Reformation Day

This coming Sunday, October 26, is Reformation Day.  What was the Reformation?  On October 31st, 1517, the German monk and professor Martin Luther posted a list of 95 theses that sought to reform the beliefs and practices of the medieval Catholic Church according to the teachings of the Bible.  Luther’s ideas for reforming the church encouraged Christians all over Europe to seek major revival and purification of the church from traditions that distorted and corrupted the faith and pattern of life passed on to the church by Jesus through his apostles.  Reformation Day is a holiday celebrated on October 31st or the last weekend in October in remembrance of the Protestant Reformation.

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You Alone Can Rescue

During the month of September, the first part of the fall sermon series on spiritual renewal will focus on the gospel (good news) of Jesus as the foundation for our spiritual life.  At the 11:15 service, we will sing a new song, “You Alone Can Rescue,” to celebrate the work of Jesus that is the heart and hope of all spiritual renewal.  The Christian author J. I. Packer suggests that the core message of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be distilled into a very simple statement: “God saves sinners.” “You Alone Can Rescue” enables us to celebrate that core message in a way that is both simple and profound.  “When our hearts were far away,” God in Christ “came down to find us” and “led us out of death.”  Therefore, we confess to God with joy, “You alone can rescue. You alone can save…To you alone belongs the highest praise.” Continue reading

Before the Throne of God Above

During the month of September, the first part of the fall sermon series on spiritual renewal will focus on the gospel of Jesus as the foundation for our spiritual life. At the 8:30 and 9:45 services, we will sing a new song, “Before the Throne of God Above,” to celebrate the person and work of Jesus that is the heart and hope of all spiritual renewal.  This old hymn text set to a modern tune enables us to sing of both the past work of Jesus in dying and rising to free us from sin’s guilt and power and also of the present work of the risen Jesus that gives us access to God and the strongest assurance of God’s forgiveness and powerful presence in our lives. Because he is our “great high priest whose name is love,” and because our names are “graven on his hands” and “written on his heart,” we can sing with confidence, “one with himself I cannot die….my life is hid with Christ on high with Christ my Savior and my God.”  The Chancel Choir has learned an arrangement of this song in four-part harmony to sing with the congregation, and their musical leadership will add even greater glory to an already beautiful melody. Continue reading

Offering and Intercession: Our Renewed Response to the Word of God

As Central’s former pastor Andy Jumper used to say, we are a church that is reformed and always reforming according to the word of God.  Starting on September 7, our fall sermon series will address God’s reforming work through a focus on spiritual renewal, and we will make a couple of changes to the order of the 8:30 and 9:45 services to reflect that focus more clearly in the structure of the service.  During this sermon series, the offering and our intercessory prayers for the church and the world will occur after the sermon rather than before.

There are several reasons for this change. Continue reading

Celebrating Pentecost

The colors at the front of the church have changed from white to red to mark the beginning of a new season in the church calendar.  Having traveled through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter we come to the next chapter of Jesus’ story, the event of Pentecost.  Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church.

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Behold Our God

The new song for Easter season in the 11:15 worship service is “Behold Our God.”  The sermons during this season will focus on the beauty and supremacy of the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Book of Revelation.  This song draws our gaze to the risen Lord Jesus so that we might behold him together with awe and delight as we sing.

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The Fact of Easter

The season of Easter rests upon a historical claim: Jesus died, and on the third day he rose from the dead.  But is this historical claim true, and is it rational to believe it?  Was Jesus’ resurrection an actual historical event?  Is Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection the best rational explanation of the historical testimony about Jesus in the New Testament?

The apostle Paul himself said that not only the season of Easter but the credibility of the entire Christian faith rests upon this issue:

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:14–19 [ESV])

The following collection of resources demonstrates that there are strong historical arguments and evidence that support belief in Jesus’ resurrection.  The four Christian scholars who produced the articles, videos, and books in the following list (Craig, Habermas, Wright, and Licona) have all devoted a substantial portion of their scholarly careers in research and writing about Jesus’ resurrection and are widely recognized experts in the historical and philosophical issues involved in studying the historical Jesus.

1.  Introductory defenses of Jesus’ resurrection

Articles

William Lane Craig, “The Resurrection of Jesus”

Gary Habermas, “The Case for Jesus’ Resurrection”

William Lane Craig, “Forum on the Resurrection”

Video

Gary Habermas, “Teaching on the Resurrection of Jesus”

N. T. Wright, “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?”

Books

Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004).

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