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.

two-choices-300x202

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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“Knock, knock.”knocking

-“Who’s there?”

“The Nazis.”

-“The Nazis wh—” [SLAP]

“Vee vill ask de questions!”

Many a debate about ethical systems gets illustrated by the Corrie Ten Boom conundrum posed as Nazis knocking on your door to enquire whether you are hiding innocent Jews in your home. You can either tell the truth and sacrifice the lives of your refugees, or you can lie and, assuming you have the world’s most gullible Nazi at your door, spare the lives of those you have committed to protect.

This scenario captures a classic question of which sin is the greater, and it presumes that there is no other option.

There are three main ethical systems by which people try to attack the problem…

1. Graded Ethics – Shades of grey

This is the most common layman’s ethic. It holds that life is not black and white, but includes shades of grey between right and wrong. You can identify graded ethics easily from catchphrases like “lesser of two evils” or “necessary evil” and “greater good” or “white lie.”

Employing graded ethics, you don’t ask yourself “Is telling the truth right or wrong?”— but rather “Is telling the truth better or worse than selling out innocent lives?”

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inquisitionsHow Many Protestants Were Killed in the Inquisition?

A friend asked me that question earlier this week. And so I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts, from a historical perspective.

Opinions about how to answer the question vary widely. Some suggest that just a few thousand people were executed during the Inquisition, while others project that there were tens of millions of victims. So how can the estimates be so widely divergent?

There seem to be several explanations:

1. First, the imprecise nature of the historical records means that contemporary historians are forced to extrapolate on the basis of the limited information they possess.

One of the first accounts of the Inquisition came from a former Spanish secretary to the Inquisition named Juan Antonio Llorente (1756–1823). According to Llorente, the total number of “heretics” burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition totaled nearly 32,000. Llorente adds that another 300,000 were put on trial and forced to do penance (cf. Cecil Roth, The Spanish Inquisition [W. W. Norton, 1964; reprint, 1996], 123). Continue Reading…

Inerrancy SummitIt’s hard to believe that Shepherds’ Conference is next week. For those of us who have the privilege of being around Grace Community Church all year round, it’s difficult to capture the sense of anticipation that’s been brewing over the last 15 months or so. It really is like Christmastime over here, and it’s such a privilege to witness that enthusiasm—from the leadership to the nearly 1200 volunteers (!) that will be serving the men who attend this historic event.

And historic it will be, as the 2015 Shepherds’ Conference is, more precisely, the Inerrancy Summit. Sixteen—count ‘em: sixteen—of the most trusted voices in evangelicalism will join Pastor John MacArthur for an unprecedented marathon of eighteen sessions of devotion to the inerrancy of Scripture. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. If you’re not able to join us next week, do make sure to watch by livestream. It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

In the spirit of next week, then, I wanted to post something today on the topic of inerrancy. Several months ago, I read the then-recently released Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, intrigued to know what the other three views (i.e., besides inerrancy and errancy) would be. Turns out there really aren’t more than two views, but such is the nature of things.

I thought the book was really helpful in singling out key issues that need to be addressed today. As you might have expected, I most appreciated Al Mohler’s contribution, in which he presents and defends the church’s historic position on the inerrancy, infallibility, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture—i.e., the view most clearly articulated in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Today, I want to share some quotes and notes from that chapter, with the hope of priming the pump for next week’s Summit.

Some are just direct quotes from Mohler that are helpful and incisive. Others are my own thoughts as I spring-boarded from what I read. They’re broken down by the chapter headings and page numbers are provided. Quotes are indented, with any of my comments below, flush left.

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February 26, 2015

Worry & Happiness

by Wyatt Graham

It’s pretty easy to worry when choices confront us. Worry can cripple, wound, or otherwise prevent us from experiencing the joy of our salvation. And sometimes there are no clear answers in the murky world in which we all live.

In 1931, Montagu Norman, the head of the Bank of England, had to decide how to save the economy: would he drop the gold standard and adopt bill economy or keep the gold standard and risk running out of it? Both options were possible, but the stress got to him and Montagu had a nervous breakdown. While vacation, his office made the decision and killed the gold standard. While none of us will have the same responsibility, we can easily fall into the sways of anxiety and depression due to stress, to the crippling effect choices have on us.   Continue Reading…

Wallpaper_CalvinWe are only a few days away from what is shaping up to be a historic Shepherd’s Conference. The reason being is that this year’s focus is on one most important issue: biblical inerrancy.

And with the conference on the horizon, there have been some good conversations surrounding the nature of Scripture. One in particular I was in recently involved the idea of having a reverence for Scripture. You may have seen one of the conference graphics which quotes John Calvin from his commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16: “We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God, because it has proceeded from him alone.”

In response to that quote, an insightful friend asked, “If we owe Scripture reverence because it proceeded from God, would this imply that we owe the same reverence to creation, as it also proceeded from God”? (By reverence, we assume that Calvin means something like, “To revere or show deferential honor due to the nature of the thing.”) It’s a great question that needs answering, especially in our day.

Both the Bible and creation did proceed from a perfect and holy God. So, which do we hold higher, if any, and why?

Here are a few thoughts on why we owe Scripture reverence, but not creation:

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