Thursday, April 30, 2009

May 2009 Newsletter

Here is the Newsletter for the month of May. You can download it here. You will also find it on the left hand column.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Luther: Contend For the Faith

This week as I studied, I came across this quote from the Great Reformer Martin Luther regarding the necessity of defending the faith. Sadly, too many Christians are spiritually lazy, not just in their devotion and obedience to Christ, but also in the command to "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3).

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weekly Recommendation: "A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit"

This week, we will begin a new series looking at the Fruits of the Spirit. In anticipation for this series, I want to recommend the book, "A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit" by W. Phillip Keller. Keller is best known for his book, "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23."

In this book, Keller looks at the Fruits of the Spirit through the lens of a gardener. The author begins by looking at Jesus' Parable of the Sower and it's significance. He then looks at each fruit of the Spirit describing by each is essential to the Christian life.

Although Keller's book is anything but deep, it is still a good read. There is very little that is difficult or hard to understand. Each fruit is a a major component of what it means to be a Christian and the author provides little new insight. Rather, he provides brief, and at times simple, look at each fruit and why they are important. I would recommend this book to anyone who has very little background in theology and/or is new to the faith.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Romans 1:18-32: The Depravity of Man - Part 1

Again, the notes will be available at the end of our study on Romans.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Martin Luther At the Diet of Worms: 492 Years Ago Today

We have recently been mentioning the Great Reformer Martin Luther. Perhaps the greatest moment in his historical life came at the Diet of Worms (no that is not a meal!) where Luther was challenged to defend his Reformed writings, teachings, and beliefs. He refused.

For those who haven't seen the latest Luther movie, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weekly Recommendation: "The God Who Loves"

Rather than move on to another series, I want us to spend one more week on the last week of Jesus. This week, we will be looking at John 21. A major theme throughout that chapter is love and obedience. As I was studying this week, I went back and read John MacArthur's book, "The God Who Loves: He Will Do Whatever It Takes to Draw Us."

What I really like about this book, is that it is a sober treatment of the issue. We all love the fact that "God is Love" but most of us do not understand it. MacArthur takes what Scripture says about this issue and lays out what John means whenever he writes those words. Usually, by referring to the love of God, we mean that God is above being judgmental, wrathful, or angry. And yet, at the same time, we read and study about God killing people throughout all of Scripture from Pharaoh's army in Exodus, to the Israelites in Numbers, to Herod in Acts, to sinners in Revelation. How can these two truths of God be reconciled?

Many simply ignore the wrath and anger of God. They do not try to reconcile these two apparently contradictory characteristics of God; they simply ignore His wrath. We do this as a means to rationalize our sin. This is unfortunate. Because by ignoring the wrath of God we cheapen the love of God. MacArthur gives the reader balance and explains why both the wrath and the love of God are necessary to understand, affirm, and study.

MacArthur has an ability to clearly lay out what Scripture teaches while at the same time warn the reader not to fall for the traps on both sides. Anyone interested in understanding the love of God in deeper and more Biblically, I cannot recommend any other book above this one. John MacArthur has influenced me immensely. His study of Scripture accompanied with decades of pastoral ministry give him important insight and depth. If you want to fully understand what the Bible teaches about God's love, read this book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Derby Classic '09

I had a lot of fun at this years Derby Classic at Freedom Hall. Here are some pictures and videos taken from the event.

Here is the highlights from the game:

Mohler: The Resurrection of Christ and the Reality of the Gospel

I strongly recommend everyone to read Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, article on the resurrection and the gospel. The entire article is worth our reading. Dr. Mohler is the president where I am a student and I have great respect for him and he has influenced me greatly.

Here's a money quote:

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion--whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. "And if Christ is not risen," said the Apostle Paul, "then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain" [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, "You are still in your sins!" [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" [v. 19] . . .

Those who would attack the Church and reject its gospel must direct their arrows at the most crucial truth claim of the New Testament and the disciples: That Jesus Christ, having suffered death on a cross, though sinless, having borne the sins of those He came to save, having been buried in a sealed and guarded grave, was raised by the power of God on the third day.

As Paul well understood, Christianity stands or falls with the empty grave. If Christ is not raised, we are to be pitied, for our faith is in vain. Those who would preach a resurrectionless Christianity have substituted the truth of the gospel for a lie. But, asserted Paul, Christ is risen from the dead. Our faith is not in vain, but is in the risen Lord. He willingly faced death on a cross and defeated death from the grave. The Resurrection is the ultimate sign of God's vindication of His Son.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Last Week of Jesus Sermon Series

After about 15 weeks, we have completed the series of sermons looking at the last week of Jesus. He are the resources and sermons from that series. The following is in descending order. In other words, the last sermon is first and the first is last (sorry for the confusion). I hope this helps:


"Follow Me": The First Step of Repentance - Audio
"Follow Me": The First Step of Repentance - PDF

From Doubting Thomas to Eternal Life - Audio
From Doubting Thomas to Eternal Life - PDF

Simon of Cyrene and the Meaning of Christianity - Audio
Simon of Cyrene and the Meaning of Christianity - PDF
(Sunday Night) The Day of (Christ's) Atonement - Audio
(Sunday Night) The Day of (Christ's) Atonement - PDF

Finding Grace in Unanswered Prayer - Audio
Finding Grace in Unanswered Prayer - PDF

Divine Comfort - Audio
Divine Comfort - PDF
(Sunday Night) A Survey of Revelation - Part 2 - Audio

Greater-Than-Thou-Syndrome - Audio

The Lord's Last Supper - Audio

Living As Jesus Died - Audio

Are You Ready? - Audio
Are You Ready? - PDF
(Sunday Night) A Survey of Revelation - Part 1 - Audio

The Greatest Commandment - Audio
The Greatest Commandment - PDF
(Sunday Night) The Great Commandments Among the 10 Commandments - Audio

Questioning the Authority of Jesus - Audio
Questioning the Authority of Jesus - PDF

The Cleansing of Religion - Audio
The Cleansing of Religion - PDF
(Sunday Night) The Folly of Religion - Audio
(Sunday Night)The Folly of Religion - PDF

Our Mr. Potato Head God - Audio
Our Mr. Potato Head God - PDF


The Case For Easter
The Cost of Discipleship
Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped the Disciples For Greatness and What He Wants to Do With You
Twelve Extraordinary Women
The Theology of the Book of Revelation:"
The Second Coming: Signs of Christ's Return and the End of the Age
Mere Christianity
Jesus: The Greatest Life of All
Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ

Other Books:
Christ, Our Righteousness
In My Place, Condemned He Stood
The Truth of the Cross
Jesus Made In America
The Incomparable Christ
Death By Love: Letters From the Cross
The Case For The Real Jesus
Hard to Believe
The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why they Believe It, and Why it Matters
Vintage Jesus
How Would Jesus Vote?: A Christian Perspective on the Issues
The God Who Loves

The End: John 20:31 or 21:25?
"Do You Love Me?": John 21 and the Debate Over Love

April 12, 2009 - John 20:19-20: From Doubting Thomas to Eternal Life

To download the notes, click here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Martin Luther: Mediating on the Cross

Since it is Good Friday, I thought that I would provide an important quote from a sermon preached by the Great Reformer, Martin Luther whose theology of the cross changed history.

Let us now mediate a moment on the passion of Christ. Some do so falsely in that they merely rail against Judas and the Jews. Some carry crucifixes to protect themselves from water, fire, and sword, and turn the suffering of Christ into an amulet against suffering. Some weep and that is the end of it. The truth contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed and the conscience smitten. You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that he spared not his only-begotten Son. What can the sinner expect if the beloved Son was so afflicted? It must be an inexpressible and unendurable yearning that causes God's Son himself so to suffer. Ponder this and you will tremble, and the more you ponder, the deeper will you tremble.

Take this to heart and doubt not that you are the one who killed Christ. Your sins certainly did, and when you see the nails driven through his hands, be sure that you are pounding, and when the thorns pierce his brow, know that they are your evil thoughts. Consider that if one thorn pierced Christ you deserve a hundred thousand . . .

If we consider the persons, we ought to suffer a thousand and again a thousand times more than Christ because he is God and we are dust and ashes, yet it is the reverse. he, who had a thousand and again a thousand times less need, has taken upon himself a thousand and again a thousand times more than we. No understanding can fathom nor tongue can express no writing can record, but only the inward feeling can grasp what is involved in the suffering of Christ.

Let us meditate on these important words as we celebrate the death of our Savior who would rise from the grave victorious.

Weekly Recommendation - "The Case For Easter"

This week we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, Lee Strobel's book, "The Case for Easter," is an important book to read as we think about the issues surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. Strobel's book is nothing more than the last three chapters of "The Case For Christ," that deal with the resurrection. Rather than buy the entire book, Strobel offers just those three chapters.

The chapters are:

  1. The Medical Evidence: Was Jesus' Death a Sham and His Resurrection a Hoax?
  2. The Evidence of the Missing Body: Was Jesus' Body Really Absent from His Tomb?
  3. The Evidence of Appearances: Was Jesus Seen Alive After His Death on the Cross?

Each chapter reads like an investigation where the author interviews an expert on the issue. In all of Strobel's "Case" books, he interviews the best of the best and it shows. Chapter 1 is an interview with Alexander Metherell M.D., PH. D. who looks at the medical evidence proving that Jesus really died and no other theory can contradict that truth. Chapter 2 is an interview with William Lane Craig PH. D., D. TH. who is an expert and writer on the resurrection. I encourage everyone to read Craig's books. Chapter 3 is an interview with Gary Habermas, PH. D., D.D who successfully closes the case on the resurrection.

Strobel seeks to provide his Christian readers comfort in knowing that our faith is not in vain. For nonChristian readers, Strobels books are evangelistic hoping that they would acknowledge the truth and come to Christ. The simple truth is, that if Jesus really died and was raised from the dead, then He is both Lord and God (John 20:28). And if He is Lord and God, there is no other choice than to repent and believe in His name. Not to amounts to spitting God in the face.

For anyone interested in exploring these issues, I strongly recommend Strobel's book. And while your at it, read his other Case books. Though they deal with difficult issues, you will come away confident that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 8, 2009 - Romans 1:1-17: An Introduction

The notes from this series on Romans will be uploaded at the end of our study.

The Miracle of the New Creation: CS Lewis on the Resurrction

I have been reading a number of books in preparation for Resurrection Sunday's message and I came across of number of good quotes from Clive Stables Lewis. Cs Lewis is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of his signature classics. Although I disagree with some of his theological views, Lewis' influence on me is profound. I have enjoyed reading his Narnia series as well as many of his letters, essays, biography, and nonfiction writings. I highly recommend him.

But in his book, Miracles, Lewis sees the two greatest miracles in Scripture to be the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Regarding the resurrection, Lewis had this to say:

. . . to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. Thus people who had heard only fragments of St. Paul’s teaching at Athens got the impression that he was talking about two new gods, Jesus and Anastasis (i.e., Resurrection) (Acts 17:18). The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes alter as a comment on it. Nothing could be more unhistorical than to pick out selected sayings of Christ from the gospels and to regard those as the datum and the rest of the NT as a construction upon it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say that they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written. (234-235)

What I like about what Lewis says here is that he equates the gospel with the Resurrection. It is all too common today to buy books on the gospel that speak only of the atonement, i.e., the cross. The cross is foundational to the gospel, however too many overlook the resurrection of Christ. If Jesus had died, we would still be in our sins. But because Jesus died as our substitute and then was raised from the dead, we can be saved. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ has not risen, we remain in our sins and to be most pitied.

Note another quote from Lewis:
The NT writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened (237).

I love this quote: He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death." As Paul wrote, "O Death, where is your sting!"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekly Recommendation: "The Cost of Discipleship"

In just a few hours, we will come together and worship our Savior. This week we will be looking at the crucifixion of Christ, the very foundation of Christianity. We will be looking specifically at Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross for Jesus on the way to Christ's execution. And as I was studying (have referenced about 50 books and completely read 3!) I can think of no better book to recommend on the issue of discipleship and its cost than Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship."

Bonhoeffer, who was executed by Hitler, believes that Christianity, and the gospel, has become cheap. He begins his book arguing:

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before...

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptist without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate...

[Costly] grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly beaus it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner... (43-45)

Bonhoeffer's concern is evident, the gospel is being smothered by cheap grace. And I think he is right. Even today, decades after he wrote this book, the Church continues to preach a message that is simply "joining the team" without any commitment. As I will say in a few short hours, we want forgiveness without repentance, we want mercy without discipleship.

Loved ones, we cannot have one without the other. Bonhoeffer goes on to add that self-denying obedience is demanded of the Christian: "Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes" (63).

Oh that all Christians would heed Bonhoeffer's words who is giving us the words of Christ. Grace is not cheap, it is very costly. It cost God His Son, and it must cost us our lives. We must be willing to give up and forsake all for His Kingdom rather than to expect God to give us all for our Kingdom.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me": A Lesson From Luther

As I am studying for Sunday's message, I came across this quote from the great Reformer, Martin Luther regarding the story of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross of Christ. Luther argues that this is a picture of what it means to dying to oneself, picking up their cross, and following Jesus.
The 2nd thing to be learned here is that Simon not only bears the cross, but also bears it because he is compelled to do so. For if he would have had his own will in the matter, he would have gone his way and cared very little what was becoming of Christ and His cross. But the soldiers seized him against his will and compel him to carry the cross . . . For this reason this man is called Simon or Simeon, which, in his language, means one who takes advice and obeys. For that is true obedience which, though it prefers to be exempt from this or that suffering, still yields to it willingly, following and letting itself be led, simply because it sees that God desires it so. All true Christians can be called by this name Simon. For although their flesh and blood would like to rest and be excused from pain, they still obey, heed the Word, are submissive to the will of God, and help the Lord Jesus bear His cross.

I think Luther is right, this is a vivid picture of what Christ meant in Mark 8:34. Picking up the cross includes shame, hostility, obedience, following, and in the end, death. Shocking to think, isn't it?