Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

This Sunday I will be preaching through Acts 1:4-5, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is an important doctrine for us to understand, but one of the most controversial. Some of the confusion lies in a failure to understand the uniqueness of Pentecost.

We could easily spend weeks studying what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. Is He a force or a Person? Is He God or a creation of God? What is the difference between baptism, indwelling, filling, sealing, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?

I am going to attempt to answer these questions (and others) in one sermon on Sunday. So please pray for me. Thanks!

4 Reasons Why the Book of Acts is So Important

One can hardly overstate the importance of the Book of Acts or its contribution to the canon of Scripture. Let me mention just a few of the reasons why Acts - and thus our study of this book -is so important.

First, Acts (combined with the Gospel of Luke) makes up over one-fourth of the entire New Testament. Luke/Acts is really one work in two volumes (remember that only so much could be put on one scroll, just as only so much can be recorded on a cassette). If this one work makes up over one-fourth of the content of the New Testament, the principle of proportion alone tells us that it must be very important material.

Second, the Book of Acts provides us with a vivid account of the radical change which took place in the attitudes and actions of the disciples, who were passive and almost invisible after our Lord’s death, as described in the Gospels. The Peter who would deny his Lord in the courtyard of the high priest, who would hide behind locked doors after Jesus’ death, and who would “go fishing” after His resurrection, is a very different man in Acts 2, where he boldly proclaims Jesus to be the Christ and announces to his audience that they were guilty of His death and were facing divine judgment. The transformation of the Lord’s disciples is evident in the Book of Acts.

Third, Acts is a crucial book because it is the only book in the New Testament which fills in the gap between the Gospels and the Epistles. The Gospels end in Jerusalem with no church, a few Jewish believers in Jesus, and a group of disciples who are still living, as it were, in the past. The Epistles, on the other hand, depict a growing number of churches made up of mainly Gentile believers and a group of disciples who are boldly proclaiming Christ as Israel’s Messiah, and as the Savior of the Gentiles as well. Only Acts fills in the gaps, to explain how these changes took place. We would not understand the Epistles apart from the Book of Acts.

Fourth, Acts provides us with an inspired account of the transition of the gospel from a largely Jewish context to a gospel which is universal, not only embracing the Gentiles but becoming, for a season, a largely Gentile phenomenon. We begin in Jerusalem with a handful of Jewish followers of Jesus. The Book of Acts ends in Rome, with a number of Gentile churches having been founded, and a predominantly Gentile Christian community. The Book of Acts describes this transition: geographically, from Jerusalem to Rome; theologically, from Israel to the church; and racially, from Jews to Gentiles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Christian Perspective on Political Involvement

After concluding a sermon series on evangelism and a series on finances I was asked by a friend, "Where do we see in the Bible examples of people who were bold in sharing the gospel and good stewards of the money and possessions God entrusted to them?" The answer is clear: The book of Acts.
I was planning on starting a new sermon series on the book of Acts this Sunday. However, after talking with the elders and the men at our leadership study this morning it became clear that a sermon on the issues that we face in this election is much needed. Specifically I hope to help people discover and/or affirm what the Bible says about marriage and the life of the unborn child.
I have listed books (on the lower right of this page) that I believe will help us discern our responsibility as Christians in the political world. Of course, I hope my sermon this Sunday is also helpful! Please pray for me. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why Sermon Based Community Groups?

A number of years ago Harvard University conducted a study for the military that uncovered three ways to maximize the benefit of any training experience. The first was maintaining a high sense of expectation. The study showed that if people went into a training experience with high expectations, they generally learned and retained a lot more.

But here's the second ingredient. The Harvard researchers also discovered that if people took good notes during the training experience, the educational impact and the life-change upon returning home would accelerate measurably.

The third key had to do with discussing the material with others. If they got together and discussed the notes—and the broader training experience as a whole—their education impact and subsequent life-change was significantly increased. .

Those last two things (taking sermon notes and getting together and discussing the impact of the Bible text) are exactly why we are having sermon-based community groups - to change lives for God's glory and our good.

Five New Community Groups

There are five Cornerstone community groups now meeting: Paso Robles, Templeton, East Atascadero, West Atascadero, and South Atascadero. Great discussion, fellowship, and prayer taking place each week! I am excited about the potential for the "one anothers" of the New Testament (there are 30 "one anothers" in the NT!) to be practiced in these groups.

Recommended Books

I am still relatively new to the blogosphere and just added a new "widget" from shelfari. You can see books that I have read recently and recommend for reading. I have started with the books that have been helpful in my current sermon series on finances. Let me know if you find it helpful and if you have any other "widget" recommendations!