Made Sufficient: A Theology of Preaching

preachMade Sufficient: A Theology of Preaching

INTRODUCTION

Life in our culture today has one very common personal philosophy that will be heard anywhere you go: “You can be anything you set your mind to.” Our school systems, parental urgings, and media culture all cheer us on with shouts of “be all we can be, “just do it,” and “you can make friends and influence people!” We live in a world of driven and purposeful self-sufficiency. If you are a doctor and you find a new condition you are not familiar with, you study, research, prepare, and build the knowledge base and skill set within yourself to accomplish the task. You work hard to achieve the skills required for the task. If an engineer is faced with a new complicated project, they also turn to the books and the training. Study, prepare, practice, test, do all things to develop the personal skills to become competent and capable.

Coming to scripture with this worldview is dangerous enough for the average Christian, but it’s a death wish for those aspiring to the pulpit. In so many ways, our career success cultural handicap has created “you can achieve anything you set your mind to” preaching. Young men feeling the call to preaching start with the philosophy that hard work and personal development of precise skills is all that is needed to assume the pulpit and to receive the celebration and cheers of men. This is why Paul’s words to the Corinthians regarding the ministry of the New Covenant is so shocking.[1] You can just about hear the needle scratching across the record as our culture engages with Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 2:16b-17,

…who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ[2]

and 2 Corinthians 3:5-6,

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.

The World’s response to Paul is: “Who is sufficient for these things? I am of course! I can do anything I set my mind to. I will work hard and become sufficient to preach.” This response, whether voiced or felt secretly deep in our heart is the issue at hand. The biblical act of preaching is not a calling that can be professionalized. Preaching is not something that can be undertaken or mastered by sheer personal will. Preaching is an act like no other. Preaching is not a career choice. Preaching is a supernatural calling to proclaim God’s Word as a reconciled ambassador for Christ. It is only through God that we are made sufficient to speak on His behalf.

MADE SUFFICIENT

Preaching the Word of God is every bit as challenging as walking a tightrope hundreds of feet above the ground. Lean too far in one direction and you fall to a certain death. Overcorrect and lean too far the other direction and you experience the same results. One missed step and you are in great danger. Preaching is similar, not in physical balance and concentration, but in spiritual balance and humility. On one side we can fall into the certain dangers of self-sufficiency and on the other, the certain peril of lazy unpreparedness. The rope itself, on which we safely traverse to the other side, is humility grounded in the knowledge that we are not sufficient to accomplish this task in our own strength and skills, but we are made sufficient by the power of the one of whom we speak. To make the point of how God accommodates our weakness by providing preachers to speak on His behalf, Peter Adam[3], in his little book, Speaking God’s Words, quotes John Calvin, from his Institutes, on the power of God in preaching through the man, rather than the power coming from the man himself:[4]

it forms a most excellent and useful training to humility, when he accustoms us to obey his word though preached by men like ourselves, or, it may be, our inferiors in worth. Did he himself speak from heaven, it were no wonder if his sacred oracles were received by all ears and minds reverently and without delay. For who would not dread his present power? Who would not fall prostrate at the first view of his great majesty? Who would not be overpowered by that immeasurable splendour? But when a feeble man, sprung from the dust, speaks in the name of God, we give the best proof of our piety and obedience, by listening with docility to his servant, though not in any respect our superior. [5]

All men would fall on their faces in reverence if God came down from Heaven and preached to us. However, God chose to use feeble broken men sprung up from the dust to deliver His message to the World (Ex 4:10-12, 1 Cor 1:17-21,1 Thes 2:1-4, 1 Tim 1:12-15). To understand how this feeble, unremarkable, inferior  man can faithfully represent the infinite, holy, omnipresent God of the universe, we must understand the theology of preaching.

Continue reading

Drama in the SBC over Calvinism.

john-calvin-speaking-at-the-councilThis article is worth the time to read. We find a great internal battle brewing in the Southern Baptist Convention over the Doctrines of Grace, Calvinism, and Reformed thought. This is a debate that needs to occur from a Biblical perspective and not from a tradition or opinion perspective. This open letter calls for the resignation of Dr. Albert Mohler and others. Here is a quote to give you a taste of the tone:

“Those responsible for these self-produced changes need to go. Make no mistake about it, the change that has been brought on the SBC by the efforts of a few Calvinists is what is causing the divisiveness in the convention today.

Once these individuals have stepped aside, the divisiveness could begin to subside and hope for cooperation could begin once again between Calvinists and non-calvinists in the SBC. One thing is clear; if these individuals are allowed to maintain the status quo, the divisiveness will only get worse as non-calvinists are made aware of what has actually taken place and what will no doubt continue to transpire until the goal of a Reformed SBC is indeed a reality.”

These are bold assertions. We know that revival and reformation come with pain and, yes, with division. I look forward to the response from Mohler, Dever, Ascol, and the others. Stand firm in the Lord, Gentleman.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE

 

 

Sermon of the Week – Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God by Brian Borgman (Conclusion)

This week’s Sermon Feature is the conclusion to the 4 part “Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God” by Pastor Brian Borgman of Minden, NV.

If we haven’t had a Crisis of Faith yet in our walk with God, we will someday. Pastor Brian addresses the heartache and struggles in this encouraging and edifying sermon series from Psalm 73. Enjoy Part 4 of 4 as this week’s Sermon of the Week. Be sure to listen to Parts 1, 2, and 3 as well.

Play MP3 for Crisis of Faith – Part 4 of 4

Download MP3

You may have to click “maybe later” past the “sign up” page on Sermon Audio for the download the audio file.

Pastor Brian’s Church: Grace Nevada

Sermon of the Week – Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God by Brian Borgman (Part 3)

Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God – Part 3 of 4

by Pastor Brian Borgman.

Continuing on this week with part 3 of this 4 part sermon series. If we haven’t had a Crisis of Faith yet in our walk with God, we will someday. Pastor Brian addresses the heartache and struggles in this encouraging and edifying sermon series from Psalm 73. Enjoy Part 3 of 4 as this week’s Sermon of the Week.

Play MP3 for Crisis of Faith – Part 3 of 4

Download MP3

You may have to click “maybe later” past the “sign up” page on Sermon Audio for the download the audio file.

Pastor Brian’s Church: Grace Nevada

The Bible For Bloggers – By Bryan Chapell

Wise words by former Covenant Theological Seminary President, Bryan Chapell. This was posted on the Gospel Coalition website and has a little something for everyone of us who write blogs, read blogs, and comment on blogs. Enjoy this read, it is very profitable for our approach to the written word on the internet and seeks to glory Christ in all we do as our first and foremost function.

The Bible for Bloggers

Bryan Chapell | Aug 27, 2012

What biblical principles should guide Christian bloggers? I am increasingly thinking about this question because maintaining the mission and reputation of the institution I lead increasingly requires me to respond quickly and frequently to questions, assertions, and criticisms from the unjuried world of the blogosphere.

I do not think I have always responded well. Defending truth may well require correction and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:2). Still, I confess discomfort with the ready sarcasm and flip accusations that seem so prevalent in the world of blogs and but so foreign to the biblical ethic of esteeming others more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4).

Listening to the “ouch” from others about things I have written, and feeling the “ouch” from what others have written, have convicted me of the need to think more seriously about the biblical benefits and boundaries of such words—a task also urged by leaders with similar concerns at a recent meeting of The Gospel Coalition’s Council.

I am particularly concerned about two issues: What general principles should guide Christians in distributed communication, and what special principles should guide Christians when they address issues about and to the church in such communication?

Some may shrug off the question of what is proper Christian communication on the internet, saying it is hardly likely that all internet dialogue will honor the rule of Christ. Even Christians may argue that internet sites and social media create something of a digital lunchroom where participants not only expect the conversation to be free flowing but also less accountable to the standards of traditional media.

Of course, the context and genre of communication properly influence our judgment of what Christians can or should say. We do not expect a stage play to sound like a Sunday sermon, or a website to be as careful as a catechism. But if Christians are to be salt and light in every sphere of life, then they must also consider what should characterize internet communication that honors Christ.

The present era is not the first in which Christians have considered whether the Bible’s standards apply to new forms of communication. Gutenberg, Marconi, Coughlin, Hearst, Limbaugh, Drudge, Huffington, and Zuckerberg represent waves of new communication approaches that have changed the shoreline of expectations regarding what utterances can or should be distributed. Still, we limit our God if we presume that he cannot establish transcendent standards of truth and love that supersede changing communication expectations.

As a Christian who believes in the lordship of Christ over the whole of life, I know that I have a responsibility to discern what the Bible requires of me in all aspects of life—even those of the web. [1] I also know that I cannot here address all possible issues (such as those faced by bloggers in lands of persecution). Still, I hope the following discussion of biblical principles will make all of us who engage in internet communication more conscious of applicable biblical principles—and also a bit more reflective before hitting the “post” button.

I. Christian Communication Must Be True

Christian communication that purports to be true, should be. That’s obvious, but some additional specificity may be helpful—and challenging. The third commandment (which requires care for God’s name, particularly in taking oaths and vows in support of the truth) and the ninth commandment (which is more narrowly concerned with malicious slander) plainly forbid spreading falsehoods in either personal or public communication. [2]

The Bible repeats the requirement of guarding the truth many times and in many ways in both the Old and New Testaments (e.g., Ex 23:1; Lv 19:11-16, 35-36; Ps 82:2-3; Prv 23:10; 31:8-9; Rom 12:9-10; 2 Cor 12:20; Eph 4:25; 2 Tm 3:3; Jas 3:17; 1 Jn 4:20). The judgment of charity binds us not only to tell the truth but also to seek to interpret other’s statements and actions in the best light (Mt 7:12; 1 Cor 13:6-7). We are also obligated to protect the reputations of others against slander, innuendo, false implication, and even the damage to truth caused by inappropriate silence (Zech 8:16; Prv 17:15; 1 Tm 6:4; 2 Tm 4:16).

These standards of truth are high, but they merely form the ground floor of the biblical architecture for communication that honors God. Simply telling the truth is not enough.

II. Christian Communication Must Be Provable

The Bible does not allow us to publish what we think is true if we cannot prove it. Before we disseminate favorable or unfavorable information we are required to ensure and evidence its accuracy.

Continue reading here: The Bible for Bloggers On Gospel Coalition website

Sermon of the Week – Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God by Brian Borgman (Part 2)

Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God – Part 2 of 4

by Pastor Brian Borgman.

If we haven’t had a Crisis of Faith yet in our walk with God, we will someday. Pastor Brian addresses the heartache and struggles in this encouraging and edifying 4 part sermon series from Psalm 73. Enjoy Part 1 of 4 as this week’s Sermon of the Week.

Play MP3 for Crisis of Faith – Part 2 of 4

Download MP3

You may have to click “maybe later” past the “sign up” page on Sermon Audio for the download the audio file.

Pastor Brian’s Church: Grace Nevada

Vaughan Roberts Fighting His Battle without Compromise

The web lit up this evening on Facebook and Gospel Coalition due to this important interview with Vaughan Roberts posted by blogger David Ould. I believe it is an important contribution to the current discussion of the Christian faith and homosexuality. As you’ll see when you read this article, Vaughan Roberts has enter the discussion of same-sex attraction from the INSIDE rather than commenting from the usual faith-based outside position. I was very uneasy in just reading the headline because I have great respect for Roberts as a pastor and theologian. But I must say, I was encouraged by Roberts uncompromising Biblical stance on his own very real battle of which he goes into very personal detail. Be sure to read the full interview by Julian Hardyman at the link below.

From davidould.net”

“In a tremendously brave move Vaughan Roberts, rector of St Ebbe’s, Oxford, and a prominent leader amongst English evangelicals has announced that he experiences same-sex attraction and yet he remains celibate since this is the clear teaching of Scripture.

It’s helpful for background to understand that in the Church of England, in which Vaughan is an ordained minister, we have had increasing interventions by theological liberals over this issue, advocating for the acceptance of homosexuality in general and the blessing of same-sex relationships. Vaughan’s statement and interview ought to be read not least as a contribution to that debate.

Vaughan has issued the following press release,

In the preface to a new edition of my book “Battles Christians Face”, which features eights areas of struggle, including homosexuality, I write that, to a greater or lesser degree, I face them all myself. Close family and friends have known for a considerable time that I experience same sex attraction. None of the issues in the book define me. As a single man I am celibate, because I believe the Bible teaches that the right context for sex is only in marriage between a man and a woman.

My motivation for writing the preface and answering the questions in the interview in “Evangelicals Now” is pastoral. I believe there is value in a greater openness to talk about these issues in evangelical churches. I hope to encourage those who experience same sex attraction and yet believe that fulness of life is to be found in Christ and holding to his teaching. Singleness can be challenging at times, but I have many good friends, and a loving family, and I thank God for the blessings and opportunities it offers.”

Continue reading here: David Ould’s Blog Post

Full interview by Julian Hardyman here with more questions and answers

Sermon of the Week – Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God by Brian Borgman

Crisis of Faith and the Goodness of God – Part 1 of 4

by Pastor Brian Borgman.

If we haven’t had a Crisis of Faith yet in our walk with God, we will someday. Pastor Brian addresses the heartache and struggles in this encouraging and edifying 4 part sermon series from Psalm 73. Enjoy Part 1 of 4 as this week’s Sermon of the Week.

Play MP3 for Crisis of Faith – Part 1 of 4

Download MP3

Pastor Brian’s Church: Grace Nevada

The Mormon Moment? Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election

To vote or not to vote…that is the question. At least it has been the question at Defending. Contending. for many months now. We have all discussed whether a Christian should or can vote for a Mormon candidate…or if we should or can vote for a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidate, or if we should just stay home and not vote at all. Previous articles: Mormon President?, Vote for Mormon?

I don’t have a solution for the good readers of DefCon, as this is split along many different lines of conviction. However, I do offer this interesting video of a round table discussion at Southern Seminary this week. The title tells the story:

“The Mormon Moment? Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election”

The roundtable discussion features Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Greg Gilbert, and Mark Coppenger. This video contributes to the conversation and helps each of us think through the issue from several angles. The panel discusses what Mormonism is, where they have appeal to our society, how it is a false gospel, and what impact a Mormon President of the USA might have on the world stage.

 

(you may have to press “play” twice)

**** This video is in no way an endorsement for either candidate or an endorsement for not voting, but a contribution to the discussion.****

Southern Seminary Resources Website

Panel Discussion MP3 Download

The Ultimate Act of Submission

Submission is a common theme in the Bible. At times it is interpreted improperly, causing a reaction of repulsion in many. Does the title of this article make your stomach turn a little? This is a theme we must explore.

Is submission only about wives submitting to husbands as Paul commands in Chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians? Do you immediately see that domineering husband pounding his fist on the table calling his wife to submit? I hope you’ll readily agree that there is so much more to submission than just wives submitting to husbands, but often this is the only picture non-Christians have of Biblical submission. I want to propose to you that there is a form of submission – the ultimate act of submission – that makes Christians unique in the world.

Even the words “submit” and “submission” have such a negative connotation in the world today. They carry a negative connotation because the concept (or misconception) stomps on our self-centered independent spirit. We don’t WANT to submit, because we are self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-righteous, self-centered, selfish…it is all about us – me, myself, and I. We reject the idea of submitting to another, even if we don’t admit it, the reaction is tucked deep into our hearts.  How can I submit to another when my focus is locked like a tractor beam on ME!?! I don’t have to submit to anyone else, some might say. I am free and independent.

Are we free and independent? Or are we to submit to something greater? So, what is the ULTIMATE act of submission for all of mankind?

We know we are to submit to the Government and authorities that God has put over us (1 Pet 2:13-17, Rom 13:1-7). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Children are to submit to their parents (Eph 6:1-3). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Slaves are to submit to masters…or more realistic today, employees are to submit to employers (Eph 6:5-8). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Wives are to submit to their own husbands (Eph 5:22-23). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

As believers, we are all to submit to each other (Eph 5:20-21). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Husbands are to submit to Christ (Eph 5:23-33). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

We must do all these. Its not negotiable. But there is still something greater. If all these Biblical commands are not the ULTIMATE act of submission, what is?

Prayer.

Man giving into dependency on his creator is the ULTIMATE act of submission. Simply praying.

Prayer is the ultimate act of submission for mankind because it forces us to look away from self and look to another in dependency. We must set our self-sufficiency and self-reliance down in the hallway before entering the prayer room to face our maker and find sufficiency in HIM and reliance on Him and dependence on HIM.

Jesus tells us: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV)

You get no fame when praying in secret. You get no accolades from those who hear when praying in public like the Pharisees. It can’t be an act. I’m not talking about public prayer, which is often a time when we show off and pray so men can hear us. I’m talking about the secret really prayer. It must be true submission to our God. We find yourself face-to-face with God in the Throne Room of Heaven and faced with the decision to submit to Him or to treat Him as our cosmic vending machine. Do we face Him and pray for what we want and then expect God provide because He is submissive to US? Or do we fall on our face in desperate reliance on the one who holds the stars in the sky (Heb 1:1-3)?

What does it look like for you? Is prayer for you just a chore or a laundry list of wants delivered as fast as possible? Or is prayer a time when you fall on your Abba, Father in complete reliance, dependency, worship, joy, and conversation. Is prayer cold and distant? Brief and lacking passion? Or are your regularly moved to tears and daily plead with God for His mercy and grace? What does it look like for you?

Paul and the other writers of the New Testament bring prayer to the forefront often with the following commands:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people… (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)

Rom 12:12 – be in constant prayer
1 Cor 7:5 – devote yourself to prayer
2 Cor 1:11 – help us by prayer
Eph 6:18 – praying at all times in the spirit
Phil 4:6 – don’t be anxious…but in everything by prayer
Col 4:2 – continue steadfastly in prayer
1 Thes 5:17 – pray without ceasing
2 Thes 3:1 – pray for us
Heb 13:18 – pray for us
Jam 5:13 – if anyone is suffering…let them pray
Jude 1:20 – building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit
Rev 5:8 and 8:3 – we see the prayers of the saints in heaven

And from the Gospels:

Mat 6:5 – and when you pray you must not be like the hypocrites
Mat 6:9 – Pray like this…our Father
Mat 21:22 – and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive
Luke 6:28 – pray for those that abuse you
Luke 10:2 – therefore pray earnestly to the lord of the harvest to send out laborers
Luke 22:40 – pray that you will not enter into temptation

Obviously Jesus, who was obedient and submissive to the Father, prayed in secret as our example. Jesus made prayer a priority:

Mathew 14:23 – And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 6:45-46 – Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Mark 14:32 – And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
Luke 6:12 – In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Prayer is the air that the Christian must breath. If we come with a laundry list of wants and desires and not with a heart of true and complete submission, are we even praying at all? If we come self-reliant and self-sufficient, have we really come at all? I doubt it. How can we enter the Throne Room of Heaven with anything less than hearts on fire?

If we were faced with what Isaiah saw in his vision of the Lord on the throne in Isaiah 6, would we pray the same way we pray every day? Or would we respond as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips!”  We need to get on our knees and prostrate in full submission and hear from our LORD.

Prayer is the ultimate act of submission for mankind, and I say mankind because there was another form of submission that has already been fulfilled. It is the true one and only holy and righteous act of submission that was fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the cross. God himself, in the form of man, equal to God but stripped of his majesty and glory was submissive to the Father to the point of death on the cross (Phil 2:5-8) having been made to be the sins of the elect adopted children of God (2 Cor 5:21). The Son of God submitted to the full punishment and death for all the sins of his adopted siblings. This can never be duplicated and will never be repeated because it is finished. Finished in Christ, who submitted for us once and for all.

Are we able to submit to our God in the truest sense? To submit to Him through prayer? Or will we hold onto our self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-centered disbelief?

Quotes (944)

http://allenmickle.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/packer.jpg

There is, then, available in this world a sure message from God, tried and true, unfailing and unchanging, and it needs to be proclaimed so that all may know it. The messenger who delivers it will have the dignity of being God’s spokesman and ambassador. Nor self-aggrandizement or self-advertisement is involved, for the messenger neither invents his message nor asks for attention in his own name. He is a minister – that is, a servant – of God, of Christ, and of the Word. He is a steward of God’s revealed mysteries, called not to be brilliant and original but diligent and faithful (1 Cor 4:1-2). Yet to be God’s messenger – to run His errands, act as His courier, and spend one’s strength making Him known – is the highest honor that any human being ever enjoys. The servant’s dignity derives fro the dignity of his employer, and the work he is set to do.

– James Inell Packer

Sermon of the Week: Retracted

In the desire to keep Christ the center of what we do here at DefCon, the Sermon of the week has been retracted by the Author due to concerns regarding the character of the man who preached it.

How Dare You Keep Me Accountable to That!

ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability is a funny thing. When we become Christians we eventually come around to knowing that we need accountability. More often, however, we make it our priority to get really good at holding others accountable. We are very serious and committed to the accountability of others regarding their faith, their witness, and their obedience. From time to time our friends will come to us and return the favor and it is very difficult to accept. It is never easy to be on the receiving end of the accountability stick.

In all our efforts to ensure our loved ones (and acquaintances…and total strangers) are toeing the proverbial Christian line, I believe that we routinely miss the 2 most important Christ-like behaviors. In all our zeal and good intentions, there are 2 areas to which we never call others to account. I want to focus on these 2 traits that Christ exhibited that truly require our utmost attention in holding ourselves and others accountable. Bear with me as I put the microscope on each of us (author included) and shoot very close to home here. I expect this to sting a bit because it stung greatly as it was revealed to me. We are very quick to call others to account, but are we holding them accountable for what is really important?

**Disclaimer – this article is directed towards our efforts in the accountability of others and not targeting our personal convictions. Many may hold strong convictions in the areas listed below, which I do not intend to criticize in any way. My concern is strictly with what we are missing in our accountability. **

As we sit back and ponder the ways to which we can leave our mark on the accountability factor for all those we know, we must think of the most Christ-like traits…several come to mind immediately:

1. Accountability to how we dress and modest feminine clothing.
2. Accountability to what we watch on TV and the music we listen to.
3. Accountability to having a TV at all!
4. Accountability to what preachers we listen to…or who that preacher has associated with at one time.
5. Accountability to proper doctrine!
6. Accountability toward homeschooling, women in the workplace, who we vote for, holidays we do or don’t celebrate, how much we give and where we give.
7. You name it and we will keep you accountable to it!

We are so good at calling these out when we see it. Are we definitely getting towards Christ-likeness with these? Are these common topics bringing the beauty of Christ to mind? I must say, they do not. Do these things really jump out as the Christ-like traits? They do not. Are these the behaviors that really resemble Christ? Are these the behaviors that our sanctification is leading to? Sanctification is the process of squeezing us through the meat grinder so that when we come out the other side we look more like Christ. Is this what it looks like? I think not. Each of these may require accountability as will drugs, alcohol, sexual impurity, and lying. But we are still missing 2 huge ones that are vital to our witness.

CHRIST-LIKENESS
So, what are we missing? We are so quick to hold others accountable, yet we miss these. I propose that the 2 traits most Christ-like requiring an increase in attention for accountability are:

1. Demonstrating humility.
2. Loving one another.

1. Humility: Was Christ humble? Yes – infinitely so! In Philippians 2:5-9 we see that Christ humbled Himself by leaving his glory in Heaven and emptying Himself to be in the form of a servant – a human. He had to be come nothing to be like us. He was humble to the point of obedience in death on the cross. Christ was infinitely humble. In Zechariah 9:9 it was prophesied that He was to come humble, on a donkey. He didn’t come like the king that He is, with an entourage, trumpets, majestic horses, and great fanfare. He came on a donkey, lowly and humble, a man of no reputation.This is a Christ-like trait that we should be demonstrating as Christians. We should be known as humble. Is that our reputation? Is this one of the things that people say of you?

Now, with focusing on humility, I don’t mean that we need to be humble when we come to hold others accountable on the laundry list above. I mean we need to HOLD others accountable to being humble! We need to come to our brothers and sisters and encourage them to be like Christ – lowly, humble, gentle, and kind in all things…even in our strong and bold defense of the gospel.

Paul, James, and Peter get in the act as well in 1 Corinthians 10:1, James 4:6-10, and 1 Peter 3:8, 5:5-6, where we are told to humble ourselves, be tenderhearted, like Christ who was meek and gentle. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not extinguish.” (Isaiah 42:3)

Are we urging each other to be humble? Are we stirring each other up towards humility? Are we seeking a humble spirit? Christ was humble and we should be humble. We need help being humble since it is contrary to the sinful pride and arrogance buried deep in our hearts.

2. Love: Was Christ Loving? Yes, of course, infinitely so! This is a touchy subject, however, because talking about Christ and His love can quickly brand you as a liberal with no backbone. I address this below. One of our tenants is “I love you enough to tell you the truth.” This is admirable in many many cases and horrendously unloving in many others. Do we sense the balance and do we see the line enough to not cross over it like a bull in a china shop? The line – the distinction – is defined by trait number 1. If we approach others with humility and true love for that person then it will be profitable. If we approach them in pride and arrogance then we are just hiding behind the word LOVE while we feed the self-righteous monster inside us. Do we truly demonstrate the Christ-like love we are called to?

Again, I’m not speaking of holding others accountable to the laundry list above in a loving way, I’m talking about HOLDING others accountable to love one another. We must love one another as followers of Christ.

All the laws and commandments are boiled down to two: Love God will all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:34-40). The commandments come down to truly loving our neighbor. In John’s first epistle, he summarizes a long passage about love by stating that this is what we were commanded: “believe in the Lord Jesus and love one-another.” (1 John 3:22-24). We are commanded to love one another. Why is this overarching commandment the one least discussed? I suggest a reason below.

Are we seeking a spirit of love towards one another? Are we stepping out of our obsession with ourselves long enough to actually love one another? Are we calling each other to love? Are we holding each other accountable: a) in love, and b) to love? Are we placing love for one another as the primary commandment and law between mankind where it belongs?  We should be. We need helping in loving one-another. We have to stop loving ourselves if we are to love one-another.

YOU LIBERAL
How dare you hold me accountable to that! Shouldn’t we be bold with the truth? Yes, if you can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. Don’t we have a responsibility to call out the unrepentant sin, false doctrine, and immodesty? Yes, if we can do it in a Christ-like manner with love and humility. I can hear some shouting and the computer screen, “That’s weak! That is classic liberal, touchy feeling, God is love, ecumenical, mumbo jumbo!” Or, maybe you aren’t vocalizing it but if we are honest, those of us in the fundamental and reformed camp must admit that we cringe at the “God is love” crowd and the “peace and love” crowd. Isn’t this all for the hippy Jesus freaks and the ecumenical crowd? If we are honest, our impulse is to recoil from the suggestion that we must hold each other accountable to Humility and Love as the utmost importance.

But, let’s not recoil. Instead let’s make our greatest desire to be Christ-like. Let’s give into the sanctification process and let our attitudes be conformed into the image of Christ who was infinitely humble and infinitely loving. He commanded us to love. These concepts aren’t owned by the emergent church and Rob Bell. Love and humility is owned by Christ! He is the founder of such things. Take it back. Let us be known as those who are truly humble and truly love one-another…even our enemies and those who disagree with us.

If we want to be like Christ, we must humble ourselves in the form of a servant and to the point of death, while loving one another preemptively and sacrificially to the point of death.

We need to help each other in this.

Let’s together hold each other accountable to be more like Jesus.

Sermon of the Week: “Why Every Pastor Should Be a Biblical Theologian” by Michael Lawrence

https://i1.wp.com/t4g.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Michael_Lawrence.jpg

This week’s sermon comes from Pastor Michael Lawrence who is formerly of Capital Hill Baptist (Mark Dever’s Washington DC church) and now pastor at Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR. This sermon comes from the 2012 Together For the Gospel Conference and is a direct plea to pastors, elders, Sunday school teachers and all Christians to not be professionals in the area of ministry; not to be about numbers, seating, programs, and the like, but to be BIBLICAL THEOLOGIANS. Biblical Theology is different from systematic theology in that if we compare theology to a tree, Systematic Theology would be the study of the full grown tree and its fruit while Biblical Theology is the study of the tree from a seed and watching it grow progressively over time and how its growth progresses from one stage to another. Biblical Theology, therefore, requires the Christian, pastor, teacher, or elder to be a person of the Word of God…to be fully drenched and saturated in the Word of God, and not systems or frameworks or theology books. Enjoy Michael’s interesting message here:

Why Every Pastor Should Be a Biblical Theologian

T4G Website with Link

Hinson Baptist Church Website for more information.

Sermon of the Week: “Letter from a Jericho Ditch: God, Neighbor, and the Questions We Ask” by Russell Moore

I am always blessed when I stumble across a sermon that is so practical and beneficial in our daily lives that I am compelled to listen to it multiple times and each time I am freshly encouraged. This one, I’ve listened to 3 times. Russell Moore lays out a convicting challenge through his teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in his sermon from 2010 at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Chapel (Louisville, KY), “Letter From a Jericho Ditch – God, Neighbor, and the Questions We Ask”

I pray you are encouraged and challenged by this sermon as much as I was.

Download the MP3 sermon here

Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of several books, including The Kingdom of Christ, Adopted for Life, and Tempted and Tried.

Find more great teaching from Russell Moore on his blog: Moore to the Point

Sunday’s Resurrection Celebration – The First Fruits of the Harvest

Sunday, we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, our Lord. He is risen, He is risen indeed. We celebrate for several reasons: because he came (God in flesh), because his death has redeemed man and reconciled us to God, and because he rose again giving us hope in the eternal life to come. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 15:16-24 as the “First Fruits”. Christ’s resurrection is the First Fruits of the harvest were the saints are resurrected:

“[16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. [17] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. [19] If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. [20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”1 Corinthians 15:16-24 (ESV)

I think this quote from George Eldon Ladd helps us ponder the glorious mystery of the resurrection and explains it in a what that brings great joy and celebration:

“Jesus’ resurrection belongs to a new and higher order: to the order of the Age to Come, of eternal life. This witness of the gospels is reinforced by Paul’s discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. While Paul is here concerned with the eschatological resurrection of saints at the parousia, this eschatological resurrection is inseparable from the resurrection of Jesus because he describes these two resurrections as two parts of a single event. The resurrection of Jesus is the first fruits of the eschatological resurrection (1 Cor 15:20). All who are in Christ stand in solidarity with him as all men in Adam stand in solidarity with Adam. All in Adam share Adam’s death, so all who are in Christ will share Christ’s life. “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:23).

The resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of those who belong to Christ constitute two parts of a single entity, two acts in a single drama, two stages of a single process. The temporal relationship is unimportant. It matters not how long an interval of time intervenes between these two stages of the resurrection. This does not affect the logical relationship or, it would be better to say, the theological relationship. Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” of the eschatological resurrection at the end of the age. First fruits were common in Palestinian agriculture. They were the first grain of the harvest, indicating that the harvest itself was ripe and ready to be gathered in. The first fruits were not the harvest itself, yet they were more than a pledge and promise of the harvest. They were the actual beginning of the harvest. The act of reaping had already begun: the grain was being cut.

Jesus’ resurrection is not an isolated event that gives to men the warm confidence and hope of a future resurrection; it is the beginning of the eschatological resurrection itself. If we may use crude terms to try to describe sublime realities, we might say that a piece of the eschatological resurrection has been split off and planted in the midst of history. The first act of the drama of the last Day as taken place before the Day of the Lord.” (G.E Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1975, Page 328)

So, this Sunday, celebrate that the resurrection we look forward and have great hope in as Paul talks about in his first letter to the Corinthians is part of the same harvest from which Jesus’ resurrection has come.as Ladd says in this quote, Christ’s resurrection is a piece of the eschatological resurrection broken off and place in time and space, in human history.

Celebrate…He is Risen.

[20] He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you [21] who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. – 1 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)

What’s our Problem?

“I’m too busy. My schedule doesn’t work. I don’t like to read. I’m bored with it. I don’t understand it. I’ve read it before. I don’t know…I’m not drawn to it.I just struggle getting into it.”

Have you ever heard these excuses before regarding reading our Bibles? Have you ever felt that way or even heard yourself say these things or other similar excuses? Jim Elliff lays out a brief but convicting article here regarding WHY you (we) don’t read our Bibles.

Read Jim’s article “Why You Don’t Read Your Bible” HERE

To follow onto Jim’s article, I want to add the following thoughts from a blog post I wrote in 2009 on the same topic:

I spent 7 years in engineering school and have been working as an engineer in the industry for 17 years now, which means my brain thrives on numbers. I think numbers. It drives people crazy, but you can pretty much break any issue down to pure numbers and quantify the results to make a point. Often, the output of one of these data calculations makes a strong impact. Let me show you what I mean.

Recently I had a conversation with a couple of my friends regarding how often we read our Bibles. The answer all of us commonly give is, “I don’t read enough.” Or, “I wish I could read more.” Or, the worst of all, “I’m just too busy to read the Bible. I can’t find time to fit it in.”

So, we’ve all been there and we all have friends that have been there. Maybe we haven’t just been there, but maybe we are stuck in that rut now! Maybe this blog post is a little painful and these numbers will make it worse. It hurts, but we are in it together, right? Brothers and sisters keeping each other accountable.

Let’s take the schedule of a typical week: 7 days full of working, sleeping, eating, driving, etc.

A 7 day week consists of 168 hours, which expands out to 10,080 minutes. Yes, 10,080 minutes…I think you can see where we are going with this.

Let’s now remove the minutes for sleeping, working, and driving since it is pretty hard to read while doing these tasks. Even though we could listen to an audio Bible while driving…if we really wanted to. Typically the average person sleeps 8 hours a day, works 8 hours a day (5 days a week) and drives 1 hour a day. (8*7+8*5+1*7) = 103 hours, this now expands out to 6,180 minutes.

10,080 – 6,180 = 3,900 (65 hours) left over.

So, what are you going to do with your spare 3,900 minutes a week? I’m asking my self the same question. 65 hours. 65 hours left over.

Can we spend a measly 15 minutes a day (105 minutes a week) reading the Bible and still have over 3700 minutes leftover? Can we spare 15 minutes a day reading the “word” of the glorious, all powerful, omnipotent creator of the universe who is our savior and our refuge who sacrificed himself for our sins and paid the price forever and ever and he who blesses us continually and he who we will spend all eternity worshiping in Heaven? Will we spend a few minutes a day with Him and reading what He has said to us? Can we spend 30 minutes? More? Or is our extra 3900 minutes to important and filled with self-satisfying tasks and activities to share it with God?

We would if we want to. We would if we loved Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

1 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV) – “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Quotes (925)

Edmund Clowney’s statement here regarding politicizing of the Bible is very relevant for today:

“The Exodus Event is often appealed to by the advocates of a “liberation theology.” They wish to redefine the Christian doctrine of salvation to center on political liberation. They call Christians to take up arms against oppressive regimes in the name of Christ. (Usually the oppression they wish to resist is from right-wing rather than left-wing regimes.) They criticize the church for “spiritualizing” the exodus, making it an analogy for salvation from sin rather than an instance of social and political liberation.”

– Edmund Prosper Clowney Jr.

(1917 – 2005)

From: “The Unfolding Mystery – Discovering Christ in the Old Testament”, 1988, P&R Publishing, pg 96. Former president of Westminster Theological Seminary 1966-1984

 

 

 

 

Sermon of the Week: “What’s a Thousand Years Among Friends?” by Kim Riddlebarger

Dispensationalism? Premillennialism? The Rapture? A 1000 year reign on earth? Amillennialism? The kingdom is now? This age and the age to come?

What is this all about. Controversy and serious disagreements swirl endlessly around the study and beliefs of the End Times. In this lecture, Dr. Kim Riddlebarger poses a logical, Biblical, and literal argument for the Amillennial Two Age Model. With an honest listen, this should give all dispensational/premil folks reason to pause and examine their view a little closer. The Two Age Model is a LITERAL and BIBLICAL doctrine related to the End Times that overwhelmingly supports the Amillennial position and leaves dispensationalism looking for proof texts. Dr. Riddlebarger delivers this lecture in an enjoyable and understandable way with great respect and honor towards the Dispy brothers that he disagrees with. Enjoy!

Sermon Audio Link for Lecture here: What’s a Thousand Years Among Friends?

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger is pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California. He is visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California and a frequent contributor to Tabletalk and Modern Reformation. Among his publications are A Case for Amillenialism: Understanding the End Times, and The Man of Sin. Kim also edits the Riddleblog devoted to Reformed theology and eschatology. Kim is also one of the hosts of the White Horse Inn Radio Program with Michael Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, and Ken Jones.

Kim’s blog:    www.riddleblog.com

White Horse Inn

Kim’s book

A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

Defining Who is the Son of God and Proving His Eternal Existence

INTRODUCTION

            Over two-thousand years ago in the small village of Bethlehem, made famous as the boyhood home of King David (1 Sam 16:1, 17:12, Luke 2:4), a baby was born. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Jewish religious culture of the time, this baby would grow up amidst swirling controversy regarding who he was. Who is this child? He would be called many things, however, one title condemned him for blasphemy by the High Priest Caiaphas and the Council of scribes and elders who arrested and tried him and led to his execution (Mt 26:37, Mt 26:62-66, Jn 19:7). The question came from Caiaphas, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus answered directly, “You have said so.”You have stated the truth. Caiaphas tore his clothes[1] – a forbidden act by the High Priest – as a display of extreme grief for blasphemy.[2] Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and he was executed for it.

            We have the advantage on this side of the cross, two-thousand years later, with the aid of Holy Scripture to see that Jesus was in fact the Son of God (Jn 1:1-14) and was wrongly executed by the council in a purely legal point of view. However, Jesus is God and his mission was to come to earth and be executed as a sacrifice for the sins of the children of God (Ephesians 1-2, Phil 2:5-8, Col 1:11-22, 1 Pet 1:2). Although we now have great hope in Christ, the Son of God, controversy still swirls around who he is. Several religions that claim the name of Jesus do not consider him to be God, such as the LDS and Jehovah Witnesses, but they consider Him to be a created being. Within the orthodox Christian circles Jesus is known to be God, but there is disagreement on whether or not he has been God for all eternity. Did the Son of God exist eternally, outside time and space, as the Son before he was born in the form of man before born as the baby Jesus, born of Mary? Or was it at the incarnation that Jesus came into being by becoming man generated by the Father?

            I propose that the evidence proving the Son of God’s pre-existence before the incarnation is overwhelming and inarguable for not only LDS and Jehovah Witnesses[3], but also for all within the Christian faith. Before proposing the evidence supporting the pre-existence of the Son of God, a brief description of the opposition is in order.

 

OPPOSITION TO THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            The opposition to who Jesus is and what it means for Him to be the Son of God has been argued since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Many false doctrines were found in the early church, towards which Jesus’ beloved disciple John wrote his entire Gospel and epistles to refute (John 20:31), the Apostle Paul worked diligently to correct through his many epistles and missionary journeys (Rom 8:1-4, Col 1:15-20), as well as Peter and the writer of Hebrews (1 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Heb 1:1-3). The eternality of the Son, as the second person of the Trinity was so hotly contested a few hundred years after the incarnation that the Nicene Council developed the Nicene Creed to establish a proper view on the Son and to distance themselves from the modalistic theology of Sabellianism[4] and the argument by the Arians[5] of the day that insisted that the Son of God was a created being.

            Centuries later new religions arose which claimed the name of Jesus Christ, yet they did not attribute deity or pre-existence to him. In the early 1800’s, Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, claiming that the Son of God was merely a created being and Lucifer’s brother.[6] In the 1870’s Jehovah Witnesses arose who teach Jesus is no more than the archangel Michael[7], another created being. The LDS and the Jehovah Witness religions are rightly consider by professing Christians to be cultic and not a denomination within the protestant faith.

Another high profile stream of incorrect teaching regarding the Son of God has invaded the charismatic denominations. In particular, the televangelist T.D. Jakes with his “oneness” Pentecostal faith, author of over 30 books many of which have been on the NY Times Bestseller List, has had a worldwide stage for many years and teaches that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit and that the doctrine of the Trinity is in fact a polytheistic heresy[8]. Although no credible theologian would give Jakes theology thirty seconds of consideration, the average Christian is easily fooled by the TV shows, bestselling books, and charismatic personality. These fallacies are as important to refute as what the Fathers of the Nicene Creed were fighting against 1700 years ago.

            More interesting even yet, and much closer to home, is the change that John MacArthur has transitioned through only a decade ago. MacArthur, one of America’s greatest teachers and preachers, released an article in 2001 stating:

“…I want to state publicly that I have abandoned the doctrine of ‘incarnational sonship.’ Careful study and reflection have brought me to understand that Scripture does indeed present the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son as an eternal Father-Son Relationship. I know longer regard Christ’s sonship as a role He assumed in His incarnation.”[9]

MacArthur’s abandonment of this doctrine through careful study of the Scriptures signals to us that there is a vital need for careful study and reflection on the Scriptures by every believer, even for every respected teacher, preacher, and theologian. Let us now turn to carefully considering what the Bible says about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

EVIDENCE OF THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            Ten proofs regarding the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and second person in the Trinity need careful consideration.

Proof (1): I Am. The most basic proof of Jesus Christ’s pre-existence as the Son of God, and an assumption that must be made at the outset, is his divinity. Jesus being fully God implies his eternality. We see from the “I am” (egō eimi) statements found in Jesus’ own words, that He is claiming to be equal to God, the Father. In chapter 8 of John’s gospel, Jesus provides a direct claim to deity and pre-existence through the most notable “I am” statement.  Jesus tells the Jews, “If anyone who keeps my word, he will never taste death,” (Jn 8:52, ESV). The Jews fire back at Jesus by asking if he is greater than Abraham. After all, Abraham died and so did all the other prophets of God. So how can this man claim to have power over death? How can he speak with authority regarding Abraham as if he knows him? Jesus, they argue isn’t even fifty years old, how can he have seen Abraham?[10] Jesus then makes the claim to deity and pre-existence: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” (Jn 8:58, ESV). Continue reading