Why Some Christian Leaders Don’t Post About Current Events on Social Media

Why Some Christian Leaders Don’t Post About Current Events on Social Media

In a word — pressure. That’s how many Christian leaders feel about having to post about current events on social media. But it shouldn’t be this way. As you know, 2020 is shaping to be one of the most infamous years in recent memory. Whether…

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The Exchange of Pleasures 

“The pleasure of obeying God is far greater than any pleasure that sin affords.”

The Exchange of Pleasures 

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Many moons ago I was into dieting and supplements and lifting-weights. I still am today, although to a much lesser degree. I try to eat healthy most days of the week. I take fewer supplements. And I lift weights and run, say, three or four days a week (when we’re not living in a coronavirus age). I feel much better when I take care of my body.

These days, though, I’m working on my pastor and dad bod which is notoriously not much to look at. My physique now isn’t what it was back in my early twenties and that’s okay. But back when I was a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutrition Specialist, I learned many lessons that are transferable to the Christian life. One of those lessons is this: achieving a fitness goal and killing sin both happens through the exchange of pleasures…

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Pastor, Pay Careful Attention

Pastor, Pay Careful Attention

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Using Acts 20:28 as his text David finds 5 “takeaways” for pastors to contemplate. 

    1. First, pastors need to pay careful attention to their own spiritual lives
    2. Second…the pastor is also called to pay careful attention to the souls of his flock.
    3. Third, God himself ordained that you would be at the church you now currently serve. 
    4. Fourth, pastors are to care for the church of God.
    5. Fifth, Jesus obtained the church with his own blood. 
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The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

Anyone who even infrequently uses social media knows there has been a significance influx since COVID-19, of so called prophets (I think they are really profiteers) expounding upon how we are seriously in the “End Times.” The problem like so many uneducated false teachers their Eschatology is based not on solid biblical foundations but upon the emotions of others. 

I am not big on Eschatology, it is not my forte so to speak, so I will not pretend to write about what specifics. However, the following article (one of the best I have read on the matter) is specifically about one subject of Eschatology, the Millennium, of which many a discussion has ensued since the beginning of Christianity. It does not pretend to “know the answer,” instead Mr. Quoad relates the facts of each side in a well written piece.

* Note I have highlighted areas and edited the format without changing any of the content.

The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

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What will happen when Jesus comes back? What must happen before he comes back? What is the correct view on the millennium? And why does this even matter? The answers to these questions have been the cause of much debate throughout the history of the church, and I don’t plan on solving every issue related to the millennium here. Instead, my aim in this post is to give you a brief introduction to the doctrine of the millennium.

millennium

This post merely serves as an introductory level and does not intend to go into great detail on each issue. I’ll share basic information on the three major views associated with the millennium, some strengths and challenges of each position, and resources for further study. ¹

For those of you who want to know more about the millennium but (a) don’t know where to start in your study and (b) are too busy to even start a study, this post is for you.

The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

Key Passage

Before we move on, let’s look at the main text associated with the millennium. Although there are other texts that absolutely must be taken into consideration when coming to a conclusion on where you stand, the key text associated with the millennium is Revelation 20:1-6. You might want to start by reading the text to get a big picture view of the debate.

Revelation 20:1-6

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Key Terms

Let me also define a few words. None of the views will make sense without understanding the basic terms. Here are some of those terms:

Eschatology: The word eschatology comes from the Greek word eschatos which means “last.” Eschatology, therefore, is the study of the last things. The last things are best taken to mean the events that will occur prior to, during, and after Christ’s return. Theologians differentiate between personal eschatology and general eschatology. Personal eschatology entails future events that will specifically affect persons (e.g., death, intermediate state, etc.). General eschatology entails future events that will affect the world (e.g., second coming of Christ, eternity, rapture, etc.).

Millennium: The word millennium derives from the Latin word mille which means “thousand,” and annus which means “year.” The word millennium, then, means one thousand years. The reference to one thousand years is mentioned five times in Revelation 20:1-6.

Are the 1,000 years literal or symbolic? Will Christ come before or after this 1,000 year period? Could the 1,000 year period be actually happening now? And what is supposed to happen during the 1,000 year period? Much of the debate comes from understanding what this 1,000 year period means in relation to Jesus’ return.

Three Major Views Associated with the Millennium

As we look into the various major views on the millennium, keep in mind the prefix of each word (e.g., “a,” “pre,” “post”). That will help you remember what the view means. “A” means no, “pre” means before, and “post” means after. I’m not covering every view possible, but only a primer on the major ones in alphabetical order.

Major Millennium View #1: Amillennialism

Amillennialism is the belief that there is no millennium in the future, but that the millennium is happening now in and through the church.  The millennium started when Jesus rose from the dead and will end when Jesus comes back. Hence, why this view is sometimes referred to as inaugurated or realized millennialism; because the millennium is happening now in and through the church age. The reference to 1,000 years should not be taken literally in a book of the Bible packed with so much symbolism.

How do amillennialists interpret Rev. 20:2-3? According to the amillennial position, Jesus bound Satan during his earthly ministry. Their reasoning comes from texts like Matthew 12:29: “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” And also texts like Luke 10:18: “And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’” (Luke 10:18). During his earthly ministry, and even more through his death and resurrection, Jesus binds Satan and thus Satan is unable to hinder the progress of the gospel. The church cannot cease to exist and the gospel cannot be stopped in part because the enemy is bound.

“They came to life,” John says, “and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4b). He continues, “This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5). This a reference to those whom have died with Christ and are currently reigning in the intermediate state with him. Significantly, when Christ returns, the resurrection of believers and unbelievers, judgment, and the new heavens and new earth happens at once. This is the most seamless of the views and commonly held in the Reformed tradition.

Amillennialism

Strengths of Amillennialism

•The New Testament in many places seems to indicate the resurrection of believers and unbelievers, judgment, and the new heavens and new earth happening in conjunction upon Christ’s return (1 Cor. 15:22-281 Cor. 15:50-57Romans 8:18-232 Peter 3:8-13Matthew 25:31-462 Thessalonians 1:5-10John 5:28-29).

•The reference to “thrones” in Revelation 20:4-5 is a clear reference to heaven (Daniel 7:922). The mention of “thrones” in the book of Revelation is always associated with heaven, thus revealing the vision that John saw happened in heaven, not on earth.

•Scripture elsewhere teaches one resurrection, not two (John 5:28-29Acts 24:15Dan. 12:2). In order to believe in premillennialism, you must believe there are two separate resurrections.

•The premillennialist often refers to texts like Isa. 65:13 and Isa. 66:22 to depict a time in history that does not refer to the present life, nor the new heavens and new earth, thus making the possibility of a future millennium reign. These Isaiah texts, curiously, are not mentioned in Revelation 20:1-16 but are mentioned in Rev. 21 and Rev. 22 when John is speaking of the new heavens and new earth.

Revelation 19:21 says, “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” This depicts all non-Christians being executed in the last battle between Christ and his enemies. If all of Christ’s enemies are destroyed by the end of chapter 19, then it is impossible for unbelievers to be in the millennium as portrayed in Rev. 20:1-6.

Challenges of Amillennialism

•The Greek word anastasis for “resurrection” (Rev. 20:5) in the Bible always refers to physical resurrection when used elsewhere. To argue that the word here is in reference to the resurrection of believers is to contradict how the word is used in all other places in Scripture.

•The binding of Satan logic seems like a stretch. Not to mention that there are specific texts that do not picture Satan as bound, but as “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4). Even more, Rev. 20:2-3 does not merely depict Satan as bound, but as one whom is thrown into a pit, shut, and sealed (Rev. 20:2-3).

Adherents you may know: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Louis Berkhof, Sam Storms, Kevin DeYoung, and Tom Schreiner.

Resources on Amillennialism

1. Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative by Sam Storms
2. A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times by Kim Riddlebarger
3. The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema (specifically chapter 17)
4. 7 Reasons Tom Schreiner (Tentatively) Holds to Amillennialism by Justin Taylor
5. Making Sense of the Millennium Part 1 and Part 2 by Kevin DeYoung

Major Millennium View #2: Postmillennialism

Postmillennial is the view that Christ returns after the millennium. The millennium is a time that refers to a golden age in which God will use the church powerfully to spread the gospel during a time of peace, righteousness, and great joy. The gospel will progress in unprecedented success and transform all cultures and societies. During the millennium, Christ is in heaven (not on earth, as the premillennialist will argue) and is working by his Spirit through his church for the success of gospel advancement.

After the millennium – and only for a brief time – Satan will be released, and will attack the church one last time. But then Jesus will return personally, bodily, and gloriously to defeat his enemies. He then will conduct the final judgment and usher in the new heavens and earth. This view posits an extremely optimistic picture of the future.

Postmillennialism

Strengths of Postmillennialism

•The postmillennial view pictures a high view of creation and culture. Adherents to this view often lead the way in cultural engagement and societal restoration.

•Having a robust view of the great commission, some of the parables in the Gospels, the creational mandate (Gen. 1:28Gen. 2:15), and texts like Isaiah 9:7 may naturally lead us to believe in worldwide advancement and cultural impact for Christ. Adherents to this view often lead the way in evangelism and apologetics.

•Just look at the world now. Christianity is exploding in places like South America, Africa, and Asia. This is just further proof that a Christian golden age will happen in the future.

Challenges of Postmillennialism

•The nature of the kingdom of God, the essence of the great commission, and the creational mandate does not automatically and inevitably lead us to believe that there will be a Christian golden age in the future.

•The world is clearly getting worse.

•Dismisses the imminent return of Christ (i.e., that Christ could return at any moment).

Adherents you may know: Many of the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, and Doug Wilson.

Resources on Postmillennialism

1. Heaven Misplaced: Christ’s Kingdom on Earth by Doug Wilson
2. Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison
3. The Puritan Hope by Iaian Murray

Major Millennium View #3: Premillennialism

The premillennialist view is broken up into at least two different categories: historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. I’ll describe both, and mention some strengths and challenges of the historic premillennialism view, but I won’t mention the strengths and challenges of the dispensational premillennialism view as it is quite complex and requires a full-length post to unpack. We will mainly focus on the historic premillennialism view here.

Historic Premillennialism

Historic premillennialism is the view that Christ will return before the millennium. The reason why it’s called “historic premillennialism” is that, historically, this was the allegedly commonly-held view by many of the church fathers like Iraenus, Pappias, and Justin Martyr. Most premillennialists see the one thousand years as literal, but some do not.

According to this view, there will be a time of great suffering and persecution on earth, often referred to as the “tribulation.” Christ will come after the tribulation to usher in the millennium. The millennium is a time when Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years (either literally or symbolically) with glorified believers in a time of peace and righteousness and great joy. During the millennium, Satan will be bound and not have any influence, after which he will be tossed into the lake of fire. Christ will usher in the final judgment and new heavens and new earth after the millennium.

Historic Premillennialism

Historic Premillennialism Strengths

•This view provides the most straightforward reading of the text. It gives the clearest exegesis of Revelation 20:1-6.

•The reference of “coming down” in Revelation 20:1 is a clear reference to activity on Earth.

•There are several Old Testament passages that don’t seem to fit either the present church age nor the eternal age (Isaiah 65:20Isaiah 11:6-9Isaiah 11:10-11Psalm 72: 8-14Zech. 14:5-17). Not to mention, 1 Cor. 15:20-28 strongly suggests a millennium age. This Bible is messy, and therefore we must make room for these texts and not ignore them, nor assume that they are all symbolic.

Historic Premillennialism Challenges

•It seems unwise to build an entire doctrine from only six verses that explicitly mention a millennium.

•If you’re a premillennialist, you must believe that, when Christ returns to usher in the millennium, the following will still exist: death, people who can come to saving faith in Christ, the subjugation of creation to the fall, and the delay of the new heavens and earth (along with the sentencing of eternal condemnation for all unbelievers) until after the millennium is over (adapted from Sam Storm’s Kingdom Come (p. 135-137).

Adherents you may know: Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, John Piper, and Al Mohler.

Resources on Historic Premillennialism

1. A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to “Left Behind” Eschatology edited by Craig Bloomberg and Sung Wook Chung
2. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (specifically chapter 55)
3. The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture by George Eldon Ladd

Dispensational Premillennialism

A key distinction of dispensational theology is a regular literalism in interpreting the Bible and, probably more significantly, a distinction between Israel and the church. This view is sometimes referred to as pretribulation premillennialism, i.e., that Christ will return before the millennium and before the great tribulation. This view is curiously quite popular, although it only started gaining popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In Systematic Theology, Grudem writes: “This position is similar to the classic premillennial position mentioned above, but with one important difference: it will add another return of Christ before his return to reign on earth in the millennium.” A key text for this position is 1 Thess. 4:16-17. This second return of Christ is thought to be a secret return, where he will rapture his people out of the world. After Christ returns to heaven with those whom he raptured, there will be a great tribulation for seven years. At the end of the tribulation, Christ will return to reign on earth for one thousand years which, of course, should be taken literally.

Adherents you may know: John MacArthur.

General Resources on The Millennium

This is a great quick place to start if you want to learn more about the millennium. Schreiner does a great job of breaking down each view. Schreiner is an amillennialist.

Likewise, Sproul does a great job of explaining each view on the millennium in the video below. It’s a bit longer than the video Schreiner is in above, but it is still a great place to start. Interestingly, Sproul does not take a side but just explains each view.

Here is a conversation with Jim Hamilton (historic premil), Sam Storms (amil) and Doug Wilson (postmil). John Piper is the moderator (who himself is a historic premillennialist but does not engage much in the debate). This conversation is a little combative, but it’s educational nevertheless.

Another helpful resource is The Millenial Maze: A Panel on the Millenium by Andy Naselli. There you’ll find yet another discussion on the doctrine of the millennium, along with a host of resources at the bottom of the post for further study.

Next Steps

What should you do next if you’d like to learn more?

I suggest two things:

1. Read and re-read Revelation 20:1-6. Read it over and over again. Read the footnotes in multiple study Bibles. As you notice cross-reference texts in your study Bible, read those texts too. Cry out to the Lord for insight as you read.

2. Select one (or multiple) of the resources in this post and read or watch it.

I want to make a plea that we have conversations about the millennium in a civil and charitable manner. Although it’s good to have strong biblical convictions, it’s uncalled for to be dismissive and antagonistic towards those with whom you disagree. This is a secondary issue. There’s a possibility you could be wrong. While evangelicals will not all come to the same conclusion on the doctrine of the millennium, there is one thing we can all agree upon, and that is this: Christ is coming back!

A note on the charts used above: Taken from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem Copyright © 1995 by Wayne Grudem. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com


Notes:  ¹ In writing this post, I was helped by chapter 55 of Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology, the ESV Study Bible, and the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. When it comes to the strengths and challenges provided, some of them are things upon which we should all agree, but some of the points are admittedly my own personal opinion. 

4 Things God Cannot Do

 

 4 Things God Cannot Do

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What are some things God cannot do?

“Nothing is impossible for God,” is a common expression used by Christians for all sorts of situations. The idea is that because our God is so big and powerful and wonderful and beautiful, nothing is impossible for him. Nothing is too big for him. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. After all, he is . . . God.

But is this true?

The expression “nothing is impossible for God” is used directly or indirectly at least twice in Scripture. The angel comforts Mary when speaking to her about Jesus in her womb, reminding her that through God’s power she can conceive a child as a virgin (Luke 1:37). The context is to trust in God who can enable Mary, a virgin, to conceive a baby.

It is also used in another context dealing with money and salvation. When the disciples asked Jesus who can be saved if it’s hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom, Jesus responds by saying, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). He’s talking about one’s allegiance to money and salvation. By God’s power, your main allegiance can shift from money to God, and no one is beyond the scope of salvation if God chooses to save him or her. The context is money and salvation.

But the fact that nothing is impossible for God doesn’t mean there are things God cannot do.

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The Omniscience of God is for Your Comfort

The word omniscience comes from the word omni which means “all” and from the word scientia which means “knowledge.” God’s omniscience, therefore, means that God has all knowledge or, stated differently, that God is all-knowing. This means, of course, that God knows everything about your

Source: The Omniscience of God is for Your Comfort

Don’t Believe Your Own Press

While this article is written about people mostly in positions of high Christian Influence; I would say that it applies to all Christians in all aspects of ministry. From the greeter at the church to the most influential theologians of our time. – Mike  

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Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with a widely recognized theologian at a conference. He left an impression on me with his words.

After his lecture, me and some friends approached him to strike up a conversation. Our conversation was mostly surface level, mixed with a few jokes. I was happy to be in the circle. When you’re standing next to an influential person, you don’t care what’s going on. You’re just glad you’re there.

But I grew discontent. And time was ticking; I didn’t know how much more time I would have with him or if I would ever see him again. I’m not one to miss out on learning opportunities. So I decided to ask a question. Before he left our circle I put my hand on his shoulder and asked, “How do you cultivate a spirit of humility in light of all the success God has entrusted you with?”

Some readers of this site might remember a similar question delivered from me to R. C. Sproul several years ago. I like to ask a variation of this question for a few reasons: (1) I genuinely want to know the answer; (2) The response is always memorable; (3) It makes for good blog material.

How did he respond? Like this: “I get a lot more hate mail than you do.” Laughter ensued.

Then I said, “Yeah, but only slightly.” More laughter.

But then, he got serious. And this is where the learning comes in. He continued and said something like, “I get a lot of love, and I get a lot of hate. I don’t believe all the kind things said about me, and I don’t believe all the negative things said about me.” He then began to loosely quote Jesus’ words in Luke 6:26, where Jesus says woe to you when all people speak well of you.

Our time together soon ended. A few more comments were made, and then he kindly walked away. I saw someone snatch a picture with him before he left, and then he was gone.

I jumped into my car soon thereafter to journey home. For the first couple of hours, I did not listen to music or an audiobook. I just drove quietly and reflected on the conference. There were many things that stood out to me during this wonderful time, but one was this conversation. What particularly stood out to me is when he said, “I don’t believe all the good things said about me.”

If you’re a Christian influencer, people will see your strengths more than your flaws. But the people in your church and the people at home know your weaknesses. You know the real you. And God does to a perfect degree. Our recognition of our sinfulness and weaknesses should cause a spirit of humility. We’re not as talented as people think.

The preacher will get told he is an amazing preacher; the author that he is the best writer; and the church planter that he has so much potential. And yet, in the midst of the praise, we should not believe it all.

Not for a second am I saying that encouragement and kind words from others is not a blessing. Sometimes affirmation from external sources is not only desired but needed to confirm your calling. We should be constantly lifting one another up with our words. Christians should be encouraging without reservation.

But the praise can be taken too far, taken too seriously. And if the praise gets to your head, sin won’t be far from your heart. Be thankful for kind words, but know that all the kind things said about you aren’t always accurate. Thank the person, transfer the glory to God, reflect on the words, and move on with your life, not allowing the praise to shape your identity.

A Call to Modesty Among Christian Women

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Note: The following is a guest post by Melissa Holmquist. The word “modesty” has almost become a politically incorrect word. If the word even passes your lips, immediate visions of ankle-length dresses with no shape or color appear in a thought bubble above your head

Source: A Call to Modesty Among Christian Women

5 Questions Your Listeners Will Have When They Hear You Preach

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As a preacher, your aim is to please God and God alone. But that doesn’t mean it is entirely unhelpful to consider what questions your audience may have when they listen to you preach. This is especially true for new preachers or when you’re preaching to an audience for the first time. Considering what questions your hearers will have will help you to better connect with them.

5 Questions Your Listeners Will Have When They Hear You Preach

Much has been written about questions to consider when preparing a sermon, but I’ve seen little about which questions your listeners will have when they hear you preach. Preachers tend to think about exegesis, appropriately relating the text to Christ, contextualization, and so on. This is all so very important. But most of your listeners don’t look for these elements; instead, they have much more simple and practical things on their minds.

Having preached and listened to many sermons myself, below you will find a few questions that I think may enter the minds of your hearers. This list, like most lists, is not exhaustive. And they are primarily (but not exclusively) intended for new preachers or those preaching to a new audience.

1. Can I trust you?

The biggest thing people want to know when they hear you preach is whether or not they can trust you, whether you are a sincere person, or whether you are trying to act like somebody you’re not. Yes, homiletical competency is extremely important, but people can overlook a little bit of weakness in preaching skills for a godly, genuine preacher. On the contrary, no amount of speaking ability can make up for a lack of trust.

No doubt, some are wolves and won’t trust you no matter what. They not only want you to fall but actively try to consider how they can take part in it. But for a genuine believer who desires to grow in godliness, trustworthiness ranks among the top of the traits they look for in a preacher.

Is this person genuine? Can I trust them? Do I get a sense that he cares for me? That’s what your listeners will ask.

2. Why should I listen to you?

By this, I don’t mean flexing all of your theological credentials or resume experience. Instead, I mean letting people know why what you’re about to say matters to them.

Sermon introductions and opening remarks in a sermon are crucial. Don’t squander it. While you want to avoid gimmicks, it is not a bad idea to consider how you can quickly capture the attention of your audience. This is less important if you have built-in relational capital with your hearers, but it still can be helpful nevertheless. People often ask, “What’s in it for me?” They shouldn’t. But they do. Let them know why what you’re about to say matters.

3. What in the world are you talking about?

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of clarity in the pulpit. Some are more talented than others, but clarity in the pulpit { by teachers and preachers} is often aided by knowing your subject material exceptionally well, writing a word-for-word manuscript, practicing or verbally reading your sermon aloud multiples times, and experience. It takes effort. Some of us are more advanced than others, or wired differently. So you are free to come up with your own system. But all preachers would do well to consider how they can be crystal clear.

As the old saying goes, tell people what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said. That may not always be transferrable in preaching, but people won’t be helped if they don’t know what you’re talking about. Repetition in writing is boring, but powerful in the pulpit.

Here are some keyword phrases I sometimes use in my sermons to capture attention and promote clarity:

1. “The big idea of this text is . . .”
2. “Here’s the theme of this passage. . .”
3. “So how can you apply this to your life? I’ll show you four ways from this passage. First, . . .”
4. “Let me tell you a story that illustrates this.”
5. “How do I know that the point of this text is worship? Look with me in verse two . . .”

You don’t want to talk down to people or come off as insulting, but figuring out ways to say things with clarity is critical.

4. Are you trying to show off?

No one would argue, of course, that explaining what redemption and salvation and propitiation means in a sermon when it arises in a text is crucial in Christian preaching. But this always must be done in a clear, accessible, and easy-to-understand way. Being smart is good, but it does no good if your knowledge can’t be passed on to others. Worse, it is a sign of pride when you are trying to show off. People can generally sniff out a preacher who’s more concerned with looking smart than being helpful.

One of the worst compliments I can receive as a preacher is, “Boy, you’re so knowledgable.” I’m encouraged that my hard work is shown, but I am discouraged that I may have not done a good enough job of being accessible. On the flip side, the best thing — or one of the best things — people can tell me is that they understand me, that I am clear. The point of your hard work in your study is not so that people will be impressed by you, but so that you can explain, illustrate, and apply the text in an accessible manner.

5. Why are you not looking at me?

Some preachers hardly look at their audience when they preach. They rightly believe the efficacy of a sermon is not the result of their engagement with the crowd, but with the Spirit using the Word. Others would agree with this sentiment, but take pains to show eye-contact since it is a sign of affection. What should you do? This is the dilemma when taking preaching advice.

I’m in the camp that believes eye-contact is important. This is particularly true during your introduction, conclusion, when you relate the text to Jesus, and when there is a line or two that you really want to stick with your people. I don’t think you have to memorize your entire sermon manuscript, but surely people will connect with you more if you actually look at them. Sermon content is more important than sermon delivery, but sermon delivery is crucial.

These are some questions that people may have when they hear you preach. Your desire should be to be faithful to the passage at all costs, but understanding what goes through the minds of your hearers will help you in that endeavor.

Source: 5 Questions Your Listeners Will Have When They Hear You Preach

Jesus is King: Thoughts on Kanye’s Conversion to Christ

I was not going to comment on this but with so much being said especially bashing him I felt I should. I am not a HipHop nor Kanye’s West fan, I am a believer in the power of the Blood of Christ to redeem those whom He (God) chooses. I am also convinced that God often chooses the most unlikely (self reflection here) to be one of His own. So KW why not, do I have doubts yes, do I pray they are for not yes, do I pray he can somehow use his celebrity status all for the Glory of God, Amen and Amen. – Mike 

Jesus is King: Thoughts on Kanye’s Conversion to Christ 

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I’ve followed Kanye’s music for years. I’ve also been following Jesus for some years, too. As a lifelong hip-hop fan and follower of Jesus, the news that Kanye West has come to saving faith in Jesus Christ brought me much joy. As I listened to his new album, Jesus is King, I heard a man who genuinely seems to be on a new journey in life. Indeed, he sounds like a new Christian. Since the release of his album, I’ve been thinking about his conversion. You can find some of those thoughts below.

Suspicion

Are you suspicious of the validity of his conversion to Christ? That’s normal. It’s okay to be there, but you shouldn’t stay there. At some point, you should believe the best in him and celebrate his testimony.

Jesus tells us that we will know a tree by its fruit (Matt. 7:20). Some signs of a genuine conversion are a true turning from sin, a love for God and his people, a love for the Bible, a hatred of sin, and so on. Evidence of Kanye’s conversion will come as he continues to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). As we see Kanye do these things, we can have genuine confidence in his conversion.

But you can take this too far. You don’t know his heart. Some might say, “Until Kanye becomes a member of a good gospel-centered church, gets baptized, and develops a regular quiet time, then I will believe he is saved.” This is a pharisaical statement putting you in the ultimate position of judge.

When Kanye talks about Jesus, you can see the excitement in his eyes. I’ve watched several hours of interviews of him since his conversion. He does not say all the right things, but that’s okay. Some of the theological statements made in his album are slightly off, but that’s okay. From what I can tell, he seems to be a genuine born again believer in Jesus Christ and for that we should celebrate.

Kanye’s story, in a slight way, reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s story, a man who went from advocating the murder of Christians to becoming a murdered Christian. After Paul’s conversion, the Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision, asking him to go to a certain house to find the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:11-12). Ananias was suspicious, even scared, to associate with him: ”Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:12). This is a rational response. He was suspicious at first, be he didn’t linger there. The Lord assured him of his plans for Paul (Acts 9:15-16).

It’s normal to expect to see spiritual fruit from Kanye’s life to bear witness to his testimony, but I think we have already seen a glimpse of that with the proper lyrics in his new album and the way he carries himself in recent interviews.

Bottom line: We should believe that Kanye has been converted to Christ until he gives us ample and substantial reasons to disbelieve him.

Surprise

Maybe you’re not suspicious of Kanye’s conversion to Christ. Perhaps you are, among other things, surprised. Let me ask you: Why? Why are you surprised?

You will reply, “But look at how lost he was. He said and did some of the most disturbing things in the history of music. He has mental heath issues. He’s so full of himself. He’s clearly in love with the things the world has to offer; he even referred to himself as a god at one point. So I just thought he was the kind of guy that would never come to Christ.”

Maybe you wouldn’t say it that bluntly. And no doubt the word “surprised” isn’t always a bad thing, seeing how the word is often used in a pleasant context. Myself, I’ve prayed for some unbelievers for years. At times, I want to give up. If Jesus saves them, because my faith is so low, I will be surprised.

I want to offer two quibbles with this sort of thinking (which I also see in myself).

First, where is our faith in a sovereign God to save? Could it be, for those of us who have our theology in order, we forget the simple wonders of the faith, that Jesus is still in the business of saving souls? Our shallow faith is neither pleasing to God nor attractive to man.

Second — and as others have noted — you shouldn’t be surprised that God saved Kanye; you should be surprised that God saved you. You are — or at least you should be — the worst sinner that you know (1 Tim. 1:15).

When Jesus saves someone who we think would never come to Christ, the subconscious message that we believe is that they are too bad for God’s grace, but we are not. You believe that somehow your sins are less offensive to God. This is religious self-righteousness. We need to see every sin (although some sins are greater than others) as a horrific offense to the God of the Bible. Even more, we should see ourselves as the worst sinners we know. The more we grow in this gospel humility, the less surprised we will be when others are saved, and the more thankful we will be that we are saved.

Support

The secular media wants Kanye to fail and fall. They want him to do something blatantly sinful to attempt to disprove his conversion or even the validity of Christianity: “See,” the media wants to say, “we told you that this whole Christianity thing is bogus. Look at how Kanye is acting.”

Kanye is a new disciple. He’s learning and growing. Like all of us, he’s going to make mistakes. But his mistakes are seen on a much greater scale. This brings us to wonder how the church can rally around him. Your efforts are limited, since you don’t live in community with him. But you can pray, pray, and pray.

Pray that he will make the local church a priority in his life. Pray that private Bible reading and prayer will become a habit for him. Pray that God saves his wife. Pray for protection from the enemy, his servants, and theirs works. Pray for whatever else comes to mind. The best thing you can do for Kanye is really the best thing you can do for anyone, which is to pray for him.

Kanye is not ready to be a leader in the Christian world. Paul tells us that elders in the church must not be new converts (1 Tim. 3:6), and deacons should first be tested (1 Tim. 3:10). While the immediate context of Paul’s words relates to church government, the broader principle is that those who lead must first be tested and must not be new to the faith. This removes Kanye from the equation —for now.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate new birth in Christ. Indeed, his zeal for the Lord is contagious, which is often the case for new believers. I’m reminded of this in his song, God is, where he says:

“This a mission, not a show
This is my eternal soul
This my kids, this the crib
This my wife, this my life
This my God-given right
Thank you, Jesus, won the fight.”


The Sword and the Trowel: Kanye West – Rejoice or Doubt? James Commentary & Being Slow to Speak

Today on The Sword & The Trowel, Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore discuss Kanye West and his recent profession of faith. How should we respond when a celebrity claims Christ? Should we doubt or rejoice? They also recommend the Founders Study Guide Commentary on James and discuss how Christians should be slow to speak.