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Archive for February, 2014

Stott the Prophet

This is why I, as well as John Stott, believe in preaching and the absolute necessity of the church. This quote comes from Justin Taylor at his blog Between Two Worlds. 

John Stott, writing over 30 years ago (in 1982):

It is difficult to imagine the world in the year A.D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today.

We should certainly welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power.

Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary.

In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen.

In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less.

—John R.W. Stott, I Believe in Preaching (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1982), p. 69.

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Life Imitates Art

World Magazine reported this story:

A would-be bank robber’s bad handwriting cost him the chance to make a score when a bank teller was unable to read his stickup note. Police say suspect Jamal Garrett entered an Antioch, California Wells Fargo bank on January 6th with intentions to rob the bank. Unable to read the scratch marks, the teller took the stickup note to a bank manager for help. But police say Garrett got cold feet during the delay and fled the scene. Only later did bank employees realize the note had been part of a robbery attempt. Officers later caught up with Garrett and charged him with the attempted robbery.

That sounded a lot like Woody Allen in the movie “Take the Money and Run.” The only difference was that Allen’s character stayed around and argued with the employees giving the police time to get there and arrest him. The scene is below.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/224555/Take-the-Money-and-Run-Movie-Clip-Gub.html

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Arnold Dallimore is the author of a two-volume biography of 18th century evangelist George Whitefield. He explains one of the reasons he wrote the book.

Nevertheless, the book goes forth with a mission. It is written with the profound conviction that the paramount need of the twentieth century is a mighty evangelical revival such as that which was experienced two hundred years ago. Thus, I have sought to show what were the doctrines used of God in the eighteenth-century Revival, and to display the extraordinary  fervor which characterized the men whom God raised up in the blessed work. Yea, this book is written in the desire – perhaps in a measure of inner certainty – that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more bring into being His special instruments of revival, that He will again raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by the sense of greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.

Indeed, this book goes forth with the earnest prayer that, amidst the rampant iniquity and glaring apostasy of the twentieth century God will use it toward the raising up of such men and toward the granting of a mighty revival such as was witnessed two hundred years ago.

All I can add is that everything Dallimore said about the twentieth century applies to the twenty-first, too.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 2:11-12. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The life of a pilgrim involves internal and external vigilance.

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Here’s something we don’t need: Due to the investigative journalism of a television station in North Carolina, we know how Elevation Church, and its pastor Stephen Furtick, produces their “spontaneous baptisms.”

The church has enough problems with skeptics and critics. Giving them ammunition is not only not helpful, it’s unconscionable. My two cents. Watch and read the report and decide for yourself.

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Maybe you’ve heard a question like this: “You believe that Bible is inerrant, don’t you?” You reply honestly with, “Yes, I do.” “Well, then,” they say, “what about Mark 1:4-5? It says, ‘John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.’ The Bible says in plain language that all the people in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to see him. Everybody went, according to the Bible. That means that every single person without exception who lived in Judea and Jerusalem was there. That can’t possibly be true, therefore this is an error, which means the Bible isn’t inerrant.”

The argument of our imaginary opponent sounds reasonable, but there’s a problem with it. It isn’t true. C. Michael Patton has written an article that explains why it isn’t. In “Six Factors That Do Not Affect Inerrancy”, he lists and explains each of these. Those factors are:

  1. Use of Hyperbole and Exaggeration
  2. Speaking according to Cultural Convenience
  3. Bad Grammar
  4. Round Numbers
  5. Summaries of Events
  6. Recording Wrong Theology

If you read Patton’s article, you’ll be able to better answer questions surrounding the inerrancy of the Bible the next time you hear them.

The point is simple: we can trust the Bible because it’s the Word of God.

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I was privileged to preach on 1 Peter 2:9-10 this morning. Here is a summer of my sermon in one sentence: The church is called out from the world by God; to proclaim God’s person and work; and is based on the mercy of God.

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What Love Is

Paul David Tripp answers the question of what love is in an article for The Christian Post called “23 Things Love Is.” It’s worth reading and thinking about. It’s a good read on Valentine’s Day.

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Along with R.C. Sproul, Jr. and many others, I’m very concerned about the downward slide of our nation and culture. We’re rapidly leaving our biblical and Christian roots and foundation – to our detriment and destruction. Here are some of R.C.’s thoughts:

As the culture has been moving more vehemently into an aggressive secularism we are witnessing the steady erasure of the unwritten rules. We have moved from being the dominant cultural force to being the norm, to being oddities, and we are swiftly on our way to becoming pariahs. This, we would be wise to remember, is yet well short of what our brothers suffer in Muslim communist countries. We don’t want to be the church that cried persecution.

That said, we would be wise to, even as we seek to make known the glory of the reign of Christ over all things, get used to the new normal. It is not easy giving up privileges we once took for granted. The broader culture no longer recognizes our day of rest, and so many of us are expected to work, or to get our children to the game. It no longer recognizes the our holy days, so now Turkey Day opens the Winter Holiday Season, and “Merry Christmas”  is now less than a greeting, more a political statement. The broader culture finds our sexual morality not just silly and old-fashioned but oppressive and demeaning.

While I long for and labor for a day when all men everywhere acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all things, the loss of these privileges comes with a great blessing, the giving of a greater privilege – we are now hated and despised for His name’s sake.

Or are we? It will not be long, I suspect, before those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman will have all the cultural respect as a member of the KKK. Will the church be telling us to soften on this issue, not to talk about it, so accommodate the broader world for the sake of soul-winning? If so, we will have sold our own soul. Jesus was rather clear – if we were of this world, the world would love its own. But we have been bought with a price (John 15:19). Pray that we don’t sell our birthright of persecution for the pottage of respectability.

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Here are a few good links that will get you thinking, just like they did for me.

Creation-Evolution Debate: Ken Ham and Bill Nye recently debated at the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rick Phillips, a pastor, has some thoughts on what lessons we can learn from the debate. You can read it here. It’s true that debates normally don’t change many people’s minds, but that’s not the point. The point of any debate is clarity. In other words, you know precisely what both sides are saying (beyond all of the trimmings and trappings). From the reaction on the web to the debate, it seems there are a lot of “Christians” who are quite angry with Ham for daring to say out loud that our ultimate authority is God and His Word. Al Mohler has good comments, too.

“Lessons Learned in the School of Suffering”: Darryl Dash says there are lessons God teaches us through the instrument of suffering, You can read it here.

Donald Miller saying he doesn’t attend church much anymore: Miller, who wrote Blue Like Jazz among other best-sellers, wrote on a blog post that being part of a church isn’t part of his life anymore. One of the reasons he gave is that it isn’t compatible with his “learning style.” Denny Burk gives a strong but correct response here. If you go to the homepage of Denny’s blog, you’ll find a second post on the subject. It’s hard, but I agree with Denny.

Enjoy these articles and think about what’s said. It’ll definitely start a conversation.

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