The Grace of Welcoming

Today’s message in the Graces of Gospel-Shaped Community series is now on the web. You can listen to the audio for Romans 14:1-15:7, The Grace of Welcoming, here.

Here is how I summarized the message:

The gospel shapes our community by constraining us to manifest the grace of welcoming – an ongoing determination to embrace others in spite of differences over morally neutral matters. The ground for this grace is two-fold: the gospel of God who has “welcomed” us in Christ and the judgment of God before which every believer ultimately stands or falls. The goal of this grace is the glory of God reflected in the harmony and unity of His church.

For the full text of the Max Lucado piece, Life Aboard the Fellow-Ship, with which I closed the message, click here.

The Grace of Serving (Part 1)

Today’s message from Galatians 5:1-15 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I articulated the main theme of the text this way:

So here is my main take away from this text in terms of what it means through love serve one another. Beware turning liberty in Christ into license to sin by serving others through love by practicing biblical peacemaking. Love one another well through a devoted bondslave-like service in so-far-as-it-depends-on-you-live-peaceably-with-all (Rom. 12:18), God-glorifying, Christ-imitating, biblically-informed conflict resolution at every turn.

As promised, here is the link for the September 22-25, here in Orlando, Peacemaker Ministries National Conference, with the theme of Hope in Brokenness.

Amazing Grace Behind Bars

As I prepare today for another Lord’s Day and the challenging preaching assignment God has given me from John 12:20-26, particularly vv. 25-26, I find myself decidedly grateful for the grace of Christ and His gospel. That and that alone enables anyone to hate his life in this world that he might keep it in the next.

Reminder that only the grace of God can empower extreme devotion to Christ came to me today from some reading I did in Bryan Chapel’s excellent book, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. In the chapter entitled Developing Redemptive Sermons, he writes of John Bunyan, the famous hymn writer, noting how much of his theology came into focus with clarity from behind bars.

Historians tell us that one of the amazing features of the life of John Bunyan was his refusal to let prison deter him from his pursuit of ministry. The author of Pilgrim’s Progress wrote many of his most influential words while incarcerated. In fact, prison helped strengthen and galvanize much of his thought. Bunyan’s theology took more concrete form when, though facing great deprivations, he debated with fellow religious prisoners whether the assurance of God’s love promoted holiness or license. Fellow prisoners challenged Bunyan saying, “You must not keep assuring people of God’s grace because they will do whatever they want.” Bunyan responded, “That is not true for God’s people. If you keep assuring God’s people of his grace, then they will do whatever he wants” (p. 313).

Guess who is praying for grace this evening that tomorrow God will help him assure His people of His grace that they will do whatever He wants?