Recent blog posts
The command to repent is right at the core of the Gospel message preached in the New Testament, but repentance sits very ill with today’s self-righteous society. Three possible approaches are:
Unwilling to limit the gospel to the obviously immoral (a), to focus on moralism (b) or to change the Gospel (c), I want to find a way of convicting people of their most important sin—failure to love and acknowledge God as their creator and Lord.
The second target I want to hit is the politically correct pluralism that says: “I am not against your god—he is fine for you. I am not his enemy, I am just neutral in this whole god debate.”
The reality is that we are either for God or against him. But how do you convince people of that?
My suggestion is an approach in which we start with what God is doing—He is involved in a cosmic struggle to root out every form of evil and injustice in the universe. Given this situation, not to be on God’s side is actually to help his enemies.
This is especially true when you consider that the forces of evil are united by one thing: Denial of God’s rights as their Lord.
So if you do not acknowledge God, then you are siding with his enemies[read more...]
Paul is arrested in Jerusalem by the Roman soldiers. As he is being carried away he says to the captain, “I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:39)
Remarkably, Paul is given permission. “Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:”
What will he say? Now is his opportunity to preach Christ and him crucified.
…but no! Instead, Paul gives his testimony!! What on earth was he thinking?
I recently listened to a podcast from the White Horse Inn about how inappropriate it is to give one’s testimony when presenting the Gospel. One of the speakers said
So why did Paul not take this golden opportunity to preach “the Biblical Gospel” but instead told his story. Actually it is worse that that—Paul’s testimony is actually repeated no less than three times in Acts. Luke gives it to us, and then Paul tells it on two occasions rather than giving a more cross-centred Gospel message.
So why does Paul do this? The answer is very simple: first and foremost Jesus tells us to be witnesses.
The biblical scholar, Professor A. A. Trites, looked at all the Greek terms in the New Testament used to refer to evangelism and came to the conclusion that the word translated as ‘witness’ or ‘testimony’ occurs more often that all the others put together. He published this in an excellent book entitled The New Testament Concept of Witness.
The book was later republished in a popular format as New Testament Witness in Today's World and in it he states, that the group of related “witness” words appear over two hundred times in the New Testament (p.9)
Paul didn’t just spin an interesting yarn. His testimonies were very focused. If you compare the account that Luke gives us together with Paul’s two accounts, some valuable insights can be gained into Paul’s strategy.
Your main evangelistic responsibility as a Christian is simply to be a witness to Jesus and what he has done for you.
We have several detailed accounts of Paul preaching the Gospel. It is very interesting to see how different his message is when he is preaching to pagan Gentiles as compared with his message to Jews.
The two occasions are:
It is quite remarkable how similar these two sermons are. I have laid the two passages out in parallel here: Paul preaching to pagan Gentiles--Acts 14 and 17 laid out in parallel.
Here are some observations:
The first example of Gospel preaching after the cross was that of Peter. We have five examples of his preaching recorded in Acts.
What is remarkable about these five sermons is that they all have the same outline! In Gospel preaching in Acts: The preaching of Peter I have put all five in parallel and examined the similarities and differences.
I took a somewhat different approach when I preached this, focussing on the second of the five addresses, and thinking about how we can follow Peter’s example in a day when such dramatic miracles are not as common.
Brief notes and audio are here: The Gospel Pt2--The Preaching of Peter
What is the Gospel?
Back when I was in my early 20’s a friend asked me how she could become a Christian. I thought I had all the answers and had read all the best Reformed books, but was frustrated at the questions she kept coming up with. There seemed to be a mis-match between the books I read and how it was done in the New Testament.
Years later, when I came to do my M.Div thesis, I thought “this is a chance to really come to grips with this question.” I narrowed the subject down to Gospel Preaching in Acts✽ and systematically analysed the contents of the book.
First, thank you for your sincere response! I am going to respond back to you point by point. I appreciate also the comments of RB.
Last Sunday we were staying in a cottage in the Bruce Peninsula and visited Light and Life Community Chapel, Tobermory.
The Pastor, Jerry Clubine, was preaching on Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He pointed out that poverty is usually considered a bad thing, so how can Jesus say it is blessed?
The answer is in how we define what it means to be poor in spirit. What Jesus is talking about is a recognition that we do not have what we need by ourselves, but need God to give us a “download” of his spiritual filling. The poverty is a recognition of need.
I think this was an excellent explanation of the text, but I had a couple of thoughts about it afterwards that I would liked to have been able to discuss with Jerry.[read more...]
I remember coming across this phrase as a section heading in Paul, an Outline of his theology by Herman Ridderbos. It was so exciting to read and I felt as if whole vistas of understanding were opened up to me.
That book together with Resurrection and Redemption by Richard Gaffin are two books that have made the biggest impact on me in my understanding of the Apostle Paul.
I imagine these concepts like a great range of underwater mountains that penetrate the surface of the ocean as groups of islands. In the same way, once you grasp Paul's underlying framework, you can see it poking through in numerous places in his letters.
For me, one of the most fundamental of the fundamental structures is Paul's teaching on the "Two Worlds", or if you prefer, "Two Aeons". Jesus leaves the old, entering the tomb and then is raised a new being. We follow by virtue of being united with him. This my picture of how I think of it:
Last Sunday evening I spoke at TACF on the subject of "What it means to live under the New Covenant" as part of their "Equipping series". Of all the subjects I speak on, this is probably the one that is most important and foundational for the Christian. It is also one that I get very excited about.
I have uploaded the video to Youtube:
If the above video does not play smoothly for you try the following link:
Please don't be offended at the way I have involved the audience in role-playing some of the scenes. I am not trying to be disrespectful to God, I just feel that there is much more of an impact when people are more involved.
All my notes (fairly detailed), illustrations and Scripture passages are at loveintruth.com/newcovenant - What it means to live under the New Covenant
The video can also be downloaded to your computer from the following links:
There is a debate going on right now about whether a church that holds to believer's baptism should allow someone who has not been baptized to be a member, or even to break bread together with the rest of the church.
I find myself very much in agreement with Sam Storm, who writes:
Let me be clear on one thing. I am a credo-baptist, not a paedo-baptist. That is to say, I believe that only those who believe in Jesus Christ should receive the ordinance of water baptism. I also believe that the proper mode of baptism is by immersion. Ligon Duncan, on the other hand, is a Presbyterian paedo-baptist. Because of this, both Mark Dever and Al Mohler made it clear that if Duncan were in attendance at either of their churches they would not permit him to partake of the elements of the Lord's Supper.[read more...]