The Normal Christian Birth

(1/21/18) – Medical science informs us that the events surrounding a baby’s birth is a key factor in a child’s development. A long, drawn out, painful and complicated birth can have a lasting negative impact and that is why it is vital that much attention is given to provide a safe, healthy process and environment for a baby. When it comes to spiritual birth into the kingdom of God, how can we make sure the new baby is off to a good start in its new life in Christ? What does a NORMAL Christian birth look like? If we could standardize the process, what things would we put in place?

Why Did You Start King’s Church?

I received an email today asking me about why I started King’s Church, especially knowing it would be a very small start up situation. I will edit some of what they wrote so that they are not identified in any way, but they are wondering about their own situation and whether or not a new Church should be started near them.

They wrote: You mentioned (in a Dividing Line teaching) that King’s Church began in your home. I am wondering if you have any link to a testimony you have given as to why King’s Church began in your home. Was there a need for it? A church plant from another church?

My Response:

Hi —–,

No, I don’t have a link to any testimony regarding starting King’s Church.

Need? Well there is always the need for sound, biblical churches in any locality, and of course, there is biblical precedent for a church to meet in a house (Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15), but the reason King’s Church started was just a burning and lasting conviction (for more than a year) that this is what I should do. In a nutshell, I felt starting the Church was “the call of God” on my life.

It is vital that this is in place in the heart and mind of the pastor. I cannot stress that enough. If the man can live his life without doing this, he should not start the Church.

There is no doubt the enemy will not leave a biblically sound church alone but will seek its destruction for sure. That is true, no matter what the size, but a small church starting can easily be hit by even a few people leaving. The winds and waves can be strong and even severe at times. There needs to be a long term commitment from the pastor that this is his life’s work – he is not there to merely “try” this, or to see if it works… he is there for the rest of his life (if needed) to establish this – BECAUSE HE CANNOT SLEEP AT NIGHT IF HE DOES NOT DO THIS!

Then there needs to be a life that backs that commitment up. Just about everything in life starts small and as a seed. Scripture says “Do not despise the day of small things.” (Zech. 4:10) We are told this for the simple reason that it is VERY easy to do exactly that – despise something that is small. This is especially true in the U.S.A. when so much is measured by its size. Lets always remember though, a large oak tree is simply an acorn that held its ground.

The call of God to pastor and specifically to start a church is difficult to explain and very subjective (I realize) – but in my own case, this conviction only seemed to grow over time and I felt it was confirmed by other pastors both locally and far away who provided much encouragement for me to do so. I think that is important. Many believe they have gifts suited for a task but it is the Body of Christ who can confirm whether this is true or whether someone is self-deceived. By way of analogy, in a worldly setting, a lot of people think they are amazing singers, only to be exposed on “American Idol” as having a “talent” the Lord wouldn’t mind them burying.

Bear in mind too that I had decades of pastoral experience both in the UK and here, specifically in start up churches, so this proposed new venture would be done with my eyes wide open, so to speak – knowing some of the hardships and issues we may well encounter before we began.

While we were not a church plant, I was assured that other pastors would be behind me, at least in prayer, so I would not be on my own. It would be the best scenario if we were a church plant, and had access to resources beyond our own, but such was not the case. But at least I could get good advice from fellow pastors. They also expressed their willingness for me to talk with them at any time.

I say this because I don’t think it is wise to be totally on your own in starting a Church. The road is never an easy one, and it is imperative to have others you can turn to for advice along the way.

I hope something in what is above can be helpful to you.

God bless,

John

(I received this reply)

“Absolutely helpful! Praise God and thank you…”

How Can I Best Support My Pastor?

The Myth Perpetuated by Advocates of King James Version Only

The King James Version of the Bible is an excellent translation. There is so much about it to be commended. It was my first ever Bible and I am indeed glad for that. However, it is not the only version one should ever use. We have learned much about the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible since the 17th century and these insights have shaped many of the modern translations, helping us understand the original words God inspired. Just saying this is anathema to some people caught up in what is called ‘King James Only’.

I very much appreciate Pastor Tim Conway’s teaching here (below). This is a controversy that has caused untold damage and division in so many friendships and families and very sadly, has even split entire churches. He addresses this vital issue in terms that hopefully all can follow. – Pastor John Samson

Grace Community Church’s website (gccsatx.com) reads: “Many adamantly hold to the ‘KJV Only’ as being the only translation of the Bible to use. It seems that constantly new believers are running into this question and wrestling with the evidence of whether it is a valid argument or not. In this Bible Study Tim seeks to put forward the evidence that convinced him that the ‘KJV Only’ position is not a stance that is being faithful to the evidence.

It is because of emails that we have received, like the following, that it was apparent there was a need to put something up on the KJV Only controversy. For example, at the beginning of 2012 someone emailed in saying:

“Exactly what part of “ANYONE WHO ADDS OR TAKES AWAY FROM THIS BOOK” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? IT IS INDEED NO different than “WHICH PART OF THE WORD “NO” DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND???? I was at a loss as to why almost everyone was reading from every other so called new and improved versions of the bible. All Reading from any and every other version EXCEPT the true Old King James……Why Why why would you want to change God’s word to suit the brethren. It ought to be rather, The brethren adapting to the grand language of the Old King James not all changing the word to suit the brethren !!!! The old King James Version has the SALT. All the rest are simply put…without SALT. I am just shocked though I know Our King of King’s Christ Jesus says I should think it strange. Go ahead brethren. GO ON… explain away. Many others will be led astray by you and yours. I am grateful to God evermore I remain wide awake.”

Two years later this same person emailed back saying:

“I have repented to God & have ceased from my ridiculous King James only attitude. I greatly appreciate your sermons & wish to apologize for my previous high minded opinionated foolishness. I hope you can graciously forgive me for lashing out the way I did.”

Our desire, as Tim says at the start of the study, is not to take away from God’s Word, but to see people, like the person above, come to recognize that the evidence does not support the KJV 1611 as being the only translation we should use.”

Quote:

“Multiple translations don’t make a text more or less reliable. But it’s interesting that there’s kind of an underlying assumption when people make that statement and it feels something like this: well, the Bible has been translated and once it got translated, people have revised the translation without going back to look at those early manuscripts. And so, I thought that when I was in junior high school but I got past that relatively early. The reality is that the King James Bible, when it was translated in 1611, the New Testament was essentially based on seven Greek New Testament manuscripts, the earliest of which went back to the 11th century. We still have those manuscripts and we have almost 6,000 more manuscripts. So, we have almost a thousand times as many manuscripts as the King James New Testament was based on and our earliest don’t go back to the 11th century but so far as what’s been published, they go back to the second century. So they go back almost a thousand years earlier. So as time goes on, we’re not actually getting farther and farther away from the original text, we’re getting closer and closer.” – Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Jesus In The Old Covenant

Everything God’s people Israel had received by way of revelation, pointed to Him… and yet, we read, “his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:11)

What an indictment that is!

How on earth did the very people awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, miss Him when he came?

Jesus, in John 5:39,40 declared, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

After the resurrection – Jesus encountered two very despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were struggling to make sense of all that had taken place in Jerusalem…

Luke 24: 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Later on, He appeared to His disciples:

In Luke 24:44, 45 He talked about “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…”

Again, how did they miss Him, when He is the main subject matter of the Old Covenant?

WHO IS THIS JESUS?

In Genesis … He is the Lord God who formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him;
the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day;
He is the Seed of the Woman;
He is Noah’s ark of refuge;
He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek
He is Abraham’s ram caught in the thicket;
He is the King in royal Judah’s line…

In Exodus… He is the One calling out from the burning bush – the great I AM;
He is the Passover Lamb;
and the Rock which followed His people in the wilderness.

In Leviticus… He is the Tabernacle;
He is the Altar; the Great High Priest, and the Lamb for Sacrifice.

In Numbers… He is the brazen serpent lifted up for the healing of all who will look to Him;
He is the Tabernacle’s cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night.

In Deuteronomy… He is the Prophet like unto Moses.

In Joshua … He is Lord of heaven’s armies, the Captain of our Salvation.

Judges … He is the angel of the Lord; our Judge and Law-Giver.

Ruth … He is our Kinsman Redeemer.

1 & 2 Samuel … He is our trusted Prophet who sits on David’s throne forever.

Kings & Chronicles … He is our reigning King; one greater than even Solomon.

Ezra … He is the Faithful scribe.

Nehemiah … He is the Restorer of broken walls.

Esther … He is our Advocate Mordecai.

Job … He is our Ever-Living Redeemer who will take His stand upon the earth.

Psalms … He is the Lord our Shepherd.

Proverbs … He is our Wisdom.

Ecclesiastes … He is our sure Hope of Resurrection when all else is vanity and futility.

Song of Songs … He is our loving Bridegroom.

Isaiah … He is born of the virgin, He is Immanuel;
the Lord of glory, high and lifted up in the Temple;
the wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.
the suffering Servant of Yahweh;
the sin bearing Savior – wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the punishment due to us was upon Him and by whose stripes we are healed;
cut off from the land of the living, stricken for God’s elect people;
yet will be resurrected and live forever

Jeremiah … He is the Righteous Branch; the Lord our Righteousness.

Lamentations … He is our Weeping Prophet.

Ezekiel … He is the Son of man.

Daniel … He is the fourth man in the fiery furnace; the Ancient of Days, the One who comes in the clouds of heaven.

Hosea … He is the Faithful Husband.

Joel … He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Amos … He is our burden bearer.

Obadiah … He is Mighty to Save.

Jonah … He is our great foreign Missionary; the One who will be three days and nights in the belly of the earth.

Micah … He is the eternal ruler of Israel, born in Bethlehem.

Nahum … He is the avenger of God’s elect, our Stronghold in the day of trouble.

Habakkuk … He is the Great Evangelist

Zephaniah … He is the Restorer of the Remnant

Haggai … He is the desire of all nations, the cleansing Fountain.

Zechariah … He is our humble King riding on a colt; the pierced One, wounded in the house of His friends.

Malachi … Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in His wings.

The Marks of a True Church

Question: Pastor John, what are the marks of a true church? I have heard people say there are three: 1. The preaching of the gospel takes place. 2. The sacraments are rightly administered. 3. Church discipline is exercised. Read more

The Ordinary Means of Grace

King’s Church is committed to the primacy of corporate worship. We believe God sovereignly establishes and increases faith through the ordinary means of grace: the preaching of the Word of God in the gathered assembly, prayer, and the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Regular attendance to these means is vital for believers’ spiritual nourishment and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. God’s people are therefore called to participate regularly in Lord’s Day corporate worship, in dependence upon God’s Spirit, who applies these benefits through these God appointed means.

As such, we encourage you and your family to consider the various ministries, fellowship events, and educational opportunities, such as weekly Bible studies and Sunday school classes, as supplements to corporate worship, but never as replacements of corporate worship.

Conversion Is More Than Head Knowledge

“Many persons row hard to get the ship to land by a notional belief in orthodox doctrine. This superstition is harder to deal with, but quite as dangerous as the belief in good works. It is quite as legal an idea for me to think to be accepted by believing good doctrine as to expect to be pardoned for doing good works. Yet we have scores of people who if they can get hold of the Calvinistic creed at the right end; if they become masters of it and know how to argue against Arminianism; if they become not only sound Calvinists but a little sounder still, having not only the sixteen ounces to the pound but two or three ounces over and above, so as to make them ultra-Calvinistic; why then they fancy that all must be well. ‘I never can hear a preacher,’ this man will say, ‘who is not sound. I can tell at once when there is a grain of free will in the sermon.’ This is all very well, but he who boasts thus may be no better than the devil; nay, he may not be so good, for the devil believes and trembles, but these men believe and are too much hardened in their own conceit to think of trembling. Away with the idea that believing sound doctrine and chaining ourselves to a cast-iron creed is vital godliness and eternal life. Orthodox sinners will find that hell is hot, and that their knowledge of predestination will not yield a cooling drop to their parched tongues. Condemning other people, cutting off the saints of God right and left, is but poor virtue, and to have these blessed doctrines in the head while neglecting them in the heart is anything but a gracious sign. If ye can “a hair divide betwixt the west and north-west side,” do not therefore fancy that your fine gifts and profound orthodoxy will ensure you an entrance into the kingdom of heaven, Ah! You may row with those oars, but you will not get the ship to land, ye must be saved by sovereign grace, through the operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, or you will not be saved at all. As it is not by doing that we are saved, neither is it by subscribing to creeds; there is something more than this needed ere the ship reach the port.”

– C. H. Spurgeon – From A Sermon Delivered on May 1, 1864, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Modifications To The London Baptist Confession Of Faith Of 1689

A Statement from the King’s Church Elders:

Concerning Chapter 22 of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689: OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY

At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther declared “to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.” How true this is! It is a concept drawn from the Bible itself. “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

It needs to be said, with great emphasis, that there are wonderful, genuine Christians, who truly love God’s word who come to differing conclusions on this issue of the Sabbath. This is not a new phenomenon in any way. This was the case even in New Testament times. Romans 14: 5, 6 says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” In this chapter (Romans 14), the Apostle Paul outlines how we are to handle these kind of differences in the setting of the local Church, and rather than breaking fellowship with each other, exhorts us to walk together with our fellow Christians in love and understanding, believing the best of each other, while at the same time, never violating our individual conscience.

In the context of outlining what Christ accomplished for His people on the cross, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath (literally, ‘sabbaths’ plural). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16, 17) Christians are told to never let anyone judge them concerning Sabbath observation. When Church leadership tells another Christian “we cannot walk with you because of your view of the Sabbath” this is a clear violation of Paul’s apostolic command. Such should never be the case.

The Bible alone is the word of God – the sole infallible rule of faith for the people of God. Historic creeds and confessions of the Church, while having great weight and significance, never rise to the level of God breathed Scripture. Only Scripture has the authority to bind the conscience absolutely. This also means that every creed and confession must therefore be in agreement and alignment with the Bible to be true.

As elders at King’s Church, our study of the Scriptures has brought us to the conclusions outlined here below. Yet even as we make our position plain, we wish to make clear that those who hold a strong Sabbatarian view are very welcome at King’s Church. Please know that! We simply ask that they do not seek to promote or push that view on others in the flock. To these precious people we say “we can live with you as long as you can live with us.”

As to the question, “ARE THE SABBATH LAWS BINDING ON CHRISTIANS TODAY?”

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are typological and associated with the Mosaic Covenant, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have been fulfilled along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.

1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to Sabbaths as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). Paul is referring to all kinds of Sabbaths, which is why he used the Plural.

2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.

3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.

4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle. Also, a Gentile cannot be expected to practice a sign of a covenant of which he is not a member; thus requiring Sabbath observance by Gentiles makes no sense. It’s like requiring unbelievers to attend the Lord’s Supper.

6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses.

7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.

8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.

9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).

10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).

11. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”

Note on Col. 2:16

A. Why do some translations translate the last part of vs. 16 as “or a sabbath day” (using the indefinite article and render “Sabbath” as singular), while others translate “or sabbaths” (not using the indefinite article but render “Sabbath” in the plural)?

It seems to us that the original intent of Paul, using the plural without the definite article, was to refer to multiple “kinds” of sabbaths – i.e. weekly, seasonal, etc. – which were commanded in the mosaic covenant.

To illustrate in English, using the term “holiday” – if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to a holiday” (using the indefinite article and singular noun) – we would mean, let no one judge you in regard to all of the days we classify as holidays – i.e. 4th of July, Memorial Day, Easter, Christmas, etc. Also, if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to holidays (omitting the indefinite article and using the plural noun) we would understand the same thing – i.e. let no one judge you in regard to any days we classify as holidays since there are different types of holidays.

The fact that Paul used the plural can only mean one of two things.

1. Either the thought is since the weekly Sabbath is repeated he put it in the plural because he wanted to say let no one judge you in regard to any particular week’s Sabbath. We do not think he meant this – but if he did it supports the non-sabbatarian position.

2. If the reason for the plural is not #1, then the plural must be being used as in the “holiday” illustration above – i.e. there was more than one type of “Sabbath” and Paul wanted to address them all.

Now if we are to be Sabbatarians we must go further in explaining Paul’s use of the plural. We must say he wanted to address more than one kind of Sabbath (the non-weekly ones) but not all kinds of Sabbaths (i.e. not the weekly)! And we would need to say that his readers (mainly Gentile Christians) could be expected to conclude this!

In summary, it may be clarifying to ask (and answer) this question:

What did the 4th commandment mean to the Israelites to whom it was given?

The fourth commandment was to be observed as a sign of the Mosaic Covenant the Israelites had just entered:

Exodus 31:12 And the LORD said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.

Ezekiel 20:9 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. 12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them… 19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.

Sabbath observance was to remind Israel that they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh. The reason the sign was a day of rest was to remind them that Yahweh redeemed them from the house of bondage and gave them rest.

Deut. 5:12 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Israel practiced this command because they were a redeemed-by-Yahweh-people. This is what the Sabbath in the Decalouge, in the Mosaic Covenant, is about. This is not a natural law matter written on all human consciences. It’s a redemptive revelation revealed in the “gospel” in the law – God giving His people rest and rolling back the curse.

None of the Israelite observance was applicable to non covenant members, i.e. Gentiles. Actually it would be a misuse of the command for Gentiles to practice this Sabbath as if they were one of Yahweh’s people (much like an unbeliever practicing the Lord’s Supper in our day).

*The WCF/LBCF sabbatarian needs to show that 1) Non covenant members were required to keep the 4th commandment and 2) when they do keep it, keeping it means something different for them from what it means for covenant members.

Concerning Chapter 26 of the Confession: OF THE CHURCH

Paragraph 4 – we revise to say:

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner. As the Lord Jesus is the single head of the universal church it is impossible that any person has been or ever will be the single head of the universal church on earth.

A Fresh Look At the Five Solas

During a recent sermon series at King’s Church, we have been taking a fresh look at the Five Solas of the Reformation. In that time, we have drunk deeply at the well of salvation and seen the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to save in new and fresh ways. It has been a joy!

I hope the series can be a blessing to others also, and so make these sermons available here.

Sola Scriptura: Sermon: The More Sure Word

Sola Fide: Sermon: The Heart of the Gospel

Sola Gratia: Sermon: Every Christian is a Miracle

Solus Christus: Sermon: Federal Headship – Adam and Christ

Soli Deo Gloria: Sermon: The Meaning of Life

The eBook and Audio Book Version of my new book is also now available at this link.

God bless,
John