Friday, August 18, 2017

Around The Web-August 18, 2017

Greg Dutcher's final episode on These Go To 11

White Supremacy Is Spiritual Bondage from the Gospel Coalition

Jeff Johnson reviews The Extent of the Atonement by David Allen

Why Many of Our Churches Are Still One Color by Thom Rainer

12 Basic Principles for Faith and Work by Dan Doriani

Don’t Confuse Spirituality with Righteousness by R.C. Sproul

Matt Chandler makes a statement regarding the Alt-Right Movement and White Supremacy.

A little humor to end the week on especially with all the seriousness of our world happening right now. If you listen to Christian radio, you'll get some of the references.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Never Feel Home In The Culture

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:9-12).

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3;20-21).

As foreigners, Christians are to treat their host culture with respect, honor those in authority, and seek its prosperity. But we should never feel at home in the culture.

Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sale On The Personal Size ESV Study Bible

The English Standard Version (ESV) has been my main translation for almost a decade. I have enjoyed reading the Bible from that translation and also have enjoyed using different study Bible with the ESV. Westminster Bookstore has a sale going for the ESV Study Bible in its personal size, which is smaller that is easy to carry.

There is a special going on for a select few Bibles:

Natural Leather

Cloth over Board, Royal Imprint

These two Bibles are in limited quantity, so get them while you can.

All other Personal Size ESV Study Bibles are 50% off till August 22nd

Don't forget about the sale on resources aimed at protecting our children from child abuse and assisting those who have endured abuse

How the Holy Spirit Glorifies Christ

The Spirit illumines the Bible (the centrality of Christ)

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself...Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:27; 44-48).

The Spirit empowers gospel preaching (proclamation of Christ)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

The Spirit brings regeneration (new life in Christ)

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:5-8).

The Spirit sanctifies the believer (transformation into the image of Christ)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29).

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

Adapted from the ESV Study Bible

Monday, August 14, 2017

If Romans 8:28 Is Not Comforting, What Does That Say About The Rest of Scripture?

Recently, Rob Bell came under fire for stating that Christians cannot walk with anyone that quotes Romans 8:28. That verse says that God works everything good to those who love Him. Many Christians have quoted this verse to someone going through times of suffering. Christians might have even said it to themselves as a reminder that God will work everything out.

What I think Bell is communicating here is that Romans 8:28 offers no comfort to anyone. Grant when one goes through suffering it is hard for us to how God can use this for good. I have heard stories of Christians using Romans 8:28 to comfort someone and they reject because it is not what they want to hear. Granted, there are times when goes through suffering, the best thing to do is simply be there for them. What we should do as someone goes through suffering is another subject for another time.

My purpose is for us to really think about what does it say about the entire Bible if, according to the indirect assertion of Bell, Romans 8:28 is not comforting. Can we truly walk with people who are suffering and use scripture to guide people as they walk with Jesus. In regards to temptation, can we comfort our fellow believers with 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.

When we talk about our battle with the flesh, should we comfort those by saying that Jesus is their advocate (see 1 John 2:1-2) or should we just simply ignore it? When it comes to evangelism, should we comfort our brother or sister who witnesses to their friends with no response with what the first century church endured from the book of Acts?

If Romans 8:28 is not comforting then what we are saying is scripture is not relevant nor is it practical.

Music Monday: Where Would We Be by Matt Redman

Friday, August 11, 2017

Resources We Shouldn't Need, But We Do

We live in a sad day where churches have to make guidance in order to protect the children that come to their church. Most churches don't know where to start. Thankfully, there are some resources available.

Over at Westminster Bookstore, they have resources on sale to guide your church not only help protect children, but also prevent spiritual and sexual abuse. This books will on sale for one week (August 18):

The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries

The Spiritual Impact of Sexual Abuse

What the Bible Says to Abuse Survivors and Those Who Hurt Them

Caring for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Protecting Children from Abuse in the Church: Steps to Prevent and Respond

On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church (You get free shipping for your entire order with the purchase of this book)

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies

Around The Web-August 11, 2017

The Role of the Old Testament Law in Galatians by Thomas Schreiner

I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones by Kevin DeYoung

But Seriously…Why Are Christians So Mean? by David Appelt

God's Plan for Marriage and How Culture Has Missed the Mark by Darin Smith

Doctrine and Devotion discuss what's wrong with the SBC

Do You Still Think Your Salvation Is Great? by Sinclair Ferguson

John Piper addresses When Worship Lyrics Miss the Mark

“God Made Me for China” — Eric Liddell Beyond Olympic Glory by Albert Mohler

Brad Wheeler on the importance of expositional preaching in the church

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What To Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses

Most of us have had an encounter with a Jehovah's Witness. Some of us it is at our front door and others may have encountered them in various places. There is a great deal of confusion about them.

Are they Christians? What do they believe? Joe Carter gives us a brief overview of what is a Jehovah's Witness and what they believe:

1. Jehovah’s Witnesses—their name is intended to designate them as “a group of Christians who proclaim the truth about Jehovah”—compose less than 1 percent of U.S. adults, yet are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in America. According to Pew Research, no more than 4 in 10 members of the group belong to any one racial and ethnic background: 36 percent are white, 32 percent are Hispanic, 27 percent are black, and 6 percent are another race or mixed race. Roughly two-thirds (65 percent) are women, while only 35 percent are men. They also also tend to be less educated, with a solid majority of adult Jehovah’s Witnesses (63 percent) having no more than a high school diploma (compared with, for example, 43 percent of evangelical Protestants).

2. Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs) consider themselves to be Christians (but not Protestants), even though they reject the doctrine of the Trinity. JWs claim that Jesus was not divine and that the Holy Spirit is an “active force” and not a person. JWs believe that Jesus is God's only direct creation, “the firstborn of all creation” and therefore rightly entitled to be called the “son of God.” However, they believe that as a created being “he is not part of a Trinity.” They believe Jesus lived in heaven before coming to earth and, after his death and resurrection, he returned to heaven. They also believe Jesus “gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice” and that through his death and resurrection “make it possible for those exercising faith in him to gain everlasting life.”

3. JWs believe that the kingdom of God is a real government in heaven that will soon replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth. They believe that Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom in heaven and that he began ruling in 1914. A relatively small number of people—144,000—will be resurrected to live with Jehovah in heaven and rule with Jesus in the kingdom. They believe that God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection and that “many now living may yet begin to serve God, and they too will gain salvation.” However, those who “refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life” will pass out of existence forever (they will not suffer in a “fiery hell of torment”).

4. JWs practice door-to-door ministry because they believe it is an effective way to fulfill the Great Commission and that first-century Christians continued to spread their message both “publicly and from house to house” (they cite Acts 5:42; 20:20). They do not believe that door-to-door ministry is a means of earning salvation by doing good works. They also believe that “pressuring people to change their religion is wrong” though they do believe in attempting to argue for their particular beliefs. In their door-to-door ministry they generally distribute two magazines, Awake!, a general religious magazine, and The Watchtower, a magazine whose content is focused on “the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies.”

5. JWs believe the Bible is “God’s inspired message to humans.” In 1961 a JW corporation, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, published its own formal equivalence translation of the Bible: the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT). As of 2015, the NWT has been translated in whole or in part into 129 languages. Since the release of the NT translation in 1950, this version has been criticized for changing the meaning and words of the text to fit JW doctrine. A prime example is John 1:1. Both the ESV and NIV translate that verse as, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The NWT version translates the passage as “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” The addition of the indefinite article “a” is added to avoid the conclusion that Jesus is God. Referring to this verse, Bruce M. Metzger wrote in 1953, “It must be stated quite frankly that, if the Jehovah’s Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists.” Despite a preference for the NWT, JWs still use other translations of the Bible in their witnessing work.

6. JWs do not celebrate either Christmas or Easter, because they believe the Bible teaches that it’s Jesus death—not his birth or resurrection—that should be celebrated. They also believe that Christmas and Easter are not approved by God because they are rooted in pagan customs and rites. They also do not celebrate birthdays because they believe “such celebrations displease God.”

7. JWs have a number of beliefs that are peculiar to their sect: While they accept medical treatments and do not practice faith healing, they don’t accept blood transfusions because they believe the “Bible commands that we not ingest blood.” They do not believe in going to war or getting involved in political matters, and they do not consider the cross to be a symbol of Christianity, because they claim “the Bible indicates that Jesus did not die on a cross but rather on a simple stake.”

8. JWs do not refer to their places of worship as churches, but rather as a “Kingdom Hall.” They have no paid clergy, for they believe the “model of first-century Christianity” is one in which “all baptized members are ordained ministers and share in the preaching and teaching work.” Both men and women can be ministers, though within each congregation “spiritually mature men” serve as “older men,” or elders.” About 20 congregations form a circuit, and congregations receive periodic visits from traveling elders known as circuit overseers. JWs are not required to tithe and no collections are taken at their meetings, though donation boxes are available.

9. Doctrinal guidance is provided by a Governing Body made up of longtime JWs who currently work at the international offices in Brooklyn, New York. A number of corporations are in use by JWs, though they are often referred to collectively as “The Society” after the oldest and most prominent of their corporation, “The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania” (which is now located in Brooklyn). Not much is known about the financing of the JW corporations other than that they own significant real estate holdings in New York City. For instance, the group’s headquarters, which is currently for sale, is expected to be sold for around $1 billion.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book Review: The Wisdom of God by A.W. Tozer

Almost two years ago, I reviewed Delighting In God by A.W. Tozer which is an unpublished follow up to his classic book, The Knowledge of The Holy. Bethany House has once again produced an another never-before published book by Tozer that deals with allowing God to guide us and direct us in his paths based on His Word. The book is titled, The Wisdom of God.

This book is a collection of sermons Tozer preached on the topic of God's wisdom. There are various topics discussed in each chapter. The books begins with Tozer defining the Hebrews doctrine of wisdom based in the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. He goes on to talk about God's wisdom in sending Christ in this world to save us and get us in heaven.

Tozer continues on with how wisdom comes to us and where it ultimately comes from. Tozer says that wisdom comes to the heart that is hungry for God and those who forsake their sin. A lot of times comes in time when we are facing a temptation, which is where we need to lean on the promises of God as we walk in this life.

Tozer carries on with the benefits of wisdom and how a Christian must seek after wisdom. Wisdom in the Bible is making choices that honor God. This has nothing to with being a knowledgeable person, and there is nothing wrong with knowledge. The wisdom we seek from God is found in the Bible.

One thing Tozer said that caught my attention, he stated that when we sin against God, we are also sinning against ourselves. Granted the Bible says that when a man has sexual relations outside of God's context of sexuality, they sin against their own body, but no where are we told we sin against ourselves just like we are never told to forgive ourselves. I know these are sermons collected into a book, so it makes me wonder if Tozer was off in his theology as he gave these sermons.

Tozer fans will love this book. I didn't feel it was a strong book. There were times I felt the publishers were just filling pages to make the book more lengthier.

Thanks Bathany House for letting me review this book.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Exalting Jesus In Acts

For the past couple of years, the B&H Publishing Group has released a series of commentaries called, "Christ-Centered Exposition." These commentaries are geared in not only assisting pastors in their sermon prep, but also for small group settings. These commentaries are like reading a book where there is teaching in them unlike some commentaries where they give the meaning of the verse and attempt to interpret it in its original context. Tony Merida, David Platt, and Danny Akin have been the editors of this series and have a great job gather authors seeking to make much of Jesus in this books by showing Christ in the pages of the Bible.

I recently received Exalting Jesus In Acts which was written by Tony Merida. One of the reasons I wanted to look this commentary over is our church just finished going through the book of Acts in Sunday School for our adults. Like all the commentaries in this series, each chapter is outlined as far as what that particular chapter will be looking at as well what verses it will be covering. Since Acts is such a big book in the Bible, the book itself is pretty lengthy even the chapters are not. This is probably one of the thickest commentaries from this series I have. Each chapter ends with some discussion questions which is good for small group settings and possible application points for a sermon.

I want to touch on a couple of particular verses in Acts the Merida comments on. The first being Acts 2:38-39, which says, "And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself" (The commentary mostly uses the Christian Standard Bible [CSB], but I will quoting from the English Standard Version [ESV]). This is one of the go-to passage for those who embrace Infant Baptist. I wish I could say that Merida did touch on that, but he went in the area of baptismal regeneration, which the belief that when you are baptized, you are saved, which was an interesting discussion, but I wished he would have addressed more on the Infant Baptism viewpoint.

The second one is Acts 8:39-40, which says, "And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea." This passages takes place right after Phillip shared Christ with the Ethiopian Eunuch and baptized him. You might be wondering why I wanted to look at this passage. My reason is a few years ago, I heard a preach say that the reason God took Phillip and zipped him from one place to another was to thank him for his service. You can imagine the confusion I had when I heard that. There is not many answers as to why Phillip was beamed like a Star Trek transporter by God to Azotus. Sadly, Merida does not go there nor did he give a theory as to why that happened. I guess this part of Acts will remain a mystery.

Despite my disappointment with the two passages I mentioned, this is an excellent commentary and highly recommend it.

Thanks B&H Publishing for letting me review this book.

Around The Web-August 4, 2017

Order Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers by Jim Newheiser at Westminster Bookstore by August 9th, you will get free shipping on your purchase

The Back To School Sale is happening right now until August 10

Facebook, You Are Not My Church by Erin Davis

Is This the End of Gender? from Rob Smith & Claire Smith

3 Ways the Gospel Might Divide a Church by Jared C Wilson

Are You a Spectator on Sunday Morning? by Michael Wittmer

Tom Ascol and Don Whitney discuss Spiritual Disciplines and Biblical Spirituality

Sit With The Psalms by Aaron Armstrong

Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves from Word of God by Dave Jenkins

Russell Moore, Kevin DeYoung, and Tim Keller discuss religious freedom