Have you noticed?
Christian organizations everywhere are emphasizing the importance of engaging in practical ways with the poor and needy. The talk is of ‘impacting people’s lives for the Kingdom’ and ‘responding to Jesus’ call to look after the poorest and most vulnerable’.
This is a good thing, surely? Is this not simply following the example that Jesus set? And does not Paul exhort the Galatians to ‘do good to all’ (Gal. 6:10)?
This short video makes a pertinent observation. (For best results, choose ‘720p’ and view full screen.)
Try this experiment:
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.
Which of these two statements is true?
- We are never permitted to sin.
- We cannot avoid sinning.
Both of these assertions appear in an excellent article by Todd Wilken (of the Issues, Etc radio programme). Todd writes:
They seem so different. One person lives his life striving for moral perfection. The other person doesn’t try that hard. The first is convinced that he can avoid sinning, if he tries hard enough. The second is equally convinced that he can’t avoid sinning, so why try at all? After all, He says, ‘I like to sin; God likes to forgive; that’s a pretty good deal.’ The first is all about keeping the rules; the second is all about breaking them.
The first is a legalist. The second is licentious. They seem very different, don’t they?
Which are you? A legalist? Or licentious? Either way, you won’t regret reading the full article:
Thank you to my friend Paula Coyle of Purpose Drivel (please visit!) for bringing this article to my attention, and for the opening question to this post.
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:
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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.
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?
I was asked to talk on this topic for a carol service at the local sheltered housing complex just before Christmas. What a great subject! But, how to do it justice in ‘about 5 minutes’? Give me an hour, and no problem. But a mere 300 seconds? That’s hard!
And how in that short time do I weave in not just the good news of Christ crucified for sinners and raised from the dead, but also the reason for that gospel — our failure to keep God’s law? After all, there’s no sense in talking about the Saviour unless you first explain what we all need to be saved from — the just wrath of a holy and righteous God that we each have earned by our sin.
Crosstalk has a radio broadcast of a talk by Paul Washer, given in February 2008. Paul, in his usual uncompromising and clear way, presents the essence of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ. Well worth a listen.
The Crosstalk site also offers this broadcast in RealAudio and Windows Media formats.
In 1 Samuel 15, we read God’s instruction to King Saul to punish the city of Amalek by utterly destroying it. Not one man, woman, child, ox, sheep, camel or donkey was to be spared. Saul carries out the command – almost. But, he does not execute Agag, king of the Amalekites, and he spares the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs and ‘all that was good’.
The prophet Samuel confronts Saul with his sin, and pronounces God’s judgment with these words: