The Superiority of the Son

Ever since I started preaching the gospel, I’ve made a point of trying to honor the sermon requests that people make.  A few weeks ago, I got one such request from Cindy Coleman.  She asked me if I’d be willing to preach a sermon on Jesus.

It’s a rare gospel preacher who could refuse a request like that!  Last week, as I was trying to decide what to say about Jesus, my mind turned to the book of Hebrews.  Hebrews was my dad’s favorite book of the Bible, and it also says many things about Jesus that are not found anywhere else.  As a result, I decided it would be profitable to all of us if we looked at the Hebrews writer’s opening arguments about Jesus.  Let’s consider, then, what he tells us about the superiority of the Son. Continue reading

Encourage One Another

I’ve heard it said that it takes 10 compliments to cancel out one criticism.  As a parent, that makes me wonder if criticisms in chunks count as one criticism, like when I have to tell my kids five times in succession to stop messing with something.  Does that count as five or one?  If it’s five, their self-esteem might never recover!

Even if the precise math here might be up for debate, the overall principle isn’t.  Children or grownups alike, all of us appreciate positive feedback and reinforcement.  When we don’t get that positive reinforcement, whether verbally or through some other means, we’re less likely to continue doing the right thing.

This is particularly important when it comes to serving God.  Christians who never receive any praise, any sign that they matter to somebody else, any kind word at all, may well end up falling away.  From time to time, all of us need somebody to lift our spirits and help us to keep going.  As part of our series on being heaven bound together, then, let’s consider what we can do to encourage one another. Continue reading

Heaven Bound Together

Earlier this year, Shawn and I preached a series on how all of us, no matter what our individual life situation, can still be people who are bound for heaven.  There’s a sense in which every one of us has to make that journey for ourselves.

However, there’s also a sense in which we can’t make it by ourselves.  There is no such thing as a lone-ranger disciple.  Without the help of our brothers and sisters, none of us are going to inherit eternal life.  This morning, then, I’m going to kick off a new sermon series, one that looks at how we can be heaven bound together. Continue reading

Grace-Filled Living

It’s commonly said that in the churches of Christ, “we” don’t spend enough time talking about grace.  That may well be true in some churches, but I don’t think that anybody but God knows enough about our extremely diverse brotherhood to correctly describe what we do or don’t emphasize in our peaching.

Additionally, I think that sometimes the people who make such comments have trouble understanding Biblical grace, as opposed to pop-culture Christianity grace.  The two are very different concepts.  Pop-culture grace just kind of rolls over you while you do nothing; Biblical grace demands that you get up and do something.  Faith in Jesus and obedience to Jesus aren’t contradictory; instead, they’re two halves of the same whole.  Let’s consider this evening, then, what grace-filled living looks like. Continue reading

After “Are You Heaven Bound?”

Last Sunday was a particularly important Sunday for our congregation.  In addition to our weekly pattern of godly worship, which is always important, it also contained our long-awaited special service.  We’d been working toward “Are You Heaven Bound?” all year, and we’d been promoting it heavily for six weeks.  Now, the day has come and gone.

Before we put it completely in the rearview mirror, though, I want to spend some time talking about it.  I think there’s much to celebrate about what happened last Sunday, but I also think that there are several things we ought to learn from what happened.  Let’s consider, then, the lessons that are available for us after “Are You Heaven Bound?” Continue reading

Victory in Jesus

For our final lesson before the big special service this afternoon, I wanted to zoom out as far as I could and ask “Why?”  Why have we been putting so much effort into promoting this?  Why is it important to get as many people as possible here at 3?  For that matter, why should we be here?  To zoom out even further, why should we ourselves be Christians at all?

One of my favorite answers to these questions appears in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57.  Serving Jesus is worth it, and calling others to serve Him is worth it because through Jesus, we can have victory.  Indeed, victory over the greatest challenges of life is only possible through Jesus, which means that if we don’t live for Him, defeat is the only possible result.  Being in Christ transforms our lives, and it can transform the life of every human being on the planet.  Let’s consider this morning, then, how we can achieve victory in Jesus. Continue reading

Overcoming Fear

As we observed last week, one of the most common reasons that Christians give for not engaging in personal evangelism is fear.  They’re afraid that they might not know what to say, that somebody might get mad at them, or that the whole effort might go horribly wrong in some other way.  I can certainly identify with this.  Back before I became a preacher and had to learn to run studies whether I wanted to or not, I myself was afraid of personal work.

However, simply because this fear is common doesn’t make it something we can live with.  As Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 1, God hasn’t given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control.  Our brethren in the first century were bold, even to the point of risking and sometimes sacrificing their own lives.  If we want to be like the early disciples, we have to be bold too.  Fear isn’t a problem, but being paralyzed by our fears certainly is!  Let’s consider this morning, then, what we can do to overcome fear. Continue reading

Answering Common Challenges

As I first noted about a month ago now, Shawn and I are preaching concurrent sermon series on Sunday morning and Sunday evening, both pointing forward to our special service on April 15th.  In the morning, we continue to consider the subject of the resurrection, the foremost proof of our faith, and in the evening, topics pertaining to sharing our faith with the lost.

For many Christians, this is not their favorite spiritual activity!  In fact, they find it intimidating, and one of the things that intimidates them most about it is the possibility of somebody asking them something or saying something that they don’t know how to answer.  Some of these responses are novel, but many of them are extremely common.  This evening, then, I want to consider five of the most frequent, so that all of us will know how to answer these common challenges. Continue reading

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

During my last two sermons on the resurrection, I’ve basically been preaching in a phone booth.  In order to build a case that will stand up to scholarly skepticism, I’ve been limiting myself to the facts accepted by scholarly skeptics.  Now, though, that we’ve established the resurrection as a historical fact, there’s no longer any reason for skepticism.  We can turn to the recorded experience of the eyewitnesses.

The apostle John describes this experience in 1 John 1:1-2.  Even though he doesn’t say so explicitly, it’s clear here that he’s talking about the encounters of the early disciples with the risen Lord.  They saw Him, they examined Him, they touched His resurrected body, and they wrote down their experiences so we could know the truth.

This morning, then, let’s turn our attention to those records.  I’m going to do much more reading than normal and let the stories largely speak for themselves, but with each story, I will highlight a few things.  Let’s marvel together at the power of the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Resurrection Objections

Last week, we turned our attention to a book called The Case for the Resurrection, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona.  This book undertakes to establish the resurrection as a historical fact by using only evidence accepted by a scholarly consensus to prove its point.  In particular, Habermas and Licona rely on five “minimal facts” to build their argument.  These five facts are that (1) Jesus died on the cross, (2) the early disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus, (3) James the Lord’s brother believed that he had seen the risen Jesus, (4) Paul believed he had seen the risen Jesus, and (5) the tomb was empty.  Though none of these facts are persuasive on their own, together they support the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead.

However, for centuries, scholars have been attempting to come up with a naturalistic, non-supernatural explanation for these facts.  I agree that if one of these explanations fits the facts as neatly as the resurrection does, we should accept it.  After all, we generally think that natural explanations are preferable to supernatural ones.  It’s important that we explore these alternatives in good faith, so this morning, let’s consider objections to the resurrection. Continue reading