Preacher's Blog

Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.

  • Always Saved? ("Yes" and "No")

    The book of 1 John assures Christians of their salvation in Christ. However, some have taught that a Christian is always saved and can never lose their salvation. Turning to the book of 1 John, let’s answer an important question: Is a Christian always saved?


    “Absolutely, Yes!”

    John wrote his first letter to Christians who must have lacked confidence in their salvation. He offered convincing truths to build their confidence. Consider the following statements in John’s letter:  1:7, 2:1, 2:25, 2:28, 3:18-21, 4:17, 5:13.


    Christians were being deceived about their salvation (2:26). John wanted to bolster their confidence by ensuring them that they would not lose their salvation. We are encouraged that God has not and will not abandon his children. The children of God have confidence that God will never change his mind or makes new requirements for salvation. He will honor all his promises regarding salvation.


    So, in that respect we can confidently say, “Absolutely Yes!” Once a person has been saved, he/she has confidence in God’s promises. They will never lose their salvation.


    “Absolutely Not!”

    Some say that a Christian cannot fall from God’s grace. John also gives us insight into this claim in his brief letter. Remember that John was addressing those who were already saved (2:12-14). In the first chapter He reminded them of their fellowship with God through Christ. Then in the very next chapter he boldly stated:


    I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father….(2:1)


    John’s intent was for Christians to avoid sin. Yet in the same verse he acknowledged that a Christian might sin, but that there is a remedy for sin for the Christian: confession of one’s sins. However, if anyone refuses to confess his sins, or if he returns to a life of sin, then he walks in darkness and has no fellowship with God.


    John takes it a step farther saying that anyone who hates (rejects) his brother walks in darkness. The one who hates his brother is “of the evil one” (3:7-10). So, the Christian who hates his brother has returned to a path of darkness. He no longer walks in the light and consequently forfeits his fellowship with God.


    For that reason, we must answer, “Absolutely Not!” Salvation is conditional. A Christian must not adopt a casual attitude toward sin and return to his former way of life. In doing so, he will no longer have fellowship with God and will forfeit his salvation. It is important to see that, in this case, God has not abandoned his child. Rather, the child has abandoned his Father.


    Conclusion

    John’s letter was written to bolster the confidence of Christians. Our confidence is rooted in our salvation through Jesus. However, confidence in one’s salvation is not a license to sin.


    Because of our changed nature sin is no longer our way of life. For that reason, the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from sin. And yet, the blood of Jesus does not cleanse those who are opposed to God. It does not cleans those who return to their old life in spiritual darkness.

    God will keep his promises. The question is whether YOU will faithfully hold to Christ and His promises.



    Mark Stinnett

    July 7, 2024

  • Removing the Blinders

    Balak was a king of ancient Moab. He was terrified of the Israelite nation as they made their way to the Land of Canaan after deliverance from slavery in Egypt. So, he sent for a prophet named Balaam to curse the Israelites. With wisdom Balaam consulted God. (Read about it in Numbers 22-24.)


    God refused to allow Balaam to curse the Israelites so Balaam sent word back to King Balak to that effect. Not satisfied with his response, King Balak offered great wealth to Balaam if he would curse the Israelites. Balaam told the king’s messengers that he had already received an answer from God, but if they would stay overnight he would consult God once again. This time God told Balaam to go to King Balak! But He told him to do only what he was instructed. Balaam joyfully left with the king’s messengers. Then, God became angry with Balaam.


    It might seem odd that God would first refuse to allow Balaam to go, then give Balaam permission to go, and then become angry when Balaam went. This oddity is answered in the text...


    As Balaam was on his way to King Balak an angel of God, with sword drawn, blocked the road. Three times Balaam’s donkey turned away, and three times Balaam became angry at the donkey’s stubbornness. Finally, God opened the mouth of the donkey and a brief conversation followed between man and beast. Only then were Balaam’s eyes opened. Only then did he see the angel and realize that he was in the wrong. The angel then repeated God’s message to Balaam: Go to King Balak, but do only what God tells you to do.


    The fact that God repeated this part of His instruction suggests that Balaam’s motives were impure. Balaam was more excited about the permission to go than the instruction to do only what God told him. God appears to have been angry with Balaam for only half-listening to what He had said.


    Parents have to deal with this kind of thing. Their teen asks permission to attend a party with friends. Initially the parents refuse, but later, after repeated pleading on the part of the teen, give in. As soon as permission is granted the teen bolts to the phone to tell her friends the good news. The parents then regret having given permission.


    They gave permission to attend the party, but not permission to engage in questionable activities. They realize that their teen had only half-listened, hearing the permission to go but giving little thought to further instruction. The parents recognize the need for a serious conversation with their teen regarding her moral behavior, responsibility, respect, good character, and curfew.


    Balaam undoubtedly found God’s permission very gratifying. However, the promise of wealth became a distraction. His desire to satisfy himself had blinded him to God’s desire for His people. God had to ‘remove the blinders’ from Balaam so that he could see the will of God.


    The distractions of this life and all its thrills may blind Christians to the will of God. Wealth, entertainment and success in our own little corner of the world are tantalizing offers. These things, and even Christian liberties, can become blinders of selfishness, pride, and stubbornness that mask the will of God. Only when these blinders are removed will we see clearly so that we can carry out the will of God in our lives.


    Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

    —Romans 12:1-2



    Mark Stinnett

    June 30, 2024

  • Submissive Master

    As a gesture of team spirit and cooperation our new principal invited each teacher to his office so he could get to know us. (I was a 7th grade math teacher.) After asking a series of questions to get to know me, his final question was, “What is the job of a principal?”

     

    Without hesitation I answered: “The best principal is a servant to his teachers. It is his job to ensure that the teachers can teach.” (That was what my first principal believed and modeled.)

     

    As you might imagine, my principal’s face did not light up with joy. In fact, he looked puzzled and then reframed the question. I guess I had not answered correctly.

     

    Sometimes we react the same way to difficult statements in Scripture. You can guess the kinds of teachings I’m thinking about, such as extending forgiveness, being submissive, or showing mercy to that kind of person. Like my principle, we sometimes act puzzled as if we do not understand. Could it be because we don’t like what the Scriptures say?

     

    The Apostle Paul wrote:

       Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

       —Ephesians 5:21

     

    We embrace the imperative in the prohibitions: Do not commit adultery, do not steal, and do not lie; but somehow the imperative to submit to one another does not seem to carry the same weight. Have we ignored this verse? Have we reworked the words until it has little impact?

     

    The word ‘submit’ means to ‘stand in rank under another.’ It is a word applied to servants and is not a popular idea in any group.

       Submit to God? Yes!

       Submit to Christ? Yes!

    These imperatives are fitting.

    But, submit to one another!? Difficult!


    If we are to submit to others we must look beyond ourselves. We must see people as souls for whom Christ died, regardless of personality.


    Paul revealed that “...our struggle is not against flesh and blood...” but against spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). Applied to me, I must recognize that no matter how difficult it is to get along with you, you are not the enemy!


    So, how can I follow this imperative, “Submit”?

    I must adopt the right attitude by submitting to my fellow Christians “out of reverence for Christ.” In other words, I am first submitting to Christ as my Master.


    And did you notice the title, ‘Submissive Master’? It is a contradiction of terms. Masters do not submit. Yet, when we follow God’s instruction and submit to one another, we are imitating Christ. We are walking in the steps of Jesus just as he demonstrated submission while on earth. Do you remember how Jesus responded to God in the garden of Gethsemane?

       “...not My will, but Yours be done.”

       — Luke 22:42

     

    He then died on the cross…

       ...in my place,

       ...in your place.

    By this selfless act of love he declared:

       You are more important than I.

     

    Only with the same attitude can we ever learn to submit to one another.

     


    Mark Stinnett

    June 23, 2024