Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unfortunately, when I was reading this afternoon, I came across this very disheartening quote from a fairly well-known theological apologist:
  • I also think a serious reader of Scripture can doubt that God's Word plays a determinative role in the human knowledge of God.
I leave out the source for the author's own sake. But my question to this man is, "If you can't understand God from the Scriptures, then where do you find understanding about God?" I was shocked when I read this quote. I know what you're thinking, "Geoff took this quote out of context." I answer, "Nope." So I go back to my original thought, if you can't know God from the Scriptures - or as he would phrase it, you can doubt God's Word (problem there #1) plays a determinative role in the human knowledge of God. I leave you with this thought:

Never read and take in everything you hear as absolute, true, biblical and sound truth - even from so-called "evangelicals."

2 Corinthians 10:5 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
This marvelous hymn, written by a new convert just after believing in Christ, expresses deep joy and bewilderment at the sacrifice of the God-Man for us. Read the chorus, Amazing Love, How can it be that Thou My God shouldst die for me?

And Can It Be
Charles Wesley (1739)

1.And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior's blood! Died he for me? who caused his pain! For me? who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2.'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies! Who can explore his strange design? In vain the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine. 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; let angel minds inquire no more. 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; let angel minds inquire no more.

3.He left his Father's throne above (so free, so infinite his grace!), emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adam's helpless race.'Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me! 'Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me!

4.Long my imprisoned sprit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

5.No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in him, is mine; alive in him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach th' eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own. Bold I approach th' eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Acts 16:25-26 5 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Monday, July 30, 2007

May it not cross your mind that your pastor sits around all day enjoying the ease of life doing chores at home with just a few minutes remaining on Saturday night needed to prepare a sermon (if we could even call it that). We trust that pastors labor weekly over the biblical text to find a sermon. Let it be known to us all that we have an enemy who is very active in endeavoring to discourage and discredit and destroy our ministries. Herein lies the reason why the shepherd must labor over the text for a sermon.

And it is for this very reason that he needs to do so. We know that Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4) and we also know that, now, the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). For these reasons, I believe that pastors are constantly under spiritual attack from Satan and his minions.

I pray that as pastors, we would be sobered by this realization and be reminded to set our hope completely on the Word of God which is completely sufficient for every aspect of life and godliness (2 Tim 3:17).

Hebrews 13:17-18 17 Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us[Leaders], for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Everyone who reads this silly blog knows that my hero is Dr. Steven J. Lawson. He is pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, in Mobile, Alabama. He is also founder of New Reformation Ministries and an author of dozens of books!

In any case, J. W. Hendryx interviewed Steve Lawson at Monergism. It is worth a read. I will copy it here for your read. I love this man!

1. Who are those that have had a profound influence on you and your ministry (both living and deceased)? and why?

God has been pleased to bring select men into my life, individuals who have played a strategic role in shaping me into what God desires me to become. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This says, certain men have a stimulating and sharpening effect upon us. This has been true with me.

Undoubtedly, the most powerful influence has been John MacArthur, pastor/teacher of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles , CA . What I have learned from Dr. MacArthur is an unwavering commitment to biblical exposition with theological precision. This faithful shepherd is the embodiment of one whose preaching flows directly from the depths of a passage of Scripture. I have literally cut my teeth on his preaching and carry his influence upon my ministry. I have also learned from him the value of preaching verse by verse through entire books in the Bible over an extended period of time. Only in this fashion is the full counsel of God ensured to be brought to bear upon the life of a congregation. Dr. MacArthur has been very gracious to afford to me much of his time, a relationship which has greatly encouraged me in the things of the Lord. I have learned from this devoted servant what a gracious and humble spirit looks like in the life of a man of God.

In addition, R. C. Sproul, who is a former professor of mine, has had an extraordinary impact upon my life and thinking. His theological insights into Reformed theology, especially as it relates to the bondage of the will and monergistic regeneration, have been very helpful to me. I would also have to site his endearing spirit and winsome character as a strong influence upon me. Dr. Sproul has helped polish some of my rough edges by investing his life into mine.
In my earlier years, S. Lewis Johnson, teacher at Believers’ Chapel in Texas , was very influential in my life in bringing me to the understanding and acceptance of the doctrines of grace. No one was more Arminian than I was, yet the Word under his preaching transformed me. Sunday by Sunday for five years, I sat under his remarkable expositions and was greatly impacted. I will always be grateful for this gracious Southern gentleman with a commanding authority in the pulpit. His passionate gospel pleas at the end of his sermons still ring in my ears.
Further, James Montgomery Boice, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia , preached two Bible conferences in my church for me when I was a young pastor. Those visits left an indelible impression upon me in my formative years. His confidence in the power of the preaching of the Word of God played a key role in shaping me as a young man in the ministry.

Each one of these men—MacArthur, Sproul, Johnson, and Boice—have made a significant investment in my life and have been a living example to me of an expositor/theologian who has rightly handled the Word of God.

Among those men deceased, several men have significantly impacted me through the written page. As John Piper says, “My best friends are dead men.” Some of my good friends who are dead would be Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, A. W. Pink, and, more recently, John Calvin. All four of these men have thundered their expositions of the Scripture into my heart, most specifically, in their exaltation of the sovereignty and supremacy of God.

2. What are the most influential books, apart from Scripture, that God has used tremendously in your growth as a Christian and in influencing your ministry?

First, I would reference A Body of Divinity (Banner of Truth) by Thomas Watson. This book contains a series of sermons that Watson preached as he expounded the Westminster Catechism. I learned from this book the God-centeredness of theology, as well as the sovereignty of God in all things. His chapter on “ Providence ” was especially helpful to me in understanding this grand, life-changing truth.

Second, I must single out The Forgotten Spurgeon (Banner of Truth) by Iain Murray. This book deepened my understanding of the doctrines of grace, especially the relationship between regeneration and faith. It also demonstrated for me that the doctrines of grace are to be preached with evangelistic zeal and fervor. Believing in the sovereignty of God should not make us stoic and monotone in our public proclamation. Rather, as I learned from Spurgeon in this book, these truths should arouse the passions of our heart to preach with our entire being. This was the genius of Spurgeon—he was “theology on fire.”

Third, I have been significantly influenced by reading the two-volume work George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival (Banner of Truth) by Arnold Dallimore. These excellent volumes convey something of the romance of preaching. Here in Whitefield’s life is the sheer adventure of a man who was entirely abandoned to the proclamation of the Word of God. Further, the warm piety of Whitefield’s life is compelling and contagious. If I could be anyone in church history, I think I would most want to be George Whitefield—on the back of a horse, riding up and down the eastern sea coast of the Colonies, advancing to the public square, lifting up my voice, and saying, “I have come here today to speak to you about your soul” and “You must be born again.” This is what I have gained from reading this excellent biography of Whitefield, an enflamed desire to preach the Word of God.

I would be remiss not to mention the sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The first six volumes which comprise The New York Street Pulpit (Pilgrim Press & Baker) are especially powerful. The preaching of the early Spurgeon with all his youthful zeal is unusually arresting to read. Here was both light (truth) and heat (conviction) in the preaching of the Word. Here truly was one, as Richard Baxter said, who preached “as a dying man to dying men, as never to preach again.”

3. What prompted you to begin the phenomenal books that will be the five volume series "Foundations of Grace"?

What has prompted me to write the five-volume series A Long Line of Godly Men grew out of a desire to teach the men of our church the doctrines of grace. For the last three years, I have met on Friday mornings at 6:00am with our men, and have taught them biblical, systematic, and historical theology, specifically focused upon the sovereignty of God in salvation. I have wanted them to see that while we may be out of step with the times in which we live as we hold fast to these God-honoring truths, we, nevertheless, stand in a grand procession of godly men that spans the centuries. The great men of Scripture and church history, for the most part, have held to the truths of sovereign grace. These are the men who God has used to promote reformations, ignite awakenings, translate the Scriptures, and launch missions’ movements in their day. This five-volume series which I am writing with Reformation Trust—A Long Line of Godly Men—is the overflow of teaching these truths to the men of our church, so that it might reach a broader audience. Each handout has become a chapter in the book. Behind all this, my burning desire is to see a new reformation in this present hour.

4. As you have traveled to many different countries, do you see, by and large, a embracing of the doctrines of grace in other parts of the world? Do you think America is the most resistant to the doctrines of grace? Why or why not?

As I travel to many different parts of the world, I, unfortunately, see an Arminian base where I go. Tragically, the church in America , I have found, is the most resistant to the doctrines of grace. I think that this is caused by a culture and church that is saturated with political correctness, individual autonomy, and financial prosperity, as well as spiritual apathy and theological superficiality. All these elements have a deadening effect upon understanding the truth and feed Arminianism, in one way or another. Sad to say, the church is just as man-centered in other parts of the globe as it is here. We, who believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation, remain islands of reformed thinking in the midst of oceans of semi-Pelagian doctrine.

5. Do you see a trend rippling through modern evangelicalism that is turning back to the great doctrines of the reformation? If so, why do you think this is?

I am grateful to say that I do see what may be the initial sun rays of the dawning of a new day in the church. A resurgence in Reformed theology is definitely beginning to capture the minds and hearts of a new generation. Young people in their teens, twenties, and thirties are no longer content with the tired and trivial answers of my generation regarding the fundamental issues of a Christian world view. They long for more, and those answers are found exclusively in the depths of the Word of God. I am encouraged that there is a new wave of men and women who are marching onto the scene, who are committed to this great truth: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

6. What do you think is the doctrine that is most foundational for the church of today to be solid on in order to be a healthy church?

I believe that the most foundational truth for the church today, as well as in any generation, is the sovereignty and holiness of God. As one’s view of God goes, so goes the entire church. A high view of God inevitably leads to high and holy living. But a low view of God leads unmistakably to low living. A towering view of God in which He is seen in His unrivaled sovereignty and absolute holiness has the most dramatic and profound effect upon the church. Such a vision of God inspires transcendent worship, induces godly living, empowers tireless service, deepens spiritual fellowship, imparts supernatural joy, breathes abundant life, and motivates global outreach. The church will never rise any higher than her lofty view of God.

7. Where do you think the monergism vs. synergism debate falls on this scale? can you elaborate?

I agree with Charles Spurgeon, who once noted that days of revival in the church are marked by, among other things, the preaching on the doctrine of regeneration. Our understanding of monergistic regeneration is absolutely essential for a holy and healthy church. Even having a converted church is at stake. The debate between monergism and synergism is nothing more, nothing less, than the controversy between a God-centered world view and a man-centered paradigm. Monergism teaches that ‘salvation is of the Lord,’ entirely and exclusively. Synergism fabricates that ‘salvation is of God and man.’ In this latter view, man becomes his own co-savior, and this robs God of His glory. A monergistic view of regeneration dusts off the high ground of soteriology and gives the church a firm place to stand and serve.

8. As you touched upon in our conversation. Describe the greatest trial that you have endured as a pastor and how did God minister to you (whether through Scripture, the Spirit, or other people) in that time and how have you been able to use it for the benefit of other pastors (see 2 Cor. 1:3-9)?

The greatest trial that I have endured in the ministry is being put out of the previous church that I pastored. The last six years of my pastorate there saw many pressures brought to bear upon me, each one provoked for teaching the full counsel for God. Issues such as expository preaching, the lordship of Christ, church discipline, divine sovereignty in salvation, and marrying only two believers created much controversy and caused much difficulty for me. Ultimately, it was the truths of the doctrines of grace that caused many people to gnash their teeth and reject the clear teaching of Scripture. In reality, this refusal was a clear and calculated rejection of God Himself, who is the Truth. Standing in the vortex of such a whirlwind was most demanding and draining.

What enabled me to persevere through this difficult time was the sufficiency of Scripture, the sufficiency of Christ, and the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit. The all-sufficient grace of God abounds to us and is always greater than our deepest valleys and darkest nights. God gives a greater grace to those who humble themselves in His presence. This was my experience.
The testimony of the psalmist was tested and found to be true: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quite waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalms 23:1-6).
Either these verses are true, or they are not. In my time of greatest difficulty in the ministry, a season in which I was being attacked and assailed for preaching the full counsel of God, I found the sufficiency of God’s sustaining grace to be enough. Solus Christus—Christ alone—was my all and all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I want to declare to you that the pornography industry is more rampant than you may think or realize. I was surfing the web for some statistics yesterday and came across these startling facts. Before I give them to you, I want to begin with a quote from Scripture as our foundation:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

So here goes:
  • At 13.3 billion, the 2006 revenues of the sex and porn industry in the U.S. are bigger than the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined. Worldwide sex industry sales for 2006 are reported to be 97 billion. To put this in perspective, Microsoft, who sells the operating system used on most of the computers in the world (in addition to other software) reported sales of 44.8 billion in 2006. Survey conducted by "Internet Filter Review."
  • The No. 1 search term used at search engine sites is the word “sex”. Users searched for “sex” more than other terms such as "games," "travel," "music," "jokes," "cars," "weather," "health" and "jobs" combined. The study also found that "pornography/porno" was the fourth-most searched for subject. Survey conducted by "Alexa Research."
  • 70% of Christians admitted to struggling with porn in their daily lives (A survey conducted by CNN.com published on April 6, 2007).
  • In 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.
  • Out of 81 pastors surveyed (74 males 7 female), 98% had been exposed to porn; 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website (National Coalition survey of pastors. Seattle. April 2000).
  • In a Focus on the Family poll in October 2003, 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home! (That survey was conducted three years ago and nearly HALF of all families acknowledge that pornography is a struggle in their home! Staggering!).

Let me now give you some mind-blowing time- statistics just to give you a clue as to how pervasive this heinous act is...

Pornography Time Statistics
Every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
Every second - 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
Every second - 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States

In the top ten cities in the nation where pornography is most searched on the internet, Californian cities hold two of these top ten!

"Did You Know..."

  • The average age of a child first exposed to internet pornography - 11 years old
  • 90% of 8-16 year olds in the USA have viewed porn online (most while doing their homework

It is my sincere prayer that everyone recognizes the pervasive destruction that this pornographic industry is being effected in American homes (including Christian homes).

Think of these familiar Scriptures:

Genesis 1:27 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God ... For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

I ask that we boldly pray for these industries and for those who are addicted to this sinful immorality. I trust that there are those who view this blog who struggle with pornography. The good news is, there is a Savior who can overcome any sin, yet, he requires a radical life-change and total commitment.

Matthew 10:38-40 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. 40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

James 4:4 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

By way of review we have been discussing the dire need for expository preaching in contemporary pulpits today. Here is my working outline:

Expository Preaching has three purposes:

1. Exposing the congregation to the knowledge of God
2. Explaining the meaning of a text to know and understand the meaning of Scripture
3. Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response

Today we are going to focus on the third purpose of expository preaching. By the way, this list is in no way exhaustive, just a simple clear-cut outline that captures much of what expository preaching is - or ought to be.

Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response.

We will look at the absolute necessity of exhorting the people of God to apply the biblical truths to their lives so as to see a fruitful change toward godliness. Think of this sad - but true - reality:
"As the 20th century closes, a great deal of concern has been expressed about the lack of moral convictions on the part of the average churchgoer. A George Gallup poll taken in 1984 revealed that more people were going to church than ever before, yet NO lifting of moral standards in American society took place. In 1999, little has changed [and even in 2007, for that matter]. Nine out of ten adults indicate a religious preference of one kind or another and say that they attend church on at least some occasions...Despite increased church attendance, however, recent surveys indicate that the average American perceives "religion as a whole" to be losing its influence on American life" (Vines and Shaddox, Power in the Pulpit, 181).
So we must recognize that application is important. No, it would not be overstating the matter to say that application is absolutely essential. Our people need to see how the Word of God applies to their lives so that a change is enacted in the way they live. This is the power of the Word of God. It changes lives. This is called sanctification. This is a necessity in the life of every Christian man and woman.

Mr. John Stott, in his excellent book, Between Two Worlds, made some astute observations about applying the truths of God's Word to modern congregations. He noted that:
"Application is absolutely essential. Through application we are able to span the gap between the world of the Bible and the world of today. This is the metaphor of "bridge-building." This is what is mandated today in our pulpits" (Stott, Between Two Worlds), 137-38.
So let us (or me!) not lose focus. The need for expository preaching is to exhort our people leading them to a response and to obedience. This is what Paul commanded Timothy to do as he pastored a church in Ephesus:

1 Timothy 4:13 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

I close with one final quote from Vines and Shaddox:
"Our goal in preaching is to produce Christlike character in our people. As we interpret the Scripture, capture its practical and devotional nature, and bring its life-changing truths to bear on the daily lives and needs of our hearers, the Holy Spirit will bring about the desired transformation" (Power in the Pulpit, 189).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today, one of the top AOL news stories had this heading and, of course, it grabbed my attention, Man says he found fried mouse in chips. I had never anticipated these two items going together, but I guess this is not an impossibility! So I read this article about a Jack Hines, a 66-year old man from Havre, Montana, who said:
"I was snacking on the chips Tuesday when I pulled out the crispy rodent."
Now don't let this ruin your appetite, but he continues...

"Good thing I seen it. I got it all the way up to my mouth," he said. "I felt the fur, I brought it back down and just looked at it and threw it behind my back."
Believe it or not, Frito-Lay is sending a representative to retrieve the bag and the mouse this weekend. Both will be shipped to company headquarters in Plano, Texas, for an investigation. Call me crazy, but that just seems a little bit too much for me. Here is what I would do if I had a bag of potato chips and suddenly found a mouse in it. I would do it in these four steps (all in successive order):

1. Stop eating the chips
2. Throw the bag away
3. Never eat the chips again from that company
4. Forget about it!

Read the whole article here at AOL News.

It is my goal today to continue the study on "The Need for Expository Preaching" in our churches today. Here is my working outline:

Expository Preaching has three purposes:

1. Exposing the congregation to the knowledge of God
2. Explaining the meaning of a text to know and understand the meaning of Scripture
3. Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response

Yesterday I discussed the need for expository preaching because it exposes the congregation to the knowledge of God as revealed through the pages of inspired Scripture. Today I want to discuss the second definition of expository preaching:

2. Explaining the meaning of a text to know and understand the meaning of Scripture.

By this I simply mean that expository preaching is systematically working through a passage of Scripture - paragraph by paragraph, verse by verse, and even word by word - so as to gain a full understanding of the meaning of the text."

Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddox in their book, Power in the Pulpit, define an expository sermon as:

"A discourse that expounds a passage of Scripture, organizes it around a central theme and main divisions which issue forth from the given text, and then decisively applies its message to the listeners" (p.29).
I think this is very well crafted. They go on to note that: I think this is very well crafted. They go on to note that:
"The best preaching you can do is to go through books of the Bible - chapter by chapter and paragraph by paragraph - in a systematic fashion. Such an approach will ensure the keenest interpretation and the best use of context" (p.32).
Thus we see that expository preaching - at its core - explains the meaning of a text. This means that the sermon must consider the author, the recipients, the context, the culture, the theology, the biblical truths to be understood and the application to be applied. This is at the heart of every expository sermon. The sermon is to explain the meaning of the text to the recipient. If a sermon does not do this, then plain and simply, it is not expository preaching.

The question is then asked, "Well then why the need for expository preaching?" The answer is simple. Living in a generation where biblical literacy is at an all-time low in evangelical churches, we need to explain the meaning of the biblical text to our hearers. The only way to understand God and His glorious redemptive plan that He is unfolding is by understanding the pages of Scripture.

To understand Scripture is crucial. It is vital. It is life-changing. Listen to how some preachers have unfolded Scripture in the past:
Nehemiah 8:5-8 5 Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground...8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
Luke 24:27 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He [Jesus] explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Thus, let it be understood, at its core, the task of expository preaching is to explain the meaning of the biblical text (and apply it too!) to the listener.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It is my hope over the next few posts I will lay before you the need for expository preaching. I hope to do this in defining expository preaching in three various ways.

Expository Preaching:

1. Exposing the congregation to the knowledge of God
2. Explaining the meaning of a text to know and understand the meaning of Scripture
3. Exhortation to the congregation leading them to obedience and to response*

I hope that you will better understand what expository preaching really is, and furthermore, that you would long in your soul for expository preaching. Today we will look at:

I. Expository Preaching - Exposing the congregation to the knowledge of God.

It must be understood first and foremost that it is in the pages of Scripture that God is understood. That is not the only means by which God reveals Himself, however. There is the revelation of God in a general (that is, universal) way in and through creation (Psalm 8, 19 and Romans 1). But God can be known in his essence, character, attributes and sovereignty through the pages of Scripture.

It is through the Bible that we can understand who God is and the overall redemptive plan that God has ordained before the foundations of the earth were ever laid.

Hosea 6:6 6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

It is here that the Prophet Hosea speaks of the knowledge of God being more desirable than "burnt offerings," meaning that it is the heart that God is concerned about. This "knowledge of God" comes by understanding His Word. Listen to the way David phrases it:

Psalm 19:7-9 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

Part of what the Law of the Lord does is that it makes wise the simple (v.7). Back to our point, expository preaching does just this. It reveals the Word of God to the people of God and, in so doing, reveals the God of the Word. As a preacher goes expositionally through a passage, a book, a section of Scripture or whatever, it is his duty and responsibility to touch on the text so as to expose the congregation to the full counsel of God. It says in Acts 20:27 27 For I did not shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God to you.

We believe that God is known in and through His Word. Through His word comes insight, knowledge and understanding. This is what Joshua means when he writes to the children of Israel:

Joshua 1:8-9 8 "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

In a word, how will one know that "the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" unless he spends time in the book of the Law? Thus, the need for expository preaching is to first expose the congregation to the knowledge of God by the Word of God with the power of God leading to faith in God. May we all long for the truth like newborn babes (1 Pet 2:2) and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).

*This three-fold outline for expository preaching comes from Dr. Richard Mayhue

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Elizabeth and I have been spent this week at Hume Lake Christian Camps with our youth group from church. We had about 45 students at three different camps, so we made our rounds to the various camps throughout each day and we had a blast.

A few nights ago at the Jr. High Bible Study meeting, the speaker, Phil Payne, began his message with Romans 11:22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God. He continued by noting that we oftentimes think of the kindness of the Lord, but how often do we really consider the sternness or the severity of God.

There are two lies that have crept into the church. Not only that, but the church has bought into these lies. The first lie is that “God wants us to be happy.” The second lie is that “Life is all about me.” Is it God’s heart for me to really be happy? Yes we must have joy. But is my happiness really God’s passion for me? Second of all – and closely related to the first is this. Is life all about me? Does God make decisions and plan things around me? Phil brought the truth and confronted both of these lies head on and said that we must rid ourselves of this thinking and turn to a God-centered mindset instead of a man-centered mindset.

He then led us to Daniel chapter four and discussed the height, haughtiness and humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He talked about how we so often think of ourselves as being so prideful; That we are doing okay; That we are capable in and of ourselves to do whatever we want.

King Nebuchadnezzar did what he wanted. He had the strongest army in the world at that time. He had the greatest and most prominent position in the world. He had it all. However, God was not (and still is not) willing to share his glory with another. God humbled King Neb from the highest of heights (humanly speaking) to the lowest and most humiliating position of that of a wild beast eating the grass of a field for seven years.

Consider the kindness and the severity of God. Kindness towards those who believe, yet severity towards those who don’t.

May you, this day, run to God pleading for His mercy so that God does not have to deal with you in his severity.

Romans 11:22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

In his masterful work, Preaching and Preachers, Martin Lloyd Jones says that a "dull preacher is a contradiction in terms" (87). He spends a great deal of time in the chapter on "The Act of Preaching" in that preaching must be passionate, urgent, powerful, prayerful, vibrant, serious and the like.

Just one quote is worthy of reflection:

"What is preaching? Logic in fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is a theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man's understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one" (97).


Monday, July 9, 2007

John Owen said: "Let not men deceive themselves, sanctification is a qualification indispensably necessary unto those who will be under the conduct of the Lord Christ unto salvation. He leads none to heaven but whom He sanctifies on the earth. This living Head will not admit of dead members."

Quoted in J. C. Ryle, Holiness [1979], 45.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Please pray with and for Elizabeth and I as we head to New York City. A world center for commercialism, financialism, professionalism and sexualism (and many other "isms").
It is truly our privilege and honor that we bear the responsibility of wearing the name of Jesus on our chest (literally) for the next week walking the busy streets of Manhattan to share the Gospel with both Jews and Gentiles. This is the Jews for Jesus' mission statement:

"We exist to make the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide."

To see a short video of what J4J is all about. Watch HERE. You can also see a short video as to what we'll specifically be doing in New York City. WATCH THIS HERE. I have been a part of this Summer Witnessing Campaign (SWC) for many summers now and it is always my joy and delight to go again and share the gospel with so many people who are on the broad path and in need of repentance and salvation.

You'd be shocked. The SWC is very "successful" (in every sense of the term). Not only do hundreds of people pray with us and receive follow-up discipleship, but millions of people see us every day in the subway stations, street corners, in parks, squares, or just walking the streets lifting high the name of our Savior, Yeshua (Hebrew for "Jesus").
You can pray for our busy schedule. Here it is in a nutshell. We go out four times a day for a sortie (a sort of "code word" for evangelism). These four sorties each day are for two and a half hours in length each. We begin at 5:30am and conclude at 10:30pm. This goes on for six days a week. It is hard, intensive, hot, aggressive, bold, unabashed and unashamed.
We would covet your prayers as we serve faithfully on the streets of New York City to "make the Messiahship of Jesus Christ unavoidable to our Jewish People [and all people in NYC]."

This is a crucial time for us to be sharing the gospel and evangelizing our Jewish people. Not only does God have a clear and distinct plan for future, national, ethnic Israel (cf. Rom 11:25-27; Jer 31:31-36), but we are also commanded to be His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) and go to "all the world" and take this glorious gospel to all (Matt 28:18-20).

I conclude with the introductory statement:

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
May we be those this week, the next for the rest of our lives, who are truly zealous for seeing the Jewish people come to faith in their Messiah. He has come. He has purchased salvation for them. May the Lord open their blind eyes and soften their hardened hearts so as to see the glory of the crucified Savior (Psalm 22:16; Zech 12:10) and come to faith in Him. For only He can truly save them from their sins (Isa 52:13-53:12).
Let us long for Israel's future salvation:
Zechariah 12:10 10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

James 1:27 27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

If this is pure and undefiled religion, then we better listen up to this. James so clearly notes that the duty of the believer is to visit and care for those in need - and two examples of that are the orphans and the widows.

I went to CNN.com and found this headline story, Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die by Arwa Damon. Let's read it and grieve together:

Ostracized by society, India's widows flock to the holy city of Vrindavan waiting to die. They are found on side streets, hunched over with walking canes, their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles in their faces.


Hindu widows are shunned from society when their husbands die, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition -- and because they're seen as a financial drain on their families. They cannot remarry. They must not wear jewelry. They are forced to shave their heads and typically wear white. Even their shadows are considered bad luck.

Listen to what one widow noted regarding her family:

"Does it feel good?" says 70-year-old Rada Rani Biswas. "Now I have to loiter just for a bite to eat." Biswas speaks with a strong voice, but her spirit is broken. When her husband of 50 years died, she was instantly ostracized by all those she thought loved her, including her son.

Did you know that:

There are an estimated 40 million widows in India, many of them shunned and stripped of the life they lived when they were married. It's believed that 15,000 widows live on the streets of Vrindavan, a city of about 55,000 in northern India.

One more clip will suffice:

"Generally all widows are ostracized," she says. "An educated woman may have money and independence, but even that is snatched away when she becomes a widow. We live in a patriarchal society. Men say that culturally as a widow you cannot do anything: You cannot grow your hair, you should not look beautiful."

This is most wicked and most heinous before the sight of a loving God who created these beautiful women who are in desperate need of help, love and familial provision. Yet, with the Hindu religion, all they receive is a blatant and unabashed ostracism.

So what do you do when you have family in desperate need of family assistance and provision? Well, I can tell you what the Scriptures say:

1 Timothy 5:8 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

Furthermore, this context in 1 Timothy 5 is all about WIDOWS and caring for their needs. Listen to how Paul begins his excurses on widows in 1 Timothy 5:

1 Timothy 5:3-7 3 Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5 Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God, and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.

This sounds just a little bit different than the Hindus who simply ostracize their widows as if they are meaningless, worthless and good for nothing. I believe this is most grievous in the sight of God.

What can you do?
1) Love all people - especially the widows. They are those still created in God's image(Gen 1:26). They still bear His glorious imprint.
2) Pray. Pray that the Hindu religion would be freed from the lost and blinding false religion that they are bound in. Pray that they may hear the Gospel and receive the free gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
3) Lovingly, sacrificially and cheerfully provide for your own. If one in your family is in dire need, and it is in your ability to help out, then do so (1 Tim 5:8).
4) Never treat people as if they are "worthless." Even the most heinous sinner before God is still in need of salvation and in need of forgiveness. May we be those who bear the true gospel of Christ on our chests every day in the way we conduct ourselves and relate with people.

Source: CNN here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The RidiculousAn assortment of seemingly crazy state driving laws exists and can be found easily across the internet. Most of these examples are sourced from newspapers and come from the site www.dumblaws.com, whose editors did not respond to a call for comment.

Here goes:

In California, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

In Florida, if an elephant, goat or alligator is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.

In Montana, it is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone.

In Oregon, a door on a car may not be left open longer than necessary.

In Tennessee, it is illegal shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile (good luck finding a whale in Tennessee!).

The lesson, just be careful out there - it is a dangerous world! :=)


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Alistair Begg in his article, What Happened to Expository Preaching is an excellent read. In it, he notes so well,

"Young men beginning pastoral ministry are besieged by members of their congregations wanting them to begin their sermons with man and his need instead of God and his glory. Paranoid preoccupation with a new millennium is due more to a preoccupation with ourselves and our needs than to a humble dependence upon the unerring truth of the Bible. The antidote to such a virulent disease is biblical preaching that allows the Scriptures to establish the agenda."

It is not as though I have been in full-time ministry for a lifetime, but having been involved in some sort of pastoral ministry for some years now, I can say that this statement by Begg is absolutely true. It is no wonder that the churches who are faithful to the Word of God are not growing by leaps and bounds while the seeker churches and the emerging churches or those that are not preaching the glory of God. This, of course, is not the standard or a cut and dry statement, but overall, it's true.

You enter a church that begins with the glory of God, transitions to the sinful wretchedness of all mankind, which then takes you to the bloody, horrific and sacrificial death of a man upon a cross, which then inevitably leads to the miraculous and supernatural resurrection of this God-Man; but then it doesn't stop there. Man cannot work his way to the Savior. He must accept the free gift by faith. That's it. There is nothing about man in there except his sinfulness and his absolute need for a Savior. No church that preaches the truthful message of the Scriptures is going to be the popular and the "liked" church in the area.

May God give us young preachers who preach "the unerring truth of the Bible."

Monday, July 2, 2007

I was reading yesterday and preparing for an interview I have in coming weeks and I came across a section in my class notes entitled: The Synoptic Problem. Now, the title itself is misleading for I do not believe there is a "synoptic problem."

Let me explain. The Synoptic Problem is the "problem" of the origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Thus, there are many critics who believe that because Mark has very little material that is original, that Matthew and Luke simply got most of their information from their Gospel from Mark. Thrown into the mix is another "alleged gospel" called "Q." "Q" is a document that is also supposedly used by the Synoptic writers from which they also gathered much information.

However, if one simply holds to inspiration, inerrancy and the different purposes and emphases of each Gospel, then there really is no synoptic problem.

Here is a quote I came across:

This conservative response [that is, that there is no "synoptic problem"] gives prominence to the role of the Holy Spirit. It recognizes that we have three independent and verbally inspired accounts of the life of Christ. We are suggesting in this that the writers had five methods of attaining knowledge, five ways of attaining material that they used.

1) Direct Knowledge: This simply means that the Gospel writers had the direct knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and his ministry and miracles. In a word, this is the "eye-witness" account.

2) Oral Teaching: This simply refers to the oral teachings of Christ and His miracles that had been passed down from generation to generation until they were penned by the Gospel writers. For example, if Christ died in 33AD, and Mark wrote in the 60's, for those 25 years the Gospel material was being preserved through the oral teachings of the Apostles and followers of Christ.

3) Short Written Accounts: We know that there were also little fragments here and there which contained some information on the life of Christ. Take Luke 1:1-4 for example:

Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

So we know Dr. Luke did his research upon determining to write down his Gospel account. He used other "accounts" of those who had "undertaken the charge of writing a Gospel account."

4) Personal Contacts: Here I simply mean the Gospel writers had personal contacts with those who did have personal contacts with Jesus. For example, Matthew was one of the twelve, he had personal contacts with Jesus. But Mark, however, did not (unless he is the young man in Mark 14:51-52, which he most probably is) spent much time with Peter who did, of course, spend much time with Jesus. Furthermore, Luke also was ministering alongside of the Apostle Paul for quite some time on the missionary journeys. So we know there was some personal contact which revealed information for the Gospels.

5) The Inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Finally we speak on the inspiration of the Spirit. This - in and of itself - in a slam dunk arguing for the independent writing of each Gospel writer, but I put it last here for emphasis. Clearly we know that those who wrote in the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit:

2 Peter 1:20-21 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The idea of being "moved" by the Holy Spirit literally means "carried." The Gospel writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit in everything that they wrote in their respective gospel accounts.

Therefore, is there really a Synoptic Problem. Nope. I argue that each of the Synoptic Gospels were written independently of each other with different emphases, to different audiences, with different purposes, to different geographical regions, focusing in on certain areas and aspects of the ministry of our Lord that the others may not have emphasized as much.
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