Monthly Archives: April 2015

Classic Catechism at General Conference

I am happy to announce that I will be offering a seminar on the Classic Catechism at the General Conference of the Free Methodist Church-USA this July in Orlando. The seminar will be on Wednesday, July 15, from 7:00 – 8:15 a.m., in one of the classrooms in the right/east BOCA wing of the convention center. ClassicCatechism

The seminar will cover the origin and structure of the Catechism plus some ideas for how to use it. I have offered seminars like this at the last two General Conferences and they went well – I am hoping for even stronger interest now that it has been translated into several languages and is being used extensively in Asia.




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One of My New Favorite Websites: Piercing Word

piercing word easterIt was refreshing to find this website, Piercing Word. All the videos are good, but I especially love Aaron House’s presentation of the Easter story from the Gospel of John, word-for-word as in the ESV. Enjoy.



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Bad Theology at Funerals

When good, biblical theology is pushed aside or is simply unknown, the void is not left unfilled. Other thinking takes its place, and the results are often sentimental drivel or some vaguely Christian sounding thought that is profoundly misleading. Human beings are inherently religious, and thus it is normal for us to look outside ourselves for some kind of meaning and way to make sense of life.

One occasion that such thinking is expressed at is the funeral. We have heard comments like this about the deceased: “God needed another angel in heaven,” or that “God could not wait to have” the deceased. These comments reflect the erroneous ideas that human beings are transformed into angels when they die, and that God is impatient. The former does not understand that humans and angels are different beings altogether, and the latter is an unintentional assault on the character of God.

One sad example that shows up at funerals is a saying that is written on some type of stone material  and often delivered by a local florist. The idea is that grieving family can take that stone and set it up in their yard somewhere after the funeral. The saying goes like this:  tears and heaven 2

If tears could build a stairway

and memories a lane,

I’d walk right up to heaven

and bring you back home again.

Why is this so sad, terrible, and unbiblical? As an expression of grief and love for the deceased, it is truly heartfelt. But the theology is horrific. Heaven is where believers go at death, the place where God is, and this is often called the “Intermediate State.” Believers go be “with Christ” (Phil. 2:3, 2 Cor. 5:8) if they die before His return, and there they await the coming resurrection in blissful joy. So, if that is the case, why in the world would any of us want to yank a  Christian from heaven and bring him or her back here to this world that is full of sin and suffering, away from the immediate presence of the Savior?!? One would have to be tremendously selfish to want to remove a person out of a blissful existence just to have their company. Instead, at the death of a true believer we should grieve over the temporary separation and consequent pain from the believer by death, but we should NOT feel bad for the deceased believer – he or she is now doing better than we are! We should rejoice that he or she is now with the Lord and make sure that eternity with Jesus is our destination as well. Our wish should not be a reunion in this life, but our hope should be in a reunion at Christ’s second coming: “and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Don’t exchange biblical truth for sentimental drivel or bad theology. Learn the Scriptures and expel unbiblical thinking that you may know the true hope of the Lord.

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Easter Sermon Synopsis: Sustainable Joy

Here is the outline of today’s Easter sermon, “Sustainable Joy.” Included are just a few expository comments, not the full sermon.Jesus_Resurrection_by_highigh

Main thought: The resurrection of Jesus gives us sustainable joy! How so?

I. It speaks of a new world

As Christians, we have joy in the midst of this messed up world, this sin-sick world, because the tomb of Jesus is open and empty. And that tells us that death is not the end, that sin will not always win, that God intends to and will turn things around one day, that our Savior is victorious over all the stuff we live in each day. The tomb is our glimpse into a glorious future where death is no more, where sin is no more, were suffering is no more, and where the enemies of the gospel will be defeated once and for all. As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:49, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” God is in the resurrection business – Jesus’ own resurrection demonstrates that! The resurrection shows us a new world and that sustains our joy while we wait for it to come.

II. It speaks of a unique Savior

The Apostle Paul says so in Romans 1:4. Speaking of Jesus, he writes, “and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the resurrection from the dead.” What he means is this: when Jesus was raised from the dead, it was as though God the Father was putting his stamp of approval upon Jesus. The resurrection was God’s endorsement, God’s proof, that this Jesus really is his Son, that Jesus really is the one and only true Savior. The thinking is simple: God would not raise from the dead a fake, or a liar, or a false prophet, or just a special spiritual teacher, because everyone would look at it as an affirmation of that person’s life, ministry, and very identity. God would not raise someone if it risked misleading people. God is a God of truth! And so, when he raised Jesus from the dead, it was as if God was saying, “Will the real Son of God, the real Messiah, please stand up!” And he did!

III. It speaks of a definitive victory

Our Lord Jesus had a definitive victory when he was raised on the third day. He did not earn some title in professional sports or lead an earthly army to victory. No, he rose victorious over sin and death. As the Easter hymn “Up From the Grave” says,

Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign,
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

The author of the book of Hebrews in our New Testament writes of this victory in chapter 2: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15).


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The Shed Blood of Christ: What Difference Does it Make?

Today Pastor Bill Ireland of the First Baptist Church of Lawrenceville, IL preached a good sermon at our Good Friday Community Service. Here are a few of my notes from that sermon, minus illustrations:

Main thought: Jesus shed his blood on the cross. What difference does it make?

I.  Jesus’ shed blood made atonement possible

Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22 ESV).

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (Lev 17:11 ESV).

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:23-26 ESV).

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20 ESV).

Have you acted on that potential for forgiveness? He wants  you and wants you to have assurance of salvation. Why would you say no? Why would you not tell your neighbor?

II. Jesus’ shed blood makes purification possible

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jo 1:7 ESV).

Real change is possible because of the shed blood of Christ. Grudges, resentment, etc. all need cleansing. The blood cleanses when you cooperate. Do not say, “I’m just like this” as a way to avoid dealing with needed sanctification.

III. Jesus’ shed blood makes victory possible

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11 ESV).

You can overcome. Victory in this sense is available NOW, in this life. Do not be satisfied with less. At the cross Jesus won our victory.


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