Monthly Archives: January 2011

 

Jan

31

2011

Jared C. Wilson|11:36 pm CT

Quicken Our Languid Course

“God give us a gracious spring-tide of His Spirit, to replenish our thirsty channels, to swell our scanty stream, and to quicken our languid course! If this is not our cry, it is a sign, either that the work of grace is not yet begun in us; or that it is indeed at low water, and discoloured with those dregs, which tend to dishonour God, to eclipse the glory of the Gospel, and to spread clouds and darkness upon our souls.

“Some Christians are like decayed mile stones; which stand, it is true, in the right road, and bear some traces of the proper impression: but so wretchedly mutilated and defaced, that they, who go by, can hardly read or know what to make of them. May the blessed Spirit of God cause all our hearts, this morning, to undergo a fresh impression; and indulge us with a new edition of our evidences for heaven! 0, may showers of blessing descend upon you, from above! May you see, that Christ, and the grace of God in Him, are all in all! Whilst you are upon earth, may you ever ascribe the whole glory to Him! And sure I am, that, when you come to heaven, you will never ascribe it to any other.”

Augustus Toplady

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Jan

31

2011

Jared C. Wilson|5:17 pm CT

Different, But Same

When I see people weary or hardened under the brutal weight of religious hyper-spirituality, I am saddened that they do not know the freedom of the gospel of grace. And when I see people indulging in the hedonistic excess of license, I am saddened that they do not know the freedom of the gospel of grace.

Legalism and license are separate categories. But they are in the same category of Departure from the Gospel. Neither cures the other, but the gospel cures both.

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Jan

30

2011

Jared C. Wilson|1:53 am CT

Gospel Preaching as Exulting Over God’s Exploits

Isaiah 27:1-2:

In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!”

I would like to place the art of preaching the gospel not chiefly under the genre Instruction but Exultation. Worship in a “worship service” does not stop when the music is over; it continues in the sermon. The sermon is a music of its own. No matter the text, no matter the topic, the tune is the joyous anthem of God’s slaying the dragon, a redemption song.

The Bible is about God; beginning to end, it is the ballad of God’s exploits in vanquishing evil and restoring shalom through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Preaching rehearses this song. Each Sunday: Once more, with feeling!

Jesus is restoring all things. “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!”

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Jan

28

2011

Jared C. Wilson|2:03 pm CT

An Open Letter to Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Dear Ray,

Everyone else seems to be getting into this “open letter” business, and not one to be left out, I decided to throw my two pence in as well. I hope you will forgive my rush to join the herd, especially as my inaugural offering places its crosshairs on you.

First of all, before I say anything else, let me say that I cherish you as a brother in Christ, I have learned much from you, and I would never seek to impugn your heart for God and for God’s people. All of those things are evident to those who spend any time with you.

But other things are evident as well.

I am frustrated, Ray. No, not in a debilitating or discouraging way, really. I am frustrated in a delightful way at how sweet your spirit is, which to me is a prime indication of the harmony of your heart with the Spirit of the living God. You always seek to “outdo one another showing honor,” and I remember plenty of lunches and coffee conversations and moments in our Pastors Gospel Group back in Nashville where you’d take up nearly the entire time yakking and yakking about how great and wonderful the rest of us were. Really, Ray, you should try to focus more on yourself and your own awesomeness. The rest of us simply cannot compete with your selflessness.

I could go on and on with your flabbergasting fabulousness, but I will just hone in on one thing here. You really have a one-track mind. It’s convicting. And encouraging. You just won’t stop reveling in and exulting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really felt like I had to air this splendid grievance with you, so you would know. I’m sorry to do it in the form of an open letter, but I thought others should know about this too, so they may regard you accordingly. Doggone it, Ray, you make me want to love Jesus more. And that’s daunting. And wonderful. I love you.

Your brother in Christ,

Jared

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Jan

26

2011

Jared C. Wilson|2:37 pm CT

Not Calvinistic Enough

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together . . .” (Romans 8:22a)

“In the Institutes, ‘this most glorious theater’ means our universe, and the works referred to are God’s work in creation and providence. Like an architect who manifests his greatness in every feature of an opera house from the grand sweep of its tiered balconies to his little touches with its light switches, so God reveals and ‘daily discloses [his glory] in the whole workmanship of the universe’ from the splendor of the heavens to the shape and structure of the toenails on an infant’s feet.

– Mark Talbot, “Sin and Suffering in Calvin’s World and Ours” in With Calvin in the Theater of God edited by John Piper and David Mathis (Crossway 2010), 53.

For Calvin the theater of God’s glory is the entire universe. The splendid gospel symphony doesn’t just enthrall the audience, but somehow remakes the entire opera house. “Sin is cosmic treason,” R.C. Sproul tells us. The brokenness is systemic (as Ecclesiastes demonstrates), felt deeply in the bowels of the earth (as Romans 8 demonstrates). And so, what better field for the Lord of hosts to play in than the cosmos? We are the crown of creation, and the personal gospel is real and primary, but we are being made new for the “all things” that Jesus is making new. Calvin’s gospel sought to reflect this bigness.

As it happens, then, the occasional Calvinist’s insistence on the exclusivity of the personal gospel — God/Sin/Christ/Response contra Creation/Fall/Redemption/Consummation — turns out to be not Calvinistic enough.

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Jan

25

2011

Jared C. Wilson|10:47 pm CT

Bigger Inside Than Out

“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
– John 1:16

” . . . the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”
– 1 Peter 1:11

“It seems, then,” said Tirian, smiling himself, “that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.”
“Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”

– Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: HarperCollins, 1984), 176.

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Jan

24

2011

Jared C. Wilson|2:35 pm CT

Gospel Wakefulness Conference

The first Gospel Wakefulness Conference is April 1-2 in Conroe, Texas. You can view the conference schedule and register here.

This is a free event, at which I will share with you an eternally rich message. That’s a great deal.

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Jan

24

2011

Jared C. Wilson|1:53 am CT

A Missional Way for the Pro-Life Passion

Let me lay my cards on the table:

1) If you put overturning Roe v. Wade to a popular vote, I’m in line early ready to vote in favor of protecting the approximately one million unborn babies killed each year, and if you’re a politician, the best way to lose my vote is to align with the pro-choice agenda.

2) Nevertheless, I don’t believe laws — or the protests and petitions and politicking that seek to achieve them — are how we are going to eradicate abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade is a win — and it’s a win we should work for — but in my way of thinking, it is not the win.

The emancipation of the slaves was necessary. But it didn’t end racism.

I am not proposing an either/or. What I’m proposing is that evangelicals take the harder route, adopt the harder cause, that we aim for Spiritual change of hearts more than we aim for legal stay of hands.

Here are some thoughts on how we may do this:

1. Gospel-centered preaching. Here’s the thing: Pastors who preach culture war receive Amens from the already convinced and almost nothing from everybody else. At its worst a steady dose of this creates an unhealthy “us vs. them” mentality that has us thinking of our enemies in ways the Sermon on the Mount strictly forbids. But pastors who proclaim the freedom from sin and abundant life in Christ lay groundwork for zeal for life, not just for winning political battles. A gospel-driven pro-life agenda means hating abortion because we love women and we love the unborn. That sounds like a no-brainer but so many of our evangelical countrymen just sound like they hate abortion. And preaching isn’t just for pastors. In general, more evangelicals need to talk Jesus more than they talk politics, or else we unintentionally communicate that our greatest treasure is “getting our country back” and that our chief message is political. We are great with the good news of the kingdom of the founding fathers. Let’s return to the good news of the kingdom of God.

2. Reframing the abortion discussion. Lots of others have said this better than I can, but I think we’ve dropped the ball on how we frame the abortion issue. It is a matter of human rights, of civil rights, which is a perspective I first heard from my deeply pro-life friend who voted for Barack Obama. (I know, figure that one out.) But this is how we will best win in the political arena, I think. In many cases, this involves merely shifting from arguing against selfish moms (or whatever) and arguing for an appropriate definition of when life begins and becoming advocates for the voiceless unborn, exploited and commoditized. We can steer the discussion into the same rhetoric of the abolitionist and civil rights movements and end up stirring more hearts, I think.

3. Creating cultures of adoption and rescue. Human trafficking is the emerging danger. It’s been going for a long time, but the Church is recently (and awesomely) stepping up efforts to combat it, even here in America. My friend Justin Holcomb and his wife lead efforts of Mars Hill Church in Seattle to rescue sex workers, sex abuse victims, and runaways in their city. Others are working hard to rescue young girls from the sex trade. On the other front, the Church is exponentially embracing the beauty of adoption. It has become a bona fide movement, thank God. The reactive culture of rhetoric and protests must give way to these proactive missionary movements. We will begin changing hearts and minds on these matters of life and death as we create cultures of adoption and rescue. But only communities can create cultures, so churches have to buy in corporately. More families adopting, more families serving and taking in pregnant teens, more churches helping families do those things, more churches loving families and kids, more churches finding ways to minister to the exploited and marginalized and to support missions and organizations that already are . . . these are the pro-active, missional steps to creating truly pro-life cultures.

4. Prophets, not pundits. I don’t know how else to put this. We need an MLK for the pro-life movement, a unifying and prophetic voice. We need intellectually strong but charming, powerful, winsome statesmen. We need people who aren’t just jockeying for time on FoxNews. I don’t even know if this is possible today, given the nature of media exposure and the divide between political parties — whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans marched with King; I wonder if we haven’t so aligned the pro-life cause with conservative Republicanism that that kind of unity would be impossible for our cause — but we need a peacemaker with a powerful voice. The only guy I can think of who has access to black, white, right, left, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, Christian and non, U.S., European, and everywhere else — and has the respect and listening ear of them all — is Bono. And I think he’s probably pro-choice.

5. Technology, technology, technology. Do you know why the abortion rate is going down? I think it’s the increasing advances in technology, particularly ultrasound technology. Women are seeing their babies. Technology is catching up with abortion. Smart churches will support their local crisis pregnancy centers, which are often frontlines on the struggle for the unborn, and help them get ultrasound equipment. No, they’re not cheap. But life isn’t either.

6. Love. I’m coming full circle, here, but if we were to outlaw abortion tomorrow, we’d still have 500,000 women a year who didn’t want their babies. You have probably already had unwed teenage girls get pregnant in your church, and if you haven’t you probably will at some point, and besides all that, there are plenty in your community and city. Before and in addition to removing abortion as a legal option for them, we have to love them, welcome them, teach them, serve them. Only the love of God can change hearts. Let that be the ammunition of our war.

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Jan

19

2011

Jared C. Wilson|10:32 pm CT

Forge (Vermont)

This Saturday (Jan. 22) several evangelical churches in the Rutland area of Vermont, mine included, are collaborating to launch a monthly worship event for college students and young adults (18-30something). We call it Forge.

We are aiming to encourage and edify the younger generation in this area with the gospel through God-exalting worship, Christ-centered teaching, and Spirit-formed community.

If you know anybody in this age group in this area who could benefit from Forge, please help us get the word out.

We are meeting 7 p.m. at The Brick Box (next to the Paramount Theatre) in downtown Rutland.

I will be speaking at this first meeting, my colleagues in the months to come.

Find us on Facebook too.

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Jan

19

2011

Jared C. Wilson|3:45 pm CT

This Fountain and No Other

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is of him. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects, that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”

– John Calvin, Institutes, 2.16.19.

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