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Archive for the ‘contemporary evangelicalism’ Category

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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Popular author Jen Hatmaker is, and has been, on a trajectory toward unbelief and apostasy for some time. Her interview with Religion News Service has brought it out into the open for everyone to see. You can read it here. I’m not judging what’s in her heart, but in her statements and beliefs, she’s left orthodox, biblical Christianity.

Denny Burk has a well-thought out response here.

As a result, Lifeway announced that Hatmaker’s publications can be no longer be purchased in their stores or online. Baptist Press has the story here. Lifeway published several of Hatmaker’s books and resources.

The trajectory of unbelief is not hard to spot in most cases. It usually begins with a rejection (either a “soft” rejection or a “hard” rejection) of the authority of God’s Word, the Bible. After that, doctrines clearly taught in Scripture and held by the church for two millennia begin  to fall like so many dominoes. When emotions and feelings (which characterize our times) are added to the recipe, the movement of the trajectory goes to warp speed.

Pray for Jen. Pray for yourself and your church and the church in general. May our trajectory be one of faithfulness and belief.

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tgwit_web

The God Who Is There, by Francis Scaheffer, is a classic. Written in the late 1960’s, its relevancy today cannot be denied. Schaeffer had the uncanny ability to see and understand the spiritual and intellectual climate of the last half of the twentieth century. Schaeffer’s ministry, and this book, ignited a generation of Christian thinkers and apologists.

Yes, the book is that good, and yes, it’s that foundational. Historic orthodox Christianity has something to say to this culture, just like it had something to say when this book was written. In fact, it is the only solution to the problems we face. Schaeffer was interested in the logical conclusions of a person’s worldview, a presentation of truth that always takes into account the dignity and depravity of man, a commitment to remain faithful to biblical orthodoxy, and the necessity of both truth and love as we speak and as we live. All of that, and more can be found in this book.

I highly recommend The God Who Is There. It will help you understand our time (both then and now). It even has a glossary, which is helpful.

Tolle lege!

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fb-og-babylon-bee

If you haven’t read The Babylon Bee, you really need to start. It’s a Christian satire site, somewhat like The Onion. It’s creator is Adam Ford, who also does the Adam4d.com comics site (which is also excellent). Here’s an article from World which gives some background on Adam.

We should take God, His Word, and people seriously – but not ourselves. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves every once in a while to stay sane.

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