Every pastor deals with a certain reality every single week. I’ve heard it referenced as the “relentless return of Sunday.” You preach your heart out, pour yourself empty, and exhaust yourself physically and emotionally only to wake up on Monday or Tuesday and realize the process begins for another week. In many ways, it is equivalent to writing and presenting a research paper every single week.
Any honest pastor will tell you there are days when you stare blankly at a certain passage of Scripture and have the thought, “How do I preach this?” We question how to make it into an outline. We wonder how we can apply this to our people’s everyday lives. Sometimes we even wonder what in the world the passage means!
I’ve discovered a secret that has been more helpful to me in sermon preparation than any other principle. I also believe it’s the key to personal discipleship, to counseling burdened people, and even to sharing the Gospel with a lost friend. Here’s the principle: Just say what the Bible says.
That may sound overly simplistic. In fact, I bet when you read that statement, you thought it was an extremely elementary thing. I understand that. I really do. I also believe that sometimes we complicate preaching, discipleship, counseling, and evangelism. I want to encourage you to begin implementing this simple principle in your everyday life. Here’s how this statement affects the following areas.
There are passages that are difficult to preach. Shocker, right? Some texts are hard to understand, difficult to work into an outline, or tough to try to apply to a group of people. My guiding principle throughout this is to just say what the Bible says. I believe it was Paige Patterson who once said, “Expository preaching is getting your people to read their Bible.” There is perhaps no better way to implement expository preaching than to just say what the Bible says. No more, no less. It’s important to notice that the most important question in sermon preparation is not, “What does the commentary say?” God wrote a book. Let that book speak to the people of God.
What is successful discipleship? People would probably answer this in a myriad of ways. I believe all successful discipleship has one thing in common: an intensified passion and focus on the Word of God in the life of the person being discipled. If that happens, then it truly will affect all other areas of his life. In other words, if we can get that person to begin to just say what the Bible says, we have helped put him on the path toward an abiding walk with Christ.
The Word of God affects all of counseling. It doesn’t matter if it is a professional counseling environment or one friend counseling another over coffee. We have all had those difficult times in the midst of counseling someone else or simply giving advice to a friend where we have come to that line. You know, THAT line. Do I take a step out and tell him what he really needs to hear? Do I tell him what God’s standard is for his life? Or do I cower back in fear and just say something to appease him? We should maneuver through these times by simply saying what the Bible says.
The reality of heaven and hell are tough things for a lost culture to grapple with. If we’re honest, it is a difficult message to deliver to people who don’t believe the same way we do. Some, in an attempt to be loving and inclusive, change what the Bible says to make it more palatable to a lost person. How unloving! The most loving thing we could ever do is say what the Bible says. The Bible speaks of repentance, of faith, of surrender, of taking up your cross, of following the Lord Jesus Christ. Those words are life. Just say what the Bible says.
I truly believe that if you’ll begin to practice this principle in your everyday life, you’ll see the Lord do some amazing things. God loves to work in the lives of those who hold His Word as the source of life and truth in the world. Will you take God at His Word? Will you just say what the Bible says?
Calvinists are deterministic in the compatible style. All determinists argue that events happen because they were determined to happen in the way they happened. Events are the result of God’s determined plan and salvation cannot be conditioned upon faith.
Arguing for determinism, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote, “The singling out of one from another must finally be sought not in the human will, but in God who singles out one from another by His Grace.” He cites such verses as 1 Corinthians 4:7, Romans 9:15, and Philippians 2:14.
He specifically engages the issue of libertarian free choice in his argument against Molinism. He provides a good example of how determinists argue against libertarian freedom in general and as related to salvation in particular. Garrigou-Lagrange says, “Let us suppose that Peter and Judas situated in equal circumstances receive equal prevenient grace; then God sees Peter consenting to accept that grace, and hence singling himself out from Judas who does not consent, not on account of the grace, for an equal grace is indifferently offered to each. Therefore it is because the will decides to accept the grace. Thus do all Thomists argue against Molina, and they thus affirm as revealed the principle that can be called ‘the principle of predilection,’ namely, that no one would be better than another unless he were loved more and helped more by God.’” Here are my thoughts on his comments according to my understanding of Scripture.
Once the better choice is made by Peter, the consequences of salvation do clearly make Peter an essentially better person, but obviously that is only because of grace. Therefore, according to Extensivism, both the choice and the betterment resulting from the choice are due to the grace of God. To wit, no aspect of salvation in Extensivism (or existence for that matter) happens apart from grace. It is neither necessary nor expected that this fit Calvinism’s determinism; only that it fits what we find in Scripture. Thomists (Calvinists) seem not to be able to conceptualize God’s plan being comprised of his equal love and help for everyone, including grace-enabled freedom to choose differently. We should not be surprised to find Calvinism’s exclusivism here since it pervades the core tenets of Calvinism—unconditional election, limited atonement, and selective regeneration.
First, I would note it is not the will per se that decides, but it is the libertarianly-endowed Peter and Judas as the efficient causes of their actions who decide. Each decides and carries out his decision by exercising his will. Second, being so constituted to possess libertarian freedom is solely a grace act of God in creation, and therefore, not some rogue force operating outside or contrary to the plan and grace of God; it would only seem to be so in a Calvinistically-determined system. Third, the ability to exercise their will in choosing is always by grace, regardless of their choice. Peter’s choice to consent was no more a choice provisioned by grace than Judas’s choice to not consent. Each is able to choose differently because it was the will of God for man to be able to do so. That is to say, God’s endowment of man with libertarian freedom does not attenuate the need for and presence of grace. Consequently, Garrigou-Lagrange’s issue seems to be with God’s decision to endow man with libertarian freedom. What if God said to him, I chose for the will to work libertarianly rather than deterministically as you teach? Would he say that cannot be?
It may be cogently argued that equal grace is the raison d’être (reason for being) for otherwise choice resulting in different outcomes, as Extensivism contends. Garrigou-Lagrange says that Peter’s singling himself out is “not on account of the grace, for an equal grace is indifferently offered to each. Therefore it is because the will decides to accept the grace.” In this, he presupposes, but does not demonstrate, if individuals can exercise their will differently given the same grace, that such ability cannot be the result of grace. But there is actually no reason, outside of a deterministic system, why a person’s freedom to will different outcomes cannot be because of grace as indeed Extensivism argues.
He is simply limiting the purpose of grace to ensure a certain outcome rather than grace enabling man, at times, to create different outcomes. This means that Garrigou-Lagrange’s limitation is not imposed by Scripture, logic, the inability of God, or a deficiency of grace, but rather determinism’s narrowness precludes such a state of affairs. He seems to have simply drawn his conclusion that the equal grace did not include the will (technically the efficient cause) to be able to choose differently within the same grace, which is, in fact, the essence of libertarian freedom. Therefore he says that the singling out is “not on account of grace” (if libertarian freedom was true). But Extensivism contends that the singling out is precisely because of grace that affords otherwise choice in an equal opportunity.
Garrigou-Lagrange’s portrayal is that if a person can by an exercise of his will choose a better outcome than someone else, it demonstrates a greater grace and love from God. This conclusion is true in Calvinism’s determinism but it is not demonstrated in Scripture nor is it logically necessary in a non-deterministic approach such as Extensivism. Extensivism contends Scripture teaches everything is by grace, including libertarian freedom and its entailments.
 Compatibilism contends that determinism and moral responsibility (free choice) are compatible; hence the name. Free choice is not attained by lessening the deterministic nature of compatibilism. Rather, it is derived from defining free choice to mean so long as one chooses from his greatest desire, he has made a free choice. Importantly, the greatest desire is determined; consequently, compatibilism provides only a determined free choice.
 Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The One God, tr Dom. Bede Rose (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1944), 462. Garrigou-Lagrange was a prominent 20th century neo-Thomist. See also Thomas P. Flint, Divine Providence, The Molinist Account, ed. William P. Alston (New York: Cornell University Press), 117.
 “Theological Determinism” from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource, http://www.iep.utm.edu/theo-det/ accessed 1/3/16. See responses by indeterminists to his argument.
 Garrigou-Lagrange, One God, 463, quoted by Flint, Divine Providence.
 Extensivist is used in the place of non-Calvinist.
A sobering Statement has been released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology on “Alcohol and Cancer.”
Excerpts from that article:
“The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated. In fact,alcohol drinking is an established risk factor for several malignancies.”
“Alcohol is causally associated with oropharyngeal and larynx cancer, esophageal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Even modest use of alcohol may increase cancer risk, but the greatest risks are observed with heavy, long-term use.”
“Beyond oncology [medical study of cancer], alcohol use and abuse together pose a significant public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 88,000 deaths were attributed to excessive alcohol use in the United States between 2006 and 2010. Approximately 3.3 million deaths worldwide result from the harmful use of alcohol each year. Population surveys demonstrate that 12% to 14% of adults have a current alcohol use disorder and that 29% have had such a disorder at some point in their lifetime.”
“Alcohol use during childhood and adolescence is a predictor of increased risk of alcohol use disorder as an adult. College-age and younger people who drink are prone to develop an alcohol use disorder later in life.”
“People who do not currently drink alcohol should not start for any reason.”
“In a thorough systematic review of the world’s evidence that adhered to prespecified criteria for drawing inferences, a World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) report judged the evidence to be convincing that drinking alcohol was a cause of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, and colorectum (in men). Also, alcohol was judged to be a probable cause of increased risk of liver cancer and colorectal cancer (in women). An updated review of the evidence for liver cancer upgraded the conclusion for an association between alcohol drinking and liver cancer to convincing.”
“…The associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverage.”
“…The index of suspicion is high that alcohol drinking leads toexcess risk of pancreatic cancer and gastric cancer.”
“As evidence continues to accumulate, the list of alcohol-associated cancers is likely to grow.”
“…For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.”
“The results of meta-analyses and pooled analyses that have focused directly on this question for upper aerodigestive tract cancers indicate that risk of these cancers declines in those who quit drinking alcohol compared with those who remain alcohol drinkers.”
“As such, the benefit of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular health likely has been overstated. As reviewed in the Magnitude of the Association section, the risk of cancer is increased even with low levels of alcohol consumption, so the net effect of alcohol is harmful. Thus, alcohol consumption should not be recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality.”
“Low physician knowledge of alcohol use and cancer risk is another barrier to addressing alcohol use with patients.”
“…Alcohol use among physicians may make them less likely to counsel patients about the risks of alcohol use.”
“Worldwide, alcohol-related cancers are estimated to be 5.5% of all cancers treated annually…”
–Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; November, 2017. (Bold print is mine. -DRB)
For entire Alcohol and Cancer Statement and footnotes see:
Fox News article:
The bad news is, we are all eventually going to die of something (Hebrews 9:27). The good news is we can significantly reduce our chance of death from cancer and other causes by not drinking alcohol. As many have observed, what is the worst that can happen from not drinking?
While all these quotes are significant, some I especially noticed because of contrary pro-drinking arguments. I’ve, of course, added some of my own thoughts.
While not outright saying you should not drink alcohol, the study did say if you don’t drink, do not start. And frankly, if you drink, you encourage others to drink.
Many have argued drinking is good for your health. This study says just the opposite. Alcohol should not be recommended for heart health, or over-all health.
Even modest use of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer and other problems. Alcohol is a poison; its use is abuse.
Your medical doctor is not necessarily an authority on beverage alcohol. My dad used to joke since he was overweight, he tried to find a doctor who was overweight, so the MD would not get on to him about dieting. Apparently, the same is true when it comes to alcohol. Any supposed medical benefits from alcohol can come from safer sources such as grape juice (unfermented wine), grapes, other fruit, and vegetables. Sadly, many MDs have caused people to begin drinking; don’t be one of them.
“For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.” Not drinking alcohol, or taking other recreational, mind-altering drugs (marijuana, opioids, etc.), will prevent a host of other problems as well.
Hope you all have a drug-free Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
For a detailed study on biblical teaching on alcohol, see: