Monthly Archives: September 2012

Jude’s Variety of Illustrations—Biblical Examples

Note: This post is part three in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.

Jude writes his letter to appeal for others to contend for the faith. Why is this necessary? Because “ungodly people” who pervert the grace of God have crept in unnoticed.

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (ESV)

After clearly stating the main idea and informing the reader of its importance for them, Jude begins to illustrate his point. Illustrations serve as open windows allowing light to clarify the text and a breeze of fresh air to refresh the listener’s attention to the main idea of the sermon. Illustrations should help view the main idea from a different perspective and not bring in an entirely new idea or overshadow the main idea of the text.

In order to illustrate the idea that over and over ungodly people have crept in to pervert the grace of God and that they must be defeated, Jude uses biblical examples. In verses 5-7, Jude references the Israelites whom God destroyed because, being freed, they did not believe; the angels who rejected authority and did not stay in their proper dwelling; and Sodom and Gomorrah, where men indulged in fleshly desires.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, (ESV)

After using some non-biblical illustrations, Jude returns to his fondness of threes in verse 11 by mentioning the biblical examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah’s rebellion. Cain’s improper offering to God incited jealousy and anger that led to murder. Balaam committed the error of greed, and Korah rebelled against authority just as the angels who did not remain in their proper dwelling. Jude provides a variety of quick examples to bring to mind what “ungodly people” look like.

11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. (ESV)

Jude’s use of biblical examples should set a model for modern day preachers as well. By pulling from various biblical examples in preaching, the congregation will develop a more thorough understanding of the Bible sooner. The New Testament establishes a pattern of referencing Old Testament examples over and over, but not exclusively. As preachers, we should have the proper biblical literacy to pull from these examples, which will increase the biblical literacy of the congregation.

In the next post, I will look at how Jude also uses non-biblical material and natural analogies for illustrations.

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Government Gone Wild! When Soda is worse than Abortion?

In a September 13th New York Times article, “the New York City Board of Health on Thursday approved a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg has fought for this measure to help curb obesity. New York has taken other measures like bans on trans fats and smoking in bars to increase public health.

Soda companies think that this new rule may be government overreach. In a September 12 New York Times article, Soda companies are preparing for a long fight primarily because they stand to lose major revenue from this decision. One line of defense against the measure “could focus on whether New York City, as a municipality, has the authority to place restrictions on sales of soft drinks, which could be interpreted as a form of interstate commerce. They Board of Health rejected the argument noting that it has “broad purview to protect public health.”

But in a September 23, New York Times article titled, “More Access to Contraceptives in City Schools” notes an expansion in the distribution of the “morning-after pills” and other contraceptives to high school students. A CNN article notes that distribution of the pill does not necessarily require parental consent. Such action does not attempt to prevent sexual activity outside of marriage but tries to provide a solution for the unwanted results of that activity. Theologically speaking, life begins at the moment of conception so any drug or procedure preventing that life from maturing and progressing is abortive in nature.

Does this mean that New York City Board of Health thinks a girl drinking a large soda is worse than a girl taking the “morning-after pill”?

Apparently so, since they want to prevent the purchase of over-sized soda while freely giving away abortive pills without parental consent.

Our society and our country has fallen into deep sin when we express more concern over the size soda a teenage girl drinks than her sexual activity outside of marriage. The root cause to be addressed is the sin problem that all humans possess. When we partake in glutinous activity with our soda intake, we demonstrate a lack of self-control to our selfish desires. When we abandon God’s plan for marriage by seeking self satisfaction through pornography, fornication, or adultery, we demonstrate a lack of self-control to our selfish desires. The real solution to the problem comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not through government gone wild. Until our nation recognizes its sinful state, turns to the God that has been removed from those schools, and repents of our sinfulness, this situation will only grow worse.

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What Pastors Need to Know about the fragment of “Jesus’ wife”

With all the television publicity over Karen King’s recent release of information about the fragment of “Jesus’ wife,”  pastors will likely receive questions from members this weekend or in the near future. For us, there will be two main questions. First, was Jesus married and does it matter. Second, what does “she will be able to be my disciple” mean in the discussion over proper women’s roles. Last night the news interviewed me on the matter. Since I had to do a little research I thought I would share it with you. If you know me well, then you know I am just a simple country boy so here is a Southern Fried guide to the fragment of “Jesus’ wife.”

The Facts About the Fragment:

  • The fragment is smaller than a business card with eight lines on one side legible under a magnifying glass with about four words per line.
  • The fragment comes from the middle of a text which means you lose context on all sides.
  • They think the fragment comes from the 4th century. It is written in an Egyptian language–Coptic, and is thought to be a translation of a 2nd century document. This has not yet been verified.

The Facts About Karen King:

  • Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity, holds the oldest endowed chair in the United State (1721) at Harvard Divinity School.
  • Her books include “The Secret Revelation of John; The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle; What Is Gnosticism?; Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity; Revelation of the Unknowable God, Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism (ed.) and Women and Goddess Traditions in Antiquity and Today (ed.).
  • King teaches classes like “Women, Sex, and Gender in Ancient Christianity
  • King has named the “gospel” of which this is a part the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” for reference purposes. King connects this to the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip.

My Thoughts:

No matter how good a fish-tale you weave, this fragment is small. You can see the translation at Boston.com  You really can’t gather much information from a business card. Also the document dates too late to have impact. The Gospels have authenticity because of the date of their writing, the connection to an eye witness, and consistency with the rule of faith. Any fragment too far removed from Jesus’ time loses credibility because of the distance from Jesus’ life, and we can’t know who wrote it or what agenda that person may have had. At best, this document tells us what people were thinking in the second or fourth century. Yes, it is interesting, but no, it does not change anything. Too bad this fragment wasn’t released with The DaVinci Code. Its anonymous owner would receive a much higher pay day if it had been.  Bottom line is that we have older and more reliable documents in our Bibles.

Check the sponsors. King has an agenda. The naming of the fragment and the naming of the gospel play into her research field of women’s roles and unknown gospel accounts. This is like a hunting show demonstrating how you can’t kill a deer without a Rage broadhead on your arrow. Then at the end of the show you find out the only sponsor is Rage. While King may be considered a fine academic scholar, she has an agenda and your people need to know it.

Was Jesus married? The New Testament never says so. We would expect to find this information in the Gospels if Jesus had a wife. Furthermore, Paul when discussing this issue of marriage notes that Peter was married in 1 Cor 9:5. He likely would have stated Jesus was also married to make his point, but he doesn’t. Most theories of Jesus’ wife have him married to Mary Magdalene. Even King says it is unlikely that Mary was Jesus’ wife because she is known by the area of her birth, and if she were married, she would be known by her husband.

What about women disciples? Jesus treated women better than anyone of that time. He had believers and followers who were women, and showed himself to women first after the resurrection. So if “disciple” means “follower” which it likely does in the second or fourth century, then there is not an issue here. Women may be saved just as men and are equal in being (Gal 3:28). But don’t miss the possible agenda. The New Testament clearly lists that men made up the twelve. The deacons chosen in Acts were men. Scripture gives the man the authority in the home and in the church.

At the end of the day, this unverified fourth century Coptic fragment from an unknown source written by an unknown author doesn’t compare to the New Testament record in our Bibles. So we should take advantage of this opportunity to reassure our congregations of the reliability of Scripture and warn them of the feminist agenda that pervades our society.

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Jude Clearly States the Main Idea

Note: This post is part two in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.

In part one, we learned from Jude’s introduction. In this post, we look at his clear thesis statement. In the realm of homiletics, the “thesis” goes by many names. It has been called the homiletical idea, the big idea, the fallen condition focus, and the central idea of the text. No matter what you call it, you must clearly state it and elaborate on it. Jude provides an excellent example. Jude writes:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (ESV)

Jude’s purpose in writing is to make an earnest appeal to his readers “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” We should be just as clear with the thesis of our books, papers, articles, and especially with our sermons. People will follow our sermons easier if they know where we are going. We should also note that it is “the” faith and not “a” faith. The claim for absolute truth is definite.

After clearly stating the main idea, you must demonstrate why it matters. Listeners or readers need to know why they should be interested in the matter. Many call this the “interest statement.” Jude then gives a statement by explaining that ungodly people in your midst pervert the grace of God. Preachers must do the same. After declaring the main idea of the text, we need to indicate the importance of the topic by telling the listener why it matters. Jude writes:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (ESV)

In a succinct way, Jude gives the audience the roadmap for his letter. This letter will discuss contending for the faith once delivered. You should be concerned about this because certain people have crept into our midst that pervert the grace of God.

This provides a great model for a deductive sermon. But be cautious because not all texts demand the deductive approach. Many narrative texts or parables lead naturally to preaching an inductive sermon, where the main idea or thesis statement comes at the end. Matthew 18:21-35 comes to mind. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, you would want to hold verse 35 until the very end of the sermon, “so also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” This verse expresses the main idea of the parable, and you loose the tension if you give it away at the beginning. We must strive to communicate the text faithfully in the structure of our sermons as well as the explanation of the text.

So while the text determines which approach the preacher should take, Jude provides a good model for the deductive approach.

In a deductive sermon you state the main idea early in the sermon, gain the listener’s attention, and then follow the text to elaborate on the main idea. Because following an audible sermon is more difficult than reading a paper, clarity becomes essential for effective communication. The old adage holds true here: a mist in the pulpit produces a fog in the pew.

In the next post, we will look at Jude’s use of biblical examples to illustrate his point.

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Roy Fish on Motivation for Evangelism

Roy Fish, Distinguished Professor for Evangelism, served at Southwestern Seminary for almost 50 years. He demonstrated a passion for personal evangelism above most that you will ever meet. He also led the program that I now call Revive This Nation. He called it Pioneer Penetration and sought to send preachers to remote areas where the Gospel had not thoroughly reached. For these reasons and many more, I deeply appreciate Dr. Fish. He encouraged me to witness more and follow Christ more passionately.

In the video above, he gives some thoughts on the motivation for evangelism. He went to be with the Lord on Monday, Sept. 10th, and I wanted to post this video as a tribute to one of the greatest evangelists that I have ever known personally.

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