Category Archives: The gospel

Decisions, Decisions.

I will definitely admit I am far from being in a position to be asked to participate in any forum where I would be speaking in front of hundreds of people. I am truly not trying to be critical of those who are and the choices they make. I am just trying to think through these things as I listen to some of my favorite speakers and some of the forums they are invited to. Today’s case in point, Michael Horton speaking in at forum in Saddleback Church on June 10th as part of the “12 Cities 12 Conversations” project hosted by the Lausanne Movement.

Earlier this week after watching the recorded web cast of the panel discussion I posed a question, via email, to many of my church leadership friends regarding Horton participating in this panel discussion at Saddleback Church. I received many responses, from simply “dumb” to a short rebuttal in the use of the phrase “reformed infatuation” from a popular blogger brother. But included in this blogger’s response was a point made to him by Mark Dever a few years ago. The point being that if anyone opened their platform or pulpit to him (Mark Dever) he would gladly take the opportunity to present the true gospel. In some cases it may be the only time they audience would hear it.

After watching the panel discussion, I now know why Horton was there. I have included the link below and in the body of this post. If you haven’t seen it please notice the term “gospel” thrown around quite a bit, Horton addresses this later. But the term is used in such a way as to infer that the gospel is the same as the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the law, but it is NOT the gospel. This would fall in line with some points made by my senior pastor in a recent sermon found here.

If you watch the video of the panel discussion, the real discussion doesn’t really get cranked up until about 16 minutes in, so you may want to push the feed forward and bypass all the posturing and introductions. Around the 45 minute mark Horton brings up the term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, this term is mentioned many times in his book “Christless Christianity“. (Catch Kay Warren chanting Burger King after Horton finishes speaking as if saying have it your way) But my favorite part of the discussion is when Michael Horton addresses the question “How do we make sure that the proclamation of Jesus doesn’t get lost among the feeding of the hungry and the care for the widows and orphans?”. This comes right at the tail end of the first video (there are two parts), which is around the 60 minute mark.  Horton zooms right in on what the gospel is. Very cool. Glory to God.

The web cast panel discussion at Saddleback Church (again the real discussion doesn’t get going until about 16 to 20 minutes in)

Patrick Abendroth on “The Dechristianization of Christianity

The gospel in about a minute by John Piper.

I would encourage any and all comments on this discussion in particular on the subject of decisions to participate in these venues. Did Horton get his point across or was he marginalized? If you are a preacher given the opportunity to speak at a venue, like say the Crystal Cathedral, would you use it to preach the gospel?


Preaching the Word – Entry One

Last Wednesday I began a course offered in our local church for preaching. I am taking this course to be equipped forteaching_preaching_church_teachers preaching and teaching prisoners, which is a ministry I am involved with. Through this course I will be studying expository preaching, which is preaching and teaching God’s word using a verse by verse format. I know there is more to it than that, and I will learn what it is. I plan to use this blog to post entries surrounding my equipping process. Lord willing I will be providing weekly posts. This course is being offered as part of the ongoing Institute for Biblical Studies (IBS) with my local church.

I have been part of a prison ministry for our local church, Omaha Bible Church, for two years now. The Lord has been directing me to me to not only look for family care opportunities with prisoner families but to go inside and participate in the monthly worship services our ministry does. As part of our ministry, we have a few men meeting regularly with prisoners who desire to be mentored and taught about Jesus Christ through God’s word. This is becoming a part of the ministry I desire to be a part of. God has been shaping my heart or desire for this after my first few visits for worship services inside the prison. I pray that God will use this course to strengthen me in proclaiming Jesus Christ through scriptures. As Paul wrote to Timothy:

1 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

I also pray that through this equipping, God will be sanctifying me for His service. I am already learning through my reading assignments what a weighty responsibility preachers and teachers have in teaching God’s word. Our first book is “Preaching: How To Preach Biblically” by John MacArthur and Master’s Seminary Faculty. I have a high respect for pastor John MacArthur and his knowledge for biblical preaching. I also have a high respect for our senior pastor Patrick Abendroth who is teaching us in the preaching class. Please pray for us all.

Soli Deo Gloria


Assuming the gospel

The above title was point number one in a series of sermons titled “The Death of a Church” delivered by our senior abandonedchurch_in_a_smalltown_11pastor Patrick Abendroth beginning two Sunday’s ago. What is meant by assuming the gospel is to assume the conversion of an individual. It is also to assume the flock, congregation, or church leadership can articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ. And also the assumption that the local church is standing firm in the faith, and striving together. This assumption of the gospel is one of several signs of a dying church mentioned in the sermon series.

Is the conversion of an individual down played? Does the church even discuss conversion? Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 18:3. In the context of the disciples questioning Jesus about who the greatest in His kingdom. Jesus states:

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)

Is conversion taken for granted? Is the assumption that salvation is passed down from previous generations? Whenever I think of this assumption, I think of a song I heard many years ago. The song was recorded by artist Nicole C. Mullen called “Granny’s Angel” which basically warns folks that you can’t get to heaven on Granny’s conversion. No one has ever been or will ever be born a Christian. No one automatically becomes a Christian at a certain age or after some series of classes are completed. One of the signs of a dying church is the assumption of the pastor, leadership, and congregation that those folks who attend and are involved in ministry are believers.

Which brings us to point number two in the signs. I will only briefly mention this one as I may blog about in more detail at a later date. Point number two is gospel ignorance. Do you know the gospel? Can you articulate the gospel? Pastor Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church and founder of 9Marks Ministry says that every believer should be able to articulate the gospel in one minute or less. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 to hold fast to the gospel he preached to them.

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

We also should hold fast to this same gospel. If you can’t think of how to articulate it now, it can all be summed up in three words. God saves sinners! We can surely elaborate on that.

The Death of a Church


16 Blocks; Can people change?

Earlier this week I watched a movie I’ve wanted to see since I missed it at the theater. The movie is “16 Blocks” and stars Bruce Willis. I have enjoyed most of Willis’ movies so I wanted to see this one. The character Willis plays in this movie is not like any other leading role I have ever seen him in. His character is basically a drunk, shiftless, cop. His make up makes him look like he lives from bottle to bottle, and older than he has looked in any of his previous movies. The movie ended up being very good and caused me to think about the quote “good” in people and can they really change? The plot goes something like this:

Jack, a cop (played by Willis) is given a last minute task for the day to transport a black, nobody, criminal (Eddie) from jail to the courthouse. Eddie has to be at the courthouse, 16 blocks away (thus the title of the movie) in three hours to testify for the district attorney. When Jack stops the car along the way to purchase a bottle of booze, they encounter two thugs who were obviously paid to execute Eddie. Jack kills one of them and they escape from the other. They elude the thug by ducking into a bar known by Jack. He calls for backup and his ex-partner (Frank) and two other cops show up at the bar. Through conversation with his ex-partner, Jack learns that this kid he is transporting is going to testify against some cops that his ex-partner wants to protect. As one of the cops is about to kill Eddie, Jack makes a split second decision and pulls an old shotgun out from under the bar and shoots the cop. Jack and the kid Eddie back their way out of the bar and escape. This sets off a long series of events with Jack and Eddie trying to avoid all the other cops trying to kill them and stop Eddie from getting to the courthouse to testify.

Through these series of events Jack and Eddie get to know each other. This happens mostly because of the constant talking by Eddie. One of the subplots to the movie is Jack trying to rationalize the worth of this nobody, black kid, and risking his own life to get him to the courthouse. During a conversation as they are trying to avoid being seen by other cops Eddie tells Jack that he can change from his past criminal behavior, and that he wants to be a baker. The cynical Jack states “Times change, seasons change, but people don’t change.” Later in another scene, Eddie has eluded the bad cops and is on his way to the courthouse but changes his mind and goes back to help Jack. When he finds Jack he says “Chuck Berry has served time in jail and he changed, Barry White spent four months in jail and he changed, I can change.” I am going to pose a question in the text below but for now I will leave the rest for those who haven’t seen the movie.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on August 31, 2007 in 16 Blocks, born again, The gospel


Are we in rescue mode?

After watching some of the news footage of theRescue helmet Minneapolis bridge collapse I couldn’t keep from writing about one of the video stories I saw. The one that impacted me the most was one done by a reporter who had been on the scene since moments after the collapse. He was interviewing two teenage boys who had been helping a family member move when they witnessed the collapse. In order to help the victims and the arriving rescue workers they climbed down what looked like a huge cliff. Only a handful of rescue workers had arrived and they were seeking the help and support of the few civilians who had also arrived to help. These boys did not consider themselves to be heroes, they just did what had to be done. In an effort to get to those that needed help, they unselfishly put themselves in harms way to help another.

What a testament to the human good nature right? Wrong, although many folks would say the opposite. I do not know the spiritual condition of those teenage boys but if they are not believers in Christ then even their seemingly selfless acts are not good. The bible states that no one outside of their faith in Christ does good. The human heart is deceitful. Anyway on to the story.

What this story also causes me to consider is this: Are we as believers in Christ in rescue mode? Are we willing, like those teenage boys to put ourselves in harms way to preach and teach the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ. If you understand the doctrines of grace then you also understand that God is the rescuer and we are only vessels of the good news. But are we making ourselves available? Shouldn’t we be selflessly approaching our neighbors with this life saving news? I am reminded of Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I am once again convicted by this verse and by the seemingly selfless act of the teenagers above. I pray that God would give me the desire to always put on the hat of a rescuer.

Here is the Fox News video story I refer to above.


Posted by on August 3, 2007 in Minneapolis bridge, salvation, The gospel


One, two, three, I’m saved!

This weekend, my town of Omaha, Nebraska hosted a Luis Palau Festival. Much hasLuis Palau in O been written about it in the blogosphere. Interviews were done about the stance our local church took by refraining from partnering with those involved with the event. Specifically the first time the Luis Palau ministry partnering with the Roman Catholic Church. As a personal wrap up I wanted to just see what all was written about it the local newspaper. I found an article in the Omaha World Herald published Saturday, July 14th, entitled “Palau Heartland Festival takes off with a roar.” The article describes many things like the numbers in attendance, the different performances present, and several positive interviews about the event. The one part of the article that stuck right out for me was the approach used to get folks to commit to Christ.

Palau went on to preach that salvation is a gift and that people can claim it through faith. He asked people in the crowd to signal their commitment to Christ by raising a hand on his count of three and then say, “I believe.” Hundreds did so.

Now I have been a member of a church that did very much the same thing by stirring up the crowd to make a commitment they may or may not keep. What the article did not say is if these folks were followed up on? Did anyone give them the true gospel? Because I know people who hang onto that “raising of a hand” or saying a sinners prayer, or walking an invitation aisle and have no fruit to show for that “commitment”.

Professing a faith is not a saving faith. Matthew 7:21-23 says:

21 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23 And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

When a watered down gospel is presented to folks, much like this one was, people are deceived or deceive themselves into believing in a human work and not the sovereign work of God that saved them. It is my prayer that the Spirit of God did illuminate the hearts of those who made a profession. Because it is only God who can save. It is not a work of man. Ephesians 2:8-9.


John MacArthur on “Why I Love The Church”

John MacArthur has written a series of articles called “Why I Love the Church” at Pulpit Magazine online. The four part series (including today’s conclusion) focuses on Christ’s church as it is defined and spoken of in scripture. MacArthur provides some great insight for all of us to consider regarding the Church. From pointing out the careless approach to the Church that many in the evangelical world have taken, to what the Church’s role is on the earth and how this role differs from the idol created by the RCC. Christ is the chief cornerstone as mentioned in Ephesians 2:19-22. He is the head and must be the one we serve. The link is in the text above. It will take you to Part 1 of the series. Once you are on the page just find the additional links to the series in the upper right column of the Pulpit Magazine page. 


Locking arms (and hammers) in ministry (Part 2)

This weekend five men from OBC traveled down to Wymore, Nebraska to meet the needCraig and Keith of a neighbor. The need which was mentioned in more detail at my previous post here. The work began Saturday morning June 30th at 7am and completed at 9pm on Sunday July 1st. The team of Craig, Keith, Tim, Allyn, and Barry worked as to Lord to get the bathroom completed by the end of the weekend. Throughout the weekend the family had several family members stop by to see what was being done and many of them expressed gratitude for what we were doing.

After we had completed the bathroom, I gave the adult daughter Tina one of the tracts Erik Raymond has put together and explained to Tina and Marvin that the tract will give her an idea of why we do what we do and what we are about as a church. Each of us shared the reason why we were doing this project for them and the gospel of Christ was presented. It is my prayer and the prayer of the team that this family would consider what was said and trust in Christ for salvation.

Pictures of the project can be seen at my Flickr account.


Posted by on July 3, 2007 in Praise, Prison Ministry, The gospel


Love, love, love

As the title might indicate this is not a posting about the The good Samaritanpopular Beatles song. It is about the word love as it is used in the scriptures. Last night at OBC we were lead by Mike Holloway (a former elder to OBC) in a study about the word love, especially as it is used in Galatians 5:22. We are doing a 9 part series about the fruit of the Spirit on Sunday evenings throughout the summer.

Mike first established the definition of the word love as it is used in our culture today and as it is used in the New Testament. As you might suspect there are some contrasts. First of all the word love as we use it today is the Greek word eros, which is used to indicate romantic love. This form of the word love is not used in the New Testament.  Another form of the word love is the Greek word philia. The city of Philadelphia derives its name from this form, meaning brotherly love. This form of the word love is rarely used in the New Testament. It is often used in the context of friendship. The last form of the word love used in the New Testament in the Greek word agape’. This form is used over 250 times in the New Testament. It is mostly used in the context of charity or love with grace. I would content this form of the word is impossible to do without the Spirit of God. This form of the word is used in Galatians 5:14.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Without the spirit of God within you this form of love in the verb since is impossible to do. You may love out of what you perceive as unselfish motives but without God it is not a work in the purist sense, as used in 1 Corinthians 13.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


As Mike summed it up by challenging us to do a self-examination of sorts. How are we as believers in Christ doing in this form of love, agape’ love which we are to walk in. Are we loving our neighbors as ourselves? Are we loving the ugly, the repugnant, the undesirable, the unworthy and unattractive? This same love we have experienced from Christ when we were ugly, undesirable, unworthy and enemies of God. He loved us enough to send His son to die on a cross for us. Below is the link to the audio of Mike Holloway’s sermon on the fruit of the spirit which is love.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

This is something for us to consider daily. It is a challenge for me to be sure.


Godly unity

Striving together 

For the past few weeks there as been much in the way of information dealing with ecumenicalism. This is defined as the initiative to assert and preserve unity among diverse religious groups. (ht. to I have blogged about it here, IrishCalvinist is currently doing a blog series on ecumenicalism, and our senior Pastor Patrick Abendroth did a sermon a few weeks ago called “Unity That God Forbids“. Today I want to write about the unity God encourages. This is based on a leadership session pastor Pat did a couple of years ago surrounding Philippians 1:27-30. The audio can be heard here: Striving Together For the Gospel. Philippians 1:27-30:

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Why do we strive together? What is the over-arching theme or reason for striving together? It is for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ. This is the “big picture” as we strive together as believers in Christ.

Do you know the gospel? Is it your passion to know the gospel? This is the top priority for any believer of Jesus Christ. In order to be unified together for the gospel we need to know the gospel. The following are some phrases to keep in mind when thinking about how to approach the gospel with someone else. I think they can be very useful to prompt your mind with what to say when trying to articulate the gospel to someone.

  • It’s all God’s choice
  • Sin and the fall of man
  • Substitutionary atonement
  • Justification
  • Sufficiency of Christ
  • To the believer (Romans 1:16)
  • Repentance and faith (both are granted from God)
  • Resurrection

In verse 27 Paul tells the Philippians to strive together regardless if he is coming to see them or in his absence. In other words, do it even when no one is watching.  

According to Paul, also in verse 27, we should be standing firm in one spirit, and with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. We should be bold and courageous in the faith of the gospel. We will undoubtedly face many opponents of the gospel because in verse 28 we are told not to be frightened in anything from the opponents of the gospel. We should be on the lookout for false teaching, the largest opponent of the gospel. False teaching is deceptive, most often subtle, and will come in many disguises. The biggest defense we have against a false gospel is to know the true gospel. We will know the true gospel by studying the scriptures, in doing so we will in turn recognize a false gospel.

There is a very important part to godly unity from the audio mentioned above and that is the way we as believers strive together. Do we get bogged down in trivial conflicts of personal differences, or tastes? The proverbial “splitting the church over color of carpet” comes to mind. Do we bicker over the style of worship music used in service? Do we run to others and tell of our conflict with another? In other words: Is the biggest hindrance to unity, how we treat one another? No doubt we will encounter conflicts with one another as we strive together for the gospel because we are still flesh and fallen beings. We should always keep in mind the over-arching theme for our striving: The furtherance and progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we keep this in mind all the other stuff will wane as trivial.

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Posted by on May 31, 2007 in Ministry, The gospel, unity