On Recent Apostasies

by Jon Buck

In the last couple of months, some Christian leaders have very openly abandoned the faith. 

Regardless of what these men have said, there are a few things that are important to remember when public figures stumble and fall. 

  1. They weren’t ever saved. 1 John 2:19 tells us that those who ‘go out’, do so because they were never truly believers in the first place. The Bible teaches that those who are truly Christ’s will persevere to the end (Phil. 1:6). No matter how apparently ‘godly’ these men appear, their apostasy proves they were faking it from the beginning.

  2. Faith is Bible-based, not man-based. The Gospel isn’t actually about Christian leaders at all. While men can have massive influences over our faith, they do not make up the faith. And all men, myself included, will struggle and fail in some areas. When a man leaves the faith, it is only saying something about the man—not the faith.

  3. Know Jesus. Regardless of who stands or falls, we must commit ourselves to knowing Jesus Christ through His word. When famous Christians stumble or fall away, it can shake our faith. The answer is deeper roots and stronger foundations in the truths of God’s word.

  4. Stay close to a biblical church. The Bible clearly teaches that one of the greatest purposes of the church is to protect its members. This isn’t just done by pastors, but by one another (Heb. 3:12-13) The more we draw close to one another, and encourage each other, the safer we will be!

  5. Questions must be shared. If you’re struggling with doubt or confusion, ask! One of the most dangerous things in the world is unexpressed doubts. Reach out, ask, and seek out care and shepherding through doubts. Of course everyone has doubts at times, but this is where reaching out provides safety as we think through the hard doctrines and issues facing the church.

John 10:27-28 - “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.



Tough Theological Conundrums?

by Jon Buck

I recently heard a church historian say that the best theologians know when to quit pursuing answers to questions. They know when they come to a mystery, and need to just stop, drop to their knees, and worship the God who is above them. 

Undoubtedly there are a host of tricky theological questions. Issues like the intersection of human responsibility and God’s sovereignty, or the Trinity are just examples of the complexity. 

So how should we approach these sorts of difficulties? 

Here’s a list of things to keep in mind when you’re wrestling with tough theology:

1.     We are finite in our abilities to understand. There are things that no one understands, and we should rest in that reality. 

2.     None of us has read ALL the thoughts of Godly men in the history of the church. If you have a theological question that’s bugging you, odds are, someone smarter than you has already considered it. Seek out help to find resources that might help you with your pursuit of answers. 

3.    At the end of the day, our epistemological grounding is in the text of the Bible. We come to questions seeking answers, but when the Bible teaches certain things that we simply cannot reconcile, we need to settle our hearts in knowing that God is in control, and that His Word is true. 

4.    Difficult questions point us to the transcendence of God. If He is big enough to create the universe, there are many things that simply will not be understandable to us. That’s ok. 

Lastly, I’ve always been encouraged by the explanatory power of the Christian faith. No other worldview provides so much insight into human nature, the problem of evil, and the reason for the existence of the world. 

Like nothing else, Christianity offers deep answers to the ‘WHY’ questions of existence. It may not answer all the ‘HOW’ questions, but no other worldview even comes close! 

Keep digging, and when you’re stuck, stop and worship God through the simplicity of the Gospel! 

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Jesus, Our Great High Priest

by Joel Giesbrecht

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~Hebrews 4:14-16

A truth that I know I need to meditate on more frequently is the reality of Jesus, the Son of God, as our Great High Priest. Though we find the mention of many high priests throughout Scripture, Hebrews 4:14 is the only mention of a "Great High Priest." What separates Jesus from every other high priest is that He experienced the weakness of human nature, without ever knowing the weakness of human depravity. He knew temptation. He became intimately acquainted with the frailty of flesh, even being tempted as we, too, are tempted. But, Jesus, God incarnate, never sinned. Though experiencing the tugs and pulls toward sin that we know all too well, He never gave in, He never faltered, He never capitulated, He remained sinless.

It is easy to think about the victory of Jesus and look straight to the final days of His life on earth. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was given as a perfect sacrifice for our sins, was buried and rose again in victory over sin and death on the third day. We also should remember each and every day which led up to that, when He was tried and tempted, and yet succeeded, allowing Him to be that sacrifice. If at any moment previous Jesus had failed, the cross would be worthless for our sin. Countless times Jesus triumphed in the face of temptation. He was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

What difference does this perspective on the Savior provide for the Christian, you may ask? Because Jesus took on flesh, He knows the struggles we face and can “sympathize with our weakness.” Jesus is not irritated when we are tempted. He is not frustrated that our hearts feel the tug of sin. Rather, He is ready and willing to give us help. He is ready to deal gently with us. And this ought to produce confidence in the Christian. Confidence to draw near to God’s throne of grace and find all the help we need in the face of temptation. Jesus, our Great High Priest, gives mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. In my prevailing weakness, I know I need to be reminded of my merciful high priest and the help which He offers. Maybe you do, as well.

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A Word Fitly Spoken

by Jon Buck

”A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” ~ Prov. 25:11

This verse is, at first reading, a bit humorous. I have no idea what ‘apples of gold in settings of silver’ means. Perhaps some kind of really ornate and gaudy decoration (think Versailles). 

But one thing is clear—apples made of gold set into silver must have been pretty expensive. They would have been immensely valuable, and certainly rare. 

Solomon compares these decorative items to a word ‘fitly spoken’ (ESV). The word translated ‘fitly’ comes from a word for turning, and is from the same root as ‘wheel’. It describes the turning of a moment when the word will fit perfectly into the life and heart of a person. 

Why such value?

The value of a word in the right season is that it moves its hearer. Such a word is designed to bring the perfect help to a person in need—encouragement, admonishment, correction, praise, etc. And this is the value—the care of the soul of another. 

I was recently reminded about this value when a friend sent me an encouraging email. I wouldn’t have expected it—in fact it was on the heels of a difficult circumstance. But it was fitting, and kind, and the Lord used it with great value in my heart in trusting Him. 

As we walk in the Spirit, we often see needs around us. And many of those needs can be met with a simple word, fitly spoken. Whether encouragement, admonishment, or others, the words that come from a heart relying on Christ can build up those around us. 

And when it comes to words that build up, let me encourage you to point out those things that are spiritually encouraging to your brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be like apples of gold in settings of silver…whatever that means! 

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Repentance or Penance?

by Jon Buck

Repentance or Penance? 

What do we do when we know we’ve sinned? These two words appear nearly the same, but the chasm between them is infinite. 

The Bible teaches that repentance is a sorrow over and turning away from sin (2 Cor. 7:8-12).

Penance, however, is an act of self-inflicted punishment in order to restore relationship and favor with God. 

We know that the Bible commands all sinners everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). True repentance provides peace and rest through believing that the sins we’ve committed have been forgiven. The Bible promises us that God always forgives us (1 John 1:9)! This is glorious news for people who are often caught in sin. 

Repenting more than once…

But sometimes, if you’re like me, you find yourself repenting for sins more than once. You might repent, but the feelings of guilt and shame over the sin remain, and so you try and try again to confirm that God forgives you. 

We may find ourselves hoping for certain emotional reactions that we would expect from being ‘truly repentant’. We may even do ‘spiritual’ things in order to restore God’s favor upon us. 

All of this self-effort and multiple ‘repentings’ are actually nothing of the sort. Instead, these things become a form of penance. We feel that we must do something in order to regain the favor of God. 

The danger of penance is that it always results in despair. If our efforts work, and we eventually find ourselves feeling closer to God, we are in danger of pride, since we ‘did it’ ourselves through our penance. That pride will lead to despair again, when we stumble again, and have to ‘climb back up’. 

And, if our penance doesn’t work, and if we don’t feel closer to God, eventually we will despair that God doesn’t love us. We will live in constant doubt and discouragement. 

So what’s the answer? 

Repentance and faith

Our problem is not that we don’t ‘feel’ enough repentance or that we need to do more. Our problem is that we don’t truly believe in the forgiveness we receive from God. Repentance is ultimately an act of faith.

When we come to God in repentance for a sin, we must believe that Jesus died on the cross for that sin so that there is no condemnation for us from God. He is not angry. He does not condemn us. All our sins are forgiven through the power of the shed blood of Christ. 

When we believe this promise, our hearts are set free from despair and guilt. We no longer try to punish ourselves enough to regain God’s favor, since we already have it in full through Christ. How joyful to know that my sins are forgiven! (1 John 2:12)

And, remarkably, in believing this good news of the forgiveness and grace of God, we find new power to turn from sin. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength (Neh. 8:10). We hate to think of causing grief to such a kind Savior and merciful Father. We despise anything that would come between us and our loving Father. 

So…when you find yourself repenting over and over again, reject that notion. Go to the Bible, find again that Jesus died for your sins, and believe that reality. Let the full forgiveness of God wash over your soul, and rejoice in His finished work for you!

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Living by Faith

by Jason Park

On a day to day, moment by moment basis, how do we live our Christian lives?

To be honest, I often fall into living by my willpower and good works. I can easily gut out my obedience and then look at what I’ve done with pride. I think I’m strong.

Now, of course willpower and good works are not bad. In their proper place, they are all wonderful gifts that God gives to His children. But, if we live our Christian lives based on either one by itself, we are doomed to fail from the start. 

Why? Because willpower and good works come by faith. In fact, everything that I need to live the Christian life springs from faith. So, if I try to do it all in my own strength, I eventually crash and burn. This is why faith is so crucial.

Consider how the Bible unpacks the wonders of faith:

-       Faith is how the Christian life begins (Eph 2:8). 

-       Faith is how we see unseen, eternal realities, the primary reality being Christ Himself (2 Cor 3:18; 4:6). 

-       And when we see Him by faith, we immediately love Him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8). 

-       Our faith also works itself out through love, in the heart and in our deeds (Gal 5:6). 

-       All of our obedience springs from faith in Christ (Rom 1:5; Rom 16:26).

-       So, the whole Christian life is summarized by this: we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). 

It’s not that faith itself is powerful. Rather, faith is the means by which we access power; the power of Jesus Christ in the gospel. And, to do this, we admit our total weakness to live the Christian life apart from Him and trust that what the gospel says about Him and His work is true. 

And when we believe in Christ, He gives us power to obey from the heart all that He’s called us to. This is why Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But, with Christ, by faith, we can bear much fruit to His glory.

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Revelation 2:4

by Gus Pidal

‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 

The first time I visited Edinburgh, I was astonished by the history of that city. From castles to churches, I was amazed by it all. However, what struck me in my conversations with the residents of that city was how they had become so accustomed to the sights and history that surrounded them, that no one stopped to ponder the beauty that surrounded where they were living. 

In Revelation 2:4, the apostle John is writing a letter to seven churches, the first of which was in Ephesus. This was a church that had a great pedigree; good founders and theology. Yet there was a problem; they had abandoned their first love. 

Sadly, that love was a person. The person of our Lord Jesus Christ. This church was rich, it had a great heritage, but it was missing one thing, the most important thing: love for Christ. They had forgotten Christ and what he did for them on the cross. 

As we train men at the Berea Seminary, we too can be like the church in Ephesus. Even though we should be thankful for our orthodoxy, it must never become dead. We do not worship books, nor doctrines; we worship a person, the God made flesh, the one who ransomed us from the dead, Jesus Christ. 

Examine and ask yourself, am I loving Christ the same way I did when I was first saved? Perhaps you are failing at this, but the antidote for this is simple: repent and believe by remembering who we were before we were saved, and letting our love for Christ be borne out of an appreciation for what he has done for us on the cross

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Praying to the Father

by Jason Park

One of the beauties of the gospel is that we know God and His Son Jesus Christ. In fact, that is Christ’s definition of “eternal life” (John 17:3). 

What’s more, we now know God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. If we have trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, then we’re united with Christ, indwelt by His Spirit, and adopted into His family as children of God (Rom 8:16-17). 

This isn’t just some theological notion. God truly is our Father. Think about these gospel-facts. He has born us again by the word of truth, the gospel of Christ (James 1:18). He has placed His Spirit in us, the Spirit of adoption that cries out “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15). 

So now we have access to God. Even more, we have boldness and confident access to our Father through faith in Christ (Eph 3:12). And by faith, we can cry to our Father for mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb 4:16). For any need, at any time, in any place. Just as your child can barge into your bedroom at 2am asking for a cup of water or reassurance that there’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark, you can go to your Heavenly Abba for what you need.

And in our neediness, our Father meets us with His love. He loves giving good gifts to His children, gifts perfectly crafted for the person and the need (James 1:17). And best of all, even if we don’t get the request we prayed for, we get Him, our Father rich in mercy and love, who delights over His children. 

Doesn’t that make prayer all the more necessary and wonderful?

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Getting at the Root

by Jon Buck

I’m not a good gardener. Our yard is awash in weeds, and, in spite of my efforts, they continue to proliferate. 

But, in my limited garden experience, weed-pulling requires root removal. Unless you pull out the whole root of the weed, it will continue to grow. It may spring up in a different location, but it will always spring up. 

This is true of sin. Unless we seek out and find the root of our sins, we cannot ever hope to change. Fighting sin is a root battle, and wisdom is needed to find the root. 

Remarkably, in Romans 1:18-32, Paul makes it clear that the root of sin (read the list in vv. 29-31 - LOTS of sins!) is found in how each person views God. 

For Christians, we no longer reject God, or suppress the truth about God, and yet, our view of God can often be anemic. We forget He is sovereign. We forget He loves us, and has proven this at the cross. In our forgetfulness, we turn to other things for security, fulfillment, joy, and power to root out sins. 

For those who don’t know God, Paul says that the root of their sin is their view of God. They have suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness, and from this root spring all the evils of their lives. 

We need to remember this. When you meet an unbeliever, no matter how heinous his or her sin life might be, remember, you’re seeing the weed. The problem is the root. Like good spiritual gardeners, we must learn to look past the weeds, and seek to point to the root of sin. 

How? 

Through the Gospel. Only in the Gospel does God reveal Himself to the heart of man (2 Cor. 4:4-6). So…proclaim the Gospel. Speak about Christ and His death for sinners. God alone has the power to pull sin by the root through the glory of His Son! 

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…but why?

by Jon Buck

Welcome to the FBC blog! This is the first post of hopefully many to come. But the blog itself begs the question—why blog in the first place? There are several answers, both positively and negatively.

First, we are NOT blogging for anyone except our church. The purpose of the blog is to better serve the people of FBC, in their walk with Christ. That’s the main goal, rather than trying to seek out readers that are outside of our church. 

Second, our goal is to serve you in small increments. While there are many resources available at our church already (first hour, main service, care groups, other equipping classes, etc.), there are topics that don’t often get covered in those venues. Many of those topics can be covered in a relatively short post. In that way, we hope the blog will be helpful. 

Third, our desire is to allow others who are not commonly with us to also share with our church family. For example, our missionaries (Matt, Peter, Gus, Raffaele) can share stories, prayer requests, and encouraging updates in a simple format, as well as their own meditations on Scripture. Also, we can provide suggested resources like books, links, sermons, etc., without flooding your inbox. 

Ultimately, our desire for this blog is to better serve you as our church family. 

With that in mind, if there’s a question you have or a topic that might be helpful to hear about, feel free to email me at jbbuckmine@gmail.com, and we’ll work on getting it answered. 

Thanks in advance for your time.