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Today we celebrate the second inauguration of President Obama, but we do so without the benediction of pastor Louie Giglio. In the controversy that erupted after his selection to and withdrawal from that honor, it became clear again how much the gospel ...

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Displaying 1–43 of 43 comments

Douglas Quenzer

January 31, 2013  12:24pm

Yes let's preach the cross. "And who would ever come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." The cross is not only about redemption but a denial of self. In a society where self is denied so little, and we give in to every desire imaginable, it seems that preaching the cross must also talk about disciples walking in righteousness. We have to remember that Jesus and Peter both used the first and most important word in preaching the gospel; Repent. What must we do to be saved, "Repent..and believe...."l I wonder if modern preachers actually use that word anymore or even if they know what it means.

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JOHN CORCORAN

January 26, 2013  3:26pm

I am so glad to see this point made, and especially by a prominent influential magazine, and its Editor. Good works should proceed from the compassion God inspires in us. The preaching of the Logos of the cross is foolishness to the natural mind, but is the power of God unto Salvation.

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Jonathan Shumate

January 26, 2013  2:22pm

"In the long run, we cannot gain a hearing for the gospel through our admirable ethics or social justice because in the end, we are still sinners, with hearts, as the prophet Jeremiah put it, that remain desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9)." This is both biblically and practically incorrect. This statement in Jer. 17 is in reference to that portion of Israel who were living in disobedience and rebellion against the covenant--not to faithful covenant members. A better parallel would be folks who either grew up in the church or are in the church today who in fact live, think, and act in such a way that denies the very realities implicated in our covenant relationship with God: faith, love, and trust in God. Secondly, from a practical standpoint, throughout history it is the power of the Gospel manifested in the way Christians live that has often been at the fore of what we think of as evangelism. Salvation is not an end in and of itself--we are saved bu grace through faith to be hoy.l

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Alice Hartley

January 26, 2013  9:53am

“In the long run, we cannot gain a hearing for the gospel through our admirable ethics or social justice because in the end, we are still sinners, with hearts, as the prophet Jeremiah put it, that remain desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9).” I don’t know how the writer can make this claim. The Bible interweaves our salvation with our actions toward the poor including mercy, justice, and compassion. We are still sinners and that fact necessitates Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and our embrace of this, but we cannot leave it there. There are severe consequences for doing so, according to Scripture. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10. I rarely hear this preached, but I think we risk much in ignoring it. I believe the only hearing we will gain for the Gospel is when we prove that the love of Christ is indeed alive in us who call ourselves by his name.

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JOHN

January 26, 2013  8:20am

I suggest Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchivijian. Mark Galli is hardly ever wrong in his articles. Solid. Luther was looking very hard and working very hard to discover a gracious God and found God on the Cross. Yes, God on the Cross. You want to understand the human predicament - where is God found?

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Roger McKinney

January 25, 2013  12:17pm

Excellent article! We need to worry less about being popular and more about being truthful. Our problem today is very similar to the main problem Jesus faced: people have a low opinion of the evil of sin. Jesus spent much of his ministry trying to convince the Pharisees that they were sinners in need of a savior. They had such a low opinion of sin that they believed their puny works would cover them and God would wink at them because they were descendants of Abraham. Appealing to the "felt needs" of non-Christians can get us a hearing, but when they hear the truth that their sins are so abhorent to God that they will cause them to spend an eternity in hell will turn most of them off immediately.

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James Aist

January 25, 2013  10:14am

We born-again Christians should continue to proclaim the truth of God’s word for the sake of those who are “born again” and are in the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit (that’s all of us who are “born again”!). And let us not grow weary in doing this good work (Galatians 6:9) because unbelievers rant and rail against us; they are still at work in the earth doing the work of the devil (1 John 3:8 and Ephesians 2:2), so do not listen to them. The outcome of this “labor of love” of ours is up to God, not us. God only asks us to do our part by continuing to proclaim the truth of His word. He alone will bring forth the fruit of our labor according to His perfect will, His perfect plan and His perfect timing (Galatians 6:9). Read more at http://rethinkingtheology.com/2012/09/29/ears-to-hear-born-again-and-gay-th eology/

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audrey ruth

January 25, 2013  12:39am

c k weaver, for MANY years churches/pastors did not NEED to address such issues as abortion and normalization of homosexuality (including changing God's definition of marriage), because activists were not pushing these things onto the American public, demanding that people change their standard of truth/decency, or else. When those agendas became so strident, OF COURSE pastors and churches had to address these issues -- how foolish it would be to pretend they did not exist, thus allow for wholesale corruption of this nation, particularly the indoctrination of young children in government schools. Many unGodly people have led this assault, and Obama champions them all. He is clearly much more committed to taking us down the path Sodom and Gomorrah (and other pagans) took than bringing our nation's huge albatross of debt under control and solving related problems. Plain common sense, let alone Godly wisdom, seems to be notably absent from the Dems in general and, yes, some Reps too.

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Kristie Swisher

January 24, 2013  10:09am

While I agree that Jesus' coming, crucifiction & subsequent resurrection from the dead is God's message & means of reconciliation-the bridge to relationship with God for all human beings-we can't say that the church needs to focus on that message only. On the contrary! The church gets it wrong in NOT preaching the entire gospel! The church needs to be the difference in the world, NOT a socially acceptable part of it where the evil & sin in our society is overlooked & made acceptable & ok. Christianity is not only about being "saved"-it is about being reconciled with God & living the life that Jesus modeled & knowing that we have forgiveness through Jesus when we sin. God is always the SAME-His standards & expectations don't change because it is 2013 & the world thinks homosexuality is fine. His people need to STAND UP & preach--teach the WHOLE of God's word...NOT keeping the standards God has set has led our world to the decline we see. Remember-it is the Holy Spirit who draws people!

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gordon payne

January 24, 2013  7:07am

We need to preach the whole Bible! His word! Not only His death and resurrection, but all that went before and after! What good is His death and resurrection, if we are ignorant of what went before? The fall of man is pivotal to God's ultimate love. Every sermon should touch all the essentials and then focus on the specific need of the congregation. Get back to basics and give them a little Mayhew! Stand up for Jesus!

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gordon payne

January 24, 2013  7:07am

We need to preach the whole Bible! His word! Not only His death and resurrection, but all that went before and after! What good is His death and resurrection, if we are ignorant of what went before? The fall of man is pivotal to God's ultimate love. Every sermon should touch all the essentials and then focus on the specific need of the congregation. Get back to basics and give them a little Mayhew! Stand up for Jesus!

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c k weaver

January 24, 2013  1:01am

The problem with most Christian preaching is one of four things: 1. It is driven by church consumerism. 2. It is issue driven, for example abortion or homosexuality. 3. It is agenda driven. 4. It is dogma driven not gospel driven. Church is supposed to exist that we may help one another through their trials and tribulations, and to feed and encourage each others spiritual growth. Unfortunately from my limited survey, most sermons are spiritually specious, or completely devoid of spiritual concept. Let us let God judge what is sin and who has sinned. Let us learn how to listen to God so that each of us may follow His specific will for each of us.

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Ed mac

January 23, 2013  10:55am

I have a bone to pick with many evanglists who preach everything but Jesus. I know more about getting rich and having what I want if I ask the right way. I heard one of the false teachers say preaching the cross is not what he was called to do. I heard another if you were looking at him you were looking at Jesus. I hear that on almost all the "Christian" channels. What we need to hear is about the blood of Christ saving sinful man. Many main line preachers have stopped preaching that issue also. Holiness with out which no man will see heaven. My opinion is we need to shout the Praises or God from the roof tops. Forget the modern society that keeps us quiet and get back to the Gospel. Much of the music is questionable, in the sense that if it were not played on a Christian station we would not know it was a Christian song.

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Pop Seal

January 23, 2013  7:41am

In 1995 I accepted the fact that our Judeo Chrstian heritage and ethic had successfully been removed from our laws by 40+ years of SCOTUS decisions. I have since then REFUSED TO WILLINGLY SERVE ON A JURY. So far I've been dismissed twice when I told the judge and then a prosecuting attorney that I had already been dismissed from the system. The secular atheists were as glad to see me go as I was to walk out. I remain otherwise a loyal citizen who refuses to go quietly into the night as though my life and teaching about Christ and His Word are hurtful to America. NON VIOLENT PROTEST MAY BE OUR ONLY RECOURSE NOW.

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editor UNITYINCHRIST.COM

January 23, 2013  3:45am

While I agree with Matt STEPHENS comment fully, when I read the title of your article, I thought I was about to read an article describing the ineffectiveness of the sermon formats used in modern Christian churches, i.e. topical verses expository or something like that. I am just finishing up on the sermon transcriptions for my section dealing with the Four Gospels, and the effectiveness of connective expository sermon style speaks for itself. The pastors who give those sermons are pastors of mega-churches (semi-autonomous Calvary Chapels), and their members are very much spiritually alive and well-versed (no pun intended) in what the Bible teaches. To me, from what I have observed after attending one of these congregations for over seven years, listening to their "style" of preaching, this style of preaching helps breathe spiritual health and life into the congregation. And I agree with you on the health & wealth gospel preachers and their churches being not good for the Gospel.

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audrey ruth

January 22, 2013  11:38pm

Well said, Mark Galli! Sadly, it seems I rarely see such clearly-stated and Biblically-accurate articles here. Maybe that's why this one is such a breath of fresh air. May your tribe increase!

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Steve Willicombe

January 22, 2013  10:40pm

This reminds me of a cartoon in YouthWorker Journal 20 years ago that had a youth worker and a kid together at a coffee shop, and the kid asks, "Do you really like me, or are you just earning the right to be heard?"

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Steve Cornell

January 22, 2013  2:19pm

We who "fill pulpits" each week would be wise to review the 10 attributes of good preaching summarized from the ministry of Jonathan Edwards. See them here: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/attributes-of-good-preaching-by- johnathan-edwards/

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Linda Kennett

January 22, 2013  1:28pm

Great editorial. Well said. Your point has been a constant concern for many years. We, as Paul, need to get to the place of resolve "to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

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Matt STEPHENS

January 22, 2013  8:57am

Flagrant dichotomies aside, you have served us a desperately needed reminder of our need to keep Christ crucified at the center of our ecclesiastical as well as devotional and secular lives. And yet, as other commenters have already noted, the Cross is not the entire Story of redemption. There is the theology of Creation, of Resurrection, of Christ's present reign, and of the final Consummation of all things in Christ. But your point is well-taken, and should be taken to heart, that the significance of the Cross is woefully rare in our preaching as well as our collective consciousness in the "Christian West."

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HERBERT MORGAN

January 21, 2013  8:44pm

You make some pretty broad swath criticisms about the very dynamic work of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that we are all commanded to pray will come. Christianity, as I understand it is made up of a large number of people who are individually involved in a long and very personal process that starts with hearing the Gospel. This results in seeds of Faith being planted in our "hearts." When we accept these we will be confronted with the necessity to die to ourselves (essentially letting go of everything) as Jesus did on the Cross. But dying is not salvation. When we do we find ourselves resurrected with a radically new kind of Life. Then we are called to walk with and in obedience to Jesus 24/7. As we walk in obedience to Him through faith we become radically changed but still finite persons. Paul stated that it was not appropriate for him to criticize another person's servant. This applies to all of us within the Kingdom unless Jesus gives us a specific command to do so.

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catherine howell

January 21, 2013  8:07pm

Is This The Church? They fought to see Who could build A more beautiful building Than all the rest. All of the while People still died Out on the streets And they all wondered why. Velvet cloth covered Their well made seats While the poor and hungry Had nothing to eat. Gold appointments Covered their doors While the homeless slept On cold bare floors. They stayed safe in their buildings And thought themselves wise So they never heard The anguished cries. They had programs and meetings And talked about what to do. They became so busy They forgot me and you. Jesus was mentioned But not to offend. Losing donations Would mean the end. Please find me a 'church' Who cares for the lost Who'll go out into the streets And never care about the cost. 2007 Catherine M Howell

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Philip Rowley

January 21, 2013  7:34pm

I appreciate this article on the need for a renewed focus on the Cross. Without the Cross, all of us are hopeless sinners. When we as Christians get together it seems like conversation often centers on the terrible things happening in the world. We are shocked by the killing, the immoral behavior, the nasty talk, and the greed. Why are we so shocked? Without Christ's blood washing us clean, we are all the worst of sinners as Paul makes clear. Inside the Church we need believers growing in holiness. Those outside the Church don't need our condemnation; they need the Cross of Christ.

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CALEB GRAYSON

January 21, 2013  7:34pm

Neither the 'progressives' not 'conservatives' value Liberty which is tolerance for the annoying Other. these backlashes will continue until Christians find their American roots in freedom — promoting a government that gives as much license as possible both socially and economically.

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Adam Shields

January 21, 2013  7:24pm

I wish one of these articles would mention that Andy Stanley preached the inaugural sermon today and there are other Evangelicals participating in the Prayer Service and other events around the Inauguration.

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James Stevenson

January 21, 2013  7:06pm

We need to clean up our own act in Evangelical Christianity before we earn the right to challenge our fellow citizen's on any issue of morality. I think that it is totally outrageous that we continue to tolerate the TV evangelists (not all, but many) who bring the message "send more money" and prey on Christian benevolence. Why are our church pastors not preaching out against this absurdity? My wife did some recent research to find the that many of these "evangelists" are awash with cash, living lives of luxury, private jets, huge homes etc. What kind of witness is this? Our Lord lived a life of frugality, preached without gimmickry and identified with the poor and outcast. The gospel is about salvation and not about wealthy living, or a "good" life here on earth, and to me what is portrayed on television is more about the troubled state of Christian preaching than almost anything else. Irrespective of our own personal beliefs we are tarnished by this small but visible minority.

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S Wesley Mcgranor

January 21, 2013  6:08pm

Your churches and society are dead. It took a while to make this happen; particularly the Counterculture to now. Protestants can find solace in the East, where Eastern Protestantism now carries the torch. There are those that want--to find Christ's solace in death; and that is perverse.

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J Thomas

January 21, 2013  6:00pm

The political significance of Giglio's ouster is another bit of evidence at where the Progressive dialectic is moving Christianity to in America, and to a lesser extent the world. We can expect that Chrisitanity be publicly chastised in similar ways until the Progressives propagandize it to anathema. Christianity has served its purpose for them. They were able to use 'social justice' to convince enough Christians to vote them into power, and they'll put those same Christians out of the room as soon as it is politically convenient. That is our end with Progressivism. We should expect to be chased out of the room like rats and treated like vermin. There is no room for Christianity in their Progressive Globalist march. Christian philosophy is in direct conflict with progressivist goals. It's astounding that we have not had a grand public debate over whether or not progressivism is actually philosophically congruent with Christianity.

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Rick Dalbey

January 21, 2013  5:17pm

Our culture is awash with knowledge. We are surrounded with information 24/7 by the internet. Evangelical Churches revolve around the sermon. What the west needs is a demonstration. Most of the teaching of Jesus was preceded by physical healing. He sent out the 12, then the 72 to heal the sick and preach. Jesus said about the great commission, of which we are recipients, “These signs will accompany those who have believed” which included healing and deliverance from demons. Philip turned Samaria upside down as they “heard and saw the signs which he was performing.” Paul’s opening gambit in Ephesus was to lay hands on 12 men to see them all speak in tongues and prophesy. Then for 2 years, he preached the gospel and did extraordinary miracles. Ephesians was written to a charismatic church. As Jesus says in John, miracles glorify the Father. The western church needs not only the preaching of the cross and the resurrection, it needs to see and experience the power of the resurrection.

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Anthony Jarrell

January 21, 2013  5:15pm

Two things I would like explained? First, so faith in Christ could not be good for your marriage or business? He makes it sound like it's not even possible. Also when he says, "Unfortunately, in a desire to reach the world for Christ, some inadvertently reverse Giglio's priorities and make much about our ultimate significance. Jesus becomes merely the means by which we feel better about our place in the universe. Need purpose and meaning? Follow Jesus, that will do the trick. In this subtle shift, we become the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega", I understand what he means about our significance. What I'm struggling to understand is the problem with finding your purpose and meaning in Jesus? Should we not try to bring hope to the hopeless? I think he means that Jesus is more than a lucky charm, that he needs to be identified as our savior and not just someone who validates us. Thoughts?

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Morgan Trotter

January 21, 2013  3:48pm

We need to preach the cross - yes. But we also, and even more importantly, need to preach the resurrection. Too much cross-oriented preaching seems to leave Jesus hanging there. But it's the resurrection that makes the cross more than just an unfortunate accident of history. Preaching of the cross needs to include preaching of the resurrection so we are reminded not only that we died with Christ, but that we've been raised to new life in Him as well. THAT's the good news of the gospel!!

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Steve Skeete

January 21, 2013  3:46pm

'The current state of preaching is driven by an admirable desire to show our age the relevance of the gospel. But our recent attempts have inadvertently turned that gospel into mere good advice—about sex, about social ethics, about how to live successfully. A renewed focus on the Cross, articulated in a culturally intelligent way, is the only way forward.' At the end of this article I really was tempted to ask so what? Mr. Galli seems to know all about the preaching of the gospel, and how to make it 'relevant', therefore his time, in my view, might have been better spent giving those who love to preach some pointers on how to preach to our culture intelligently, yet one that highlights the 'foolishness' of the gospel. If you are an expert on gospel preaching then instead of berating those who are not doing it right, it would be nice to lend them a hand. Please Mr. Galli, lecture, point out faults, show where preaching has gone wrong. Then show how you would preach to this culture.

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Bert Warden

January 21, 2013  3:38pm

Right on, Andy. It also doesn't help that a segment of the evangelical church has gone off on the tangent of the emerging/emergent church, the so-called "King Jesus Gospel" with it's consistent almost complete neglect of the Pauline Epistles. Such is the preaching fare I suffer every Sunday! I feel starved to death

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EDWARD E FLAMBOE

January 21, 2013  3:07pm

I would call your attention to www.saysf.org/resource/pastors blog, posted today. It says in part, "What divine truths did God intended to be taught? Paul directly answers that question in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching [doctrine]”.

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EDWARD E FLAMBOE

January 21, 2013  3:04pm

I would call your attention to a post on http://www.saysf.org/pastors-blog "What Biblical Doctrine is Essential?" submitted by Larry Crabtree on January 21, 2013 - 1:09pm. It starts our, "What divine truths did God intended to be taught? Paul directly answers that question in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching [doctrine]”.

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Ted Hewlett

January 21, 2013  2:33pm

Mark Galli says, "The most needful and difficult task of the church today is to again preach the message of the Cross, and to do so in a way that alarms, surprises, scandalizes, challenges, invigorates, and inspires a 21st century world." This is a stimulating but hardly controversial comment. But then the author adds "What that would look like exactly is hard to say; our theologians and pastors need to help us here." I would like to have heard Galli give some of his own ideas on how to preach the message of the cross. Galli earlier criticizes "ethical preaching that tells people how to live better." I am not sure of the significance of this. It seems to me that in some Evangelical churches the assumption is that Christians need no preaching on moral issues; that they only need to develop a sens of communion with Christ and all moral problems will disappear: something that does not seem to be borne out in practice.

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JP Williams

January 21, 2013  2:09pm

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

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MICHAEL MCCLEARY

January 21, 2013  2:04pm

Sadly, there is 500 years of ignorance, arrogance, and/or pride that must be undone; everything else is just a band-aid on the cancer of Christian dis-unity. Within 25 years almost all Protestant Churches will accept Homosexual marriage (either by trend or by government), just as they caved on highly un-biblical ideas like birth control and divorce. (they will most likely be pro-abortion as well). Thankfully there is still One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church who's teaching, like it's Teacher, is eternal and will not/can not change.

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Laura detwiler

January 21, 2013  1:58pm

In reply to Kevin Austin, What Mark Galli is referring to when he says we will not receive a hearing by ethics is a particular trend in Christian thought; the line of thought he is criticising is when Christians get on the band wagon with popular social causes solely in order to get a platform to speak out and not because of genuine compassion. I don't think it is correct to read that the author is implying that genuine social justice work motivated by showing the love of Christ is a tactic. I look forward to reading any article by Mark Galli as they are always Christ-centred and well-balanced. I agree that sometimes this is neglected in current preaching, however a deeper reading of many passages of the Bible will always bring us back to the centrality of Christ. Perhaps we do not preach about Christ because we ourselves spend so little of our time focused on Him and more time fixating on current issues that should be used (if at all) to point to Him and not our own opinions.

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JAMES J STEWART

January 21, 2013  1:53pm

Peter's sermon in Acts 2 stands in sharp contrast to most of today's preaching. Peter preached to a lost culture in such a way that people needed --even hungered -- to ask the question, "What must I do to be saved?" Our preaching today tends to provide the answer without making people aware that they need to ask the question. When I read Peter's sermon I strongly suspect that there was holy joy on his face and in his voice because the news he was proclaiming was so incredibly good -- in the midst of an incredibly troubled culture. Today, preaching as a talking head without genuine holy joy and enthusiasm while condemning the actions of "those people who aren't saved" may please the already converted, but it can easily push away the very people we are trying to reach. Further, today's preachers offer little room for the seduction of the Holy Spirit in the midst of their personal efforts. We can certainly do better.

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Wesley Woods

January 21, 2013  1:49pm

Our ultimate significance can only be found is Jesus Christ for we were by Him for Him. St. Augustine says our heart are restless until we find our rest in Christ. we share the gospel by the way we live and what we do. if our actions do not line up with our words why should anyone listen to us. the gospel of Mark is the blackest gospel in red letter Bibles. there is teaching in there, but it is composed mostly of deeds and miracles. Matthew on the other hand has five whole chapters dedicated to nothing but Christ teaching with others teachings spread out among other events in the gospel. Louie Giglio is encouraging young Christians to not just have a said faith, but a doing faith much like what we see in the book of Acts and read about when we read of the martyrs under the persecutions of the Roman Emperors and even several modern martyrs as well. this world will not come to Christ until it see its rightful king Jesus Christ lived out through his church.

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Belle Unruh

January 21, 2013  1:42pm

"A renewed focus on the Cross...is the only way forward." I was so happy to read this tears came to my eyes. This is what the world needs, and this is the way the world should think of Christians - people who lift up the Cross of Jesus.

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Kevin Austin

January 21, 2013  1:08pm

I agree with these thoughts, but take issue with one point. On page one the author states that we will not receive a hearing simply by our ethics or by engaging in justice issues. In the line above this statement, the author implies that these are "tactics". I can't disagree more. In my past 8 years as a leader in the modern abolitionist movement my involvement in justice issues has given me a voice and an opportunity to share about my faith and motivation, which like my friends at Passion and Pastor Giglio in particular, is to, from, for, and because of Jesus. It's all about Jesus, but works of justice make Jesus tangible. Justice and ethics aren't tactics. They are the natural outflow of true discipleship. It's not an either/or. It's not the cross or justice - it's both/and. I support this kind of dialogue, thank your for shining the light on important issues. Thank you, Louie Giglio for being authentic and for leading with integrity.

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