DBG Christian Blogs and Sermons



Welcome to the DBG website for Christian blogs and articles written by Josh Buice.

Enjoy the following resources:

  • Christian Blogs
  • Christian Resources
  • Theology Articles
  • Preaching Resources
  • Audio and Video Sermons
  • Family Worship Recommendations

Providing Christian blogs, articles, and sermons on various topics from a biblical perspective.

  • Expository Preaching
  • The Exclusivity of Christ
  • Dangers of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Theology
  • Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
DBG Spotlight (2-5-16)

DBG Spotlight (2-5-16)

In the recent G3 Conference on the Trinity, Bruce Ware preached on the roles among the Trinity. As you will see, Dr. Ware’s preaching is exceptionally clear.

$5 Friday – Ligonier always has a good selection of books on Friday to choose from.  Take advantage of their Bible studies and books today.

Women’s Ministry Around the World: Interview with Deborah Prisk – Melissa Kruger has an interesting peek into the world of women’s ministry.

This is the atheist capital of America – “If you don’t believe in God, you might want to move to the Pacific Northwest.”  [HT: @VoddieBaucham]

The Hidden Beauty of a Bad Sermon – Tim Challies provides a helpful article regarding the value of enduring bad sermons in the life of the church.

 

The Deep Ditches of Doubt

The Deep Ditches of Doubt

The ditches of doubt are often deep and painful.  When a person falls into one of those ditches, it often takes a great deal of time and work to climb back out onto the road of peace.  How does one fall into the these troublesome ditches?  Sometimes it happens as a result of open and rebellious sin and guilt that follows.  At other times it comes as a surprise, much like a sudden automobile accident.  Perhaps it’s the result of dwelling on past sins.  Below are several things to consider when you find yourself in the deep ditch of doubt.

Remember: The Devil Enjoys Leading People Into Doubt

In Revelation 12:10, we see that Satan is referred to as the “accuser of our brothers.”  He is the one who enjoys making accusations against you and his primary target is centered upon the children of God.  According to John 8:44, Satan is not trustworthy.  This verse states, “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Have you found yourself discouraged as you slipped down into the bowels of doubt?  As you doubt the genuineness of your salvation, you drop lower and deeper into doubt.  Perhaps you doubt that God cares for you as you go through difficult circumstances in your life.  In the midst of your despair, you question the ability of God to forgive you and restore you.  In such moments of grief, you’re left exposed to the attacks of Satan who is a master deceiver and discourager.

Remember: God is Faithful

Examining yourself to see if you’re in the faith is not a bad thing, but to constantly doubt your salvation is not what God intends for His children.  In moments of deep doubt, think upon the goodness and faithfulness of God.  Is God faithful?  Has God ever failed – even one time?  Consider David as he was running from Saul in the mountains.  Was God faithful to him?  Did God keep His promise?  Deuteronomy 7:9 states, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Remember: You Must Draw Near to God

When you find yourself in a ditch of doubt, you must try to consider what caused you to fall into that deep and painful ditch.  Was it a sinful mistake that caused you to fall prey to the schemes and attacks of Satan?  In your post-sin state, do you feel exposed, sinful, and cut off from God?  You must remember that God is faithful.  According to Romans 5:20, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

As you recall the promises of God, you can draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  If sin was the cause of your doubts, you need to repent as you draw near to God.  God is faithful to forgive you, but you must take action regarding your sin.  As God draws near to us – He provides us that peace and assurance that’s necessary to be productive Christians in this world of darkness.

In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a scene in that story is always a great encouragement to me.  It’s where Hopeful and Christian walked off of the path and found themselves captured by the Giant Despair.  They were imprisoned in the Dungeon of Doubting Castle.  In this dungeon, they experienced great beatings  and near death circumstances.  They were discouraged.  And then, suddenly, a great discovery was made by Christian:

What a fool I have been, to lie like this in a stinking dungeon, when I could have just as well walked free. In my chest pocket I have a key called Promise that will, I am thoroughly persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.” “Then,” said Hopeful, “that is good news. My good brother, do immediately take it out of your chest pocket and try it.” Then Christian took the key from his chest and began to try the lock of the dungeon door; and as he turned the key, the bolt unlocked and the door flew open with ease, so that Christian and hopeful immediately came out.

We must remember to hide God’s promises in our hearts so that if we find ourselves in a deep ditch of doubt, or as in Bunyan’s story, the Dungeon of Doubting Castle, we will have a key to the door and it will allow us to escape.

Don’t remain in the ditches of doubt.  God is faithful.  God is enough.

Psalm 73:25-26 – Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

DBG Spotlight (2-3-16)

DBG Spotlight (2-3-16)

In the recent 2016 G3 Conference, H.B. Charles Jr. preached on the resurrection of Christ and pointed out that it was a Trinitarian event.

Take Action Against Adultery – Three Steps to Avoiding It – Josh Squires writes, “Recognize your own propensity to sin, have a plan to deal with it the moment it rears its ugly head, and stand strong in your commitment to rejoice in the wife (spouse) of your youth (Proverbs 5:18).”

Don’t Have Time to Read Books? Try This One Weird Trick – According to Justin Taylor, you can read more by starting to merely read chapters of books.

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson – Tim Challies reviews Sinclair Ferguson’s book.  You’ll want to read both the review and the book.

Kent Hovind Refuted – James White posts a video where he responds to the errors of Kent Hovind.

2016 Ligonier National Conference – The schedule for the Ligonier conference looks really good.

“At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution.” – R.C. Sproul

“Is the Reformation Over?” September 2009, Tabletalk, p. 7.

Should I Talk to My Dead Relative?

Should I Talk to My Dead Relative?

Should I talk to my dead relative?  This is a common question that I hear as a pastor.  Death is often a very difficult finality in this life.  We’re faced with the reality that we will not see our loved one again on this side of eternity.  The moment of last words, good-byes, and that final embrace is often extremely painful.  As a pastor, I’ve stood beside many caskets as family and friends passed by the body of their loved one for the final time.  I’ve watched Christians endure their final moments with great assurance.  I have also watched unbelievers lunge into the casket and pull the body upwards in one last outburst of grief.  Death is a painful enemy to endure.

After the funeral ends and you return to your loved one’s grave site, should you talk to your dead relative?  Will your father or mother hear you when you speak to them?  Is it possible to consult with the dead who are already in eternity?  While it may be tempting to try to reconcile with a relative or pay respect to a close friend by communicating with him, it’s actually unbiblical and a practice that you should refrain from engaging in.  Consider the following reasons why you should not talk to the dead.

People are not Omnipresent

God is able to hear the prayers of the entire world’s population at once.  How is this possible?  God is not limited by geographic location.  In fact, God is not limited by anything.  God is in the presence of people in Zambia and Iowa at the same exact time.  That same attribute of God is not transferable to people.  When people die, they still retain certain limitations.  In other words, a person cannot be on earth and in heaven at the same time.  When a person dies and goes to heaven, they are unable to hear conversations that you may desire for them to hear as you stand over their grave or lie in your bed in the late hours of the night.

Demons are Deceitful

As a boy, I recall going to a friend’s home where he had a ouija board.  I had never had any exposure to something like this, so naturally I was skeptical and intrigued at the same time.  My friend made several attempts to get a response from a dead relative.  When I told my father about this, he schooled me on how this was not unbiblical.  I still recall him saying that it’s possible to get a response, but it wouldn’t be from his relative – it would be from a demon.

As we know, the devil is called the father of lies (John 8:44).  As the deceiver of this world, we can rest assured that when people seek to channel spirits and communicate with the dead, a response will often come, but it will not be from their friend or relative.  Demonic spirits are alive and have a strong presence in this world.  It would be wise to refrain from such practices.

God’s Word Forbids the Practice of Talking to the Dead

All throughout the Bible, we see clear warnings issued to God’s people about consulting mediums and talking to the dead.  Consider Leviticus 20:5-7, the Law of God opposed such practices and clearly warned the people to pursue holiness.  God’s people were to be set apart from the rest of the world.  Once again, in Deuteronomy 18:10-14, the people of God were commanded to abstain from sorcery and all such practices.

In the New Testament, we are encouraged to test the spirits because not every spirit is from God (1 John 4:1).  We must be alert and on guard when it comes to the spirit realm.  God desires for His people to pray and communicate with Him, but to  pray to a dead relative, friend, or as some suggest – a saint – is forbidden in Scripture.  No person has greater access to God than Jesus Christ and He alone is our mediator between us and God the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).

Although death may seem overwhelming and can create great loneliness, we are encouraged to seek comfort and peace in God alone.  We should direct our prayers and concerns to Him.  If you are tempted to talk to your dead relative or friend, just remember, if your loved one was a Christian, you will see this person again if you too are a child of God.  Death will not separate God’s children.  Death has been defeated.  Find your hope and your ultimate healing by communicating with God rather than your loved one who has passed away.

Isaiah 8:19-20 – And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

Limited Atonement and Amazing Grace

Limited Atonement and Amazing Grace

Yesterday, I preached from Mark 10:35-45 as we continued our series through Mark’s Gospel.  The entire focus of this paragraph was on humility.  The sons of Zebedee – James and John, lacked humility.  They came to Jesus and made an outrageous request.  After Jesus addressed their request, they insisted that they made another conceited response.  In short, they were looking for a seat of honor in the future glory of Christ.  They were going behind the backs of their fellow disciples and trying to climb the ladder of success.  When the ten discovered what was going on, they became indignant.

In order to correct the problem among the disciples, Jesus called them to Him and taught them a lesson on humility.  Jesus said, ““You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44).   Jesus pointed out that in the Kingdom of God, the way to the top is humility rather than self-promotion and ladder climbing through arrogant ambition.  The Lord expects His children to exemplify humility and service to others.

In order to teach them, He also spoke of how He models this in His own ministry.  Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  This was a lesson they were constantly learning as they spent time with Jesus.  He was a servant of the Father and a servant of sinners.

Jesus’ statement ended with a unique point.  According to Jesus, He came to give His life as a ransom for many.  This is a doctrine that necessitates humility.  In the study of theology, this is called the doctrine of limited atonement.  In the T.U.L.I.P. acrostic of Calvinism, it’s the “L” and often the most hotly contested among the five points.  The doctrine of limited atonement is sometimes referred to as particular redemption or definite atonement.  In short, the main issue that must be faced in Jesus’ statement from Mark 10:45 is – for whom did Jesus die when He gave His life for sinners?  Was it for the entire world without exception?  Was it for a limited group that is somewhat less than the full number of human history?  Jesus said He came to give His life a ransom for many.  What does this mean?

First of all, let’s explore what it doesn’t mean. Limited atonement doesn’t mean that the blood of Jesus was somehow ineffective or weak. It also doesn’t mean that Jesus’ sacrifice is limited in power.  The blood sacrifice of God’s Son as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) is capable of saving the entire world.  But, the question must be faced, to whom was the blood applied?

The doctrine of limited atonement teaches that Jesus died for a specific people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation.  In short, rather than dying a generic death for a generic people while holding out hope that people would respond in their own free will to be saved by Jesus. Jesus died, according to limited atonement, to secure the actual salvation and eternal security of a specific group of people.  In other words, Jesus’ death was not generic and no blood was wasted.

The issue must be raised, either Jesus died a death that was generic and hopeful or He died a death that was efficacious and purposeful.  When Jesus died on the cross and cried out to the Father, “It is finished” – that had specific meaning.  Did it mean that He had died the generic death for all of humanity?  Was Jesus saying to the Father that He had satisfied the wrath of God and paid for the atonement of His people?  Was Jesus’ death a substitutionary death – where Jesus was dying on the cross in the actual place of guilty sinners or was He merely a generic representation for all of humanity?

Is the Trinity divided in any way or is our triune God unified?  Did the Father chose a people for salvation before the world was created?  That is precisely what Ephesians 1 teaches.  When Jesus died on the cross, is Jesus dying for the same group of people chosen by the Father or is He dying for people who were already in hell?  When the Holy Spirit comes to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, is He drawing the same people chosen by the Father and covered by the blood of the Son?

The doctrine of limited atonement teaches that Jesus came to die for guilty sinners, and as He died on the cross, His death was poured out for the people chosen by the Father.  When the Spirit of God comes to apply the work of Christ to guilty sinners, He pursues the same group of people.  Jesus didn’t die to merely make salvation possible for a generic group of sinners.  His death had a specific design from the beginning, and it was to secure the actual salvation of specific people.  Consider the following verses in the Bible that seem to align with this same word used by Jesus in Mark 10:45.

Matthew 1:21 – She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Isaiah 53:10-12 – Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. [11] Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. [12] Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Although my journey in grace has been lengthy, I have come to embrace the doctrine of limited atonement and believe it to be the clear teaching of Scripture and consistent with the sovereign grace and plan of redemption that spans back before time.  I once spent long hours while in seminary trying to convince friends of a universal atonement, but God has been gracious to spare me of this error.  About five years ago, I finally came to embrace the doctrine of limited atonement after studying John 3:16.  It became clear that God loves this world filled with sinners and sent His Son to die for sinners.  For whom did the Son die?  It’s clear in John 3:16, He died for the whoever believes, because they are the ones who do not perish.

Jesus is pictured as dying for His peoplethe sheep (not the goats), the church (not the world), and is prophesied as the suffering servant who would bear the sins of many (Is. 53:12).  I find it difficult to turn Jesus’ many into  the entire world without exception.  Words matter and theology matters.

In closing, consider the words of Charles Spurgeon from his sermon that he preached in defense of Calvinism.  He stated the following:

To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous inequity… God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

DBG Spotlight (1-29-16)

What is the grounds of our assurance?  D.A. Carson provides 3-minutes worthy of your careful consideration.

The Infamy Comes to Louisville – Denny Burk describes how Planned Parenthood is now fueling the abortion industry in the city of Louisville.

When the Mormons Come Calling – Tim Challies provides good wisdom to consider as you anticipate the next visit by LDS missionaries.

Southern Baptist Convention – How do Southern Baptists cooperate for the work of missions?  Exactly how does the SBC spend money?  You can read the reports on their website.

Voddie Baucham Announcement – You may have heard by now, Voddie Baucham and his wife are adopting baby #10 in February.  Read the updates, pray for the Baucham family, and consider supporting them.

Reformation 500 – The 2017 G3 Conference will be devoted to the them of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  Until midnight tonight, you can reserve your seat for $99.  Take advantage of this great savings opportunity.

2017-G3-R500

 

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

As we gain knowledge of our triune God, we start to see the roles, relationships, and respected ministries of each person among the Trinity.  What exactly is the ministry of the Holy Spirit?  In some circles, the Holy Spirit is the focal point.  Some groups have become Holy Spirit centered as opposed to Christ centered.  This overemphasis upon the Holy Spirit misses the mark and turns their individual lives and ministries upside down.

First, we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is God.  Specifically, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead.  Although cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity and refer to the Holy Spirit as the “force” or “energy” of God, we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is God – co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son.  However, an unbalanced focus upon the Holy Spirit can be troublesome and unhealthy.

The Holy Spirit In Salvation

From before the foundation of the world, the Father chose a people unto Himself (Ephesians 1).  In the plan of redemption, the Son took upon human flesh and came to rescue those people by dying on the cross in a substitutionary death (Matt. 1:21; 1 Peter 2:24).  In many pulpits, God’s work in salvation comes to an abrupt halt here only to turn things over to the will of man.  How does a sinner come to believe the gospel?

It’s by the work of the Holy Spirit.  According to John 6:63 and 2 Corinthians 3:6, the Spirit of God gives life.  Paul explains the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation in Titus 3:5 by saying, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”  We must remember that Jesus articulated this same truth in the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3.

The Holy Spirit as Comforter

As we live in this world filled with trials, God the Holy Spirit is here to minister to us as our Comforter or Helper.  As Jesus was preparing to leave His disciples, they were afraid.  In preparation, Jesus informed them that it was to their advantage for Him to leave and He would send the Holy Spirit to them (John 16:7).  The word translated Helper is the Greek word παράκλητος (parakletos). This form of the word is unquestionably passive and properly means “one called to the side of another.”    It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to comfort the children of God.

The Holy Spirit and Holiness

We, as the children of God, are a work in progress.  We are not home yet.  As we travel through this world of sin, it’s easy for us to get side tracked and tempted by the world.  However, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and set us apart for the glory of God.  If the child of God becomes comfortable in the city of Vanity Fair, the Holy Spirit will labor to make that individual uncomfortable.  In short, surgeons enjoy performing surgery, dentists enjoy working on teeth, and the Holy Spirit enjoys leading people to holiness.

There are three aspects to this work of holiness.  If a person is to become holy, it will certainly involve the truth of the Scriptures (John 17:17).  It will also take the work of the person in submitting to the truth and casting off the sinful practices of the flesh in the work of mortification of the flesh (Romans 8:13).  However, if you read one verse further in Romans 8, you will likewise see the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).  The child of God becomes holy as he is led by the Spirit of God to live in obedience to the Word of God.

It is not the work of the Holy Spirit to make us healthy, wealthy, and happy.  If you attend a church and hear an unbalanced focus upon the Holy Spirit in the worship of the people, you should beware of error.  It is the desire of the Holy Spirit to point sinners to Jesus Christ and then lead us to live in obedience to the risen Savior.  Jesus came to do the will of the Father.  When He departed, He sent the Holy Spirit to point people to Him and this work continues in our present day (John 16:7-11).

 

DBG Spotlight (1-27-16)

DBG Spotlight (1-27-16)

Have you ever asked yourself how you should live as a Christian in this present evil world?  Dr. Derek Thomas has an excellent sermon from Romans 12:1-2 on that very subject that I would like to commend to you.

Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (Coming Soon!) – Tim Challies has a great resource coming soon.  This book will connect theology with visual aids in a concise and helpful manner.  You need to take a look at it and pre-order.

Free Training Session in Pro-Life Apologetics – Justin Taylor has posted some good information regarding Scott Klusendorf—founder and president of Life Training Institute.  You can view a free 4-part training session.

Was the Divinity of Jesus a Late Invention of the Council of Nicea? Probing Into What the Earliest Christians Really Believed – Michael Kruger writes, “As we shall see, Paul didn’t simply believe Jesus was God in some marginal, semi-divine sort of way. Rather he viewed him as the one God of Israel, the pre-existent creator of the universe.”

2017 G3 Conference – Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the 2017 G3 will be focused on that theme.  You can register until Friday for the early rate of $99.  For a list of speakers and to reserve your seat, visit the G3 Conference website.

2017-G3

Ashamed of Preaching

Ashamed of Preaching

I have a love for preaching, after all, it’s what I do.  I preach the Bible every week, and it’s also what I studied at the masters and doctoral level in seminary, therefore, I have a passion for biblical preaching.  I enjoy reading about preachers from history and I’m a student of expository preaching.  As I look across the landscape of present day preaching in the evangelical church, I’m concerned by what I often see and hear from certain groups.  It seems as if many preachers are ashamed of the title – preacher.  J.C. Ryle writes:

There is no office so honorable as that of the preacher. There is no work so important to the souls of men. It is an office which the Son of God was not ashamed to take up. It is an office to which He appointed His twelve apostles. It is an office to which Paul in his old age specially directs Timothy’s attention. He charges him with almost his last breath to “preach the word.” It is the means which God has always been pleased to use above any other, for the conversion and edification of souls. The brightest days of the Church have been those when preaching has been honored. The darkest days of the Church have been those when it has been lightly esteemed. [1]

In our attempt to become urbane and relevant, many preachers in the evangelical community are replacing preacher with other titles such as Christian communicator, speaker, conference speaker, life coach, and other fancy titles.  It seems that many preachers would rather be known for what they write rather than what they do.  It seems less messy to be known as a blogger or an author as opposed to a preacher.  Perhaps this fad is connected to our post-modern (or post-post-modern) culture that we presently live in where people reject authority. Whatever the specific cause may be, the facts of this tragic downgrade cannot be denied.

I recently reviewed a popular conference’s website and read the biographies of the speakers.  The following titles appeared on their website:

  • Dean
  • Professor
  • Celebrated international conference speaker
  • Pastor
  • Evangelist
  • Minister
  • President

I’m not suggesting that any of these titles are bad (well, except one of them).  However, each of these men are invited to a conference to do something.  Each one of the men listed on this specific conference are invited to preach.  They aren’t called to write books at the conference or pastor the conference.  They’re called to preach to the people in attendance at the conference.

Certainly the office of pastor is a great title and it presupposes the work of preaching.  However, there seems to be a movement among many younger pastors to avoid the title of preacher.  The culture at large is offended by preaching so in order to avoid being rejected, we move away from ancient titles such as preacher and embrace modern titles such as speaker or communicator.

My youngest son is two years old.  He is delayed in his speech at the moment and only has a few words in his vocabulary.  However, he is not limited in communicating.  He communicates with non-verbals and gets his point across clearly.  It’s possible to communicate in many different ways through facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language.  However, we as proclaimers of God’s gospel are called to preach the Word as Paul made abundantly clear to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

I recall attending a large convention several years ago and when I walked through the exhibit hall, I was extremely uncomfortable.  I passed by puppet evangelists, power team evangelists, music evangelists, a gospel ventriloquist, and comedians, but only a few ministries that were focused primarily upon the preaching of the Scriptures.  I’m often told that we need to employ methods that are successful in reaching people in our modern society.  I’m often told that preaching is on the decline.

If references to preaching numbers over 150 verses in our Bible, it would seem that preaching is indeed important.  If Jesus was a preacher, it would seem that being known as a preacher would be a good thing.  However, that’s not exactly the case.  In some circles, if you call someone a preacher, it might cause them to blush.  What’s even more frightening is what Dr. Albert Mohler addressed in a book titled, Feed My Sheep.  In his chapter titled, “The Primacy of Preaching,” he wrote, “When you hear people speak about how to grow a church, how to build a church, and how to build a great congregation, few and far between are those who say it comes essentially by the preaching of the Word.” [2]

Before we turn to other methods for success in ministry, we must think long and hard about Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Jesus was known as a preacher.  All through the gospel, we see Jesus preaching and teaching (Mark 1:14, Mark 2:2, Mark 4:1, Mark 6).  He wasn’t known as a communicator, a power team evangelist, or a conference speaker.  Jesus was a preacher.  Jesus preached with authority.

When the pulpit has been the brightest and the church at the greatest health and strength is not when absent of persecution or trials, but when preaching is central.  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “True preaching, after all, is God acting.  It is not just a man uttering words; it is God using him.” [3] Why are so many modern preachers too cool to be known as preachers?  If we conclude that preaching is indeed on the decline, the answer for the church is not to move away from preaching.  The answer for the church is to pursue true, warm, biblical, expository preaching.


  1. J. C. Ryle, Matthew, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 20–21.
  2. Albert Mohler, Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching (Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2002), 17.
  3. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 108.

Reflections on the 2016 G3

Reflections on the 2016 G3

It’s hard to believe that the 2016 G3 Conference is now another page in the history books.  This year the focus of the G3 Conference was the doctrine of the Trinity.  People from around the nation and beyond gathered together on our church campus located just west of Atlanta for an intensive weekend of preaching and singing.  Thousands more, from 52 different countries, watched the G3 through our Livestream.  As always, the G3 is designed to be a theology conference rather than a Christian pep rally built upon a superficial foundation.

Preaching and Teaching

One of the foundational goals of the G3 each year is to educate people in sound biblical teaching and preaching.  This year, we had 13 different sessions packed into three days.  If you add the pre-conference session with Dr. James White on Wednesday evening and the post-conference sessions on the Lord’s Day by Dr. James White and Dr. Steven Lawson, that brings the numbers to 16 sessions over 5 days.

One of the main emphases of the G3 this year was to point out that the doctrine of the Trinity is not some esoteric teaching reserved for the seminary classroom or selective group of spiritual elites.  The doctrine of the Trinity matters because God matters.  How we view God will shape our worship and many other aspects of life and ministry.

I was joined by a lengthy number of preachers (Bruce Ware, Steven Lawson, James White, Tim Challies, David Miller, Anthony Mathenia, H.B. Charles Jr., and Todd Friel) in the conference, and it seemed like there was a great mix of different styles, focal points, and specialties among the men speaking in the conference.  From pastors to seminary professors (and Todd Friel), the mixture provided depth, knowledge, and wisdom.

I preached the first session of the 2016 conference by preaching from the Great Commission passage.  The goal was to exhort everyone and remind us that we as Christians are called to proclaim a triune God from a Trinitarian book.  Tim Challies followed with an overview of the Trinity.  From that point, the conference was propelled onward.

With the conference in full stride by this point, the Trinity in salvation, the dependence upon the Holy Spirit in preaching, roles among the Persons of the Trinity, sanctification, the resurrection of Christ, and beholding the Trinity in worship were all different subjects that followed throughout the next two days.  There was a richness to the preaching and teaching.

Memorable Quotations

  • All who go to hell go there because of their own free will. All who go to heaven go there because of God’s sovereign will. ~ Steven Lawson
  • Jesus had to be fully God in order to represent God to man & fully man to represent man to God. ~ Steven Lawson
  • It’s hard to be godly and popular at the same time. ~ H.B. Charles Jr.
  • God demands perfect righteousness and in Christ, God supplies what God demands. ~ H.B. Charles Jr.
  • The Bible is like Big Mama’s house where you eat what she serves or you don’t eat at all. Can’t pick and choose! ~ H.B. Charles Jr.
  • You don’t want your election to be on the basis of what God foresaw. ~ David Miller
  • We know the Trinity because we’ve been known by the Trinity. ~ Tim Challies
  • The hard work of exegesis is an act of worship and a service to others. ~ James White
  • The Qur’an is only 14% the length of the Bible and was written by a man with no understanding of the Trinity. ~ James White
  • The Trinitarian confusion would evaporate with great exegetical teaching. ~ Todd Friel
  • There are no loopholes in the command to be Christ-like. ~ Anthony Mathenia
  • The #1 most magnificent evidence that the Spirit controls a person is that they love and want to be like Jesus. ~ Bruce Ware

Encouragement

Good conferences have their place in the life of the church.  One of those purposes is to encourage one another.  That certainly happened during the G3 this year.  I was greatly encouraged by old and new friends in the faith.  However, we were never intended to remain in the huddle.  We must move forward and get back in the game of life and ministry.

One particular man was in attendance this year from California who was with us last year as well.  The difference between this year and last year is that his wife was not in attendance this year because she finished her course in this life within the past several months.  This gentleman came along with friends – a good way to be encouraged in the faith.  I met a sweet couple who told me that they had been dismissed from their church a few weeks ago.  He was looking for another church to serve as pastor.  I could see the tears in their eyes as I spoke to them after one of the sessions.  It’s good to join together and be encouraged in conferences.

God has not called us to remain in endless hours of theology conferences.  God expects us to learn, gain tools, and be encouraged among the saints, and then He sends us back out into the context of difficulties, trials, and problems.  Ministry is never easy.  There will always be real people with real problems, but we can rest assured that we have a real Savior who has real solutions.

My heart is full of joy, my mind is full of truth, and my body is tired after this past week.  As I reflect on the success of the G3, I’m freshly reminded of what a great church I serve.  I’m freshly reminded of what a good pastoral team I serve alongside.  I’m grateful and encouraged and tired, however, I’m already looking forward to the 2017 G3 Conference.  I hope to see you there.

If you’re interested in early registration for the 2017 G3 Conference, you can go ahead and register until 1-29 (save $80).

All of the sessions will be archived to the G3 Conference website over the next several days.

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Featured: Dr. Steven Lawson, from the 2014 G3 Conference