A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →
Is the Bible a book that can be studied like any other or is it something more than that? Is the Bible the Word of God or just the words of God? Let me suggest that a simple answer is not always possible and sometimes “both/and” is the best option.
The Bible is a collection of ancient texts. While the Bible is primarily a religious text much of it’s bulk, particularly the Old Testament, is made up of history, poetry and wisdom sayings. It presents chronicles of the kings of Israel and long lists of genealogy. The sacred texts of the Old Testament form the basis of Judaism, the monotheistic religion of ethnic Jews. Continue reading →
As books were chosen to represent a New Testament of the Bible, conveying the biography of Jesus and the formation of the Christian Church, a few were chosen and many others passed over. The writings that were chosen by the early church leaders become Bible canon, but there are many gnostic Gospels and falsely ascribed (pseudepigraphal) epistles that still exist today. There is even some disagreement between Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians about what is considered scripture.
Michael Patton, author of the Parchment & Pen Blog published by Creedo House, finds it interesting that while some Gospels with recognizable names, i.e. Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary, were passed over we have four Gospels included in the Bible that are essentially anonymous. Each book is named for the person believed to be the author – namely Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – but none of the writers identify themselves as such. Patton further believes this anonymity adds to rather than detracts from the works credibility.
Please read 4 Gospels or 4 Forgeriesand see for yourself. I found the post engaging and his reasoning sound but you’re entitled to agree or disagree.
Saul of Tarsus developed quite a reputation in the world of the early Christian church, zealously hunting down those who taught and preached in the name of Christ. He was on his way to Damascus, with arrest letters from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in hand, when he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul he became one of the most prolific church planters and writers of the first century; 14 of the 26 New Testament books are his letters (epistles) to various individuals and churches.
But here’s the rub: Do we today make too much of Paul? Does our attention become Paul-centered rather than Christ centered? Just because he wrote many epistles that become a major component of the New Testament, is everything Paul wrote the Word of God? Which is why I propose a defense of Paul to consider and respond to these criticisms. Continue reading →
Does you church have an altar (or more than one altar) in the sanctuary? Does each service end with an altar call style invitation? What are we being invited to do at the altar if/when we get there? I would like to put aside personal feelings, experiences and what any particular local church does or doesn’t do and look into the Bible as we analyze the purpose of the altar. Ultimately I would like us to answer this question: what is the place of the altar in the New Testament church? Continue reading →
Earlier this week I revealed a book in the works that should roll off the press in the next 10 -12 weeks. This has been a long time coming. In January 2011 I posted Where is God? I actually thought about deleting this post before the book came out; a good poker player doesn’t show his hand. But we’re not talking about poker, we’re talking about sharing the Gospel. Continue reading →
Don’t you love it when non-Christians, atheists, gay-rights activists, etc. reference the Bible and tell you that you’re reading it wrong? “Most of the Old Testament was negated and set straight by Jesus” and “You go out and stone a bunch of people, I’ll be living to please Jesus in the meantime” are on the list of things I’ve been told. I was told “the Old Testament pretty much doesn’t matter anymore” and the evidence for this claim was Jesus responding to the question about the greatest commandment. Kudos for knowing Jesus’ answer to that question; Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. A second is just like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This was an example of Jesus setting things straight.
In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.
By modern standards, 2 Timothy 1:8-12 is something of a run-on sentence. I am going to break my own rule and quote only a portion of the complete thought:
“…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace…” 2 Tim 1:9
That is the verse I quoted to the church the night I announced my call to preach, and still one of my favorites in all of scripture. I have just finished reading 2 Timothy, and like Reading 1 Timothy will be sharing some of the more prominent passages. The format is a little different, and I will be sharing more of my own comments. Continue reading →
Timothy was a young pastor being mentored by the Apostle Paul. Half the books of what we call the New Testament were letters written by Paul, many of them to specific churches (Ephesus, Corinth, Galatia, etc.) but some to individuals, such as Timothy, Titus and Philemon. 1 and 2 Timothy could almost be thought of as early “minister manuals” but there are also instructions for selecting deacons, supporting widows, and to all believers to practice godliness.
1 Timothy is a mere six chapters. Here is a link to 1 Timothy 1 at ESV Bible. If you click “listen” a disembodied voice will even read it to you. At the end of chp 1 simply click “1 Timothy 2” to go on. Bible Gateway has many different English versions. (I would rather folks read any version of the Bible than not read at all.) Below are some of my favorite passages, but I highly recommend the entire book, which can be read in a matter of minutes. *emphasis in bold are my own
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17 ESV) Continue reading →