Happy Easter everyone (or Resurrection Sunday if you prefer). I had hoped to publish this yesterday, but it wasn’t quite ready yet. Yesterday we went to our respective churches and celebrated that Jesus is no longer dead and in the grave, but rose again to life (possibly after an annual ritual of candy for breakfast …).
Praise God! That resurrection is our hope and without it we would be hopeless as Paul indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:12-22:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (ESV)
Today is the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, recalling the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Church door. Of course, other reformers came before him and many came after him. But this day in 1517 was certainly a watershed moment in history and the one we most remember.
In honor of that here is a series of messages I’ve been listening to on key theological tenets that the reformation recovered. These particular messages are from First Baptist Church of Manhattan, but there are many churches doing similar series to mark Reformation 500.
Soli Deo Gloria (only for God’s glory)
Sola Scriptura (Scripture is our authority)
Solus Christus (Christ alone)
Sola Fide (Faith alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
It is December 21st. Four more days to Christmas. Are you ready? Continue reading
Yesterday, my pastor preached on the necessity and miraculousness of Jesus’s virgin birth. Cribbing from my sermon notes I just wanted to share some relevant Bible passages with you.
Isaiah 7:13-15 “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.”
I picked up our Christmas tree last night, so I’m in a Christmas-y mood. That might be obvious with some, but not all, of this Don’t Miss List:
Rev. Kevin DeYoung pleads with pastors: Don’t cancel Sunday services for Christmas!
I LOVE THIS! As someone who loves Christmas Eve service but usually has to miss it in order to see all my cousins at our family party, I often wish more churches still held Christmas Day services (yes — that used to be a thing). Since this year, Christmas falls on a Sunday I really want to find a service to attend.
I greatly appreciated DeYoung’s letter here and the reasons he gives for not cancelling Christmas Sunday services at your church.
Here’s one of them: “It’s Christmas for crying out loud! It’s the day we celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the entrance into our world of the second Person of Trinity. Don’t we want to sing? Don’t we want to celebrate? Don’t we want to preach and praise and pray?”
I do want to sing and celebrate and hear the word. Pastors, please know that some of us really do want to be in your church this Christmas!
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Continue reading
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Continue reading
Hillsong is an enormous church network and through its music, the church reaches far outside of that network. Many churches use Hillsong songs on Sunday mornings. But I wonder how many of them ever stopped to examine the songs for doctrine.
That’s precisely what Chris Rosebrough, Steve Kozar and Amy Spreeman did on a recent episode of Fighting for the Faith. Given the popularity of the music I highly recommend listening to it.
For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied Again
Al Mohler Jr. brought up his concerns with Pastor Andy Stanley’s views about relying on Scripture and how it poses the same problem as theological liberalism did many years ago. Mohler writes:
Let’s be clear — Andy Stanley does not mean to deny the central truth claims of Christianity. In his message, “Who Needs God? The Bible Told Me So,” he affirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But he does so while undercutting our only means of knowing of Christ and his resurrection from the dead — the Bible.
And he does so directly and without risk of misunderstanding. In his message he stated: “So I need you to listen really carefully and the reason is this — perhaps you were taught, as I was taught, ‘Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ That is where our trouble began.”
Mohler has much more to say about Stanley’s recent sermon and I think, given Stanley’s influence in Christianity at large, it would be wise to read his entire post.