Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Thursday, July 27, 2017
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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What Is the Most Important Part of Our Church Vision?
 
 





Pastor's Page

 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                      July 25, 2017

 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

~1 Corinthians 9:24-25

+++++++++++++++ 

                “She cut off your crown.”

                I couldn’t help but to be both amused and troubled at the comment as I was sitting in the barber’s chair earlier this morning. “What are you talking about?” She angrily put her finger right up onto the top of my head where my part originates. “Whoever cut your hair last time, she cut your crown off. It’ll take a couple weeks for it to grow back, and you’ll have an Alfalfa sprig sticking up until it does.” And so I learned that taking a number 5 guard across the top of your head will indeed cause you to lose your crown.

                But I’m glad that other crowns are not so easily severed from our lives. I’m glad that the Lord Jesus Christ, full of grace and mercy, holds the ultimate right to distribute our crowns by virtue of His determination about our lives and not by someone else’s carelessness. I’m glad those crowns are His to give, mine to receive, and no one else’s to take away. Still Paul speaks of an even better crown in our passage above that ought to be the heart’s desire for each of us. This crown is the crown of life, the crown of victory, presented to each of God’s children at the conclusion of our life. And so let’s turn our attention there for just a few minutes.

                Notice first that Paul places each us in contention for these special crowns. “Don’t you know that all run in this race?” By virtue of our birth, you and I have set out on a course of life, a race that will terminate in eternal salvation or eternal condemnation. None of us were asked whether or not we’d choose to run this race, but God as the Author of all life has given us this great, special privilege to live in our flesh for Him. All will run this race, and therefore all compete for the victor’s crown that is received at the end of our lives. By the way, this is the stephanos crown given to the winners of an Olympic event, not royal crowns. All of us are eligible to compete to the securing of this crown as our own. But…

                Not everyone will receive that crown. Notice Paul says that all race, but one receives the prize. That is not to say that only one person in all of human history will get this crown. Instead it places a small minority against the greater majority. Very few people will ever receive this crown of life from the Lord because of the manner in which they’ve run the race. The vast majority will be disqualified and excluded from the winners’ circle. Now I know this flies in the face of our modern sensitivities of “everybody gets a trophy.” Still it is very much a biblical reality that we must come to grips with. All run the race of life, but very few will actually receive the crown of life.

                It is imperative that the people of Christ begin to grapple with this sobering spiritual truth. Not everyone is going to make it into heaven. In fact, if we believe Jesus’ words, very few will actually make it: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14). This means that there is never an appropriate time for us not to care about someone’s eternal destiny. For every moment the church of God remains quiet about the Gospel, dozens of souls are consigned to an eternal hell. Ought we not to care about this reality? Let me ask you this: if you knew someone you loved was going to die without the Lord tomorrow, what would you do today? The scary fact is that we do not know WHEN someone will pass away; we just know THAT everyone will eventually pass away. For many the race will only a few hundred feet. Others will run a half marathon. Others will run a 5k. We simply do not know. But we do know that there are only two outcomes to finishing this race – you either win or you lose. To win is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith and allow His blood to wash away all of our sins. Too lose is to reject God’s provision for our souls and to live in rebellion to Him. The only time we can make the decision to win or lose is on the course of that race. And so the only opportunity you and I have to make an eternal impact upon someone is while they’re still drawing breath this side of heaven. Let us be ever diligent to speak of our Lord to those who will listen.

                Secondly Paul admonishes us to run the race that we intentionally might receive the winner’s crown. I’ve been a part of too many last days with so many people over the course of my 12 years of professional ministry. I’m amazed at how many people are uncertain about their eternal destinies as they approach their final days. I suppose I understand to some degree. When faced with the imminent step into eternity, I guess there ought to be a healthy dose of reverence and awe in all of us. But it’s not that. It’s a fear and uncertainty about the reality of their eternal condition. I think there are a number of reasons for this, many of which we all can learn from. One, many times people equate their feelings with the true condition of their hearts. Let me ask you, how big is a God that cannot save us unless we feel like He has? You see, you place the justification of salvation on us, not on God. It doesn’t matter whether I feel it or not; Christ still went to the cross and died for me. In those times, let us remember that God is greater than our hearts and knows all things (1 John 3:20). Faith is believing in what we know, not what we feel. Two, we might let our sin get in the way. The Bible is true in its declaration that all men are sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). That is true before Christ and it is still true after Christ. Fundamentally we have been changed by virtue of the regeneration that Christ gives to us, but we still struggle and fail against the same temptations that have plagued us. Again we must ask ourselves if God is stronger than even our momentary lapses. Can we truly believe that God loves us in spite of our sins, and can He truly forgive us to the uttermost even as Christians? The answer to both of these questions is “YES,” and you and I are blessed if we can receive both by faith.

                Faith in the finished works of Christ is the belief that He has accomplished EVERYTHING on our behalf that needs to be done to save us. It is not about what we can do to guarantee this outcome. It IS however for us to run the race intentionally as those who know that we are His and that there awaits a crown of life for us at the finish line of life (2 Tim. 4:8). We cannot act and live inconsistently with our Christian identity very long without there being consequences. And so Paul encourages us to run with temperance in all things. That means you and I are to practice self-control in this race. Let’s consider our race of life up against a literal race for a couple lines and perhaps the analogy will make sense. A professional runner knows that there are some things that are just not good for him. He will avoid food that add unnecessary weight to him, or give him a false high that will fail him in the middle of a race. He will shed, within reason, whatever garments and objects that might weigh him down. He also adds certain foods and exercises to his life to prepare him for the race ahead. Whatever he must do to run the race in the most effective manner possible is what he does because HE WANTS TO WIN! And so you and I are called to do that as well. Some things are not good for us; to them we say “no.” Other things ought to be in us and abounding as we run. That is what Paul is calling us to do. Not because it will save us, but it makes the race intentional for Christ, and the outcome is never put into jeopardy.

                The final exhortation from these verses is this: why lose what is imperishable and perfect for the things of this earth that will never satisfy us and will always perish? These are questions we must constantly ask ourselves as we seek to focus our attention and energy upon the race of faith. So much of what garners the lion’s share of our time are things which will perish. Meanwhile the days are ticked off the calendar and the conclusion of our race draws ever closer. I think Paul is telling us that the time to refocus our sights upon the prize is now. Do you want that crown? Then don’t look for anything else in its place. Do you want to win? Then run in such a way that one step is always in front of the other rather than veering to the right or to the left. Does that crown matter to you? Then run with every bit of your passion and endurance, calling out to others on the journey of life to follow you to the Lord. That is a race worth running. That is a race we can win. And that is a crown that can never be cut off from us by any clippers the devil might throw our way!

                I am glad that my certainty is not found in things inside of me, but in the cardinal values of the Gospel. I’m glad that my race is not dependent upon my feeblest efforts, but is grounded in the effective work of the Lord Jesus Christ in dying upon the cross. And I am so glad that my crown cannot be taken away from me by anything in this world. And so I invite you to run this week as those who know who we are and as those who know what we have to gain! Blessings!

 

                 ~Bro. Benjamin

 

 

 

Previous Postings                                                                           This Week's Sermons
July 25
July 18
July 4
                                                                                                         July 23 (AM)
June 27                                                                                                   "Our 'Lot' in Life"
June 6                                                                                                     Genesis 19:1-29
May 23                                                                                                    
May 16                                                                                                    
May 9                                                                                                      
April 30                                                                                                      July 16 (AM)
April 25                                                                                             "A Gospel You Can Trust"  
April 18                                                                                                    2 Peter 1:16-21
April 11                                                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                             
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If you need a copy of any sermon from the past, email Bro. Benjamin with the date and title of the message listed below.
We will be happy to send you a CD of the sermon. Additionally sermons are available through the "Multimedia" Page.

July 30 (AM)
July 30 (PM)
July 23 (AM) "Our 'Lot' in Life"--Genesis 19:1-29
July 16 (AM) "A Gospel You Can Trust"--2 Peter 1:16-21
July 16 (PM) "Take Heed"--Colossians 4:16-18
July 9 (AM) "Look Ahead"--Isaiah 43:18-19
July 2 (AM) "As Close As His Hands"--Isaiah 49:14-18

June 25 (AM) "Who is the REAL Lord of the Sabbath?"--Luke 6:1-5
June 25 (PM) "Paul's Supporting Cast"--Colossians 4:7-15
June 18 (AM) "Will the REAL Family of God Please Stand Up?"--Matthew 12:46-50
June 11 (AM) "When Opportunity Knocks"--Romans 12:17-21
June 11 (PM) "Watch Your Mouth!"--Colossians 4:2-6
June 4 (AM) "Walking in the Midst of Storms"--Matthew 14:22-33
June 4 (PM) "New Relationships for the New Man, Part #2"--Colossians 3:22-4:1

May 28 (AM) "Remember"--Luke 24:13-35
May 21 (AM) "The Effect Calvary Had"--John 19:16-20 [Bro. Larry Morelock]*
May 14 (AM) "Hope for the Future"--Genesis 3:20
May 7 (AM) "What We've Got, We Give"--Acts 3:1-10
May 7 (PM) "New Relationships for the New Man, Part #1"--Colossians 3:18-4:1

April 30 (AM) "God First"--Haggai 1:1-15
April 23 (AM) "Sheep Among Wolves"--Matthew 10:16-26
April 16 (AM) "Look Unto Jesus"--Hebrews 12:1-3
April 9 (AM) "But the Gift of God Is Eternal Life"--Romans 6:23
April 9 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 3"--Colossians 3:12-17
*April 2 (AM) "Forsaken"--Mark 15:33-34 [Bro. David Amburgey]
April 2 (PM) "Elements of Revival"--Ezekiel 37:1-10 [Bro. Louis Durbin]

March 26 (AM) "One Way or the Other"--Matthew 7:13-14
March 26 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 2"--Colossians 3:12-17
March 19 (AM) "The Only Cure for the Human Condition"--Luke 5:27-32
March 19 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 1"--Colossians 3:12-17
March 12 (AM) "He Really Does Care for You"--Matthew 10:29-31
March 12 (PM) "Put On the New Man"--Colossians 3:10-11
March 5 (AM) "The Keys to Salvation: Repentance & Faith, Part 2"--Mark 1:14-15; Galatians 3:5-9
March 5 (PM) "Put Off the Old You"--Colossians 3:8-9

February 26 (AM) "The Keys to Salvation: Repentance & Faith, Part 1"--Mark 1:14-15; Psalm 51:1-9
February 26 (PM) "Put Them Out of YOUR Misery"--Colossians 3:5-7
February 19 (AM) "Sufficient Grace"--2 Corinthians 12:1-10
February 19 (PM) "Look Up!"--Colossians 3:1-4
February 12 (AM) "We're ALL Part of Something Bigger"--1 Corinthians 12:12-27
February 5 (PM) "Free Really Does Mean Free"--Colossians 2:20-23

January 22 (AM) "Are You All In OR Not At All?"--John 6:60-71
January 22 (PM) "Christ: the True Substance of Our Life & Worship"--Colossians 2:16-19
January 15 (AM) "Practical Implications of Our Justification by Faith"--Romans 5:1-5
January 8 (AM) "Know Who You Are"--Philippians 2:12-18
January 1 (AM) "Just One"--John 1:40-51

*Recording Unavailable

 
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2016!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2015!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2014!

Click here for a list of available sermons from 2013!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2012!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2011! 

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About Our Pastor
 
 
Bro. Benjamin Miller began his ministry at Shallowford Free Will Baptist Church in August, 2011. Prior to pastoring our church, Bro. Benjamin pastored at New Home FWB in Colquitt, GA. He received his B.A. in History from Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College) in Nashville, TN. He then received his M.A. in Biblical Studies from Lipscomb University, a Church of Christ graduate school in Nashville. Bro. Benjamin enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and fellowshipping with the people of the church. He is a HUGE Braves fan! Our pastor has dedicated himself to becoming a student of the Word and to preaching the Word with passion, integrity, and real-life applications.
 
Bro. Benjamin married Jara in June 2002. She is a special educator at Mount Bethel Elementary School here in Marietta. She is a tremendous part of his life and quite active in our church. 
 
They had their first son, Thomas, in June 2008. Thomas was born prematurely, and is a testimony to God's amazing grace and provision. He is now a 3rd grader, and does well in school. His greatest ability is to reach out to those in his class in concern and in love.
 
Bro. Benjamin and Sis. Jara welcomed Nathanael in March, 2014. His name means "given by God" and he is absolute reminder of God's ability to bless individuals beyond measure.
 
We hope you'll take the opportunity to get to know our pastoral family!