One Man is Chosen – Genesis 12-15

Our church family is reading through the first five books of the Bible together in ninety days. We invite you to join us as we believe this will be a time that will change our lives. 

Read Genesis 12-15

Abraham life (Genesis 11:27 – 25:11) is important. Today, Abraham is honored as the father of three “religions of the Book” – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Today, you can drive by synagogues, mosques, and churches – all of which consider themselves children of Abraham. Jews, Muslims, and Christians have named their children “Abraham” for 4,000 years in honor of Abraham’s place in all three religions. You will not be able to understand the world itself if you don’t understand this man’s story.

Abraham was one of three brothers who hailed from the southern part of present day Iraq. His life was multifaceted as he often lied by telling people his wife was really his sister in order to save his life. Not only was he wealthy, but he would mount a small army to defeat five kings to save his nephew’s family (Genesis 13). God changed his name from Abram, which meant, “father of many,” to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” He abandoned his son, Ishmael, and Hagar, causing the two to flee into the desert (Genesis 21:1-21). His wife, Sarah, gave birth at 90 years of age and God later asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). Thankfully, God later provided an animal for sacrifice in Isaac’s place. Abraham’s stellar life was capped off by being the first Jewish man to own land in the Promised Land. This one man is chosen out of all the families of the earth, and this one man receives an avalanche of blessing cascading one after another on him.

There are two features you should give close attention:

First, Abraham’s life is intentionally placed squarely in the center of Genesis. The book of Genesis is broken up into eleven sections. Each section is bracketed by telling the story of one generation. There are five stories of five generations in front of Abraham, and there are five stories of five generations behind Abraham. Again, Abraham’s story is placed intentionally in the center of Genesis. God wants you to focus on His choice of this one man and this one family.

Second, God tightens the focus on Abraham’s life. In the chapters before Genesis 12, God seems to be painting with the world as His canvas. Yet, in Genesis 12, we leave the broader perspective of the world as God focuses His grace on one man only – Abraham. God’s actions to fix the problems of the world are concentrated through Abraham and his family.

NRHBC’s Satellite Campus: A New Name and an Old Story

Satellite Campus Name from NRH Baptist Church on Vimeo.

North Richland Hills Baptist Church is in the process of launching a satellite campus in North Forth Worth. In just a few weeks, we will complete the purchase of nearly twenty-seven acres along the frontage road of Highway 287. We are excited about the possibilities for reaching people BetterTogether_mapwith the gospel at this second location in the days to come. North Fort Worth is among the fastest growing areas in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. We believe God is calling us to plant a multi-generational church that teaches God’s Word faithfully and shows the same compassion Jesus displayed throughout the gospels.

While we are paying for the land and await construction on a future building, this second site will begin meeting at Schluter Elementary of the Northwest Independent School District. Our second location will begin meeting on Palm Sunday (April 13) and Easter Sunday (April 20). We are praying and preparing for this day. Please join us in praying for this endeavor.

As the satellite location will be in North Fort Worth, it is apparent that a new name is needed. It would be difficult to call this second site “North Richland Hills Baptist Church” when it does not meet in North Richland Hills. As we prayed and considered names for the satellite campus, our church family was helpful. We asked them to suggest names and various names were suggested through the church’s website, through email, and in writing. Each of these was helpful and I thank you for your thoughtfulness.

We sought two criteria for the name of the satellite campus: 1) a name that had substantial continuity with our church’s past; and 2) a name that spoke of the value our church places on the gospel itself.

I am happy to announce that our satellite location will be called Cross Church.

The Cross of Christ is an important international symbol for Christianity. As the Star of David is the symbol of Judaism and the Crescent serves as a symbol for Islam, the Cross is the defining image for Christianity. The Cross also serves as a visible symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the center of our faith is Jesus Christ dying for sinners (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). I can think of few things more valuable than the Cross of Jesus. And it is our desire to communicate the message of the Cross to people surrounding the Mid-Cities as well as the people in North Forth Worth. Through this name, is is our hope that the surrounding community will have an immediate recognition of what our church stands for in the coming days. And through future efforts, we hope to make the gospel of Jesus Christ and His grace for sinners clear to people throughout the area.

The original campus will remain North Richland Hills Baptist Church.

A Pastor’s Letter to a Muslim

Earlier today I wrote a letter in response to a man who worships with our church and who also presents himself as a Muslim. The gentlemen is kind and caring; he is always smiling when I see him. He writes of our distinct faiths (Christianity and Islam) but he also mentions we worship the same God. I have dealt with the mistaken notion that Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the same God here, but wanted to share with my friend about the distinctive nature of God’s grace.

It’s not often that a pastor has the privilege of writing people of other faiths. In an age of so-called tolerance, few of us possess the civility to talk about the differences in what we believe. Too much of the time we talk past one another and shout over one another on TV talk shows. This is unfortunate and hurts the free expression of our faith. I thought I would share the contents of the letter with you.

Please note: the names presented in letter below have been changed.

Dear Mubid,

Thank you for your kind letter. I am so pleased that you are worshipping with us at North Richland Hills Baptist Church. We are, as you mentioned in your letter, devoted to making sure God’s Word prevails and our desire is to love others as we endeavor to connect all people with the grace of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want you to feel at home in our church and I am so happy to hear of how you have felt welcomed by our church. My prayer is that we show you every kindness. My hope is that you find our church family welcoming, friendly, and warm for years to come.

You mentioned in your letter that, “The belief in Jesus is fundamental to embrace Islam.” We as a congregation are eager for everyone to come to know Jesus Christ personally and experience God’s free gift of salvation that is available only through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since even our best moral efforts cannot make us acceptable to the one true and perfect God, we strive to share the message that all people are far worse than they have imagined but they are also far more loved than they can comprehend. Allow me to explain this last sentence.

You mentioned the distinct faiths of Islam and Christianity. One thing that I am praying you to experience while you are with us is God’s grace. The Bible speaks of the “riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Grace is an unusual thing and it is a “big deal” for Christians. God’s grace causes believers in Christ to be humble people because they have not earned God’s favor but have received God’s mercy as a gift. God’s grace is a gift as God Himself gives it to people. Grace is where God treats people with goodness and mercy when they deserve only punishment. Instead of receiving what we deserve, God shows His kindness toward sinners. When we have received His kindness through Christ, how can we be anything other than humble toward others?

The Bible clearly states, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). And this a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity. Because of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins, Christians can be absolutely certain they are forgiven. Allow me to say that again: because of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins, Christians can be absolutely certain they are forgiven. A Christian’s certainty of God’s acceptance is not because they are righteous or because they are good. Instead, our certainty rests solely in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone.

There are numerous laws in the Qur’an as there are in the Bible. The law in the Bible acts much like a mirror. The law shows us our sins like a mirror shows us what we truly are. Again, the law acts like a mirror so we see our sinfulness. Once we see our sin, we know we need a Savior.

Again, it is my prayer that you experience the grace of God for His grace is reserved only for those who trust in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the payment for their sin (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Because Jesus was both God and man, His sinless life and death stands in the place of sinners who place their faith in Him. Only God can grant forgiveness of sins and Jesus had the right to forgive us (John 1:12). Again, I want you to experience the grace of God. I want you to experience the sweet life where you know the God of heaven loves you and accepts you based on the death of His Son. I want you to experience the grace of God so you will be free to love others from the love you have experienced in Christ.

Thank you for taking time to read my letter. You are kind and thoughtful and we are so glad you are with us. I would like to sit down with you and enjoy a cup of coffee with you in the days to come. This would give us more time to talk. Please know I will be praying for you.

May Christ richly bless you,

Scott Maze

Pastor

North Richland Hills Baptist Church