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John Wimber, born on February 25, 1934, in Kirksville, Missouri, died ten years ago today (November 17, 1997). Some of you may never have heard of him, but I doubt that you have attended a corporate worship service in the past twenty years that doesn’t reflect his influence.   Wimber led a colorful life, to say the least, although it isn’t my purpose here to write a biographical history. Rather, I want to comment briefly, yet very personally, on the gr...Read More

Yesterday I experienced one of those “Aha!” moments that some in the secular realm might call a Freudian slip. I was filling out the author questionnaire for my book on the Psalms that Crossway will publish sometime next fall. The proposed title to the book is More Precious than Gold, but I accidentally typed, More Precious than God. Oops! It’s amazing how important the letter ‘l’ can be. It’s the difference between heaven and hell. Af...Read More

I’m addicted to USA Today. It’s not the best in American journalism, but it’s entertaining and moderately informative (especially the sports section). Today, Tuesday, September 25, 2007, it was just sad. Two stories in particular caught my eye, both of which are tragically indicative of the state of mind in Hollywood and around the globe.   (1) The first thing I noticed was a short piece concerning the Indra Jatra festival in Katmandu, Nepal. The...Read More

What’s a Zwingli? Zwingli’s not a “what” but a “who”, a man who was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation, a man largely forgotten by the church in the twenty-first century, a man we would do well to remember as we approach October 31st, the day traditionally acknowledged as “Reformation Day” (not Halloween!).   Huldrich Zwingli was born in Wildhaus, Toggenburg, in the eastern part of Switzerland, on January 1, ...Read More

In the previous article we looked briefly at the life of Huldrich Zwingli and his influence on the reformation in Switzerland. Here I want to say a few things about his theology.   Zwingli was undoubtedly dependent on Luther for much of his early thinking. In 1540 Calvin wrote to Farel concerning Luther and Zwingli: "If they are compared with each other, you yourself know how greatly Luther excels."   Zwingli tried to stress his independence from Luther: "W...Read More

I hope you were jolted by that title. Sadly, many aren’t. They contend that the virgin conception of Jesus and the existence of the tooth fairy exist on an equal intellectual plane. They both lack rational credibility and a person is as little justified in believing one as the other.   It happens about this time every year. Whether in Time magazine, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report, there consistently appears an article (or several) about Jesus: did h...Read More

In the first article in this short series I asserted that there are no historical or biblical reasons why the virgin birth of Christ should be regarded as implausible. Not everyone agrees, as evident from the following.   Some argue that the doctrine of Christ’s virgin birth is hardly unique and that parallels to it are found in ancient literature. Myths concerning the virgin births of various Greek gods and superheroes were prevalent in paganism, so they sa...Read More

Let’s conclude our discussion of the virgin conception of Jesus Christ with ten important observations.   1)         The virgin birth was not a demonstrable event. By this I mean it was not the sort of miracle that was subject to empirical investigation and proof (as were, for example, the resurrection and the healing of Acts 3-4). We either believe the virgin birth or not based upon our belief in the reality of the su...Read More

In a recent issue of the Baptist Press website (http://www.bpnews.net/) there is an article titled “The Bible and Tongues” by former LifeWay Christian Resources President Jimmy Draper. Given the fact that next week I’m speaking at a conference in Arlington, Texas, on the subject of the Holy Spirit in Baptist life, I perked up when I saw it. Jimmy Draper is one of the true treasures of the Southern Baptist Convention. Having grown up in Oklahoma, where ...Read More

Christmas, for some, can be an especially discouraging time of year. One often hears of those suffering from “seasonal depression” or the “holiday blues” as they contemplate the loss of a loved one, a failed marriage, unemployment and the financial pressure of being unable to provide gifts for their family, or perhaps a child who simply won’t come home. But I have good news for you today! You have a reason to rejoice that far exceeds the co...Read More

There are countless lessons to learn from the so-called “men” of Christmas: Joseph, Zechariah, the Magi, the shepherds, and above all, obviously, Jesus himself. But there is as much to learn, if not more, from the women associated with that momentous, epoch-making event. In this first meditation, I’d like for us to look at Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist. There are five qualities in her that warrant mention and imitation. F...Read More

Christmas is a shocking time of year, not so much because of the ever-present juxtaposition of spiritual glory and materialistic greed that has come to characterize its celebration in our society, but rather because of the unexpected, indeed jarring, way that God chose to enter our world in the person of Jesus Christ. People today think nothing of a nativity scene, unless, of course, its legality on the lawn of the county courthouse is being debated. They think little, ...Read More

Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, never met Jonathan Edwards, son of Timothy Edwards, Puritan pastor. Although their lives were separated by some 1,700 years, they were assuredly of the same spirit, gripped by the same passion, and devoted to the same God. Consider Edwards’ famous Resolutions, a list of some 70 duties to which he joyfully and by God’s grace committed himself to fulfill. A brief sampling will make my point: “Resolved, n...Read More

At first we couldn’t find it. We walked a long way down Artillery Street in a less than thriving area of Colchester, England. I was the guest of Graham Stevens and Abbeyfield Community Church, where he is the senior pastor. I had spoken there on Saturday night and Sunday morning (February 23-24, 2008) and we took the opportunity that afternoon to go in search of the tiny chapel where Charles Spurgeon was converted. Graham insisted he knew where it was, having been...Read More

I've been giving some thought to Paul's exhortation in 1 Corinthians 14:1. There he writes, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy" (ESV). I've written on this somewhat extensively in my book Convergence (pp. 209-15), but would like to add a few comments below. It would appear from this passage that it is not enough to be open to spiritual gifts and their operation in the local church. One must be zealous for them and ea...Read More

In conjunction with this year’s college basketball March Madness, ESPN has selected its list of the Top 25 college players of all time. And I’m here to say they missed it badly. In case you haven’t seen the list, or simply don’t care, the top five are: (1) Lew Alcindor (UCLA), (2) Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), (3) Bill Walton (UCLA), (4) Bill Russell (San Francisco), and (5) Pete Maravich (LSU). Now don’t get me wrong. All five were incred...Read More

On numerous occasions I’ve had people ask me about my theological convictions, most likely because I appear to be an odd mix of views that cannot be found in any one confession of faith or reduced to a single label, system, or denomination. Others have asked the same question when they see the variety of churches in which I’ve either served as senior pastor, associate pastor, board member, or simply member. This would include Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, ...Read More

I don't know how else to say it, so I'll come straight to the point. Last Sunday, August 17, 2008, I came face to face with the fragility and weakness of my faith in God. It may have been the most frightening moment in my Christian life. Let me explain. On Wednesday, August 13th, just five days earlier, I was in Oklahoma City meeting with the staff of Bridgeway Church. During lunch, as I was about to respond to another question, my cell phone rang. It's every parent's w...Read More

Over the years, and especially in recent days, I've been asked by people to make available my recommendations on New Testament commentaries. I yield at last, but with significant reservations. I can't imagine that my observations will add anything important to what has already been said in near exhaustive detail by D. A. Carson in his New Testament Commentary Survey (now in its 5th edition, Baker, 2001). In fact, I've always used Carson's survey as the excuse for not wri...Read More

Mark The number of helpful commentaries on Mark (as well as Luke) is significantly less than what we find with regard to Matthew. Still, there are a few that are worthy of note and should be made a priority in the building of one's library. Once again, I highly recommend the work of R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, in The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2002, 719 pp.). This is simply the best available commentary and should be the first one obt...Read More

John Next to Romans, I suspect that more commentaries have been written on the gospel of John than on any other NT book. Once again, of course, my list of recommended resources will be quite selective and in no way representative of the plethora of volumes written on this portion of God's Word. I was preaching through John when I resigned from my pastorate in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1993. I had just begun chapter thirteen and, sadly, had to terminate the series. But in w...Read More

Acts I preached through the book of Acts in the early 90's while at Christ Community Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and hope to do so again. At the time, I struggled to find good commentaries. Since then, however, several excellent resources have become available. I'll begin with works that I used in sermon preparation and then move on to those that have been published within the last decade or so. If you are looking for a commentary on the English text, you can do no be...Read More

Romans My first attempt to preach through Romans came in 1974 when I assumed the position of interim pastor at a small Presbyterian church in Dallas. By the time I left that church in 1977 I had only made it through chapter six! I did preach through the entire book during my time at Believers Chapel in Dallas, and have subsequently taught Romans in a classroom setting on several occasions. If one has any lingering doubts about the attention given to Romans, I encourage...Read More

1 and 2 Corinthians Regrettably, I've never preached all the way through 1 Corinthians. I've preached and taught several courses on chapters 12-14, but never the whole book. Still, I've spent some time examining the available literature and can make some recommendations. The best overall commentary on 1 Corinthians is still Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Eerdmans, 1987, 880 pp.). Fee's work replaces the volume in this series by F. W. Froshe...Read More

Galatians Like 1 Corinthians, I've never preached all the way through Galatians. My familiarity with the literature, therefore, is limited. Typically I've delved into a variety of commentaries while studying particular verses in Galatians and found the following to be most helpful. I've always found Richard N. Longenecker in the Word Biblical Commentary series to be very good (Word Books, 1990, 323 pp.). Likewise with F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commen...Read More

Philippians and Colossians The good news is that both Philippians and Colossians have been blessed with excellent works in recent years. The bad news is that the average pastor on a limited budget will have to make some hard choices when browsing turns to buying. Let's start with Philippians. It's been over twenty years since I preached through Philippians. Among the works available at that time, none compared with Gerald F. Hawthorne in the Word Biblical Commentary se...Read More

1-2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles When I preached through First and Second Thessalonians in the late 70's and early 80's there was very little to draw from. That is no longer the case, as we've seen several excellent studies appear in the last fifteen to twenty years. I was teaching at Wheaton during the time that two of my colleagues were both writing commentaries on the Thessalonian epistles and they top the list of my recommendations. Gene Green has writte...Read More

Hebrews I feel genuinely inadequate to recommend much on the book of Hebrews, if only because it has been nearly twenty years since I preached through the book and I've not kept up with the literature as much as I have with other books of the New Testament. Still, though, I'll give it my best shot. Two works served me well when I worked through Hebrews and I still believe they are worth obtaining today, even though more substantial exegetical treatments have appeared. ...Read More

 James, 1-2 Peter, and Jude James is again one of those books that I preached through twice early in my pastoral ministry but have not spent time studying in recent years. The commentaries that helped me most my first time through were James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1976, 227), Sophie Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James in Harper's New Testament Commentaries (Harper & Row, 1980,...Read More

The Johannine Epistles There is no shortage of excellent commentaries on the Johannine epistles, both more technical studies on the Greek text and those designed for readers of English only. So let's begin. I'll start with the more substantive works, move to mid-level treatments, and then mention a few that are more collections of sermons on John's letters than commentaries. The best commentary on these three letters has yet to appear. D. A. Carson is writing on the Jo...Read More

Revelation We've finally arrived at the end of this brief survey of commentaries on the New Testament. Again, let me say that this has not been anything approaching an exhaustive treatment of the resources available, but was designed to help local church pastors who are in process of building their biblical and theological libraries or are preparing to preach through a particular book of the New Testament. For a more complete survey, I once again recommend D. A. Carson'...Read More