Monthly Archives: February 2007

Service Exemplified

A problem presented itself to the early church. There were widows, under the care of the church, that were being neglected (they were not getting the food that they needed). The Apostles gathered together the congregation, in Acts 6, to seek to solve this problem. “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.” They selected seven men (the first deacons) who might be in charge of this task.

Now, fast forward 2,000 years. How are things different? Perhaps now we see deacons meeting together once per month to discuss the budget and vote on repairs to the building. Maybe they are even giving direction on the church and voting on buying and selling property, or even calling a new pastor. What about the widows?

This week at Redeemer, we will take a close look at the 2nd biblical office in the local church, The Good Deacons, from 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Are there any differences in the qualifications for elders and deacons? Can women be deacons? What about Phoebe? What should the relationship be like between the elders and deacons? What should characterize the life of a deacon?

What about you? Are you someone who is seeking to serve in your local church? That is literally what the word deacon means—servant. Are you willing to put yourself into the service of others, or should you be doing more important things? Are you too important to wash dishes, bring meals to the homebound or wait on tables? Is there anything that we could learn from Jesus about service?

May we follow Christ in this!

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Joshua Harris–Interviewed by Mark Dever

Josh Harris is amazingly humble. He wrote his first book at the age of 21. It sold 1 million copies! Yes, he’s humble, but extremely gifted. Mark Dever questions him about everything from home schooling to secular music in this interview, by Nine Marks Ministries.

Enjoy!

What is an “elder” anyway?

Yes, you’ve been chosen to be on the committee! What an honor to be one of the people elected to search for a new pastor. Put yourself in this scenario for a moment. What should you look for in a pastor? What are the qualifications? The pressure is piling up due to the movement in the church for a change. The last pastor was older and “much too concerned about doctrine and theology.” If one’s thing is certain, the majority on the committee want a younger, more dynamic speaker; someone that will hold our attention. One person commented that this person would have to be able to incorporate more stories, more audio-visual use and added humor on Sundays.

Does the Bible give an outline of the qualifications for this position? Should we first think about what people want, or what God’s requires for the office of elder? What is an elder anyway? Perhaps that term is unfamiliar to you. Is there more to the office of pastor than just preaching and visiting hospitals? What about a pastor’s family, his character, or his marital history? Should there be one or multiple pastors? Should I even be on this committee making this decision in the first place?

This week at Redeemer, we will seek to answer these questions as we consider Biblical Leadership: The Good Elders, from 1Timothy 3:1-7. Paul has, in chapter 2 called the church to unity around the Gospel and diversity in the roles played by men and women in the church. Women are not permitted to teach or show authority over men, but to remain peaceable, fulfilling their God given roles as women. But what type of man is called by God to teach and lead in the local church? Join us this week as we seek God’s Word for the answer.

May God raise up men like this to lead in all the churches!

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

This past week at Redeemer, I had the privilege of preaching this sermon, which you can listen to here, or click to download here.

May God smile upon his churches and unite us around the Gospel!

How Not to Lose Your Faith in College

This is a fantastic article by Thabiti Anyabwile, the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

I have recommended it to the classes I teach as a “must read.” Even more than being able to “defend the faith,” Thabiti’s instructions are refreshingly local church-centric in guarding Christian students in their adventures away from the safety of home.

To summarize, he recommends:

(1) Finding and Joining a good church
(2) Choosing friends with biblical criteria in view
(3) At all costs, remaining sexually pure
(4) Study
(5) Call home
(6) Remember the counsel of God

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Should Women Teach Men?

Should women teach men? Yes, I will be seeking to answer that question this Sunday at Redeemer. But is that really the issue or does the debate go much deeper? It is so much easier to hold the Bible above our heads and declare that it is our sole guide for all things, than to actually carefully try to understand and obey what it says.

Paul has thus far been addressing false teaching in Ephesus and encouraging Timothy to fight the good fight. There is an important connection between “fighting” and sound doctrine. Remember the purpose of 1 Timothy found in chapter 3?

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. –1 Timothy 3:14-15

Think about the idea of “knowing how to behave.” In order to fight well, we must know what the Bible says and submit to it. Is this your common reaction when you come across texts that seem to be unpopular? Do you try to avoid things in God’s Word that directly contradict your current practice? Following Christ is no popularity contest. Often times the reaction people have to God’s Word is defensive and even accusatory. If you don’t believe this, briefly survey the life of Jesus, Paul and the disciples.

But, if the church is going to be the pillar and buttress of the truth, we must not shy away from the clear teaching of the Scriptures. The sermon title this week is Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, from 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (download the devotional guide here).

It is okay for women to teach men if the elders give permission? What about Sunday school? Isn’t this just a cultural thing that should not be applied to our current situation? I do not claim to have all the answers. In fact, I remind myself often that I stand on the shoulders of giants.

One of those giants, I have been given the privilege to pastor with. Jim Hamilton has “fought the good fight” on this issue on multiple occasions. I highly recommend his essay, WHAT WOMEN CAN DO IN MINISTRY:FULL PARTICIPATION WITHIN BIBLICAL BOUNDARIES, presented at the Wheaton Theology Conference. I will be reading it again as I prepare for this week’s message. Also, check out this blog entitled Unity, Liberty, and Charity: Does This Mean Women can Teach Men?

If you are interested, check back soon for audio from this message.

May God’s Glory be lifted High in the local Church!

Praying and Living for the Gospel

My sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-10 is now available here.

Enjoy!

(Big HT: Chris Caldwell)

Church Discipline, Indwelling and Regeneration…Any Connection?

My sweet wife Alicia and I had the privilege to listen to Dr. Jim Hamilton last night on Converse with The Scholars. He was being interviewed in response to his new book: God’s Indwelling Presence, The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments.

You can click here to listen to the interview. I was most struck by the way Jim applied his theology. It is always encouraging to see scholars, who are not only orthodox in their theology, but just as committed to seeing God be glorified in the church! What a blessing to know and serve with such a man.

Praise God for his good gifts to His church!

Unity for the Right Reasons

Unity can be a funny thing really. Many people define unity as “frictionless” conversation or the absence of awkward moments. In fact it is very possible for people to be united around the fact that they want to be left alone. But is this the unity that should be displayed in the local Church? Is it even possible to be unified on anything today? There are so many different “interpretations” and “theories” (scientific and theological).

Paul addresses this question to his son in the faith, Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-8, the sermon text this week at Redeemer. The title of the sermon this week is Praying and Living for the Gospel. Obviously the church at Ephesus was not experiencing doctrinal unity, as we learned last week, due to the false teaching exposed in chapter 1. In fact it seems that the entire focus of the church was off-center. How should Paul address this? How should we?

Are there times in your life that are characterized by drifting or haziness of purpose? Do you consciously seek to realign yourself with God’s plan and purposes? Do you pray? If you pray, do you pray for the real needs of your country, city or town? Do you really believe that God can change things?

By the way, gospel conversations are usually not “frictionless” and they tend to contain awkward moments. But this seems to fade into the background when we meditate on the fact that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

May God Unify His Church around the Gospel!