Five Points Blog

We Are Not the Center, God Is

While Paul was in prison God gave revelation to him explaining his divine purpose in the world. We have the perfect record of that revelation in Paul’s biblical letter to the Ephesians. We discover the plan to send Jesus Christ, God’s Son, into the world to endure death upon the cross and to rise again all the way to heaven, in order to save God’s people throughout history. God finally put all things under Christ’s feet “and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV). 

Christ is the center of God’s plans. He is God’s apex of history, his zenith of time. God means for the supremacy of Christ over all to be seen, known and adored throughout the earth. And beyond the earth, Christ will be the main issue throughout the physical and spiritual universe! We know this because of the purpose clause we find in Ephesians 3:10. God has lavished grace upon the church to exalt Christ “ that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” What is the manifold wisdom of God? It is Christ himself (1  Corinthians 1:24).

What does all this mean? It means we are not the center of the universe, Christ is! Human beings, even beloved sons and daughters of faith, are not the center of God’s affectionate plan, Jesus Christ is! In the church and the home, in the workplace and school, Christ means to be all in all, dethroning every rebel idea, person or place.

What now threatens a coup against Christ, the rightful Lord of your life?

Gospel-Advancing … Halloween?

As a church that values gospel-centered mission, we desire to be a people who live with intentionality, desiring to commend Christ to whoever we can. Now imagine an opportunity where nearly all of your neighbors are expecting you to knock on their door, and you get to have a chance to talk with them when throughout most of the year, they may stay mostly to themselves.

Sounds like a perfect match. And that match is called Halloween.

Here in a few weeks, this golden opportunity will be here for us to take advantage of. I’ve personally been helped by a couple blog posts in thinking through how my family can further develop relationships with our neighbors that we might gain a hearing for the gospel.

Here’s one that gives five simple, practical steps to take to carry out our value of gospel-centered mission come trick-or-treat time: Check your conscience. When people knock, answer. Visit every house on your block. Be creative. Pray—a lot.

And here’s another blog by a friend from a few years ago who poses a slew of questions to consider in the weeks leading up to All Hallows’ Eve.

Here’s two specific examples to spur on your thinking in loving your neighbors this Halloween:

1. I recall a Five Points family who last year didn’t just give out tracts or even those piddly pieces of candy but rather the king-size candy bars. How very similar to the gospel to have such a generous gift given so freely! Maybe swing by Costco this year and get the good candy.

2. This year, my family plans on rolling the grill out to the street and cooking up hotdogs for our neighbors. It doesn’t take much to make happen, and, Lord willing, we’ll start new friendships and go further in current ones with our neighbors.

What ideas do you have? How can you make the most of Halloween for pursuing the joy of your neighbors?

A Gospel-Centered Life

The power of God in the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ, transforms the terrain of your life from the inside out. Imprisoned for love of those he once hated in his heart, Paul wrote, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power” (Ephesians 3:7).

The grace of this gospel turned a one-time murderer into a full-time minster of Gentile pagans. Paul defined his imprisonment, his identity, his destiny, and his purpose according to this new love God placed in his heart. Like the fiery molten core of the earth exerting intense pressure to reshape mountains and valleys, the gospel is the energy center of every believer in Jesus Christ. The lines of our lives are redrawn according to the contours of Christ.

What hills and valleys exist in your life, testifying to the power of sovereign grace? Do you enjoy living vibrant relationships with once-estranged believers all owing to the gospel? Do you parent with holy love rather than shame? Are you finally free of fears that you’ve failed someone, especially God? Can you find joy in the smallest gifts God gives and concrete lighthouse-like security in the fiercest storm he sends? Can you truly say with river-like peace from your heart, “Death is a defeated foe”?

These and a thousand other blessings are the work of one thing: the transforming power of God’s sovereign grace that comes through his gospel alone. If God is for you in Jesus Christ, who can be against you? Absolutely no one and nothing can oppose those in Christ Jesus (Isaiah 54:17).

What corner of your life yet remains untouched by the power of God’s love in Christ?

Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am.

Living Simply to Receive More

I read a blog post this morning from Randy Alcorn, who seems to always have insightful and helpful things to say about how to view money and the things of this world. In his post, he gives six motivators for living more simply, essentially laying out the logic of why it is more blessed to give than to receive—we freely and joyfully give of what the Lord has entrusted to us in the sure hope of receiving the blessing in the New Heavens and Earth.

Here are Alcorn's six reasons:

1. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because Heaven is our home.
2. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because it frees us up and shifts our center of gravity.
3. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because we’re God’s pipeline.
4. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because of the reward we’ll receive in Heaven and the joy it will bring us.
5. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because of the dire spiritual needs of the world.
6. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because of the world’s urgent physical needs.

For Whom Would You Endure Persecution?

The apostle Paul was in a Roman jail for proclaiming the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Particularly, he sat in a jail cell because the Jews were jealous of his ministry to the Gentiles. He rightly corrected the Jewish self-serving read on the promises of God and extended those promise to the nations, including the Ephesians and us. Paul was literally in jail “on behalf of you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1).

Are there any unbelieving pagans you have never met for whom you would endure squalid prison conditions? Pause for a moment and envision Paul’s imprisonment. Does it not take your breath away that some mysterious impulse drove him to endure horrific, Roman, first-century incarceration for strangers he once would have murdered as “gentile dogs”?

What is the impulse that is so powerful that it could spark such enemy love in Paul and in us? The answer comes in his new title, “I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1). He is a prisoner for Jesus Christ. That means his willingness to be imprisoned is worship to his beloved Lord. It is joyful obedience of faith for Paul. It is not Christian heroism but Christian hedonism. In the prison cell, he finds himself at the right hand of Christ enjoying pleasures forevermore!

Paul longed to know Christ in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Being in prison on behalf of the Gentiles drew him closer to Christ. 

This is why Christians suffering persecution in Iraq as we speak do not say, “Rescue us quickly.” But rather say, “Pray that God’s Spirit would be near for grace to be faithful to Jesus Christ and that he would protect our lives, our families, and our witness.”

Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am.

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