Archives For Jesse Johnson

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Last week I listed seven components of worship that should take place when the church is gathered: fellowship, ordinances, Scripture reading, giving, corporate prayer, preaching, and singing. By itself, this list demonstrates the necessity of being part of a church. If a Christian is not part of a church, he separates himself from not only the means of grace, but the means of worship as well.

This week I want to answer this question: should all seven of them be present in every service? Or, to ask it another way, are any of these seven prioritized over the others? Is every form of corporate worship equal, or are some more equal than others?  Continue Reading…

Were believers under the Old Covenant permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit? Was Spirit baptism an Old Testament reality?

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No. While the Holy Spirit regenerated sinners in the Old Testament, the indwelling of the Spirit in the hearts/lives of believers began at Pentecost. I am a dispensationalist, and I see the church as beginning in Acts 2. I am a progressive, leaky, modified dispensationalist, but even in my compromised form, I cannot imagine any understanding of the uniqueness of the church that simultaneously rejects the uniqueness of Spirit baptism and indwelling. Continue Reading…

Should Christians be friends with non-believers?

Well there are two biblical concepts at play in this question—the first is the principle of purity and the second is the mandate for evangelism.  Continue Reading…

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Pastoral prayer—the part of the worship service where a pastor stands before the congregation and leads them in prayer as part of the worship service—seems to have fallen on hard times.

By pastoral prayer, I mean a pastor (someone whom has been ordained, and is being paid by the congregation for pastoral ministry; 1 Tim 5:17) praying a deep prayer over/for/with the congregation on the Lord’s Day.

Terry Johnson—who wrote When Grace Comes Alive and When Grace Comes Home (two books about theological prayers), points out that through church history, pastoral prayers have been a mark of healthy churches, but particularly during the Reformation. They are common today because they remain embodied (if neglected) in most liturgical churches.   Continue Reading…

 

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Recently I heard someone say that they love to worship, but they don’t love the church. They don’t see why a worshiper needs the church at all. After all, can’t we just worship as individuals? Here is my response:   Continue Reading…

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep– with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (Hebrews 13:21).

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Worship is a heart-felt attitude of thankfulness, love, holy fear, and submission to Scripture that magnifies the glory of God by rejoicing in who God is and what he has done for us through Jesus Christ. Worship takes God’s attributes (which can seem distant and are marked by the otherness of God—his holiness) and not only makes them personal, but magnifies them by the attitude of the worshiper towards them.

For an example, consider God’s sovereignty—which can certainly seem his most otherly attribute: when one who loves God understands how God’s sovereignty affects his own personal life, and he responds with thankfulness, fear, and submission (as well as joy, gratitude, etc.) then God is worshiped in the heart. Worship then is the result of a heart that has right information about who God is and what God has done, and then has the right response to that information. True worshipers respond in a way in keeping with God’s character and actions, as a response to his character and actions, and this has the effect of glorifying his character and actions.

True worship intersects with local church for a few reasons:    Continue Reading…

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The Pastor and Counseling, by Jeremy Pierre (Dean of Students at Southern Seminary) and Deepak Reju (Counseling Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church), is an excellent little book written for pastors who find themselves with a desire to counsel, but don’t quite know where to begin. It serves as a how-to manual, walking pastors through the biblical mandate for counseling as well as the practical process for creating a culture of counseling in the church. It covers everything from how to start a counseling session through the last meeting.

In terms of biblical counseling, this is not a particularly deep book. It doesn’t have a developed argument against psychology in counseling—although they do say that one of a pastor’s primary roles is to “depsychologize” people’s understanding of their problems. Pierre and Reju don’t give a verse-by-verse description of the content of your counseling session. This is not a “what verses help people with anger?” kind of book.   Continue Reading…

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In the 1700’s, the celebration of Christmas by evangelicals was still controversial. It was banned by law in parts of the United States (the day was associated with revelry by some, and by others it was inextricably connected to the Catholic Mass). Puritans tended to eschew it simply because of the mas part of Christmas, and history seemed to be moving away from the notion of a Christian Christmas.

But George Whitefield would not allow that. “It is a Christian duty,” he would say, “to celebrate Christmas.” He preached a sermon on the topic, designed to warn and persuade. He warns against revelry, and persuades the evangelical world to embrace December as a season to remember Christ.

Below are some excerpts from the sermon (you can find the full sermon here). I edited out his very worthwhile warnings against cards and dice on Christmas–not because backgammon is sin, but because board games on Christmas can fill up time that could otherwise be spent talking about the incarnation. Below is the gist of his argument–that Christians have a duty to celebrate Christmas:  Continue Reading…

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My vote for book of the year? That’s easy: A Peculiar Glory, by John Piper.

Like most Piper books, A Peculiar Glory is centered on the glory of God, and how we can grow in our joy therein. But this book comes at the issue differently than anything else Piper has written (and yes, I have read everything else he has written). Piper always approaches the glory of God as something to behold, but in this book he focuses on the window by which we behold it—namely, the Bible.  Continue Reading…

Every presidential election produces those whose candidate lost and who view the result as a surefire indicator that civilization has fallen. “This is the worst it’s ever been!” they exclaim.  “You have no idea how hard things are going to be because my candidate didn’t win!”

We expect those responses from people whose lives revolve around politics. But this year I’ve seen several Christians caught up in “the sky is falling” response, so I want to offer a course correction:   Continue Reading…