Book Review: The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis

July 9, 2016 8:39 pm

 

Sev

 

The Seven Laws of Love is a practical and easy to read book on the practice of love. It is not theologically dense, but it is also not fluff, as most of the material is supported by biblical verses and passages. The definition of love is accurate, as the author constantly describes it as a selfless, sacrificial commitment to others, whether one gets anything in return or not.

The author breaks the book down into the first and second second: the first one talks about the principles of love as displayed in commitment, sacrifices, truth, fear, grace, healing, and forever. The second part of the book deals with love in action, as it relates to everyone from spouse to God. This book is not the best book on love I’ve ever read, but it is still a solid piece of work that is filled with many illustrations and examples that highlight the power of his presentations. Much of the personal anecdotes are very moving and insightful.

This is a book I would highly recommend if you want an accessible, but biblical, book that will challenge you to put godly love into practice in every area of your life. It has the potential to be life changing.

Note: I received this book complimentary from booklookbloggers.com for review. I was not obligated to give a good review, but only my honest evaluation.

New Sermon

May 4, 2016 9:59 pm

Bible

 

Currently Reading:

Why Trust the Bible?

by Greg Gilbert

Category: Biblical Studies

2015, Crossway

 

 

 

 

Here is a message I preached at a church just recently. It’s called The King’s Final Command, which is Jesus’ Great Commission to the disciples found in Matthew 28:16-20. This is undoubtedly one of the favorite messages I’ve preached:

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Book Review: Four Views on Hell

April 1, 2016 11:23 pm

Hell

Counterpoints Bible & Theology continue in the series with the subject of hell, which is another cardinal doctrine that has split views. This book documents all four of them: eternal punishment, annihilationism, restorationism, and purgatory. The last category belongs mainly in the Roman Catholic church, but is nevertheless one of the views of postmodern punishment.

This book, as with most of the others in the series, documents each position well, and includes a fascinating response/rebuttal from the other three authors. It is short, and easy to read. As with all foundational doctrines, the topic of hell directly relates to the gospel message, therefore it is not a light doctrine to tamper with. I am with the orthodox view concerning the eternality of hell, and this book pretty much affirms what I believe Scripture to be saying regarding eternal life and eternal punishment. However, I still find the counterarguments to be insightful, no matter how many interpretative problems or subjective opinions are fused into their arguments.

Four Views on Hell is a book I would recommend if you are interested in learning about how all sides argue for their case. You should definitely come to a firm conclusion about what you believe on this issue (since it is a major gospel issue), but be equipped with the counterarguments for the sake of your apologetics.

Note: I received this book complimentary from Booklookbloggers.com. I was not obligated to give a good review, but only my honest response.

2016 Shepherd’s Conference

March 16, 2016 1:26 am

Inerr

 

Currently Reading:

The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives

Edited by John MacArthur

Category: Theology

2016, Crossway

 

 

I had a blessed few days attending the 2016 Shepherd’s Conference. It is always good to see old friends again, and to be edified by the messages prepared by the speakers (not to mention the endless supply of ice cream and sodas!)

It is easy to forget sometimes, but these conferences have tremendous impact on the ministry, and even spiritual state, of some of these attendees. Keep these 3,000 men in prayer, that God would take what these men have learned during the conference and influence their churches with it. If even a few pastors preach better because of this conference of a few evangelists evangelize more fervently because of this conference, then it is well worth it.

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

 

 

Book Review: Man Myth Messiah by Rice Broocks

March 12, 2016 1:13 am

Man

Man Myth Messiah is Rice Broock’s latest apologetics follow-up to his stellar book God’s Note Dead. Whereas God’s Not Dead was a broad argument for the truth of the Christian faith (ex. God’s existence, moral absolutes, the Bible’s veracity), Man Myth Messiah narrows the focus on the question: Did Jesus Really Exist?

In answering this question, Broocks begins by examining the many pop objections to the historicity of Christ and the way He is portrayed in Scripture and analyzes them in an evidential apologetics approach. He uses scientific, historical, and prophetic evidences to demonstrate that the Jesus of the Bible was not only a historical figure, but the same Jesus that the Bible portrays Him, in contrast to the ones that liberal scholars or skeptics make Him out to be. This book addresses many prevalent issues, such as dispelling the false notion that Jesus was a concoction from various pagan myths and that the resurrection didn’t really happen.

This book is definitely well researched. Rice Broocks defends the historicity and truth of Scripture with many references that back up his claims. The topics that he touches upon is important and provides great insight for the Christian wanting to be equipped for evangelism or wanting confidence of his faith. This is a book I would highly recommend for any Christian wanting to learn how to defend their faith. Most of what is written in the book is accurate, and will provide an excellent resource for Christian to be bold in evangelism.

Note: This book was provided to me complimentary by Booklookbloggers.com. I was not obligated to give a positive review, but only honest opinion.

Quotes from Historic American Figures

March 2, 2016 1:04 am

Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I say to you, search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.”- John Quincy Adams

Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. The Bible can touch hearts, order minds and refresh souls.” – Ronald Reagan

In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”- Robert E. Lee

I have read the Bible through many times, and now make it a practice to read it through once every year. It is a book of all others for lawyers, as well as divines; and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought and of rules for conduct. It fits a man for life—it prepares him for death.”- Daniel Webster

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible.”- George Washington

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – Teddy Roosevelt

The Bible is the sheet anchor of our liberties. Write its principles upon your heart and practice them in your lives.”- Ulysses S. Grant

 

The insights are clear: Where God is honored, there is health in among the people and in the land. God’s Word is not a political rule book, but it does provide the utmost benefit to nations that follow its wisdom in governing the land. Since all Scripture is inspired (2 Tim 3:16-17), it deals with everything in life pertaining to righteousness, truth, justice, and equity.

This was once the story of the United States of America. This is why America needs God again. Please pray for this nation and its future.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage.” (Psalm 33:12).

Ask Steve: Biblical Separation

February 25, 2016 1:05 am

Respect

 

Currently Reading:

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

by Jerry Bridges

Category: Christian Living

2007, NavPress

 

 

 

Question: Steve, what is biblical separation? How does this apply to the Christian and to the church?

Answer: Biblical separation is the belief that God has called believers out of the world to live in both individual and corporate holiness. Christians are to be in the world, but not of it. As believers grow in the faith, they make increasingly wise and discerning choices about everyday matters so as not to defile themselves morally or pollute their reputation. The degree to which a Christian practices biblical separation is usually in correlation with their knowledge of and maturity in the faith. As Christians grow in sanctification, so will their lifestyle choices.

Biblical separation is a theme that is apparent in both the Old and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Israel is commanded to consecrate themselves in holiness (Lev 11:44-46; 20:26). They are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6). This implies that Israel not only keep the moral statutes of God, but act in such a manner that does not bring reproach or questionable impressions upon them. That is why the Lord set moral, judicial, and ceremonial ordinances for the people to keep, as heavily outlined in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. This historically-conditioned program was God’s design to show Israel how to specifically live out her role as a righteous, just, and respectable people before their Canaanite neighbors. These social, legal, and spiritual practices was meant to set Israel apart as a distinctively holy people so that they will not be influenced or affected by the pagan practices that characterized the immediate society around them.

Sep 3Though Christ’s work on the cross did away with the judicial and ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses, the principles that underlie those Old Testament statutes still carry over to us today. What I mean by this is that we are still called to exercise discernment when making decisions on what to wear, what to practice, where to go, and what to get involved in so that we maintain our testimony as a righteous and holy people before others. Like Israel, Christians are called to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:16). They are likened to a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:16) and to a temple in which the Holy Spirit of God resides (1 Cor 6:19-20). Therefore, we must see to it that we do not defile ourselves with practices that are unprofitable, or at worst, defiling.

Christians do not live amongst biological Canaanites like Israelites did, but we do live amongst spiritual Canaanites wherever we are on the globe. No matter where we reside, we will be amongst unbelievers who are characterized by a certain way of ungodly living. Every Christian is placed in different circumstances, which is why the New Testament does not have clear cut applicational commands for the church like the Old Testament did with ancient Israel. However, we can use the timeless moral principles of the Old and the New Testament to help us create helpful boundaries on what we allow and do not allow into our lives.

Biblical separation usually deals with the matters that we think of as “Christian liberty” or “gray zones.” All true Christians will not argue that lying, stealing, fornicating, lust, and coveting is wrong, and will usually commit to obeying the Lord on these moral commandments. But what about issues that are not directly spoken of in Scripture, especially endeavors that are not stated as sinful? This is what every Christian needs to research and find his conviction in, especially if such issues have any speck of controversy surrounding it. Biblical separation has spiritual benefits for the Christian because it refines his character and helps him grow more Christlike. Romans 12:2 explores the essence of this when it says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Furthermore, Philippians 4:8 describes the importance of our choices by stating, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything praiseworthy, think about these things.” Finally, 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 declares, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many…”

Sep 2In regards to the question, biblical separation occurs on two levels: the individual (Christian) and the corporate (the church). I begin by using practical examples of a Christian living in the United States of America. Some popular questions that have arisen concerning Christian liberty or gray zones are: Should Christians do yoga or Eastern mediation? Should Christians dance? Should Christians wear Catholic crosses and bracelets (even if they depict Jesus on them)? Should Christians get tattoos? Should Christians wear clothing that promote Peace and Love (the same “Peace and Love” that apparently fuels the LGBT and Co-Exist movements)? Should Christians hang out with friends at pubs or night clubs? Should Christians watch movies, TV shows, or theatrical performances filled with blasphemy, cursing, and sexually immoral content? Should Christians quote wisdom proverbs from the Pope, Ghandi, or anyone else who do not teach according to a biblical worldview? Should Christians smoke? Should a Christian be a vocational boxer of MMA fighter, or even watch such sports for enjoyment?

SepIn regards to the church (a.k.a. ecclesiastical separation), some popular questions include: Should the church confront and discipline leaders or members who teach aberrant doctrine, even if it only involves secondary doctrinal matters? Should the church continue to ally itself with other churches, seminaries, or organizations that depart from biblical inerrancy? Should the church be involved in movements or causes that promote religious ecumenicism with Roman Catholics and Orthodox Judaism? Should the church be heavily involved in politics or promoting environmental causes? Should the church endorse pastors, teachers, or authors who have a questionable reputation or teach wrong doctrines? Should pastors refrain entirely from drinking?

I believe a helpful guideline that believers can use when deciding on what to do or counsel others regarding these situations is:

 

  1. Does it bring glory to God (1 Cor 10:31)? Does this practice honor and reflect God’s righteousness, justice, holiness, and goodness? Can this act be done in good conscience, knowing the character of God? Is this something you can do if Jesus were physically present, next to you?
  2. Does it cause you or others to stumble into sin (Mk 9:42)? Does this practice open up temptations to fall into real sin? Is it a door into the world and into darkness?
  3. Does it have a bad reputation (1 Thess 5:22)? Is this practice looked upon favorably or unfavorably by the church? Why? Do other people grow concerned or lose trust in your integrity or sensibility by this practice?
  4. Does it have strong pagan or worldly connections (1 Cor 10:28)? Is this practice tied to false religions or ideologies that are anti-Christian? To what degree? Do these practices have spiritual and moral elements that could mislead you or mislead others into worshipping idols or supporting evil?
  5. Does it advance the cause of Christianity (1 Cor 9:20-22)? Does it enhance your witness before others? Does it bolster the truth and goodness of the Christian faith? Does it help lead the lost to Christ? Is it something that will cause the devil to be happy or to be nonchalant?

Every Christian will approach these issues with different convictions based on their understanding of Scripture and maturity in the faith. The goal is not to be so right so as to be legalistic in religious abstinences and boundaries, but also not to be so left so as to be licentious in religious liberty. We are all called as a church to be set apart in godliness, which is why every serious Christian will sooner or later need to take stances on questionable issues for the sake of circumventing temptation (Rom 13:14), avoiding appearances of wrongdoing (1 Thess 5:22), and keeping a clear conscience (Rom 14:5). That is what it means to practice discernment in order to be the purest reflection of Christ as possible.

Book Review: We Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler

December 30, 2015 12:26 am

Cannot

An evangelical known for his outspokenness in defense of the Christian faith, Albert Mohler tackles yet another important and controversial topic in the book We Cannot Remain Silent. As the title says, the book is about using biblical truth to speak to a culture redefining sex, marriage, and the meaning of right and wrong. And Mohler does so quite insightfully.

There are quite a few books these days that speak about the issue of homosexuality from a biblical standpoint. So why is another one so necessary? Mohler’s new book is not merely about what the Bible says about homosexuality – whether it is sin or not. Rather, it speaks about how the homosexual/transgender movement is part of a broader sexual revolution that has swept the nation in the past few decades – all of which has challenged biblical morality and religious freedom in fundamental ways.

Starting from the legalization of birth control and promotion of contraceptives all the way to no-fault divorce and sex outside of marriage, the sexual revolution that started gaining momentum in the 1960s have already been paving the way for the public’s acceptance of same-sex marriage and transgenderism. The common tread is pride and self-fulfillment in the name of happiness and privacy. When the foundations and gravity of marriage have already been weakened by moral decadence starting from the 60s, it is easy to see why same-sex marriage has been accepted as a valid practice in society.

The book is insightful because not too many books on the topic of homosexuality and transgenderism have really revealed the root cause behind the homosexual movement. By doing so, Mohler has given us food for thought. Homosexuality is not virtuous by any means, but is another sad product of the sexual revolution, and weakening moral state, of the country. The same spirit or sentiment that allows for free practice of no-fault divorce and fornication is the same one that underlies the “need” to legalize same-sex practices. By delineating the history of the sexual revolution in America during the last 50 years, we see the consequences of what happens when a people, especially an apostate and liberal church, abandons the authority of Scripture in favor of secular opinion or sentiments. This gives us all the more reason to stand by the truths of Scripture and to defend it in such times.

I would highly recommend this book for any Christian or non-Christian seeking a fresh and much needed perspective on the homosexual revolution of our days. Since Scripture teaches that homosexuality and transgenderism is unbiblical, it is imperative to see why, and this new book by Mohler demonstrates how even history attests to the immorality and unnaturalness of this recent movement. It will help you think about whether we truly are “on the right side of history,” or whether this movement is part of the moral decline that the nation has been facing in the last few decades. This book is excellently researched. The author defends the truth, but also does so compassionately and recognizes that we are all sinners in need of salvation, which is why it is also a gracious and compassionate call to reach people in this movement with a sense of sympathy. I believe this is one of the most Christian books in the category of social issues and general topic, since it is impacting much of the nation. The welfare of the family, as well as religious liberty, is at stake, which is why the message in We Cannot Be Silent is important, and must be heeded.

Note: I received this book as a complimentary review copy from Booklookbloggers.com. I was not obligated to give a good review, but only my honest opinion.

Ask Steve: The Definition of a Successful Church

December 15, 2015 12:48 am

Not a Chance

 

Currently Reading:

Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason

by R.C. Sproul w/ Keith Mathison

Category: Apologetics

2014 edition, Baker Books

 

 

 

Question: Steve, how would you describe a successful church? What characteristics mark a successful church?

Answer: When people think of what marks a “successful” church, many things come to mind. A church with huge attendance. A church that distributes salaries and benefits to over a dozen staff members. A church that excels in getting decisions for Christ. A church represented in a radio show or library of books that he has written. A church with celebrity pastors.

Although some of these ideas are pleasant for churches to experience (and might even indicate God’s blessing on that local body), these do not capture what it means to be successful. What is successful to man might not necessary be successful to God, and vice versa. That is why it is important to measure the success of a church according to the standards of Scripture, and not according to the ways of the world. What we do before God is always more important and eternally beneficial than what we do before man.

First, a successful church faithfully teaches the word of God. A church is called to do many things, but its first and foremost task must be to house accurate and applicable Bible teaching, whether during Sunday service, special events, or weekday Bible studies. A good church has a pastor who invests ample time in studying God’s word and exposits it to the public. Paul instructed young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-2 of the importance of faithfully teaching God’s word to his congregation: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Why? Because “the time will come when they [the congregants] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Tim 4:3). Sound preaching is necessary to the spiritual health of the local church. Good teaching leads to salvation and sanctification; bad teaching leads to false conversion and worldly living. God has appointed pastors to be the spokesman of the church. They are the prophets who warn of sin, judgment, and the need to reconcile with a holy God. They are teachers who lead believers in the way of godliness and righteousness. This is the most impressionable way that a church shepherds the flock – the public proclamation of the word of God.

Second, a successful church holds fast to the faith and defends it amidst attacks. It is no secret that there are multitudes of attacks against the Christian faith today, and was so during the time of the Apostles. Skeptics and vile opponents attempt to discredit the teachings and historical observations of the Old and the New Testament, and many professing believers introduce questionable, if not destruction, heresies into the church. That is why Jude exhorted church leaders to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…” (Jude 3-4). The spirit of the antichrist has worked since the beginning of time to sway people away from the truth, even sending teachers who masquerade as Christians into the church to promote a type of Christianity that has no power to save or to sanctify (1 Jn 4:1-6; Rev 2:20). This is why church leaders must be on guard to defend the truth. Sadly, many churches have made a shipwreck of themselves by compromising with the spirit of the world, accepting the legitimacy of abortion, homosexuality, Catholic and Muslim ecumenism, evolution, atheistic psychology, theological liberalism, and licentiousness. Churches who go this course are not successful pastors in God’s eyes, but are disobedient to His word (Lk 6:46) often times become apostate (Rev 2).

Third, a successful church is great at helping as many in the church as possible to apply the principles of Scripture in their lives. The church must be committed to discipleship. It teaches Christians, both young and seasoned, to pray, read Scripture devotionally, grow in holiness, participate in the ordinances with a clear conscience, give of their resources sacrificially, foster attitudes of faith, hope, and love, serving in church, and, of course, participate in evangelism. The church does what it can in its power and wisdom to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col 1:28). As admirable as these goals are, a church is truly successful when they not only disciple, but create disciplemakers. This means they are committed to raising up new, effective leaders who become missionaries, church planters, Bible study leaders, evangelists, and future elders/ pastors who go out into the world and replicates everything that Scripture commands regarding the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). The goal of all pastors, and Christian leaders, is to disciple Christians with the hopes that they will become disciplemakers themselves. This is how the church successfully perpetuates the faith down through the generations, and creates more laborers for a huge labor field (Matt 9:37-38).

Last but not least, a successful church is passionate about evangelism. Jesus calls for the church to “preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15) and to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Paul even instructed a young pastor Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5) as part of his ministry call. In a sense, one can say that all of the Christian’s training is meant to prepare him to be an ambassador for Christ. If a Christian never evangelizes, then his education and growth in the faith never becomes useful in this life. This is why churches must be committed to evangelism, since it is one of the reasons why it exists. A church that practices evangelism through various programs, and trains its laypeople to practice it in their everyday lives, is a church that has much power. It is truly successful because it actively carries out the mission and will of God.

There is much more that can be said about what defines a successful church, but these four factors are what every church should highly consider when doing ministry. There are churches that have low financial resources, meet on rented property, have moderate attendance, and receive persecution and oppression from an unbelieving society. Despite these seeming failures, the church is a success before God if it lives the word faithfully, preaches the word faithfully, defends the word faithfully, and duplicates the word faithfully. What truly counts is the church’s commitment to the Scriptural principles that define a church. When it is all said and done, what counts is Jesus declaring to laborers of the church, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21).

 

Recommended Resource: Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

Preaching on Hollywood Boulevard

November 29, 2015 10:48 pm

Character

 

Currently Reading:

The Character of Leadership: Nine Qualities that Define Great Leaders

by Jeff Iorg

Category: Christian Life / Ministry

2007, B&H Publishing

 

 

 

Yesterday I had the privilege of evangelizing unbelievers in Hollywood by openly proclaiming the gospel to hundreds on Hollywood Blvd, as well as giving out tracts and DVDs afterwards. It’s been nearly 8 years since I’ve been saved and developed a zeal for evangelism, and I still see it as a vital part of the Christian life. I appreciate your prayers as I continue on these evangelism adventures and improving on my open air preaching:

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