Glorifying God Together
505 Courtney Way, Lafayette, CO
Zach Putthoff

Zach Putthoff

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 22:56

Sermon Series Read Along

Throughout our current sermons series on church membership, I have encouraged the people of our church to read one of four very good books on the subject to supplement their study.  

The challenge is to choose one of the suggested books below to read over the course of the next 4 weeks and then (if you are really daring) send a short note to the elders (send to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), sharing one significant thing from your reading that challenged you.  Note, I may share your note with the church at some point during the sermon series (with your permission, of course!), to encourage the body with what we are learning.  

Here are the books I have recommended.  

Inline image 1Joshua Harris, Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God (Random House, 2011)  *Formerly titled: Stop Dating the Church

Inline image 2Thabiti Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member? (Crossway, 2008) 

Inline image 3Thom Rainer, I am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes a Difference (B & H2013)

Inline image 4Curtis Thomas, Life in the Body of Christ: Privileges and Responsibilities in the Local Church (Founders Press 2006)

Happy reading! 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 21:49

The Best Place for Our Souls

In my recent study of Mark 5:1-20, I came across this quote by the old Bishop of Liverpool, John Charles (J.C.) Ryle, that I thought was too good not to share.

"That place and position is most healthful for us in which we are kept most humble -- most taught our own sinfulness -- drawn most to the Bible and prayer -- led most to live by faith and not by sight. It may not be quite what we like. But if Christ by His providence has placed us in it, let us not be in a hurry to leave it. Let us therein abide with God. The great thing is to have no will of our own, and to be where Jesus would have us be." (J.C. Ryle, "Expository Thoughts on the Gospels")

Such wise words

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:32

'No Creed But the Bible', is Not Biblical

One of the foundational theological convictions of our church is the sufficiency of Scripture. We believe and preach the principle of Sola Scriptura, which says that Scripture is the only infallible authority of Christian faith and practice. God has given us many authorities – the Bible, the church, Bible teachers, pastors, church leaders, etc – but Scripture is the only infallible authority. It is the only authority that God has given us that will not fail or error at some point. This is one of the biblical principles that sparked the Protestant Reformation, and we gladly embrace it at SCC.

A lot of well meaning Christians who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, however, seem to misunderstand the vital principle of Sola Scriptura, and apply it in an unbiblical way. These Christians make it seem like they believe teachers of the Bible are somehow not necessary. They don’t like to read Christian books. They’re not really interested in what others say about the Bible or about what a passage in the Bible means. They don’t want to go to groups and studies that are focused around a book written by another man, because they believe that only studies that study the Bible directly are worth their time.

Now, on the one hand, I get what they’re intending, at least most of them. They’re acknowledging the authority of the Bible and wanting it to have its rightful place as the final and ultimate authority of our faith. And in this desire, I am right there with them.

But, I think their resistance against human teachers is actually a self-defeating and self-contradicting position. It's just not possible to have "no creed but the Bible."

It is not possible, because “no creed but the Bible” is itself a creed. Carl Trueman explains…

“Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions which are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique; and those who have private creeds and confessions which are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not subject to testing by scripture to see whether they are true or not.” (Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative)

And ironically, not even the Bible advocates such a position. In the words of the Apostle Paul, when Jesus ascended to his Father, he actually gave gifts to the Church; gifts like apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers”; people who are given to the church to (at least in part) explain the Word of God to the people (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The whole “no creed but the Bible” position is actually a mistreatment of the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Some have put a label on this, calling it the principle of Solo Scriptura. In the days of the Reformation, the doctrine meant that the Bible was and is the sole infallible authority of our faith and practice. Today however, many have twisted the doctrine to now treat the Bible as the sole authority…period! The problem is, as Keith Mathison points out, is that “if a proponent of solo scriptura is honest, he recognizes that it is not the infallible Scripture to which he ultimately appeals. His appeal is always to his own fallible interpretation of that Scripture.”

The result of this is an extremely individualistic reading of Scripture that gives far too much weight to person and private interpretations of the Bible. And when this happens, people begin listening not to the true voice of God in the Bible (which can only be discerned through a faithful and careful and consistent method of interpretation) – but themselves.

Which means, not only is the position not possible – it is actually not biblical at all. “No creed but the Bible” is actually a creed in and of itself that goes against the direct teaching of Scripture.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 17:19

Self-Examination and the Lord’s Supper

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper as a church again this past Sunday. The Lord’s Supper is a time for us to remember the death of our Lord on our behalf in a unique way as a church family. It’s a time for us to recalibrate ourselves as a family of redeemed Christ-followers around the reality that through his substitutionary and sacrificial death, Jesus has secured forgiveness of sins and right standing with God for us.

As we prepared to eat and drink again this past Sunday, I reflected upon the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, where he warned a young, messy, and immature church against eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner.” Here’s what he wrote…

1 Corinthians 11:23-27 - 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

Paul was concerned with how this church had been observing the Lord’s Supper. He warns them against eating the bread and drinking the cup in “an unworthy manner.” What that means is that they were not eating and drinking in a way that reflected the worth of the thing that the bread and the cup symbolized. The way they ate and drank reflected poorly upon the death of Jesus.

The reality is the Corinthians just weren’t taking it seriously. Rather than treating it as a special time in a special meal, the Corinthians were treating the Lord’s Supper with a lax and casual attitude. Instead of eating and drinking to remember Jesus’ death, at least some of them were eating and drinking to get full and even drunk. And, instead of eating and drinking as one family redeemed by a common Savior, the Corinthians were eating and drinking with great division existing in their church. The way that they ate and drank reflected poorly upon Jesus and upon his death. If you looked to the way the Corinthians observed the Lord’s Supper, you wouldn’t walk away from that experience impressed with the seriousness and significance with Christ’s death.

And that was a serious and significant problem. Harsh words are reserved for those who eat in an unworthy manner. If you eat and drink in an unworthy manner, Paul says, then you sin against the body and blood of the Lord. You disrespect Christ’s sacrifice. You dishonor Christ and his great sacrifice. Eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner is a big deal.

So, what is one to do? How do we ensure that we do not eat and drink in an unworthy manner?

What Paul says next is instructive, though not in the way that many take him.

1 Corinthians 11:28 - 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Some take this verse almost as a call to confess every sin that you can possibly think of before you actually take the bread and cup, as if we have to confess our sins and repent of our sins in order to be worthy of Jesus and his death. As a result, the Lord’s Supper for a lot of people is a time of really intense personal examination and dark introspection and guilt. Some may not take the bread and cup because they feel that there are just too many sins in their lives to do so. They’re just not worthy.

But what we reflected on last Sunday, is that one of the primary reasons for the whole exercise of the Lord’s Supper is to remind us that we’ll never be worthy. Personal examination is not for the purpose of being or becoming worthy to eat and drink – it is about preparing the heart to proclaim the fact that the Lord Jesus is worthy of our praise and our faith and our passion and our confession and our repentance, because he has died for our sins and purchased our redemption through his death. We don’t confess our sins to be worthy for Jesus; we confess our sins because He is worthy of us. Examination doesn’t make us worthy. Jesus does.

And so, when we come to the Lord’s Table, which reminds us of his sacrificial death on our behalf and His worth as our suffering Savior and victorious King – we must examine ourselves. Not in order to be worthy to eat and drink, but to remember of how unworthy we are to share in the benefits of his salvation, and how worthy he is to have won those benefits for us through his perfect and obedient death.

This beautiful truth should shape the way we eat and drink in the Lord’s Supper. Not only should it lead us to personal examination before eating and drinking, but it should also lead us to eat and drink as an expression of our confession and our repentance; as an expression of faith in Him; as an expression of love for Him and in our pursuit of finding satisfaction and life in Him – where we alone will find our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. Thus we confess our sins and repent of our sins by laying hold of Him afresh and taking hold of the benefits of His saving work afresh every time we eat and drink in remembrance of Him.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 21:17

Mission of the Church

A few weeks ago, after months of preparation and discussion among our team of elders, I proposed a new mission statement for our church. Not a new mission, mind you, but a new mission statement.

That new mission statement is this: To glorify God together as we enjoy and spread the riches of His grace in Jesus Christ.

“The riches of His grace” is a phrase that comes from the book of Ephesians, where the Apostle Paul says that our redemption, that is, our rescue from slavery to sin, has come through the blood of Jesus; the substitutionary death of Jesus on behalf of sinners, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us in Jesus (Eph 1:7-8).

Not long after that announcement in Ephesians, Paul makes this amazing statement: “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come (from now through all eternity) He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).

Those passages tell us why God has saved us as His people. He has saved us, so that for the rest of eternity He might take us deeper and deeper into the immeasurable riches of His grace in Jesus. God has saved the Church by grace, so that the Church might enjoy the riches of His grace for all eternity – and that God might get all the glory as He pours out those riches upon His people forever. Therefore, our first task as his redeemed people is to enjoy those riches as He pours them out upon us, because it glorifies God.

Yet we also see over and over again in the Scriptures, that to truly glorify God, we must also be focused upon spreading His good name and the word of His grace to as many people as possible. As Jesus says so clearly in Matthew 28:19-20: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Yet, throughout the Scriptures we see that these two tasks, enjoying God’s grace and spreading that grace, are not in competition with one another. They are the two inseparable ways that we, as the Church of Jesus Christ, have been called to glorify God.

Jesus himself said that living a life to glorify God boils down to this one thing (which is actually two things – but are so united that God commands them as one single thing): Loving God exclusively, ultimately, and completely; and loving others tangibly, sacrificially, and faithfully for His glory. That should be the ultimate aim of every Christian in every place at every time. That is the greatest commandment.

And what we are saying in our new mission statement is that this is the great end that we will be giving ourselves to, and that we will be giving ourselves to it together, as a family.

(To listen to the full sermon entitled, “The Mission of the Church”, go to the Shepherd’s Resources tab, and click on “Sermons and Studies”.)

Sunday, 29 September 2013 12:42

Are You an Overcomer?

This week I watched a new music video, debuted yesterday on Good Morning America, that has been making its way around social media over the last 24 hours. The music video is for the song “Overcomer” by Mandisa, a song about persevering in the face of adversity.

The video is actually quite inspiring, as it shows in raw depth and honesty well known people who have persevered in the face of serious adversity. I was moved as I watched it.

And yet, as a Christian, I was also left dissatisfied. Dissatisfied because the video didn’t reach the biblical depths of what it ultimately means to be an Overcomer. In fact, it doesn’t even come close.

An Overcomer in the Bible is one who perseveres all the way to their death, knowing that death is not the end, because Christ has suffered it himself, overcome it through his bodily resurrection, and will do away with it completely in the end. Jesus refers to the Overcomers several times in the book of Revelation, promising them things like…

The blessing of eating of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Rev 2:7).

The blessing of not being hurt by the second death (Rev 2:11).

The blessing of reigning with Jesus over the nations (Rev 2:26).

The blessing of not being erased from the book of life, and confessed by Jesus before his Father and before the Father’s angels (Rev 3:5).

The blessing of citizenship in God’s eternal city, the New Jerusalem (Rev 3:12; 21:7).

You’ll notice that none of these things have anything to do with this life. They all have to do with the next life. That’s because being an Overcomer, by God’s definition, is not simply about persevering in this life, but through this life into the next.

Being an Overcomer is about persevering in obedience to God all the way to that point when a cancer stricken body can no longer hold out. It’s about seeking to be obedient to God all the way to death, knowing that death is coming (unless Jesus returns first) and that death is not the end.

When the Apostle Paul said, “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37), the “things” he was referring to included death. You can see that in the verses leading up to this glorious statement.

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOURR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” (Rom 8:35-36)

That’s why, when he goes on to talk about all the things that have no power to separate us from the love of God in Christ, the first thing he mentions is death. “I am convinced that neither death, nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Not even death. That is why we conquer. That is how we conquer. If death was the end, there would be no overcoming anything. There would only be delaying the inevitiable.

Friday, 12 July 2013 22:15

Introducing the New SCC Blog!

Well, it’s official.  Shepherd’s Community Church has joined the blogosphere.  Yes, it’s taken some time for us, but alas we have made it to our very first blog post.

I acknowledge at the outset that a good number of our members may wonder why we would pour any time into a blog.  Isn’t blogging just for 30-year-old unemployed adultolescents who live rent-free in their mommy’s basement?  Well, no, not really (though there are plenty of them who love to blog).

Blogs are simple ways for people and organizations to communicate content to various groups of people.  Will they be around forever?  Probably not.  Are they the only way to communicate to people?  Nope.  But, in our view they do serve a purpose – and can be used for God’s glory and to benefit others.  So, for us, it is worth at least a small portion of our time.  

And that is why we have started this blog.  We (the leaders of SCC) want to better communicate to our own church and to those outside our church the things that are important to us as a church and the things that we believe others would benefit from knowing.  So, on this blog you can expect to see various kinds of posts.  We might write about the doctrines that are foundational to the faith and foundational to our church.  We might let you know about up-coming events and happenings that are taking place in and around our church.  We may share some personal lessons that we are learning as Christians and as leaders.  We even may share some funny Youtube videos.

The bottom line is that we want to use this blog as a way to honor God and benefit people, whether inside or outside of our church.  So, be sure to check in from time to time.  We’ll try to make it worth your time.   

Page 2 of 2