A Simple Reminder About F A I T H

Faith is all encompassing for the Christian. There is never a situation where faith is not supposed to operate in the life of the believer. In fact, failing to operate in faith is called sin in Romans 14:23: “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” The current world-wide pandemic is no exception. We don’t live in fear, we respond in faith. Faith is our choice to trust God in all things. 
Let me give you a few simple reminders about faith.
The Christian life starts with faith. I still remember memorizing a verse from Romans 5 as a teenager. Better still, I recall its impact to this day. Forty-five years or so later. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The colossal promise is that sinners can be “justified” by faith. That simply means that the sinner has been declared righteous in God’s eyes. It means two things: The “debt” of my sin has been paid in full by Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus has been installed in me. The result is that we have peace with God.
The Christian life is lived by faith. Having begun the Christian life by faith, we now arrange our entire life “by faith.” “We walk by faith, not by sight” according to 2 Corinthians Chapter 5. It means that I view all things through the lens of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. Every aspect of my life is governed by the teachings of Jesus and His Word, the Bible.
The Christian life is an investment in the good works that God has planned for us to enjoy. In fact, faith enables me to discern the purpose of my life according to God’s plan. We work in the world by faith. It’s very cool to me that the Bible links my salvation to the purpose of my life in Ephesians 8:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Faith not only restores my relationship with God it restores my purpose in the world, “good works” that He has planned for us.
The Christian life can also be described as “waiting by faith.” Theologians have referred to this concept as the “already, not yet” fact of being a follower of Jesus. As a young Christian I was taught the three “tenses” of the Christian life. I have been redeemed. I am being redeemed. I will be redeemed. That simply means that we are waiting for what has already been promised. We patiently persevere because it’s already done! I was reading Psalm 22 a few days ago. It’s the most famous of the “messianic” Psalms. Remember how it begins? “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The Psalm finishes with a simple but profound observation; “He has done it.” Everything that God promises, He does. Faith stands on God’s work.
Pastor Deric

Religious Freedom in Canada – IMPORTANT Update

I joined 1,200 registrants from across Canada recently for a 3-hour conference on the subject of religious freedom in Canada and Bill C-6 in particular. The Canadian Religious Freedom Summit was convened and facilitated by the Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa, with the gracious help of the Summit’s sponsors. The sponsors alone were impressive: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (of which we are a member church); Canadian Centre for Christian Charities (of which we are a member church); The Gospel Coalition (Canada), to name a few. 
The keynote speakers included: André Schutten (Director of Law and Policy, Association for Reformed Political Action); Deacon Andrew Bennett (Program Director, CRFI & Faith Community Engagement, Cardus) ; Deina Warren (Associate Director of Legal Affairs, Canadian Centre for Christian Charities); Julia Beazley (Director of Public Policy, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada); Jojo Ruba (Executive Director, Faith Beyond Belief); Jonathan Griffiths (Lead Pastor, Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa) and Derek B.M. Ross (Executive Director & General Counsel, Christian Legal Fellowship)

Here are four things you can do as a Christian to respond to this crisis of law underway in Ottawa:

1. Educate yourself


Make it your aim to know the important issues that your fellow Canadians are facing. Read broadly and wisely from sources that will equip you with accurate data on current events that matter to you. Avoid the bullet point impulse that leaves us with half-truths and whole-lies. Test what you hear. I’ve included two links from the Gospel Coalition and the National Post to get you started.

2. Prepare yourself


There was a moment during the conference that it all became very surreal. Has life in Canada come to the point where the state is actually threatening to criminalize the exercise of my conscience in matters of Biblical conviction? As Pastor Jonathan Griffiths observed in his opening remarks of the conference, one cannot engage the teaching of the Bible without embracing the sexual ethics of the Bible. Eventually the Bible clashes with the culture. When I wrote to my MP, Mr. Gagan Sikand, Mississauga-Streetsville, about my concerns: here is the response I received:

“Conversion therapy is a practice that targets vulnerable LGBTQ2 Canadians in an attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and can lead to life-long trauma. It is rooted in the belief that sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed to fit a narrow idea of what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’. There is international consensus in the medical community that conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective. Conversion therapy reflects myths and stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) persons, in particular that sexual orientations other than heterosexual and gender identities other than cisgender can and should be changed. Accordingly, conversion therapy causes social harm by stigmatizing these persons, harming their dignity and negatively impacting their equality rights. Discussions that explore identity are not considered to be conversion therapy, and are not targeted by this bill. However, there is a difference between exploring someone’s identity and telling them that who they are is wrong and in need of fixing. Conversion therapy is about actively working or providing services designed to change who someone is. That is what our Government is targeting in this legislation.”

Do you see the flaw? “Conversion therapy” is universally linked with all dissenting opinions about human sexuality. Do you see the problem? Arguing anything but a wholesale acceptance of the definition of human personality and sexuality is the same as conversion therapy. It’s a low blow. The Bible is prescriptive in its diagnosis of human behaviour and sexuality. What the Bible calls “natural and normal” the culture deems “narrow.” The Bible details a myriad of ways that we all are in “need of fixing.” Notice how the definition of identity is being seized by legislators while claiming that no one has a right to disagree with their views without being abusive in doing so. (I doubt that I’ve ever heard such conflated double talk).

Again, I need to remind you to “prepare your minds for action” as the apostle Peter urged. We are in a new day that does not allow for our traditional, conventional, historic, universal beliefs as taught in the Bible.


3. Express yourself


Opinions are divided among Christians about the legitimacy of political action from the Church. I have my own opinions. Suffice it to say that the Bible records numerous situations in which believing Jews and Christians participated in the political process. (They also spent vast amounts of time under duress by the governing authorities of their day). Even Paul refused to “go away quietly” when, as a Roman citizen, his personal rights and freedoms were violated (see Acts 16:37-40). Vote wisely and prayerfully. Contact your MPs and MPPs. Get involved. Their role is to serve the public. You are the public. Own your role.

I’ve not seen such an extensive and united coalition of Christian voices over any single item in my lifetime as a pastor. It’s both encouraging and ominous. Encouraging to see Christians of various stripes and colors speaking with one voice (and doing so in a classy way). Ominous because it suggests something very serious is about to go down in Ottawa.

4. Above all things, Pray & Trust the Lord.
I’ve already decided what my response will be to laws that potentially restrict the preaching of the ethics of Scripture. Have you? Pray that we may avoid such a clash with our governing authorities. Pray that God will have mercy on our country, named according to the words of Scripture; The DOMINION of Canada (Psalm 72). But if He wills us to enter a time of greater testing than we have ever known, pray that Christians will be faithful.
Praying with you and for you, church family,

Pastor Deric