“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

We have before us today two verses about holiness. The importance of holiness cannot be overstated in the Christian life. Peter quotes from Leviticus 11 where the Lord God lays down regulations for the nation of Israel to follow that will separate them from other nations. They must be a holy people because the Lord is a holy God. At its core holiness relates to separation, something, or someone, set apart for a sacred purpose. The Lord Himself is set apart (holy) in His essence and being, as well as in His perfection. In His being, Almighty God is our Creator and we are His creation. He is infinite, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is dependent on no one, and we are fully dependent upon Him. He is holy. The Lord is also holy in His moral perfection. He is light and righteousness, and in Him is no darkness or evil. Righteousness is defined by His perfect character. He is a holy God.

The call of God for us to follow after Him in holiness of life, is the call of a good father to a child. As obedient children, we are called to not be conformed to the corruption of this world. The sinfulness of the world is active and every single day temptation is relentless. Satan is an active enemy in the world. He is our adversary, always working to destroy the work of the Lord. Our own hearts are corrupt and divided. To not be conformed to the pattern of this world requires us to hear the command of the Lord, recognize His goodness, and actively pursue the holiness of God. 

It’s important every so often to examine yourself and ask: Do I live a holy and separated life? Do the people around me every day know that I’m a follower of Jesus Christ? Can they see it in my life and attitude? Can they hear it in my words? Do I stand for the things that Jesus stood for? Are the fruits of the Holy Spirit clearly evident in my life? Is the holy separation of my life a thing of pride, or is it attractive like the beautiful life of Jesus Christ?

I have included here a verse from Philippians about the mind, because the actions of your life begin with the direction of your thoughts. The apostle Paul gives us a beautiful and virtuous list of things to set our mind upon. Without intentional direction the mind drifts on its own toward anger, lust, jealousy, pride, and covetousness. By the transforming power of the Holy Spirit we are strengthened to take hold of our thoughts and direct them toward a righteous end. This process begins with the precious word of God in Scripture. The most powerful way to shift your thinking is to fill your mind with Scripture and a clear understanding of the goodness of God. 

Your actions matter. Today spend time reading the Bible. Set your mind on Christ, and be determined to live a holy life that is set apart from the normal ways of this world. May you be known as a joyful, humble, and righteous Christian. This is the only way that the Gospel message makes any sense. It is a message that comes to the ears of the lost from a person living a different life. It is a call to come away from the dead and empty ways of this world, and come to the way of Christ – a righteous way of life and peace. Let us be holy, as our Heavenly Father is holy.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Vic

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Some readers mistakenly think these verses precede a Psalm of rejoicing. They do not. Psalm 42 is a psalm of lament and deep struggle, a psalm where the writer has been weeping day and night (v.3), is pouring out his soul to God (v.4), and whose soul is bound up in depression and turmoil (v.5). But from this low place the psalmist knows that he must turn to the Lord. He longs for a fresh and clear word from the Lord. He longs for the near relational presence of God that fills the heart with joy and peace, as nothing else can.

Our day continues to be filled with the same struggles, but few understand that only a word from the Lord will satisfy the longing and sad emptiness of their heart. Owen Strachan writes, “So many wish to hear the voice of God; so few read the Bible, His declared revelation. If we want to hear the Lord’s voice, then we need to open the pages of Scripture and listen.”

People are searching for satisfaction and meaning. They are searching for joy and belonging. They have always been searching, but what they are searching for cannot be supplied by the things of this world. The world stumbles about in all directions, in spiritual blindness, looking for something from this world that only God can give. The turmoil of your soul will never be satisfied by accumulating the possessions of this world. The deep-seated depression of your soul will never be turned to gladness by the empty wisdom of humanity or work based religions. Running away from these things will only take you further into the darkness. Calling out to an unknown god, or an idol with ears that cannot hear, will not do. We need to hear from the living God (v.2)!

Often as we search, as we all do, we begin to realize that what is missing is relationship. People often come to our church feeling that emptiness, and hope that they can find community in the church that will fill that void. But there is an ordering of relationships. The chief, or primary, life-giving relationship is the personal relationship that we can experience with God the Father through Jesus Christ. If you have not believed in Jesus Christ, and sought forgiveness for your sins, then you have no relationship with God. Without relationship with God, all of your human relationships will be chaotic and self-destruct. Apart from a near and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, none of the other relationships of your life will provide the satisfaction you hope they will. Without the redeeming transformation that only Jesus can bring to your heart, YOU will be the problem with all your relationships.

However, when we listen to the word of the Lord, learn His ways, and follow Him, all of our other relationships begin to heal, grow, and strengthen. We first must focus, quiet our hearts, and make time to prayerfully read and consider the Bible. Scripture is a living word which the Holy Spirit will apply to our hearts in a personal way. When you feel like the psalmist, and know that your heart is empty and everything has gotten out of order, seek first a word from the Lord. Open your Bible and prayerfully ask God for what you need. Walk by faith. Believe what you read there and act on it.

The psalmist is very personal in his plea, because God is personal in His relationship with you. The Bible teaches the “priesthood of believers,” which means that through the work of Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, you can go directly to God in relationship. You do not need to go through the middle-man of a priest. This is cause for rejoicing! Make time to read and consider the Bible today. By those precious words your heart will be lifted up.

The word of the Lord will stand forever,

Pastor Vic

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water…Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water I will give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:10, 13-14

This passage of Scripture comes from a conversation Jesus had with a woman weary of the struggles and hardships of life. She had been married five times, and was at the time of the conversation, in a relationship with a sixth man. This is a history of sinful, broken relationships and painful rejection that had deteriorated into her just trying to survive one day after the next, moving forward with an empty and hopeless heart. Into this woman’s life Jesus – as He always does – speaks exactly what is needed.

She had come to the ancient well to draw water needed to live another day. She came every day, because the water always ran out. It was a necessary, daily drudgery. Jesus asked her for a drink of the well water, but then began to reveal to her who He really was. Jesus tells her that if she understood who he really was, she would ask Him for a drink – but a drink of living water. Jesus tells her what He can give her will quench her thirst forever, and will become a spring in her soul, over-flowing her heart, and leading to eternal life!

Jesus was speaking of the time soon to come, when He would send His Holy Spirit to indwell the hearts of every person that believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior (Matthew 28:20b, Acts 2). When we confess our sins and express our faith in Jesus Christ, we are “asking for a drink of living water.” We are calling out to Jesus that we do not have the strength to handle the struggles of this life. We are admitting that we have ruined our lives through sin, selfishness, and rebellion. We believe that only Jesus has what we know we need.

This analogy is lived out every day all across America. People work hard every day: waking early to get the kids ready, dropping them at school or daycare, fighting traffic to work, working through the ups and downs of the work day, reversing the process, helping kids with school work, paying the bills, etc, etc. Often at the end of the day, whatever was in the tank at the beginning of the day is spent. There is an intense feeling of emptiness, a sense of not being able to face the next day, because you have nothing left to give. This despair often leads to alcoholism, drug abuse, anger, abandonment of family, and other futile attempts to relieve the pressure of life and find meaning in the struggle. It’s more than busyness; this is choosing to live life your own way in rebellion against Jesus Christ. This is not a struggle unique to modern humanity. This is the same struggle as the woman at the well.

Jesus beaks into this daily struggle, into this woman’s life, and tells her that if she will come to Him, she will never thirst again. When we stop striving on our own, and instead humble ourselves before Jesus our Savior, He will fill our hearts with His Spirit. As a believer in Jesus Christ the power of God Himself rises up to fill our hearts to overflowing every day. In a supernatural way, when we have no more patience, patience is supplied. When we have no more love, love rises up. When we step toward despair, the light of hope shines in our hearts. When we feel things are about to spin out of control, God’s Spirit will strengthen your hand to hold tight the reigns of life. This is elsewhere (Galatians 5:22-24) called the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is the life of Jesus Christ welling up in your heart, to over-flowing, until it pours out and is evident to all. This life giving strength will never stop. Jesus will continue His saving work until eternity. I urge you today, in the midst of the struggle, call out to Jesus for living water!

May our souls be satisfied in Jesus,

Pastor Vic

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Our God is a God of justice. He holds every man and woman perfectly accountable for their sins. He discerns thoughts, motives, and knows every hidden action. All things are laid bare before Him. Even our actions that appear righteous are corrupt in various ways. They are compared to filthy garments (Isaiah 64:6). Yet in all this, God the Father is merciful and has sent His Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world. In Christ, by faith alone, we can be forgiven. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ we do not receive what we justly deserve: death (Genesis 2:16-17, Romans 6:23), but instead receive life and peace and adoption into God’s kingdom as sons and daughters.

Apart from the salvation of God, we cannot know justice (Proverbs 28:5). Apart from the salvation of God, our efforts at justice are always shaded by favoritism, corrupted by wealth and bribery, and turned away from those that have nothing to give us in return for our help. 

Even though we begin in corruption, as we believe in and follow Christ, He begins to conform us into His image. He begins to teach us to care about justice and carry it out in the world. The prophet Micah writes in the Old Testament that “doing justice” is both good and required of us. Jesus clearly rebukes those who care very much about less important issues, but neglect “weightier” issues of justice and the love of God (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42). Finally, Isaiah is very clear that justice will be a foundational virtue of the coming kingdom of God (Isaiah 9:6-7). 

In courthouses across our land, justice is often portrayed as a woman, blindfolded, holding out a scale. This symbol represents the correct notion that justice is supposed to weigh the facts relevant to the law and make a decision apart from personal favoritism, political activism, or predetermined prejudice. If the facts of the matter point to guilt, then there is guilt. If the facts of the case point to innocence, then there is innocence. Justice does not ask whether the defendant is male or female, white or black, rich or poor, young or old.

The Bible teaches unqualified justice. God does not have various versions of justice. Biblical justice, as defined above, is not the same thing as “social justice.” Social justice is a political movement clothed in biblical language. Social justice involves picking certain favored groups – certain races, certain subcultures, certain slivers of society – and singling them out for favoritism and special treatment. True justice is equal justice for ALL under the law. After the pattern of the Lord, no group is protected from penalty and no group is rewarded without true merit. 

Social justice has Lady Justice take off her blindfold to see if the person before her is from a favored group. If so, then the facts at hand become less relevant – or irrelevant – because the driving force is supporting or undermining the favored, or unfavored, person. In this way, social justice is the opposite of biblical justice. 

Christians should reject this choosing of favorites – which changes constantly. We must instead continue to seek after biblical justice, true justice, that works to make sure the privileged and powerful do not abuse the poor and needy (Nehemiah 5:1-13). We must look to represent the interests of the widow, the elderly, the poor, the orphan, the ignorant, the disabled, and the unborn – regardless of their race or national origin. 

This is the good justice of God. Justice which brings peace and accountability. Justice motivated by love, not hate. 

Grace and peace to you,

Pastor Vic

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news! It’s good news that by grace alone, through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross any person can be saved. Saved from what, you might ask? Saved from the just, or righteous, condemnation of God for our sins. We are, each one, guilty before God. We each live our lives in relation to God. God is our creator and stands in righteous authority over our lives. We all are born into rebellion and with a nature that wants to reject God’s will. We want to go our own way, to do our own thing, and the consequences of this is a broken relationship with God. 

However, God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be born miraculously of a virgin. To live among us full of grace and truth. To live among us in perfection. Jesus fulfilled all of the Father’s will during His life, most importantly, to die upon the cross as a substitution for you and for me. In Christ the righteous justice of God is met, and with this demand for justice met, by grace your sins can be washed away. Though you were covered over and corrupted by anger, lust, fear, jealousy, envy, addiction, and covetousness, you can be forgiven and washed clean!

It can be intimidating to talk to people about the state of their soul. Sometimes we don’t know where to begin or what to say, but all Christians have a responsibility to tell others (be witnesses) about the way of salvation in Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be an evangelist! There are no magic words, but there is truth that must be shared. When sharing Christ with others, I encourage you to begin with the Scripture. Nothing brings clarity and conviction, and nothing speaks to the soul like God’s word. Begin there. Often times people have heard various reasoned arguments, but have never encountered God through His living word. Next, work through the basic steps used by evangelist Billy Graham. Every person that comes to salvation must:

  1. Admit your need: I am a sinner
  2. Be willing to turn away from your sins: Repent
  3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you and rose again from the grave: Right understanding
  4. Through prayer, believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord: Make it personal

None of these steps can be skipped in authentic conversion, but seldom are all these steps covered at one time, or on one occasion. Belief is a process that involves learning and heart change, but it’s a process that culminates in a point of decision: a moment of belief where a person believes that “Jesus is Lord,” where they did not believe before. 

Most Christians struggle with sharing their faith, but I encourage you to remember who had the courage to share Christ with you, and how that blessed good news has transformed your life. I encourage you to visit our website (RedeemerVA.org) and click on the “Next Steps” tab. Under this tab select “Jesus.” Here you’ll find an extended video presentation from me on the Gospel. I hope it will be helpful to you in sharing and talking with non-Christians about Jesus. 

Be faithful to tell the good news – then watch as the Lord does the work that only He can do to change hearts. Angels in heaven rejoice when one soul comes to salvation. Let us be faithful, at home with our children and abroad, to seek the lost in love!

Jesus Christ is Lord,

Pastor Vic

Question: Is it permissible for a Christian to be a Freemason?

The answer to this question begins by asking, “What type of organization is Freemasonry?” Is it simply a service organization dedicated to philanthropy, or is it a secret religion? Freemasonry was developed in the 17thcentury and its first Grand Lodge was formed in London, England in 1717. Freemasonry is an all-male organization of brotherhood dedicated to public service and the good of humanity. But unlike other organizations dedicated to serving the poor, needy, and sick (such as Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, Samaritans Purse), Freemasons operate is a secret manner. Masons have temples, secret rites and rituals (that include burial of the dead), orders of rank (the highest of which in each lodge is the “Worshipful Master”), and a system of morality guided by “Great Light.” All these aspects of Freemasonry take it well beyond a service organization into a quasi-religion. 

Freemasonry emphasizes the need to recognize and serve the “Great Architect of the Universe,” or the “Great Light.” However, Freemasonry doctrine does not define who God is or declare any book as a sacred text. Instead, every mason is his own thinker, and the primary source of truth is the individual and his own interpretation of his religious experience. This open religious stance is similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous declaration that all people must recognize a “Higher Power,” but that power is open to the definition of the individual. Because of this, Masonic Temples / Lodges often reflect the religious culture within which they exist. This open and undefined concept of God fits conveniently with our post-modern day which rejects the notion of humanity being conformed to the reality of God. Instead, “god” is determined by the imagination and character of the Mason himself. Within this model, Masons hold up service as a great good, and memorialize their good works as a means of promoting their souls to God. This is the foundation of salvation by works, “Because of my service and goodness, I will be accepted by God.” This is a false gospel.

The problem with the Freemasonry organization is not its laudable philanthropic work, but the way its secret pledges, rites, and doctrines conflict in an incompatible way with biblical Christian belief. Paul is very clear in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 that Christians should not be “yoked” together with the unbelieving. The yoke is an analogy of being bound together in work and duty with a non-Christian. This should not happen because we do not believe the same things about the most important aspects of the world: the nature of God, what is morally right and wrong, or where our highest allegiance lies. The yoke also is an instrument of binding. The oxen cannot separate once bound together. It is wrong for a Christian, in any instance, to enter into binding vows or promises to form a long-term relationship with an unbeliever. The brotherhood rites and rituals of Masons are prized and strongly held by their membership, but are in conflict with the truth and call of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

I understand that many men enter into these commitments seeking brotherhood. Every person desires a sense of community, belonging, and authentic friendship in our increasingly lonely and isolated world. But God’s design for this is marriage, family, and the local church. When people choose to reject, or neglect, God’s design in these areas, they will find them unsatisfying. It’s not then permissible to reject them and pledge yourself to a non-Christian organization in search of community. This also creates an inherent conflict of interest. When the will of God expressed in the Bible comes in conflict with Masonic doctrine or practice, which will take the upper hand? In my experience, those who join the Masons do so because of a weak Christian faith, and as such, Masonic doctrine and practice win out. 

Some Americans give Masons a pass on these issues because certain well-loved American founding fathers (George Washington and others) were Masons and also expressed Christian faith. Since Freemasonry is fluid and largely reflects the culture which it functions within, it is possible that Freemasonry of the past was more Christian. However, the foundations of conflicting doctrine and conflicting final loyalties remain. It should also be noted that though certain political founding fathers were Masons, Christian ministers of that same period, used of God to usher in the Great Awakening, did not see Masonic membership as compatible with Christianity. For further reading on this subject I suggest; World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity, Volume 1, edited by Hodge and Patterson, chapter 14.

In conclusion, any part of your life as a Christian that stands in conflict with the will of God must be changed. As Christians we must strive always to be in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Intentionally living counter to God’s will is sin. As such, if you are a Mason, you should renounce this allegiance and membership to serve Christ and His church with a full and undivided heart (Matthew 22:36-39). It is the first tenant of Christianity that no other God, idol, or allegiance (Exodus 20:3) should take the first place of the affections of our heart. If you have found marriage, family, and the local church unsatisfying personal relationships, it is partly because you have had divided affections and loyalty toward these institutions created by the will of God. If you have found service to the poor and needy unsatisfying and less productive outside of the Masonic setting, that is in part true because you have committed the efforts of your life to Masonic service. If committed with equal or greater passion elsewhere, equal or greater charitable works could be accomplished. 

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no person comes to God the Father accept through Jesus (John 14:6). Believe in Him without reservation. Love His church and serve Him with an undivided heart.

May the local Christian church thrive in strength, joy, and service,

Pastor Vic

All biblical Christians believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most constant themes of the New Testament. Just as Old Testament believers looked forward to the coming of the Messiah (the first coming), New Testament believers look forward to the second coming of Jesus. “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

First, the Bible teaches that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be expected, in-body, but unpredictable. It is expected, in that Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46) and the apostles (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) regularly spoke of the second coming of Jesus as the consummation of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom has begun (been inaugurated) with the first coming of Jesus, but will be made complete when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead. It will be a bodily coming, in that Jesus will physically be present as He was present in His first coming. However, the second coming of Jesus will be with power and glory (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), resurrection, and judgement (Revelation 22:6-21). The Bible never speaks of a secret or unknown second coming of Jesus. Last, the second coming of Jesus will be unpredictable (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6). No one will be able to name the day or season of Christ’s return. All three of these marks are the same as the first coming of Christ, and therefore, should not be surprising.

We should especially pay attention to the last mark of unpredictability. Even those disciples who lived through the personal ministry of Jesus were not clear about what was happening until after the resurrection. So it will be with His second coming. Though many prophetic words exist, and should be studied, none will be able to predict His coming or perfectly interpret the signs of the times.

Second, the Bible teaches one return (second coming) of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:13-15). None of the New Testament scriptures indicate that Jesus will return twice, but that Jesus will return bodily, with a great multitude of angels, resurrecting the believing dead, calling to himself those believing who are still alive, will then judge the wicked, destroy the earth by fire (2 Peter 3:1-13), and re-create a new earth to be ruled by the redeemed (Revelation 21).

The idea that Jesus will secretly return and “rapture” out believing Christians prior to a period of tribulation was first taught by John Darby in 1850. For almost two millennia of orthodox Christianity the idea of a two-part return of Jesus Christ was never taught. Darby was a theologian that left the Anglican Church for the Brethren movement, and further splintered from that movement when its key leaders did not agree with his theological system now known as dispensationalism. This system broke up the redeeming work of Christ into a very specific series of events, prominently featuring national Israel in the later part of history.

Third, the Bible does not teach that Christians will be absent from the world during the period of the tribulation. In Matthew 24:1-31 Jesus speaks extensively about how the world will decline into greater and greater ungodliness until it will enter a period of “tribulation” (v.21). This will be a terrible time of struggle in the world and judgment from the Lord upon the ungodly for their wickedness. However, Jesus says that those days will be cut short “for the sake of the elect” (v.22), and that immediately after the period of tribulation Jesus will return in power and glory and with a loud trumpet call (same description as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) to gather to Himself all His elect people (v.29-31).

This is consistent with Paul’s writings in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-2:17, where he encourages the saints to hold firm in their faith during a coming time of great tribulation. Again, the world will descend into a state of great satanic wickedness, unlike anything before experienced on earth, and Paul writes to encourage Christians to not lose faith during this foretold period – but to await the coming of the Lord (2:1-3).

One scripture regularly appealed to by those who teach a two-part return of the Jesus is 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The argument is that God would not allow Christians to go through the difficult period of the tribulation, but will instead take them to heaven before that period. However, most dispensationalists then argue that a certain appointed number of Jews will come to salvation during that period, meaning that God will allow believers to undergo hardship, just not gentile believers. This entire thinking is inconsistent with the Bible and church history, where God has always allowed His people to go through hardship. However, in the midst of this hardship, God always provides special mercy to Christians (Psalm 37:19) that they might be preserved and provided for.

Much more could be said about each of these points, but the strongest argument for a single return of Christ and that Christians will be present on earth for the final period of tribulation is a plain reading of the biblical text. Only when a pre-conceived system of theology is laid over the biblical text do readers reach these conclusions. This system was seriously promoted in no small part by the multi-volume fiction series and movie, Left Behind. Sadly, Christians are often told that prophetic things are too shrouded in mystery to be known. In some cases this is true, but where clear teaching is given, it should not be intentionally obfuscated by systems of men. Let the scripture speak for itself.

There is much more to be explored in the Bible about each of these subjects. For further reading, I suggest any biblical theologian that wrote prior to 1850, or more recently “The Bible and the Future” by Anthony A. Hoekema.

The Hebrew Roots (HR) movement is hard to nail down. There is no central leadership, no clear statement of faith, and various groups all over the place doing different things in a similar vein. The common themes seem to be:

1) Referring to Jesus by a Hebrew translated name, and that any other language translation for His name is somehow heretical.

2) Strict observation of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.

3) Observance of Torah law in our current day.

4) Observing various versions of Old Testament festivals.

5) A desire for a deeper and more passionate spiritual life that HR followers are not finding in the modern American church. 

In response to these basics, I can only agree with the fifth point. However, the search for a deeper and more passionate spiritual life should not take us back to the old covenant of the Old Testament (OT).

I will answer the question about HR by asking questions that I would ask of any person that has become involved in this movement. These essential questions shed light on why HR followers are going in the wrong direction with their understanding of the Bible and the Gospel. 

1) How can you claim to follow Torah law when you are not a part of national Israel and the temple no longer exists?

Law expressed in the first five books of the OT is Torah law. These laws fall into three different categories: (1) Ceremonial Law: law that dictated how the worship of God and the temple sacrificial system should be conducted. (2) Civil Law: law that dictated how the nation of Israel should be organized, function, set apart (including dietary laws), and disciplined. (3) Moral Law: law that speaks to God’s will concerning moral right and wrong for all people.

It is impossible for a person to claim that they are following Torah law in our current day. (1) Ceremonial law cannot be followed since the temple does not exist. The second temple was destroyed in AD 70. It was destroyed and never rebuilt, as a part of the providence of God since it is no longer needed under the new covenant. The old covenant was based on a sacrificial / temple system that was symbolic of a final Savior to come. Jesus was that Messiah. Jesus was the final and perfect sacrifice for our sins. The entire book of Hebrews is dedicated to arguing this point. We are now under the new covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25-26) and a temple dedicated to sacrifices is not needed. The only ordinances of the new covenant church are believer baptism and the Lord’s supper. (2) Civil law cannot be followed in modern-day America because they are laws meant to govern a nation (example: cities of refuge, systems of justice and punishment, rules for dealing with conquered people, dietary laws for distinguishing Jew from Gentile, etc.). If these were to be applied anywhere today, it would be in modern national Israel, but national Israel functions by a modern rule of civil law.

The only Torah law that remains is the moral law. The moral law of God remains because the nature of God does not change and the nature of humanity does not change. The holiness and justice of God remain the same from eternity past to eternity future, even though His method of relating to humanity has changed from the old to New Covenant. The Ten Commandments written by the hand of God in stone are the clearest representations of moral law still applicable today.

Conclusion: Those who claim to follow OT civil and ceremonial law, either don’t know what they are talking about, or have no problem arbitrarily picking and choosing which laws they think are important, and follow only those select laws. Either position is not faithful to the whole teaching of the Bible.

2) Why do Christians worship on Sunday? If they followed the OT moral law correctly, they would worship on the OT Sabbath – the final day of the week.

Christians transitioned to worshiping on Sunday because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. In the book of Acts, the apostles nowhere lay on new believers the necessity of keeping the Sabbath on the last day of the week. The Sabbath moral principle (focus on worship and physical rest one day per week) can be applied to the first day of the week just as easily as the last day of the week. All this relates to how the calendar is set up on paper, as to which day is considered first or last in the week. The moral principle, which should be followed, is consistently setting aside one day in seven for worship and physical rest.

3) Who, or what, do HR followers trust in for their salvation from the penalty of sin?

Do they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead? If they trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) then why are they interested in re-instituting an unnecessary temple sacrificial system? Why are they interested in celebrating feasts whose purpose was to look for the Messiah to come? If they do not believe in Jesus as Savior, to what they turning for the forgiveness of sins?

4) Why are they interested in recreating OT feasts and festivals?

If they truly believe in Christ as their Savior they would reject the recreating of key OT feasts. The most important OT feast was the Passover. This feast reminded the people of the exodus, but more importantly, pointed forward to the Messiah to come – the true Passover Lamb. It makes no sense to celebrate a feast whose purpose is to hope for a Messiah to come. The Messiah has already come, this is why none of the apostles press for the continued celebrating of the Passover. We celebrate instead the birth and resurrection of the Savior who has come already. 

5) What do you do with Acts 10:9-16, which is the threefold vision given to Peter declaring all animals clean to eat?

Some HR followers adhere to Torah kosher dietary laws. This passage in Acts is explicitly clear (x3) that Torah kosher dietary laws passed away with the old covenant. This vision is given to Peter just before welcoming gentile people into the church with the blessing and seal of the Holy Spirit. The entire point of this passage, and others to follow, is that the people of God in the new covenant are NOT those who follow Torah civil laws, but those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. To enforce Torah civil dietary laws during the new covenant period is to go directly against this clear vision from the Lord.

6) What do you do with Acts 15?

This entire chapter is directly related to the HR movement. The scene is a debate between those who argue that new gentile Christians should be ordered to keep the laws of Moses (Acts 15:5), but Paul and Barnabas argue that keeping these laws are no longer relevant. There is much vigorous debate over the issue until the apostle Peter stands up, filled with the Holy Spirit, and clarifies that the law of Moses was a burden impossible to keep (verse 10). Christians are not saved by law-keeping, but by the grace of Jesus Christ (verse 11). Therefore, the burden of keeping the law should not be laid on gentile believers or new converts to the faith. James delivers the final declaration of what is to be expected from new Christians. What is expected is a truncated version of the ten commandments (moral law of God): abstain from things related to idolatry, abstinence from sexual sin, and turning away from things related to pagan rituals (strangled animals and blood). This decision is then formally written up and circulated to the churches. This is not just a section of church history. This council is recorded for us in scripture so that we might have the confidence to make a clean break with the keeping of Torah (Mosaic) civil and ceremonial law. This decision was greeted by the church with rejoicing (verse 31)! We should also rejoice in the grace of Jesus Christ, never turning back to old ways.

7) Why would you call people back to becoming Jews, or to follow in the ways of the Jews, when Paul instructs us specifically to follow in the new way of Jesus Christ?

Romans 2:25-29 is one of many passages that points those who live after the incarnation of Jesus Christ to trust in Him, not the regulations of Judaism. The way of salvation in the old covenant was to become a Jew, or join the people of God in the belief and worship of God. In the new covenant period, the people of God are those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. People from all nations become followers of Christ, not Jews. When they become followers of Christ they are set apart in holiness by following the moral commands of God. This does not mean that Christians of other cultures must give up non-moral aspects of their culture to become Jewish. On the contrary, we are told that in Heaven there will be Christians from all nations, tribes, and languages (Revelation 7:9-17). The assumption from this passage is that looking out over the vast audience of Christians in Heaven, national differences will be visible. We are never told that all Christians should become Jewish in their living after becoming followers of Christ. There will be Jewish Christians present, who have believed in Jesus, but those will be truly Jewish in heritage and family origin. 

8) Why do you think that Jesus’ name can only be spoken as translated into Hebrew?

This argument is basically the same as those who argue that the Bible is only the word of God when it exists in the King James English. It’s a ridiculous argument that only points to the ignorance of those who do not know or speak foreign languages. The original manuscripts of the New Testament were written in Greek and Aramaic. In those manuscripts the name of Jesus was written in Greek. There is no prohibition in the Scriptures to translating the Bible into other languages. 

At the end of the day, the Hebrew Roots movement is only a variation on the same argument the apostles already settled in the book of Acts and Hebrews. Those who struggle with the teachings of this movement would do well to study those two books and come to better grasp what it means that we now live under the new covenant and that Jesus is our new and final High Priest. 

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 

I hope this is helpful,

Pastor Vic

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

This past week, Ravi Zacharias passed away, and is now with our Lord Jesus in glory. He held fast his confession of faith and lived a virtuous life in Christ – to his last day. This is worth celebrating and noting, in a day when news is so often dominated by those who are falling away from the faith. 

Ravi Zacharias was born and raised in India, under a completely non-Christian worldview. Once Ravi came to salvation, the Lord called him to use his tremendous God-given intellect and eloquence to help the lost world understand how the salvation of Jesus Christ is the answer to their heart struggles and separation from God. Ravi lectured all over the world for decades at top universities and large conferences, inspiring people from many cultures to consider the claims of Christ as truth. 

Ravi was not only a brilliant intellect, but a godly and faithful man in his personal character. The two must be joined together for a complete Christian life. It is the passionate mind and the virtuous life together that God blesses and uses most for His kingdom and glory.

If you have never listened to any of Ravi’s talks, or read any of his books, I strongly recommend them to you. Two of my favorites are Jesus Among Other God’s and Deliver Us From Evil. May his life be an inspiration to us all.

He who has promised is faithful,

Pastor Vic

“And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

May 7 (today) is the National Day of Prayer. This is a day set aside each year to turn our hearts to God in prayer. I strongly encourage you to take intentional time today to pray specifically for our nation. We pray about many personal things on a regular basis, but seldom pray for national issues or leaders. I encourage you to pray along these lines:

  1. Pray for repentance and an awareness of sin (Romans 1:18-32, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 1 John 1:9, Matthew 6:12-13). God will not bless our nation until we, individually, come to a place of repentance and belief that we need a Savior.
  2. Pray for the strength and growth of churches that will boldly preach the Bible and the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4, Titus 2:1).
  3. Pray for the formation of new faithful Christian churches across America and the revitalization of those that have grown cold and dead in their faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, Revelation 2:4-5)
  4. Pray for our national leaders: President, Vice President, Senators, Representatives, Governor, etc.. (2 Timothy 2:1-6). Pray for their salvation, wisdom, courage to do what is right before God, and to allow freedom of worship in this land.
  5. Pray for an end to abortion in our land (Exodus 20:13). Pray for the strength of organizations that counsel women toward life, and those who counsel women and men that are crushed by the guilt of their actions – may they find peace through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
  6. Pray for all who have been affected by COVID-19. Pray for those who have lost loved ones and for the healing of all who have contracted the virus. Pray for protection and stamina of those serving on the front lines in the medical field. Pray, as well, for God’s provision for those who have been affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
  7. Pray for a spiritual awakening across our land. Pray that the Holy Spirit would answer the prayers above and that God would be pleased to bring many to salvation in our time (Romans 10:1-3)!

May we pray in faith and with persistence. Lord, hear our prayers!

Pastor Vic

Blog written by Paul Sok, Spotswood West Elder over Finance

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

At Easter, we were reminded of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were directed towards our Savior who fulfilled the Mosaic law by living a perfect life as a pivotal aspect of the overall divine plan. Jesus Christ established a new covenant by which we could be saved and modeled a life that we as His followers should emulate. Through the examples and lessons that He presents in Scripture, we can see the heart of Jesus, and as a result, the type of heart that we should possess through His grace. The Lord tells us that our hearts will drift towards what we treasure in our lives. 

He also speaks to the importance of sacrificial giving, which conveys a heart that treasures obedience to our Savior more than our value of money. In Scripture, Jesus exemplifies the giving of two copper coins by a poor widow in the temple in Jerusalem as being a greater offering than those given by the rich, because the widow gave all that she had while the latter gave from their abundance (Mark 12:43-44). The poor widow sought to serve God with all of her heart while those who were more financially blessed portrayed a divided heart of service to the Lord. The Apostle Paul also instructs us to give “without reluctance or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” so that we may “reap bountifully” in terms of bearing fruit for God’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 9:7).

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reached members in our congregation and may continue to affect us for an undetermined amount of time. I encourage us all to calibrate our intentions and hearts with the Lord Jesus Christ’s examples above during these trying times. As we press forward together as the body of Christ and the Holy Spirit moves you all to give, there are a couple of ways to contribute to the Spotswood West Benevolence Account.  

The first option is to visit SpotswoodWest.org/Give and click “Give Online.” Select “Spotswood West Benevolence” from the Giving Type dropdown.  

The second option is to use the Spotswood Baptist Church app. 

Once you select “Give” in the app, enter the amount you want to give and once again choose “Spotswood West Benevolence” from the Giving Type dropdown menu.

The third way to give is via a check made payable to “Spotswood Baptist Church.” Please be sure to write “Spotswood West Benevolence” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Spotswood Baptist Church at 4009 Lafayette Blvd., Fredericksburg, VA 22408.

May we be known as a church that lives out our love for our Savior by caring for each other in the body in all manners. And let us be witnesses to the rest of this community of what it looks like to have hearts that are undivided and completely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit by His grace!


“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

A central doctrine (belief) of the Christian church is the resurrection of the dead in Christ. Last weekend we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus is called the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). This means that Jesus is the first to overcome death – never to die again. The good news of the message of Jesus Christ is that by faith through the grace of Jesus Christ, our sins might be forgiven, and we might pass from death into life. The promise made by Jesus is that those who believe in His name will have eternal life (John 3:16). What does it mean to have eternal life? Most people are so focused on this life, they think little of any life to come. However, the life to come was the central hope and clear end goal for the authors of Scripture (Hebrews 11:13-16, John 14:1-6). 

Paul writes clearly that when a Christian dies, their soul goes to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:21-24, 2 Corinthians 5:8). But in accord with the resurrection body of Christ, Scripture tells us that in our eternal state we will also have resurrection/glorified bodies similar to Jesus. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). 

This passage points out a few very important things. First, we will enter eternal life by the power of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, by His power, He will transform our lowly (earthly and dying) body to be like His resurrection body. Paul says “like” because it will be similar, but not the same. In what ways it will be similar, we are not told. Third, “transformation” implies something new and better being made from something old. Similar to the risen Jesus, Scripture implies that our resurrection bodies, though different, will be recognizable as “you.” The disciples knew the risen Jesus was different, but they knew it was Him (Luke 24:36-43). When Peter, James, and John saw Moses and Elijah with the glorified Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were not disembodied spirits. They were radiant and glorified, but recognizable as the men they were in life. 

For the believer in Jesus, death is a passage to eternal life – the putting off of the perishable and the taking up of the imperishable. At the second coming of Jesus, every Christian will be “changed” – they will be transformed to have a resurrected body that will never die. Paul speaks at length comparing the earthly body to the resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. Our current earthly bodies will die, are perishable, are dishonored by sin, are weak, and made of the “dust” of the earth in the image of mankind. In contrast, our heavenly resurrected body will be eternal (never dying), imperishable, glorious, powerful, heavenly, spiritual (not of this world), and in the likeness of Jesus. 

In summary, theologian Wayne Grudem states, “Christ will return and raise from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like His own.” 

Let us serve Jesus faithfully until the last trumpet sounds!

Pastor Vic