How to (Mis)Interpret Prophecy

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, David Roberts (1796–1864)

There’s no shortage of advice on how to interpret the Bible. One maxim that I’ve already mentioned advises, “When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” I’ve heard it quoted when it comes to biblical prophecy—encouraging people to interpret literally, at face value. Although that sounds like good advice, some New Testament writers didn’t get the memo. [Read more…]

What This Little-Known Social Theory Has to Do with Your Sermons

By Jeffrey Arthurs, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

Remember ERP: Estimated Relationship Potential. This is a social science theory from the field of interpersonal communication which demonstrates that when we meet someone we quickly form an estimate of the potential for a relationship. We start to calculate: What kind of relationship is possible here? What will the nature of our relationship be? Will it be a romantic relationship? Will it be an authoritative relationship? Maybe I want to avoid this person. [Read more…]

Marxism and Biblical Theology Aren’t Synonyms

I’m a biblical scholar by training, but what most people don’t realize is that I’m also a political junkie. My undergraduate degree is actually in History and Political Science. Since one of my graduate degrees is in history (albeit ancient history), I was able to teach western civilization at the college level to help support myself through graduate school. I’ve also taught US History at a local community college. But while my interest in political discourse is high, I also have to confess to being an American political atheist—I don’t put my faith in any political party. The answer to the nation’s problems—to those plaguing a beleaguered world—is the kingdom of God, not a kingdom made by human hands, even American ones. [Read more…]

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A Posture Toward Evil: The Christian Experience as Seen in Stranger Things

Editor’s note: The following is adapted from Michael Heiser’s new video series, The World Turned Upside Down, which examines gospel truths illustrated in the TV show Stranger Things. At times in the excerpt and video, Mike references chapters in his forthcoming book, also called The World Turned Upside Down. You can pre-order the book now and get the video series with it.  [Read more…]

The Formula for Success All Great Leaders Follow

We begin as servants and, if we are faithful, we become leaders. You find this pattern illustrated throughout Scripture. [Read more…]

Do Your Sermons Make Your Congregation Think You’re Angry?

By Matthew Kim, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

There is a temptation in every preacher to begin and end every sermon with correction. Didn’t Paul tell us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”? Yes, he did say that. So we follow suit and begin and end every sermon with correction, rebuke, and training in righteousness because it’s good for our listeners. Their apathy needs to be shaken up a bit with some scolding, we say to ourselves. [Read more…]

Are We Trying to ‘Cast Out Demons without Prayer’?

Hammer and nail. Analogy for the disciples' work as they tried to cast out demons without prayer.

By Ben Patterson, adapted from Deepening Your Conversation with God

We pray because we are in a spiritual struggle—that we must take personally. We must pray for another reason: the work of the Church is God’s work, not ours. Jesus made that fact clear from the very inception of the Church. He asked his disciples who people were saying he was. They gave the report: some were saying he was John the Baptist, others were saying he perhaps was Jeremiah or Elijah or another one of the prophets. Then he asked the biggest question God ever asks anyone: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter shot his hand up to answer that one. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Pay close attention to what Jesus said in response to this first confession of faith in him. He first clarified how Peter came upon this momentous discovery. He let him know that it was not a conclusion that Peter arrived at on his own. He didn’t figure it out because he had spent so much time with Jesus, listening to what he said, watching his miracles. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (italics mine).

Merely to have spent a lot of time with Jesus, up close and personal, as great as that must have been, was not sufficient for Peter to apprehend who Jesus was. It required a supernatural event, a divine revelation. God’s work begins with God, not humankind.

And so his work continues, for Jesus added, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matt 16:13–18, italics mine). Of course we must pray! If God is the builder and we are his servants in the building of his Church, it is presumptuous to build without prayer.

And completely ineffective. Jesus came down the Mount of Transfiguration to an argument his disciples were having with the teachers of the law. They were unable to heal a demonized boy, a pathetic child who was periodically seized by an evil spirit and thrown to the ground, foaming at the mouth. When Jesus was told what the brouhaha was about, he said something he must often feel when he looks at his prayerless church: “O unbelieving generation . . . how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (Mark 9:19). Then he healed the boy.

When the excitement died down enough for them to ask the question, his disciples said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus’ answer is as devastating as it is brief. He said, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). They had to pray to drive the demon out! What on earth were they doing before Jesus walked up? Whatever it was, clearly they weren’t praying. They were trying to cast out demons without prayer!

So we must pray, because the work of the Church is God’s work, not ours! We must also pray because prayer actually gets God’s work done.


The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife. The title is the addition of the editor.

Why It Would Be Worse If God Wasn’t Angry

Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Angelica Kauffman, 1796.

By Walter C. Kaiser Jr., with Tiberius Rata, adapted from Walking the Ancient Paths: A Commentary on Jeremiah.

Probably more than in most other biblical books, Jeremiah presents God as one having deep feelings, emotions, and passions (pathos). Yahweh shows his love and affection for Israel and the peoples of the earth, but he also shows his deep anger and wrath for all the moral degradation and flaunting of his law. This is hard for many contemporaries to understand, for we have forgotten that it is a matter of evil to stand in the presence of wickedness or sin and not be moved to hate that evil with a passion. [Read more…]

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