Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Mantle of Preaching

"The mantle of preaching is soaked in the blood of Jesus and singed with the fires of Hell. Are you wearing that mantle?"--John Piper, at the Together for the Gospel conference (from:
The Da Vinci Code: A Myth of Christian Origins

Here is a helpful article by Andreas J. Kostenberger,
Professor of New Testament and director of Ph.D/Th.M studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC in Reformation 21, the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Refuting the DaVinci Code: The Most Helpful Books

Breaking The DaVinci Code: Answers To The Questions Everyone's Asking by Darrell Bock
-the most helpful critique of the Da Vinci Code by a distinguished evangelical New Testament scholar (Ph.D. University of Aberdeen, postdoctoral study, Tübingen University).

The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci by Ben Witherington, III
-written by another distinguished evangelical New Testament scholar, prolific author, and professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary

Cracking DaVinci's Code: You've Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones

Exploring the Da Vinci Code : Investigating the Issues Raised by the Book and Movie by Garry Poole and Lee Strobel

Also see the Monday April 17, 2006 entry on my blog for the helpful link to N.T. Wright's article called Decoding the Da Vinci Code.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Passion for the Unevangelized

2 Billion people today are without access to the gospel of Jesus. Many more people are without a clear witness. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to live our lives? Here are some quotes to inspire change in us:

“We are a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody."– Jim Elliot (Missionary martyr, Ecuador - 1956)

“A congregation that is not deeply and earnestly involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel does not understand the nature of salvation.”– Ted Engstrom (Presiden Emeritus, World Vision)

“There are no God-forsaken places in the world...just church-forsaken."- (unknown)

“We are never closer to God than when we share His heart for the unevangelized.”– Patrick Johnstone

“We all want to do the will of God, and we know that there is nothing nearer to His heart than the evangelization of the world.”– Oswald J. Smith

“Evangelism is a church growing where it is: Missions is a church growing where it isn’t.”– Ralph Winter (Founder/Director of the United States Center for World Mission)

"We talk of the second coming, half the world has never heard of the first." – Oswald J. Smith

"Must you go to China? How much nicer it would be to stay here and serve the Lord at home! She made it plain at last that she would not go to China." – J. Hudson Taylor’s new ex-girlfriend

“Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.”– Frank Mead

“If history repeats itself, ten thousand young people will state their willingness to be used by God in the most magnificent calling in the world. If history repeats itself, perhaps less than five hundred will ever make it!”– Ed Dayton (missionary researcher)

"The evangelization of the world depends first of all upon a revival of prayer. Deeper than the need for workers; deeper far, than the need for money; deep down at the bottom of our spiritual lives is the need for the forgotten secret of prevailing, worldwide prayer. Missions have progressed slowly abroad because piety and prayer have been slow at home."- Robert Speer (missionary stateman)
Why "Relational Ministry" is Keeping People from Jesus

"Relational Ministry" is very popular in youth ministry and evangelism circles. The philosophy goes like this: to lead people to Jesus, we need to be friends with them; if we are not friends with them, we have no right to share Jesus with them because we need to "earn the right" to be heard. Is this belief biblical? Clearly, it is not. Jesus Christ has not only given us the right, but has commanded us to share the gospel with unbelievers: "He [Jesus] said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15). Doing "relational ministry" might be direct rebellion against Jesus' command. And why is "relational ministry" so attractive? Because there is no persecution, there is no loss of friendship, there is no uncomfortability, there is no risk, in short: there is no cost. Does this mean that we are not to be relational with people. Clearly not. In talking about proclaiming the gospel, in obedience to Jesus Christ's command, the apostle Paul says this: "Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:4-6). And Peter says this: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Clearly we are to preach, proclaim, and answer, but this is to be done with grace, tact, love, gentleness, and respect.
Another false implication in "relational ministry" is that our relationships are what save people, and that you do not even really need to say anything, because Jesus will be seen in you, and they will ask what is different in your life and as a result will become a Christian. However, the Scriptures present another picture: "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Many people will not ask you why your life is different. Often they will just think you are just a nice person. They need to hear the message because it is the only way that faith is produced, and salvation is by faith alone.
The Pastor as Theologian

We often hear comments that say something like "let's just be practical and not worry about theology." These comments imply the belief that theology is dry stuff with no real application to every day life. However, this very statement is a theological statement, drawing on the philosophy of pragmatism. What becomes the guiding principle of our practice if being practical is what it is all about? Does not this make us more vulnerable to false ideas because we have processed things uncritically? Al Mohler, Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology and President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes a three part series on The Pastor as Theologian: He states that "The pastor who is no theologian is no pastor."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thoughts on Jesus' Demand to Repent

What does "repentance" mean? What did Jesus mean by repentance? In his most recent "Letters from Cambridge," John Piper explores repentance as taught by Jesus, and also announces that this theme will be central in his new book What Jesus Demands From the World:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eternal Life is Rendered According to Our Works

"Faith receives eternal life freely as a gift. There is no way it can be earned as a wage through works. But eternal life is rendered according to our works. This is made plain not only in Romans 2:6-8 and Galatians 6:8-9, but also in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:6, 21; Ephesians 5:5; James 2:14-26; Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 10:25-28; and many other places that teach the necessity of obedience (which is the fruit of faith) in the inheritance of eternal life" [John Piper, Taste and See (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2005), 170].

Romans 2:6-8: "6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger."

Galatians 6:8-9: "8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Galatians 5:6, 19-21: "6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love....19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Ephesians 5:5: "5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-- such a man is an idolater-- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

James 2:14-26: "14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

Hebrews 12:14: "14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

Matthew 7:24-27: "24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Luke 10:25-28: "25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live.""

Monday, April 17, 2006

Decoding The Da Vinci Code

N.T. Wright, a famous British New Testament scholar and author, writes an article in Seattle Pacific University's Response magazine revealing the weaknesses of Dan Brown's runaway bestseller and soon to be released movie called the The Da Vinci Code:
Can One Deny the Resurrection and Be a Christian?

Can one deny the resurrection and still be a Christian? N.T. Wright says "yes" (,20876,18798068-28737,00.html); Al Mohler says "no" (

Scripture sides pretty clearly with Mohler on this one:

Romans 10:9: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

1 Corinthians 15:14ff: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

[Taken from Justin Taylor's blog: (April 17, 2006)]
Substitutionary Atonement: Is it Necessary? Is it Biblical?

Mark Dever writes in Christianity Today on the importance of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and the many different ways that it is being denied and downplayed today: (thanks to Justin Taylor:

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Strategies for Fighting Sexual Sin

I found this article by John Piper very helpful in our struggle for purity and for God's standard of "not even a hint" (Ephesians 5:3). I pray that this will help you where ever you are in your fight. You can find it by clicking here:
Does Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely?

A friend, Jamie Strickland, wrote an insightful meditation on this subject. Check out his blog: (Wednesday, April 12, 2006).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Just Stop and Think

Just Stop and Think is a powerful video! It was filmed on location in Point Dume and Paradise Cove, California. It is a 15-minute DVD that was hand delivered to every home in Simi Valley. It was a concerted effort by all of the Bible teaching churches in that city to create a professionally filmed, clear gospel presentation, done outside of the church context. It is a great way to share the gospel with your non-believing friends, family, or coworkers, just by emailing them the link, and then having some good conversation afterwards. It is also for those to whom God feels distant and for those who have lost an understanding of God's all-surpassing greatness. Consider creating your own version to reach your city, or use this one. To view it see:, and click on your internet speed near the top of the page. They are cheap to purchase as well:

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Jesus Creed

Just because we disagree with people at certain important points, does not mean that we can not learn from them. Here is a beautiful poem called The Jesus Creed:

We have confidence in Jesus
Who healed the sick, the blind, and the paralyzed.
And even raised the dead.
He cast out evil powers and
Confronted corrupt leaders.
He cleansed the temple.
He favored the poor.
He turned water into wine,
Walked on water, calmed storms.
He died for the sins of the world,
Rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father,
Sent the Holy Spirit.
We have confidence in Jesus
Who taught in word and example,
Sign and wonder.
He preached parables of the kingdom of God
On hillsides, from boats, in the temple, in homes,
At banquets and parties, along the road, on beaches, in towns,
By day and by night.
He taught the way of love for God and neighbor,
For stranger and enemy, for outcast and alien.
We have confidence in Jesus,
Who called disciples, led them,
Gave them new names and new purpose
And sent them out to preach good news.
He washed their feet as a servant.
He walked with them, ate with them,
Called them friends,
Rebuked them, encouraged them,
Promised to leave and then return,
And promised to be with them always.
He taught them to pray.
He rose early to pray, stole away to desolate places,
Fasted and faced agonizing temptations,
Wept in a garden,
And prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.”
He rejoiced, he sang, he feasted, he wept.
We have confidence in Jesus,
So we follow him, learn his ways,
Seek to obey his teaching and live by his example.
We walk with him, walk in him, abide in him,
As a branch in a vine.
We have not seen him, but we love him.
His words are to us words of life eternal,
And to know him is to know the true and living God.
We do not see him now, but we have confidence in Jesus.

(By Brian McLaren; this creed was originally shared at the Emergent Convention, Nashville, May 2004; taken from

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church

For a helpful, balanced, and historical perspective on the Emergent Church, see the article by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, called "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church." It can be found at Thanks again to Justin Taylor:
"Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. 'What!' is the appropriate response, 'than ten hours over your books, on your knees?'" (B.B. Warfield in 1911, "The Religious Life of Theological Students," in Mark Noll, ed., The Princeton Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983], 263 cited in John Piper, Taste and See [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2005], 167).
How is a Christian Supposed to Read the Old Testament?

If you have had questions concerning how a Christian is supposed to read the Old Testament, you might find the following framework helpful for you: They are notes written by Rev. Robert A. Lotzer summarizing Gregory Beale's essay on the use of the OT in the NT, as well as Sidney Greidanus's Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. I am thankful to Justin Taylor's blog for pointing me to this source:

Monday, April 03, 2006

Rob Bell and Velvet Elvis

Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville Michigan is exerting a tremendous influence on the Evangelical world through his NOOMA video series. His recent book is titled Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Dale Van Dyke provides a helpful and brilliant critique of Bell's book and points out some disturbing thinking revealed in this book and that of the Emergent Church that we may not have picked up at first glance. I believe that this type of thinking is subverting the Evangelical world without us even realizing it. See: