Pastor Jason Helopoulos:
There are few epitaphs I would rather have engraved on my tombstone than Paul’s words of commendation to Philemon, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7). Oh, how I love Philemons and want to consistently be one!
It has been my pleasure to serve in the local church with some individuals that are truly “refreshing” to the saints. When you meet them, you know it! They are like an oasis in the midst of a desert. I walk away feeling encouraged, joyful, and spiritually stimulated. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species and much harder to find than should be the case.
I routinely examine myself by asking, “Do others consider me refreshing?” I wish that I could more routinely answer, “Yes.” I challenge you to ask yourself that same question and answer it honestly. I wonder, what would it be like if even one in ten of us were striving to be a refreshment to others in the local church? If that was part of our ministry aim, what kind of significant impact could that have upon our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
How do you refresh the hearts of the saints? It is only possible by one who knows the love and grace of Christ in such a way that it overflows to those around them. It is consistently present and abundantly evident. As I have inquired of those who I find to be such a refreshment to my own soul, they almost always testify that this gift, which they manifest, is something that they have deliberately sought to develop and nurture. Here are twenty practical ways that you can seek to nurture this refreshing gift in the midst of your own local church.
Read “20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church”.
To my knowledge, I had the privilege of explicitly introducing our church to the discipline of “Biblical Theology“ [17 min. readout] during our last Sunday School.
Several folks afterwards said they found it helpful and were interested in the Biblical-Theological Catechism I presented. So, below is a portion of the introduction to this catechism with links to each section thereafter.
(Note: This catechism is a work in progress and currently only goes to Exodus. The author hope to have a section on each book of the Bible).
THE END IN THE BEGINNING:
A BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL CATECHISM FOR YOUNG AND OLD
by James T. Dennison, Jr.
Introduction [7 min. readout]
How does the Bible begin?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)
How does the Bible end?
“And I saw a new heavens and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)
What is the word for the study of beginnings?
What is the word for the study of ends?
What is the inclusio of the Bible?
(NB: an “inclusio” is a bracket device marking the beginning and end of a work. An inclusion suggests symmetry, parallelism — rounded/completed balance.)
The protological beginning anticipates the eschatological end; the eschatological end consummates the protological beginning.
What other parallels or symmetries are there between the beginning and the end of the Bible?
A garden (Gen. 2:8; Rev. 22:1–2)
The tree of life (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2)
Life with no curse or deathless life (Gen. 1:31; Rev. 21:4; 22:5)
A dwelling-with-God place (Gen. 2:15–17; Rev. 21:22; 22:3)
What is this pattern or paradigm called?
a. Ursgeschichte and Endgeschichte
b. Protology and Eschatology
These are fancy words. What do they mean?
a. The beginning of history (German: Urgeschichte) is like the end of history (German: Endgeschichte).
b. The first things (Protology) are like the last things (Eschatology)
Why does eschatology recapitulate protology?
Because the fundamental symmetry in the history of redemption displays the reflection of the end in the beginning (and vice versa: the beginning in the end).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:13).
Define “protology” more completely.
The study of the “first things”; the “beginning things” in the history of redemption
Define “eschatology” more completely.
The study of the “last things”; the “final things” in the history of redemption.
Is eschatology only the “last things” in order of time, i.e., the end of the world, the final judgment, heaven and hell?
What else does eschatology embrace?
The whole history of redemption.
Why do you say that the whole history of redemption is eschatological or under the umbrella or canopy of eschatology?
Because eschatology deals with God’s own eternal Being and dimension; and God’s eternal Being and dimension is over and above the whole history of redemption.
Is all of Scripture from Genesis (creation) to Revelation (new creation) oriented to and related to eschatology?
Yes, eschatology is prior to and above every text from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21.
Is it important to consider the eschatological dimension or aspect of a Biblical passage?
Yes, since every verse of Scripture is underneath the eschatological umbrella/canopy, eschatology casts its shadow over the entire history of redemption.
Thus, you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the linear history (i.e., the line from Adam to Christ, from Moses to Christ, from David to Jesus, etc.).
Yes, I must read the Bible looking in two directions: forward (?) and backward (?) (on the horizon of history).
Why should I be concerned with the historical (linear/horizontal) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has created me and all mankind a being in history. In his revelation of himself, he accommodates himself to my being in time and space — drawing my story into his story. He reveals himself in history—objectively, concretely, supernaturally and transformatively.
And you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the vertical aspect (i.e., the line from God to creation, from heaven to earth, from eternity to time, etc.)
Yes, I must read the Bible in two additional directions: upward (heaven-ward ?) and downward (earth-ward ?).
Why should I be concerned with the eschatological (heaven-ward) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has made me for himself, even as he made all things. And where he reveals himself to his rational creatures, he invites them to come up to him—to the eschatological arena—to his very glory-presence.
Does that mean that Adam in the garden of Eden was invited to the eschatological arena?
Yes; Adam was being shown a garden replica of the garden-glory of heaven. Hence, even before his fall into sin, Adam was invited to enter a heavenly/eternal arena.
It seems then that the eschatological arena penetrates or intrudes into the temporal or historical arena?
Yes, as God reveals himself and his plan of salvation in history, so at every point the eschatological arena casts its shadow and sheds its light in history.
Would you trace this pattern of eschatological intrusion and anticipation in the books of the Bible?
- Genesis [23 min. readout]
- Exodus [35 min. readout | this is the one I read portions from Sunday]
[HT: Enrique Duran]
Missed it? Here is the audio
Here are some details on the upcoming conference that we have been talking about during announcements:
Dr. Richard Barcellos
Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA
Dr. James Renihan
James M. Renihan, Ph.D., is an elder at Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Vista, CA, and is the Dean and Professor of Historical Theology at the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies.
1.SOLID GROUND CHRISTIAN BOOKS will again be represented at our conference this year. Michael Gaydosh will be bringing many wonderful Reformed books for your perusal. Be sure to come prepared to take home some of these great books that will be for sale!
A. Modes: To register for our upcoming conference, please mail the filled out registration form to:
Heritage Baptist Church,
201 East Broad St.,
Mansfield, TX 76063
or visit our website www.reformedbaptist.org and register online.
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:11-15
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. Second London Baptist Confession, Chapter 14, Paragraph 1
Q. 94: What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer; all which means are made effectual to the elect for salvation. The Baptist Catechism
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On the last Wednesday of every month there will be a time for Jr. High and Sr. High students to meet and discuss a book that the kids will have read. We will meet at the same time as the Men’s and Women’s Bible study, at the church.
The second book [see first book here] we will be discussing is “The Silver Chair” (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis. We will take four months to go through this book. It is broken down into sections listed below:
If you don’t have access to this book, either through the library or a friend, please let Melinda and Jacek know. We can order one when needed.
If you have any questions, please feel free to talk with Jacek & Melinda.