Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Monday, December 27, 2021

An Essential Doctrine of Christianity: The Trinity

             One doctrine that sets Christianity apart from every false religion and cult out there (and every other religion out there is a distortion or contradiction of Christianity) is that of the Trinity. The teaching that God is one being and three distinct persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Every single false teaching out there will deny some aspect of this cardinal truth and therefore wind up having a wrong view of God. Failing to believe the Trinity will place one outside of orthodoxy or right teaching.


            While there is not one specific text in Scripture that lays out the teaching of the Trinity, all of the aspects of it can be found throughout its pages. Rather than seeking to define God as a trinity, the authors of Scripture assumed that He was such and continually speak of Him in that way. What we do find are certain claims made about God which put together gives us the definition of the Trinity. For instance, the Bible clearly teaches us that there is only one God in existence and that any others that one may speak of or bow down to are a fabrication (Deuteronomy 4:35; 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). At the same time however, the Bible presents to us the three persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit as each being God. They have all the attributes of God and are even referenced as God. The Father is explicitly said to be God (1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:3; 5:20), the Son declares Himself to be God (John 5:17-18; 8:58-59; 10:31-33), and lying to the Holy Spirit is equated to lying to God (Acts 5:3-4). Since we are told that there is only one God, the only reasonable conclusion that we can make with these two claims are that these three persons must be the one and same God. They can’t be three separate gods because that would contradict the truth that there is only one God. And they all must be seen as God since all three of them are described as such. This one God must exist as three persons. There is no other possibility than this conclusion if we believe all of what Scripture says about God.


 And we see that these three persons, though each fully the one same God, are related to each other and interact with each other at the same time. We find all of them present in the work of creation, being told that God the Father created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), the Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters (v. 2), and that the Son was there as well with everything being made through Him and nothing being made apart from Him (John 1:1-3). At Jesus’ baptism, we have the Son being baptized with the Spirit coming down upon Him as a dove and the Father speaking from heaven (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22). It cannot be said that God presented Himself as each of these subsequently because they each are present at the exact same moment in time. It is not that the persons are different “modes” or “forms” of God. God always has been and always will be a trinity. He is not the Father at one time, the Son another time, and the Spirit at a different point. He is all three equally all the time in every moment.


 Perhaps the best verse that we have which lays out this doctrine in a succinct way is Matthew 28:19. Jesus instructs the church to baptize disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Notice that it doesn’t say the names plural of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but the name singular. God’s one name consists of the persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. All three are who He is. Furthermore, the three persons together are presented as being the one God in many of Paul’s benedictions where he places them on equal grounds in giving a closing blessing from God at the end of some of his letters (2 Corinthians 13:14).


             Now, granted this doctrine is very difficult for us to understand and make sense of. And that’s because there is nothing that we can compare it to. God is so unique and different from His creation that we can find nothing corresponding to this in nature. He is incomparable. As Isaiah 40:18 reminds us, To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him? This is why none of the popular analogies that people have come up with in an attempt to explain it really work. They each are lacking in some way. What it comes down to is not do we fully comprehend God being a trinity but do we believe the revelation of His Word that declares that He is. Do we believe that God is who He says that He is? It has been quipped, “If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.”


             Why is such a doctrine so important? Important enough to place you out of the bounds of even being a Christian if you deny or intentionally distort it? It matters because to deny the Trinity is to in essence deny God since He is a trinity. If we get the Trinity wrong or have a faulty view of it, we get God wrong and have a faulty view of Him. Our salvation will not make sense unless we see how all three persons of the Godhead worked to bring it about. And the very way that we relate to God in worship and prayer is skewed if we fail to think of Him as a trinity; as one God in three persons. To worship and pray to Him correctly is to worship and pray to Him as a Trinity. So, let’s be sure to in faith accept the teaching of Scripture that our God is a trinity, even as we fully cannot comprehend such all for the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


 Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Complete Celebration

            Well, the holiday season is already upon us again. Christmas music is playing in the stores. Christmas trees are lit up and on full display. And manger scenes are starting to show up all over the place. The beautiful nativity in town is up and will be all aglow soon. Several will be found in many yards and on mantles in people’s homes. And while I am so thankful for all of the emphasis on the manger this time of year, I think that we need to be careful not to limit our focus to just the picture of the baby sleeping on the straw surrounded by the animals. If we do, there is a danger that our celebration of Christmas will be incomplete. Because we should not celebrate the manger without the cross. Not divorce the joy of the birth of the baby from Who He is and what He came to do.

One thing we notice in Scripture is that the nativity is never presented to us as an isolated event but is always connected to the cross. It is never just about the birth of the Messiah. For instance, in her song following the announcement that she had been chosen to bear the Christ child, Mary exclaims that God "has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy" according to the promise that God made to their ancestors (Luke 1:54-55). That "help" ultimately being in the sense of salvation. Zacharias, right after the birth of his son, John the Baptist, acknowledges that with the coming of the One whom his son had been designed to point to, God "has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant" (Luke 1:68-69). The name "Jesus" itself speaks of the reason for the child's birth which finds its fulfillment in His death on the cross. As the angel Gabriel told Joseph in the dream, "you shall call His name Jesus, FOR HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS" (Matthew 1:21). The shepherds were specifically told that the One who had been born that very night was "a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). And the old man, Simeon, who sees the baby Jesus in the temple, recognizes that in laying his eyes upon Him that he is looking at the very One who will accomplish salvation for God's people (Luke 2:30). An accomplishment we know that will occur through His death and resurrection which Simeon indicates with him prophetically telling Mary that "a sword will pierce her own soul to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed" (v. 35). What greater sword could pierce a mother's soul than watching her son being brutally and painfully crucified? Interestingly enough, one of the gifts of the Magi was myrrh which was often used in embalming and symbolized bitterness, suffering, and affliction. Again, connecting us to His crucifixion where He would suffer and die for the salvation of His people.

            We must always remember that the very reason God the Son came to earth and was born as a baby was to serve as our substitute. To live the perfect obedient life that we have failed to live and to die the death that we deserved for our sins on the cross in our place. He took on flesh so that He could live for us and die for us. He needed hands and feet for them to be pierced through. A back to be whipped. A head for a crown of thorns to be placed upon it. Breath so that He could breathe His last. As the author of Hebrews puts it, "Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (2:17). There is a real sense where we could say with John Piper that Christmas was preparation for Good Friday. Jesus' lowly birth in that manger was necessary for His later agonizing death on the cross. Without it, He could never have died to experience God's wrath in our place. And we would do well to keep that in mind every time we see a nativity scene. The song by the Southern Gospel group, The Ball Brothers, conveys this so well. "It's not just about the manger / Where the baby lay / It's not all about the angels / Who sing for him that day / It's not all about the shepherds / Or the bright and shining star / It's not all about the wise men / Who travelled from afar / It's about the cross / It's about my sin / It's about how Jesus came to be born once / So that we could be born again / It's about the stone / That was rolled away / So that you and I could have real life someday / It's about the cross."

            So, be sure to have a complete celebration of Christmas this year. To view the manger in light of the cross, never losing sight as to the significant reason as to why this baby was born. As the Ball Brothers sing in their song, "The beginning of the story / Is wonderful and great / But it's the ending that can save you / And that's why we celebrate."

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Monday, November 8, 2021

Fearful Christians

             Several times throughout Scripture we find the command, “Do not fear.” Now, it has been said that it is repeated a total of 365 times. While I don’t think that it occurs that much, it probably is true that it could rightly be called the most frequent command given in the Bible. (I tried to count it myself but gave up. It certainly is said a lot of times but more likely not the 365 often claimed.) This does not mean that Christians are to be fearless however. Actually, the Bible calls us to be fearful. We are repeatedly commanded to “fear God” and told that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). We are to be fearful of God and not of anything or anyone else.


This fear of God is not a cowering in a corner afraid that God is going to somehow strike you down for something that you have done or didn’t do. That He is in some way out to get you. Rather, it is being in awe of God. In awe of who He is. Of His majesty and worth. Being in awe of His great love for you and the mercy that He has shown you in Christ. An awe that leaves you amazed and trembling at the same time. Think back to a major storm that you have witnessed. Where you saw the strength of the wind and the destruction that it brought about. Didn't it leave you with a feeling of dread and amazement at the same time? That it could pack such a punch making strong sturdy trees bend over like straws and moving things that you could only dream to pick up. Part of you feared for your life and the other part just couldn't get over the strength of such a storm. It was not something that you would ever want to tangle with or be on the opposing side of but you marveled at it. (Such is the reason why the one who has this type of fear of God runs to Christ in order to be reconciled to God and marvels at the forgiveness he or she finds in Him where he or she is so undeserving of it.) This is the kind of awe and amazement the disciples had of Jesus when they witnessed His power and authority over the wind and the waves. When they exclaimed, “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41). The kind of awe and wonder which John Newton wrote about that we sing today. ''Twas grace that taught my heart TO FEAR and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed." It is the respectful fear that a child has towards his father. Wanting to honor and please him. Not wanting to cause him to frown.


Our problem then typically is not found in being fearful but in the fact that our fear is misplaced. When it comes down to it, we frequently fear man more than we do God. We find ourselves more concerned about what others may think or say about us than we are about what God does. We become more afraid of offending others by not agreeing with them than we are of offending God by sinning against Him. People appear to be so much bigger to us with God seeming to be so small. The reason why Abraham wound up lying, not once but twice, concerning his relationship to Sarah, was because he clearly was more fearful of what the people might do to him should they find out that she was his wife rather than being fearful of dishonoring God by failing to tell the truth (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18). King Saul even states that his disobedience to the Lord resulted from his being afraid of the people (1 Samuel 15:24). 


The only way for us to overcome our fear of man is to fear the Lord instead. It is the fear of the Lord that casts out all our other fears. I’ve heard it compared to the staff of Aaron gobbling up the staffs of the Egyptian magicians when they were turned into snakes (Exodus 7:12). The fear of God “gobbles” up every other fear that we may have. We see this once again illustrated for us with the disciples’ witnessing of Jesus calming the storm. At that moment, they were no longer afraid of the wind and the waves starting up again but of the One who had power and authority over such. They wind up being more afraid of Jesus than they had been of the storm itself. Their fear of Jesus was greater than their fear of anything else. Their fear of the one who is Lord over the storm trumped their fear of the storm. The Hebrew midwives could courageously defy the orders of the Pharaoh when it came to his command to murder all the male Hebrew children born due to their fear of God (Exodus 1:17). They did not fear the king and the consequences of disobeying him because of their fear of the much greater King and of going against what He would have them to do. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego clearly must have feared God more than the fiery furnace when they chose to disobey Nebuchadnezzar's order to bow down to the statue rather than disobey God in worshiping it (Daniel 3). And the same must have been true of Daniel. For him to continue in obedience to the Lord in prayer knowing what would be awaiting him could only have been on account of him fearing the Lord more than he did the den of lions (Daniel 6). William Gurnall put it well when he wrote, “We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.” If we want to be free from the crippling and paralyzing fear of man, we need to cultivate the fear of God in our lives.


            And when you think about it, it only makes sense to be fearful of God and not man. After all, we will not be standing before man one day to give an account for our actions but God and the worst that any man can do to us on this earth is take our physical life. They cannot harm or destroy our soul at all. As Jesus reminds us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). And if the Lord is on our side, as the Psalmist says, we have no need to fear anyone else because “what can man do to me?” (118:6). 


            If we want to grow in this fear of God, we need to continually fix our thoughts on God and learn more about Him in His Word. This will also keep how much greater and more powerful He is than anything in His creation before our eyes. God had the Israelites assemble at the foot of the mountain for them to hear His words “so that they may learn to fear” Him “all the days that they live on the earth” (Deuteronomy 4:10) and the king was to read God’s law all his days “so that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes” (17:19). May God increase our fear of Him and decrease our fear of others as we come to know Him more from His Holy Word.


Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Christian's Comfortable Pillow

            An apparently never-ending pandemic. Ongoing (sometimes intense) debates over requirements for the wearing of masks and the taking of a vaccine. Government mandates on matters of conscience. Wildfires ravaging the West. Growing political polarization. Continual turmoil both in our own nation as well as throughout the world. The Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan. Rising gas prices. Immigration issues at the border. National supply shortages. Difficult diagnoses. Tragic personal family news. Unexpected losses. Daily aches and pains. How is a Christian to keep his or her sanity in all of this? How can we sleep at night? The answer is found in remembering one precious truth about God.

            That truth is His sovereignty over all things. The fact that He rules and reigns over everything in His creation and over whatever occurs or takes place. There is nothing outside of His sovereign control. “No maverick molecule exists in the universe” as R. C. Sproul has put it. Jesus stated that a sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from the Father (Matthew 10:29). Amos asked the question, Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? God is said to command the snow and the rain to fall from the sky (Job 37:6) and the disciples witnessed Jesus calming the wind and the sea with just a word from His mouth (Mark 4:39). According to Proverbs, man may make his plans but God determines the outcome of them (16:1, 9). The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD (v. 33). As powerful as any earthly king may be, he cannot escape God’s sovereign rule over him. The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it where He will (21:1). Ruth “just so happening” to wind up in Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3) who “just so happened” could serve as a kinsman-redeemer for the family (v. 20) as well as Esther winding up to be queen where she was in a position to save the Jews all point out how sovereign God is over the ordinary everyday situations of our lives. Jonah attempted to run the very opposite direction from where God wanted him to go only to find himself at the exact place doing the exact thing that God had called him to do. In such a case, God’s sovereignty over nature (the great wind, the great storm, and the great fish) created certain situations for His prodigal prophet to bring him to where God deemed he should be in the first place. Life, sickness, and death are all in God’s hands (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). He is the One who ultimately gives and takes away whatever we have (Job 1:21). God is seen even to be sovereign over man’s sinful decisions, though it is important to note not in a way where He could be said to be responsible for the sin itself but simply in directing man’s wrong choices to His purposed end. The actions of Joseph’s brothers serve as a prime example of this. God allowed them in their sinful hatred and jealousy to sell their brother into slavery only to use that to bring Joseph to a place where he could save his people from dying out in the famine and for God to keep the promise that He had made for the Redeemer to come from the linage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 45:5-8; 50:20). And, as much as he must hate it, Satan himself cannot escape God’s control. We discover that in the book of Job where Satan had to have permission to test Job those two times, and even in those cases, God set a boundary for what he could or could not do to the man (Job 1:12; 2:6). The same is indicated with Jesus’ statement to Peter regarding Satan having “demanded permission” to test the disciples (Luke 22:31).

            What a comfort it is to know that God is in control of everything that goes on here in this world as well as in our individual lives! Nothing will ever happen to us that He has not wisely ordained. Sure, we may not always understand why He causes or permits certain things to occur but we know that we can trust Him. He is not an arbitrary God but an infinitely wise, just, and good One who has a purpose in everything that happens. Nothing takes place as a result of luck, chance, or random circumstance. It is all part of His perfect plan. I can’t think of any better hands for my life to be in. In fact, the suggestion that anyone or anything other than God could possibly be in control of anything in my life makes me shutter and robs me of hope. If that would be the case, there would be no guarantee that God could bring any good then out of the most difficult situations or circumstances that I may face. But since He is in complete control, I have the confidence that He indeed will keep the promise that He made in Romans 8:28 regarding working all things in my life for the good of my redemption.

            It is this truth of God’s sovereignty over everything that helped me get through our two miscarriages. In the midst of the pain and grief, I could rest assured that it was God’s will for us not to keep those two babies and that He must have had a very good and holy reason for that. An older hymn that I clung through in such a time was “Whate’er My God Ordains is Right.” And when my day doesn’t go as I planned (which happens fairly often), rather than getting bitter as I am tempted to do, I can remind myself that it went the way that God wanted it to go which was far better. That also has a great way of calming my anxiety over the things that I thought that I should have done during the day or the places that I should have went. God would have made sure in His sovereignty that those things were done or I was there should He so choose. I can rest in that at the end of my day.

            So, the next time that you may find it hard to sleep at night due to everything that is going on in your life and the world around you, be sure to come back to the truth that none of it is outside of the perfect and wise will of our heavenly Father who never makes a mistake. Charles Spurgeon actually described the sovereignty of God as being “the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace.” Rest your anxious and weary head on that pillow, saint.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee