Message from Rev. Moore – December 2018

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ““Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”“ 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us.)
(Mat 1:18-23 ESV)

Have you ever considered the beautiful irony of the birth of Christ—the Eternal Son of God becoming man, the doctrine of the Incarnation? What is the doctrine of the Incarnation? It’s the biblical teaching of the God-man, Jesus Christ; it’s the biblical teaching that Jesus is both God and man, yet one person. The early church considered the Incarnation such an essential teaching that they formulated what has come to be the Chalcedonian Creed, a statement of faith concerning what we must believe to be a Christian, and what we are not to believe as a Christian. The Creed states this:

Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)
“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”
There are five main truths with which the creed of Chalcedon summarized the biblical teaching on the Incarnation:
1. Jesus has two natures — He is God and man.
2. Each nature is full and complete — He is fully God and fully man.
3. Each nature remains distinct—Jesus’ human nature is not divine, and divine human.
4. Christ is only one Person.
5. Things that are true of only one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.

During this Christmas season, we’ll be taking a break from the Sermon on the Mount; I will continue the Sermon on the Mount after Christmas. During the month of December, I’ll be preaching on the nature and purpose of the Incarnation, that is, the biblical nature and purpose of Christmas. Come and join us, and invite a friend to church!

In Christ,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – November 2018

In his best-selling book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller, former pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares a story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how the grace extended to us through Christ’s work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:

“Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

This distinction is not only helpful, but it’s biblical: gospel (Christ’s righteousness) and religion (self-righteousness). The gospel not only saves us, but it puts demands on us. The great Reformer, Martin Luther, experienced this gospel-driven demand from God. What was this demand? Luther said this:

“Take me, for example. I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept (cf. Mark 4:26-29) or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends, Philip and Amsdorf; the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing: the Word did everything. Had I desired to foment trouble…. I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? Mere fools play. I did nothing: I let the Word do it’s work.”

The gospel-driven demand from God is the same for us as it was for Luther: preach and teach God’s Word. We are to preach and teach it to our family, friends, coworkers, anyone with whom we come in contact. When we do this, we too are Reformers in our generation!

God Bless and thanks,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – February 2018

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

Since June 2017, I have been preaching through the parables. During Christmas and Easter I usually stop and preach on relevant texts on the topic of Easter or Christmas, but all in all I am an expository preacher. What is expository preaching?

Expository preaching is distinct from lectionary preaching and topical preaching. Lectionary preaching, i.e., preaching through a church calendar, is dominant in Catholic and Liberal, Mainline Protestant traditions. Topical preaching is dominant in Evangelical circles. In contrast to these is Expository preaching. Expository is dominant in the Reformed tradition. Expository preaching is a Reformed way of preaching. Expository preaching was the primary approach by preachers in the first three centuries in the Church and during the Reformation up to about one hundred years ago. From John Calvin (16th century) to Charles Hodge at Princeton Seminary (19th century) expositional preaching reigned.

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Message from Rev. Moore – October 2017

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9ESV)

For the last few Newsletters, I briefly shared with you the Five-Solas. If you recall, the Five-Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Medieval Church of Rome during that time. Sola is Latin meaning “alone” or “only.” The phrases are:

  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Sola Fide, through Faith alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by Grace alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, to the Glory of God alone.

In preparation for Reformation Sunday this October 29th (in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation), I shared with you the first of the solas: Scripture alone. These two months (October and November), we’ll take a look at the second and third of the solas: Faith alone and Grace alone! What does Faith and Grace alone mean? Faith is the manner by which a sinner receives God’s gift of salvation. Grace is the manner by which a sinner is given salvation by God. Grace is God’s giving. Faith is our receiving. And both grace and faith are gifts from God. Let me explain further.

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Message from Rev. Moore – June 2017

They make night into day: ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’
(Job 17:12 ESV)

Darkness comes in many figurative forms. One symbol of darkness in Scripture is that of suffering, or sickness of the soul and/or body. In the Old Testament Scriptures, Job is an exemplar of such suffering. Job describes his suffering in terms of the darkness of night. Amidst his suffering, Job prays to God for relief, hoping that God will soon dispel his misery with a cheer of liberation, cheer in terms of hope, hope symbolized by the light of day.

Another prominent symbol of darkness in Scripture is spiritual blindness. Scripture tells us that both the world is in darkness and that all people in the world (that is unconverted, unregenerate people), are blinded by the spiritual darkness of night, a night ruled by “the god of this world,” the Prince of Darkness. Paul says:

And even if our gospel is veiled, bit is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2Co 4:3-4 ESV).

But what about the Church, the visible gathering of God’s people in history? Can the Church experience spiritual darkness? The Old Testament Church (the Church of Israel) surely did. A cursory study of the history of Israel is replete with copious examples of spiritual darkness. Case in point is the Nation of Judah during the reign of King Josiah (Southern Israel comprised of the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah). Josiah was a godly King during a time of spiritual darkness.

The reason for the spiritual darkness was because the light of God’s Word had been lost, quite literally. We read: “And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it” (2Ki 22:8 ESV). The Bible (Hebrew Bible) had been missing along with a thorough knowledge of its contents. Hilkiah, the High Priest, was cleaning the treasure room in the Temple, and he found their missing bible, the “Book of the Law.” Hilkiah informed Josiah the King that the Word of God had been found; the King immediately enacted reform. Josiah’s “Reformation” ushered in a spiritual awakening, an awakening from pagan darkness to the light of God’s Word to guide the people of God away from darkness and into the light.

Something very similar happened in the Church almost 500 years ago. For nearly a thousand years or more both the unadulterated Word of God and the gospel had been eclipsed by spiritual darkness: the spiritual darkness of man-made tradition vs. the Scripture, the spiritual darkness of man earning his way to heaven by mixing good works with faith vs. the gospel way of man not earning, but receiving salvation as a gift by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus’ work of earning salvation for us as our one-and-only Mediator between man and God. For over a thousand years there was spiritual darkness, darkness that gave way to light. Protestant historians all agree that the date for when this happened was on October 31, 1517. This was when an obscure German, Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Thesis on the doors of All Saint’s church in Wittenberg; this event was the beginning of a reformation in the church, a reformation that still goes on today. The motto which the first and second generation of Reformers used to capture the spirit of the 16th-century Reformation was Post tenebras lux (After the Darkness Light), inspired by the Vulgate (Latin Bible) translation of Job 17:12.

Two things I want to bring to your attention. First, at our last session meeting, session approved to celebrate this special occasion on Reformation Sunday. So, on October 29, 2017, during worship, Starkdale will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with something special. Second, over the summer leading up to Reformation Sunday, I will be sharing with you the light that came out of the darkness known as the Five-Solas. The Five-Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant

Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Medieval Church of Rome during that time.

Sola is Latin meaning “alone” or “only.” The phrases are:
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Sola Fide, through faith alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone.

Praise God for the hope of both the light of His Word and the liberating truth of His gospel!!

In Christ
Pastor Carl