Wanted: Apostolic Pastors, by Mark Dever

And how can we lead our congregations to enlarge their vision and be excited for gospel work in our areas?

  • Pray privately for other local pastors and congregations.
  • Set an example for our churches by publicly praying for God’s blessing on other Bible-believing and Bible-preaching churches in our area.
  • Encourage ministers of other evangelical denominations to preach from time to time in our pulpits. As occasion may arise, accept invitations to preach in theirs.
  • Invite a fellow pastor to your church’s prayer meeting. Interview him about the work in his congregation, and pray for him and his church.
  • Discipline yourself to speak well of other churches. If a warning must be given, speak with great care.
  • Be willing to encourage members who live a distance from your church to join likeminded congregations closer to their home.

There is so much you can do!

For the rest of Dever’s call for the pastors to think outside the four walls of their own church, go here.

Timeless Wisdom for Seminary Graduates . . .

. . . and for me.  Delivered by Archibald Alexander, November 1815.  A taste:

In these hints of advice I subjoin an earnest exhortation that you look well to the spiritual condition of your own souls. Endeavor to obtain full satisfaction on Scriptural grounds that your piety is genuine. It will be an awful thing to preach to others and then become a castaway yourself. Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.

Endeavor also to grow in grace. Keep up a lively sense of religion in your own hearts and strive to promote lively piety in others. While you await the best gifts, remember that there is a more excellent way. No gifts, no knowledge, no beneficence, will serve us any purpose without charity; that is, without sincere love to God and man.

For full article, go here.

What the Bible Really STILL Says About Homosexuality, by Kevin DeYoung

This article is truly profound and, I wager, as definitive a piece in this debate and defense of biblical truth, mixed with true gospel love, as I have read.  And for all that is said, it is relatively short.  Thus, it is jam-packed.  DeYoung shows the flimsiness of the revisionist argument for homosexuality and, in the process, pulls us all back into the unchangeable truth and power of the Bible, God’s Word, and the gospel of Christ.  Great read!  Go here to receive another tool for equipping.

My Take: The Bible Condemns A Lot, But Here’s Why We Focus On Homosexuality, by Albert Mohler

Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality. At the same time, our confidence is that God condemns those things that will bring his human creatures harm and commands those things that will lead to true human happiness and flourishing.

Go here for full article.

On Sermon Preparation, by Stephen Um

The gospel you preach must define you. You need to taste it to know that it is good. What else will sustain you through your first 100 sermons, which are not likely to be very good?

You must keep preaching the gospel to your own heart so that you do not get your identity from preaching. You cannot rise or fall on evaluations of your performance. If you feel good when people complement your sermons but feel terrible when you think you’ve dropped the ball, preaching itself may be functioning as an idol.

Ultimately, we need to work towards the goal that Paul speaks about in 1 Timothy 4:10: “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God”—not on our preaching, sermons, or ministry.

Go here for the full article.

Owen Strachan Articles on New England

I, along with two other brothers and our families, will be moving to Boston in September to church plant.  So anything New England is interesting to me:

“Ghosts of New England: A God-Expectant Place” — Go here.

“An Interview with Owen Strachan” at the Gospel Alliance of New England blog — Go here.

The Excellency of the Power Belongs to God

If you ask, whence hath the word preached this mighty power? The answer must be, neither from itself nor him that preaches it, but from the Spirit of God whose instrument it is, by whose blessing and concurrence with it, it produceth its blessed effects upon the hearts of men.

First, This efficacy and wonderful power is not from the word itself; take it in an abstract notion, separated from the Spirit, it can do nothing: it is called “the foolishness of preaching,” 1 Cor. i.21. Foolishness, not only because the world so accounts it, but because in itself it is a weak and unsuitable, and therefore a very improbable way to reconcile the world to God; that the stony heart of one man should be broken by the words of another man; that one poor sinful creature should be used to breathe spiritual life into another; this could never be if this sword were not managed by an omnipotent hand.

And besides, we know what works naturally, works necessarily; if this efficacy were inherent in the word, so that we should suppose it to work as other natural objects do, then it must needs convert all to whom it is at any time preached, except its effect were miraculously hindered, as the fire when it could not burn the three children; but alas, thousands hear it, that never feel the saving power of it, Isa. liii.1 and 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

Secondly, It derives not this efficacy from the instrument by which it is ministered: let their gifts and abilities be what they will, it is impossible that ever such effects should be produced from the strength of their natural or gracious abilities, 2 Cor. iv. 7. “We have this treasure (saith the apostle) in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

The treasure of the gospel-light is carried in earthen vessels, as Gideon and his men had their lamps in earthen pitchers, or in oyster-shells, for so the word also signifies; the oyster-shell is a base and worthless thing in itself; however, there lies the rich and precious pearl of so great value.  And why is this precious treasure lodged in such weak, worthless vessels? Surely it is upon no other design but to convince us of the truth I am here to prove, that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us; as it follows in the next words.  To the same purpose speaks the same apostle, 1 Cor 3.7. “So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

Not any thing! What can be more diminutively spoken of that gospel-preachers? But we must not understand these words in a simple and absolute, but in a comparative and relative sense; not as if they were not necessary and useful in their place, but that how necessary soever they be, and what excellent gifts soever God hath furnished them with; yet it is neither in their power nor choice to make the word they preach effectual to men; if it were, then the damnation of all that hear us must needs lie at our door; then also, many thousands would have been reconciled to God, which are yet in the state of enmity, but the effect of the gospel is not in our power.

Thirdly, But whatever efficacy it hath to reconcile men to God, it derives from the Spirit of God, whose co-operation and blessing (which is arbitrarily dispensed) gives it all the fruit it hath.

Ministers, saith one, are like trumpets which make no sound, if breath be not breathed into them. Or like Ezekiel’s wheels, which move not unless the Spirit move them; or Elisha’s servant, whose presence doth no good except Elisha’s spirit be there also. For want of the Spirit of God how many thousands of souls do find the ministry to be nothing to them? If it be something to the purpose to any soul, it is the Lord that makes it so. This Spirit is not limited by men’s gifts or parts; he concurs not only with their labours who have excellent gifts, but oftentimes blesses mean, despicable gifts with far greater success.

Suppose, saith Augustine, there be two conduits in a town, one very plain and homely, the other built of polished marble, and adorned with excellent images, as eagles, lions, angels; the water refreshes as its water, and not as it comes from such or such a conduit. It is the Spirit that gives the word all that virtue it hath: he is the Lord of all saving influences: he hath dominion over the word, over our souls, over the times and seasons of conversions; and if any poor creature attend the ministry without benefit, if he go away as he came, without fruit, surely we may say in this case, as Martha said to Christ, in reference to her brother Lazarus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; so, Lord, if thou hadst been in this prayer, in this sermon, this poor soul had not gone dead and carnal from under it.

– John Flavel, The Method of Grace, 57-59, vol 2 of 6.

John Piper Addresses Law Students

Blog post by Jonathan Parnell at Desiring God blog.  Questions asked and addressed include:

Would you agree with the definition that “righteousness seeks the good of the community?” How do you define righteousness?

How do developing countries counter the prosperity gospel?

How can we maintain a zeal for God’s glory throughout our work?

Should churches be involved in social issues, or just individual Christians?

What is the method of discerning whether an institution is the result of hallowing God’s name?

Go here for video.

Praying as Moses for our Preaching, Teaching, and Counseling [Discipleship]

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,

and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

May my teaching drop as the rain,

my speech distill as the dew,

like the gentle rain upon the tender grass,

and like showers upon the herb.

For I will proclaim the name of the Lord [cf. Exod 34.6-7];

ascribe greatness to our God!

~ Deuteronomy 32.1-3

“How to Ask God a Question”

A post from Justin Taylor, an excerpt from Mark Galli’s new book God Wins in response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Mark Galli writes in God Wins:

So what’s the difference here? The questions are so similar. Why is Mary’s treated with respect while Zechariah’s is an occasion for spiritual discipline? Why does the angel seem indifferent to Mary’s natural curiosity and angry about Zechariah’s?

Go here for the rest of Galli’s excerpt.