At the Rock Church we are dedicated to ensure that every person has an opportunity to grow in God’s love. Over the past 2 years we have developed an online discipleship tool that creates community called the L.I.F.E.
The purpose of The L.I.F.E. is to bring followers of Jesus Christ into a deeper level of authentic spiritual growth in relationships, evangelism, ministry and stewardship. The L.I.F.E. is a relational and value-driven Gospel-centered model of discipleship that provides a strategic pathway for living out the Christian faith through the L.I.F.E. transformational paradigm (Loving relationships,Impacting ministry, Faithful stewardship, Evangelizing the lost).
In 1 John 5:12 the Bible states, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” It is hoped that this online tool will help strengthen this life of God within your soul.
The L.I.F.E. is a means to support believers as they are guided through a process of living out the call of what is traditionally referred to as Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Within the Great Commission believers are challenged to become disciples who disciple others, as they engage God within transforming relationships. Current research and historical record affirms that Biblical training moves people in a process of spiritual formation and transformation that will bear the fruit of Christlikeness. It is within one’s intimacy with Jesus Christ that he or she will experience growth in character, faith-enriching relationships, ministry engagement, evangelism experiences, stewardship and personal mission. It is believed that a participant’s personal commitment to grow within the means of God’s grace and obedience is most greatly influenced by spiritual relationships in community as people live life together in reciprocal faith development (i.e. mentors, spiritual friends, spiritual coaches, directors, small groups, etc.). It is also essential that processes of discipleship need to recognize that people live through seasons of great success as well as through times of brokenness and loss. It is appreciated that people live within a variety of relationships that often adjust throughout the different stages of the life cycle. The L.I.F.E. tool intends to provide access to resources and online group functions that empower people to move from initial stages of exploring Christ to a more Christ-centered life through a holistic approach to spiritual growth.
The L.I.F.E. provides a wide array of resources that are seen as beneficial in nurturing people in one or more of the L.I.F.E. categories. The resources may include books, websites, online Bible studies, articles, videos, blogs, activities, ministry opportunities and much more. The goal is to provide various means of study and experiences that are both informational and transformational.
Sign Up Today and begin your journey at www.thelifeapp.us
Pastor Shawn Wagner
V.1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.
Jude writing to an unknown Christian audience starts his essay-letter by saying they are called, beloved, and kept for Jesus Christ. He rightfully expresses these truisms about the believer due to the theme of his letter. There are false teachers among these true believers. He reminds them of their position in Christ Jesus being called, beloved, and kept, as contending for the faith with the false teachers is unavoidable. These 3 words have powerful implications for the believer.
Lets first examine the word called. The word implies that these Christians were called for a particular task. What were their tasks? Before we answer that question lets explore some other examples of being called in the scriptures. Paul in Romans 1:1 was called to be an Apostle. The life of a believer is called to be saints (cf. Rom. 1:6–7; Eph. 4:1). Paul and Timothy were called to preach the gospel (cf. Acts 16:10). Finally in Jude the calling was to contend for the faith (v. 3), live in purity (v. 20), and persevere (be kept v. 1, and 21). These Christians needed to know that they were beloved and kept by Jesus Christ while being called to content for the faith.
The word beloved means that you are “more than a friend” of God. God the Father used these words to express His deep relationship with His only begotten Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; and Eph. 1:6), but now we see it used for the believer in (cf. vv. 3, 17, 20; I Pet. 2:11; 4:12; II Pet. 3:1, 8, 14, 17).
The final word we will highlight is the word kept. Believers need to know that through the contending for the faith or whatever the circumstances they face God will continue to be keep them, preserved for Jesus Christ. Beloved and kept are both in the (present tense, passive voice) which means that the believer is always, continually, never ending, forever BELOVED by God and that you’re always, continually, never ending, forever be KEPT for and by Jesus Christ. The icing on the cake is that the passive voice implies that this is nothing that you have done, but all that Christ has done for you.
Be reminded today that God loves you and keeps you with an everlasting love and keep no matter the circumstances.
There has been scholarly discussion over the years on what exactly did Jesus come to do and accomplish while on earth. Some have suggested that Jesus was only a mere man and prophet who came with a message, but this message didn’t have any eternal credence or consequences.
I would like to propose a different yet biblical point of view. The Bible in Christendom is considered our “first source” when it comes to unpacking what Jesus came to do and who He was. Let me explain.
The person who says Jesus was only a mere man and prophet must be getting their information from some other source than the Bible. This would be considered a “second source.” As we ask the question what did Jesus really come to do, first source must be examined as our primary resource. The Bible begins telling us how all things came into existence (Gen 1:1), how God created and formed man out of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7), then quickly exposes how sin entered the world (Gen 2:9, 17, 3:22). This sin put enmity between God and man (Gen 3:15) and the first animal sacrifice took place (Gen 3:21) to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and sin (Gen 3:7, 3:11). Since the fall of man, animal sacrifice continues as a form of devotion and worship to God (Gen 8:20, 22:2, 31:54, 46:1, Exodus 5:3, 8:8, etc.).
The Bible continues to express how sin can only be covered or taken away by sacrifice and bloodshed in Lev 9:7
- Moses said to Aaron, ‘Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people; sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded
Animal sacrifice, or better known as atonement, was only sufficient for a limited time. Each year the High Priest made sacrifice for his own sin then sacrificed for the entire nation of Israel (Hebrews 5:1-4). Animal sacrifice was repeated year after year until Jesus’ sacrifice was made on the cross for the sins of the entire world (John 3:16).
The Hebrew writer elaborates more on the sacrifice Jesus made which was more superior or greater than any animal sacrifice for sins. He continues in Hebrews 9:11-13
- 11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
Therefore Jesus came to redeem people from their sin by sacrificing Himself on the cross. Like I mentioned this was more of a theological way to provide insights on what Jesus came to do, but I would also like to provide an answer by quoting Jesus Himself. Lets focus on a couple of the passages in the bible when Jesus Says “I have come.” In Matt 5:17 Jesus says:
- Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Luke 24:44 Jesus reminds His disciples of what He had spoken about earlier in Matthew 5:17 about Him fulfilling everything that was written by the Prophets, in the Law, and Psalms.
In conclusion, Jesus says He came to fulfill everything that was spoken about Him. The culmination of this fulfillment came by His substitutionary death on the cross so that by faith in Him anyone can have eternal life (John 3:16).
Is the Gospel something you do or is it something that has been done?
I have been reading a book titled “Center Church” by Timothy Keller and he poses this very thought provoking statement “the gospel isn’t something you do its something that’s been done.” If asked the question to this blog title most of us at first would answer saying “it is something that you do”. As the old saying goes “preach the gospel and if all else fails use words.” The content of that quote leads us to believe that the gospel is something that you’re doing by actions alone. If this were true then your actions (what your doing) would save those who are lost without the verbal expression of Jesus life, death, burial, and resurrection. But if the gospel is what God has done through His Son and a call to faith in Him it can only be received by faith. Faith cannot come without hearing what God has done therefore what God has done can only be expressed by words. The Bible clearly states that faith comes through hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Think about the term “Gospel” or “Good News” by its very nature it is a verbal expression (i.e. news). The definition of the word gospel is the joyous verbal expression of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated as “gospel” means “a reward for bringing good news.” In Isaiah 40:9 the prophet declared the “good tidings” that God would rescue His people from their captivity. This verbal expression by Isaiah is something that God would do and the result was Israel became the beneficiary. The Gospel has always been a verbal expression either prophesied, taught, or preached. It is the fulfillment of God’s plan that started with the Children of Israel, was completed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and continues to be made known to the listener by the Church (i.e. the people of God).
I realized that no matter how Christ-like I might present myself with non-believers that my Christ-likeness activity (what I do) doesn’t save. I could walk into my favorite coffee shop every morning for the rest of my life and exhibit the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) and no one may ever hear the gospel. As a believer I must couple my Christ-likeness with a verbal expression of the person and work of Christ in order for the observer of my character and the listener of what Christ has done so that they might get saved. How much more should we express what God has done? Let this be a reminder to us that unless we verbally express what God has done in Jesus our Christ-like character alone may fall on deaf ears. Therefore, instead of “preach the gospel (your actions) and if all else fails use words” how about “preach the gospel (use words) and continue to preach the gospel (use words).”
- Center Church by Timothy Keller
- Generous Justice by Timothy Keller
- Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchivijian
I believe that getting older as a Christian can be very challenging. What I mean by that is we are all suppose to be on this journey of becoming more like Christ every day. So, as the years, months, days, and minutes go by we should be maturing into Christ-likeness by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him (Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. ). We are to flee from being conformed to this world by renewing our minds (Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ). Is this the scenario? Are we really growing in Christ presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord? Are we mindful of the reactions to our daily testings so that we are discerning the will of God? Are we being conformed to the image of Christ or the world? I find that many of us would agree that it isn’t the drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex, adultery, and even pornography that many Christians struggle with, but it is the day in day out opportunities that we have to reveal Christ with others as we are being tested. How many of us have been on the freeway in the fast lane when somebody is driving 65 and he/she will not get over for you so you can pass just to break the speed limit? So, what happens next? You get over in the next lane to speed up beside the person in the fast lane just to give your best mean mug. How many us get frustrated when your in line at the grocery store and right before its your turn to check out the person in front of you needs a price check on something? Lets just look at one more example for fun. Have you ever been at a very crowded place like Disney land and your walking to get to your next ride and all of a sudden the family in front of you decides to stop walking to discuss something. They could have easily moved over to the side to talk, but they decided to block all foot traffic to have their casual conversation. How do you react to these types of situations in your life? We have so many opportunities to reveal Christ to others, and it is not so much revealing Christ to the person in the fast lane of traffic, the person at the grocery store, or the family at Disney Land, but it is how Christ is revealed to our children, our wife, our husband and even close friends. We would all agree just I mentioned above that doing drugs, drinking alcohol in excess, or looking at pornography is something we would never do in front our children, wife, husband, close friends or anybody for that matter. But why do we think cursing out someone from your car, or getting frustrated in line, or letting everybody know just how upset you are with the family at Disney Land is OK? Just as Romans 12:2 states that we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Lets not think that we are mature Christians simply because we have been a Christian for many years and haven’t looked at porn or smoked a joint in 15 years. Lets consider our daily devotion to God to present ourselves as living sacrifices with the day in day out opportunities we have to reveal Him (Jesus Christ).
Most have not heard of the term Hermeneutics. The simplest definition of this term means “the study of scripture”. Many call it “the art and science of biblical interpretation”. Basically it is the process of crossing over the Cultural/historical bridge to understand the original intent of a particular scripture, paragraph, chapter, or book of the bible. This can be found by asking who wrote each of the books of the bible, who were they writing to, when were they written, why were they writing about their experience or discovery, what were some of the challenges the various people groups were facing, where were these events taking place, etc.
During the reformation and through the 17th Century the development of studying the bible on an individual personal level by the use of hermeneutics began to flourish. This personal hermeneutical journey (study of scripture) shaped many if not all of the essential doctrines and theology we hold true today. After this burst of personal discovery of scripture through the application of Hermeneutics a school of philosophy arose in Europe called the Scottish Common Sense Realism. This school of thought swept through the United States in the early 1800’s. The Scottish Common Sense Realism started in Europe during the 18th century and was a school of philosophy that taught every person had ordinary experiences that provided intuitively certain assurance of a) the existence of the self, b) the existence of real objects that could be seen and felt; and c) certain “first principles” upon which sound morality and religious beliefs could be established.
This philosophy in the last century has been used to the application of scripture. It has led to assuming that everyone can understand the bible for themselves through the experience of just reading with out any diligent study of the scripture and that the surface of the text is sufficient to produce meaning in and of itself. With this application to scripture the hermeneutical process to bridge the cultural gap was ignored. This transition from applying hermeneutics to the study of scripture to the Scottish Common Sense Realism led to multiple meanings of any one particular text and even sometimes heresy. I would like to point out that during the early 1800’s in the United States after this philosophy was introduced to America most of the cults we come across today came out from this movement.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage the church to study the scripture. If you would like to learn more about hermeneutics I suggest you read “How to study the bible for all its worth” by Gordon D. Fee and Stuart. If you decide that reading “How to study the bible for all its worth” was a benefit I would also suggest reading “The Hermeneutical Spiral” by Grant Osborne. Have fun studying the bible!!
What would you say to the Church that hires unbelievers to provide a service to the local Church body? I was recently challenged by this very question. I know that many would have a hard time knowing that the Church would in fact hire an unbeliever. Don’t get me wrong we wouldn’t want an unbeliever running the discipleship at our Church, making decisions on the Church’s strategic plan, overseeing Church ministries just as God didn’t allow the gentile to be priest. But say for instance the church hires an unbeliever to provide a food service, operate a cash register, a security guard, parking attendant, etc. Many of you might say that those are still crucial to the Church’s function and only believers should occupy those roles. There could be a lot of what if scenarios, but hopefully looking at some Old Testament scriptures might shed some light on how mission critical this might be.
When we consider the children of Israel and their role toward other nations we see that not only did the Children of Israel benefit from God’s choosing but also the alien, the foreigner, and sojourner. God’s choosing came with some great benefits, for example the Sabbath day was to be enjoyed as a day of REST. The “shemitta” law, from the Hebrew word “release” was a time of releasing debts, freeing of slaves (slaves were primarily aliens that were providing a service, but only the Israelite slaves were freed during this time), and lastly the year of Jubilee which not only released debts, freed slaves, and many times if the Israelite so chooses could release lands that were once occupied by the children of Israel to the foreigner (Deut 15:1-2, Lev 25:8-55) . You see! Not only did God’s people benefit from God’s character, but all of those who came in contact with His people. God’s plan was for all other peoples, and nations to see and experience His character through the children of Israel and by this be drawn to His Grace, His Laws, and His plan for reconciliation.
At the Rock Church we have seen the unbeliever while providing services be drawn to the Lord’s plan of salvation, repent and have a personal relationship with his/her creator. Just as the children of Israel welcomed the alien, and the foreigner (to provide services) and sojourner into their congregation to experience God’s great love we too should embrace the potential of one unbeliever (who would provide a service) to experience God’s love within our congregation.
As part of the church community, much of what people do as Christian’s is focus their relational connections with other Christians. This gives us a sense of belonging to something that is greater than ourselves. As individuals in community, we then are compelled by love to reach out to serve those outside of our own group. The gang lifestyle is very similar to this, in that many people get involved in gangs to be a part of a community that satisfies the longing to belong. However, given the destructive forces at play within gangs, it is apparent that this is Satan’s way of perverting true grace oriented community for something false. I have been on both sides of this paradigm. Being in a gang for 6 years and now walking with the Lord for 14 years. This understanding of the desire to belong has driven me back to my old hood in City Heights with the light of the gospel. Starting in January we will lead a Bible study on Thursday nights, have Monthly “relationship walks” in the community to connect with those in City Heights in San Diego. We will also have quarterly outreaches at the local parks and recreation centers. Our hope is that the life transformation of the Gospel will reach those who are longing for relationship and true community. We are currently building a 63 Chevy Impala that will present the gospel called the “Save” project. Details on the “Save” project can be found here.
If you would like more information about our efforts in City Heights please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org