By God’s amazing grace, the truth of His Word has sounded forth from Grace Community Church throughout five decades of faithful preaching. And we thank God that the sanctifying power of His Word is producing men and women of integrity who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)—those who seek to put away the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16), and to put on righteousness and holiness as they follow Christ. This is a magnificent blessing for which we enthusiastically praise God.
Regrettably, however, this reality can sometimes leave us struggling with sin under the impression that we’re alone in our fight against the flesh. We begin to think that everyone around us has “got it together.” We suppose that if our friends knew the kinds of sins we battle against, they wouldn’t be our friends for very long. We forget, as a famous preacher once said, that “the church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.” So rather than exposing our sins, confessing them to one another, and seeking the accountability and encouragement of other believers, our shame causes us to retreat and further isolate ourselves. Before long, we can begin to despair of ever walking in freedom before the Lord.
That sense of hopelessness in the fight against the flesh is why Hope Bible Study (HBS) exists. Led by Max Megee, Nathan Geisbrecht, and Nathan Hunter, HBS is a transitional ministry that labors to encourage those who have been beset by life-dominating sins (such as enslavement to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, etc.) with the hope of Christ, the sanctifying power of His Word, and the fellowship of His church. The ministry seeks to provide a distinct sensitivity—the gentle love of our Savior and the compassion of His people—to those wearied by the battle against sin.
This tenderness does not come at the expense of truth, however. HBS specifically addresses biblical truths as they relate to life-dominating sins and restoration, yet provides an environment that allows sharing of past and current struggles without being ostracized. We are aware that victory over sin requires daily encouragement to protect against being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:12–13). For this reason, we do not forsake gathering together, but come alongside one another to spur each other on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24–25).
If you are beginning to feel hopeless in the battle against your sin, and if that pattern of sinful behavior has begun to dominate your life, the first step toward spiritual health is to make your sin known (James 5:16). The body of believers who surround you cannot minister to you effectively if they don’t know how to help. Our shepherds would be glad to meet with you and discuss how you can confront your sin head-on. Please also feel free to join them for Bible study every Monday evening at 7:00 pm in H221-222.
For those of you in our church family who don’t find yourself in this situation, do know that you play an important part in this ministry as well. The first thing you can do to ensure that your brothers and sisters (and you yourself!) do not get to a place of hopelessness is to lovingly hold each other accountable. Commit to working together for each other’s holiness, so that sin is dealt with and is not allowed to compound into hopelessness and enslavement. Secondly, if you know another believer who is struggling with life-dominating sin, commit yourself to lovingly support, encourage, and even disciple them. The ministry of admonition is not to be relegated to the “expert” counselors, but is the responsibility and privilege of all believers. Finally, for those of you who would be interested in serving in this ministry, please contact the Local Outreach Office.
As our pastor has said, “The church grows spiritually in direct proportion to how well it deals with the sin within it.” May all of us at Grace Church be committed to true church growth, as the body of Christ continues to spur one another on to an ever-increasing love for Jesus Christ, strengthening one another’s hands in the fight of faith against our sin.
To learn more about Hope Bible Study or to speak with a shepherd, contact Local Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-909-5721.