3550 Afton Road, San Diego
Denomination: Independent Reformed Evangelical
Pastor: John Leeder
Born: Janesville, WI
Formation: Reformed Theological Background
Years Ordained: 11
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
PL: The doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. In our day, most Christians probably don’t have a deep enough understanding of their positional righteousness: the legal declaration that God gives the believer. They are not only free from all blame, but actually declared by God Himself as righteous in Christ. They have not been made righteous, but declared righteous. I’m convinced that when a Christian doesn’t have a full grasp of the glorious truth of Justification by faith, there is a tendency to adhere to mere moral reform or to adopt a legalistic view of life vs. the true freedom we have in Christ. Freedom not for the sake of licentiousness, but a gospel awareness of freedom. Freedom from the penalty of sin, the power of sin along with the anticipated hope of one day being free from the very presence of sin in heaven because we are justified by faith alone.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PL: The main mission is to declare the whole counsel of God. We believe that if the people of the church are equipped to know the word of God and what it means, then we have the best-equipped evangelists to go out into the world and be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within them with gentleness and respect. We don’t see utilizing Sundays as merely an evangelistic platform. I know certain churches that are driven to give the basic Gospel and to draw people in by way of entertainment and such. I believe that Sundays are for preaching the word, to focus on the seats that are full, rather than filling the empty seats with ploys of entertainment. When people know the truth, then you are by nature very evangelical. They can go out, minister, and share the hope of the Gospel to people in their neighborhoods. They can bring them to church and they’ll get fed, hopefully, a nutritious exposition of the word of God.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PL: For anyone and everyone who dies having faith in Christ alone, which is the Father’s gift to sinners, by having faith in Christ and His work and worth, you immediately go to heaven to be with the Lord. Paul emphasized the fact that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
The only other place that the Bible speaks of is hell. According to the Bible, hell is for any and all who reject the work and the worth of Christ, who think that they are “good enough” to earn their way, or merit eternal life, heaven, nirvana, or whatever way they want to put it. Whether it is known as a lake of fire or outer darkness, as described in Scripture; hell is a place of intense suffering. The good news is, Jesus Christ fully absorbed, and therefore absolved, God’s wrath against sin and the sinner on a Roman cross for all who trust in Christ by faith alone.