Category Archives: Preaching

Preaching – should never change

Alfred Angelo Bridal, one of America’s biggest wedding-dress retailers, and with at least 60 outlets nationwide, has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Fourteen hundred retailers world-wide sold their creations.  Ten thousand dresses are secured in a San Diego warehouse.

The critics say Angelo Bridal didn’t adapt to a changing economy and clientele.  The same inability has doomed other retailers in the rush of shoppers to on-line their phurchases.  U-T, 8/10/17

The church has faced the issue of adapting to culture.  To the shame of many leaders, they HAVE adapted by changing what in the Gospel they preach.  Or how firmly they preach it.  In their haste to remove “unnecessary” obstacles to church growth, even many Christian Church ministers—of the Stone-Campbell tradition—have eliminated baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sin.  Not a few have eliminated the weekly Lord’s Supper celebration.

They toss out pews as old school and replace them with comfortable chairs.  They eliminate the cross from the sanctuary because, after all, it’s “only” a symbol.

Preachers, don’t eliminate baptism’s importance; and don’t forego weekly communion.  And don’t, by any means, stop preaching that anyone who wants to follow Jesus must make self-denial his daily task so he can make carrying Christ’s cross his daily pleasure!

You might know.  In this degraded age preachers and elders would change God’s perfect, changeless word to appeal to seekers who want an easy, not God’s SURE, way to be saved.  The Gospel needs only to be preached and lived to continue rescuing sinners.  It never needs to be changed or adapted.  Any adaptation weakens it while sinners are seldom changed.  For what difference will it make if we all get along with each other if we all go to Hell by refusing to follow Jesus?

Little wonder churches get bigger while society grows increasingly wicked.  The people God appointed to dare sinners to defy God; to demand they repent; to defy their readiness to live like their unsaved friends—have themselves become so much like their members no one sees any difference in them!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Preaching – the innate irresistible influence of Gospel.

With the new generation of Hebrews across the Jordan casting fearful eyes at the walled cities and armed populations beyond, God reassured them.  He offered two promises when they asked how they could ever drive those enemies out.  First, remembrance of his miracles in Egypt.  Thus, his previous action guaranteed his help in the present crisis.  (A fact, by the way, that ancient Israel NEVER learned.)  Second, he would send a HORNET/WASP ahead of Israel’s armies to drive them into submission Deuteronomy 7:17-21.

While scholars haven’t agreed on a clear definition of the figure, it may refer to a powerful and irresistible force.  It could refer to God’s ANGEL, Jesus in pre-Incarnate form.  In fact, the appearance of God’s Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Joshua 5:14—A.K.A. Jesus in pre-Incarnate state—may be the best explanation of Deuteronomy 7:20.

This blog, however, draws a contrast between Israel’s experience entering Canaan and Christianity’s when invading the Jewish and Roman world.  God sent his people into every moral cesspool of the ancient world—they would feel right at home in depraved America—without removing any Satanic stronghold.  He left all of his structures intact to prove the much more powerful Jesus Christ encountering his Enemy.  That’s why Christians today need courage, not fear; confidence, not terror; and hope, not despair as we face an increasingly strident, vocal, intimidating humanism.  We need never fear IF we depend on the Holy Spirit leading, protecting, defending us as we preach Christ’s life in the Gospels and his didache through the apostles.  Our very faithfulness to him eliminates fear of Satan and his hellions in the media, the entertainment industry and politicians who run scared before any interest group demanding its rights but refusing its responsibilities.

Christians, preach the Gospel.  The Holy Spirit will never fail to conquer sinners if we do.  We will never have more influence in society than by preaching the Gospel as written, however unpopular the message.  Why would we seek any other means of influencing individuals in a corporately-depraved culture?

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

 

 

Preaching – a sample of Gospel – III (Acts 4:1-22)

After healing the lame man, Peter and John preached Christ as the source of the miracle.  Jesus Christ rejected by the people, killed by the Sanhedrin but raised from the dead by God’s authority over life and death.

This brought the apostles a night in jail and interrogation before the highest court in Israel.  The apostles fearlessly repeated to them what they had preached to the laymen.

Briefly, what we can learn from this incident.

One, skeptics don’t need further evidence of God’s truth, of the Gospels’ integrity, of Christ’s authenticity.  If they won’t believe the mountain of evidence already in the Bible, piling up hills more won’t convince them.  As Abraham responded when the rich man begged for Lazarus to be sent as messengers to his wicked brothers, if they wouldn’t believe the Law and prophets they wouldn’t believe if a dead man arose Luke 16:31.  And didn’t the Master’s own resurrection fail to convince the Sanhedrin?  Didn’t they immediately, on learning from Roman soldiers that Jesus was alive, bribe them into lying about it?  Matthew 28:11-15.

We who work in apologetics won’t stop uncovering the multiple attestations of Christ’s authenticity in the Gospels.  But we don’t delude ourselves into thinking the skeptics will be convinced by new evidence.  We don’t even delude ourselves into thinking Christians see the importance of apologetics.  It’s what we do because we see its importance.

Two, preachers must continue proclaiming the fact of Christ’s resurrection.  Because it confronts humanity with his absolute sovereignty over life and death.  Because it guarantees that every individual in history will stand before the Christ at Judgment.  Because he will determine the eternal destiny of everyone appearing at Judgment.  Because we have no choice since he’s ALIVE from the dead.  It’s either obey him and live forever or reject him and be sent to Hell.  – Fini –

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Preaching – a sample of Gospel – II (Acts 4:1-22)

Simon Peter’s sermon can be summarized in three statements.

First, the lame man’s healing came through Jesus Christ’s authority.  Some things never change.  When the Master cleansed the temple at the beginning of his Early Judean ministry, the leaders demanded his source of authority John 2:18.  Three and one-half years later, after multiplied attestations of his power over disease, demons and death, they still questioned his source Matthew 21:23.  (God’s truth in Christ will never be sufficient to convince those who don’t want to hear it.)

So here, after healing the lame man, Acts 3:6, in the name of (authority/power of) Jesus Christ, the Sanhedrin demanded the source of the miracle!  Though known as apostles of Christ, preaching and healing in the name of Christ, the leaders still wondered—though the lay people knew.  When the leaders heard that name from Peter, back it came from the dead, accusing them, glorifying itself.  How they hated it.  What little could they do about it.

Second, Jesus had been appointed the cornerstone of God’s kingdom.

The word for stone is often used in New Testament teaching, both literally and figuratively in relationship to Christ.  God made his Son the most important stone in the kingdom.  What a jolt to the Sanhedrin.  For the apostle claimed nothing less for Jesus than complete authority over and ownership of God’s building.  He controlled it, determined its composition, doctrine and membership.

Third, Jesus alone provides salvation:  the forgiveness of sin we all need to enter God’s presence.  The very statement Jesus made to Nicodemus over three years before John 3:13-14.  In this mighty statement Jesus nullified the Sanhedrin’s role in ruling, the temple’s role in forgiving, the Mosaic role as the touchstone of spiritual truth.      – End Part II –

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Preaching – a sample of Gospel – I

(Acts 4:1-21 – an excerpt from a sermon preached 8/2/15)

The question often asked Christians is why we insist on believing Christ’s bodily resurrection is essential to Christianity.  Even without that event, unbelievers say, Jesus is still the world’s Model Man in virtue, sacrifice and service.

Yes, but anything less than Christ rising from the dead leaves a disemboweled Gospel.  Since Jesus died to forgive human sin; since he was buried; he necessarily had to be raised on the third day, as I Corinthians 15:3-4 says.

And, point of integrity:  either he rose from the dead or he didn’t.  It’s that simple.  He didn’t get stuck half-way out of the tomb.  Either he arose and lives or didn’t and is dust.  One or the other.  If he’s dead, curse him as a fraud and forget him.  But if he’s alive from the dead, bless his name and fall before him in worship.

The apostles Peter and John had no doubt.  And when they appeared before the Sanhedrin, after spending a night in jail for preaching the Master’s resurrection, they still believed it and still proclaimed it.  They relived Jeremiah’s experience.  Evil men cast him into the cistern for preaching Babylonian plunder of Jerusalem.  Later King Zedekiah had the prophet lifted from the cistern and brought for a private interview.  Was there any message from the Lord, the king inquired, perhaps wondering if a few hours in the muddy cistern had changed Jeremiah’s mind.

It hadn’t.  He repeated his threat:  the Babylonians would enter and plunder the city.

You see, folks, issues can change but truth remains the same, whatever the issues discussed or how circumstances change.

So when Peter and John confronted the very men who cast them in jail, and could do far worse if they didn’t stop preaching Jesus Christ alive from the dead, what did they do?  They resolutely, directly and audaciously preached Jesus Christ alive from the dead!  Three statements summarize their proclamation.  – End Part I –

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Preaching – speaking to the point

Edward Everett, the orator at Gettysburg, preceded Abraham Lincoln and spoke almost two hours.  The noise in the crowd had hardly ceased when the President stood, read his speech and sat again.  Public reaction to Lincoln’s Address was mixed, but Everett understood its significance.  He wrote the President that he could wish he’d captured the meaning of the occasion in two hours as had the President in two minutes.  But, then, words that achieve the maximum result need not be lengthy, or eloquent.  They must be aimed directly at the situation or circumstance.

Isaiah had been called to preach, 40:6a.  And he asked God what he should preach—an appropriate question.  He didn’t want to arm the air with irrelevant or foolish words.  He sought to be a true messenger of spiritually-meaningful and impressive truths.

Anyone who speaks for God must ask the haunting question, “what shall I say?”  For it’s never enough to just string words together.  We must say God’s word clearly and pointedly.  Only in repeating God’s word after him do we effectively represent him.  And whether it takes a sentence or a sermon, that word must be emphatically and distinctly spoken.  It may offend people.  They may despise hearing it.  Too bad.  Let God be true, and every man a liar Romans 3:4.  It will never be that man is true and God’s a liar.