by Johnathan Arnold
We have all been warned to “keep the main thing the main thing.” Time is limited. But sometimes it’s hard to know what the main thing is. At different stages in our lives, circumstances tend to prescribe our focus. Nowhere is this more of a struggle than in pastoral ministry.
When a particular ministry dynamic is thriving, our excitable natures tend to look to it like a silver bullet. In seasons of success, we are prone to examine other pastors and churches and wonder, “All they have to do is that one thing. Why don’t they do that?” Our differing experiences account for different emphases.
Sermon on Judges 11:1-40 by Timothy Cooley, Sr.
Jephthah stood at the door of his wilderness house. He had things pretty well fixed up, like he wanted them. After all, there was a day he would have liked to live in town, but that had been impossible. You see, it was because of his mother. The Bible says his mother was a harlot. Some scholars have wanted to say she was an innkeeper, but the harsh reality of his rejection implies the truth was that his mother was more likely a Canaanite prostitute. His half-brothers called her “that other woman.” The one that made the whole family ashamed. Jephthah was a --
Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 by Johnathan Arnold
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, we read the most comprehensive biblical passage on Jesus' resurrection. To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus actually, literally, physically rose from the dead, so Paul points to eye-witnesses, most of whom were alive when Paul wrote the letter, to encourage us that there is historical proof to back up our belief. Believing in the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is not ignorant or anti-science. In fact, we teach things in our history books that are supported with less evidence.
Now, we could spend a lot of time on that fact — and we will look at some of the specific proof that Paul offers to back up the resurrection, because it’s in the passage at hand — but since most of us already believe in the resurrection, I want us to focus on the point that Paul makes in verses 1-3: he says that the resurrection of Jesus is part of the gospel that he preached. It’s not an add-on.
Sermon on Matthew 6:25-34 by Johnathan Arnold
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” Matthew 6:33, is one of the most famous verses in the Sermon on the Mount, which spans from chapter five to chapter seven. Its context, Matthew 6:25-34, reveals much about the nature of the verse: the heavenly Father feeds the sparrows and cares for the lilies in the field, so why be anxious about our lives?
by Johnathan Arnold
John and Jane Saint go to church three times and hear three sermons each week. In total, they hear 156 sermons each year. Since John and Sarah have been going to church for 30 years, they have heard nearly 5,000 sermons. But, amazingly, John and Sarah admit that they do not understand the Bible very well (even though they read it daily) or know why they believe much of what they believe. They are not unlike many Christians.
The church has recently awakened to this reality and is taking more responsibility for bridging the gap between experience and knowledge. A new watchword in evangelicalism is “discipleship,” by which most mean systematic teaching in a small group setting similar to the class meetings of the Wesleyan heritage. These small groups typically cover a series of Bible studies or follow a pre-written curriculum.
Since some churches have been successful with the small group model (a dialogue), it has caused many to question the primacy of preaching (a monologue) for the ever-connected modern audience. It was recently said that “in the contemporary church, small groups will increasingly become the primary way that the church goes forward, even more-so than preaching.” This is tragically misplaced thinking. We should not be intimidated by small group discipleship; however, we should be alarmed when it is pursued at the expense of preaching.
Sermon on Galatians 3:6-9 by Johnathan Arnold
In Galatians 3-4, Paul is exploring in-depth the most important question ever asked: “How can we be right with God?” Paul’s answer is simple: in one word, “faith.” Whoever has faith in Jesus is made right with God.
Not faith plus circumcision. Not faith plus the law. Not faith plus baptism. Not faith plus the Catholic mass. Not faith plus membership in the church. Not faith plus rules and standards. Faith plus nothing. Sola fide. Faith alone.
The book of Galatians is Paul at his most passionate because false teachers convinced his beloved Galatians that we are right with God “by the law” or “by faith plus the law.”
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