I love being a part of the Acts 29 Network. I love what sets us apart from other networks as a brotherhood of relationships and the doctrinal distinctiveness. The video below, Sam Storms explains our doctrinal distinctiveness. One of the things I appreciate is how we are growing in our articulation of the role of women in the local church which you can find around minute 30.
We need to remember that doctrine is important, but it is just one dimension of the gospel. When we reduce the gospel to doctrines, facts, arguments, and bible verses, we refuse to embody the humbling, personally transforming power of the gospel. Blinded by our longings to be right, we can easily become imbalanced. As a result, we may know the truth about Jesus, but lack the power to personally change and lack an outward focus on loving others. So, while the gospel is doctrinal, it is also much more. -Jonathan Dodson, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing
I’ve heard a lot of sermons that are just dry and boring. In fact, I’ve preached sermons that are dry and boring.
What makes a sermon dry and boring?
When a pastor preaches everything he has read, making his sermon more of a commentary book report. Or, when he takes all the theology in the passage and has a debate about it, not making it personal or matter.
Does every theology matter to everyday life?
The sovereignty of God affects our view of pain and good times. The love of God affects how we view ourselves, our sin and God.
This past Sunday I preached on the resurrection. It is easy if you are a Christian to take this doctrine for granted. You’ve heard Easter sermons. You’ve read the gospels. But think for a minute, someone rose from the dead. Think how insane that sounds.
But, as I read books on the resurrection, they focused simply on the debate surrounding the resurrection. This is helpful and good. The problem, especially in the reformed circles I run in, is that most sermons simply stop at the debate or information about the resurrection.
The resurrection matters more than just a debate.
Without the resurrection, there is no hope for us. There is no freedom from sin and death. There is no hope after death. There is no hope for freedom from addiction and pain. There is no hope that one day the world will be made right.
You cannot simply teach the truth of a doctrine, you must show how that truth impacts your daily life so that your church sees the beauty of that doctrine.
Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.
- Eric Simmons on I hate porn, I love Jesus.
- The difference between buzzwords and leadership.
- Melissa Kruger on The loving intolerance of God.
- How some not famous pastors prep a sermon. Great wisdom here.
- Carey Nieuwhof on 3 essentials for a leader’s inner circle. As a leader, the people closest to you is one of the most important decisions you will make.
- Brian Dodd on 10 practices of leaders of fast growing churches.
- Dan Reiland on 10 basic people skills leaders should have.
- Why I believe in the doctrine of election.
Jimmy Fallon’s Best Musical Impersonations
Sunday, I continued our series in the book of John and looked at John 1:1 – 18 and sought to answer the question why we believe Jesus is God. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
The question of whether Jesus is God, if he was a man while on earth, was he God on earth has been debated since Jesus was alive. The theological term for our belief that Jesus was God in human flesh is what theologians called The Hypostatic Union which means “Jesus has two distinct natures: humanity and deity, there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures, although he has two natures, Jesus is one person.”
On Sunday, I gave 8 reasons why we as a church believe Jesus is God (you can find these 8 reasons in the great book Doctrine by Mark Driscoll):
- God the Father said Jesus was God (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).
- The Demons said Jesus was God (Mark 1:24, 34, Luke 4:33 – 34, 41).
- Jesus said He was God (Matthew 26:63 – 65, Mark 10:17 – 18, 14:61 – 64, John 5:18, 6:38, 8:58 – 59, 14:6).
- The Bible plainly says Jesus is God (Matthew 1:23, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, 3:4, 1 John 5:20, 2 Peter 3:18).
- Jesus is given the names of God (Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62 – 64, Luke 21:27, 22:69, John 5:17 – 29, Acts 1:9 – 11, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7).
- Jesus possessed the attributes of God (Psalm 139:7 – 12, Matthew 11:27, 28:18, 20, John 1:1, 2:25, 4:18, 16:30, 17:5, 1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17).
- Jesus did the works of God (Matthew 12:24, 27:42, Luke 5:20 – 21, John 10:36 – 39, 11:47, 20:30 – 31).
- People worshiped Jesus as God (Deut. 6:13, 10:20, Matthew 4:10, 15:25, John 5:23, Acts 7:59 – 60, 10:25 – 26).
You definitely want to make plans to be at Revolution Church on Sunday as we continue in John and look at John 1:19 – 34 and how Jesus moves in our world and how He works. It is definitely going to be an eye opening morning.
Saturday night at Revolution I continued our series in the book of Jude and preached from Jude 5 – 23 on the topic of hell and the afterlife. If you missed it, you can listen here.
I’ll be honest, preaching on hell is not that much fun. While I was prepping last week, reading through what theologians have thought throughout history was quite overwhelming. Even though there are some authors today that would like everyone to believe that hell doesn’t exist or that Christians in the early church didn’t believe in hell, or that everyone will go to heaven, that just isn’t the case.
It seems that in our desire to not make people uncomfortable, I had a pastor tell me recently he’d never preach on hell because it would make people uncomfortable. Yet, hell is in the Bible. Death, the afterlife, heaven, hell, are all questions many in our culture wrestle with. Things they wonder about. In the midst of pain, death, sickness, they wonder. And scripture is clear on it.
Here are a few thoughts on how to handle preaching on the doctrine of hell:
- Do it. Don’t be afraid. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. No one likes to think about death or what happens after death, but they need to know what Scripture says about it.
- Do so with tears in your eyes. This quote came up in a book I read on the doctrine of hell, I believe it was credited to Martin Luther. When preaching on hell, it should bring you to tears. Hell is real. Forever is a long time. People, some we know and love, will spend eternity apart from God. This should drive us to weep.
- Don’t be prideful. Many seem to read about hell and immediately get prideful that they are heading to heaven. While Matthew 7 should be a sobering text on the reality that many are not sure where they will spend eternity. Whenever we read about heaven and hell in Scripture, it should produce a huge amount of humility, but God’s grace and mercy we can be rescued from hell and given heaven.
- Be clear. Don’t mince words, don’t be shy about it. Read what Scripture says, describe it. Be clear what it means to be separated from God. Be clear about what it means to be dead in your sin.
- Hell should drive you to mission. One of the things I love about Jude is that it ends in verse 23 with a call to mission. The reality of hell, the beauty of grace should drive us to mission, to tell the world about this beautiful thing called grace.
- It is all about Jesus. Jude ends with a beautiful description of Jesus, how he is the one who saves us, preserves us, and presentes us blameless. Our rescue from hell is only because of him, not us or anything we’ve done. We deserve hell, but are given grace.
- Support causes through designer T-shirts. This is such a cool idea.
- 10 ways to not grow a church.
- Sean Mortenson on 8 things you need to know about the Bible. If you have questions about the Bible and how we got it, this is worth reading.
- Perry Noble on 10 reasons you should not be dating him or her.
- John MacArthur answers questions from his church after spending over 30 years preaching through the New Testament. There is a whole conference worth of wisdom here for pastors and leaders.
- The #1 threat to the church today.
- Jamie Munson on 10 things to remember when building a leadership team.
- Jason Locy on When it comes to adoption, Christians should put up or shut up.
- Satan’s plan for your family.
- Tim Keller on The importance of hell. I realize the doctrine of hell is always a debated topic (especially in light of Rob Bell’s new book), but Keller offers some great insight, as usual, on how to handle this discussion and why it is important.
- Sex is cheap. Definitely highlights a major problem in culture, marriages and gives great insight into how the church can speak into the lives of men and women.
- 6 unfair market advantages you should steal from Apple. Definitely some things pastors and churches could learn from Apple.
- Russell Moore on God, Freedom, and “The Adjustment Bureau.”
- Chan Kilgore on Creating a culture of multiplication in your church.
- A very helpful review of Rob Bell’s new book (from someone who actually read the book).
- Jesus Christ: The Only Way and Our Only Hope. If you have ever wrestled with this question or had to answer it, this is definitely worth reading. It is a free chapter from Tim Challies from the book Don’t Call it a Comeback.
“The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic. The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
The second session of the Acts 29 boot camp in Phoenix was with Wayne Grudem and his talk was “Theology and the Surge.” The theme Surge is about moving the gospel into the city. You can follow updates from the boot camp here.
He focused on 2 verses, one in the Old Testament (Hosea 4:6) that shows why theology is important and one in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14) that shows how you teach theology in your church.
Here is some thoughts from his talk:
- Hosea 4:6 shows us why theology matters. There is no knowledge in the land, they lack knowledge of God.
- If you think that God created the world and will one day judge each person, then you will seek to live by his laws
- If you think that God is eternally joyful and that God seeks your eternal good and joy in relationship with him, you will seek to know him better
- Your only joy is running towards God, not running away from him
- Theology changes life, regardless of what that theology is
- The job of a pastor is to find faithful people, take what they know and entrust it to others, so they can teach it to others, that is how the gospel goes out
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14 shows how you teach and do theology in the local church
- Be watchful for danger in the church
- There will continually be attacks in the church in areas like the authority of the Bible, biblical standards of sexual conduct, faith is through grace and only through Jesus Christ, the idea of hell as the eternal conscious punishment, that men and women are equal but different, sexual relationships only within marriage, the idea of marriage
- The attacks from the enemy are solely to destroy the church
- In Acts 20:29 Paul warns the elders that attacks would come from outside of the church and from within the church
- When attacks come be watchful so you can see them coming and stand firm in the faith (Acts 20:26 – 27)
- Stand up and say what the Bible says and let God do the work, stand firm, teach it faithfully, even those things that will get you criticized or are unpopular
- Men stand firm in their faith (1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14)
- When you stand firm, do so in love
- Sound doctrine alone with grow a church or guarantee a ministry that is pleasing to God