Thursday, July 27, 2006

What I'm reading -

In case you every wonder what kind of books I'm currently reading I plan to list them every month or so. You might want to check out a few of these books.
FYI - I like to have several books going at once. This helps broaden my reading and fights off boredom in case I get into a book that I really feel I need to read, but don't really enjoy reading that much.

Jonathan Edwards, a new biography by Iain H. Murray. Highly recommended. A good read.

9 Marks of a healthy church by Mark Dever. One of the best books on Church life I've ever read. While we may not come to the same conclusions on every matter, this book is top shelf.

Above all Earthly Pow'rs by David F. Wells - Excellent book, a times it can be hard to read. This is one of those books that I need to read, but just haven't enjoyed as much as others. Still, all in all, I recommend this to anyone wanting a solid evangelical perspective on postmodernism.

An Unstoppable Force by Erwin Raphael McManus - This book has some good thoughts.

Finally, The Sigma protocol by Robert Ludlum - A great novel by the master of espionage novels. The language is a little too salty for my taste at times, but the plot and stoyline are the work of a master novelist.

What I'm studying in the Scriptures - Still reading through the Bible in a year. Also, doing some serious study on the New man/Old man theme in Paul's epistles.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Labels and Name Calling

I've noticed over the past few months that many folks want to put a 'label' on me theologically. They want to know if I'm conservative (I am), if I am an inerrantist (I am), if I am an expositor (definitely), or if I am a Calvinist. The first three are easy. Each represents a specific theological position that is understood by most people. But it seems everybody has their own definition of Calvinist. What the person asking the question means may be different than what I mean when I answer. So, I always ask "What do you mean by Calvinist?

If you are asking if I hold to the five points of Calvinism, then the answer is no. I am not a five-point Calvinist. If you are asking if I believe that God is absolutely sovereign and rules over the affairs of this universe, then my answer is yes. I believe that. Do I believe that God arbitrarily picked some to save and damned others to hell, then no I don't believe that. If you are asking if I believe that humanity is hopelessly lost in sin, needing a savior, and that God must draw them to Christ before they can be saved, then yes I believe that. Do I believe that the atonement is so limited that Christ's death was solely for the sake of the elect, no I do not believe that. Do I believe that Christ died for the sins of the world, that his atonement was sufficient for all, but only effectual to those who received him by faith, yes I believe that. Do I believe that election simply means that God knew in advance who would be saved, no I do not believe that. Do I believe that election is God's sovereign display of His glory whereby he regenerates, justifies, and sanctified, and glorifies sinners, but is in no way inconsistent with the free agency of man, O yes I believe that.
Do I believe that all true believers endure to the end? You bet I do.

Some people have claimed that my theology is a hodge-podge. I disagree. I believe it is Biblical. I preach and hold to the truth that God is sovereign, not man. Yet, the Bible is clear that our choice about salvation matters. I like what Macarthur stated about election and human responsibility. They are like twin tracks on a railroad. They run side by side throughout eternity.

Finally, I am not a big "systems" man. My goal is to have a Biblical theology. That, friend, is why I do label myself a Baptist, not a Calvinist or a covenant theological or a dispensationalist - I am Baptist. To me that simply means "Biblical.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Theological Clarity and expository preaching

One of my great concerns in preaching is to present the truths of Scripture in a clear and accurate manner. I cannot say that I always succeed. But theologically "fuzzy" sermons often do more harm than good. Here are some thoughts on theological clarity in preaching.

1) Preach expositonally. Topical preaching does have its place. I usually preach one or two topical sermons a year (and then immediately repent!) However, there is a great danger of imposing our own presuppositions on to the texts of Scripture. Of course, I am referring to topical preaching that actually uses Scripture in a responsible manner! Exposition forces the preacher to take into account the context of the passage and its place in redemptive revelation.

2) Don't shy away from theological language. God's people need to hear and learn words like justification, substitution, propitiation, and sanctification. There is a danger to avoiding the "language of Zion" in preaching. The pastor becomes a "communicator", or "facilitator", rather than a preacher of God's Word. If we are not careful our preaching can become so caught up in modern vernacular that doctrine becomes weak and tepid. We must take great care to explain and apply these words and the great doctrines they describe in such a way that our people grasp the glorious truths that have been entrusted to the Church through Scripture.

3) Work hard at application- I once read a paper by Haddon Robinson on preaching which stated that more heresy is preached during the application of a sermon than at any other time. Apply the meaning of the text. Don't say more than Scripture says, or less! Application is necessary. But be careful.

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Living between Eternities

Just the other night Gina and I were watching "Broken Trail," a western on the AMC channel. During the show the two leading cowboys had to perform a funeral for a young oriental girl. The main character's words caught my interest. He said, "We live between eternities." I told my wife, that would make a great sermon illustration. Now, I don't want anyone to think that I believe in some kind of pre-existence. We live this life only once, and then we face judgment. The reality is that we only have a little while. I Peter states that we are like grass, green today and gone tomorrow! James tells us that our lives are like a puff of steam or a cloud that quickly disappears in the heat of the sun. All of us will die, and most of us will die sooner than we realized or even wanted to!

So we must live our lives in view of eternity. What awaits us is far greater than what we experience today. Yet, how we live today can have a profound impact upon the eternal. Refusing to accept Christ as Lord and Savior is short-sited and deadly. Failing to live fully for Christ will be a cause for shame and loss at the Judgment seat. Our lives are quickly passing us by. Let us all live for his glory!