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Behold the Works of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2022 7:00 pm

Behold the Works of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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May 15, 2022 7:00 pm

Praise God for mercies received and mercies to come. Pastor Greg Barkman reviews the history of the church on the occasion of the 49th anniversary.

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The Bible commands us to remember what God has done chosen for our text today. Psalm 66 five, and see the works of God is awesome and is doing toward the sons of men, that is just one of dozens of similar admonitions scattered throughout the word of God to remind us how important it is to remember to reflect what God has done and to praise him and let that be an impetus to our faith to trust him in the days ahead.

So our primary focus today on this 49th anniversary of the beginning of this church is to remember what God has done to celebrate these 49 years of God's goodness and his mercy the life of our church. It has become increasingly apparent to me as I talk to people that God brings to us that many do not know the history of our church and it's not surprising since you were here.

You haven't lived through much of it. Some of you through virtually none of it so I do think it's important from time to time to help you to understand where we came from and how God brought us into being and how God has guided and directed us down through these years.

Very recently on the nine marks website, there was an article talking about the importance of churches knowing their history and I have taken that to heart and I will try to do do something in that direction today and hopefully continue to do things from time to time to remind our people of the history of God's working in our lives. There are fewer and fewer who were with us when this all began 49 years ago you have in your bulletin and insert that has the names of our charter members. I've got one somewhere here it is.

29 people who came together, and also a little bit more about that in the moment, but of those saw 2910 are now with the Lord. We look forward to seeing them again. Some have been with the Lord a good long while others only a short while. Let me read the names of those who are with us in the beginning and you have now joined the church triumphant around the throne. God the our Gerald counts Robbie counts Agnes Edwards, Ralph Fawcett, Marjorie Holland, Otis Holland, Randy Holland, Burnett, Robberson, Allen Vestal and Betty Vestal. I wish all of you could have known these people as God allowed me to know them and as some of you know them.

But indeed, the Lord used them in a wonderful way in the beginning of our church. Of the 29 that we begin with. In 1973, eight are still present and active in the Congo. Today these 49 years later, that is, my wife and I Gail and Joe Davis, Don and Fawcett. She's not able to get out much. She here today by any chance. I know she would be if at all possible. But she's not doing well and also Vestal and Lori Vestal, Craig, and it's good to have Lori here. She's been struggling with health issues and good to have her in the service today.

Well, these are the people that God used just ordinary people, carpenters, bricklayers, electrical engineers and on and on it goes. God used to bring this church into being in 1973. So today I'm departing from my normal pulpit ministry, which is consecutive exposition and I am currently preaching to the book of Philippians and if you been here lately you know that the next time that I step in the pulpit.

I will preach what comes next. That's what we do in preaching through books of the Bible be back into the book of Philippians and preach what comes next. But today we take a vacation from that and we focus on the history of our church.

Behold the works of God divided my remarks today. The two sections number one. A brief summary of Psalm 66 the number two. A brief review of our churches history.

I have exposition my blood so I can just ignore it entirely.

And so looking at Psalm 66 today. Let's just quickly review what we have in the song divides into four parts and you can find those parts pretty much spelled out by that word. See law that you will see scattered throughout the Psalm, which means to pause and reflect.

It's a musical notation that divides the sum of the four parts and we have number one a command to praise number two a call to reflect number three a promise to preserve a number for a testimony of mercy. The first four verses are a summons or called to pray.

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth, sing out the honor of his name, make his praise glorious. This is what God's people are supposed to be doing. We are to be enthusiastically gloriously energetically raising our voices in praise to God.

So there's a call to enthusiastic praise and to universal price which we recognize is not a reality. Yet, but the promises that one day it will be.

There will be a day when all of the people that God has created all of the spirit beings the Angels that God has created all rational beings are all going to open their mouths in praise to God. Some enthusiastically and gratefully. Others begrudgingly but nevertheless all are going to do it.

All are going to recognize that God is worthy of praise, and there will be universal praise, but in the meantime, God's people who know him are the ones who must raise his praises before the world that does not know him and will not praise him, but we know him and he has saved us and he has been so merciful and kind to us in so many ways and we are called upon to praise him crazy with our voices praising with our songs praise him in every way that we can a command to praise. Verses five through seven are call to reflect, come and see the works of God is awesome and is doing toward the sons of men.

He turned to see into dry land. That's the Red Sea. They went through the river on foot.

That's the Jordan. The different elements from the history of Israel. Some of the major events to be reflected upon and for which to give God thanks so a call to reflect, to remember what God has done in the history of Israel in the case of Psalm 66 but by extension for us to remember what God has done in our lives and in the history of our church and along with a call to reflect.

You will notice there is a command to submit to his sovereign rule as we reflect upon who he is and what he has done it. Not only should draw forth from our hearts, Thanksgiving and praise be to God to draw forth from our hearts fresh submission fresh surrender, fresh confidence in knowing that what air my God ordains his right and I will submit myself to that call to reflect the next section. The longest one verses eight through 15 is a promise to preserve will bless our God of you people make the voice of his praise to be heard who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our fee to be moved. A promise to preserve and without reading through all of these verses let me say that there is the promise that God will preserve his people. And then there is in verses 10 through 12. A reminder of the process that God uses to do this in the process has to do with triangles and tribulations and refining like silver and the furnace and all of these difficulties, the suffering. These these challenging times of illness and of financial problems and of broken relationships and heartaches and deaths of loved ones that we go through, and sometimes we put those in a different category as if somehow that should be happening in the Bible reminds us over and over and over that this is God's process to preserve us faithfully until we get home to heaven. This is how he sanctifies us.

This is how he preserves, as we need this is part of his perfect plan for our lives promise to preserve finding the Psalm ends in verses 16 through 20 with the testimony of mercy, the testimony is rehearsed in verses 16 and following common here. All you we fear God and I will declare what he has done for my soul and God's mercy is extolled once more in the final verse, blessed be God who is not turned away. My prayer, nor his mercy from me at all God's people said a brief summary of Psalm 66. Now for the remainder of my message today. A brief history of our church and this will be brief. I Possibly give you many details in a few minutes, but I selected six words that I'm going to do.

Following my organization of the history of our church preparation, initiation, provision, instruction, protection and renewal and I begin with preparation for a church to be brought into existence. God must prepare people and God must prepare the pastor and indeed God did exactly that and how God prepared people to begin. The church was through one of these refining episodes that I made reference to a moment ago. It really wasn't a very pretty time.

Our initial people were part of a of another Baptist Church in this area and there were a lot of heartaches I will go into the now, but does some serious serious matter that caused great pain within the congregation in a great deal of of suffering and anguish and even brought a lot of division within that congregation.

The pastor had failed grievously and the church was was divided as to what direction they should go in. This was back in 19 all this happened in 72 when the immorality of the pastor came to light and then some of these things began to develop. Most of you are not old enough to remember what I'm going to tell you now back in 1972 the Southern Baptists convention was sliding rapidly into what looked like fatal apostasy from which it would never recover on the goodness of God. That's not what happened, but that's with the way it looked in 1972. There were those who are raising the alarm writing books like Southern Baptist wake up. These materials were coming into the hands of people in our congregation and so in the course of what was taking place in the church. There were a large number of these folks who said you know what we need to do while remaking these transitions is just transition out of the Southern Baptist convention get away from the apostasy get away from the. The influence of apostates who are teaching in our school seminaries get get away from this publishing house it's putting out material that is questioning the. The truthfulness of God's word and let's just become an independent church. Well, that was what some people thought it was exactly what ought to be done and that was what other people thought was exactly what ought not to be done so the conflict arose and eventually the people the some of whom not all the people who took this position but some of the people who took that position decided the only honorable thing to do was to withdraw stop the fighting withdraw and but they wanted to stay together as a congregation goes. It hadn't already some ability left the church's they want to stay together as a congregation they would like to start another church. That's the preparation of the people preparation the pastor course is my story, I have finished my training at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina doing some candid dating looking for God's direction my life and in the course of that time I did some pulpit supply for this church that I just described is a they had an empty pulpit and I actually came at their invitation on three weekends and preach to them and some of the people said let's call this man to be our pastor and others said nope.

He's good leaders out of the Southern Baptist convention infection. I met with the pulpit committee.

I was young and audacious and foolish. I know that now and I don't remember exactly how the meeting got started with wasn't long into the meeting that I said something like this. I said folks made we can just as save a lot of time here. If you're interested in getting someone that will help lead you out of the SBC. I would be happy to consider that if you're not I'm not interested in coming. III do one of pastor Southern Baptist Church.

That pretty much ended the meeting and I thought that was the end of it. I went on preaching other places from time to time and still looking for God's direction, but little-known to me people in the church was still working. I learned later that actually the church leaders, deacons and pulpit committee had put a candidate before the church and asked them to vote that person into the pastoral office in the church voted no. Voted him down so leader I can still see this gentleman I was that this meeting, of course, but I had gotten to know him and I can just about see him standing there wondering what's going to happen next in my reports and became told me later, one of the people who were with us in the beginning, stood up and said I'd like to nominate Greg Barkman to become her next pastor and that was immediately ruled out of order because it had not gone through the proper channels that was aborted so that all of this developed these people reached out and said would you come and help us start a church.

My initial response was no, I'm not interested in the really, it's clear that what were talking about here is is a church split.

I don't like. I know sometimes it's necessary, but I just don't like the idea of being involved in fostering a church split and other things I will going to now, so my initial response was no, I don't think I'd be interested but they said will pray about it and praying about it and talking to others, including my own pastor to receive counsel within two weeks. My mind was completely changed and I was I was assured that God wanted my wife and I to come here as I am sure that my name is Greg Mark, just that clear. And so here we came here we started was quite an adventure. So that's the preparation, the initiation, how and when did we begin the 19 adults that constituted the group that I'm talking about had gotten together and signed a piece of paper that said something like this.

I think we still got it somewhere should've dug it out and and I reviewed it, but it said something like this. If Greg Barkman will, and become pastor to to our new church that we desire to begin, we pledge our commitment and support in these 19 people signed their names and they gave that to meet to pray about this. Take with me to pray about coming as a pastor that was the agreement. So when we decided to come. We came I come up on the weekend prior to this, to meet with the people we met at the home of Joe and Gail Davis were one of our meetings that weekend and talk together.

I don't remember what all took place at that meeting and then I think the next night met at the home of Ralph and Don Fawcett had another meeting with the people and then five forks Baptist Church open their pulpit to up to me on that Sunday.

All of our people five forks Baptist were understrength pastor for a couple of years and I preached the congregation that day one home with this promise of 19 people that they would support the beginning of a new church if I would agree to come so we came at our first service on 29 April 1973 I turn 25 years old on 28 April and we had our first service on 29 April meeting at EM whole school that had opened the doors to us.

We rented that facility. The only requirement was that we have a school employee present with this and we didn't have anybody our congregation who employed by the school system have to be that school that had to be somebody in the element school system and so we found a janitor who was willing to come. We paid him by the hour to come and be with us in the did.

We had to pick him up and bring them to the services and he slept through most of the but we we met met the requirement that I still have great great fond memories in my heart of dear old Clifton Slade who made it possible for us to to meet those first several months. What a blessing that was what would a jolly happy man that was a wonderful time but after about four months of meeting in the school.

The oil embargo of 1973 the caused by a shortage similar to what were having now, but that descended upon America. There were gas lines. Some of you are old enough to remember that we went by the last number on her license plate if it was an even number you went on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and it was an odd number. On Saturday whatever Tuesday Tuesday Thursday Saturday. The only days you could buy gas if you could find line up at the gas stations and biogas of the school board said we don't we don't know if we can have enough oil to heat the school during during the school week, Monday through Friday, let alone the extra heat required for you to use it on the weekend on Sunday so you need to find another place so long story short, we wonder what in the world is to do here and he did supplied marvelously by noise nicely here back there was her father.

Long story. But anyway, her father was still involved a little church over on the corner trailing Marion Street in the congregation to dwindle and they were really not sure what they were going to do and the pastor that had actually found the church was now pastoring in Greensboro number case and he contacted Ralph Anderson and said the possibility that you would be willing to let these people use your facility. He said yes they were only like five or six of the meeting on Sundays so we agreed the terms were that we would pay the mortgage. They still have a mortgage on the building we would take care of the utilities in any repairs and upkeep of that was our rent could use the building.

Under those conditions, and so we began to use that building and it was very suitable for a while but the church was growing. We actually outgrew it. In the meantime the Lord gave us the land where we are here and effect. We had our eye on them. That's another story that would take too long. Explain. But it was our our confidence that the Lord was going to supply this place. This location that directed this to name our church, beacon Baptist Church because we said we can going to locate near the airport in the airport. Beacon is there and everybody will know Belleville associate that don't know right where we are wrong.

I've never met anybody yet that made that connection seemed like a good idea, but it didn't work out that way but that's why we are beacon Baptist Church because there is an airport beacon right of, but the Lord gave us his facility in this land and property to develop so we began, we build the building and moved into it. Incredibly on our third anniversary in 1976 occupied her first building and have been building in developing and renovating and working at it. Ever since the Lord is been so good. First couple of projects we we had to borrow money in order to accomplish, but after that the Lord has supplied everything ahead of time and everything we have done since I think since 1992 has been done. Cash money already in the bank ahead of time and that has been a wonderful blessing of God and he has just blessed in so many ways this a good time to say thanks to all of you who have the last two or three weeks of so diligently to reach refresh our facilities is been painting there's been cleaned and there's been landscaping the repairs. There has been decorating that has gone on the last two or three weeks just to make things as nice and fresh for our anniversary as possible and for those of us who are here regularly is real obvious meaning buying it pops when we drive into the drive.

The parking lot or walk into the building.

If you visiting today don't know what to compare it to put I assure you, there has been an awful lot of work that is going on here recently. We thank the Lord for that size, preparation, mission provision, initiation provision, God gave us a place to meet God gives a property to develop number four is instruction in many ways is the most important part. All these other things are are significant, but this is the most important part. We started in the beginning with an expository pulpit.

I had developed a desire to get a taste for that but our theology was very different from what were you people sometimes ask what were you in those days Baptist. What kind of Baptists regular Baptist ordinary Baptist Baptists to sort of standard Baptist theology, and we started out with a bang, enthusiastic evangelism, door-to-door visitation. I was talking with the one of our charter members. Just a few days ago and said remember when so-and-so on a Sunday afternoon we were out passing out tracts found a nearby mainline denominational church with the doors open and he went in there and lay one of our tracks on every spot in the pews and his father found out said you go back in there and pick all those up so he would back in there and pick them all up before anybody saw them that we were. We had zeal, sometimes with with more zeal. The knowledge of the research is days, but we had an expository problem. One of the things it that we noticed was we were seeing professions of faith by the score score score score but the number of those who gave real evidence of change lives and who should serious interest in church and the word of God was just a handful something wrong. Big gap between all these people professing to be saved and the ones who get it gave evidence of the really worsening. Some churches and pastors go on and that condition without any problems seeing that there's anything wrong but we began to see the something was wrong and I'm really I'm really embarrassed and apologetic for people that that I know I and others are church. This led early days of guard to their eternal condition before God.

Someone said to me recently about some of the ones pray for said you you baptized him. I don't remember that we baptize so many people back then I could possibly remember and my response was busy walking with the Lord. And the answer is think so. I'm sorry I baptized. I hope I didn't mislead them into thinking that he is eternally secure and if he dies you be with the Lord in heaven. If there's no evidence of a changed life so that led me initially into a real difficult time of soul-searching that eventually led me to an understanding of what is known as the doctrines of grace were known as reformed theology, Calvinist theology in a different understanding of salvation which was not easy.

It was not easy.

And then after having come to that myself. I didn't have a clue as to where to go from there. How to bring the church along that same understanding knowing that we had people that were vehemently opposed to what they consider to be the heirs of Calvinism, mostly out of misconceptions of what what actually was taught but nevertheless that strong reaction, so it was a long slow and arduous process but my little by little church came along and brought us together in unity in our understanding of these truths.

People left along the way. Unfortunately that was sad.

My goal was to bring everybody to an understanding of that Shirley will understand that if we could just patiently show it to you from the Bible but it didn't always have that result but God preserved us God Does God strengthen this God protected this we are reunited in doctrine and believing in the doctrines of grace God was so good.

One of the things that help us along the way was this hymnal. We needed a new hymnal.

We had a hymnal that was fine as far as it went.

We needed one had little stronger doctrinal emphasis and the friend John Pinkston, who's been here in the number of times along with a Dunbar who plays the organ she plays the piano interest quite a talented musician and is written.

I know how many human tunes and we heard that she was editing a new church hymnal. So we said we'd like to have that we put in our advance order and waited and waited and waited and waited and two years went by that date when it was supposed to be delivered and we still didn't have it and eventually they came here at K we grab the hymnal and put it into use in our worship service on that first Sunday there was one other church in America that had at that same Sunday and it was not for the three Presbyterian Church. They did get to the Sunday following was not Calvary Baptist Greenville and we both started with this. Can you imagine Baptist churches using a Presbyterian hymnal, but it was it was perfectly suited for our purposes and full of sound doctrine singing truth were singing doctrine that part of the instruction of the Lord has helped to instruct and solidifies along the way but I come to number five which is protection how God has protected us over these years and there have been a number of crises, some of you have observed them and some of you have been spared them tell you the first one I don't think I've ever said anything about this one publicly embarrasses me church was about a year and 1/2 old. We started the bus ministry bringing children to church, some of whom were had black skin and we had some men in the church. He said we don't want those black children, they support you making I can imagine a Christian with that attitude what you mean we don't want those black children so try to deal with it kind of behind-the-scenes wasn't getting anywhere. This is a Baptist church. We demand congregation will make this decision. These people were very certain that the majority would agree with them. Alyssa 1975, things like that bad today thankfully been a lot of progress since then. So I said okay will vote on it. But here's a vote on I said I promise you I refuse to pastor a church that will not allow Blacks or anyone of any color who wants to come to church to come. So here's the vote, you're going to vote either to dismiss me as pastor, or to retain me as pastor. That's with the understanding that if you vote to keep me. We will continue to open the doors to whoever desires to come.

Well the night came for that vote.

I was full of fear and trepidation in my mind I had already packed my bags and didn't know where I was going. Figured I was I was looking to be looking for another place we I preached at night on next hand as she let down from heaven, but God is called unclean. Don't you call what God has called clean don't you call unclean that persuade them. We had our business meeting people had their say and it was hard to tell from the way the business meeting was going what was going to happen until dear David Graham stood who was principal of elements Christian school, and member of our church and of the son of the South's father pastor had pastored a national that's where he grew up and his wife grew up in Winston-Salem. He said something like this will folks are pastor is young and he may have said some things that were a little hard to hear but he said he's right I'm behind him hundred percent. I'm going to vote to keep him and I hope you'll join me. When he sat down a lot. He was well respected had a lot of influence in the congregation. He sat down just like a breath of fresh air like like letting out a balloon and we had the vote and there were five men and their wives who voted no, not to keep me as pastor.

The rest of voted yes I do remember how many that was together. But let's say 40 or 50 who voted yes and 10 and so those 10 adults left. I wasn't happy to see them go. I wanted to see them change. I wanted them to to embrace truth and come to a better understanding that they were willing they left so we went on without the that was for the size of our church in those days that was a pretty big pretty big disruption. Probably the biggest and terms of percentage that we had in all of these years but the Lord kept us together. We kept going and we knew that we had taken a stand on truth and what agreed on was right in God would honor and bless that and he hands my only regret is that we have not seen the Lord bring us more brothers and sisters of of different color skin and ethnic background, and so forth. And I know I know it's a challenge. I know, but were united in Christ, skin color, these things don't matter. These things don't matter were all sons and daughters of Adam are all members of the human race is only one race, the human race role, descendents of Noah world world one blood. What's a little bit of skin pigment. It's amazing how the devil can can make nothing into mountains of problems in opposition but anyway that was our big crisis. We have some others.

I know I don't have time to spell them out some unfaithful man some unfaithful staff members over the years that have been a great burden to us. But God has been faithful some unfaithful deacons over the years it's been a burden to us. But God has been faithful so that brings me finally to my last point which is renewal as the church has progressed some of us have grown older, I once was young and now I'm old not seen God's people. The righteous forsaken or God's people begging red. I once was young when we started I was 25 I now I'm old, I'm 70 and a lot of other people that have been committed and faithful in his work of grown older to sing like our congregation was aging and were not. We used to have the halls just teaming with young children and used to have the nursery just just overflowing with babies and that kind of has changed over the years, but we prayed and God has done to bring young families.

Again thank you and looking at some now some who just started coming. God is answering that prayer and justice. One thing about it while churches are going through that and people sorta hit the panic button but we need more youth. We need more youth of the future the church if we don't get them. The church is going to die. What are we going to do answer for most people, contemporary music that will bring them. It will and I do want to get into an argument.

I am not saying that contemporary Christian music is per se wrong person for not saying that I just don't think is best, but I don't think it's necessarily wrong, but I do think that in most cases, the motivation behind it is not a good one.

It's very pragmatic and I think the best thing to do is pray for God to bring young people who have a heart to worship God enough in a reverent quarterly way. That's what God is doing.

It doesn't happen as quickly, but have you noticed these churches that grow big by contemporary music and contemporary staging and all of the modern stuff. Most of them only last a few years Topock they have problem I can remember one of the biggest ones in Alamance County has now imploded to even survive had to had to merge with another church are trying to keep things going. That doesn't do it. It's got to be the spirit of the living God working in the hearts of people and honoring his word and if it is that the church goes on and lives it grows.

It's vital and if it's something else, whatever it may be in the early years of the church church we had people that came to be and said now we have some good old country music. Some gospel quartet and so forth. The church and grow a lot quicker.

I said I know I know I've observed that no one can do that. Why not because I don't think it's best and someone even has set along the way will who made you the one to decide. I said well God made me the pastor and I don't know who else should decide things like that have to do with with the way we worship think that's pretty pretty much the spiritual decision and the pastor has to take the lead in that so I'm not saying that these things are wrong. I'm just saying this is where the Lord has led me as long as I pastor that suites can be I will be here forever. You can you can can make your decisions after them, while I'm here.

I like that first thing while I'm here, not close the door to anybody wants to come while I'm here working to continue to worship God in a reverent traditional if you want to call it that manner and trust God to bring to us. People of all ages, young and old, middle who have a desire for that lets us see what God will do is pray and trust him.

See what God will do we see what he has done you think is going to abandon is now, and see the works of the Lord shall we pray father, thank you for what you have done these 49 year's we look to you oh Lord to protect us and preserve us and to take us on as we ask it in Jesus name, amen

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