Missions Myths: Antioch is the Model Sending Church

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-6-14-53-pmPaul’s missionary endeavors did not begin in Antioch but well over a decade earlier. The apostle’s mission exploits are commonly divided into three journeys: first (Acts 13-14), second (Acts 15:36-18:22) and third (Acts 18:23-21:16).

Since Paul and Barnabas began the first journey in Antioch, and Acts 13:3 says the church “sent them off”, this assembly is often considered the model mission sending church.
Not only is this assertion be misleading but it could also mask a valuable application for the church. Here are two reasons Antioch is not the model sending church.

Paul arrived in Antioch as a veteran missionary

Most people estimate Paul’s conversion around A.D. 32 and his departure from Antioch around A.D. 45. What was he doing in the thirteen years between his conversion and his “first” missionary journey in Acts 13? Missions! Let’s follow his itinerary. Continue reading

Review: Pulpit Aflame

Eds. Beeke and Benge, Reformation Heritage, 2016, 188 pages, 4 of 5 stars

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-01-53-pmWe named one of our sons Lawson, so I was eager to read a book penned in Steve Lawson’s honor. Foundations of Grace is among the most influential books I have read. He is in the top three preachers I have ever heard and has always been a model of kindness in his conversations with me.

Most striking about Pulpit Aflame is the lineup of contributors. It’s an All-Pro of preachers, a roster including MacArthur, Sproul, Ferguson, Beeke, and Thomas. Chapter one is a biography of Lawson’s life and ministry, with the next twelve chapters discussing the mandate, meaning, motivation, and method of preaching.  Continue reading

Missions Myths

screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-1-40-17-amBefore we set out on a little expedition through the Scriptures over the next few weeks, hacking our way through the jungle of Missions Myths, I thought it would be valuable to lay down a few presuppositions. I come to the table with some assumptions. Let me show a few of the cards in my hand.

First, I consider Paul the missionary par excellence. This is not because he is an exemplar for modern missions in every way. He certainly is not. Nonetheless, he is unquestionably the best the church has to offer. There are a number of reasons for this.

Continue reading

How Should Calvinists Plead?

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-2-47-12-pmIf you want your son to be a great evangelist, give him the sermons of eminent preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Paton, John Knox, John MacArthur, John Chrysostom, John Bunyan, John Piper, John Calvin, John Wycliffe, and John Hus.

Also, name him John.

Breaking the mold is George Whitefield, probably the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. His sermons on both sides of the Atlantic are estimated at 30,000. God used Whitfield during the Great Awakening to bring about one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church.

He wasn’t just a Calvinist, he was a high Calvinist. He held the doctrines of grace to the highest degree, including the doctrine of reprobation. “I have never read Calvin,” he said. “My Calvinism comes from Jesus himself.” Elsewhere he remarked: “We are all born Arminians and it is grace that makes us Calvinists.” Continue reading

Review: She Calls Me Daddy: 7 Things You Need to Know About Building a Complete Daughter

Robert Wolgemuth, Focus on the Family, 1996, 2014, 256 pages, 3 of 5 stars

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-10-43-56-pmI had never heard of Robert Wolgemuth until I watched “Unexpected Grace”, a video directed by my friend Nathan Bollinger for Revive Our Hearts Ministry. It tells the marvelous story of Wolgemuth’s marriage to Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

I found the video so intriguing that I decided to read one of his books. The first volume he ever published, She Calls Me Daddy, was also his best-seller. Since then he has written a number of other books, many of them on family. Having two daughters of my own, I figured this was a good place to start. Continue reading

Preachers Teach, the Spirit Applies, Right?

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-12-37-43-pmPreachers with little application in their sermons may give the following justification: “It is the Spirit’s task to apply, not mine.” That is, it’s their task to explain “children obey your parents”, not apply by giving practical ways by which to do this. Preachers do the former, the Spirit the latter.

Here are four reasons I find this rationale unconvincing.

First, the greatest preachers in Scripture didn’t teach and then expect their hearers to sort out the application on their own. Jesus warned his disciples about anger without cause (Mt. 5:22). Then he told them what “anger without a cause” looks like practically (e.g. “You’re stupid!”, v. 22). John didn’t urge his hearers to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” and then leave it to the Spirit to apply it (Lk. 3:8). He chopped up this meaty doctrine into four bite-size applications, like “give one of your shirts to the poor” (v. 11), “share your lunch” (v. 11), and “don’t cheat on your tax returns” (v. 13). Continue reading

Hacking Abortion to Pieces

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-9-09-43-amThe US President recently decided America would no longer fund Africans to kill their babies. With so many Marie Stopes clinics around the continent, it’s not surprising many have cried foul.

An article in a South African newspaper this week contends this will only cause more unsafe abortions and death. They imply the serene and safe confines of abortion clinics will now give way to abortions with clothes hangers in back alleys.

Christians must take these old, tired arguments, drag them into the light and—like Samuel did to Agag—cut them to pieces. If this is what abortion doctors do to the unborn, Pro-lifers should do the same toward such paltry reasoning.

So here are a couple of brief ways to answer. First, this argument only stands if babies in the womb are blobs of tissue. The central issue of the abortion debate is this: are the unborn human beings? Pro-Life and Pro-Choice sit on each side of the seesaw that rests on this Great Fulcrum. If the answer is yes, the unborn are humans, then every argument for abortion falls away. What about abortion due to incest? No, because we don’t kill 10 year-olds born from incest. What about rape? No, because we don’t kill senior citizens born from rape. What about personally Pro-Life but politically Pro-Choice? This was the argument of Pontius Pilate, but no one is politically pro-murder. We don’t kill humans, period.

Second, it is illogical to legalize a wicked procedure just to make it safer. Armed robbery is dangerous, but we don’t remove the security guards so thieves can take the money unarmed. We don’t legalize rape to make it less dangerous.

Abortion is a terror. Making it legal doesn’t change that.