Living Our Values

Yesterday we wrapped up our four part series on the vision and values of missio Dei: Falcon.  As we come out of one of the most difficult seasons the American church has ever endured, it is more important than ever that we:

Create a space for all people to encounter the person of Jesus through the transforming study of His Word, experience the love of Jesus through the love of His people, and engage the work of Jesus through missional discipleship.

If you missed any of the weeks that we discussed the three core aspects of our vision statement I highly encourage to go back and watch them by following the links above.  However, it is the topic of this past Sunday that I believe is the most integral for us to ensure that our church is that space that is conducive to people encountering, experiencing, and engaging Jesus.  I also encourage you to watch that service by following this link

The reason this past Sunday’s theme is so important is because the only way that our church will be a space that is conducive to encountering, experiencing, and engaging Jesus is if collectively we all embrace and live out the values that we discussed.  Too often churches—ours included—can slide into a passivity that sees the mission as something that we can leave to other people to fulfill.  But this last year has shown us that it is only when we all live out our values that the vision is guarded and the mission advances.

To that end, we are setting aside this summer as a season for everyone to spend some dedicated time praying through and seeking the Spirit’s help in increasingly becoming a place that demonstrates the following values:

  • Scripture Saturated: The Word of Christ, dwelling in us richly, permeates all we think, say, and do (Colossians 3:16).
  • Gospel Centered: The Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Christ as the anchor for all of life (Ephesians 2:1-10).
  • Relationally Intentional: Being moved towards another person because of the unsurpassable worth they hold in Jesus’ eyes (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
  • Authentically Loving: Desperately wanting what’s best for another person, for their own sake (John 13:34).
  • Missionally Discipling: Maturing together in Christ as we love people who don’t know Jesus with gospel intentionality (Colossians 1:28).
  • Kingdom Multiplying: Giving ourselves for the glory of Jesus beyond our local church setting (Matthew 28:18-20).

The way that we would like to grow in our ability to embody these values this summer is by prayerfully and meditatively working through these questions with each of the six values listed above: 

  1. How has Jesus worked through this value in your life?
  2. How are you currently living out this value?
  3. What next steps can you take to grow in this value?

I think the best way to process these questions is first alone with a journal or in contemplative prayer with Jesus.  Then share what you are learning with your spouse or a close friend.  And finally, if you have children, include them in the discussion processing how your family can be defined by these values.

As we collectively pray through these questions this summer our desire is that growth in these ways will allow us to be even more intentional about cultivating a space where all people can grow in their relationship with Jesus.  Will you join us in that prayer? 

Spiritual Gifts For The Missio Dei

This past week we studied 1 Corinthians 12 and Paul’s teaching on the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts in the life of the church. The main point of this passage of Scripture is that a spiritual gift is where our individuality lives out our interdependence in a local church. Since all Christians have at least one spiritual gift, and since those gifts are designed to build up the church for the good of others (1 Cor. 12:7), it is essential for our church to be filled with Believers who use their gift(s) for the glory of God and the good of the Body.

Unfortunately many of us remain uninformed (1 Cor. 12:1) on what our gift(s) might be and how to best use it in our church. To help us all become better equipped in this area we have put together a list* of the gifts Scripture identifies, though most commentators agree that the sample lists that are given are not exhaustive (it is quite likely there are additional gifts not enumerated in the following list). As you read through the list take some time to pray about how the Holy Spirit may have gifted you, and how your use or failure to use your gift(s) might bless or harm the church. Additionally, remember that no gift comes to us fully-developed. We should earnestly pray that we would grow in effectiveness with our gifts, as well as that the Spirit would bless us with additional gifts (1 Cor. 14:1)!

  • Wisdom: The Spirit-empowered ability to give guidance based on biblical truth (1 Cor. 12:8).
    • The church needs wisdom in order to apply the truth of God’s Word to our decisions and lifestyles, without this gift in operation we will lose the distinctiveness of a community that has been given the revelation of the Word of God.
  • Knowledge: The Spirit-empowered ability to understand biblical truth (1 Cor. 12:8).
    • The church needs knowledge in order to properly understand the truth of God’s Word, without this gift in operation we will miss out on the depth and beauty of the Bible.
  • Faith: The Spirit-empowered ability to see God working in mundane and extraordinary ways (1 Cor. 12:9).
    • The church needs faith in order to be reminded God is always working, without this gift in operation we will become discouraged and feel that God has left us on our own. 
  • Healing: The Spirit-empowered ability to be the channel through which God heals the sick (1 Cor. 12:9).
  • Miracles: The Spirit-empowered ability to be the channel through which God shows His power (1 Cor. 12:9).
    • The church needs gifts of healings and miracles in order to see that God is sovereign and powerful, without this gift in operation we will come to believe in a deistic religion that believes God is unable to work in our world.
  • Apostleship: The Spirit-empowered ability to start new churches and bring the Gospel to new places (1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:11).
    • The church needs apostleship in order to see the mission of God (the missio Dei) advance to new places, without this gift in operation we will not see the Kingdom advance with the power of the Gospel.
  • Teaching: The Spirit-empowered ability to impart biblical truth (Rom. 12:7, 1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:11).
    • The church needs teaching in order to see the blessing of God’s Word applied in our lives, without this gift in operation we will miss out on the feast that Scripture offers.  
  • Service: The Spirit-empowered ability to come alongside others, lifting their burdens (Rom. 12:7, 1 Cor. 12:28, 1 Pet. 4:11).
    • The church needs service in order to lift the cares and burdens we all experience, without this gift in operation we will find ourselves buried under the weight of our burdens.
  • Administration: The Spirit-empowered ability to know what to do or direction to lead (1 Cor. 12:28).
    • The church needs administration in order to know which decisions will lead to the greatest health of our church, without this gift in operation we will find ourselves directionless or handicapped by bad decisions.
  • Evangelism: The Spirit-empowered ability to see non-Christians come to faith (Eph. 4:11).
    • The church needs evangelism in order to see people far from Jesus come to faith in Him, without this gift in operation we will become a group of families who only baptize those who were born into Christian homes.
  • Shepherding: The Spirit-empowered ability to help, care for, and invest in God’s people (Eph. 4:11).
    • The church needs shepherding in order to be cared for as Jesus desires His people to be, without this gift in operation we will stray from His Body or fall prey to wolves.
  • Encouragement: The Spirit-empowered ability to strengthen the discouraged (Rom. 12:8).
    • The church needs encouragement in order to find the strength to endure amidst the hardship of life, without this gift in operation we will drift towards passivity or cowardice.
  • Generosity: The Spirit-empowered ability to meet needs (Rom. 12:8).
    • The church needs generosity in order to accomplish the ministry God has called us to, without this gift in operation we will see ministry opportunities pass by due to a lack of resources.
  • Leadership: The Spirit-empowered ability to mobilize people for a cause (Rom. 12:8).
    • The church needs leadership in order to gather and motivate people to do the work of ministry, without this gift in operation we will not see the mission advance.
  • Mercy: The Spirit-empowered ability to come alongside hurting people (Rom. 12:8).
    • The church needs mercy in order to demonstrate the compassion of Christ, without this gift in operation we will not fulfill our call to comfort those who mourn.
  • Hospitality: The Spirit-empowered ability to welcome and love strangers (Rom. 12:13).
    • The church needs hospitality in order to be a place that is welcoming to those who are in search of a community, without this gift in operation we will become increasingly cold and distant towards outsiders.  
  • Tongues**: The Spirit-empowered ability to speak to God in unlearned human languages (1 Cor. 12:8-10, 29-30).
  • Interpretation: The Spirit-empowered ability to translate gift of tongues in corporate worship (1 Cor. 12:8-10, 29-30). 
  • Prophecy: The Spirit-empowered ability to impart truth from God in specific situations (Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor. 12:10, 28, Eph. 4:11).
  • Discernment: The Spirit-empowered ability to evaluate origin and authenticity of prophetic messages (1 Cor. 12:10).

One thing to note about these gifts is that the lines of distinction, in some cases, are blurry. For example, when a gift is that of mercy and when it is a gift of encouragement can be difficult to tell! The important question, however, is not which gift is being used as much as what is the result of the gift in operation. Is the Spirit more tangibly visible because of this action? Is the Body of Christ built up through the use of this gift, or is it merely drawing attention to the gifted one? Ultimately none of us will have all the gifts, therefore we are dependent on the Spirit to empower and the other members of our church to be faithful in the utilization of their gifts!

But perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind regarding spiritual gifts is seen in the actual Greek word Paul uses: Charisma. One scholar believes the best translation of this word is not “spiritual gifts,” but rather “grace-gifts.” This concept is helpful because it reminds us gifting is not the result of our merit or natural abilities, rather, it is (like our salvation itself) a gracious act of God on our behalf! Just as you cannot earn your way to redemption, you cannot earn your own gifting! Gifts are not about ranking which Believer is more important than another but rather reminding us that we are all dependent on the grace of Jesus in all that we do.

*This list is heavily reliant on the commentaries of Gordon Fee, Thomas Schreiner, Roy Ciampa, and a sermon by Mark Driscoll.
**Tongues, interpretation, prophecy, and discernment will be discussed in greater detail in our study of 1 Corinthians 14 in a few weeks.

Can I Lose My Salvation?

This past Sunday we discussed the controversial topic of whether or not a Christian can lose their salvation. This topic has been controversial enough in the history of the church that I thought it may be helpful to reiterate some thoughts on the subject here.  First, however, whenever we discuss an issue that godly Christians disagree on it’s always helpful to clarify that, while important, our answer to this question does not determine our standing before God.  Even if someone thinks we can walk away from our salvation (something I disagree with), we should still agree that that salvation comes from faith in the atoning work of Jesus and resting in His grace, not earning His favor.

However, that summary of the Gospel is a good place to start this discussion.  The precise reason why I have a problem with the idea of a Christian apostatizing (losing their salvation) is because it places the emphasis on the wrong person. Even asking what can I do to lose my salvation shows a poor understanding of the Gospel’s message that we are saved based on what Jesus has done for us. If salvation were based off of us doing enough good things to earn God’s love then certainly we could do enough bad things to lose His love. Or to give a more nuanced explanation, if salvation were based off of me choosing Jesus, certainly I could also choose apostasy as well.  As the verses below should clarify, though, the beauty of the Gospel is seen in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8), or even more poignantly, while we were dead in our sins God chose us for salvation (Ephesians 1:4, 2:5).

As we saw on Sunday, the passage of Hebrews that is often used to argue that Christians can lose their salvation in fact teaches nothing of the kind (Hebrews 5:11-6:12).  Rather, it warns us that being a part of a local church or claiming a religious affiliation does not mean we have submitted ourselves to the lordship of Jesus.  A discussion of eternal security (the doctrine that states true Christians will not apostatize) should not bring apathy or passivity with our faith, rather it should cause us to ask ourselves if we have truly submitted our lives to Jesus or are we merely playing with religion?  If we have truly been transformed by the Gospel and have put our faith in Jesus then we should not fret or be anxious about losing our salvation, but instead rest in the loving grip of our Savior.

So, I’d encourage you to spend some time reflecting on these passages of Scripture. Not as “proof-texts” to align with a theological agenda, but as affirmations that our confidence in salvation rests not in our ability to persevere, but in God’s promise to preserve His children.

Jn. 6:37-40,
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (Is Jesus prone to losing things? Absolutely not! So rest in His grip).

Jn. 10:27-29,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (No one can cause us to lose our salvation, and “no one” includes you, is your will stronger than God’s grip?)

Jn 17:24,
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (Hebrews has shown us Jesus, as our priest, is interceding in heaven on our behalf. Will our High Priest’s prayer go unanswered?).

Rom. 8:29-31,
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us (The same number chosen by God will also reach the end state of glorification, so we should rest in His favor)?

Rom 8:38-39,
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 (If nothing can separate us from His love nothing can separate us from His salvation).

Phil 1:6,
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Does God quit before the job is done? If He saved you He will continue to work in you).

2 Thess. 3:3,
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (Did He let His guard down and let Satan slip in with out Jesus noticing? Of course not!).

Heb. 13:5b,
for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Did God change His mind?).

1 Pet 1:3-5,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (God is protecting your salvation in heaven, surely He will sustain our salvation here on earth).

1 Jn. 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 (When someone does walk away from the church it is a sign that they were never truly a Christian, not that they lost their salvation).

Jude 21, 24-25,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life…Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (His worthiness of praise is tied to His ability to protect us in salvation, if we can lose salvation He isn’t worthy of praise).