Category Archives: Pastor Patrick Slyman

CHRIST & THE CULTURE, Part 6 (The Exclusivity of Christ)

 

Continuing to bring clarity to the cultural issues our world has clouded, we now turn to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This is distinctive Christian claim—that only Jesus is able to save people from their sins; that Jesus is unique in His person (being the sinless, eternal God in human flesh) and matchless in His work (living the perfect life God demands from all people, dying a substitutionary death because of sin, and enduring the wrath of God against sin for all who will come to Him in faith and repentance).

This is the claim that all other religions (except for true Christianity) are false religions, possessing powerless gospels, hopeless in their message, bankrupt in their promises, and satanic in their nature.

We live in an inclusive world, a world that exalts religious variety and diversity and acceptance.

Our Inclusive World

The co-exist bumper sticker summarizes our pluralistic society best – a culture that champions the idea that there are multiple paths to God and many ways to heaven.

The thought of the day is that God possesses of a variety of names. To the Muslim – he is Allah. To the Buddhist – he is a whole pantheon of gods. Add to that the gods of the Hindu faith and the New Age religions. And on and on the list can go.

The idea is that the name of God doesn’t matter because in the end they are all the same anyway. The thought that God is too complex and mysterious for any one religion to contain and define Him.

This cultural inclusivism was perhaps seen most visibly on January 18, 2009 when Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and opened his inaugural prayer with these words, “O god of our many understandings.”

In the words of a millennial blogger, “God, Allah, Yahweh, the Creator, the One, the Energies, goes by as many names in this country as ever….I do believe that God is in everyone, though by what name he resides that seems to me to be up to the person in question.”

The Inclusive Church

Yet shockingly, this God-of-many-names gospel has seeped into the American church.

In a 2008 survey – 52% of professing American Christians said they believed that at least some non-Christian faiths lead to eternal life.

To the statement, “Many religions can lead to eternal life,” 80% of the participants named at least one non-Christian religion that could save the sinner from his sins.

Just this past year, a professor at Wheaton College made the jaw-dropping statement that the Muslim god is the same as the Christian God.

She wrote, “I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same.”

One very well-known Christian evangelist has even been quoted as saying, “I used to be believe that pagans in far countries were lost if they did not have the gospel of Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that.

One theologian, looking at the religious culture here in America summarized it this way, “Are the moral adherents of the African traditional religions, virtuous Hindus, and Buddhists really outside a salvific relationship to God? Do Muslims and Jews—who know the God of Abraham and follow His commands—need to hear the Gospel? No other issue is so defining of the contemporary religious landscape.

This is the issue of our day. Is Christ the exclusive Savior from sin? Is Jesus unique? Is His cross necessary?

The Exclusive Savior

Contrary to popular opinion, an exclusive Savior is exactly what the Bible teaches. And an exclusive Gospel is exactly what the Bible calls us to believe and proclaim.

John 8:24 – “24 Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

John 14:6 – “6 Jesus said…‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Acts 4:12 – “12 There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven, there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Romans 3:23 – “23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

1 Timothy 1:15 – “15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

1 Timothy 2:5 – “5 For there is one God, and one mediatorbetween God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Mark 8:38 – “38 Whoever is ashamed of Me and My Words…the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38),

Add to these verses, Acts 17:30-31 and Romans 5:17-19 9and many other. The biblical testimony is clear. Jesus alone saves from sin.

The Bible is not shy about the uniqueness, and supremacy, and exclusive nature of Jesus Christ. It makes no apology for its narrowness. And neither should we.

CHRIST & THE CULTURE, Part 3 (The Authority of God’s Word in a World of Opinion)

Concluding our look at the authority of God’s Word in a world filled with fallen man’s opinions, here are the final 3 reasons why God’s Word trumps all “so-called” authorities this world offers.

 

Reason #4: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Defines Reality

The Scripture is clear, only God’s Word defines what truth is. Truth, for it to be truly true, must conform to the standard of God’s Word.

Psalm 119:160 – “160 The sum of Your word is truth.”

Psalm 119:142 “142 Your law is truth.”

Psalm 119:151 – “151 Your commandments are truth.”

In the words of Jesus, “17 Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

And the word choice is absolutely essential to grasp.

Notice, in each of the above passages, we do not read that God’s word is true. Though that would be an accurate statement—to say that God’s word is true. But, that is not what the above Scriptures state. Rather, the Bible says that it is truth.

What’s the difference?

Well, if God’s Word was simply true (using an adjective) that would mean that God’s Word had to conform to some other standard of truth. It would be true because it agreed with a standard of truth outside of itself.

But, to say that God’s Word is truth (using a noun) is to say that God’s Word is the standard of truth and anything that is deemed “true” must conform to it.

Only God’s Word defines what truly is.

It is the ultimate Truth in the milieu of small “t” truths.

Perception is not reality. Common consensus does not establish reality. Man’s opinion does not determine reality. The latest polls are worthless. Personal viewpoints are inconsequential. Individual preferences mean nothing. Human philosophies are irrelevant.

Only God’s Word defines what truly is. It is the objective standard, the universal absolute with which anything that wishes to be considered true must conform.

The 4th reason God’s Word is the sole authority that transcends all other authorities—It Alone Defines Reality.

 

 Reason #5: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Promises to Keep Us From Sin

God’s Word promises to never lead us astray. It promises that through obedience to it, you will produce fruit for His glory.

Man’s opinion not only shifts, but also leads to futility. Not so with God’s Word.

Psalm 1:1-3 – “1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 119:9 – “9 How can a young man keep his way pure?” How can we remain pure in the midst of a morally perverse world? How can we rise above the fray of a culture that is spiraling downward into depravity at break-neck speed? Here’s the answer – “9 By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Psalm 119:11 – “11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Psalm 119:33 – “104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”

Psalm 119:105 – “105 Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

God’s Word trumps all cultural opinions – because it alone promises to keep us from sin.

 

Reason #6: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Will Be the Standard of All Future Judgment

At the end of your life, please understand: you will not be judged by your neighbor. You will not answer to the US Supreme Court. You will not give an account of your life to the 21st sociologists. No, there will be only one before whom you will stand and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. And His final judgment will be based upon His authoritative Word.

For the unbeliever, Jesus’ warnings must be heeded, “26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:26-27):

In John 12, Jesus issued a similar warning, “48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48):

To reject the Scriptures is to reject the Savior—and thus be rejected by the Savior.

And for the believer, this same principle applies. Future judgment, not a judgment of punishment but a judgment of rewards, will be based upon his submission to God’s Word.

Isaiah 66:2 – “2 But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

2 Timothy 3:16-4:2 – “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

For the preacher, his future reward will be based upon his faithfulness to proclaim God’s breathed out word in all of its fullness. And for the hearer, his reward is based upon his faithfulness to conform his life to God’s breathed out Word in all of its fullness.

The 6th Reason Scripture is the sole authority that transcends all other authorities—Because it alone will be the standard of all guture judgment.

In a world and culture where opinions reign, and sin dominates, and pressure to conform is strong, where truth has become individualistic—How are we to live as believers?

We are to come under the authority of God’s truth, and cherish His Lordship, and in faith believe Him, and obey Him.

This is where the Christian’s life within this world begins. This is the 1st step in navigating through the cultural issues of the day—accepting the authority of God’s Word over every area of our life.

CHRIST & THE CULTURE, Part 2 (The Authority of God’s Word in a World of Opinion)

Picking up where we left off – what follows are the first 3 reasons why God’s truth trumps all “so-called” truths this world offers.

Reason #1: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Was Written by God

When we come to the Scriptures, we come to a book unlike any other book (ever). The Bible is no normal set of writings—it’s author is no ordinary author.

419x’s the OT states, “Thus says the Lord(cf. Exodus 4:22; Joshua 24:2; 1 Samuel 15:2). And in each case, the writer uses the name “Yahweh,” the very name that sets god apart from all of His creation. The very one who answers to no one. The one who is completely self-sufficient.

Exodus 24:4 – “4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord(Exodus 24:4).

Matthew 4:4 – “4 Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

The Scriptures trump every other thought, person, opinion, judicial decision, newspaper column, scientific journal, populist vote, and panel of experts because the Scriptures finds their source in the only uncreated, all-wise, all-knowing, all-supreme, sovereign, transcendent, self-sufficient God of the universe.

2 Timothy 3:16 explains that “16 All Scripture is inspired by God,” referring to the Scriptures being “God-breathed”—something that refers to “all Scripture.”

No Scripture can be dismissed as out-of-date. No Scripture can to be disregarded because it does not conform to our modern, so-called “enlightened” and “progressive” thoughts of the day.

Of course, each Scripture must be understood in its proper context, rightly interpreted, and correctly applied. But no Scripture is irrelevant. Why? Because all Scripture is the product of God’s creative breath. Scripture carries with it the same authority as the Creator Himself.

This is the great doctrine of inspiration. A doctrine that not only sets the Bible apart from all other writings, but also establishes the Scripture’s authority over all of life.

John Calvin put it this way, “We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone.”

The Scriptures transcend all other thoughts and ideas, just as much as the Creator transcends all creation.

The 1st reason why God’s Word is the sole authority over all of life—it alone was written by God.

 

Reason #2: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Never Errs

If there is anything that we learn from history, it is the fallibility of fallen man. As the old saying goes, “To err is human.”

Yet, all error dissipates when you come to the Scriptures.

Unlike anything else in this world, the Scriptures are totally inerrant in all they say and completely infallible in all they assert.

Unlike fallen man, the Scriptures can be trusted in their entirety.

This is the testimony of Scripture itself.

Psalm 12:6 – 6 The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.”

Psalm 19:7-9 – 7 The law of the Lord is perfectthe testimony of the Lord is sure…8 The precepts of the Lord are right…the commandment of the Lord is pure…9 the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.”

Psalm 111:7 – “7 All His precepts are sure. 8 They are upheld forever and ever.” 

Psalm 119:140 – 140 Your word is very pure.

Psalm 119:172 – “172 Let my tongue sing of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.

Proverbs 30:5 – 5 Every word of God is tested.”

Romans 7:12 –12 The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

James 1:25 – 25 The perfect law.”

Never does Scripture criticize or correct itself. Never is Scripture influenced by the populace when it comes to truth. Never is Scripture influenced by the hidden agendas of men. Never does Scripture waver. Never will you find competing opinions in the Bible. And never will you find any error, falsehood, or lie in them (Hebrews 6:18).

The Scriptures speak with one voice, full authority, and absolute inerrancy.

This has been the testimony throughout the ages.

Augustine – “The Scriptures have never erred…The Scriptures cannot err…It is certain that the Scripture cannot disagree with itself.”

Martin Luther – “We must remain content with them, and cling to them as the perfectly clear, certain, sure words of God which can never deceive us or allow us to err” (Luther).

Calvin – “[Scripture is] free from every stain or defect.”

 

Reason #3: Scripture is the Sole Authority Because – It Alone Never Changes

Cultural opinions change. People’s minds change. Moral norms change. Standards change according to the latest poll.

What used to be taboo or thinkable a decade ago, is now commonplace and accepted. What once caused shame is now promoted.

Why is this so? Because without a fixed, objective standard of truth relativism will always win the day. Truth, if it is not found outside of you must then be found inside of you. And the result is always the same—lusts determine truth and desires determine fact. Everyone’s truth becomes valid and people take their stands on the ever shifting sands of opinion.

Yet, Scripture is altogether different. Because it was written by a transcendent God, its truth is transcendent and never changes with the times.

Psalm 119:89 – “89 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”

Psalm 119:160 – “160 The sum of Your word is truth [more on that in a moment], and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

Isaiah 40:8 – “8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the our God stands forever.”

Matthew 24:35 – “35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

John 10:35 – “35 The Scripture cannot be broken.”

The pundits will die off. Man’s opinions will ebb and flow. The polls will shift with the wind. But God’s Word will never change. It is, and forever will be, the authority that transcends all cultures.

Nine Marks of a Mature Christian

How do you quantify spiritual maturity? What does a healthy Christian look like? These are the questions the EBC elders have been exploring for the last few months.

The desire of your elders is the same as the Apostle Paul’s–that EBC would “attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). The longing of your elders is that each and every one of you would be unified in the faith, mature in Christ, and healthy in your Christian walk.

And so the elders have scoured the Scriptures and drawn out nine marks of a healthy Christian. These are the marks we pray would be developed in each of your lives. These are the characteristics we are committed to instilling in you. This is the grid through which our decisions for your spiritual health be made–from the resources recommended, to the classes offered, to the music sung, to the Word preached.

In the coming months, we will expand on each of these marks of maturity, but know from the start that our commitment to you is to disciple, teach, and provide that which will grow you into a “mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

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A Note from the Elders…

The Elder Expression feature has been absent from The Emmanuel Expression church newsletter for many months now, but I hope to reinstate it beginning with this issue.  And it seems fitting to kick it off anew by welcoming our new Pastor/Teacher Patrick Slyman.

Pastor Patrick Slyman and his family (wife Sarah and daughters Lexi (age 10) and Maddox (age 8)) arrived in Skagit County on August 20th.  Patrick will join the staff on September 1st and is schedule to preach on September 7th.

Patrick holds a Doctor of Ministry degree, specializing in Expository Preaching, from The Master’s Seminary.  He was ordained in the year 2000.  His experience includes serving as an associate pastor at a church in southern California for 2 years and serving as Lead Pastor for a small church in Rockport, Massachusetts for 8 years.  He has also mentored Master of Divinity students in preaching.

Patrick’s role at Emmanuel will be as our primary preacher, but there will be times that other pastors will take the pulpit for a spell.  During these times Patrick will probably teach an Equipping Class.  He especially loves the two-way communication you can have in a teaching environment and the opportunity it provides to become better acquainted with members of our congregation.

Patrick’s title of Pastor/Teacher was carefully chosen to reflect the nature of his role.  He will not be the “Senior Pastor” or “Lead Pastor”.  Our church will be led by a team of pastors and elders and in concert with subordinate leaders of various ministries.  We believe this is a biblical model and avoids many of the pitfalls of personal agendas and idolizing an individual leader.  It also promotes personal accountability among the leaders.

Many of you have expressed your excitement about a new beginning at Emmanuel.  The elders and staff certainly have a sense of great expectation about what God will do through the man He sent to us.  Many of us on staff and on the Board of Elders feel reinvigorated for ministry.

God seems to be preparing us for new and greater things in other ways also.  For example, our finances are gradually improving.  We have consistently been running modest surpluses this year, which has provided the funds we needed to hire Pastor Patrick.  Hopefully, this trend will continue and we will soon be able to hire a new Worship Director also.

We are also looking forward expectantly to the Getty concert that is tentatively schedule for the last week of March 2015 or first week of April 2015.  It promises to be a wonderful evening of praise to our great King and Savior and sweet fellowship with other believers, many from other churches.  We will keep you informed as plans firm up.

Meanwhile, take advantage of opportunities to get to know the Slyman family and make them feel truly welcome.