Rick Warren plays the Pharisee card

Rick Warren, CEO of Saddleback Church, yesterday played the Pharisee card. He wrote:

‘It drives Pharisees nuts to watch God keep blessing ministries they ridicule & despise.God’s sovereignty is often humorous.’

What’s the Pharisee card? Good question.

What is a sermon for, and is it right for us to judge a poor one?

My friend James kindly posted some thoughts in response to my How to diagnose a sermon article. That article gave a three-step diagnostic (courtesy of the Issues, Etc. radio programme) for reviewing sermons. You can read his comments in full on that article, but his three main points were:

  1. That I seemed to be ‘casting judgment on the speaker and the sermon rather than looking for the Lord to help you pick out those things from Him which are helpful for your sanctification and growth in Grace’.
  2. That there are some texts that do not lend themselves to a forthright preaching of Christ. The commandment not to commit adultery, for example. And that, therefore, the steps for diagnosing a sermon that I propagated cannot be justly applied to the preaching of such texts.
  3. That a lecture by Dr. Peter Masters (of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London) perhaps did not seem to fit the criteria I recited in my article, and that therefore my yardstick might be invalid.

I found myself writing enough in response to these points to warrant a separate blog post.

Luther’s Small Catechism on the Ten Commandments: Introduction

In times past, many Christians used to educate their children and new converts in the basics of the Christian faith by way of catechisms.

Some still do.

The rest of us might want to give the idea some serious thought, for our times are not so very different from those in which Luther found himself:

What if? (Absolute truth)

Many people in the Church seem to be asking ‘What if’ questions. Which started me thinking…

What if…there exists a truth
which is absolute?

What if…it is true that
there is a God?

What if…this God made
the heavens and the earth?

The point of the ‘sheep and the goats’ passage is NOT that we should try harder to do good works

During his Olivet discourse, Jesus tells His disciples of the coming day of judgment when He shall separate the sheep from the goats:

31When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Am I wasting my time studying 2,000 year-old texts?

Someone called Bill left a comment on my previous post. Bill asks a good question, namely this:

Is it worthwhile for us to spend significant amounts of time studying the Bible, the newest parts of which were written over 1,900 years ago?

Yes! In every way.

Why do I believe this?

An exercise in paying close attention to the text – should elders be married and have children?

I’m guessing that your church’s elders/pastors/shepherds/overseers/bishops – Biblically, all the same office – are not required to have children, right?

Given that opening question and the title of this article, you might be expecting me now to try and convince you that they should.

Nope, that’s not it.

I am going to make the argument that elders should have children. But not because I want to persuade you of this. No, rather because I hope my argument is wrong and I want you to show me why. I can’t see the flaw, but perhaps you can. And if so, please leave a comment and tell me what it is. I’d be very grateful, as I am rather uncomfortable with an interpretation that has been in the minority throughout much of church history. Think of this as a personal doctrinal loose-end that I’d like to tie up.

Does God have two wills?

If it is true that the Bible teaches that God unconditionally (i.e. not on the basis of foreseen faith) chooses those who are to be saved, and it does, does the Bible contradict itself when it says that God ‘desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4)?

Put another way, if God really desires all men to be saved, why does He only choose some of them actually to be saved, while eternally condemning others?

In his article, Are There Two Wills in God? John Piper addresses this apparent problem head-on. He gives a cogent and coherent Bible-based explanation of how divine election and God’s desire for all to be saved are two harmonious and consistent truths.

Free Bible reading chart: keep track as you read through the Bible

You want to read through the Bible methodically, but it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve read, right? Here is a simple solution, without the restrictions of traditional Bible reading plans: the BetterThanSacrifice.org Bible Reading Chart! It lists every single chapter of the Bible; simply cross-off each one as you read it.

Download either of these files, then print using the Acrobat Reader:

Did you know that you can complete the whole Bible in a year if you read just 3 chapters each weekday, and 4 on Saturdays and Sundays?

‘History and Theology of the Puritans’ lecture series by J I Packer (audio)

My wife and I have recently finished listening to Dr Packer’s lectures on the Puritans, recorded about 20 years ago at Reformed Theological Seminary. The Puritans did not conform to the misleading stereotypes that we have of them, but had a zeal for making the most of life by putting into practice what they found in Scripture. Dr Packer is engaging on this important subject, and we give the series our wholehearted recommendation.

You can hear this series for free via RTS on iTunes U. You can access the series here, or, once you’ve managed to get to the iTunes U area in the iTunes Store, navigate to Reformed Theological Seminary > RTS/Virtual Courses in Church History > History and Theology of the Puritans.