Transaction or True Love?

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8) “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22: 36-40) Levels of Christian Maturity: When we come to Christ as Savior and Lord, we begin a journey where we are to obey and follow Him for the rest of our lives. There are different stages of growth in our Christian walk; unfortunately, we tend to get stuck on one plateau or another. I believe that the depth of our Christian commitment can be demonstrated by the kinds of questions we are asking. When we initially come to Christ, most of our focus is on the “what?” questions. What does the bible teach? What am I supposed to do? What does God require of me? We spend a lot of time learning and figuring out what it means to be a believer and “what” the bible teaches. Basically, we have a “just give me the facts” approach where we desire to know the rules and the protocols of being a Christian. When someone becomes more mature and goes deeper theologically, they might also start asking the “how?” questions. Yes, I need to be baptized (the what), but the Scripture teaches I need to be baptized by immersion (the how). We realize as we grow that God desires us to do the right things the right way. For example, we should pray (what) in Jesus’ name (how). We should give our tithes and offerings (what), but we have to give cheerfully and liberally (how). Asking what we must do to serve Him and ensuring we are doing those things God’s way is essential. Yet, there is a third question, and it is probably the most important one. This is the question of “why?” Unfortunately, this is the question that few of us ask, which keeps us immature instead of going on to greater heights with Jesus. The “why?” question is what separates a Pharisee from a devoted disciple of Jesus. It takes a good bit of biblical and theological knowledge to answer the “what” and the “how.” We cannot negate the importance of what and how. However, if you know what to do and how to do it but you have the wrong motives, then you are like the Pharisees who had the correct information but the wrong motivation. Legalists who focus so much on doing the right thing the right way without examining their own heart tend to become unteachable and unpliable. The new Christian is at least open to learning, and open hearts are required for sanctification. A Love Relationship or a Transactional Relationship? When we consider the issue of motives, that is where the rubber meets the road in our Christian walk. The more […]

God Owes Us Nothing

Many of us expect the blessings of family, marriage, and children from God as a reward for our faithful service to Him. Yet our eyes turn to the words of God to Jeremiah and we see that when we serve God, sometimes we must break culture.

Recognizing Neo-Pentecostal Influence in Your Sermon Preparation

One of the most challenging things for all of us called to teach and preach God’s Word is to learn to silence our biases and cultural expectations sufficiently to see what the Word actually says rather than what we expect it or want it to say. Here are three common hermeneutical and homiletical traits of the charismatic/pentecostalized tradition to recognize in order to move toward a more biblically-grounded homiletic.