Why Church?

Maybe, somewhere along the way you have had the pleasure of meeting someone who has reminded you about an imaginary figure from the past. Not a real person but a beloved character from a favorite book classic. A few years back my wife and I had met just such a person. At the time we first saw her she was only 14 years of age. Oddly enough, we spotted her from across the street of our home, chasing a black and white cat and after having caught up to it, promptly draped it over her shoulders and carried it off. It was not long after that she began a pet walking service of which we became one of her most loyal clients!

One day, I commented to my wife about how much she reminds us of Anne of Green Gables, a fictional character who possessed many traits, one of which was this huge capacity for words, to communicate at length with a flare and opulence not usually seen in youth her age. Well, that is what we discovered about our new found dog walker friend. A few days ago, while she spoke about her latest school assignment, she enthusiastically announced that that she would be ready to put on paper some of her thoughts for us. After all, our famous Anne of Green Gables was legendary for her writing prowess so it was only fitting that our young friend would volunteer to display some of those same skills. It took her a few moments to decide her topic but when she did, she announced that she would put in writing her reasons for going to church! I suppose she was prompted by the fact that she had been at our church before. She assured us that she would return within the hour with her assignment completed. “No reason to hurry” I told her — knowing that few can do what she had planned in that amount of time except for Anne of course — was I ever wrong! Before sixty minutes were up, the young lady triumphantly returned to our kitchen, almost to the exact spot where she had left us with paper in hand. Below is what she wrote:

I go to church for three reasons which are: entertainment, socializing, and the teaching of Scriptures. I like going because it brings me in a good mood on a gloomy Sunday, and allows me to have something to do aside from knitting/crocheting.

Last year (Dec 2015), I barely socialized. My biggest concerns were my schoolwork and cats. Then one day, my friend came to my door and asked me to come to a Christmas dinner with her. I accepted the offer and grew eager for the event. My experience was very intriguing and ever since then, I have been going with my friend to Pastor Denis’ Friday night youth meetings. Basically, what we do is play hockey in a park nearby, enjoy some board games, and learn something about the Scriptures. In time I began to grow more interested about going to church with Pastor Denis. He described to me what we would be doing there in the worship service, and asked if I was interested in going. I said “Sure! It would be a new change for me.” Ever since then, I have been going to church. What we do is learn from the Scriptures, sing and eat afterwards.

Q – What is your understanding about the gospel as it is taught from the Scriptures?

What is my understanding of salvation from Pastor Denis’ Church, Friday Nights and Thursday Nights at my friend’s house: Salvation is typically when one gets saved from their sins and enters the Kingdom of God. So many people argue over this fact, all with their own beliefs. Some Orthodox religions say they can save themselves by doing enough good things. Catholics say confess your sins to a Priest and you will be saved and Christians say that the true way to salvation is to accept Christ as your Savior. The choice is yours to believe what you want. The Bible says that there is a time where you must consider these things before you accept Christ.

Well, you might have observed from her words above some hidden talent. Or it may be that our glowing enthusiasm has spilled over in our assessment. One thing is for sure, the truth about salvation is something we must all think over and the many different ideas about it. You must consider these things in light of what your church teaches, or, if not attending anywhere, where you may wish to attend in the future. The Bible teaches that Christ alone is sufficient to meet our need for salvation.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Here at Emmanuel Baptist Church we wish for you and your family the best in the New Year.

Glory to God, Good Will Toward Men

This week, the elders of Emmanuel Baptist Church would like to share with you this blog post written by Pastor Bill Morgan of Grace Baptist Church in Schreiber, Ontario.

In the Gospel of Luke we are given a detailed account of the birth of our Lord. The first two chapters are devoted primarily to that wonderful event in history where God took upon Himself the form of a man. The Bible teaches us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) In John’s Gospel we also read: In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14)

When the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host: “. . . praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14) we need to realize that praise was offered to God because His plan of redemption for mankind was going to be realized through the birth, death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory was attributed to God because He had devised a plan whereby sinners could be reconciled to a Holy God. Mankind first and foremost needed to have their sins forgiven in order for them to find peace with God. This pronouncement of peace was not given to the religious rulers or to the well-off in society but to the common people who were represented by the lowly shepherds attending their flocks in the fields. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8)

God most often visits people in their everyday surroundings – on the job, in the home or at school. The shepherds represent each of us because God has provided His Son to be the Saviour of all mankind. After a remarkable conversion because of Jesus’ teaching, we hear this testimony from believers: “We have heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:41-42) This Christ had been promised when our first parents (Adam and Eve) disobeyed God and needed to be saved from their sin. In Genesis 3:15 the Messiah is introduced as One who would destroy sin and Satan but would also suffer and be wounded.

The angel that appeared to these shepherds said: “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) When the angel identified the baby as Christ the Lord the shepherds knew that their promised Messiah, the Anointed One, was being heralded. Their most famous prophet, Isaiah, had already attested: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . . and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Evelasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government (Kingdom of God) and peace there shall be no end. . . . “ (Isaiah 9:6-7) Such wonderful news from God concerning their great need of peace – the peace which they had been searching for all their lives – was now being made available to them at Bethlehem, in the birth of their Saviour, their long-expected Messiah, Christ the Lord. Their response to God’s offer of peace was immediate! “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:16)

May you, this Christmas, respond to God’s offer of peace through the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. May God’s truth be acceptable to you. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. . . .” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Christians and Social Networks

On November 13th, 2016 elder Denis Pomerleau in his sermon raised the following question “What’s my priority in life as a Christian?” This question fell on me like a bomb and inspired me to do some reflecting of my own about the place of social networks in the Christian’s life. Since then I have given it some thought and in response I am asking Christians “Is social media or the gospel of Jesus Christ my priority in life?”

Let me be clear. I am not saying a Christian should put aside social media. However, this worldly thing should not be a priority in the Christian’s life. As you know, nowadays, people spend a lot of time on social media. Every single day, more people use social networks in North America than anywhere else in the world. Actually, in 2016, 70.2% of North American internet users accessed social networks and the number is growing rapidly. As a social fact, I think it’s important to consider the possible repercussions that it has on the church, and specifically on the Christian life.

What is a social network?

According to “The Economist”, March 6th 2010, a social network is “an online service or site through which people create and maintain interpersonal relationships. And millions of people have become comfortable using smart-phones to share information about themselves, via mobile apps that access social networks such as Facebook and Twitter”. Do people really create and maintain interpersonal relationships through social networks? If so, what kind of relationships? Do they share only information about themselves? Answering these questions would take several more pages, which I am not about to do. For now, I would prefer that you, the reader, provide the answers from your own personal experiences. Needless to say, I will share my own comments about this last question, “Do people share only information about themselves?” at a later point.

Be sure that this phenomenon about telling others about our lives leads to something we term “cyberdependence”, where large amounts of time are spent on social networking. Whenever a Christian is taken captive by social media, it is clearly not for God’s Glory. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1a, “there’s a time for everything”. You should be careful with your time and not spend it on something that does not bring glory to God. Some people might think “if I go to church regularly, pray, read my Bible and so on, there should be no problem since I am spending my time as I wish, and it is not a sin to do so.” The apostle Paul has it right when he says in 1st Corinthians 10 verse 23, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”. What that means is that the Christian chooses his actions based on whatever may be beneficial (expedient) or constructive (edify) in regards to the Church and his own spiritual well being and ultimately God’s Glory.

Going back to social media, people share all kinds of content on Facebook, and not just people revealing things about themselves as “The Economist” reports. Facebook may claim that they do not allow nudity, hate speech, excessive violence, self-injury….…it is clear that we see these things all the time on Facebook. Whether we admit it or not, if we spend too much time on Facebook, inevitably we will be exposed to pornography, questionable videos, spiteful comments… which of course does not edify any. Before long, our minds are affected by what we have been exposed to. A Christian should fill himself with the Word of God instead. Remember what the Lord said to Joshua, “this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

If someone were to ask the questions “What is too much time spent on social network?” or “How much time should I spend on it?”, I may not have all the answers, but one thing I know for sure, is that as God told Joshua to meditate on the Word of God day and night, we should do the same instead of passing excessive time on social networks. My priority in life as a Christian must be to read the Bible, “meditate therein day and night”; live by the Word of God, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”, Psalms 119:11; Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, Psalms 119:105; and to share it with nonbelievers, “And He [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”, Mark 16:15.

Next time you feel like spending time on social media, ask yourself this question, “Am I doing it for the glory of my God?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1st Corinthians 10:31

Jean Sosthène Félix

The Way of Cain

A number of idioms, coined expressions, have made their way into our vernacular such as the new reality, millennialist, tracking, optics which describe the changes and developments that take place in everyday life. Inclusion is one of those common words often used in education, workplace and religion. When used, it most often points to the removal of restrictions and limitations in order to widen the acceptance of all groups to each other regardless of doctrine, disabilities cultural practices, or beliefs. This sounds idealic and even helpful except that it runs aground when certain realities are brought to bare.

To begin, the idea that all religions must be afforded equal weight and considered equally true in what is practised and believed should be seen as illogical and even dangerous to mankind. Religious pluralism teaches that there are many roads to God, and that no road can be said to be the exclusive one and all faiths hold to the same basic truths. While some may find this attractive, it is sorely removed from reality. Forced conversions in Muslim lands and their on-going efforts to spread their ideology across our globe through murderous means, and the swords of Hindus against any that leave their ranks are major examples of intolerance toward those who hold different views than their own.

While the idea of pluralism may have become quite popular to the dispossessed and vulnerable it may remain so only while they are dispossessed and vulnerable. Typically, when they grow more powerful, they become less concerned about everyone else having a voice or feeling and seek to dominate through intimidation and violence. In truth they need not really possess the virtue of “pluralism” just appear to support it until they reach their objective. Yet, there remains a far more essential matter that needs to be raised.

To do so, first let us go back to a couple of brothers who had made offerings to God. Abel chose to bring an animal sacrifice, the best he had from his herd, whereas Cain decided to be innovated and gave some of the crops in his field. Had you lived then, you could have guessed which offering would find acceptance based on what had taken place with their parents. God had provided animal skins as a covering for Adam and Eve which was designed to have them understand that the death of an animal necessitated a blood sacrifice. This lesson was not lost on Abel who sacrificed an animal from his herd, but Cain demonstrated a nebulous faith in that he rebelled and refused to do what pleased God, and choose instead to devise his own approach to God. God spoke to Cain about his wrong actions, appealing to him about doing what was right. Yet Cain responded in anger and jealousy, wandered even further from the presence of God by murdering his brother. God sent him away to be a fugitive, to live a useless life.

In many ways, Cain became the father of all false religion. Cain had acted unwisely by presupposing that God would accept his offering even though he knew that his brother’s sacrifice, the blood of an animal, was what he should have provided.

Today, a mindset similar to that of Cain exists. In our society, many maintain an attitude regarding the diversity of religious beliefs that they can co-exists and none are to be considered wrong. The idea is that God is going to accept any and all efforts regardless if they are in agreement to what He teaches about Himself from His Bible. Mankind acts as though God is at our beck and call. There is a particular designation in Jude 1:11 described as the “way of Cain”, that serves as a warning to us and refers back to Cain’s behavior. As Cain chose not to exercise faith in God by observing the proper way for worship, this One same God does not bow and conform Himself to the many different religious systems in existence who are not obedient to His Ways.

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)

Due to God’s Greatness, our life’s response should be one of compliance to His Word. For each who have been given the exclusive right to become His child through Christ sacrifice, our indebtedness leads us to love and live in accordance to His commands. We are not to give up our inherited rights as Christians for the sake of finding religious unity in this world’s perilous schemes of thought toward God by remaining silent and adding to the growing confusion that exist about God. The truth is that you either endorse God’s Way or Cain’s.