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A Child of God

We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.
— Psalm 75:1

As we gather to worship our God this morning, I want to encourage you to recount God’s wondrous deeds as an act of worship. What has God done for you this year, month, or week? Let us spend some time and list them below:

  1. _________________________________________

  2. _________________________________________

  3. _________________________________________

If you are having a difficult time coming up with a list, examine the following promises of God: 

As a child of God, I am…

  1. Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)

  2. God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2)

  3. Loved (John 3)

  4. Chosen (Colossians 3)

  5. Rescued and bought at a great price (1 Corinthians 6)

  6. Forgiven (Colossians 1:14)

  7. A new creation (2 Corinthians 5)

  8. Free from condemnation (Romans 8)

  9. A temple where God lives (2 Corinthians 6)

  10. A citizen of heaven (Philippians 3)

As children of God, let us proclaim what God has done and sing praises to the God of Jacob (Psalm 75:9).

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Unforgivable Sin?

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. —1 Peter 5:7

Jarrid Wilson, a well-known church leader, author, and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening after openly blogging about his struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. Ironically, Wilson’s death came on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide rates have  been increasing in the United States for the past ten years. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the suicide rate at one death every forty seconds. Some church leaders teach that suicide is an unforgivable sin. Suicide is mentioned the following six times in the Bible: 1. Abimelech (Judges 9:50–57); 2. Samson (Judges 16:28–30); 3. Saul (1 Samuel 31:1–6); 4. Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23); 5. Zimri (1 Kings 16:18–19); and 6. Judas Iscariot (Matthew  27:5). As indicated here, the Bible is silent on the subject of suicide as sin. Although it has been thought that the impetus of suicide is due to a lack of hope and purpose in life, Scripture is clear that believers have a living hope in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3) and purpose in life (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, a recent LifeWay Research study found that 48% of evangelical Christians believe that mental illness can be cured by praying and reading the Bible (2013). Suicide, however, is a much deeper issue than a lack of hope and dreams; depression, anxiety, and mental illness often lead to suicide. In addition to praying, mental health illness requires professional help. The Well Church, as we mourn the death of another prominent Christian leader, let us remember that although suicide is not an unforgivable sin, and it is never the will of God, mental illness is real. Let us pray for those you know who are suffering from mental illness and encourage them to get the best medical help and personal support.

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Resurrection Power

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”  - Psalm 22:1

When Jesus was dying on the cross he cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). One commentator remarks, “Psalm 22 stands out as perhaps the clearest and most compelling picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the Old Testament. As Charles Spurgeon said, ‘This is beyond all others The Psalm of the Cross.’” (Johnston, 2015). The cross of Jesus Christ represents the greatest suffering in history. Jesus experienced not only physical pain but also God’s wrath by taking our sins. As he was dying on the cross, Jesus was not only crying out to God in pain, but also remembering the last words of the Psalm 22. Psalm 22:21-31 is a song of praise and victory. The psalmist cries, “Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” (Psalm 22:21). The literal translation of “you have rescued me” is “you have heard me!” He knew in his heart and soul that God has heard his cry. Jesus understood the purpose of the cross and he endured the cross for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2). The joy of our salvation! 

The Well Church, as we partake in Holy Communion today, let us remember Jesus and proclaim his saving death on the cross. Let us remember the resurrection power and place our trust in what matters most. 

Soli Deo Gloria!


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One

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! —Psalm 133:1

What does it mean to dwell in unity? It certainly means more than people living close together. People who live in an apartment building live close together, but most of them would probably not describe their living situation as “good and pleasant.” What did David mean here? Psalm 133 is one of the fifteen Songs of Ascents and celebrates Israel as an authentic community that worships God. The songs remind Israel that when they are one in heart and purpose, they will experience perfect peace (shalom). This should be the goal for the church as well. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer from John 17, Jesus prays ”that they [all believers] may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (17:21-23). 

The Well Church, this needs to be our goal — to become perfectly one. How can we become perfectly one? It can happen only when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. The reason why we gather each Sunday is to declare that we are one in Jesus Christ. And when we gather and worship God in unity, the world will not only know that God sent Jesus Christ to save us, but also that He loves us. As we worship God this morning, let us proclaim to the world about our Lord Jesus Christ by reaffirming our faith in Him, remembering God’s love for us, and worshipping Him in spirit and truth with one heart and one voice in perfect unity. May you see how good and pleasant it is to worship in unity. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Doubt

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
— Proverbs 17:27

Words are powerful — whether you use them to proclaim faith or renounce it. Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Once you post something on social media, you cannot delete the post. Only a week after Joshua Harris renounced his faith, Marty Sampson, a songwriter for Hillsongs who wrote many songs that we sing at church, has declared on social media, “I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. Like, what bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy.” He continues, “[Christianity] is not for me. I am not in any more.” Needless to say, there has been a lot of backlash concerning the latest celebrity Christian fallen from grace. After deleting his post, Sampson clarified that he had not renounced his faith but is on “incredibly shaky ground.” As a believer, there were times in my life when I doubted my faith. Doubt, however, is not the absence of faith — doubt is the questioning of faith. One can only doubt when one believes. Author Os Guinness explains, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is. Doubt does not necessarily or automatically mean the end of faith, for doubt is faith in two minds. What destroys faith is the disobedience that hardens into unbelief.” Doubt is not necessarily bad, it can help us to grow in faith. So, was Sampson doubting or renouncing? Only he and God know the motivation of his heart but his words say it all: “I am not in any more.” Despite his efforts to cleanup his mess, he has clearly renounced his faith. The Well Church, let us be wise with our words. As we follow Christ, let us remember that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Let us not look at our accomplishments, but let us look at Christ’s accomplishments — his life, death, and resurrection — and believe.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:9, NLT). 

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Are you in?

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
— Proverbs 17:27

Words are powerful — whether you use them to proclaim faith or renounce it. Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Once you post something on social media, you cannot delete the post. Only a week after Joshua Harris renounced his faith, Marty Sampson, a songwriter for Hillsongs who wrote many songs that we sing at church, has declared on social media, “I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. Like, what bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy.” He continues, “[Christianity] is not for me. I am not in any more.” Needless to say, there has been a lot of backlash concerning the latest celebrity Christian fallen from grace. After deleting his post, Sampson clarified that he had not renounced his faith but is on “incredibly shaky ground.” As a believer, there were times in my life when I doubted my faith. Doubt, however, is not the absence of faith — doubt is the questioning of faith. One can only doubt when one believes. Author Os Guinness explains, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is. Doubt does not necessarily or automatically mean the end of faith, for doubt is faith in two minds. What destroys faith is the disobedience that hardens into unbelief.” Doubt is not necessarily bad, it can help us to grow in faith. So, was Sampson doubting or renouncing? Only he and God know the motivation of his heart but his words say it all: “I am not in any more.” Despite his efforts to cleanup his mess, he has clearly renounced his faith. The Well Church, let us be wise with our words. As we follow Christ, let us remember that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Let us not look at our accomplishments, but let us look at Christ’s accomplishments — his life, death, and resurrection — and believe.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:9, NLT). 

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Solo Christianity

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Solo Christianity

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. — Hebrews 3:12-14

Can you walk with God without other believers? “Solo Christianity” is a growing segment in America and many churches are working hard to accommodate them. In a recent study by LifeWay Research (August 2019), sixty-five percent of Protestant churchgoers say that they can walk with God alone. This view somewhat reveals America’s strong individualism. Whether believers or not, Americans do not want to admit that they cannot do things ALONE. The internet is full of DIY and self-help videos. Prayer and bible study are moving away from groups and into private Quiet Times. Interestingly, the same research finds that seventy-five percent of Protestants say they need other believers to help them grow in their walk with God. These two statements are contradictory. This study indicates that the cause of this contradiction comes from the lack of discipleship in churches. “The ‘needing, yet not needing’ responses demonstrate an internal turmoil of individuals desiring community, but not seeing the church as the place to have those needs met” (LifeWay Research). Biblically speaking, Solo Christianity cannot exist. By quoting Hebrews 3:12-14, John Piper says, “Christian fellowship is a means of perseverance in faith.” In other words, WE NEED EACH OTHER. The Well Church, what about you? Do you believe that you need your church community to grow in your walk with God? How are you helping others to grow? We need to be true friends with one another. One practical way to be a true friend is to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrew 3:13). 

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I can't believe the news today...

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—Romans 8:28-9

Joshua Harris, former megachurch pastor and author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” shocked the evangelical world this week by not only announcing on social media his divorce from his wife of twenty years, but also his divorce from Christianity. Harris said, “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is deconstruction, the biblical phrase is falling away. By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” What happened? Harris is not the first famous Christian to renounce Christianity, nor will he be the last. One theological question that comes up in situations like this is “Can believers lose their faith?” The biblical answer is NO. The Bible is clear that no one can lose their salvation. R.C. Sproul said, “True Christians can have radical and serious falls but never total and final falls from grace.” In other words, if those who fall were genuinely Christian, they will eventually turn from their sin and repent. Who are genuine Christians? Making an outward profession is not the same as being a Christian. Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). If there is no repentance from a fallen “believer,” then let us remember 1 John 2:19 — “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Are you born again? Be confident that to those who have been born again, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39b). As we affirm our faith in Jesus Christ, let us pray for Joshua Harris and all who are impacted by him. Let us pray for those who we personally know that have fallen from grace.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

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