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The occasion was the fall of Eutropius, the imperial minister in Constantinople who had attacked the church and had even forbidden her to offer refuge to political prisoners. Yesterday he broke his own law and fled to Chrysostom’s church for sanctuary. Chrysostom admitted him, and when the soldiers in hot pursuit reached the door of the church, they were met by Chrysostom, who declared, “You enter here over my body” (the origin of our expression ‘over my dead body’). Now one day later, the entire town has gathered to hear Chrysostom preach. What will he say?
Many standing in the tightly packed crowd are furious. They are convinced that Chrysostom missed a great opportunity to rid the community of one of the church’s vilest enemies. Why has he received Eutropius? What can he say in his defense? They have come to find out.
From the front of the church, those who are regular attendees...
Listen to Proverbs 14:23—
There is profit in all hard work; But endless talk leads only to poverty (HCSB).
You know the type that the writer of Proverbs is describing, don’t you? He’s full of plans, will spend hours (if you let him) telling you all about them, and will bend as many others’ ears as he can in order to do the same.
But you never see the results of those plans. It’s all talk!
If you get taken in by such a person, you may find yourself giving him your time, your money – or who knows what else?
The FYI statement is there in the Bible not merely for the interest it may arouse in those who read it; it is a strong warning not to be caught up in another’s schemes—which may turn out to be little more than talk. If you do, eventually you will discover you have leaned on a fragile reed—a person who is full of talk but with no results! And you too will have wasted your time (at the very least) listening to him.
Watch out for those who talk excessively about what they are going to do, but never show you any results. If they were to expend effort toiling rather than talking endlessly they might be able to achieve...
The Fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 13:1).
How do we know that he is a fool?
Simple. A fool speaks as if he has the answer to a question to which he cannot have an answer. No man knows enough to make that statement. You would have to be everywhere at the same time to reach that conclusion. Otherwise, God might be just one jump ahead of him.
But to be everywhere at once is to be God! And the strangest part of it is that he isn’t just boasting, showing off or something. He believes it—partially, at least—and is trying to fully convince himself that it is really true.
Say, fool—will you come to your senses? When you do, it is time to find out about the Salvation that is in Christ Jesus. If you need help, let us know.
In in my book on homiletics, Preaching with Purpose, I have pointed out in some detail that most supposed preaching outlines, like the conception and stance of the sermon itself, are actually lecture and not preaching outlines. We have been taught wrongly.
A lecture outline is the division of a subject, topic, idea, or theme that is discussed during the lecture. It is usually abstract, third person, and concerns facts and persons long ago and far away. Because of the use of this format, the Bible has become a book that seems irrelevant to the average churchgoer. A preaching outline is the divisions of a biblically based address to and about a congregation in relationship to God and to their neighbors. It is second person, here and now and concrete. The lecture form sounds like this: “God told the Amalekites that they …,” while the preaching form sounds like this: “God says that you …” In the lecture outline the speaker talks about the...
As a pastor you struggle with important decisions in choosing the preaching portions for your weekly sermons, or in determining the books of the Bible from which those sermons will be preached for some days to come. It is not a matter to be handled lightly because in those choices the welfare of God’s congregation is very much at stake. How can you reach the best decisions?
There are a number of factors that might be considered, but the one that I shall address in this article is the welfare of the congregation itself. In making such decisions any pastor who truly cares about the flock will seek to divest himself of his own interests and hobbies, will refuse to allow his fears and apprehensions about consequences to dictate the choices, and will think only of his obligations toward God and the welfare of His people.
But how does he know what is best for his flock? Often, the pastor is stymied right here. It is not always easy to arrive at an answer to that question. That is why I should like to look at some of the determining factors that may help you to arrive at good decisions.
Gaps, Imbalances, etc., in the Past
One of the...
We are in the midst of a series on New Testament implications of the idea that culture is essentially behavior. Here are the previous two implications:
The third implication is that New Testament authors demand that the culture of Christians be holy, pure, and distinct from the culture of unbelievers. Rather than understanding culture to be neutral, New Testament authors judge unbelieving culture as worthy of condemnation. They expect Christians, therefore, to reject the culture shaped by the world’s systems and to form a new way of life impacted by biblical values. The culture produced from unbelief is not neutral; it is depraved. As Mark Snoeberger notes, “Cultural neutrality is a myth and culture is hostile toward God; just as man is individually depraved in microcosm, so also culture is corporately depraved in macrocosm.”...
Some thoughtful comments on what congregational singing should do for us.
Evidently, “the crucifixion didn’t happen in 1995,” or so the author asserts.
How does the indwelling of the Spirit make living in God’s presence an experiential reality?
The Spirit reveals God to our worshipping spirits. Since God the Spirit reveals God the Son, his presence within us becomes God’s immediate link of communion with us. Not that the Spirit works apart from his own chosen means of revealing Christ: the rightly-interpreted Word of God. Nevertheless, just as rightly-mixed chemicals can remain inert without a spark or an injection of energy, so rightly-interpreted Scriptures can remain lifeless to the believer unless the Spirit illuminates them. His ministry of granting believers spiritual insight, of making the truth as real as it is true, and of enlightening seeking believers is at the core of communion. He is able to do this at any time, and in any place, because he now interpenetrates our minds and hearts. As he knows God’s mind, as he is the result of the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s for the Father, so he can reveal all this to the seeking heart.
The ceaseless flow of godly love,
The joy of God and Son:
Thy life is this, O Holy Dove,
Last week we looked at Deut 17:14–17 and discovered three prohibitions for Israel’s kings that Christian leaders can follow in principle today. This week, we’ll read through Deut 17:14–20 again and see the import of the positive commands for the king in Deut 17:18–20.
Deuteronomy 17:14–20 (ESV)
14 “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king...
Each week I post an exposition of our church’s service. Here is this week’s post:
In August 1998, I ordered some of my first seminary textbooks as a student. That particular semester, one item stood out above the rest. Philip Schaff’s 8-volume History of the Christian Church stood out primarily due to its price. At the time Schaff retailed for about $249. Most of us discovered that you could purchase the set for a little under $100 through CBD (and if you could find a free shipping code so much the better), but it still wasn’t a particularly cheap item. For a single guy living on a grocery budget of $10/week (yes, I did), it was a major purchase.
Fast forward some sixteen years. I still refer to Schaff from time to time. In fact, someone gave me a second set a few years ago and so now I keep one in my office and one at home for ease of reference. But I recently noticed that something significant has changed about the set. In printed form, it still costs eighty-something dollars at...
For my whole life I’ve been broadly a part of an ecclesiastical culture/movement that has been disinclined to commit either to Calvinism or Arminianism. A steady stream of articles, essays, and blog posts have kept this delicate balancing act alive for decades (for a recent and more-than-usually scholarly example, see the ongoing series here—I was going to wait for the conclusion, but I ran out of patience). I don’t believe, however, that this position is ultimately sustainable. And so my thesis in this post is simply this: the principal question in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate is a fundamentally binary one: you have to choose one or the other.
Of course, I am not so naïve as to imagine that variations and nuances of the two basic positions do not exist. I am, after all, editor of a soon-to-be-released book detailing THREE perspectives on the extent of the atonement (and in my...
One of the issues that still needs clarification in Christianity is how to weigh doctrines. Christians have historically recognized that certain truths are fundamental or essential to Christianity, while others have less importance. But how do we know which doctrines are which?
In the last issue of Themelios, D. A. Carson writes an editorial offering some thoughts on what we mean when we talk about “gospel issues,” concluding that the category of “gospel issues” is helpful if it refers to “biblical and theological topics the denial of which clearly affect our understanding of the gospel adversely.” The point is that you cannot deny a certain truth or else you’ve seriously undermined the gospel. Other truths may be important, but they do not rise to the level of upmost importance like gospel issues.
I’ve heard a professor put it this way before: if you put a gun to my head and said “Deny the deity of Jesus or you’re dead,” by God’s grace I would hope to respond by saying “pull the trigger.” If you put a gun to my head and said “Deny the pre-...
Dear Fellow Servant of Jesus Christ:
It seems like every day brings more bad news in this crazy, sin-cursed world. And it seems, at least sometimes, like God’s people are dropping into defense-mode as the world becomes increasingly hostile toward Christianity. While all of this may be new to us, it is not different from the landscape that the churches in the New Testament faced. The Philippians, for example, were “granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).
The darkness of our day should make us more urgent about obedience to Christ’s commission, not less so. To that end, the theme for our fall conference this year, based on Philippians 1:27, is “Striving Together for the Faith of the Gospel.” By God’s grace, we’ll gather for two days, October 16-17, to focus our attention on biblical truth about building greater unity within and between our assemblies for the sake of the gospel. Incredible gospel opportunities are all around us. We need to sharpen our focus on biblical truths that...
Michigan Cherry Coffee
Sure, you can order it online. But only Michigan coffeehouses serve freshly brewed coffee made from cherries grown just a few hours to our north. If you like coffee but haven’t tried Michigan Cherry coffee, you need to. And if you don’t like coffee, you should probably see a doctor.