“God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways” – An Application to Preaching

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For application to preaching a few thoughts come to mind:

  1. Prayer – Before I can preach on a text of Scripture, I must understand the meaning of the text and the implications of that meaning for us. And too often I might have a different understanding of the text because my thoughts and my ways are not the Lord’s thoughts and ways.  I hope it is obvious that this prayer is not to say I don’t need to do any of the difficult work of exegetical study (an example of an exegetical study); it’s not because I pray God will download the meaning of the text right into my brain.  Instead, the prayer ultimately puts me in the right state of relationship towards God which should put me in the right mindset to appropriately approach the text.  It’s God’ Word I’m reading and it is God’s Word that I am going to preach – I can’t just be flippant about the process and I must make sure my reason and experiences are subject to God’s thoughts and ways.
  2. Quit apologizing for God or avoiding what God says all together.[1]We live in a very politically correct culture, where we don’t want to offend anyone or hurt anyone and we kind of just want to agree to disagree and we usually do that by simply not saying anything that we perceive would bring about disagreement.  It’s becoming more and more common to not mention sin and hell in our sermons – how much of that is us trying to appease people or tone down God’s words?  How much of it is us putting our ways and thoughts above God’s.  I need to not be afraid in my preaching to say God’s ways and God’s thoughts are what is right and what is wrong.
  3. Preach the stupid things of Scripture… and by that I mean preach the things that are revealed in Scripture that are antithetical to the thoughts and ways of the world that are antithetical to what I would reason to be true, right, and good. For example, Scripture teaches things like: “Living is dying and dying is living (Mark 8:35, John 12:24, 1 Corinthians 15:36,” “Save your life and you will lose it; lost your life and you will save it (Matthew 10:39),” “The best self-love is to not be self-centered (Matthew 6:33, Mark 12:29-31),” “The way up is down; exaltation requires humility (Ezekiel 21:26, Luke 14:8-9, 1 Peter 5:6),” “The way down is up; self-promotion leads to humiliation (Ezekiel 21:26, Matthew 23:12), “Please God and you will have pleasures forever more (Psalms 16:11, Matthew 6:33),” and “Please yourself and you will never be satisfied (Proverbs 27:20 and 30:15, Ecclesiastes 5:10).”[2] These statements of Scripture seem completely wrong to our thoughts and our ways, but because they are from God they are right… so in preaching such teachings from God, I really need to remember that even though it might sound stupid, it’s not, it’s the wisest thing there is in this world – the problem is that I’m just stupid.  So proclaim these revelations from God with boldness even if people might look at me and think I’m dumb.

[1] Much of this paragraph I drew from a Christian Post article that recounted Francis Chan’s application of these two Isaiah verses: https://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chan-church-must-stop-apologizing-for-what-god-says-is-right-and-wrong-in-politically-correct-culture.html

[2] This is an abbreviated list of paradoxical tensions from Scripture that I pulled from Cris Putnam’s book, The Supernatural Worldview. 


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The Christian Life is Like a Draft of Guinness Stout

guinnessIf you pour a glass of Guinness Stout, you will see some very dark beer.  Blacker than Black.  If poured properly you will have a nice, thin layer of white head on top.  This whiteness is pure as snow in comparison to the depths of the darkness below.

How is this like the Christian life?

Our lives are dark and stained with sin.

In faith in Christ, when God the Father looks down at us, He does not see the darkness of our lives.  The darkness that demands his wrath.  Instead, He sees the cleanliness in the pure whiteness of the righteousness of his Son, Jesus, that covers us and justifies us as being in a right relationship with God.

This simple analogy has left out any long and detailed explanations of sin and the effects of sin.  It has assumed that everyone understands that Jesus is God and that the Father is God, and that there is another person in the nature of God, and he is the Holy Spirit.  These three persons are distinctly different, but still there is only one God.  Now I’m probably confusing matters worse to state this, but I also didn’t give a definition for righteousness or explain how a loving God has to punish sinners, because he is also just and holy.  I didn’t explain or prove any of this from the Bible, science, philosophy, or logic.  This analogy simply states that our lives are dark and deep with evil, wholly depraved, but that nonetheless, the depths of our depravity are covered and made clean through the perfect life and work of Jesus.  That’s why I can say that . . .

The Christian Life is like a Draft of Guinness Stout!

74. A Different Kind of Election

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doctrine-of-election-button-300x292

The presidential election for 2016 is over!

So it’s time to talk about a different kind of election, the election of sinners by God to salvation. Andy shares the five points of Calvinism and Arminianism, the two common theological systems that are debated and compared when discussing God’s role in salvation.  But then the curveball comes, the Lutheran position on election is presented, a position which rarely discussed in the predestination debate among Christians.  The Lutheran understanding of single-predestination is by far a different election from Calvin’s double-predestination.

Some show notes:

Five Points of Calvinism

T – otal Depravity
U – nconditional Election
L – imited Atonement
I – irresistible Grace
P – reservation of the Saints

Five Points of Arminianism

  1. Free-will, human-ability
  2. Conditional Election (Election is Foreknowledge)
  3. General Atonement (Objective Justification)
  4. The Holy Spirit can be resisted.
  5. Falling from Grace

Lutherans hold to 1.5 points of Calvinism and 3 Points of Arminianism

Total Depravity and Predestination for Salvation
General Atonement, Grace is Resistible, and Falling from Faith

We are saved by grace through faith.  

John 3:16
Ephesians 2:8-9
Romans 4:5

Faith is not our work but the work of the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:5

1 Corinthians 12:3
John 1:13
Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:5 “God makes us alive.”
Romans 9:16
John 6:29

We are incapable of deciding to have faith.

1 Corinthians 12:3
Ephesians 2:1 “We are dead in our sins and trespasses.”
John 1:13
John 6:441 Corinthians 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Any verse about being born again indicates this also, for what role do we play in our natural birth?  None!

Since faith is purely a gift of God and we play no role in our conversion, then it could be assumed that God then chooses who will be saved, and also chooses who will not be saved.

Here’s what Scripture says on the matter:

God elects/predestines to salvation!

Ephesians 1:3-13, 4:3-5
John 1:13
Ephesians 2:4-5 “God made us alive (spiritually).
Romans 8:29-30
2 Timothy 1:8-9

It is the will of God that no man should perish!

1 Timothy 1:3-4
2 Peter 3:8-9

 

 

 

 

 

65. Adam4d’s “Jesus is David”

>> Listen to Episode 65 Here!<<
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Or Listen in iTunes! goliath-is-dead
Adam Ford is the man behind the prolific and often viral producing online comic-strip Adam4d.  He’s a Christian, a husband, and father of three young boys.  Back in 2014, he quit his job to create comic strips full-time.

Since launching the Contradict – They Can’t All Be True Facebook page to help promote my book by that title, I have regularly found myself sharing Ford’s work.  Those posts generally draw many likes and shares.  His strips are often times found on many other Christian social media pages, typically groups or individuals who accept that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, by groups and individuals who are not labeled as liberal Christians or heretics!

When he’s not using presuppositional apologetics to tear down false-worldviews, or picking apart the lies of Darwinian Evolution, Ford is typically highlighting the pitfalls of legalism and self-justification within Christian circles, or the way verses are often times ripped out of their context and twisted to mean something that was never implied within the text.

The Gospel typically has predominance in his doctrinal and homiletical comic strips, so he gains many fans who recognize that we truly are saved solely by the work of God that faith really is a gift and work of the Holy Spirit.

But sometimes, even when we are pointing to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith, the only one who works in our conversion and salvation, we can still twist Scripture.  And when Jesus and his saving work is front and center, it’s easier for us conservative mongergists to clap, clap, clap and share, share, share, however, at times the Scriptures aren’t accurately divided between Law and Gospel and we shouldn’t click that button.

I think Adam Ford took a misstep when he was taking a swing at the prosperity Gospel preachers in his strip entitled, “Good News: We Are Not David.”  I saw many people share this strip, people I personally know, but I couldn’t hit the like button this time, and I couldn’t hit the share button without posting a critique.

For this episode, I gathered Conni Schramm, back from episodes 7 and 64, Jon Rutherford, back from some recent episodes, and Jonathan Platt, who was sitting on the wall like a fly, but kept  hopping on a mic to interject questions.

Here are the extensive show notes that are almost a direct transcript if you can’t devote yourself to listening for an hour: Podcast David Comic.