Sound Doctrine: Heaven, Hell, and Satan

"And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46

One song said, "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die." Another said, "We're on a highway to hell." Interesting thought? Both are true. Ask anyone if they want to go to heaven and they will say yes. Ask most people if they think they are going to heaven they will say yes. But, through the years, we've really messed up eternity and how to get there. 

The Bible tells us that the road that leads to destruction is wide and many people are on it. Sounds like a highway to me. Add to that the fact that the Bible says we are alienated and separated from God because of sin it becomes even easier to grasp this.

And all along the way, there is the great deceiver, the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren, trying to trip us up and slow us down and keep us turned away.

This week in Sound Doctrine, we will be looking at heaven, hell, and Satan. These might sound like strange topics for a Sunday morning sermons, and the preparation has been difficult. But, the Bible says a lot about them, and there are many teachings that are also wrong. They might be strange topics, but a wrong understanding of them may also be leading to a wrong understanding of God as well. I hope to see you this Sunday! 

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine: God the Holy Spirit

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit," Ephesians 1:13

There is a lot of misunderstanding and twisted teaching surrounding the Holy Spirit these days. I suppose it's actually been a mess since the first Day of Pentecost that we see in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit came mightily upon the believers in Jerusalem and the people around supposed they were drunk. But in our day and age, we are seeing people roll around on the floor, making animal noises, laughing uncontrollably, convulsing and shaking, babbling in unintelligible words, and proclaiming things that are far from in accordance with the Word of God. And, they're doing it all in the name of God the Holy Spirit.

Now I will be the first to admit that when I read about the things that happened in the Bible, through the power of God the Holy Spirit through the apostles, they are some crazy things. But, they are God honoring things. They are things that demonstrate God's power for conviction on the sinner's life and building up the believers.

So often, when talking about the Holy Spirit, we talk about gifts and abilities. Things that are biblically true and correct, but things that cause us to miss or glance over the importance and work of the third person of the trinity. The verse above is one of, if not my favorite verse relating to the Holy Spirit, because it is the first work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer and it shows how quickly the Holy Spirit begins working in our lives.

There is much to know about the work and person of God the Holy Spirit. If we are going to walk and live in biblical sound doctrine, we must study the Word of God to know all that we can about how the Holy Spirit works. I'm looking forward to seeing you this Sunday as we talk about the purpose of God the Holy Spirit

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine: God the Son

"And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

The subject of this verse is the pivotal point of our entire faith: Jesus Christ, the resurrected, glorified, Son of God. This week, Sound Doctrine will focus on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the second person of the Trinity. There are teachings and things in the world that are twisting and perverting the truth about Jesus Christ. We must know what the Bible says about Him.

Jesus is God. Jesus was born to a virgin. Jesus did not sin. Jesus did die, was buried, and did rise again three days later. Jesus did ascend into heaven victorious over sin and death. Jesus is returning again, one day, to gather His Church to Himself. Jesus will have final judgement on sin. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and there is no other way to the Father, and no other Name by which we must be saved. These are irrefutable truths concerning sound doctrine. But the world, and many in the church, are leaving this truth. We cannot.

It's a special Sunday, and I love how it worked out this way without planning it, that we should be on the very subject of Jesus Christ, as we gather in the middle of our community among people that we want to see come to know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How awesome! Invite someone to join us! I'll see you there!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine: God the Father

"As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat..." Daniel 7:9

This is one of my favorite verses referencing God in all of Scripture. To me it illustrates the in control nature of the God that we serve. The Eternal Patriarch taking His seat before His realm. The Sovereignty of God is something that takes a long time to come to grips with, but as we do, we start to see Him in a more holy, more worthy, more glorious way!

This week, we will continue Sound Doctrine by looking at the first person of the Trinity, God the Father. This can be a difficult way to view and understand God, especially if your earthly example of a father was not great. Though even if the earthly example that you had was extraordinary, we cannot view God the Father through the lens of our human understanding. We must view Him biblically. Join us this Sunday as we add knowledge to our faith and further our understanding of God the Father.

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine: The Trinity

"There is one body, and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:4-6

This Sunday will be one of the most difficult sermons I've ever preached, because the topic is so hard to grasp. It's one of those topics that requires us to remember that the secret things of the Lord are His but that which is revealed is for us that we may follow His Word (Deuteronomy 29:29). The topic is the Trinity.

I love the above verses because it highlights the reality of the Trinity so well. But, you will not find the word trinity in the Bible. Man has only been using this word to define Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since around the Fourth century A.D. However, the Biblical reality of the Trinity is unavoidable, and clear evidence is found throughout the Bible. We will look at some of this evidence, to bolster our faith and knowledge in the Lord and to help us identify some false doctrines about the Trinity. Thank you for praying for me as I study through the Scriptures on this topic. I wish I could say that the more I study this topic, the more that I learn. But, I feel like the more that I learn the less I actually know. I hope your week has gone well and that you are excited to gather on Sunday! I'm looking forward to being with you!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine: The Bible

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105

As Sound Doctrine continues this week, I am in awe of power of the topic for this week's message; The Bible. The Word of God is a mighty weapon in the hand of a Holy Spirit led, faith believing follower of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 10 tells us that the weapons of our warfare have Divine power for the tearing down of strongholds. The verse above tells us that God's Word illumines our life. Jesus shows us in Matthew 4 that the Written Word defeats temptation. Ephesians 6 calls the Word of God the sword of the Spirit. David wrote that only by keeping God's Word could a man keep his way pure. Jesus said if we abide in His word we are truly his disciples, and we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

There is simply no greater work in writing that claims or holds such promise for those that adhere to its words and cling to its Author. The Bible stands alone as a literary work and as the sound doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must hold fast to it! I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Sound Doctrine

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching..." 2 Timothy 4:3

This Sunday, we are starting a new sermon series that I am very passionate about. Sound Doctrine is not only aimed at exposing various false doctrines that exist, it is intended to either plant your feet firmly on the Biblical doctrines of our faith or help remind you of the foundation on which we stand.

Our foundation is Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Word of God, and Paul warns in First Corinthians that we are to build very carefully upon that foundation. This Sunday we will explore how to identify sound doctrine verses false doctrine and how to know if a teacher you are listening to is a false teacher or a misguided teacher. It is my prayer that, whether a new or more mature believer, Sound Doctrine will help guide you into God's Word and help you grow in your walk with Him as a disciple maker for Jesus Christ.

As we go through this series, write down your questions! Get a few people together and work through them. Contact me; I love walking through the Bible with people! It is in our deeper, personal study that the Word truly begins to come alive as God teaches us what is good!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

30 Days of Prayer: Easter

"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

I am calling the church to begin a season of prayer. Easter is one month away and there is no greater way to approach any work, whether one-on-one discipleship or the mass proclamation of the Gospel, on Easter Sunday. The above verse is our theme for Easter this year: Hope. 

There is always great talk of hope in the world, but the reality is that only true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can offer the only true source of hope - the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans says hope in Christ does not put us to shame. Corinthians says that hope is everlasting. Colossians says that Jesus Christ is the hope of glory. Titus says the return of the Lord Jesus is our blessed hope. Hebrews says that our confidence in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is a sure and steadfast anchor for our soul. And so on through all of God's Word.

Every Easter we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That's what we do. It is very important, in every context of our life as Christians, to remember why we do it. This reason is that Jesus is our hope and there are people that you and I know by name whose souls have no hope and who are without God in the world. Join me in praying for those people, those names, those souls over the next thirty days, starting tomorrow, March 23rd. I'll see you Sunday! 

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

He saw him and he went to him

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him." Luke 10:33-34

At The Village Church, we are about loving God and loving people. I say it all the time and I don't say it enough. This is the heartbeat of discipleship. One thought from the conference I attended last week simply won't leave me alone. The man said this, "When Jesus said to love your neighbor, I'm pretty sure He meant for us to know their name."

Did you see what the Samaritan did? The action he took? Look again: "But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw himhe had compassionHe went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him."

The Samaritan saw his neighbor, he had compassion for him, and he went to him. He didn't stand in his driveway and learn about him by watching him from across the street. He went to him. 

As we enter into springtime, imagine the impact we could have for the Kingdom and the discipleship opportunities that might arise if we saw our neighbor, had compassion, and went to them. Go, know your neighbor. I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Effective and Fruitful

"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:8

This weekend we will wrap up our series out of Second Peter: add to. We have talked about making every effort to add to our faith. We have carefully looked at every quality that we are called to add to our faith. During, this last week of the series, we will look at why it is so important that we add these things to our faith.

My prayer has been that the Lord has used this series to grow your walk and relationship with Him. That through this series, He is building strong disciple makers for His Kingdom. That through building strong disciple makers for His Kingdom, He would use us to reach the lost of our community with the salvation He gives through faith in Jesus Christ. That through reaching the lost with the disciple makers he has built for His Kingdom, He would receive all the glory and honor and praise that He alone is worthy to receive.

I'm praying for you and I'll see you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Love

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:8

This Sunday, we will look at the last quality that we are called to add to our faith. I have to admit, it's probably the most daunting quality to address in this whole series. I've been in prayer and much study, but the topic of love is vast. The Christian life is to be a life of love. The God we serve is love. God's Word says if we claim to love God and hate man, we are still in darkness.

1 John 4:7 says, "Beloved, let us love on another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." Are we loving one another? Are we born of God? Do we know God? If we don't have an active love for people, something is amiss in our claim of knowing God.

The Bible says that if we could speak in the tongues of men and of angels, have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith so as to move mountains, give all that we have away, and sacrifice our body but don't have love, we have and are nothing.

I believe there is a reason this is the last quality we are called to add to our faith. As odd as it may sound, this may just be the hardest one yet. I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Brotherly Affection

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

The Bible doesn't often call us to a competition with one another but I won't lie; when I read the above verse, I think about Christians going out of their way to make sure someone else feels more honored than they have felt themselves.

Let's not miss the point of the verse: "love one another." As if we didn't hear enough of it through our study of First John, not to mention the rest of the Bible, here it is again! Loving one another is one of the highest marks of a true believer and this love is to be accompanied by true humility. 

This verse isn't a call for the church to have a contest to see who can honor the other person better. It is a call for the church, the body of Christ, to in all things, love one another and make sure we are honoring others to the furthest possible extent. This Sunday, we will revisit the first and second greatest commandments while exploring how we can add brotherly affection to our faith through the life of one of the greatest characters of the Old Testament.

Until then, get out there and love and show honor to one another. It's how the world knows that we are Jesus' disciples! See you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Godliness

"...since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:16

When giving the Jewish law to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Lord God spoke these words five times to his children. Thousands of years later, the Holy Spirit recalled these words to Peter's mind and inspired him to write them down. This message continues on in God's Word and to God's people today. It is a ridiculous notion for any person professing faith in Jesus Christ to think that we are called to anything less than godliness and holiness.

It almost seems impossible. "How can I be holy? How could I ever be a godly person?" The true answer is that you can't. If you are working to add godliness to your faith without first having by faith believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, you won't be adding godliness. The Bible teaches us that when we are saved, the Holy Spirit fills us and gives us the ability to be godly. If you are trying to add godliness without going to the Word of God to know what godliness is, what are you actually trying to add? This is precisely how man's rules and man's ways crept into Christianity.

Let's be a people known for godliness. Let's be a people known for being holy as the One who called us is holy. Let's be in His Word and know what He calls us to as His people. This is my prayer for all of us. That, "since it is written," we would be holy as He is holy. I'm praying for you, through another crazy week of snow, ice, Jand school cancellations, and looking forward to seeing you this Sunday as we worship the Lord together!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Steadfastness

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:33

This verse is a call, not given nearly often enough, for us to be steadfast, anchored, and as Paul says, immovable. Not merely claiming faith in the Lord, but standing, unshaken on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, in the faith that we claim. Not tossed about, as Ephesians 4:14 says, "to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." 

Far too many today are toe easily shaken, put back on their heels when the world pushes on their faith. But, this is not what we are called to! The Bible, over and over from Genesis to Revelation, calls us to stand firm in our faith! The Bible says that we have the source of our faith, our hope Jesus Christ, as an anchor for our soul! 

This Sunday we will look at adding steadfastness to our faith. If you have been following along with this sermon series, then the progression is that we would be adding steadfastness to our self-controlled, knowledgable, and virtuous faith. I hope you are safe and well through the past couple days ice: Jacqueline and I have been praying for you and look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Deep Freeze!

"The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31

In Mark 12:28-31, Jesus answers the question, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" He responds by saying that to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength is the first and greatest commandment. He then says the words in the verse above.

This week's weather has been extreme and we have neighbors who need us to love them. They need spiritual love and care, but they may also need physical love and care in the form of a warm meal or help around their home like shoveling snow. Check in on your neighbors. This isn't just a public service announcement. For us, it is a command from the King. I also know that I feel loved when people extend help to me or to my family. I want to help my neighbors have that feeling as well and, I pray, to know Jesus through my loving actions.

Reach out. The Lord has provided us the perfect weather to cold call or knock on your neighbor's door and make sure they are OK! You never know how the Spirit may be moving and what opportunity may come about just from following the simple command to love our neighbors!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Knowledge

"and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Colossians 3:10

This week, we are talking about knowledge. Second Peter says we are to "supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge." I've been studying knowledge in the Bible this week and let me tell you, it's a big topic that God spent a lot of time talking about which means it's important for us.

We are not called to follow the Lord and know nothing. But, knowing a bunch of stuff from the Bible doesn't mean that we are following the Lord. I've done a lot of funerals for people over the years, and in trying to understand if the person who passed away was a believing follower of Jesus Christ or not, loved ones will say, "Oh, they loved the Bible, they read it all the time." But anyone can do this. Anyone can read the Bible and, I believe, be drawn by the Spirit of God to faith in Jesus Christ and be saved. But, just reading the Bible and knowing what it says doesn't make you a faith-believing follower of Jesus Christ anymore than reading a cookbook makes you a chef in a restaurant.

The knowledge must be applied. Wisdom is found in the exercise of knowledge. Yes, we must be in the Word and grow in our knowledge of the Lord. But, the Word also says, in James 1:22, that we must to be doers of the Word and not hearers or readers only! This same verse says that those who only hear and never act on what they have heard are self deceived. We must apply the knowledge of God and the things of God that we have learned to our virtuous faith in Jesus Christ. 

This series has been fun for me to work through, because the more that I learn about the qualities that the Lord calls us to add to our faith, the more I can see the need I have of adding them. My prayer for us is that the Lord is using this passage of Scripture in our lives and in the life of our church. That, as we will see in a few weeks, if these qualities are ours and increasing we will be effective for the Kingdom! I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Virtue

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1

This Sunday, we continue the series "add to" and begin looking at the first of seven qualities that the Word calls us to add to our faith. It is my hope and prayer that as you read this, you have settled the matter of faith in Jesus Christ. Faith that brings the grace of God which saves. The Bible says that if you are hearing God today, don't harden your heart! Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, confess him as Lord and the Bible says you will be saved. Settle the matter of faith in Christ. Have the power of sin broken in your life. Become a new creation.

For those who have already believed by faith in Jesus as the risen Son of God and confessed Him as Lord, it's time to grow in our faith. 2 Peter 3:5 says to, "make every effort to add to your faith..." and the first quality we are told to add is virtue. In our faith, we must practice and exemplify a life of virtue, a life of integrity. In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges believers to walk in a manner worthy of the calling they have received. We are called to new life in Christ, the old life must pass away. We cannot walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received if we continue to walk in old ways. There is a new way to walk, it starts with faith and continues in virtue.

My prayer, for us individually and as a church, is that we would live out our faith while walking in virtue, and by doing so, point the world around us to Christ. I'll see you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Faith

"Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Last Sunday I said, "It's not just faith, faith is just the beginning." And, that is true. But in a day where "all it takes is a little faith" is thrown around like candy at a Fourth of July parade, we sometimes end up with wrong thinking about faith. Here are two simple thoughts on faith for you to dwell on and get into the Bible about:
 

  1. We are not saved by faith. We are saved by the grace of God when we, through faith, believe in Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God and confess Him as Lord (Romans 10:9). We do not have a faith strong enough to save us. If we did, God wouldn't have had to do what He has done to save us. We place our faith in the One who died to save us, and through Jesus, God extends His grace to us, calling us His own (Ephesians 2:1-10). That is powerful.
     

  2. Real, true faith is accompanied by action. James 2:14-26 is crystal clear. We are not saved by what we do, but what we do must be driven by our salvation. "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17. Faith is not real without action, but action alone cannot save. We believe by faith in Jesus and our actions reveal our belief.

This Sunday "add to faith" will answer, "What is faith? Do I have faith? What is it in? Go back and read 2 Peter 1:3-15 again and also check out Hebrews 11 this week! See you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add To

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with..." 2 Peter 1:5

"Supplement your faith? What more is there beyond faith?" Quite a lot actually. And if you join us this Sunday, we will begin the journey of learning what supplements need to be added to our faith. I grew up reading the NIV, but the King James and other versions also say, "add to your faith."

"Add to" is the new sermon series we are going to begin this weekend. Faith is at the core of the Christian life. The Bible tells us that it is "by grace, through faith" that we are saved. Faith is a common thread throughout all of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. But so many people stop at the faith. Faith is just the beginning! Not the ending! 

We have discussed before, we are called to make disciples and discipleship means learning. We must learn about what we should be adding to our faith and, as we will learn, make sure that we are becoming effective and fruitful. You can read 2 Peter 1:3-15 and begin preparing your hearts for our time together in the Word.

I hope you will be able to join us! It is a pleasure to open the Word of God with you and I don't take it for granted. I am beyond excited that 2019 is underway and cannot wait to see all that God has in store! Let's be praying for it! Pray for the year, the Work we will do and the people we will be able to care for! I am praying that 2019 will see a great increase in our love for God and our love for people! Happy New Year! We'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Farewell 2018!

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and striving forward to what lies ahead," Philippians 3:13

I hope you had as wonderful of a time as I did, worshipping and celebrating Christ the Savior on Christmas Eve. I hope you were encouraged and able to be an encouragement to someone else. Thank you to the many hands (I feel like the whole church showed up to help with setup!) that came out over the 3 days to help setup, serve during and teardown everything for Christmas Eve. I enjoyed watching you all have times of fellowship with one another and getting to know one another better.

But now, we are staring down the beginning of a new year. 2018 will soon be over and 2019 will be underway. There is nothing that any one of us can do to change anything that happened in 2018. But, we don't have to let the things happened in 2018 dictate what will happen in 2019. 

Join us this Sunday as we talk about forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead! We will share in the Lord's Supper and remember the only thing in the past that can change the future. I hope to see you this Sunday morning!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)