Restoration Baptist Church

Leave a comment

Christianity Matters!

Written by: Rev. Robert F. Hayes, Jr.

British clergyman, John Henry Newman quoted a proverbial statement: “We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.” Mankind, as God’s creation, is failing Him! I mourn those of God’s creation that embrace racial hatred, political correctness, and self-pride. These individuals demonstrate a preference for self rather than mankind. God’s righteousness has been replaced with self-righteousness. America has embarked upon an extended vacation away from God instead of choosing to reside with Him. The Bible teaches, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Christianity Matters!

Secular dictionaries define Christianity as a religion derived from Christ. Yet, the biblical understanding explains it as no religion at all. In God’s view, Christianity is a way of life!  We cannot know this way of life until we unite with Christ through faith and commitment. Christ’s ways will never invade us until we embark upon invading Him. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) The word “rest” implies, taking a time of refreshment from or be at ease with the concerns of life thrown at you because God is in the midst of them. Resting in peace with God gives priority to others needs above our own. Christians know that God will supply our needs. Jesus invites all to become conquerors with Him (Romans 8:37). Christianity Matters!

As a young man growing up on the west side of Indianapolis, I waited for new things to come but held onto the same bad habits. I went to the same corner hangout every day. I hung out with the same guys faithfully. We all knew of the good within us, but for some reason change wasn’t arriving fast enough. Then one day I realized change was delayed because I depended, far too much, upon myself. I needed a more certain and powerful change-agent and it wasn’t me. It was Christ Jesus. Thomas H. Huxley said, “The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other higher.” That corner hangout my friends and I went to every day was the rung of the ladder I rested upon. We weren’t helping each other to climb higher. We rested on personal and friendly satisfaction to each other. We held on to good intentions but missed climbing the ladder to the next rung because of unexpected misfortunes.

All mankind is subject to times and changes that we have little or no control over. When I gave up the street life and began to search for Christ, I found a new way of life in Christianity. I became a new creature. Paul’s letter to the Galatians speaks of “a new creation.” Through Christ’s blood, mankind is delivered from sin, destruction and death. Life took such a turn for the better that my philosophy of life became inherent upon God’s Word. No longer did I depend solely upon myself to reach higher ground. Jesus Christ became my dependence. With Christ came new life and lost desire for the things I once knew as satisfying. But more importantly, I’m delivered from those things in life that circumvented my relationship with Him. Only in God does life have true meaning and purpose. Nothing satisfies me more than knowing He is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Christianity Matters!

I do not know who wrote this story but it’s worth sharing: Helen Keller never went to church during her early childhood. Deaf and dumb and blind, she did not learn the story of the love of God in Christ until she was taken to Phillip Brooks for religious instruction. The great preacher told her, in the simplest possible language, how God had sent Jesus to teach us His will, show us His love, and make Himself known to humanity. The face of Miss Keller lit up as she spelled into the hands of her interpreter, “I knew all the time there must be One like that, but I didn’t know His Name.”

Until you know Him, you’ll never know newness and the blessed assurance that lies ahead.  Your face and life will never find the light that Christ is willing to shine upon you until you know His name. Christianity Matters!

Leave a comment

To Church Or Not To Church

There is quite a bit of noise being made these days by those who suggest that  gathering on Sundays to “go to church” is simply tradition and totally unnecessary to a Christian. As the culture continues to spiral downward from the effects of a postmodern culture it only stands to reason that what is deemed appropriate by the masses will be brought into question. I believe there are reasons that many have adopted this fallacious perspective.
First of all we have assigned a modern understanding to the word “church.”  The ἐκκλησία (church, congregation; Assembly, gathering) in the New Testament is never mentioned as a place or physical location but when we speak in today’s culture that is exactly what most of us mean, we talk about “going to church.” Therefore some perceive us to mean that something supernatural, magical even, occurs when we gather in that place. For some when the magical remedy does not alleviate their woes they can become disenchanted with “going to church.” The word “church” in the Bible always points to the people themselves therefore if a transformation is to occur it does so because of the interaction with the people. This is why Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.”
That fact raises another issue. Gathering at this magic place is not always pleasant. The church is full of imperfect people and they can at times, whether intended or not, inflict pain on the very people to whom they should bring comfort. If we allow the proverb to minister to us we can know that these imperfections are simply jagged edges in our blades. It is when we interact; when we commune we are able to help to smooth out one another’s jagged edges. Sometimes this interaction is not desirable or pleasing but necessary if we are to become efficient at completing the task that God has given each of us.

Finally there is this point that at the end of the day we do not assemble on Sunday to ‘get’ but rather to ‘give’. We are there to worship the God of heaven; to talk to Him, to hear from Him, and to remind ourselves that we do these things because of the example set before us by the apostles (Acts 2:42-47). The New Testament does not instruct us to find cause to separate but to unite. In fact the Hebrew writer told the church at Jerusalem that they should be more faithful about gathering in the most difficult times (Hebrews 10:25). The Holy Spirit has given every believer a gift and that gift is not to be exercised in the privacy of our homes or on the golf course. That gift(s) is to be used for the edification of the church so that the gospel is spread through the entire world. Remember that when you go into the church building you are going to be in the presence of God to commune with “the church.”

Leave a comment

Compassion of Christ

When it comes to compassion and forgiveness, Christians can run hot and cold. On one end of the spectrum we are hesitant to criticize or look for earnest change for fear of being regarded as judgmental while on the other end we require our pound of flesh before we will say with certainty that someone is sincerely redeemed. In many cases the ease with which Jesus extended forgiveness caused some to pause. In Mark chapter 2 the paraplegic is lowered from the roof seemingly to be physically healed but when Christ instead offered to forgive his sins it raised question in the hearts of some that were there. In John chapter 8, in what was an open and shut case for stoning, Jesus quickly argued for a stay of execution for a woman caught in the act of adultery. In Luke chapter 15 a wayward child, against his father’s wishes, demanded his inheritance before it was due and squandered every nickel before coming to his senses and going back to his father’s house.

In each of these instances forgiveness is quickly extended to the offender and in the case of the paraplegic it is extended without his asking. His friends sought to have him healed from his inability to walk but Jesus first asks if he wanted to have his sins forgiven. This paints for us the disparity that exists between what we ask of God and His knowing what we need. This occurrence also shows the judgmental attitude of the audience. They were all too accepting that Christ could grant the crippled man the ability to walk but in their hearts they figured that Jesus was above His pay grade in granting forgiveness of the man’s sins when in actuality both of these acts were miracles and if Jesus could perform one why not the other?
The crowd sought to immediately stone the woman who had “seemingly” committed adultery. This speaks to the attitude that Jesus stated was in the heart of the people in Matthew 19. He told them that Moses allowed them to divorce because they did not have forgiving hearts and that lack of compassion was on parade. Had she been guilty of this offense they were right to do so by the letter of the Law. Jesus previews the grace of the New Covenant as He quickly forgives her of an offense that carried the death penalty.

The prodigal son compromised relationships and resources in his selfish desire to collect what he felt were rightfully his. His brother was upset at the celebration that ensued to welcome him home. I wonder how the faithful brother would have felt had his wayward sibling died out in the world. Did he think for a moment that the outcome could have been so much worse than it was? Our lack of compassion, our desire for retribution sometimes gets in the way of God’s desire for us to reflect the image of His Son. The father was not concerned with what the son had wasted. He was thankful for what had been saved.

Leave a comment

A Note from Elder Hayes

While building the spiritual foundation of some and challenging the doctrinal position and religious philosophy of others, my aim is that this blog will always glorify God and edify our members, other believers, and non-believers alike: Did God create the universe in six literal days, should women be in preaching ministry, is being a “member” of a church necessary? These and other issues will be dealt with in this section of our website.

Elder Eric J. Hayes, Sr.