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The apostle Paul is one of the most, if not the most, important Christian who has ever lived. His conversion and subsequent life of ministry is powerful evidence for the reality and truth of the Christian faith.

Renowned and respected scholar F.F. Bruce’s book Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free provides an in-depth overview of Paul’s upbringing, conversion, ministry, teachings, and travels. Bruce includes quite a bit of information about the Roman empire and the world in which Paul lived. This book is a goldmine of information!

I highly recommend Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. If I ever teach a class on the life and ministry of Paul, this will be the textbook.

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This is material that didn’t quite make it into my sermon on Philippians 1:9-11.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment (Phil. 1:9).

Commenting on this verse, John MacArthur wrote in Reckless Faith,

Those who think of faith as the abandonment of reason cannot be truly discerning. Irrationality and discernment are polar opposites. When Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” emphasis added), he was affirming the rationality of true faith. He also meant to suggest that knowledge and discernment necessarily go hand in hand with genuine spiritual growth.

Biblical faith, therefore is rational. It is reasonable. It is intelligent. It makes good sense. And spiritual truth is meant to be rationally contemplated, examined logically, studied, analyzed, and employed as the only reliable basis for making wise judgments. That process is precisely what Scripture discernment.

Steven Cole, in his sermon on the same passage – after he quoted MacArthur – wrote,

The mood today is that if you are critical of anyone’s doctrinal or personal life, no matter how unbiblical they may be, you are not loving and you are arrogant to judge this person. Jesus’ words, “Judge not, lest you be judged” (Matt. 7:1) are wrenched out of context and misapplied. If people would just keep reading, Jesus goes on to say, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6). How can you determine if someone is a dog or a swine if you don’t make discerning judgments? A few verses later He warns us to beware of false prophets who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). It takes a discerning sheep to see that this isn’t a fellow-sheep whom we need to embrace, but a ravenous wolf we need to avoid!

 

Sermon in a Sentence

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:9-11. The following is a one-sentence summary of my sermon: Love that is guided by knowledge produces a godly life lived for the glory and praise of God.

Sermon in a Sentence

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:7-8. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: True Christian fellowship is a combination of devotion to, delight in, and desire for each other.

 

Sermon in a Sermon

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Daniel 1:8 (after sharing a bit about my teaching trip to Vietnam). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Daniel’s resolve came from a heart changed by God, a knowledge and submission to God’s Word, a deep love for God, an understanding of his situation, and a strong trust in God for the results.

Oliphant on Anxiety

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In his book, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles & Practice in Defense of Our Faith, K. Scott Oliphant writes,

Jesus is teaching them something that every Christian must learn. He is telling them, as Paul later reminded the Philippians, that they were to be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6). Anxiety is a heart confessing that Christ is not Lord. To be worrisome is to think that we are ultimately in control, that we can alter our own circumstances, ultimately by our own power.

The disciples are not to think this way. Jesus knows the kind of suffering that they will be called on to endure. He knows that the Christian road will be rocky and ultimately deadly for them. He knows that they will suffer martyrdom for their faith (see, for example Matt. 20:23; Mark 10:39). To be worried about how their Christian faith will fare in a hostile world would take their minds off of the task at hand. It would distract them from the defense of and preaching of the gospel. Worse still, it would betray a heart that is not resting in Christ and His authority (Matt. 28:18-20).

(p. 204)

“Anxiety is a heart confessing that Christ is not Lord.” I need to remember that.

A Few Good Links

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I’ve come across several articles lately that are good and worth consideration.

First, Jon Bloom writes on “The Real Root of Sexual Sin” at the Desiring God blog. You can read it here.

“70 Prompts for Praising God” is a goldmine of a resource on prayer. You can read it here.

We hear a lot about “privilege” today, especially white privilege. Jonathan Leeman has written a thoughtful piece about it from a biblical perspective. You can read it here.

Enjoy!