Jesus Is Not Dead—But John Lennon Is

Jesus Is Not Dead—But John Lennon Is

In 1966 John Lennon of the famous band the Beatles, made a very controversial statement that was published in a London newspaper and eventually caused a great deal of controversy around the world. He said:

“Christianity will go,” he had said. “It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

John Lennon had an elevated opinion of himself and unfortunately, an improper view of God, his Church, and the truth of the gospel. This left him believing that God’s gospel would somehow fade off into the sunset just as multitudes of pagan myths and godless ideologies have throughout history. However, for Christianity to die, God would have to die. For Christianity to vanish, truth would have to vanish. That’s simply not going to happen.

Jesus and His Church Will Never Be Overcome By Death

In Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 16), we find the first mention of the church in the New Testament. Jesus asked his disciples a very important question about his identity. He wanted to know what the word on the street was about his identity, and then he moved to ask this question, “But who do you say that I am” (Matt. 16:15)? Peter spoke up without hesitation to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:16).

At this point, we find Peter pointing out that God is the “living God” as opposed to some dead and lifeless idol. The most common sin that Scripture seems to point out is that of idolatry. It can come in so many different forms from a golden calf to money to self-idolatry. Yet, just as Paul pointed out to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14-16, the temple of Diana (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) was a temple of dead and lifeless idols, but the church is dedicated to the living God.

Consider the reality that all through history, religious leaders come and go, but God is very much alive. The climax of that truth is made visible in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The whole world is full of dead idols and graves full of dead men who purported to be the religious guru that people needed to follow. However, to this day, they are dead. This is true of ancient idols such as Diana, Caesar, Pharaoh, and more modern types such as Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and Mary Baker Eddy.

Jesus went on to make the powerful statement, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Not only is God living, but so is his church. It will not fail. It will not vanish. It will not go out of business. It will not fade off into the sunset, because God’s church exists for the glory of God who will never be overcome by death.

God’s Word Will Never Vanish

In Psalm 119:89, the psalmist writes, “O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” God’s truth will never vanish. In fact, in 1 Timothy 3:14-16, we find Paul instructing Timothy regarding the mission of the church in this world. It is the calling of the church to be the pillar and buttress of the truth.

In Ephesus, a massive structure stood at the center of the city. In many ways, the entire city revolved around the Temple of Diana. It was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The massive temple structure stood 425 ft. long and 225 ft. wide which was double the size of other temples of the ancient world. It was surrounded and supported by 127 columns which were 18.3 60 ft. high and 4 ft. in diameter. The columns were arranged in a double row on all four sides, 8 or 9 on the short sides and 20 or 21 on the long sides. The columns on the facades were decorated with relief figures from Greek mythology.

When Paul made his statement to Timothy about the church being the pillar and buttress of truth, he had an immediate vision of the vast pillars from the temple in Ephesus that was holding up the massive marble ceiling structure. It is the responsibility of the church—not the academy, the seminary, the Bible college—to uphold the truth of the living God. The church serves as the pillar to uphold the truth and the buttress to establish the foundation’s strength which enables the truth to be held high.

While temples fall and idols crumble into dust—God never dies and his truth remains. Today, John Lennon is merely a blast from the past, but Jesus is here to stay. Unlike John Lennon, when Jesus was murdered, he rose from the dead on the third day. His Word is true and there will never be a day in human history where Jesus is forgotten. His church will be present and his name exalted high until the day in which Christ returns. Today, people have largely forgotten John Lennon, but Christ and his Word is very much known among the nations of the world.

Don’t be like John Lennon and have an elevated opinion of yourself and a diminished view of God. When you die or when Christ returns, which ever event comes first, you will know on that day that Christ is the center of the whole universe. Worship him!  

You Pray Not Because You Read Not

You Pray Not Because You Read Not

Far too often, Christians complain that they’re not praying enough. Statistics point to the reality that many evangelicals find time for recreation, physical fitness, soccer practices, and business responsibilities—but they spend precious little time in prayer. In fact, according to Barna Research Group, 82% of Americans pray silently and alone rather than with the gathered church with only 2% praying with the gathered church family. 

So, what’s the cause? Are we busier than Christians were in the past? Perhaps we are busier, but aren’t we more connected through technology to useful tools to make our lives more efficient? So, why are we spending less time in prayer and more time on other things?

The problem may not be soccer practice or business responsibilities that’s crowding out our prayer time. The problem is likely connected to a lack of time in God’s Word. Those who spend time in the Word typically spend time in prayer as well. The neglect of God’s Word precipitates a neglect of prayer. According to a Pew Forum research study, there’s a direct connection between the frequency of the study of Scripture and prayer. 

As we read Psalm 119, we find the opening section focused on God’s Word and the importance of the precepts, statutes, testimonies, commandments, and rules of God. In verse four, the psalmist writes:

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

This is what God has commanded—that his Word be kept with diligence. So, what does the psalmist do next? He prays! In verse five we find the following words of the psalmist:

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

The reading and meditation of God’s Word resulted in the psalmist turning to God in prayer to request that God would keep him steadfastly focused on obeying God’s Word. If that’s true of the psalmist—it’s likely the same result for us today. Thomas Brooks once said, “The best and sweetest flowers of Paradise God gives to His people when they are upon their knees. Prayer is the gate of heaven, a key to let us in to Paradise.” The more we read and internalize God’s Word, the more we will need to pray.

  1. We will need to pray as a result of seeing the imperfections and faults in our own life. The Holy Spirit reveals sin and confronts our hearts through the Scriptures.
  2. We will need to pray to request God’s strength in order to walk faithfully in obedience.
  3. We will want to pray in order to praise God and worship him.
  4. We will desire to pray in order to make our needs known to God.
  5. We will have a desire to pray out of thanksgiving for all of God’s blessings—none of which are greater than the blood sacrifice of his Son for our redemption. 

Rather than trying to figure out tricks that would enable you to pray to God more efficiently—why not begin with carving out time to spend in God’s Word which will result in a desire to respond to God in prayer? Prayer and God’s Word go together as the psalmist exemplifies in Psalm 119:4-5.

As we look at the broken world around us socially and feel the intensity of the political pressures—we should be moved to pray. When leaders fail or fall, we should be moved to pray. Jerry Bridges once wrote these words:

Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that He is able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with his wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in Him, prayer is the expression of that trust. [1]

God is sovereign over every detail and he controls the ruler’s heart—turning it whatever way he so desires. Let us remember these words and follow in the footsteps of faithful men like the psalmist who points us to the sufficient Word and exemplifies a life of consistent prayer.

  1. Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988), 107.


Public Reading of Scripture as Worship

Public Reading of Scripture as Worship

Years ago, I was forced to attend a Roman Catholic Church mass to fulfill a requirement for a class I was taking in seminary. At first, I was not too pleased with this assignment, but as it turned out, it was quite an eye-opening experience to be sure. For me, having grown up as a protestant, I had never attended a Roman Catholic worship service—and I certainly had been taught much of their errors through the years. While I refused to engage in the mass due to the heretical teaching of transubstantiation, I left convicted. As a pastor of a local church and a seminary student, I was convicted for the lack of public reading of Scripture in our protestant worship services.

Over the years that would follow, I would eventually lead our church to incorporate more rather than less Scripture in worship. Why is the public reading of Scripture important and essential for our worship of God?

1 Timothy 4:13 — Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

Establishing the Priority of Scripture for Worship

At the center of every Christian worship service must be the Word of God. We as believers must place a great priority upon the centrality of God’s Word among his people. By gathering together for the public reading of Scripture—from the very beginning of the service—it places a priority upon the Word. An honest evaluation for all believers would be to compare the amount of singing to the amount of God’s Word in a typical weekly worship service. Which one takes the priority?

As Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:13), he pointed him to the public reading of Scripture. Since books were scarce (especially parchments of God’s Word) and the educational level of people during the days of the early church often lacked the ability to read—the only time people could hear the Word of God was during public worship. Justin Martyr described a worship service from the second century:

On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. [1]

Each week as we gather for worship within the context of the church that I serve, we have an official call to worship from God’s Word. This is a means of the church being called to worship God through his Word from the beginning of the service. Such an official call to worship sets the stage for the fact that all of our worship must be connected to God’s Word, driven by God’s Word, directed by God’s Word, and honoring to the God of the Bible. We likewise desire to communicate to everyone who is present that the Word of God takes priority over everything else in our service.

The chief end of all worship of God will be achieved through his Word. Nothing can compete with God’s Word. Nothing can replace God’s Word. Therefore, with that firm understanding, there should be nothing that takes priority over God’s Word in the regular gathering of God’s people for worship on the Lord’s Day. John Owen, the great Puritan theologian, stated the following:

Our belief of the Scriptures to be the word of God, or a divine revelation, and our understanding of the mind and will of God as revealed in them, are the two springs of all our interest in Christian religion. From them are all those streams of light and truth derived whereby our souls are watered, refreshed, and made fruitful unto God. [2]

Establishing the Necessity of Scripture for Worship

If the only sufficient guide for life and the practice of our faith is the Word of God, why then would we gather together to worship God apart from his Word? Sadly today, many Protestant worship services contain far less public reading of Scripture than Roman Catholic Church services and in some cases—no public reading of Scripture at all.

If we will know God rightly and worship him properly, we must hear God speak through his Word. What Paul taught Timothy was emerging from the Jewish practice of reading the Scriptures in the synagogue. When Jesus visited the synagogue, he read publicly from the scroll of Isaiah. It should likewise be noted that Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians closes with the charge to “have this letter read to all the brothers” (1 Thess. 5:27).

Paul closed his letter to the church in Colosse with these words, “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (Col 4:16). This public reading was to the church, which implies public worship rather than casual meetings over lattes at the local Starbucks. We likewise see this clear pattern of the public reading of Scripture in the letters sent to the seven churches of Revelation (see Rev. 1:3). Rather than arriving late and skipping over the public reading of Scripture, make sure you’re on-time, quiet, and engaged in the reading of Scripture since it not only sets the tone of the worship, but is itself part of the worship of God each week.

Honoring God’s Design for Scripture

God’s Word was designed to be read aloud. As mentioned earlier, illiteracy was a common problem among the people of the early church, but as we move through the days preceding the Reformation, the people would gather for worship and they would not be able to hear the Word in their own language, because the Roman Catholic Church sought to control the text. Even when people could not understand Latin, they would read the Bible in Latin—completely concealing the Word from the people. They were elevating ecclesiastical opinion and their own doctrinal positions above sacred Scripture.

The Reformation was about unleashing God’s Word among the people. In the early days of the Reformation and during the time period of the Puritans, they understood the value and necessity of God’s Word in the common man’s language. They had heard stories of friends and family members being imprisoned and even burned for the sake of possessing a copy of the Bible in their own language. Thomas Watson stated emphatically that the Scripture “shows the Credenda, what we are to believe; and the Agenda, what we are to practise.” [3] Reading it aloud in the public worship of God is essential for making God’s will clearly known to the people on a weekly basis.

Finally, we must never forget that God’s design is to save people through the hearing of his Word (Rom. 10:17). Far more important than our story or our opinion or the sharing of our heart is the clear reading of God’s Word. The reading of the Bible must never be reduced to a simple precursor to what the preacher is about to say. The reading of Scripture must never be relegated to the level of an introduction to the preacher’s sermon. It must be clearly established among everyone who gathers within a Protestant worship service that they not only believe the Bible, but they place great priority upon the public reading of God’s Word as well.

Although the early church primarily used the Old Testament for their public reading, we have the privilege to use both the Old Testament and the New Testament for public reading within our worship services. In an age when prominent pastors are encouraging believers to “unhitch themselves from the Old Testament”—it would be wise to use both the Old and New Testaments on a weekly basis as a reminder that the totality of God’s Word is profitable.

2 Timothy 3:16 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

  1. Justin Martyr, First Apology, I. 67, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, 10 vols. (1885; repr. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 1:186.
  2. John Owen, The Causes, Ways, and Means of Understanding the Mind of God as Revealed in His Word, with Assurance Therein…, in The Works of John Owen, D.D. (Edinburgh: Johnstone & Hunter, 1850-1855), 4:121.
  3. Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (1692; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986), 30.



Make Your Resolutions in 2019 Count for God’s Glory

Make Your Resolutions in 2019 Count for God’s Glory

You cannot build a powerful legacy for God’s glory overnight, but you can certainly tear one apart overnight. As you begin thinking about the need to set goals, patterns, commitments, priorities, and yes—resolutions for the New Year, consider how one man did so when he was rather young. What has become known as the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards is a list of 70 commitments that were penned down from the time he was 18-20 years of age. The list is powerful and useful some 300 years after his ministry in New England.

What can we learn from Jonathan Edwards that will help us make 2019 count for the glory of God?

Edwards Loved the Bible

One of the great highlights of Edwards’ Resolutions is found at number twenty eight:

  1. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Jonathan Edwards didn’t view the Bible as just another book. He placed it at the top and he not only had great respect for the Bible—he spent time digging, reading, memorizing, and studying the Word of God. This is a great example for all of us and it should likewise be humbling to consider that a mere eighteen year old young man once held such a great commitment to the Scriptures.

The key to Christian devotion and to walking with God is spending time with God in his Word. While there are many great devotionals and Bible studies out there on the market today, I would encourage you to consider a steady Bible reading guide that keeps you focused on Bible intake which will over time allow you to study the Bible with greater efficiency as you are able to call to memory what the text says.

One of my friends once spent a block of ten years reading sixteen chapters of the Bible each day. That practice enabled him to memorize large quantities of the Bible as he read it from cover to cover four times each year for ten straight years. People often comment on how much of the Bible he has committed to memory and ask him how he managed to accomplish this task and he points to a steady and consistent intake of Scripture as the foundation.

In 2019, I would encourage you to find a Bible reading schedule and work through the Scriptures on a daily basis with the goal to grow not only in your love for the Bible, but most importantly—in your love for God.

Edwards Left a Godly Legacy

At the beginning of the 20th century, a study was conducted upon Jonathan Edwards’ descendants. This is what they discovered:

From Edwards came:

  • 300 clergymen (pastors, missionaries, theological professors)
  • 110 lawyers
  • 60+ physicians
  • More than 60 authors of good books
  • 30 judges
  • 14 presidents of universities
  • Numerous giants in American industry
  • 18 holders of major public office
  • 3 mayors of large cities
  • 3 governors of states
  • 3 U.S senators
  • 1 chaplain of the U.S. Senate
  • 1 vice president of the United States

Most of these people were not only great leaders, but they were great Christians. They can all be tranced back to one man, who committed to living for Christ and was diligent to the end. Jonathan Edwards preached the most famous sermon in American history known as, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” B.B. Warfield said that Edwards “stands out as the one figure of real greatness in the intellectual life of colonial America.” It was R.C. Sproul who once described Edwards’ work Freedom of the Will as “the most important theological work ever published in America.” Did this happen overnight? Was this an easy task? Absolutely not, but it was a steady pursuit of God that brought about an indelible mark on his own heart, his own family, and our nation as a whole.

As you consider the upcoming year and your own legacy for Christ, begin today with a step in the right direction for the glory of God. Always remember that it’s really easy to ruin a legacy and very difficult to build one for the glory of God. It’s never too late to walk in the right direction and make new commitments that will have a lasting impact on others in your family, and such a task begins with one step forward. You can’t do it in one day, but what will happen if you live for the next 365 days with a Christ-exalting purpose?

May God bless 2019 for his glory!



Words Matter Because Meaning Matters

Words Matter Because Meaning Matters

Many things are important in life, and when assessing the value of material and immaterial things—we must not forget the immense value of words. Consider how people fight over the meaning of terms found in the Constitution of the United States of America. At times, political leaders from polar opposite ideological backgrounds fight over words and the meaning of those words. This is not only true of the world of politics—it’s likewise true of the religious world. Political skirmishes will have an affect upon a society, but none is greater than religious skirmishes over the definition of words.

The very word theology comes from two Greek words (Theos meaning “God” and logos meaning “word”). Therefore, theology literally means words about God. That’s why words matter—especially in the study of God. Some have suggested that we “preach the gospel and use words if necessary,” but that statement is flawed from the start. For, God’s Word is made up of sixty-six books which are comprised of thousands of paragraphs, sentences, and individual words. It was John Gerstner who once said, “[We] may have knowledge of God and not be saved, but he can never be saved without knowledge of God.” [1] It was Theodore Beza who described the preaching of John Calvin by saying, “Every word weighed a pound.”

Words matter, but often words change. Read through the King James version of the Scriptures and you will likely run across many terms that are antiquarian—and in some cases nearly completely dead altogether. Consider the term, filthy lucre as an example. Who uses that phrase to describe greed for money in our present day? As it pertains to the morphology of specific terms, one can hope for the best as modernity consistently presses the limits on language and adds new vocabulary each year. However, when it comes to theology, words matter. Such words must be guarded. This is why a commitment to the single meaning of the text is essential when interpreting the Bible. The author’s original meaning matters. Unless carefully guarded—the words of Scripture will be redefined and such a process of change will lead to an assault on the theological foundation of the word which is an assault upon God himself. Take the definition of marriage and family as an example of this truth.

Take for example the word evangelical. As we see the rise and fall of this term, it finds it’s roots in the rise and fall of another term, fundamentalism. When skepticism was popular in the early 1900s, the Christian community rallied behind the term, fundamentalism as a means of intellectually defending the veracity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. However, over time that very term morphed into a banner for legalism and still to this day if you call someone a fundamentalist—it’s likely used as a term of derision rather than a compliment.

During this time period, Carl F. H. Henry used his platform with Christianity Today to promote an alternative term that could be used to describe faithful, conservative, and intellectual Christianity that did not blush at the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. That term was evangelical. The term itself is rooted in Scripture and derived from the “εὐαγγέλιον” which is a Greek term meaning “good news” and is often translated “gospel” in the English translations. The Latin term evangel meaning “gospel” is also derived from this term. While Carl F. H. Henry and other religious leaders didn’t coin the term, they popularized it at the time when many Christians were in the midst of an identity crisis and fundamentalism had morphed into a narrow movement that isolated itself and marginalized many believers.

Through time, evangelicalism grew to encompass many believers from across denominational lines. While many good things have come out of the evangelical movement, today the term has been redefined so much that it has lost its original meaning and attractiveness. When evangelicalism became so wide that it lost its distinction, it likewise lost its meaning. Today, much of what we call evangelicalism encompasses the teaching of John MacArthur to Sarah Young. Beneath the umbrella of evangelical, you will find studies from Banner of Truth and Beth Moore. People who voted for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both claim to be committed evangelicals. The term is certainly stretched and in many cases—completely broken.

Words are representatives of truth. This is especially true and vitally important in the world of theology. Such terms serve as stakes in the ground to mark what God says and how we as God’s people must live, worship, and serve. If God’s Word regulates what we believe and how we live out our faith—God’s Word likewise regulates the boundary of vocabulary. The boundary of theological all terms must be carefully examined from God’s sufficient Word. Since God’s Word is indeed sufficient for every age and every people group in human history—the terms and boundaries of such theological terms should not shift and change with the winds of culture. Pastors of local churches and members of those local assemblies are called to guard the truth. Any attempt to accommodate the culture is a recipe for theological disaster. Unfortunately we are living in such times.

Years ago, a term was introduced in order to help us understand the distinct roles of men and women in the church, home, and society. This term is complementarianism. It served as a weighty word that put a line in the sand and sought to reveal the boundaries of God’s Word on the calling, responsibilities, and roles of both men and women. Such boundaries are necessary in order to see how one must function within the household of faith. These God-ordained boundaries are likewise necessary to establish the governance of God’s church in local assemblies around the world. Therefore, it’s clearly an important subject and complementarianism remains an important term.

The problem arises in our present evangelical culture when modern definitions of complementarianism are being offered. Such new definitions seem to stretch the boundaries set forth in God’s Word and it’s causing a rift among many who claim to be evangelical. Once again, when the tent of evangelicalism encompasses such diverse groups of people across denominational lines with such sweeping theological convictions—it’s no wonder that a shared term such as complementarianism would eventually find itself in the crosshairs of religious attack. When a group of people claim to be complementarian  in their positions, they could likewise be using several different definitions.

Undoubtedly there is a battle for the dictionary in our day. We are all bound by words and definitions. This is not true for the professional theologian alone. It’s also true for the pastor-theologian. It’s true for the homeschool-mom-theologian, the mechanic-theologian, the father-theologian, and the academic-theologian. Every Christian has a responsibility to rightly divide the Word of Truth—in the teaching of women’s Bible studies and while writing systematic theology textbooks. Words matter, but unless carefully guarded, they will morph, change, and be redefined to accommodate a liberal devil-glorifying culture.

When we see new terms surfacing within the Christian community such as “woke Christianity” or “woke church”—we should pause and carefully examine the agenda. To redeem a word such as “woke” that found its origins in the Black Nationalist Movement and seek to use it within evangelicalism to push the social justice agenda is another example of how words matter. Sometimes one word is introduced in order to help shift a people’s understanding of another word. So, what does justice actually mean these days? Must a person be woke in order to be just?

Read the Bible. Think. Exercise discernment. Words are the building blocks of meaning and serve as foundational components of representing the social, religious, and political views of human beings. Fight for the true meaning of words.

  1. John Gerstner, Theology for Everyman, (Chicago: Moody, 1965), Chapter 1.


The Sunday Sermon Is Not a TED Talk

The Sunday Sermon Is Not a TED Talk

We live in a world full of ideas. With the highway of information technology, we can access information at any given moment of any given day from most places in the world using something as small as a smart phone device. With all of this information, curious minds are being filled on a constant basis with both simple and complex ideas that are being delivered at light speed—often with conflicting world views and philosophies.

The TED Talk has become a very popular information bank—owned by a nonprofit nonpartisan foundation designed to deliver information to people. According to TED, information is built upon the most important thing in the world—ideas. So, how is preaching a sermon different than delivering a TED Talk? TED Talks are approximately 18 minutes in length while sermons are often longer. It’s more than the length of the talk that distinguishes a Christian sermon from a TED Talk.

Preaching a Sermon Involves More Than Delivering Creative Ideas By Gifted Thinkers

Giving a TED Talk may not follow a specific cookie cutter pattern, but it does center on the goal of delivering ideas. Often TED Talks center on the opinions of people and charged by emotions. Such opinions are delivered with clarity, precision, and a bit of persuasion in order to change people’s understanding of that particular idea at the center of the talk. According Chris Anderson, “Ideas are the most powerful force shaping human culture.”

While ideas are certainly powerful, we must understand that preaching a sermon is different than merely delivering ideas to an audience. Preaching involves delivering truth (Rom. 1:16; John 17:17). The source of the truth is God’s Word, and preaching is the delivery of God’s truth rather than ideas that originated with the one giving the talk (or another figure from history). The goal of the sermon is to unpack a given text of Scripture and deliver God’s truth to the gathered audience—which in most cases consists of the assembled church.

According to the TED website, they search hard to find the most gifted speakers for their events:

At TED, we search year-round for presenters who will inform and inspire, surprise and delight. Our presenters run the world’s most admired companies and design its best-loved products; they invent world-changing devices and create ground-breaking media. They are trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses.

The reality is, most pastors do not meet those standards. God has often chosen those who are not wise and genius level to deliver the truth of the gospel. Paul wrote the following to the church at Corinth:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).

The sermon isn’t a carefully crafted talk emerging from the expertise of the speaker. The sermon is a carefully crafted talk that should emerge from God’s Word and has one main goal of delivering the truth of the passage of Scripture to people with great care and precision. Because sermons are truth centered and not idea centered—sermons are driving at something much bigger which is the worship of God.

TED Talks Are Not Designed for Worshippers of God

The talks delivered at a TED event are not designed for the worship of God. They are often designed to give credit to the one delivering the persuasive ideas in the talk itself. Preaching a sermon is far different. The overall goal of a sermon is to point people to God—not the one delivering the sermon. In fact, when people hear a pastor who presents himself as the hero of all of his sermon illustrations and stories, they are often turned off by that type of narcissistic communication.

While TED Talks may not be designed for the speaker to be the focus of the talk as much as the speaker’s idea—sermons are different. The preacher has the goal of making God the focus of the sermon rather than ideas or even truths about God. While preachers deliver the truth, that truth is not generic or disconnected from God. The truth itself points people to God and this is how people worship God while a man stands on a platform each week and delivers a sermon. TED events are designed for people to gather information, but sermons are designed for people to worship. People gather information and ideas during sermons, but something more happens when the one listening begins to praise and glorify God.

In short, we must remember that preaching is worship. Whatever happens during a sermon including the delivery of ideas, truth, and much more—the entire event is centered on the goal of worship. In his excellent book Expository Exultation, John Piper writes:

As Paul proclaimed the unsearchable riches of Christ, and announced the good news of great joy, and heralded the reconciling message of the all-authoritative King, he saw that this kind of proclaiming, announcing, and heralding could not be discarded when this extraordinary people, under this extraordinary God, revealed in this extraordinary Book, gathered for worship. The riches of glory, the goodness of the news, the weight of the truth, and the authority behind it all did not become less because it was being spoken among this gathered people. If anything, it became more. [1]

When audiences gather for TED events, they listen to different talks from a wide variety of speakers who are delivering ideas from various different backgrounds and philosophies. The idea is to gain knowledge and become a better human. When the church gathers for the sermon, the people listen to the speech coming from God’s Word and the idea is far more than gaining knowledge and using ideas to become a better “you”—it’s to see and savor the glorious triune God who not only created the entire universe but saves guilty sinners.

When true preaching happens it leads to joyful worship. When the church worships God through his Word—it results in changed lives. Each week when the church gathers the people should be anxious to hear Christian preaching rather than an idea dump in form of a talk.

  1. John Piper, Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship, (Wheaton: Desiring God Foundation, 2018), 70.