Elders: On How to Fire the Preacher

fired (1)I get emails —

Having grown up in a different tribe, it seems common among churches of Christ for the elders to get rid of the preacher periodically. I would be interested in your observations. Also, this usually seems to be a unilateral decision by the elders, often shocking the members. That doesn’t seem right to me. Thanks.

I have something like 10 years as an elder. I’ve been in church leadership nearly my entire adult life. And this is a very common reaction. And I don’t know an alternative.

First, in Churches of Christ, like all denominations with autonomous congregations, the elders (deacons in Baptist churches) have the power to hire and fire the preacher. Some denominations have no eldership and leave it up the congregation as a whole or the adult men. But Churches of Christ are far from unusual. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:22-23 (I saw no temple in the city)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaThe Revelation next describes the New Heavens and New Earth as a temple.

(Rev. 21:22-23 ESV) 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

How can God and Jesus together be a temple? Continue reading

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John Mark Nelson: “After All I’ve Done”

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The Readers on Direct Mail

directmailI should know better than to offer opinions on subjects I don’t know anything about. But, hey, that’s what bloggers do, right?

So it turns out the readers know far more about direct mail than I do. So following up my earlier post on the subject, the readers advise —

From David Himes:

I confess I make my living producing direct mail … mostly for fundraising purposes. But I’ve been involved in commercial and non-profit direct mail since 1973. So I have a fairly informed opinion about the use of direct mail.

In addition, I’ve been involved with evangelistic efforts which have used direct mail.

With all that said, I pretty much agree with what Jay has said about using direct mail for evangelism. But with a caveat. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:12-21 (It had a great, high wall)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshua

I know you doubted me when I said the pace would pick up. But this is 10 verses in one post!

(Rev. 21:12-21 ESV)  12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed–  13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.  14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.  16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.  17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.  18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass.  19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Now, this is exactly the sort of passage that make the Revelation seem so obscure. I mean, ten verses on the architecture of a symbolic vision? And “chrysoprase”? Really? Continue reading

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A Follow Up Question About Divorce & Remarriage

divorce5I get emails (heavily edited to be anonymous) —

My wife and I read your post but our case is different. We were raised to be Christians, and I was baptized before my first marriage. I was guilty of adultery and my first marriage failed. I’ve since remarried over 20 years ago, have great children, and my second wife and I have a great relationship. Is your answer different for us because we weren’t divorced and remarried before our baptisms?

It’s not. I find it easier to persuade people in the case of pre-conversion divorces. It’s an easier case to argue, especially in a denomination with a long history of very strict views on the subject.

But grace is in fact exactly the opposite. That is, the forgiveness available to the saved is greater than the grace available to those who will be saved only when they are later converted. We tend to think that baptism is special, magical sacrament that cleanses our record better and more completely than ever, but the truth is quite the opposite. Believe it or not, your baptism is the least powerful forgiveness a Christian ever receives. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:9-11 (the New Jerusalem)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaNow, the camera pans up to show the descent of the New Jerusalem down to earth.

(Rev. 21:9-11 ESV) 9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

We covered this passage generally in the posts covering Rev 21:1-2. As a reminder: the idea of a New Jerusalem kept in heaven goes back to, at least, Isaiah, and is found very prominently in Hebrews but also Galatians, among other NT books.  Continue reading

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Josh Garrels: “Freedom”

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Evangelism: Direct Mail?

directmailA reader asks,

Jay, What do you think about direct mail? I am concerned about the lost in our community that we are not reaching. We teach that the best way to reach people is to teach our friends. But there are many that we don’t have any contacts with.

I have looked into the “House to House” publication but we are somewhat progressive and this may not fit.

Are you aware of other publications that could be useful or other churches that are successful with direct mail? As someone has said: “I believe the lost in our community are worth fighting for.”

I absolutely agree as to the importance of fighting for the lost in our communities. Amen! Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:8 (the second death)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaFor those who aren’t sons of God,

(Rev. 21:8 ESV) 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

A couple of observations to set the table.

First, the “second death” refers to death after death. As taught by Edward Fudge in The Fire That Consumes, when a lost person dies, he will be resurrected at the Second Coming to suffer whatever punishment God considers just and then to die eternally, that is, to die without hope of a second resurrection. He remains dead forever. I’ve covered this doctrine, known as Conditionalism, many times. Continue reading

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