“Cultivating Truly Forward-Thinking Religion”
July 2, 2023
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
The Reading of the Word
We return, this morning, to Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi.
Last week, in verses three through eight, we saw the love that Paul has for his Christian friends in Philippi, as he gave thanks for them.
This week, we read about what Paul is asking God to do in his friends’ lives as he prays for them.
With that in mind, we turn now to Philippians 1:9-11.
Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.
1:9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]
Let’s pray …
Prayer of Illumination
Lord, we ask that your steadfast love would be upon us,
according to your promise.
Do not take your word of truth from our lips,
for we know that our hope is in your revelation spoken to us.
Help us to keep your commands continually,
to walk in your ways in all areas of life,
to speak your truth to the people and the powers around us,
to find our delight in your testimony to us,
and to love your revelation to us.
Grant this now as we turn to your word together,
and all the days of our lives.
We ask in Jesus name, Amen.
[Based on Psalm 119:41,43-47]
As we come to our text this morning, we come to yet another complex sentence from the Apostle Paul. It may not be as convoluted as the one we had to pull apart last week, but it’s still complex in its own right. [Fee, 96]
In last week’s text, Paul was focused on his relationship to the Christians in Philippi – giving thanks for his friendship to them, and describing his relationship with them.
In our text this morning, Paul expresses what his hope and prayer is for the Philippian Christians, and with that, he tells us what our hope and prayer should be for our own spiritual lives, and the lives of those around us.
And while it may take some work to pull Paul’s sentence apart, when we do, what emerges are four clear points. Paul here holds out for us the goal, the harvest, the actions, and the power for our spiritual lives.
So this morning we will consider the goal, the harvest, the actions, and the power that Paul calls us to as he prays for the Philippian Christians.
First, let’s consider the goal that Paul lays out here.
And what we’ll see is that Paul orients our goal to a certain period of time – a specific era – but not the way we normally do.
Among many conservatives, there can often be a tendency to focus on the past. A certain period of time can be identified as a “golden age” of spirituality. And from that age we draw our heroes, and our moral framework. Our desire is to live like people of that age did, and our dream is to see society more like that time period in how it’s structured and how it operates. For some, that “golden age” is found in the ancient world, for others the Reformation, still for others it’s just a few decades ago. But the goal is often to live in reference to that time period.
On the other hand, among many other modern people – including those who may label themselves as “progressive” – the goal is often to focus one’s spirituality on the present or the near future. Spirituality is primarily to promote present flourishing, and to be fit to what we believe the moral consensus will be in the near future: in the coming decades. For this reason, many in this camp will consider themselves future-oriented and forward-thinking.
But Paul reminds us that such modern spirituality is not nearly future-oriented or forward-thinking enough. While biblical spirituality is rooted in and draws from the past, and while it is deeply concerned for the present, Paul reminds us that biblical religion is also the most truly forward-thinking of religions, because our entire spiritual lives are to be ultimately oriented not to the past, not to the present, not even to coming decades or centuries of the future, but rather forward to eternity.
Paul writes here that for the Philippians, the focus of his prayer is oriented to the day when Christ returns, and makes all things new, and every person will stand before him and have their relationship to him evaluated. He says in verses ten and eleven that his desire for them is that they “be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” and so bring “glory and praise to God.”
The point in time that guides and orients Paul’s spirituality is not the past, the present, or the near future – but the far future: the future time when God will dwell with his people forever. He tells us that our lives now should be oriented towards what our relationship with God will be then.
And, of course, that must be of ultimate importance. There are many things we deal with in life that are important. But what could be more important than the nature and the quality of our relationship with our Maker for all eternity? That is the future that Paul calls us to be oriented towards, and with that he calls us to truly forward-thinking religion, and a truly forward-thinking life.
And he calls us in verse ten to aim for a relationship with God that is “pure and blameless.” But what exactly does that mean?
Our tendency might be to think that Paul is saying that his hope and expectation from them is moral perfection in this life. And while I’m sure Paul would be thrilled with moral perfection in the lives of the Philippian Christians, that’s not what Paul says he expects from them in this life.
The word for “pure” that Paul uses here, he uses elsewhere not to describe perfection, but sincerity without hidden motives. [Fee, 102; Hansen, 61] And the specific word he uses here that’s translated as “blameless” has more of an emphasis on not causing others to stumble through unnecessary offense. [Fee, 102; Hansen, 61]
Paul’s prayer is for the Philippian Christians to live lives that are genuinely and sincerely focused on honoring God, by keeping his commandments. Which is an important reminder about what kind of good works God accepts from us and how he accepts them.
One of my favorite portions of our doctrinal standards is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter sixteen, paragraph six.
In the paragraph beforehand, the Confession acknowledges that our good works – the good things we try to do in this life – are always, in themselves defiled by sin, “and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.” [WCF 16.5]
And on some level we know this. Our best attempts to do the right thing always fall short.
But then the Confession goes on. It says: “Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreproveable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.”
Because God is our loving Father, and because not only we, but all we seek to do in faith, is in Christ, our good works, done in sincerity, even if not in perfection, really can glorify God, and really can receive his good pleasure and delight on the day of Christ.
And that is what Paul is praying for here: that the Philippians might live lives of sincere faith and obedience to God now, in a way that will enrich their relationship to God in the future.
That’s the first thing we see here: the future-oriented goal that Paul puts forward for our spiritual lives.
But that’s pretty big-picture. What’s needed to actually reach that goal?
Well Paul tells us. And he says that in order to reach that goal, we need a harvest.
So second, let’s consider the harvest Paul describes here.
This comes up in verse eleven. In order to be blameless on the day of Christ, in order to glorify God, Paul says they should seek to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”
The way we glorify God and the way we receive his blessing for a sincere faith is that we seek to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness.”
Now, again, to be clear, we’re not saved by our righteousness – as if, on the last day our righteousness is put on a scale, and if it’s weighty enough, then we are saved. If that were the case, none of us could be saved. Instead, we are saved by grace through faith, in Christ. And then, it’s only in Christ that we and our good works can be accepted and embraced by God.
Paul’s call here, is that we cultivate a harvest of good works that will be graciously accepted by God – that will glorify him and enrich our relationship to him.
But what does that harvest look like?
When I was a child, I had a book I really like titled The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Steven Kroll. And the story, which features anthropomorphic mice, basically goes like this: It’s summer, and Clayton, the house mouse, notices a pumpkin in his vegetable garden that he thinks has a lot of potential. And he decides that if he works hard, and focuses his attention on that one pumpkin, and cares for it well, then he can make it grow really big, and it might even win the grand prize at the town pumpkin contest. Meanwhile, Desmond, the field mouse, notices the same pumpkin when he is strolling through the vegetable garden in the evening, and he decides that if he focuses his attention on that one pumpkin and helps it grow it can become the biggest jack-o-lantern in the neighborhood. As the story goes on, both mice work hard to nurture and care for that one pumpkin, without realizing the other one is doing it too: Clayton during the day, Desmond at night. They both water it and fertilize it, and feed it sugar water, day after day. And because of all the focused attention this one pumpkin is getting, the results are staggering. It becomes massive.
First, it grows bigger than any other pumpkin in the town. Then it grows bigger than the family car. By the time fall arrives, the pumpkin is bigger than Clayton’s house! Finally, one night, as they’re both caring for the pumpkin, Clayton and Desmond run into each other, and realize that the pumpkin has grown so large because of their joint focused double efforts going into caring for that one pumpkin.
And the results are fantastic. The pumpkin wins the town’s pumpkin contest, but to get it there takes it being pulled by a team of one hundred field mice on motorcycles. And then they all carve it into a jack-o-lantern that can be seen for miles around.
I tell that story … because I think that that is often what we imagine it looks like to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness.” I think we tend to imagine one big and grand thing, that we focus all our attention on, and that the grows … like a massive pumpkin that wins a prize and can be seen for miles around.
Fyodor Dostoevsky got at this when he talked about how the sort of good works we often dream of doing and value in our minds are those that require “immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching.” In other words, it’s a focus on one big, grand thing. “Indeed,” he writes, we feel we would “go as far as the giving even of [our] life,” for such a work,” provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on a stage, and everyone is looking on and praising.” [Dostoevsky, 58]
Dostoevsky’s point is that we tend to imagine spiritual success and good works as one big thing, done in a way that others will easily see and praise.
Do you see that pattern in your own thinking? Do you tend to imagine that a life of faithfulness – a life filled with the fruit of righteousness – would be focused on one area of your life? Maybe a way you serve in the church, maybe how you raise your kids, maybe what you do with your money, maybe something else – but you imagine that if you could get that one thing right then you would be filled with the fruit of righteousness: with that one big piece of fruit.
But of course … that’s not how agriculture ordinarily works … and Paul knows that!
As fun as the story of The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is, a farmer in the ancient world didn’t seek one giant piece of fruit. He hoped for many ordinary pieces of fruit – that was how he grew a successful harvest. And that’s what’s in view here as well. The image evoked here is more like a vineyard or an orchard, where many smaller grapes or other fruits are grown. [Hansen, 62]
And so the concept Paul has for us here is not a life characterized by one, big, spectacular act of righteousness … but a life filled with many smaller, more ordinary acts of goodness and righteousness.
On one level, this is harder, because it calls us to persevering attention in the ordinary things of life, rather than a glorious deed performed on a stage. [Dostoevsky, 58]
But on the other hand, this large harvest of ordinary fruit is also more realistic and achievable for many of us average Christians.
If we think that what God primarily wants from us is one big and conspicuous act of righteousness – like a pumpkin the size of a house – then we can quickly be tempted to despair and to give up.
But if God is calling us instead to grow many little grapes … one after the other … cluster after cluster … which over the course of a lifetime can fill us with the fruit of righteousness – then Paul’s calling can seem more attainable.
And I think that is what Paul has in view here. He’s praying for the Christians in Philippi. He’s praying that they would faithfully live out their relationship with God, and so be found sincere in their faith on the day of Christ, glorifying God by the outcome of their lives. He’s praying that they would do this by filling their lives with the fruit of righteousness – by ordinary, often unseen acts of righteousness and love that pile up over time – which are pleasing to God and a blessing to others. That is the fruit of righteousness Paul prays their lives will be filled with.
But that brings us then to our third question: What actions are needed from us in order to cultivate this harvest? What are the actions Paul is praying for for the Philippians? What does he actually want them to do?
And we get an answer in verse nine. Paul writes: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.”
Paul prays for the Philippian Christians to abound in love: for them to love one another and love others around them more and more. But he prays for it in a specific way: he prays for them to abound in love “with knowledge and all discernment.” What does that mean?
Well, we might start by thinking of the metaphor Paul himself provides us with in this passage: that of farming or gardening.
Farming and gardening call for a range of different actions, depending on the timing and the situation. It calls for planting, watering, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, and other actions. [Hansen, 62]
And in the same way, loving God and loving other people calls for a range of different actions depending on the situation: Sometimes we are called to act, and other times to pray. Sometimes to speak, other times just to listen. When ministering to and seeking to love others, sometimes we are called to encourage them, other times to instruct them, other times to rebuke them, other times to comfort them … and we could go on. Depending on the situation, love may call for different things at different times.
And as with farming, it requires wisdom to know what to do when: to know which situations calls for encouragement, which for correction, and which for something else. And that’s hard.
And it’s hard not just because it calls for wisdom, but because it calls for wisdom in the moment that leads to action. And to think about that, it might be helpful to switch a different metaphor. It may be helpful to think a little bit about baseball. And we might start by considering he difference between batters and umpires.
Here’s what I mean: As Presbyterians especially, we can often fall into the trap of thinking that analysis and a verdicts are the final goals. We can tend to think that the wisdom we need is like an umpire: We see the situation, we make a judgment call, and then we declare our judgment over the situation – maybe quietly, maybe loudly. But either way, our pattern can be to observe, to analyze, and then to declare. So, we see the situation, we think about it, and then we … post on social media … or we record a podcast … or we tell those who will listen around us … or we write a sermon. And that’s all we do.
Now – such actions are not bad in themselves. It’s not wrong for us to make our evaluations and speak of them. But it is insufficient. Because as Christians – as followers of Christ – we’re not primarily called to be umpires, standing behind the plate making evaluations, and declaring our verdicts. We’re primarily called to be batters. And that means a few things.
First, it means we’re called to respond with action. We have to do something with the situations that come into our lives. We have to act. Both the umpire and the batter need to use discernment to come to a verdict on the situation before them … but the batter also has to act in response. And that is a key difference. In the same way, Paul isn’t only praying for knowledge and discernment here – he’s praying for love as well. And the word he uses for that indicates an active sort of love … a love that responds and does something.
But second … if we think about it … we also realize that that active response requires a different kind of wisdom … an “in the moment” sort of wisdom. Which again brings us to the difference between umpires and batters. When a pitcher throws the baseball, the umpire gets to see the entire course of the ball from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s glove … then he gets to think about it a couple seconds if we wants to … and then he makes a call as to whether it’s a ball or a strike: whether it’s a hitable pitch, in the strike zone, or an unhitable pitch – a ball. Now, don’t get me wrong … that’s still a really hard job and I’d never want it. And yet, even so, it’s an easier job than the batter. The batter has much less time to analyze what he’s looking at.
At the professional level, it takes less than half a second for the baseball to get from the pitcher’s hand to home plate: about 400 to 500 milliseconds. Of that time, it takes about 100 milliseconds (or a tenth of a second) for “information about the pitch – its speed, trajectory and location” to travel from the batter’s eye to his brain. “It takes another 150 milliseconds for the batter to start a swing and get the bat over the plate. That leaves 150 to 250 milliseconds – a quarter of a second at most – for the hitter to decide whether to complete the swing and, if he opts to do so, where to place the bat.” How this is even possible is a mystery that neuroscientists have sought to better understand. [Kohn]
But my point this morning is that it takes a different kind of discernment to be a batter than to be an umpire or a spectator. It’s much easier for the umpire to call a pitch a ball or a strike than for a batter to make the determination in 250 milliseconds and before the pitch has even reached home plate. And it’s much, much easier for me to sit on the couch and yell at a player on my TV screen for not swinging, after I’ve seen the replay of the pitch in slow motion. This should be obvious. But as spectators we can often forget – we can often act like we’re doing the same thing calling balls and strikes from my couch as Josh Donaldson has to do while standing at the plate with a bat in his hands. But obviously that’s absurd. They are two very different things.
And that’s true in the Christian life as well. Active Christian love – the kind of love Paul is praying for for the Philippian Christians – takes a different kind of wisdom than the wisdom required to give an armchair analysis after the fact.
It can be really difficult to have the wisdom, in the middle of a complicated situation, to know how to love another person well – whether it’s your child, or your spouse, or your friend, or another congregant, or a neighbor, or a co-worker, or a political opponent, or someone else – it can be really difficult in the middle of a hard situation to know how to respond with Christian love: to apply your knowledge of the Bible, to have the discernment to know which biblical command applies in that moment, and then to act in love. You usually have more than 250 milliseconds … but in the moment it might not feel like much more. It’s difficult.
Later analysis is always easier: Whether it’s you, thinking about it after the fact, beating yourself up or coming up with a list of better responses in your mind than what you did … or if it’s someone else critiquing you after they heard about what you did. Later analysis is always easier than in-the-moment decision making … which is why, even though he’s underperforming right now, Josh Donaldson is still making millions of dollars to play for the New York Yankees, and I’m getting paid absolutely nothing for yelling at my TV screen when he strikes out.
Love, combined with knowledge and discernment, means we’re called not just to make judgments, but to act. It calls for a wisdom that makes a decision in the heat of the moment, rather than from the perspective of hindsight.
But, third, combining love with knowledge and discernment means that we resist the urge to respond to every situation in the same way.
This is a problem for many Christians. We have our preferred responses to people, and sometimes even if we should know better, we still just respond with the same things. As we said, some situations call for encouragement, others for correction, some for instruction, others for comforting, and so on. And we may know that in theory. But in the moment, we often have a default type of response that we tend to apply to everything. I know one pastor (at a church far from here) who shared with me that he had an elder who really loved rebuking people. Rebuking people was his thing. No matter the situation, this elder’s default response was to rebuke … regardless of the details. When it comes to how you respond to your friends … or your family members … or your fellow church congregants … or your children … is that maybe a little like you?
Of course, others are different. Some people respond to almost every situation by always trying to teach – no matter what happens, they try to give a lecture. Still others respond to almost everything with affirmation and sympathy. Still others with taking a situation over and trying to solve it themselves. For others it’s something different. But most of us have our default responses. What is yours? What is your default response when you try to love other people?
Love with discernment and knowledge means that we resist the temptation to over-respond with our default response, if that’s not actually what’s called for.
In the movie Signs we meet a character named Merrill Hess. And at one point in the movie we learn a bit about Merrill’s minor league baseball career.
Someone in the community recognizes Merrill for a well-known at-bat he had, in which he hit a homerun that sailed 570 feet from home plate – setting a new record. The two talk, and it comes out that Merrill doesn’t just have that one minor-league homerun record … but he has five minor league homerun records. At that point, the other person is confused. With such skill, why isn’t Merrill in the major leagues? And then it comes out that Merrill holds another minor league record as well. He also holds the record for the most strikeouts. Because Merrill would swing the bat at just about everything. As one man puts it: “He would just swing that bat as hard as he could, every time. It didn’t matter what the coaches said, it didn’t matter who was on base, he would just whip that bat through the air as hard as he could … he looked like a lumberjack, chopping down a tree.” The man smiles and says “Merrill here has more strikeouts than any two players” combined. The first man looks at Merrill and asks if it’s true. Merrill just looks down and says “It felt wrong not to swing.”
And in Merrill we have a picture of what many Christians struggle with: rather than combine love with discernment, we have our go-to responses that feel most natural, and we tend to apply it to every situation whether it’s wise or not.
Now … what “swinging” looks like may be different for each of us. Our natural, knee-jerk reactions may be different. For some it will be confrontation, for others gentle sympathy, for others it will be something else. But what they have in common is that it can feel wrong to us, in our guts, not to always respond to people with that one thing. It just feels wrong not to swing.
And yet … in truth, it’s wrong to always swing. It’s wrong to always give the same kind of response. The Bible, in the high value it places on wisdom and discernment, makes this clear. Instead, we need to apply biblical wisdom to each situation, in the moment, to know what to do, to decide to do it, and then to carry out that response – even if it’s not the response that feels most natural or comfortable to us. That is what biblical love looks like. That is love, combined with knowledge and discernment.
And so Paul tells us here that if we want to be filled with the fruit of righteousness, if we want to enrich our relationship to God for the day of Jesus Christ, if we want to glorify God, then we need not just knowledge, and not just discernment, and not even just love, but love with knowledge and discernment.
And that’s hard.
Thankfully, Paul tells us we’re not on our own as we seek to do it.
So, we see the goal Paul holds out. We see the harvest it calls for. And we see the actions it calls us to.
Fourth and finally, Paul tells us where we get the power and ability to actually do this.
We see this in verse eleven. Paul prays that they would be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
That “through Jesus Christ” is critical. It’s key.
As we said earlier, it’s only through Christ that our sincere spiritual efforts and good works are accepted by God.
But here we’re reminded that it’s also only through Christ that we’re able to do any spiritual good in the first place. Christ is the power behind any fruit of righteousness that can grow in our lives. We must work at it – that’s true. But even as we plant, and water, and prune, and fertilize, it is God who ultimately gives the growth – not us. And yet, even so, in his Fatherly love and grace, he still rewards and praises us for that fruit.
There are a few things we should take away from that.
First, if you’re not a Christian, our text this morning reminds you that you need Jesus. You want to live life a certain way – you know in your gut that you are called to live life a certain way – you want to be more loving, more caring, more oriented towards what’s really important … but you struggle. You see how far you fall short. You see that you can’t do it on your own.
Our text this morning tells you that no one can do it on their own – I know I can’t. We need help. And Jesus offers us that help. Jesus is fully human – he knows what it’s like to live a human life, with all the challenges it brings. He’s also fully God. And so he has the power not only to live a perfect life himself, but to help us live lives of sincerity and love. And he offers us that help if we cling to him in faith.
Second, if you are a Christian, this text reminds you that you need Jesus too. In the Christian life, you never graduate beyond needing to rely on Jesus. If you want to cultivate a harvest of the fruits of love and righteousness in your life – both now and for eternity – the first step, always, is to come back to Jesus … to reach out to him in faith, in prayer, in worship, through his Word. Only Jesus can give you the power to love others better. Only Jesus can give you the wisdom to know how to love others better. And only Jesus can give you the grace for your works of love and righteousness – which are filled with imperfections – only he can cause your works to be accepted by God with delight and praise. You need Jesus.
And finally, for all of us, this truth should eradicate pride, and give way instead to praise. When we do good, we have grounds to rejoice … but not to boast. Because God has given us the grace to do good. And we don’t wallow or beat ourselves up for needing God’s help, but rather we delight in his help, and we give him thanks for his great love for us, and the fruit he is producing in our hearts and lives – both for our good and for his glory.
That is what we should take away from the power that is offered to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul reminds us here that we need to be anchored in Christ. And then, as we are, he calls us to apply ourselves to the various actions love may call for in each situation: to building others up or challenging them, to encouraging others or confronting them, to bearing their burdens or calling them to prayer, to instructing them or listening to them. Love calls for many different actions in many different settings, and Paul calls us to cultivate each of those, in the right time and the right place.
He calls us to do this so that we might produce the fruit of righteousness, which are our acts of love themselves. We may struggle to see that fruit. Others may struggle to see it. But God sees it, as he produces in us, grape by grape, cluster by cluster, a harvest of the fruit of righteousness in our lives, as we seek to love and obey him with sincerity, through faith.
And all of this is so that we might glorify God, and enrich our relationship to him, not just here and now, but for all eternity – for the day of Christ.
That is Paul’s prayer for the Philippian Christians. And it should be our prayer, and our goal as well.
And as we seek to love God and those around us today, for a harvest that is yet to come, we orient our lives to the eternity we will spend with our God and Maker.
And that is how we cultivate truly forward-thinking faith.
This sermon draws on material from:
Barth, Karl. The Epistle to the Philippians. 40th Anniversary Edition. Translated by James W. Leitch. Introductory Essays by Bruce L. McCormack and Francis B. Watson. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990.
Fee, Gordon D. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.
Hansen, G. Walter. The Letter to the Philippians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.
Kohn, David. “Scientists Examine What Happens in the Brain When a Batt Tries to Meet a Ball” The Washington Post. August 29, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/scientists-examine-what-happens-in-the-brain-when-bat-tries-to-meet-ball/2016/08/29/d32e9d4e-4d14-11e6-a7d8-13d06b37f256_story.html
Kroll, Steven. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever. Illustrated by Jeni Bassett. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1984.
McDonough, Sean M. Introduction and notes to Philippians in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
Shyamalan, M. Night. Signs. Touchstone Pictures. 2002.
Silva, Moisés. Philippians. Second Edition. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
Note: In my preaching I often cite and draw from a range of sources, which includes material from Christians within my theological tradition, Christians outside my theological tradition (in keeping with our church’s core value of “Reformed Catholicity”), and also (following the Apostle Paul’s example in Acts 17) non-Christians who are well outside of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so, when I cite an author or a source, that citation should not be understood or construed as me necessarily agreeing with, endorsing, or recommending to others anything else from that author or source, except for what I explicitly say I agree with, endorse, or recommend. When engaging with different materials and thinkers, all Christians must exercise wisdom and discernment to determine what is helpful, appropriate, and edifying for each person, taking into account their current needs, wisdom, and spiritual maturity.