"The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Gibraltar of the Christian faith and the Waterloo of infidelity and rationalism."
“Nothing will give such power to our sermons, as when they are the sermons of many prayers. The best sermons are lost, except they be watered by prayer. It is easy to bring to our people the product of our own study; but the blessing belongs to the message delivered to them, as from the mouth of God.”
5 Most Ridiculous Books to Ever Become Christian Best Sellers
In the year 270, the slightly insane Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage because he believed married men made for bad soldiers. Ignoring the emperor, Bishop Valentine continued to marry young Christian lovers in secret until his disobedience was discovered... and he was sentenced to death.
According to R.C. Sproul, it's that you don't know who God is....
Take a couple of minutes to watch this video.
Substantive Discussions of Theological Topics
from a Reformed and Lutheran Point of View
Good question... Let’s try to answer it.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read that while good works don’t earn us God’s acceptance, He, nevertheless, intends believer's to perform them - or "walk in them."
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2:10, ESV)
This makes sense when we remind ourselves that the Bible paints a holistic picture of the believer’s life. The Christian is a person whose life is entirely and continually shaped and governed by the grace of God. And this is where good works come into play. It is because every aspect of the believer’s life is lived within the sphere of God’s grace that he/she will perform good works through the gracious enabling of God.
The reason for good works in the believer's life becomes even more clear when we remember that Ephesians 2:10 wasn’t written as an isolated statement – but rather part of a broader explanation about the effect of God’s grace in the lives of His people.
Consider again what Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, but this time noting what he first says about grace in the two prior verses:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV)
The Apostle is telling us that God, in his grace, is the source of every aspect of our salvation from start to finish, including the good works that we perform. In fact, v.10 tells us that “our” good works aren’t really “ours” at all. They are His. He prepared them beforehand. He gets the credit for them.
As we’ve already mentioned, good works don’t save us but they are proof that God has saved us by grace... and is saving us by grace... and that’s why good works are important.
This article is published here on North of the Clerical Collar with Mark's permission.
by Mark Gilbert
Large numbers of Australians still attend a church service at Christmas, at least half will attend a Catholic service. At the same time families, neighbors and friends spend more time together over the Christmas / New Year period in a variety of different contexts. This makes Christmas a great time to have evangelistic conversations with Catholics. Here are a few tips to help.
Tip 1. Ask about what the priest said at the Christmas Mass and then share about what your minister said (hopefully the Gospel).
Tip 2. Visit your Catholic family member's Christmas service and invite them to yours. By the way, they are more likely to go to yours if you offer to go to theirs. When attending Mass I usually participate in the first part - the Bible reading and reciting the creed. (called Liturgy of the Word). I don't pray publically with Catholics because it portrays a unity I don't want to express. I also don't get involved in the second part of the service (called the liturgy of the Eucharist) because it is idolatry. Because of this I don't stand, kneel or even join with them in saying the Lord's prayer, and I certainly don't go up and receive communion. I just adopt a humble posture and pray for those in the room. Don't worry, there are lots of non-Catholic visitors at Christmas time and you wont be the only one.
Tip 3. It is likely that at some stage during a conversation about Church over Christmas that someone will make a statement like, "Well, we're all the same really." This is the line the Roman Catholic Church is promoting heavily from the top down at the moment. This provides us with a great opportunity to share the Gospel by saying something like,
"That's an interesting idea, I always thought that Catholics believe that good people go to heaven, is that right? Did you know that Protestants believe that only bad people go to heaven? That's a bit of a difference isn't it?"
Then laugh and make light of it. It is Christmas after all! They will almost always ask what do you mean that bad people go to heaven, and then you can explain the Gospel. Works almost every time!
Tip 4. Pray before every social gathering that God will give you the opportunity to share the Gospel with your Catholic family, friends and neighbors and see what he does, at least you'll be ready if he gives you the chance.
“Expository preaching is not boring preaching. Expository preaching aims to teach, convert, and renew the mind. Expositors do not play with people’s emotions. But expositors do not ignore the emotions, either. It should be a sin to bore people with the gospel! Faithful preaching should be faithful, clear, and passionate. Expositors are heralds who persuade, not journalists who report. We should preach like satisfied customers, not paid advertisers.”
-H.B. Charles Jr.
Today on 'North of the Clerical Collar' we return to the
Fan Favorite Feature:
"100% True History from the Annals of the Church"
In this post we will be looking at
The World's Dumbest Accusations Against Early Christians
It's easy to make sensationalistic claims about others - particularly about those we don't like or don't understand. Just ask Alabama Senatorial Candidate, Roy Moore! But it is a lot harder to actually prove such claims.
One of the unbelieving world's greatest hobbies down through the years has been to hurl ridiculously absurd charges at the Lord Jesus and His followers. Sometimes these charges are even believed by the more gullible members of Christ's Body, who respond with handwringing displays of sackcloth and ashes, never pausing for a moment to realize that the accusations aren't actually true. One thinks for example of the ongoing (and I might add, disgraceful) bustle of activity taking place within conservative Presbyterianism over the following claim of Cultural Marxist's provocateurs – "Presbyterianism has historically been far too white and must, therefore, repent.”
To begin with – what does “too white” even mean from a biblical perspective? I think I know what it means to those who hold ‘congregational diversity by coercion’ to be of sacramental importance... But I cannot see how traditional cultural expressions (be they European or otherwise) are inherently sinful... Nor do I believe them to be hindrances to the gospel. Surely culture has been the vehicle through which God has used the gospel to reach entire people groups – red, yellow, black, and white. Therefore I see no reason why a distinctly European tradition like Presbyterianism should repent of its historical success among those who are primarily of European ancestry... but I digress.
The point is, wild accusations of one form or another have always been made against the church and they will continue until the Lord returns for His bride.
So... how should the church respond to the accusations of her opponents?
Well, capitulating won't work. Nor will groveling before our slanderers in an attempt to appease them. Nor will admitting guilt where there isn’t any.
But here's what might help... First we should consult 1 Peter 3:15:
"in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
(1 Peter 3:15, ESV)
And then... we should laugh at silly accusations... Yes. That's right. We should laugh. It would do us some good. And anyway, often times charges made against the church are just so dumb that we have no other option.
Also, when we laugh we should remember that we are in good company. The church from the very beginning has been forced to laugh off countless silly accusations made against it.
Here are a number of examples that the early church had to put up with:
Accusation #1: "Cannibalism!"
Apparently a pagan misunderstanding about Holy Communion gave rise to this accusation. Eventually the ghastly notion of "serving god for dinner" morphed into the absurd claim that early Christians also ate their own children during church services.
Accusation #2: "Incest!"
This claim arose from the fact that early Christians called each other brother and sister and professed to love one another with an intimate, undying affection. It was even alleged that church meetings were in reality wild sex parties.
Accusation #3: "Idiotic"
The fact that many early Christian churches were comprised of working class men, along with women, children and even slaves, gave rise to the accusation that Christianity was only for the gullible and/or uneducated.
Accusation #4: "Self-righteous!"
Yes. It's a topsy turvy world in which you can be accused of cannibalism and orgies on the one hand and then shamed for being a goody two shoes on the other. Nevertheless, this was the charge directed at early Christians for their upright, law abiding lifestyles.
Accusation #5: "Atheism!"
Since the early Christians refused to worship the traditional gods of Rome, they must have been atheists, right? Wrong. Even so, this was the charge brought against the early Christians for their faithfulness to the one true God.
Accusation #6: "Unpatriotic!"
This accusation probably arose because of the false belief that all early Christians were pacifists who would not fight for Rome. After a number of Roman soldiers were converted this charge more or less died out.
Accusation #7: "The cause of the world's problems!"
This broad - but silly - accusation implied that anything that went wrong within the Roman empire was somehow the fault of the early church. As one early Christian summarized it "If the Tiber overflows its walls, if the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the sky does not move or the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, this cry is at once 'The Christians to the Lion!'"
When you listen to a sermon do you really hear it?
Let’s face it! Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. And that can make it hard to get much out of our pastor’s sermons. But in God’s divine plan, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), so listening to sermons is pretty important. As the Puritan Richard Sibbes put it, “Preaching is the chariot that carries Christ up and down in the world.”
With this in mind, how can we make sure that we get the most out of the sermons we hear?
Here are three tips that will help anyone willing to follow them.
- Crave a Powerful Appetite
- Commit to Persistent Attendance
- Cultivate Purposeful Listening
Crave a Powerful Appetite
Are you hungry for God’s Word? The Apostle Peter says you need to be.
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word..."
(1 Peter 2:2, KJV)
The imagery is that of the tiny baby who has one primary desire in life – to be fed. If you’ve ever been around a newborn you’ll know that he’ll cry for his milk morning, noon, and night until he finally gets it. The more he eats the more he wants to eat. This can be very wearisome to mothers but it is a powerful indicator that her baby is healthy.
In the same way, Christians are healthy if they crave God’s Word. If a person is spiritually sick, however, they will have no appetite for the Word and perhaps even thinking of it will make them uncomfortable and restless. This is certainly the way it is at a physical level with a person suffering from stomach flu, let’s say. The last thing he or she wants is to sit down at the table for a delicious meal.
The point is, to get the most out of preaching we must ask the Lord to make us spiritly healthy and hungry. Only then will we cry out for the sincere milk of the word.
Commit to Persistent Attendance
A genuine appetite for the Word is expressed publically by faithful participation in a church that preaches the Word. Yes, reading printed sermons or listening to sermons online can be greatly helpful to Christians – but these things cannot replace the great benefits received by faithfully attending a church that is serious about communicating the Bible. It is through the corporate worship of God’s people that Christians are filled with the Word, and Christians are strongly cautioned against neglecting corporate worship (see Hebrews 10:25).
Regarding the benefits of corporate worship Paul wrote to Christians, saying:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
(Colossians 3:16, ESV)
The most important part of corporate worship is when God speaks to us through His preached Word. This is why C.H. Spurgeon said: “There is no worship of God that is better than the hearing of a sermon... it stirs all the coals of fire in your spirit, and makes them burn with a brighter flame.”
To make the most of preaching you must be hungry for the Word and you must commit yourself to a congregation where dinner is served.
Cultivate Purposeful Listening
In His parable of the soils, the Lord Jesus describes four kinds of listeners to the Word. Sadly, only one of the four actually receives the Word by faith and goes on to produce fruit. For this reason the Lord concludes His parable by saying “take care then how you hear” (Luke 8:18). If you want to get the most out of your pastor’s preaching then you must intentionally follow the Lord’s command to listen.
Purposeful listening actually starts before you ever get to the church. Throughout the week – and particularly on Saturday as you anticipate the Lord’s Day – you should ask God to prepare your mind and heart to receive His Word. Then on Sundays as you head out to church you should deliberately remind yourself (and the kids screaming in the backseat) that you are on your way to the throne of God to hear from Him. Finally, when you arrive at the church, find your place, and see the preacher stand in the pulpit you must remind yourself that God has purposed in His wisdom to speak His Word through mere men. Therefore you must pray that the Lord would fine-tune your ears that you might not merely receive the words of man, but the Word of God. As John Calvin once put it, “Whenever the gospel is preached, it is as if God Himself came into the midst of us.”
In summary - to make the most of preaching you must be hungry for the Word, you must commit to be present when dinner is served, and you must intentionally prepare yourself to hear God speak.
By making use of these three tips you can get the most out of your pastor’s sermons, to the glory of God.
It seems to me that the two easiest things in the world are:
So what should Christians laugh at?
In the book of Proverbs the Lord offers a warning that applies to the right use of humor, saying:
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief."
(Proverbs 14:12-13, ESV)
As we think of the right use of humor for Christians, here are some quotes that might prove helpful:
"We should all be aware by this time that one way the devil has of getting rid of something is to make jokes about it."
"If you want to know whether a man's life is made up of frivolous or serious things, watch what he laughs at."
"Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Nothing is so insipid as indiscriminate good humor."
J. Gresham Machen
"There's plenty to laugh at in the world - but be sure you don't laugh at something that God takes seriously."
"Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against (God's truth)... It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens instead of sharpening the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it."
Rev. R Crabtree
"...a son, a husband, a father of 6, a friend, a Presbyterian
(not the liberal kind), an eccentric, and a minister of the gospel... I am also the Pastor of All Souls Church and a Professor of Religious Studies at OCBC."
All Souls Church
Attributes Of God
Irenaeus Of Lyons
Journey Of Faith
Means Of Grace
Order Of Salvation
Westminster Confession Of Faith