The Gospel Project: Week 2 “God is Not Hiding”

This week we are studying about general revelation. Wayne Grudem defines general revelation as “The knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral law that comes through creation to all humanity” (Systematic Theology, p. 1242). The important aspect of general revelation is that God has revealed Himself to all people of all time in some ways.

“1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4a, ESV)

As this passage teaches, God is declaring Himself through creation 24 hours a day, seven days a week! “Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge” (v. 2).

What can we learn about God through Creation?
1. His existence

We learn of the existence of God by observing creation itself. We see the complexity of the universe, of our planet, of the human body-how everything works together in perfect detail. Leave one detail out, for example, of how to breath oxygen, or the oxygen makeup of our atmosphere and our lives would not exist. Did that evolve by chance or is design evidence of a designer?

“Nature’s ‘music’ points us to look for the Conductor. Nature’s beauty points us to look for the Artist. The vastness of the Sahara Desert and the Arctic Tundra and the mighty oceans, in making us feel small and vulnerable, point us to God, the strong Tower” (p. 21).

2. His attributes

It might be easy to look up at the heavens and come to the conclusion that there must be a God. But what can we learn about the attributes of God by observing creation? We learn first that He is powerful, that He has the ability to create this world and everything in it. We also learn that He is extremely intelligent as everything works together in order to sustain life. We learn that He is creative because of the beauty and diversity in which He created everything. We learn that He is good because He could have chosen not to create us, or if He did to create us as mere slaves.

“For His invisible attributes, that is His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 HCSB).

3. His intentions

In citing Acts 14:15-17, Paul testifies to the pagans in Lystra that God was good to them, even as they rebelled against them by giving them rain, fruitful seasons, and allowing them to have enjoyment in life. That is what we might call “common grace” – God’s grace which is common to humanity, regardless of whether they recognize Jesus as Lord.

Though we can learn much about God from looking at Creation, it is not sufficient for salvation. In the passage cited above in Romans 1, God revealed enough about Himself that all are “without excuse.” One must hear, understand, and respond to the gospel in order to be saved. This is where we will go next week when we look at special revelation and how God has revealed Himself through the Bible.

I’m excited to teach this lesson and have already been interacting with some of my guys about what they’re reading at home. It is sharpening me and You will get out of these lessons what you put in during the week. If you haven’t-pick up the Gospel Project this week and start reading.

Church Planter Spotlight: Carlos Soca

Carlos Soca and his Family

This week, Pastor Mark and I had a chance to talk with Carlos Soca. Carlos and his wife Madai have been married for over 14 years and are the parents of Josh, Hannah and Avery. Carlos moved to NC and earned his M. Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and became involved in Open Door Baptist Church where he currently serves as Pastor of Hispanic Ministries. As New Jersey natives, the Socas have lived and know what it’s like to be a believer in the great religious and ethnic diversity of the New York Metro area. Their desire is for the many people groups represented in the area to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). In June they plan on moving to Clifton, New Jersey, just 12 miles west of New York City with four other families to plant Christ Our Hope Church for “His glory and the joy of many.”

The need is great in the Metro New York City area as there is only 1 SBC church for every 76,337 residents. When I asked Carlos about Clifton he related that though you pass many church buildings, the people that meet there no longer function as churches. There is very little gospel proclamation. The area is also culturally diverse. The planting team that God has brought together matches the ethnic diversity of the community.

I’m excited that we are going to have Pastor Carlos down to share in our morning service on Sunday, January 27th. Its my hope to take a vision team from Hermitage up in late summer to explore Clifton, NJ, to prayerwalk the community, and explore ideas of how to come alongside the Socas and Christ Our Hope Church to help impact lostness in this area of our country. We are anticipating the development of a 3-5 year partnership where will be giving encouragement, prayer support, mission teams, and financial assistance to help them get a secure start.

For more information about Pastor Carlos please visit the Christ Our Hope Website at

The Gospel Project: Week 1 – “The God Who Speaks”

I have been watching with anticipation the development of the Gospel Project Sunday School curriculum being developed by the folks over at LifeWay. While I had a personal interest in the material, upon coming to Hermitage I did not want to interject myself in changing much in way of the Sunday School during my first year. I wanted to let my associate pastor have leadership in that area. You could not imagine my excitement this summer when Mark returned from spending a week at Ridgecrest and asked permission to transition our church to the Gospel Project. We took our time, meaning that we did not start in September, but waited until the second quarter to begin. This week we started the Gospel Project as a church.

As a teacher myself, I wanted to share some of my thoughts after the first week. Our lesson was entitled, “The God Who Speaks.” It included two devotional readings that we were to do before group time. These two devotions worked well toward “priming the pump” and getting us ready for the heart of the lesson.

The lesson revolved around three major points:

  1. The God Who Speaks Has Authority (Gen. 1:1-3)
  2. The God Who Speaks Is Merciful to Reveal Himself to Us (Ex. 3:2-6)
  3. The God Who Speaks Gives Us Tasks (Gen. 1:27-30)

My guys really zeroed in on a couple of different points. First, they recognized the implication that if God has spoken to us and revealed Himself to us, then His Word is authoritative to our lives and we are going to have to reorganize our lives around Him. The second point that stood out was on p. 14 –

“Notice the progression again: God created (authority). Then He blessed (mercy). Finally, He gave tasks. . . Too many times, we get the order backwards. We begin with the tasks of the Christian life and seek to receive God’s blessing as a result of our obedience. . . When we begin with the task rather than the blessing, we cut ourselves off from the very power that is necessary to fulfill the tasks God has given us.”

When we went over this point, as a teacher I could see the light bulbs starting to go off all around the room.

I asked Amy how her class went. She talked about this same concept tied right into the 7 week ladies Bible study she just finished called “Duty or Delight.” The introduction of general revelation related back to a discussion her class had several months ago on Romans 1.

When we came home from church and were sitting around the dinner table I asked my girls what they learned in Sunday School. This week I already knew the answer to the question. Eden, our kindergartener is usually right back with the answer and can give the main idea. Joey and Jamie Hendrix do an amazing job with that age group. Caroline is in a preschool class and while she always has fun, she has never really answered the question. Until this week. She actually beat Eden to the punch, “We learned about Adam and Eve, that God created the world, and that He loves Me!” Over the next three years the children are going to take an adventure through the entire Bible.

I’m looking forward to how our family can grow together through Sunday School now in a way that we never have before. Watch out this could be the beginning of something big.

Have you started studying for next week?

When Christ Comes His People Will Worship Him

When Christ was born in Bethlehem he was joined by the shepherds who came and bowed down before Him. Matthew tells us of the magi from the East who came and brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In worship we bring our offerings before Him. This refers to presenting, not just an overflow of what he has given us, but our very lives.

“3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.” Malachi 3:3-4 (ESV)

Notice that only after being purified by the refiners fire is our worship acceptable and pleasing to God “as in the days of old.” It is striking that many times we may enter worship with unconfessed unrepented sin in our lives and expect God to be glorified. Our worship brings no honor to God while we raise hands that are stained. We must first deal with our sin, confessing, repenting, and seeking His forgiveness. Only then will our offerings be pleasing to the Lord. It reminds me of a passage from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says,

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)

As we prepare for Christmas this year, let’s deal with our sin and then lavishly worship our Savior. Let’s bring our gifts to him like the magi. Let’s celebrate his coming like the shepherds.