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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 3-Chapter 2-A Manual For Godly Living

CHAPTER 2-A MANUAL FOR GODLY LIVING (Exposition of Romans Chapter 12)

If one should select a portion of Scripture as a manual or guide to Christian living, surely he could do no better than to turn to the closing chapters of Romans. Here we have the Christian’s duty in various relations of life. In this chapter we shall attempt an exposition of Romans 12.

We now enter what is called the practical part of Paul’s letter to the Romans. If the doctrinal portion of Romans is distasteful, the practical portion will be even more so. He who despises the mercies of God will rebel at the commands of God. Practical Christianity must rest upon doctrinal Christianity. You cannot divorce doctrine from life. As G. Campbell Morgan puts it: “You cannot grow the tulips of the kingdom of God unless you get the bulbs from heaven.” A man’s conduct is the fruit of what he believes. The flower of a godly life has its roots deep in the soil of experienced grace.

Paul, after giving us the greatest of all expositions of the grace and mercy of God; gives vent to his feeling of adoring wonder at the ways of God: and follows with an exhortation to becoming conduct on the part of those who can follow him in the gracious experiences of the mercies of God.

1. PAUL’S GREAT APPEAL (1, 2). Observe,

1a) HE BESEECHES. He does not command like Moses who gave the law. The Christian minister cannot give orders nor compel; he can only get things done by beseeching. A Christian hierarchy, whether in the form of a Baptist Board, or a Methodist Bishop, or a Roman Catholic Pope is contrary to the very norm of New Testament Christianity.

1b) HE BESEECHES BY THE MERCIES OF GOD. This is the greatest argument for a consecrated life. Paul wants the mercies of God to be realized and bear fruit to the glory of God. The highest and purest of all human motives is to act out of appreciation for the mercies of God.

1c) PAUL BESEECHES THE BRETHREN. Exhortation is ministry to the saints. He is not appealing to the sinner, but to those who have an experience of grace and mercy.

1d) HE BESEECHES THEM TO PRESENT THEIR BODIES TO GOD. The believer’s body is to be a living sacrifice in contrast to dead animals offered under the law. It is not to obtain but to acknowledge the blessing of salvation. It is a sacrifice of praise. The body is to be a holy sacrifice. Under the law the animals offered in sacrifice had to be ceremonially clean and physically sound; under grace the human body must be morally clean. A whiskey-soaked body is a filthy sacrifice. The sacrifice must be pleasing to God. It is not man nor even the church that we must please but God. Consecration is primarily to God and not to a cause or a work. One may be consecrated to a good work and yet scarcely ever think of God. Everything is to be done as unto the Lord. The sacrifice of the believer constitutes his “reasonable service.” The Greek word for reasonable is logikos, and is variously translated reasonable, intelligent, rational, spiritual, etc. The word is found in one other place in the Greek New Testament. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (#1Pe 2:2) and is translated by the phrase “of the word.” It comes from the same root as logos, which means word. The believer’s service to God must be regulated by the word of God. This is most important, for one may be busy in doing what God has not commanded, and in the way God has not commanded; yea, one may be doing what God has forbidden.

1e) HE BESEECHES BELIEVERS TO BE DIFFERENT. “And be not conformed to this world.” World here means the inhabitants of the world morally considered. The world is bad; it lies in the lap of the Wicked One. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (#1Joh 5:19). The devil is its god. He has dominion over it. The world is self-centered and Satan—controlled. The believer is not to agree with it, or be like it. He must not fall in with the world in its thinking and doing. He must think and do according to the Word of God.

1f) “BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED”. The Greek is “metamorphoo,” and means a change in appearance. It is the word used for the transfiguration of Christ. In our text it denotes a moral change, to be effected by the renewal of the mind. A change of mind-new thoughts and new ideals-is wrought in regeneration, and this change must be renewed and deepened. Outward transformation must begin in the mind and heart. If a man’s conduct is to be right his thinking must be right. In this way the believer will know “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,” and be able to demonstrate it in his every day life. Believers are God’s demonstrators, we are to demonstrate the fact and worth of God in human life. The commercial world uses this method in making sales. The car salesman will put you into his car and behind the wheel to demonstrate its speed and riding comfort. The refrigerator man will put a refrigerator in your home on trial to let you see its freezing qualities. In this day of keen competition many things are sold in trial. It is a solemn and pertinent question the believer should put to himself; what kind of a demonstrator am I for Jesus Christ Whom I profess to trust and love and obey? What impression does my life make on others?

2. SPECIAL DUTIES BASED ON SPECIFIC GIFTS (3-8).

2a) Have a just estimate of your gift. There are different measures of faith—do not think you know it all—do not act as if you are the “whole cheese”. Think soberly about yourself and your abilities. Do not be intoxicated with conceit. Recognize the gifts of others. Be humble.

2b) We are many members in one body. Every church (local assembly) is a body of Christ likened to the human body. Each member has his own gift and place in the body, and what he does affects the whole body. Each member of the church ought to be dear to every other member.

2c) Each member must exercise his own gift. It is not a natural talent, but a gift sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit. There are seven of these gifts here enumberated:

2c1) PROPHECY. The Spirit given ability to utter Divine truth. It strictly signifies the foretelling of future events, but seems to have a wider sense in the New Testament, including the gift of explaining the Scriptures. It is forthtelling as well as foretelling. There are no foretellers since the New Testament was completed. We have in the Bible all the truth we need for our spiritual good.

2c2) MINISTRY. The Greek word means service, and is used in a wide sense. It is used of Christ in #Ro 15:8 “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” , of Phoebe in #Ro 16:1 “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:”; of the office of deacon in “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (#Php 1:1), “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre” (#1Ti 3:8). In our text it does not seem to refer to an office, but to practical service in the church without naming the particular service. Every member is to render some service.

2c3) TEACHING. The ability to teach God’s word is a gift of the Spirit. It is a gift the pastor or bishop must have “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach” (#1Ti 3:2). A mere exhorter should never be made a bishop, that is, a pastor.

2c4) EXHORTATION. This means to excite to duty and dissuade from sin and requires a peculiar talent—a gift of the Spirit. It is not an office. We need laymen in our churches with the gift of exhortation —men who can arouse the brethren to greater activity; to be more than seat warmers. The exhortation of a Godly layman seems to have more effect than that of the pastor.

2c5) GIVING. Giving is both a duty and a grace “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia” (#2Co 8:1). Giving is the duty of all and a gift of grace bestowed upon some. Where this grace is exercised there will be large gifts for the work of the church. Let large givers give without fanfare or ostention.

2c6) RULING. The Greek word means “to go before,” or “to take the lead”. It is used of the bishop (pastor) in “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;” (#1Ti 3:4): “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (#1Ti 5:17). As a leader the pastor must be zealous and diligent. The pastorate is no place for a lazy man.

2c7) SHOWING MERCY. The gift of aiding the needy and of forgiving an enemy. And this must be done cheerfully and eagerly and sincerely. Gill thinks the last three gifts: giving, ruling, and showing mercy, relate to different branches of the deacon’s office. Perhaps so.

3. GENERAL DUTIES BASED UPON SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS (9-16).

#Ro 12:9. Love is to be sincere—without hypocrisy. Feigned love is disguised hate. “Abhorring evil.” It is not enough to cease from doing wrong; sin must be hated. “Cleaving to the good.” The Christian is not a mere negation; there is a positive side to his character. While hating evil he must love and hold fast to that which is good.

#Ro 12:10. We are to love one another as members of the same family. And where honor or preference is involved we should want another brother to have it. While the worldly vie with one another in receiving honor; the saints should compete with one another in giving honor.

#Ro 12:11. “Not slothful in business.” This has no reference to secular work, but to service for the Lord. We are to be on fire for the Lord. Stifler renders the verse this way: “In zeal (the outward) not slothful; in spirit (the inward human spirit) fervent; serving the Lord.”

#Ro 12:12. “Hope…tribulation…prayer”: the bulk of many a life. We may not be able to rejoice in present conditions but we can rejoice in hope of a better day. And this hope will give patience and steadfastness in the day of affliction, for hope sees an end to them. And while hoping and suffering we can keep on praying.

#Ro 12:13. We are to relieve the necessities of the saints, and practice hospitality. This implies private ownership of goods and is far removed from Socialism and Communism. Some will be better off than others. Let those who have, voluntarily share with those who have not. But indolence must not be encouraged or even tolerated. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (2Th 3:10,11) for a balancing truth. Every Christian home should be an inn where strangers of the household of faith might find entertainment: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (#Heb 13:2).

#Ro 12:14. Bless your persecutors. The saint must never answer in kind, must not fight the devil with fire; he knows more about that weapon than we do. We are to render blessing for cursing; not railing for railing.

#Ro 12:15. Share the experiences of others. Rejoice with the rejoicing ones and weep with the weeping. Here is Christian wisdom. Christ did not weep at Cana, nor laugh at the grave of Lazarus.

#Ro 12:16. “Be of the same mind one toward another.” Be easy to live with. Regard one another mutually, and let this attitude reach the lowly. Don’t be snobbish and exclusive. The world neglects and rejects the lowly, but Christ died for such people, and we should have fellowship with them in the body of Christ. And do not have a too high estimate of yourself.

4. CHRISTIAN GRACES TOWARD THE WORLD (17-21).

#Ro 12:17. Do not return evil for evil, but meet evil with good. And be honest. Watch your step for the eyes of the world are upon you. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (#Mt 5:16).

#Ro 12:18. Do your best to live at peace with all men. Be sure you are not at fault when peace is destroyed. If men hate you let them hate you for the truth’s sake and not for the evil you do.

#Ro 12:19. Do not seek revenge. Vengeance belongs to God. A Christian seeks revenge when he tries to get even with an enemy—he takes himself out of the hands of his Heavenly Father. It is a way of saying that you can handle your enemy better than He can. Do not usurp His place in judgment; wait for Him to act. He will set things right in His own time.

#Ro 12:20. Befriend your enemy. Help him in time of need. In this way you are heaping coals of fire on his head. This is the only punishment you may inflict—and take care you do not do it literally. A woman who complained of the ill treatment of her husband was asked if she had ever tried heaping coals of fire on his head replied by saying, “No, but I did dash a bucket of scalding water on him.”

#Ro 12:21. Be a conqueror. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Fight your foe with the weapon of good deeds. You conquer when you befriend an enemy, and leave vengeance with God to Whom it belongs. May grace be given to both writer and reader to heed these flesh-rebuking admonitions!

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 3

Those who preach are to read the scriptures for his own benefit first

November 25, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkParticularly does the minister need to attend unto this injunction “take heed unto thyself” in his study of the Scriptures, reading them devotionally ere he does so professionally; that is, seeking their application and blessing to his own soul before searching for sermonic materials. As the saintly Hervey expressed it, “Thus may we always be affected when we study the oracles of Truth. Study them, not as cold critics, who are only to judge of their meaning, but as persons deeply interested in all they contain. Who are particularly addressed in every exhortation, and directed in every precept. Whose are the promises, and to whom belong the precious privileges. When we are enabled thus to realize and appropriate the contents of that invaluable Book, then shall we taste the sweetness and feel the power of the Scriptures. Then shall we know by happy experience that our Divine Master’s words are not barely sounds and syllables, but that they are spirit and they are life.” No man can be constantly giving out — that which is fresh and savory—unless he be continually taking in. That which he is to declare unto others is what his own ears have first heard, his own eyes have seen, his own hands have handled (1 John 1:1, 2).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Most Neglected Part of the Pastor’s Job Description

November 4, 2014 2 comments

A much needed article by Thabiti Anyabwile

 

“Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at The Gospel-Centered Woman, a new site dedicated to helping pastors and lay leaders disciple women through the local church. Please visited The Gospel-Centered Woman and make use of the excellent contributions there.

The Father is kind to me. Because of His rich love and unending grace, I’m not only a Christian but also a pastor. And for reasons that cannot be explained apart from my Savior’s sheer grace, I count a great company of other pastors as friends and colleagues.

The pastorate is a fraternity, a brotherhood. When we are together, we do what brothers do. We discuss (or argue about) what pastors discuss (or argue about): preaching, theology, the churches we shepherd and sports. We laugh together, counsel one another, plot and scheme for the advance of the gospel. In some ways these confabs become a kind of 360-degree job review. We hit the major bullets on our job descriptions and reflect together on our progress and struggles.

In nearly all the meetings I’ve had with my fellow pastors we come to those areas where we feel ill-equipped, ineffective and perhaps even discouraged. One man mourns his prayer life. Another feels hopeless about evangelism. Still another recounts leadership challenges. Someone wants to improve their preaching. We all share our wisdom, our common struggles and encouragements.

But in all of this talk over the years, I’ve come to believe that the most neglected aspect of a pastor’s job description is the command for pastors to disciple older women in their congregations. It’s a massive omission since in nearly every church women make up at least half the membership and in many cases much more. And when you consider how many ministries and committees depend upon the genius, generosity and sweat of our sisters, it’s almost criminal that most any pastor you meet has no plan for discipling the women of his church apart from outsourcing to a women’s ministry staff person or committee.”

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Those who preach must spend their time and energy in seeking to properly interpret scripture

October 21, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkCHAPTER 2 dealt with some of the more elementary yet essential qualifications which must needs be found in any who would enter into the spiritual meaning of Holy Writ. It was therefore suited to all the people of God in general. But in this we propose to treat of those things which have a more particular hearing upon those whom God has called to preach and teach His Word: those whose whole time and energies are to be devoted to seeking the spiritual and eternal welfare of souls, and the better equipping of themselves for that most blessed, solemn, and important work. Their principal tasks are to proclaim God’s Truth and to exemplify and commend their message by diligently endeavoring to practice what they preach, setting before their hearers a personal example of practical godliness. Since it be the Truth they are to preach, no pains must be spared in seeing to it that no error be intermingled therewith, that it is the pure milk of the Word they are giving forth. To preach error instead of Truth is not only grievously to dishonor God and His Word, but will mislead and poison the minds of the hearers or readers.

 

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Unless predestination be preached, we shall want one great inducement to the exercise of brotherly kindness and charity

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

VIII.-Unless predestination be preached, we shall want one great inducement to the exercise of brotherly kindness and charity. When a converted person is assured, on one hand, that all whom God hath predestinated to eternal life shall infallibly enjoy that eternal life to which they are chosen, and, on the other hand, when he discerns the signs of election, not only in himself, but also in the rest of his fellow believers, and concludes from thence (as in a judgment of charity he ought) that they are as really elected as himself, how must his heart glow with love to his Christian brethren! How feelingly will he sympathise with them in their distresses! How tenderly will he bear with their infirmities! How readily will he relieve the former, and how easily overlook the latter! Nothing will so effectually knit together the hearts of God’s people in time as the belief of their having been written by name in one book of life from everlasting, and the unshaken confidence of their future exaltation to one and the same state of glory above will occasion the strongest cement of affection below.

This was, possibly, one end of our Saviour’s so frequently reminding His apostles of their election, namely, that from the sense of such an unspeakable blessing, in which they were all equally interested, they might learn to love one another with pure hearts fervently, and cultivate on earth that holy friendship which they well knew, from the immutability of God’s decrees, would be eternally matured to the highest perfection and refinement in heaven. St. Paul, likewise, might have some respect to the same amiable inference when treating of the saints collectively, for he uses those sweet and endearing expressions, “He hath chosen us,” “He hath predestinated us,” etc., that believers, considering themselves as co-elect in Christ, might be led to love each other with peculiar intenseness as the spiritual children of one electing Father, brethren in grace and joint-heirs of glory. Did the regenerate of the present age but practically advert to the everlasting nearness in which they stand related to each other, how happy would be the effect!

Hence it appears that, since the preaching of predestination is thus evidently calculated to kindle and keep alive the twofold congenial flame of love to God and love to man, it must, by necessary consequence, conduce to the advancement of universal obedience and to the performance of every social and religious duty,* which alone was there nothing else to recommend it, would be a sufficient motive to the public delivery of that important doctrine.

* Our excellent Bishop Davenant instances particularly in the great religious duty of prayer. “The consideration of election,” says this learned and evangelical prelate “doth stir up the faithful to constancy in prayer, for, having learnt that all good tending to salvation is prepared for them out of God’s good pleasure, they are hereby encouraged to call for, and as it were to draw down from heaven by their prayers, those good things which, from eternity, were ordained for the elect. Moreover, the same Spirit of adoption, who heareth witness to our spirit, that we are God’s chosen children, is also the Spirit of prayer and supplication, and enflameth our hearts to call daily upon our heavenly Father. Those, therefore, who from the certainty of predestination do pretend that the duty of prayer is superfluous, do plainly show that they are so far from having any certainty of their predestination that they have not the least sense thereof. To be slack and sluggish in prayer is not the property of those who, by the testimony of God’s Spirit, have got assurance of their election, but rather of such as have either none or very small apprehension thereof. For as soon as anyone by believing doth conceive himself to be one of God’s elect children, he earnestly desireth to procure unto himself by prayer those good things which he believeth that God prepared for His children before the foundation of the world.” – Bp. Davenant’s Aniamadversions on an Arminian treatise, entitled “God’s Love to Mankind,” p.526, and seq.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Predestination is to be preached so that our hearts may be inflamed to love Him in return

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

VI.-Hence results another reason nearly connected with the former for the unreserved publication of this doctrine, namely, that, from a sense of God’s peculiar, eternal and unalterable love to His people, their hearts may be inflamed to love Him in return. Slender indeed will be my motives to the love of God on the supposition that my love to Him is beforehand with His to me, and that the very continuance of His favour is suspended on the weathercock of my variable will or the flimsy thread of my imperfect affection. Such a precarious, dependent love were unworthy of God, and calculated to produce but a scanty and cold reciprocation of love from man. At the happiest of times, and in the best of frames below our love to God is but a spark (though small and quivering, yet inestimably precious, because Divinely kindled, fanned and maintained in the soul, and an earnest of better to come), whereas love, as it glows in God, is an immense sun, which shone without beginning, and shall shine without end. Is it probable, then, that the spark of human love should give being to the sun of divine, and that the lustre and warmth of this should depend on the glimmering of that? Yet so it must be if predestination is not true, and so it must be represented if predestination is not taught. Would you, therefore, know what it is to love God as your Father, Friend, and Saviour, you must fall down before His electing mercy. Until then you are only hovering about in quest of true felicity. But you will never find the door, much less can you enter into rest, until you are enabled to “love Him because He hath first loved you” (1 John 4:19).

This being the case, it is evident that, without taking predestination into the account, genuine morality and the performance of truly good works will suffer, starve and die away. Love to God is the very fuel of acceptable obedience. Withdraw the fuel, and the flame expires. But the fuel of holy affection (if Scripture, experience and observation are allowed to carry any conviction) can only be cherished, maintained and increased in the heart by the sense and apprehension of God’s predestinating love to us in Christ Jesus. Now, our obedience to God will always hold proportion to our love. If the one be relaxed and feeble, the other cannot be alert and vigorous, and, electing goodness being the very life and soul of the former, the latter, even good works, must flourish or decline in proportion as election is glorified or obscured.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady