Every February Americans observe Black History Month, a time set aside to celebrate the contributions that African Americans have made to American history. Here are nine things you need to know about the history of the observance:
You wouldn’t expect to hear a pastor tell his church, “I know better than God.” And yet that’s what many preachers and leaders today communicate when they focus their ministry strategies on market research and consumer response. Chasing popular trends and whims is a sure recipe for tickled ears, stunted spiritual growth, and congregations full of false converts.
By contrast, a ministry that centers on the preaching of God’s Word is a ministry that is, by definition, wholly dependent on God. Rather than relying on gimmicks or ploys, it relies on God Himself for both its content and direction.
Early in my ministry I committed, before the Lord, that I would simply worry about the depth of my ministry, and I would let Him take care of the breadth of it. Needless to say, He has extended it far beyond what I could have ever even thought possible. But the market appeal of this ministry was not something I ever strategized about, trying to think of schemes for how to be popular or how to energize church growth. Instead, the focus was on teaching the Bible—deeply, consistently, and accurately. Beyond that, I simply decided to depend on the Lord.
When pastors preach God’s message rather than one of their own invention, they demonstrate that they are fully depending on God for results. It is His Word that is taught; it is His Spirit who works; it is His power that convicts and transforms. We simply convey the message faithfully, and when people respond, God receives all of the glory.
And that, ultimately, is why I continue to preach the Word after more than four decades of ministry. The goal of my life, from the outset, has been ministry faithfulness for the glory of Christ. That should be the aim of every pastor. And what could be more glorifying to Him than to exalt His message, bringing it to bear on the lives of His people, and depending fully on Him for the results. As Timothy was charged by Paul, so every pastor—if he is to be found faithful—must embrace his sacred calling:
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. . . . I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. . . . The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:1–5, 7–8, 18)
Paul’s exhortation is directed at preachers, but its application isn’t limited to them. The men and women in the pews must place an equally high priority on submitting themselves to the preaching of the Word, and faithfully testing the teaching they receive against Scripture. Like we saw last time, all believers need to be Bereans. It’s vital that the pastor teaches Scripture with clarity and accuracy, and it’s vital that his congregation stay hungry for that kind of Bible teaching and the spiritual fruit it produces.
It’s been a privilege to serve the Lord at Grace Community Church for nearly forty-five years. Throughout that time, my prayer has always been to be subject to God’s biblical agenda, rather than subjecting God’s Word to my personal agenda. It is the difference between biblical preaching and motivational speaking, between shepherding and manipulating, and between understanding what God has already said in Scripture and putting new words in His mouth.
It’s no coincidence that we kicked off the new year with a series on the importance of biblical preaching. Preach the Word sets the tone for everything else you’ll read on the GTY blog in 2014 and beyond. The subject matter may vary, but the underlying theme will always be the same: Scripture rightly handled, faithfully taught, and properly applied.
(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church.)
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The most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing. -Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, 135.
Is this so reasonable? Is it true that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing? The Kalam Cosmological Argument is one of the most compelling arguments for theism. The broad opposition to the Kalam (or, more specifically, to its implications) from atheists has lead to some sophisticated arguments (like those of Graham Oppy or J.L Mackie), but it has also lead to some pretty poor arguments. Below, several objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument have been outlined, along with rebuttals of varying lengths.
Some have objected to the Kalam by raising the possibility of a multiverse. They say that this counters the Kalam because it’s possible that our universe is one of nearly infinite past universes, generated as another “bubble” among untold…
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The sun was setting at about 7pm one balmy Summer day during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The stadium was emptying after a day of track and field events. The 20 mile marathon’s gold medal had been awarded about an hour earlier. Suddenly the sound police sirens caught everyone’s attention. They were clearing traffic for a lone figure to enter the stadium.
John Steven Acquari was the last runner in the marathon. Wearing the colors of Tanzania, he was grimacing in agony as he hobbled onto the track for the final 500 yards.
He had taken a serious fall in the race and had ripped a hamstring and badly grazed the skin off his legs. He was bleeding and cramping, but tenaciously shuffled around the field toward the finish line. The crowd quickly gathered to cheer him on. They were clapping and shouting encouragement to him as he finally collapsed over the finish line in sheer exhaustion and pain. After he had recovered somewhat a journalist asked him the question on everyone’s mind: “You were so seriously injured, why didn’t you just quit running?’
Acquari said with feeling, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race, but to finish it.” There is something about dogged determination and perseverance that inspires us.
What would you have done? Quit, or keep on keeping? The honest answer for most of us would be: I have no idea what I would do. I know what I would want to do. I know what I wish I would do. But it all depends on the severity of the injury, the remaining distance, the support I’d have, etc.
Personally, I like to think that I would persevere to the end, no matter what. But in the case of my salvation, I’d like better assurance than what I think I’m capable of doing. Thankfully, the BIble teaches that as a believer in Jesus, I don’t have to worry about my own tenacity and stick-to-it-ness. I can rest in the faith that Jesus will get me into glory, if he has to drag me himself!
Philippians 1:6 “For I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”
Yes, I am confident that I will get to Heaven, but it is not a confidence that rests on my experience, or my proven track record of always finishing what I start. It is an assurance based entirely on my knowledge of Jesus and his power to save.
2 Timothy 1:12 “For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
This is the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints.
They whom God hath accepted in his beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.’
Or put more simply: true believers can be sure they will get to Heaven, no matter what, because Jesus takes responsibility to get them there no matter what.
For those of you who have persevered through the last five Mondays, you will recognize that this is the final of our five points of Calvinism. And you will hopefully glean that it is not only a clear Scriptural proposition, but also a logical necessity of all the petals of the TULIP, especially Election and Irresistible Grace.