Does God Punish Sin

The events of 2020 have brought the concept of “justice” to the forefront of our public conversation. With all the different voices in our culture trying to define justice these days, it is important for us as Christians to turn to the Bible for our definition of justice. Austin’s message on Micah 1:10-16 this Friday helped us to understand the concept of justice from a biblical perspective. In this passage, the prophet Micah lists the various judgments that God is going to send on the people of Judah for their disobedience to His commandments. Before diving into the passage Austin showed us three categories of the Biblical idea of justice as outlined by the old, dead theologian Charles Hodge. The first category, rectoral justice, is the idea that all justice —the very idea of what is right and what is wrong — comes from God (Romans 1:32). The second category of justice, distributive justice, based on Romans 2:7-8, is the idea that God will judge each person according to what he or she has done. This justice can either be retributive, punishing people for their sin, or remunerative, rewarding each person according to his or her righteousness. Finally, because all people are sinners, the only way any person can receive remunerative justice is through redemptive justice  in which, through placing one’s faith in Christ, their sin is transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to that person. In the passage we studied on Friday, the prophet Micah is proclaiming that God will exact his retributive justice on the cities of Judah. The prophecy is presented as a poem  with  wordplays on the name of each  city to describe the kind of judgment that will take place there. For example, the city of Shaphir, whose name means beauty, will be made naked and ashamed.

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Testimony of the Week: Christine Chen

Christine is a third year nursing major who enjoys having deep conversations & sipping oat milk lattes in coffee shops. 

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

This is the story of amazing grace, how God saved a wretch like me. 

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God’s Judgment and a Prophet’s Compassion

This sermon by Pastor Austin Duncan covered Micah 1:2-9. God pronounces judgment on Israel and Judah for their disobedience and sinfulness against Him. The first two verses focus on how God is sovereign above the heavens and earth, yet still comes down to meet His people where they are. Verses 3 and 4 cover the judgment that no longer feels distant when the Lord comes which is terrifying for sinners like us. Micah’s message shocked the Israelites because they thought that God was pronouncing judgment on their enemies- Assyria and Babylon. However, God was declaring judgment on the Israelites due to their unfaithfulness and corrupt worship. Pastor Duncan emphasized that the judgment first begins in the house of God. Verses 8 to 9 illustrate how Micah responded to the coming judgment. The prophet weeped, understanding that God’s people deserved judgment. The ultimate model of compassion is Christ, and when we reflect on the incoming judgment that the world will face, we should be in tears like Micah and Jesus. 

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Who is Like the Lord Our God?

This past Friday, Austin preached on Micah 1:1, particularly focusing on the details of who Micah was, where he was proclaiming God’s Word, and who he was proclaiming to. We learned about the history and geography of Israel and Judah and learned how it was applicable to the book of Micah. We also looked at the structure of the book of Micah and how there was a common theme of judgment with subsequent hope, repeating in three sections of the book. All in all, it was a quick overview of the circumstances surrounding Micah when he wrote this book which we will be studying this year.

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Nothing Minor about Micah

Micah is not a common book we hear from on a regular Friday night. Typically, the book is regarded as mysterious and sometimes the passages may seem irrelevant to today’s 21st century. However, as we take a closer look at the book, the mysteriousness begins to fade away, and a clearer vision of God’s profound lessons and messages is seen. The invaluable treasures found in this minor prophet — the relatable sufferings of Micah in his generation, the overtones of judgment and salvation traced throughout the book, and the promise and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ — points us to God’s faithful character, encouraging our hearts to hope and ponder deeply on the profound words spoken ages ago in Micah. 

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What is Most Worshipful to God?

It’s a question frequently asked in the church today; in a world where churchgoers dispute the sanctity of traditional versus contemporary worship services, much attention is drawn to our manner of worship. But whether there’s an organ or an electric guitar, a hymnal or a giant screen, true worship is a reflection of the Christian life, not the medium through which it occurs. A heart that honors and obeys God will worship in truth no matter the circumstance. A heart that lacks such honor and obedience will worship falsely. The argument over what is considered “false” rages on, yet the foundation of false worship has nothing to do with music, style, instruments, etc. False worship is rooted in the heart, manifested in religiosity, and ultimately rejected by our God who deserves nothing less than the utmost praise, honor, and glory. 

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John 17: The King’s Last Will and Testament

In John Chapter 17, Jesus presents such comforting truths for His people. My prayer is that God would increase our love for and our worship of Him as we see His compassionate and tender care for His sheep demonstrated in His words and in His prayer. Before His death, Jesus prayed for those who are His and belong to Him. He asked for unity centered upon truth and the gospel (vv. 20-23). He spoke of a future glory for those in Christ to look forward to and to hope in (vv. 20,24). And finally, He assures us with an eternal security that we can always rejoice in (vv. 25-26).

Firstly, I am in awe because of His prayer on our behalf (Psalms 144:4). It is a great comfort to see how Christ interceded in prayer and to know that He continually intercedes on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus prayed for unity, a oneness, with God and fellow believers. Despite our many differences and the abundant diversity present in the church, we are to be and can be unified because of Christ. It is Christ and the profound truth of the gospel that binds us in unity. The trinity depicts this beautifully and “shows us that you can have a profound real, organic unity with diversity, so that the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are working in complete union in our salvation. The Father appoints. The Son accomplished. The Spirit applies. We encounter God as fully God in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. And yet, their divine work is neither interchangeable nor redundant.” Similarly the members of the church are many and God uses the variety of gifts and ministries of the members to edify and build up the church for God’s glory. Paul writes, “For the body does not consist of one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14). Our unity in Christ is a testimony to the world of the power of the transformative work of the gospel. We also see Christ’s tender heart towards us in verse 24. His very heart is drawn to us in spite of our sinfulness and He longs for us to be with Him, to see and share in His glory (Phil. 3:20, Rom. 8:17). He cares for us with incomparable love and kindness and compassion. We concluded the study of this passage by contemplating the eternal security we have in Christ. Verse 26 calls attention to God’s work of salvation. We can do nothing to attain salvation and we are saved by grace through faith. We can do nothing apart from Him and it is only God who can cultivate in us a heart that loves and obeys Him (John 15:5). The same Jesus that saves us is holding on to us and it is a consoling truth that He promises the continuing indwelling of Christ and His love. Paul writes in Philippians, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We are to display our unity and be characterized by our love for one another in spite of our differences (John 13:35). I am so thankful and constantly encouraged by GOCers’ love for one another and their eagerness to serve one another by various means such as meeting someone’s needs or by simply cooking them a meal as an act of kindness and love. We need to strive for unity and be bound in love for God and for one another so that God is glorified. We should be emboldened by Christ’s heart and ministry and strive to love like Him.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8) and our salvation is secure in Christ who completed the work of redemption on the cross so that those who believe that He died and rose again might inherit eternal life. Praise God for Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection and that we can rest in the glorious truth of the gospel.  May we rest in these wonderful and consoling truths and be faithful to love one another and share the glorious truth of the gospel with others until we see Christ face to face in all His glory.

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NASB)

10.2.2020 Fall 2020 Week One

Catrina Velarde

Comfort in Sovereignty

As a child, the sovereignty of God was a vague concept that simply served to bring attention to the power of God –that is, He created the universe and exercises control over it. It wasn’t until these recent years (especially with all the preaching in Job) that I came to understand how agreeable  that truth can be, and the amount of comfort that can be found there. I appreciate Psalm 115 because of the way it presents the sovereignty of God in a way that calls us to trust in and worship Him for His “Godness”.

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