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The first two sermons in the book of Acts were, in the fullest sense of the term, occasional. That is to say, they arose out of and were addressed to an occasion. On Pentecost the coming of the Holy Spirit, with all its outward effects, brought together a crowd of curious and interested listeners:
When this sound was heard, a crowd gathered . . .They were astounded and amazed . . . saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:6, 7, 12).
This intense interest provided the introduction to Peter’s message.
Similarly, on the second occasion, Peter spoke to a crowd that was already anxious to hear him. On this occasion it was God’s healing of the cripple at the temple gate that drew them:
So they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him … all the people were amazed and ran together to them [Peter and John] at the portico called ‘Solomon’s.’ (Acts 3:10, 11)
And later on in the book, Paul at Lystra (and to a lesser extent, at Athens) found himself addressing audiences that had already become curious about his mission and anxious to hear what he had to say prior to the message itself.
In all of these...
Today you read much about the possibility of OBEs (out of body experiences). Is this something for Christians to be concerned about? Is it possible for someone to have such a near death/death experience and still live? Could his spirit leave his body momentarily and then return?
If you are wondering—read again 2 Cor. 12:2 where Paul, speaking in the third person of himself, contemplates such a possibility.
But the genuine possibility of an OBE isn’t the important thing. What is interesting is that he speaks as well of going to paradise (the third heaven) during the experience (whatever kind it was: in or out of the body). That is where Jesus told the believing thief on the cross he would be together with him at death—that very day.
So, the real question is: if you were to die today, where would your spirit be: in paradise or in gehenna (the place of punishment)? Upon death all go to hades (hades means the “unseen world” in which both places exist). But only those who have been saved enter paradise .
Yeah, they came in goodly numbers to listen to Ezekiel. Sounds good—eh?
Not so good. Listen to why they came and what they were getting out of his messages:
My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. . . . Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they do not obey them. (Ezekiel 33: 31,32; HCSB)
There was nothing wrong with the prophet’s preaching—the problem lay solely in his listeners! They were interested in how he preached—not in what he preached.
Today, people flock to popular preachers, some of whom preach well, and truthfully, but the listeners fail to live changed lives. The reason might be the same as it was in Ezekiel’s day.
If all those who attend popular preaching were to go out and live as they are told in the preachers’ messages—even for one week—what a difference it would make!
Truth must be mixed with faith, and faith with obedience.
Obedience is a lost concept today in some circles. All one must do to grow by grace is to...
That’s a good question—and isn’t asked often enough when discussing the atheistic thrust of our contemporary society.
Ask yourself—why would someone go to great lengths to deny the existence of God? If what the Bible teaches is true, think of all the marvelous promises that believers have (and unbelievers don’t have) as a result of faith in Jesus Christ! A new body in which there is neither death, sickness, nor sin; power unlimited; eternal life full of joy and peace, etc., etc.
Hmmm—-there must be a pretty strong motive behind this denial of God; do you have any idea what it is?
Well, SCRIPTURE ITSELF TELLS US WHAT IT IS:
The wicked arrogantly thinks “There is no accountability since God does not exist.” Psalm 10:4 (HCSB).
There you have it! In clear terms—If I can get away with it here and now (whatever sinful thing that I would like to do), there will be no one after death to answer to for whatever I have done. Action without consequences—that’s what the atheist wants!
But God says this is sheer arrogance. And, of course, that’s exactly what...
Position in preaching is an important matter about which all too little is said—and yet it can make all the difference. What am I talking about? What is ‘position’ anyway?
Position represents a preacher’s relationship to a passage as well as to the persons who are involved with it. With whom does one identify as preacher, and with whom does he identify his congregation? The answer to those two questions tells one what his position is.
There are several possible positions that one might assume. Various names may be assigned to each, and possibly more than the three that I shall mention might be distinguished, but in order to raise the question and to point toward the desired biblical position of the preacher these three will do:
There clusters about each of these positions a number of factors that are consistent with the position itself. Take the SPECTATOR, for instance. Such a preacher doesn’t identify with any one particular in the preaching portion. He does not speak as does the writer of the epistle or...
This article provides a list of reasons to avoid having separate worship services by musical “taste.” We may or may not take issue with how he articulates some of his points, but it is a provocative list.
It is interesting to note that the blogger at that site, whose ecclesiastical and theological world is rather distant from the orbit of the authors here at RA, has to deal with the exact same types of argumentation from nettled proponents of contemporary forms in his comments section....
In 1 Cor 9:22, Paul writes, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” This is series on the meaning of 1 Cor 9:19-23, and those words in particular. In the first post, I introduced the problematic way many evangelicals and missiologists interpret this passage. Many understand this passage to be vindicating pragmatism in ministry. They read Paul to be essentially saying “I do whatever it takes to see people saved.” Then I surveyed the immediate context leading up to vv 19-23. The second post provided a handful of interpretative guidelines for understanding these verses....
Culture is the same as behavior, and I am explaining in this series implications from the New Testament based on that idea. Here are the previous implications:
The fourth implication is that New Testament authors proclaim Christianity as a new and distinct people group that shares new values and thus new culture. Peter in particular identifies Christians as a “chosen race,” a “holy nation,” and a “people for [God’s] own possession” distinct from other races, nations, and peoples. Howe summarizes the important relationship between terms related to ethnicity and behavior in Peter’s writing:
The word anastrophēs, “way of life,” is a key word in Petrine theology, for it occurs eight times in Peter’s epistles (...
We have taken the time to understand our new nature and position in Christ because it is fundamental to understanding what it is to live in God’s presence, and thereby come to know him and love him. The prevalence of ‘moth Christians’ may be because of Christians’ failure to understand their position in Christ and rightly deal with guilt.
Second Corinthians 7:10 teaches two kinds of sorrow over sin.
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
The kind of regret and sorrow over sin which drives us to Christ to find mercy, grace and forgiveness is helpful. This kind of guilt becomes a goad: it pushes the Christian closer to the Gospel, to the cross, and to the truths of perichoresis. It is ‘regret not to be regretted’.
The other kind of guilt produces death. This kind of guilt condemns us without driving us to Christ. Lacking faith, it drives us away from Christ to try to cover our own sins with excuses...
This is a good question. An excerpt:
The average worship services lasts roughly an hour. Now, the argument might be made in for the sake of cultural “relevance” in an effort to not break social norms. Thus, we limit the time. But in all honesty, what social norms are we talking about?
Word is going around that the city of Houston is issuing subpoenas for sermons to see if they criticize homosexuality.
Is it true? Who knows. It could be. It might not be. Like a lot of stuff on the internet, it might be overblown. Like a lot of the stuff on the internet, it may be entirely true.
But here’s the question: Why is Houston using court resources and tax payer resources issuing subpoenas for things that are publicly available?
If they want the content of these sermons, can’t they just show up at church? Or download them from the internet?
But it seems like Christians like a persecution complex and tend to go into crisis mode at the drop of a hat. So it’s a great time to note that the end of the world is almost here.
I think if I were a pastor in Houston, I would invite the people charged with this task to come to church and hear it first hand. I speak publicly several times a week, and to be frank, a lot of what I say is not in my notes, and a lot of what is in my notes never gets said. So getting my notes is no guarantee that you will get what was actually said. Not to mention that my notes often contain the opinions of...
The Minnesota Baptist Association recently hosted a panel discussion on the future of Baptist fundamentalism. You can read a summary of it here, or listen to it at … well, nowhere. Apparently, technology hasn’t reached all the way to Minnesota yet.
I heard they actually had the technology but the hamsters got tired of running fast enough to power the generator. But that may be just a rumor as well. Perhaps the participants all decided it would be better to have no audio in order to maintain some plausible deniability. You can always claim you were misquoted, unless the pesky audio exists somewhere.
Of course I digress. Some of these people are my friends. At least they were. But I find the topic interesting and, if the write-up is indicative, the panel discussion seemed interesting as well.
So what do I think of the future of Baptist fundamentalism? Thanks for asking.
I have a few thoughts, which you may have suspected if you have made it this far.
First, I wonder how the lack of agreed upon history affects...
At first, here’s an interesting interview about work and productivity from Stephen Dubner, the co-author of the very interesting Freakonomics. Habits and patterns of work are increasingly important to me. They probably should be for all of us.
At second, here’s a much needed article on Preaching and Piety. Too often, it seems like the beauty of the gospel is being used as a cover for sinfulness. The pastoral qualifications still mean something other than being able to exegete, assemble a message, and deliver it. We should take them seriously.
At third, Andy Naselli links to an article about unmarried couples making out. Andy, in his usual helpful way, highlights a few key points....
With the election hard upon us, it is a good time to be reminded that nothing we do can rightly be divorced from the sufficient governance of Christian Scripture. No pockets of neutrality exist in any sphere of life, including our politics. While the battery of issues facing voters today is exceedingly complex, one option always proves better than the rest—and it is safe to say that were the incarnate God to join us in the polling booth next week, he would be able, in his perfect wisdom, to discern in every case the best possible option in view of all the facts available.
Of course, we possess neither all the facts nor the wisdom necessary to perfectly harmonize and synthesize those facts. As a result, we Christians tend to vote provincially, and we do not all vote the same. This does not mean (necessarily) that one voting bloc is sinning and the other is not. Still, moral ought does exist in politics: there are some choices that are better than others, and some choices that are flat out wrong.
Most Christians will admit this, conceding that the Bible should inform our voting decisions at some level. We can’t vote for a platform of pure...
Resource materials from 2014 Mid-America Conference on Preaching, “Striving Together for the Faith of the Gospel,” are now available for free download. Included are audio recordings (mp3) from all general sessions and workshops, as well as printed notes (pdf) from the workshops.
Last year we were jolted when the Supreme Court struck down one of the central pillars of the “Defense of Marriage Act,” effectively releasing whatever brake was still restraining same-sex marriage. This week we moved one step closer to trouble for our churches when a lawsuit was leveraged against a pair of Idaho ministers who operate a wedding chapel and refused to accommodate a same-sex couple.
No, the situation does not involve a church (it’s a commercial wedding chapel) or pastors (it’s a mom and pop ministerial team peddling their wares); still, the threat to our churches just slid closer. Pastor, are you ready? And is your church ready? If not, consider the following:
In the midst of Paul’s argument for the bodily resurrection of believers, he offers a proverb: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Cor 15:33). At first it seems a bit out of place—why would Paul be concerned about who the Corinthians are hanging around? Isn’t his focus on what they believe? Paul’s point is that your associations can influence what you believe, and what you believe influences your behavior. That’s one of the reasons why God instructs his believers to practice separation. A failure to separate from false teachers can lead believers to be corrupted by that false teaching—even if they currently have their doctrine correct.
In a sermon on this passage, Alistair Begg gives his pastoral exhortation to believers who do not separate from false churches, urging them to apply this verse.
If you hang around with these people who say there is no resurrection of the dead, although you think there is, you’ll start to believe just as they do. And when you start to believe as they do, then you will start to behave as they behave. And he said “I want you to understand it, bad company corrupts good character.”
The Mid-American Conference begins this Thursday, October 16, at the Inter-City Baptist Church, 4700 Allen Road, Allen Park, MI. The theme is “Striving Together for the Faith of the Gospel.” The speakers are:
I just reviewed this book for 9Marks:
When you have a solid grasp of how a theme develops across the Bible’s storyline in Scripture, you are able to trace that theme from a number of starting points. For example, you may be preaching or teaching through the Gospel of John and come to John 2:19: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” You may then zoom out so that you can...
I’ve been using Logos 6 each day for the last few weeks, and it’s a beautiful design. It has some new bells and whistles, but by far my favorite new feature is that you can hide all the chapter and verse numbers in Bibles—whether Hebrew, Greek, or English. I love this feature! (I explain why here and here.)
You can learn more about Logos 6...
I recently discovered that Southern Seminary makes available free PDFs of many of the PhD dissertations (and some ThM theses) that students have successfully defended there.
These students have spent years working on these treatises, and some of the theses are outstanding (e.g., David Schrock’s on definite atonement).
I wish more schools did this. I just added over 70 of these PDFs to my Zotero library.
I just happily added The Center for New Testament Textual Studies NT Critical Apparatus to my Logos library.
From the resource’s introduction:
Welcome to the CNTTS textual database. The database is presented in the form of a textual apparatus that includes as much of the textual data as possible. The base text is that of the 3rd edition UBSGNT. The sources for the manuscript readings are given below, but in brief come primarily from our own collations with some information also derived from the works noted below. Part of the ongoing work is to verify the information derived from others by means of our own collations.
Work began on this project in 2000, with some foundations having been put in...
“Flesh and Spirit.” Tabletalk 38, no. 10 (October 2014): 22–24.
This post is a reprint of an article by Dr. Charles Wood of South Bend, IN. He has been my friend, mentor, father figure and confidant for many years. His wisdom gained from a long life well lived is a constant inspiration to me. You can get a daily missive from him by writing him at LORCHUCK@aol.com and asking to be on his mailing list. You’ll be blessed if you do it!
“We’re all vulnerable. Everyone who walks in the church door can be helped or hurt in what happens during the next hour. Whether saint or sinner, preacher or pew-sitter, old-timer or newcomer, child or geezer, everyone is vulnerable and should be treated respectfully, faithfully, carefully. No one, however, in the church family is more vulnerable than the pastor’s wife. She is the key figure in the life of the pastor and plays the biggest role in his success or failure….And yet, many churches treat her as an unpaid employee, an uncalled assistant pastor, an always-available office volunteer, a biblical expert and a psychological whiz. She is almost always a reliable helper as well as an under-...
In order to avoid having to answer a bunch of private emails and questions in public about whom I’m supporting for this election, I am posting my endorsements here. Please note that these are my private endorsements and may or may not the opinions of my employers, associates, family or friends. They are mine alone. I’m not super enthusiastic about some of these choices, but have taken in a variety of factors in making my list. Feel free to distribute, use or ignore.
North Carolina Endorsements
Tillis (A vote for Haugh equals a vote for Hagan)
US House of Representatives
District 6 — Neither Candidate
District 8 — Hudson
District 9 — Pittenger
District 12 — Coakley
NC State Senate
District 41 — Tarte
NC State House of Representatives
District 98 — Bradford
District 104 — Dan Bishop
Mecklenburg District Attorney
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners