Tweetable Thoughts on Discipleship

  • DiscipleshipTitleIf you haven’t read Robert Picirilli’s book called Discipleship, buy it and read it.
  • Grace upon grace? Absolutely. But grace that effects no change in someone’s life is not real grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap or weak.
  • The Bible does not say that “Those who live unrighteous lives but made a faith decision will enter the kingdom of God.” The Bible says those whose lives have been changed by grace live righteously–they are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Trees without fruit are cut down and burned (Matthew 7). “Converts” whose lives are not changed are not counted righteous on the last day–no matter when, how, or how often they’re baptized.
  • When God makes someone righteous by His grace, at the judgment seat of Christ, the life of that person in Christ will prove God was effective.
  • Christians sin, but sin is not characteristic of them. Sin for a Christian is like a person acting a part. It happens, but it’s not who they really are.
  • Good works are not the cause of initial salvation, but they are required at final salvation to prove initial salvation was legit. (Paraphrased from Schreiner)
  • Everything that flows out of a Christian happens as a result of new spiritual birth. People born of God look more and more like their father the older they get.
  • If someone is not living a life of a Christian, I don’t tell them to shape up or ship out no matter how long they’ve been professing Christ. I tell them to look to Christ.
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A Sermon Satan Loves

There are two kinds of sermons that Satan loves.

1. A Sermon Without Jesus

Charles Spurgeon said:

No Christ in your sermon sir? Then go home and don’t come back until you have something worth preaching.

Jesus is the point of the Bible. He is the embodiment of the good news. And it’s the good news that God uses to change people’s hearts. So if you don’t have Jesus in your sermon–the good news–then you don’t have a sermon that can change people’s hearts. You might have a sermon that motivates people to make temporal changes, but like a branch disconnected from the vine, changes not rooted in the grace of God will quickly wither away.

2. A Sermon Without Application

Satan has impeccable theology. He knows everything there is to know about God. But he doesn’t obey God or worship Him as God. Satan’s problem is not an information problem. It’s a worship problem that shows itself in his actions. When we “preach” in a way that does not get to the worship problem that changes actions, Satan is very comfortable. He does not care that people’s minds are informed if their hearts and lives are not transformed.

This is why simply explaining a text is not preaching that makes Satan shudder. I’m not even convinced it should be called preaching. Teaching maybe, but not preaching. Preaching is intended to change people, not just inform them. If your intent in the pulpit is to simply inform, please leave the preaching to someone else.

I will preach Christ and I will apply the text to my people. I want to preach sermons that Satan hates.

Spray Cologne Before You Leave Work

brut-cologne-by-faberge-3-4-oz-cologne-spray-plastic-bottle-unboxed-menOne day at my old workplace, Randall House, I noticed a bottle of cologne in my boss’ office. I asked Matt why he had it, and he said he sometimes uses it just before he goes home. That seemed like a strange thing to do as most people spray cologne or perfume at the beginning of the day, not the end.

I’ll never forget what Matt Markins said to me that day:

My real ministry starts when I get home.

Matt wanted to minister to his family so much that he wanted to smell good for his wife more then he did his co-workers.

On another occasion Matt told me he would periodically take naps after work so he could have the energy he needed to be fully present with his family when he got home.

Matt gets it, and he communicated something I strive to reflect even though I have a very young family: pastoral ministry starts at home.

Timothy Paul Jones said you will rarely see your ministry reflect that which your family does not model.

So go home today, pastor, but before you do, be sure to spray some cologne.

Spurgeon on Preaching Christ

‘Don’t you know, young man, that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?’ ‘Yes,’ said the young man. ‘Ah!’ said the old divine, ‘and so from every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business is when you get to a text, to say, ‘Now what is the road to Christ?’ and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis–Christ. And,’ said he, ‘I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there be a savour of Christ in it.’

Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ Precious to Believers” http://spurgeon.org/sermons/0241.htm

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Spurgeon’s quote sounds good, right? But is there anything about it that seems a little off to you?

Three Things Many Christians Are Missing When Discussing Homosexuality

homosexuality-USE.svg_I’m very conservative on what the Bible teaches regarding homosexual practice. But I wonder if the way we conservatives talk about homosexuality needs some work.

It’s easy to rail on sins we don’t struggle with, especially sins that are as striking as homosexual practice. (It’s a striking example of rejecting God as He has revealed Himself in creation–Romans 1.)

The problem in how we talk about this is threefold:

1. We miss it when we condemn homosexual sinners without acknowledging that we’re sinners too.

This comes across as almost entirely unpalatable–especially to non Christians. It seems arrogant, proud, and belittling. It’s telling people, “If you were as good of a person as I am, then you could be good with God. But you’re not. So, ha!” And that is one thing people can’t stand.

This is why I tell our students (and anyone really) not to just tell their gay friends, “You’re gay and you’re going to hell,” even though the Bible is clear that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Instead, we should start with, “The Bible says you’re a sexual sinner . . . and so am I.”

This helps break down a barrier people have in hearing the gospel–their perception that Christians are arrogant and self-righteous. “What? You think you’re just as bad of a sinner as you think I am? You don’t think you’re better than me?”

Does the way we talk about homosexuals show that we’re actually concerned about their eternal destiny from a heart of love? Or does it reveal that we’re only concerned about winning an argument or having our view held as the only legal one? If we love them, then may I suggest that we be vulnerable about our own sins, so they might at least be a little more willing to hear the rest of the story?

2. We miss it when we talk about homosexuality but leave out the good news!

Often, the sin of homosexual behavior is simply railed upon. “Look at what this world is coming to! Men sleeping with men! Sodomy! It’s damnable I tell you!” This may be true, but it is not preaching the gospel.

The gospel is good news! Do we even get to the good part? That Jesus Christ died to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)? And that even though the sin of homosexual practice is not worthy of the kingdom of God, those who do can still be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus Christ, just like some of the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 6)?

The gospel is offensive. No one likes to be told that the core of who they are is a sinner–not a murdering sinner, a blaspheming sinner, an adulterer sinner, or a homosexual sinner. But I wonder whether our approach actually even includes any gospel in it. After all, the point of telling someone about the ugliness of their sin is so they can then see the beauty of a Savior.

3. We miss it when we imply people can simultaneously cling to Jesus and their sin.

There is not enough room in anyone’s heart to hold both sin and Jesus as it’s master. If Jesus and the sin of homosexual practice are playing king of the mountain, only one will win. God is jealous that way. He demands total allegiance. (“You will love the Lord your God and serve Him only,” Deut 6:13.)

We are not doing our friends and family a favor if we claim that just because everyone is a sinner, then its OK to keep that sin around. No. Jesus demands that you leave everything else if you’re going to follow Him and worship Him only. No exceptions. Not even sinful tendencies that seem to be natural. Can we really hate people so much by telling them they’re good with God when they’re really not?

This is one of the biggest issues of our day, and it’s not going away. Will we humbly engage people and apply the gospel to the sin of homosexual practice, and actually do so in a way that lets the gospel be offensive instead of us?

One Thing About Dating

We’re doing a series about sex and sexuality at Central for students. Last night we talked about dating.

dating-the-style-stitch-ask-danie

One thing about dating more people need to consider is how the roles for husband and wife in marriage should influence the way you date. If God has called the man to be the spiritual leader in the home, then is he a leader in the process of dating? If you’re a guy, will the girl you’re dating let you lead her?

Who Initiates?

Is the girl the one who shows first interest? Is she the one pursuing the guy? That’s generally not a good sign. Don’t expect the man to be the leader in the home if he’s the follower from day 1 in the relationship. Men, don’t expect your future girlfriend to be a good follower to your leadership in marriage if she’s the one initiating the relationship now.

I have seen relationships where the girl is the one pursuing the guy. The guy may be flattered, but he’s not challenged. Many times, the guy gets bored and breaks it off. Ladies, he needs to see you as a challenge to win. When you pursue him, he’s not challenged. Let him initiate things and pursue you.

Who Steers?

When it comes to spiritual issues (and other issues), who is the one who says, “You know, I think we should draw this boundary here.” The guy or the girl? Nothing inherently wrong with the girl bringing things like that up, but if the guy has zero initiative in leading spiritual conversations or making spiritual decisions (or any decisions for that matter), then that’s a red flag. Ladies, he won’t change that much after marriage. If he’s not leading spiritually in your dating, he won’t in your marriage. Men, if she’s not willing to follow your spiritual leading in your dating, she wont’ in your marriage.

How else do the biblical roles for men and women impact dating?

What Makes Christianity Distinct From All Other Religions

mountain-01Many people think of religions as all the same. Have you ever heard this analogy?

It’s like climbing a mountain. You climb from the east (Hinduism), I climb from the west (Islam), and our friend climbs from the north (Christianity). We’re all climbing to the same God at the top of the mountain, we’re just coming at it from different angles.

This analogy sounds good and seems to make sense. But Christianity is different because it teaches that no one can get up the mountain. Not one person in the world is strong enough, brave enough, or has enough endurance to live a good enough live to make God pleased with him. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).

In Christianity, we look up the mountain and we realize that it’s too steep, too dangerous, and we simply do not have what it takes to make it up there. We are too much unlike God–unworthy.

But just then, we are shocked and overjoyed to see not someone like us making it up, but someone very different coming down. It’s God Himself in Jesus Christ. He came down and offers to carry us back up by His grace.

There is no other religion in the world that teaches that.

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(I’m positive I did not come up with this, but I can’t remember where I got it. Just know it was someone a lot smarter than I.)