Tag Archives: Iron Sharpens Iron Conference

“Iron Sharpens Iron” Conference – May 27-29, 2021

Friends: Linda and I are looking forward to this year’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” Conference at Emmaus Bible College. My wife will be presenting a workshop on mentoring younger women. I get to present two workshops: One will be on John Nelson Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit (he was a key leader in the Plymouth Brethren movement).

My second topic will be on my little book Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. Here’s the insert which will be given out in the session along with a copy of my book:


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A Brief Report on Recent Ministry!

This past week was quite busy for me, friends.  I presented three workshops at Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference.  My messages were entitled “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events,” “Courageous Preaching: The Spirit of God and Today’s Preacher,” and “Unlike Jesus: The Lost Art of Being a Friend of Sinners.”  Each of my seminars was fairly well attended.  So I thank you if you prayed for me.

Last Sunday I preached at Cedar Rapids Bible Chapel and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know those folks!

I’m now home and preparing for my trip to Korea.  I’ve been  enjoying working in the book of Galatians and ask for your prayer as I teach the students at Word of Life!  I’ll be there from June 7-16.

Your reading my blog and lifting me up in prayer means a great deal to me.  Thank you for your friendship.  Here’s one picture of those attending the conference:

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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in ministry


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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 5

Emmaus Bible College’s leadership conference “Iron Sharpens Iron” gives me the opportunity to present several workshops.  We’ve been thinking about my first workshop entitled —

“Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

We’ve noticed the first certainty which is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil. The second certainty is that  God is holy and will judge rightly. Third, we must teach that this life is brief– one must be ready to meet God!  And the fourth certainty that we must keep in mind is that man is still made in the image of God and is capable of incredible acts of kindness and heroism.

There are many other certainties that we could discuss, but the fifth that occurs to us this morning is this: Heaven and hell are real! Hell is not God’s over-reaction to sin, but rather the application of His righteousness to human depravity. We agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “In reality, along with the power to forgive, we have lost the power to condemn.”

The Bible is quite clear that we are not to seek vengeance ourselves, but to leave room for the wrath of God (Rom. 12:19). I’ve studied the wrath of God — and it is a fascinating study. Those in Christ should rejoice that they have been “rescued from God’s wrath” (“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” I Thes. 1:10).

Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” caused the people in that Connecticut church where he was a guest preacher to cling to their wooden pews, lest they fall into hell then and there.  Our society, raised on Stephen King horror films, seems not to be frightened by anything.  But — “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”, says Hebrews 10:31 (KJV).

God allows some human evil to occur.  As the late Paul Little once said, “If he were to stop all evil at midnight tonight, which of us would be left at 12:01?”  We grieve with those who have lost loved ones in terrible, man-made tragedies.  But we rejoice that God is holy and will wrap up history righteously!  And these certainties we must preach!




Posted by on May 25, 2018 in heaven and hell


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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 2

Friends: We are thinking about three workshops that I will give at the upcoming conference at Emmaus Bible College. Registration for the conference can be found here.  Let’s continue our thinking about —

Workshop #1: “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

We’ve seen the first certainty which is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil.  Let’s notice the second certainty which is: God is holy and will judge rightly.

If there is no judgment beyond this world, then absolute despair over the cruelty of this life (and its inhabitants) is quite logical.  If death leads to nothingness, then when Stephen Paddock (the Las Vegas mass murderer) turned one of his guns on himself, he ceased to exist.  He was not immediately cast into a temporary hell, awaiting final judgment before a holy God.  What an awful thought.

But the Bible is quite clear that God is holy and will just rightly!  We must take the long view of life and recognize that God will hold all evildoers responsible at the end of history.  In Psalm 37 the Psalmist challenges us not to fret about evildoers (v. 1). We are to trust in the Lord and do good (v. 3). He will one day vindicate the righteous (v. 6).

We are not to fret when the wicked are successful in their evil schemes, for those who are evil will be destroyed (v. 9). A little while and the wicked will be no more (v. 10). [May I remind you that “be no more” does not mean annihilation in the Bible. It means they will have no more impact on God’s good world].

The Lord laughs at the wicked, knowing their day of judgment is coming (v. 13). The power of the wicked will be broken; “those he curses will be destroyed” (v. 22). “All sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked” (v. 38).  And we must say to all who think otherwise, “You will stand before God’s judgment even if you don’t think you will stand!”

How would you answer this question?

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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in evil


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Preparing for the “Iron Sharpens Iron” Conference (Emmaus May 25-28) Workshop #2

The “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference at Emmaus Bible College is fast approaching — and I have two workshops to prepare!  The theme this year is ‘Training for Godliness” and I will be presenting two workshops:  “Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)” and “Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).”

Let’s focus on the second workshop this morning: “Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).”
We read the following in I Timothy 4:

A number of issues jump out at me from this text.  The passage is eschatological in tone.  That is, Paul is referring to “later times” and is warning Timothy about how some will abandon the faith and follow demonic doctrines.

The human avenue of these deceiving ideas will be “hypocritical liars” who have callous consciences.  Wow!  Paul isn’t pulling any punches as he refers to the sources of these wrong ideas.

But what about the ideas themselves?  Their errors fall into the categories of FORBIDDING MARRIAGE and DIETARY RESTRICTIONS.  Marriage was God’s idea in the Garden and was clearly affirmed by the Lord Jesus when He said, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mk. 10).

These false teachers, the Spirit of God says, will forbid marriage.

We will look at their dietary prohibitions in our next post.  (to be continued)


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Posted by on May 13, 2017 in I Timothy 4


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Preparing for the “Iron Sharpens Iron” Conference (Emmaus May 25-28) Workshop #1 (con’t)

The “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference at Emmaus Bible College is fast approaching — and I have two workshops to prepare!  The theme this year is ‘Training for Godliness” and I will be presenting two workshops:  “Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)” and “Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).”

Let’s continue to focus on the first one this morning: “Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)”

We are to guard the gospel, the truth of God.  We are not to hide it or keep it to ourselves.  We are to present it to others (clearly commanded in the great commission, Mt. 28:19-20) and be prepared to explain and defend it.

But we are to also turn away from certain things.  Good theology involves not just guarding but also DISCARDING.  We are to “turn away from” two categories of error: (1) “godless chatter” and (2) “the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.”

Let’s talk about “godless chatter” today.  The expression in Greek is βεβήλους κενοφωνίας.  The expression “godless chatter” here comes from three words: τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας  The first word, a definite article, (τὰς) means “the feminine things.”  The second word (βεβήλους) is a noun meaning “what is open and accessible to all”, that which is profane, not religious, unholy.  It can be used to refer to people who are scorners and is used in I Timothy 1:9 (“knowing this, that the law is not valid for a righteous person but for the lawless but and rebellious, irreligious and sinners, unholy and profane [bebēlois], those who beat their fathers and mothers, murderers …).  This word βέβηλος is a favorite word of Paul’s.  He also uses it in I Timothy 4:7 where he says, “But reject the profane (bebēlous) and silly myths; rather train yourself for godliness.”  He uses the same term in 2 Timothy 2:16 where he says, “But shun the unholy (bebēlous) chatter, for they will advance into greater and greater ungodliness.”  This is the same expression (βεβήλους κενοφωνίας) that Paul uses in our text, I Timothy 6:20.  The writer to the Hebrews challenges his readers by saying, “that no one becomes immoral and profane (bebēlos | βέβηλος) like Esau, who gave up his inheritance rights in return for a single meal.” (Heb. 12:16).

The follower of Jesus is not to engage in “godless chatter.”  The truths of God are far too important to waste time on such theological trivialities!  (to be continued)


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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in I Timothy 6


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Looking Forward to “Iron Sharpens Iron” Conference May 25-28!

I’ve been privileged over the last few years to participate in Emmaus Bible College’s conference for church leaders called “Iron Sharpens Iron.”  The theme this year is ‘Training for Godliness” and will feature several messages on I Timothy, chapters 4-6, as well as a number of elective workshops.

I will be presenting two workshops which I’ll briefly describe below.  Subsequent posts will allow me to work through some of the details of these two topics.

Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
How do we practically protect and pass on the essential truths of the Christian faith? What does it mean that the faith has been given to us as a “trust”? Why do some fall into apostasy?

In this workshop I’ll be examining those two verses in I Timothy 6 which read: “20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”

Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
How is the believer in Jesus to be a holy hedonist and how does 1 Timothy 4:1-5 relate to our living in this world?

I’m encouraged by books such as Michael Witmer’s Becoming Worldly Saints on this topic.  The five verses in I Timothy 4 which I will examine are:  “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

Would you consider praying for me as I prepare these two workshops?  Thank you!


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Some Further Thoughts on Forgiveness (Part 2)

I am preparing several workshops for Screenshot 2016-03-22 05.31.56Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference which will be held in Dubuque, Iowa, May 26-28.  My three topics are entitled: (1) “None (or at least, Fewer) Dare Call It ‘Sin’: I Timothy on Homosexual Behavior”; (2) “The Forgotten Virtue of Forgiveness”; and (3) “Becoming Worldly Saints — An Evaluation of Michael Wittmer’s Needed Challenge.”

Let’s continue to consider the topic of forgiveness. I’ve gone through the various uses of the word forgiveness and forgive in the Scriptures.  Here are three truths that I have seen:

(1) Forgiveness is not a virtue — It is a commandment!  Forgiving others is not a good idea — God tells us to!  You might want to look up the following texts: Mt. 6:12, 14-15; 18:21, 35; Mk. 11:25;  Lk. 6:37; Lk. 11:4; Col. 3:13.  God’s forgiving us is intimately connected with whether or not we forgive others!

(2) Forgiveness from God is possible — We belong to a pardoning God! “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7).  Ps. 130:4- “With you there is forgiveness.”

(3) Forgiveness is not cheap!  It cost the Son of God His blood to procure forgiveness for us!   (Mt. 26:28; Heb. 9:22).  The Apostle tells us that “redemption is through His blood.”   And that expression is equated to the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).

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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in forgiveness


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (homework!)

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Got any “dumb” assignments you’re working on? Part of being a healthy Christian, it seems to me, is having topics you want to explore in God’s Word.

I’ve been working my way through the book of Psalms. I also have several workshops to prepare for Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference May 21-24, 2015.  Here are my topics with brief explanations:

Topic #1- “Hearsay or Heresy?  How Do You Tell the Difference?”  Christian leaders are commanded to silence false teachers (Titus 1:11).  How do we know that we are not simply assassinating the character of fellow believers with whom we disagree on distinctive areas of doctrine?

Topic #2- “The Top Two Areas of Theological Attack:  Sharon Baker on Christ’s Atoning Work and Eternal Hell.”  A review and discussion of Executing God and Razing Hell.

Topic #3- “Ten Steps the Local Church Should Take to Handle Heretics.”  Paul warned the Ephesian elders that out of their own number savage wolves would arise, not sparing the flock (Acts 20).  Here’s how proactive leadership can practically pursue truth with and for God’s people.

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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in research


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Update on “Iron Sharpens Iron” Upcoming Conference at Emmaus Bible College (Part 1)

FirefoxScreenSnapz361I am honored to participate in this year’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference for church and assembly leaders which will be held on May 22-25.  Details on the conference may be found here.

I have the privilege of speaking to the conference as a whole twice:  My message at the beginning of the conference is entitled:  “Orthodoxy Under Fire:  Who’s Shooting and Why?”  My message at the end of the conference is entitled: “A Life of Living Biblically.”

I also get to do four workshops.  The titles are:KeynoteScreenSnapz081

I want to share a couple of details of these upcoming messages — and welcome feedback from my readers.

PLENARY SESSION #1:  “Orthodoxy Under Fire:  Who’s Shooting and Why?”

There are so many questions to deal with in this session.  Can “orthodoxy” even be defined?  Can it be achieved or attained?  There are those who say that no one has reached orthodoxy yet.  I will be sharing the results of my study of the use of the word “truth” by the Lord Jesus in the gospels and the expression “the faith” used in the New Testament epistles.

FirefoxScreenSnapz407To the question, “Who’s Shooting?”, I hope to touch on several critics of orthodox Christianity, both “the sons of the church” (meaning those who have been in the Evangelical environment and have turned away) as well as outsiders.  Brian McLaren, a friend of 40 years ago who has embraced classical liberalism, writes:  “I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.”  (to be continued)


1.  Where do you see orthodoxy challenged?

2.  What biblical principles guide you in dealing with those who are denying the Christian faith?

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in heresy


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