Salvation…a 30,000′ View Pt. 2

Salvation 30,000'

Sunday 09/20/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: Salvation…a 30,000′ View Pt. 2

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Salvation…a 30,000′ View Pt. 2

Before we get started let me polish up a few things I left a little rough last week and which might have left a wrong impression.

First, I changed the name of the message. I kept referring to taking a 10,000’ view of salvation and when I got around to making the albumart and making the title official I recalled that there are several versions of that phrase and they actually mean something different. So I looked it up and discovered that a 10,000’ view is considered a general overview of something with very little details given, whereas a 30,000’ view is a term used in business where they need to regroup…take a step back and take in the BIG PICTURE in order to reorient themselves and their company focus. So I officially remanded the message Salvation..a 30,000’ view. I know it is a little matter but with some who know the terms it might fail to make sense.

The second issue is far more important and I know you all know what I meant when I said it, because I was referring to Jesus in His humanity not in view of His Godhead, but I mentioned Jesus praying to God as His Creator. Of course, by that I did not mean Jesus had a beginning or was HIMSELF Created, but the Father did create a body for Christ and so it could be said of Jesus in His humanity that God was His creator – but you have to be real careful how you say that and I was not – so…

Another rough edge I’d like to tidy up is that I didn’t directly connect the dot of how humility connected with the “big picture” of salvation…the 30,000’ view. The reason is because I was building upon the message from the week prior, but not everyone had heard that message so…I may have lost them on that point.

Humility is part of the BIG Picture of salvation for two reasons. It was due to a prideful reaction to satan’s initial temptation of man that they made the decision to NOT trust God and acted unilaterally in what they believed to be their best interest and sinned. Pride is the opposite of humility which is a necessary commodity for salvation since it is only to the humble that grace comes. God actually by His Own admission is openly resisting those that are proud. So humility is a HUGE part of the Big Picture of salvation because without it there IS no inner influence from God to trust and love Him. Without Humility, which is a condition of heart that includes a receptiveness to the Spirit’s promptings –  there can be no salvation.

Finally, the issue of “nature” was mentioned prominently last week in reference to our new nature and the fallen nature. I use those terms both with great gravity and loosely. Regarding the fall of man, our core nature was changed from light to dark, from good to evil, from being like our Creator to being like Lucifer. In the new birth that core nature radically had a total reversal. That statement has tremendous gravity as regards the Christian message of salvation. However, when I speak of our current nature I sometimes speak of it as if we have two and I have no problem with this but many people do so I try to use the word “tendency” rather than nature. When I fail to do that I apologize for those that may trip up. What I am saying by that is that WHO I am is 100% of God. It IS light and life, however, according to Paul, IN OUR FLESH there is still the law of sin and death which runs contrary to the nature of our spirit and so in this way it could be said that we have two natures. Some people take exception with that because to them it implies that we have two natures in our spirit which is of course NOT true. Galatians tells us that the flesh is at war with the spirit and the spirit with the flesh so that in our souls (which is where our WANT TO – resides) we do not always make the right choices. We are being influenced from two different natures. One is WHO we are and the other is in our flesh. 

Now on to Part 2 of Salvation…a 30,000’ view

As I was preparing for today, I pulled up my notes from last week and was quite prepared to go one from where we left off, but if what I am teaching is going to be true to the title, I felt the need to further tack down a few things which will provide traction when we are able to get further.

We have been referencing the 1st letter of Peter for weeks using it to illustrate suffering in the life of a believer and it’s immediate connection with the glory of Christ being formed in us which IS – in itself – the entire goal of  salvation. 

Salvation was NOT about saving us from hell or delivering us safely to heaven, but about restoring our entire persons – spirit, soul and body back into the image from which it fell – which is Christ in you. Remember that GLORY is a character term. It has to do with nobility, honor, splender, might, integrity…things which refer to one’s character. It isn’t enough that we have been forgiven, we both WERE and ARE BEING changed into His likeness. THAT is what we see, when we view Salvation from 30,000’. We see the big picture is conformity and union with Christ – NOT just by Him having superficially smoothed the waters between God and us as if it were all some legal matter, but a 100% conformity in character to our Creator with Whom we will enjoy perfect Kiononia and union forever. Not light with darkness, but light with light! 

We discovered that God desires conformity to His character BECAUSE He desires union with you and I?

This is truly and sadly a huge surprise to many even in the church – the body of Christ. Christians are actually offended sometimes to learn that salvation initially and in its purest form has no focus whatsoever upon our eternal destination, at least not in view of our enjoyment or the prospect of our torment. It was and is about God. 

I’m telling you a MONSTEROUS change has taken place in the last hundred years and the last 80 in particular, where God has been replaced with heaven as the central part of the gospel of salvation. In many church doctrines, an idol has replaced Him as the central purpose of salvation…and that idol is man! 

Jesus is allowed to be the central FIGURE of salvation, but the well-being and comfort of man has become its purpose and that is an egregious substitution and it has opened the door for all manner of false doctrines to thrive.  

I have a childhood hero, well, not so much hero but someone I held in high regard who was a Christian artist…many of you have been in the faith long enough to have heard he most famous song which still gets international traction at least once a year at Easter – it’s called “He’s Alive”.

You remember the lyrics, “He’s alive, He’s alive…He’s alive and I’m forgiven heaven’s gates are open wide.”

Well, Don had been faithfully serving the Lord for YEARS – he’d already been doing it for some time by the time I was born again. But his message regarding salvation was too simplistic as is true in most cases. You know it astounds me how even with Christians, salvation is so little understood and so little investigated when they claim it is the most important thing in their lives. I find myself thinking, then I’d hate to be the least important thing in your life ‘cause you obviously have spent nearly ZERO time studying the gospel of salvation.

As you know, a number of years ago I was introduced to the grace movement and while I couldn’t put my finger on WHY at first, in my spirit I felt a real kick back from it. Something was deeply and troublingly wrong with that message – but on the surface I couldn’t discover what it was…it “sounded” like the gospel I’d heard all my life growing up in a Baptist church. Then I began to see it.

To my dismay I found out that two people I admired had become caught up in this message – namely Don Francisco and Malcom Smith. One day I looked up Don (or maybe it was Wendy, his wife) on Facebook and read some of the posts and I found one that explained their turn from the gospel of Jesus Christ to a gospel of saving grace. They explained how as they traveled from town to town they were often approached with variations of this question, “Don, are you telling me, that now that I am born again, I will never see my [fill in the black – son, daughter, mother, father, best friend…etc.] again just because they did not believe in Jesus? That they are eternally lost and in hell forever?”. Now I am not unsympathetic to having this question presented to you since it’s happened to me upon occasions. But, a gospel which is all about us has nothing to say to a person like this, but empty encouragements. Questions like this gain inroads in a heart that is not firmly established in the true Gospel of Christ. Eventually, Don and Wendy became prime targets for a gospel of inclusionism or universalism, because they could not reconcile how a loving God could allow this to happen just because they didn’t place faith in someone who to them – was just some guy who lived 2,000 plus years ago. What about all the people who have never heard of Jesus…what about them?

You see the focus of the questions and the nature of the despair is because man is placed as central to the purpose of the Gospel. It is even subtly implied in that famous song. 

The point and joy of the song is not so much that Jesus is risen, but that heaven is now available to me. Yes Jesus appears prominently in the song, but the focus is on heaven – on ME. Such a gospel will always and eventually be offended at the real gospel.

I want you to notice that no where in the Bible does it say, 

“Mankind’s need was so great, that God sent His son” 

Or

“Because all of mankind were headed for a hellish eternity forever separated from God, He sent His Own Son.” 

No, it says clearly that “God so loved the World, that He sent His only begotten Son.”

Now, it is quite natural for us to think then…. 

“well doesn ‘t His love for us infer that our comfort and safety were in view?” 

Perhaps to some extent, but it does not share center stage with God and when we think that way – when we begin to open that door, the gospel becomes distorted and our minds become prey to all manner of error. 

Out comfort and safety were only part of the reason, and even that only to the degree that it affects the Other members of the Godhead and that is where we are going to camp most of our time together today. 

Today our view of salvation brings the Trinity into view and reveals that They have always been center stage. They are the purpose and reason for salvation – NOT US!

This is part, and may I say a HUGE part, of our aerial shot at salvation.

Can you understand that if we miss the reason…the purpose for salvation, that nearly everything we conceive of, regarding the Christian faith and its message after that is condemned to be out of focus or wrong altogether.

The building can only be as sound as it’s foundation…and the devil has been working to distort the foundation of God’s house for some time now and with great success I might add.

As we have learned over the years in here, each member of the Godhead’s 1st and primary focus is the benefit and pleasure of the other Members. 

This is NOT selfishness – it is holiness. God – meaning the Father, the Son and the Spirit are and have always been FIRST and FOREMOST dedicated and devoted to each other. This is paramount and without this understanding it is quite hopeless to get a clear view of Salvation.

The imperative nature of the intraexpresional love and deference within the Godhead is not a peripheral truth it is foundational! (Just explaining it requires the creation of new words)

This is true in much the same way that God intended it to be in marriage which is why the Devil has worked so hard to distort the family unit. 

Now, I may shock some of you here – probably not, but it is WRONG, on the most fundamental of levels, to make the home all about the child. 

The child is the product of a greater and preexisting commitment and devoted relationship and that relationship is paramount. It MUST remain first! 

Truth is, children who live in a home where the parents make everything about them, are the most insecure. They are emotionally and socially crippled and make for terrible friends and mates themselves. 

When a child is reared in a home where the father and the mother are a unified force, who love each other and place each other first in the home, they are in the most secure and healthy environment they could possibly be. 

When that relationship is strained or in conflict or is held in a position which is beneath the interests of the child – the child suffers greatly in terms of stability, security, emotional vulnerability and social maturity. 

This is NOT up for debate – it has been studied and recognized and written about for generations. Is it any wonder our society is where it is today, since the home began to make the child the central figure? 

We are sold this all the time in the media, in politics, in schools and in entertainment. 

“It’s all about the children” is the mantra we have had drilled into us for a few generations now. 

You know the greatest generation this nation has ever known did NOT grow up in homes like that – they knew they belonged, but they also knew their place was not on par with their parents.

This serves as a comparative backdrop for this 30,000’ view of salvation.

In the same way that a family unit was never intended by God to be all about the children – God’s household and thus, salvation is equally NOT all about us – it is first and foremost about our Parents – meaning our Creators.

In the same way that a natural child is born from the loving union of two parents, so we are the result of the love the Godhead had and has for One Another. 

As such, it would be inappropriate and unholy to place the created BEFORE the Creators! 

I’ll give you one better than that – it would be SIN, for any member of the Godhead to do ANYTHING which placed you or I in a position of importance higher than than the Other Members of the Trinity…  and let me make one more distinction here – I really do not like the word Trinity, I prefer the word Tri-unity or Triunion.

Any Christian philosopher, eventually has to come to this conclusion or he must logically defect from the Christian faith – because it can make no sense if WE are the purpose for ANY of God’s actions.

Think about it for a moment… 

We know that God is love. So if salvation is about humanity then we have a real problem. You can’t have salvation being about US – without questioning the wisdom of how we were made, because if it is all about us – then it becomes unacceptable that ANY human EVER perish. 

I mean forget salvation – why would He make something that could fall? 

If salvation is truly all about us – then we have to back up and question why God would have created us dumb enough to fall for the lie satan was peddling? 

Why not make us SMART enough to see the truth from the beginning and so we would not have believed the lie of the devil and fallen in the first place?

You see, making it about us only complicates issues and makes both creation and salvation senseless. 

We know by God’s Own admission that They have these attributes.

  • They are Love
  • They are selfless
  • They are all knowing
  • They do not change

Those four facts alone, make it impossible for either creation or salvation to be about us.

God, being love could not make salvation about us without making creation about us and if He had made Creation about us – He would have made us so that humans could never be so deceived as to fall in the first place. 

We would have understood Good and Evil completely from the moment we were created – such knowledge would not have been placed in a tree from which we were not allowed to eat. Think about it for a moment – if we had had, absolute and perfect understanding of life and death – it is inconceivable that we would ever have chosen death. 

So why did He hold that knowledge at abeyance? It isn’t like God just didn’t think of that and so to patch up a HUGE blunder, made salvation all about us – God knows the end from the beginning and does not change.

Do you see the problem here?

No the scriptures are abundantly clear that we were created FOR HIS PLEASURE!

It also says that salvation was due to His love for us – not due to our need to be saved.

You may think…what difference does it make?

Well, let me answer you by asking you a question.

You’re dating and the one you are interested in plans an outing for you – focused upon the things you like. You later discover that the reason for this is because they are buttering you up to get something they want. The entire day actually had nothing to do with you at all – it was all about them. Now tell me – does the WHY therefore make a difference? Yes it does! It reveals intentions and intentions reveal character.

So WHY They made us, and why They saved us makes a difference!

Oh, I’m telling you this right here has the potential of answering SO many questions for Christians regarding difficult passages in scripture. It is a key that begins unlocking SO MUCH in terms of coming to Know God.

Now, if you are thinking… then you have to eventually ask what I did when I came to this impasse in my relationship with God. 

If God is love and God is all knowing and furthermore is NEVER selfish, How could He possibly ever create humans if He knew that even ONE of us would spend an eternity in hell? 

Wouldn’t that act be an expression of THE most selfish act any being could ever make? 

Remember…scripture tells us we were Created for His pleasure. 

SO it becomes logically inescapable that God’s pleasure therefore carries MORE weight than human welfare.

I mean, you can dance around it all  you like, but in the end – that is inescapable!

You’re like – well…God didn’t make us fall and He made a way for restoration so it really isn’t His fault. Well fault maybe so much in terms of the choice we made, but in the end Isn’t it? 

Let me ask you – which of you asked to be Created? 

Did you have a vote? 

Was not existence and eternal consciousness forced upon you through no choice of your own? 

Where is then accountability or liability? 

If He had not made me, I would have had no potential to fall. If He had made me smart enough, I would never have believed the lie.

As you can see – Nancy was right last week when she said that I have questioned everything I know to question. I’ve had the difficult conversations with God…and sometimes they have not been all that fun.

You know what I have found? I’ve told you many times… 

God is Who He is and He makes no apologies for it. 

You either take Him as He is – or attempt to reinvent Him in your image – but, you’ll never know peace until you turn that ship into the storm and face your Creator with a determination to know WHO HE REALLY IS – regardless of whether you like what you find or not.

A book I have not yet read, but whose title immediately resonates with me is “Yawning at Tigers: You can’t tame God so stop trying” In a summary statement of that book someone said, 

When was the last time you were overawed by God’s majesty? Have you ever stood in stunned silence at his holiness and power?

In our shallow, self-centered age, things like truth and reverence might seem outdated, lost. Yet we’re restless. And our failed attempts to ease our unrest point to an ancient ache for an experience of the holy.

Drew Dyck makes a compelling case that what we seek awaits us in the untamed God of Scripture–a God who is dangerous yet accessible, mysterious yet powerfully present. He is a God who beckons us to see him with a fresh, unfiltered gaze.

Yawning at Tigers takes us past domesticated Christianity, into the wilds where God’s raw majesty, love, and power become more real and transformative than we could ever imagine.”

Evidently a quote lifted from the book says, “God is ontologically dissimilar, wholly other, dangerous, alien, holy and wild.”

And when I read statements like those I think, “Yep, that’s the God I’ve met”. He isn’t so much the God of my youth, but He IS the God of my searching.

So…now that I’ve steered the ship of your faith towards the rocks let me step in and throw you a life raft.

The question I’d come to was – How was creation itself not the most selfish act ever committed? 

The answer brings us full circle to God being the center and reason for salvation. 

God is three people – let’s get that clear from the beginning. God is NOT one entity expressing Himself in three ways. God or rather the Godhead is comprised of three entirely different and eternal entities. 

THAT FACT is fundamental and the whole of scripture cannot be reconciled if that is just a convenient way of thinking about the single entity who IS God.

So, God -as a triunity – is comprised of three entities, each of which are ALWAYS acting for the other’s interests FIRST. 

They are the parents – in a way which is MORE real than natural procreation ever could be. It is from Their unity that we were created and it was for Their mutual pleasure that we exist. 

THAT justifies our Creation and it also makes it a selfless act.

The Father did not make us for Himself, Jesus (the Living Word) made us for Him. The Spirit facilitated the work for the other two…they worked in concert with and for each other – each member NEVER working for themself. 

Think about this and you will begin to understand the depth of unity you were created for and have been invited into. The Father KNOWS the Son and the Spirit, the Spirit KNOWS the Father and the SON, the Son KNOWS the Spirit and the Father. 

None had to ask the other, “what would you like done” They knew and so They acted. 

In fact, within the sanctity of the Godhead TO know IS to act. If you are one of the Godhead moving and acting on behalf of the Others is a matter of nature. 

You cannot know and then not act – it isn’t in You! 

You ARE LOVE – 

You exist to serve and defer and lavish the spending of Yourself on the Others as a matter of inner character – You are driven to it if You are a member of the Godhead! They LOVE!

You can see a few little hints and glimpses of it in the first chapter of Genesis. The Hebrew language does it a justice which is at once profound and poetic. 

In the beginning GOD! 

From the beginning they worked in concert and They all worked to honor One Another.

They took counsel with Each Other not to ask, but to proclaim the only honorable thing to do with humanity, since its purpose was SO lofty, They honored Each Other by making us in Their likeness. It was a matter of praise of adoration or worship.

It is said that, imitation is the HIGHEST form of praise. 

By making us like Them – They were loving on Each Other…praising Each Other and showing Their mutual and deep, admiration for One Another. 

We then took our freewill and took a razor to that image! 

THAT is the reason for the hurt, the anger and the wrath of God which we read about in scripture. It isn’t inconsistent with love it is BECAUSE of love.

You see, we only see it as inconsistent with love if we, in our pride believe that we are the center of the story God is telling – when salvation is all about us. In such a narrative WE ALONE are the only objects of God’s love – but before there was ‘us’ – there eternally was THEM! 

It is NOT because any One member of the Godhead took the fall personally. 

No human being is ever as wounded as the one who is wounded FOR another. 

Have you not experienced that – even as a mere human? 

Has not your heart ever been broken and moved to anger when someone else took the heart of someone you adore and casually broke it as if it were nothing? 

Now take that offense and multiply it by infinity and so was THE offense! 

You know the Bible uses the word OFFENSE for the sin of the fall of man with good reason…it was! 

It wasn’t personal offense, it was a deep and penetrating wounding for the defacing and defaming of the other members of the Godhead.

So what do They do? What is to be their response to this casual defacing and defaming of God’s image? What could possibly be the right response to this treason?

To give NO response and just sweep the offense under the rug as if it never happened, would be to dishonor the One for Whom the poem was written.

It would have been to honor the created above the Ones for Whom they were created. 

That would have been an even greater offense than ours.

But to destroy the poem would wound as well…for God so loved!

So They All, Each in turn and as selflessly as only God could ever do, Each have and continue to play Their part in our redemption – NOT FOR US – but because of Their love for Each Other!

Oh this is SO SO SOOOOO important! 

Do you realize that with this very simple bit of understanding, there are SO many doctrines and denominations and divisions which would never have taken place! 

Not to take the analogy of a poem too far, but the stanzas of the poem need to be re-written – the missteps need to be righted. It isn’t just about forgiveness – it is about restoration of His image within us.

Do you see why, outward action is not enough?

Can you see why the command is and always has been “Love the Lord your God with ALL of your heart, mind, soul and strength!”

Can you see why Jesus said things like, “whoever comes to me and looks back at their old life with longing is NOT worthy of Me?”

Or

Whoever loves family or friends more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

Or

“If we are faithless He remains faithful – He cannot deny Himself, but if we deny Him He will also deny us”?

Jesus as a man of compassion, but His unwavering devotion was to God. God the Father held center stage in Jesus’ life. You can see it in how He ministered. You know, we faced some real problems in our youth ministry years ago, when it was comprised almost entirely of some poorer kids from east Bradenton. They had been with us for years, but now that they were teenagers their attention was on being cool and Christianity is decidedly NOT cool. We taught the scriptures, but we also provided a pool and games and food. They would endure the message, to get to the fun and food. I eventually suggested something VERY non-traditional in the modern church. I suggested that we take away the food and the pool and the entertainment for an undefined period of time and see what happens. If there is nothing in them which longs for God they will simply not return – and overwhelmingly that is what happened. Some in the church suggested I did something terrible and that some of these kids might be lost because of it – but then I remembered what Jesus said. If when you come to a town, if they do not gratefully receive you message, wipe the dust off your feet, leave that town and take your peace with you. Don’t go back, week after week, attempting to win them over through repeat exposure – LEAVE! Why? Because the Gospel is not about being convinced or being worn down into submission – it is a matter of heart. If one longs for God they will seek and if they seek they WILL find. If not – they won’t. It is that simple. 

Does not this context help to make sense of these statements, of creation AND the purposes of salvation?

There is, of course, another side to this story – the one which explains why Creating us for Each Other was even a thought and it’s connection with the angels…but we don’t have time for that today. 

What little we are going to cover now, is against this HUGE backdrop.

Let me say that the times I’ve had with God where these things have been revealed to me, have sometimes made me short of breath and made me feel as if I was standing looking out into the vastness of eternity – like I could fall into its vastness and lose even myself. It is in times like that when I know I have met with God, because I have had burnt upon my soul, the reality of awe at Them! 

I am an exceedingly little fish in an insurmountably huge ocean…and yet, my significance and importance could not be higher – I am valuable because of Whose image I bear, because I was in God’s heart to be Created and I am a living and vital part of the love letter They wrote to Each Other! If any of us were missing the poem would not be complete.

These are not overly sappy and emotionally driven concepts – they are deeply rooted in reality and scripture!

The scriptures say, “we are living poems, written by God” but a poem written to Whom – us? No – to Each Other!

I want you to consider what you, as a letter, say…

Turn with me to 2 Cor. 3,

“(1) Do you say that this is self-recommendation once more? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  (2)  Our letter of recommendation is you – yourselves–a letter written on our hearts and everywhere known and read.  

(3)  For everyone can see that you are a letter of Christ, entrusted to our care [for sure], and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the ever-living God–and not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts as tablets.  

(4)  Such is the confidence which we have through Christ in the presence of God;  (5)  not that of ourselves we are competent – to decide anything by our own reasonings, but our competency comes from God.  

(6)  It is He also who has made us competent to serve Him in connexion with a new Covenant, which is not a written code but a Spirit; for the written code inflicts death, but the Spirit gives Life.  

(7)  If, however, the service that proclaims death–its code being engraved in writing upon stones–came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily on the face of Moses because of the brightness of his face–a vanishing brightness;  

(8)  will not the service of the Spirit [of God] be far more glorious?  

(9)  For if the service which pronounces doom had glory, far more glorious still is the service which tells of righteousness.  

(10)  For, in fact, that which was – once resplendent in glory has no glory at all in this respect, [so much so] that it pales before the glory which [now] surpasses it.  

(11)  For if that which was to be abolished came with glory, much more is that which is permanent arrayed in glory.  

(12)  Therefore, cherishing a hope like this, we speak without reserve, and we do not imitate Moses,  (13)  who used to throw a veil over his face to hide from the gaze of the children of Israel – the passing away of what was but transitory.  (14)  Nay, their minds were made dull; for to this very day during the reading of the book of the ancient Covenant, the same veil remains unlifted, because it is only in Christ that it is to be abolished.  

(15)  Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts.  (16)  But whenever the heart of the nation shall have returned to the Lord, the veil will be withdrawn.  

(17)  Now by “the Lord” is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed.  

(18)  And all of us, with unveiled faces, reflecting like bright mirrors the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same likeness, from one degree of radiant holiness to another, even as derived from the Lord the Spirit.”

We are again their Love letters to One Another!

The fall changed man’s nature which is why salvation is NOT about a destination, but a transformation. 

Man needs to become like his Creator again – spirit, soul and body – being fully redeemed from the fall – having tasted of selfishness and sin, and having rejected it in preference of submission and obedience to God. 

As such, we in our persons become the answer to Lucifer’s questioning accusation before God of why He should Alone rule and reign. 

Created beings, who attempt to live separated from their Creator – exist in death, darkness and misery. To live to God is to have and exist in life. 

A distortion of these facts is the lie of religion and many doctrines within the Christian community and the Grace movement in particular. 

Those of us who would choose life, must do some completely – NOT partially or passively! 

Not just religiously in our minds or outwardly in our actions – but with all of our hearts and lives. 

If we only believe the facts of salvation, but fail to rely upon the God and Christ of salvation – entering into relationship with Him through surrender to His Lordship, then we are neither saved nor safe.

Jesus described salvation as life and He described life and knowing and conducting our lives in intimate union with God. THAT requires change and THAT is what salvation is really about.

John 12:49-50, “(49) For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. (50)I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

John 10:710, “(7) So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. (8) All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. (9) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. (10) A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

Isaiah 53:6, “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.”

We can all be eternally grateful that such is the nature of God – He IS love…make no mistake… and as such, God desires eternal union with you but cannot fellowship (have continued and unbroken perfect koinonia) with character that is contrary to Their Own.

So today our continuing in our 30,000 foot aerial view of salvation…reveals that it eventuates with Christ again being fully formed in us. 

It is the message, the goal and the reality of salvation.

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!