Living Hope in Christ

The powerful truth of believers’ eternal, living HOPE IN CHRIST is prominent throughout the letter of 1 Peter:
“…he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1:3)
“…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  (1:13)

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (3:15)


Not only is this living hope the blessed privilege of every child of God, but it is intended by God to arouse the curiosity of unbelievers, who sadly have no such hope.


With this in mind, let me encourage you to seize the opportunities of this Easter season to speak to your non-Christian friends and family about the hope found only in Jesus Christ.  In particular, this coming Lord’s Day is a great opportunity to invite them to gather with us for Corporate Worship.  I’m planning to preach from Acts 5:27-32, a passage that says much about the courageous hope that is found in our living Lord and Savior.  We also have a number of printed materials that are helpful evangelistic resources, and these will be available for your use this Sunday as well.


As we grow in the knowledge and assurance of our hope in Christ, may we be all the more faithful in sharing the truth of the Gospel with those who yet live in hopelessness.


Rejoicing in Him with you,


Our True Hope

Is there any hope in the new pope?  Short answer:  NOPE!  (too cutesy I know, but it does rhyme, along with a few other key words…)


As the world gawks and gloats over the man in the funny white hat, there’s nothing funny about the false religious system he presides over, nor the destructive false hope that Roman Catholicism propagates.  We must ever be crystal clear about the true hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, declared in God’s authoritative word.  Such clarity is necessary for our own souls, and for those we’re called to evangelize.  Contrary to the thinking of many Christians, all that’s “Catholic” is often not Biblical – particularly regarding the central issue of how sinful, unrighteous people can be reconciled to a holy, righteous God.  Thus Christians need to be biblically discerning of the errors of Roman Catholicism, and humbly winsome and wise as we talk with those ensnared in its clutches (see 2 Tim. 2:24-26; 1 Pet. 3:15-16.)


Pastor John MacArthur’s opening sermon at the recent Shepherds’ Conference provides an excellent exposition of John 3:1-12.  This passage reveals how Jesus carries out the work of evangelism (an example we should follow), and how it is that a sinner can be reconciled to God (including self-righteous, spiritually dead religious leaders…like the pope.)


Additionally, Pastor Steve has written a couple of helpful blogposts, providing biblical perspective about the new pope:   Humble Popes Don’t Exist, and  Alleviating the Protestant Inferiority Complex.


Beloved, these are treacherous, yet exciting times in which we live.  May we be all the more bold, compassionate, and faithful in making a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15), that others may come to know this true hope as well.


Until He comes,


Rejoicing and Weeping, Together

Thank you to all who prayed for the Lord’s provision and work during the Shepherds’ Conference last week.  It was a rich and refreshing time, being challenged, encouraged, convicted, and strengthened by God through His Word.  There was also much great fellowship with friends new and old – marvelous to see and hear some of how Christ is building His church throughout the world.  Audio of all the general and seminar sessions is available on the SC website – I would encourage you to nourish your soul by taking advantage of these resources!


After returning from the SC last weekend, I was reminded again of the privilege we have as God’s people to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  (Rom. 12:15)  Rejoicing on Saturday with the Meister’s and the birth of Abigail; and on the same day weeping with the Fernandez family, as I had opportunity to visit Steve (he is continuing to decline, but also continuing to exalt Christ.)  Weeping also with my wife regarding the recent death of a longtime childhood friend of hers, and also rejoicing with many in our church family who have received special answers to prayer.


Indeed, in the Lord’s design, we are frequently both rejoicing and weeping at the same time, and sharing this with one another.  Interwoven with many other aspects of loving one another (see Rom. 12:1-21), this is a great means by which Christ works through us to magnify Himself.


So keep loving and caring for one another in this way, beloved!  In so doing, may we be all the more stirred up to faithfully “…proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  (1 Pet. 2:9)


Grace upon grace,


Prayer for the Shepherd’s Conference

As many of you know, the annual Shepherds’ Conference takes place this week at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles.  It begins on Wednesday morning, and concludes Friday evening.  Myself, Chuck Meadows, and Gary Francisco will be joining about 3497 other men from around the world for this unique opportunity.  Through numerous general and seminar sessions (see the schedule here) the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) will be caring for our souls through His Word, in the power of His Spirit, and within the rich interaction that all present will have with one another.  In so doing, He’ll be all the more equipping us to faithfully minister when we return to the families, churches, and communities in which He has sovereignly placed us.


So please be in prayer that God would indeed use this time in great ways for the glory of His name, the building of His Church, the advancement of the Gospel, and the joy of all people.  Pray that it would not only be a refreshing and transforming time for all present, but that any blessing we receive would have a continual ripple effect on countless people through us for the sake of Christ.


All of you will be on my heart and in my prayers, with much gratitude to God for the privilege sharing life in Christ with you, and proclaiming the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) among you.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (Eph. 3:20-21, ESV)