A Vital Sermon on Modesty


I preached about modesty yesterday. Needless to say, it’s not the most popular sermon that I have preached this year. That’s not to say that the Christians at North Charleston were hostile to the message. They love the truth and willingly receive it into their hearts. The problem with the modesty sermon is that it is just difficult to apply.

It seems to me that the issue is so difficult because it forces us to take a long hard look in the mirror. The Bible implores women to think biblically about what they will wear, and whether it will be a stumblingblock to their male contemporaries (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Men are implored to examine their hearts and not be brought under the sway of lust (Matthew 5:28).

People like to point fingers when modesty is discussed. Some say that men should simply learn to control their “perverted” minds and grow up (which, by the way, I’m sure needs to happen, too). However, the key to understanding God’s standard for modesty is to understand God’s definition of nakedness.

In 2015, Cliff Goodwin preached an incredible sermon about taboo subjects. Modesty was a part of his discussion. Cliff struggled with his voice for the first half of 2015, rendering him unable to preach for months. This lesson, preached in July of that year, was among the first that I heard him deliver following his difficulties. Cliff is now even more determined (though he has always had this kind of conviction) to employ his voice in preaching a message that honors God and that is less concerned with how the hearers will take the culturally unpopular parts of that message.

All Christians should learn from Cliff’s experiences. We cannot be silent. We should use our voices to urgently, courageously, and clearly communicate God’s saving truth, and we should do it now – while we still have the ability to do so.

You will be blessed by taking the time to hear the following remarks from Cliff Goodwin. Skip ahead to 47:03 on the video for the beginning of his lesson.

Gratitude for God’s Freedom – Periscope Revival


I was blessed to participate in the first-ever Periscope Revival last night (Tuesday, November 10, 2015). This is a fun little project (that quickly grew into a not-so-little project) that Adam Faughn put together. The theme for the event is “A 20/20 Vision of Gratitude.”

The revival spans the better part of two weeks (with the exceptions of weekends and Wednesdays), and includes nine speakers. Each night’s speaker delivers a brief presentation on a selected passage of Scripture about gratitude, and concludes with several minutes of audience interaction.

My presentation was titled “Gratitude for God’s Freedom,” and it was based out of Romans 6:17-18. You can watch the replay below.

Be sure to check out the other presentations in the Periscope Revival. Plus, you can still tune in live for the rest of the sessions. Click here to learn how to participate and to watch archived presentations.

To God be the glory!


Wandering Christian, Please Come Home


Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon (Isa. 55:6-7).

Dear Christian brother or sister who is wandering in sin,

Will you please come home?

Listen, we are family. It’s not just that we miss you when you aren’t at worship and Bible study, though we do miss you there. It’s deeper than that. We miss the encouragement that we get when we see your smiling face. We miss working alongside you at church activities.

What was it that caused you to get to this point? Was it charismatic false teaching that carried you away? Was it a misunderstanding with someone here? Was it the ceaseless struggle with sin that burdened you down and caused you to be weary? Whatever it is, want you to know that none of it is stronger than Christ. He loves you, and so do we.

Satan will try to tempt you into thinking that nothing is wrong with your current situation. He will tempt you to believe that we are reaching out to you out of pride and self-righteousness rather than out of love. Don’t listen to that. We are concerned for your soul. Don’t you remember the reason why you became a Christian? Do you remember the gratefulness you felt for God’s grace, and the awe you felt for the cross of Christ? Do you remember how good it felt to finally have your sins washed away in baptism? None of us here are sinless. We’re forgiven. Please, my brother or sister, come home.

We are praying for you to return. In fact, many of us mention you specifically by name every day. Sometimes it even brings tears to our eyes because we have been praying for a while now. Please know that we want you to come back. Please know that God wants you to return. He, your Heavenly Father, is the Father portrayed in Jesus’ story of the lost son. When that son returned home, his father was waiting with open arms. The father initiated a celebrating at his son’s return. Jesus said that it will be the same in heaven if you will return. Won’t you come home?

Let’s wrap it up: I hope you will consider coming home to Jesus and to His church. I know there are probably several hurtles that you will have to clear for that to be possible. It may even seem overwhelmingly difficult. Is there something that we can do to help ease that burden? We can’t claim that it will be easy, but we can assure you that it will be worth it.

Acknowledge the sins in your life before God. Cease all activity that is sinful in His sight, and ask for His forgiveness in prayer. Know that He loves you. Know that we love you, too.

Love, your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Restore in the Right Spirit


Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted (Gal. 6:1).

That passage is more than a saying; it is a call for Christians to reach out in love to our brothers and sisters in the Lord who have fallen back into sin. We are commanded to reach out to them and to help them come back home.

But there is a unique temptation that will come our way when we’re involved in this sort of activity. Paul touches on it in this verse: “you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” There is a certain way that we are to reach out to the erring.

Sin has a way of creeping in – even in situations that have spiritual grounds. Sometimes reaching out to an erring Christian turns into becoming a busybody or can even lead to gossip about the one to whom we are reaching out. Sometimes a brother or sister may wrong me. Perhaps later they realize that wrong and apologize to me, but I may be reluctant to forgive them. Watch yourself, Christian! If you don’t, then Satan will take you down to those same depths!

The “spirit of gentleness” described in this verse literally refers to meekness. Being meek is the opposite of being self-assertive or of operating out of self-interests. I’m going to be humble in seeking the fallen because I know that it could happen to me!

Who are the “spiritual” to whom Paul gives this obligation to restore the fallen? They are the people who have a spiritual mind (Rom. 8:5-8). They are people who’s affections are on spiritual things (Col. 3:1-2). Spiritual people have crucified “the flesh” (Gal. 5:24), and are seeking to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). These are the ones whom Paul addresses with this important task. They will provide a positive example to follow and will handle the situation with love, gentleness, and Christ-likeness.

Let’s wrap it up: Christians take care of each other! We are called to the opposite mentality of Cain, who asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are our brother’s keeper! We have a responsibility to others and they have a responsibility to us. We are to keep each other in check, constantly encouraging each other to keep on keeping on. That’s part of the beauty of the family of God.

So let’s be spiritual people who are motivated by spiritual reasons to reach out to someone, in an effort of helping their spiritual health.

My Responsibility to the Erring


Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).

God intends for His Word to save men (James 1:21). That is why it was given to us (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible details two classes of those who are not saved, that is, who are lost: alien sinners and erring Christians. Those we call “alien sinners” are those who have never become Christians. “Erring Christians” are brothers or sisters in Christ who live in sin – that is, sin of which they have not repented and confessed to God. God’s Word can correct the erring, restoring the fallen.

The book of Galatians was written to Christians who had fallen. Paul told them: “You have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). Paul was clear in reaching out to them, and in commissioning those who were still faithful to do the same.S2E23-Fallen

This brings us to Galatians 6:1:

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Notice a specific responsibility that is given to the faithful. They are to restore the erring. God’s plan for saving men includes the work of men. That is, Christians have an obligation – given by God – to reach out to their brothers and sisters who have slipped back into extremely dangerous territory. If they die in that fallen state, then they will experience the second death, eternal punishment (James 5:19-20)!

In Luke 15:1-10, Jesus told two parables: one of a lost sheep and one of a lost coin. In the first parable, a man who had 100 sheep lost one. He left the 99 others so that he could go find the one that was lost. When he found it, he rejoiced.

The second parable is about a woman who had ten silver coins. She lost one, and proceeded to sweep the entire house, carefully searching until she found it. Upon finding the coin, she rejoiced.

In both parables, Jesus makes the application to a lost disciple, stating that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Further, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

The point is abundantly clear. First, lost Christians should not hesitate to return home. Jesus gives them the assurance that God will gladly welcome them back, that there will be rejoicing in heaven over their return! Second, it is abundantly clear that Christians are seek their lost brothers and sisters. We cannot let them drift away unnoticed. We cannot act as though they are forgotten.

Let’s wrap it up: Are we responding to our responsibility to restore the fallen? To simply acknowledge that Galatians 6:1 is true is not enough. Christian responsibility is not accepted unless effort is made to restore the erring. We must go to them and even plead with them if necessary.

It is easy to let a preacher or an elder assume this responsibility. Don’t do that. Instead, look at the specific people upon whom Paul calls: “you who are spiritual” (Gal. 6:1). Will you answer the call?

Hang On to Hope


I’ve heard it said many times lately. I’ve even said it myself: “I feel like a stranger here.” Never have I felt less at home … at home. This is both good and bad, isn’t it? It’s bad for obvious reasons, but it’s good because the degradation of our culture makes us even more thankful for our hope.

Let’s spend a little time thinking about hope today.

1. Hope Defined

In Proverbs 10:28, the wise man speaks of hope and expectation, using the terms basically synonymously. In Proverbs 13:12, he uses the terms hope and desire synonymously. So hope is desire for something, and expectation that I will receive it. Those who are only vaguely familiar with the biblical teachings understand that we hope for eternal life (Titus 1:2).

Hope is so wonderful! It changes our focus from here to eternity. Paul, a man of hope, reminded us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20), and that we should “trust in the living God” (1 Tim. 4:10; 6:17).

2. Hope Secured

The hope that we have is secure! First, it is secure in Jesus (1 Cor. 15:19; Heb. 6:19-20). When we talk about hoping for heaven, we are talking about something that is not only a desire, but a secure expectation! But that expectation is conditional, isn’t it? On a personal level, our hope is secured in our faith (Heb. 11:1), because faith is the substance of that for which we hope. Further, our hope is secure in our faithfulness. We are to “fight the good fight of faith” and “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12, 19). This reminds me that hope is an expectation conditioned upon our faithfulness to God.

Then, there are things which that hope secures for us. For example, our hope secures our reason to rejoice (Rom. 12:12). Further, our hope secures our bold speech (2 Cor. 3:12). We speak boldly because we know that heaven awaits!

3. Hope realized

Today, our hope is not seen. Paul said that if hopeS2E5-Hope were seen, then it would not be hope (Rom. 8:24-25)! “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Rom. 8:25). One day, faith will become sight, and hope will be realized (1 Thes. 4:13-18).

Let’s wrap it up: We are a people of hope! That’s why we can endure in spite of all of the things going on in our world. That’s why we can overcome temptation and sin. That’s why we can be victorious over Satan as we fight our personal battles to secure Christ’s victory. It’s all because of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

But I am also reminded that there are those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13). They are without Christ (Eph. 2:12), that is, they do not have a relationship with Christ. It is to those without hope that we lovingly, yet boldly and urgently, plead to come to the Savior and to rest in His promises.


TheNewYou1400 This is a partial transcript from my weekday podcast, The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ created in each of us as Christians. A new episode is available each Monday through Friday on The Light Network. Click here to see all of the episodes.

Do Discipleship


I believe that it is imperative for Christians to stand up and stand out in our dark culture. But what will we do? How do we respond to a culture in which sin is legalized? What do we do to influence those who would seek us harm? I believe that step number one is discipleship.

You may be thinking, “Discipleship?!” Right. You and I as Christians must be sure that we are fully committed to the cause of Christ. Have we fully given our lives to Jesus? You see, that is the essence of true discipleship.

Throughout Jesus’ teachings, there were those who sought to offer excuses regarding why they couldn’t do discipleship. Let’s look at four of those now.

1. “But Lord, my family…”

Some people give in to the idea that full, committed Christianity will in some way condemn their family members. So, even though they are New Testament Christians, they may become lax in areas such as divorce and remarriage or modesty or social drinking or others. However, on one occasion, Jesus stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Mat. 12:49-50).

2. “But Lord, let me do this first…”

One person said he couldn’t immediately follow Jesus because he needed to bury his father (Mat. 8:21). Jesus told him to follow Him, and let the dead bury their own dead (Mat. 8:22). Some believe that maybe this man’s father was not yet dead; he was just putting off following Jesus until a more convenient time. Will there ever be a convenient time to follow the Lord? There’s no better time than right now.

3. “But Lord, it’s hard!”

Let’s face it – being a true disciple IS difficult! This is undoubtedly why Jesus said, after giving the Great Commission, “I am with you always” (Mat. 28:20).

4. “But Lord, I could lose my life!”

It’s true, some people have sought to kill Christians simply for living as Jesus taught them to (cf. Rev. 2:10). Jesus’ response is this:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mat. 10:28).

Let’s wrap it up: Jesus has been abundantly clear. Those who are unwilling to put Him above ALL others cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:26). Those who are unwilling to suffer with Him and for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27). Those who are unwilling to forsake all that they have cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:33).

How many people do you know who have been influenced negatively, and have found Christianity repulsive because they saw someone who claimed to be a Christian, but wasn’t a true disciple? I’m afraid I know far too many such people. On the other hand, how many people do you know who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, who motivate you to do right. I’m thankful to say I know a LOT of people like that. And with those two illustrations you see the powerful force of true discipleship.

We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The 5-4 decision mandated the legalization of same-sex marriage in all fifty states, and, in so doing, fundamentally redefined marriage.

Sunday, July 5, I preached a sermon at North Charleston in which we looked at the decision itself, the effects of this decision upon American Christians, and what we should do now. I hope that it can be a blessing to you.

As I emphasized in the sermon, I don’t hate anyone. The last thing I want to do is to make anyone feel as though I hate them. The motivation behind this sermon is to communicate love. The Bible is God’s word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To study and apply the Bible’s teachings is to apply the love of God to your soul, and to secure the hope of heaven. That is why I preached this sermon.

Click the play button above to listen to the sermon. You can view the slides and download the outline from the sermon below.

[button color=”orange” size=”medium” link=”http://roberthatfield.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ObeyGod.pdf” target=”blank” ]Sermon Outline[/button]

Vengeance is God’s

Vengeance is Gods

I’ve been thinking lately about some biblical principles of peace. When we practice these principles in our lives, then the result will be peace in our lives, our communities, and in our world.

Here’s the principle about which I’m thinking today: Vengeance belongs to God. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35 as he writes, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). What exactly does that mean? What does this have to do with peace in our live and communities? Here are several observations.

1. Because vengeance is God’s, we can give our problems to Him. The Holy Spirit isn’t asking us to tolerate someone else’s wrongdoings. He isn’t saying that we should let people run all over us to the extent that evil runs amuck in our society. That’s where the civil authority comes in (discussed in Romans 13). Instead, Paul is saying that the right response when we’re tempted to seek out vengeance is to give that to God. God will render to each one according to their deeds (Rom. 2:6).

2. Because vengeance is God’s, we know that the injustices committed against us will be handled fairly. We tend to allow the wrongs committed against us to swell out of proportion in our minds, don’t we? Little things become big things quickly. God is just and fair.

3. Because vengeance is God’s, not one evildoer will go unpunished. God sees everything (Heb. 4:13). He knows what happened in every situation, and He knows every detail of truth about that situation. Romans 12:19 teaches me that His wrath will come on those who are disobedient to Him – including those who may deeply hurt you.

4. Because vengeance is God’s, everyone has an opportunity to repent. Now this point can be a hard pill to swallow. Remember, God loves everyone. That, of course, includes the blasphemer, persecutor, the violent aggressor, the adulterer, the thief, the drunkard and the extortioner, to borrow some from Paul’s listings in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:13. The goal is that they will learn of Jesus and respond to Him in obedience to the gospel. So, even here in Romans 12:20, Paul writes,

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Treat your enemy with kindness and love. Be willing to forgive the moment that he or she asks your forgiveness. Do everything you can to fill your heart with the love of Jesus. The Bible teaches that God allows the earth to stand today because He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:15). Certainly that includes your enemy.

Let’s wrap it up: God is faithful. God is just. You know, when we seek to avenge ourselves and to get back at someone else because of something they did to us, are we not stepping into God’s territory and putting ourselves in a place that God says clearly belongs to Him? We better be careful. We better be people of peace.

And so, Paul offers this final exhortation at the close of Romans 12: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


TheNewYou1400 This is a partial transcript from my weekday podcast, The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ created in each of us as Christians. A new episode is available each Monday through Friday on The Light Network. Click here to see all of the episodes.

A Common Strength: Stationed Supporters

A Common Strength

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2-4).

When we come to Acts 6, the work of the church is going relatively well. There has been tremendous growth as the gospel was spread. However, something was lacking. There were some widows who were not receiving their daily needs (probably food). The apostles summoned the multitude of the disciples and they discussed the issue. The apostles said that it would not be best for them to neglect the preaching of the word to serve tables. However, the widows were important and something needed to be done for them. So the apostles asked the multitude to find seven men from among themselves. They were to be men of good reputation, men who were students of the Old Testament, and they were to be wise. These men would be appointed over the work of the widows.

And so, the work of deacons was born. A deacon is a stationed supporter. He is appointed over a specific work (or several works) of the local congregation. He does the work in his area of responsibility as a means of supporting the whole work of the congregation. Therefore, he is a stationed supporter.

Let’s notice three points about these stationed supporters: their prerequisites, their purpose, and their power.

The Prerequisites

The qualifications of deacons are found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. They are to be married men, with children, who have a great reverence for God in their hearts and in their actions and words. They are to be blameless and faithful to the cause of Christ.

Their Purpose

What do deacons do? The word deacon literally means servant. It is used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to any servant. Within the context of 1 Timothy 3, it is clearly referring to an individual who occupies a specific role in the church. So a deacon is a special servant. He is appointed by the overseers of the congregation to a specific work. It could be an area of benevolence like taking care of widows (as they did in Acts 6). It could also have to do with other areas of the work of the church, evangelism and edification.

Their Power

From where do deacons get their power? In Acts 6 those seven men received their instructions from the apostles. Today, deacons receive their instructions from the elders. The elders, of course, are operating under the guidelines of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Ultimately, everything we do comes from Christ, the Head of the church, who, of course, operates in accordance with the will of the Father.

Let’s wrap it up: For the past three days, we have noticed that the work of the church is a collaborative effort. It takes the steadfast servants – all of us as Christians. We must be actively working to accomplish God’s will in our lives. It takes the sound shepherds – men who are good students of the word and who are committed to it. And, yes, it takes stationed supporters – deacons who realize that their work is the work of the Lord and, thus, who are proactive in accomplishing that great work.

While these roles within the church are different in some ways, they are alike in other ways. No, not everyone can serve as an elder or as a deacon, but we can all tap into our common strength – God. We are “laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). May we never forget it.