An Update from the McComas’

We have received an update on the McComas clan! It is an awesome video given in a fresh, young perspective. Click here to watch the update from the McComas children: Finnegan, Aislan, and Maive.IMG_3464

It is always encouraging to hear how God has been working in the lives of missionaries, especially ones that we got to commission here at Grace. Please enjoy the video and continue to be in prayer for this family as they continue to serve on the mission field in Africa.

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GateKeepers Update

It is awesome to be able to reflect and rejoice in how God is using missionaries to spread the good news of His Gospel. In their most recent newsletter, the  Game Changer, GateKeepers gives us an update on the doors and opportunities God has been opening! Click the link above to read more of the update about the awesome ways that GateKeepers has seen God working in the life of this ministry.

Romans 1:18

The wrath of God is real and has been existing since the presence of sin.
Yet we know that God is always just, righteous, and sovereign.
He never makes posturing or idle threats,
fulfilling every promise He makes…’They shall not enter my rest.’
Yet God’s wrath is measured as well.
Just as He spared the righteous in the time Sodom and Gomorrah fell.
His wrath is revealed, and is as an outpouring of His nature.
He acts in accordance with Himself-His just, righteous, and holy character.
And His wrath flows from the heavenly realm
where on the seat of power He alone sits at the helm.
Seen through both the moral order and in divine intervention:
the wrath is not Satan at work, but God in action.
It is directed upon all of man and all ungodliness.
All who suppress the truth in their unrighteousness.
And as can be noted, those who have the truth are the ones who suppress.
The cliffhanger…what truth is it and who has access?

Unashamed

In yesterday’s sermon we got to reflect on Romans 1:16-17. This is a snapshot and different look of what was presented in yesterday’s sermon:

We think back to last week ending with an eagerness. An eagerness of the apostle’s heart. This has a direct link to a passage that shows the gospel’s power and Paul’s faith, an understanding that he is set apart.

Yet just as we are tempted to be ashamed of such a gospel, Paul also was tempted. What could have or does keep us from being eager as Paul was?

Scorn, alignment with a “criminal”. Ridicule, persecution, being counter-cultural.

All of these we use to justify being ashamed. Let it be our prayer that we never get over the gospel.

Paul boasts of its power more than just denies his own shame. Paul stakes his claim in this message’s source. Against anything man can do, Paul knows he is victorious.

He understood its power. Its explosive, empowering, dynamic character. A personality that is productive and ever-producing. The gospel empowers. The gospel convicts. The gospel is always working.

The gospel destroys barriers; the gospel equips warriors.

The gospel frees us, making us no longer slaves. A dynamic power that needs to be utilized because we have been saved.

Soteria…saved from what? Ignorance, disappointment, crooked-thinking, sin, sickness and the curse of death.

This message Paul knew to be universal, to be preached so that all may hear. Yet with its proclamation it brings a call for those who believe, for it contains a limited yet extensive effect for the believer.

Knowing we have no hope, no other argument, not other plea… it is only through what Christ has done.It is by faith in that truth we stand righteous before the throne.

However, alone we are unrighteous, unable to keep or preserve a standard we were never going to be able to meet. It is because of God’s righteousness and faith in the saving work of Christ that we are declared righteous by the One assuming of the judgment seat. That righteousness revealed from faith for faith. The faithfulness of God yields faith and our faith makes us live faithful to God…

Unashamed.

Shall Live by Faith

John Piper presents a semon based on the verse, “the just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This passage is cited by Paul in his epistle to the Romans. (Rom. 1:17) In preparation for this Sunday, this is a great read to get deeper into the background of Paul’s use of this verse. Here is a brief excerpt from Piper’s article:

If you want to know how to be ready to gain your life on that day, listen to Habakkuk 2:4. “The just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk knew that everybody in Judah was a sinner. And he knew that the holiness of God prevents him from ignoring our sins: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on wrong” (1:13). So Habakkuk taught that the only thing that could save us is faith. Faith in what? In God’s mercy. In 3:2 he prays, “In wrath remember mercy.”

Click Here for more of Piper’s sermon

Bowes’ Ministry Update

January 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

Phil. 3:14 and 20 “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus …  For our citizenship is in heaven…”

As we move into the New Year this is a good verse to remind us to keep our eyes on the goal.  Already some are nearer to this heavenly goal than others.  Recently Anne and I visited Pastor Tilo Naumann and his wife Christa. Our paths crossed about 15 years ago and we have been friends ever since.  For many years he pastored small churches in former communist East Germany (where it was not so easy to be a Christian).  Later he often preached in our church (our children loved him).  Pastor Tilo is a very friendly and likeable person and a mentor to us.  We learned so much from him.  Now we are sad because he is suffering with terminal cancer.  Pastor Tilo followed a clear call to serve God with his life and that is a big example to everyone. Please pray for him, now that he is so sick.

It is a little hard to go back and think about Christmas now.  But we did ask for prayer for all our outreach events. So we want to report back that we had many blessings and lots of visitors to our December Christmas programs. We see this as part of our ongoing gospel witness to the community around us, e.g. at the local Food Bank and the City Shelter.  Our desire is to love these people and offer practical help and of course to share Christ with them.  At our first community dinner in the New Year around 18 guests attended.  And our guests seem to feel loved and accepted.  After the dinner is over they often stay a long time to talk and fellowship. (See the pictures below.)   We had at least two atheists in attendance and they even want to come back!  They did hear a clear salvation testimony from a “Biker” who is now a Christian.  And we always have a few lively songs and of course some great German food!  We would like to highlight two of our guests.  Please pray for Doris.  She is not yet a Christian but attends the community dinner and often comes to our services.  She has severe eye problems. She is a very nice person and asks lots and lots of questions.  Please also pray for Dieter.  We met him at the Shelter, he is retired and is a volunteer helper there. Dieter had a high rank in the former East German military. He tells us openly that he is a heathen and an atheist.  His friends at the shelter ask him why he bothers to go to church.  He says that he is open to new things (and he invites them to come along with him).  Already we are friends with Dieter and are praying for a miracle in his life and that he will become a Christian.

Praise for Cordula (we mentioned her in previous letters).  We got to know her at the Food Bank and since then she has become a Christian.  Now she expressed her wish to be baptized.  She has health issues and a physical handicap which means that she usually can’t make it out to church.  But she is growing in her faith.  She asked for a devotional book for the New Year and she loves to have us in her apartment for a small group Bible Study.

In February we plan to vote to install Alex as part of our ministry team and for pastoral ministry.  Please pray for us as this will be a big step for our church to move towards becoming self-supporting.  We will share more with you about Alex and his family in our next letter after our church business meeting.

Please pray for a special evangelistic meeting with a guest speaker in our church on Sunday evening March 13th.

Family News: It was great to have three of our children home for Christmas.  Philip is studying in Wales to get his Masters (political science).  He is really enjoying his time there and found a good church and is also part of a Christian Student Union.  Kathrin is working with Open Doors for one year and is learning lots about the situation with persecuted Christians in the world.  Please pray for Philip and Kathrin to know what the next steps are for them in God’s plan.  Emily is in her first year at the University of Darmstadt and enjoys going to an International Church.  She got a part-time job at Subway (yes, we have some of the same chain stores here in Germany). Hanna and Steven stayed in the U.S. this year but we hope they can visit us in Germany sometime this year.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Let us look for His soon return in 2016. May God bless you!

Aaron and Anne Bowes

Unceasing Prayer (Romans 1:8-15)

This Sunday we move from the introduction of Romans to a portion of the text that depicts the heart of Paul. In verse 9 and 10 Paul reveals the consistency and constancy of his prayer. “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” 

This article provides some interesting thoughts on prayer and “the difference it makes”:

“Throughout the Bible, believers are called to pray. But what is prayer? What does it mean to “pray without ceasing?” And does prayer really make a difference? Before delving too deeply into the topic of prayer, it will be beneficial to first define the term, as well as the focus of our prayers—God.”

 

 

Article on Romans 1:5-7

This article from the Gospel Coalition truly complements the last two sermons on the introduction of the book of Romans that has been preached at Grace. It is necessary for us to focus on the grace of God, just as the author writes and as we have discussed consistently throughout our study of Romans thus far.

IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 1, Number 6, April 5 to April 11, 1999

 

THE GRACE OF GOD
A Study of Romans 1:5-7

by Dr. Jack L. Arnold

 

The Grace of God. What does it mean? Christians speak of it so freely, but understand and appreciate it so little.

If someone were to give you a million dollars as a gift with no strings attached, what would be your reaction — surprise, thankfulness, unworthiness, reciprocation? You would probably first be grateful, then wonder, “Why me? I haven t done anything to deserve this.” Then you might think about the person who gave you the gift: “What a gracious person. What can I do to show my appreciation?” God is a God of grace who does far more than give a million dollars. He gives salvation with no strings attached to whomever he pleases, and all anyone can do is receive the gift and say, “Thank you.”

God’s grace is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. At the beginning of Romans, Paul tells us that he was separated unto the gospel — the good news that Christ has come to give sinners the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The gospel concerns Jesus Christ.

Christ was truly man: “made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3); and he was truly God: “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Rom. 1:4). Christ is perfect humanity and undiminished deity united in one person forever — the unique person of the universe.

Because of the person and work of Christ, the grace of God has been brought down to men.

GRACE TO THE APOSTLE PAUL (Rom. 1:5)

“By whom” — It was through the resurrected and living Christ that Paul and other apostles (we) received the grace of God. This shows that Paul believed in the resurrected Christ who dispensed grace and apostleship.

“We have received grace” — Paul put grace before apostleship, for a person must be saved before he can serve Jesus Christ. “Grace” means “unmerited favor.” It means that no person can buy his salvation, he cannot work for his salvation, he is not worthy of his salvation. It is all a gift from the sovereign God. Salvation and sanctification are from God alone.

Paul knew he was an undeserving sinner and had no right to a free and gracious salvation: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:9-10). Paul knew that God could have justly condemned him to eternal hell as a sinner. But because of God’s grace, Paul became a Christian and God made him an apostle. Salvation is always “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8). God is always the ultimate cause of a man’s salvation — a person only appropriates God’s gift by faith. God’s grace did not make Paul a fatalist, but he labored harder than others because he appreciated his salvation. He realized that even the labor was by the grace of God.

“Apostleship” — Having been saved, Paul was appointed by God to be an apostle. Grace and salvation always precede service! Paul knew that he had received his apostleship from Christ.

A man must be called into the full-time ministry. A preacher, teacher, or evangelist must have a calling from God. We must ask God to call our young people to the ministry. How many young folks have been forced into the ministry? Or how many have raised their hands at some emotional meeting asking for full-time Christian service and never made it or, if they made it, were unsuccessful and unhappy?

Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say:

“Don t be a minister if you can help it. If you can be happy as president of a bank, or as head of a factory, or as pitcher for the New York Yankees, or as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or President of the United States, or anything else on this earth, then God has never called you into the ministry.”

At seminary our teachers used to tell us, “If you can do anything else in life, don t go into the ministry.” Then they continued, “If your heart beats only for Christ and the Bible, and to reach men, then you are called to the ministry.”

Every person that God has ever called into the ministry is in the ministry, but there are many people that have never been called to the ministry who are trying to preach and teach and are unhappy and unsuccessful.

“For obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” — Paul was called by God to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the nations of the world so that individuals might obey the gospel. This could be translated, “obedience which is a result of faith,” or “faith which is obedience.” Men are called upon to obey the gospel.

Faith obeys the command to believe. This is not just intellectual assent, but is also commitment to the person of Jesus Christ. Men are called to repent: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). They are called to believe: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Men are to obey these commands. (Other passages dealing with the obedience of faith include: Rom. 10:14-16; 2 Thess. 1:8; Heb. 5:9).

The gospel is to be declared; it is not pleading with people to believe. Christians must declare this message faithfully to everyone, but they do not bear the responsibility of changing people’s hearts or convincing people through their powers of persuasion. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to change hearts, and to bring men to repentance and faith.

The spreading of the gospel is to be “for his name.” It is to be done for God’s glory and not for our own.

Note that Romans both begins and ends with the phrase “obedience to the faith” (Rom. 1:5 and Rom. 16:26).

GRACE TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS (Rom. 1:6-7)

“Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ” — From among the nations God is calling a people to salvation. The Roman Christians were a part of this small group of called ones in Paul’s day.

The Bible speaks of two kinds of calls. There is a general call when the gospel goes out calling men to place their faith in Christ: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Many men have heard this call and refused to come to Jesus Christ. The other call is the efficacious call of God to salvation. This is when God calls a person directly to salvation and the person responds by believing in Jesus Christ:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24).
When God gives this call, men always respond to Jesus Christ! Salvation begins with God and ends with God — it is all of grace.

“To all that be at Rome” — This letter was not written to every person in Rome, but to all who had believed in Jesus Christ.

“Beloved of God” — Because of God’s grace, the Christian is a special object of God’s love. God loves the world in that he has provided a Saviour (John 3:16), but Christians are special objects of his love — he loves us because we are his children by faith in Christ Jesus. The Christian has been accepted in the beloved, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6). He is beloved of God because of his relationship to Jesus Christ.

“Called saints” — This should be translated “called saints,” not “called to be saints.” God called every one of these Roman saints to sainthood.

“Saint” comes from the same root as “sanctified,” from the Greek word which means “to set apart.” At the moment of salvation every Christian is set apart unto God for salvation: “the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that after death people may become saints, but that no one is a saint in this life. When a person has been an exceptionally good church member in this life, his time in purgatory is limited. While the person is still in purgatory, the church appoints a committee to look into the past life of the person to find reasons why the person should be made a saint. (The committee is organized like a courtroom and its head is known as the “avocatus diaboli,” the devil’s advocate.) If the person is found innocent (by this time he is probably out of purgatory),he becomes a saint. This view is far from the biblical teaching on the subject of a saint.

The Bible teaches that a person does not become a saint through the church, but is made a saint the moment he believes on Jesus Christ. He is separated unto God. Those who are saints are to live saintlike lives! If you have believed in Christ, you are Saint Jim, Saint Jane, Saint Jack, Saint Bettie, etc.

Dr. H. A. Ironside of Chicago, a great Bible teacher of some years ago, was on his way to the Pacific coast for a Bible conference. At that time the trip took about four days by train. On the train there was a party of nuns. Dr. Ironside made their acquaintance and began to read the Bible to them and speak to them of Jesus Christ. They were delighted and interested in what he had to say for they did not read the Bible themselves. On the third day, Dr. Ironside asked them if they had ever seen a saint. They all said that they had not and could never see one — that they would give anything to see a saint. Then Dr. Ironside astonished them by saying, “I am a saint; I am Saint Harry.” He then opened the New             Testament to the first chapter of Romans and the first chapter of 1 Corinthians and showed them that everyone who believes on Jesus Christ is a saint.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” — Paul began with grace for salvation and then exhorted his readers to experience in their lives God’s grace and peace, to make these things a reality by faith. A Christian can have an inner peace or assurance while he is in the midst of conflict. The source of this peace and grace is God!

CONCLUSION

The Bible says that it is by grace through faith that one is saved. If anyone at any time becomes a Christian, it is by God’s grace alone. Yet this gracious gift of salvation can only be made a reality as one believes that Christ died for his sins and that Christ is the Lord of his life.

If you feel a struggle going inside of you, this is God’s general call which says you must respond to Jesus Christ or face eternal separation from God. If you turn to Christ and believe on him as personal Lord and Saviour, then you can rest assured that you have received God’s efficacious call to salvation.

If you are a Christian you are a recipient of God’s grace and you can sing:

Oh! the love that drew salvation’s plan,
Oh! the grace that brought it down to man,
Oh! the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

Source: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/the-grace-of-god-en