Archives For Jesse Johnson

Image result for The Pastor and Counseling

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…

Image result for 70s game show hostsRecently I was reading an Al Mohler book on preaching (He is Not Silent), and came across a series of A. W. Tozer’s laments about the decline of theology in the typical evangelical pulpit. Tozer rings prophetic as he diagnosed this negative trend consistently and for decades.

Tozer (d. 1963) points back to the dumbing down of youth ministry as the moment that the cancer of non-doctrinal preaching entered evangelicalism. When youth pastors began to fancy themselves as professional entertainers, they prepared the students to disassociate theology from church:   Continue Reading…

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Does 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 give people permission to divorce, as long as they do not remarry?

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

It is easy to see why this verse could be interpreted as giving license for Christians to divorce, so long as they then remain single. But a closer look reveals that this verse is actually in keeping with the Bible’s consistent teaching on divorce and remarriage.  Continue Reading…

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photo by Roger Meador

The “five points of Calvinism” are a mnemonic approach to understanding the complexity of our salvation. The doctrine of salvation can seem complicated because it incorporates hamartiology (the effects of sin on a person’s nature), Christology (the nature of Christ), theology proper (the sovereignty of God), and pneumatology (the work of the Holy Spirit). To put it another way, our salvation intersects with just about every major area of theology, and the five-points help us understand what exactly is going on when God saves us.

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“Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics,” by Robert Benne, is a little book with a great title.

Benne is American, Lutheran, and discerning. He not only understands the role of religion in our country’s past, but the role of politics in our religious present. He also has a knack for answering the basic questions Christians ask about politics, and he does so in a clear and concise way.

In a world where political books are ubiquitous, it is notable that there are so few good books that thoughtfully analyze how politics and the church should intersect (MacArthur’s, Why Government Can’t Save You, is a favorite of mine, but also an exception that proves the rule; Grudem’s Politics is good, but unwieldy). It is naive to say that the church should say nothing about the political issues of the day, and it is outrageous to argue that the church should have political change as one of its missions. But is there a good argument for a thoughtful middle ground?   Continue Reading…

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need to discern between true and false repentance. Second Corinthians 7 teaches that not all tears of remorse flow from a truly repentant heart. Some cry because they were caught, and others cry because they offended God. Those two groups do not necessarily overlap.

In God’s providence there are a few examples given to us in Scripture that juxtapose these two types of repentance. The most obvious is Saul vs. David. Saul and David both sinned, were confronted by a prophet, and then acknowledged their sin. In fact, they both use almost the same words: “I have sinned against Yahweh” (1 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 12:13).

But the narratives make clear that Saul’s “repentance” was superficial, while David’s was supernatural. The prophet did not extend forgiveness to Saul, while he did to David. Saul was concerned about what others thought, while David was concerned only with what Yahweh thought. And there are probably six or seven other contrasts as well.

A similar (but less known) juxtaposition is found in 2 Samuel 19. In that narrative, David had just been driven out of his kingdom by Absalom, who was latter dispatched by Joab. Now David was returning to Israel to retake his kingdom and to render justice. Certainly there were hundreds of people whom David dealt with in this process, but the narrator only focuses on two: Shimei and Mephibosheth.

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September 8, 2016

3 forms of gospel unity

by Jesse Johnson

 

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Yesterday, I argued that Christians ought to demonstrate practical unity in this presidential election. I laid out three different views of the election (vote Clinton! vote Trump! vote nobody!), and while I obviously don’t agree with all of those views—after all, they contradict one another—none of them can be clearly said to break Christian unity.

What do I mean by “Christian unity”? That the true gospel and doctrines of our faith must transcend pragmatic disagreements over politics. We should have more in common with other believers based on our statements of faith than we do based on our political outlook.  Continue Reading…