Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Fit In? (2022)

Dr. Steve Viars January 9, 2022 1 Timothy 1:12-20
Outline

1 Chronicles 12:32 - Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.

3 reasons to be thankful as we launch this new year of ministry together

I. Be Thankful that Jesus has Appointed You to His Service

diakonian - “putting me into service”

A. Acknowledging Him as your Lord who strengthens you

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

1 Timothy 1:12 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me…

Daniel 3:4-6 - Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.”

B. Because he looked beyond your past

1 Timothy 1:13 - …even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor…

C. Because he related to you in mercy, grace, faith, and love

1 Timothy 1:13-14 - …Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

“Mercy differs from grace in that grace removes guilt, while mercy takes away the misery caused by sin. Paul received the undeserved relief of misery that accompanies saving grace.” (John MacArthur, 1 Timothy, p. 30)

II. Be Thankful for Christ’s Redemptive Mission

A. These words are trustworthy and deserving full acceptance

1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance…

B. Jesus came into the world to save sinners

1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

“The trustworthy statement in 1:15 acts as a condensed articulation of the gospel. In only eight Greek words is found a marvelous summation of the gospel message. Each word is chosen carefully. Christ Jesus is the word order preferred by Paul in the Pastoral Epistles. He uses it twenty-five times compared to six uses of ‘Jesus Christ.’ Bound up in those two words is all that He is. Christ is the anointed King who came to redeem, and became the earthly Jesus at the Incarnation. That He came into the world implies not only His incarnation but His preexistence. Note carefully that it does not say that He came into existence, or that He was created. He existed somewhere else before coming into the world. This phraseology is used frequently by John, who often speaks of Christ’s coming into the world (cf. John 1:9; 3:19; 6:14; 11:27; 12:46; 16:28; 18:37).

The world refers to the world of humanity, blind, lost, and condemned to hell because of its hostility to God (cf. 1 John 5:19). It is into that world of sinners, of darkness and unbelief, that Jesus came. John 3:17 says, ‘God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him’ (cf. John 12:46–47).

Christ’s purpose in coming into this fallen world was to save sinners. Before his birth the angel told Joseph ‘it is He who will save His people from their sins’ (Matt. 1:21). In Luke 19:10 our Lord stated the purpose of His coming into the world: ‘For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ To save is to deliver from death and darkness, from sin, hell, and judgment. Sinners was a term used by the Jews to describe Gentiles (cf. Gal. 2:15), but our Lord used it to refer to all of fallen mankind (cf. Matt. 9:13). It denotes man’s constant violation of God’s law; men are sinners by nature.” (John MacArthur, p. 32)

1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

Proverbs 18:13 - He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

1 Timothy 1:4 - …give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

The mission of Faith church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples

C. We view ourselves as the chiefest of sinners

1 Timothy 1:15 - …Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

D. Our redemption is a demonstration of God’s patience

1 Timothy 1:16 - Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

E. Our efforts can glorify our great God

1 Timothy 1:17 - Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

III. Be Thankful that the War to Which We’ve Been Called Is Good – 1 Tim. 1:18-20

- every year on one of the first Sundays of January, we pause and consider the questions Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?...

- sometimes I chuckle at the way this message is described…it’s almost as if – well, Pastor Viars took a lot of vacation over the holidays and didn’t time to prepare something new, so we start each year with a re-run sermon…

- that’s really not the case – in fact it’s the polar opposite…because while our mission doesn’t change…where we are in the life of our church and the state of our culture is constantly evolving…

- so this becomes more of a State of the Union message a president might deliver…although the Speaker of the House is not sitting behind me prepared to tear up my notes when I’m done…how would you like that for pressure?...

- yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with all of the leaders from our church and our church’s various ministry divisions, our church’s school, and our church’s counseling center, and our residential programs for women and men, and our community centers, and seminary, and mission board, and foundation…

- that group of leaders has never assembled at one time before…

- and it provided an opportunity to praise the Lord for all He has done…but God uses people – men and women who are like the leaders of the tribe of Isachar mentioned in - 1 Chronicles 12:32 - Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.

- a church family has to have solid answers to the questions like Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?...in order to know why, and when, and how to launch and then develop and then grow ministries like the ones I just mentioned…

- I’m very thankful for the women and men who have given questions like this serious attention…along with a willingness to act courageously and decisively as the answers to these questions become clear…

- we also discussed in yesterday’s meeting our current strategic ministry planning process – in fact our discussion was titled – the theological foundations of Strategic Ministry Planning…and we emphasized that two things we must never do as a church and all of our church’s associated ministries – we must never coast, and we must never drift…

- in other words, we don’t want to get lazy and just keep doing the same things in the same way at the same pace – that would be drifting…and therefore not exemplary of what faithful stewards do – [which is to take 1 talent and make it 2, or 2 and make it 4, or 5 and make it 10]…answering these three questions and then committing ourselves to accomplish the implications of the answers is what helps us not to coast…

- on the other hand, we dare not drift…its possible for an organization like us to be going 100 MPH, in the wrong direction…that’s why a constant reminder of our mission statement and core values is so important…there’s all sorts of things we could do in 2022 that we’re not going to pursue because they are not consistent with the biblical mission God has entrusted to us…on the other hand, I hope there will be many things we will do passionately because we conclude – that’s right in the sweet spot of what God has called us to be, and what God has called us to do…

- so, Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?...

- to answer that question for 2022 – let me invite you to open your Bible to 1 Timothy chapter 1…that’s on page ____ of the back section of the bible under the chair in front of you

- our church’s theme this year is Growing in Gospel Gratitude

- we believe that’s appropriate for all sorts of reasons…but especially because we’re in a strategic ministry planning year…everything we consider about the future should be done on a foundation of profound gratitude for all the Lord has given to us in Christ…and for the many men and women who have served and given so sacrificially thus far to help us achieve what we’ve believed was God’s will for our church family….

- another reason we want to focus on gratitude this year is where we are as a culture…

- I know some people have promised to close down the virus, but the virus doesn’t appear to be in the mood to be bossed around…

- so who knows what this year is going to bring…

- plus, we’re going into a mid-term election…and with the advent of cable news…if you pay enough attention to that, we’re in an endless election cycle…

- well, all of that, whether we’re talking about COVID, or politics, or the economy, or racial tensions, or whatever else becomes top of mind in our culture – all of that could breed a level of cynicism and discouragement and depression…

- surely, one of the antidotes for discouragement and depression among the people of God is exactly what our annual theme advocates – Growing in Gospel Gratitude

- to cut to the chase of this year…you could summarize it like this…Jesus loves me, and He is preparing a place for me in heaven because of my faith in His death, burial, and resurrection…now what was it that I was just going to complain about?....

- then you add the fact that we have a local city council that is proposing an ordinance that would potentially ban biblical counseling with minors about human sexuality with a threatened fine of $1000 per day…

- well, like it or not – we’re probably going to have to do something about that, don’t you think…

- but that, and anything else we have to respond to this year…must always be on a foundation of growing in gospel gratitude…

- the book of 1 Timothy is one of the books that Bible students classify as a pastoral epistle…

- Timothy was a precious associate of the apostle Paul’s…Lord willing later this year we will study a delightful passage that enumerates the kind of character that this dear man possessed…

- he had been left in Ephesus to provide pastoral oversight for the church and perhaps a group of churches in that region…

- the persecution of the church is on the rise – as is the incidence of false teachers and heretical ideas…

- part of the challenge is that Timothy struggled at times with being timid…and none of us would look down our noses at him because of that because we can be timid too…and because we don’t face in our day and age anything like the persecution and governmental oppression that our sisters and brothers in the first century church faced…

- 1’d like read the first chapter of this great book…and then focus in especially on verses 12-20 for our time together today – we’re going to be looking for 3 reasons to be thankful as we launch this new year of ministry together.

- read 1 Timothy 1:1-20

- so we’re talking about Growing in Gospel Gratitude, and with the time we have remaining, let’s find 3 reasons to be thankful as we launch this new year of ministry together.

I. Be Thankful that Jesus has Appointed You to His Service.

- the phrase “putting me into service” includes the original word diakonian

- we get our English word deacon from a form of this word…

- and it literally means servant, which is why our 42 deacons and their wives and families are such marvelous servants around here…

- the way Paul uses this word – it could literally be translated – I am thankful that the God of heaven and earth – “diaconized me”…or as the English Standard Version puts it – He appointed me into His service…

- and please notice the way our Lord is described at the beginning of verse 12…

A. Acknowledging Him as your Lord who strengthens you

- when we think about the answers to these three questions for this year, or for the three years in our next planning cycle…it has nothing to do with – what do we want to do, or what do we feel like doing…or what might bring us applause, or comfort, or prosperity…

- it’s also about – what does our Lord, our King, or Master desire of us…

- we are reporting for duty with hearts filled with thanksgiving that we even have the privilege of serving such a marvelous king…

- we acknowledge what Jesus explained in John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- every bit of that is like taking a bite out of the most delicious piece of fruit you or I possibly imagine…

- but not only is He our Lord…but what else?...

- 1 Timothy 1:12 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me…

- one of the observations we made with our leaders yesterday was to just close your eyes for a moment and imagine what it was like before there was a Faith Christian School…and before there was a Faith Bible Seminary, or before there was a Vision of Hope or Restoration Ministry for Men…

- and we could go right on down the list – and every person involved in the development and ongoing growth of any of those ministries would say – it is only because Christ Jesus our Lord has strengthened us…

- btw, this is one of the many reasons to oppose ordinance 31-21 being proposed by the WL City Council…

- if you’ve not read the ordinance, I’d encourage you to go to freedomlafayette.org and read it [Kari – please make a slide that has the LFC logo and the address of the website and insert it here]…

- I’ll talk to you more about that organization in a minute…

- but if you just read the ordinance…it starts by giving a long list of psychological organizations that believe conversion therapy is harmful to minors experiencing same sex attraction…

- and it sounds very similar to Daniel chapter 3…do you remember when King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold on the plain of Dura and demanded that everyone come and worship it?...

- it reads like this… Daniel 3:4–6 - Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.”

- so this ordinance lists nine different professional organizations…starting with the American Psychological Association…then the American Psychiatric Association…until you have this big image of people who have now concluded that so-called conversion therapy is harmful to minors…and if an unlicensed person practices it…the person should be fined $1000 per day with a visit from the WL Police Department…

- so in other words, we’re all to supposed to bow down to this image of the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations and whatever they have decided is harmful to minors…because after all, those are the scientists qualified to make such pronouncements…

- well, isn’t that interesting…because those are the exact same people who told the world in their version of their Bible – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 2, that homosexuality was a mental disorder…that sounds kind0of harmful…

- and it was people from the secular world that designed classical conversion therapy…which, and I’m sorry to have even discuss this with you – but that consisted of connecting electric wires to a person’s sexual organs, showing them a picture of a person of the same sex, and then shocking them electrically with the belief that would change their behavior…or doing the same thing with a jar of ammonia, etc.

- that seems a bit harmful too…

- and yet now, those same people want to fine biblical counselors $1000 per day because they believe the act of showing a young person what Scripture says about the 2000 year old standard of chastity in singleness and fidelity in monogamous marriage…when that young person voluntarily asked for the information…is somehow harmful to them…

- and that’s wrong for dozens of reasons – but one of them is – the most harmful thing you can ever do to a young person, or anyone else, is to deny them access to the Holy Word of God…

- and that’s why many of us do not want to be licensed by the state…because we want the freedom to point everyone to the possibility of establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who gives us the power to handle our human sexuality and every other aspect of our identity in a way that pleases Him…

- by the way, the BC movement was developed in part as a response to the kind of shallow, simplistic behaviorism that was being practiced by the secular world at the time…

- because God’s Word, and God’s Word alone has the ability to reach into a person’s soul…the heart…we desperately need Jesus Christ our Lord to strengthen us there…

- this is why Jay Adams, the founder of the modern biblical counseling movement wrote back in the 1970’s that counseling should not start with anthropology…but instead with theology proper…

- in other words – one of secular psychology’s fatal flaws is that it has no place for God…

- if you truly want to prevent someone from harm, you don’t start with the doctrine of man, you start with the doctrine of God…which is why our approach to soul care is not primarily horizontal…it is primarily vertical…

- so, be thankful that Jesus has appointed you into His service, acknowledging Him as your Lord who strengthens you…then Paul adds another concept that dramatically adds to our amazement at this appointment…

B. Because he looked beyond your past.

1 Timothy 1:13 - even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor…

- when we think about whatever mission God has called us to as individuals or as a church…whether we’re talking about this year or 2023-2025 for our next Strategic ministry plan…

- it is not on the foundation of pride believing we are better than anyone else…its on a foundation of humility because we realize the depth of our sin from which we had to be rescued…

- and what a rescue project it was…

C. Because he related to you in mercy, grace, faith, and love

- 1 Timothy 1:13–14 - …Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

- the phrase “I was shown mercy” is a passive verb and some Bible teachers have pointed out that it could literally be translated – I was mercified…don’t you love that?...

- I also like what John MacArthur said about the relationship between grace and mercy here and throughout the NT… Mercy differs from grace in that grace removes guilt, while mercy takes away the misery caused by sin. Paul received the undeserved relief of misery that accompanies saving grace (John MacArthur, 1 Timothy, p. 30).

- the more thankful we are for the guilt and misery that has been removed from our lives through the shed blood of Jesus Christ…the more thankful we are, and excited about, being appointed to His Service…

- that’s the foundation on which I hope every person will take the time to complete your SMP survey this month [give an update on how many have already done so…]

- thinking about questions like – what can we do to relieve a person’s sense of guilt?

- what could we do to relieve a person’s misery?...

- if through the blood of Christ, such outcomes are possible…why wouldn’t we invest the time to carefully think through how our church family can best accomplish that in the coming days [develop how the survey isn’t reserved only for church members…]

II. Be Thankful for Christ’s Redemptive Mission

A. These words are trustworthy and deserving full acceptance

- 1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance…

- Paul would not have said this had there not been a concern that some people would judge this to be non-trustworthy….or deserving full acceptance…

- why?...because it offends modern sensibilities then and now…

- but then he affirms the core of it all…

B. Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

- 1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

- The trustworthy statement in 1:15 acts as a condensed articulation of the gospel. In only eight Greek words is found a marvelous summation of the gospel message. Each word is chosen carefully. Christ Jesus is the word order preferred by Paul in the Pastoral Epistles. He uses it twenty-five times compared to six uses of “Jesus Christ.” Bound up in those two words is all that He is. Christ is the anointed King who came to redeem, and became the earthly Jesus at the Incarnation. That He came into the world implies not only His incarnation but His preexistence. Note carefully that it does not say that He came into existence, or that He was created. He existed somewhere else before coming into the world. This phraseology is used frequently by John, who often speaks of Christ’s coming into the world (cf. John 1:9; 3:19; 6:14; 11:27; 12:46; 16:28; 18:37).

- The world refers to the world of humanity, blind, lost, and condemned to hell because of its hostility to God (cf. 1 John 5:19). It is into that world of sinners, of darkness and unbelief, that Jesus came. John 3:17 says, “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (cf. John 12:46–47).

- Christ’s purpose in coming into this fallen world was to save sinners. Before his birth the angel told Joseph “it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). In Luke 19:10 our Lord stated the purpose of His coming into the world: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” To save is to deliver from death and darkness, from sin, hell, and judgment. Sinners was a term used by the Jews to describe Gentiles (cf. Gal. 2:15), but our Lord used it to refer to all of fallen mankind (cf. Matt. 9:13). It denotes man’s constant violation of God’s law; men are sinners by nature (John MacArthur, p. 32).

- now, every person here has to decide – do you judge such words to be trustworthy and deserving full acceptance?...

- this too gets at the core of why we can never bow down to organizations like the American Psychological Association…they would set their hair on fire over such concepts…

- Some of us remember the days of self-love, self-image, and self-esteem…where secularists were telling us that if we could just help everyone love themselves more, there would be no more inner city crime…

- can you imagine if we were downtown this evening having dinner and we walk outside and some thug knocks me down and takes my wallet…

- Am I really supposed to say to him – you poor soul…you just don’t love yourself enough?...

- no, he loves himself plenty – and its time to begin loving me a little bit, and he can start by giving me my wallet back…

- there were teacher associations and unions during these days suggesting that math teachers should not mark wrong answers on a child’s math test as incorrect…because it might make a child feel badly about their ability to do math…

- the sad thing is that even some Christian psychological groups jumped on that bandwagon, and when our church spoke out against the self-love, self-image, self-esteem movement because of its obviously flawed view of man – we actually lost some church members over that…

- see, we also have to decide – as we move into the enlightened culture of 2022 -- 1 Timothy 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

- you might ask – what would a biblical counselor say to a young person who voluntarily came and asked for help about same sex attraction, or gender dysphoria…or any other questions regarding human sexuality…

- well, please keep in mind that we are very transparent about our source of truth…that’s why we’re called Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries…

- that’s why we ask every person to sign a form that says they understand that the counsel they are about to receive will come from the counselor’s interpretation of the Word of God

- we never practice coercion – so people are told, even teens, that if you ever become uncomfortable about what you are hearing – simply raise your hand and the counselor will immediately stop, mid-sentence…

- but if a person comes to us voluntarily and asks for help…we’re going to spend a lot of time listening, and learning what that person is thinking, feeling, wanting, saying, and doing…

- a bedrock passage for all of our ministries is - Proverbs 18:13 - He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

- but at some point, we are going to turn the conversation to an individual’s need for a Savior…

- every person has to decide what their source of truth is going to be…

- and whether they really believe there is God in heaven who is Holy…

- and whether they believe they have sinned and fallen short of his glory…

- and that’s not just true for some people…that’s true for all of us as this passage repeatedly affirms…

- and the good news is…when a person places his/her faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ….the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection…

- our new King is capable of giving us new life at the level of the heart…

- which means our fundamental identity is not found in our ethnicity, or our gender, or our sexual orientation…

- fundamentally our identity is found in Christ…and we now have the desire and the ability to evaluate all our desires in light of God’s Word, and only act on those that honor Him…

- if you tell a person – anyone – the way to live is by acting on whatever comes naturally, whatever you feel like doing in the moment…you have destined them to what kind of life…

- one filled with both guilt…and misery…

- that is fundamentally what is wrong with what the false prophets on the West Lafayette City Council are Trying to do…and this is exactly why the government should have kept Thomas Jefferson’s promise that there would always be a high wall of separation between the church and the state…because when they try to legislate issues of the soul…apart from God and His Word…they will invariably…1 Timothy 1:4 - …give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

- this is why, as we move through our ministry year together…we’re going focused on…The mission of Faith church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

- why?...because we believe the gospel is a trustworthy statement, deserving acceptance…

- [develop – thanks to people who worked so hard living and proclaiming the gospel during the Christmas season…]

- this should also guide our SMP process this year….what steps help each of our ministries be most effective at accomplishing the marvelous mission the Lord has entrusted to us…

- and then Paul repeats what he’s already affirmed…

C. We view ourselves as the chiefest of sinners

1 Timothy 1:15 - …Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

D. Our redemption is a demonstration of God’s patience.

- 1 Timothy 1:16 - Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

- the Lord didn’t save us to prove how wonderful we are…He saved us to prove how incredibly patient He is…to what end?...

E. Our efforts can glorify our great God.

- 1 Timothy 1:17 - Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

- it’s a bit challenging to plan this year because who knows what’s going to happen with the pandemic…

- but we know this – we’re approaching the 2 year anniversary of all of this…yet our church family has been amazingly faithful, amazingly resilient, amazingly unified, and amazingly generous…

- which brings our God honor and glory forever and ever amen…

- now, please allow me to ask you this – if this is our mission, is that worthy of your commitment and dedication?...

1. If you have not yet formally joined – I want to challenge you to sign up to begin taking Intro to Faith this coming Wed at FE (anyone from any campus can jump in)

2. Also – regarding in-person worship – unless your health would make it unwise for you to participate in in-person worship, I want to challenge you to be in the house of the Lord every Sunday you possibly can…the accomplishment of our God given mission is just that important…

- let me also tell you that we are looking forward to studying the book of Philippians with you, because that is a delightful thank-you letter in the NT…

- this summer our pastors are going to offer a 12 part series of handling criticism..

- then in the fall we’ll be looking at selected Thanksgiving Psalms…

- and because of what we’ve seen about the nature of man, and what we believe about the residual sin with which we still battle, with God’s help we’re going to work as hard as we can this year at growing in gospel gratitude…

III. Be Thankful that the War to Which We’ve Been Called is Good – 1 Tim. 1:18-20

- this passage could not make it any clearer that thankful people are still called to fight the good fight…

- at the end of November, I was preparing to go out of town for board meetings and then the annual leadership retreat for the Biblical Coalition..

- that was Monday, November 29…I was preparing the sermon for the following Sunday when I learned, through a media report…that the WL City Council was proposing an ordinance aimed at unlicensed counselors…that’s us…we are the largest unlicensed counseling group in this community by far…

- they didn’t notify us…they certainly didn’t seek any input…

- as far as we can tell – this is the first time this has ever been attempted – an ordinance threatening non-licensed counselors…

- I called one of our church’s attorneys and asked him to write strong religious exemption language…

- I called the mayor and the city attorney who were both very helpful…and then I wrote a letter on Thursday, December 2nd explaining our concerns with the ordinance and a request that if nothing else, they would add the religious exemption language, as we’ve been able to add at the state level of several occasions over the years…

- all they were willing to do was add an amendment stating that the ordinance would not violate a person’s first amendment protections…which is the lamest possible response because that’s true of any city ordinance that has ever been passed…

- that’s why on Saturday before leaving town…we sent out an update to our church family and asked you to contact the city council and consider attending the meeting…

- hundreds of our church members immediately responded – for which I am very thankful…and you filled the city council meeting room to overflowing…

- the mayor spoke against the ordinance and the city council tabled it without listening to any citizen’s comment…

- they’ve also tabled it for their January meeting, but it still very much alive…

- this measure is a clear violation of individual freedom – counselees should determine where they want to go for their counseling – not the government…and because even secularists believe in self-determination, if a person wants help dealing with unwanted sexual feelings or desires and prefers to receive that from someone using God’s Word, it’s outrageous that the city council would threaten to fine the counselor $1000 per day…

- worse – its’ a violation of parents rights…minors don’t generally drive themselves to counseling…and in a piece of legislation supposed intended to protect minors from harm…guess what word never appears in the ordinances?...the word “parent”…the WL city council believes they can do a better job parenting a child than you can…

- and of course it is a violation of religious liberty…because counselors must have the freedom to counsel from whatever source of truth they and their counselees choose…

- but there’s actually something worse here – and its truly the crux of the matter…- if we don’t practice conversation therapy – why are we upset…

- because they used a different and very deceptive definition of conversion therapy…that’s the game that’s being played here…

- the way they defined is the classical definition like I explained earlier in the message – they have greatly expanded the definition which could easily include a parent, a teacher, a small group leader, or a counselor who uses God’s Word when speaking to a minor about these issues…

- this is not about protecting minors…its’ about shaming, harassing, punishing, and silencing people who believe God’s Word…

- it’s an attack on individual liberty, parents rights, religious freedom, and the separation of church and state…

- and the city council’s approach has lacked both transparency and intellectual honesty…

- so we believe that it is time for the people of God to take a string and principled stand…

- to that end, an independent group has been established called Lafayette Citizens for Freedom [Kari, please insert a slide with their logo…]…this is being led by Purdue Graduate student Winston and a team of men and women helping him…

- this is a broad coalition of churches, campus groups, and concerned individuals…

- in my 34 years here, I’ve never seen a group this large and this diverse come together so quickly…

- an excellent website has been created by Ashish Dhingra…blogs have been written, videos have been shot, social graphics have been prepared, and an-line survey has been drafted…[Kari – show the web address – freedomlafayette.org]

- here’s specifically wat we’re asking you to do…

- if nothing else, go on-line and sign the petition…it will take you less than a minute to do so…

- use your social media platforms to get the word out about what the city council is doing…the website has a step-by-step guide to sharing any of these blogs, videos, graphics on your platforms…

- we are also in the process of designing a billboard campaign…an opportunity for the people of God to rise up…and encourage others with simple message…

- take a stand for parents’ rights

- take a stand for freedom

- take a stand for religious liberty

- take a stand for God and His Word

- take a stand the power of the gospel

- we’re not planning to use any church funds for this…because it’s just to political…

- but if you would like to give to make all of this possible, there’s a donate button on the website…these gifts are not tax deductible – all of this is entirely separate from our church…

- I hope God’s people will see this as an opportunity to take a positive stand for principles that matter to us dearly…

‑ I should also let you know that we are alerting our brothers and sisters around the country…these same kinds of efforts are coming to a theater near you…

- that’s why we believe we need to defeat this measure soundly…and try to establish best practices to help others when they have this fight in the future…

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video