When Pastor Mark preached in Adamsville this past February, he introduced his sermon by referring to Augustine's "The City of God". Augustine knew that it was not Christianity that had destroyed the Roman Empire, it is paganism that contains the seeds of its own destruction.
"Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."
~Augustine of Hippo, The City of God
It just so happens that Pastor Mark and his friends at the Reformed Forum discussed this theme of the two cities recently and we were reminded of the two cities we have lived near, Salt Lake City and Memphis, which are a lot different in geography and climate, but quite similar in that there are a lot of good people in both places. In fact, we've heard it said that the south is a lot like Utah, but with more sweet tea. Legalism and nominalism are very much related. It seems that Christianity sometimes has a lot in common with Mormonism and as these pastors fleshed out the story of Isaac and Ishmael in Genesis 21:1-21, we were also reminded that Jesus and the story of the Bible are about so much more than us and the examples we so often find ourselves trying to follow. The Bible is God's story, it's about God and His people, it's about God and why we need Him. If we come to the Bible merely looking for good examples of morality and virtue to follow, it's quite possible we will find ourselves trying to earn our inheritance ourselves and that we will find it in the earthly city which is born of man instead of finding our inheritance in the heavenly city which is born of the Spirit and is for those who believe in the promised Son that the Father has provided. The City of Man is a city of destruction; if we find ourselves loving our own works, then we need to "cast out the bondwoman and her son" because salvation is not by human effort, Galatians 4.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."
~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Elitist tyranny and revolutionary excess have more in common with each other than they may truly know. Christians on the far left with their removal of the supernatural and Christians on the far right in their desire for good morals often wind up in the same place, the city of man. But, the Christian life is lived by faith in the Son of God, it is lived in the Spirit, it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no help at all (John 6:61-63). The Spirit works through the word of Christ to give life through faith (Romans 10:17). The Spirit is working through the preached word, sacraments, and prayer. The Spirit is working through trials and the difficulties in life. Any attempt to change ourselves or others by focusing on outward behavior apart from the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit will only result in self-righteousness or despair. Substituting good deeds, rule keeping, and compliance for faith and conversion results in a Christless Christianity that leaves those who practice it with no relationship to Christ at all.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” Revelation 3:1
Come and be transformed by the Holy Spirit through the word of Christ. If you ever find yourself near Salt Lake City, you can worship with the "free woman" at Christ Presbyterian Church- http://www.gospelutah.org/services.html
or at Berean Presbyterian Church- https://opc.org/church.html?church_id=370
And if you are near Memphis at Wolf River Presbyterian Church- https://www.wolfriverchurch.org/
You can find the link to Pastor Mark's February sermon "Covenant Reality" in our last blog post- https://www.westenneseereformed.com/single-post/2019/02/26/Covenant-Reality
You can learn more about Christ and the bond woman and the free woman in the Reformed Forum episode, "Genesis 21:1-21 Isaac and Ishmael"- https://reformedforum.org/pc65/
"....the issue in the Church of the present day is not between two varieties of the same religion, but, at bottom, between two essentially different types of thought and life." You can read more about "Christianity and Liberalism" in J. Gresham's book here:
You can read "A Tale of Two Cities" which has themes of sacrifice, the struggle between evils in oppression and revolution, and resurrection and rebirth here:
If you live near Adamsville or Selmer in McNairy County TN, we would we would like to invite you to explore Christ and Christianity with us as we grow in our knowledge of and love for our Lord, Jesus. We meet for Bible study on Sunday at 5pm and Wednesday at 7pm. Contact us for meeting location details and please pray that the Lord would bless our Bible study, that it would grow into a true church. If you are looking for a good church home, we would like to be a good church home- we are asking God to provide the increase (1 Corinthians 1:3-6).
In the mean time, you are more than welcome to join us for worship at Wolf River Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Collierville. We realize that 2 hours of driving each way to get to a faithful church in modern day America in order to worship the Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him may seem like a stretch to some, but there are saints walking 2 hours each way to church to faithfully worship our Lord in Africa. Letting that sink in is humbling.
Psalm 84:5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion."
A pilgrimage is an arduous journey, not a cross-continental flight." ~ Rosalie De Rosset
We would love to have you join us, come as you are-
"But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
If you haven't had a chance to check out any of the sermons that Pastor Mark Winder preached in Adamsville, you can still check them out and be encouraged by the faithfulness of God here:
or, sermons can also be found and listened to here:
* We are not an independent Bible study, for more information about us see: https://chmce.org/mission-work/adamsville-tn/
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
West Tennessee Reformed is a biblically conservative Presbyterian church planting effort where Christ is preached consistently; where God speaks powerfully through his written word, The Holy Bible, and where we are in Christ for the Heavenly City.