From Your Pastor: Extraspective Faith

“We See Jesus…Consider Jesus…Looking to Jesus,

the Author and Perfecter of our Faith”

(Heb. 2:9a, 3:1, 12:2a).

Faith is extraspective, always looking out of oneself to Christ. As one of our forefathers put it well, our faith is always looking for Christ throughout one’s day. Faith humbly looks up to receive Christ’s forgiveness, looks around for Christ’s help and fellowship, and looks down to see Christ’s light on the path. Faith keeps its eye on Christ the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Faith looks up humbly to receive Christ’s grace from the beginning of the Christian life. As we walk by faith in this present age, our faith continues to look around and find Christ in each situation, in each and every circumstance, as Habakkuk said: “I will stand on the watchtower and look out to see what you will say to me,” (Hab. 2:1), so faith is always looking outward, extraspectively to take hold of Christ in His fullness of grace and truth (John 1:16-18).

From the beginning of our conversion or union with Christ through the Spirit’s work in our effectual calling, faith is like a holy seed implanted by the Spirit of God in believers as a gift (Eph. 2:6-10; 2 Cor. 4:13; James 1:21)—a gift that keeps on giving—and growing  (2 Pet. 1:5ff; 1 Thess. 1:3-5; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 10:22)! God-given faith is supernaturally active in looking to Christ alone as the justifying and sanctifying Savior as He is revealed in and through the Word of God (Acts 13:48; John 6:37). As the Westminster Confession says: “The principal acts of saving faith are, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ…” (WCF, 14.2).

Faith trusts in Christ alone for “justification, sanctification, and eternal life” (1 Cor. 1:30; cf. WCF, 14.2). We find and receive by faith both our justification before God and our definitive and progressive sanctification (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 2:9-11) of being conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Faith trusts Christ for justification by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:4-5), but also trusts God for sanctifying conformity to Christ (Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13). Christians are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10), and have been set free to be a people for Christ’s own possession who are zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14).

While justification is by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone, it is not a faith that is alone; it is always a working faith. This means that faith is never separate from, or empty of  good works; true and saving faith is a working faith (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; cf. Rom. 2:6-7). Without good works, we have no true faith (James 2:14-18). Faith takes hold of a whole Christ, and in Him we find all that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3-4). Faith receives a whole Savior who can save us from both the guilt and power of sin (Rom. 10:13-17). As the hymn writer Toplady wrote: “Be of sin the double cure, save me from its guilt and power!” The Christian trusts in Christ “for salvation not only from wrath, but also from sin; not only for salvation from the guilt of sin, but also from its pollution and power; not only for happiness hereafter, but also for holiness here” (R. Shaw, ‘Commentary on Westminster Confession’).

Faith is the empty hands that receive all that we need for life and godliness in Christ alone. True faith struggles against sin, weaknesses, and against all obstacles to take hold of the strength and grace that are found in Christ, to become “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:11-12). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). With extraspective faith, looking to Christ, we please Him, knowing confidently that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him! Let us seek Him in Christ!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

“Who Has Made Man’s Mouth…Is It Not I, the LORD?” – Questions God Asks Us

Word of Encouragement- Week Ending March 10th, 2012

Series: The Questions God Asks Us

“Who Has Made Man’s Mouth…Is It Not I, the LORD?” – Exodus 4:11

ESV Exodus 4:11-12: Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”


At some time in your life, you have felt that dreaded nervousness that crawls up within you when you must perform the important music recital you have practiced intensely and often, or you must prove your skills to your teammates and the crowd when all seem to be depending upon you to hit the ball when the bases are loaded, or you have been asked to give a presentation and a speech before other people. “Speak before other people!!”


At these times, we ask internally, thinking to ourselves: “What will they think?” “How will I do?” “Will I make a fool of myself?” “Will I forget everything I have learned?”


Our confidence weakens and wanes and we are filled with flittering tummy butterflies that reveal our anxieties and fears. The reason we get this way ultimately is because we are focused more on our self rather than upon the Living God. We get too focused merely on our gifts rather than the Gifter-Giver really. And that is why we are so anxious and fearful.


Now understand there is a natural tendency to feel a bit apprehensive and nervous about an important situation where you have worked hard and desire to do your best, but often we have an unnatural, sinful tendency to let our feelings overwhelm us because we lack focus, and because we lack focus, we lack confidence and trust in God. Let us remember that we were never meant as humans to do anything apart from God (we were created by God to be “with Him”). We were all created dependent, and we must remain dependent, trusting, creatures, who constantly remember that God is always with us as He has promised to be!


Moses was like us. One of the beautiful truths of Holy Scripture is that the people in God’s story are all fallen, sinful creatures like us, who make the same mistakes, fall into the same sinful traps, and are frightened, anxious and scared just like us (1 Cor. 10:11-13).


In our passage from Exodus 4, God was on the verge of delivering His people from over four hundred years of slavery. He had heard the cries of His people, and He had remembered His covenant. It was time for God to act powerfully on behalf of the people (Exodus 2:24-25). God called Moses at the burning bush and revealed His name to him (Exodus 3:10-14).

Yet Moses was apprehensive to do the will of God. Moses thought of his own weaknesses, rather than God’s great strength. Moses focused more on himself rather than upon the living God who was with him. Moses feared that he was too ineloquent to speak in God’s name, and not to mention, he knew intimately the challenge of marching right up into Pharaoh’s palace to tell this great king that God had called to free the people from slavery.

But soberly and pointedly God asks Moses: “Who has made man’s mouth?” The question is to get Moses to think of God rather than himself. If God wants to deliver, God will deliver according to His power, because of His loving-kindness and mercy! God asks the question about His own power of creation in making man’s mouth, to assure Moses that He has plenty of strength and power to do what Moses might be unable to do.

This was the heart of matter, wasn’t it? God was faithfully present with Moses, and had clearly made His glory and power known to Moses, but Moses’ focus was on the challenging situation and his own abilities, and not on the God who was powerfully present with Moses to show Himself faithful.

Moses’ concern was on his own speech and ability to speak that was aggravated and accentuated in the light of a challenging situation. You can understand Moses’ predicament. Rarely will we be called as God’s representative and ambassador to face a mighty dictator with God’s Word. Yet daily we are called to represent the LORD in our lives and deeds, and it can be just as intimidating sometimes, especially if it is a powerful person, or a person we want to impress.

Going face to face with Pharaoh, the ‘KING of Egypt’ in all his power and glory was extremely intimidating we must admit. But Moses was essentially comparing his powers and abilities with those of Pharaoh and his court. God was calling Moses to draw confidence and trust in Him alone. While Moses was intimidated and concerned about these things, he lost sight of God.

Isn’t Moses a bit like you and me? Like many of us, at times we are too focused on self to do any real good and to bring powerful change in this world?! As Christians, we are to learn to focus on God’s power through us as we make ourselves available to Him in Christ. The truth of Scripture is NOT “God helps those who help themselves” but rather “God helps those who have no hope and help in themselves”! My father used to say when I would say “I can’t do such and such” that “Can’t never could.” I have come to realize that this may be true at times, but overall it is false. I think I would say now (as an older man):

Not “can’t never could” but “Can’t often does a lot of good, when ‘can’ts’ could’ is focused on God’s good.”

Like Moses, we also have intimidating situations, although they differ in degrees, we nevertheless get anxious and fearful and focus on ourselves. In our lives, the question that God asked Moses could be put to us like this: “Who has given you the gifts you have?” “Who has given you your present job?” “Who has called you to teach your family biblical truth?” “Who has given to you resources that you can learn grow in godly wisdom?” “Who has called you to pray for hardened and unbelieving friends and relatives?” Who has given you the very words of God in Christ to make known to the world in your daily witness?”

“Who has given to you your present position and calling to fulfill it for God no matter how great the opposition, and no matter how incapable and weak that you feel you can do it?” Who has called you and not someone else to do what you do for God’s glory?”

All of us when we encounter what we perceive a difficult situation try to take a quick inventory of our own gifts and abilities, and then we tend to either go forward confidently, or move backward cowardly based on our estimation of these abilities. We often compare ourselves with others, and we try to finitely evaluate the work of others with our own. Rarely do we see God in this first. But we must. God has given us what we need for all situations; can we trust Him? Do you trust God? Here is the truth: You are weak; others do have greater gifts; you will make mistakes and you will fail; but the point is not what you have to offer God, but the immeasurably great power that God offers to you to do His will!! (Eph. 1:18-23).

It is not about comparing gifts with others, as much as understanding that if God has called you to a task to glorify His name, no matter how incompetent you may be, no matter how many others could probably do it better, God will be with you, and will bring His appointed and ordained results out of you because of His power, and through your weak, yet willing obedience.

It is a dangerous thing to try and finitely, and with limited perspective evaluate our own gifts and work for God, even the Apostle Paul did not try evaluating his work but trusted God (see 1 Cor. 4:3-7).

Be honest with God: What has God called you to do that you know he has called you to do this very day, and yet you are being hindered by your own perceived weaknesses, or you’re evaluating your own gifts with the gifts of others thinking they could do better, or you’re looking to much at the opposition? God calls you right now to behold His power and glory, and His promise to be with you!

If God wants to use man to deliver others, then He will do so. If God gives us our mouths (like Moses) and the power of speech, or he gives us any other gifts to try our best, he will also give us the grace to accomplish what He calls us to accomplish. Even in this situation with Moses, God graciously uses Moses powerfully, but grants him the help of another partner and helper (his brother Aaron), as Moses focuses on God and not himself, and believes and trusts God to do what God has promised to do.

God is instructing Moses in ‘Humility 101’; Moses’ success will be because of God’s power. God doesn’t need our strengths, our gifts, or our confidence in SELF. God wants us to trust Him, and that is all. As Moses would later learn, God wants us to

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…” (Exodus 14:13).

Here is what we are to learn daily:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We sadly strive as Christians sometimes to become confident in ourselves just like the world. We should strive for excellence, and to work hard for God’s glory, and to seek to gain more competence in our learning and in the using of our gifts and abilities, there is no doubt. But if any change is going to come; if there is going to be any real redemption and rescue from sin, it will be because we put our confidence and hope in God and His power alone. God alone has the power to change both us and other through us.

God redeemed Israel from slavery, and he used a weak and sinful and anxiously frightened man named Moses who had learned to focus on God alone. Moses was God’s instrument, and Moses became more like His LORD as he learned to trust Him by focusing on His Word and the great and wonderful promise that God was always with Him- -no matter what situation! Yet God redeemed—God’s power was revealed and made known that we could boast in God alone!

In the fullness of the times, one greater than Moses came to deliver God’s people! God united Himself permanently to our human nature to speak words of grace and power through humility and meekness (Matt. 11:25-30). Jesus was not someone who was outwardly attractive and gifted (Isaiah 53:2-5); Jesus’ miracles were all done clearly because of the power of God with Him to show that Jesus was truly God in the flesh; the miracles and the great acts of Jesus were not to bring glory to Himself, but to point to the fact that God was truly with Him, and that salvation was found in Jesus Christ alone, God in the flesh for us, who is also with us.

Jesus Christ performed all of God’s will on earth with His glory veiled so that we would know that God is with us too, and that we could remember that if God is with us he is for us, and if he is for us, there is no one who can be against us! (Romans 8:31). Jesus Christ teaches us that God works through meekness and weakness to achieve His powerful goals of salvation and mercy to all who will believe. So we should seek to be like Jesus in all we do, humbling depending upon God alone, and doing it for God alone, boasting in God alone, with our focus on God alone (read Philippians 2:1-11).

The greatest act that Jesus performed for His people was one He had to fully trust God to do. Jesus had to drink the full cup of God’s wrath and punishment for our sins down to the dregs. The Bible teaches:

ESV Mark 14:34-36: And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Jesus knew that in Himself, He couldn’t perform what He was called to do, yet HE NEVER LOST CONFIDENCE IN GOD! He knew that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 14:36), and that God would work through weakness to bring His own powerful will to pass: the redemption of God’s dearly loved people, you and me!

In a great act of weakness, losing all of His gifts and powers, and losing the dear presence of His Father that He had experienced from before the foundation of the world in the bosom of His Beloved Father, Jesus confronted not merely Pharaoh, but the devil and death itself, submitting Himself to the Father’s will in weakness, so that our sins would be judged on Jesus rather than on us.

What is beautiful about Jesus’ mouth is His cry of dereliction for us: ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ In Jesus’ weakness, in His death for our sins, we should see our only hope of redemption. Jesus, who knew no sin, who never- -ever committed one sin in thought, word, or deed, took all of the sins of His people upon Himself, and was crushed by the Father for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:10), so that we could have His perfect righteousness and know that God loves us and is with us for all eternity!

Now, we should hear, even in our greatest weakness as believers redeemed by Jesus, God’s command to us in Christ: “Go, and I will be with you…”; God’s promise to all believers in Christ is: “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:12).

In Christ, God makes all of us His mouthpieces to testify of the goodness of God in Christ; to testify of how Christ has set us free from sin and slavery; to testify that our hope and full confidence is in God’s power and grace in Jesus Christ and not in ourselves; to testify that all the perfect righteousness that God requires, He provides for all who believe in Christ alone apart from works; to testify that He is God, and God alone, and we are His servants who must depend upon Him alone!

…And this we are to do weak in ourselves, but confident in Christ, knowing that when we’re weak we are incredibly strong!

Let us serve Him. Ask yourself in the next situation that causes you anxiety and fear:

“Who has made man’s mouth?” Then go and give Him your best confidence and trust in Jesus as He reveals His glory and goodness to you because HE IS WITH YOU!


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

“Fall Down at the Savior’s Feet”

“Fall Down at the Savior’s Feet” – Luke 8:40-56


What makes us fall down? The weight of something can make us fall down. We fall down and stumble sometimes because we are careless and frail. What makes us fall down before God?


Our need.


His great power and glory.


The weight of our need for Jesus, and the weight of our realization of His power and glory, and the weight of His kind and merciful willingness to take time to heal us. This makes us fall down at his feet.


Let us worship Jesus. Right now, fall down, and seek Him who calls out to you, and promises to you all that you will ever need in Him. Fall down at Jesus’ feet and find what you need in Jesus, where you can get nowhere else. Go to Him and worship


In Luke 8:40-56, two people fall down at Jesus’ feet because they have great need of Jesus and His healing power. One person who falls down in Jesus’ presence is Jairus, an important person in his day, a synagogue ruler. Another person who fell down in Jesus’ presence was just a nameless common woman described as “a woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years” (Luke 8:43). Read Luke 8:40-56.


Jairus, the important man, and the nameless common woman both had desperate needs, and it didn’t matter the social or economical position that they held in this world. When death came calling, both of them knew that only Jesus could bring healing and help.


And death came calling. In Jairus’ home, Jairus’ dear and **only** daughter was dying. His only daughter (about twelve years of age) was dying; he was losing what was most important to him in this world; the little girl would no longer bless him with her smiles, giggles, hugs, and wretched death would steal her presence from his home forever! (Luke 8:42).


Jairus went to Jesus because all of his importance, all of his religious and social standing, did not matter at this moment. He was a frail man in the face of death, with absolutely no power to save the dear one who meant the most to him in the whole world! He goes to Jesus. Amen! Go to Jesus right now for help.


Jairus goes to Jesus, and “falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house…” (8:41). Jairus implored Jesus. The word “implore” is from the verb parakaleo the same verb used of the Holy Spirit as being one called along side. The term here is being used to show that this important man was begging Jesus with all of his might to do the impossible: reverse death’s awful threat upon his daughter’s life! Jairus is praying fervently. Jairus prays by the Spirit for his daughter to be healed.


In the nameless common woman’s life, she had spent all she had in this world (and it was probably very little) to get well. We are told that “she had spent all her living on physicians” (8:43). No one could help her; no one (not a soul could help her) (8:44). All of the professional advice, wisdom, and medical help she sought could not save her from this slow discharge of blood that would eventually kill her. Death was creeping up on her and robbing her of life.


This woman, with all of the faith she could muster rushes through the crowds to Jesus and touches the fringe of Jesus’ garment. Don’t let anything hinder you from seeking the healing that only Jesus can give. Go and find at least his outer garment to touch. Get as near as you can!!


Just the outer edges of Jesus’ presence will heal sinners! Don’t you see, go to Jesus, touch whatever you can, reach as far as you’re able, with whatever faith you can muster. You may have a little faith, and little hope to get to Jesus, but you’re reaching for a great and powerful CHRIST!


Power went out from Jesus when this dear weak and nameless woman touched Him. We are told “she came up behind HIM and touched the fringe of His garment and immediately her discharge of blood ceased” (8:44) – -and she was immediately healed (8:45-48).


In the face of Jesus Christ, the nightmare of death is over. Jesus brings life.


A little faith, perhaps a very small hope that anyone could ever help her, but this nameless common woman took hold of a GREAT CHRIST. And when this woman felt the weight of God’s glory in Jesus Christ, and the power of his LIFE, she came “trembling and falling down before him” (8:47).


She fell down to worship Christ, to honor the only hope for those dying! We find in Christ the only one who can help us in our time of need!


And her faith in Jesus healed and saved her (8:48). Although she is nameless and common, she is a “daughter” to the living God. Jesus says to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” The woman’s faith in Jesus showed her to be a true daughter of the Living God, heirs to the life that is found in Jesus. She goes in peace, having found her hope of life in Christ.


But while Jesus was healing this nameless common woman, Jairus’ daugther had grown worse in the meantime, and news came to Jesus that Jairus’ daughter has died. They came with the news: “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore” (8:49).


This is an example of a faithless people, who do not understand that when Jesus is present to faith there is no threat of death. “Let’s not trouble Jesus with things that he cannot do,” they say. We also think this way sometimes functionally even as Christians. Whereas the nameless common woman was at least willing to give Jesus a try with the little faith she had, these folks are unwilling to even ask?!


Such prayerless and hopeless people we can be sometimes—even when Jesus promises that He is with us!


But Jesus is gracious to even the prayerless and hopeless, and He speaks Gospel words of comfort into Jairus’ life; Jairus (and all in his home) heard life-giving, Holy-Spiritual empowered words come forth from the lips of the Savior. Jesus told Jairus confidently as the Lord of Life and Death:


“Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”


We often will listen to fear and look to circumstances before we look to Christ and hear His words of promise to us!


What confidence believers can have when facing Jesus Christ. When we look to Jesus and hear His Gospel-drenched, gracious words of power and kindness, all of our fears can be relieved. Our faith, while it may be small, takes hold of a GREAT CHRIST, who can do things that we can’t even conceive or imagination- -so great is His grace and power (Eph. 3:20-21).


And this causes us to fall down beneath the weight of his majesty and power, and we worship Him, too. Worship Him now. Thank Jesus for calming all of your fears; for being your Savior and promising to never leave you nor forsake you. Turn now from what you fear the most, bask in His goodness, mercy and kind presence (Heb. 4:14-16), the go back to face that which seemed so insurmountable, and find grace and comfort.


Jesus reaches Jairus’ home and there are many mourners present. Jesus brings words of comfort for those who have ears to hear. While there is the sound of weeping and mourning, Jesus speaks peaceful words of grace: “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping” (8:52).


Even in the midst of sadness, Jesus’ words can bring hope.


But the folks at Jairus’ home laughed at him (8:53- How did they go so quickly from mourning and weeping to laughing?!!). Do you laugh at God’s Word, or do you simply believe what He says to you? Do you live functionally like these people laughing inwardly, sneering, seeking to lean on your own strength, while laughing at others who take God’s words seriously?


Do you laugh rather than fall at Jesus’ feet? Behold the glory of God:


In the face of Jesus Christ we behold that the nightmare of death is over (see also John 11:40).


Jesus doesn’t rebuke the people for laughing; he doesn’t let the folks with unbelief bother him in the least bit. No, he goes to the one who needs Him. And he will find you who are in need too…


Jesus goes to the child. We are told: “But taking her by the hand he called, saying ‘Child, arise’” (8:54). Jesus is so gentle and merciful. He takes the dead little girl, the **only** daughter of Jairus, the precious daughter of Jairus, by the hand, and she speaks words of power and life to her.


But in the face of Jesus, death is only sleeping.


Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Death cannot abide in His powerful presence, and this is a reason for us to fall down before Him. Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life!


Jesus speaks to the child a command; Jesus’ words of command have power even over the dead. Jesus commands the child to arise (8:54). We are told then that “And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat” (8:55).


Death had not only separated Jairus from the love and presence of his beloved only daughter, but death had separated Jairus’ daughters’ spirit from her body.


Death is an horrific and evil intruder in God’s creation. Death is not the way it should have been; we must never say that death is just a part of life. Death is because of the sin of man against God, and the just penalty of God for disobedience to His Word.


God does not leave man in fear of death (Heb. 2:14-18). God becomes a man, and becomes subject to the weakness and sin and misery of this life characterized by death, and even undergoes death Himself on behalf of those who believe. God becomes man and dies under the curse of death so that we might be forgiven of our many sins against God, so that we might be reconciled to God and never separted from Him, so that we might be healed of death, and so that we might never be separated from our loved ones again!


This is the hope of those who believe in Christ. Christ has taken the death penalty for our sins. He paid the infinite price of eternal death in our place on the cross. Jesus was forsaken by His father, separated from communion with God, and his body and spirit were separated in death for all who believe. Jesus Christ has been in the tomb , under the power of death, and He has risen victorious as the King of kings and Lord of Life!


In Jesus’ resurrection, we see our hope of sins forgiven, death abolished, and a life with God and our loved ones for all eternity. This is the hope we anticipate as Christians (Revelation 21:1-7). God will dwell with us forever, and we will live with Him and all our loved ones never to be separated by death.  We rejoice that when Christ returns the final enemy will be defeated which is death itself. There will be no more death soon and very soon!  “The last enemy to be destroyed [at Christ’s second coming] is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).


Death is a problem that only Jesus Christ can fix by His power and grace. Only Jesus can bring together and unify eternally loved ones who are separated by death, and spirits separated from bodies. And death becomes sleep in Jesus’ presence. What a picture here of Jesus’ care of all who believe.


Jesus finds His beloved people in our weakness and death, and he comes to us, takes us gently and mercifully by our hands, and speaks life to us. We arise and find healing from our sins in His presence and we behold His face.


When we face death as believers, Jesus may heal us as he did the nameless and common woman. But usually when we face death, we actually die as Jairus’ daughter; we close our eyes as in sleep. For believers in Jesus, death is just like a sleep; a short nap. This is the important point.


Like Jairus’ daughter dying, our dying is very similar. Jesus reaches down into death and draws up back into life. Jesus reaches through into this dimension characterized by sin and misery and death, and brings life to us by taking us permanently into His wonderful and blessed presence.


And we live forever beholding His face! When we die, or when our loved ones die in the Lord, we can be confident that although we are separated from them for a season, they are not separated from Jesus Christ! Although their spirits and bodies be separated and await the union of both on the resurrection on the Last Day, nevertheless, they are not separated from the blissful presence of the Lord Jesus.


And they through death will stare and behold, like Jairus’ daughter, into the glorious and merciful face of their precious Savior. And they will be fully healed because of His power. They will be rescued and saved from a world of sin and misery characterized by death.


This is our hope in Jesus Christ!


When we die, and when those we love die, let us be reminded and comforted of these truths. That death is like sleep in that we close our eyes from this world to open our eyes and to awake fully alive and well and healed staring and beholding the face of Jesus Christ.


When Jairus’ daughter awoke from her death, you can imagine how she would have never forgotten Jesus’ precious face. To remember that glorious face all the days of her life would have given her hope in the death she would die again. But the next time she would die, she would know that the same Jesus Christ who healed her once, would do it again- -but the next time for all eternity! This is written for us to know this and believe.


Don’t forget this face. Don’t forget the face of Jesus Christ. Once he has healed you, you will never see anything more beautiful and glorious again!


Behold the face of Jesus Christ in life and death.


Fall down and worship Him!


Encourage and comfort one another with these words of the Apostle Paul concerning death from 1 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul teaches the doctrinal truth of what Luke’s Gospel shows to us in the sleep of Jairus’ daughter:


ESV 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.


Fall down and worship before Him!


Find life in Christ alone.


You and I need Him so desperately. Whether you’re an important person or a nameless common person, fall down and find hope and healing in Christ alone.


In Christ’s love,


Pastor Charles- “The Vicar” (I was affectionately known as ‘the Vicar” to John Connor)


This Word of Encouragement is dedicated to my friend and brother John Curtis Connor who recently closed his eyes in this world, to open his eyes in the presence of the Lord Jesus. I am grateful for John’s life, and hopeful in Christ for his death.

“To Live is Christ!”

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” –ESV Philippians 1:21

As Christians we must learn not merely to live for Christ, but to realize that Christ is our life.

If we have Christ, we have everything we need and we can lose nothing. Even death will be our gain, not a loss. Having the mindset “Christ is my life” will help us to make progress in our faith and grow in our joy.

 “TO LIVE IS CHRIST…” (v. 21a) – Means simply living seeking Jesus with all your heart because Jesus has sought and saved you! Christ has given His life in exchange for yours. You are no longer your own. You are His.

Beloved Christians: Don’t merely live your life for Christ, but realize that Christ is your life. You are not your own. Christ has saved and redeemed you by His precious blood. His life is your life. He is your strength because you are united with him.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is imprisoned, in chains for Christ and His Kingdom. Yet He can also rejoice because for him “to live—Christ” (v. 21).

For Paul, to live is Christ.

Paul has nothing to lose- -HE HAS EVERYTHING IN JESUS. Not even death can move him. In fact, to die is gain!

Whatever place the Apostle Paul found himself, wherever he is, it is for Jesus; it is with Jesus; it is in Jesus!

Nothing to lose and everything to gain! (v. 21) – -REJOICE!!

Paul lives his life in a moment-by-moment “win-win” situation; there are not good times and bad times- -every moment is a good moment where Christ can enter in by virtue of Paul’s real and Holy-Spiritual union with Him and be transformed- -made more like him- -and to become more and more fruitful as he progresses in his faith.

For the Apostle Paul, “to live is Christ” is THEOLOGICAL and very PRACTICAL.

THEOLOGICALLY Paul is in union with Jesus Christ.

Union with Christ:

Paul is: “Buried with Christ” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12); “United with Christ” (Rom. 6:5); “Crucified with Christ” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20); Alive with Christ” (Rom. 6:7); “Heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Suffers with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Glorified with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Have the same form as Christ- -be like him” (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21); “Be conformed with Christ” in every way: life, death, and resurrection (Phil. 3:10ff).

Because of God’s grace and mercy toward sinners in Jesus Christ, we have been united to Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection; Jesus is our life! (Col. 3:1-4). So, because He is our life, we are to seek the things that are above in Him because our lives have been hid with God in Jesus!

“The central soteriological reality is union with the exalted Christ by Spirit-created faith. That is the nub, the essence, of the way or order of salvation for Paul.” -Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation

PRACTICALLY (theology lived out), Paul knows that Christ is the most important person, thing, possession and reality in his life. Period. All of Paul’s “meaning of life” or what it means to live for Paul is about Christ.

Paul cannot fathom a life that is truly a life being without Jesus Christ.



Paul’s mind, affections, and will are filled and directed by Christ; Jesus defines Paul.


How about you? What or who defines you?

What brings you the greatest joy? Honestly.

What is your heart’s greatest longing?

What’s most important to you? Right now.

What is your most important goal?

What could you never live without?

What fills your daydreams and captures your imagination?

What possesses you? (We often says what “possesses that person to do that?!”)

What is your most valuable asset? What is most precious and “worthy” to you?

Does Jesus bring you the greatest joy? When you say the name JESUS does your heart beat harder within you? Do you sense his presence and think of His goodness towards you?

Can you say with the Psalmist:

ESV Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

ESV Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Do you believe this?

Is this obvious in your life that you believe this? How about to your family? Can your friends and neighbors see that what brings you the greatest joy is to live- -CHRIST!? As the great Robert Murray M’Cheyne encouraged Christians to live unto Jesus:

“Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne.


Christ Jesus is the chief end of our lives. We are to glorify and enjoy God forever. We can only do this when we live by faith with Christ Jesus as the chief end, aim, and/or hope of our lives.

Whatever your confession, what you live for is what  you most “glory in” or “value” as being best– -what is most worthy of your time, money, and investment of energy.

What you value most is what you long for- -you hope for- -what your affections are set on and what you dream about.

Some live for self. “To live is Me”

Some live for pleasure. “To live is joy, happiness, peace and escape.”

Some live for money. “To live is possessing more so that I am secure.”

Some live for family. “To live is my family.”

Some live for career. “To live my career; what I do most defines me.”

Some live for ministry or for religion. “To live is my performance for God, my reputations of what I am doing in my service.”

What do you ultimately prize?

Could what is most important to you ever be taken away?

Where is your hope?

What do you spend most of your time pursuing?

What do you spend your quite moments daydreaming about?

What do you long for?

Where do you “put” your money?

What you value most will be what you glory in, ‘LIVE FOR’, and from that (or those things) you will derive your joy, hope, peace, happiness, etc.

But if what you live for is not Christ, it will never fully satisfy, and you will constantly be threatened that you will lose it.

How do you know if you are functionally living for something or someone other than Christ?

You lose your joy when it is threatened, or you lose it momentarily or permanently.


For Paul, and for all believers, if Christ our life, our all, then we have nothing EVER to worry about losing! That which is most worthy, glorious and valuable to us is JESUS and we cannot lose Him.

And whatever loss we are going through, whatever affliction, whatever the trying circumstance, with Jesus, in union with Jesus, we can rejoice even more knowing this truth- -HE IS WITH US- -AND WHILE OTHERS LOSE EVERYTHING, WE CAN ONLY GAIN MORE OF HIM ‘IN IT’!!

No true joy is possible UNLESS JESUS CHRIST is everything (as the hymn we sing reminds us):

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride…

…Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God: all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood…

…Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Jesus Christ must be our life! Jesus must be dearer to us than our richest gain; Jesus Christ must be more dear to us than our jobs, our careers, our families, friends, reputations, finances, homes…

If we have this, we can lose NO thing- -nothing.

If we have Jesus as our life, we can lose nothing; if we have not Jesus as our life we will lose everything.

This will bring us true joy. But we must understand that joy is not happiness, it is a much richer and deeper soul-satisfying gladness that comes from our union with Jesus Christ!

Joy is a God-given grace in response to our need for communion and fellowship with him; it is NOT mere happiness that changes with circumstances.

Joy cannot be bought; it can never be taken away.

Joy is found in the Person of Jesus Christ; Joy in many ways is a Person.

Joy is found in seeking Christ—knowing Christ. My prayer for our congregation here at KCPC is often from Ephesians 3:19:

“…And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”





To say this is to say:

“Christ is my hope.”

Christ is my greatest treasure and pleasure.”

Christ is my greatest friend.”

Christ is my end, my goal.

Christ Jesus is the one thing, the one person I can never lose; Christ is my richest gain- -and I can never lose him. He is with me always…I will never leave you nor forsake you!


This is what is meant by TO LIVE IS CHRIST.


If you’re a believer, the Lord is your portion; he is your possession; he is all you need and will ever need and you have him now.

Let us rejoice! There is JOY in Christ!

“Can you be sad when you have all possible treasures in Christ laid up in heavenly places for ever and ever? O vain man! Show me your faith by your joy. If you say you have faith and live a life of sadness, I will not believe you. Use your faith and increase your joy.” – Samuel Ward

Here is the believers’ hope- -let us all confess this to one another as often as we have the opportunity!

ESV Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In God’s presence there is fullness of joy!

At God’s right hand is the Glorified, Enthroned Savior and Lord of All! There in Him, we will find all the pleasures we have ever desired or wanted- -or knew we could want!

Christ has given His life for us and shed His blood for our salvation, how could we not give ourselves wholly unto Him?

How could we as believers NOT see Jesus as the very life-power of our day to day pursuits?

How could we as believers NOT have what is most important to God most important to us!

How could we as believers NOT make Christ’s goals our goals; Christ life our life; Christ’s beauty our beauty?

Let us as a congregation at KCPC to learn to pray for one another for the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to fill us and that we might be overflowing with God’s joy and hope in Him!  Let us pray to know Christ better- -his love, his work for us, his priestly intercession, his sufferings for and with us- -and to know Christ more intimately, closely, adoringly, affectionately. Let us at KCPC come to Christ more and by your grace, O Father, let us leave with more of Christ. Grant that we might be a congregation characterized by “TO LIVE IS CHRIST.” For Christ’s sake and His glory alone! Amen.


In Christ’s love,


Pastor Biggs

“What the Spirit Says…Perseverance and Purity”

Word of Encouragement- The Church of Thyatira: “Perseverance and Purity”


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”- Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22


“…We make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God…”- 2 Corinthians 5:9b-11a


Dear Beloved of the LORD at KCPC: I am writing short messages on the seven churches for our Word of Encouragement so that we might better assess where we are spiritually as a congregation, show us areas that need to be realigned with God’s Word, and how we might more effectively and sincerely make it our aim to please the Lord Jesus Christ!


If you would like to read the introduction to this short series, you may read here: Word of Encouragement


What are our strengths and weaknesses as a congregation? How can we ask God to better search and know us corporately? How are we doing at KCPC as a visible manifestation of Christ’s Kingdom on earth? Are we loving God and others as we did when we were first saved and gathered as Christ’s flock?


We will focus today on Jesus’ message to the Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29):

ESV Revelation 2:18-29: “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


As we learned in our introduction to this series, it is important to remind ourselves that these seven congregations of the Revelation were real historical churches at the time that John the Apostle wrote his Revelation of Jesus Christ.  However, we want to understand that they are also symbolic of the entire church age between Jesus’ first and second coming.


This means that what Jesus says to the churches, we need to consider soberly for ourselves.  Jesus is still speaking to us (Hebrews 12:25).  Jesus is particularly speaking to His people in these letters as a corporate body and congregation of confessional Christians, and not merely as individuals. This is why it is good to use these letters to be assessed by Christ as we seek to grow in him as a body.


Dear Ketoctin Covenant Presbyterian Church…Dear Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Purcellville, Virginia: We are called as Christ’s bride to PERSEVERANCE AND PURITY.


“Dear Thyatira”: Jesus’ primary message to the congregation at Thyatira is: Congregations who profess the Name of Christ cannot tolerate heresy and false teaching of any kind lest the entire body be contaminated. Thyatira was a faithful congregation and growing in grace (2:19), but were being tempted to compromise and tolerate sin. Christ Jesus commends the congregation to persevere in good works, and to purify the heresy and sinfulness from within.


How is Christ revealed as the Lord of Glory to this church? The Risen-Ascended Jesus is described as “The words of the Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” (2:18; cf. 1:14-15). Jesus is being revealed here to Thyatira in the way that the Prophet Daniel saw in a vision:


ESV Daniel 10:6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.


Jesus’ eyes like a “flame of fire” or “flaming torches” shows forth the purity by which Christ sees all things.  With pure eyes Christ sees clearly the human heart and condition before him at all times (John 2:24-25). Jesus is the gracious, yet pure Searcher of our hearts.


Jesus is He who searches mind and heart. “…I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve” (2:23).


ESV Jeremiah 17:9-10: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind,to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”


What does Jesus see in our hearts when we gather for worship at KCPC? Do we seek to constantly self-evaluate our own hearts in light of His pure gaze and holy vision? What does Christ see in our hearts (in ‘my’ heart; it so much easier trying to judge others’ hearts, isn’t it?)? It is important to consider constantly our hearts before God, trusting in Christ’s righteousness alone to save, and his shed blood to cleanse us from sinfulness.


Do we seek to confess our sins to Him knowing He will forgive us and cleanse us and make us pure? (1 John 1:8ff; 3:1-3). We are taught to purify ourselves as He is pure because we have been made the children of God by grace.


What do the feet of bronze symbolize? This instructs us that we can be secure in Jesus’ presence because He is All-Powerful.   All power is under Jesus’ feet and all kingdoms and peoples who oppose him will one day be destroyed. Jesus is not only All-Pure, but All-Powerful and in this we can hope and trust. We have one who can see our hearts and the needs of our hearts, and one who is All-Powerful and able to change us by His grace, through His Spirit and word.


Jesus says: “I know your works…” (2:19a). Our works for Christ reveal what is truly in our hearts, both good things and bad things.  Our works are not meritorious, but they reveal our true condition before God.  What comes out, must be in (cf. Matt. 15:18-20).

It is important to note particularly in the Book of Revelation that the Book is written to the saints who profess faith in Christ alone for salvation, and that it often speaks of our works as how we will be judged. This is not to say that salvation is by works because Revelation is written to recipients of God’s grace found in Christ alone. But it is to say that our works show that we are truly those who are believers (see Revelation Rev. 2:2; 2:5-6; 3:1-2; 3:15; 9:20; 18:6; 19:8).


And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”– Revelation 14:13

“Our deeds follow us” (cf. Rev. 2:23). This means that it is vitally important to remember that Christ is the one who has pure eyes of fire and sees our hearts, and to seek Him for grace now for our needs, so that we can produce the works and deeds from pure hearts that have been strengthened by His grace!


What are our works like at KCPC? At Thyatira, the works were good. But there was much more that they needed to consider that was in their hearts. Jesus wants to get at some of their works and deeds that were inconsistent with their profession, and to bring them to repentance! How grace Jesus is in His ministry to His congregations!


The congregation at Thyatira is a congregation that had a good reputation as a Church; the congregation’s works/deeds were overall commendable, and they were persevering, but there was need of repentance.


Thyatira was a congregation of saints that we would think highly of today. The congregation is described as loving, have strong faith, practice service to each other, and endure patiently.  They are extremely commendable as a congregation of saints.


“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that you’re growing (your latter works exceed your first)…” (2:19), they are nevertheless compromising and tolerating sin and were not honestly seeking to remove the heretical error that was deceiving and misleading some of the members.


This error was leading to impurity in the congregation.


The congregation was showing forth the love of Jesus from their hearts that had been blessed by God’s grace and love.  But they should have searched their hearts a bit more.  In their loving acts, their hearts were mixed with sinful motives.  These sinful and impure motives desired to be loving, but they are also were unfortunately tolerant of error.


Perhaps they believed that being loving meant one can overlook certain sins. Perhaps grace/love has been emphasized over truth (while the congregation at Ephesus emphasized truth over grace/love if you remember in our previous study).


How might we at KCPC be duped into thinking that grace and love overlooks sin? It is important to realize that the grace and love of God seeks to purify and never to compromise with false teaching and practices that can not only harm an individual, but can deceive an entire congregation.


Perhaps Thyatira thinks that to love means to overlook and tolerate sin?! While the congregation at Ephesus had sinfully emphasized truth over grace/love, Thyatira was guilty of the sin of emphasizing grace/love over truth (both must be kept in balance by Jesus who is full of both grace and truth, John 1:17).


Thyatira had somewhat of a liberal-minded tolerance for sin in its midst. Why?

In order to understand why the congregation was tolerating sin, and compromising the truth, we should seek to better understand the historical background of this congregation: Thyatira was a trading city that was made up of trade guilds.  A trade guild was an association of craftsmen who worked in trades such as wool workers, linen-workers, makers of garments, tanners, leather-workers, potters, those who made dye for clothing (like Lydia in Acts 16:14).


Each guild had a “guardian god”. If you were a business person you would also be a trade guild member. Because there was an association with each trade guild with a deity or “guardian god” then you would be required to be involved in guild festivals which included idolatrous feasting and sexual immorality.


If you refused these idolatrous activities there would be a loss of real money for you as a Christian.  A commitment to Christ and truth meant a loss of social standing, income, your job. This would affect the welfare of your family. One would have said: “I have to eat!” “Didn’t God call me to this trade?!” “What about the importance of my job and what would happen if I lost my job and that led to hunger, suffering, and persecution?”


One could not be a part of a trade guild and **NOT** sacrifice to the deity of that guild. One could not come to the festivals and leave after the feast; they were required to be involved fully in the idolatry and immorality.


To continue in the business or trade, one must essentially deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ because of involvement in idolatry.  However, a Christian cannot serve both God and Mammon. The temptation of Thyatira was to be considered significant in worldly power, beauty and wealth? They were being tempted to follow Christ and also hold to the important things of this world such as worldly power, beauty, wealth, and success as the world defines it.


If the congregation was to persevere in faithfulness, and to be pure in the sight of God, they would have to choose the Lord Christ as Lord alone, and this would be sacrificial and costly to many within the congregation. There is always a real cost that must be considered when following Jesus in this present evil world system (Luke 14:28).


Jesus says: “I have this against you…” (2:20a). This brings us to the problem. In what way specifically was the congregation compromising?  The congregation was tolerating a woman like Jezebel who was not only teaching compromise, but seducing the saints, the very slaves of Christ (2:20). Because they were tolerating this teaching, many in the congregation had become trapped in sexual sins and idolatry because of their trade associations.  This is never loving!


Jezebel is probably symbolic or a real woman prophetess or teacher who was leading the people astray.  The name and woman “Jezebel” is biblically symbolic for both idolatry and immorality (1 Kings 16:31).  In the Old Covenant, Jezebel led the Israelites into spiritual adultery and idolatry:


ESV 1 Kings 16:31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.


The Prophetess Jezebel (or who she represented) might have said to those within the congregation, involved in the trade guilds something like this:

“If we are going to be witnesses for Jesus, shouldn’t we ‘know our enemy’ and remain in our vocations, not being afraid to go to these festivals?” Her temptation was seductive, and since she was calling herself a prophetess, her words were claimed to be coming “from God” (see Rev. 2:20, 24).

She was apparently teaching others in the congregation that if these Christians were to really engage the enemy then they would need to know the “deep things of Satan”; they would need to know their enemy:


ESV Revelation 2:24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan…

This compromise with the world and evil may fool some, but not Christ who “searches mind and heart” (2:23).


Jesus tells Thyatira that they must show love by disciplining the offenders, and ridding the church of this compromising heresy and sin against Holy Jesus (Rev. 2:21-23).  The peace and purity of the Church is being threatened.  There has been an appropriate time given for repentance where the prophetess has been given a chance to repent. Again, as before in Pergamum, we see that Jesus has already brought some kind of judgment upon this sinful, seductive teacher and plans to escalate the judgment against her and others if this is not dealt with quickly:


ESV Revelation 2:21-23: I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.


This reminds us that we can never participate in evil without becoming evil, and withouttaking part of the temporal judgment upon the evil. We must remove the evil and sin from our midst as a congregation. We must trust God and His purity and power to take care of us in whatever tempting situation we may find ourselves as a congregation and we must never compromise.

In Christ, by His grace and power, we must be loving, gracious and speak the truth against evil, false teaching and seductive sins as a congregation. We must seek to be faithful at all costs.

The Lord Jesus has shown mercy that should have led to repentance: “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses…” (2:21; 2 Peter 3:9). The searcher of minds and hearts knows why discipline has not occurred- -he has read their true motives of their hearts and minds.


It seems that the real reason why the Thyatira congregation has overlooked this heinous sin is due to toleration, so that the congregation may avoid unpopularity in the culture that would lead to persecution. This is probably why Jesus threatens to throw her into “great tribulation” (2:22b) reminding the congregation that He is All-Powerful with feet of bronze to rule and reign Sovereignly over His congregations.


Thyatira doesn’t want to be unpopular and take a stand for Christ that might lead to persecution.


“We wouldn’t do that today!” you might say. But how about our modern idols of power, success, wealth and money? The same sinful hearts that threatened Thyatira’s hearts, still threaten ours. We too, desire to be seen as powerful, successful, and wealthy in the eyes of the world. We rightly want to make a difference in our world, and we often think that it is unloving to speak against evil. We are quick to tolerate sin at times, and we compromise because we think sometimes (wrongfully and sinfully) that it is not loving and gracious; things have not changed a whole lot (and thus why the 7 churches of Revelation are very relevant for us to consider for ourselves).


Let’s stop to ponder this for a moment. How might we be tempted as a congregation to do the very same things? Here’s an example: If a famous and powerful politician or a beautiful celebrity and/or a wealthy billionaire of some repute became a member of KCPC we could be tempted in the same way to toleration.

If a politician was a member of KCPC for instance, and had given his testimony and it gave a worldly kind of legitimacy to our congregation, and there was great “success in numbers” and yet was then later caught practicing sexual sin and committing adultery against his wife, it might, it could be a temptation to toleration because we would not want to be unpopular and lose our “spotlight”. We might be tempted to make excuses.

What if the church, fearing bad publicity and detrimental media coverage because of a discipline case against this particular imaginary politician, chose to overlook the sin because we might say “Well, the person is powerful…or a beautiful celebrity…or an extremely wealthy billionaire!”

Would the church be willing to do the truth according to Jesus and discipline them formally in love and according to grace in order to keep the congregation pure? What if the congregation had grown in numbers because of this powerful politician, beautiful celebrity, and/or wealthy man had made the congregation “acceptable” in the eyes of the world (had “put the congregation on the map” as it were).


We must remember that God is no respecter of persons; we are to show no partiality (James 2:1-5).  We, too, can easily fall into this temptation, especially in places where idols of power, success, beauty, and wealth are acceptable and enviable by even church folks.  What would happen if we “did the right thing” and disciplined as members a former president of the United States for immorality or a famous celebrity who had recently “come out of the closet” admitting they had a strange sexual orientation?!


Would we love truth over tolerance- -no matter how it might affected us? Would we love truth over tolerance no matter what the consequences and persecution that might come from it?


Would we at KCPC do the works that Jesus had commanded us to do to uphold the congregation’s purity and holiness before God? 

Not unless we realized that Jesus Christ was our only Lord and King.  We would only do this if we were to recall that Jesus Christ is our only Lord and King and that we were to repent of our sins of loving worldly idols and cultural influence too much!


We must confess before Christ, our Lord and King, our desire for too much power, success, beauty and wealth. We must resist this temptation to idolatry even today: Placing the love for something other than Christ first in our lives (this is ultimately what the congregation at Thyatira was doing- -even in the midst of all their other good works!).


As Christians in general, and at KCPC in particular, although **now** we are perceived by the culture as weak, insignificant, sometimes poor, and often persecuted, we will reign with Christ! This is our hope! We at KCPC are to live keeping our eyes on Jesus the one whose pure eyes are kept on us! We are to seek to be like Him, and to become like He is, because He has shown mercy, love and grace to us. Our mission is not to be popular, but to be holy- -to be like Jesus!


Jesus promises:

ESV Revelation 2:26-28: The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.


Jesus is telling us to put our hope in Him alone! Let us trust in His promises because He is Pure, and All-Powerful to do what He said He would do!  When we reign with him for eternity His power, His success, His glorious beauty and wealth will be ours- -and the whole world will realize it!


Christ and His Church will rule eternity with a rod of iron with our King (Psa. 2:8-9). The merely worldly “earthen pots” will be broken into pieces as Psalm 2 says (an image that potters at Thyatira would have pictured from their guild). The world is passing away, let us not be tripped up by compromise to sin and devoted to a world under judgment. Rather, let us serve Christ and look forward to the reconciliation of heaven and earth, and the transforming, purifying judgment of fire that will remove all sin from this world and let us dwell with God for all eternity! (Revelation 21:1ff; 2 Peter 3:13-16).


If we have Christ who is the Morning Star, and the One who gives himself fully to us, what more could we desire?  We would a congregation, why would we, individually and/or corporately ever seek significance in worldly power, beauty and wealth?


Christ gives himself to us now- -He is our significance and the reason why we live each day.  What more could we want? What more could we ever need that we don’t already have in the Lord Jesus Christ?


Where are we at KCPC as a congregation apt to be tempted to tolerate sin? Even in the midst of our faithfulness as a congregation, where might we be tempted to tolerate sin without discipline?


Jesus say to the congregation: “Focus!”- Get focused on this particular problem. “Hold fast” –seize- take hold of- get a grip on) what you have until I come- -be not deceived by this error.  Jesus focus’ them:

“…To you I say (who has not been deceived), I do not lay on you any other burden…only hold fast…what you have until I come” (2:24b-25).


Jesus’ promise to the faithful: He calls His people “Conquerors” (2:26).  The true and faithful of the congregation will be manifested by continuing in God’s truth revealed in Christ (orthodoxy) with grace and love in Jesus (2:26b- “…who keeps my works until the end”).


At KCPC, let us live and serve to please Jesus alone. We must remember that to align ourselves with false teachers and false teaching (2:20-23) is to align oneself with the evil and heinous Beast of Revelation (read Revelation 13:11; 16:11; 19:20)- The Beast is the Counterfeit Christ or “Anti-christ”. To engage in immorality and idolatry to power, success, beauty, and/or wealth is to live as a citizen of “Babylon the Great” rather than the “New Jerusalem” (Revelation 18:4-14).


The purity of the church is important and although there can be truth without love (Ephesus), there is also a danger in “love” without truth, manifested in compromise, and a worldly tolerance of sin.


We may suffer the loss of all things: power, success, beauty, wealth, our social standing, but we can never lose Christ! At His full revelation when he returns, we will gain it all- -inherit the earth!—and we shall rule and reign with him.


May these devotional studies of assessment from Jesus using the letters to the seven churches of the Revelation cause us to better align ourselves with His truth, and encourage us all to make it our aim to please Jesus who died for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:6-8).


May we live daily as a congregation before the face of Christ and so before the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we all arrive at our destination and we stand as the congregation KCPC before Christ’s Judgment, may these short devotions have better prepared us, so that we can stand confident and encouraged in the Lord Jesus’ presence.


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”- Jesus Christ


In Jesus’ love,


Pastor Charles



“Reformation Righteousness”- 494th Anniversary of the Reformation


“Get over it!” “The Reformation was a historical event that took place years ago; it is irrelevant to me and to modern people.” “Just give me Jesus and I will be happy. What good could come from revisiting the teaching of the Reformation in today’s church?” “I’m interested in what Jesus is doing today.”

These are some of the initial comments one is likely to get from other well-meaning Christians unfamiliar, uninformed, and/or disinterested in the Reformation of the 16th century. Yet, what God did in His goodness during the Reformation was nothing less than the reestablishment of the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, that had been eclipsed by the supposed good works of men.

The Reformation was a time when God allowed light to shine in the darkness of the failed attempts of feeble and sinful men trying to earn righteousness from good works, and only ending in despair before a holy God. In the Reformation, God allowed his grace to come again into glorious sight, so that one could truly know how to be made right or at peace with the living God.

How IS a sinful person to be made right before a holy God?

The Holy Spirit through the light of the Scriptures illumined minds and hearts and reminded needy sinners about salvation, hope, and true life found only in Jesus Christ and his righteousness. The Reformation of the 16th century was a powerful work of the Holy Spirit, and a tremendous revival that awakened the church to the centrality of Christ and His Gospel.

What can the Reformation teach us today? Everything! If we are interested in knowing how we can stop “trying harder” and beating ourselves up when we fail, and learn to rest in the righteousness of Christ alone! What we can learn from the Reformation today is to stop saying “I’ll try harder” and begin saying “CHRIST for me, for me, for me”!

Luther’s Reformation
This week is the 494th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, a young pastor and Bible teacher in Wittenberg, Germany posted 95 Theses (or “things he wanted to discuss with other pastors and teachers in the church”) on the door of the Castle Church in his home town. Not intending anything other than a discussion with other pastors and teachers, Martin Luther was used by God to begin a reformation of the church by returning to the foundation of Scripture alone. Through the recent invention of the printing press, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were published and literally spread throughout the world; as we would say today, Luther’s message “went viral”.

Luther had learned that the Bible taught that salvation was not sold by indulgences, or man’s contributed good works, but that grace was God’s alone to give. The Pope at the time of Luther was audaciously offering salvation, hope, and the chance for Uncle Buck to get out of purgatory if the people of the town would pay the right price. Luther’s ’95 Theses’ questioned the authority of the Pope to be able to offer salvation, hope, or redemption for money. These 95 things Luther wanted to discuss caused Luther to seek ultimate authority for the church in the Scriptures and not in the whims of popes and councils, because both had erred; Scripture alone was to be the Church’s ultimate authority and sole rule of faith.

What came from this study of Scripture alone, and asking what Scripture taught concerning man’s salvation, hope and life in Christ, was the realization and experiencing of true salvation, real hope, and the abundant life found only in Christ. The doctrines, or teachings of the Reformation established upon, and found in Scripture alone were: faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone (known today as the ‘Solas’ or the five watchwords of the Reformation: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria based upon Sola Scriptura).

Righteousness Revealed from God
What Luther discovered when going to the Scriptures alone was that a righteousness had been revealed from God, not from within himself or from external works, but a righteousness that God provided for all who believe in Christ. God who demanded perfect righteousness of every single human being for salvation and communion with Him, also had provided this perfect righteousness in Jesus to be received by faith alone (Romans 1:17).

ESV Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Salvation was found by going to Christ, not by going through the motions of external obedience. This righteousness of Christ was received by faith alone. Christ had a perfect righteousness that we could never obtain as sinners. This is why the Apostle Paul writes (Romans 4:4-5, 8:

“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness… “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin”.

The grace of God was not something man could cooperate with as in the Medieval Roman Catholic theology (as well as in some Evangelical circles today), it was all of grace (Eph. 2:5-10). Grace alone meant that man’s will was in bondage to the flesh, the world and the Devil and the only way that the will could freely choose Christ was for the heart to be regenerated, awakened from the dead, pass from death to life, and this all by grace so that no one could boast, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 2.

ESV Ephesians 2:4-10: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,p not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Christ alone was the only Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), our only Savior and Substitute for sin (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The truth of Christ alone was summarized in 1 Corinthians 1:30 and 2 Corinthians 5:21:

1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In the Scriptures above from Paul’s Letters to the Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians, notice the fullness of Christ’s saving work: God made us alive while still dead in sin (Eph. 2:4). Because we are dead and lack any kind of righteousness before God, Christ is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). Christ’s righteousness, not ours is our merit before a Holy and Just God. Christ alone is our holiness or sanctification and He is the One who has paid the ransom price by His precious blood to purchase us back and make us children of God.

Also notice the substitutionary quality of Christ alone: Jesus became sin (He who knew no sin). In other words, our sins were laid on his back and he was cursed for us (for us, for us, for us!!! Shout it loudly wherever you are!). His righteousness would cause us to become the righteousness of God through imputation. The perfect righteousness of Christ was imputed to us! This is what Christ alone meant! (2 Cor. 5:21)

And all of this salvation in Christ was for the glory of God alone!
As Romans 11:36 says: “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to God be the glory forever and ever!” Our salvation is all for the praise of HIS glorious grace, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 1!

Today’s Reformation
We have a great need for a Reformation today in Christ’s Church as well! We may not have neighbors selling indulgences and literally trying to buy their way out of hell (although you will find some who are sadly doing this).

What we do have today are well-meaning folks who call themselves Christians who are focusing more on what they do for Christ, than what Christ has done for them. Even though the intention is good, the bracelets some wear with the phrase “What Would Jesus Do” (WWJD) seem to focus too much on our doing and not what Christ has already done! Even if you don’t have this slogan on your wall, and don’t wear a bracelet on your arm, your hope and confidence before God is based on what you have done for God more than what Christ has done for you often times.

Be honest about this. Then look to Christ for hope. What a loving and beautiful Savior that calls us constantly to come to the Throne of Grace and find mercy and hope and grace in our time of need (Heb. 4:16)! Christ can give us relief from our selves; Christ can show us His precious and costly blood that has redeemed us; Christ prays for His people with nail-pierced hands that earned righteousness for us and in this we can hope and have great confidence!

I believe that the main focus for Christians every day should be the centrality of Christ and His work for us. In other words we might have a slogan like this (rather than ‘What Would Jesus Do?”): “What Has Jesus Already Done in His Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension for Me?”, but then it would be too long of a phrase for a bracelet or a nice bumper sticker; it would be:

“WHJADIHLDRAAFM?” rather than “WWJD?”

Probably not an easy sell or an easy fit on a nice porcelain figurine in a Christian book store. 🙂

Remember beloved of God: “It is well with my soul” because “It is finished!” not because “It is about me and my attempts at righteousness”. We need Reformation today! It is well with your soul because of Christ’s finished work of satisfying God’s wrath for you; it is finished because Jesus has offered Himself as the Lamb of God, the Final Sacrificial offering for sin and is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Heb. 7:25). It is well and it is finished because Jesus was your substitute and God made Jesus who knew no sin to become sin for you, so that you might be righteous in His sight (2 Cor. 5:21). God put Jesus forward as your propitiating sacrifice. Praise God!! Hallelujah!!

Now go and live for JESUS freely as you never have! Go and live and love JESUS AND OTHERS as you never thought you could. Because you couldn’t before because you thought it was your strength, and your works, and this is burdensome and will not lead to love of God and others, but only discouragement, condemnation and doubt!

Go live for Him and be thankful for a Savior- -not merely a helper for good people- -but a real Savior for sinners, who were once enemies of God before they were reconciled by Christ’s grace! (Romans 5:1-11).

It is true that there are some in our day- – these who call themselves Christians!- – who think that the reason they are saved ultimately is not because of grace alone, but because they have cooperated with grace held out to them. This was what the fight in the Reformation was all about! Medieval Roman Catholic theology is quite complex, but it is foundationally a system of earning salvation by cooperating with grace held out to men, who then respond with their faith, and then salvation is merited to them because of their faith, or because of their works, etc.

We focus on the gorgeous and fantastic Greek word “huper” but point it to Christ! What does this mean? “Huper” means “because of” or “on account of”. We are not saved “huper” or “because of” our faith or our works. But we are saved (“Super-Huper Saved!!) “HUPER” or “because of” Christ. Christ saves us through faith.

If Evangelical Christians in our day would stop and think about it, I think they would find their theology to be more Roman Catholic than they would like to admit! The term ‘Protestant’ used to mean that one was opposed to this Medieval theology of salvation by cooperation, but today’s Evangelical Protestant is not so much protesting this way of false salvation as much as they are protesting the Reformed way of thinking. At one time to be a Protestant meant you were protesting a false hope held out to you. Now it seems to mean in many circles that I am protesting against believing what the Reformation taught about grace alone.

We must be warned that this teaching that says you are saved by cooperating with the grace of God will never produce the humility a Christian must have to know and love God.  This kind of “cooperation salvation” makes people boast! It gives people in this world every reason to boast, which is what Paul is trying to prevent in Ephesians 2 where he is explaining grace alone.

If (and I do say “IF”) every person in the world had the same access to grace and the same ability to cooperate with that grace using their so-called ‘free-will’, it would give one person who chose Christ over someone who rejected him every reason to boast. This is the most popular understanding today in Evangelical circles of how someone is saved! Because there is a reason to boast, it therefore undermines the grace of God and promotes the good works, will, and decisions of men (cf. John 1:12-13; Romans 9:10-21). We need Reformation today!

Also, when Christians are brought up and “nurtured” on a diet of “Christ and you” rather than “Christ in you” (which is the hope of glory, Col. 1:28ff), then we are reminded that we have need of a Reformation. When many sermons every Lord’s Day are on examples from Scripture rather than being centered on the Christ of Scripture, men will “dare to be like Daniel’s” while failing to truly know what it means to trust Christ alone, the very Savior of Daniel! The Scriptures speak of Christ (John 3:30; 5:24ff; Luke 24:25ff), and so must we- – speak of Christ alone! We need Reformation today!

When our worship becomes just another opportunity for mindless entertainment rather than focused on God alone and his glory, we can forget that worship is about HIM and not about us. When we are thinking more about “what we are getting out of the sermon” and whether it is meeting our “felt needs”, we are not worshipping in spirit and truth!

Furthermore, when we reach out to the goats and design our worship to make them feel comfortable, we are failing to reach the sheep and failing to hear the true voice of our Shepherd (John 10). Jesus says as Shepherd that His sheep hear his voice in faithful preaching and they will follow him! We must be reminded about all things being done for the glory of God alone- – and not for us (including our salvation- – of course we benefit, but according to Ephesians 1 and Romans 9, salvation is ultimately for God’s glory!) We need Reformation today!

Revival and Reformation
So, in our day, we need to be reminded of the Reformation! If we want revival, we ought to first seek the Reformation of our congregations so that we might return to the foundational authority of Scripture alone and not add a lot of our own modern and “culturally relevant” teachings of men (which we tend to as idolaters, to place on the same level as Scripture just as the Pharisees, or the Medieval Church of Rome which Luther stood against).

We need to return to Scripture alone and rediscover daily the glorious teaching of faith alone- – our righteousness is not our own, but revealed by God to us so that we can have an ‘alien righteousness’ or the righteousness of Christ given to us.

In other words, the good news of Faith alone is that all that we have done in our sins against God, both committing sins positively against him as well as negatively omitting certain things we should have done, Christ has done all of these for us (for us, for us, for us! Shout it again!).

Salvation **is** by works- – but not ours (our works are never good enough) — our salvation is by the work of Christ for us and His earned and merited righteousness, because of the salvation he achieved by loving God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself. This is given to us by faith alone (and this makes us have really “good news” and hope for the world!).

The Reformation in Our Own Hearts
From this realization of Faith alone, we are reminded daily that it is all of grace alone because of Christ’s work alone, and this all for God’s glory! May we be delivered daily of the Medieval mindset of trying to earn our salvation, even in the sense of cooperating with God. May we be delivered from looking to our failures as well as our successes rather than looking away from both to Christ.

May we find that making lists and checking them twice is a Medieval way, as well as an Old Covenant way to failure, and the a fast and broad way that leads to destruction. Remember, those who make lists come to Christ and say: I prophesied, preached, witnessed, cast out demons and did might works in your name. Christ says to those trusting in their lists “Depart from me – -I never knew you!” (Matt. 7:23ff; 25:41ff).

Jesus says: On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

“Workers of lawlessness” are those who approach a holy God with their own works, rather than crying empty-handedly: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner- – for Christ sake alone!”

The one who understands grace that is truly gracious is the one that stands before Christ and says: “Nothing in my hands to I bring, simply to your cross do I cling!”

In Philippians 3:4-12, the Apostle Paul gives his list for his confidence in the flesh, then proceeds to discard it. May you discard whatever list you have, whatever thing other than Christ you are trusting in and receive daily by faith the righteousness revealed in Jesus.

Philippians 3:4,7-9: though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more…But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… That I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…”

May we not make lists of our own, whether it be our successes leading to self-righteousness, or lists of failures leading to our condemnation, discouragement, and depression.

But may we be as Paul who, putting his lists behind him, who pressed forward to know Christ. Read Philippians 3 carefully again, and remember that this truth will set you free of list making and law keeping that has more in common with Medieval Catholic theology (that Luther fought) and Pharisaical theology (that the Apostle Paul considered “dung”).

Look to Christ and discover anew the Reformation of the 16th Century in your own heart of heart. Remember the vital importance of Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”


In Christ’s love,


Pastor Charles R. Biggs