Tony Merida – What Are the Benefits and Dangers of Expository Preaching?

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Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

First, exposition calls for attention to be given to biblical doctrine. One has to preach on every doctrinal issue if they preach the whole council of God. This keeps the preacher from only dealing with his favorite subjects, and it will give the hearers theological stability.

Second, exposition, done well, is good for both audiences: believers and non-believers. If one preaches the Scriptures in view of its redemptive history that culminates in Jesus, then the gospel will be integrated naturally into every sermon. The unbeliever will be confronted with his need for repentance and his hope that is in Christ. On the other hand, exposition will grow the believers in the church and remind them that they do not work for grace but from grace and by grace. So I am a huge fan, and hopefully a practitioner of, gospel-filled exposition.

Third, exposition gives authority to the message. Preachers that just try to be cutting-edge, or fill their sermons with endless stories, lose authority. The authority of the sermon is not in the suggestions, stories, or observations of the preacher. Authority comes from God’s Word.

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Keith Whitfield and Tony Merida – Sharing the Gospel in a Post-Christian World

In this episode of Exploring Hope, Keith Whitfield and Tony Merida discuss sharing the Gospel in a post-Christian world.

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Tony Merida – Learning From an Insane Prayer Life

Two things have me thinking about my personal prayer life: “Insanity” and Elijah.

I just finished my seventh week of the max interval workout called “Insanity.” Every morning around 5:45, I head to my garage, roll out my mat, turn on my computer, and proceed to “dig deeper.”

My pastor friend Greg finished the program before I did, and sent me an email to instruct and inspire me, both physically and spiritually. He challenged me with this honest admission: “I wish I could pray 45 minutes a day for nine weeks straight. I’m working on that.”

Me too.

While Shaun T has been teaching me about switch kicks and plank punches, Elijah has been teaching me about faith and prayer. We’re currently studying 1 Kings at the church I pastor, and we are now looking at the prayer warrior Elijah.
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Elijah’s life is dazzling. Ravens bring him food; God uses a widow to provide daily bread for him in Baal’s territory; Elijah prays and God raises the widow’s son from the dead. Elijah wins the showdown against the prophets of Baal at Carmel; he called down fire from heaven; and he struck down 450 false prophets. Plus, he was an athlete! He ran seventeen miles from Carmel down to Jezreel, outrunning horses and chariots.

Elijah was like Moses whom he later appeared with at the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1–7). Like Moses, Elijah went eastward for a season, after an initial confrontation. Like Moses, he lived on God’s abundant provision of bread, meat, and water (Exodus 16). Elijah was also like John the Baptist, whom he is associated with in the New Testament (Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:17). Elijah is a mega prophet, whose coming was to pave the way for the Messianic Age. In many ways, he is not like us.

Yet, in the New Testament James makes an extraordinary statement when he says that Elijah was a “man like us.” Us? Yes. While Elijah does hold a unique place in redemptive history, James focuses on the fact that every believer can have an effective prayer life like Elijah.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on earth. (James 5:16b–17)

The language James uses is the language Paul and Barnabas used in Lystra, when the people wanted to worship them as gods (Acts 14:15). “We also are men, of like nature with you.”

So Elijah is like us, and we should seek to be like him.

Elijah grew up in obscurity (like many of us). Yet, God chose him out of obscurity in order to confront apostasy publicly.

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Keith Whitfield and Tony Merida – How do Christians share the gospel in a post-Christian world?

Dr. Keith Whitfield sits down with Dr. Tony Merida to talk about sharing the gospel in a post-Christian world. How do we share the gospel to our neighbors in a society that is increasing defiant towards Christianity?

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Book Review – Ordinary

Ordinary There have been a number of books written lately about the ordinary Christian life. Far too many have been pursuing what they perceive to be the extraordinary when in actuality, God has been and is calling His people to something that on the surface may seem ordinary, but in reality is actually more extraordinary than the flouted extraordinary so many are focused upon. Tony Merida, in his helpful book, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, explores from a biblical perspective what the ordinary Christian life is all about.

Merida notes in the introduction how he came to realize what this ordinary Christian life is supposed to look like. He pondered what arguably many others ponder when they read passages that speak of the poor and the widow, namely that of believing that focusing on such things steers one too close to liberal theological pursuits, specifically the social justice movement so often rooted in liberal thought. The question one must answer is what does Scripture demand of us as God’s people? Merida rightly proposes that “We need Christians focusing on ordinary Christianity – speaking up for the voiceless, caring for the single mom, restoring the broken, bearing burdens, welcoming the functionally fatherless, and speaking the good news to people on a regular basis in order to change the world.” After all, this is what is described as pure and undefiled religion.

Not merely content to make what is certainly an outstanding theological statement, Merida walks the reader through the remainder of this book on the active part of what it means to be ordinary. It is one thing to nod your head and affirm with your head that we are called to help those in need. The true proof of our commitment is in our actions. Merida provides the reader with a number of ways to demonstrate we are on the path towards the ordinary Christian walk.

While each chapter is excellent, the point that touched my heart the most was Merida’s discussion of reaching out to the fatherless. As the father of an adopted child, this issue is quite near and dear to my heart. The number of children languishing in horrible situations around the world and even in our own country is staggering. Victims of neglect, abuse, starvation, and even the most basis essentials of life, they are often passed by, pushed to the side by far too many as those who reject their needs pursue the chase for the gold at the end of the rainbow. Merida aptly comments that the “trio of the vulnerable – the orphan, widow, and sojourner – receive special attention in the Old Testament.” In that period of history and still today, those individuals were among the most “helpless members of society.” God commanded, not suggested but commanded His people to take care of those in need. God became very angry with His people when they neglected those in need. Merida also correctly notes that the New Testament presents this same theme. As noted earlier, James wrote that pure and undefiled religion is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” Merida wonderfully reminds the reader that to visit is to actively and physically care and is not relegated to mailing a check as if that covers our religious duty.

This chapter, along with all the others for that matter, is a needed call to action. It is a call to do the ordinary things that truly must define who we are as the people of God. While such pursuits may not bring attention to ourselves or seem like they are making an impact in a world so full of problems, if we are doing the ordinary, we are being obedient to God’s Word. Merida saliently comments that as we long for the day when all things are made new, “we find hope and power to do justice in this present world.”

I highly recommend this book for all believers. Merida shares from a heart of compassion and from the perspective of an individual who is putting his practice what he is preaching in this book. If you read this book, you will find yourself challenged and your paradigm shifted. I trust that you will take heart what Merida is sharing for it is biblically sound. This world is full of people crying out for help. Will you be God’s hands to those in need? Will you be the ordinary person God is calling you to be?

This book is available for purchase from B&H Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from B&H Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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