The Christian & The Church

Dr. John MacArthur

Your Responsibility to the Church, Part 1:

Your Responsibility to the Church, Part 2:

Your Responsibility to the Church, Part 3:

Your Responsibility to the Church, Part 4:

Your Responsibility to the Church, Part 5:

Christ, the Head of the Church

God’s Strategy for Church Growth

About Your Pastor When He Preaches

Article by Kenneth Kuykendall (original source the articulation of his message, but what else is happening? Most of us, if we have been around preaching for any length of time, have certain ideas of what takes place when the preacher begins and when he ends. But do we really know all that is going on during the preaching hour? Probably not…including the preacher himself.

Preaching is one of the strangest events known to man; so much so, that it is considered foolishness to those who do not believe; while at the same time, it is the power of God to us who are saved. It is a paradox of the grandest kind. It is the straining of worlds together. It is the calling of lowly men to the highest of errands. The pressure is great, the stakes are high, the tension is real, but the joy is overwhelming, the grace is sufficient and the reward is heavenly. I love preaching, both in hearing it and in doing it.

In that hour, however, more is going on than exposition, application, illustrations, and invitations. There are some things happening behind that pulpit (or away from it, depending on the style of your preacher) that you don’t realize. Here are five things you probably don’t know about your pastor when he preaches:

He is Battled
Whether you mount a pulpit weekly or preach on the street corner daily, there is great opposition in the proclamation of the gospel. On every side, the man of God is enamored, hit hard, with a variety of oppressive forces. The dark dominion of the devil sets its course against those on the frontlines of battle. There is nothing the enemy hates more than a truth-toting soldier equipped to tell others what the Word of God declares. And thus, oftentimes, the preacher is the biggest target.

The congregation may see a suit and tie. They may hear the alliterated points. They may write down a title on the back of a bulletin. But beyond the natural framework of the worship service is a supernatural foe doing all he can to discourage, distract, and divert the preacher. If preaching is war, it is certain your pastor is feeling the heat during the preaching hour.

He is Burdened and Bothered
I do not mean he is annoyed. Now, he may very well be annoyed at times; but what I mean by the word “bothered” is that he has a weight upon him. This weight is part of his calling. You cannot take the weight off him. Aaron and Hur did all they could to secure the hands of Moses during the battle at Rephidim. They helped Moses bear his load, but not once did they take the rod of God out of his hands. They couldn’t…it was God’s call upon his life to bear it.

The preacher, by nature of his calling, has a weight, a burden, a bothering. He is bothered by the sinfulness of the times. He is bothered by the apathy of modern Christendom. He is bothered by his own shortcomings. He is bothered by the tragedy of split homes, broken lives, hurting people. All that he preaches is preached from the context of information that you do not necessarily have. What I mean is this: he knows the secrets, the pain, the darkness, the sadness, and the sorrow of those he leads. And many times he preaches in that context.

He is Beckoned
The preacher must stand before God before he stands in front of his congregation. He is between two worlds. And he must give an account in both! Albert Mohler said it like this, “Let’s be honest: the act of preaching would smack of unmitigated arrogance and overreaching were not for the fact that it is God himself who has given us the task. In that light, preaching is not an act of arrogance at all but rather of humility. True preaching is never an exhibition of the brilliance or intellect of the preacher but exposition of the wisdom and power of God.”

The true, God-called preacher preaches every time with the judgment seat of Christ in mind. Every word, every statement, every point, every illustration…every time is divinely examined. This reality is always in the background and in the forefront. Deep is calling unto deep in the preaching hour. God is beckoning in the heart of His messenger. He is moving, He is working, He is speaking, and the preacher must fulfill His calling, he must proclaim God’s Word in light of this weighty truth.

He is Blessed
Don’t feel too sorry for the preacher of the Word. He may be battled, burdened, and a little bothered; but he is equally blessed. He is like the disciples who distributed the bread to the masses in the desert. Those men were responsible to feed the thousands, but they were privileged to see the miracle first hand.

The preacher has already tasted the glorious meal that he prepares for his congregation. He has been in the closet praying. He has searched out the treasures of Scripture. Like an excavator, he has found the heavenly gem and longs to show his audience the glorious riches of truth. He is blessed with spiritual blessings. It is certain, if the congregation is blessed by the preaching of God’s man, the man of God who is preaching is getting blessed as well!

He is Bound
The preacher is bound by his message. He cannot preach what he has not already chewed on. E.M. Bounds said, “The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself. His most difficult and laborious work must be with himself.” I cannot tell you how many times, during the preaching hour, God has illuminated truth, convicted me of sin, and prompted me by my very preaching.

The preacher who is bound to His message, His God, His calling, and His Bible is a preacher who will inevitably be free in the spirit during the hour of his preaching. No, you may never see these realities during the preaching hour, but I assure you, they are present. And if they are not, there is not much preaching going on.

Extra Biblical Sources

Why Does the New Testament Cite Extra-biblical Sources?

Dr. John Piper

Audio Transcript

“Sometimes we talk about textual matters. Joe from Santa Barbara, writes, “Jude 9, 14–15 confuse me. Where is Jude getting the information from in these verses? Paul usually quotes the Old Testament (and it tells us where he is quoting from on the bottom of our Bibles), but I have no clue where Jude gets his info. I have asked others about these texts and they usually say something like ‘Paul quoted pagan prophets,’ but it seems to me that Jude is actually quoting Scripture. What do we know? What do we not know?”

Here is what we know and what we don’t know: Jude is not quoting Scripture. That is pretty plain. He doesn’t claim to be quoting Scripture, but we will get to that in a minute. Here is what we know and what we don’t know: We know that Jude was in the middle of rebuking some arrogant opponents in the church, and we know that in verse 9 he does this by contrasting their willingness to blaspheme what they don’t understand with the archangel Michael’s unwillingness even to pronounce a blasphemous judgment against the devil. So, that is the point: to rebuke their arrogance and presumption.

So, he says this in Jude 9–10: “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’ But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand.” So, we know that Jude refers to a situation at the burial of Moses where Michael the archangel and the devil are disputing over what can be done with Moses’s body. And we know this is a story that is not in the Old Testament. Nothing is said. God took care of the burial up there in the mountain. Nobody knows where Moses was buried.

What we don’t know for sure is exactly where this story comes from according to verse 9. There is more in Jude 14–15 that we do know, but here we don’t know where it comes from. There is a Jewish book called the Assumption of Moses written between the Old and New Testaments which has a story like this, but Jude doesn’t seem to be giving an exact quote. We can’t say for sure that is where he is getting it. So, the answer so far for verse 9 is this: We just don’t know where he got that story. But he got it from somewhere, and he doesn’t make any claim to get it from Scripture.

Here is a further issue in Jude 14–15: Jude is still criticizing the ungodliness of his opponents, and this time he actually quotes a source outside the Bible. He doesn’t say what it is. At least, it looks like a quote. Most people think it is a quote, namely, from 1 Enoch. That is a Jewish book written about 300 B.C. and not regarded as inspired or Scriptural by Protestants or Catholics, and it was not in the Old Testament that Jesus used and endorsed. Jude 14–15 are a fairly close rendition of this verse. That is why most people think it is a quote.

These verses go like this: “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying” — so, he is quoting now this prophecy that Enoch gives — “‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’” So, Jude quotes Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, as prophesying, and he turns his words against the opponents as a judgment on them. And that is the judgment they can expect.

Now, here is the question: What does this mean for Jude, who cites this from outside the Bible? Where did he get it? What is he doing? Here are two possibilities:

1. He believed that even though these sources — 1 Enoch and wherever he got the verse 9 idea, the story — these sources, though not inspired, contain truth that he is willing to use. That is one possibility.

2. A second possibility — and I kind of lean toward this one, but it is impossible to prove — namely, that Jude knew that his opponents in the church, the people that he is so upset with, his opponents in the church loved to make use of 1 Enoch and maybe the Assumption of Moses, these books. And they were their favorite books to use, and so he is citing their own documents in an ironic way to bring them back on their own heads.

Now, that is where this issue about Paul quoting the poets becomes relevant, because that is what Paul did when he quoted the poets in Acts 17 from the pagan authors. He said that God “is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:27–29).

So, Paul reached into sources that he didn’t believe were inspired, saw something that was written there, drew it out, used it in a Christian way, and turned it back, as it were, on his conversation partners there in Athens. So, even though we don’t know for sure, my inclination is to say that Jude chose to cite these extrabiblical sources because his adversaries put such a high premium on them, and then he turned them around and used them to indict the very pride that was using them.

Always Thankful For Everything

Text: Ephesians 5:20

One of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is a heart overflowing with thankfulness. Specifically, buy more about we are told to ‘give thanks always for everything’ – words which have massive implications concerning God’s providential rule in our lives. Here’s why…

Jesus, Rock of Ages

by Christy Nockels

JESUS, ROCK OF AGES
I am not alone
There’s a stone I’m built on
There’s a love that will never let me go

He hears my every cry
He knows how to understand me
He is my one defense, day and night

Chorus:
I rest my soul on the Rock of the ages (oh)
And my feet stand firm on a sure foundation (oh oh oh)
And all my hope in this salvation (oh)
Jesus, Jesus, Rock of ages

Precious cornerstone
The One for all generations
Laid that I would hide myself in You
Through every trial and storm
When all else is sinking
There is none so faithful and so true

I rest my soul on the Rock of the ages (oh)
And my feet stand firm on a sure foundation (oh oh oh)
And all my hope in this salvation (oh)
Jesus, Jesus, Rock of ages

When my heart is faint, my faith is small
Oh hide me, Lord
And when all is well, through it all
Oh hide me, Lord (x2)

I rest my soul on the Rock of the ages (oh)
And my feet stand firm on a sure foundation (oh oh oh)
And all my hope in this salvation (oh)
Jesus, Jesus, Rock of ages
Jesus, Jesus, Rock of ages

The Need of the Hour

Big-Ben-3By Dr. Michael Reeves

In 1516, planting the seed of the Reformation. It was there that Martin Luther would discover the astonishing news of a gracious God and his free gift of righteousness.

The astonishing refreshment of the church in the years that followed was therefore the fruit, not of one man’s ingenuity, but the word of God. The Bible was why the church – and, indeed, all Europe – was turned upside down.

In the years that followed, Luther would become clearer and clearer on this. After getting the Reformation ball rolling in 1517 with his 95 theses, Luther found himself debating a number of Roman Catholic theologians. And more and more, the question of how the Bible relates to the church kept coming up. Luther’s first sparring partner, Sylvester Prierias, argued that the Scriptures ‘draw their strength and authority” from the Church of Rome, and in particular the Pope. Next, Cardinal Cajetan weighed in, claiming that Scripture must be interpreted for us by the Pope, who is an authority above Scripture.

As they saw it, the Bible was written by the church, and therefore the church is a higher authority that the Bible. As Luther saw it, the Bible is the word of God. The church is not its ultimate author. Quite the opposite: the church was created by the word.

As in the beginning God brought light, life and creation into being through his word, so through his word he brings his new creation into being (2 Cor. 4:6). The church has come into being because God has spoken.

The point became basic for the Reformers: the church is born of the word of God, and grows in both size and health by the word of God (Eph. 4:11-13). Indeed, wrote John Calvin, ‘wherever we see the word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.’

Five hundred years later, this is a truth that needs to be heard loud and clear: the church receives its life and health and growth from the word of God. We especially need to hear this again in post-Christian Europe, where the situation is generally so disheartening. Faced with reams of horrifying statistics about church decline, a wearing negativity or defeatism can set in. Focused on the sheer enormity of the uphill battle before us, a siege mentality can develop. Losing the confidence to step out with the old word of God, we circle the wagons and lose the confidence to step out into the world. Or we look elsewhere for the solution. But Christians can know that we are not mere teachers of an unfashionable message, nor salesmen of one religious product: we herald the very word of God. The word of God entrusted to us is the very power of God which does not return empty, and which will one day drive all darkness away for good.

This is the need of the hour. If we are to see a reformation and refreshment of the church today, we need churches filled with the glorious and surprising news of Jesus held out in his word.

Five hundred years later, we are looking forward – looking forward to seeing God’s word go out in our generation, fueling the mission of the church and enlivening it again.

The Centerpiece of God’s Saving Purpose in the Universe

sun1This excerpt is taken from Foundations of Grace by Steven Lawson

The doctrines of grace are a cohesive system of theology in which the sovereignty of God is clearly displayed in the salvation of elect sinners. Not only is God acknowledged to reign over all of human history, both micro and macro, but He is also seen to be sovereign in the dispensing of His saving grace. From Genesis to Revelation, God is emphatically represented in Scripture as being absolutely determinative in bestowing His mercy. He is shown as choosing before the foundation of the world those whom He will save and then, within time, bringing it to pass.

The Apostle Paul clearly announced God’s sovereign grace in man’s salvation. He wrote that, from eternity, God chose, willed, decided, and planned to save some sinners. To elect is to choose, and God chose who would be saved. Paul wrote: “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:15–16). “This is to say, God decides whom He will save in order to display His glory: “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:4–5); “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thess. 1:4); “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13); God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9); and “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect” (Titus 1:1).

The Apostle Peter and John taught precisely the same supreme authority of God in the salvation of His elect. Peter wrote: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1); and “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). The Apostle John wrote: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come” (Rev. 17:8).

In this system of theology, the glory of God is central. As every planet revolves around the blazing sun, every truth of sovereign grace rotates around this one fixed point—the glory of God. The unrivaled pre-eminence of God stands at the focal point of this theological universe. That God is to be the chief object of praise in the display of His grace is what energizes this solar system of truth. As the compass always points north, so the doctrines of grace constantly point upward toward the lofty heights of the glory of God.

What is God’s glory? The Bible speaks of God’s glory in two primary ways. First, there is the intrinsic glory of God, which is the sum total of all His divine perfections and attributes. It is who God is—His infinitely vast greatness. Glory in the Old Testament kabod originally meant “heaviness,” “importance,” or “significance.” It came to represent the stunning magnificence of certain objects, such as the blazing sun or the regal majesty displayed by a king. Hence, glory came to be used to describe the magnificent splendor and awesome radiance of God Himself revealed to man. In the New Testament, the word for “glory” is doxa, which means “an opinion” or “an estimate” of something. When used of someone’s reputation, it means “importance,” “greatness,” “renown,” or “significance.” God’s intrinsic glory is the revelation of the greatness of His divine attributes to His creatures. It involves God’s greatness and grandeur being manifested to sinners, especially in the salvation of man from sin. No one can add anything to God’s intrinsic glory. God is who He is, never diminishing, never increasing, forever the same, the sovereign Ruler, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, all-true, all-wise, loving, grace-giving, merciful, righteous, and wrathful. It is this intrinsic glory that God delights in making known to His creatures.

Second, the Bible also speaks of the ascribed glory of God, or the glory that is given to Him. Doxa also has to do with expressing praise to God based upon the revelation of His supreme majesty. The only rightful response to the display of God’s perfections must be to give Him glory. Man must bring the praise due His name. Man must give the worship that belongs exclusively to Him. The display of God’s intrinsic glory causes man to give ascribed glory to God. The more man beholds God’s intrinsic glory in salvation, the more man ascribes glory to God.

This, then, is the centerpiece of God’s saving purpose in the universe—the revelation and magnification of His own glory. This is what is at the very center of God’s being—the passionate pursuit of displaying His own glory for His own glory. This is what should be at the center of every human life—the promotion of the glory of God, that is, beholding and adoring His glory. This is what is primary in the salvation of every lost sinner—the revealing of the glory of God so that sinners might rejoice in the glory of God. No wonder Paul writes: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

5 Reasons I’m a Calvinist

fivepointArticle by Stephen Altrogge (original source cold-hearted person who only wants a select few people to get into heaven? An annoying guy who won’t stop rambling on about Romans 9? That awful, sterile, passionless church you used to go to?

I get it.

Calvinism doesn’t have a fantastic reputation, at least in some circles. Some people feel like it focuses more on theology than on loving people. Others have had really bad experiences with Calvinists. And some people think it runs counter to the beautiful free offer of grace found in the Bible.

But what if someone who is not a jerk (at least most of the time) could talk about Calvinism in a way that didn’t make you want to smash your computer?

That’s what I’m going to try to do in this post. I want to explain why I’m a Calvinist, why it brings me great joy, and why I think it’s profoundly biblical. If at the end you disagree with me, that’s okay. We can still be BFS (best friends sometimes).

I can’t answer all your objections in this post. I’m not intending to turn this into a furious, spittle-flying debate. Think of this as a pleasant conversation over a craft beer (or coffee if you’re a Baptist).

WHAT IS A CALVINIST?

Before we dive off the deep end, I should take a minute to define what I mean by Calvinism. A simple definition is this:

Calvinism is a series of doctrines that describes the state of humanity apart from God, how God saves people, and how God will ultimately bring those people to Glory.

A common acronym used to remember the doctrines of Calvinism is:

T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints

I don’t like some of the phrases in the acronym and I think they can be confusing but it’s what most people use.

BECAUSE IT’S ALL OVER THE BIBLE

I am not a Calvinist because of John Calvin. In fact, if John Calvin never existed I would still be a Calvinist (except it wouldn’t be called “Calvinism”). I don’t have man-crush on Calvin, nor do I think he’s the greatest person since Jesus. I won’t name any of my kids “Calvin”.

Calvin simply took some biblical ideas and organized them. Actually, I prefer the term “Doctrines of Grace” rather than Calvinism. It better describes the doctrines. Plus it takes the focus off John Calvin who, just like everyone else, had some great strengths and wicked weaknesses.

I believe in the doctrines of grace because they run throughout the entire Bible, like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament, we see that God unconditionally chose Israel to be his people.

Deuteronomy 7:6-7 says:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples…

This theme, of God choosing a people for himself, comes up again and again, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. God clearly chose Israel to be his people, and that choice was not based on anything they had done. It was an unconditional choice.

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter uses this same language to reflect the way God continues to choose those who will be his people:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This language is used repeatedly throughout the Bible. God chose a people for himself, not because of anything in them but because of his good, profound, wise purposes. Apart from God’s choice, we would never choose him, He always acts upon us first. Because God chooses us, he will also preserve us to the end (Philippians 1:8, Jude 24).

BECAUSE GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY

One thing that is abundantly clear in the Bible is that God is intent on getting all glory for himself. He absolutely will not allow anyone else to take credit for what he alone has accomplished.

God called the people of Israel for his glory alone. As Isaiah 43:6-7 (and many other verses) says:

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

We see this same thing again in Ephesians 1:5-6 speaking of God’s New Covenant people:

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God does all the choosing, he does all the saving, and he gets all the glory. I did not choose God, therefore I get zero credit for saving myself. He did it all and he gets all the praise, glory, and honor.

BECAUSE IT EXPLAINS ME AND THE WORLD SO WELL

When I look at myself and look at the world, I see people who are totally depraved. Totally depraved does not mean completely depraved.

Someone who is completely depraved does all evil all the time. Total depravity means that every facet of our being – our thinking, our actions, our bodies, our motives – have been distorted by sin.

As it says so clearly in Romans 3:12:

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

I’m certainly not righteous. It takes me about two seconds to figure that out. And the more experience I have with people, the more I realize that no one is righteous. Every person and every thing is totally distorted by the presence of sin in the world.

I’m not a Calvinist because of my experience, but my experience certainly confirms what I see scattered broadly through the Bible. This world we live in is a damnable, wicked place.

BECAUSE I KNOW I COULDN’T HAVE CHOSEN GOD

Given what I know about the darkness in my own heart, I could not and would not have ever chosen God of my own initiative. It just wouldn’t have happened. I’m too stubborn. Too self-righteous. Too self-reliant. I’ve got a heart of stone. Continue reading