Post By Gary Henry

We Must Do More Than "Motivate the Tribe"

Last year, I came home from a preaching trip and ran into my apartment manager on the sidewalk as I was unloading my car. “Good to have you back,” she said. “I guess you’ve been out motivating the tribe?” She winked as she said that. Secular-minded and dubious about the whole idea of religion, she was saying something like this: “Gary, you’re not likely to convince anybody in the public that your message is true, so you’ve found a way to make a living just ‘motivating the tribe’ — preaching to those who already agree with you.”

This person was a friend, and her good-natured tease was not meant to offend. But it hit home. Sadly, many of us who “preach” spend little time doing anything that resembles evangelism. In a culture where it is increasingly hard to find unbelievers who will listen, it is tempting to throw up our hands and quit. What worries me, however, is that our conscience is not even bothering us much anymore. We’re comfortable being the congregation’s “minister.” The gig we aspire to would be a nice mix of pulpiteer/pastor/program director.

Unfortunately, our problem is exacerbated by the narrow partisanship in the world today, a world where people no longer talk to anybody except their tribe. In the “news” and “social media”, we no longer feel any need to interact with people who don’t agree with us. We may say nasty things about them behind their back, but we see no need to communicate with — much less persuade — them. They simply don’t count. If they don’t agree with us, they can be ignored.

In this kind of environment, our own tribe seems a very safe circle to stay inside of. It’s easy to settle for nothing more than intramural (“inside the walls”) activities. But I believe we must resist this temptation. (1) We need to keep trying to find people to study the gospel with. (2) We need to learn some “languages” different than our own (and not just linguistically but culturally). (3) We need to improve our listening skills, being genuinely willing to learn as well as to teach. (4) We need to persevere and be patient. (5) We need to preach the word of God “even if it isn’t the popular thing to do” (2 Timothy 4:2 CEV).

Evangelism must remain a high priority with us. No matter how difficult it is, we must keep trying to communicate with those around us. We must get out of our comfort zones. The Lord is not going to be pleased if we simply give up, retreat to the safety of our church buildings, and settle into a routine of doing nothing more than “motivating the tribe.” The tribe certainly needs to be motivated, and that is a part of our work, but the Lord expects us to do more than encourage one another. The world around us is like a building that is burning to the ground. Do we not care enough to try to rescue some of those who are dying? If the roles were reversed, what would we want them to do?

Gary Henry –

The post We Must Do More Than ‘Motivate the Tribe’ appeared first on WordPoints.

Words From Keith and Debbie Crews

So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean (2 Kings 5:14).


Naaman was a mighty man of valor in the Syrian army but he had leprosy.  Elisha sent a servant to tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan River.  He got angry like some do when told to be baptized for the remission of their sins.  They think all they have to do is take Jesus into their heart and they will be saved.  It is easy to take Jesus into your heart.  It is more challenging for some to be baptized.  They have to humble themselves and submit.  They look for excuses to not be baptized.  Naaman had to do all the prophet Elisha told him to do.  He had to dip seven times in the Jordan.  We have to do all God tells us to do.  Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).  Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Blog Post by Gary Henry

All of us have some painful memories. The person who says he has no regrets is either lying or has not lived long enough in this world to make any mistakes. So the question is: what are we to do with the memories that bring us pain when we they resurface in our minds?

Perhaps a clarification is in order. In this post I am not thinking about the memories of things other people have done to us. Those memories can be excruciating, but whatever we may have suffered at the hands of others, of much more concern should be the sins that we ourselves have committed. How should we think about these things?

I expect very few of us can ponder this subject without thinking of our brother Paul in the New Testament. Forgiven by God’s grace and given a clean slate, Paul still had to live the rest of his life with the memory of having persecuted the Lord’s church while he was still an unbeliever. His attitude, however, is admirable and worthy of our imitation. “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9,10).

No self-pity or worldly sorrow. Paul’s memories were painful, but his sorrow shows no sign of self-centeredness or despair.

Gratitude for grace. Forgiven, Paul was determined that God’s grace would not be wasted on him. He would respond rightly to grace.

Humility. If Paul was ever tempted to be cocky, he would only need to remember the seriousness of what he had been forgiven of.

Diligence in the Lord’s work. Paul’s memories of his forgiven sins were helping him in the Lord’s work rather than hindering him. Forgiveness should have the same result in our own work in the Lord.

We live in a feel-good society that prioritizes emotional happiness. In our culture, painful feelings are avoided at all costs. But such an approach to life is inconsistent with the Scriptures. Jesus was a Man of Sorrows. He did not teach that we should avoid painful thoughts but that we should think rightly about them. When we choose to think rightly, even our most painful memories can strengthen us spiritually.

So, my dear friend, my advice to you is this: embrace your painful memories — but take them before God’s throne and seek His help in thinking about these things as you should. Avoid worldly sorrow, thank God for His grace, let yourself be humbled by the memory of your sins, and let your gratitude for grace send you back into the Lord’s work with a greater wisdom and strength than you had before. The devil says, “All is lost,” but God says, “Much can yet be done, my child.” To whom will we listen? That is the choice we must make.

Gary Henry –

The post Painful Memories Can Help Us appeared first on WordPoints.

Words from Keith and Debbie

Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).
Unfaithful to God is one who is a friend of the world.  “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov 12:26 NKJ).  The world is full of wicked people who have no regard for God.  “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (Ps 10:4).  We should not be friends with such people.  They will lead us away from God just like the idols of heathen nations led Israel away from God and just like the idols of Solomon’s wives led him away from God.  “Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Prov 5:8).  The world is like kudzu.  It will wrap itself around you unless you beat it back.  “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Pet 2:20).  Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).

blog post from Gary Henry

“. . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

There are so many good results that come from pondering the Lord’s death each first day of the week. I have often marveled at how all of our individual needs are met at the foot of the cross, whatever they may be on a given Sunday. Only God’s wisdom could have contrived a practice that helps us in so many ways all at once.

But think with me about what Hebrews 12:2 says about our Lord’s suffering. How was it that Jesus mustered the strength to get through His trial and crucifixion in such a steadfast way? It was, this text says, “for the joy that was set before him.” In other words, it was not by pretending the ordeal was pleasant, but by looking beyond the pain, that He was able to keep going when it might have been tempting to give up. Of the many character traits Jesus demonstrated in His last hours, this is one of the most encouraging for us in our own lives: Jesus made the decision to keep going. Called upon to endure, He endured.

And lest we forget, it was a decision on Jesus’ part that led Him to do what He did. His perseverance was not easy or automatic due to His divine powers — it was a choice that He made. It was, to put it simply, an act of obedience on His part. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

And making the choice to endure is the point of our text back in Hebrews 12. In v.1, the writer had said, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” And then in v.2, it is Jesus who is the example of endurance. More than anyone else’s example, it is “looking to Jesus” that gives us the courage to keep going. Jesus is the One whose character we need to emulate. Tempted to quit, it is Jesus we need to think of.

Lately, it has been a joy for me to meditate on this particular aspect of Jesus’ example when I partake of the Lord’s Supper. This response to the Supper is an “invigorating” response. Yes, the Supper warms us with gratitude for Jesus’ love, touches us with sympathy for His suffering, reassures us of our peace in His mercy, and calms our nerves in the midst of all our uncertainties. But no less important, the Lord’s Supper energizes us, stiffens our courage, and sends us back into the world with a greater determination to endure. The joy is coming. The day of rest awaits us. The victory celebration is being prepared. But in the meantime, Jesus’ endurance of suffering shows us how to . . . continue.

Gary Henry –

Thoughts From Keith Crews

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet 1:18-19).
What do you count precious to you?  The blood of Christ is precious.  His blood has purchased us and redeemed us from sin.  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Cor 7:23).  We have forgiveness of sins through His blood (Eph 1:7).  He washed us from our sins in His own blood (Rev 1:5).  To take advantage of that precious blood we must be baptized into His death (Rom 6:3-4).  Our old man must be put to death to be freed from sin (Rom 6:6-7).  We must be born again through the word of God (1 Pet 1:23).  No other sacrifice would do because Christ was the only one without blemish and without spot.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21).  Do you really value Jesus?

Is Baptism a Prerequisite to Salvation? By Derek Long

The purpose of baptism is a divisive topic among those claiming to follow the Bible. God is not pleased when people speak different things. God’s word calls upon us to “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). God would have us all to teach and believe the same thing regarding the purpose of baptism. Ephesians 4:5 points out there is “one baptism.” The only way to arrive at an understanding of the purpose of baptism is to examine the various verses dealing with the subject and see what God’s word says is its purpose. We must be willing to accept God’s word whether it aligns with our previously held convictions or not. We must be willing to allow God to be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). We can conclude baptism is an important topic from the simple fact it is mentioned so often throughout the New Testament. We cannot simply ignore talking about the subject of baptism and be teaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27). In Jesus’ commission to the apostles before He ascended back to heaven, He gives us information about the purpose of baptism. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus commanded the apostles to make disciples and He tells them how they will make disciples. Making disciples involves baptizing individuals and teaching individuals. Therefore, a person cannot be made a disciple of Christ without being baptized. Must a person be a disciple of Christ to be saved? If so, then a person must be baptized to be saved. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus again is recorded as saying, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Jesus describes the person who will be saved in these verses. The person who will be saved is the one who believes and is baptized. If this passage teaches belief as a prerequisite to salvation, which it clearly does, then it must also teach baptism as a prerequisite to salvation. Both belief and baptism stand in a similar relation to the reception of salvation in the passage. If one can contend a person is saved prior to baptism, why can a person not equally say a person is saved prior to believing? If one can believe and latter be baptized, why can a person not be baptized and latter believe? If a person can be saved prior to baptism, why can they not be saved before belief and baptism? Jesus places baptism prior to salvation. Failure to accept the plain statements of our Lord puts us into the camp of those who harden their hearts and close their eyes to the truth (Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 8:17-18). Peter on the Day of Pentecost makes a clear statement regarding the purpose of baptism. In Acts 2:37 the audience is crying out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They recognize they are guilty of putting to death the Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) and want to know what they need to do to be saved. Peter’s response is clear, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call … Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38-40). These individuals already believe Jesus is Lord and Christ and so they are taught they need to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Can a person be saved prior to receiving the remission of sins? If not and one must be baptized for the remission of sins, how can one be saved prior to baptism? If one can be saved prior to baptism, then why can one not be saved prior to repentance since repentance and baptism are equally stated to be for the remission of sins. Some attempt to argue “for” means because of and not in order to obtain. If that is true, a person repents because their sins have already been forgiven. If that is true, Jesus shed His blood because people’s sins had already been forgiven (Matthew 26:28). Jesus shed His blood in order to obtain the remission of sins. The Bible teaches a person is baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins. In Colossians 2:11-14 we read the following, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” These individuals once were dead in trespasses and sins but were forgiven all trespasses when they were made alive with Christ. When were these individuals made alive with Christ – before or after baptism? Colossians 2:12 says they were buried with Christ in baptism. Was Christ made alive prior to or after His burial? Christ was made alive after His burial so they would be made alive and forgiven after their baptism. After they were buried with Christ in baptism, they “were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” They were made alive with Christ after their baptism. Therefore, they were forgiven all their trespasses after their baptism. Can a person be saved before they are forgiven all their trespasses? If a person cannot be saved before they are forgiven all trespasses, they cannot be saved prior to baptism. We could look at other verses but I believe these passages make it clear a person is not save prior to baptism today.