Justifiable Propitiation

by Aaron
Yesterday was our Mom's Day Off event and I was helping out at it; it was at my house so I didn't really have a choice. One of the guys in the Gospel Community who put on the event asked me a question about a recent message I gave. In the message I had a long discussion about propitiation, expiation, and grace. He asked me about justification and propitiation and if they were the same thing.
I explained the difference to him and told Michael Reed, the guy that keeps our website site up to date and running smoothly, about the conversation. Michael says to me, "you should put that on the website because that makes way more sense that your 20 minute explanation during your message." Then he laughed at me.
So, here is what I said (basically).
Justification works like this. If someone broke into my house and threatened my family and I shot them, I would be justified in my action. Even though I would be justified, that guy’s family would probably not like me very much. In justification, before God, He has taken our lives and justified us by his blood (every action that is not justifiable, He has paid for). But more than that, propitiation means He actually likes us again.  
Romans 3:22-26 For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Propitiation includes all of expiation and justification. It is summed up all together by our word: Grace
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
We have a truly amazing God.

A Story of Animal Cruelty

by Aaron

I hate animal cruelty. I think animals are cute, cuddly, furry, and fun. I want you to know that before I tell you my story.

Last week I had my back office door (read: exterior) open so my dog could run around and play. While it was open a bird flew into my office, but I didn't know it. My interior office door is a French door with lots of windows, I only knew the bird was in my office when it slammed into it trying to get back outside. It was squawking and making all sorts of scary fluttering noises. 

I proceeded to spend the next hour trying to capture it with rubber gloves and a T-shirt so as not to hurt it…it was cute after all. After chasing it from behind every piece of furniture, guitar amp, guitar case, and desk, I finally got it and took it outside. I opened the T-shirt for it to fly away and…it flew about 5 feet and landed (I assumed to get its bearings).

It was at this point my dog came out of nowhere (read: lurking in the shadows), stepped on it, and proceeded to put it in her mouth and chew on the poor bird before running off to play with her new toy (read: bird) that God had delivered to her from the heavens. 

I thought "bad dog" and was about to yell at her, but she was just doing what came natural. The same way she rolls in dirt, licks her…uh, hind parts, and eats her own vomit. There is even a proverb about that in the bible, Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

I also started to think about how most Christians treat non-Christians the way my initial reaction was with my dog. We hold them to a standard that they do not comprehend or believe in, so we start to preach morality and not Jesus. First and foremost we must always speak of Jesus because He brings change. It's that old adage, "morality doesn't bring Jesus, but Jesus will bring true morality."

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul gives a list of vices and sins, trying to give the Corinthians a proper perspective. He rounds it off by saying in 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God

It is Jesus who brings this to us. We all walked in ways that dishonored God, but Jesus has come to redeem and restore us. I say we lift up THAT Jesus so all men will know true grace.

As far as the bird goes, I'm OK with it. Easy prey or culling the herd, whatever it was, I tried.

A Wide Place

by Aaron

The other day my wife was very gracious to me. We were running errands most of the day and I was getting very hungry. I asked if she had any place she would like to stop to grab a bite to eat and she responded with the most glorious words she has spoken to me in a whole week. She said, "you can go anywhere, even El Postino."

Sweet Jesus, it was amazing. El Postino is the name of this hole in the wall Mexican Food place I like, but I can never remember it's name, so I call it El Postino (it's by the post office…NOT CASA MANANA).

I got a chicken burrito (no beans), some homemade chips, and some salsa.  As soon as we left though she said, "hey McDonalds is right there, I want some fries." So I got her fries…and I also ate them.

As I was driving home and thinking about my great wife, my yummy burrito, and my breath defying salsa, I became a little giddy. I realized that this is how God originally intended man to live (no, not on McDonalds and burritos), in freedom.

As we have been looking through Genesis, we see that God gave man great freedom. Gen 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…Even the El Postino Tree? Yes, anything. Our freedom was great and broad. God simply gave one admonition in this Gen 2:17… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” In simple terms God says, "trust me to know what is good. I made you, designed you, and love you…honor me." We were free to do anything except dishonor Him.

Unfortunately, you know the story, you are living it now…all of us have dishonored Him and tried to do our lives our own way. But the great freedom of God still exists to this day. As we spoke about Sunday (Genesis week 17), following God and His decrees means we get to walk in a "wide place," meaning freedom (Psalm 119:44-45).

Let's live a life that more properly honors and glorifies Him by living free for Him, but never free from Him. Lives as they were intended, with great freedom.

Vandenberg Air Force Base

by Element Christian Church

At Element, we want to bless our city and see lives redeemed by the good news of Jesus. But our vision is bigger than the city of Santa Maria alone. We want to see the whole Central Coast changed by the power of the gospel. We want to see the gospel go out to “the ends of the earth.” So in this article we wanted to take the time to highlight our neighbors at Vandenberg Air Force Base and begin to look at ways that we can reach the folks at Vandenberg with the Gospel.


Opportunities and Challenges:

"The church exists by mission as fire exists by burning." - Emil Brunner

Our great purpose as a church is to bring glory to God. We are all called to live missional lives – in which our words and actions, where our individual lives and our community life, all line up the same message of good news of Jesus Christ. The key question, then, is “how can we take this message to Vandenberg?” The base presents some great opportunities and some great challenges. You don’t have to look long or hard to see them.

For example, settling into a new home can be frustrating and lonely. Constantly pulling up roots can be wearying and unsettling. But imagine if new students at Vandenberg were welcomed into authentic communities who became their home away from home. Imagine if new believers were discipled, equipped, and strengthened, and then sent off as missionaries all around the world. Imagine if families were blessed by the welcome, hospitality, and love of the church (who is merely reflecting the welcome and love of Jesus) and in turn becomes that welcoming, hospitable, and loving family to others...

Continue reading this article on page 17 of Element Dispatch.

Apostles Creed: "He descended into hell?"

by Element Christian Church
in FAQ

A friend of my husband is always trying to get reactions out of believers and see how far he can push them. He had put up a huge thing about how Jesus went to hell after he died. I guess I had never really studied it. I was wondering if you could shed some light for me.

Well, first off, this is the problem when people do not know their bible, or who know very little, try to tell everyone else what the bible teaches. What he is referring to isn't in the bible, it is part of what is known as the apostles creed.

The first thing you need to know about the Apostles Creed is that it wasn't written by the apostles. The Apostles Creed was used as a baptismal creed (in the 4th century). The Creed was changed into what was called "the received form," the version most people know today, by the Roman church in the 7th-8th century. This received form included the phrase, "He descended into hell." The apostles creed wasn't even used universally until the 16th century.

There are 12 changes from the original form to the received form of the creed. The clause "he descended into hell" was believed to have been first reported in the West by Rufus Aquileia (390). In the East, the clause is found in the Arian Creeds (about 360) by Venanitus Fortunatus (590).

But the word for descended is the word DOWN and the word for Hell (in the original Greek) is the word for GRAVE (some Latin scholar decided this should be translated as "inferos" which means "Hell fire" or inferno). In the original creed it was simply meant to be a reference to His physical death.

Wayne Grudem says, “the phrase ‘descended into hell’ was not found in any of the early versions of the Creed...until it appeared in one of two versions from Rufinus in A.D. 390. Then it was not included again in any version of the Creed until A.D. 650.”

In the great reformed Westminster Confession of Faith, they went out of their way to remove any opportunity for confusion on this issue. In the section of their Confession of Faith explaining the Apostle’s Creed, they rendered the phrase as “He was buried, and remained under the power of death for a time.”

Some people like to also point to Ephesians 4:9 where it says Christ "descended," but we are to read the scriptures in context. Ephesians 4:9-10 in context says In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

What this means is that in the incarnation, Jesus taking on flesh, He descended from the highest heavens (Luke 2:8-14 in the birth narrative) to the lowest regions (to the earth). When Jesus walked the earth he suffered, was crucified, was buried, but He also defeated death and rose again. This is why it says He then ascended and is now seated in the highest heavens at the right hand of the Father (See Acts 1:9 and 2:33).

Tattoo You

by Aaron

We have a lot of people who come to Element who have Tattoos, I know, a lot of churches do, but a lot of ours were gotten after they became Christians. I personally have three, our drummer has five, and a another person who attends has a gazillion. There are a lot of questions that float around about this so I will do my best to talk about tattoos (in a roundabout way).

Also, none of this is meant to imply anyone has to, or should, get a tattoo.

Eph 2:14-15 For he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.

When we speak of "The Law" most people do not mean the whole Old Testament, but merely the first five books, the Torah.

In the Torah you will read:

  • don’t wear 2 types of clothing, so any person in modern clothes would be in sin.
  • before you poo, dig a hole, so if you use a toilet then you aren't digging a hole.
  • don’t eat fish from bottom of the sea, so if you eat shrimp, you are in sin.

We must understand that there are different contexts and different cultures, and many "laws" are not applicable to us.

The Old Testament laws are broken into 3 categories.

Moral Laws – This would be things like don’t kill anyone, don’t steal anything, and honor your parents. These are still binding today. We cannot say, “Oh, it's the New Testament...I am going to kill my parents.”

Civil Laws – In the Old Testament Israel was to be a theocratic country, so God gives laws for how His people are to conduct themselves AS HIS COUNTRY (His nation). America, today, is not a theocracy which means that God is not our president. Whoever our elected official is, that is our president (and if anyone in anyway thinks that any president is God, they have deep issues that they need help with).

In Romans 13 it reminds us the we live in nations with governments, and we need to respect those governments as long as they don’t violate God’s moral commands. Civil laws are fulfilled in CHRIST and are nonbinding. America is NOT the new Israel and not a theocracy.

Ceremonial law – This is what Paul is speaking of in Eph 2 with “laws and regulations.” This would be the priesthood and sacrificial system, where you would go to the temple with an animal and the priest would slaughter it. The blood would then run out of the temple. That has been fulfilled in Christ as He IS the temple, He IS the priest, He IS the sacrifice. The whole ceremonial system was pointing to Jesus. That is the whole point of the book of Hebrews.

So now that those distinctions have been taken away we can be reconciled to each other.

  • Before Jesus, God’s people ate different foods and couldn’t go to other people’s house for dinner, now we can.
  • Before Jesus, God's people wore different clothes and couldn’t be near others who weren’t like us.
  • Before Jesus, God's people spoke a different language and couldn’t communicate.

Now, today in the New Covenant, it is not about culture, it is about Christ. All the dividing points are taken away (it doesn’t matter your music style, clothes, haircut) the issue is DO YOU LOVE JESUS. It becomes about Jesus and not our cultural distinctive(s).

Now, for Tattoos...

The verse that people use for NOT getting tattoos is Lev 19:28 `Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." The problem with taking this verse the way that most who hate tattoos do, is that it is out of context. This whole section in Leviticus is all over the map between civil laws and moral laws.

In Lev 19:19 it says

  • Keep my decrees.
  • Do not mate different kinds of animals.
  • Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
  • Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

My dad is a farmer, they have a little over 300 acres that they farm. They have broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and cabbage all next to each other; does that make him a wicked sinner? No.

In Lev 19:27 it tells guys NOT to cut their sideburns...does that make most men today wicked sinners (well, yes, but not because of sideburns-haha).

But then in 19:29 it says "`Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness. Is this moral or cultural? Of course this is moral.

The hard thing about Leviticus is that it was there to separate light from dark, death from life, and sin from righteousness for the Israelites. We take these verses  and make it into a HOW TO manual for every part of life, not understanding much of the nuances underneath it.

The word we translate as "tattoo" simply meant "impression, inscription, or mark." It could have been a number of things. Many of the people the Israelites were traveling among would mark their slaves with tattoos to show that they were property. One of the things God is simply telling His people is that they are to belong to no one but Him. God wanted the Israelites FREE so they could worship Him in freedom.

I don't think tattoos have the same connotation they once did...or mean the same thing. I do not believe that THAT law is binding. BUT...the other question (and the more important question) is "do they honor God." 1 Cor 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I think a better question today is "why is someone wanting one." Is it to honor themselves or to honor God.

I believe they can honor God, but it should be done after much consideration.

Seder Meal 2012

by Element Christian Church

Missed our 2012 Good Friday Service? Watch the Passover Seder Meal presented byTuvya Zaretsky from Jews For Jesus.

DISPATCH ISSUE 2: Meet Our Newest Elder, A Closer Look at Vandenberg AFB

by Element Christian Church

Download Dispatch (Digital Magazine)

In this issue, you will get to know our newest elder and his family, take a closer look at Vandenberg Air Force Base (including the unique needs that exist within military life), and ideas of ways we can be missional to our neighbors just south of us. You will also find a great article from Eric Djafroodi about biblical community.


This Is Element

by Element Christian Church

Because so many people misunderstand the Element logo, we get mistaken for a lot of crazy things. Element constantly has beliefs ascribed to us by people who have never spoken to us, and the assumptions usually end up being wrong (you know what they say about assuming). We have decided to help everyone understand not only what Element is here for and what we believe, but also why Santa Maria. If you are visiting our city, moving to our city, or wondering about Element, we hope this 5 minute video answers many of your questions about who we are, what we believe, and why we do what we do the way that we do.

Good Friday Time Machine

by Aaron

This blog isn't a blog, it is a time machine. On Friday at noon there is a community Good Friday service at Calvary chapel. They have given 7 different pastors 5 minutes each to speak, and I am one of them. Yes, 5 minutes, me (sort of funny). For those of you who cannot make it, I thought I would give you my transcript of what I will be saying. See 2 days before it happens, like a time machine. I know it's long, but I talk fast, so it will all work out.

Why is it, when we come to the scriptures – or any story, we assume we are always like “the good guys?”

  • Cain and Abel: Abel;
  • Moses and Pharaoh: Moses;
  • Samson and Delilah: Neither;
  • David and Goliath: David;
  • David and Bathsheba: the prophet Nathan;
  • Saul and Steven: Steven;
  • Paul and Rome: Paul…

It’s interesting that I get to speak first as I get to set the tone. I believe Good Friday is a time for believers to revaluate our lives and our utter lack of humility. Too often we think that we are wonderful and our God is getting a good deal with us. Good Friday is to remind us that THAT is simply not the case.

You and I are awful. How awful? So bad that our God had to come to ransom us from the sin that was destroying us, the chains that held us to our depravity. When we think about that sin, when we talk about that sin, we try to convince ourselves and others how terrible it was…but our problem is, we LOVED IT and we still do. If we didn’t find it enjoyable, we wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

If, every time we sinned we got kicked in the head, we would stop real fast. But we don’t, because we find pleasure in things that hurt the image of God in us and more greatly destroy the creation in which He put us.

  • Cain and Abel – Cain (or worse), kills his brother out of jealousy
  • Moses and Pharaoh – Pharaoh – More concerned about his wealth and comfort than those around him.
  • Samson and Delilah - Both - one was manipulative and one claimed the name of God but really was more concerned about his pride than God’s glory.
  • David and Goliath – Goliath – arrogant, proud, and mocked God with words.
  • David and Bathsheba – Both – Our sexuality, this great gift of pleasure and wonder, has been tainted at every turn by either our fear of it or our hidden addiction to it.
  • Saul and Steven – Saul – when we destroy other believers around us rather than lifting them up.
  • Paul and Rome – Rome – we think we know how to run things better than anyone else.

This brings us to my verse, Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We read this verse and think, “Ya, they didn’t know what they were doing…I would never have crucified Jesus.” Yes, you would have.

Just like we are worse than Cain, Pharaoh, Delilah, Goliath…we are worse, many times, than those who strung Jesus up on a cross. Why? Because they knew not what they do…but you and I do.

Every time it comes to that decision where we know what is right, what would bring Jesus greater glory, that which would more honor His name, and we do the opposite, we are worse than those who strung Him up on that cross. We know what God calls us to…but when it comes to our will or His, we usually choose ours. We are worse for WE KNOW what we do.

That should be humbling to us and a great reminder that our Great God did not come in the flesh as Jesus to die for us because He needed us, or because we are so good that He couldn’t live without us – but simply because He is so good.

Our salvation is based in His grace and goodness… When Jesus was arrested the ropes did not constrain Jesus to His beating...His love for us did. God is bigger than our sin, our error, our mistakes and He will bend all of this to His will. Our God is tremendously mighty, nothing is Greater than our God. That is why Good Friday is Good, because He is good and has cleansed us from our unrighteousness by the blood of His one and only son, Jesus.

We should be the least judgmental and most humble people the planet: We are terrible, but our God is good.

Concise Karma

by Aaron

I was talking to a few people the other day and one for them said the strangest thing (well a lot of my friends say strange things), but this had to do with karma. Something about what goes around….

Karma is the concept that there are deeds that you have to work off in order to attain an enlightened state. Karma refers to the debt of one’s bad actions, which must be atoned for by your own actions.

In Hinduism, Prabhupada taught that even if you desire a sweet ball (this is a piece a candy) you have to come back to the material world to take another body (because the desire for something, in and of itself, is considered wrong); in other words, you have to work it off. Part of the problem is that true Buddhism and Hinduism do not even distinguish between desire and action.

The difference in Buddhism and Hinduism essentially comes down to the issue of karma. In true Hinduism there is no way to get out of the cycle rebirth. The Buddha didn't like this so he found a way to get off the wheel of samsara (the karmic cycle)…unfortunately you have to have the right vocation, right speech, right views, right aspirations, right mindfulness, right effort, and right concentration to make it…AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE ALL OF THOSE you then need to be born a male and into the right social caste.

It seems impossible because it is.

This is why as Christians we believe in Jesus, not karma. We are accountable for our actions to a Holy God, not an impersonal force of the universe. We have a personal God who became a person to save us from ourselves, because no matter how many lifetimes we ever lived through, we would never get it right.

Yes, our actions have consequences, but there really is a way out of the misery we find ourselves in: Jesus. He doesn't hold us to a cosmic karma wheel of reincarnation (you get 1 life Hebrews 9:27), we don't have to work off our sin, and we don't need to beg, scrape, or plead for forgiveness, we simply trust, by faith, that Jesus paid it all - once for all.

So let's stop throwing out stupid karmic ideals and lift up the greatness of Jesus and what His actions have done for us.

The Journal of Happiness Studies

by Element Christian Church

Academic Journal, we do not necessarily recommend you read it...Aaron just wanted to put it up so you all don't think he was liar when he said it existed.


No Comment

by Aaron

I find it odd that people only seem to comment on our blogs when I mention something like A&E, HGTV, or 9th grade algebra teachers. It so weird that we get all excited and comment on things that do not have a whole lot of lasting value (well, except for Mrs. Chiado).

We should be excited about Jesus, what God is doing not just in our lives, but also in our entire world. We should comment and comment and comment and say things like “yes, forgiveness is awesome,” “I would love me some grace,” and, “I want to love like that!”

In all honesty, some of you may even be afraid to say anything in a comment section for fear you could “say the wrong thing.” Well, don’t worry about that, we want to know what you are thinking, what the blogs inspire you, and if you are crazy we can always delete it and pretend like we never got the comment.

So comment up, let us know your thoughts (unless you live online, then we probably already know what you think).

Oh, by the way, how about that Superbowl (trademarked by the NFL) huh?

Element Baptism Storm Watch 2012

by Element Christian Church

Storm Watch

[tbanner color="red" title="BAPTISMS WILL BE SUNDAY, APRIL 1st, at 1pm!" style="1"][/tbanner]

What you should bring to survive the storm...

[list class="bullet-1"][li]Soup or Chili! (It will be cold, and nothing like a warm meal on a rainy day)[/li][li]Umbrella (To watch the baptisms)[/li][li]Lawn Chair (We'll eat inside)[/li][li]Read More about Baptisms[/li][li]Read the stories of those being baptized this Sunday![/li][/list]

Weather Forecast:

{jcomments on}

Q&A Hypnotism

by Aaron
in FAQ

Q: I have struggled with certain things for awhile, I have been praying a lot and have even gotten a mentor through a Women Mentoring Women ministry. But I have been thinking of adding hypnotism to my prayer to try and kick certain things in a healthier direction. I know two Christians who have used this method to help with smoking addictions, and they quit. Would I be doing something sinful in God's eye to use hypnotism with his Word?

A: Well, hypnotism is one of those areas that I tend to get into trouble with a lot of people because I think it is a terrible idea. Let me see if I can explain.

Franklin Dunham  writes this as a definition of hypnosis: "Hypnosis, mental state of heightened suggestibility, characterized by trance-like sleep. The basis of hypnosis is the fixation of the subjects attention upon a gradually narrowing source of stimulation, until he is attendant upon only the directions of the hypnotist. This is variously achieved by repetition of instructions in a low, level voice, or having the subject fix his gaze upon a light in an otherwise dark room. The subject remembers nothing of what he did during the hypnotic period. Certain effects may be suggested to continue after the subject returns to consciousness; these are called post-hypnotic suggestions." The University One-Volume Encyclopedia; 1967; p 421 (underlines are mine)

For centuries hypnotism was used by witchdoctors and shaman spirit mediums alike to attain altered states of consciousness. The development of hypnosis as a field of study in the context of medicine and psychology (most agree) dates from the claims of Fredrich Anton Mesmer (1733 - 1815). Mesmer was an Austrian doctor who performed therapeutic healings induced by magnets, but he is considered to be the Father of Hypnotism.

Mesmer says, “Disease was the result of imbalance in the patient’s animal magnetism” A French investigating team was commissioned to check out Mesmer and found his healings were attributed to the power of suggestion. In spite of the serious flaws in the claims of Mesmer, his theories and practices opened doors to further examination of the nature and effect of hypnotism.

After the world wars, hypnotism was revived and integrated inextricably into the field of medicine. In 1956, the American Medical Association pronounced that Hypnosis was ‘a valuable therapeutic adjunct.’

Some Christians believe the use of  hypnotism, in any form, is occultic and demonic. I don't think it is as ominous as all that, but I believe it is very dangerous. By putting yourself in a hypnotic state is making yourself very vulnerable. Imagine your brain pattern is like a keyboard, in hypnosis you are walking away from the keyboard and allowing something, or someone, else to sit down and start typing.

As Christians what we must understand is Jesus, first and foremost. He is the salvation for not only our souls but our entire lives. It is Jesus who can make us whole and lead us into the life He calls us to…part of redemption is laying everything (including what you still struggle with) at His feet.

The Scriptures remind us that God's Spirit will guide us into all truth. One of the ways that He will do this is by guiding our thoughts into what the correct answers are as we are trying to figure something out. But you will not be able to hear him in the midst of hypnosis because you are letting go of all He told you to keep a hold of.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us: We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. This means that we are directly responsible for what we choose to think about and dwell on. This right does not belong to anyone else, including any hypnotist, who may want to plant their thoughts and suggestions into your mind.

I do not believe that hypnotism is something any Christian should be involved in. Instead, we should be submitting all things to Jesus. One day God will want to use you to help someone WALK through their struggle and pain. It will do no good if you say, "I had hypnosis and got all better"…even though the outcomes of hypnosis are debatable. That doesn't point anyone to Jesus, it points them to trying to find an altered state of consciousness rather than trusting God to see us through a particular trial.

Please, I would encourage you, to hold Christ's hand and walk through your struggle with Him. One small step at a time in the hand of your savior.

Q&A Matthew 6

by Aaron
in FAQ

Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. I’m trying to wrap my mind around being forgiven for past present and future sins, while not looking at this as maintaining or working for your salvation. I understand that if you are truly born again you will forgive, but these verses make it sound like God can hold forgiveness for the times you don’t forgive. Can you help me with this?

Sure thing. So many people seem to have the same view of these verses and it is just bizarre.

First off, when Jesus paid for our sins it was ALL of our sins past, present, and future. It would be totally contrary to the truths stated in scripture if we had a moment of unforgiveness in our hearts and God negated the work of the cross.

When Jesus spoke these words it was before He paid for our sins, before the cross. In one sense we SHOULD forgive others and a CONSTANT unforgiving heart is probably an indicator of an unregenerate heart (someone who doesn’t truly follow Jesus). But every time you hold a grudge until the Spirit works you through it does not mean you are going to burn in hell.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. In the New Testament post-resurrection context, Colossians shows we have BEEN forgiven and that is the model of why we SHOULD forgive.

At The Moment

by Aaron

I have had a wonderful thing happen to me in the last 24 hours, I can breathe again. I have had a nasty cold and it shut off my sinus cavity for over 4 days. Last night, as I was going to bed, it actually opened and I could breathe through my nose the glorious flow of air that we all need to survive. 

It was overwhelming to me; the sense of hope that came back as I actually realized my condition of not being able to breathe wasn’t permanent (and no, I am not being overly dramatic).

It made me think of all the times that Jesus has saved me from myself. Times when I was overwhelmed and drowning, so to speak, and yet He came and saved me. Isaiah 59:1 tells us “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear…”

Too often we are all guilty of assuming that God sees and interacts with the world as we do; but He doesn’t. Our entire experience is one of sinus pressure; never fully being able to breathe right, then God graciously redeems us and sets us free. Being born again means we can experience God and creation as He intended, but we are still awash in all of our memories of when it was hard to breathe.

God knows this about us, He understands this about us, and yet when He gives us freedom He doesn’t let us wallow in our old places. “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come…” (2 Cor 5:17) You can breathe again; you can hope again, all things are made new, including you. Breathe the breath of life given to you by God and live a new life, not the old one.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Q&A Multiple Wives

by Aaron

Q: Why is it that Abraham, David and Solomon can have several wives and concubines yet God says not a word about them. 1 and 2 Kings continually says "And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." Then it will refer to some type of idolatry. Why does this never occur when the kings were having numerous wives and concubines?

A: The whole idea of polygamy in the bible is something a lot of people today struggle with because they associate it with adultery. The bible never condones a "Big Love" attitude, but in regard to Abraham, God had lots of other things to work on him with…and the law wasn't given for another few hundred years.

The bigger, and harder, questions are the ones dealing with David and Solomon. In 2 Samuel 12:7-8 it actually says that God gave David's wives to Solomon when he became king. The wives of any deceased king, were normally entrusted to the protection and care of his successor. Otherwise a later marriage to a king's widow might give the second husband a legal claim to the throne. (This was the reason [in 1 Kings 2] Solomon was so alarmed by Adonijah's proposal to marry King David's youngest wife, Abishag, that Solomon killed him for the request).

The rule was that once a woman became a king's consort (whether as queen, secondary wife, or concubine), she had a right to retain that status even though her royal husband had died. His successor would "take her" over. They almost never had sexual relations with them as that would be considered incest. Most (but not all) of David's wives would have come from Saul, most (but not all) of Solomon's wives would have come from David.

Technically speaking, and the Jews loves to technically not break the law, when a man took a second wife he bound himself to her just as much as the first wife. No matter how many wives Solomon had, they were all just as much Mrs. Solomon. The concubines were, in the same way, an exclusive obligation for the man to cherish, support, and provide for in every way. This was a far different matter than entering into illicit relations with another man's wife (as when David does this God is VERY displeased).

The encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties says it like this: "The fact of the matter was that while polygamy was contrary to God's intention and ideal, nevertheless, because of what Christ called "the hardness of men's hearts" (Matt. 19:8), it was tolerated--especially in the case of a political leader whose dynasty would fail if he produced no son by his first wife. A state of civil war might well ensue from such a situation, with resulting bloodshed and disruption to the state. "

I think that cultural acceptability had a lot to do with it as well. I think the Jews, in time, grew to a better understanding of God's will in regard to the blessing of marriage. It is seen that from the time of the return from Babylonian exile onward, there is no reference to polygamy among God's people to be found in any of the later books of the Old Testament.

When Christ comes, monogamy was the rule among the Greeks and the Romans as well as among the Jews. Jesus pointed out that In Genesis 2 monogamy was God's will for man. One man, one woman, one flesh.

In summary, I will quote an interesting thing written by Norman Geisler (Ethics: Alternatives and Issues pages 204-5):"There is ample evidence, even within the Old Testament, that polygamy was not God's ideal for man. That monogamy was His ideal for man is obvious from several perspectives.
God made only one wife for Adam, thus setting the ideal precedent for the race.
Polygamy is first mentioned as part of the wicked Cainite civilization (Gen. 4:23).
God clearly forbade the kings of Israel (leaders were the persons who became polygamists) saying, `And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away again' (Deut. 17:17).
The saints who became polygamists paid for their sins. 1 Kings 11:1, 3 says, `Now King Solomon loved many foreign women...and his wives turned away his heart.'...
Polygamy is usually situated in the context of sin in the O.T. Abraham's marriage of Hagar was clearly a carnal act of unbelief (Gen. 16:1 f). David was not at a spiritual peak when he added Abigail and Ahinoam as his wives (1 Sam. 25:42-43), nor was Jacob when he married Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:23, 28).
The polygamous relation was less than ideal. It was one of jealousy among the wives. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (Gen. 29:31). Elkanah's one wife was considered a `rival' or adversary by the other, who `used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her...' (1 Sam. 1:6).
When polygamy is referred to, the conditional, not the imperative, is used. `If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights' (Exod. 21:10). Polygamy is not the moral ideal, but the polygamist must be moral."

DISPATCH ISSUE 1: Christmas For Kids, 2011 Review, and More

by Element Christian Church

Download Dispatch (Digital Magazine)

In this issue, you will find a recap of nearly everything that went on at Element during 2011.  From the sermon series to weddings to pumpkin killing, we've got it in there.  You'll also find a feature story on Christmas for Kids and the blessing it is to our community.  Finally, we have an article from our very own Jonathon Whitaker giving practical advice on how God intends men to step into the role being an effective leader at home.


Good Friday 2012: Seder Meal

by Element Christian Church

Good Friday 2012: Seder Meal, 6pm (Full)

At Element we are always trying to mix things ancient and modern. Understanding our heritage as Christians and still living in the vibrant newness of the Spirit's leading.

If you have ever been to or through one of our Good Friday services you know they tend to be different. From attending a funeral, to making you carry rocks, to even having you walk through a life-sized board game, our goal is to make you think about Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption.

This year we are doing something ancient and modern as well; we will be hosting a Seder meal. You may be asking what a Seder meal is, well, a Seder is the traditional Passover Week Dinner celebrated by the Hebrews since the Exodus. It is the Hebrew Thanksgiving, giving thanks to God for deliverance and redemption. Seder is also called the Passover Dinner.

The word Seder simply means "order," and refers to the service of the Passover festival meal that follows a prescribed order. The Seder was also what Jesus would have celebrated at The Last Supper the night he was betrayed. Jesus also chose the Seder as the setting for announcing (and explaining) The New Covenant. Many of us have done part of the Seder at every Sunday service when participating in communion.

The Seder was the basis of the early Church's Lord's Day worship service. It was referred to as the Agape Feast and Eucharist. Agape is the Greek word for Christian Love, that Love we have for one another.

Passover (Seder) is really more than a festival. It is an elaborate teaching experience, especially for the children. It is intended to call people to their identity as the People of God. By using all of the senses, the Passover Seder tells the story of God’s grace in history and calls the participants to experience and share in the story as their own story.

We are very sorry, but we are completely full, and cannot take any more sign-ups.