PREACHING THE WORD with Dr. John Herbst

John Herbst, our Scholar-in Residence, offers pastors and other church leaders insights into the scriptures. These blog posts focused on books of the Bible, and biblical themes are designed to help those preparing messages and Bible studies.


 

 


Revelation 2–3: The Message of the Seven Letters

One of our core Christian teachings is that the battle between good and evil is not much of a battle, since we already know the result. In the end, Christ wins. This is not just a teaching of the last book of the Bible; we see references to God’s ultimate victory throughout Scripture (Isaiah 62 and Phil 2:9­–11 come to mind). But while talking about the certain defeat of the enemy is encouraging, this truth comes with a responsibility. Christ wants us to take action in the knowledge that we will win.  This is the message of the letters to the churches in Revelation 2–3. As many of you know, Revelation 2–3 consists of seven short letters to churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Very often, Christians approach these letters one at a time, perhaps comparing them to each other and thinking about how modern-day churches might benefit from each ...
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“Christ’s Message to Christians in 2020: Revelation 1”

We are entering a new age. Just a few short months ago none of us could have foreseen the crisis that today affects almost everyone on the planet. The world has changed, and not for the better. While we hope that we may soon have the COVID-19 virus under control, there will be local outbreaks in the months and years to come. And already the US economy has suffered a serious shock that will require months and years of recovery. Many of us have lost jobs and economic security, and we have very good cause to fear for the financial well-being of our churches and other ministries. Nevertheless, we still have our charge to be salt and light to the world. Christianity is not about self-preservation, but about infiltration, and growth.  No matter what, God wants us to share the love of Jesus Christ with people who desperately need it ...
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Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 – Two Versions of Creation

I’m going to devote the next few posts to one of the most important, although under-rated, theological topics in the Bible: the role of God as creator of the world. Yes, one of the first things we Christians learn about God is that God made the universe. And it’s good that we begin with creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1) helps us to accept that God is in control of things. But the Bible uses teachings about creation for much, much more than just to tell us that God put the cosmos together. Biblical creation accounts have a lot to teach us about God, human beings, and humanity’s relationship to God. The trick for us is to be willing to hear more than just “God made everything” when we read these accounts. In this post, I want to focus on an especially important ...
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Priesthood of Believers

I preached a version of this a couple of weeks ago at my wife’s Church, St. Andrews Episcopal. It was well received, and I was encouraged to write it out. In many churches the weekly scripture passages come from the Revised Common Lectionary, a system of distributing readings over a three-year cycle. Churches that follow the lectionary can be assured that their preachers are addressing a variety of passages and topics through each cycle. My assigned passages were Rev 1:4–8 and John 20:19–31.  In the following I focus on a very important link between these passages. Read as a whole, Revelation encourages Christians to live victorious lives in a lost world. While many Christians think of Revelation as a book about the future, it is actually very concerned with how its readers live in the present.  (I hope to write a series on “Revelation without the Rapture” this year or ...
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Abraham Blesses His Neighbors, Part 2 (Genesis 18:16–33)

“If one day God does not punish NYC for its wickedness, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah” – John E. Herbst. My Dad lived his whole life in New York City, never wanting to move anywhere else. And as a proud “Noo Yawkuh” myself, I can’t disagree with his statement above. As much as I love NYC, I won’t deny that it had a lot of wickedness when I was growing up, and it has a lot of evil today. Almost all American Christians know of places and organizations near us that reek of evil. These may be neighborhoods, businesses, government organizations, or social groups that seem to embrace wickedness. How does God expect Christians to respond? We find an excellent answer in one of my favorite Old Testament passages, Genesis 18:16–33. This is my third consecutive post about Abraham’s efforts to honor God’s call. While the ...
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