Category: Preaching

Reading for 1 Corinthians

I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians a lot in preparation for preaching through it the rest of the year. If 1 Timothy lays the foundation for the church, 1 Corinthians builds a distinct community on top of that foundation, and it does so amidst a pluralistic culture swirling with the idolatries of knowledge, power, status, sex, and wealth.

1 Corinthians is practical theology par excellence. Every ethical exhortation is rooted in rich gospel thought. Ethical issues are treated with backwards Christology (cross) and forward Christology (new creation). The letter is retrieves old testament theology and, to use Richard Hays’ phrase, converts the imagination to think out the story of God in a way that resocializes them to live distinctly in their culture. Everything is here: biblical theology, practical issues, cultural engagement, pastoral wisdom, and Christ crucified and risen. Here are a few books I’m reading to help me understand and preach this letter well:

A Reader’ Greek New Testament 

This is a great version of the GNT with words that occur less than 30 times defined in the footnotes.

The Theology of First Corinthians

Victor Furnish does a nice job with the theology arguing that the gospel drives everything in this letter. I also have three others in this series including Green’s Luke and Bauckham’s on Revelation and have loved them both.

First Corinthians: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching

Richard Hays, one of my favorite NT authors, does biblical theology that inspires you.

Conflict & Community in Corinth 

Ben Witherington, especially good on Greco-Roman backgrounds.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians 

A heavy weight scholar with masterful exegetical skills and great detail. Eye-crossing at times.


Did God Really Become a Baby?

Advent season offers a unique opportunity to reflect on one of the most fascinating claims about Jesus–his incarnation. Depending on your vantage point, the incarnation may sound like a fantastic fairy tale, a mind-blowing reality, a comforting truth, or uninteresting doctrine. I find it both outlandish and profound.

God becoming a baby? Really? How absurd. What would compel God to do that? How is it possible? And if he did come, why not come as an adult and skip the awkward baby stage? Many non-Christians find this claim absurd, while many non-Christians take it for granted, which is why I’m taking four Sundays to consider the incarnation from a skeptical and theological perspective. Here’s an introductory video:

Advent 2013 – The Coming of God from City Life Church on Vimeo.

Sermons and manuscripts can be found here.

3 Gems for Elder/Pastors

Whether you are flourishing or struggling as an elder or pastor in your church, you need a dose of these vitamins from Jared Wilson’s The Pastors Justification. And even if you aren’t a pastor, these quotes carry wisdom for everyday Christian character.

If you are a loudmouth boaster, your church will gradually become known for boasting. If you are a graceless idiot, your church will eventually become known for graceless idiocy. The leadership will set the tone of the church’s discipleship culture, setting the example for the body’s “personality.” (47)

Marital faithfulness often means others forsakenness.You are not one flesh with your church, but with your wife…Wife and family first, church second. This means pastors are first charged with pastoring their family. Indeed, one cannot even be allowed to pastor a church if he cannot or will not pastor his family. (51)

The pastor is to practice self-control at all times, including (if not especially) in his solitude. Can he have a drink without needing a drink? Can he surf the web without feeling the tractor beam of porn? Can he prepare his sermon or research a writing project online without surfing the web at all? Can he spent long unhalting periods of time reading a book or listening to sermon audio? Can he read a critical letter without becoming sinfully self-defensive and self-justifying? Can he hear the success of others and not covet or begrudge? (52)