Outsourcing Discipleship

The English language changes more than just about any other language out there, and I’m old enough now that I have seen new words come into common use.  One of those words is “outsourcing”.  For those of you who aren’t up on business jargon, outsourcing is when a company decides to contract out services that it used to provide internally.  For instance, a small business might decide to shut down its marketing department and outsource that to a marketing firm.

In the business world, this can often make a lot of sense.  However, as always, we must be cautious with our applications of worldly wisdom to the spiritual realm.  In particular, we ought to be wary of the dangers of outsourcing our discipleship to the church. Continue reading

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Biblical Opposites That Aren’t

In my 13 years of preaching, I’ve seen a lot of different arguments made about the Bible, some that I think are valid, some that I think aren’t.  In the latter category, I have to put the arguments that try to pit the Bible against itself.  When this happens, somebody tries to deny Scripture A or Concept A by pointing to an apparently contradictory Scripture B or Concept B.  Their conclusion is that because B is true, they get to ignore A.

I have problems with that.  The Bible is, of course, the word of God.  It is inspired and inerrant.  As a result, it’s impossible for the Scripture to truly contradict itself.  Any contradictions that we think we run into, then, or any two Biblical concepts that we think are opposed to each other, are only that way in our own heads and not in reality.  This morning, then, I want to sort out some of the confusion.  I want to look at some supposed Biblical opposites that aren’t. Continue reading

The “Why” of Obedience

Like many kids who were brought up attending a non-institutional church in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I heard a lot of sermons about strictly obeying God’s word.  In fact, I think it’s fair to say that it was the favorite topic for a sermon or a Bible class.  The elders back then were men who had been through the big brotherhood blowups in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and they came away from that saying “Never again.”  As it should, the preaching reflected the elders’ concerns.

Those elders and preachers were good men to whom I owe a debt, but there was one thing that always bothered me about those sermons.  They were very clear about what we should do, but they were less clear about why we should do it.  When they did provide reasons, they provided reasons like, “Because it’s what the Bible says,” or “Because God will blast us if we don’t.”

Now, I think those things are true, but they also provide a woefully incomplete picture of the Scriptural witness on the subject.  Why should we care about measuring our work here by the standard of the Scriptures?  Why should it be important to us to do all things in the name or the Lord?  Let’s answer these questions by taking a look at the why of obedience. Continue reading

Titus 1

A couple of weeks ago, I declared my intention to devote my Sunday nights to expository preaching, and that I intended to begin my program with working through the book of Romans.  I’m still on track for the first part of that, but I’ve hit a snag with the second.  The elders pointed out something that I hadn’t noticed, which is that in 2018, I’m actually scheduled to teach a class on Romans, and I agreed that when there is so much Bible to cover, focusing that much attention on one book, however worthy, probably isn’t for the best!

Consequently, I decided to turn my expository attention elsewhere, and after a few moments, I settled on the book of Titus.  I think that Titus is kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of New-Testament epistles.  It never gets any respect!  Even though it’s a short book, it’s loaded with all kinds of practical teaching that will help us get to heaven.  With that in mind, then, let’s consider Titus 1. Continue reading

Romans 1-2

Every preacher out there has his own personal quirks, and one of mine is that I prefer to preach expository sermons. Certainly, topical and textual sermons have their place, but in the pulpit, there is nothing I’d rather do than take a big chunk of God’s word and explain it so that God’s people can understand it. Indeed, unless the elders ask me to preach on something else, I’d like to focus my pulpit time on Sunday evenings on expository preaching. I believe that the better we know the whole counsel of God, the more likely we are to inherit eternal life.

In this, I want to start with the book of Romans. It is one of the most important books of the New Testament, and it is also one of the books most distorted by false teaching. If we want to understand the gospel and teach it to our neighbors, we have to understand Romans. There’s no other way to get there. Let’s begin this evening, then, with Romans 1-2.

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Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

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One of the oddest characteristics of the Bible is its habit of casually tossing off profound thoughts. Some Biblical author will be talking along about something else entirely, then as an aside, say a few words that would be the high point of the career of a religious philosopher, then return to the original line of argument without missing a beat.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in 2 Corinthians 5:7. In context, Paul is discussing his yearning to be with the Lord in heaven and his consequent determination to live a life that will please Him. As part of this, he says of the reason for his confidence in this course of life, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Then, he goes right back to talking about confidence.

Paul uses this as almost a throwaway line, but its implications are profound. If we walk by faith, but the people of the world around us walk by sight, we’re going to live a dramatically different life than they do. Let’s consider, then, walking by faith, not by sight.

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