Friday, August 30, 2019

Pray for Greater Impact!

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
– Acts 2:47

In our church secretary’s office, there is a little record book. It contains the names of all the people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and been baptized at First Christian Church between 1925 and 2015. We ran out of pages in 2016, so our secretary bought a second book.

Last week I spent some time going through the pages, looking at the names of those who’ve given their lives to the Lord over the last 94 years. As I made my way through the years recorded in those two little books, I recognized more and more names. Many have gone to be with the Lord. Many have moved on for one reason or another. And a whole lot of them are still at the church—loving God, learning God’s word and serving Christ and our community.

It’s quite a story. Back in 1925, 55 Christians were used of God to form First Christian Church. For the next 69 years, we called downtown Victorville our home. During most of those years our church family met every Sunday in a little chapel on the corner of 6th and B streets, a short block from the downtown movie theater. From that location, we reached many people for Jesus Christ. Last week, going through our little book, I added up the number of baptisms during the first 69 years of our church’s existence. There are probably some names missing, but I discovered that at that little church in downtown Victorville, in those 69 years, God worked through us to lead 297 people to Christ. What a blessing!

Then, in 1994, our church family made a decision that I like to describe as “a brilliant act of lunacy.” We moved to the chapel on the decommissioned George Air Force Base. It seemed like a great idea at the time: a big, beautiful chapel in an area that was surely destined for future growth. But little did we know that the once-booming residential area would turn into a dilapidated ghost town. And little did we know that a federal penitentiary would be build right down the street. We’ve never been able to get enough visitors through the front door to experience sustained growth.

But then I consider what I see in those two little books. During our first 69 years, God graciously worked through our church to save 297 souls. But in the past 25 years in the ghost town—right up the street from a federal penitentiary—God has graciously worked through our church to save 581 souls! My friends, logic can’t explain that. It’s a God Thing.

And if that’s what God has done through us in a ghost town, with very few visitors coming through the front door, I’m so excited to see what comes next. On October 6th, FCC will become Impact Christian Church—and we’ll begin meeting at the brand new Dr. Ralph H. Baker 21st Century Learning Center at Mojave and El Evado Roads, right in the middle of growing neighborhoods in Victorville.

Within a 5-mile radius of our current facility at George Air Force Base, we have about 12,000 neighbors. Within a 5-mile radius of our new meeting place, there are—wait for it—78,647 residents. Can you even imagine what God will do through us as we move toward the center of town? I’m no prophet, but I’ll tell you what I think. God has used our church to save 878 souls in the past 94 years. I believe God is going to use us to impact tens of thousands and save at least 1,000 souls in the next 10 years.

The founding members of this church felt led to come together with other Christians to worship God, learn God’s word, and make an impact in our community for Jesus Christ. And that story is about to enter an exciting new chapter. There are a lot of pages left in Volume Two of our baptism record book, and I can’t wait to fill them. How many lives will you impact in your next chapter?

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.” – Hebrews 10:26-27

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie: God’s Not Dead. The 2014 film tells the story of a first semester college student named Shane Harper who enrolls in a philosophy course and experiences a formidable challenge on the first day of class. You see, he is a committed Christian, and his professor is a militant atheist who requires every student to sign this simple statement in order to pass the class: “God is dead.” One by one, all the students in the class take out a sheet of paper and sign the statement. All of them…except for Shane. He refuses to sign it, and as a result, the professor requires him to spend the next three class sessions doing his best to prove that God’s Not Dead.

As you probably know, by many measures Christianity is on a decline in America. Fifty years ago, the overwhelming majority of Americans identified as “Christian” and considered the United States to be a Christian nation. But as much as I hate to admit it, America is a Christian nation no longer. Each year hundreds of churches close their doors. More than ever before, Christians are marginalized and criticized. A large percentage of Americans don’t believe the Bible to be God’s word. And millions of Americans—even many professed “Christians”—proclaim, “If there is a heaven, Jesus is certainly not the only way to get there.”

In this age of inclusivity and tolerance, many Christians are hesitant or embarrassed to affirm the exclusivity of the gospel. They deem it to be a huge cultural blunder to declare Christianity to be true and every other religion to be wrong. Let’s face it: We don’t like to be labeled “intolerant,” “narrow-minded” or “bigoted” by our culture. Therefore, we find ourselves second-guessing what the New Testament teaches about heaven. We think: Perhaps Christians have been too narrow-minded with their doctrine of salvation. Maybe we have misunderstood what Jesus and Scripture teach about salvation. Could it be that our belief in “Christ alone” is illogical and doesn’t stand up to intellectual scrutiny?

Allow me to share something very important that Christians everywhere need to hear—three proofs that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Proof #1: Jesus revealed it. Throughout the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Jesus reveals this truth over and over. For example, in John 3:16-17, Jesus makes it clear that he is “the” Savior from whom we receive eternal life. In John 11:25, Jesus reveals himself as the “resurrection and the life.” In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells his followers that he has “all authority in heaven.” In other words, Jesus oversees all of heaven, even the front gate. There’s no back door, and there’s no appeal to a higher power, because Jesus is the highest power. And Jesus couldn’t have been more clear than he is in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, is Jesus the only way to heaven? Yes! Jesus revealed it.

Proof #2: The New Testament confirms it. Time and again, the Book of Acts and the epistles confirm that Jesus provides the only path to salvation. In Acts 4:12, when the Apostle Peter is being pressured to stop preaching in Jesus’ name, he boldly proclaims, “Salvation is found in no one else [besides Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Paul declares in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” And according to Hebrews 10:26-27, if we reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is no other path to salvation. Inevitably, all those who reject Christ will have to face the music: “judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

Proof #3: Logic proves it. Once we understand that Jesus Christ and the New Testament speak in harmony regarding salvation through Christ alone, it is completely illogical for any Bible-believing Christian to come to any conclusion other than this: Jesus is the only way to heaven. Now, Christians get accused all the time of clinging to beliefs that are too narrow-minded and too exclusive. But the fact is: All truth is narrow-minded and exclusive. Think about it: The truth that “two plus two equals four” is exclusive. Basic arithmetic doesn’t allow for any other conclusion. Two plus two can never equal three, five, seventeen or 38,000. Two plus two always equals four. Every truth is equally narrow-minded. Racism is wrong. Period! First degree murder is evil. Period! Incest, rape and armed robbery are always bad. Case closed! All truth and all truth claims are exclusive, narrow-minded and intolerant. Truth couldn’t care less about being politically correct. Truth doesn’t dabble in the “touchy-feely.” Truth is truth whether we like it or not.

In our culture where a growing number of Christians are more concerned with being politically correct than biblically correct, we need to embrace and speak the truth regarding salvation and heaven. We need to lock arms with Shane Harper and boldly proclaim the gospel. Pastor John MacArthur says it well: “As long as Christians are being duped or intimidated into softening the bold claims of Christ and widening the narrow road, the church will make no headway against postmodernism. We need to recover the distinctiveness of the gospel. We need to regain our confidence in the power of God’s truth. And we need to proclaim boldly that Christ is the only true hope for the people of this world. That may not be what people want to hear…but it is true nonetheless. [Therefore,] it is all the more urgent that we rise above all voices of confusion in the world and say so.”

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Four Commands for Dangerous Times

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” – Luke 12:1

When it was launched in 1936, the Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans. Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach. During the conversion into a hotel, her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock, they crumbled. Nothing was left of the 3/4-inch steel plates from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained was more than thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel underneath had rusted away.

At the end of Luke 11, Jesus rebuked some Pharisees and scribes who were a lot like those smokestacks. They were all painted up and looked really good on the outside, but on the inside they were wasting away. They were, in a word, hypocrites. Out of deep concern for what would face them on judgment day—and deep concern for the souls of the people they were corrupting—Jesus took a stand and called them out. And on the heels of calling out this hypocrisy, Luke records for us four warnings that Jesus gave to his true followers.

Jesus knew that the time of his crucifixion was fast approaching, and he wanted to prepare his apostles for the challenges they would soon face. The time was short for them, and, honestly, the time is short for us too. So, the four commands that Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 12:1-2 are four commands he also gives to his disciples today.

Command #1: Be on your guard against hypocrisy. In the first half of Luke 12:1, we’re told that “a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another.” And the second half of the verse contains Jesus’ warning to “be on your guard against the…Pharisees’ [hypocrisy].” How are those two statements linked? Because Jesus wanted to warn his followers that the pull of hypocrisy was coming from two directions: from the Pharisees AND from the crowds. Jesus was warning his disciples not to change their behavior out of a desire to please the crowd. And he was warning his disciples not to change their behavior out of fear of the religious leaders. They might be tempted to betray their own internal beliefs and character by behaving differently around the Pharisees than they did when they were NOT around the Pharisees … and soon they could end up being as hypocritical as the Pharisees themselves.

Command #2: Don’t fear people. Fear God.  Some of us go through life being so afraid of people. Why? People can only hurt us a little bit. And the hurt is always temporary. On the other hand, in recent years it’s become common for Christians to explain away the verses in Scripture that tell us to “fear God.” They explain, “God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him. The word ‘fear’ can also be translated as ‘respect’ or ‘honor.’ God wants us to respect Him and honor Him.” But show me a Christian who doesn’t have a healthy fear of God’s eternal consequences for rebellion, and I’ll show you a Christian who’s out of control. On the other hand, as we live out our fear of God by trusting and obeying Him, we don’t have to be afraid of anything, including God Himself. You see, fear of God keeps us in check so that we don’t have to live in fear. Try to wrap your mind around that one!

Command #3: Confess Christ openly, boldly and often. As Jesus puts it in Luke 12:9, “He who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.” If you claim to have Jesus in your heart, but Jesus is never proclaimed from your mouth, then you really don’t have Jesus in your heart.  As Jesus said in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, if Jesus is really in your heart, let him flow freely from your lips. Your family, friends and community desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

Command #4: Do not worry about how to confess Christ to others; the Holy Spirit will help you. Some of us are so afraid of confrontation, criticism and slander that we never, ever, ever bring up Jesus or heaven or church in our conversations with certain family members and friends. That’s sad. We don’t need to thump people over the head with the Bible, but talking about Jesus and heaven should be a natural part of our conversations. After all, Jesus is pretty amazing, isn’t he? And heaven is going to be pretty amazing, isn’t it? So, we should talk about it! And if you get tongue-tied, don’t worry—the Holy Spirit will help you find the words.

So, are you like the smokestacks on the Queen Mary—mostly paint and very little substance? Maybelline and Cover Girl are really good at making us look good on the outside. But Jesus Christ specializes in making us truly good on the inside. He specializes in eradicating hypocrisy from our lives. All we need to do is let him.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Toxic Hypocrisy

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” – Luke 11:39

The story is told of a zoo that was famous for its great variety of different animals. One day the gorilla died, and to keep up the appearance of a full range of animals, the zookeeper hired a man to wear a gorilla suit and fill in for the dead animal. During his first day on the job, the man made some feeble efforts to move and act like a gorilla. But as he tried to move convincingly, he tripped and fell over a perimeter wall and ended up in the lion exhibit. He began to scream, convinced his life was over…until the lion spoke to him: “Be quiet, or you’re going to get us both fired!”

It’s not very often that we run into people pretending to be apes or lions, but every day there are those around us who pretend to be much nicer on the outside than they really are on the inside. And far too often these individuals are quick to criticize others’ bad behavior while ignoring their own internal rottenness.  We have a word to describe such people: hypocrites.

In Luke 11:37-44, Jesus tackles hypocrisy head-on. And I’ve got to warn you: For some of us, his words sting a little. For others of us, his words sting a lot!

The passage begins with an invitation to dinner. One of the religious legalists (aka, a Pharisee) asked Jesus over to his house for a meal, and Jesus accepted his invitation. But as Jesus made a beeline from the front door to the dinner table, the Pharisee was shocked. Jesus didn’t join the other dinner guests in their traditional hand-washing ritual before dinner. Now, this wasn’t a matter of hygiene – it was purely ceremonial. For several generations the Jewish legalists had prided themselves in their meticulous observance of legalistic traditions that their forefathers had added to the Old Testament. Sadly, strict adherence to these rituals had become a litmus test for religious sincerity, and the Pharisees were the biggest promoters of this religious snake oil. On this occasion in Luke 11, Jesus had had enough. So, he spoke up and leveled 3 warnings against the Pharisees for their hypocritical legalism.

Warning #1: (v42) You major in the minors. Jesus challenged the Pharisees’ priorities. They spent considerable time counting out 10% of every seed and herb in their garden to give as their tithe. Meanwhile, their neighbors were suffering injustice and God was not being worshiped. What a travesty! The Pharisees had reduced their relationship with God to a list of rules, and it had backfired. Just as a healthy marriage cannot be reduced to a list of rules to follow, our relationship with God cannot boil down to a “Top 10” list either. The Pharisees believed that they were in God’s favor because they split hairs over the most insignificant religious acts. But they were dead wrong! God is much more concerned with love, compassion, justice and internal righteousness than He is with seeds and herbs.

Warning #2: (v43) You put your reputation before your character. In Jesus’ day the seats in a synagogue worked a lot like the seats at Dodger stadium. The seats up front were the VIP seats, and the seats in back (in the “nosebleed section”) were cheap seats for the unimportant people. Guess where the Pharisees always wanted to sit? You guessed it—in the front row where EVERYONE could see them and be impressed by them. The Pharisees had somehow forgotten what God had taught the prophet Samuel in the days of King Saul: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Warren Wiersbe says it so well: “Reputation is what people think we are, character is what God knows we are.” Therefore, since our character is what’s most important to God, it must be what’s most important to us as Christ’s followers.

Warning #3: (v44) Instead of helping people, you’re harming them. In verse 44, Jesus compare the Pharisees to unmarked graves. According to Numbers 19:16, any Jew who touched a dead body would be ceremonially unclean for a whole week. Because of this, the Jewish people would walk far out of their way to avoid touching any grave or tomb. Yet Jesus told the Pharisees at the dinner table that they themselves were unmarked graves and tombs. In other words, when people came to the Pharisees to receive godly counsel and sound biblical teaching, what they actually received was ungodly counsel and false teaching. Instead of moving people closer to God, the Pharisees actually pulled them away from God. Instead of blessing people, they corrupted them.

Sadly, in First Century Israel the Pharisees were doing more harm than good. It was bad enough that their hypocrisy had corrupted their own relationships with God. But their hypocrisy was actually corrupting the whole community as well. Innocent bystanders were being defiled by their teaching. And Jesus knew that when this happens, judgment day will be especially severe for these toxic teachers and leaders.

Jesus’ stern warning to the Pharisees two thousand years ago stands as a stern warning for you and me today. Hypocrisy is a serious matter in the eyes of the world. But it’s an even more serious matter in the eyes of God. He calls you and me to be sincere: The same on the inside as we are on the outside. He calls you and me to eradicate hypocrisy from our lives and live as authentic, honest believers and followers of Jesus Christ. Until Christ returns, toxic hypocrisy will most likely remain in our world. But it doesn’t have to remain in you and me. 

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.