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Archive for the ‘contemporary evangelicalism’ Category

nashvillestatement

Having read the Nashville Statement carefully and with prayer, I gladly signed it. The statement represents the biblical teaching on human sexuality which the Christian church as held for two thousand years. In other words, there’s nothing new in it. It’s a reminder of God’s Law and a proclamation of His gospel.

Human identity and sexuality is widely misunderstood in our day. Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism are only the start – there’s more to come. Because of that, a number of Christian scholars and leaders met in Nashville, Tennessee to write a statement that clearly presented the Christian position.

The need for a statement like this became apparent immediately as reactions began to roll in. The statement was panned, and even vilified, by many on the Left (and even some who consider themselves evangelical Christians), and praised by many on the Right. As the church, we need to think clearly on these issues, and the Nashville Statement is a good step in the right direction.

I use you to read the Nashville Statement here.

I would also suggest that you read a piece by Rosaria Butterfield on why she signed the Statement. You can read it here.

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unashamed-romans-11617-1-638

This morning I had the privilege of preaching my final sermon as Pastor of Cross Creek Bible Church on Romans 1:16-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We are not ashamed of the gospel – believe it, preach it, and live out it’s consequences for God’s glory and our good!

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hammering-a-nail

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of Joni Eareckson Tada’s diving accident. I remember seeing a movie about her (in which she played herself) produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association when God was in the process of drawing me to Himself.  You can read her reflections here – you’ll be glad you did.

Rob Bell says quoting Romans 8:28 is not something Christians should do when comforting someone who’s suffering. Owen Strachan responds here. I’ve heard this piece of “advice” from Christians other than Rob Bell, before and it’s terrible. How can we withhold God’s Word from His people? To do so is to not love them.

The gospel might divide a church, according to Jared Wilson. We’re under obligation to preach the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – inside and outside the church. But we need to be ready for the response, which won’t always be good. You can read the three ways this might happen here.

Golfer Matt Kuchar is a class act. This open letter to him by a British journalist explains why.

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envy

I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Philippians 1:15-18. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The progress of the gospel cannot be stopped by opposition, even when it comes from within the church.

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To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it’s been tried and found difficult.”

He’s right – being a disciple of Jesus Christ is hard. It isn’t easy to follow Christ. Perhaps that’s why Paul told Timothy, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7). The word “discipline” has the meaning of agonizing – working to the point of agony – in order to pursue the goal of godliness (which should be the goal of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ).

It’s hard to study God’s Word and properly interpret it in it’s context. It takes work and too often we’re tempted to wait until God “whispers the answer in our ear.” It’s easier to rely on a study Bible or our favorite teacher (or church) to tell us what it means, or even go so far as to say, “There are so many different interpretations; nobody reals knows what it means.”

It’s hard to pray. Our prayer should be fervent and continual, but that’s not easy. Our minds wander and it’s not hard to forget. It’s easier to neglect it and tell ourselves that “God knows what’s in my heart.”

It’s hard to apply God’s Word to our life – to actually try to do what it says. Success in obeying and putting into practice what the Lord has told us involves agonizing work  with a lot of starts and stops. Hearing the Word is easier than hearing it and then doing it.

It’s hard to evangelize. We find it easier to remain quiet and “let our life do the witnessing,” as if that were even possible. It’s easier to leave it to “the professionals.”

It’s hard to have real fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and I mean the kind of fellowship that goes beyond “Hi! How are you?” over coffee and doughnuts. It’s easier to keep to ourselves and not mix too much with those who don’t always think like we do, don’t have the same life experiences that we do, and are just, well, different.

It’s hard to minister to and serve other people. It’s easier to say we don’t have the time or the talent to lend a hand where and when it’s needed, then it is too actually help. It’s easier to see it as an interruption rather than as a divinely given opportunity.

It’s hard to “mortify the flesh” (Rom. 8:13) – to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. We have to work at it every day, and the truth is that we won’t complete the task in this lifetime. It’s easier to give up and say, “That’s just the way I am; I’ll never change,” or “God understands; He’ll forgive me.”

It’s hard to stand for and defend biblical doctrine and values in a society that denies (and ridicules) all of them. It’s easier to give in and compromise for the sake of “love,” “unity,” and “compassion.”

The list could go on and on, but the point is simple: being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is hard – not easy. I’m persuaded that this is a reason some people leave the church (in may cases joining the Roman Catholic church, Eastern Orthodoxy, or some form of Protestant leftism): they get tired of the fight. Sure, they want to identify as a Christian, but the don’t want the fight, the hard work that goes along with it.

The good news is that God gives us the strength and ability to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness through His Holy Spirit! Hard doesn’t mean impossible when the Spirit of God is involved.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that being a disciple of Jesus is easy – it isn’t. It’s hard, but it’s what God has called us to as His people.

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Ge2

This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 2:18-25 (“God’s Design for Marriage” in a series called “God’s Design for Gender and Sexuality”). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: God designed marriage to be a blessing, with a specific pattern, sequence, and order – all for His glory and our good.

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home-plan-ideas-0929_kitsch2

D.A. Carson has written an excellent article in the latest edition of Themelios, which is the theological journal of The Gospel Coalition. It’s called “Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives.”

Speaking to pastors and anyone who teaches God’s Word, Carson says that one of the ways we either downplay or abandon Scripture’s authority is by reading too little, especially older commentaries and theological works. He says:

The problem with reading only contemporary work is that we all sound so contemporary that our talks and sermons soon descend to the level of kitsch. We talk fluently about the importance of self-identity, ecological responsibility, tolerance, becoming a follower of Jesus (but rarely becoming a Christian), how the Bible helps us in our pain and suffering, and conduct seminars on money management and divorce recovery. Not for a moment would I suggest that the Bible fails to address such topics—but the Bible is not primarily about such topics. If we integrate more reading of, say, John Chrysostom, John Calvin, and John Flavel (to pick on three Johns), we might be inclined to devote more attention in our addresses to what it means to be made in the image of God, to the dreadfulness of sin, to the nature of the gospel, to the blessed Trinity, to truth, to discipleship, to the Bible’s insistence that Christians will suffer, to learning how to die well, to the prospect of the new heaven and the new earth, to the glories of the new covenant, to the sheer beauty of Jesus Christ, to confidence in a God who is both sovereign and good, to the non-negotiability of repentance and faith, to the importance of endurance and perseverance, to the beauty of holiness and the importance of the local church. Is the Bible truly authoritative in our lives and ministries when we skirt these and other truly important themes that other generations of Christians rightly found in the Bible?

Very well said, Dr. Carson.

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