There is a grave disconnect…

From the teaching of Scripture on how a teacher of the Word of God is supposed to act, think, speak and respond to error and what we see in today’s culture on Facebook and other social media platforms. Disrespect is never OK, it is always sinful. And I can prove contextually that God has never called anyone to the ministry of “calling out error” but rather has called SOME to the ministry of dividing rightly the truth.

1 Peter 3:13–17

[13] Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? [14] But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, [15] but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, [16] having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [17] For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 

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“Honor your father and mother, even if they’re lost as a ball in high weeds.”

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We operate strictly on listener support. We also produce several other podcasts, videos for education and worldwide teaching courses published for free for the training of pastors. Your financial support is greatly appreciated.

 

 

What are we to do with our sin?

In our congregational teaching mid-week, we are going through the book of Romans in a “reading” style of exposition. That is we are dealing with arguments, theological teachings, and expressions in chunks rather than intense verse-by-verse. This excerpt is from the full sermon and is toward the latter part of the message where I express a few examples of why we continue to struggle with sin and how life and our dead flesh just seems to rise up and make war. I end with the idea that Paul teaches that Christ has suffered for our sins, so we are alive in Him just as we have died in Him. 

We appreciate your listening and look forward to seeing this podcast get off the ground with great force. By the Lord’s grace, we’ll continue to provide more and more teaching on this and other pastoral subjects. 

Also, get ready to start listening to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community.

“The Sermon Can Be Heard at GraceTruth.org

 

Consider Supporting our Ministry

We operate strictly on listener support. We also produce several other podcasts, videos for education and worldwide teaching courses published for free for the training of pastors. Your financial support is greatly appreciated.

 

 

Most preaching isn’t teaching…!

There is no office of “preacher” in the New Testament. No such role exists. While “preaching” does happen, the Pastor is one who oversees and rightly teaches the church. He guards them and guides them through the right contextual exposition of Scripture. So often though we confuse preaching with teaching. We’ll visit a few thoughts on this in upcoming episodes.

We appreciate your listening and look forward to seeing this podcast get off the ground with great force. By the Lord’s grace, we’ll continue to provide more and more teaching on this and other pastoral subjects. 

Also, get ready to start listening to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community.

“Most people who preach aren’t teaching truth at all but just babbling loud-mouths in front of a crowd.”

 

The Duty of A Pastor to be FAITHFUL

This podcast briefly discusses that the Pastor should be faithful to his calling by the grace of God and not be entangled in the things of this world but trust and point to the ONE who is faithful, Jesus Christ.

Fulfilling faithfully his call to Christ. Without the grace of God, no one would be able to ever be faithful to their calling.  And without the grace of God, we would all abandon our faith. God’s grace is the power of the pastor’s success and true success is NOT measured in salvation, baptism, numbers, finances or the like.  Any professional could produce the right numbers through the easily manipulated minds of men. And it is surely God that produces the fruit of the labors of any ministry that He alone gets the glory.  God called Noah and Isaiah to a fruitless ministry of no conversion and total rejection. What makes us think we’ll see anything different?

The pastor should be faithful to these things above all other duties and if he is gifted in areas outside of these, then, by all means, he should exercise these gifts, however, any man that calls himself pastor, cannot be such without these traits given to him by the Holy Spirit of God.

“What a pastor is supposed to be doing can be found clearly in the Word of God.”

The Duty of A Pastor to Follow before for the Flock

This podcast briefly discusses that the Pastor should be an example before for the church in his own spiritual disciplines and growth.

Following Christ before the flock.  The duties of a pastor will cause him to display his faith and carry his church where God has brought him.  He should display the fruits of the spirit of God in all that he does by God’s grace alone, knowing that he is nothing but a slave to righteousness and not a divine leader who rules but a servant who dies.  A wise friend once told me that when a man has to say he’s the leader, it is then he has lost the privilege to lead.  He continued with a man that goes forth with no one following him is just a “man taking a walk.”  Wise.  This fourth duty of a pastor is one where all of us fail in our actions, but by the Lord’s grace, we will not fail in our faith, for HE is the author and perfector of it!

1 Peter 5:1-3 (ESV) 1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

“What a pastor is supposed to be doing can be found clearly in the Word of God.”

 

The Duty of A Pastor to Fight for the Flock

This podcast briefly discusses that the Pastor should be involved in fighting for the church through the teaching of Scriptures and in his personal disciplines.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The pastor fights for the flock in his STUDIES, his PRAYERS, his TEACHING and his DISCIPLESHIP.  These duties of a pastor are all necessary avenues for battle and they must be done for the sake of the church, those who are entrusted into his oversight.  Fellowship with the brethren is essential in order to know their hearts and lives.  As the flock grows, the pastor must accept the call of other men to the ranks of a shepherd to assist in this battle.  A pastor who is faithful to these things will be equipped to handle the calling for which God has called him. 

“What a pastor is supposed to be doing can be found clearly in the Word of God.”

 

The Duty of A Pastor to Fend for the Flock

This podcast briefly discusses that the Pastor should be involved in fending for the church through the teaching of Scriptures.

Titus 1:9 (ESV) 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Acts 20:28-31 (ESV) 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

 

“What a pastor is supposed to be doing can be found clearly in the Word of God.”

 

The Duty of A Pastor to Feed the Flock

This podcast briefly discusses that the Pastor should be involved in feeding the church through the teaching of Scriptures.

Feeding the flock.  This sounds very trivial, but the primary role of a pastor is to feed the people who God has put under his care.  This feeding is accomplished through the right teaching of the word of God. This teaching is good for the church and for their joy, edification, doctrine, exhortation, admonishment, and maturity.  Everything that the church is to do comes primarily through the teaching of the scriptures from the pastors.  A church that is not fed the truth is malnourished and finds other meals to eat. This is one of the most vital duties of a pastor and from this, all the others follow.

1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

 

“What a pastor is supposed to be doing can be found clearly in the Word of God.”

 

Precision is an important virtue in many areas of life. For the marksman, precision is the only thing on his mind. For the surgeon, it could be the difference between life and death. For the orator or teacher, it could be the difference in understanding and confusion, and that, related to eternal life, could contrast between purveying a truth or a lie. Defining terms for an audience is one thing, but recently I’ve noticed that a lack of precision in wording can create a deep misunderstanding. Language is a funny beast. It is as unique to people as is DNA and even among its own, it can often be convoluted. I’ve noticed in the last year how so many things I say may indeed make sense to me in my understanding of them, but in reality, they can sound like something else to the hearers. Oft what I say may even be offensive or even heretical.  Years ago I was preaching, and a comment that I made birthed controversy. I said simply, “don’t let the devil dupe you, don’t be a sucker.”  A few days later the request to have my sermon pulled from the church website caught me off guard. The brother really thought that the word “sucker” was a profane reference and for several days he had lost a great deal of respect for me.

Other things have caused me to consider my language and to pray that the Lord would grant me the grace to be aware of the need. Recently a church member brought to my attention the difference in a wording related to the ‘illumination’ of the Spirit of God versus His revelation. Someone has even suggested I should be sparing with the usage of the word “brother” when speaking on social media. Another person brought to my attention that the usage of words like faith, trust, believe, etc. are confusing in context at times.

Looking back twenty years ago, I would describe myself as a conservative, Baptist, orthodox, Americanized Pastor who pressed daily to see the church grow in depth and number. The problem was that my “Americanized” training and examples had surely removed a lot of actual truth from my arsenal of ministry. The language of my teaching centered on the actions of men, the thinking of men, the emotions of men, the dedication of men as the “gospel” remained at the center as a gracious offer. The gospel was an opportunity evidenced by the continued invitation to “receive” Jesus, or “pray for salvation.” These practices birthed out of generations of ill-informed and ignorant men who just replicated what they observed and labored through it any way they knew how. I’ll discuss these things at a later time.

Because of this long history, it is even more important now that I utilize wording that is not ‘mainstream’ and expected everyone to grasp it. In a conversation with a gentleman two nights ago I asked the question, “How do you know you have eternal life?” He began a barrage of answers beginning with, “You must ask Jesus into your heart.” He concluded with these “steps” of salvation: “One must then repent of sin, study the Bible, obey Jesus, and begin to grow and do things for others… all in love.”  While all of these things are good experiences, attitudes, actions and efforts, none of them, even the first, are effectual in salvation. Precision needs to be understood as vital in preaching and teaching the Bible. The simplicity of scripture and the gospel message is such that a child can hear the word and be saved.

Jesus says that He is THE TRUTH, THE WAY, and THE LIFE. I use capital letters for emphasis on the definite article, THE, and the object of what and who Jesus is. So a relationship with Jesus Christ is one that agrees with what He says about Himself. Faith is believing on what Jesus says, not finding another way of experiencing Jesus. In reality, there is no other way to know Jesus without reading or hearing the language of Scripture. Jesus is “the eternal life” manifested to us, He is the “image of the invisible God” and no one can come to the Father “except through Him.” The Apostles wrote the words of Christ’s teaching and through them alone can one find faith. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ is faith in the words of Christ, I believe this is clearly stated by Paul in Romans 10:17, right after he says that no one can believe if someone doesn’t go to them and speak the simple language of the Bible.

The point of this is not to debate the aforementioned truths, but to show that because it is true, and because eternity is in the balance, precision is vital. Being exact goes together with exclusivity and explicitly. Jesus is the exclusive and explicit truth of God. Believing in Jesus Christ is believing in what He says and what His Word says about Him. Trusting in Him is exactly the same. It is holding as truth to the written word of God and its propositions about who Christ is and what He has done. This is something that needs to be understood as the reason so many people are falsely converted to an illogical and invisible faith in an ambiguous and caricatured Christ. That ‘christ’ cannot save anyone. That faith is not saving faith. And no matter how transformative one becomes in their lives, Jesus said that if our righteousness is not greater than that of the Pharisees that we could not have eternal life. So, complete obedience to all things plus some. This is bad, bad news.

The precise good news though is clearly seen in the writing of and about Jesus Christ. And certainly, this information is ONLY found in the Bible. Period. No exceptions. The Bible reveals Jesus as the Image of God, He is the knowledge and wisdom of God. He is the creator of the world. Jesus Christ is the one whom God the Father has sent, as a man, and as God, both equally true at the same time. Scripture teaches that God is holy and just, therefore, He must punish evil. Sin is evil, men are sinners. Therefore, it is good and loving for God to destroy sinners and cast them into eternal damnation. God, however, before the foundation of the world, decreed not a plan, but a promise. A covenant to save His people from their sin and from His just wrath. This is done through Jesus Christ. He was born, he lived a perfectly obedient life as a human being, thus satisfying all the righteous requirements of the law. Then God put Him on the cross to destroy Him. See, God cannot forgive sin, he must punish it. So, because God has decreed to save sinners, Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself, then we can be forgiven because Christ has paid the debt with His blood.

Precision matters. Words matter. Theology matters. If you are reading this and your faith is not in what Scripture says about Jesus, then you, my friend are not found in Jesus Christ. If your faith is in any other thing, place, function, action, thought, determination, experience, attitude, fruitfulness or association, you are desperately in need of seeing the truth of Christ from Scripture and need to believe on Him, the living LOGOS – Word – His speaking about Himself. Because Scripture has taken such a low place of authority and has been replaced by humanism, philosophy, professional ministry and the like, the Gospel has been hidden. Now is the time to see. Now is the day of truth. Today is the day of Salvation. Hear the word of the Lord.

If you don’t believe me, please believe God.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

[1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.[3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [9] For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. [11] Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

For His Glory by His Grace

Pastor James

A few days ago at breakfast at Denny’s my son, who is four, sat down and tore the corner off of his place mat and placed in my hand. “Here daddy, I thought you might want this.” He said. This might not seem like a big deal but it’s an example of how we learn by what we see.

About a month ago we were at this same Denny’s and I was on the phone with a friend in VA and used my place mat for some notes and phone numbers. After the call, I ripped the corner containing my notes, folded it and put it in my pocket.

Amazingly, the last three times we have eaten at Denny’s, my son and middle daughter have torn the corners of their placemats and placed them in the middle of the table. It wasn’t until today that I realized they thought it was the appropriate thing to do.

It’s it strange how sometimes we do many things that ‘seem’ right but are actually learned habits with no real reason.  It’s just like the story we’ve all heard about the daughter who cut the end off of the ham before cooking it.  Her daughter asked her why she did that one day and she replied she didn’t know but her mother did it.  Calling her mother, her mother didn’t know but her mother did it.  As she called to ask her grandmother the grandmother replied, “Because my pan wasn’t big enough and I had to cut it to fit.”

Funny how a purposeful habit, tradition or behavior can be useless and often wasteful when it comes to the future.  If we are not sure as to ‘why’ things are, chances are we are just cutting our ham or ripping our mat for no reason.

Our faith, our fellowship and the like can often fall victim to these kinds of ‘routine’ religious habits.  No real rhyme or reason behind them, we just do them because…. uh, we just do them.  How can we expect the body of Christ to be a ‘city on a hill’ if we don’t even know what time it is?  If we are not able to even identify the purpose of our existence we are not going to be fruitful.

There may be some worldly fruit like numbers, money and great participation, but for the spiritual fruit of true life change, it will be very dim and hard to identify.  It’s time that we all reflect on why the Church exists.  Not to ‘change’ but proof of change!  The body must be healthy to continue the work for our Lord.So everything you do today, ask yourself if it still seems necessary to the purpose and calling of your life.
Is your faith stale or is your life ‘alive’ because of the OVERFLOW of Christ in it?  Are you just going through the motions or are you moving because you cannot stop?  Are you in the Word or is the WORD in you?

There is a difference.