WhitefieldThis week, I came across a remarkable sermon from George Whitefield, entitled, “The Eternity of Hell-Torments,” which he preached in London in 1738. When the reality of the fate of those who perish in this life without Christ is again pressed upon one’s conscience, it always seems like a burden too great to bear. But, as Whitefield would say in the sermon, “If the bare mentioning the torments of the damned is so shocking, how terrible must the enduring of them be!” Truly this is the most solemn of subjects. But we as Christians — as preachers of the Gospel of Christ — we must give our minds and hearts to the biblical teaching of the unbeliever’s fate. And Whitefield has done us an excellent service. You can read the sermon in full here, but I wanted to highlight his conclusion today on Cripplegate.

As a preacher, it was instructive for me to observe the way Whitefield pled with his hearers to flee from the wrath to come. He was not content to simply parrot out a few stock phrases that summarized the content of the Gospel, and give an “invitation.” No, he reasoned with his hearers. He considered what objections their sinful hearts may have concocted in their own spirits as they were listening, and he did his best to respond to those objections. He loved these people enough to get inside their heads, to trace out the probable outworkings of their unregenerate affections, and to leave them no room to think or feel the way they had been when they came in. This is the kind of penetrating, heart-searching application I aim for in my own preaching — not because my hope is to be like Whitefield for his sake, but because my hope is to love my people the way Whitefield loved his, and the way Christ loved His. This is the way that I want to preach the Gospel in my sermons.

But beyond observing a good homiletical example, this sermon penetrated my own heart, just as a fellow-sinner in need of the grace of God, and as a Christian who proposes to be in the ministry of rescuing souls from hell through the preaching of the Gospel. To be reminded of the eternal torments of hell is, in the true sense of the word, awful. But it is so necessary, in order to shake my soul from the complacency wherein I am too often found. I don’t want the miseries of hell; I want the joys of seeing and loving Christ in heaven! Sermons like this — and Gospel-appeals like this — urge me to renew my resolve to fight sin in my life, “lest,” in the words of the great apostle, “that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor 9:27). And I don’t want the miseries of hell for those whom God has providentially placed in my path, either. Sermons like this urge me to renew my resolve to be intentional in proclaiming the Gospel to the people around me, lest I fail to be a God-glorifying watchman (cf. Ezek 3:17-21). I pray you’re benefited by Whitefield.

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I can picture it already.

It’s July 2038. The world’s greatest sporting event is upon us. It’s the World Cup final. Italy and Brazil are playing to win the cup. The two best teams are locked in a dead end tie.

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With thirty seconds left Brazil has the ball, and with the referee eyeing his watch they desperately make one final attempt to break the tie and avoid penalty kicks. After a great play the Brazilian striker receives the ball and takes an incredible shot from outside the box. He’s scored several goals already during the tournament. This shot is just as good as the rest and it is sailing in the top right corner. But just as he lifts his hands in celebration Italian Goalkeeper Matteo Standridge, with a Spiderman-like dive, grabs the ball and doesn’t just punch it away but miraculously catches it and holds on. With only seconds left he quickly punts the ball to his teammate, Nico Standridge whose quickness with the ball allows him to dribble several Brazilian players down the right side of the field; all of a sudden he lets off an incredibly precise cross right to the middle of the goal area. In the goalie box, Italian striker Davide Standridge rises above the three defenders around him and heads the ball in for the win. Continue Reading…

One of the key passages that comes up when talking about apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Every apologist out there cites it at some point, and everyone has a pretty similar take on it (seeing that many use the text to justify their very existence).  It’s apparently a divine command for every Christian to be continuously ready to let rip when someone challenges some aspect of Christian belief.  Seeing that most Christians aren’t prepared to defend the Christian faith against the wide variety of attacks that come against it, the apologists are the big guns that are necessary to help defend the faith (and train others to do so).

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Now I don’t doubt or question the value of apologists, but rather I do question the generally accepted interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Most apologists are decent enough theologians, but almost none of them are properly trained biblical exegetes.  In other words, I can only think of a handful who know their biblical languages and have seminary training that’s relevant to exegesis.  That’s not to condemn them but rather to recognize that there is an area of apologetic thinking that I can help with.  I’m not a trained philosopher, historian or theologian (well, that last one is partially untrue) but I am a trained exegete and I’d like to walk through 1 Peter 2:13-3:16 an offer a little exegetical insight into a commonly cited text. Continue Reading…

Note: I posted this yesterday on Preachers and Preachingthe new blog of The Master’s Seminary. I’ve duplicated it here at the Cripplegate, to make sure as many people as possible know about the resources available from the Summit on Biblical Inerrancy.

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It’s hard to believe the 2015 Summit on Biblical Inerrancy is over. With 16 guest speakers and 18 general sessions, it was a power-packed week celebrating our common commitment to the absolute truth of God’s Word.

In case you missed any of general sessions, you can find summaries of each session below. Videos for the sessions can be found here and also here.

In session 1, John MacArthur opened the conference by listing four reasons why a summit on biblical inerrancy is needed. Those who love God and His Word are called to defend it. Click here for a full summary.

In session 2, Alistair Begg exposited 2 Tim. 4:1-5, emphasizing the divine charge to preach the Word in the midst of a culture that does not want to hear the truth. Click here for a full summary.  Continue Reading…

contortedI once tried to visit Canada without lying. As a South African citizen I needed a visitor’s visa to set foot on their delightful tundra. I was vacationing in Michigan with a friend who suggested it would be very jet-set of me to add Canada to my menagerie of passport stamps since the border was only a few clicks away.

The plan was to pop into the nearest coffee shop that wasn’t a Starbucks, and pose for a picture with a moose or maple leaf or a live Canuck or something equally exotic.

The visa conundrum only occurred to us en route, but my friend assured me that they seldom ask for passports, and if I sat quietly they probably wouldn’t ask me anything at all.

I rehearsed looking unsuspicious and American. As we pulled up to the border the guard cheerfully asked “Are you both Americans?” We paused as we considered any way to answer this truthfully without letting on that we were not both Americans. The pause became the answer.

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This is the final part of a three-part blog series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions about expository preaching, current issues facing evangelicals today and Expositor magazine.

ExpositorWhat exactly is Expositor?

Expositor is a ministry of OnePassion Ministries, which is a work I have founded to encourage and equip pastors in biblical preaching. It is a magazine that comes out every other month and is approximately 50 pages in each issue. I have asked many of the leading expositors around the world to contribute articles based around a central theme that each issue has. The first issue was on The Inerrancy of Scripture and Expository Preaching. The second issue was on The Glory of God and Preaching. The third issue was on Evangelism in the Pulpit. The fourth issue will be on Preaching in a Post-Modern World. Not only do I contribute an article in each issue, but so also does John MacArthur, who I believe is the premier expositor in our day. Other notable men who have written for us include R.C. Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, Al Mohler, John Piper, Derek Thomas, and many others. We also have an extended interview with different leading expositors. For example, in our last issue, the interview was with R.C. Sproul and the focus was upon getting the gospel right. In our next issue, I interviewed Ligon Duncan regarding preaching in days such as which we find ourselves, in a post-Christian society. The goal in all of this is to raise a standard in these days that would call men back to biblical preaching.
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This is part two of a three-part blog series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions about expository preaching,  current issues facing evangelicals today and Expositor magazine.

What are the main challenges today facing evangelicals today?

I do not think there is a one-size fits all answer for this because so many different Christians live in different parts of the world and are being confronted with different issues. So, there is not one critical issue that is facing the average Christian in the average church. Having said that, several things do come to my mind that rise to a high level of importance.

First, the evangelical church today tends to be non-theological. In other words, so many churches and ministries want to emphasize the practical aspects of Christian living, but they neglect the doctrinal foundations of the faith. This is like attempting to build a solid house on shifting sand. I believe that churches and ministries must put first things first and lay the foundation before they would build upon it. This necessitates the teaching of sound doctrine and the general framework of systematic theology.
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LawsonThis is part one of a three-part series where we asked Dr. Steven J. Lawson some questions on expository preaching, inerrancy, current issues facing evangelicals, and more about Expositor magazine.

 

Define expository preaching.

There are two words in expository preaching: one is expository and the other is preaching. Expository is the adjective and preaching is the noun. Expository preaching defines a certain kind of preaching. It is the kind of preaching that is prescribed in Scripture itself. The word ‘expository’ carries the idea of explaining the meaning of a text. The word ‘preaching’ describes the manner with which this instruction and explanation is brought. Expository preaching is the kind of preaching that begins with a passage of Scripture and explains the authorial intent of that passage, while making application with exhortation to the life of the listener.
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Inerrancy SummitThis year’s Shepherds’ Conference is no ordinary conference. As Mike explained last week, this is a historic event, with more than 4,000 pastors and church leaders gathering at Grace Community Church to celebrate and affirm their commitment to the doctrine of inerrancy.

For those of you not able to be at the conference, here are several ways you can access the content:

You can livestream the conference through either Shepherds’ Conference or TMS.

Or, if you’ve missed the sessions, you can read the liveblog overviews at the following links:

Session 1: John MacArthur

Session 2: Alistair Begg

Session 3: R. C. Sproul

Session 4: Stephen Nichols

Session 5: Ligon Duncan

A while ago I was reading Matthew 6:25-34 with my wife and we were discussing the passage while wrapping up our night.  As my wife has been growing in her experience with walking through a passage, tracing an argument and noticing important components, she made a some good observations that ended up in some light bulbs going on for both of us.  Here are some observations that came out of our discussion:

1.  The “therefore” points back to 6:19-23, which discusses money.  In 6:19-21 Jesus warns his audience against pursuing earthly treasure and admonishes them to pursue heavenly treasure (in other words, chase righteousness instead of riches).  In 6:22-23 Jesus warns his audience about the dangers of covetousness, and in 6:24 Jesus drops the hammer on his audience and informs them that people who live for money cannot live for God; it’s one or the other.

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So, when Jesus says “therefore I tell you…”, the instruction that follows is not occurring in a vacuum.  Jesus talks about two contrary ways of living involving money, and now he continues on along that same track with a different topic.

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