This blog has now moved! Find it at https://mwreimer.wordpress.com.
Mark Reimer is the Pastor at Elim Baptist Church. He came to Elim in January 2015 and finds joy in seeing God's word transform God's people. He is a graduate of the Steinbach Bible College (BA) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM).
Feel free to contact him at [email protected]
|Posted on 25 August, 2015 at 16:25||comments (0)|
This blog is now moving. It can now be found at https://mwreimer.wordpress.com.
|Posted on 21 May, 2015 at 0:50||comments (0)|
Throughout Christian history, the problem of evil has always been used as an argument against the existence of God. The dilemma is presented like this: If God is both powerful and good, how can there be evil in the world? Or, since evil exists, God cannot be both good and powerful. The perceived problem is that the Bible presents God as both powerful and good. Certainly this dilemma holds some weight and should be answered. However, it struck me the other day that there is a greater dilemma present, one that poses an even greater challenge to the existence of God. This is the problem of good.
This came to me as I was cycling home from the church the other day. It was a day in which I was very aware of my own sin. We all have those days in which we are reminded that we are not yet fully Christ-like and this was one of those days. Yet as I cycled home, I smelled the glorious aroma of spring and summer. There was the smell of fresh grass clippings and the smell of tree blossoms. I breathed it in deeply and it soothed by soul. And then it hit me. If I am now enjoying these wonderful blessings from God yet I know that my sins deserve only death, how can the God of the Bible exist? After all, the God in the Bible is absolutely holy. He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7). How can this God exist in a world where sinners receive blessings and pleasures?
The problem of evil and the problem of good are in a sense the same problem, and in another sense, they are one another’s answer. The problem of evil asks how God can allow wickedness if he is good. The problem of good asks how God can withhold judgment from sinners if he is holy. To withhold immediate judgment from sinners is to allow evil to go on in the world. It’s the same problem. Yet it is also the solution. The fact that evil is not immediately judged by God is precisely an act of his goodness. Paul writes that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). The fact that he allows evil to continue to ravage the earth is a sign of his patience with us (2 Pet. 3:9).
God wants us to be bothered by the presence of evil. How can God be good if evil persists? God also wants us to be bothered by the presence of good. How can God be holy when he continues to give good gifts to sinners?
The solution to this tension is found in the cross. At the cross, the goodness of God was put on full display as he gave his Son to die as an act of love toward his people. In Christ, God condemned evil and will one day bring his victory over evil to a full conclusion (Rev. 19:20). At the cross, the holiness of God was also put on full display when he judged our sin in the body of his Son (Rom. 3:21-26). When we see evil continue, we can know that Christ has already delivered it the decisive blow. When we see God’s blessing in the midst of our sin, we can know that the blessings we receive from God are based on the merits of Christ alone.
May we ever worship the God that is God both in evil and in good!
|Posted on 1 May, 2015 at 13:45||comments (0)|
One of the thing that Christians are most concerned with is making their lives match the will of God. This can mean one of two things. First, living according to the will of God means to be obedient to Scripture. All Christians should strive to know and conform their lives to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. This is our callign as Christians. Unfortunately, we sometimes spend more time and energy trying to discern the will of God that isn't revealed in Scripture. We approach big and important issues in life such as which house to buy, who to marry, or which church to join believing that God has a specific plan in mind and it is our job to try to figure out what God's will is. Should we hear a "voice from heaven" before we make these decisions? A few principles can be applied here as we explore this:
1) We are responsible to God's revealed will. "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV) God has given us his Word. We are responsible to do what he has revealed there. God also has specific plans and purposes for the course of events in everybodies lives. These things are the "secret things of the Lord". We are not responsible for these because they are made known to us.
2) Trust in the sovereign God. "[God] works all things according to the counsel of his will, (Ephesians 1:11). Since God works all things according to his will, he is not handcuffed by our decisions. Even though we may believe that our decisions can frustrate God's plans, they cannot. We can trust that God will work all things for our good, even if we don't know what his plan is ahead of time (Romans 8:28-29). If every step is revealed to us ahead of time, we no longer live by faith. God wants us to trust him with these things even though we don't know all the answers.
3) Pray for wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). Should you ask a certain woman to marry you? God probably won't writer her name on your arm or anything but that doesn't mean there aren't factors in your decision that haven't been revealed in Scripture. For example, Christians are to only marry other Chrisitans (2 Corinthians 6:14). Proverbs 31 gives a rundown on what a good wife looks like. Ask God for wisdom based on biblical truth.
So then, how we do know if we should buy a Caravan or a Montana? We don't. We use all the information available to use biblical wisdom to eliminate sinful or foolish options. We trust that God is sovereign and he will work either vehicle for your good. We relax, knowing that we haven't cast ourselves out of God's will for chosing the Caravan over the Montana. Remember, God's revealed will calls you to trust God and not be anxious. The life of faith is to step out and live according to the Scriptures, trusting that God will take care of the secret things.
For more on this, check on the easy-to-read book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung. This book is available to borrow from my library as well. Just stop by and ask me.
|Posted on 24 February, 2015 at 13:20||comments (0)|
Part of being a pastor is having the opportunity to hear stories about how people are born. Now, I have heard more childbirth stories than I would have liked, but this is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about hearing about how people were born again.
I’ve heard it said that we should avoid language of being “born again” when sharing how Jesus saved us because it is “Christianeze”. Unbelievers won’t understand that language. Now, I understand that Christians can use insider terms that are unhelpful. However, this is most true when those terms are also foreign to Scripture. Phrases like “I invited Jesus into my heart” and “I prayed to receive Jesus” are not found in Scripture. And, while they may be true on some level, they don’t properly describe the deeper experience of salvation. On the other hand, being “born again” both describes people’s experience and is radically biblical (John 1:13, 3:3-7; 1 Pet. 1:3, 23).
So while I haven’t often heard people use the phrase “born again”, I have heard them describe the effects of their new birth. These phrases all describe the effects of being “born again.” We don’t understand where the wind comes from but we see its effects. So it is with the new birth (John 3:8. Just like a new born baby cries, so a new born baby in Christ does what spiritual babies do.
In the last two weeks alone, I have heard versions of these phrases. They all describe the effects of the new birth and they are all explicitly biblical.
- I suddenly had a desire to read the Bible (Psalm 119)
- God opened my eyes (Acts 26:17-18)
- I was dead before but now I’m alive (Eph. 2:1-14)
Telling someone how you were born again sounds alien to our culture. It sounded alien to Nicodemus as well (John 3). But don’t let that stop you. Tell people how God made you alive in Christ and tell people how it affects your life. Ask people how they were saved by Jesus. Look for the effects of their new birth. Seeing the effects of spiritual wind blowing among God’s people is the best part of my day.
|Posted on 14 January, 2015 at 10:00||comments (2)|
Why do we have four gospels in our Bible? It seems like if the goal is to have the most complete account of Jesus' life and ministry, four separate books would not be the way to go. First of all, the four writers include some of the same stories but each contains stories that are not found in the others. Second, when they do tell the same story, we find that it is really not the same at all, but similar. Do we say that one must be in error? Do we compare the two and decide which one we like more?
There are some principles that we must remember when we are reading the gospels.
1) Author: Each author wrote in a different time, with a different personality, and with a different purpose.
2) Audience: The gospels were not written in a vaccuum. Each gospel account is written to a specific context with its own needs. Mark is concerned about encouraging persecuted Christians in Rome while Matthew is concern about showing how Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
3) Theology: The gospels primarily teach theology, not history. Of course we affirm the history is 100% true, but the purpose of the history is to tell us about the person and work of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
4) Discipleship: The purpose is also to generate belief in the readers and to shape us into the image of Christ.
Example: Mark 1:47: In this text, the author (Mark) is instructing the audience (church) by referencing the teaching of Jesus (history) that God will judge sin (theology) and that they should therefore take great measures to fight sin in their lives (discipleship). The main point of discussion is not why Mark and Matthew's account of the same teaching have slight differences. The main point is application: We must remember that God judges sin and that we must therefore turn away from our sinful ways.
Some questions we can ask when reading the gospels:
1) Why did the writer put this story/teaching in this specific place?
2) What does this text teach me about the person and work of Jesus Christ?
3) What promises does this text ask me to believe? What actions does this text ask me to do?
When we remember that the authors wrote their gospels to build the church, we can begin to read the gospels with an expectation that God has something for us today.
What do you think? I'd be happy to hear your thoughts and comments on this. Click on the comment button, send me an email, or drop by to discuss this further.
|Posted on 5 January, 2014 at 23:55||comments (0)|
Welcome to our new website! We hope you will find it user-friendly and very informative. Please come back often to see our regular blog posts by Pastor Mark, as well as our current events that are happening in the church.
We will also be keeping up with the Fulbe Missions throughout the year making sure to keep you informed of how our brothers and sisters in Christ are faring.
We will be posting under Ministries the upcoming "Gospel Nights". You can see who will be gracing our stage and sharing their musical gifts each month!
The website has so much to offer, our hope is that you learn so much more about us.
Elim Baptist Church Family