First Advent: He Came to Preach

One of my problems with the yearly celebration of the first advent of Christ is that there is so little support for celebrating such a day in Scripture. When we look at Mark’s gospel, he completely ignores the birth of Christ. The Apostles never speak of it other than the birth accounts given in Matthew, Luke, and John. But what they all do speak to is the purpose of Christ’s coming. In Mark, Jesus declares His purpose early on in His ministry:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[a] repent and believe in the gospel.” (Emphasis added).

Notice the first thing that Jesus does: He preaches. He proclaims the necessity of repentance and belief in the gospel. He doesn’t set out to change the world through social advocacy. He doesn’t set out to be nice. He doesn’t set out to comfort people in their sin. He confronts them with their need to repent of their sin and trust in the gospel.

His purpose was to preach the gospel. We see this also later on in chapter 1:

And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out. 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus tells us His purpose: preaching the gospel. There is no message more important than preaching the gospel. It is central to our faith and the power unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17).

This is the main purpose of the pastor. There is no greater calling to those men in the ministry than preaching the same message that Christ preached. Sadly, far too many pastors fail in this regard. They falsely think that they are to be the congregations counselor, or life coach. They think that their messages must always be upbeat, positive and winsome. They are trying to help their church members feel good about themselves.

This attitude severely misses the mark and saturates every denomination, including my own. I remember hearing of one minister who was severely criticized by fellow ministers because he didn’t get out in the community and spent too much time on his sermons. He, and his elders, were convinced that this was his primary calling. It was the job of the congregation to be out in the community. The pastor was, and is, to feed Christ’s sheep. That can only come through the preaching of God’s word.

I like what J.C. Ryle says about this passage and preaching:

Let us never be moved by those who cry down the preacher’s office, and tell us that sacraments and other ordinances [or other duties] are of more importance than sermons. Let us give to every part of God’s public worship it proper place and honor, but let us beware of placing any part of it above preaching.

By preaching, the Church of Christ was first gathered together and founded, and by preaching, it has ever been maintained in health and prosperity. By preaching, sinners are awakened. By preaching, inquirers are led on. By preaching, saints are built up. By preaching, Christianity is being carried to the heathen world. There are many now who sneer at missionaries, and mock at those who go out into the high-ways of our own land, to preach to crowds in the open air. But such person would do well to pause, and consider calmly what they are doing.

The very work they ridicule is the work which turned the world upside down, and cast heathenism to the ground. Above all, it is the very work which Christ Himself undertook.

The King of kings and LORD of lords Himself was once a preacher. For three long years He went to and fro proclaiming the Gospel. Sometimes we see Him in a house, sometimes on the mountain side, sometimes in a Jewish synagogue, sometimes in a boat on the sea. But the great work He took up was always one and the same. He came always preaching and teaching. ‘Therefore,’ He says, ‘came I forth.’

Perhaps we would do well to follow our Master’s lead. If preaching was so important to Christ, perhaps those called to preach the gospel would actually do well to preach the gospel as Jesus did. Peter did it. Paul did it. Why do we think ourselves so wise that we can live without the preaching of God’s word?

Robert Jeffress Proves He is a Logically Challenged

In a recent report from the Christian News, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, has come out and said that he advised Trump, and others, to give up on fighting gay marriage, because it was the “law of the land.” He then went on to say that Christians should focus on the battle of abortion. But according to his logic, should we really fight that as well, since it too is the “law of the land.”

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5 Things That Bother Me About Christmas

christmas

It is that time of year again, and once again, it has me thinking about all the traditions we celebrate. I know for some, this time of year is quite sacred, and to speak of it in less that Christmas-bulb glowing terms is tantamount to blasphemy. This is not a post saying you should not celebrate, but more thoughts on things that bother me about Christmas. After all, a lot of people get really wacky about this time of year, and given that we are never told in Scripture to celebrate the birth of Christ on a yearly basis, maybe we should hold the entire season loosely.

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78,000 and Counting!

Theology that Matters has reached another milestone this week, and you know how it is with milestones: the more you reach, the fewer you have left to reach. So what is this recent milestone? The blog surpassed 78,000 views for the year, which eclipses last year’s total views of 77,952! I’m hoping to reach the 80,000 mark, but who knows. Blogs are really quite fickle. On posts that I think will generate a lot of traffic, go unnoticed, while those that I write without much thought, garner thousands of hits.

For instance, the year’s current post with the most views is C.S. Lewis on “The Lessor of Two Evils.” Never thought it would garner more than 7,000 hits for the year. But it has, and is currently the number one post. I will gladly take it, because when people read one post, they are likely to read another. This is why I count views more importantly than visits. Views means that someone came and stayed for a while, where as a visitor can come and leave without looking at a thing.

As for Theology that Matters, we will press on trying to bring quality work for my viewers. You may not agree, but I hope you will at least consider.

NKJV vs. ESV: The Final Battle

In my earlier post, NKJV vs. ESV: Thoughts on the Translation Wars, I noted a few differences that the ESV had with the NKJV. Yet, in the end,  those differences did not amount to any reason to discount one version over and against the other. In other words, there is no Holy Spirit-inspired version that we have today.  So the four major versions, NIV, ESV, NKJV, NASB,  are perfectly acceptable.

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Matthew Henry on Titus 2:3

You might wonder why I’m so concerned with Titus 2:3 here of late. Since I published my post, Protecting the Weaker Vessel, I’ve received quite a bit of heat over at Daughters of the Reformation, a blog by Rachel Miller.

It is not very often that I’m attacked on other blogs, so I must have hit a nerve. I’m responding for two reasons: to refute the attack, and, more importantly, to clarify what the Scripture teaches for the edification of the saints. Some might say that I should not respond, but the Apostle Paul set the precedent by responding to his attackers, and I feel that it is important to declare what Scripture says concerning this topic. To remain silent would be to acquiesce to error, and we are never to do so. I also enjoy the challenge of showing what Scripture says in the face of so much opposition. Let God be true but every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

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He Causes It to Happen

I think the key to understanding the book of Job is looking to Elihu. I recently went looking for my favorite Psalm of late, 35, and came to Job 35 and started reading. Elihu’s statements immediately caught my attention and gave me some insight into this difficult book that I have not had before. I had to turn back a few pages to the beginning of his monologue to Job and his three companions.

We find that Elihu has been very patient with these four elderly men. He has listened waiting for them to declare the truth of the situation and all four have fallen dreadfully short. The three friends of Job, acting on behalf of Satan accusing him of all manner of sin, lack any substance in their attack upon Job. It is amazing how prominent this sin is in the body of Christ. Just point to someone, declare them a sinner, and people come out of the woodwork to join in the chorus. I’m not alluding to false doctrine here, which should always be declared in comparison to sound doctrine, but declaring someone has fallen without a shred of evidence is clearly a sin.

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Thanksgiving Holy Unto the LORD?

holythanksgivng

This meme is bouncing around Facebook with the intent of keeping Thanksgiving a holy day unto the LORD. This is implied because the point of the meme is to keep the stores closed, keep people from shopping, and close down commerce. Those behind the meme believe that Thanksgiving was started by Christians when they first landed on the continent, therefore it should be a holy day, like Easter or Christmas. As we will see below from one historian, the early settlers had no intention of setting up a yearly holy day.

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Should You Reimburse the Pastor for Performing a Baptism?

This question was recently presented to me and it is a good question. Should we give the pastor who baptizes our children an honorarium? After all, we do so when a pastor performs a wedding, and sometimes even a funeral. Where should we draw the line?

For baptism, the answer is clearly in the “no” category. Performing baptisms, like administering the LORD’s supper and preaching, are a part of a pastor’s regular duties. The pastor is charged with administering the normal means of grace, of which are baptism and the LORD’s supper. It would be quite odd for a pastor to expect additional money for doing what he was hired to do.

Performing weddings is a different story since he is under no obligation to conduct the ceremony. He does so for the blessing of the couple involved and gives up personal time on a Saturday, therefore he should be compensated for doing so.

John Calvin on Titus 2:3

In my recent post, Protecting the Weaker Vessel, I made the assertion that Titus 2:3-5 was not an open invitation for women to lead in Bible studies for other women, but an admonition for older women to actually teach younger women that the focus of their lives is to be loving their husbands and children, in making the home a godly place. It is not to lead women’s ministries and a host of other things that is put forth in the name of this verse.

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