How to win the election

It has been a full year since I’ve blogged. I haven’t given it up. I just haven’t felt compelled to write on this site in a while, but that changes here. In light of the long national nightmare known as Election 2016 coming to a head this week, I preached this sermon to my church today. I pray you might find it edifying.

You can listen to it using the link or read it in blog form below.

Continue reading “How to win the election”

Can I trust my Bible?: Pitting Genesis 10-11 against Luke 3:36

Have you ever heard someone say there are errors in the Bible and so that’s why it should not be trusted? And have you ever heard someone give one of those alleged errors and not know how to respond to it? Well, we can trust the Bible we have. For that matter, we must trust the Bible we have because it is indeed the inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient word of God. But at the same time we need to know how to answer the objections of unbelievers and biblical skeptics. The text of Genesis 10 and 11 opens the door to one such objection. This article addresses how believers should deal with it.

This is what Genesis 10:24 says in the New American Standard Bible – 1995 Update (hereafter NASB):

Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber.

And this is what Genesis 11:12-13 says in the NASB:

Arpachshad lived thirty-five years, and became the father of Shelah; and Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he became the father of Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.

That seems straightforward enough… until you compare it with Luke 3:36. In the third chapter of Luke we read a lengthy genealogy which traces Jesus’ lineage as the Son of David all the way back past Abraham to Adam. And this is what Luke 3:35-36 says in the NASB — where we pick up the genealogy in progress:

the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, (bold emphasis added)

Our Luke texts add a name between Arpachshad and Shelah — Cainan — which is missing from Genesis 10 and 11. So why is that? And does it mean there is a mistake in the Bible? Continue reading “Can I trust my Bible?: Pitting Genesis 10-11 against Luke 3:36”

In the mirror and out the window

Author’s note: This is an amended version of a post I did at my blog on my church’s site —

mirrorpostThere is a lot of talk about church health these days, particularly regarding smaller, rural, more traditional congregations such as the one I pastor. While we place our faith in Jesus Christ, who said He would build His church and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it, churches do die off in various ways and for various reasons.

Sometimes those reasons have to do with regional demographics. More people are moving to urban areas so there are less people out in the country.

But more often than we probably care to admit those reasons have to do with a church focused too much on ourselves, something written about by Thom Rainer in his book my church has been talking about in Sunday School, Autopsy of a Deceased Church.

To be sure, we should be looking at ourselves, but not so that we can think about the good ole days, how things at the church seemed so much better in the past, how pews (if not filled) were substantially fuller, how there was always activity. We should be looking at ourselves for the reasons the Bible tells us to; namely, to practice the one anothers — to love one another, help meet the needs of one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, and one too often neglected — confess sin to one another.

One of the problems of small, rural churches is that — in the community — almost everybody knows almost everybody, so we not only know the people we like, we know the people we don’t like. We know people’s faults. We know their histories. We live amongst people who’ve made us mad for decades. And sometimes (more often than we care to admit) this carries over to the local church, and so those in the community wonder why they should bother — going to church with those people.

That makes it all the more incumbent upon the body of Christ to look within — so that any sin in us might be done away with. We ought to be praying to God (while at the same time being fully submissive to His will) that He might blow the sin out of us, even when it makes things hard for us. So, yes, we ought to be looking ourselves in the mirror — and your church (if not Bethlehem), should be, too.

But we must not neglect the window… and the door… If we only look internally, then we will neglect Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. You can’t do the latter if you’re not doing the former. As a church we have to be willing to be ridiculed, castigated, rejected for the sake of the gospel. As a church we have to be willing to go to those people in the community we’ve known forever and say, “Yeah, you’re right, we don’t have it all together. We’ve made mistakes. And we will in the future. But that is why our sufficiency is found is Christ and not ourselves.” We have to love people enough to not be content to live among them, but lay ourselves on the line that they might hear the gospel, and by God’s grace, respond in obedient faith.

Kind of like Jesus did.

By God’s grace may we respond in obedient faith. To God be the glory!

The Depth of the Spread of Sin (Gen 4:1-15)

Author’s Note: I am preaching through Genesis on Wednesday nights. Here I will present edited notes in blog form. You can listen to the sermon below and download it here. May God be glorified and His people edified. Comments below if you like.

We move on now in our study of Genesis to the fourth chapter — Genesis 4 — where you might say we begin the rest of the story. Through Adam, sin has entered into the perfect world God created, and death through sin. The serpent has been cursed, the woman has been cursed, the man has been cursed. All of creation has been cursed. The man and woman have been driven out of the Garden of Eden by God; the perfect, sinless, communion, the fellowship they knew with God, be it ever so briefly, being corrupted. Everything in the world has been corrupted.

And yet there is no lack of hope. God has promised already, in Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. One day Satan and sin and death will themselves be dealt a fatal blow. So moving on from Genesis 3, on the one hand we are looking forward to the day that will happen, but on the other hand, until then, sin is in the world, the wages of sin is death, and since all who come from Adam will be born sinners, we see the spread of sin… the spread of sin.

If you want an overarching theme to Genesis 4 that’s it: the spread of sin. Let’s begin by reading our text: Genesis 4:1-15… 

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”  Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to theLord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”  He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

We do indeed see the depth of the spread of sin here. In just about every way, this account represents a decline even from what happened in the Garden of Eden. There man died spiritually and now, ejected from the Garden, this account shows him taking his own shovel to make his grave a deeper grave. Continue reading “The Depth of the Spread of Sin (Gen 4:1-15)”

The Wages of Sin (Gen 3:8-24)

Author’s Note: I am preaching through Genesis on Wednesday nights. Here I will present edited notes in blog form. You can listen to the sermon below and download it here. May God be glorified and His people edified. Comments below if you like.

In our previous study we got into Genesis 3, where in verses 1-7 we read about the beginning of sin. In the first two chapters God created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them, and He declared everything very good, including the man and man, whom He created in His image. But the beginning of sin was where the serpent deceived Eve, the man and woman chose to believe Satan instead of God. They weren’t satisfied with what God gave them. They coveted His divinity (being like God). So they took the fruit and ate, and as a result, spiritually died. Sin was introduced into the world. Death came in due course. Shame was introduced. The man and woman realized they were naked and they became ashamed. And if you recall from verse seven, they made for themselves coverings from sewn together fig leaves. That was the beginning of sin.

In the following passage, then, we see the wages of sin… God is holy and does not and will not leave sin unpunished, so now we see what happened when God confronted the man and the woman. So let’s now consider Genesis 3:8-24: Continue reading “The Wages of Sin (Gen 3:8-24)”

Come out from among them: A strong recommendation for Christians to flee government schools

The time has come to make a strong plea based on a conviction my wife and I have had for quite some time.

Christian, get your children out of government-run (i.e. public) schools.

As a believer and as a pastor, I have never hesitated when the topic of schools has come up to let my opinion be known about them. Before I was married and had children of my own I had decided that, as a father, I would not send my children to public schools. As a matter of fact, my then-girlfriend, presumptive fiance, and future wife had a pretty heated argument about it. I won. But the point is, I’ve long felt the way I do about public schools. When asked I’ve given my opinion. When discussions of schools have come up I’ve given my opinion. But as a pastor I have not gone all the way in telling others they needed to get their children out of public schools.

That has to change. Continue reading “Come out from among them: A strong recommendation for Christians to flee government schools”