TOPICS » Church Life

Foundational Teachings on Church Associations from the 2016 ARBCA GA

I was blessed to attend the General Assembly (GA) of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) this year. It was hosted by Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois from May 26-28. The host church went above and beyond in showing hospitality. It was truly an excellent experience. Mike and I recorded a podcast in which I provide an overview of the GA. If you have not listened to it yet, please do.

Here I wish to set before you some of the preaching and teaching that we were blessed to receive at the GA. There were a number of devotionals, lectures, and sermons delivered. All of them were very good. They can be found at I have selected these particular lectures and sermons because they speak directly to the issue of church associations. What is the biblical warrant for local churches belonging to an association of churches? How should associations be formed? How ought they to be maintained? What is the purpose of forming associations? These questions are addressed in one way or another in the teachings I have selected.

Brothers and sisters, I would encourage you to listen to these if you can find the time. The leadership of Emmaus has grown convinced over the years of the importance of belonging to an association of churches that share the same view of the Bible and the same view of the mission of the church. We have been officially received into the Southern California Association of Reformed Baptist Churches (SCARBC) and we will be prayerfully considering ARBCA in the months (maybe years) to come.

Foundational Teachings on Church Associations from the 2016 ARBCA GA:

A Defense of Confessionalism  – Arden Hodgins –  4/27/2016

A Tale of Two Associations Revisited – James M. Renihan – 4/27/2016

Devotional from John 17:20-26 – John Miller – 4/28/2016

Associational Churchmanship: LBC 26:12-15 – James M. Renihan – 4/28/2016

Posted in Good Thoughts from Others, Theology, Church Life, Church Practices, The Church, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Foundational Teachings on Church Associations from the 2016 ARBCA GA

Pursuing Unity Within Christ’s Church

Episode 16

In John 17, Christ prayed for unity amongst his followers. We too should pray for unity and work hard to establish, or reestablish it, whenever possible. It should be noted that Jesus prayed for unity of a particular kind in John 17. This is indicated by the words “just as” or “even as” in John 17:20 and following. Superficial unity is not the goal, but rather deep and substantial unity. That is what we should be working towards! It might be a good idea to listen to the sermon that Pastor Joe recently preached on this passage. If can be found at (It is sermon #65 in the series preached on 02/21/2016). This podcast seeks to build upon that sermon by providing practical insights for pursuing and maintaining unity within Christ’s church. These principles can actually be applied in any setting where unity is needed (marriage, family, etc.).

Posted in Podcasts, Confessing the Faith, Church Life, The Christian Life, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Pursuing Unity Within Christ’s Church

Associations or Denominations – Teaching from Pastor Jason Walter

Brothers and Sisters,

If you were not able to make it to Emmaus Essentials on 11/15/15 I would encourage you to listen to the audio of Pastor Jason’s teaching on church associations. This is a very important topic given the fact that we are currently pursuing membership in the Southern California Association of Reformed Baptist Churches. The audio of his teaching can be found here.



Tags: ,
Posted in Emmaus Essentials, Associations or Denominations, Jason Walter, Church Life, The Church, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Associations or Denominations – Teaching from Pastor Jason Walter

The Christian Sabbath: Considering The New Testament

The question before us is do the scriptures teach that the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, is still in force for Christians today? This is not my first post on the subject. In the first, I simply stated our belief on the matter. In the second, I addressed what I believe to be a crucial problem within the modern church, namely, antinomianism. In the third, I introduced the categories of moral, civil, and ceremonial as they apply to the law of Moses. I made the case that the fourth commandment contains both moral and ceremonial aspects. This is why the command will abide forever (because it is moral), and why some things have changed (the day has moved from Saturday to Sunday, etc., due to the ceremonial aspect of the command). Now we turn our attention to the New Testament and ask, does the New Testament teach that the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, is still in force for Christians today?  I have seven points for you to consider.

One, the burden of proof is on those who claim the Sabbath command is no longer in force. A careful reading of the Old Testament scriptures leaves one with the impression that the one in seven pattern of work and rest will continue on to the end of time. I’ve made a case for this in previous posts. Those who claim that the fourth command is no longer binding must prove that the New Testament says the command has been done away with, leaving us with nine of the Ten Commandments

Two, never does the New Testament suggest that fourth commandment has been removed. Some will respond by citing Colossians 2:16-17, which says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” In fact, this verse supports the view that we hold to. Paul is using technical language to refer to the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath along with the whole complex of festivals and feast days associated with the Jewish Sabbath. We agree that the Christian is not to rest and worship on Saturday as if under the Old Covenant. Neither is the Christian obligated to observe the Passover, the Feast of Booths, or any of the other Jewish holiday. Christ has fulfilled these things, and has thus removed them. By no means is this text saying that the one-in-seven moral principle given at creation and on Sinai has been fulfilled and thus removed. Clearly Paul has in mind all of the ceremonial laws of the Old Covent associated with the Jewish Sabbath, including the ceremonial aspect of the fourth command itself (the seventh day). Notice that he uses the language of shadow and substance, proving that he has the ceremonial and symbolic in mind, and not the moral command of God.

Three, Jesus taught that no law would pass away until it is fulfilled. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The word translated fulfill means, “to give the true or complete meaning to something—‘to give the true meaning to, to provide the real significance of’” (Louw-Nida, 33.144). The question must be asked, did Christ fulfill, or accomplish, all that the Sabbath signifies at his first coming? I hope not! The Sabbath is, among other things, a picture of eternal rest (Hebrews 4). Though Christ earned and secured our rest at his first coming, we have not yet entered into it fully. When we gather for worship on the Lord’s Day (the Christian Sabbath) we are to remember Jesus and his great act of deliverance accomplished at his first coming. But we are also to look forward to the fulness of God’s rest which is yet in our future. The full significance of the Sabbath has not yet been fulfilled, therefore we should not think that it has passed away.

Four, some have claimed that because the New Testament never reiterates the Sabbath command word for word, it is no longer in force. My response: Who says that something must be repeated in the New Testament in order for it to carry over from the Old? The vast majority of the Old Testament is not repeated in the New and yet we understand that much of it remains in force. If we argue that a particular Old Testament principle no longer has force we must demonstrate theologically why that would be. To say that a law or passage of scripture from the Old Testament only applies if it is repeated word for word would gut the vast majority of the Old Testament of significance for the Christian.

Five, while it is true that the fourth commandment is never reiterated word for word in the New Testament, it is in fact spoken of more than any other command. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were constantly accusing him of breaking the Sabbath. Read the Gospels and notice, however, that Christ never broke the Sabbath. He kept it perfectly. He stripped away all of the gunk that man had heaped upon it. He kept the Sabbath purely, but rejected the traditions of men. One should remember that the Gospels were written to Christians. Also, it should be remembered that they were written, not as bear facts of  history, but in order to persuade Christians to believe and to live rightly according to the truth. One should ask, if the Sabbath were of no importance to the Christian under the New Covenant, then why did the Gospel writers deal with it so frequently? The reason they dealt with it, in my opinion, was to demonstrate to the Christian community the importance and true significance of the Sabbath. Jesus kept the Sabbath purely. Christians are to keep the Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, in the way that he did. To state it another way, why would the Gospels devote so much time to the Sabbath principle and labor to demonstrate  Jesus’ restoration of the fourth command if the command were destined to be tossed into the garbage can of history after the inauguration of the New Covenant?

Six, notice that early church gathered according to the pattern of one in seven, but on the first day of the week. Read the Gospels and see that Jesus met with his disciples on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, after his resurrection, and before his ascension to the right hand of the Father (John 20:26). Read the book of Acts and see that the first Christians gathered for worship on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7). Read Paul’s letters and see that he expected the Church gather together on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). And notice, finally, that John the Apostle was said to have been in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (a day that uniquely belongs to the Lord) when he received the vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:10). How do we explain this pattern? It was so firmly and so quickly established by the first Christians, but nowhere do we find a command from Christ or his Apostles saying, the Sabbath is no more, now you are to rest and worship on the Lord’s Day. No such command is given. Where does this new pattern for rest and worship come from, then? Is it not most reasonable to see that the early Christians understood exactly what we are saying? The Sabbath principle given at creation and reiterated on Sinai was for all people in all times. God’s people were were to work six days and rest and worship one. But the resurrection of Christ was so significant (it was an act of new creation) that the day moved from Saturday to Sunday, and is rightly called the Lord’s Day. I have often wondered how pastors who claim that the fourth command was fulfilled and thus taken away by Christ compel their people to gather for worship once a week on Sundays. On what basis do they argue for such a practice? If there is no Sabbath command behind this practice, then we must admit that it is simply a tradition. And if it is a tradition, then we cannot be bound to keep it. Why not gather once a month (some Christians do, I guess). Why not gather for corporate worship on Thursdays. Who’s to say that it must be weekly and on a particular day? The only persuasive answer is that God has ordained that we gather weekly, and he has specified that the people of God gather on Sunday now that the Christ has come, having accomplished his work of redemption.

Seven, consider the following passages that do explicitly speak of a continuation of Sabbath keeping under the New Covenant: First of all, notice Matthew 24:20. Here Jesus speaks of the tribulation that the people of God will experience after he goes to the Father. He says, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.” It seems most reasonable to think that Jesus envisioned the pattern of six and one to exist under the New Covenant as it did under the Old. Two, notice that the writer to the Hebrews says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9–11). The word translated “Sabbath rest” refers to, “a special religiously significant period for rest and worship—‘a Sabbath rest, a period of rest'” (Louw Nida 67.185). He says that it “remains” (present tense). And remember that he was writing to Christians under the New Covenant. And why does it remain? It remains because we have not yet entered the fullness of God’s rest. Notice how  he exhorts Christians in verse 11 to “strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

The evidence it overwhelming, in my opinion, that the fourth commandment is still in force under the New Covenant. The six and one pattern remains because this is the pattern established by God at creation and reiterated on Sinai. In response to the question, who changed the Sabbath? The answer is that Jesus did, by his life, death, and resurrection. We rest and worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, because God’s word, the Holy Scriptures, Old and New, compel us to. May God’s people learn to call the Sabbath a delight!

Posted in Theology, The Christian Sabbath, Church Life, The Christian Life, Theology, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on The Christian Sabbath: Considering The New Testament

Why do we do what we do with children and youth ministry?

Hello Emmaus,

I don’t do this very often, but I would highly recommend (almost beg) that you take the time to listen to a recent episode on the White Horse Inn Podcast, entitled Youth Ministry in Crisis. There are also two other more recent episodes that would be worth listening to (The State of Youth Ministry and Keeping our Kids), but I would ask that you at least take the time to listen to the first one I mentioned.

Why do I want you to listen to this? So that you can better understand why it is that we are doing what we are doing with our children, youth, and parents! We are odd in our approach to children’s and youth ministry, there’s no doubt about that. Understanding why we are taking this approach will go along way in strengthening our commitment to having our children in the worship service, catechizing our children, and engaging our children in deep and meaningful conversations about the scriptures and spiritual things.

I look forward to hearing feedback from you!



Access online

Access on iTunes

New Song: “Not in Me”

Hello church!

This coming Sunday (March 23rd) we will be singing a new song called “Not in Me.” Before we sing it together on Sunday, I wanted to share the song with you so that you could get a jump start on learning it and know why I have chosen to add it to the list of songs we sing at Emmaus.

If you’ve been keeping up with Emmaus Essentials, you’ll notice how closely this song coincides with Chapter 11 of the LBC (Lesson 19 from the week of March 9th).  This song is all about the fact that there is nothing that we can possibly do to earn forgiveness – our justification – but that only in Christ is our righteousness found. It is a beautiful declaration of the Gospel. Read the lyrics below and listen to the song:

No list of sins I have not done,
No list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like,
Can earn myself a place with You.
O God! Be merciful to me—
I am a sinner through and through!
My only hope of righteousness
Is not in me, but only You.

No humble dress, no fervent prayer,
No lifted hands, no tearful song,
No recitation of the truth
Can justify a single wrong.
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And he alone can give me rest.

No separation from the world,
No work I do, no gift I give,
Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands;
I cannot cause my soul to live.
But Jesus died and rose again—
The pow’r of death is overthrown!
My God is merciful to me
And merciful in Christ alone.

Posted in Songs, Church Life, Posted by Mike. No Comments

Review and Renew the Emmaus Church Covenant

The Elders of Emmaus have a custom of reviewing one of our Foundation Documents each month at our Agenda Meeting. This month, we reviewed the Emmaus Church Covenant. This is one of my favorite documents as it communicates beautifully our commitment to one another in Christ Jesus.

While reviewing the document, we were reminded that we are to review and renew the Church Covenant as a whole congregation, once a year, in the Fall. It’s Fall, and so we had better follow through on that commitment.

If you are a Member of Emmaus Christian Fellowship, would you please take a few moments to review the Church Covenant (link provided below), being reminded of the commitment that you made to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and also the commitment that they have made to you?

I look forward to standing on October 27th during our regular worship service, and publicly renewing this covenant together.



Church Covenant 

Posted in News, Church Life, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. No Comments

Everyone Look! Emmaus Essentials Lectures and Notes for All!

Hello Church,

While I would certainly love it if everyone could attend Emmaus Essentials, I do understand that it is difficult to carve that time out, especially if you have a bunch of little ones at home. Lindsay and I definitely feel the pressure in that regard. I’m sure some of you experience other difficulties that keep you away, and by no means do I want to minimize those, but the “little kids in the home” issue is the one thing that I identify with at this time.Side note: Brings your kids to Essentials if they are old enough. Our family is almost to that point. I do doubt Damon’s ability to sit through an hour long class, though. 

The point I am making is this: If you are not able to make it to the Essentials class for whatever reason, would you consider keeping up by reading and/or listening to the class lectures on your own? Unlike Gospel Community Groups, which certainly require personal participation, something can be gleaned from Emmaus Essentials even if you are not in class.

Please explore the links below and decide how you would like to engage. There are a number of ways to go about it – reading, listening to Grudem, listening to Emmaus class audio, going over the notes, or any combination of these things. Doing something is better than nothing!

I plan on posting links to The City every Monday, updating the notes and the class audio, so that you can stay on top of things. I really do believe that study like this is essential for your continued growth in Christ. Please participate!

If you need help with the technological side of things, don’t hesitate to ask.

Class Overview

Week 1 Notes

Week 1 Audio

Link to Emmaus Essentials iTunes Podcast

Link to Wayne Grudem’s iTunes Podcast

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church