Beacon 3.0 Is Here!

by Stephen Rodgers

If you’re seeing this message, then you’re missing out.

What I mean by that is that Beacon 3.0 is now online, and you need to repoint your links and/or RSS feed to http://www.lighthousebc.com/beacon. This blog will no longer update automatically, since we will be doing all our work over there.

If you were already pointed at that address, then you’re already enjoying the 3.0 goodness and you’ll never see this message.

Either way, see you there!

Pro Rege

Advertisements

Living Theology #9 – The Immutability of God

by Garrett Glende

Last week we looked at our ability to know God, concluding that although God is ultimately beyond our finite minds, we can still know Him in a true way. This brings us to the next chapter of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology which focuses on the incommunicable attributes of God. There are about 25 attributes listed over the next three chapters and if I spent an article on each attribute of God mentioned this series would become even that much longer. Needless to say, I think it’s going to be long enough already. So the next two articles will each focus on a single attribute of God, one incommunicable and one communicable. The term “incommunicable” is meant to distinguish certain aspects of God’s character, specifically those that cannot be shared by man. One example of an incommunicable attribute is omnipresence, which man cannot even come close to relating to. Something such as love or mercy would certainly be able to be expressed in some capacity by humans, thus qualifying them as communicable attributes. We can also think about these as either shared (communicable) or unshared (incommunicable) attributes. One of God’s incommunicable attributes is His immutability, or unchangeableness. This attribute of God will be the focus for now, and we’ll look at a communicable attribute next week.

Grudem defines the immutability of God, writing that “God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.” A biblical basis for this definition comes from verses like Psalm 102:26-27 where the psalmist thinks of all creation and declares that “they will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” God proclaims His longsuffering and patience with the people of Israel in Malachi 3:6, saying, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed.” Even more, James relates the fact that all good gifts are from God to His immutability when he writes, “every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). All of these verses describe the fact that God does not change in His person or character. We can always be sure that God is a loving, faithful, and just God because He is unchanging in His being.

God is also unchanging in His purposes, as everything that He has purposed will come to fruition. He does not decide to do one thing and then not follow through with it. We see this clearly in the person of Christ, as He was tempted many times to avoid the cross, but always was faithful to the eternal plan of the Father. In fact, there are many instances throughout the ministry of Christ where He does something in order to fulfill the prophecy spoken long before. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Isaiah 46:9-11 wonderfully demonstrates the unchanging purposes of God, saying “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

Although the Bible is clear that God does not change in His person or purposes, there are many passages that speak of God changing His mind or feeling sorry for an action that He had done. So does this mean that we cannot trust what Scripture says about God’s immutability? Grudem responds to this challenge, saying that “these instances [God being sorry for making man on earth, withholding judgment on Nineveh, etc.] should all be understood as true expressions of God’s present attitude or intention with respect to the situation as it exists at that moment…God responds differently to different situations.” For example, God promised judgment would fall on the wicked city of Nineveh, but the situation changed once the city became repentant. Seeing the new circumstances, God chose not to cast judgment upon them. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Because God’s law and standards never change, then neither should ours. It’s common for us to mold our morality to our circumstances rather than keeping it in line with God’s unchanging truth. This happens often in dating relationships where as the couple grows closer, their standards for purity become more and more loose until they fall into sin. God’s requirements regarding sexual purity have never changed, but some couples claim that certain sins become permissible because they’ve been in the relationship long enough. Just because you think you’re going to marry someone doesn’t give you the right to act like a married couple, ignoring God’s commands about premarital sex. This is just one way in which we shift God’s law to meet our desires, and there are many others.

The immutability of God is a wonderful truth for the Christian to come to grasps with. Imagine if it were the case that God did change who He is. What then would be our basis for our salvation? Could we even be sure that we are still saved, or has God decided to change the methods and requirements for salvation? We would live in constant fear and insecurity because we would not be able to rest on the unchanging nature of the gospel. Seeing that the canon is closed and God does not give any new revelation, we would not even know if He changed at all. Thankfully, God does not deal with us in this way. We can stand before the throne confident that He will receive us as His own because of the constant truth of the gospel. Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf has always been and will always be the only way to secure eternal life.

No Better Place on Earth

by Peter Lim

Most San Diegans know what a privilege it is to live here in America’s Finest City. Currently we are experiencing mid 70s and even 80 degree temperatures in early January while the rest of the country is “enjoying” much colder temperatures. We have nice beaches, good Mexican food, decent city life without LA’s traffic jams, and a pretty good professional football team. It’s easy to consider ourselves fortunate that we live here. We might even say that there is no better place on Earth to live. But for a Christian, these factors are insignificant reasons for living where we live. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate and even enjoy all these attributes of San Diego. However, when someone who claims to be a Christian elevates such superficial reasons to live at a particular location above spiritual considerations, priorities are misplaced. Before we consider the weather, we need to consider what kind of ministry we hope to have. Before we look at the size of houses we can afford or what salary we can hope to command, we need to consider how we can get plugged into a good church that we can grow and worship in. When we consider what university to attend or send our children to, we must prioritize spiritual considerations above and beyond academic considerations. Unfortunately, many so-called Christians minimize their spiritual priority and elevate the prestige of academic institutions or their careers over their ministry. This misplacement of priorities often confuse their non-saved family members and weaker Christians into thinking that Christians think the same way as non-Christians.

This life that we live as Christians may or may not involve living in such a nice place as San Diego. Since our main goal as Christians on Earth is to evangelize, we must be willing to go anywhere the gospel needs to be preached. This may take us away from our beloved city to a dusty little town, freezing cold cities where they speak an impossible to learn language, and maybe humid jungles where people have yet to hear the message of Jesus’ atoning work. But wherever we are on Earth geographically, as long as we are doing the Lord’s work spreading the gospel, it’s the same path that leads to Heaven. This road is not always easy nor comfortable nor even desirable for our fleshly sensibilities. Our way of thinking and the priorities that we have will be foreign to the world around us. In fact, God tells us to expect the world to hate us. (1 John 3:13) One sure way to know whether we are on this road that leads to heaven is if the world sees any difference in our priorities. It is this priority of the gospel that could possibly cause us to consider Haiti or Bangladesh or Afghanistan to be the best place on Earth to live. As long as we are involved in evangelism, that is the best place on Earth to be because God is being glorified.

This article started out with the impression that I was talking about geography. For a Christian, it’s not about that at all. It’s about the place of blessing that God has placed us in. This road can be anywhere on Earth. Rightly did Steven Curtis Chapman sing about this very road:

Somebody told me that this path that leads to heaven
Will not be the easy way
Well I found that to be true
Oh, but I also found, I found out there’s

CHORUS
No better place on earth than the road that leads to heaven
No other place I’d rather be

Congratulations!

by Stephen Rodgers

Congratulations to Pastor Reverend Patrick Cho on passing his ordination with flying colors! We are all duly proud of your accomplishments, but even more so of your character and witness in giving all glory to the Lord who has so richly blessed you. May you continue to use your gifts in His service.

Sincerely,
The Staff of the LBC Beacon

ps. We’re still going to call you Pastor though.

Pro Rege

Weekly Links (1/22/10)

by Stephen Rodgers

Alright, another Friday, another Weekly Links! This week we’ve got some really great stuff for you, and a lot of it is audio/video as well as text, so let’s get down to it:

Pro Rege

New Visitor’s Team

by Hwa Park

My name is Hwa Park and I am the ministry coordinator for the NVT Ministry (New Visitors Team). I’ve been part of this ministry for a very long time and although our practices and processes has evolved over the past 11 years the purpose of this ministry has pretty much remained the same. The primary purpose of this ministry is to welcome and orient first time visitors to LBC as well as to serve both members and nonmembers during Sunday worship. The NVT team perform the following functions:

  • We provide parking patrol and management services during Sunday worship and other LBC functions. There are designated parking spots for pastors, families with nursery aged children and new visitors.
  • Designated Sunday greeters that collect first time visitors information for personal follow up and invitation to LBC functions .
  • We provide security services during worship both inside and outside the Church.
  • New visitors orientation which occurs immediately after service. We go over our Church Informational Pamphlet which includes topics such as “Finding a good Church”, MVP of LBC, Pastors profile, various ministries at LBC, importance of membership and baptism and as well as the Gospel presentation.
  • Meet and Greet function for people that have been attending LBC. During this time the focus is on Church membership and baptism. This is a time of one on one interactions with our team members over a yummy pizza lunch. Pastors are encouraged to attend.
  • Personal follow-up and follow up letter for every new visitor that signs in on Sundays.

We always have a need for more people, so if you are a member and would like to join the team, please contact me at hwapark@yahoo.com. Communication within the team is the biggest challenge in our group as our team evolves over the years. Please pray that our team will serve with a heart that seeks to please God through our interactions with first time visitors.

Living Theology #8 – The Existence of God

by Garrett Glende

It is perhaps one of the most asked questions in our day, and certainly the most passionately debated. Is there a God? The answer has profound impact on the world and our daily individual lives, but do we often consider how we should live in light of the existence and knowledge of our Creator? The Bible testifies to the reality of this triune God, telling the story of His marvelous work of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

America used to be a nation founded on principles that took into account the existence of this God, yet today there are many who would discount the truth altogether, claiming that Christianity is immoral and, in fact, harmful to the world. They challenge the Bible’s authority and suppress the knowledge in their hearts, all the while proselytizing their own stream of intense atheism. What should the Christian response be to the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Dan Barker, who claim that the God of the Bible is immoral and repulsive? More importantly, knowing that God does indeed exist, how are our lives affected?

If there is to be a response to the naturalistic materialist, then certainly our argument must be based on what the Scripture says about the existence of God. First, we know that God exists because of the inner testimony of our hearts. We have been created in the image of God and are therefore able to think and act in ways that no other created thing can. Having been made in this way, God has written on our hearts an innate knowledge of Him. Those who deny His existence only prove that the Bible is true when it says that those who do not believe “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” These men know that God exists, but they have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:18, 25). The Bible’s stance on atheists is not that they are people who say “God doesn’t exist,” but rather as Douglas Wilson would say is the first tenet of atheism, “God doesn’t exist and I hate Him.” It is clear that our own sin causes us to deny God’s existence, a fact that our own hearts testify to.

Not only has God revealed Himself to us through our own inner knowledge, we are able to see Him through His creation. Psalm 19:1 says that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” When we look up and see the stars and the clouds, we cannot help but be amazed at the character of God. His majesty and glory shine forth simply through what He has created. We can know of His creativity when we see the vast amount of life in a coral reef, and His power when we stand at the base of a mountain. Thus, Paul can write in Romans 1 that the existence of God, “namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world. So they are without excuse.” Since God has so clearly shown Himself to us, we can only say that the fool does not believe in Him (Psalm 14:1, Rom. 1:21).

How then shall we live? It is the most necessary question of this article. If we take in our knowledge of God and leave it at that, then it’s really of no use to us at all. We might be able to win an argument with a sophomore biology student on campus, but does God’s existence really change our hearts?

What does it all matter?

That’s the issue. It does matter. Life matters. If God is just a man-made construction intended to soothe our fearful consciences, then why live with any care for the future? If there is no God, then there is no ultimate purpose in life. We live our three-score-and-ten and its over with nothing to look forward to. Our life as a collection of living cells is over and no one cares because that’s all we were – a lump of cells. But no, God does exist and there is purpose in life. As God, He is necessarily the ultimate end of all things. We exist because of Him and we exist for Him (Col. 1:16). In this way, every aspect of our lives has meaning and we should use the greatest to the smallest parts of it to glorify Him (1 Cor. 10:31). The decisions about what to buy at the grocery store matter because God exists. What car we drive, what house we live in, what we watch on TV – it’s all significant in light of the existence of God. Ultimately, we will all stand before God and give an account for our lives here on earth. It is my prayer that we all can say that our lives were lived with a purpose – the glory of the true and living God.


About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

Subscribe