January 2015

Help for Pastoral Prayer During Sermon Prep

Erik Raymond

Most pastors develop a rhythm with their sermon preparation. You find a way that “works” for you and you pretty much stick with it. But until you have the pattern established, it can be messy. And one of the areas with which I struggled at the beginning was how prayer fit into my sermon preparation.

I knew that I should pray, that in fact I must pray, as part of getting ready to teach God’s Word. But I don’t remember getting much advice about how to pray when preparing a message. And while there’s obviously not just one helpful way to do it, here are eight brief prayers that can be used while writing a sermon:

1. Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of this text and how it points to Christ.

2. Lord, please increase my love for the people who will hear this sermon.

3. Lord, please give me wisdom to apply this text to the lives of the people in our congregation.

4. Lord, please use this passage to help me grasp and love the gospel more so that I might help my hearers do the same.

5. Lord, please help me to see how this passage confronts the unbelief of my hearers.

6. Lord, please help me to be obedient to the demands of this passage. Help me to enter the pulpit having already submitted my life to this truth before I preach it.

7. Lord, by your Spirit please help me to preach this sermon with the necessary power and with appropriate affections.

8. Lord, please use this sermon to bring glory to your name, joy to your people, and salvation to the lost.

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 14:15 -- john_hendryx

Born this Way

There is nothing in the Bible which can remotely give the impression that some people are good and some people are bad, and being good is how we get God to accept us. We're all bad. The Bible draws a sweeping and devastating picture of human beings in Adam as corrupt, greedy, foolish, selfish, mean, envious, hateful, sexually perverse, cruel and violent. And even if we do not always exhibit all these characteristics outwardly, the germ of all these acts dwell in each heart. That is why those who declare that certain individuals are 'born this way' and so cannot change only understand half the truth. We were ALL 'born this way' captive to our lusts and corruptions and none of us can do anything pleasing to God to appease His displeasure with us (See Rom 1-3). This is no hyperbole. Our state is so hopeless that we can do nothing, except, by the grace of God, acknowledge that we justly deserve God's wrath save for Jesus Christ alone. Given that we are 'born this way' our only hope is to be born again... and since we cannot give birth to ourselves, this is only something God can do.

But if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, He will cause you to grieve and repent over your sin and conform you your identity in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:31-32) ... but, because of the grace you have in Christ, you will not abide in sin nor continue in it. He loves you too much to leave you under the tyranny and bondage of of sin. Abiding in sin and being a regenerate Christian is wholly incompatible. "No one BORN OF GOD makes a practice of sinning, for God’s SEED abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been BORN OF GOD." (1 John 3:9) ..."and his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been BORN OF GOD overcomes the world." (1 John 5:3-4)

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 12:30 -- john_hendryx

Jesus Was Heard Because of His Reverence - Hebrews 5:7

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence."

Did you read that?  Jesus was heard BECAUSE of his reverence.  He was not simply heard because He was ontologically righteous as the Second Person of the Trinity.  But he was heard because he obeyed as a flesh and blood human being. So what? you say.  Well, this demonstrates that Jesus obedience as a human being, his life, not just his death was critical in our redemption.  His obedience to God's law in his life was part of the righteousness that was imputed to us that we might be right before God.

That is why Paul declares to the Corinthians, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." The "no sin" aspect speaks of a necessary aspect of Christ's redemptive work.  His atonement for sin requires a sinless sacrifice, one which obeyed God in every way. Paul also says "For as by the one man's disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience [Jesus} the many will be made righteous." He did not merely mean to say that Jesus was obedient in offering Himself up to death (although it includes that), he also means the obedience of His whole life.  Otherwise Jesus could have merely been killed by Herod as a small baby and that would have been sufficient for us. His death is not all that mattered. Jesus declared there were things he needed to do  in his life "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15)

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 13:20 -- john_hendryx

This Age and the Age to Come

In the age to come, in righteousness, Jesus will judge and make war (Rev 19:11). He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty and will strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. (Rev 19:11-16). But thanks be to God, in this age, Jesus grants pardon in advance to all who ally themselves with Him. Because of Christ and His redemptive work, Final Justice is being delayed until the full number of the elect from every nation are gathered in, or else all of us ill-deserving sinners would all be swept up in judgement. Considering the severity of my own sins, I am very, very thankful for that.  Let us take care, then, not to "judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts." 1 Corinthians 4:5, For "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" 1 Cor 4:7

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:56 -- john_hendryx

When an Orange Is Green by Mike Leake

You sit down to eat your lunch and begin peeling your orange, when your lunch buddy makes a strange comment. “Why in the world do they call it an orange if it is green?”

After gaining your composure, you realize your friend is likely color blind and unable to see the difference between orange and green. To him this orb in your hand is green and nothing you say is going to change that “fact”.

He insists that the burden of proof is on you. In order for him to believe that this orange is actually orange you will have to prove it. Secondly, he insists that only six colors exist and every other “color” is just a myth created by the greedy tyrants at Crayola. Lastly, he cares little about what others believe on the issue—he won’t believe it until he sees it with his own eyes.

Apart from the discovery of a cure for color blindness you’ll never win this debate. But what has actually been proven in this debate?

By your inability to win the debate your friend has not disproven that oranges are actually orange. Nor has he shown that oranges are actually green. All that has really happened is that we’ve shown that a fruit that is the color orange cannot and does not exist in your friends view of the world.

When Christians Lose the Debate

The above scenario is played out in lunch rooms every day, but over things far more significant than the color of an orange. There are those who insist that the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales and that God does not exist.

Just as the color-blind dude in the above scenario insisted that the burden of proof was upon you, so also unbelievers insist that we must prove that God exists in order for them to believe. They will say things like “if something is true then it must be scientifically proven” even though such a statement itself cannot be scientifically proven.

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 14:17 -- john_hendryx

Your God demands human sacrifice for minor thought crimes?

Comment: Your God demands human sacrifice for minor thought crimes? Sounds like a jerk.

Response: Thanks for your comment ... God is infinitely holy and we are not. Just the mere sight of Him would be too much for any person to bear. All sin, therefore, justly deserves death so it is not about being a "jerk" but about pure holy justice. Even we need human justice to live on earth... it would be utter chaos without it... Likewise God's standard is perfect and he will bring about justice for every transgression... None of us will be able to stand before such justice on our own.. But God being a God of love ... in the greatest expression of it, came to earth Himself to be a servant who fully absorbed the penalty of sin on behalf of all those who turn in faith to Him.. Jesus came to offer pardon in advance to all who ally themselves with him...And since he himself bore the penalty it could not be more opposite of being a jerk.

And we should take note that sin cannot be forgiven just by the wave of a hand. Debts against us aren't just forgiven in thin air either. Example ... If a friend came to your house and broken your Ming vase, someone has to pay for the vase. Either he pays for it or you absorb the cost of its loss. Likewise God is morally perfect so justice will be carried out for all transgressions. Someone has to pay for them.. Either you pay for them of Christ pays for you. They do not merely dissipate in the air like steam

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 12:45 -- john_hendryx

Why do Christians Not obey the OT Commands to Kill Homosexuals and Disobedient Children?

Worshiping false gods was also punishable by death in the Law (Exodus 2t0:2-6, Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Deuteronomy 12:30-32; Deut 18:9-14)... and given that we were all idolaters outside of Christ .. we have all committed sins worthy of death... What do you think the Levitical sacrificial system was for? To point people to the holiness of God, to our own sin and the necessity to die as a result of it. But it also pointed forward to Jesus who bore the death penalty FOR US because as the Last Adam, or True Israel, he obeyed the commands of God perfectly and was the only human being who ever lived who had never committed sin. The detractors always point to homosexual sin or cursing parents without realizing that all sin is worthy of death and we are all guilty before God. That is why we need a Savior. The revelation given in the Old Testament reveals God's holiness with only shadows and glimpses of his revelation of love. Now in the New Testament all sin is still likewise worthy of death but we have One who absorbed the penalty on our behalf. In Christ God not only forgives all forms of idolatry, sexual sin, greed and rebellion but gives us His Holy Spirit that we will no longer be in bondage to them. After the cross, now is an age of mercy. Our Lord's death on the cross brings clemency for a season. But don't take God's mercy for granted. His clemency will end and since the death penalty still stands for sin outside of Christ, the punishment for these and all sins will still be carried out when Our Lord soon returns to judge the earth.

The purpose of the Law according to the Bible:

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law NO HUMAN BEING will be justified in his sight, since THROUGH THE LAW COMES KNOWLEDGE OF SIN." .- Rom 3:19-20

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 18:13 -- john_hendryx

How To Build A Theological Library

by Nate Claiborne

There comes a point when you shift from randomly collecting books that catch your eye to intentionally gathering resources to form a working library. For me, this point came during my last semester of seminary. Partly because I didn’t know where I was moving when I graduated, and partly because I knew that being a teacher would necessitate some kind of decent personal library (key word is “decent” which is different than “exhaustive”), I started getting strategic in what kind of books I sought and bought.

I thought I’d start sharing my strategy as well as give you the rundown on what I’m assembling in my own library. I’m hoping it helps those of you who are in a position to build a modest theological library. But not only that, I hope it helps those of you who probably won’t build a library, but would find knowing what I think is the best go-to resource on a given topic or book of the Bible.

Since there are plenty of resource lists out there, I’m trying to give you more than just a list of books. Part of that means categorizing books based on whether they are more useful for pastoral applications or technical information. In doing that, I’m borrowing to some extent from the categories used on Best Commentaries.

The other part involves tailoring recommendations to different kinds of libraries. Not everyone who is interested in reading theology books is intentionally building a library. However, I imagine theological bibliophiles would like tips on books regardless, and hopefully those of you in this category you can benefit from the posts in this series. Because after all, once you get a certain number of books, you’ve got a library on your hands even if you haven’t been strategic about it (so at least make sure they’re good ones!)

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 09:00 -- john_hendryx

New Books of Note

The following reviews are by Nate Claiborne



When it comes to teaching or preaching a book of the Bible, there are plenty of resource and commentaries one could choose from. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity check out several volumes from Baker BooksTeach The Text series. If you’re not familiar, each of the volumes in the series offers the following units for each section of Scripture commented upon:

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 13:40 -- john_hendryx

Predestination and Reformed Theology

by Geerhardus Vos

The doctrine of election (predestination) is tied tightly to other aspects of Reformed theology.  Geerhardus Vos expresses this well in his Reformed Dogmatics (recently published in English for the first time thanks to Logos and Lexham Press – see here and here).  Vos asks this question (in vol. 1.5.4): “At what points is the doctrine of predestination or election related to the rest of Reformed doctrine as a whole?”  Here’s his answer (summarized):

1) It is a direct consequence of God’s sovereignty, as that has been shaped based on Scripture.  Luther came to predestination from man and his salvation.  Calvin did so from God.  God is everything and the creature is nothing, and the creature, even in its highest importance, remains subordinate to God and must serve him.  Whoever gives up the doctrine of predestination must therefore also drop the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and subsequently falsify biblical teaching at numerous places.

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 13:13 -- john_hendryx

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