The Friendship of Church Discipline and the Gospel

On one occasion, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus while he was teaching and asked him, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matt 21:23). While it is obvious that the priests and elders were disputing rather than making careful inquiry, the question they asked is good and deserves being asked and answered. Many indeed ask by what authority does the church practice church discipline? In answering this question, I will seek to briefly demonstrate that we not only practice church discipline because of explicit commands to do so (Matt 18:15–20; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5:1–13; 1 Tim 1:19–20; 2 Thess 3:6–15), but also because church discipline is inextricably related to the gospel, evangelism, and the Great Commission. Continue reading →

Bibliography for Studying Scripture

­­SELECTED STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY  5/31/16 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1984

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1985

 Unger’s New Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 2006

Logos Library System, several upgradeable levels are available. Find out more at www.logos.com

An Exhaustive Analytical Concordance (Strong’s or NAS)

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, 1984

Evangelical Ethics, John Jefferson Davis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003 or Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, Norman L. Geisler, Jan 1, 2010

Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, Bethany House Publishers; Rev Updated edition (October 1, 2003) or latest update

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983, or Eerdmans Revised edition November 9, 2006

Nave’s Topical Bible, Orville J. Nave, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002

Pronouncing Bible Names, W. Murray Severance, Holman Bible Publishers, 1983

Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982

Dispensationalism, Charles C. Ryrie, 2007

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine and F.F. Bruce, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1996

Does Prayer Changes Things or NOT?

Some believe that prayer is in the final analysis, praying what God has already determined that you would pray (Calvinism). However, a simple, not a simplistic, reading of Scripture makes palpably clear that while God has predetermined many things, He sovereignly chose not to predetermine everything, but to incorporate the prayers of His people into the contingent outcome. Continue reading →

New Book Available – The Vulgarization of Christ’s Church

My new book is available in paperback and Kindle, along with my other books at Amazon

The Vulgarization of Christ’s Church seeks to clarify and demonstrate the incalculable and injurious influence that progressive education has had and is having upon preaching, thinking Christianly, and the local church. Progressive education began at the turn of the twentieth century, replacing classical education with what is purportedly a science-based education, which necessarily results in scientism. This seismic shift in public education has not only affected what we learn but how we think. In order to enable the church to detect progressivism’s deleterious sway and protect herself by being equipped with the progressive revelation of God, and thereby counter the influence of progressive education of man, I seek to highlight some of the underlying intolerable essentials of progressive education. My major concern regarding progressive education is that the vast majority of Christians can be or are unknowingly facilitating the very philosophy of education and thinking in the church that will ultimately cause Christianity to be regarded as the scourge of modern society, which will immeasurably complicate the task of evangelism and discipleship.

In the companion book to this one, The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff, I explain the biblical model for the local church and how to build such a church.

Copies are available from the publisher at wipfandstock.com and amazon.com as well as the author, ronnie@trinitynorman.org.

Teaching the Basics: Important But Insufficient!

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”’ (Matthew 28:18-20). (underline and embolden added)

Most often, this passage is referenced in order to emphasize missions and evangelism, and those are indeed vital components; however, the teaching task is often, albeit unwittingly, reduced to a secondary or tertiary status. Additionally, the essentialness of the breadth and depth of the teaching component is often obscured by our words and practice. Continue reading →

We are Truly God’s Temple

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The church in the New Testament has replaced the sacred Old Testament temple. The New Testament says that Christ’s body is a temple (John 2:19–21), the universal church is a temple (Ephesians 2:20–21), the individual Christian’s body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and in this verse the local church is a temple of God. The you is plural in this passage, signifying the corporate local body of believers. Consequently, every local New Testament church is a temple of God. Paul uses the word temple, naós, without the article (anarthrous), signifying the quality or essence of the meaning of temple as opposed to a particular location. Continue reading →

The Need to Equip the Saints

When Christians experience prolonged infancy and satisfaction with milk beyond normal infancy, they will have an immature and incomplete Christian worldview, which inevitably results in them advocating ideas that are merely human wisdom. George Barna’s research revealed, “Only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview…. [Those labeled] ‘born again Christians,’ the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.”[1] I would add to this that what Barna requires to be considered as one who has a biblical worldview is not by any measure demanding, but is in my opinion quite minimal.[2]

This dismal state of affairs is even more reason to return to an equipping model of the local church. If Christians do not have even a rudimentary understanding of Christianity, how can they communicate Christianity to a lost world, and how can they make biblical decisions in an ever-increasingly secular environment? If the shepherds themselves do not study deeply, they are utterly ill equipped to handle the task of engaging a hostile world.

They also are incapable of training those under their watch care beyond the most blatantly obvious truths of Scripture, which, when learned alone, are well suited for being reduced to clichés and the preferred diet of milkoholics (Christians who like to remain spiritually immature).

Man’s wisdom is not merely somewhat ineffective or unhelpful; it is as useless as a ship with no hull. Paul said, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless” (1 Corinthians 3:20). The consideration of what works in building the local church should always be evaluated by asking if it is human wisdom or divine wisdom as revealed in Scripture. If it is human, despite accolades received by the carnal, it is useless in building the temple of God regardless how fast or large the church grows.


[1] Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years, http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years.
[2] A “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn his way into heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In Barna’s research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

Pastors Dare Not Become Enablers of Spiritual Milkoholics

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able (1 Corinthians 3:2)

Note the past tense verb, gave milk, referring to times in the past when Paul taught the Corinthians milk because they were not ready for meat and that was okay; but the poignant criticism is indeed, even now, you are not yet able. Even now, still, at this point they were not able, when in reality they should have been much more mature and able to think as spiritual men, feeding on the meat of the Word. Continue reading →

Knowing God Deeply

True spiritual wisdom is to believe what God says above our human learning, wisdom, and thus pursue His wisdom so that we may truly be wise. The first thought that should come to our minds when someone brings something up about a topic is, what does the Bible say? We may not know, but we must not let a lack of specific knowledge cause us to fall back on human wisdom and thus foolishness. Moreover, we should be devoted to know the deep things God has revealed to us as well as the easily accessible truths of Scripture, lest we implicitly impugn God with having revealed a significant amount of extraneous information.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).