As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Who are the Wise

People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!: The 10 Ways You Are Sabotaging Yourself and How You Can Overcome Them
People are Idiots
Turn the TV channels at various times of the day and you will find the wise of this world. They extol ways to lose weight, become a millionaire, eat healthy, save the nation from debt, win against terrorism, stop crime, solve the health care crisis and bring peace to the Middle East. Do we tire of the wisdom of this world? Does anyone really have the answers to our problems? Do we ever grow weary of the know-it-all evangelists of worldly gospels which solve nothing? In Matthew 11:16-30 Jesus said that the answers are hidden from the wise and learned but revealed to little children. Neither left nor right has solved our biggest national worries. Neither science nor education has given us rest from our most pressing problems. Jesus said come to me and I will give you rest.

The Nation that Repents

National repentance the only way to prevent the ruin of a sinful people. A sermon preached at Kingston on Thames, November the 25th, 1741, the day ... fast and humiliation before almighty God
National Repentance
Do we ever tire of proclaiming that we are the best nation on earth? By the way, such arrogance is not just an American disease. It can be found from aristocratic Britain to the wide open spaces of Australia, from industrious Germany to entrepreneurial China. Do we grow weary of ever extolling our virtues and avoiding the need to repent of national sins? National leaders have robbed the poor, oppressed the weak and lived immoral lives yet have not repented. Ordinary citizens have lived unethical lives, cheated in business and advertised lies and have not repented. In Matthew 11:16-30 Jesus cursed three cities who had witnessed his miracles but not repented. As we celebrate a nation, let us also thank God for his bounty and ask him to forgive our sins. The nation that repents is among the best.

National Celebration & Repentance

National repentance the only way to prevent the ruin of a sinful people. A sermon preached at Kingston on Thames, November the 25th, 1741, the day ... fast and humiliation before almighty God
National Repentance
Are national days filled with self-worship and self-congratulation but not repentance? Is there ever a precedent for God’s rejection of a people who will not repent? In Matthew 11:16-30 Jesus addressed three cities that were involved in a national religion but had rejected him and refused to repent. On our national days, modern countries sing God save the king, or songs about how beautiful the land is, but don’t sing of Jesus or national repentance. We idolize those who hoard billions and not Jesus who gave it all away for us. We worship this world’s royalty but don’t ask them to repent and return what their ancestors stole from the poor. We worship nationhood but not the King of Kings nor do we call for national repentance. National repentance needs to be on the agenda as we celebrate nationhood.

Religion without Repentance

Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel
Repentance: The
First Word of the Gospel
Do we mock the idea that God would curse particular cities? That was exactly Jesus’ intent in Matthew 11:16-30. It may shock those who believe that Jesus only preached smooth things. He spoke harsh judgment on three cities. That is a different Jesus than is popular in many Sunday School lessons. The first summary statement of Jesus’ message was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” These cities had brought such judgment upon themselves because they refused to repent. Even a debauched and lawless city like Sodom would receive better judgment than those who had rejected Jesus. This was corporate not individual repentance and the cities had rejected it. These were Jewish cities, who thought that their religion without repentance could save them. That is a warning for Christians today. Religion without a change of heart is useless.

One Message — Two Aspects

The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World
The Gospel-Driven Life
In the form of an allegory of children at play (Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30), Jesus emphasized two aspects to the Christian message: the wedding and the funeral. Some emphasize happy times and others preach doom and gloom. The good news is set against a backdrop of bad news. The message that Jesus and John preached was unified at its core, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Yet, Jesus and John were contrasted in this passage as emphasizing two aspects of that message. The world criticized both. John was criticized for preaching and living as if he were at a funeral and Jesus was condemned for preaching and living as if he were at a wedding. Some churches are mocked as too happy-clappy and others are condemned as too austere. Let us remember that there is room for both.

Thousands of Lifestyles

Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity
Ecumenism Means You Too
In Matthew 11:16-30 we are told of two lifestyles: John, the abstinent recluse with a restrictive diet and Jesus, the social drinker who enjoyed a hearty meal with sinners. The point of this was to highlight two examples of how God has reached out to the world. Yet in both cases people criticized God’s messengers. Christians come in many varieties but the same message. There are simple Christians who live off the grid in loyal and supportive communities, joyful and boisterous Christians who seem to have a party wherever they go, formal and traditional Christians who love the majesty of pomp and ceremony and a thousand legitimate varieties. All that is merely external. Just as with John and Jesus, when we look deep inside churches which appear so different on the outside, the same message is on the inside.

Two Lifestyles

CHRISTIANITY AND ALCOHOL(WINE): Is It A Sin To Drink Alcohol (Wine) As A Christian?
Christianity & Alcohol
In Matthew 11:16-30 we are told of two lifestyles. On the one hand a man with a restrictive diet, who abstained from various kinds of drinks and avoided bad company. Jesus’ cousin had chosen that kind of lifestyle and he was criticized as crazy. On the other hand, Jesus occasionally ate and drank with sinners and he was criticized as a gluttonous drunkard. What was John’s purpose? It was to call people to repentance. What was Jesus’ purpose? It was also to call people to repentance. In many ways they had the same purpose, but their methods were different. One ate and drank with sinners, the other abstained and lived apart. Neither lifestyle received criticism from heaven. Some Christians go to bars in hopes of saving sinners and others avoid them. There is no reason to criticize either lifestyle.

Marriage a Family Affair

A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family
A Christian Theology
of Marriage & Family
The first marriage was informal (Genesis 2:20-25). Later marriages were strictly a family affair (Genesis 24:65-67). In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word marriage is translated from words meaning to take, dwell together and support. The first known instance of the Church going from preaching to meddling in marriages was when Ignatius urged the approval of a bishop. However, until the 1500’s in Europe, the parties merely made a private promise to each other and some recorded that promise with the Church. Luther viewed marriage as worldly and passed the responsibility to the State. Calvin ordered that Church and State be involved in marriage. And now today many are wanting to make another change to the marriage institution. Is it time to tell both State and Church to get out of our marriages and remake marriage a family affair?

Unlimited Spiritual Gifts

What You Do Best in the Body of Christ: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, Personal Style, and God-Given Passion
What You do Best
Are the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 all there are? If we believed some spiritual gift tests in the Christian market place we might be led to believe that the Holy Spirit has no more gifts for us. If you can’t manipulate your way into one of those, is that just too bad for you? Are you of no further use to God? But, think about it. Are feet, hands, ears and eyes the only parts of a body? Of course not. There are also lungs, elbows, knees, a nose and innumerable other parts large and small. So, to limit the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to Paul’s list here is illogical. When we compare we miss the point of the examples given, not to divide over these or any of the Holy Spirit’s unlimited spiritual gifts.

Charismatic Division

The causes of division in the Church range from arguments over lettuce in the kitchen to worship music. Corinth was known for its deep divisions. They divided over favoritism, morality, communion, languages and other issues. Division over many issues continues in the Church today. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul focused on charismatic division. All churches, whether or not they like the term, are charismatic churches. There are no non-charismatic churches, even though some prefer the term and others avoid it. Charismata are simply graces or gifts given individually to Christians by the Holy Spirit. Some have the first gift on the list, wisdom. Not everyone who has been given a spiritual gift has wisdom. Spiritual gifts are often used unwisely, in a manner which causes division. Let’s pray for the first gift, wisdom to use our various gifts for unity.

Nobody Always says Jesus is Lord

Jesus Christ Our Lord (Jensen Bible Self-Study Guide Series)
Jesus Christ our Lord
Dare any of us say that Jesus is always Lord of our lives and that we perfectly obey him at all times? Of course not. So when Paul said that those who have the Holy Spirit will say that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12) he did not imply that we say so all the time. However, we tend to get picky about one another. We excuse our own inability to say that Jesus is Lord over 100% of our lives via perfect obedience, yet criticize others for their lack of perfect obedience. It may not even be obedience to Jesus that we criticize, but humanly devised church rules or procedures. The Bible gives very scanty rules for procedures and does not always confirm our human rules, but one thing it does continually confirm, we have each received one Spirit.

One Legitimate Cause of Division

East and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church: From Apostolic Times until the Council of Florence (Oxford History of the Christian Church)
The Making of a Rift
In the Church there is certainly one legitimate cause for division, between those who confess Christ as Lord and those who curse him (1 Corinthians 12). There is nothing in Scripture that excuses division over papal authority, or tongues, or modes of baptism, or how creation happened, or ordination of women, or abstinence and a host of other human interpretations. Has anyone yet heard a Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox Church leader curse Christ? There indeed may be an isolated example where that is true, but we may dare say that for the overwhelming majority of Christian history, all these people have acknowledged that Jesus is Lord in both word and deed. Therefore, there is no legitimate reason for division between us and we are without excuse when we perpetuate any schism. Let us work for peace and unity between Christians.

Testing a Word

False Teachers and Preachers in Christianity
False Teachers & Preachers
One time I asked a preacher why he didn’t use the Bible in his preaching. His answer was that folks could read their Bibles at home. The only problem with that is that few were doing so and fewer were being taught the tools to rightly discern good from bad understanding of the Bible. As a result, that preacher’s sermons were filled with every whim which was excused as a “word” from God. Is there a simple way to test the validity of a so-called word from God? In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul gave one simple litmus test. Is the person’s word effectively calling Jesus accursed or Lord? If Jesus is Lord, then a preacher will obey him and preach what Jesus commanded to be taught. If Jesus’ words are avoided, then perhaps that avoidance is effectively calling Jesus accursed.

The Common Good

Journey to the Common Good
Journey to the Common Good
We have all witnessed the person who uses a talent or spiritual gift for the purpose of showing off. Are we the person who shares unwanted wisdom, makes others feel uncomfortable with a vast store of knowledge, who seems to incessantly mention their great faith, the individual who constantly gives recipes for healing, or incessantly mentions miracles they have experienced, or constantly predicts what is in store for others, or tactlessly utters their discernment of others’ moods, or shows off loudly their ability to speak in another language, or brazenly interprets another language at inappropriate moments (1 Corinthians 12). There is a purpose for all these gifts. It is not self-aggrandizement. Before we use our gifts and talents, it is always good to ask ourselves would this be for the common good (verse 7)? Will everyone benefit by our actions?

Everyone Has a Special Place

Jealousy (#1180) Everyone Has a Special Place in This World (1971)
Everyone Has a Special Place
in this World
The human body with all parts functioning in perfect harmony can do marvellous things. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12 of the need for different parts of a body. A foot is designed to bear weight, absorb shock, provide balance and facilitate motion. A hand is designed to manipulate, grasp, feel and gesture. An ear facilitates hearing, direction and balance. An eye detects light, color, movement and shape. Each of these parts of the body has a separate function, yet each needs the other. So too do churches need the wise, the knowledgeable, the faith-filled, healers, the miraculous, those who proclaim and those who are discerning. In multicultural environments, it is also good to have those who can speak and interpret various languages. Bible scholars who know something of the ancient languages are also valuable. Everyone has a special place.

Should Everyone Speak in Tongues

Finding Your Spritual Gifts Questionnaire
Finding Your Spiritual Gifts
A popular theory is that every Christian ought to speak in tongues, and those who don’t are not allowing the Holy Spirit to have his way with them. Yet that hypothesis contradicts what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12. He wrote of different kinds of gifts for different kinds of service. To one (not everyone) is given the gift of special wisdom and later another one the gift of languages or tongues. Then he concluded the matter by speaking about the variety of spiritual gifts being like different parts of a body, a foot, a hand, an ear, an eye. It just does not make sense for a body to consist of just one part or for everyone to have the one gift. Nor does anyone need to feel inferior for having a different gift than that which seems popular.

Evidence of the Holy Spirit

Jesus: Lord & Savior (Jesus Library)
Jesus Lord & Savior
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians about special spiritual abilities (1 Corinthians 12) he included one of the important signs of the Holy Spirit. What could that be? Would you guess that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence? That popular theory is not supported in this chapter. Here Paul emphasized that an affirmation that Jesus is Lord would be evidence of the Holy Spirit. The ability to speak in another language or even be an interpreter is towards the bottom of his list. The problem that he addressed highlights a vanity that still exists today, the idea that some gifts are more important than others. An attribute which provides evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is for that individual to call Jesus Lord. The proof of their words is evidenced by a life submissive to Jesus.

Pure Religion

Christianity without the Crap: Why Divisive Bigotry between Churches is so Unnecessary (Volume 2)
Christianity without the Crap
Pure religion well what is that
Just grinning like a Cheshire cat
Or bishops dressed in miter hat
Or abstinence and all of that

Is pure religion singing flat
In church each week where others sat
And tithing faithfully at that
A deal with God that's tit for tat

Pure Religion & Bad Company
Pure Religion & Bad Company
Is pure religion just a pat
Congratulate a former brat
Or is it just a daily chat
Giving God thanks for where you're at

James told where real religion's at
Pure genuine religion's that
Serves the distressed just where they're at
And don't be a corrupted rat

Spiritual Snobbery

Discover Your Spiritual Gifts
Discover Your Spiritual Gifts
When we think of class consciousness and snobbery, we think of some European countries where titles seem so very important. Though our new world titles are often less formal and our pomp not so ostentatious, repugnant conceit is very much alive in every culture. One church that was famous for its internal competitive rivalries was ancient Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:3-13). Yet, the arrogance of believing that others are on inferior spiritual levels is not uniquely Corinthian. Is there a solution? Paul suggested to the Church that a solution lies in learning to appreciate each other’s unique gifts whereby each contributes to the whole. In God’s scheme, this does not mean just lip service and pretentious token gestures, but a genuine regard as if we are caring for parts of our own body. No one is able to function alone.

Two Christian Preachers in a Fight

Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology
Church, Ecumenism & Politics
Two Christian preachers in a fight
One on the left, the other right

The Conservative did recite
The way it was in black and white

The Liberal loved to incite
The need to change things overnight

Introduction to Ecumenism
Introduction to Ecumenism

They saw the Church's awful plight
And each one acted out of fright

One saw the devil on the left
The other saw him on the right

And so the devil won that fight
It was his game to disunite

The Evangelical & the Liberal

Evangelical vs. Liberal
Evangelical vs. Liberal
The divide between Evangelicals and Liberals is an artificial schism because few of us are completely liberal or conservative. Most of us are broad on some issues and narrow on others. Yet, the unity that Jesus prayed for (John 17:1-11) is hard to find, except for today. I saw a momentous vision of harmony. Two colleagues who had worked for years on the bishop’s cabinet shared a moment of celebration. What was remarkable was that one was very much a conservative Evangelical and the other a Liberal. Their collegiality and mutual respect went so deep that they jokingly referred to each other as Big E and Big L (the Evangelical and the Liberal). Their reciprocal esteem despite their theological disagreement was displayed for all to see as they hugged in fond regard. What a remarkable vision of Christian unity!

Unity is Mature Christianity

Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity
Ecumenism Means
You  Too
What caused the East-West Schism in the Christian Church in 1054 AD? Why have there been other divisions before and since? The closer we get to Jesus, should not we experience more unity with each other? That was the prayer of Jesus (John 17:1-11). Why is it then that so many long time Christians find grounds for disunity? Why do we have denominations? Why is it that long time members of churches are among the leaders in any church split? What causes splits, schisms and church wars? One thing is for sure, it is not greater desire for the will of Christ. Can long time Christians deceive themselves that they have become more mature, when they act divisively and contrary to the will of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ? Could it be that unity is mature Christianity?

Lay Unity Clergy Disunity

The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6
Fourth Gospel
Why is there more of the Christian unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:1-11 found among lay people than among Church leaders? Catholic popes have preached against Protestant and Orthodox churches. In Russia, Orthodox leaders have stirred up persecution against Protestant churches. Protestant history is replete with persecution against Catholics. Yet, lay people in all these churches often speak of each other as fellow Christians. Are Church leaders too often more interested in politics than Jesus? Are they more interested in protecting their turf than protecting the unity that Jesus prayed for? Are they more interested in maintaining an exclusive franchise mentality than following Jesus? Are Church leaders hypocrites for claiming obedience to Jesus at the same time as disobeying Jesus’ call for unity? Is the true Church really those who obey Christ including his call for unity?