Archive Monthly Archives: January 2013

It’s a Wonderful Life!

January 21, 2013


By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Habakkuk 2:4



“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a 1946 American Christmas drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story “The Greatest Gift”, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945.[1]  Someone provides the following synopsis, “An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.”[2]  Contrary to the book or the movie, the Bible does not teach that men become angels or women either, for that matter.  It proclaims a greater miracle, how sinners become saints.

From Habakkuk 2:4 we read, “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”  Please note we find the phrase, “the just shall live by faith”, repeated three times in the New Testament, namely, Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38.  Citing each of these, allow me to share three things about the Christian life. Continue reading

Incineration vs. Decapitation: What to do with Servetus?

January 18, 2013

By Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor

First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, Alabama

According to The History and Character of Calvinism by J. T. McNeil, in 1553 John Calvin requested that Michael Servetus be decapitated as a traitor rather than burned as a heretic. In light of this merciful request, Calvin’s friend William Farel chided him for his undue lenience. However, it did no good and Servetus was burned at the stake.

Who among us cannot sympathize with Farel’s concern? Frankly, Calvin’s softness in proposing merely to cut off the head of a man who so clearly deserved to be set on fire is puzzling. What kind of girlyman allows a heretic who denies both the Trinity and infant baptism to get away with the mere wrist slap of head removal?

Clearly, Calvin hoped in this matter that cooler heads would prevail–except, of course, for that of Servetus. When rebuffed by the Geneva Council, Calvin undoubtedly felt he had been burned, ironically the very same sensation that the heretic felt last.

Continue reading

Cremation: Is it a pattern that Christians should follow?

January 17, 2013

Rogers---Ronnie---Staff-100by Ronnie Rogers

Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., a university city cited by the North American Mission Board in 2006 as the most unchurched in the state. Pastor Rogers’ expositional sermons draw large collegiate crowds during the school year as he preaches and teaches (and writes) from a biblical perspective that boldly challenges popular culture.

Throughout history, inhumation (burial) and cremation have been practiced, sometimes simultaneously in the same culture (Roman and Greek). Each have enjoyed various times of prominence and preference within various cultures. However, the Christian era brought with it the practice of inhumation and sought to eliminate cremation, basically reserving that for times of plague or for “heretics,” e.g. Wycliffe.

The trend in America is toward choosing cremation over inhumation (burial). I believe this trend is evidence of the desacralizing of human life and a loss of a Christian cultural conscience. This trend is viewed not only by many non-Christians as a viable alternative, but to many Christians as well. This is not to say that cremation is new to human history or that it is even sin, but rather that it does, historically and biblically speaking, seem to deemphasize the biblical sacredness associated with the body. Consequently, I think Christians need to consider rejecting this trend. We should always ask, are Christians, once again, being naively led by the trends of an ever-increasing secular milieu, is this trend based upon some newfound biblical truth, or is burial a tradition that has no biblical support? I believe it is the first of these for the following reasons: Continue reading