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The DBG website provides articles on:

  • Expository Preaching
  • The Exclusivity of Christ
  • Dangers of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Theology
  • Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Who Leads the Church – Elders or Deacons?

Who Leads the Church – Elders or Deacons?

The Front Porch is a ministry that provides resources, sermons, and conversations on theology within the African-American church context and beyond.  I have personally been very encouraged by the work of Pastor Tony Carter in the metropolitan Atlanta area.  His commitment to a biblical church government, expository preaching, and sound doctrine is a breath of fresh air in our wasteland of church culture in Atlanta.

A conversation was posted on The Front Porch last August between Tony Carter, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Louis Love on the subject of church government.  Who runs the church?  In our church culture in the south (especially in Baptist churches), the deacons typically oversee the church while a single pastor preaches each Sunday.  The pastor also manages the staff, volunteers and cooperates with the deacon board and the entire church body regarding decisions of the church.  This may be a typical or recently traditional form of church leadership structure, but it isn’t biblical.  Tony Carter, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Louis Love talk about these problems and seek to describe the biblical pattern that God has established from the beginning.

For more on this subject, take time to read the following books:

Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons – Thabiti Anyabwile

Biblical EldershipAlexander Strauch

Deacon Run Churches: Are They Biblical? – The Front Porch

Connect with The Front Porch on Twitter.

The Surprising History of Harvard

The Surprising History of Harvard

My family was having a meal with a group of ladies who were visiting from England back in January.  As we discussed life in America, someone brought up the American educational system.  As we talked about the origin of some of the most well known and prestigious universities, a couple of the young ladies had no idea that those institutions were originally founded for the training of ministers of the gospel.

It may come with the jolt of an electric shock that Harvard was originally founded for the training of gospel ministers, but it’s true.  Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.  The school was founded in 1636 in Massachusetts and named after the generous preacher, John Harvard, who upon his death in 1638 gave his entire library and half of his estate to the school.  To this very day, his statue on the campus of Harvard is one of the most popular landmarks of the institution’s history.

The founders of Harvard looked forward, like other groups who organize the founding of an institution of higher education.  They looked into the future and drafted a statement that would help set a vision for the school.  The language of this document has the ring of the Puritan age.  The following is taken directly from Harvard’s official admission requirements:

2.  Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well,the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17.3. and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him Prov. 2, 3.

From the beginning, Harvard placed a high priority upon God’s Word.  From the reading of God’s Word to the studying of God’s Word, the Harvard faculty seemed to be committed to standing firm upon the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible.  The following statement from the admission requirement gives a picture into where Harvard once stood upon the importance of God’s Word.  They called it “light” that “giveth understanding to the simple” as they quoted from the Psalms.

3. Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day,that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of the language, and logic, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the Word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm. 119. 130.

This document that would be binding upon all students pointed them to God’s Word to know and worship God.  They were committed to training ministers to love God’s truth.  This is evident by the following paragraph:

4. That they eschewing all profanation of God’s name, attributes, word, ordinance, and times of worship, do study with good conscience, carefully to retain God, and the love of his truth in their minds, else let them know, that (notwithstanding their learning) God may give them up to strong delusions, and in the end to a reprobate mind, 2 Thes. 2. 11, 12. Rom. 1. 28.

Today, Harvard has a completely different position regarding God’s Word.  The divinity school still remains in existence, but they also have Harvard College which serves as their main undergraduate educational option.  Within the divinity school, the faculty members instruct from a liberal perspective regarding the trustworthiness of God’s Word.  The present faculty would not hold to the Puritan positions on inerrancy, biblical authority, and sufficiency as did the founders.  Today, many faculty members within the divinity school of Harvard embrace a more ecumenical position of openness and spirituality.  This is far different from where John Harvard and the founding faculty of our nation’s oldest higher educational institution once stood.

Harvard research professor, Dr. Harvey Cox, in his forthcoming book, How To Read The Bible (to be released 4-14-15 from HarperCollins), writes, ”I am not satisfied with the ex nihilo interpretation of the creation account, which implies a God who is utterly omnipotent and therefore does not have to struggle against evil as we humans do” (26).  This gives us an idea of why Dr. Cox would reject the verbal plenary inspiration of God’s Word as well.  He employs a “history of interpretation” method of biblical interpretation.  In short, Dr. Cox writes, “it moves us out of the duality of ‘what it originally meant’ verses ‘what it now means’ to what it has meant(128).  According to Professor Cox, this methodology widens our perspective and gives us a better understanding of what the Bible says by listening to others interpret the Bible through their lens and context of life.  I will have more to say on Dr. Cox’s positions when I review his book, but needless to say, his positions are starkly different from the positions of John Harvard.

Harvard has changed.  The faculty has changed.  The student body has changed.  Perhaps this change at Harvard is best depicted by a quick comparison of the school’s motto found on the original Harvard seal verses the present day official seal of Harvard.  Rather than  “Truth (Veritas) for Christ (Christo) and the Church (Ecclesiae),” the new seal simply reads, “Veritas” or truth without any binding or absolute foundation.

The question remains – has the Bible changed?  Rather than standing firmly upon the robust authority of God’s inerrant Word, Harvard has taken a more loose position regarding the Bible.  Although the success and prestige of Harvard continues into our modern era, the original doctrines once taught from the lectern in the classroom have been turned into antiquated documents of Harvard’s history, or perhaps, reference points in Dr. Cox’s “history of interpretation” method of biblical hermeneutics.

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Note:  I have been invited to Spain to debate Dr. Harvey Cox regarding the inerrancy and authority of the Bible in October of this year.  I will write more about Dr. Cox’s forthcoming book referenced in this article and the debate in the coming months. 

Artistic Quote – MacArthur on Pastoral Ministry

Throw people off the bus? Run over people? Treat them with disdain? I don’t think you could get away with that as a parental approach. Then you can’t get away with it in ministry. You’re not a pastor. You’re not a shepherd. ~ John MacArthur

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Pastoral Ministry

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Last June, I was placed on a list to receive the prepublication copy of Don Whitney’s second edition to his excellent book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.  Few books exist that transcend time so well as this book, yet Whitney still found a way to add excellent content and updates to his classic.  Only now have I finally found time to write a review of his book, and with great delight I hope to encourage you to purchase this book, read it, make notes, and revisit the pages of this book over the course of your spiritual life.

As a marathon runner, I recall my early days of pounding out the long runs in preparation for my first marathon.  I can still remember the lack of preparation that led to the pain of blisters, muscle fatigue, and mental challenges that accompany the marathon.  As I look back, I can see how some simple early adjustments related to my choice of shoes, socks, and my overall running plan could have prevented much frustration.  Don Whitney’s book is a great resource for your journey in the Christian life.  All new Christians should have it, and the aged Christian should revisit it often.

Whitney’s book is thirteen chapters in length and covers ten spiritual disciplines:

  1. Bible Intake (2 chapters)
  2. Prayer
  3. Worship
  4. Evangelism
  5. Serving
  6. Stewardship
  7. Fasting
  8. Silence and Solitude
  9. Journaling

In the early pages of his book, Whitney writes:

The word rendered “discipline” in the New American Standard translation is the Greek word gumnasia from which our English words gymnasium and gymnastics derive.  This word means “to exercise or discipline,” which is why the King James Version renders 1 Timothy 4:7 as “exercise thyself rather unto godliness,” the English Standard Version as “train yourself for godliness,” and the New International Version as “train yourself to be godly.”  It’s a sweaty word with the smell of the gym to it.

Like marathon running, we all find excuses.  Most people I know hate to run and often tell me that they can’t run.  They tell me of their knee pain or their surgery that prevents them from running long distances.  While I understand what they are telling me to be true, I also know that the reason they choose not to run is likely based on their distaste for the discipline of running as opposed to the perpetual knee pain.

I know a man who after suffering a catastrophic injury in a factory had to have surgery to repair his leg by the insertion of a rod.  His doctor told him that he would never run again.  He went on to run in the Trans-American Footrace (running across the entire United States of America from coast to coast).  He set the record for the fastest time to cover the entire Appalachian Trail (approximately 2,200 miles).  He likewise went on to set the record for the fastest time on the Pacific Crest Trail from southern California at Mexico’s border to Canada (2,663 miles).  We can always do more than we think if we dedicate ourselves to the task.

Don Whitney covers important spiritual disciplines and provides a biblical foundation, historical examples from men such as the Puritans, and deals with the popular excuses that often fuel a lack of discipline among Christians.  For instance, when discussing Bible memorization, he writes, “Most people think they have a bad memory, but it’s not true.”  He goes on to say, “most of the time memorizing is mainly a problem of motivation.”

In fact, that type of language is all throughout Whitney’s excellent book.  He continuously insists on having a plan and organizing your effort to remain spiritually disciplined.  From prayer to journaling, every aspect of the Christian life requires a plan of action.  The people who refuse to have a plan typically burnout quickly in their Bible reading, prayer, and other important spiritual disciplines.

It’s not about reading the Bible in 365 days.  That may not be possible for your reading speed and time.  Nevertheless, you should chart your progress and have a plan to read through the Bible over time (many Bible reading plans exist online and are easy to use).  Just like running a marathon requires discipline, so does the Christian life.  Each individual discipline requires a plan and commitment to persevere in the faith.

As you set goals, establish plans, and chart your progress on the way to the Celestial City, I urge you to get a copy of Don Whitney’s book to aid you in this process.  As much information as he provides, it’s laced full of wisdom and encouragement.  A few claps and cheers on the side of the road will help you persevere toward the finish line in the marathon.  Like a helpful aid station in a marathon, Don Whitney’s book serves as a major source of encouragement in the Christian life.  I think you will agree!

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Dr. Don Whitney serves as professor of biblical spirituality (2005); associate dean of the school of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Whitney came to Southern from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he was Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation for ten years. He has authored six books, includingSpiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and is a popular conference speaker, especially on personal and congregational spirituality. He served in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – Amazon

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DBG Spotlight

J. C. Ryle Online
J. C. Ryle lived in the 1800s and died June 10th 1900.  He was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool and his expositions of God’s Word are considered by many to be gospel gems!  You can find a treasure chest full of his work on this website free for your use.

Benny Hinn on ABC
Several years ago, Benny Hinn appeared on ABC to set the record straight about the accusations about his ministry. His interview caused more questions than it answered.

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