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

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Choosing a Reading Bible (Summary)

Other than evangelism, there is probably nothing on the discipleship to-do list that causes more angst than daily Bible reading.  All kinds of people who are good, faithful Christians struggle mightily to stick to a reading schedule.  At Jackson Heights, we’re about to switch over to a new program at the beginning of the new year, so January 1 will be a great time for brethren who haven’t been able to make it work to make another attempt.  Reading the Bible daily makes for a great New Year’s resolution!

However, brethren who have had trouble in the past are well advised to think about what they can do differently.  There are a number of different strategies we can try to get that daily reading in, but one that Christians are prone to overlook is choosing the right Bible.  Continue reading

A New-to-Me Argument for Church Cooperation

A few days ago, Rufus Clifford, one of the elders here, lent me a book entitled Pursuing the Pattern, edited by Jim Deason.  It contains 14 essays, half by preachers from non-institutional backgrounds, half by preachers from institutional backgrounds, addressing various topics related to institutionalism.

In particular, Rufus urged me to read the essays written by institutional brethren.  He (correctly) observed that the only way to truly understand a position is to read defenses of that position by those who believe in it.  It’s awfully easy for non-institutional Christians to set up strawmen and knock them down.  However, that’s not fair either to the institutional perspective and those who support it. 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

Church Security, the Bible, and the Law

Ever since the Sutherland Springs shooting this Sunday, brethren have been debating the issue of whether churches should have armed security to protect congregations from shooters.  I’ve seen the arguments online, and I suspect they’ve been happening in real life as well.  I think that both sides have some points to make, but I also see some important aspects to the Scriptural witness on the subject that have been overlooked. Continue reading