Injustice Never Gets the Last Word

Cincinnati’s Racial Wound On July 19th, an old Cincinnati wound that has been slowing healing for the past 14 years was reopened when white University of Cincinnati campus police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed African American Samuel Dubose. Mr. Dubose was pulled over for not having OH state tags on the front of his car. Major news outlets from around the world have been covering this story (Cincinnati.com, MSNBC, BBC, Foxnews). Before the grand jury’s indictment was announced, the mood around town was tense. University classes were cancelled. Police were on high alert. Personally, this all hit home because the shooting occurred in my home neighborhood, Mt. Auburn. The church I planted 5 years ago is home to dozens of UC students who walk to church each week. On July 19th, while I was preaching a sermon about how Christians can faithfully navigate America’s cultural decline, Samuel Dubose was being shot…

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23 Life Changing Rock Solid Promises of Scripture

Paul argues in Galatians 4 that Christians are the true Sons of Abraham because we share the faith of Abraham. God made promise to Abraham to bless the entire world through his offspring. Abraham didn’t know the whole story; he trusted God for the revelation God had given him at that time. But now, in Christ, we are able to see all the full grandeur of God’s redemptive promise that he initiated through Abraham. We share the faith of Abraham, but we cling to better promises (Hebrews 8:6), built on a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23), and provides for us a better possession (Hebrews 10:34) as we await a better life (Hebrews 11:35) and a better destiny (Hebrews 11:16). This following list is the content of that better promise provided for us by Jesus Christ. God’s promise to Abraham was a shadow of the things to come; but here are 23…

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One of the hardest verses in the Bible

There is an apparent contradiction between two verses in the Bible. James says, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). Paul says, “One is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). Although they appear contradictory on the surface, a closer examination of how James and Paul are using words shows that they are talking about two different things. Both James and Paul (and Jesus, for that matter!) argue forcefully that saving faith will always result in a changed life; a life that is characterized by good works. But Paul and James are referring to two different things when they use the word “justified.” Paul uses the word “justified” to refer to the declaration of a person’s initial pardon at the moment of his conversion. James uses the word “justified” to refer to the final accounting of a person’s life before…

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Ten Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee (part 2)

Continuing this post from last week, here are three more ways to tell if you’re a Pharisee. These are taken from a sermon at Christ the King Church called “Barriers: Religion.” #4 Pharisees don’t extend grace to others. The Pharisees were not interested in restoring this woman who was caught in adultery. Grace was not part of the equation. They seized the opportunity to condemn her simply because it served their desire to trap Jesus. We can see this in our own hearts when we fail to forgive, or when we hold grudges, or we seethe with anger over things other people do. The Pharisee feels as though she has the right to be treated better and when this doesn’t happen she becomes angry and bitter and unforgiving. The Pharisee is upset by the sin of others because she feels that “I deserve better than this.” #5 Pharisees practice selective…

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Ten Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee

From a sermon at church yesterday, we discussed 10 Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee. I will post them all here throughout this week. The Scribes and Pharisees used a woman caught in the act of adultery as a pawn to get to Jesus in John 8:1-11. From this text, we can learn a few lessons about how the heart of a Pharisee works and how we can avoid these same traps. #1 Pharisees focus on externals more than internals. They look at what’s on the outside of a person rather than what’s on the inside. The Pharisees were more than happy to condemn this woman for her external, obvious sin. Jesus’ response to them was to force them to look internally at their own hearts. The Gospel empowered life starts with a heart that has been changed by God’s grace and works its way out to the external…

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Two Powerful Articles on Idolatry

In my sermon yesterday, I made reference to two articles that have had a great influence on my thinking regarding how sin works and how God defeats it. Here are the links to the articles if you’d like to read them for yourself. The first of these is David Powlison’s, Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair. Powlison says that humans are, by virtue of being created in God’s image, worshipers. Our hearts will find an object of desire to worship. This is unavoidable. We can either worship the God who created us through faith in Jesus Christ, or we can worship some alternative that promises us fulfillment but fails to deliver. The second publication that I mentioned was a sermon by a Puritan pastor named Thomas Chalmers. He published a sermon entitled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. He explains that we cannot merely identify an idol and…

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