7250 Eckstrom Avenue, San Diego
Denomination: Reformed Baptist
Pastor-elder (one of seven): Craig Marshall
Born: Newfane, NY
Formation: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago; Westminster Seminary California, Escondido; Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburg, PA
Years Ordained: 12
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Craig Marshall: As one of the pastors here, but not the primary preacher here at Grace, I prepare for about 20 hours for my sermons for a Sunday-morning service. We try to do consecutive expository preaching and work through a book of the Bible. Our messages are 45–50 minutes, taking a particular passage of the Bible, trying to explain it, and showing how it applies to people in the Church.
SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
PM: The blessings of salvation we have through Christ. I’d love to preach on that all the time. I consider the blessings of being welcomed into the family of God, dwelling by his spirit, instructed through his word, forgiven of our sins, guaranteed eternal life, and being conformed to Christ’s likeness. Out of understanding these blessings we have through what Christ has secured for us, we find the ability to have joy in this life and hope for the next life. If we’re focused on those things, all the holy living flows out of that; rather than being fixed on rules, instead we focus on what God has done for us and what he’s making us to be through Christ.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PM: Our mission statement is to create a community of gospel-centered people. Our four subheadings of that statement are to worship, serve, proclaim, and live according to the gospel. On the ground, a huge focus of our church has been a real desire to shepherd the people of the church, and make sure they are cared for by the various pastors. We have seven pastor-elders here and we all divvy up the congregation and make sure we’re praying for, reaching out to, and seeking to care for and disciple the people in our flock. We want everyone to think biblically about life and be engaged in serving one another in the body. The church would be more than just coming on Sunday, although it’s the most important thing to come to worship and be fed. We also seek to serve one another in fellowship and go out and take that message to people who are hurting and don’t know about the truth we believe.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: What happens after death? The Bible says that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). I believe we’ll all be judged for our actions in this life. Unfortunately we’re all sinners who will fail to ever meet God’s standard, but to those who look in faith to Christ, they will be ushered into the presence of God, who is going to have a new heaven and a new Earth for his people to dwell in. For those who haven’t looked to Christ, they will be sent to eternal judgment for the sins they’ve committed against God and others — but ultimately against God. We speak of that place often as hell. It’s not one of our favorite things to talk about but its contrast to heaven makes the glories of salvation all the more amazing.