It’s hard to believe, but the second month of 2018 is now in full swing (where did January 2018 go?). With this new month comes the celebration of love. We here at The Essential Church intend to participate with the universal Church of Jesus Christ and engage humanity with some announcements regarding our own celebration this month.
Before I get into those announcements, let me bring you up to speed on what we’ve been up to since the last announcement we made. We’ve spent all January covering God’s Word and Contradictions, a topic that required a Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (series) over the course of the entire month. We said in that series that atheists and skeptics are trying to “bring down” the Word of God from its exalted place and make it “a book full of errors and inconsistencies,” some have said.
And yet, you can’t have fallibility in a text authored by the Perfect Holy Spirit, a text whose words are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and come from the mouth of our Perfect God. Proverbs 3:5 says that “every word of God is pure,” so there’s nothing contaminated about the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. Those who assume so haven’t thought through the implications of what they believe and how it fits with their Christian perspective. That’s not to say that we understand everything, but that everything can be understood (even though we may not comprehend it all).
Apart from this, we’ve been examining Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted alongside of other books of his such as Forged that claim the Gospels, attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Pastoral Epistles, attributed to Paul, are forgeries — that is, they were written by anonymous people and attributed posthumously or deceitfully to disciples of Jesus or second-century Christians who may have never actually seen Jesus in person.
You can find these posts below:
Paul and the Pastoral Epistles: Bart Ehrman’s forgery claim disputed
Spiritual resurrection vs. bodily resurrection? Bart Ehrman’s claim that Paul didn’t write Ephesians and Colossians investigated
Matthew vs. Paul: Bart Ehrman and the faith vs. works controversy revisited
Does Matthew quote the wrong prophet? Bart Ehrman on Jeremiah and Zechariah
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on one or two donkeys? The Triumphal Entry in the Gospels
Women at the Tomb: Examining Bart Ehrman’s claim of contradictory reports
How did Judas die? Ehrman on the Judas death in Matthew and Luke
Did the churches in Judea know Paul? Why Acts and Galatians contradict Ehrman
After Jesus’ Baptism: where was Jesus the day after? A Look at the Gospels of Mark and John
A simple reordering: reconciling the fifth and seventh plagues in Exodus 9
Seven or Two Pairs? Bart Ehrman on the ark animals in Genesis 7
One young man, one angel, or two angels? Bart Ehrman on the Gospel discrepancies
“Before the rooster crows”: reconciling Jesus’ prediction in Mark 14 and Matthew 26
Abiathar and Ahimelech: Reconciling 1 Samuel 21:1-6 and Mark 2:26
In addition to our God’s Word and Contradictions series, we’ve also just finished celebrating our Tribute Service for my mother, who died 9 years ago to the day of February 3rd. Though brain cancer took her home to be with Jesus, the service was one to celebrate her life and the gospel. “But God,” her two favorite words of Scripture, was the preaching phrase of our tribute sermon.
First, we intend to have a theme to dominate the month. Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up on February 14th, but we here at The Essential Church intend to focus on the love of God as well as the love of neighbor with our celebratory month being labeled “Educate the Hate Month” here at the church. We brainstormed possible labels for the name of this month, and we’ve officially settled on the name of this month-long celebration here at the church.
In light of Charlottesville and other such riot events, we believe that it’s time for the church to take a stand and educate those who hate those of other races and ethnicities. Often, church life is consumed with saying that prejudice and racism are bad, but little else. We believe that you cannot expect people to change their views if you don’t educate them, if you don’t talk about how wrong prejudice and racism are, if you choose to cover “Moses and the Red Sea” or “Daniel and the Lions’ Den” while neglecting what Scripture says about racism, sexism, and all the other “isms” that divide rather than unite believers in Christ.
To this end, our services will address 1) the love of God and 2) love of neighbor. Since the church is the Body of Christ, Jesus Christ is our Head, and we belong to Him, the gospel will be front and center. For, when one understands the love of God, one can respond with love for not only God but also neighbor. Take away God (objective reality), and equality becomes subjective.
Along with the gospel message, which we’ll always proclaim (and gladly, I might add), we’ll take time to observe Black History Month, a national month-long celebration to honor the achievements and accomplishments of African-Americans. Our Black History Month observation here at the church, though, will be titled “Black History of the Bible” Month. We’ll take a look at some blacks mentioned in Scripture with some sermons to that end.
There’s a lot to celebrate here at The Essential Church this month, and we pray that you’ll visit the site to take a look at the work and listen to our audio sermons. For those who want to catch up on the audio sermons you’ve missed, feel free to visit our Audio Sermons and Bible Studies page to catch ’em all.
Again, we love you, are here for you if you have any questions or prayer requests, and look forward to you being a part of our Educate the Hate Month. Pray for us, that the Word of God would be proclaimed in a way that honors the Lord.
Pastor D.M. Richardson
The Essential Church
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