From the Pastor's Desk

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Did Jesus go to hell?

David Crowder, a talented musician, has a song called I Know A Ghost. It speaks about the Holy Ghost empowering the believer. It has a line that would make some uncomfortable. It goes like this.

The things I thought I wanted, I

Never should have wandered, I

Let the Devil get the best of me

When, oh, my God's paid a debt for me

Now to turn this house into a home

It's the only thing that rattles bones

He went to Hell and back to leave us His own

Jesus and hell is a touchy subject. Half the world refuses even to acknowledge hell, but Jesus spoke about hell a lot! We see in the Apostles Creed similar language.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven,

and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost,

the holy catholic Church*,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

We can also see references in the Bible that seem to hint at something that was happening:

Ephesians 4:9-10 (NASB)

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended afar above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

1 Peter 4:6 (NASB)

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

Commentaries are a great help in this matter, a way to look at the great teachers of the past, but occasionally Scripture acts as a commentary for us, which is by far better. The Apostle Paul is referencing Psalm 68 here. The psalm helps us to understand the purpose a bit better. The Psalm was about God's triumph of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem and the ascent of God up to Mt. Zion. Paul uses this to show us Christ returning from His battle on earth back into the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem with the trophies of His great victory at Calvary. Through His crucifixion and resurrection, Christ conquered Satan and death, and in triumph, returned to God those who were once sinners and prisoners of Satan. The spoils of conquering were the souls saved, but now He also bestows gifts to the redeemed through His Holy Spirit.

Sadly, there has been much confusion around the descent. Much of it comes from a misunderstanding over terms regarding death and hell. The term in the Old Testament is Hades, and it could mean what we think of by grave or cemetery, the place where the body is laid to rest. It also is used in a way regarding hell and all its torments.

So we are left with asking, did Jesus descend to the grave?

Yes! This is what Good Friday is all about but the story doesn't end there.

His body is testified to have laid to rest in the tomb until the glorious third day of which we celebrate every Lord's Day and especially Resurrection Sunday (Easter).

Did He descend into hell (as in torment and fire)? No!

Now consider an updated reading of the Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day, He rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church*,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*meaning the universal Christian church—all believers in Jesus Christ

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Exciting News!

Today we witnessed Gavin Riley getting baptized. It is such a blessing to watch someone grow from attending kid's club to placing their faith in Christ and get baptized. We sang Victory in Jesus after his baptism!

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This February

So many people seem to be angry, war-like rhetoric by our politicians and media. What is really going on? Make sure you understand and are able to fight the real war, a spiritual one.

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Join us in reading through the Bible this year

Has 2020 taken its toll on you? Join us and help get back on track by being in God's Word. The Binge Reading the Bible challenge will take you through the Bible in a year. It requires you to be willing to read 5 out of 7 days a week. Don't worry if you get behind, as you can always catch up or even read ahead. Pastor will be posting questions to help guide you from going from reading to studying God's Word. Simply go to and join the Grace Bible Church group on Faithlife to interact with others going through the challenge as well. The readings will also be posted in the weekly bulletin and on Facebook.

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Exciting News!

I have some really exciting news I want to share. With such a tumultuous year, we can all use some good news for a change. At Protection Mennonite Church, we are celebrating an exciting season for our church. As many know we have been a church in this area for over 120 years, after much prayer and discussion, we are renaming our congregation to Grace Bible Church. Naturally, this will bring up some questions in the community, why the change? 

This change has been long in the making. We left our denomination years ago; we have been independent of any denomination for some time. As I look at the people God has brought to our congregation, I see our church as a spiritual quilt that is unique and beautiful. We have people with a Mennonite background of course, and cherish that rich history but also have those raised in Baptist, Methodist, Christian, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and numerous other backgrounds. Some share my history of not growing up in the church. Others have experienced what I would call church hurt and are experiencing grace that, in time, will bring healing from that pain. Our world needs grace; I invite you to join us if you want to be part of something bigger than yourself, a movement of God beginning here in Protection. 

Part of this change is to better reflect to you, our community that we serve, who we are as a church, and what you should expect. We are not defined by a denomination but by being followers of Jesus. We have chosen the name of Grace Bible Church. 

Grace for its what we have all received freely from Christ, and this grace we will give freely to any who come to join us in worshipping the Name that is above every name. It is what separates us as Christians from the rest of the world. It offers hope, forgiveness, and community where the world offers despair, judgment, and hatred.

Bible for it is what we have always been about. We have always been a church centered on the teachings of the Bible. Our purpose statement is "To Know Christ and to Make Him Known". Whether that be through Sunday Morning Worship, Kids Bible Club, Men or Women Bible Studies, it's a part of who we are. As the Pastor of Grace Bible Church, I will preach and teach passionately from the Word of God. From time to time, I will step on your toes but promise never to break them, for we are all growing closer to Christ day by day. I want to invite you to join with us, to be a part of what God is doing in Protection at Grace Bible Church. 

As a pastor, I also want to apologize. At times, I recognize that church can be painful; whether my church in the past has hurt you, or another church, know that God loves you, the greatest gift anyone has ever given is celebrated at Christmas. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Father sent the Son to die for you; the Son went to the cross with you in mind. He sent His Holy Spirit, which both gives us grace and also convicts us of our need to repent from our sins. This year, a year like no other, may it be the year you surrender all your burdens, shame, anxiety, all of it. Give it to God.

We plan to celebrate Christmas this year with a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 PM on Dec. 24th. We would love for you to join us, assuming it is safe and responsible to do so with COVID (we are monitoring this day by day).

Come and experience the Grace of God as we encounter it in His Word, the Bible together as a Church.

Pastor Dillon Evans

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Day 15: Jesus Enters into the Guilt of Human Beings

Jesus Enters into the Guilt of Human Beings

Jesus does not want to be the only perfect human being at the expense of humankind. He does not want, as the only guiltless one, to ignore a humanity that is being destroyed by its guilt; he does not want some kind of human ideal to triumph over the ruins of a wrecked humanity. Love for real people leads into the fellowship of human guilt. Jesus does not want to exonerate himself from the guilt in which the people he loves are living. A love that left people alone in their guilt would not have real people as its object. So, in vicarious responsibility for people and in his love for real human beings, Jesus becomes the one burdened by guilt—indeed, the one upon whom all human guilt ultimately falls and the one who does not turn it away but bears it humbly and in eternal love. As the one who acts responsibly in the historical existence of humankind, as the human being who has entered reality, Jesus becomes guilty. But because his historical existence, his incarnation, has its sole basis in God’s love for human beings, it is the love of God that makes Jesus become guilty. Out of selfless love for human beings, Jesus leaves his state as the one without sin and enters into the guilt of human beings. He takes it upon himself.

We have something to hide. We have secrets, worries, thoughts, hopes, desires, passions which no one else gets to know. We are sensitive when people get near those domains with their questions. And now, against all rules of tact the Bible speaks of the truth that in the end we will appear before Christ with everything we are and were.… And we all know that we could justify ourselves before any human court, but not before this one. Lord, who can justify themselves? 

Bonhoeffer’s sermon for Repentance Sunday, November 19, 1933

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10

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Day 14: An Unfathomable Mystery

An Unfathomable Mystery

In an incomprehensible reversal of all righteous and pious thinking, God declares himself guilty to the world and thereby extinguishes the guilt of the world. God himself takes the humiliating path of reconciliation and thereby sets the world free. God wants to be guilty of our guilt and takes upon himself the punishment and suffering that this guilt brought to us. God stands in for godlessness, love stands in for hate, the Holy One for the sinner. Now there is no longer any godlessness, any hate, any sin that God has not taken upon himself, suffered, and atoned for. Now there is no more reality and no more world that is not reconciled with God and in peace. That is what God did in his beloved Son Jesus Christ. Ecce homo—see the incarnate God, the unfathomable mystery of the love of God for the world. God loves human beings. God loves the world—not ideal human beings but people as they are, not an ideal world but the real world.

We prepare to witness a mystery. More to the point, we prepare to witness the Mystery, the God made flesh. While it is good that we seek to know the Holy One, it is probably not so good to presume that we ever complete the task, to suppose that we ever know anything about him except what he has made known to us. The prophet Isaiah helps us to remember our limitations when he writes, “To whom then will you compare me …? says the Holy One.…” Think of it like this: he cannot be exhausted by our ideas about him, but he is everywhere suggested. He cannot be comprehended, but he can be touched. His coming in the flesh—this Mystery we prepare to glimpse again—confirms that he is to be touched.

Scott Cairns, in God with Us

To whom then will you liken God,

or what likeness compare with him?…

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

and spreads them like a tent to live in;

who brings princes to naught,

and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

Isaiah 40:18, 21–23

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Day 13: The Mysteries of God

The Mysteries of God

No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable. Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.… If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.

Eugene Peterson

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:15–20

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Day 12: The Power and Glory of the Manger

The Power and Glory of the Manger

For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.…

Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46–55

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Day 11: The Scandal of Pious People

The Scandal of Pious People

The lowly God-man is the scandal of pious people and of people in general. This scandal is his historical ambiguity. The most incomprehensible thing for the pious is this man’s claim that he is not only a pious human being but also the Son of God. Whence his authority: “But I say to you” (Matt. 5:22) and “Your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2). If Jesus’ nature had been deified, this claim would have been accepted. If he had given signs, as was demanded of him, they would have believed him. But at the point where it really mattered, he held back. And that created the scandal. Yet everything depends on this fact. If he had answered the Christ question addressed to him through a miracle, then the statement would no longer be true that he became a human being like us, for then there would have been an exception at the decisive point.… If Christ had documented himself with miracles, we would naturally believe, but then Christ would not be our salvation, for then there would not be faith in the God who became human, but only the recognition of an alleged supernatural fact. But that is not faith.… Only when I forgo visible proof, do I believe in God.

The kingdom belongs to people who aren’t trying to look good or impress anybody, even themselves. They are not plotting how they can call attention to themselves, worrying about how their actions will be interpreted or wondering if they will get gold stars for their behavior. Twenty centuries later, Jesus speaks pointedly to the preening ascetic trapped in the fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism, to those of us caught up in boasting about our victories in the vineyard, to those of us fretting and flapping about our human weaknesses and character defects. The child doesn’t have to struggle to get himself in a good position for having a relationship with God; he doesn’t have to craft ingenious ways of explaining his position to Jesus; he doesn’t have to create a pretty face for himself; he doesn’t have to achieve any state of spiritual feeling or intellectual understanding. All he has to do is happily accept the cookies, the gift of the kingdom.

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:23–25

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