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Archive for January, 2016

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 12:12-19. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus presented Himself as King which fulfilled prophecy, destroyed false views others had of Him – all of which demands a response.

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Romans 6:1-4 in connection with two young men I had the honor of baptizing. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot continue a life of sin because of their union with Christ, which is represented by the symbolism of baptism, and therefore are to live new lives.

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Gender identity is in the news quite a bit today and, as Christians, we need to think clearly about it. Kenneth Gentry has dealt with the question of what the Bible says about it in a brief, informative article.

Gender Identity is the latest rage among postmodernists. Especially since the June 2015 transformation of Bruce Jenner from a male to the female Caitlyn Jenner, transgender discussions have exploded on the scene. And many Christian leaders and laymen have gotten on the politically-correct bandwagon. But what does the Bible have to say about this phenomenon? Much, in every way.

It’s worth a read, as well as some good thinking.

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Why do some people succeed and others do not? Most of the time, we think that those who succeed have worked harder and longer than everyone else – they have passion and drive and let no obstacle stand in their way. But is that the truth? Is there more involved in success than we think?

Malcolm Gladwell is convinced that there is a lot more than hard work and drive involved in success. His book Outliers is subtitled The Story of Success. Gladwell shows that successful people have built-in advantages (such as being born early in the year or being born in a certain year rather than three years later) that have to be considered. Hard work and drive are part of the equation, no doubt about it, but other factors are involved, too.

Like all of Gladwell’s books, Outliers is put together in a series of stories, or case-studies, that all make the same basic point. He highlights junior hockey teams, Bill Gates, Korean airline pilots, two extended families in rural Kentucky, and a number of others.

After reading Outliers, I don’t look at success in the same way.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 12:1-11. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Devotion to Jesus is costly, humbling, unconcerned with what others think, and pleasing to Him.

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Theology Thursday

What’s the difference between bad doctrine and heresy? Mike Riccardi writes:

All biblical doctrine is important. I would go so far as to say all biblical doctrine is essential. It’s difficult to put any doctrine into a second or third tier, because it somehow feels as if to do so is to say it’s not important. But employing theological triage doesn’t mean that everything that’s not first-order is unimportant, any more than a doctor’s prioritizing a gunshot wound necessarily thinks a sprained ankle is unimportant. But the fact remains: genuine Christians can disagree on things like the mode and recipients of baptism; but if two people disagree on the triunity of God, one is a Christian and the other isn’t.

Posted at The Cripplegate blog, this rather long (but well worth it) piece does a great job of explaining the difference and why it’s important. Today’s church is awash in both, so we need to know the difference.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 11:45-57. What follows is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Don’t ruin your life by being hostile to Jesus, or being simply a curious onlooker – gain it by believing in Him!

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Dan DeWitt has written an excellent article titled “Atheism and the Problem of Evil.” It should be read by anyone who has ever wrestled with the question of evil and the existence of God (which all Christians should).

Here is how he introduces his article:

The biblical explanation of the cosmos is a theme emphasized in the opening verses of Genesis, where each day of creation is stamped with the words “it was good.” But can an unguided world governed by mere chance, as the atheistic worldview suggests, provide any sort of objective foundation or absolute definition of “good”?

If the world is a product of chance, is governed by nothing, and is heading nowhere, then how can we point to some overarching value of goodness? As the prominent atheistic ethicist Kai Nielsen once said, “We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view. . . . Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” [1] And if we cannot get to the moral point of view from a purely scientific perspective, then how can an atheist use a moral point of view to reject the existence of God?

The Christian isn’t the only one who has to account for the existence of evil; so does the atheist. But how can they?

You can read DeWitt’s article here.

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R.C. Sproul’s little book Who is the Holy Spirit? is an excellent introduction to pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit). Who is the Spirit? What does He do? Why is called holy? These questions, and others, are briefly answered by Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries.

Reformation Trust, the publishing arm of Ligonier, has released over twenty small books in the “Crucial Questions” series. These books, all by Dr. Sproul, are easy to read and solid in doctrine. I’d recommend them for any believer in the Lord Jesus who wants to grow spiritually, as well as any non-believer asking questions.

There is still a lot of confusion out there about the Holy Spirit, and Sproul does his part to clear it up. Tolle lege!

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What can someone from 1592 say about preaching that would be relevant to someone who preaches in 2016? Quite a lot, actually!

William Perkins (1558-1602), a preacher at Great St. Andrews church in London, was concerned about the poor quality of preaching in English churches. As a result, he wrote this book to counteract that trend and, at the same time, give instruction in good preaching (which he called prophesying). There are two main sections in The Art of Prophesying: Preaching itself and the call to ministry.

Overall, I found this book to be very edifying. It’s a good reminder of the basics of preaching and the preparation required, both exegetical and personal. The Art of Prophesying is a encouragement to me to continue using what came to be known as Perkins’ style of preaching: “read and explain.” This book would be helpful to those who don’t preach regularly, also, because it shows you what to look for in a preacher and a sermon. Tolle lege!

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