On its surface, this passage looks like it means that one’s eternal salvation is determined by one’s acts of compassion. Whenever we help the disenfranchised and the downtrodden of society, our entrance into heaven is all the more assured. On the other hand, as I heard one famous teacher describe it, Jesus will turn away at the final judgment from self-identifying Christians who failed to help the poor during their lifetime, saying, “I don’t want to hear it!”
What if we encouraged those in the pew, as we should in the classroom, to adopt a far more active stance? Imagine a church where the expectations for learning were far higher. People are not expected to simply take things in–but figure things out.
What is essential for a great preaching? Some say creativity, others story-telling, others cite the use of powerful metaphors, and still others point to the ability of a preacher to connect a passage to one or two practical applications. While such things are not inherently bad, it is my conviction that more important than any of these is one’s underlying approach to preaching. And, of the various approaches to preaching, I am convinced of the supremacy of expository preaching.
The Apostle Paul was not only a zealous missionary, a successful church planter, and a strong preacher. He was also a prolific writer! During the course of his missionary travels Paul wrote 13 of the 27 New Testament books. The writings of Paul are the next great chapter in the story of the Bible.
The next chapter in the story of the Bible brings us to the New Covenant, better known as the New Testament. This title is derived from God’s promise through the prophet Jeremiah that He would make a “new covenant” with His people to replace the covenant which they had broken. Speaking to His disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus presented the Passover cup saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).