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Why Is There a Congregational Reading?

Why Is There a Congregational Reading?

On Sundays, as part of our worship, Abounding Grace Baptist Church offers a Congregational Reading of the Scripture. I have been asked, several times, what this is and why it is a part of our worship service.

First, our Congregational Reading is a passage of the Scripture that is related to the text that we will be working with in the sermon portion of our worship service. During the reading, we stand to give reverence to the Word of God and I read the odd numbered verses while the congregation responds with reading the even numbered verses.

Second, we have a Congregational Reading because the Word of God, both the written Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos (word) of God is the central focus of our worship service. It is in the singing of hymns and the responsive readings that the congregation participates in the worship of God. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17) and, in reading aloud together, we strengthen the faith of the worshippers.

Also, we read together because life is busy and full of activity, which means that for some of our beloved congregation, all the Bible they will get in a week comes on Sunday. After rich worship and the preaching of the Bible, we send our congregation out as sheep amidst the wolves and so we desire to send them out as full of the Scripture as possible. The days are evil, the Bible is our sure comfort, and it is our first line of defense against the wickedness.

In short, we have a Congregational Reading because we love you and we want you to have as much of the Bible as you possibly can.


Grace to you,

Pastor Matt

Adultery and Divorce: Sex Isn’t the Problem

Adultery and Divorce: Sex Isn’t the Problem

Text Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus continues to unmask the self-righteous externalism typified by the scribes and Pharisees by showing that the only righteousness acceptable to God is purity of heart. Without that purity, the outward life makes no difference. God’s divine evaluation takes place in the heart. He judges the source and origin of sin, not its manifestation or lack of manifestation. “As a person thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7), and so he is judged by God (1 Sam. 16:7). You might ask yourself, why is there such an emphasis on the mind/will/emotions? The answer is simply this, all sin starts in the mind, will and emotions so this is where dealing with sin must begin. Nothing becomes the outward working of the flesh until is first germinates in the heart.

  1. You have heard that it was said to those of old: Now, Jesus deals with what they hadheard regarding the law of adultery. Of course, the teachers of the day taught that adultery itself was wrong. But they applied the law only to the actions, not to the heart. The whole point of the Sermon on the Mount is to deal with proper interpretation of the Law and the Prophets and, in its entirety, the Law and the Prophets deal with the heart.



  1. Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart: Jesus explains that it is possible to commit adultery or murder in our heart – or mind, and this also is sin and prohibited by the command against adultery.


“It is important to understand that Jesus is not saying that the act of adultery and adultery in the heart are the same thing. More than a few people have been deceived on this point and say, “I’ve already committed adultery in my heart, so I may as well do it in practice.” The act of adultery is far worse than adultery in the heart. Jesus’ point is not to say they are the same things, but to say they are both sin, and both prohibited by the command against adultery. Some people only keep from adultery because they are afraid to get caught, and in their heart they commit adultery every day. It is good that they keep from the act of adultery, but it is bad that their heart is filled with adultery.” (Guzik)

At its root, I find adultery and divorce to be a contentment issue. We covet because have not learned to be content with what God has given us.  Everything we have comes from the hand of the Father (James 1:17) and in our lack of contentment we covet other people and things because we think we deserve more and better but if we stop and take an honest inventory of everything that we have been given by God, which by the way we do not deserve, the appropriate response is a heart overflowing with gratitude.

This principle applies to much more than men looking at women. It applies to just about anything we can covet with the eye or mind. “These are the most searching words concerning impurity that ever were uttered.” (Morgan)

In the end, there are really only 3 temptations that we face: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Turn to 1 John Chapter 2 and let us consider verses 15-17. So what is lust, really? How does it relate to adultery and divorce?


Lust: noun 1. intense sexual desire or appetite. 2. uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness. 3. a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually

followed by for)

From John MacArthur

The philosophy of sexual hedonism is not new to our day. It was common in New Testament times, and Paul faced it full force in Corinth. His comment “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food” (1 Cor. 6:13a) expressed the common Greek notion that biological functions are just biological functions and have no moral significance. It was a belief many of the Corinthian believers had reverted to, or had never given up, in order to justify their sexual misconduct. Apparently they were arguing, as do many hedonists today, that sex is simply a biological act, no different morally from eating, drinking, or sleeping. But Paul strongly refutes that idea by going on to say, “God will do away with both of them [that is, food and the stomach]. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body” (v. 13b). The body is more than biological as divine judgment will reveal. For Christians it is a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and belongs to the Lord rather than to us (vv. 15,19). It is therefore never to be used for any purpose that dishonors the God who made and indwells it. Christians should have but one response to sexual temptation—running away from it.

It is very hard to understate the case that we live in an incredibly sexualized society. Every kind of “pleasure” that you can imagine is available in moments. But those pleasures are a poison. Death awaits.

Our war against sin

“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”


  1. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out: Here Jesus uses a figure of speech, and did not speak literally. Sadly, some have taken it to be so and have mutilated themselves in mistaken efforts in the pursuit of holiness. For example, the famous early Christian, Origen castrated himself on the principle of this passage.
  2. The trouble with a literal interpretation is that it does not go far enough! Even if you did cut off your hand or gouge out your eye, you could still sin with your other hand or eye. When all those are gone, you can still sin with your mind.
  3. “Mutilation will not serve the purpose; it may prevent the outward act, but it will not extinguish desire.” (Bruce)
  4. It is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell: Jesus simply stressed the point that one must be willing to sacrifice to be obedient. If part of our life is given over to sin, we must be convinced that it is more profitable for that part our life to “die” rather than to condemn our whole life, but this is the one thing many are unwilling to do, and that is why they remain trapped in sin, or never come to Jesus. They never get beyond a vague wish to be better.
  5. “The salvation of our souls is to be preferred before all things, be they never so dear and precious to us; and that if men’s ordinary discretion teacheth them for the preservation of their bodies to cut off a particular member, which would necessarily endanger the whole body, it much more teacheth them to part with any thing which will prejudice the salvation of their souls.” (Poole)

The sinful flesh is not overcome easily. There is a reason why Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. That’s a death sentence. Remember that the wage of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) and they will be paid. What we have to decide is whether we will die to self or whether we will experience eternal death.

The hyperbole that Jesus used is extreme and shocking and it has to be. We don’t take sin seriously enough. Even those among us who are most fastidious about pursuing holiness don’t take our sin seriously enough. How serious is sin? Consider this, God knows every thought you had yesterday and would have been perfectly justified in killing you in your sleep. It is His grace that keeps us alive.


(31-32) Jesus interprets the law concerning divorce.


“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”


  1. It has been said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce”: In Jesus’ day, many people interpreted the Mosaic permission for divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1) as granting virtually any reason as grounds for divorce. Some rabbis taught this even extended to allowing a man to divorce his wife if she burnt his breakfast.


“Moses insisted upon ‘a writing of divorcement,’ that angry passions might have time to cool and that the separation, if it must come, might be performed with deliberation and legal formality. The requirement of a writing was to a certain degree a check upon an evil habit, which was so engrained in the people that to refuse it altogether would have been useless, and would only have created another crime.” (Spurgeon)


However, in Jesus’ day, this permission of Deuteronomy 24:1 had become an instrument of cruelty against wives. “The scribes busied themselves solely about getting the bill of separation into due legal form. They did nothing to restrain the unjust caprice of husbands; they rather opened a wider door to license.” (Bruce)


The two dominant schools of thought had emerged among the rabbis by the time of Jesus


  • School of Shammai: “Restricted the ‘some indecency’ ofDeuteronomy 24:1to refer only to a sexual misdemeanor authenticated by witnesses.”
  • School of Hillel: “Reputedly took it of any cause of complaint, even including burning the dinner.”
  1. Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except marital unfaithfulness: The issue of divorce revolved around a strict or loose interpretation of the worduncleanness in Deuteronomy 24:1. Those who wanted to make divorce easy had a loose interpretation. Jesus makes it plain that the idea of uncleanness is sexual immorality, not anything the wife might do to displease the husband.


  1. Sexual immorality“translates porneia, the root meaning of which is ‘fornication’, but it is used more widely, so that it could include premarital unchastity, subsequently discovered.” (France)
  2. The teaching of Jesus on marriage and divorce is further explained in Matthew 19, but here we see the intent of Jesus: getting back to the intent of the law, instead of allowing it to be used as easy permission for divorce.

This emphasis of Jesus on the permanency of marriage and the wrong of unjustified divorce went against the thinking of many in both the Jewish and the Gentile cultures. “In Greece we see a whole social system based on relationships outside marriage; we see that these relationships were accepted as natural and normal, and not in the least blameworthy.” Roman culture came to adopt this attitude towards marriage. (Barclay)

  1. Causes her to commit adultery: An illegitimate divorce gives place toadultery because God doesn’t recognize the divorce, and sees a new relationship as bigamous. It is possible for a person to have a divorce that is recognized by the state, but not by God. If that person goes on to marry someone else, God considers that relationship adultery because He sees them as still married.


I am frequently asked, what about an abusive spouse? I cannot find anything in Scripture which would require a spouse to stay in an abusive situation.


What about the spouse that wants to reconcile? In the case of a spouse who wants to reconcile, I would counsel thusly: If reconciliation is at all possible, it should be considered and attempted. Naturally, it will take time for trust to be re-earned but we should still work toward being reconciled.


All in all, we are laid bare. Any self righteousness is completely obliterated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. We are naked and exposed as sinners. There is hope, though. Because of God’s grace, we have hope of overcoming our sin.

The Final Shadow: When Christians Cross Death’s Door

The Final Shadow: When Christians Cross Death’s Door


Since the days of Adam, death and decay have been our constant companions. Even a casual observer will note that death surrounds us.

In Ecclesiastes 1, the Teacher uses the word hevel which most translations, unfortunately, render as “meaningless” or “vanity.” However, hevel is best translated as vaporous and few words better describe the human experience. Vaporous, vaporous; life is utterly vaporous.

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14 ESV)

That death must be a part of our reality stems from the curse in Genesis 3. The Man had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and now, in Adam, all men die. He is our Federal Head (representative in God’s Covenant) and his failure has been imputed to all of his offspring.

In our reading as a congregation, the Psalmist referred to walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and this is truth; we walk, as it were, through a dark valley full of the decay, despondence, and death that sin brings. Thankfully, there is verse 1 in that Psalm. The Lord IS our Shepherd; He is guiding, leading, sometimes carrying us along on our journey to that glorious home that awaits us at the end of this life.

For most, death is sudden whether in slumber, or some form of accident, or the body just gives up the ghost. For others, our translation out of this world is accompanied by prolonged illness. I cannot imagine the unique trial that those brothers endure as they watch their bodies fail but look forward to the day they are welcomed into the presence of the Lord. Before we come to our text, I want to share this thought with you:

We are assured that life eternal in not just life unending. Instead it is life that can never be diminished. As a joint heir of Christ, we are lent His glories and one of them is a life that can never be taken away from. For all of us, when death comes let us not meet him with weeping. Remember, he is no more than God’s butler who receives us at the door. Yes, he must take our coat (body) but when we lay aside that pitiful rag, we will be ushered before the Throne and will then be robed in splendors you can’t imagine in your wildest fantasies. Perhaps your coat must be a little more worn out so that you might better appreciate the robes to come. Looking to 2 Corinthians, we see the words of Paul…


2 Corinthians 5:1-8

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.


Now, let us come to our text, so that we can see what awaits the believer after passing through that final shadow. Revelation 22:1-6 “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”


Death is the final shadow that we must walk through and having walked through that fleeting shadow, we rise to worlds unknown and behold the glories of the risen Christ. In that first instant after we put off the pitiful rag we call a body, we will behold such wonders that every superlative we can think of will be beyond insufficient to describe.  Christ, Himself, will welcome us into Heaven’s grand throne room and He will present us to the Father. I am taking a little license for a second, but I can imagine Jesus presenting us to the Father and saying, “This is my beloved whom I have welcomed home. We will delight in each other forever.”


For the remainder of our time, let us look at what we will enjoy with our Christ forever and ever.

22:1 river… of life. This river is unlike any on earth because no hydrological cycle exists. Water of life symbolizes the continual flow of eternal life from God’s throne to heaven’s inhabitants.

22:2 tree of life.

Word Study: the tree of life

(Gk. xulon zoes) (2:7; 22:2, 14) Strong’s #3586; 2222: The term in Greek denotes “a tree that gives life,” that is, eternal life (see John 20:31). This tree symbolizes the eternal life God has made available to humankind. The tree of life was present in the Garden of Eden, but its fruit was not eaten because Adam and Eve had fallen into sin (Gen. 2:9; 3:24). Jesus came to earth to restore humankind and to again offer them the tree of life (2:7). Those who are in the new paradise, the New Jerusalem, will partake of the tree of life forever (22:2).

(For emphasis) A symbol of both eternal life and continual blessing, this vision brings the opening imagery of Genesis to a close. The tree of life, which was forbidden after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is the very tree that will unite humanity with one another and with God. That there are 12 different kinds of fruit speaks to the abundance of Heaven. In the new Heaven and on the New Earth, lack of resources will be no more. Famine, pestilences, all manner of plague are gone and mankind will eat of the abundance of the fruit just like was intended in the beginning, at Eden


22:3 no longer be any curse. The curse on humanity and the earth as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience (Ge 3:16-19) will be totally finished. God will never have to judge sin again, since it will never exist in the new heaven and new earth. No more curse means that the affliction of sin, especially on the human race and creation (Gen. 3:14–19), will be erased. As God had fellowship with Adam and Eve before their fall into sin (Gen. 3:8), so the Lord will again be with His servants eternally. In turn, His servants will worshipfully serve Him (Rom. 12:1).

Let me drive this point home for you: This verse, Revelation 22:3 is why I say that life eternal is a life that cannot be diminished. Now that the curse is removed, there is nothing left to take quality away from our lives. Blind eyes will see, deaf ears will hear the Lamb’s praise, crippled feet and legs will dance with all their might before the Throne, lungs that gasped for air will be filled to capacity never to struggle again. Every horrible disease you can imagine will be stripped away when we pass through the final shadow and catch a glimpse of our new home! For ages, there has been mention of a “mansion just over the hilltop” and what a rich metaphor that is. Paul referred to our bodies as a tent, in our earlier reference, and now we see that the human body, now glorified and celebrating the Resurrected One is indeed worthy of the metaphor of a mansion as it will now be glorious and fully equipped with every perfection you can imagine so that we can properly glorify Christ upon His Throne.


22:4 see His face. No unglorified human could see God’s face and live (Exodus 33:20-23). But the residents of heaven can look on God’s face without harm because they are now holy (John 1:18; 1Timothy 6:16; 1Jn 3:2). When I read this verse, the words to the old hymn always ring in my ears: Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face, There to sing forever of His saving grace; On the streets of glory let me lift my voice, Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.

His Name…Beloved, in the Promised Land, we shall finally have our longing fulfilled; God will be OUR God and we will be His people. He, Himself, will be our treasure, the priceless gift without comparison and the just reward for a life well lived. His Presence is our gift to enjoy forever and ever. There is a Greek phrase used here that I think is most helpful. It is eis ton aiona tau aiono, into/unto the age of the ages. That is how long we will enjoy our God. The hymn just barely begins to do justice to the concept. “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

Beloved, if you have bowed your heart before Christ’s Throne, death has no teeth. He is an old hound that barks loudly but he cannot bite. Your body will sleep, this is a truth, but the part of you that is really you will not die. You will be translated into a glorious new home where you will find that after 500 lifetimes, your living has only just begun. We cannot begin to imagine what comes next but I can promise you two things:

  1. Once you see the face of Jesus, no amount of suffering in this wretched body will matter any more.
  2. The trials you have overcome will give rise to the praises you will offer to the King.

The body decays because of the curse of sin, but my friend we have no idea what awaits us. A river of life, a tree so full of abundance that the nations will eat of its fruit and be satisfied, and, even better than that, the omnipresent God will walk with each of us. We will have one on one communion with the Creator. For ten thousand times ten thousand years, we will behold His glory and never grow tired of it.

If you are suffering, lift up your head, the King is coming and when He calls you unto Himself, your suffering shall be no more.

22:5 they will reign. “Once more we are assured that there is no more night there (21:23, 25; Zech. 14:7) and that God gives them light. The section culminates with the assurance that they will reign for ever and ever. It is not said that they will reign over anyone, and, indeed, it is difficult to see who their subjects could be. The term indicates a blessed and exalted state. They share in royalty.” (Tyndale NT Commentary Revelation)

This is a marvelous mystery that the Holy Spirit lays out before us in this verse. We, the redeemed will reign, with Christ, forever. Who, or what, will we reign over remains a question that can lead down all sorts of rabbit trails if you overthink it. I think that the Lord is reserving that to be a surprise for us on the day of our coronation. Perhaps, whatever we shall reign over will be our “wedding gift” so to speak since the Church is the Bride of Christ.

Shall we stand and shall we sing.

What is discipleship and how do I do it?

What is discipleship and how do I do it?

Here, at Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church, discipleship is a critical part of what we do. In fact, you might go so far as to say that it is our most important act of worship. We have to ask, though, what is discipleship and how do I do it?

First, discipleship is what happens when you obey the command of Jesus to “Follow me.” It is the process of learning everything we can about what He teaches us and the Holy Spirit conforming our new nature into a nature like His. Discipleship is a lifelong process and as we grow, we will produce new disciples by leading others to Christ.

How do I “do” discipleship?

It all starts with repentance. Repentance, simply, means a change of mind; you change your mind about your sin, you change your mind about who Jesus is, and you change your mind about whether or not you deserve to go to Heaven when you die. In repenting, you agree with God that you are a sinner, that you are totally unable to do anything to merit a place in Heaven, that you deserve eternal punishment in Hell, and that without Jesus, you have no hope.

Repentance leads to confession. Confession is simply this: you acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord, that He was raised from the dead, and that His death and resurrection paid for your sins. The Bible does not give us a set formula or set of words to use to do this. It can be as simple as saying, “Jesus, I am a sinner and I deserve eternity in Hell but you are Lord and you died for my sins, please give me forgiveness and help me to live a life that is pleasing to the Father.”

Once you have repented, then discipleship really begins to move. There are some things you need, and different churches have different ways to help you get what you need. For example, at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, we have a New Disciples Kit that we can provide. The kit includes: a Bible, a set of colored pencils for marking, and a study guide to take the new disciple through basic Christian doctrine. What your church provides may be different.

There are two questions that we need to deal with and these are very important to your discipleship process: Which Bible should I choose and which church should I choose? The second question is easier to answer so we will take it first.

You should choose a church where the pastors teach the Bible systematically. Systematically teaching the Bible could be teaching one verse at a time, one section of Scripture at a time, or one chapter at a time. I don’t recommend a church that teaches a different topic every week as it is too easy to skip over uncomfortable portions of Scripture. You do not have to choose one denomination (grouping of churches) over another. Admittedly, we at AGBC are Baptists but there are a number of other good choices: Calvary Chapel, Evangelical Presbyterian, United Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Orthodox Presbyterian, Reformed Anglican, etc. The important thing is that the Bible is taught from the pulpit and that you have opportunities to grow.

As for which Bible to use, you want to get an English Bible that is easy to understand. At Abounding Grace, we preach from the New Living Translation because it is a very accurate translation that is easy for most people, including those with English as a second language can understand. Other translations we recommend are: Christian Standard Bible, New International Version, English Standard Version and New King James version. I recommend that you spend some time comparing the 5 translations at the Bible Gateway website so that you can decide which is easiest to understand.

It would be helpful if your new Bible had cross references to help you see how the Bible interprets itself. You may even want one that has commentary notes in it. If you are not sure what to get, ask your new pastor what he recommends. Most definitely, ask which additional resources he recommends.

Now that you have a Bible and a church, it is important to study. We provide Christian Life Master Outlines that were written by Dr. Porter Barrington. These outlines cover the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Once you have grasped these outlines, you can move on to more advanced studies.

It is important to find a more mature Christian to guide you through the process. You are going to have questions and you will also need/want prayer as you go and so it will be important to have someone walking with you in the discipleship process to help guide you on the path to Christlikeness. In time, you will probably take on your disciples and teach them.


We are happy that you have become a disciple and we are anxious to walk with you. If you have questions, you are always encouraged to reach out to us.

Why Break the Wafer

Why Break the Wafer

Years ago, a friend of mine asked me about my habit of breaking the wafer before eating communion. He pointed out that there is no scriptural mandate for doing so, and he is correct. Nothing in the Bible mandates to break the wafer, so why do it?

I got to thinking about this as I prepare to lead communion as the pastor for the first time in two weeks. After meditating on it for a while, here is my answer:

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth said, “ For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

This is my body, broken for you. That is why I break the wafer. The wafer symbolizes the body of the Lord, broken and battered, first in the scourging and then in the crucifixion to pay for my sin and so I break it to remind myself that my iniquity along with the iniquity of a host of others is why Christ was nailed to the tree.

The breaking of the wafer, is part of my self examination process; I break it to give myself pause to remember that I bring nothing to Christ save my own sin in all its filthiness and that the cup which follows signifies His blood which flowed from a broken body to fully wash away all my sin. When I break that wafer, I almost always hear the words of the old hymn going through my ears,

“The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day. And there will I, though vile as he, wash all my sin away.”

Beloved, there is no real magic to the habit of breaking the wafer. However, you come to the Lord’s Table, simply remember these words: “The Lord’s body, broken for you and the Lord’s blood, shed for you.” Wash and be made clean and then partake. Freely, He gave; freely we will receive.


Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church…Better together

Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church…Better together

As we are preparing for the planting of Abounding Grace Baptist Church, It is important to know that Exploring the Truth will remain the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor Matt Sherro. Beginning in January, the guided study notes will reflect what is being taught in the pulpit.

Here is our lesson plan for 7 January 2018 until 4 March 2018 (Should the Lord delay His return). All lessons are from Matthew Chapter 5. The verses to be covered are in parentheses:

Beatitudes: A life hidden in Christ (3-12)
Salt and Light: The effects of a robust faith (13-16)
Christ and the Law (17-20)
Anger, where murder begins (21-26)
Adultery: Sex isn’t the problem (27-30)
Divorce: What is really allowed? (31-32)
I swear: Christ teaches about vows (33-37)
Getting Even: What God wants you to know (38-40)
Loving those who hate you: what grace demands (43-48)


Grace to you. We look forward to ministering to you in the future.

A Woman Rides the Beast Part I: The Great Whore of False Religion

A Woman Rides the Beast Part I: The Great Whore of False Religion

In Revelation 17 we see one of the great mysteries of the ages laid bare. Finally, the Agent used by Satan to deceive millions will be stripped of all her splendor and her filthiness will be exposed to all the world. John looks and sees that a woman (false religion) rides the beast (a false church.)

One of the best explanations of this, that I have found is from the late Dave Hunt at the Berean Call. You will find the lesson by clicking on the blue link below.

In part 2 we will look at the false church that will one day dominate the world; indeed she already has and will once more.


A Woman Rides the Beast with Dave Hunt

Abraham’s Faith Tested

Abraham’s Faith Tested

Genesis 22 (NLT)

Abraham’s Faith Tested

22 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

19 Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.

20 Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor’s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. 21 The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the ancestor of the Arameans), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 (Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) In addition to these eight sons from Milcah, 24 Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.


  1. 22:17 Hebrew seed; also in 22:17b, 18.
God Calls Abraham

God Calls Abraham

Genesis 12 (NLT)

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.[a]” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner. 11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’ 13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”

14 And sure enough, when Abram arrived in Egypt, everyone noticed Sarai’s beauty. 15 When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh, their king, and Sarai was taken into his palace. 16 Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and accused him sharply. “What have you done to me?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!” 20 Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions.


  1. 12:7 Hebrew seed.
On Choosing NLT

On Choosing NLT

Over the last couple years, I have made overtures to change the main translation that I use, and, after talking with several readers of this site, and consulting with my pastor, I have chosen to post all Scripture from the NLT, moving forward. We came to this conclusion for a few reasons:

  • Translated into the English a 6th grade student would use, the NLT is far and away the easiest to understand of the major English translations.
  • Outside the United States (Where most of my readers are located) the NLT is in a statistical dead heat with the NIV in terms of availability. It is vitally important to have a Bible that is accessible to the audience.
  • Faithfully accurate: Because the NLT uses a thought for thought style of translation, the original intent is easily captured.
  • Discipleship results: I do a lot of one-to-one ministry and I am regularly told by disciples that passages make more sense in the NLT, an “I get it now” experience is common.

You will note that these are not “fancy” or sophisticated theological reasons. They are more on the practical side. I still study in a word for word translation but for the purposes of ministering to the faithful brethren, I have found NLT to be the most helpful choice.

Grace to you. May you fall in love with the Word all over again.



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