Friday, April 24, 2015

Around The Web-April 24, 2015

The Abrahamic Covenant in Reformed Baptist Perspective by Martin Salter

The God of Justice Hates False Reports by Kevin DeYoung

3 book on preaching on sale at WTS Books till April 30.

John Hopkins' Students Banned Chick-Fli-A from Campus

I invite you to check a brand new gospel-centered from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary called For The Church. Here is a brief video intro featuring Jared C Wilson:

Finally, if you are geek like me, I bet you got goose bumps watching the latest Star Wars trailer especially when Han Solo and Chewbacca made an appearance at the end. Then again you might have cried just like Matthew McConaughey did in this video:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Do Christians Grow In A Local Church-Part 2: Biblical Theology

I am sure when you read the title of the post you might have been thinking, "Theology? I thought that was for guys in seminary." No, theology is for every question. All Christians have some form of biblical theology. Some good theology and some really bad. Mark Dever said that biblical theology is one of the ways Christians grow especially in the context of the local church. He wrote in 9 Marks of a Healthy Church:

A church built on biblical theology is a church that will help its members grow as Christians.

We grow as we understand more of the truth about God and about us. We grow as we understand more of His care and His character. We grow as we read the biblical record of His choosing a people and then working with them through very difficult circumstances. We are encouraged by seeing the big picture, the plan, the meaning. We see more of God's character. We begin to grow in our knowledge of Him. We begin to trust Him more...God's revelation of Himself throughout the Word, throughout history, shows Him to be worthy for anything He sends our way.

A church should always strive for growth in knowing who God is, how He works, and what He did for us. A church should always strive to grow in their knowledge of the Bible. I am amazed at times when churches see Christians grow spiritually like they were some freak of nature. A church should always celebrate when their members grow spiritually. Biblical theology needs to be taught in our churches if we want to see our members grow.

Recommend Reading:

What is Biblical Theology? by James Hamilton

Everyone's A Theologian by R.C. Sproul

Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments by Geerhardus Vos

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How Do Christians Grow in a Local Church?

This is a question that church leaders should be asking themselves. Yes, we want to see our people grow but sometimes we see them growing outside the church. There is nothing wrong if some of your growth as a Christian takes place there, but there should always be room for growth in your church. I am not just referring to numerical growth, I am also talking about spiritual growth.

What are some ways Christians can grow in the context of their local church. I will be referring to Mark Dever's book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church to answer that question in a series of posts. The first thing we want to look at is expositional preaching. Expositional preaching is basically taking "the point of sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture...The preacher opens the Word and unfolds it for the people of God...Expositional preaching is preaching in service to the Word."

How do expositional preaching contribute to Christian growth? Dever said that a church that preaches expositionally "will be a church that encourages Christian growth-as we listen to God speaking from His Word into our lives. God's Word is what we need if we are to grow...To learn what we most need in our lives, we finally need to turn to God Himself. We need to hear His Word-all of it-preached expositionally, so that we don't just hear selective themes."

Expositional preaching covers all of scripture where topical seems to grow through themes of the Bible. Granted there are times where some preachers do topical sermons but most are not centered on the Bible. Some topical sermon are centered around a catchy phrase and they preach based on it. Expositional preaching is not only a challenge for those who listen to the Word being preached but also to the preacher. When I was at my last church as youth pastor, the first study I did was a verse-by-verse study of Galatians. It was rewarding but also challenging. There were passages of scripture that I was not to familiar with even though I have read through Galatians quite a bit. From what I gathered, some of the youth I taught also benefited from going through Galatians.

Expositional preaching will benefit the church as a whole because they will know what's in the Bible. Yes, there are some Christians that know what's in it already, yet there a few who don't because they read a daily devotional that only has one verse to go with it. I am not against daily devotionals as along they do not take the place for daily Bible reading Christians need as they walk with Jesus.

Dever gives a word of warning when either joining a church or calling a preacher:

Be very careful before you join a church that does not stress expositional preaching, or help calling a preacher who is not an expositional preacher, who is not committed to preaching all of God's Word, regardless of how uncomfortable parts of it may be.

Recommended Reading:

Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today by David R. Helm

Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer

Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Should The Bible Be An Official Book?

Recently, the state of Tennessee has made a proposal which states the Bible will be the official book of the state. Yesterday, it was reported that they put the proposal on the shelf. Some may see these as politicians backing away from standing up for religious freedom, which does not seem the case for Tennessee. Other may look at this as a violation of the separation of church and state. So the question is should the Bible be an official book for any form of government or even a business?

First, let me say as a Christian living in America, it is great to see one state proposing something like this yet it may not be the best thing. Why, you may ask. Consider this, some people who cannot believe in the existence of God look to the Bible for scientific explanations for His existence. Yet we believe the Bible to be the Word of God but we do not believe it to be a science book. We believe the Bible to be a book of redemption history but not American history or any other history. In the business world, the Bible may be the best thing to use when wondering how to interact with people in business transactions.

Second, The Bible is the Word of God which points us to Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls from the penalty for our sins. There are people in the world that read the Bible whether for research or selfish gain, yet they do not turn to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus addressed in his day in the gospel of John, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life" (John 5:39-40). You can use the Bible as a guide book from your life but it will be just another book of virtue.

It should be noted that the Lt. Governor of Tennessee said, "The Bible is my official book but it need not be the official book of the state of Tennessee." Was he wrong for saying that? I don't think he was wrong. It should not surprise us if state don't make the Bible their official state book, but it should when churches don't preach from it. As a Christian living in American I am baffled at why churches get more upset with state governments as well as federal governments get so upset when they dismiss Biblical claims when there are churches that do the same thing.

Should a government, local, state, or federal, recognize the Bible as their official book? My answer is no. The Bible never commands Christians to make sure the Bible is at the front of how their government should run. Should a church make the Bible their official book? YES!!!!!! Christians should never neglect the Bible even when the government or a business does. I will admit there are times I am shocked when I go to Books-A-Million or Hastings and see a huge selection of Bibles for people to purchase. Is that a bad thing? No, but we are not expected to see that. I heard that the government in it's earlier days handed Bibles out to people which was a good thing but should that be the churches job?

The Bible should be the official book for Christians as their final authority for faith and practice. It should also be the official book for churches to teach, preach, and memorize. When a church starts neglecting the Bible, that is more dangerous ground than one state putting a proposal to make it the official book on the shelf.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Church Isn't Just for Sunday

The problem for most churches in America is they think church is only for Sundays. Have you ever notice how church attendance is huge on Sundays but small during the rest of the week whether it is during a small group gathering in the home or a midweek prayer meeting? Church was never meant to be a once a week thing for followers of Jesus.

In this short video, Jeff Vanderstelt talks recapturing the vision that God had for the church as a people to on mission in everyday life.

I highly recommend these two books by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis:

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

Music Monday: Psalms by Sandra McCracken

Sandra McCracken is back with her latest album, Psalms. One song you should pay attention to is track 2, "We Will Feast in The House of Zion," which she along with Matt Boswell led during the 2015 Gospel Coalition Conference last week.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grace Is Not To Be Experienced Alone

God designed his overcoming grace to flow through the church-through the people of God clustered in communities all around the globe. Someone had to share the gospel of grace with us in the first place and-once we've embraced the gospel-it's through the community of faith that God's Spirit works to kill the residue sin that remains in us. We cannot experience this grace alone any more than we can get married alone...God has saved you by grace alone, but he hasn't saved you to be alone. The grace that transforms us places us in a community that together overcomes.

Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, Proof:Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Blessing of No Condemnation is Reserved

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1

Paul does not say Christians are free from condemnation because they are sinless; it is because they are in Christ. "No condemnation" is not a universal blessing. It is reserved for those who have been united spiritually with Christ through faith. We must be careful to resist the false sentimentality that beckons us to give false assurance to non-Christians simply because they are sincere, nice, religious, or believe in God.

To be "in Christ" by faith alone means, among other things, that his righteousness has been reckoned or imputed to you. It means you are united with him in a spiritual covenant. It means there is an almost indefinable mystical oneness or spiritual fellowship with the Lord that you share every moment of life. To put it as simply as possible, to be "in Christ" means you are saved by him and are in vibrant spiritual union with him.

Sam Storms, Kept For Jesus

Friday, April 17, 2015

Can A Pastor's Wife Work Outside The Home?

This has been a question that I have been in debate with a few Christians because I know a few pastors where their wives work outside the home and other do not. This question was addressed in the recent mailbag from 9 Marks which is written by Jonathan Leeman:

•The office of elder belongs to the elder, not to his wife. As such, there are no extra requirements that fall on her that don’t fall on any other wife in the church, at least formally speaking.

•I don’t understand Titus 2:5 (“working at home” ESV; “homemakers” HCSB; “busy at home” NIV) to teach that a woman must work exclusively at home. If it did, it would seem that that paragon of womanly virtue in Proverbs 31 is not such a Proverbs 31 woman after all. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard (v. 16). She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes (v. 24). I suppose it’s possible she does her real estate speculation and market trading sitting in her front porch rocking chair with baby at breast. But that strikes me as both unlikely and arbitrary.

•I do believe that Titus 2:5, Proverbs 31, 1 Timothy 5:14, and such passages teach that a woman should have a general orientation toward the home and to household management. As the womb has been assigned to her, so has the household. Notice that the Proverbs 31 woman is buying fields and trading garments for the sake of her household. What this looks like, I assume, will differ from family to family.

•I believe it’s a luxury of modern economies and Christendom that we expect pastors to do anything other than bi-vocational ministry, and perhaps for their wives not to work. Do you think churches in Pakistan today or pre-Constantine Europe could afford to pay one or several pastors enough money that they could devote themselves to pastoring full-time, while their wives do or did nothing to help fill the pantry with food?

•I’ve never heard of people complaining about wives volunteering at church or in some sort of community event. It would seem strange to say she can participate in such volunteer activities so long as they don’t pay her.

If a (pastor’s) wife is working so that the couple can afford nicer cars while the kids are in daycare, I have a problem with that. If a husband is being neglected in some way because she has career ambitions independently of him, I have a problem with that. Every wife, pastoral or otherwise, should work to ensure that her husband and children are cared for with the quality of care that she alone has been gifted by God to give them, assuming there is freedom to do so. For many wives, this might mean working exclusively in the home. For others, it might mean working outside the home, assuming it does not compromise her primary duty but assists in it

Source: Mailbag #6: Pastors’ Wives, Taking Oaths, Pastors & Administration Work

Around The Web-April 17, 2015

Erik Raymond reviews The Compelling Community

Jesus, The Gentle Pastor by Jared C Wilson

Being An Iceberg Pastor by Andrew Haslam

The Importance of Reading in the Christian Life by Dave Jenkins

Jesus Wept by David Mathis

Does Jesus Really Love Me? by J.A. Medders

5 Integral Reasons Mature Disciples Sleep by Mathew B. Sims

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No Condemnation Must Precede The Battle

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1

"No condemnation" must precede our battle against sin if it is to empower our battle against sin. God's declaration of "No condemnation" must come first and thus enable and energize our transformation into righteousness-loving, Christ-exalting people. The divine declaration must come before the human transformation. Being right with God must precede doing right for God.

Sam Storms, Kept For Jesus

We Shall Be Like Him

Yesterday was the final day for the 2015 Gospel Coalition Conference. The first message of the day was from Ligon Duncan preaching from Romans 8:16-25, which may be one of my favorite messages from the conference. This is one I will be waiting to hear in its entirety again. This video is a clip from that sermon.

Recommended reading: TGC15: Day 3

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Federal Headship of Christ and America's Safety Belt

Two more clips from the 2015 Gospel Coalition conference. The first one features one of my all-time favorite preachers, Voddie Baucham as he preaches on the Federal Headship of Christ.

The second is from Mark Dever as he talks about America's safety belt.

For more on the second day of the conference as well as a clip from John Piper during a panel discussion, check out TGC15: Day 2.

Review: When Sinners Say I Do DVD Series by Dave Harvey

I have heard of Dave Harvey's book, When Sinners Say I Do and also desired to read it. I know many church leaders that recommend that book for people who are married or about to be married. I have read other books by Dave Harvey and enjoyed them greatly.

Then I heard that Harvey did a DVD series based on his marriage book, which what I am reviewing today. Dave brings to the table from his experience not only as a preacher of the gospel, but also from over 30 years of marriage. Dave pulls no punches as he preaches but also delivers the gospel in each message. He talks about sin, contentment, mercy, and even sex. Lets be honest, how can you not talk about sex while teaching on marriage?

I love the clarity of the teaching. Each segment is filled with grace and sound doctrine. Each segment is 20-25 minutes long, which means you can do two segments in one meeting if you desire to do so. If I have to recommend a marriage series for a small group setting or even on pre-martial counseling, this would be one that I will use. After watching these DVD's, I really want to read the book even though I probably heard a lot of the teachings from it on the DVD's.

Thanks Shepherd Press for allowing to review this great DVD series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

If You Write It, Put Your Name On It

This short video is from John Piper's message that took place yesterday during the 2015 Gospel Coalition Conference.

For more highlights on day one of the conference, Check out TGC15: Day1