come, look at those rings you will be wearing and remember this: The longer you stay together, the more fires you endure, the more precious your marriage to each other will be.

  _______________ (groom), place the ring on ___________’s finger and repeat after me:

   Groom: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded wife to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”

   ________________(bride), place the ring on _____________’s finger and repeat after me:

   Bride: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded husband to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”

Prayer

   Gracious Father, we thank you for creating us in your image so that we might know You and what true love is. Through your power and blessing we ask You to enable these two to keep their vows and be renewed daily in their love and commitment to each other. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony (Optional)

The Pronouncement

   _______________ and ______________, we have witnessed the pledging of your love and commitment to each other, and the sealing of your vows by the exchanging of rings. Thereby, under the authority of God’s Word, and in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife!

_____________ (groom), you may kiss your bride.

Introduction of Newlyweds:  I now present to you Mr. & Mrs. ______________________.

 

Officiated by: Rev. Anthony C. Baker, M.Min.

So, what do you think of my wedding script? Feel free to use it if you want.

What do you think of sharing the Gospel in this way?

Would you word anything differently?

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, ministry, places, Struggles and Trials

A Universal Gospel?

The following is an outline (nothing but an outline) that I prepared to preach one Sunday several years ago. I found it while searching through some documents on my computer and felt led to share it with you. Feel free to use it, if you’d like.

Happy Monday!


“Examining the Universality of the Gospel”

I.   Introduction

Luke 2:9-10. Is the Gospel good news for all people?

The word “people” was “pointing specially to the people of Israel.”

II.  What does it mean to be universal?

The term universal is described by one dictionary as an “adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.”

III. What is the Gospel?

Dictionary Definition:

The gospel is the The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Act 15:7; 20:24; 1Pe 4:17.[3]

Paul’s Definition: In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul makes it very clear that the gospel is simple, not complicated, and consists of two central features:

  • Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and
  • He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.[4]

IV. Objections and False Gospels  Some object to a Universal Gospel because race, culture, past experiences, etc.

  1. From those who have been hurt or don’t understand. “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?”[5] – Chief Red Jacket, 1805, in a speech to the Six Nations and an American missionary, Mr. Cram.
  2. The Jews. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts, for instance, we read how that Peter, when he went to Jerusalem, “contended” with the Jews over the issue of the gospel being presented to the Gentiles. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul mentioned those who forbade him to “speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.”
  3. Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly not a gospel that expects “blessing and favor” as evidence of God’s grace.

V.   A Gospel that IS Universal

  • Not limited by race, gender, age, nationality, boundary of any kind, or economic status. It is truly “good news” to anyone and everyone as long as they first realize they have a need for it.
  • Meet the most basic needs of Humanity.
  1. Sin. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of Adam, sin entered the world, and death by sin; therefore death has passed as a consequence upon all men (Rom. 5:12). Jesus Christ died for the sins of all, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
  2. The gospel is universal because it addresses the world we all live in. It answers the questions of pain and suffering. It gives meaning to the struggles of life. The gospel is not a drug or panacea of some sort; it is a reality pill.
  3. Love and Compassion. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe they are starved for bread in Africa. You are starved for love in the United States.”[6] What greater message of love can one share than that of the gospel of Jesus? “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

 VI. Conclusion  The gospel that is truly universal in its scope and application.

  1. All men are born in sin – Romans 5:12
  2. There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  3. All have sinned – Romans 3:23

But…

  1. Jesus is the only Way – John 14:6
  2. One day ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess – Phil. 2:10-11

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 KJV

A message of love to every “creature” (κτίσις , εως f creation, what is created, created order, creature [7]) – how much more “universal” can a gospel get?

 

 

 

[1] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), Lk 2:10.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[3] W. E. Vine, “Gospel (Noun and Verb: to Preach)”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 3 Dec 2012.

[4] Donny Mathis, “Gospel” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 671.

[5] Bryan, William Jennings, ed. The World’s Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906; New York: Bartleby.com, 2003. www.bartleby.com/268/. [Accessed Dec. 2, 2012].

[6] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986), 257.

[7] Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 104.

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Pick-n-Grin Commercial

Below is a video I just made. I made it in order to invite people over to the front porch of our parsonage (the place where the pastor of a church lives – that’s me).

I’d love for it to become a reoccurring event.

So, if you are in the Chattanooga, TN area next Friday, June 1st, come on by  – and bring your geetar

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