Do We Want to Be Well? By Leslie Holmes, Moderator

uilding Healthy Churches! Birthing Healthy Christians!” This is our theme for a new moderatorial year. There is, says the West- minster Confession of Faith, ordinarily no salvation outside the church. I agree. I suspect that you do also. It was the church, some arm of the church, or some personality in the church that brought the Gospel to us. And, it was the church that nurtured us in our Christian faith.  become a deacon? The only reason I turned down their invitation was that Barbara, my wife, and I were waiting for visas that would be the go-ahead for a new life in America. I had no idea then that God’s idea of a new life in America was far different from mine. As a  what we Calvinists call, “irresistible grace.” Four days later, without rehearsal or forethought, I heard myself telling Barbara that I wanted to spend the rest of my life telling people what I had just learned: Jesus died for me, and all my sins were washed away in the blood of Calvary’s cross, and I was going to heaven for sure. Since then, getting that message out has been the driving force of my life and ministry.

B “Building Healthy Churches! Birthing Healthy Christians!”

In the course of my ministry in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and over six continents, I have met many church people who concern me greatly. There they are, creeping around half alive, half dead, tired, desultory, and listless. They profess membership in His church, but I rather fear that too often they are as I once was. To paraphrase Paul’s words to Timothy, they live with a form of godliness but deny its power. It all reminds me of that moment by the pool of Bethesda when Jesus meets the man who had been lying there for 38 years, and asks a question that echoes down through the centuries until today: “Do you want to be well?” That man was dying one day at a time, and had Jesus not come that day, he likely would have died there by the pool.  local congregations. As I travel around the church, I meet not just individuals but congregations who, like that man by the pool, have for many years been living a spiritually paralyzed life, doing very little in the way of kingdom advancement. Some churches are dy- ing one funeral at a time. Alas, for some of those churches, without a touch from Jesus, they will be dead one generation from now. In  churches they hope would be effective gospel lights until Christ returns. Only when we determine to rise up can these declining ministries be turned around. It can happen. One example of the kind of turn-

around that brought this year’s moderatorial theme, “Building Healthy Churches! Birthing Healthy Christians,” to my heart is the Troy ARP congregation. Under the pastoral leadership of Erskine Seminary graduate John Paul Marr, Troy Church effectively said “Yes” to the question, “Do you want to be well?” Since then, God has more than doubled the size of the congregation. Today, Troy ARP Church is making a positive difference for Christ and His Kingdom. “Do you want to be well?” If it can happen at Troy, it can happen in your church. It all begins with prayer. J oin me in praying that this will be a year of renewal in our ARP Church, a year when we too will rise up and walk. With our hearts and hands committed together let us this year “Build Healthy Churches and Birth Healthy Christians” for Jesus our Lord.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on

this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Building Healthy Churches! Birthing Healthy Christians! July/August 2019 5

Moderator’s Challenge

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