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Check out this book review just published at 9Marks.org. In it Pastor Nathan explains some of the vision for our new Mercy Ministry that John, Sarah K., Lydia, Becky, and Christian are working on.

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Today is Saturday, but Sunday is coming. Does that make any difference to you? How should you think about Sundays?

In preparation for tomorrow, take some time today and read this article Pastor Nathan wrote for the latest edition of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

Pastor Nathan is writing a few brief pieces over the next several weeks for the Illinois Baptist newspaper. He’ll be covering different sections of the Baptist Faith & Message – our denomination’s most current Statement of Faith. You can read the first one by going here or just reading below.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

How do you know what is right, and who says so?

Some look to a church and its traditions to find out what is true and what to do. Others look to themselves, either their own reason (“I think this”) or their own experience (“I feel this”). We Baptists look to Scripture.

The first article of the Baptist Faith and Message clearly states Scripture’s authority and purpose. This “perfect treasure of divine instruction” is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”

It is fitting that our faith statement begins with Scripture. Before we can discuss any other topic of theology and the Christian life, we must get the question of authority squared away. In 2 Peter 1:21, we find how Scripture can be written by men and yet have God for its author. “Men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Since the words of the Bible are breathed out by God, and since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), then we can trust that they are “truth, without any mixture of error.”

What’s more, the trustworthy Word of God is also our means of knowing God. It is our authority because it is “God’s revelation of Himself to man.” It’s His personal communication.

In our current culture of spirituality, many people say they want a personal relationship with God. But what they fail to realize is that real relationship requires an objective revelation. Follow me here: How do I know I have a real relationship with another person? Whether it’s a church member, a fellow pastor, or my wife, my interactions with other people are only authentic if they can contradict me.

The same is true with God. The fact that the Bible has parts in it I may not like is evidence that I’m dealing with a real Person other than myself. Scripture gives us “divine instruction” and “it reveals the principles by which God judges us.”

Authority, yes. Principles to judge by, certainly. But thankfully, the Bible is much more than a book of rules revealing a God who opposes us. The Bible has “salvation for its end,” says the BFM. God’s main message to us is that we can have a right relationship with him through faith in his Son who lived and died for us.

We can’t miss this point like those to whom Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).

May we not just hold to a high view of Scripture on paper, but look elsewhere in practice. This quote from D.L. Moody illustrates how Scripture must be the centerpiece of our life and ministry:

“I prayed for faith, and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”

I got a call from a writer for Examiner.com last week. Here is a little write-up on our Christmas plans.

Check out here for a recent article written up about our joint efforts to share the love of Jesus with our neighbors in the park.

Did you know that you were part of a ‘technologically-savvy congregation’?

Article in Illinois Baptist Newspaper

From the Illinois Baptist (Volume 105, No. 5; March 11, 2011). Click here to see image closer.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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