Christian Living

Character in Ministry

A Call to the Higher Standard

In mentoring his son in the ministry, Paul challenged young Timothy with these words, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12, ESV). Throughout his Holy Spirit-inspired counsel to this young man in the ministry, Paul stressed the need for a transparent character, an excellent reputation, a humble integrity which would allow others to see Christ in and through him.

In his Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon left virtually no stone unturned while impressing the need for private integrity which leads to public credibility upon his college students. From prayer to “keeping the tools sharp,” to the work of the Holy Spirit, to the ways in which a pastor/teacher might use his voice, Spurgeon understood and emphasized that ministry leads us to a total investment of ourselves into the work of the ministry.

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The Primacy of the Local Church

Note: This article was originally posted December 16, 2005.

A man skips church because he and his co-workers receive free tickets to an NFL game. A Sunday school teacher runs in a marathon rather than teaching his class. Both of these are real situations. Both men graduated from fundamental colleges. Are they right or wrong? Certain segments of Fundamentalism criticize other segments for not being “big on the local church.” Although much of this criticism is due to petty differences over the doctrine of the universal church, some of this criticism is well-deserved. Sometimes those who lift up Christ and the fundamentals are guilty of slighting the local church.

The word church literally means “called-out assembly.” “Called-out” teaches separation from the world and its sinful system. Second Corinthians 6:17-18 says,

Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The church gives believers an opportunity to physically practice this principle on the Lord’s Day and at other times during the week. “Called out” also signifies being drafted into the work of the Great Commission. Jesus says in John 20:21, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” He prophesies in Acts 1:8:

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What Does Worldly Look Like? Part 3

The goal of these articles (Part 1, Part 2) is to challenge misconceptions about the world and worldliness by taking a fresh look at our authority, the Scriptures themselves. I’ve argued that the biblical concept of worldliness encompasses much more than the matters of fashion, entertainment, and material possessions that we fundamentalists tend to focus on when we use the term.

The Study So Far

Part 1 in the series focused on select passages that suggest worldliness encompasses all of the sinful attitudes and actions of our unregenerate past. Romans 12:2 contrasts two conditions, conformity to “this world” [1] and transformation through mind renewal. Believers are in the conformed condition to the extent that we are not yet in the transformed condition. “Worldly” here is the opposite of “transformed.” In 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, Paul links the untransformed condition to immaturity and fleshliness and cites envy, strife, and divisions as evidence of that immaturity. Finally, James 3:14-15 associates contentious, self-seeking attitudes and sensuality with wisdom that is worldly (“earthly”). [2] Together, these passages alert us against a host of ungodly attitudes we seldom think of as worldly.

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Book Review: Alone With God

Alone With GodI dislike “legalese” in any context, but for this review a disclaimer is in order. I have served with Jason Jason for over five years on the staff of South Sheridan Baptist, now Red Rocks Baptist. When I first volunteered to review his book, Alone With God, I realized there could be some discomfort if I had to make negative comments. But I also knew that was a remote possibility since Jason and I had co-authored a discipleship manual, God And My Life. I recognized then his quality of thought, breadth of reading, and an ability to express himself well. I found this book no different, but now to the review.

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In Defense of Big Words: A Sesquipedalian Manifesto

The ground squirrel never knew what hit him. He had gone exploring in our Neon’s engine compartment and met his end in the serpentine belt when my wife started the car on her way to pick me up from work. She heard the belt go. My father-in-law very graciously picked me up from work, brought me by Advanced Auto for a new belt, and helped install it. This was a good thing because, when they passed out mechanical skills in heaven, I must have been in the library; my father-in-law, on the other hand, has done a lot of his own auto repair. Despite his mechanical prowess, we had a rough time getting that belt on, mostly because of my scanty tool supply (again, library book sales are favored by the appropriations committee). If you have never tried pushing back a tensioner lever with a stray, unidentified metal bar, don’t. I had visions of everything slipping and my impaling myself on some gizmo and joining the ground squirrel in bulge-eyed rigor mortis.

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On the Merits of Mere Traditions

Note: This article was originally posted December 21, 2005.

Traditions get picked on occasionally by Bible-believing people. I have done some of that picking myself and don’t regret it. Traditions are, after all, things handed down and honored by time, repetition, and the sharing of them by groups of people, and they are not necessarily rooted in any authoritative expression of the will of God.

But attitudes toward tradition tend to be polarized in an unedifying way. We have our unabashed tradition defenders and our unabashed tradition bashers. Those in the former group have rarely met a tradition they didn’t love, and those in the latter group feel quite the opposite. But perhaps both groups are missing something. Maybe the best course is to side with the tradition defenders in presuming traditions innocent until proven guilty but also to side with the bashers in aggressively putting traditions on trial. (I’m speaking metaphorically here, not joining the ACLU!)

There are good reasons to believe that a mere tradition, that is known to be just that, can be a very powerful thing for good and that those who run madly in the opposite direction of anything that looks or sounds old are doing themselves a great disservice.

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Preserving the Bond of Peace

Note: Dr. Sam Horn is host of The Word for Life radio program. 

by Dr. Sam Horn

Standing Fast for Unity–Philippians 4:2-3

Unity and harmony were important themes to the Apostle Paul. He addressed these themes throughout the New Testament in passages such as Romans 12:4-5, 14-15; 1 Corinthians 10, 12; and Ephesians 4:4. Perhaps one of the clearest cases where Paul’s concern for unity and harmony is expressed is found in Philippians 4:2-3 where he addressed two women who were at odds with each other. Although Paul does not reveal the cause or nature of their division, it is obvious their conflict was well-known to the assembly and had escalated to the point that public confrontation was needed.

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