(513) 423-4658 | info@cometogbc.com

BY JIM WINTERS

 

Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know, and I don’t care? Perhaps you have uttered that phrase yourself (I know I have). There may have been what we’d consider a justifiable reason or some circumstances that prompted this outburst. Years ago, there was a popular secular song that contained the words, “One is the loneliest number …” pointing out a haunting truth, yet exposing a vast need found in people everywhere. The sad fact is that there are multitudes of lonely folk who go through life feeling that no one really cares. Someone put it this way: “People don’t really care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Christians (“little Christs”) have the admonition in God’s Word to demonstrate His love while we CARE about the needs of others.

Grace Baptist is blessed beyond measure with a multifaceted outreach when it comes to caring. In fact, it’s what we call our MEMBER CARE MINISTRY. To be clear, this ministry definitely goes beyond just our church membership. In Matthew 25:35-36, 40b, Christ explains what caring involves for us as His disciples: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison,  and ye came unto me….Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” This certainly extends outside our church walls as we try and extend His care to all.

SEASONED SAINTS – Fellowship for those 55 years of age and over takes place at 10:30 am on the third Tuesday each month. It’s a time of offering up praise and supplications to the Lord, receiving spiritual food for the soul, and then enjoying nutritional lunch for the body.

MASTER’S DAUGHTERS – This group of ladies, whose spouses have departed, meets monthly (2nd Saturday at 10:30 am) for a time of encouragement from the Scriptures and one another. They also regularly stay in contact with one another, making themselves available to lend a helping hand and upholding each other in prayer.

CONTENDERS – Jude 3 gives the background for the name given to these men, whose wives have gone on before them. They strive to “earnestly contend for the faith” while remembering that they are not alone on this pilgrim journey. Christ has promised to be with us every step of the way. There is a godly bond around these gentlemen and a comradery as soldiers of the Cross.

SHUT-INS – Often as God extends length of life to His children, there comes a time when we’re not able to do what we once were able to do; it becomes a struggle getting out like we’d desire to do. This, however, gives an opportunity once again for our “family” to help care and provide for their needs whenever possible.

MEMBERS HELPING MEMBERS – When special circumstances arise, we are able to extend care in ways such as carpentry, plumbing, cooking, mowing, snow removal, transportation to medical appointments, minor car repairs/upkeep, companionship, and more. Members who help other members receive God’s blessings many times over.

GRIEF SHARE – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” This includes “a time to lose,” “a time to weep,” and “a time to mourn.” Everyone faces grief in a different way and on a different timeline. We care when people are hurting, but Christ cares even more: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

This piece was originally written as an apologetic for expositional preaching — a kind of preaching that has been both misrepresented and consequently misunderstood.

In this paper, I will argue that expositional preaching is the soundest means of effectively communicating God’s Word. The support for this thesis statement will be presented in the following three movements: (1) a definition for expository preaching, (2) the essential components of an expository message, and (3) the biblical, theological, and practical justifications for expository preaching. In the conclusion, I will offer some personal reflections on the importance and status of expository preaching today.

Objections to Expository Preaching

While there are many more objections to expository preaching, we will consider only two. First, critics of expository preaching may tend to see it as a dry, boring running commentary. In some cases, expository preaching is viewed as a verse-by-verse commentary. In explaining what expositional preaching is not, Mark Dever says, “We’re not saying expositional preaching is just a series of lectures, the main goal of which is information transfer. That’s one of the raps we frequently hear against expositional preaching—that it is a boring, irrelevant, unapplied lecture on a text of Scripture.” [Dever and Gilbert, 37]  Second, some critics object to expository preaching by asking where expository preaching is found in the Bible. The implication by the critic is that since expository preaching is not modeled biblically, then it should not be practiced today. Dever notes:

“Of course, one of the first issues we have to consider is whether this kind of preaching shows up in the Bible. And we have to admit, right up front, that we don’t see much of anything in the pages of Scripture that looks precisely like our sermon notes. But don’t close the book! It’s not as simple as all that.” [Dever and Gilbert, 38-39]

In response to these two objections, there is one solution – we must ensure that we are working from the same definition for expository preaching. Once an agreed upon definition is produced, then there can be a response to these objections.

A Definition of Expository Preaching

There have been several definitions offered for expository preaching. Among those definitions, here are some standouts that must be considered. David Helm says, “Expositional preaching is empowered preaching that rightfully submits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text.” [Helm, 125] The strength of Helm’s definition is that it is simple and gives clear deference to the text of scripture. The high place of scripture is fundamental in expository preaching.

Bryan Chapell defines the expository sermon as follows:

“An expository sermon may be defined as a message whose structure and thought are derived from a biblical text, that covers the scope of the text, and that explains the features and context of the text in order to disclose the enduring principles for faithful thinking, living, and worship intended by the Spirit, who inspired the text.” [Chapell, 31]

Note in Chapell’s definition that he includes the response of the hearers. While expository preaching may be understood as the practice of the preacher, there is also the expectation of response from the listener – an important component of expository preaching.

In true expositional preaching, the preacher is convinced of the authority of God’s Word. Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert say that “Expositional preaching is preaching in which the main point of the biblical text being considered becomes the main point of the sermon being preached.” [Dever and Gilbert, 36] Much like Helm’s definition, Dever and Gilbert show the tremendous importance of the biblical text. With reference to the authority of the Word, Dever and Gilbert go on to say, “Expositional preaching is preaching in service to the Word. It presumes a belief in the authority of Scripture—that the Bible is actually God’s Word…” [Dever, 44] Abraham Kuruvilla is helpful when he says, “Edifying preaching, on the other hand, involves the exposition of a particular biblical pericope, with the text playing the major role, all else being subordinate.” [Kuruvilla, 3] Both Dever and Kuruvilla understand the centrality of the text in preaching.

It may seem that some of these definitions and principles about expository preaching are novel, but expository preaching is not new to our generation. In addition to the definitions already presented, here is a description of expository preaching given by Joel Beeke:

“One of the greatest moments of the Reformation happened in 1519, when Zwingli began his ministry as a preacher in the Grossmünster (great “minster” or ‘church building’) of Zurich, which is a beautiful building still today. He announced to his congregation that he was going to preach exegetical sermons, starting with Matthew 1 and working his way through the Gospel and then the rest of the New Testament. In this regard, he followed John Chrysostom (c. 347–407). He popularized early on in the Reformation what is called ‘lectio continua’, which means ‘continual public reading,’ what we today would call the expository preaching of the text of Scripture in sequential order.” [Beeke, 100]

There are two points to note in Beeke’s example. Beeke’s description emphasized a sequential approach to the text. Another help from Beeke’s description is that it is a description rooted in history; thus, expository preaching is not a fad of the times.

Each of these definitions and the description serve in identifying what expositional preaching is. For our purposes, I will define expositional preaching as follows: Expositional preaching is exposing and heralding God’s intended meaning for a given passage and calling the hearers to a response. This definition serves as a conglomeration of the previously noted definitions, and this definition will be that from which this document will proceed in explaining the essential components of an expository message and justifications for expository preaching.

Expositional preaching is exposing and heralding God’s intended meaning for a given passage and calling the hearers to a response.

Essential Components of Expository Preaching

COMPONENT ONE: EXPOSING

There are key components that each expositional message must have. The definition previously provided will serve as a guide in identifying these key components. First, expositional preaching is exposing – an intentional work on the part of the preacher to unveil what is in the passage. This unveiling of what message is in the passage stands in contradistinction to putting into the passage a message that is alien to the text. The process whereby the preacher determines the message of the passage is called exegesis. Dever says, “A preacher should have his mind increasingly shaped by Scripture. He shouldn’t use Scripture as an excuse for what he already knows he wants to say.” [Dever, 45] The practice of imposing a biased message upon a passage of scripture is called eisegesis. The expositional sermon demands exegesis rather than eisegesis.

COMPONENT TWO: HERALDING

Second, expositional preaching is heralding, wherein two truths must be considered. Heralding is accomplished through the preacher’s natural voice with pathos and in a monologue fashion. Preaching is proclamation. Jonathan Griffiths says, “…preaching is a public proclamation of God’s word.” [Griffiths, 17] While there are forums for dialogue that can be helpful, the expositional preaching event among the corporately gathered church is to be accomplished in a heralding monologue fashion – for reason given in component three. Dever says of Peter’s message in Acts 2, “It wasn’t a dialogue or a discussion. It was a heralding of news previously unknown.” [Dever and Gilbert, 22]

COMPONENT THREE: GOD’S INTENDED MEANING

Third, expositional preaching is exposing God’s intended meaning. Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is important that the integrity of God’s intended meaning be maintained. It is of such importance that inasmuch as the preacher faithfully communicates God’s intended meaning, he becomes the mouthpiece of God. Griffiths says, “When authentic, faithful Christian preaching of the biblical word takes place, that preaching constitutes a true proclamation of the word of God that enables God’s own voice to be heard.” [Griffiths, 122] If indeed faithful preaching is God’s own voice, then the monologue approach should be considered as a faithful, biblical model that should continue today; for, all hearers should intently listen for God’s Word to them both individually and corporately. True expositional preaching exposes God’s intention from the passage.

COMPONENT FOUR: A PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE

Fourth, expositional preaching is exposing God’s meaning for a given passage. By emphasizing a given passage, the preacher is manifesting the object of exposition as the Holy Scriptures. Dever and Gilbert say, “Put more sharply, anything that is not rooted in and tethered tightly to God’s Word is not preaching at all.” [Dever and Gilbert, 36] While one could give an exposition of a notable work of art, the practice of true, faithful expositional preaching is impossible without the scripture being the source and sum of all that is exposed. Kuruvilla takes the matter a step further when he sees application impossible without giving privilege to the text. Kuruvilla says, “Without privileging the text, without discerning what the author is doing, without arriving at the theology of the pericope, valid application is impossible.” [Kuruvilla, 7]

COMPONENT FIVE: RESPONSE

Lastly, expositional preaching includes calling the hearers to respond to God’s Word. One of the chief distinctions between teaching and preaching is that teaching gives information while preaching seeks transformation. Transformation of the individual requires sermonic applications which impact the will of the individual – the hearer must be called to respond to the Lord’s Word. In Beeke’s helpful book on Reformed Experiential Preaching, he sets forth the reality that biblical Christianity is to be applicable. Beeke writes, “Christianity should not only be known, and understood, and believed, but also felt, and enjoyed, and practically applied.” [Beeke, 30] Thus, true Christian preaching must call for a response by giving applications rooted in the exposition of the scripture.

Practical Components of the Expository Sermon

Expository preaching is exposing and heralding God’s intended meaning for a given passage and calling the hearers to a response, but expository preaching must also include some practical components. These practical components include the introduction, the sermon body, and the conclusion. Within the introduction, the following are included: a contemporary need or illustration introducing the text and a stated theme or goal for the sermon. Within the sermon body, there should be points that reveal the structure of the text. The sermonic structure includes textual development, illustrations, and applications. After the body of the sermon, there is the conclusion in which closing thoughts, illustrations, and final applications are given. Each of these practical components gives shape to the expository sermon.

Biblical, Theological, and Practical Justification for Expository Preaching

BIBLICAL THEOLOGICAL JUSTIFICATION

There is also a biblical theological justification for expositional preaching. In the Old Testament, the prophets were commissioned to communicate God’s Word to people. In one sense, the prophets were to expose God’s voice to God’s people. Jonathan Griffiths makes the connection between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament preachers. Griffiths says, “The prophetic office and traditions of the Old Testament reach ultimate fulfillment in the Lord Jesus himself. However, having been fulfilled in him they find continued expression in the new community he forms.” [Griffiths, 64] Thus, exposing God’s Word continues beyond the Old Testament prophets and through post-apostolic times.

Griffiths’ study is specifically a biblical theological study of preaching. His conclusions are well summed up in the following two quotes:

“…the public proclamation of the word of God in the Christian assembly has a clear mandate from Scripture and occupies a place of central importance in the life of the local church. Preaching is necessary and vital – but not all-sufficient – for the nourishment and edification of the local church. [Griffiths, 133]

The preaching of the word of God is God’s gracious gift to his people. It is a gift by which he speaks to us, encounters us, equips us for ministry, and, through the power of the Spirit, transforms us – all for his glory.” [Griffiths, 133]

Notice two principles from Griffiths’ conclusions: (1) preaching is mandated from Scripture and (2) preaching is how God encounters his people. By the scriptural mandate, Griffiths is referring to all of scripture as his study bears out. By God encountering his people through preaching, Griffiths is referring to the importance of faithfulness to the inscripturated message to clearly communicate God’s Word. These two principles are woven throughout all the Bible – thus supporting a biblical theological approach to expository preaching.

PRACTICAL JUSTIFICATION

In addition to biblical theological justification, there are practical reasons for expository preaching. First, when a preacher is committed to expository preaching, he is committed to preaching passages without skipping over difficult portions of scripture. Chapell says, “Explaining the text according to the intent of the author also requires that we not skip portions of the passage or neglect features of its context that must be understood in order for the principles the passage is teaching to be grasped.” [Chapell, 30-31] Traditional expository preaching is sequential in nature. Consequently, portions of scripture which are difficult to interpret are not glossed over in favor of the preacher’s bias. Brian Payne says, “However, you cannot play the avoidance game when you preach through books. The text sets the agenda and no one can justly charge you with insensitivity when they know this is your method.” [Fuller, Orrick, and Payne, 64]

Second, the preacher who preaches expositionally using a sequential method does not have to wonder what the next sermon text will be. Payne says, “One of the practical benefits of preaching through books is that it helps the preacher conserve time and energy that would otherwise be used in choosing a sermon for each week.” [Fuller, Orrick, and Payne, 71] Handling difficult texts and planning for a sermon series are two practical benefits or justifications for expositional preaching.

Personal Reflections on the Importance and Status of Expository Preaching

THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPOSITORY PREACHING

In personal reflections on the importance of expository preaching, there is one aspect to address – Christ-centered expositional preaching. Chapell sees Christocentric preaching as an apostolic ethic. Chapell says, “This apostolic ethic of maintaining a Christocentric perspective when preaching reflects the principles of exposition that the Savior himself revealed.” [Chapell, 279] Chapell is correct that the New Testament apostles were thoroughly Christ-centered in their messages, but what does this mean, and is it possible to preach expositionally without being Christocentric?

First, Christ-centered preaching is rooted in Luke 24:44-49 and modeled by the preachers in the New Testament. In Luke 24:44-49, Jesus speaks to his disciples and teaches them how the Old Testament Law, Prophets, and Psalms point to himself. This was a post-resurrection hermeneutics lesson that Jesus presented to his followers, and it served the disciples in their future messages. As early as Acts 2, evidence of this hermeneutic is modeled in Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 7, Stephen preaches a message which culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. In Acts 8, Philip explains Isaiah 53 as a prophetic passage fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In all cases, Christ is the point of the scriptures. Thus, any time a preacher rightly divides the scriptures, he must show a clear connection to Jesus Christ. Is it possible then to preach expositionally without being Christocentric? The answer is, “No.” If Jesus Christ is the point of all scripture, then though a preacher may exegete a particular passage, it is not exposition until the preacher identifies how the text flows forward to Christ or proceeds from Christ’s finished work. Jesus made God’s intention for all of scripture clear in Luke 24, and the preacher must consider that exposing God’s intention requires that Christ be legitimately seen in each passage. When Joel Beeke speaks of reformed preaching, he says:

“The great theme and controlling contour of experiential preaching is Jesus Christ, for he is the supreme focus, substance, and goal of God’s revelation. Therefore, a true Reformed preacher, like Paul, must be “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Perkins says that the heart of all preaching is “to preach one Christ, by Christ, to the praise of Christ.”10 The New England divine Cotton Mather (1663–1728) puts it this way: “Let not the true bread of life be forgotten; but exhibit as much as you can of a glorious Christ unto them. Yea, let the motto upon your whole ministry be: Christ is all.”11 Christ must be the beginning, middle, and end of every sermon (Luke 24:27; 1 John 1:1–4). Preaching must exalt Christ for awakening, justifying, sanctifying, and comforting sinners (Eph. 5:14; 1 Cor. 1:30; Isa. 61:2).” [Beeke, 61]

Christ must be the center of every expository sermon, and this follows the biblical model as well as the historical model of preaching.

If Jesus Christ is the point of all scripture, then though a preacher may exegete a particular passage, it is not exposition until the preacher identifies how the text flows forward to Christ or proceeds from Christ’s finished work.

THE STATUS OF EXPOSITORY PREACHING

The status of expository preaching depends much on the subjective opinion of the person who is assessing the status. There are several potential standpoints to consider when considering the status. First, there is the unbeliever. If First Corinthians is any indication of the status of preaching among the unbelieving community, it confirms that the preaching of the Cross of Jesus is foolishness to the lost. For this status to change, God must convert the individual through his saving grace. The reason for this need of conversion and consequent change of perspective is because, as Dever and Gilbert say, “Christian preaching seeks change. It cuts against the grain of surrounding culture, it challenges presuppositions, it convicts of sin, and it calls people to put their faith in Jesus Christ. It calls them to change direction.” [Dever and Gilbert, 51]

Second, there is the status of preaching among believing individuals. Depending on the Christian circle in which one finds himself, expository preaching may not be fondly appreciated. It is the job of the teaching pastor to not only model but also to instruct the church family regarding expository preaching. His instruction to the people should guide the church in developing a healthy expectation about preaching. Dever says, “But if you establish the priority of the Word, then you have in place the single most important aspect of the church’s life, and growing health is virtually assured, because God has decided to act by his Spirit through his Word.” [Dever, 43]

Third, there is the status of preaching among teaching pastors. The following opinion is highly subjective and largely based on my small sphere of churches within the fundamentalist Baptist movement. Within the Neo-Fundamentalist movement, expositional preaching has largely been identified as a boring, non-biblical form of preaching; or it has been equated as one of several styles of preaching. Despite this mistaken view of expository preaching, there does seem to be a growing number of young preachers who are returning to true expository preaching. These young preachers have been highly influenced by authors from within the Southern Baptist Movement. Thus, the status of expository preaching seems to be gaining momentum within my own sphere of churches.

Conclusion

Expository preaching is biblical preaching. To understand expository preaching, a common definition must exist as well as components of expository preaching. In addition to defining expository preaching, this document has attempted to present justifications for expository preaching – biblical, theological, and practical justifications. We have concluded with the importance and status of expository preaching. Consider carefully what you have read, and commit to faithful, Christian expositional preaching.


Bibliography

Beeke, Joel R. Reformed Preaching. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018. Kindle.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2005. Kindle.

Dever, Mark. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. Kindle.

Dever, Mark, and Greg Gilbert. Preach: Theology Meets Practice. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012. Kindle.

Griffiths, Jonathan I., Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017.

Helm, David R. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. Kindle.

Kuruvilla, Abraham. A Manual for Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019. Kindle.

Orrick, Jim, Ryan Fullerton, and Brian Payne. Encountering God through Expository Preaching. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2017. Kindle.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

Theory, Critical Theory, Standpoint Theory, Expressive Individualism, and Cancel Culture are all phrases that we continue to hear through news outlets and pop culture media. These terms are also being used within church congregations.

Last year at Grace Baptist Church, we completed the epistle of 1 John; and there were several applications made from 1 John regarding these phrases and philosophies. Below you will find the links to videos and transcripts from the messages.

In addition, here are a couple of resources that may help you in your learning:

Trueman, Carl R. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.

Pluckrose, Helen & Lindsay, James. Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody. Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing, 2020.


1 John Series Messages

An Introduction to 1 John and Critical Theory of Our Society
Something Critical Theory Can Never Offer You
An Unchanging Message in the Midst of Postcolonial Revision
Standpoint Theory and Its Impact on the Sufficiency of Jesus Christ
Evidence Proves Identity, NOT Identity Creates Truth
Evident Love or Secret Knowledge
What the Gospel Provides that “Cancel Culture” or Political Conservatism Cannot
Truth, Trump, or Theory: Believe in This Jesus Above All Else
Visible Birthmarks
Avoiding Religiopolitical Deception
Expressive Individualism vs. Gospel Love
God Is Greater Than Our Heart
Confessing Christians in a Confused Culture
A Perfected Love
Arriving at Reliable Knowledge
Secure Identity, Sacred Duty 
Evidences of Victorious Faith 
Keep the Crucifixion 
The Root of All Uncertainty


Share these resources:


FROM THE GBC PASTORAL STAFF

 

Spiritual growth is a key marker in the Christian life. The ministry here at Grace is about enabling and encouraging our people in that growth. As you personally grow, below is a list of resources that may help you in seeing the history behind local church ministry here in the United States. Please take advantage of reading these resources as well noting below a series of missionary biographies for children. These missionary biographies will not only give a great history of missions but will also develop in you and your children an excitement for God’s Kingdom Mission both locally and globally.

For your convenience, the resources listed below also have a link where you can purchase that resource.


Historical Resources


Missionary Biographies


Share these resources:


From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


Let’s imagine that we were interviewing the Apostle John, and he had just finished speaking to us the entire letter of 1 John. If we were to ask John to summarize the entire letter in one sentence, what do you think he might say? It seems outlandish and completely out of place, but 1 John 5:21 is his summary:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Why speak of the nature of God, the certainty of Jesus in the flesh, the evidences of true Christians, the marks of those who are antichrists, the birthmarks of believers, the love of God, and love for brethren? In John’s estimation, anything that is contrary to the true God and the evidences of true believers is idolatry. This is his final admonition; the root of all uncertainty is idolatry. Why summarize it this way?

Because of What Idolatry Means:

Idolatry is the worship of any other god besides the true God, as He has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. Thus, idolaters are those who worship variations of Jesus that are slightly or drastically different than Jesus as He was revealed (John 20:24-29).

Because of How We Are Created:

You and I were created to worship God—to adore God and find our ultimate sense of self-worth and assurance in Him alone. Satan tempted Eve by telling her that they would be as gods, knowing good and evil. The temptation to replace God entered the human race in the Garden. It became the tendency of every other human. If in doubt, consider the first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). From this command flows all other commands. Idolatry is at the heart of insecurity or a lack of confidence.

It’s Our Natural Human Tendency:

Our natural response to this lack of assurance is to find lesser beings and things for our sense of meaning. Idolatry is attempting to find ultimate security and confidence in someone or something other than God. It is the enthronement of even good things in replacement of God Himself.

As it relates to the letter of I John, there are two kinds of people we must consider:

  • Those who have false confidence or assurance—individuals who have confidence based in something or someone that is a variation of the true God or Jesus.
  • Those who have failing confidence or assurance—Christians who have believed in the true God and true Jesus but who are struggling for assurance because of the temptation towards false gods.

The root of all false confidence and failing confidence is idolatry.

Know That You Are Not Immune to Idolatry (1 John 5:13)

This particular verse is one of transition as well as a purpose statement for the letter. The fact that John is writing this to people who are believers confirms our suspicions that it is possible to be in relationship with God and lack assurance. But why? Because the distraction of a false god can cause one’s faith to waiver.

Pray Confidently for Those in Idolatry (1 John 5:14-17)

When we are secure in our relationship with Christ, this gives a boost of confidence, but remember that any variation of Who Jesus actually is, is idolatrous. So, how does this confidence manifest itself? Through prayer for God’s will. How should we pray for one another? We should pray for those battling against idols.

Live with Certainty About Sin, Self, and the Son (1 John 5:18-20)

These final verses present three “we know” statements. We know how the person born of God relates to sin. We know who we are. We know the Son of God has come. John is doing here what he has done throughout the letter. He is helping them to see what is the outworking of faith established in absolutely certain truths.

Guard Against Idolatry Intentionally (1 John 5:21)

This verse is both endearing and a call to arms. It is a verse that confirms we should not take for granted how subtle variations of God or Jesus may enter into the lives of Christians.

Consider Christ in John 17:3. Look for heart idols manifested by gossip: approval, control, reputation, success, security, pleasure, knowledge, recognition, respect, etc. (Thune). [1] Be committed in a way that people know how to specifically pray for you (James 5:16).

The root of all false confidence and failing confidence is idolatry. Conversely, the root of absolute assurance and lasting joy is a true heart of worship for the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus came to give you.

[1] Thune, Robert H.; Walker, Will. The Gospel-Centered Life: Study Guide with Leader’s Notes (pp. 55-56). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


If there were one part of Christianity that we would be tempted to remove, humanly speaking, it would be the crucifixion. It is gruesome, barbaric, and counterintuitive. The crucifixion is the death of the One we call God in the flesh. Yet, this is precisely what John is making sure is NOT removed. The word “blood” used in 1 John 5:6-8 is a reference to the death of Jesus Christ, whereby He shed his blood for the atonement of sin. But why would John want to make sure that this not only stays in the Christian message but is central to it?

THE SPIRIT HAS WITNESSED TO THE JESUS OF THE CROSS (1 John 5:6)

This is not new to the writings of John. The Spirit of God had witnessed to who Jesus was at Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29-33).

THE SPIRIT IS IN AGREEMENT WITH HEAVEN AND EARTH (1 John 5:7-8)

The importance of these verses lies in what John is trying to get across — that God has become flesh and has been attested to by both baptism and the crucifixion. There is agreement between Heaven and Earth in One Person — Jesus.

THE SON IS GOD’S APPOINTED MEANS FOR ETERNAL LIFE (1 John 5:9-12)

This is really the summarizing point here — that this is God’s record. God has testified Who the Son is, and God has provided eternal life through the Son. God has authenticated this crucified Jesus as His Son through whom there is eternal life.

In spite of what John says, there are reasons why removing the crucifixion might be tempting:

  • FOR THE JEWISH, THE CRUCIFIXION DOES NOT ALIGN WITH THE KIND OF MESSIAH THEY ANTICIPATED.

By implication, these disciples saw the crucifixion as contrary to God’s plan of redemption (Luke 24:21). What does the crucifixion do to the Jewish expectation? It turns upside down any idea we have about ethnic or racial superiority. Whatever our expectation may be, it is upended by the Cross.

We might think that we are more civilized, have a better pedigree, have better blood running through our veins, have a greater history, have a greater nation. But at the Cross, the One Who had the better everything was crucified. So where does that leave our expectations?

  • FOR THE GENTILE, THE CRUCIFIXION OF A DEITY DOES NOT ALIGN WITH THE GENERAL STANDARD FOR DEITIES (I Corinthians 1:23).

What does the Cross do to our idea of strength and power? The Cross turns it completely upon its head. The Cross confirms that the greatest in the kingdom will be the least, even as the Son of Man came to GIVE his life a ransom. The Cross confirms that strength actually comes through weakness — that life comes through death — that healing comes through hurting, etc.

  • FOR THE GNOSTIC OR DOCETISTS OF THIS TIME, IT IS INCONCEIVABLE THAT GOD WOULD TAKE ON AN EVIL MATERIAL BODY, LET ALONE DIE.

What does the Cross do to our idea of a conceivable God? The Cross turns this idea on its head. The Cross grips our attention. If there were ever anyone worthy of self-discovery, it is the One who hung on the Cross; yet He lived for the will of another, confessed to the true God, and declared all other lesser gods false through his Resurrection.

The crucifixion of Jesus confirms Jesus’ humanity, confirms Jesus’ deity (He’s God), and brings eternal life. He was raised (Acts 10:38-40), accepted by the Father, and is eternally sufficient (Hebrews 7:22-25).

How do we avoid editing out the Cross?

  • We must receive it as the record of God — 1 John 5:9 (by faith)
  • We must have memorable creeds to guard against its denial — 1 John 5:6, 8
  • We must recognize what our response is saying about God — 1 John 5:10
  • We must consider our lives (emotions, decisions…etc.) through the Cross ethic — Galatians 2:20 (by the faith of the Son of God)

In the end, we must keep the crucifixion. It must not be edited out. It is through the Cross that we obtain life. When our hearts maintain a perspective of the Cross, we are given assurance that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we absolutely have eternal life in Him. The message of the crucifixion is eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the end, we must keep the crucifixion. It must not be edited out. It is through the Cross that we obtain life.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


Everyone believes something, and even Christians need to assess their faith and the Object of their faith. The question is whether the faith you are actively exercising is in Someone or something that has guaranteed true, ultimate success or not.

THE FAITH OF A SECULAR HEDONIST
It is a belief that if someone lives true to themselves (or who they perceive themselves to be) and does what makes them happy, then they have reached the goal of life. In the end, this is faith that is being exercised by an individual.

THE FAITH OF AN ATHEIST
For some, they may say that they don’t believe in God, but even that conviction is a matter of faith. Are you able to disprove the existence of God? No. Positive or negative conclusions about God’s existence are matters of faith.

THE FAITH OF MODERN-DAY GALATIAN CHRISTIANS
Modern-day Galatian Christians are Christians who received the gospel of grace but tend to find their identity in how they perform Christian duties to meet the expectations of others.

True, full joy is NOT found by faith in the pursuit of personal happiness, faith in the non-existence of God, or even faith in being good. What would John tell us today? Live joyfully obedient through genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Consider the full joy that John wants for his readers (1 John 1:4). We cannot assume that we are exercising this kind of faith. For this particular lesson, we will see how this victorious faith in Jesus is described—how it is distinguished by evidences.

LOVE for Your Christian Siblings (1 John 5:1)

CONFESSION
Particular confession is in 1 John 5:1, 5 that Jesus is the Christ of God. Only those individuals who continually affirm this confession have this kind of faith.

LOVE
This love is gospel love that is manifested towards others like the love God had shown to these believers (1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:16). Here, the basic truth is that those who really believe that Jesus is the Christ are born of God, and they will love their siblings.

Joyful OBEDIENCE to God (1 John 5:2-3)

Notice that the commandments of God are not burdensome. There is a freedom — a liberty — associated with obedience to the commandments of God. The kind of love in this passage is one that is evident by joyful obedience to God’s command — in particular the command to love your Christian siblings.

JOYFUL — Our hearts have been changed by God.

OBEDIENCE — Our lives manifest the heart change for God.

Our hearts have been changed so that we might live lives for God. If you are truly believing in Jesus Christ, then you are joyfully obeying the commandments of God.

VICTORY over the World (1 John 5:4-5)

THE WORLD – 1 John 2:15-17
The world, for John, is inclusive of all the lusts and pride noted earlier in this letter.

OVERCOMETH – Conquer
John can say this because Jesus overcame the world. Jesus became flesh, and manifested love, joyful obedience, and victory as he lived in this world. Anyone who has true faith in this Jesus will reflect the same love, obedience, and victory.

What is the greatest obstacle to living out this truth? For some, a misplaced faith. The greatest obstacle to your joy is unbelief or a misplaced faith in seeking happiness through fulfillment of your lusts. For some, the greatest obstacle to this truth is seeking happiness through fulfillment of lists.

Do not attempt first to love, obey, and conquer. First, come to Christ, who gives you the heart to love, joyfully obey, and conquer (Psalm 40:8). For Christians, we battle against our sinful nature. Our greatest obstacle is ourselves. Christian, your love, joyful obedience, and conquering must have the right starting point. The finished record—imputed to you—is that starting point.

Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:29-33). Jesus has modeled this kind of selfless love. Jesus has equipped us for this kind of selfless love. The commandment to obey is not burdensome because Jesus has given to us the perfect record of obedience to this command. In this perfect record we can rejoice, and from this perfect record we can joyfully obey.

Christians, your starting point is forever and always the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


BY LAURA JACKSON

 

If someone asked your child what their parents love most, what would your child say? Maybe they cannot articulate it yet, but where would they see you finding your joy? Where do your children see their mom and dad turning when trials enter the home? Or what about their teachers and those they look up to at church? How do they see Jesus’ love in leaders’ actions or reactions to the things that happen in the classroom and hallways?

In Dane Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly, he shares a sermon in which Jonathan Edwards addressed the children of his congregation. Edwards’ main point was, “Children ought to love the Lord Jesus Christ above all things in the world” (95). He also told the kids, “There is no love so great and so wonderful as that which is in the heart of Christ” (100). If we and the children in our care grasp this truth, consider the impact it would have.

Christ demonstrated His great love for sinners by rescuing and delivering us through His death on the cross. It is important to note that it is not difficult for children to realize early on that they sin.  One way we can show them Jesus’ love is to remind them, as CityAlight’s song says, “We can always run to Jesus—Jesus strong and kind.”  Our failures and our needs do not make us undesirable to Him. Our sin is not something we should cover up and hide from Him—in fact, we cannot. Because He took the punishment for our sins on Himself, our sin should cause us not to hide in shame but come to Him for forgiveness.  

In this crucified Savior, children can know the true Friend of Sinners. When friends forsake us or we feel alone, Christ is a never-failing Friend. When we feel like our life is a mess, Jesus will deal with us gently. When we fail Him, Jesus continues interceding. His mercy and grace are bigger than all our sin. And this should give us great joy.

In this crucified Savior, children can know the true Friend of Sinners.

These truths need to be kept before us continually. As sinful humans, we struggle with heart idols and misplaced identities. In Melissa Kruger’s book Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know, after listing various occupations, dreams, and possible outcomes for a child’s future, the book closes with “Whatever you do, wherever you start, I pray you love Jesus with all of your heart.” Hearing this message and seeing it lived out will help children understand the hope they can have in knowing Christ’s love for them. Because they are loved with a love that is boundless and unwavering, they can rest in His sufficiency. They will be tempted to believe that they need something in addition to Jesus, but there is no award, accomplishment, or applause that will add any value. We will spend our entire lives being reminded that He is enough.

To love Jesus above all else, we must know Him. We must experience His love. We must know what He says about Himself and not what we think or assume to be true. As humans, we can easily imagine things to be true because of the sinfulness around us. We are tempted to expect harshness or rejection from Jesus because these are often the reactions we experience from others. However, the more we learn of His perfect love, we see that He welcomes us with openness and compassion. There is no reason to hold back in coming to Him. 

As we pray for those who are training children and for the children within our congregation, we can pray from scripture, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

There will never come a time when we stop learning or seeing His love in action. Think through the implications that this realization brings and the transformation it produces. Our prayer should be that children comprehend it as we discuss what it means for our daily lives. We must show them what it means to love Jesus above all else.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


For people to feel secure, they need to have an identity that they are sure of. They need to know who they are.

The problem is that most people look to themselves to find out who they are. The real issue though is that there is a God before whom all of us will stand on the Day of Judgment, as our passage points out. The weight of this passage cannot be understood without an understanding of the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17-18).

The common ground upon which all of us can agree is that there is love and hatred in the world. If God is the Creator of love/hate, then He is also the Standard and Judge for determining the lines of love/hate and those who live accordingly. If God is big enough to create love/hate, to put this sense within all people ever born, and to create the beings who can exercise love/hate; then, how powerful do you think God is? Should we not shudder at the thought of being Judged by a God this powerful?

If you were a Christian who believed that Jesus was the son of God and the One who made you right with God — made you secure with God — but a false teacher began to change the truth of Jesus, then your security would be shaken. Thus, John maintains the reality of future Judgment but shows how those Christians could remain secure in the love of God and obediently love fellow Christians!

For us today, the message is the same. Be secure in your identity in the love of God and obedient in your duty to love fellow Christians!

IDENTITY: Believe in the Fullness of God’s Love! (1 John 4:16b-19)

  • IT IS A LOVE CHARACTERIZED BY REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (v.16)
  • IT IS A LOVE CHARACTERIZED BY [FUTURE-LOOKING, PRESENT-LIVING] CONFIDENCE BEFORE GOD (v.17)

It is a love that so secures the Christian because of the identity fixed in Jesus Christ. It is this that gives me confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as Jesus is, so am I in the world. I am as secure in the love of God (while I am in this world), as Jesus was secure in the love of His Father (John 17:23-24, 26).

  • IT IS A LOVE CHARACTERIZED BY FEARLESSNESS BEFORE GOD (v.18)

When you know that you are loved by God, there is no fear of punishment. Perfect love casts out this idea of torment.

  • IT IS A LOVE CHARACTERIZED BY INITIATION BY GOD (v.19)

God is the Source of this love, and thus we are made to know more about the very nature of God. God wants his children to be secure in His love.

Be ready for the Day of Judgment (real relationship)! Christians must live today with full faith in the reality of the future! Believing in the fullness of God’s love means that you will daily consider who God says you are, and you will believe this. This kind of love changes your perspective on the here and now because of the certainty of the future.

DUTY: Love Fellow Christians in Obedience to God’s Love (I John 4:20-21)

  • THIS KIND OF OBEDIENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE LIAR (v.20)

The only way this kind of love is possible is by someone who has been truly changed by the love of Christ, received the indwelling Spirit of Christ, and who intentionally purposes to exercise this love towards other Christians.

  • THIS KIND OF OBEDIENCE IS BECAUSE OF LOVE FOR JESUS (v.21)

Why does John say that this is the commandment we have from him? This phrase is calling to mind when Jesus gave the disciples this commandment (John 14:15). Jesus Christ is worthy of our INTENTIONAL love toward our brethren.

What the world is yearning for is to be included, but God makes it clear that you cannot be included on your own terms because it was the terms of mankind that made them to be excluded from oneness with God and with others. Only in Jesus Christ is the love of God experienced. This experience then commands us to intentionally love others as we have been loved.

Christians have a secure identity, but we also have a sacred duty.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article:


From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


One of the earliest threats to early Christianity was Gnosticism. This teaching featured the “need for additional knowledge” or to “be in the know” in order to communicate with or know God. The teachings included: “men of God” who were uniquely gifted with knowledge that others did not have – including visions or revelations from the Holy Spirit; a view of the material world as evil; and a view of the makeup of man as three parts (spirit, soul, body).

This should lead to obvious questions for us today, “How do we know what we know?” or “How are we sure that what we know is absolutely true?” and “Do we have all that we need to know today?” If you were speaking to Dr. Harari (professor at Oxford), he would tell you that human knowledge evolved by chance. If we were speaking to certain individuals from within our culture, they would want you to believe in Research Justice—a type of experience-based knowledge.

What both of these ideologies miss is objective truth. Within biblical Christianity, experience is tethered to absolute truth; and we can be sure of this truth. It is easy for Christians today to live based on their emotions or their experiences, but do we really need to live that way?

We must be sure we know the love of God and that we can rely upon it!

1 John 4:16a “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

This verse answers the question, “How do I know the love of God, and why can I rely upon it?”

Because of the Real Gift of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13)

The gift of the Spirit implies certain truths:

  • God kept his promise to the apostles (John 14:26, 15:26).
  • The apostolic eyewitness testimony in the New Testament scriptures is foundational to knowing and relying upon the love of God (Ephesians 2:19-20).
  • There is an experience to the Christian life, one which strengthens/emboldens the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).

Kids’ Pause: God’s Word is the Record of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, and God’s Holy Spirit is the real Person given to all who receive Jesus as Lord. God’s Word and God’s Holy Spirit go together.

God can always be trusted to keep his word. You are not speaking on behalf of the Holy Spirit if what you are believing/saying is against the truth of God’s Word. Believing and living the Christian life is not something you do on your own. Even though Research Justice would say that knowledge comes from the experience of the marginalized and the Cognitive Revolution would teach us that what we know is a matter of chance development, the scriptures are actually the source of Absolute Truth, and the Spirit of God is God’s gift to us so that we might know the absolute truth of God’s Love.

Because of the Spirit-empowered Confession About Jesus [as the Savior of the world] (1 John 4:14-15)

First, there is the content of confession.

  • the Father sent confirms the economic subordination within the Godhead. There is nothing wrong with being told what to do. One of the beautiful ways that Christians manifest Jesus Christ is through submission.
  • the Son—the passage is Trinitarian. In addition, Jesus’ Sonship is unique and a material incarnation. We know God’s love through the incarnation of Jesus.
  • to be the Savior of the world. By implication, the world needs saving, and Jesus came to save or to deliver (John 4:42).

It is this message that the Holy Spirit indwells/empowers people to proclaim.

Second, the act of confession is evidence of possession by the Holy spirit. When you genuinely believe that Jesus is the Savior, you will show evidence of this belief in what you say about Jesus. “How do I know the love of God, and why can I rely upon it?” Because of the Holy Spirit and his work through me to openly confess Jesus as Savior.

Absolute knowledge does not begin with research justice, nor does it begin with a study of a theory of evolution. Absolute knowledge is based on absolute truth. Absolute truth does not eliminate experience. Christian experience comes by way of the Holy Ghost who is given to us, and this Christian experience is connected to the absolute truth of Jesus Christ in His word.

Research Justice falls short of Christian experience because Christian experience is connected to ABSOLUTE Truth.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


Questions?

Want to know more? We want to hear from you! Contact Us


Share this article: