Spirit of Truth Media and Notes

Spirit of Truth Media and Notes

Word in Season

I am so thankful for The Spirit of Truth Conference last month. It was a rich time of learning, coupled with great fellowship and wonderful worship. If you missed it, you really missed out. However, all is not lost! We have made all of the audio files available. Including these talks (click on the title to listen):

We are also making Sam Parker’s notes available (click here to download) in case you missed some of the references or want a guide to go along with Sam’s talk.

Also, coming soon, we plan to publish articles answering the Q & A Panel questions. Those will begin to roll out tomorrow morning. Check back tomorrow for Burt Newman’s take on the several questions related to predestination and the Holy Spirit.

An Open Letter to Those Leaving the Church

An Open Letter to Those Leaving the Church

Word in Season

In just a few weeks, many people will leave Ridgeview Bible Church; many who will never again be a part of this church. We face this every year, and it is a bittersweet reality for sure. But it is also the nature of Ridgeview. Along with all the wonderful benefits and joys of being a “college church”, there is a sad side too; the time when we say “goodbye” to many who have been a part of the church for 4 years or more.

The following is an open letter to all who have been a part of Ridgeview and are leaving in May or sometime this Summer. It’s a parting pastoral shot, as it were, and my aim is to encourage you in your next chapter. So here we go:

Dear Brother or Sister in Christ,

So the time has come for you to move on. It’s a new chapter in your life, and we are excited for you – excited for what God has next in your journey. Thank you for sharing your time here with us. Thank you for being a part and plugging in and serving others. Thank you for catching the vision to be both a Paul and a Timothy – seeking discipleship for yourself while also seeking to disciple others. We’re grateful for your work here, and trust that God will continue bringing fruit from it long after you have gone.

You might not know this, but when you arrived in Chadron 4 years ago (or 5 or 6 🙂 ) the elders prayed hard and often for you. We prayed that during your short time here you would grow in your understanding of, and confidence in, the gospel. We prayed that you would grow in your walk with Jesus. We prayed that you would come to see church as more than a Sunday thing, but a 24/7 family. We prayed that you wouldn’t let college destroy your faith. We prayed. And here you are, at the other end of this chapter. We hope that your time here has been good for your soul, and good in a lasting way for your life.

If we could say one final thing – one last attempt to encourage you – it would be this: be determined and intentional about finding a new church in your new city or town. Find a church that loves the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, loves God’s people and God’s mission and is centered on God’s Word. Don’t compromise on those essentials.

Having said that, keep in mind that churches look different in different places. I don’t think you should search for a church that looks just like Ridgeview. You need a church that looks like the Bride of Christ. And, by God’s grace, she is beautiful wherever she is found. And while there are no perfect churches, there are many healthy ones. So find a local church that loves God, loves his people and loves his Word.

When you do find a church like that, go all-in. Don’t be afraid to dive right in the deep end. Don’t merely go to church; be the church. We get it – sometimes it is hard to re-engage. But just do it. Roll up your sleeves and get involved. Look hard for a Paul and find a Timothy or two. Serve the body of Christ right away.

Even if you weren’t very involved here, get involved there. No Christian is called to stay on the periphery of church life. We’re all called to be the church.

If you need anything from us, please don’t hesitate to call. But we hope that you won’t need us for very long. And that is not because we don’t love you – it is because we do. We love you enough that we want to see you in a new local church, with new pastors and new brothers and sisters in Christ who will be there for you when you need help.

Thank you for your time at Ridgeview. May you leave here set on making much of the name of Jesus everywhere that you go.

And feel free to visit us from time to time. We will miss you.

In Christ,

Pastor Mike, for the Ridgeview Elder Team

You’re Invited to the Spirit of Truth Conference

You’re Invited to the Spirit of Truth Conference

Announcements

Dear Christians in the Chadron Area,

We are really looking forward to hosting the conference that begins tomorrow night. It is free and we invite all who are interested to participate. You can expect bible-saturated teaching and wonderful worship. If you don’t attend Ridgeview, we would welcome you to come to the Friday night and Saturday night meetings. We will make the Sunday morning sessions available for download after the conference. That way you can worship with your church family, and still take in all of the conference.

Since October of last year, a group of very dedicated Bible teachers has met weekly, studying the Scriptures, working through deep truths in God’s Word, praying together and planning – all for this weekend. We believe that God will use this time to edify his people and glorify Christ. We titled the event The Spirit of Truth Conference because we will focus all of the teaching on the work of the Spirit.

The aim of the conference is summed up in this sentence: We want to educate, edify, equip and motivate God’s people by focusing on the Work of God’s Spirit as we can see his Work in God’s Word. Every word of that statement is intentional, but that final clause is crucial – we’re not simply weighing in on contemporary views. Instead, we are seeking to know what God’s Word teaches in these matters.

Things kick off at 6:30 PM tomorrow, March 22. The doors will open at 6 so you can come early for a bit of fellowship. At 6:30, we’ll begin with an interactive discussion on the Work of the Holy Spirit in a Person. We’ll do this either in small groups or in one plenary group, depending on the number of participants. Then we will enjoy a time of corporate worship, led by the Ridgeview Worship Team. After that, we’ll hear a sermon on Ephesians 5:18, and what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Then more worship, and we’ll end the evening in prayer.

On Saturday, March 23 at 6:30 PM, we will again enjoy interactive discussion, but this time on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Then we will come together for sweet corporate worship, followed by a brief sermon to wrap up that theme, focusing on the unity the Spirit brings to the church. Following that, we will have a panel Q & A time. You will be able to text in your questions for the panelists to answer. So bring your tough questions to the second night!

On Sunday morning, March 24, at 9 AM, we will have another plenary meeting, and the theme of this meeting will be the Controversial Works of the Holy Spirit (i.e., the works of the Spirit about which Christians struggle to find agreement); specifically prophecy, tongues, and healings. While these are controversial subjects, you won’t find the tone of this meeting to be controversial at all. We are looking forward to joyfully digging into God’s Word together, led by Samuel Parker, for our edification and encouragement.

Finally, at 10:30 AM, we will begin our worship gathering. During the service, Scott Langemeier will preach from Acts 1:8, showing how the Spirit empowers the church to go on mission for the glory of Christ.

We’ll cap it all off with a church-wide fellowship meal.

We’re trusting God for a wonderful weekend together. I hope you will be a part of it as much as possible. Also, please pray fervently that God would be honored by all that happens this weekend.

For the glory of Christ,

Pastor Mike Johnson

 

P.S., Complimentary child-care will be available during all scheduled meetings.

How to Study the Bible, Part 2

How to Study the Bible, Part 2

Word in Season

My wife and I experienced the ultimate long-distance dating relationship. We literally lived 7,000 miles apart. To communicate, we wrote letters. It was great; nothing brightened my day more than finding a letter in my mailbox. I devoured every word of those letters. I’d like to think she did the same with my letters, but she isn’t as sentimental as I am. 🙂

Imagine that I took a passage from one of her letters and asked what’s the meaning of this passage to me? For example, she might have said, “This week, it is very warm here. Everything is melting and I think it is the first sign of spring. Oh, how I love spring!”

I could say, Hmm, to me that means that winter is cold and uncaring and without hope. It is symbolic of death and evil. Spring is symbolic of life – of all that is good. To me, this means that good people love spring and hate winter.

That obviously would entirely miss the point of what she actually said. She was expressing her opinions and anticipation of the coming spring, not using the seasons as an allegory for good and evil or a judgment on people who favor a particular season. The words in her letter don’t take on a new or different or special meaning to me – one that is disconnected from her original intent. She said something and meant something and that is how I should understand her words.

Our job isn’t to decide what a passage means to us. Our job is to discover and grasp what the writer actually meant.

The Bible is no different. The writers meant something when they penned it. Our job isn’t to decide what a passage means to us. Our job is to discover and grasp what the writer actually meant. Ultimately, since the Bible is inspired, we are trying to determine what God means by any given passage.

So how do we do that? Last week, Kristen Huls walked us through the first step: observation (click here to read that post). The question answered by observation is what does the text say? She made 10 observations about Hebrews 3:12-14. Among those, she observed that: 1) this passage was written to Christians. 2) The writer sees unbelief as a real and urgent danger for Christians. And 3) that verse 14 serves as a supporting reason for the concern in the passage.

Interpretation: What the text means.

Our next task is to grasp what the text means. We call this interpretation, and the main task in interpretation is to carefully consider our observations so that we can understand 1) how all the parts fit together, see 2) the logic of the argument, and identify 3) the main idea. So let’s do that, still using Hebrews 3:12-14 as an example.

From the observations, I can tell that this passage is a warning to Christians that evil unbelief poses a significant threat. So the occasion of this passage, which we can discern directly from this passage (but also from the wider context) is the danger that unbelief poses to Christians. A Christian can become hardened [to God] through the “deceitfulness of sin”.  And the writer urges action in response to this danger (v.12a and 13), and then he gives a supporting reason for urgently taking action (v.14).

Action: The action the author urges is to “take care”. And then, in verse 13, he gets specific as to what that care looks like: exhort one another every day. Thus (and this is when we get interpretive), we can see that carefully and urgently exhorting one another every day is a way to guard against the danger of unbelief.

Supporting Reason: Then he gives a supporting reason (and we know it is a supporting reason because of Kristen’s 9th observation – the word for) in verse 14: for we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As Kristen also observed, this functions like an if/then statement. The if part is: if we hold our original confidence firm to the end. And the then part is: we have come to share in Christ.

That clearly implies that if we stop holding our original confidence before the end then we have not (at the present time) come to share in Christ. So the way we demonstrate a genuine share in Christ now is perseverance in our original confidence (the gospel) to the end. That really makes the danger of unbelief apparent!

So let’s put those pieces together and state the main idea of Hebrews 3:12-14. Because of the real and present danger that unbelief poses to Christians, the writer of Hebrews urges Christians to exhort one another every day in order to help each other continue holding on to our original confidence, and thereby show that we have truly shared in Christ.

So clearly, we can see here that a means of Christian perseverance is Christian exhortation. Wow!

In the next post, we will answer the final question: how do I respond? Stay tuned!

Resolve to Read the Bible in 2019

Resolve to Read the Bible in 2019

Word in Season

It is impossible to overstate the importance of reading the Bible. The Bible is a gift from God to us. And through his Word we learn what God is like, what we are like, the meaning and purpose behind everything, and the one true hope we can have in this life and forever. The Word of God is the primary means that God uses to communicate to his people. In the Bible we have the very words of God!

That’s a pretty amazing book on your shelf (or app on your phone)! No wonder the Psalmist described God’s Word as sweet like the honeycomb and more precious than gemstones. You know how he came to value the Word like that? The same way you and I will come to see God’s Word as precious; and that is NOT by leaving one’s Bible on the shelf!

So why not resolve to read the Bible in 2019? I think there are two big obstacles many Christians face when approaching the Bible. First, the Bible is a big book and it can be hard to know where to begin. And second, where do you keep reading in the Bible – what do you read next – say, when you finish one book of the Bible? Those two obstacles are exactly why a Bible reading plan can be so helpful. The reader can simply follow along each day, reading the assigned readings. It is a fantastic habit to form!

The plan I favor is called the 5 Day Reading Plan. I like this one because it 1) works through the Bible chronologically, 2) has daily readings in the New and Old Testaments, and 3) is only 5 days a week. I can use the other two days to read other passages in the Bible or catch up if I missed a day during the week. For me, it is the easiest plan to stick with all year long.

As the New Year approaches and you’re thinking about the adjustments you want to make in your life in 2019, consider resolving to read the Bible. If you have never read the Bible cover to cover, you will find this a hugely rewarding endeavor. But even if you have read it many times, the Word is precious beyond measure. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I sure wish I didn’t spend all that time reading the Bible last year.” 🙂

Download the plan here: https://www.bibleclassmaterial.com/FiveBibleReadingSchedule2019.pdf

 

Spirit of Truth Bible Conference

Spirit of Truth Bible Conference

Announcements

What: A Bible conference, hosted by Ridgeview, focusing on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Why: To educate, edify, equip and motivate God’s people by focusing on the Work of God’s Spirit, as we can see his Work in God’s Word.

When: March 22-24, 2019 (Friday & Saturday 6-8PM, Sunday 9-10AM and 10:30-11:45, followed by a fellowship meal). Child-care will be provided for all events.

Who: Open to the public.

Where: Ridgeview Bible Church, 919 E 10th Street, Chadron NE, 69337

During each gathering, we will enjoy corporate worship, prayer, biblically-saturated and inspiring teaching, and rich Christian fellowship. Mark your calendars, and plan to be a part of this special time of learning and growing.

Christ’s Kids Teacher Training

Christ’s Kids Teacher Training

Announcements Christ's Kids

Hey parents! Christ’s Kids on the Ridge will be hosting a training for teachers this Sunday night, October 7th, at 6. We will have coffee and desserts for those who attend!

The purpose for this training is to encourage, train, and equip you to teach the children at Christ’s Kids. It’s been a while since we have done this, so we will be looking at some policies, expectations, and other information that we hope will help you in teaching.

We are very excited about this! If you aren’t able to make it, please contact Liz Parker at 402-364-3316 so that we can arrange something with you. It would be helpful to let us know you’re planning to come on the Event FB page (Click here to do that). Thank you!

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus

Ministry Opportunities for Fall 2018!

Ministry Opportunities for Fall 2018!

Announcements

Are you a part of Ridgeview and looking for a ministry in which to serve this Fall? We have many opportunities for service and would love to talk with you about finding your place! Here are several of our current ministry needs:

  1. Worship Team/AV Team: vocalists, instrumentalists, and A/V technicians (musicians try out, but we can train AV techs)
  2. AWANA Children’s Ministry: Teachers and helpers*
  3. Sunday School (for children): 2 Regular teachers and 2 substitute teachers*
  4. Christ’s Kids on the Ridge: Help with or teach children during the worship gathering once or twice a month.*
  5. Nursery: Volunteers to serve during Sunday School and the Worship Gathering*
  6. Host Parent Ministry: Host Parents for college students
  7. Job Corps Ministry: Small group leaders and helpers every Monday night
  8. Fellowship Meals: Monthly hosts
  9. College Meals: Monthly hosts
  10. Youth Group: Helpers every Wednesday night*

You do not need to be a member of Ridgeview to serve in many of our ministries, but non-members will need to complete the Ministry Leadership Application process (click here) to serve in any ministry at Ridgeview. Members do not need to complete this process (so maybe you should join? :-)). Contact us today!

 

*Ministry with youth and children at Ridgeview requires a recent background check, which Ridgeview will complete for you free of charge.

Q&A – Science/Christian Worldview Seminar

Q&A – Science/Christian Worldview Seminar

Word in Season

 

The following are the questions (bold) that were texted in, followed by our answers.

MJ = Mike Johnson, MDiv
ZV = Zachary Varpness, PhD

Mike said, “what has been considered settled science has changed over the years and what we think we know now will probably keep changing.” What did you mean by that?

MJ: The scientific community is always learning more, seeing more, etc. That’s not bad. However, it does mean that things that are presented today as “settled science” (whatever that is) might be completely revised by the scientific community tomorrow. Unlike God, the scientific community is not immutable. That is one danger to the pressure Christians feel to trade biblical truth for settled science. It is never very settled.

Are there other methods besides carbon dating which can be used to estimate the age of artifacts beyond 80000 years?

ZV: There are things like uranium-lead dating and potassium-argon dating. The principle is the same. The half-life of these atoms is much longer than carbon.

Is there science that supports the flood?

ZV: Yes. The science that supports ice ages could also be interpreted as caused by a flood. On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted. A few years later there was a significant rainstorm that moved through and carved valleys in the volcano aftermath. If you put a geologist in a helicopter and fly them around to confuse them and then land them in one of these valleys. The geologist would date it at millions of years old even though it happened in the 1980’s.

In Genesis, the Bible says there was no helper found fit for Adam. Can one conclude that evolution was taking place beforehand out of other creatures?

MJ: There is no warrant in that biblical text to see things that way, and interpreting it that way is problematic at best. Obviously, for the human race to survive even a generation, both male and female are necessary at the same time.

Do either of you believe that there is a correlation between theistic evolution and theological liberalism?

MJ: Sure there is a connection. Both systems of thought take the biblical text lightly (low view of Scripture). Whether one came from the other is harder to establish, but they are two peas in a pod. I don’t know very many strong proponents of theistic evolution (the way I described it in the session) who are also theologically conservative in other areas.

Without first having faith, can I come to the conclusion that the Bible is a 100% factual account?

MJ: In a sense, faith is needed to believe that anything is true. So yes, faith is required to believe the biblical account. It is important to note that faith is also necessary to believe the origins story promulgated by evolutionists.

What impact do catastrophic natural events have on the dating of the fossil record?

ZV: Really none. Radiodating is not changed by physical conditions like temperature and rainfall.

Are theistic evolution and the age of the earth/universe separate questions? Can you reject the former and not the latter?

MJ: They are different – but connected – questions for sure. The difference is evidenced by the fact that there are young-earth creationists and old-earth creationists. Some do reject theistic evolution and also reject young-earth creationism. So they are different questions. However, the reasons for subscribing to old-earth theories are often the same reasons people cite for buying into theistic evolution. So I think there is also a connection.

What does the speed of light have to do with carbon dating?

ZV: α= e2/4πε0ħc = 0072973525664(17). Without getting too nerdy, this equation is used to determine the nuclear decay rate. In the equation, the c at the end is the speed of light. If you change the speed of light you change the decay rate.

Do you have advice for a biology major who has to take evolution to graduate?

ZV: Give the “scientifically correct” answers. Don’t pick a fight your grade will suffer.

Mike tried to make the case that we see the difference between a dog and a human child and used that as an argument for human value. However, Zack showed that evolution also gives us a reason to feel supremacy over other creatures. Doesn’t that thwart Mike’s argument?

MJ: It is interesting that you didn’t ask this the other way around. Why not ask, doesn’t Mike’s argument thwart Zack’s? 🙂 The fact is, most everyone sees a foundational difference between a dog and a human child, as far as significance goes. My point was that we see it that way specifically because of special creation, as recorded in the Genesis account. Only people are made in the image of God. The sanctity of human life is, therefore, a moral and theological conclusion. The evolutionist might see it simply as rooted in natural supremacy or in species-survival, but that isn’t satisfying because it isn’t based on moral reasoning. And we seem to understand this difference at the moral level.

Is there a precedent for allowing strong scientific evidence to cause you to reconsider your biblical interpretation?

MJ: No. And I know that sounds closed-minded. But consider switching the question around: is there a precedent for clear biblical interpretation to cause you to reconsider your scientific conclusions?

Dinosaurs and mammoths are supposed to be in different eras. Where do they fit in with the biblical account?

MJ: God created dinosaurs and mammoths on the 6th day of creation. They obviously went extinct sometime after that. We don’t know when for sure, but I think they went extinct sometime after the flood because of postdiluvian climatic changes. Small/young pairs of dinosaurs and a young pair of mammoths could have fit on Noah’s Ark without difficulty.

Could you explain more about your assertion that evolution is like a religion?

ZV: If you start with a definition that religion explains where the world came from and man’s role in the world and not just the belief in a higher power, then evolution fits the definition of a religion.

Where do we believe, disbelieve science? Where is the line?

ZV: The line I draw first is whether it contradicts the Bible. The Bible is true. Anything that disagrees with that is false by definition. Second, I look at the science itself to see if it was conducted in a scientifically valid way.

Does the scientific community, largely influenced by evolutionary theory, also promote critical thinking?

ZV: It does. However, not in all areas. They start with the false idea that evolution is true. There are many biases in science that are ingrained and very hard to remove. I believe this is one of them.

Wasn’t the Bible accused of asserting some ideas (e.g., flat earth) that have been clearly proven wrong?

MJ: Yes, always mistakenly. Your example – the flat earth theory – is nowhere espoused in the Bible. Occasionally the biblical writers used metaphors and other figures of speech which would seem scientifically wrong – such as saying, “the four corners of the earth”. If you hear a scientist chide the Bible for that, chide him for saying ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’. Is he not aware that the sun does not actually rise and set, but that the earth is simply rotating? We should give the same charity to the biblical writers in their use of colloquialisms (et.al) that we give to every other normal person.

Theology was once referred to as the “Queen of Sciences”. Why is that no longer the case?

MJ: Because we are an arrogant lot who do not always assign the study of God – the highest and most significant reality in the universe – its due significance.

Without having a good grasp of science how do I evangelize someone who is “scientifically-minded”?

MJ: I would start with the gospel. Man’s sin. God’s holiness. God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. His substitutionary atonement and resurrection. And our need to trust in him alone.

ZV: You will never convince someone of the truth of the gospel by arguing science. I understand the science pretty good and I don’t try that. I start with their guilt before a holy and righteous God.

What is your response to the assertion that Christianity was necessary before scientific advancement but is no longer necessary to understand the world around us?

MJ: That’s a pretty smug way to view history. I.e., people before us were all dumb so they needed religion. We are smart and don’t. Really?

Both please answer: how should Christians interact with the world on these topics?

MJ: With love, humility and with winsome and biblical arguments.

ZV: Agreed.

Are you familiar with the cosmic temple view? And if so, what do you think of it?

MJ: No. Sorry.

ZV: No

Why are the Bible’s historical accounts scrutinized so much more than other literature?

MJ: Probably because the Bible is the most important book in human history (by every measure). And the Bible claims to be true. Scrutiny is expected. I don’t mind scrutiny as much as empty skepticism. The Bible can stand up fine to any honest scrutiny.

Four Reminders on Resurrection Weekend

Four Reminders on Resurrection Weekend

Announcements Word in Season

Dear Church Family,

There are four things that I want to remind you about today: three things concerning events and such and one reminder from the Bible.

First, please note that there will be no Sunday School this Sunday. We will gather together to worship our risen King at 10:30 AM.

Second, next Sunday, April 8, there will be a baptism service during the regular worship gathering. If you, or someone close to you, would like to be baptized or learn more about it please contact us by Wednesday, April 4. Also on April 8, we will enjoy our last church-wide fellowship meal of the semester. So bring some friends, some food and plan to stick around for some wonderful fellowship!

Third, on April 15 at 6PM we will host a seminar focusing on Science and the Christian worldview. Specifically, we will address evolution and theistic evolution as they relate to the Bible and to the Christian gospel. Zachary Varpness (a science professor at CSC and an elder at Ridgeview) will speak from a scientific and philosophical point of view, and I will speak from a biblical and theological perspective. Following the presentations, there will be a time for Q&A (hard questions welcomed!). We’re putting a lot of effort into this, and our hope is that this seminar will be helpful to anyone thinking about or struggling with how to reconcile modern science with the teachings of the Bible. Please make your plans to attend this event (and spread the word too!).

And finally, I want to remind you that on Thursday evening of the Last Week, while the disciples were pondering their own first-ness, Jesus laid aside his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, and washed their feet. He said to them: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15). Let’s go into this weekend following Jesus’ example. Instead of seeking our own, let’s go low and seek to serve – for the good of others and for the glory of God.

I can’t wait to worship the Risen Jesus Christ together with you this Sunday.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike Johnson, for the Ridgeview elder team