1st Thessalonians – The Current Series at LSBC

Pastor Jeremiah Blasi has started preaching through the book of 1st Thessalonians at Lawrence Street Baptist Church and here are the first two sermons:

Round Up

Logic On Fire – Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks this question, “What is preaching?”  I’m looking forward to this documentary.

What the Cross Says – The cross speaks of benediction, of pardon, joy and peace with God. It tells you that God is ready to forgive you. It says, listen to me, your sin has been punished. I am here because this is the punishment of sin.

Vague Pastors – When you don’t preach on something, you are preaching on that thing. You are just saying what you think won’t be as controversial or the thing that won’t lose you your following.

Upon This Rock – Jesus said to Simon, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Sinners in the Hands of a Patient God – Finding Jonathan Edwards.

Quote:

The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, to love him, and joy in him, has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fullness. The warm stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of sun are something of the sun. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

Fair Is The New Good

“Great writing is the creative use of words. It comes from reading, writing, failing and repeating.

It takes time to become a good writer. Since few have the time, fair is the new good.”

This was the last two lines of an editorial I happened across in the Tulsa World newspaper.  The article was entitled, “Graduates commence to join the real world” and for the most part, at least to me, it wasn’t an article I was impressed with, until the last two lines.  For some reason, it really made me think about what passes for modern Evangelical Church today.  Have we become so busy in this world that we no longer expect “good” from the Church?  It seems to me that all we want to do is show up, spend 45 minutes having a “worship experience” and then go on about our lives, happy with the fact that we have punched our ticket for another week.

“Oh, preacher,” thinks the little old gray haired lady, “You preached too long and now I won’t be able to get that handicapped parking spot and a good seat at the restaurant because all the other church’s have already finished their services.”  “Man, I’m going to miss the opening kickoff if he doesn’t wrap this up soon,” is the thought running through that guy who used to be the college fullback!  “If this pastor doesn’t shut up soon, I’m going to miss DW’s ‘boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys,'” boogity_boogity_boogitythinks the guy who always shows up in the NASCAR hat.

I realize that some who read this might push back some, but isn’t it the truth?  For the most part, we as human beings, desire the “fair” over the “good.”  Don’t believe me, take a look at the furniture you have in your house.  How much of it came from Walmart and how much of it was crafted by true furniture maker and will be passed down to your grandchildren?  How many of us get up in the morning, turn to our Bible’s and spend an hour digging Digging Into The Wordinto the Word of God and then praying that God apply His Word to our lives instead of just getting our “fix” on Sunday?

The problem, as I see it, is that we have such low expectations of ourselves in the area of our spiritual lives, which, by the way, is the most important area of our lives, that we come to expect even our Sunday Service to be just “fair.”  That, sir or ma’am, is absolutely wrong Moral_Judgment(wow, did this guy just make an absolute moral judgement, why yes he did). We should go to Church expecting to be fed meat, and not just any meat, but the meat that has been tenderized by the study of God’s Word, marinated in days of agonizing prayer, and served up to us with the knowledge that it was God Himself that chose to allow us to hear from Him through His chosen servant.

If we end up settling for less than the best of God’s Word, then I submit that we have failed (can you believe this guy, he has committed a major faux pas by making his second absolute moral judgment).  If, as Ephesians 1:3 states, “…[He] has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” and we blow that off by settling for less, what does that say about us as Christians.

Just a little food for thought today!

I Hate It When God “Shows Up”

Polemics Report

I remember attending Christian retreats/festivals/revivals/conferences. These were much-loved quiet times of reflection, a time to spend in unabashed and unashamed camaraderie with fellow believers. More importantly though, they always had great music. I knew without a doubt that the evenings would be intense. It would be a kamikaze of blue lights, key changes, tears, sweat, and a 23 minute rendition of  Michael W Smith’s Let it rain.  It is a collusion of blood, bone and brain matter; fused with flickering lights, heat, glowsticks and D-chords. The synapses are firing. The skin is getting prickly. It leaves people on their knees, chest heaving and body crumpled on the floor because they could not stand the weight of the glory of God in the room. The air get thick with it, and it invariably becomes more than people’s hearts can bear.

In the aftermath, in the stillness,  we would reflect…

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Round Up

Gazing On His Beauty“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4

The Merciful Gift of Desperation – Do not underestimate the power of desperation to do good for your soul.

Decisional Regeneration Part 1 – Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God. It is not a work of man. It is not something that man does but something that God does. The new birth is a change wrought in us, not an act performed by us.

Decisional Regeneration Part 2 – “Decisional Regeneration” does not bring men to Christ any more than does Baptismal Regeneration. It is true that some are converted under such preaching, but this is in spite of the false methods used, not because of them.

Quote:

We must have faith in the rightness of all that God says or does. I hope, beloved, you do not think of God’s sovereignty as tyranny, or imagine that he ever could or would will anything but that which is right. Neither will we admit into our minds a suspicion of the incorrectness of the Word of God in any matter whatever, as though the Lord himself could err. We will not have it that God, in his Holy Book, makes mistakes about matters of history, or of science, any more than he does upon the great truths of salvation. If the Lord be God, he must be infallible; and if he can be described as in error in the little respects of human history and science, he cannot be trusted in the greater matters. My brethren, Jehovah never errs in deed, or in word; and when you find his law written either in the ten commandments, or anywhere else, you believe that there is not a precept too many, or too few. Whatever may be the precepts of the law, or of the gospel, they are pure and holy altogether. The words of the Lord are like fine gold, pure, precious, and weighty—not one of them may be neglected. We hear people talk about “minor points,” and so on; but we must not consider any word of our God as a minor thing, if by that expression is implied that it is of small importance. We must accept every single word of precept, or prohibition, or instruction, as being what it ought to be, and neither to be diminished nor increased. We should not reason about the command of God as though it might be set aside or amended. He bids: we obey. May we enter into that true spirit of obedience which is the unshaken belief that the Lord is right! Nothing short of this is the obedience of the inner man—the obedience which the Lord desires. – Charles Spurgeon

The Dishonored Pulpit

The pulpit has become dishonoured; it is esteemed as being of very little worth and of no esteem. Ah! we must always maintain the dignity of the pulpit. I hold that it is the Thermopylae (narrow place) of Christendom; it is here that the battle must be fought between right and wrong; not so much with the pen, valuable as that is as an assistant, as with the living voice of earnest men, “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” In some churches the pulpit is put away; there is a prominent altar, but the pulpit is omitted. Now, the most prominent thing under the gospel dispensation is not the altar, which belonged to the Jewish dispensation, but the pulpit. “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;” that altar is Christ; but Christ has been pleased to exalt “the foolishness of preaching” to the most prominent position in his house of prayer. We must take heed that we always maintain preaching. It is this that God will bless; it is this that he has promised to crown with success. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We must not expect to see great changes nor any great progress of the gospel, until there is greater esteem for the pulpit—more said of it and thought of it. “Well,” some may reply, “you speak of the dignity of the pulpit; I take it, you lower it yourself, sir, by speaking in such a style to your hearers.” Ah! no doubt you think so. Some pulpits die of dignity. I take it, the greatest dignity in the world is the dignity of converts—that the glory of the pulpit is, if I may use such a metaphor, to have captives at its chariot-wheels, to see converts following it, and where there are such, and those from the very worst of men; there is a dignity in the pulpit beyond any dignity which a fine mouthing of words and a grand selection of fantastic language could ever give to it. . .

“Preaching for the Poor,” in Spurgeon’s Sermons, 2nd ed. (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1861), 157-158. Preached January 25, 1857.

Regeneration and Faith

Gordon H. Clark, “God’s Hammer: The Bible and its Critics” pg.20-23:

When Adam fell, the human race became, not stupid so that the truth was hard to understand, but inimical, to the acceptance of the truth. Men did not like to retain God in their knowledge and changed the truth of God into a lie, for the carnal mind is enmity against God. Hence the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, for the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned. In order to accept the Gospel, therefore, it is necessary to be born again. The abnormal, depraved intellect must be remade by the Holy Spirit; the enemy must be made a friend. This is the work of regeneration, and the heart of stone can be taken away and a heart of flesh can be given only by God himself. Resurrecting the man who is dead in sin and giving him a new life, far from being a human achievement, requires nothing less then almighty power.

It is therefore impossible by argument or preaching alone to cause anyone to believe the Bible. Only God can cause such belief. At the same time, this does not mean that argument is useless. Peter tells us, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” This was the constant practice of the apostles. Stephen disputed with the Libertines; the Jerusalem council disputed; in Ephesus Paul disputed three months in the synagogue and then continued disputing in the school of Tyrannus. (Acts 6:9; 15:7; 19:8,9: compare Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19; 24:25). Anyone who is unwilling to argue, dispute, and reason is disloyal to his Christian duty.

At this point the natural question is, What is the use of all this expounding and explaining if it does not produce belief? The answer should be clearly understood. The witness or testimony of the Holy Spirit is a witness to something. The Spirit cannot produce belief in Christ unless a sinner has heard of Christ. “How then shall they call on him of whom they have not heard?…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:14,17).

No doubt God in his omnipotence could reveal the necessary information to each man individually without a written Bible or ministerial preaching. But this is not what God has done. God gave the apostles and preachers the duty of expounding the message; but the production of belief is the work of the Spirit, for faith is the gift of God.

This is part of the reason why it was said above that the best procedure for us, if we want someone to accept the doctrine of plenary and verbal inspiration, is to expound the Scripture in detail. We may well use archaeology and historical criticism too, but the main task is to communicate the message of the Bible in as understandable language as we can manage.

It is to be noted too that the sinner, without any special work of the Spirit, can understand the message. Belief in its truth and understanding its meaning are two different things. The Bible can be understood by the same methods of study used on Euclid or Aristotle. Despite some pious disclaimers, it is true that antagonistic unbelievers often enough understand the Bible better than devout Christians. The Pharisees saw the significance of Christ’s claims to deity more quickly and more clearly than the disciples did.

As Paul persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem and set out for Damascus, he understood the words, “Jesus is Lord” as well as any of the twelve. It was precisely because he understood so well that he persecuted so zealously. Had he been unsure of the meaning, he would not have been so exercised. But the trouble was, he did not believe it. On the contrary, he believed that it was false. Then on the Damascus road Christ appeared to him and caused him to believe that the statement was true. Paul did not understand the phrase any better a moment after his conversion than a moment before. Doubtless in later years God revealed further information to him for use in his epistles. But at the moment, Christ did not enlarge his understanding one whit; he caused him to receive, accept, or believe what he had already understood quite well. Thus it is that the Spirit witnessed to the message previously communicated.

Strong emphasis needs to be placed on the work of the Holy Spirit. Man is dead in sin, an enemy of God, opposed to all righteousness and truth. He needs to be changed. Neither the preacher nor, much less, the sinner himself can cause the change. But “blessed is the man whom you choose, and cause to approach you” (Psalm 65:4). “And I will¦take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27). “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). “God when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18).

These verses, which primarily refer to regeneration, are applicable to our acceptance of the Bible as the very word of God. Indeed, the new life which the second birth initiates” the life to which we are “raised from the death of sin” is precisely the life of faith; and a full faith includes a plenary and verbal inspiration of the salvation message. It is the gift of God.

This is why the greatest of all the creeds issuing from the Reformation, the Westminster Confession says:

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is Truth itself), the author thereof; and, therefore, it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our heart (I,iv and v.)

In the last analysis, therefore “although historical and archaeological confirmation of the Bible” accuracy is of great interest to us and of great embarrassment to unbelievers-a conviction that the Bible is really the Word of God cannot be the conclusion of a valid argument based on more clearly evident premises. This conviction is produced by the Holy Spirit himself.

It must always be kept in mind that the proclamation in the Gospel is part of a spiritual struggle against the supernatural powers of the evil one, and victory comes only through the omnipotent grace of God. Accordingly, as Jesus explained his mission to both Peter and the Pharisees, so we today must expound and explain the Scripture in all its fullness to all sorts of men; and we can then be assured that our Father in Heaven will reveal his truth to some of them.

Original Blog Post Found Here.