Apr 26, 2008

J. I. Packer Has Left the Anglican Church of Canada

According to a
report in The Vancouver Sun, James Packer has left the Anglican Church of Canada.
Packer, 81, said he can no longer serve under Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham, who in 2002 sanctioned a diocesan vote that eventually permitted the blessing of same-sex couples at eight out of 67 parishes.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12: A Summary Paragraph

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1–16, Paul responds to personal criticism and criticisms of his ministry by pointing to the message they preached, the manner they preached, and the ministry they performed. Paul begins by appealing to what the Thessalonians already knew (oidate, used four times, vv. 1, 2, 4, 11), namely, that he had preached the gospel boldly in spite of previous persecution (2:1–2). Paul also notes that the manner that his preaching was not defective, dirty, or deceitful, aimed at pleasing God rather than men (2:3–4). The Thessalonians themselves were aware of the kind of ministry he had performed. The Apostle’s ministry was not self-seeking nor self-serving (2:5–6; cf. 2:3). Rather, like a nursing mother or an encouraging father (2:7–12). Furthermore, both the Thessalonians and God Himself were witnesses that Paul had acted devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly (2:10). The Thessalonians also knew that Paul had devoted himself to exhorting, encouraging, and imploring to live in a manner worthy of the God who had called them (2:11–12; cf. 4:7; 5:25; see also 1:4).

The Growing Popularity of Calvinism

The Baptist Standard has a interesting
article on the growing popularity of Calvinism, particularly in Southern Baptist circles. "A study by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources showed about 30 percent of recent Southern Baptist seminary graduates identify themselves as Calvinists, compared to 10 percent of Southern Baptist pastors in general."

Apr 25, 2008

Interview with David Turner

Matthew Montonini at his New Testament Perspectives Blog has an
interview of David Turner, the author of a new Matthew commentary in the BECNT series. The interview is worth reading.

Revelation 3:20: Salvation or Fellowship?

Alan Bandy at Café Apocalypsis has a helpful discussion concerning whether Revelation 3:20 is an appeal for salvation or fellowship. I have reprinted Bandy’s conclusion below, but the entire post is worth reading.

Should Rev 3:20 be invoked as an evangelistic invitation? We should probably refrain from using this verse in evangelistic appeals. This is not an invitation for unsaved sinners to “receive Jesus into their hearts,” because nothing in the text or context warrants this understanding. The normative concept for an unbeliever becoming a Christian is not to “receive Christ” but to “believe or trust in Christ.” Perhaps the best way to use this verse is as Osborne suggests: “Rather, it is a call to a weak church to repent (as in 3:19). At the same time, it is a challenge to every individual . . . in that church (indeed, in every church; see 3:22) to open themselves up to Christ and invite him into their lives.”


Colin Adams on his Unashamed Workman blog has a helpful post on “The Seven Commandments of Illustrations.” Make sure that you read his entire post, but his seven commandments are as follows.

1. Thou shalt not overuse them.
2. Thou shalt not underuse them.
3. Thou shalt not fail to illustrate the point.
4. Thou shalt not make them overly long.
5. Thou shalt not misuse humour.
6. Thou shalt not be pastorally imprudent.
7. Thou shalt not use overly powerful illustrations.

Also on illustrations, Peter Mead at his Biblical Preaching blog notes that illustrations should serve the sermon not vice versa. He writes:

“Any trained public speaker can select a theme and gather a bundle of stories that will touch an audience emotionally, but this is not preaching.” (Chappell, 200.) We need to remember always that an illustration is there to serve the sermon, to aid in clarifying explanation, support, or application, but not to substitute for sound explanation.

If you suspect that a message might be too illustration-heavy (a rare problem for some preachers), then it is worth going through the message and questioning the purpose of each one. Is it there to clarify explanation, to support a point, or to apply the teaching in real life imagery? Or is it there because you really want to tell it, or because you know they’ll enjoy that one? Be ruthless in filtering illustrations so they are genuinely serving the sermon.

If people perceive you to be a preacher who just tells stories, then your credibility will be damaged. Be sure the illustrations are the servants, not the focal point of your preaching.

Apr 24, 2008

The Bible: America's Favorite Book

Readers of this blog may be heartened to know that according to a recent Harris poll and
USA Today article, the Bible is the favorite book of American adults. The poll's top ten is as follows.

1. The Bible
2. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
3. Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
5. The Stand, by Stephen King
6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
8. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
10. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Sermon Notes: Benefits, Abuses, Ideas

Lifeway.com has a helpful article on sermon handouts. Some of the main points of Craig Webb’s article includes the following.

Good Uses/Benefits of a Sermon Handout

  1. It encourages people to participate and engage the sermon by writing something down. This is an added level of learning to your speaking and the visual images they see on your PowerPoint.
  2. It eases the tension of persons who were unfamiliar with the Bible and are afraid of the clumsiness of finding a particular Bible reference.
  3. It allows me to share different translations and paraphrases of familiar passages.
  4. It provides a take home reminder of the content of the sermon. Members and attenders can share these with family or co-workers. At one church I served, we provided notebooks for members to keep sermon notes.


Possible Abuses of the Sermon Handout

  1. Some persons who might have developed the skill of taking more detailed notes only filled in the blanks (often there is little room for other notes).
  2. Many people stopped bringing their Bibles to church.
  3. I got in a rut with how I did these outlines. My rut was three statements, which included fill-in-the-blanks, each followed by one or more printed scriptures.


Ideas for better handouts

  1. Provide an “answer key” at the bottom of the page.
  2. Present a questionnaire, checklist, or invitation.
  3. Use the back of your outline to provide practical guides, lists, or practical application suggestions from your sermon.
  4. Rather than fill-in-the-blanks, list the topic and leave some room for notes.
Make sure to read the entire article for further insights and clarification.

Apr 23, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

See the First Followers blog for an interesting
discussion to the merging of the events of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of the Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest to those interested in Bible exposition include:

Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed.
Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews
Reviewed by Felix H. Cortez

Dianne Bergant
Israel's Story: Part Two
Reviewed by A. Joseph Everson

Keith Augustus Burton
The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity
Reviewed by J. N. K Mugambi

Joseph A. Fitzmyer
The One Who Is to Come
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Staley

Kathy L. Gaca and L. L. Welborn, eds.
Early Patristic Readings of Romans
Reviewed by David A. Creech

George T. Montague
Understanding the Bible: A Basic Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke

The Background of 1 Thessalonians 2

There are two common explanations for the background of 1 Thessalonians 2. (1) Paul was presenting himself as a model of the Christian life worthy of imitation. (2) Paul was defending himself against critics at Thessalonica. The second explanation seems preferable since careful mirror reading, especially in vv. 1–12, reveal that Paul is defending his ministry. That being said, the identification of the critics or opponents is debated. Suggestions include pseudo-apostles, hostile Jews, spiritual enthusiasts, Gnostics, and Gentile idolaters. The lack of explicit evidence makes any specific view of the opponents somewhat tenuous.

Pulpit Plagiarism

For an insightful article on the controversial topic of “pulpit plagiarism” see Thomas Long’s article at the Preaching Today website.

Apr 22, 2008

The Local Church and Training Future Pastors

Al Mohler has a thought-provoking article of the place of the local church in training future pastors. While Bible colleges and seminaries are vital institutions in training pastors, the local church bears a equal, and probably greater, responsibility in pastoral training. I encourage you to read the article.

1 Thessalonians 1:3–5: A Few Observations

Yesterday, I noted briefly the nature of Paul’s thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians 1:2. Today, I want to offer a few observations about the rest of the thanksgiving, namely vv. 3–5. We begin by noting that a key component of Paul’s thanksgiving is his continual remembrance of the manifestation of Christian virtue (faith, love, hope) in the lives of the Thessalonians (v. 3; cf. 5:8). Another observation is the Trinitarian character of the thanksgiving with the Father and Son mentioned in v. 3 and the Holy Spirit noted in v. 5. A third observation is the soteriological character of the thanksgiving. We see election in v. 4, proclamation in v. 5a, and calling in v. 5b. Finally, one observes a foreshadowing element in the closing statement: “You know how we lived among you for your sake.” This previews the discussion of Paul’s ministry and character that will dominate chapter 2.

Apr 21, 2008

Joseph's Biblical Pest Control

Haaretz.com has an
article claiming that,
The remains of a burnt beetle found in a grain of wheat about 3,500 years old provided a group of researchers from Bar-Ilan University with a key to a question the Bible left without a definite answer: How did Joseph the Dreamer, who became the viceroy to the king of Egypt, succeed in preserving the grain during the seven lean years and prevent Egypt's population from starving?

Operation World: Pray Today

ose familiar with world missions are also familiar with Operation World, a compilation of information on the nations of the world for the purpose of education and directed prayer. One feature of the Operation World website is "pray today." Each day a nation is selected for specific prayer. To facilitate more specific intercessory prayer specific "challenges" are provided. If you have not done so, I would encourage you to check it out.

1 Thessalonians 1:2: Paul's Attitude of Gratitude

Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 provides a helpful model for Christian thanksgiving. We can note that his thanksgiving . . .

Was directed to God: “We give thanks to God”
Was continual: “always”
Was inclusive: “for all of you"
Was through prayer: “in
our prayers”

Joseph Parker once prayed, "O Lord, increase our gratitude. May the rain of Thy love not be lost in the desert of our insensibility."

Apr 20, 2008

The Heart of the Old Testament

I have recently begun reading Ronald Youngblood's
The Heart of the Old Testament: A Survey of Key Theological Themes, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998). Youngblood identifies and discusses the following nine themes that he beli
eves is the heart of the Old Testament.

1. Monotheism
2. Sovereignty

3. Election
4. Covenant
5. Theocracy

6, Law
7. Sacrifice
8. Faith
9. Redemption