It Is Finished Audio

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Paul's Doctrine of Death

Summarize Paul’s doctrine regarding what happens to humans at death.  Does the person who dies before the return of Christ receive a glorified body, according to Paul?  How does Bruce describe this body?  How could you use these ideas to comfort a family whose loved one (a Christian) has recently passed away?  How does this idea encourage you to live for Christ?

Paul taught that those who die are asleep in Christ but will be raised to immortality.[1] This means that the bodies that we now possess will not be the ones that we will keep. Those who die in Christ will receive new bodies as well as those who are alive at the Parousia.[2] In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he explained to them that the dead who are in Christ will rise first and those who remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.[3] He gave this explanation so that there would be no confusion as to the order of how things will take place at Jesus return. Paul taught that there had to be a separation out of our mortal body in order to be with the Lord; therefore, these bodies of flesh would not be able to enter the kingdom of God.[4]
Bruce explains that Paul’s view of a new body meant exchanging one for another. At no time was Paul meaning that there would not be a body of some sort or it would mean spiritual nakedness. According to Bruce, the spiritual body is being made for the believer as the mortal body waste away.[5] The mortal body wears down as the spiritual body is being renewed daily in Christ.[6] When families are in mourning, we can comfort them by reminding them that their loved ones are no longer in their mortal bodies that break down but will have new ones for to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord. Paul never mentioned that the soul dies which is the essence of our being– only the physical body.[7] Therefore, even though loved ones will miss their families down here on earth, they can take joy in knowing that their loved ones are home with the Lord and are forever free from the pain and trials of this life.
This is something to look forward to. To know that we will never have to deal with the wages of sin again in this lifetime is something to celebrate. It makes me want to stay close to the Lord and do what I can to live a life pleasing Him. It also makes me want to share with others the Gospel of Christ so that they too can enter in. Those who die without Christ do not know what they are giving up when they turn their backs to Him. Nothing this world has to offer is worth losing out on an eternity with Jesus.

[1]1 Cor. 15:42 (New International Version).
[2] F. F. Bruce and F. F. Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press, 2000), 309.
[3] 1 Thess. 4:15 (New International Version).
[4] Bruce and Bruce, Paul, 311-312.
[5] Ibid., 311.
[6] Ibid.
[7] 2 Cor. 5:8 (New Living Translation).

Sunday, February 25, 2018

“Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch,” by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas

This book review will provide a summary, critique, and evaluation of authors Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas’ book, “Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch,” regarding its effectiveness in helping new and seasoned church planters launch a church from the ground up.
            The authors Searcy and Thomas wrote this book to help Christians who felt a call on their lives to be a church planter have the steps needed to bring that call to fruition. Using their own experiences of church planting, they knew that it would be helpful to create an all-in-one book where church planters could have valuable information to make church planting become a reality.[1] The authors immediately begin by giving nine tips of wisdom for successful church planting. Those tips include: being sure of God’s calling, being unafraid to fundraise, build from the outside in, do not use small groups, youth groups, or membership requirements to launch, focus on unchurched, be balanced, starting a church can be done fast as well as church growth.[2] The authors encourage the readers to utilize the information within the pages of the book to be a real-time manual in church planting and the knowledge gained will guarantee success as well and utilizing their online source at for additional resources.[3]
            Searcy and Thomas have they consider to be the three deadly sins when it comes to church planting: the lack of God’s calling, lack of having a strategy, and the lack of monetary resources.[4] A person must know that they are called as explained by the authors before attempting to launch a church or they will become easily discouraged and give up. The lack of strategic planning can cause a church plant to fail before it begins. Also, the lack of adequate resources will hinder the church plant from being able to thrive according to the authors fully, and this is why there must be a foundation on which the church is to be built for it to be able to succeed.[5]
            The book, Launch, details four calls of a church planter. These calls include: having the initial call to start a church through prayer and Bible study, surprise calling, having holy discontent through wanting improvement, a burden for the lost, and Godly confirmation through wise counsel. The authors also emphasized understanding the call upon your spouse’s life if applicable and the call to a certain geographical location and people.[6] The authors show the reader that God is a God of strategy which is all throughout the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The most important strategy, according to Searcy and Thomas, was God’s plan of redemption to save man from their sins.[7] In understanding the reason for having a strategy, the authors highlight nine important factors to consider: a strategy promotes faith, provides structure, boosts thoughts on paper, provides focus, encourages research, promotes team building, saves time, delegates duties, and heightens church growth.[8]
            SMART editing is what the authors suggest using after developing your church-planting strategy. The acronyms SMART stands for S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Attainable, R-Relevant, and T-Time-bound.[9] Following this ensures that the strategy will obtain a high level of performance with realistic expectations. Searcy and Thomas proceed to discuss the elements of fundraising, creating a budget, and not being afraid to seek financial assistance from others. They encourage church planters to have financial partners who are willing to finance the cause of the ministry.[10] Finances will be needed according to the authors to guarantee the success of a church plant.
            An important key element in church planting according to Searcy and Thomas is building your staff. Staff building includes having the lead pastor who may also be the church planter, worship leader, and children’s ministry leader. When searching for someone to fill these positions, the authors give the reader the three Cs to look out for: character, chemistry, and competency.[11]Any of these important elements missing would be a recipe for disaster in the making. The authors give ten lessons from their own experience in their ministry called the Journey:
a.)    Forget having enough money upfront to hire staff.
b.)    Hire the staff before the growth.
c.)    Hire slow and fire even faster.
d.)    Hire part-time first and then full-time.
e.)    Make use of volunteers before hiring.
f.)     Encourage staff to find additional volunteers.
g.)    Make weekly staff meetings a priority.
h.)    Hold staff accountable and ensure effective communication.[12]
Location for the new church plant was also a factor that the authors discussed in keeping with the geographical location of people that the church planter felt led to reach. Searcy and Thomas encourage church planters to have a regular meeting place if possible and to have church services regularly. Their suggestion was for at least once a month for six consecutive months. Therefore, helping the invitees to look forward to meeting at an appointed scheduled time and doing a message series was also suggested to keep them coming back.[13] The launch team should be separate from the core group according to the authors. After the official launch, the launch team’s work is over, but the core group is to stay in place and at no time should they be intertwined.[14]
Finally, after all of the steps have been taking in successfully doing the launch of the new church, the passion for reaching people must be maintained by teaching the staff and other how to go about evangelizing to others so that they will not become stagnant.[15] The ministry of the gospel must continue at this stage so the authors give tips to help keep the spark going so that there will not just be an inward focus but a continuous outreach for the winning of souls.[16]
            The book was a very good source of information for the new church planter. The authors did an excellent job building from the ground up in helping someone who has never had any idea about church planting to be able to be confident in their newly acquired knowledge gained from these two authors in being able to establish a new church. Searcy and Thomas’ goal were to give others the knowledge that they were not able to easily find when they were beginning their church-planting missions. They were successful in accomplishing their goal because if the steps outlined throughout this book is followed, there would be little room for error from the human side of things.
            There was a section in the book that dealt with finances and how this is very important when starting a church.[17] Although finances can help hugely, I do believe that where God sends you, He will provide. I know that the authors were trying to not make this sound too much like a business, but one cannot wait for the conditions to be perfect as they did mention in the book. Souls are being lost every day, so it seems that more focus may need to be spent on the evangelism aspect than on building funds while not neglecting it altogether.
            The authors also discussed finding a worship leader as being key to having a successful church plant. Worship in instrument and song is important in the house of the Lord. Having someone who can lead out in this would most definitely be an asset to the ministry. Nevertheless, if the church plant is unable to find a good worship leader, having someone to just lead out in song and praise as mentioned in the book will suffice until God makes provisions in that area. The authors may have placed greater emphasis on this because too many churches have great rock bands and yet, the nation and body of Christ is in trouble spiritually overall.
            This book, once again, was an excellent read and had an invaluable amount of information which a new and seasoned church planter can use. This book can be used for those who wish to plant home churches as well because the amount of home churches is growing due to many people seeking more knowledge based on truth than seeker-friendly ideology being taught in the majority of today’s pulpits. A church planter can use this one book to get off to a great start, and it can be their GPS after they have received confirmation from God as to the call on their life as a church planter.

            I found this book to be very useful for my ministry in the present and future. This book alone will be a great guide that I will incorporate in future church planting. The authors did an excellent job in helping me to understand the dynamics of successfully planting a church from the ground up. I was impressed by the knowledge that they were able to give in this one book that will allow someone who does not have any former knowledge as to church planting to be able to use easy-to-follow steps in establishing a house of worship wherever God has placed them geographically.
            I would recommend this book to others because it is easy to read, steps are clear and precise as well as the information offered is applicable in any geographical location rather in the United States and abroad. I would, however, focus more on teaching sound doctrine than anything about church planting because there is not a need for just having more of the same, but there is a famine in the land for truth. We have churches all across the United States, but few churches are teaching truth in the pulpits and helping their members to grow fully in Christ.
             A church planter first needs to know that he/she has heard from God and that this is the call that He has placed upon their life. Having a good manual to follow such as what was presented in Searcy and Thomas’ book will help to achieve maximum success as the Holy Spirit leads. The authors of Launch successfully wrote a book that new and seasoned church planters could use for their new church plants as well as being able to teach others the concepts learned from the pages of their book. The book gives the guidelines, but Christ must be the foundation on which the church is built.

Searcy, Nelson, and Kerrick Thomas. Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch. Grand
Rapids: Baker Books, 2017.

[1]Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017), 15-16.
[2]Ibid., 16-17.
[3]Ibid., 18-20.
[4]Ibid., 21-22.
[5]Searcy and Thomas, Launch, 21-22.
[6]Ibid., 40-47.
[7]Ibid., 53-54.             
[8]Ibid., 53-58.
[9]Ibid., 67.
[10]Searcy and Thomas, Launch, 73-84.
[11]Ibid., 103-121.
[12]Ibid., 122.
[13]Searcy and Thomas, Launch, 132-149.
[14]Ibid., 151-154.
[15]Ibid., 179, 227-228.
[16]Ibid., 227-228.
[17]Searcy and Thomas, Launch, 75-79.