Sola Scriptura (Resources)

This excerpt is taken from John MacArthur’s contribution in Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible.

The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that “scientific truth,” for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture—but Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our senses (2 Peter 1:19). Therefore, Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter on which it speaks.

But there are many important questions on which Scripture is silent. Sola Scriptura makes no claim to the contrary. Nor does sola Scriptura claim that everything Jesus or the apostles ever taught is preserved in Scripture. It only means that everything necessary, everything binding on our consciences, and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3).

Furthermore, we are forbidden to add to or take away from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19). To add to it is to lay on people a burden that God Himself does not intend for them to bear (cf. Matt. 23:4).

Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That—no more, no less—is what sola Scriptura means.

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” —Westminster Confession of Faith

Pdf – Scriptura Alone by R. C. Sproul: Introduction and First Chapter (here)

What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura? – Article by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey (here)

Sola Scriptura in Dialogue – Article by Dr. James White (here)

Video & Audio Resources:

Phil Johnson – Why We Can’t Abandon Sola Scriptura:

Dr. James White – 2 Hours on Sola Scriptura:

Dr. Robert Godfrey: Martin Luther and Sola Scriptura:

Dr. Michael Horton: John Calvin and Sola Scriptura:

A young James White:

Dr. James White – Audio Message from 2017:

Dr. Al Mohler (speaking from Deut. 4):

Continue reading

Total Eclipse of the Mind

WARNING: SARCASM AHEAD:

I just saw an article written by someone called “Gary” on Bible prophecy entitled “The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse” (original source here, including any links to other articles). I don’t look for these articles, I promise, but somehow they seem to find me. This one came to me by way of a facebook feed.

My responses are in bold type so anyone can follow along. OK here we go…

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire contiguous United States, beginning in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. Incredibly, the eclipse will actually begin as soon as the sun rises on the West Coast (the sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west, but eclipses travel in the opposite direction – see here). In other words, people will witness a black sun rising over the United States. It has also been noted that another total solar eclipse will cross the United States at an opposite angle seven years later in 2024.

Ok, I am staying calm, breathing in and out slowly at this point. Not much to say here, except I am not sure the word “incredibly” is entirely appropriate. Eclipses happen!

Note: Before you continue reading, please realize that this is not an end of the world prediction.

Praise the Lord for that!

We actually believe the world will never end.

Huh? I thought the prophetic promise for this world is pretty bleak, if I am reading 2 Peter 3:10 correctly… but ok. As I say, I am trying to stay calm.

We believe that God may be communicating a message through this eclipse about the general nearness of Christ’s return.

Ok, I am all ears.. carry on.

The amount of prophetic meaning behind these eclipses is simply overwhelming and I dare not attempt to interpret it all. I’ll simply share with you a few of the discoveries I and others have made and you can interpret it for yourself:

How is it that I have the feeling I am about to be underwhelmed rather than overwhelmed?

1. The August eclipse occurs exactly 33 days before the Revelation 12 Sign, beginning in the 33rd state (Oregon), and ending in South Carolina at the 33rd parallel. I’ve personally verified each of these details (see here, here, and here). Can you really chalk up the significance of this to pure coincidence or confirmation bias?

Actually, in that there is nothing in Scripture that speaks about the 33rd state and 33rd parallel… yes, I can chalk this up to coincidence.

It’s been noted that an eclipse like this hasn’t happened in 99 years.

Errr… so what?

That would be 3 x 33 years.

Really?

You know, you are right about that.

What might God be communicating?

Errr… “nothing whatsoever”, is my guess.

One of our readers noticed Ezekiel 33:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’”

I’ve noticed Ezekiel 33 too and I also notice it has nothing to do with the 33rd state and 33rd parallel, and… chapter numbers and verses are not inspired and part of the original text anyway. They were added many centuries later, actually, millennia later.

2. The eclipse is also exactly 40 days from Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). “40” represents a period of testing in the Bible as can been seen in the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and the 40 days Jesus was tested in the wilderness. This 40 day period leading up to Yom Kippur is more than random.

How so?

In fact, this period of time beginning on August 21st is called the Season of Teshuvah, which in the Jewish faith is a time to get right with God before judgment falls on the Day of Atonement. In other words, repent before time is up.

There is nothing wrong with calling people to repentance. Acts 17:30, 31 says, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” That’s the Biblical reason why all need to repent and that is more than enough reason to do so. Lets just stick with the Bible shall we, rather than trying to find extra reasons for repentance, not found in the Biblical text?

3. While eclipses are not that uncommon, total solar eclipses only occur about every year and a half and often occur over the ocean rather than land. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this eclipse is nothing out of the ordinary.

It may be somewhat unusual, but other than that, not much to it, in my opinion… and I am still waiting for a biblical text to be cited that shows that any of this is significant.

Day will be turned to night all across the middle United States. It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the entire United States and having another total solar eclipse cross the entire United States again, forming an ‘X’, just a few years later is perhaps unprecedented.

…and what happened 99 years ago when this happened? We are not told.

4. It’s been noted that the United States is the wealthiest, most powerful, and most influential Gentile nation. It is also the world’s ethnic melting pot and hosts a proto-world government in the form of the United Nations. Lunar eclipses (blood moons) are omens for Israel whereas solar eclipses are omens for the Gentiles.

What is your Biblical basis for this assertion?

The 7 year Tribulation is also known as the Day of the LORD when God enters into judgment with the Gentile nations. The fact that two total solar eclipses, spaced seven years apart, cross the entirety of the contiguous United States, and form an ‘x’ over the chief Gentile nation on earth should give you pause.

ok, I paused.

May I carry on now?

5. The Tribulation (also called Daniel’s 70th Week or The Time of Jacob’s Trouble) is understood to be a worldwide version of the Exodus from Egypt. The plagues and Exodus were a sort of microcosm of the future Day of the LORD. The ruthless Pharaoh was a type of the antichrist, the plagues were a type of the coming worldwide trumpet and vial judgments, the Exodus was a type of both the rapture and the future Israelite remnant that will escape into the wilderness, and so forth. Even some of the minute details were types and shadows. Moses was a type of the future “male child” (Christ and the Church) that was and will be delivered from harm’s way. He escaped the tribulation that his people endured when he was placed in a basket and ended up as a prince in palaces of splendor. Yet his people continued to endure tribulation and suffering until he later returned to deliver them from Egypt. Even some of the specific plagues in Egypt will be replicated on a worldwide scale during the Tribulation. As a matter of fact, there is a direct parallel in the book of Revelation to seven of the ten plagues in Egypt (see here). You could say the Tribulation is almost a “do-over” of the Exodus because the Israelites were not faithful to the end in the first instance, but at the end of the Tribulation will be faithful, saved, and delivered.

Talk of “The Tribulation” opens up a fairly large can of worms. Many miss the significance of various prophecies already fulfilled in the first century, particularly around AD70 in Jerusalem… but to go into detail on this would require a great amount of writing… maybe an entire book. Anyway, hopefully we can continue..

With this in mind, consider that the ‘x’ that will be formed over the United States rests right over a region in southern Illinois called “Little Egypt”.

Wow!

Actually, I take that back! I am not particularly ‘wowed’ to be honest.

Even more – the exact point where the two paths cross is in the town of Makanda, which used to be called the “Star of Egypt”.

and again, Scripture says what about this? Errrr… zero… am I right?

6. The eclipse occurs in conjunction with Regulus, the “King Star”. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and Leo is one of the two constellations involved in the Revelation 12 Sign. The fact that this eclipse occurs in Leo, which will be part of the Great Sign the month after, is astonishing. It’s like God’s trying to fix our attention on the King and on the following month’s Great Sign.

Not feeling great astonishment here, sorry!

Also, a reader noticed that the eclipse crosses exactly 12 states and I verified the count to make sure. An eclipse across 12 states just one month before the Revelation 12 Sign that features a woman with a crown of 12 stars.

Again, sorry.. but what does the Bible say about an eclipse across 12 states a month before the Revelation 12 sign (which again is another issue altogether as to what exactly that means)? Errr.. is it the big round digit once again? Yeah, thought so!

7. The first major city that will witness the eclipse is Oregon’s state capital, Salem. Salem is of course the shortened version of “Jerusalem”, which is the most prophetically significant city in the entire Bible.

Admittedly, the Bible has a lot to say about Jerusalem. But nothing to say about Salem, Oregon. Sorry!

Jerusalem was originally called “Salem” in the days of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18) who was a foreshadowing of Christ or possibly even a Christophany.

You are right!

If that isn’t interesting enough, the closest road to the exact point where the two eclipses cross is Salem Road in Makanda, Illinois. What are the chances of that?

You got me there… not too great… but again, what Biblical text tells us to look for this sign of two eclipses crossing on Salem Road in Makanda, Illinois? Didn’t see those names in my Bible concordance.

8. After crossing Salem, Oregon, the path of totality then crosses Madras, which means “Mother of God” (reminiscent of the Revelation 12 Woman). Then it crosses the city of John Day, which of course reminds us of the Apostle John who recorded the Book of Revelation and described to us the Day of the LORD.

Ok… you’ve lost me now… My name is John and I think I am going to call it a day!

After that it crosses Weiser, Idaho, which is German for “wise man”.

I don’t feel any wiser after reading this.

The wise men from the east were those who were watching the signs in the heavens when Jesus Christ was born. They followed His star and found the exact place where He was born.

Yes, that is true.

Likewise we see another sign in the heavens pointing to the nearness of Jesus’ return.

No, actually we don’t.

The path then points us to John again as it passes over Grandjean, which is French for “Big” or “Tall” John.

Big Bad John! Wasn’t that an old western song from the 60’s? let me look it up?

Yes!!! Yes!!! here it is:

It then crosses Stanley, which means “stone clearing” (see Psalm 118:22, 1 Peter 2:4-7) and Mackay, which means “Son of fire” (see 1 John 4:15, Revelation 1:14, 19:12, Daniel 10:6).

Then it goes through Rexburg (“City of the King”) and Victor (Matthew 12:20, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 1 John 5:4) and then again points us to the Apostle John as it goes through Jackson (“Son of John”). The amazing message continues as it goes right through Casper, Wyoming. “Casper” is a Chaldean name and is the traditional name assigned to the wise men/magi (see here).

The eclipse then moves through Alliance, Nebraska. An alliance is a union of multiple parties. The Church is soon to be brought into an eternal alliance with Christ when the Body is joined to the Head. Likewise, down on earth a satanic alliance will soon be forming in the form of ten horns (Revelation 17:12) and a “covenant with many” (Daniel 9:27).

Next up is Ravenna, which means “raven” and points us to the days of Noah. Noah sent forth a raven from the Ark before he sent a dove (Genesis 8:7). Also, Ravenna, Italy was where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon. The term “crossing the Rubicon” is an idiom for saying “the die has been cast” or “past the point of no return”. In other words, there’s no turning back.

The meaning goes on and on and that’s just a small sampling.

Thank the Lord for that!!!

What have you discovered?

Nothing at all!

Maranatha!

Amen… Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Fond regards,

Big Bad John!

The White Coats Are Coming!

Text: Genesis 1:1-28

Since Charles Darwin first penned his book “Origin of Species” in 1859 (full title: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”), there has been a vicious, unrelenting attack on Genesis 1-11. Yet, the truth of God’s word stands. Jesus affirmed Genesis as literal history and our very salvation rests on its foundation. Here’s why?

The Most Offensive Verse In The Bible

Excerpt from an article “The most offensive verse in the Bible” by Dan Phillips (original source here)

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

“The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies. That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator’s design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

So yeah, insofar as I’m consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I’m wrong.

To anyone involved in the doomed, damned ‘you-shall-be-as-God project,’ that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.”

10 Things You Should Know About The Sovereignty of God

Article: 10 Things You Should Know About The Sovereignty of God by Dr. Sam Storms (original source here)

Few things are more controversial among Christians than the sovereignty of God. Is God truly sovereign over everything, including calamity, natural disasters, death, and demons, or is his sovereign control restricted to those things we typically regard as good, such as material blessing, family welfare, personal salvation, and good health? Today we turn our attention to ten things we should all know about God’s sovereignty.

Before we begin, it’s important to distinguish between natural evil, which would include such things as tornadoes, earthquakes, famine (although famine can often be the result of moral evil perpetrated by those who devastate a country through greed or theft), floods, and disease. Is God sovereign over natural evil? Does he exert absolute control over these events in nature, such that he could, if he willed to do so, prevent them from happening or redirect their course and minimize the extent of damage they incur? Yes.

Moral evil has reference to the decisions made by human beings. Does God have sovereignty over the will of man? Can he stir the heart of an unbeliever to do his will? Can he frustrate the will of a person whose determination is to do evil and thereby prevent sin from happening? When a Christian does what is right, to whom should the credit and praise be given? And how is it possible for God to exert sovereignty over all of life without undermining the moral responsibility of men and women? These are the questions that find their answer in Scripture.

(1) Numerous biblical texts explicitly teach that God exerts complete sovereignty and meticulous control over all the so-called forces of “nature.” I encourage you to take time to read Psalms 104; 147:8-9, 14-18; 148:1-12. Also consider Job 9:5-10; 26:7-14; 37:2-24; 38:8-41. Other texts include:

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom; and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses” (Jer. 10:12-13).

“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things” (Jer. 14:22).

“I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither” (Amos 4:7).

“When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread . . .” (Psalm 105:16).

Jesus exercised this authority/sovereignty when he rebuked the storm on the Sea of Galilee, provoking this response from his disciples:

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. . . . And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:39-41).

Does this mean that God can put a halt to the destructive path of a tornado or redirect its trajectory, or that he can stop the waves of a tsunami? Yes.

(2) God is also sovereign over events that from our limited human point of view appear to be entirely random:
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33).

(3) His sovereignty extends to the affairs of our daily lives and the plans we make for each day:

“A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21)

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . . Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).

(4) God is sovereign over both life and death. Many are ready to concede that God is sovereign over the beginning of life but they do not like the idea that God is sovereign over the time and manner of its end. But note the following:

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39)

“The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Samuel 12:6)

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15). Continue reading

Antifa Nuttiness, Pro-life #epicfail, and the Solas

Here’s my interview on the Apologia Radio broadcast:

Apologia writes: There are episodes of Apologia Radio there are simply “Don’t miss”. This is one of those! We have a very special guest, John Samson. We discuss his newest book defending the “Five Solas”. We also spend time talking about our run-in with Antifa outside of Planned Parenthood. They call themselves the “John Brown Gun Club”. Who was John Brown? He was a murderous thug. Appropriate hero for Antifa (I guess).

We also expose a tragic and #epicfail of the Pro-life movement. You need to hear it.”

My portion begins around the 48 minute mark at this link.

3 Ways Ministry Can Make You Conceited

I don’t always find myself in agreement with Tim Keller, but this article is very insightful (original source here).

“Ministry will lead to conceit unless God intervenes.” — Tim Keller

I’ve been in ordained vocational ministry for 42 years. Many who started with me didn’t get to the finish line. It’s a grievous percentage. One of the main reasons so many didn’t last, I think, is because no one warned them about the ways ministry can tempt you with pride.

This is where Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 have been so helpful to me as a pastor. Paul—the very apostle trained in theology and for ministry by the actual risen Christ—warns us that theological training and life in ministry can lead to conceit if you fail to cooperate with Christ’s gracious intervention.

Here are three ways ministry can make you conceited unless God intervenes. Pastors, be warned.

1. Theological Knowledge Can Puff You Up

First, there’s the conceit of theological knowledge. Now, you might think, It’s a stretch to say Paul is arguing theological knowledge leads to conceit. But elsewhere he says, “We all possess knowledge, but knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:1–2).

Here he’s explicitly talking about theological knowledge. Some in Corinth had the right theological knowledge about meat offered to idols, but what did it lead to? Being puffed up. He’s saying something simple here. Knowing the truth has a tendency to inflate you. You become self-involved, proud of your knowledge and insight. Love, on the other hand, is self-emptying.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way:

Whenever you allow your relationship to the truth to become purely theoretical and academic, you’re falling into the grip of Satan. . . . The moment in your study you cease to come under the power of the truth, you have become a victim of the Devil. If you can study the Bible without being searched and examined and humbled, without being lifted up and made to praise God, or moved with sorrow over what God has endured in you, or amazed that the beauty and wisdom of what Christ has done for you, if you do not feel as much of a desire to sing when you’re alone in your study as when you’re standing in the pulpit, you are in bad shape. And you should always feel something in this power.

Lloyd-Jones proceeds to identify the marks of someone who’s learned to master the Bible as a set of mere information, not extraordinary power. One mark is you become a spiritual crank. A spiritual crank is someone always complaining about relatively fine shades of doctrinal distinctions, always denouncing in arguments over Bible translations or denouncing people on the wrong side of the latest theological controversy. A spiritual crank treats the Word of God as something you use, not something that uses you. He’s puffed up on intellectual pride and his theological tribe.

2. Ministry Can Become a False Identity

The second conceit comes from a false identity created by ministry. You will tend to identify personally with your ministry so much so that its success (or lack thereof) becomes your success (or lack thereof). Once you begin to identify in this way, you’ll create a false identity based on your performance as a minister.

This kind of false identity can manifest itself in at least four ways:

1. Success

Any of us can build a false identity based on circumstances and performance. You go to church every Sunday. You say you’re a Christian. You have three homes. You appear to be successful, and that’s your identity. But it now suddenly looks like you’re going to lose your career or your wealth. You think, I can’t let that happen! And even though you’re a Christian, you embezzle. You cheat. You exploit. You trample somebody else and destroy his career in order to stay where you are.

Every single Christian struggles with a false identity. Every non-Christian has a false identity. Those of us in full-time ministry will face the sting of success one way or another. When people come to your church, you’re going to feel like they are affirming you, and when people leave your church, you’re going to feel like it’s a personal attack.

2. Criticism

If your ministry becomes your false identity, you won’t be able to handle criticism. Criticism will come and be so traumatic because it questions how good a pastor you are. Criticism says, “You know, your preaching really isn’t very good . . . I want my preacher to be better.” It feels like a personal attack. The criticism either devastates you or you dismiss it and don’t grow from it.

3. Cowardice

If your ministry becomes your false identity, you will succumb to cowardice. There are two kinds of cowardice. There’s true cowardice—being afraid to rock the boat or to offend the people who give the most money to the church or to preach a word that turns young people off. That’s true cowardice.

But there’s another kind of cowardice that I call “counterfeit” cowardice. This is the cowardice of being too abrasive, of being too harsh, of running people off and then saying, “See, I’m valiant for truth.” This also comes from identifying with your ministry. It’s not who you are in Christ; it’s who you are in your ministry.

4. Comparisons

One last sign you’ve fallen into a false identity is you cannot stand comparisons. You get envious when you see others succeeding who you don’t think work as hard as you do or are not as theologically astute as you are.

3. Ministry Can Make You More Outward Focused

When you speak to people about God, you have two options: commune with God or act like you commune with God. Since the minister’s job is to tell people how great God is and how wonderful the Christian life can be, his life needs to reflect it. So you either have to be close to God as you minister or you have to act close to God. Either you truly learn how to commune with God or you learn how to fake it. You talk as if you’re a lot closer to God than you actually are. And not only do people start to think that, but you start to think it, too. This can be devastating for your heart.

On Jesus’s last night with the disciples, he said one of them would betray him (John 13:21). It’s interesting to consider how the disciples responded. They all look around and ask who this person is. In fact, after Jesus tells them that it’s the one he gives bread to, they still don’t get it. You know why? Because Judas didn’t look any different than they did. Outwardly, he was an effective minister; but inwardly, there was nothing there. He took care of his outward life more than his inward life. Jonathan Edwards, in his great book Charity and Its Fruits, talks about the fact that God used Judas even though he wasn’t saved. We don’t want that to be our legacy in ministry.

But here’s where hypocrisy starts. Ministry is either going to make you a far better Christian or a far worse Christian than you would have been otherwise. It’s going to make you a hard pharisaical hypocrite or it’s going to turn you into a softer, more tender person because it forces you to go to the throne of grace and to beg the Lord for help in your weakness. The ministry will either drive you to him or drive you away from him. Like Judas, you choose what life you care for.

Overcome Your Conceits

So how do we overcome these conceits?

Remember Paul’s situation in 2 Corinthians. He’s facing false apostles and teachers who are saying he doesn’t have the credentials to be a true apostle. Paul counters that he does have the credentials—but not the kind we would expect. He inverts all the categories. Instead of boasting about his theological knowledge, great success, or picture-perfect outward life, he boasts in insults, hardships, and being run out of town on a rail. This is how he contends that God is truly with him. He tells us to look at all the things God has done to bring him to his knees.

Pastor, consider all the things God has done to break your pride. Look at all the ways he’s brought you to the end of yourself so that you would cling to him more tightly. Let all your failures and disappointments and weaknesses drive you like a nail into the love of God. Only by embracing them will you ever become a true minister and make it to the finish line.