Seminary Blog

Free for All: Google, Education, and Test Results

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 20:05

Barry is joined by Daisy, Winston, and Rob to chat about a 75 year-old who went to school for 55 years, interpretation of data, and renewable energy.

Daisy’s Article

Winston’s Article

Rob’s Article

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_12.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Is every Christian called to evangelize?

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 11:03

Church members sometimes wonder if they should just leave evangelism to the “professionals.” After all, isn’t evangelism a spiritual gift?

In this article I offer quick guide for pastors to know how to answer them.

 

Two common arguments against it

 

Must every Christian evangelize? The scriptural answer is “yes.” But I have encountered two main reasons for why some argue the answer is “no.”

1. The Great Commission was only given to the apostles and therefore does not apply to us today.

First, some argue that the Great Commission was only given to the apostles and therefore does not apply to us today. While it is true that contextually the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) was given to the apostles, it was not only for the apostles. The command “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” certainly includes the command to make disciples. D.A. Carson notes that the Great Commission does not record Jesus saying to the apostles, “. . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, except for this commandment to make disciples. Keep their grubby hands off that one, since it belongs only to you, my dear apostles.”[1]

What had Jesus commanded the apostles? Among many other things, he commanded them to preach the gospel to the whole creation. So this command of Jesus given to the apostles also applies to every believer today. In addition, should we try to limit Jesus’ promise “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” as only applying to the apostles, or does it apply to us today? Certainly it applies to us today!

 

2. Since only some people have the “gift of evangelism,” not everyone is obligated to witness.

Second, some claim that since only some people have the “gift of evangelism,” not everyone is obligated to witness. Space prohibits a full discussion on the topic of “the gift of evangelism,” but a few observations are in order.

First, evangelism is not recorded in the common spiritual gifts listings in Scripture; instead, the office of evangelist is mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. Some (myself included) question whether “evangelism” should be seen as a distinct spiritual gift, such as giving, serving, and so on.

In addition, even if evangelism is a spiritual gift, it is also a command for all believers, just like giving, serving, and so on. Not having “the gift of evangelism” does not excuse a believer from his or her call to share Christ with others.

 

Four biblical reasons

 

Does Scripture mandate that every believer should evangelize? I argue “yes,” for the following four reasons.

1. The commands to witness are given to all followers of Christ.

First, the commands to witness are given to all followers of Christ. Acts 1:8, for example, reads, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This verse gives a command from the risen Lord to all his followers. As John Stott argues, “We can no more restrict the command to witness than we can restrict the promise of the Spirit.”[2]

In writing to the Corinthian believers, Paul maintained,

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)

It’s not only apostles that have the ministry of reconciliation and the role of Christ’s ambassadors—all believers do! Other verses that reflect on this ministry of witness for all believers include Matthew 5:14-16, 1 Peter 3:15, Philippians 2:14-16, Colossians 4:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9.[3]

 

2. The example of “ordinary believers” in the early church.

Second, consider the example of “ordinary believers” in the early church. As we follow the storyline of the early church it is obvious that the apostles sought to evangelize and disciple others. But we see ordinary believers sharing the gospel as well.

Following the stoning of Stephen we read in Acts 8:1, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” And what did those ordinary believers do? Acts 8:4 tells us: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching (euangelizomenoi) the word.” They went about sharing the gospel with others.

Noted historian Kenneth Scott Latourette makes this observation about the spread of the gospel:

The chief agents in the expansion of Christianity appear not to have been those who made it a profession or a major part of their occupation, but men and women who earned their livelihood in some purely secular manner and spoke of their faith to those whom they met in this natural fashion.[4]

3. The stewardship the gospel imposes on us.

Third, consider the stewardship the gospel imposes on us. Jesus reminds us, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We have been given no greater gift than the gospel, and we have no greater stewardship than to share that message of good news with others. Paul expresses it well in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “for the love of Christ controls us.”

4. The “work of ministry” in Ephesians 4.

Finally, consider what Paul calls “the work of ministry” in Ephesians 4. In this chapter Paul notes different offices in the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers). He declares part of the reason God “gifts” the church with such leaders is so they will “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). And we should certainly include evangelism in “the work of ministry.”

Ephesians 4 raises a challenge for pastors: Are we training our people to do evangelism? Are we setting an example for them in our own personal evangelism? Some people run from the idea of evangelism because they assume it means they must be obnoxious and pushy. There are many approaches to sharing the gospel. The only fixed method is the message: telling others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Lead by exhortation and example

Pastors, we can say to our people with confidence, “you are called to be a witness for Christ in both word and deed.” As leaders, let us challenge other believers not only with our exhortations but also with our example.[5] And let us take great confidence in the gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

_______________

[1] D.A. Carson, “Ongoing Imperative for World Mission,” in The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions, edited by Martin I. Klauber and Scott M. Manetsch (Broadman & Holman, 2008), 179.

[2] John R.W. Stott, Our Guilty Silence (Inter-Varsity Press, 1967), 58.

[3] While the context of 1 Peter 3:15 is what can be called “passive evangelism” (responding to a question that an unbeliever asks), this command is clearly given to all believers “to be ready” to answer when asked.

[4] Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity (Harper & Brothers, 1937), 1:116.

[5] Among the many helpful resources for personal evangelism, I highly recommend: Will Metzger, Tell the Truth; Mark Dever, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism; and J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

_________________

Timothy K. Beougher serves as associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry and is Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism. He also serves as senior pastor of West Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville and has ministry experience as an evangelist, church planter, and interim pastor. This article was originally published on the 9Marks site.

The post Is every Christian called to evangelize? appeared first on Southern Blog.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Free for All: Education, News, and Thanksgiving Dinner

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 20:05

Dr. Steve Hunter, Winston, and Daisy join Barry to chat about a grandma who invited a special person to thanksgiving, the school’s emphasis on “market values”, and the struggle with the news.

Daisy’s Article

Winston’s Article

Steve’s Article

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_09.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

The Six “R”s of Prayer

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 15:00

I have grown in prayer through the years, although there have been numerous ups and downs. As a result, there are certain practices that have helped me. I want to share one of them with you today, and perhaps add another in a later blog post ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Luke 5: Part 2

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 20:05

Barry talks us through the next section of Luke 5, pointing out what’s different about him and every other prophet in history.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_08.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

An Attempt at Biblical Theology in Poetic Verse

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 13:07
I think it’s fair to say that art can reach the inner person quicker than an outline (though perhaps “art” is a strong word for my poem!). That is the thrust behind this attempt to summarize the storyline of the Bible. My goal was to produce something that would arrest the reader with the brilliance and intricacy... Read More
Categories: Seminary Blog

Truth is a Person — Not Simply An Idea

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 19:12

Truth matters. And in our moments of honesty, we all know this. Minimally, we all live as if truth matters. It’s unavoidable. Truth matters in religious matters too. All religions (including atheism) claim to present a true depiction of reality. And this includes Christianity. But there is a key fact that makes Christianity distinct from other world religions — Christianity does not present truth merely as an abstract idea, but as a person who can be known.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Free for All: Cohousing, Vlogging, and Airbnb

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 20:05

Daisy, Winston, and Joe join Barry to chat about community, the effects of vlogging on followers, and an Airbnb.

Daisy’s Article

Winston’s Article

Joe’s Article

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_06.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Is ‘Divine Accommodation’ a Trojan Horse for Weakened Biblical Inerrancy?

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:32
Last month my colleagues and I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (for more on the purpose and value, as well as the shortcomings of ETS, see Dr. Snoeberger’s recent blog post). Although I attend the conference for a variety of reasons, a primary aim is to listen... Read More
Categories: Seminary Blog

Why I Practice Cold-Call Evangelism and Why You Should Too!

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 09:30

Many of us have received a phone call from an unknown number and, upon answering, found out that the person calling is a random salesperson from a different state attempting to sell the next revolutionary product on the market. When these calls come to our cell phones, many people get annoyed and simply hang up the phone. I, personally, have received several of these calls over the years and have responded in a number of ways. Sometimes, I politely tell the salesperson that I am not interested and hang up the phone. Other times, I ask them to please put me on the “do not call” list. However, if the salesperson calls at the right time and offers a deal that simply cannot be refused, I have “taken the bait” and purchased the item or service.

This sales strategy is called cold-call sales, which simply means that a company acquires a list of random names and phone numbers and methodically marches down the list, calling people to whom they have never spoken before and offering their product and/or services. The question I have regarding this practice is, “Why are so many companies still attempting this type of sales if so many people turn them down?”

In the church, there is a similar approach to evangelism called cold-call evangelism in which Christians acquire a list of random names and contact information, either by mapping out the area around the church or using other strategic ways of gathering such information, and methodically marching house to house, knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel. Some Christians believe this approach has outlived its usefulness because of the lack of fruit that they see while attempting to do cold-call evangelism, but I hold the conviction that cold-call evangelism is a practice that I will continue to do, and so should you. Here are several reasons why I believe this:

1.    It is biblical.

The book of Acts gives the account of the birth of the 1st century church. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and both publicly and personally proclaimed the Gospel to the world around them. One does not have to look very hard to find examples of cold-call evangelism in this account. In Acts 8:26-40, we see Phillip evangelize to the Ethiopian eunuch using the book of Isaiah. Paul evangelizes the Philippian jailer and his whole household in Acts 16:25-34. But probably the most convincing argument for cold-call evangelism is found in Acts 20, where we see Paul’s defense of his ministry before the Ephesian elders. He explains to them that he served with humility, even in the midst of trials (Acts 20:19), and then he describes how he did not shrink back from declaring the Gospel to both Jew and Greek “from house to house” (Acts 20:20). What was he proclaiming to them? Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). If Paul saw the benefit of cold-call evangelism, so do I.

2.    It is economical.

The church, like any other organization, has a budget to work from and must make the most out of the money that it is given. Many churches send their members across the country or even around the world to do mission work, and I wholeheartedly believe this is an important and necessary task. However, many of these same churches often neglect sending them across the street! Why are we willing to spend thousands of dollars to send people to other continents when we can spend little to nothing sending them out into the community around the church? Cold-call evangelism is an opportunity to get the Gospel out to the lost that costs nothing more than the material that is handed out. Though stewardship is not the primary reason I participate in cold-call evangelism, it does help build the argument for doing this type of evangelism.

3.    It is practical.

One of the major benefits of doing cold-call evangelism that many people overlook is that this practice helps Christians develop evangelistic skills that they may not build otherwise. I have been going door-to-door for more than six years now, and through this practice, I have engaged people of all different backgrounds—Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, and about every other major religious background. Not only does this practice help build my own personal evangelistic skills, it also provides an opportunity for me to train other believers how to share their faith. By inviting believers to “come and see” (John 1:39) and then helping them to “go and do” likewise, I am able to effectively multiply my evangelistic efforts through other believers.

4.    It is effectual.

Some believe that door-to-door evangelism is dead, and I understand why they do so. In my experience with this type of evangelism, I get turned away more than I get the opportunity to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. However, in six years of regularly doing this type of evangelism, I have also seen a number of people turn to Jesus and get folded into a local church. Just because people turn us down doesn’t mean that cold-call evangelism is dead! People turned Jesus down during his ministry as well (Luke 18:23; John 6:66). We cannot control what other people say in response to the Gospel; we can only control what we say and do when attempting to get the Gospel to people.

Let me be very clear: the church is not a business, and we should not simply treat the Gospel as a product that we offer to consumers. However, the church is the body of Christ, and the Gospel is the power of God to salvation and the greatest offer that has ever been extended to mankind. Regardless of the response, I intend to do everything possible to get the Gospel to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, and as persuasively as possible.

Is cold-call evangelism the best way to evangelize? Maybe not. Is cold-call evangelism the only way to evangelize? Absolutely not. However, cold-call evangelism is a biblical, economical, practical, and effectual approach to evangelism in which I have personally seen numerous people turn to Christ. For these reasons, I choose to continue to methodically engage the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join me?

For more information about Southwestern Seminary’s efforts to reach every home within a two-mile radius of the campus, go to swbts.edu/everydayevangelism

Categories: Seminary Blog

10 habits to help a pastor stay married and in ministry

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 08:53

Marriage is hard enough, but add ministry into the mix and you have a recipe for a potential mess. My work with pastors and their families causes me to see the messiness that exists in pastors’ homes. There’s plenty of the same mess in my own home. The combined stress of marriage and ministry is a unique situation that demands intentionality to keep both a marriage or a ministry from imploding.

Here are 10 things to consider that might help a pastor and his wife stay married and in ministry:

1. Be safe for each other in an unsafe church.

The reality is most churches are unsafe for a pastor and his wife to be open and vulnerable. It is a real gift when a marriage can be a safe place for both a pastor and his wife to be themselves.

2. Establish boundaries together and keep them.

The pastor’s wife is usually the one with the most discernment on setting boundaries with the church. Pastors, listen to your wives on these boundaries and work together to keep them.

3. Learn to rest.

Take all the vacation time the church gives you. But even if you do that, it doesn’t mean you will rest well. Learning to rest is learning to let go of all church matters and burdens while you are away.

4. Carefully listen to each other.

I have spent most of my marriage not listening well to my wife. I am aware of this epic failure and am now trying to change that. Listen to each other so you both know when there are cries for help when drowning in ministry and life.

5. Laugh a lot together as a family.

Marriage and ministry are both very serious and heavy much of the time. Make sure you have times where your family is gathered around the dinner table or on the floor playing games or watching a movie, laughing and engaged together. This in particular is life-giving to all.

6. Encourage your children to be themselves.

Pastor’s kids feel such pressure to be who everyone thinks they are supposed to be.  Encourage your children to be who they are with you and the church. Try to embrace the good, bad, and the ugly of it.

7. Be willing to walk away from your ministry.

I constantly battle ministry as an idol. It is amazing how much more enjoyable ministry actually is when I realize it doesn’t determine my value or define who I am. I perform a daily gut-check on this by asking, “Can I walk away today if needed and still be all right?”  I have found that freedom makes ministry sweeter.

8. Find deep meaningful safe friendships.

My wife and I learned some painful lessons through nearly 20 years of marriage and ministry. One such lesson is that we cannot meet all of each other’s needs. You must find deep meaningful friendships in which you can be yourself and where you can bring your darkest struggles. Those friends might be in your church, but I would also look outside the congregation for those safe friendships.

9. Understand your roles.

Your wife in not your fellow pastor/elder. Don’t treat her like one. She is not to carry all the burdens the Chief Shepherd calls you to carry. Be mindful of this as you bring your ministry burdens home.

10. Love Jesus the most.

If you love Jesus more than your marriage and your ministry, that is a wonderful, centered, and freeing place to be. Your spouse will fail you. Your church will almost certainly disappoint you. Jesus is always with you and never fails you. He will be there to care for you if your marriage and ministry implode at some point.

I chose the words, “might help” intentionally for these are not at 10 rules that are guaranteed to your marriage and ministry from imploding. But they might create needed conversation between you and your spouse to keep your marriage and ministry pressing on a bit longer and in greater balance and health.

_______________

Brian Croft serves as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville. He is also senior fellow for the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at Southern Seminary. A veteran pastor and author of numerous books on practical aspects of pastoral ministry, Brian oversees Practical Shepherding, a gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry. His latest book is Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying & Divided Churches (Christian Focus, 2016).

The post 10 habits to help a pastor stay married and in ministry appeared first on Southern Blog.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Luke: Part 4

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 20:05

Barry continues the story of Jesus in Luke 4, pointing out not just his mission, but the means by which he completes the mission.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CWC-2016_12_05.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

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