Ways to Listen/Watch:
I’m excited to announce the launch of a new podcast feed: Eric Roseberry Audio.
Not only will this contain my weekly sermons from City of God Church, but it will also include plenty of other content designed to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus. You’ll find post-sermon discussions, Q&A sessions, round table talks regarding biblical and contemporary issues, interviews with other pastors and scholars, and much more.
There are a number of ways you can help me out as the feed launches.
- Find the “Eric Roseberry Audio” feed wherever you listen to podcasts (iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.) and subscribe to the show.
- While you’re there, download each of the episodes that are currently available.
- Also, if you would rate and review the podcast it would really help me out.
- Spread the word! Let others know who might be interested. Anything you’re willing to share on social media would also be appreciated.
It’s my deep desire that God would use this content to help people meet Jesus and grow in their relationship with him. By helping out in the ways listed above, you’ll ensure that it is heard by as many people as possible.
Thanks for your support. I can’t wait to see what God does with this.
Everyone wants to be happy, but no one seems to know how to find happiness. Typically, we believe if we could just change one thing about our circumstances, then we would finally be content. If we could get a new or better job, income, degree, relationship, house, etc., then we could rest.
However, most of us are starting to realize that the things we thought would make us happy won’t in the end. So what hope do we have? Do we just give up the idea that we’ll ever find satisfaction in this life?
In Sunday’s sermon at City of God, we were reminded that one of our greatest temptations is to look for happiness everywhere other than the place we can actually find it. What does it look like to step into a relationship with God and discover the life we were made to live? Check out more from “Our Misguided Search for Happiness” here.
This week I began reading Stephen Neil and Tom Wright’s book The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986 (yes I know how exciting that sounds).
They describe the situation in early critical scholarship of the Bible as follows. In Germany new critical tools were beginning to be used to assess history. Slowly those critical tools were turned toward the Bible. Over a period of time the influence of critical German scholarship spread into Europe, and several men began to assess whether the Bible could hold up to academic historical scrutiny.
David Strauss and F.C. Baur are two of the more well known men from that period of time that refused to presuppose that the Bible was the imperfect, inspire, and inerrant word of God. While they would still conclude that the Bible was a message from God that did not stop them from highlighting where they saw contradictions, inaccuracies, or the developments of myths and legends. While the two men worked on very different projects they were working from the same premise. The Bible is a historical document that can be studied with the same tools that all of history is assessed with.
One of the early challenges to studying the Bible in this way came from the church. Following the publication of a work called “Essays and Reviews” in which several conclusions were reached that would be considered “unorthodox” the church reacted in hostility. Neil writes of the church’s reaction:
“The handling of Essays and Reviews by the Church is a warning to all times that may be faced by a similar crisis. Everything was done exactly in the way in which it ought not to have been done. The Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury condemned the book. The Lower House by a large majority commended the action of the bishops. Ten thousand Anglican clergymen signed a memorial to the bishops condemning the Essayists. Legal proceedings were started against them in the Court of Arches. The airing of ecclesiastical controversy in the law courts is one of the more deplorable aspects of the history of the Church of England in the nineteenth century” (Neil and Wright, 33).
Why is this important for us today? Because it’s very possible that the same mistakes continue to be repeated. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe that it is free from error and inerrant.
That type of belief can lead us in to one of two directions. Either it will lead us to insulate ourselves from attacks on the Bible from the outside world, or it will lead us to engage with the questions of those that are more critical toward the Bible.
If we believe that in the pages of scripture we have truth revealed to us by God then why would we fear challenges to that claim? Because this truth is so important it should lead all of us to want to engage with the difficult questions that come out of a detailed study of the Bible. It’s in wrestling with the hard questions that we come to a clearer understanding of what this book is, and typically it gives us greater confidence in the reliability of the Bible. We should never try and suppress or ignore the questions of those who are thinking deeply about the Bible. None of us have a perfect understanding of this text and when we are willing to listen to perspectives different from our own we are able to grow, change, or solidify positions that we take. If we refuse to have the discussion then most of our beliefs stay surface deep and never go much further then empty arguments that we can’t defend.
Should inerrancy make us uncritical? Should it cause us to never ask hard questions about the Bible? On the contrary, it should lead us to study this book like no other book that we have. It should drive us to ask the difficult probing questions, and to have the hard conversations. Don’t allow your belief in the Bible as the Word of God to become a prison that keeps you from interacting with the outside world,
On a recent trip to Orland I had the opportunity to begin McClymond and McDermott’s massive work entitled “The Theology of Jonathan Edwards.” Before looking at some of the major emphases of his theology they spend the introductory chapters describing his historical, intellectual, and spiritual background.
In the chapter dealing with the spirituality of Edwards they highlight his practice of self-assessment. For many Christians today, Edwards’ practice of assessing why he did the things that he did could be very helpful.
Edwards wrote that through this practice he was, “searching and tracing back all the real reasons why I do them not [i.e., his duties], and narrowly searching out all the subtle subterfuges of my thoughts…that I may know what are the very first originals of my defect.”
Not only was Edwards concerned with why he continued to sin, but he was also very concerned with the motives behind his performance of religious tasks. As a pastor he had a great deal of concern for those in his church that believed they were following Jesus because of what they did, but they never took the time to stop and assess their hearts
There’s much we can learn from Edwards practice of self-assessment. It’s easy to often stop and feel satisfied when we do things that would please Jesus. However, if we’re being honest, there’s a number of sinful reasons someone might do “religious” things.
- How many of us have performed outward actions knowing others were watching?
- How often do we seek the praise that comes from others when we’ve stepped out in a big way to follow God?
- If you had the opportunity to be obedient to Jesus, but no one would ever know, see, or hear about it would you still do it?
- Not only that, how often do we deceive our selves finding assurance in the actions we perform, but never asking if our hearts are far from God?
This Sunday, we’re starting a new series at City of God Church working through the book of Colossians. I’m always excited at the start of a new series. Without fail, God always (sometimes unexpectedly) teaches me so many things as I slowly make my way through His word.
One of those unexpected things I discovered while reading through Colossians this week was how encouraged I was by the heart and ministry of a man named Epaphras.
If you’re not familiar with his name, you’re not alone. He’s not a prominent figure in scripture, and his name only pops up three times (Col. 1:7; 4:12; Philem. 23). However, what we do know about him presents a perfect picture of how the gospel can transform an individual, and how that individual can play a vital role in seeing a city come to know Jesus.
The first time his name is mentioned is in Colossians 1:7. Here is what Paul had to say about Epaphras.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is writing to a church he didn’t plant. In fact, he’s never even had the opportunity to visit them at this point, but what Paul has heard about them up to this point has been pretty positive. This is a body of believers who have faith in Christ and love for others that is rooted in their hope of the grace of God. How incredible would it be if this could be said of every church?
News of this church came to Paul by way of Epaphras. As Paul notes here, he’s one of the individuals primarily responsible for preaching the gospel in this city. He is the one through whom the Colossians heard and understood “the grace of God in truth.” A little later in this letter (Col. 4:12), we actually find out that Epaphras is “one of you.” He was from Colossae. These were his people, and he had made it his responsibility to ensure that as many in this city as possible had an opportunity to hear about and respond to the gospel.
Without getting into the details, there are reasons to believe that Epaphras responded to the gospel during Paul’s missionary work in Ephesus in the mid-50’s (Ac. 19:1-10). Notice what Paul says the gospel does in the life of a person when they receive it. It bears fruit and increases (Col. 1:6). This was true of the church in Colossae, and it was true of Epaphras individually.
There are plenty of ways the gospel can bear fruit and increase. This fruit can be the transformation that happens in a person as they are transformed into the image of Christ (Gal. 5:22-24). The increase can also be from new believers being converted as they are presented with the truth of God’s grace.
It’s easy to make the Christian life complicated. However, I think Epaphras gives us a beautiful picture of what God calls all believers to do. We hear the gospel, receive it, experience the joy and peace that comes from knowing God, and that cultivates a desire in us to share that message with the people closest to us.
What happened to Epaphras? He believed the gospel and then spent the rest of his life persuading those he knew to believe. He was a faithful minister to these people (Col. 1:7), struggled on their behalf in prayer (Col. 4:12), and even spent time in prison because of his ministry (Philem. 23). His desire for others to know Jesus cost him something, but I’m willing to bet he thought it was worth it.
This is a picture of a man who sacrificed much so that others might believe. He was so captivated by God’s love for him that he wanted his family members, neighbors, and fellow citizens to experience that same love. It’s an example we see in the Gadarene Demoniac of Mark 5:19-20, and it’s example we’ve seen set by thousands if not millions of others throughout church history.
As we study the book of Colossians together, my hope is that God would raise up many like Epaphras in our church. My prayer is that you and I are so taken by the beauty of the gospel that we are stirred to invite as many as possible to receive this good news. Oh, that God would stir up “unceasing anguish” in many of us, like Paul (Rom. 9:2), over the reality that there are many in Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Purdue who don’t know Jesus.
When you stop and think about those closest to you who aren’t in a relationship with God, it can be a crushing feeling. However, rather than remaining in our despair, we can follow the example of Epaphras who experienced the fruit of the gospel in his own life and gave everything so that others might have a similar experience.
Epaphras loved Jesus. He loved his city. Those two truths led to a church being planted and numerous believers who had been transferred from the “domain of darkness” to “the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). May the same thing happen here. May the gospel bear fruit and increase in this city and on this campus. God saves sinners but in his grace, he uses us in that great work of spreading the gospel.
Would you pray with me that our city would experience a similar gospel awakening?
Would you pray that God would give you a desire to see those closest to you come to know Jesus?
Would you pray that the gospel would bear fruit and increase here and in your own heart?