Sharing the Journey

Why the D.Min. Program and why now?

The Doctor of Ministry program is designed to refine the faithful pastor’s preaching ability while remaining in his current ministry. It has one simple goal in mind according to the president, John MacArthur: “to fine-tune your preaching for maximum effectiveness.”

For some time I have felt the need to enhance my ability to serve the flock at CASM through the preaching of the Word of God. Many resources are available to aid pastors today, but there is no substitute for sitting under and being mentored by the best expositors in the world. The teaching professors are Sinclair Ferguson, Alistair Begg, Derek Thomas, Joel R. Beeke, Steven Lawson, and John MacArthur. These are men of the Gospel, and I want to be in the company of men who have invested their lives serving our Lord so that I may be sharpened to serve Him better. This journey of training is not about me; it’s about us. Success is impossible without support from the CASM family. The program requires focus groups from within the church as well as accountability and prayer from those we serve. I hope that you will share the journey with me.

As a church, God has blessed us with a good number of gifted teachers. Sovereignly and strategically He has placed us in a harvest field of souls which demands precision in the preaching of the Gospel. I believe this training will help us go to the next level of effectiveness in service to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel advance.

Prayer is essential in this journey. Here are some specific ways that you can pray for me.

  1. Pray for my wife and sons. My first responsibility is to care for my family. They will sacrifice much private time with me while I am “living in the library” during this season. Balance is essential, and I want to make sure they are not lost in the process.
  2. Pray for the elders and ministry leaders. The attacks will increase, and some flaming arrows will come toward my fellow foot soldiers. Pray that God will give them discernment and protection.
  3. Pray that I will maintain an unwavering steadfastness to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. The Ezra principle is vital to the fruitfulness of this journey in my life and the life of the church. Ezra, “set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10)

Each semester I will share a few highlights from my courses as well as resources that will edify the church. Here are a few key learnings:

KEYS TO FAITHFUL SHEPHERDING

Twelve highlights from John MacArthur entering his 50th year in ministry

  1. Have one single source of authority—the Word of God.
  2. The theme of your ministry must always be Christ.
  3. Get the Gospel right—continue to grow in Christology.
  4. In order for people to love Christ, they need to see Him.
  5. Sanctification must be a major emphasis—this includes church discipline fueled by the Word of God.
  6. Trust in the sovereignty of God.
  7. Worship is the ultimate priority.
  8. Teach the people that listening to preaching is not a spectator sport.
  9. Protect the flock from false paradigms of sanctification.
  10. Remember that God’s highest purpose is fulfilled in suffering. It is the final touches of sanctification before glorification.
  11. Love the people and give them time and space to grow.
  12. I did nothing, the Word of God did everything.

CONTEMPORARY STYLES OF PREACHING

Why do they matter?

  1. Traditional preaching—keyword: “they” (topical in nature)
  2. Experiential preaching—keyword: “I” (speaks in the first person)
  3. Sentimental preaching—keyword: “you” (centers on feelings)
  4. Analogical preaching—key thrust: “turn everything into an analogy.”
  5. Cultural preaching—key thrust: “say what unconverted people will like.”
  6. Theological and biblical preaching—key thrust: “what God means by what He says and Christ.”

PREACHING AND PREACHERS

Ligon Duncan, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary

  1. Our theology must inform our preaching.
  2. Discipleship is the means of growth.
  3. Don’t grow weary in well-doing and preaching.
  4. Teach people how to listen to preaching.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of connection in preaching.
  6. High impact comes from influence and living the truth with the people.
  7. Duration trumps intensity.
  8. Steel yourself against wanting to be seen rather than heard—you are a preacher!
  9. Don’t try to minister without being fed yourself.

Fear God and Give Him Glory

Revelation 14:7—“Fear God and give Him glory because the hour of His judgment has come.”

In the original Greek the text may read, “begin to fear, give glory to, and worship God.” What this points out is that those who hear during this time have not yet heeded God’s call for reverence. They have paid no respect to God. They were insensitive to His Word. They failed to honor Him.

In the plainest terms, the command to fear God is a call to show reverence to God and to praise Him (Eccl.12:13). To give Him glory is a Hebraic saying that appears in both the Old and New Testaments (Josh.7:19; John 9:24).

To fear God and to give Him glory literally means to tell the truth about God!

The reason given is, “because the hour of His judgment has come.” Time is running out. In fact, it is imminent.

How do we fear God? We do not fear God by…

  1. Getting religion
  2. Giving resources
  3. Gaining knowledge

The fear of God can only be known when it is received by grace from God through faith in Christ as you surrender to Him as Lord (Jer.32:38-41).

Then you will begin to understand what the Psalmist meant when he said…

  • Psalm 111:10“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”

Then you will grasp what Solomon meant in the book of Proverbs when he said…

  • Proverbs 1:7“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
  • Proverbs 8:13“The fear of the Lord is to hate all evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”
  • Proverbs 16:6“By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.”
  • Proverbs 14:27“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.”

The fear of God is not only received from God through faith in Christ, it is also established as you receive God’s Word personally and apply it daily.

  • Psalm 119:38“Establish Your Word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.”

Are you getting into God’s word daily? Are you spending time with God in private devotions? Are you submitting your plans, your passions, your pursuits, your heart, your mind, and your will to God according to His Word?

God’s Cure for Our Anxieties

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7

If anyone had an excuse for anxiety, it was the Apostle Paul. There was disagreement in the church at Philippi that was bringing division within the body and potential division among the believers at Rome (1:14-17). Added to these burdens, he faced the possibility of his own death. Did Paul have an excuse to worry? Yes! But he chose not to. Instead, he takes the time to explain to us the secret of victory over it.

The antidote for worry is the peace of God guarding your mind like a soldier (v.7). If we are to know this peace of God, then we must meet three conditions that God has laid down.

CONDITION #1: RIGHT PRAYING

The word “prayer” is the general word for making requests known to the Lord. It carries with it that idea of adoration, devotion, and worship of the Lord. Whenever we find ourselves worrying, our first action ought to be to get alone with God and to worship Him.

The second step is “supplication.” Supplication is the earnest sharing of our needs and problems. It is not a half-hearted request. It is a plea, a cry! It is what characterized our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Heb.5:7)

After adoration (prayer) and supplication comes appreciation or “thanksgiving.” (Cf. Eph.5:20; Col.3:15-17)

The result of right praying is the peace of God. This does not mean the absence of strife or trouble, but it does mean the addition of protection and power to face the trouble!

CONDITION #2: RIGHT THINKING

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”Philippians 4:8

The short answer of interpreting this verse is that the way to be uplifted is to dwell on uplifting things.

We all know there is real truth to this. Thoughts are real and powerful. And although they cannot be seen, weighed, or measured, they do have a great impact on how we feel and what we do. (Cf. Is.26:3; 2 Cor.10:3-5)

Right thinking is the result of daily meditation on the Word of God. (Ps.119:165)

CONDITION #3: RIGHT LIVING

“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

When Paul says that right living is a condition for peace, he is saying that is it impossible to separate outward actions and inward attitudes. (Cf. Is.32:17; James 3:17)

This is how we learn to live right: we learn the Word, we receive it, we hear it, and we practice it over and over and over again.

The PROMISEWhen we meet the conditions of right praying, right thinking, and right living, then the promise is…”the God of peace will be with you.”

Divine Guidance

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5-6

To have “straight paths” or to have your path straightened is an ancient expression that means to have all obstacles removed so that your journey is successful. On the other hand, to walk along straight paths is to be guarded from deviating onto the crooked paths of sinful ways. Here we discover the promise of God for divine guidance.

Why Do We Need Divine Guidance?

There are several facts that force this truth upon us:

  • The complexity of life—the longer we live, the more we see that life is not as simple as it seems.
  • Our ignorance of the future—who knows what a day will bring; yet we must boldly face the next day and plan in advance.
  • The demands of duty—to God, family, employers, etc., which sometimes conflict with one another.
  • The deception of sin—“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov.14:12)

What Conditions Must Be Met Before Divine Guidance Is Given?

  • Self-surrenderThe man who finds divine guidance will be the one who renounces self and places his confidence in and sets his hope (confident expectation of obtaining something good) on the Lord. (Ps.40:17, 25:14, 9:10)
  • Whole-hearted faithTo trust God with all your heart does not mean to perfectly trust God, but to honestly aim every thought, affection, and desire toward Him. To do something with all your heart is to place every ounce of energy into it. This is how we are to direct ourselves toward the Lord in order to find divine guidance.
  • Self-distrustThe admonition here does not mean that we are not to use and improve our own understanding, form plans with discretion, or employ legitimate means in the pursuit of wisdom (counsel, etc.). We are just not to lean upon them. Because of pride, we are more prone and prefer to lean upon our own understanding than the understanding of others. Rather, when we use our understanding to form plans or pursue wisdom, we are not to boast in them but depend upon God and His directing and overruling providence. (Cf. Jer.9:23-24)
  • Seeking His approvalTo acknowledge God means two things: first, to recognize His right to overrule, and second, to ask whether the thing that we are about to do is in accordance with His will. To acknowledge Him is not to ask of every action or situation, “What would a man in my position do?” but to ask, “Is this what the Lord would have me to do?”How does this look?

    1. Referring everything to Him
    2. Consulting Him in our hearts
    3. A
    pplying His will as revealed in His Word
    4. Praying for and expecting His divine direction

We are to think biblically, acknowledge fully, consult wisely, act diligently, and then trust completely in the grace and promise of God.

THE PROMISE: “He will make your paths straight.” How? He does this by His Word, through His providence, by His promptings, and through His people.

 

The Gospel is Not an Option

Whenever you see the word “must” in the Bible, remember that it is a word of divine necessity. It is not an option or a suggestion; it is not exclusive to some—it is universal to all. Belief or unbelief in its truth does not diminish its reality in any way.

There are three “musts” in the Gospel that will stand the test of time:

  • In John 3:7, Jesus said, “You must be born again.”
  • In John 3:14, Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
  • In John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

All three of these Gospel “musts” are vital elements of the good news. The new birth, the cross, and the worship of God in spirit and truth are non-negotiables. The fact that we must be born again and given a new nature tells us that we can be, if God chooses to give us His divine life by His Spirit through the Gospel. The second “must” emphasizes the utter and absolute necessity of Christ’s work on Calvary’s tree. Without the work of Christ at Calvary, there would be no atonement or forgiveness for our sins, no heaven, and no salvation.

It is the work of Christ on Calvary and the work of the Spirit in our hearts, applying to us the work of Christ’s redemption, that makes it possible for us to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Here is a fourth “must” that you must deal with. It’s located in Acts 4:12—

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

 In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul declares,

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [not that it presents or suggests the power of God] for salvation [without human manipulation or invention] to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

 Is the Gospel an option for salvation? Absolutely not! Not according Jesus, Paul, or any of the other apostles! It is not an option for the man on Wall Street or the one on skid row. It is not an option for the municipal judge or the prison inmate. What about the man in the dark jungles of the Amazon or in the mountains of Nepal? If any man is to be saved, the Bible declares that Jesus is the one and only Savior, and the Gospel is the good news about Him. (Cf. Rom.2:11-16)

 

Christian Liberty

Liberty is “the fullest opportunity for man to be and do the very best that is possible for him.”1 Christian liberty simply speaks of those things that the Christian is free from and free for. In other words, Christian liberty is freedom from the things that threaten or enslave, and freedom for or to the things that God desires and commands. The opposite of liberty is bondage, and the only bondage that the Christian is called to be enslaved to is the yoke of Christ (Matt.11:28-30). Therefore, anything that does not “yoke” us to Christ in His present and effectual grace is not liberty.

There are only two kingdoms that the Bible speaks of: the kingdom of Satan or darkness and the kingdom of Christ or Light (Col.1:13); therefore, every person is a slave of either Satan or Christ. From birth, every child of Adam is born a slave to sin and Satan (Rom.5:10ff). However, through the new birth, we are made slaves of righteousness and Christ. With this general definition in mind, we immediately discover that the unbeliever cannot enjoy this freedom or liberty for he is a slave to sin and Satan (John 8:34; Rom.6:16-22; 2 Tim.2:26).

However, the Christian is free from five spiritual enemies:

  1. The wrath of God (Rom.5:9, 8:1; John 3:36; Eph.2:3)
  2. The curse of the Law (Gal.3:10, 13; Rom.6:14)
  3. The bondage of sin (Rom.3:9; 6:6, 11, 18, 22)
  4. The terror of death (Rom.5:14ff; 1 Cor.15:55-57; Heb.2:15)
  5. The captivity of Satan (2 Tim.2:26; 1 John 5:19)

The Christian is free for or to do five spiritual privileges:

  1. To enjoy the liberty of sonship (Gal.4:1-7)
  2. To experience the liberty of Truth (John 8:32)
  3. To enter the liberty of approaching God (Heb.10:19-22; 4:16)
  4. To express the liberty of service to others (Gal.5:13)
  5. To experience growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet.3:18)

 The means of this liberty is the liberating Spirit given in response to justifying faith.

Galatians 5:5—“For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”

2 Corinthians 3:17—“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

 

Time

“The year is made up of minutes. Let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that the hallowing of the large is secure.”—G. CAMPBELL MORGAN

When most people think of time, they think of hours or minutes or the time that it takes to go from point A to point B. However, time from God’s point of view is related to the opportunities He gives a believer to accomplish His will and experience His power. Because of evil days, Ephesians 5:15-16 says our perspective in regards to time should be to make the most of it. According to verse 17, a key element in making the most of our time is understanding the will of the Lord. In other words, when we know what God wants us to do, we should prioritize our lives so that we might accomplish all that God has for us.

From a biblical point of view, to put God first does not mean that there is something else second, third, and so on. Putting God first means He is preeminent in every area of your life. However, if you need help in ordering your priorities, here are the Christian’s top five priorities:

  1. God (Matthew 22:36-38; Ecclesiastes 12:13)—This does not mean just feeling deeply about the Lord, but doing those things that demonstrate your desire to grow in your relationship with Him: spending time with Him, sacrifice, obedience, etc.
  2. Your Body (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 18-20; 1 Timothy 4:8)—What we mean here is not an over-emphasis on fitness and fashion, but a proper maintenance of God’s temple so that He is pleased and you can continue to honor Him and help others.
  3. Your Family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)—God created marriage and family to be the foundation of home life and social order. Society and the church stand or fall on the health of the family.
  4. Ministry (Romans 12:3-13)—In your relationship with God, the emphasis is on what you are to Him and what He is in you. In your ministry, the emphasis is on what you do for Him and for others.
  5. Others (Galatians 6:9-10)“Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important.”—Charles Hummel

In your relationship with God:

  1. Spend time in prayer and devotion every day.
  2. Plan your life around the things that will keep God first in your life.
  3. Don’t forsake church attendance and fellowship.

In the home:

  1. Remember that it’s not a matter of perfect balance, but recognizing when you go too far to the left or to the right and getting back quickly before you fall.
  2. Build this time into your schedule. Schedule a day on your calendar for your spouse and kids.
  3. Ministry and home priorities can go together. Doing ministry together as a family will help build memories and set an example for your children.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”―Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

The Inspiration of Scripture

“The Bible must be the invention of either good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God. Therefore, it could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither would nor could make a book, and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” when it was their own invention. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their soul to hell for all eternity. Therefore, I draw this conclusion, that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration.” —Charles Wesley

Webster defines “unique” as: “1. One and only; single; sole. 2. Different from all others; having no like or equal.” Truly, the Bible is a unique book. It is different from all others in several ways, but especially in its continuity.
Here is a book that was:

  • Written over a 1,500 year span
  • Written over 40 generations
  • Written by more than 40 authors
  • Written in different places
  • Written at different times
  • Written during different moods
  • Written on three continents
  • Written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic)

Yet it has one theme, one message, and one focus: the coming, death, resurrection, and reign of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The Bible, from cover to cover, points to the redemption of man through the Lord’s Messiah.

How can a book written by man, who is fallible, have no errors?
Here are four facts revealed about the Bible’s inspiration, according to 2 Peter 1:20-21:

  1. No prophecy is by man’s own interpretation.
  2. No prophecy is an act of human will.
  3. Men were moved by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Men spoke from God.

God used living men, not dead tools, in the recording of Scripture. He did not set aside human personality, but rather used the very personality and literary talents in the penning of His revelation. Under the complete control and guidance of the Spirit of God, the result in every word of the original documents is a perfect and errorless recording of the exact message which God desired to give to man. This is why it is called verbal inspiration, not mechanical dictation.

What are the proofs of the inspiration of the Bible?

  • Its indestructibility
    Only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century; a much smaller percentage last for a century; and only a small number live a thousand years. After years of effort to exterminate the Bible or rob it of its authority, the Bible is still the number one best seller. The fact of the indestructibility of the Bible strongly suggests that it is the embodiment of a divine revelation.
  • Its prophecy
  • Its continuity
  • Its ability to bring salvation

Here are three benefits that will come your way if you study, apply, and rely on God’s Word:

  • Wisdom (Psalm 119:98). How has this benefit been experienced in times of trials?
  • Insight (Psalm 119:99). How might knowing God’s Word give you this benefit in an intimidating situation?
  • Understanding (Psalm 119:100). Are you satisfied with your level of maturity?

What is the proper response to the Word of God?

  • Follow (John 6:68)
  • Study (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Treasure (Job 23:12; Psalm 19:9-10)
  • Love (Psalm 119:97)
  • Obey (Psalm 119:4)
  • Contend for it. (Jude 3)
  • Preach (2 Timothy 4:2)

The New Birth

The greatest message on new life ever delivered by the Lord Jesus Christ was addressed to a deeply religious man (John 3:1-15). The new birth that Jesus spoke of is, at its core, about the work of God in the soul of man. Theologians call it regeneration. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes the new birth as “the great, climactic event in the history of the saved soul.”[1] The new birth is the most radical and amazing description of how God could take a life that is conscious of failure, emptiness, dissatisfaction, and sin, and transform it to make it full, strong, clean, and victorious.

The word “regeneration” means “to beget again,” “to quicken,” or “to give birth” (John 1:13; 3:3-8; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1; James 1:18; 2 Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15; Eph.2:5; 4:24; Col.2:13). It is the creating of life in the heart. It is the implanting of new spiritual life in the soul. It is the making alive of the sinner who is dead (Eph.2:5; Col.2:13).

The new birth is the supernatural work of the Spirit that makes the call of God effectual in the believer. It is not something we do; it is something done to us by God. It is that divine work of God enabling the sinner to believe the truth, with the result that the governing disposition of the soul is radically changed.

We can see the difference between regeneration and conversion or sanctification in the difference between conception and the giving of birth. Conception is the generation of life. It is not gradual, it is instantaneous. Either there is life or there is not. Birth, on the other hand, is the bringing forth of that life.

What conception is to a woman, regeneration is to a Christian. What birth is to a woman, conversion is to a Christian.

Applied:

  • Regeneration does not mean that a change takes place in the substance of human nature.
  • Regeneration does not mean that a complete change of the whole man occurs.
  • Regeneration does not mean that we become like Christ with two natures, one divine and the other human.
  • Regeneration does not mean that God adds or subtracts from the facilities of the soul.
  • Regeneration is not moral reformation or some psychological conversion.

 

The supplier of new life is the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you turn to Him?

 

[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible, p.75

Trust an Unchanging God

God is an immutable being (James 1:17), which means He does not have the ability to change. God not only does not change, He doesn’t have the ability to change.

“To say that God is immutable is to say that He never differs from Himself. The concept of a growing or developing God is not found in the Scriptures…For a moral being to change it would be necessary that the change be in one of three directions. He must go from better to worse or from worse to better; or granted that the moral quality remain stable, he must change within himself, as from immature to mature or from one order of being to another. It should be clear that God can move in none of these directions. His perfections forever rule out any such possibility. God cannot change for the better. Since He is perfectly holy, He has never been less holy than He is now and can never be holier than He is and has always been. A deterioration within the unspeakably holy nature of God is impossible. Indeed I believe it impossible even to think of such a thing, for the moment we attempt to do so, the object about which we are thinking is no longer God but something else and someone less than He.”—A.W.Tozer

Read the verses below to see what the Bible reveals about the immutability of God:

  • Psalm 119:89―God is changeless in His person. (Cf.Heb.13:8)
  • Isaiah 46:9-10―God is changeless in His purposes. (Cf.Ps.33:11; Mal.3:6)
  • Numbers 23:19―God is changeless in His promises. (Cf.1 Sam.15:2)

God will never change who He is, His plan, nor what He has guaranteed to do, be, and give to His beloved. Will you trust Him today?