Search Results for: T4G

 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|4:48 pm CT

Livestream for T4G: April 8-10, 2014

You can register to watch the T4G livestream online for free.

All times below are Eastern. When each plenary speaker is speaking has not been publicly announced. At the end of the post you can find the list of panels, but again it has not been announced when each will be.

I am not sure if they are able to stream the music, so if it’s not live you may want to check back 20 minutes into the session.

Tuesday, April 8

1:00 – 2:50 | General Session 1
3:05 – 4:10 | General Session 2
4:30 – 5:15 | Panel 1
7:30 – 8:55 | General Session 3
9:10 – 9:55 | Panel 2

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 4
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 5
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 3
3:00 – 4:00 | Breakout Sessions
7:30 – 8:50 | General Session 6
9:05 – 9:45 | Panel 4

Thursday, April 10

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 7
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 8
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 5
2:00 – 3:15 | Panel 6
3:45 – 5:00 | General Session 9

Plenary Speakers:

Ligon Duncan, The Gospel by Numbers (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler, The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age (Acts 4)

Mark Dever, The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church an Encouragement to Evangelism (Isaiah 36-37)

John MacArthur, Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith (John 6)

David Platt, Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence (Exodus 32)

John Piper, Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

Kevin DeYoung, Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler, Christ is All (2 Tim. 1:8-14)

Panels:

“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: John MacArthur and Iain Murray (biographer of D. Martin Lloyd Jones)

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Chair: Albert Mohler
Panelists: Russell Moore and  Sam Alberry (author of Is God Anti-gay?)

“Preaching Sanctification”
Chair: Matt Chandler
Panelists: Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas (Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Chair: Ligon Duncan
Panelists: Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates (Rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA)

“Stump the Panel”
Chair: Mike McKinley
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole

Future Theological Threats
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|3:55 pm CT

Livestream for T4G: April 8-10, 2014

You can register to watch the T4G livestream online for free.

All times below are Eastern. When each plenary speaker is speaking has not been publicly announced. At the end of the post you can find the list of panels, but again it has not been announced when each will be.

I am not sure if they are able to stream the music, so if it’s not live you may want to check back 20 minutes into the session.

Tuesday, April 8

1:00 – 2:50 | General Session 1
3:05 – 4:10 | General Session 2
4:30 – 5:15 | Panel 1
7:30 – 8:55 | General Session 3
9:10 – 9:55 | Panel 2

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 4
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 5
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 3
3:00 – 4:00 | Breakout Sessions
7:30 – 8:50 | General Session 6
9:05 – 9:45 | Panel 4

Thursday, April 10

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 7
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 8
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 5
2:00 – 3:15 | Panel 6
3:45 – 5:00 | General Session 9

Plenary Speakers:

Ligon Duncan, The Gospel by Numbers (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler, The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age (Acts 4)

Mark Dever, The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church an Encouragement to Evangelism (Isaiah 36-37)

John MacArthur, Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith (John 6)

David Platt, Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence (Exodus 32)

John Piper, Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

Kevin DeYoung, Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler, Christ is All (2 Tim. 1:8-14)

Panels:

“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: John MacArthur and Iain Murray (biographer of D. Martin Lloyd Jones)

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Chair: Albert Mohler
Panelists: Russell Moore and  Sam Alberry (author of Is God Anti-gay?)

“Preaching Sanctification”
Chair: Matt Chandler
Panelists: Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas (Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Chair: Ligon Duncan
Panelists: Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates (Rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA)

“Stump the Panel”
Chair: Mike McKinley
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole

Future Theological Threats
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams

 
 

Feb

18

2014

Justin Taylor|12:53 pm CT

T4G Guys Talk Evangelism + a New Book on Evangelism

evangelismJohn Piper, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Ligon Duncan sit down at length for a very stimulating and edifying conversation about evangelism through the local church:

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The conference will be April 8-10, 2014, in Louisville.

Mack Stiles’ Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus new book on evangelism will be out in time for the T4G conference.

“Anyone who knows Mack Stiles knows he would find it difficult to be boring, even if he decided to be. The book you are holding incites Christians, not least pastors, to burn to see evangelism become part of the local church’s culture, a driving component of its spiritual DNA. This book is rich in practical implications, not despite its incessant focus on Jesus and the gospel, but precisely because of such focus. It deserves to be read, pondered, and implemented.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“The best book on evangelism would be a book that gets right to the heart of the issue and that is written by one who is himself an evangelist. In other words, it would be this book. Mack Stiles is one of the most natural, effective, determined, indefatigable evangelists that I know. I would want to know what he thinks about evangelism, whether it comes in a conversation, a letter, or an entire book. In this short volume, Mack conducts a clear and biblical exploration of how church fellowship multiplies individual evangelism. Every reader will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to be a congregational evangelist. For the sake of the church, the gospel, and the world, this book belongs at the top of your reading list.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“God gifted Mack Stiles as an evangelist, and this book is the overflow of that gift. I know of few works that combine the theological rigor, pastoral wisdom, and personal experience that Mack packs into this short book. In places I was encouraged, in others challenged. I loved reading this book and recommend it heartily.”
—J. D. Greear, Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina; author, Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved

“Mack Stiles writes about developing a culture of evangelism in a way that allows the reader to see it! We not only read the truth in this book, we drink in a vision for how our church families can live in a rich, dynamic way. This may be the shortest but most important book you ever read for the life of your church and the spread of the gospel.”
—Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman; author, What Is a Healthy Church Member?

“The church’s ancient mission to make disciples of all nations is still our top priority today. Our need to be equipped in sharing our faith is undeniably urgent. This is a book about real people learning to share the good news about a real Messiah. It is instructive, encouraging, and compelling—you won’t want to wait to apply what you learn in these pages. And if anyone knows how to equip people to speak of Jesus, it’s Mack Stiles!”
—Gloria Furman, Pastor’s wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai; mother of four; author, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

“I am genuinely excited about this book. Stiles’ books on evangelism are terrific because they combine practical help with theological maturity. And he actually practices what he prescribes.”
—Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“Mack Stiles has written an outstanding book not just about sharing the gospel (though it is about that) or about being a personal evangelist (though it’s that, too). He’s written a book about how the local church actually helps us share the gospel—eases the burden, instructs, excites, cooperates. Read this little book and be encouraged!”
—Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“I read this engaging book in a single sitting because I was so taken by its content and spirit. Evangelism is a primer on how the Bible addresses the crucial subject of sharing the gospel. I anticipate its wide and enthusiastic reception.”
—Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Plenty of books discuss individual evangelism. This one, however, zeroes in on an entire culture. Not methods or programs, but an ethos. Spread this book through your church and see what happens.”
—John Folmar, Senior Pastor, The United Church of Dubai

“This is a Christ-exalting, gospel-saturated book on evangelism unlike any other. Rather than giving you a personal methodology, it deeply motivates you to proclaim and bear the fruit of the revolutionary news of Jesus as a church body. And what makes it even more valuable is that I have seen Mack Stiles model the attitudinal culture he writes about on several continents to the glory of God. He is the most gifted evangelist I have seen God use (so far), bar none. Evangelism is a must read for every pastor and church member.”
—Richard Chin, National Director, Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students; South Pacific Regional Secretary, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students

“I love Mack Stiles’ vision of ‘a culture of evangelism’ permeating our churches. May God work powerfully to bring this vision to reality. This book both encourages and challenges, and, like Mack’s previous books, is a great gift and blessing to God’s people.”
—Randy Newman, Teaching Fellow, C. S. Lewis Institute; author, Questioning Evangelism, Corner Conversations, and Bringing the Gospel Home

“It did not take long for this book to become my favorite book on evangelism—in part because I could not put it down! The gospel is so clear and the help I received is so tangible. But let the reader count the cost. It may stir something within you that you cannot shake. I will now never be satisfied with anything less than cultivating a culture of evangelism in the church I pastor. I praise God for what he gave me through this book and I pray for more.”
—Jason C. Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Imagine a local church where every member knows the gospel and walks in step with it, where all are concerned for unbelieving people, where it is natural for leaders and members to talk about evangelistic opportunities, and where members are regularly inviting unbelievers to read the Bible together or to attend small group Bible studies or Sunday services. If that sounds encouraging to you, then you’ll want to read this book and let Mack guide you step by step toward a culture of evangelism where evangelism is simply a natural outflow of the gospel life.”
—Juan R. Sanchez, Jr., Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas

 
 

Jan

30

2014

Justin Taylor|1:22 pm CT

The 9 T4G Plenary Sessions Announced

Screen shot 2014-01-30 at 1.20.51 PM

There are just 9 weeks to go until T4G 2014 in Louisville (April 8-10, 2014).

Below are the 9 plenary talks. (You could consider meditating on one passage per week to make ready your heart and mind!)

Crossway is very happy to be sponsoring T4G, and there will be some exciting announcements on site.

If you register before February 28, 2014, you’ll save $80.

Here are the keynote speakers and what they will be talking about:

Plenaries

Ligon Duncan
“The Gospel by Numbers” (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler
“The Open Door Is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age” (Acts 4)

Mark Dever
“Making Known the Wisdom of God through the Church” (Eph. 3:8-11)

John MacArthur
“Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith” (John 6)

David Platt
“Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence” (Exodus 32)

John Piper
“Persuading, Pleading, and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion”

Kevin DeYoung
“Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism, and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible” (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile
“The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners” (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler
“Christ Is All” (2 Tim. 1:8-14)

In addition, there will be six panel sessions and ten breakout sessions:

Panels

“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Elizabeth Catherwood and Iain Murray; moderated by Mark Dever [note the new "Reader" of MLJ sermons due out in time for the conference, as well as Murray's new, updated, and abridged biography]

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Russell Moore and Sam Alberry, moderated by Albert Mohler [note Alberry's book, Is God Anti-Gay?]

“Preaching Sanctification”
 Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas; moderated by Matt Chandler [note that DeYoung's The Hole in Our Holiness is now available in paperback]

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates; moderated by Ligon Duncan

“Stump the Panel”
 Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole; moderated by Mike McKinley

Future Theological Threats
Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams; moderated by Mark Dever

Breakout Sessions

Edward Copeland
“Evangelistic Ministry in Traditional African American Churches”

Leonce Crump
“Church Planting as a Means of Evangelism”

Juan Sanchez
“Building an Evangelistic Church”

Simon Gathercole and Peter Williams
“How Biblical Studies Are Helping Apologetics”

Dave Russell
“Mobilizing the Church to Evangelize on Campus”

Owen Strachan
“The Pastor as Public Theologian in an Increasingly Hostile Culture”

David Sinclair
“Distinctives of God-Centered Evangelism”

Mack Stiles
“Evangelism in the Post-Modern World” [note Stiles' new little book on evangelism that will be out in time for the conference]

Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler
“The Importance of Inerrancy for Evangelism in Missions”

Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley
“Church Planting in Hard Places”

 
 

Apr

24

2012

Justin Taylor|3:45 pm CT

T4G Panels (Audio)

Complementarianism
Greg Gilbert, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore

Preaching
Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever

Gay Marriage
Al Mohler, Mark Dever

Contextualization
Al Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, Thabiti Anyabwile

Inerrancy
Al Mohler, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Peter Williams, Simon Gathercole

Celebrity Pastors
Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile, Carl Trueman, C.J. Mahaney, David Platt

 
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Apr

20

2012

 
 

Apr

12

2012

Justin Taylor|7:16 pm CT

T4G 9, John Piper, “Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy” (Jude 1:24-25)

You can hear the audio to this message here.

This message has two parts.

In the first part I will try to draw you into my amazement that I am still a Christian and still love the ministry of the word.

And in the second part I will try to draw you into an analysis of how that happened.

Our text is the book of Jude, and our focus will be mainly on verses 24 and 25.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

1. My Amazement that I Am Still a Christian

This year I complete:

  • 60 years as a believer,
  • 32 years pastoring Bethlehem Baptist Church,
  • 44 years of marriage to Noël, and
  • 40 years of being a father.

These are momentous days for me as we plan for my successor to assume responsibilities at Bethlehem. If there is a T4G in 2014, and if I am invited to come, I will not be speaking as the preaching pastor of Bethlehem. This is my last T4G as a pastor.

When I think about finishing these laps in my race, I am simply amazed that I have lasted:

  • lasted as Christian,
  • lasted as a pastor,
  • lasted as a husband and father.

This excerpt from my journal of 1986 is the sort of emotional vulnerability that I have dealt all my life. There were reasons when it seemed like I simply could not last. I was 40 years old. I had been at the church for six years. My four sons were ages 14, 11, 7 and 3.

Am I under attack by Satan to abandon my post at Bethlehem? Or is this the stirring of God to cause me to consider another ministry? Or is this God’s way of answering so many prayers recently that we must go a different way at BBC than building? I simply loathe the thought of leading the church through a building program. For two years I have met for hundreds of hours on committees. I have never written a poem about it. It is deadening to my soul. I am a thinker. A writer. A preacher. A poet and songwriter. At least these are the avenues of love and service where my heart flourishes. . . .

Can I be the pastor of a church moving through a building program? Yes, by dint of massive will power and some clear indications from God that this is the path of greatest joy in him long term. But now I feel very much without those indications. The last two years (the long range planning committee was started in August 1984) have left me feeling very empty.

The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.

Does this mean that my time at BBC is over? Does it mean that there is a radical alternative unforeseen? Does it mean that I am simply in the pits today and unable to feel the beauty and power and joy and fruitfulness of an expanded facility and ministry?

O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete?

I do not doubt for a moment your goodness or power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.

That was 26 years ago. Same church. We built that building—and another one and another one. I hated it every time.

There were worse days—way worse days. Days when the marriage was under attack. Days when the soul was so numb I feared for my faith.

So, looking back, I am amazed [laughs!] that I’m a Christian today and am about to finish my pastorate at Bethlehem.

If—

  • my faith in Jesus, and
  • my eagerness to know him and his word, and
  • my thrill at preaching, and
  • my love for the church, and
  • my fitness for ministry, and
  • my fitness for heaven, and
  • my sexual continence, and
  • my spiritual marriage commitment to Noël

—depended decisively on me, I would have

  • ceased to be a Christian long ago
  • ceased to care about the word of God or thrill at exposition
  • given up on the church
  • ceased to be fit for ministry or heaven
  • given myself to sexual indulgence, and
  • ceased to be married to Noël.

I have no doubt about this—at all.

If the decisive cause for my faithfulness to Christ in any of those expressions must come from me, it will not come, because it is not there.

Therefore, the older I get, the more I am amazed, and full of wonder and thankfulness, that I am still a Christian—that I still love the word of God—more precious than gold, even much fine fold, and sweeter than honey and drippings from the honey comb—and that I still love the ministry of the word and the church of Christ, and that I still have not unfit myself for the eldership, and have still not given myself over to pornography or adultery, and that after 43 years I love my wife with the love of Christ. These things are to me utterly amazing.

So that I feel some sense of the wonder that Jude seems to feel. Because that’s what it took to keep me a Christian for sixty years, and to keep me alive in the pastoral ministry at Bethlehem for 32 years, and to keep me obediently married for 43 years—glory and majesty and dominion and authority, working before the creation ever existed, and working every present moment of my life, and working into the future to keep me holy and happy for ever.

That’s what it took to keep me from falling—and what it will take to get me home before the presence of his glory, blameless and full of unbridled joy. And that’s what it will take to keep you believing, and ministering, and holy to the end of your days, and then get you home.

This is the way doxologies work.

They refer first to something that God has done or will do, and then they ascribe attributes to God that account for that action, or are expressed in the action.

So, for example, you might say, “Now to him who fashioned the intricacies of the human eye and every molecule and atom in it—to him belong infinite, inscrutable wisdom and skill.”

Or you might say, “Now to him who adopts dirty, abandoned, rebellious children into his family—to him belong compassion and boundless mercy.”

In other words, the attributes that you ascribe to God are the ones that account for the action you are praising, or that come to expression in the action you are praising. These attributes account for the actions you are celebrating.

What is Jude celebrating and worshiping?

  • God keeps us from stumbling;
  • he presents us before the glory of God blameless,
  • and he presents us before the glory of God with great happiness.

What came to expression in these three acts of God?

God’s

  • glory
  • majesty
  • power
  • authority

That’s what it took to keep me a Christian for 60 years. Jude is amazed at what it takes to keep us Christian, to keep us saved.

Do we have any idea of the degree of divine glory and majesty and power and authority that it took

  • to give us spiritual life when we were dead (Eph. 2:5), and
  • to keep us spiritually alive moment by moment for 60 years, and
  • to stir up that spiritual life in such ways that it resisted sins and loved holiness and pursued spiritual fruit in the life of the church?

Do we know the degree of glory and majesty and power and authority that took?

No. We don’t.

We have no terms of measuring such things. How do you quantify a Spirit-creating spirit? Or a Spirit acting on spirit to sustain the life of that spirit?

God creates spiritual life when we are dead. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

We had no spiritual life.

Then the Spirit acted in us.

And now we are spiritually alive.

We are spirit. This is not spirit like the demons are spirit. This is holy spirit (little “s”). This is eternal, spiritual, God-created, and God-sustained spiritual life.

This spiritual life that we Christians have is not ours intrinsically. There is no autonomous life in me.

We have this life to the degree that we have the Holy Spirit in us, and to the degree that we are united to Christ—which are interwoven terms and realities. It is not the kind of spiritual life that we would have if the Spirit left us or we were not united to Christ. We would not be alive if we were not united to Christ by the Spirit. Our life is Christ’s life. The Spirit’s life.

The giving of this life, and the moment by moment sustaining of this life, and the stirring up of this life so that it treasures holiness and ministry is a work of God. This is why I said at the beginning:

If the decisive cause of my faithfulness to Christ must come from me, it will not come, because it is not there.

Christ created it by coming.

I bring nothing decisive to my creation. And I bring nothing decisive to the existence of this divine spiritual life in me. I exist as a Christian by it. I did not create it, and I don’t keep it in being. Not any more than the universe came into existence by its own power or is upheld by its own power (Heb. 1:3). It is upheld by Christ.

Jude is clearly amazed at what it takes to sustain spiritual life—to keep it from collapsing and to bring it to glory blameless and happy. He must sense that what it takes to keep us believing—to keep us alive—is very great.

So how do we measure that so that we can join him in the amazement?

How Do We Measure What It Took God to Preserve Our Spiritual Life?

I can only think of two ways that we can measure what it takes to accomplish the preservation of our spiritual life.

One is to think about the fact that this is something we cannot do at all, and God does. And the difference between nothing and anything is infinite.

If God says to you: Create a being with divine spiritual life, you will say, “I can’t.” And you will be right. You absolutely can’t.

Then he does it with a word.

The difference between your absolute inability and his absolute ability is immeasurably great. The measurement is the distance between us and God.

And the second way we know the measurement of what it took for God to sustain our spiritual life blameless and joyful before the glory of God is that he reveals it to us in verse 25: it took glory and majesty and power and authority. That is, it takes just about anything he’s got to do this.

Your creation and your preservation takes divine glory and majesty and power and authority. And any amount of divine glory and majesty and power and authority is infinitely greater than what you bring to your creation and preservation.

 

(2) How This Happened

How does God keep us

  • when Paul’s strategies of not losing heart seem remote (2 Cor 4),
  • when the language to articulate the gospel with words one more time won’t come,
  • when I’m not depressed that your church false converts, but I fear that I may be one,
  • when I can remember countless times when I have given no evidence of trusting the power of the gospel to convert a neighbor, let alone a terrorist,
  • when Spirit-empowered, gospel-driven, faith-fueled effort feels as likely as flying by flapping your arms,
  • when the fuel tank of death-defying devotion to world missions seems empty,
  • when he holds out a treasure to me that I want almost as much as anything but says I can’t have it
  • when the crown jewel of Jerusalem is cut in slivers by a propeller or by the prophetess Jezebel?

How does God keep us? Keep us believing, keep us serving, keep us married, keep us fathering?

Notice that Jude’s letter begins (v. 1) and ends (vv. 24-25) with the assurance that God is decisively our keeper.

Verse 24: “Now unto him who is able to keep you . . .”

Verse 1: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,  To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.”

We are

  • called
  • loved
  • kept for/by Jesus Christ.

The love of God moves him to call his elect to himself out of death and unbelief—and those whom he calls he keeps.

None is lost.

1 Corinthians 1:8-9, “He will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called.”

The called are sustained guiltless in the last day.

Romans 8:30, “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

The called are kept. No drop-outs.

That’s the framework of the book—being kept by divine, omnipotent, faithful power.

Sandwiched in there he warns against the false teachers who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality” (v. 4) and who presume that they are saved but are “destroyed because they don’t believe (v. 5).

So these professing Christians are not called and they are not kept. And the evidence that they are not called and not kept is that don’t crave Christ, they crave physical sensations. They don’t prize they God of grace; they prostitute the grace of God.

Then after those many warnings, Jude tells us what we must do—not only for ourselves to be kept (vv. 20-21) but also what we must do for others who must be kept  (vv. 22-23).  I’m only going to deal with the first part (what we do for ourselves) because this brings out the paradox of the Christian life most clearly. I want to underline Kevin DeYoung’s message—because it’s here (and everywhere).

Verses 20-21:

But you, beloved,

building yourselves up in your most holy faith and

praying in the Holy Spirit,

keep yourselves in the love of God,

waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

So now Kevin DeYoung’s message starts to come into focus again—as it does all over the Bible.

1 Corinthians 15:10: “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Jude “Keep yourselves in the love of God, for God is the one who keeps you in his love.”

Verse 1: the love of God called you; the love of God will keep you; therefore keep yourselves in the love of God.

Keep yourself in God’s commitment to keep you.

“Keep yourselves in the love of God” is the main verb—the only imperative verb in verses 20-21, and the other three verbs are supporting participles—they define how Jude understands keeping ourselves in the love of God. Verse 20:

  1. “building yourselves up in your most holy faith” (v. 20)
  2. praying in the Holy Spirit” (v. 20)
  3. waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (v. 21)

So keep yourselves in the love of God—keep yourselves in the omnipotent commitment of God’s love to keep you—

  • by trusting that omnipotent commitment,
  • by praying for its daily application to the specifics of your life, and
  • by waiting patiently for God to finish his merciful work.

As I have prayed on my little prayer bench I built in 1975, I have probably prayed a thousand times “help me,” “keep me from temptation.” And what’s happening there? God is keeping me. The means of God’s keeping you is being provided by God.

The psalm I pray the most: “Preserve me O God, for in you I take refuge!”

You pray for God to keep you (“Preserve me O God!”). You trust the promise that he will (“for in you I take refuge”). And you wait for his mercy.

Even your praying is his doing—it is by the Spirit that you pray (v. 20). And your faith is his doing, not your own, “it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

My praying for his keeping and my trusting in his keeping is his keeping!

The glory and the majesty of his keeping consists very much in the power and the authority that he has keep you through the means of your keeping yourself in the love of God.

You are not a robot. And you are not autonomous. You a new creation, a new race. Your coming into being and your being sustained is unlike anything the world can ever experience. It is a mystery. A daily miracle. You are those who by prayer and trust keep yourselves in the commitment of God’s love to keep you praying and trusting.

God’s act to keep you praying and trusting, so that you remain in his love and are kept blameless and joyful for the glory of God, is the fulfillment of the New Covenant.

“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me” (Jer. 32:40).

The New Covenant promise is that God will act so decisively for his elect that they will not turn from him. God will see to it that they will pray and they will trust and they will keep themselves in the love of God.

The New Covenant was bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. “This cup is the new covenant in/by my blood” (1 Cor. 11:25). When Jesus died for us, all the promises of God became Yes in him (2 Cor. 1:20). I will see to it that my own will not turn from me (Jer. 32:40). I will keep them from falling.

And that is the ultimate reason why Jude 25 says,

“To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority.”

The glory and majesty and power and authority that it takes to keep you and me alive in Christ—to keep us praying and trusting, to keep us in the love of God—was unleashed for us sinners, when Christ died for us. Therefore the glory and majesty and dominion and authority that keeps us from falling and presents us blameless and joyful to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ—the blood of the New Covenant.

Therefore when we ascribe glory and majesty and dominion and authority to God we do it through Jesus Christ.

So do not underestimate the power of the blood of Christ to keep you from falling. It’s power was at work “before all time” (Rev. 13:8), it is at work “now,” and it will be at work “forever.” Your keeping began before creation, it is happening now, and it will never end.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Ps. 121:3-8).

He sealed that promise—he bought it—with the blood of his Son. Therefore, keep yourself in the love of God.

 
 

Apr

12

2012

Justin Taylor|3:09 pm CT

T4G Panel: Celebrity Pastors

Thabiti Anyabwile, Carl Trueman, C.J. Mahaney, David Platt, Matt Chandler, moderated by Ligon Duncan

(Carl and Thabit had a number of exchanges at the Reformation21 blog on this: see here, here, and here.)

Carl: We tend to invest special insight and knowledge because someone is a celebrity.

When I ask students who are the most influential pastors in their life, it’s concerning that they rarely mention their local pastors.

When I ask who they want to be like, they mention people who are in situations where they will never be. Praise God there are big churches, and that God has gifted men in this way. But it’s a problem when it becomes an aspirational model for most students. I wonder if this has an impact on the high burnout rate.

It’s not necessarily a problem of the pastors himself—but of their reception. We need to be careful not to promote ourselves. Luther, the first celebrity pastor, in 1522 explained that the Word of God did it all. We should do all we can to minimize itself.

The aspirational model can be associated with the worldly model of success, rather than the faithful model of success. Paul’s plan was to find ordinary guys who are qualified and able to teach and preach. It’s not rocket science.

Thabiti: I agree with Carl’s concerns. What I was reacting to—let’s begin with where Carl ends. We need to find faithful pastors, but there is also a place for the appropriate expression of gratefulness. Sometimes the critique can catch too many people in the nets. Let’s distinguish between (1) celebrity as being famous for being famous, and (2) those are attract people through their faithfulness and giftedness. There can be notoriety that isn’t about self-promotion and self-adulation and fame-seeking.

Ligon: Certain types of media and platforms can project significance. Lig is mortified when people meet him and think he is someone of significance just because they see him preach on regional television. The medium can convey something.

Thabiti: In our day media access is pretty easy. To become a celebrity one must have a celebrity-conferring public.

Ligon: When T4G wanted to put Piper in front of folks in 2006, it’s not because he’s a celebrity but because he had spoken the word into our souls, and God gave him a wide influence. We exulted in that. But we didn’t intend to say to brothers pastoring a 65-member church that he’s a nobody. We wanted to serve that guy in that context. And that would be John’s heart. That motivation is important for us to clarify.

Carl: You can have all the best intentions, but we also have to be aware of reception.

CJ: This conference exists to dissuade that thinking but to encourage and honor ordinary pastors.

Ligon: We thank God for you, David Platt and Matt Chandler. David, I know you have to protect your heart when speaking to 55,000 people on the atonement.

David: This conversation is dangerous for me. It brings to the fore a poison to my soul. I really believe, I think, I want Christ to become greater and me to become less. The temptation is to think, I want Christ to become greater and me to become greater. Pride has always been a problem for me. More attention means more temptation. It involves an intentional fight and battle. At the end of the Day, I want it to be about Christ’s glory.

Matt: On top of that, there’s the cultural beast—fighting something that won’t die. If anyone says there’s not a part of you that doesn’t enjoy that, I’d call them a liar to their face. I don’t fear that this week I’m going to say “I’m Matt Chandler,” but it’s people getting in your ear saying over the years “How much do you get paid?” “Why don’t you have people do this?” It’s important that guys know me before I was “Matt Chandler.” And there’s no celebrity pastor in our home.

CJ: There are temptations toward those who are known, and among those who are not home. There’s probably a Corinthian temptation in every church. A pastor has to study his own soul.

For those struggling because of their lower numerical growth: cultivate an appreciation for me who are pastoring churches larger than you. It’s important to celebrate grace in other people.

Carl: I recognize that conferences cost money and that you can’t fill a stadium with just a couple of other OPC pastors! But would it be impossible to have, out of 9 speakers, 2 that no one has ever heard of?

It’s been great to rub shoulders with other believers from other denominations. (I believe in denominations because I like being around people who actually believe something.) My wife asked me, “Are you looking forward to going?” “Yes, because it will give me something to write about.” But I have to concede that I’ve rather enjoyed myself!

 
 

Apr

12

2012

Justin Taylor|1:52 pm CT

T4G 8: Matt Chandler, “The Fulfillment of the Gospel” (Revelation 21-22)

Audio available here.

Two years ago I stood at this conference and had recently finished six weeks of radiation and had just begun what would be 18 months of high-dose chemotherapy.  The doctors hadn’t given us much hope in the early days of that fight for a long life—or even past a couple of years. But God had plans to blow past the statistics and accomplish a few more things. To be here today and to be here today to preach from Revelation 21-22 is not only an honor but also one of the many mercies of God on my life.

I want to talk with you about hope today.

Some of you come here today with your resignation letter half-written, ready to throw in the towel.

But if you listen to these talks, from beginning to end, God has been saying, “I’m for you. I have no abandoned you. You are not alone.” God has been talking to me, too.

Don’t be such the “shepherd’s shepherd” that you can’t be shepherded.

Hope is necessary for all who cling to Christ. But hope is especially necessary for the pastor.

Without it he finds himself tossed about in a world that can be beautiful and spectacular (weddings, reconciliations, wayward children saved, healthy births after years of praying) but also cruel.

Earlier this year, in roughly a one-month period around Christmas time, we had an 8-year-old special-needs boy who went in to the dentist and had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and died. And we had to walk into that room and cry and cover our mouths.

We just about had that family settled into care, but we pastor a young church. And then another call came. We had a 3-year-old girl who had a heart transplant but then rejected the heart a year later. It was heavy when you have a 3-year-old at home and you’re doing a funeral for a toddler.

I finished preaching on the victory of Christ. We had a beautiful young woman talk after the service, then that night got discombobulated and walked into a propeller plane and lose her hand, eye, and clavicle.

All this on top of church discipline cases, writing sermons, trying to love my wife like Jesus loves the church, and gather kindling around the hearts of my children that the Holy Spirit might one day ignite for his glory.

I point at all these things knowing I have a great staff and none of these things were done simply by me. And what gives me such an appreciation for so many of you is that you live this and don’t have a team of guys that you love and trust.

Brothers, we are in many ways first responders on the front lines of a cosmos in rebellion. Sometimes we are there before the paramedics because the damage is on the inside. When the sorrows and loss of a sinful world land, they land in the lives of people we love and have been called to serve.

The First Fruits of Hope

The promises are real (Gen 3, 12, 17, 49.  Numbers 24, Deut. 17, 18, 2 Samuel 7, Isaiah 7, 9, 53). Jesus fulfilled them. Hecame, He lived, He died, and He rose from the grave. He imputed to me his righteousness and He called me.

I wasn’t looking for Him. God says whom he predestines He calls—and think back on His ruthless and aggressive pursuit and protection of met. It brings me a staggering amount of hope.

The guy in the locker next to be aggressively evangelized me. God did that. He didn’t ask me; he didn’t wait for all my questions to be answered. God opened my heart. My posture changed. He came and got me. He rescued me from the muck and the mire—and he didn’t do it to hurt you. We laugh at the Israelites who grumble right after the rescue. But we do this too.

Acts 8:29: God calls Philip into ministry
Acts 10:19: God calls Peter to Cornelius’ house

I felt this call to The Village Church.  I kicked and argued and tried to walk. The last place in the world I wanted to stay was Dallas, the center of evangelicalism. I said everything in my job interview that shouldn’t have gotten me a job. (What would you change? “I wouldn’t know where to start.”) But God wasn’t having it.

When I feel loss of hope, I remember that the Spirit does not lead where he does not empower. Usually I am trying to carry something I wasn’t meant to carry.

Graeme Goldsworthy, “Hope without a time of fulfillment is a delusion.”

We are not a delusional people—even if outsiders think we are absurd.  Our hopes are not bankrupt. We are not gambling.

In my remaining time I want to talk about the finish line.

The Fulfillment of Hope

The World Renewed: Revelation 21:1-8

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

We know this isn’t just a spiritual ethereal existence.  This is real and it’s physical.

What we know from the promises of the prophets is that it’s a different kind of world than the world you and I walk on now.  It’s one remade.
Isaiah 35:1 tells us that the deserts shall blossom as the rose. So when we think of the desert, we think of dead wasteland, but the Bible says that in the new earth, the deserts are going to bloom like roses.

Amos 9:13 says that the plowman shall overtake the reaper and that the mountains shall drop sweet wine. The mountains this side of consummation are spectacular and they provoke awe, but we Look forward to the new earth’s mountain ranges, where fruitless rocks and frigid snow will put forth abundance, produce sweet wine.

Isaiah 65, we learn that there will be no more sounds of weeping heard on the earth, that the days of God’s people shall be like the days of the tree, that on the earth the wolf and the lamb shall feed together.  So all this violence is gone.

We see in Isaiah 11 that no one will hurt or destroy anything in all of God’s holy mountain. And this is true because evil will be vanquished to the lake of fire

Habakkuk 2:14 says the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea.

1 Corinthians 15 says our body will be a resurrected body. This is a text the Lord used to minister to me during brain cancer.

There is coming a day where we aren’t looking forward to this day. That glorious day won’t be future. On that day, we will be here!

A deer panting for water is not a cute text for a coffee mug. One thing I ask is to behold his beauty. Someday it will be now, not future.

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle:

The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on for ever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Revelation 21:9, “Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’” We will get to see the fruit of God’s work and see the Bride. This is surely more spectacular than when the door swings open and we see our earthly bride. We get to see her!

And it’s here! It’s no longer a future hope. The kingdom has come in its fullness!

    And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

(Revelation 21:10-21 ESV)

The first time we see the church in Revelation (chs. 2-3), it doesn’t look like this.

At Ephesus they had great doctrine but forgot their first love. Good doctrine without love is not good doctrine.

At Smyrna they faced tribulation and poverty.

In Pergamum they put up with teachings that went against the grain and hope of the Gospel.

At Thyatira they loved the sensuality of Jezebel and sexual immorality.

In Sardis they were dead.

In Philadelphia they had little power but were clinging tightly to Jesus.

And in Laodicea they were lukewarm and indifferent towards the things of God.  They considered themselves rich and prosperous but were pitiful, blind, poor and naked.

I think many of us can relate to these churches.  There are groups within the church I pastor that lean in these directions.  And my understanding is that to be a faithful shepherd I’m on the fringes, warning those who are idle, encouraging the timid, and being patient with the weak.  That can be exhausting.  This is the fire where our hope burns the brightest, and our confidence in God’s power to save must hold us steadfast.  The good news for each of us today regardless of what lay waiting for us at home is that it won’t end this way.

Where is everyone of these in the vision of Revelation 21?

Paul says:

1 Corinthians 3:11-13. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

There are days that I feel like I’m building with wood, hay, and straw.  There are people who have been deeply embedded in our community of faith and get outed in their sins. People agree with my rebuke as though I was talking to someone else.

But look at the bride! God is faithfully cleansing his bride.

The Church will cease to be the suffering servant church and be the church triumphant.

We are one day closer. New mercy every morning till everything is fulfilled.

God’s Dwelling and the Trophies of the Nations (Rev. 21:22-27)

    And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(Revelation 21:22-27 ESV)

We’ll no longer need a tabernacle. The dwelling place for God is with man! There will be no more shadows. This is the sum of the entire bible!  Every aspect of hope and redemption is wrapped up in this one phrase.

By it’s light the Nations walk. Think about how hard unity and diversity can be here. But it will be fulfilled.

All that is truly good and beautiful in this world will reappear there and be renewed there, purified and enhanced in the perfect setting.

Conclusion

You have to get over you. I don’t know how else to say it. Don’t hedge your bets.  Don’t keep one foot in this world “just in case.” Straddling two world is a miserable way to live life. Sell out.  Don’t put your hope in you!  You won’t be strong enough.

This is why Paul can call his troubles “light and momentary.” This is why anything here isn’t worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed.

Paul says we need to be “all in.”

Some of you might be in the pastorate becomes it seems like a sweet gig.

Some of you don’t really believe this, and you need to repent.

But for those of us who believe, let’s hope and believe. We’re a couple of days closer! It’s gonna happen. We’re going to get there. We’re going to see the city—we’re going to be the city!

Hope is essential for those who shepherd the bride of Christ. There is a finish line, a day when all will be made new.

 
 

Apr

12

2012

Justin Taylor|10:24 am CT

The Books Given Away at T4G

Here are the list of the 18 books that were given away at T4G 2012 and particularly recommended. A few of them are special editions created just for the conference. I’ll add more links if/as they become available:

HCSB/T4G UltraThin Bible

Mark Dever, The Church: Making the Gospel Visible (B&H, 2012).

David Wells, Turning to God: Reclaiming Christian Conversion as Unique, Necessary, and Supernatural (reprint; Baker, 1989, 2012).

D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (Baker, 1993, 2004).

Carl R. Trueman, Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Christian Focus, 2011).

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Fellowship with God:  Studies in 1 John (Crossway, 2012).

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones Sermon CD

Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Crossway, 2011).

Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel (Crossway, 2012).

Mark Dever and Bobby Jamieson, Building Healthy Church Series (Study Guides) (Crossway, 2012).

Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (Crossway, 2012).

Christopher Ash, Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons (Good Book Company, 2009).

Mark Dever, 1 Corinthians 1-9: Challenging Church (Study Guide) (Good Book Company, 2012).

David Jones and Russell Woodbridge, Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ?

John Piper, The Pleasures of God: God’s Delight in Being God (new edition; Multnomah, 2012).

Graeme Goldsworthy, The Gospel and Kingdom (Paternoster, 2001).

Derek Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Reformation Trust, 2012).

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 40th Anniversary Edition (Zondervan, 2012).

 
 

Apr

12

2012

Justin Taylor|8:06 am CT

T4G 7: Ligon Duncan, “The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers’ Joy” (1 Kings 19)

Audio available here.

1 Kings 19

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, …

2 Kings 2:1-14

Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” 4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.

5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”

11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Luke 9:28-31

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 4:6

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Discouragement is no stranger in the lives of many faithful pastors

I want to give special encouragement to discouraged and downcast pastors.

There are things to learn in our disappointments. We can think, “If I’m faithful to God, trusting in his grace, empowered by Spirit—I will not have crushing darkness as part of my experience.” And then it comes. What’s happening to me, O God? What am I supposed to do? I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t think it’d be this way. I didn’t think I’d be here now.

If we study our discouragements, we’ll see what we love and what we really believe and where we really rest and what our real treasure is. And it won’t always be pretty.

In discouragement we forget that God is God and God is good.

In disappointment and discouragement we are tempted to succumb to idolatry, because we begin to think that there is a greater treasure that has been withheld or taken away, a greater treasure than what God has or can give us.

1 Kings 18 is where you want to be in ministry—you don’t want to be in 1 Kings 19.

What are your greatest losses in this life? What are your unfulfilled dreams, your unsatisfied and unsatisfiable desires and plans, yearnings, and longings? I wonder what they are. I wonder what are the hopes and treasures you’ve never obtained, though you’ve always wanted them, or had them taken away from you from before your very eyes. I don’t ask whether you have these things, I know you do, we all do. Some great to the point of being unbearable, some less so, but we all have them. And my friends, the question is—what will we do with them?

Did you think that growing in grace, and being faithful in the ministry would spare you from those disappointments, crushing heartbreaks, unfulfilled yearnings?

I wonder how you’ve responded to yours—how have you responded to the loss of your greatest treasure, or your failure to obtain it? I wonder what you’ve cried out deep in the darkness of the night through blinding, hopeless tears, and I wonder what you’ve hoped for after you’ve asked God, ‘Why?’ and you’ve heard no audible answer, and your heart is just as restless and unsettled as it was before you asked. And I wonder how you’ve responded to a life you’ve longed for, slipping through your fingers right before your very eyes.

I wonder what you’ve done, because what you do in response to that may be the most important thing you do in this life.

Elijah has something to teach us about that. Because that is the story of this man, Elijah.

It’s the story of a man of power—no one except Moses had a ministry of power up to this point in the OT. This man yearned for good and great things and who served the Lord courageously. And yet he knew what it was to walk in this world right up to the very end of this life with his hopes utterly dashed. But he also knew the relentless, ruthless, compassion God who pursued him for his glory and the good of his people.

1. Even people who believe in God’s sovereignty can fail to believe that the Lord is God!

After his victory, a messenger showed up to him with a letter, written in the hand of a woman named Jezebel who said, “May it happen to me if at this time tomorrow I don’t have your hide. I will murder you.”

And suddenly this man forgot every drop of theology he had ever taught and he ran scared.

The expression of Elijah’s discouragement: flight in fear.

This man is a disappointed man; a discouraged man. Why?

Because Elijah had yearned for one thing and one thing only, as far as we know, through the whole course of his existence as a prophet of the Lord—he wanted to see God glorified in Israel. He wanted Israel to turn back to God. It wanted repentance. He wanted conversion. He wanted to be the instrument of conversion and restoration in Israel so Israel glorified God. Then he gets a message saying he’s going to be dead this time tomorrow. He realizes: It’s not going to happen the way I dreamed. It’s not going to happen.

It’d be easy to give him spiritual counsel that would not resonate with him. He cares more about his message than most of us do. He is so discouraged because he longs so much for God to be glorified. And when it doesn’t materialize, his world almost comes to an end.

You long to see conversions—and you’re not seeing them the way you long for them.

You see false prophets drawing in hundreds and thousands—and you have 65 people, none of whom can get along with one another.

God has blessed your ministry with conversions and edification, but for 25 years God has not saved your own son.

You love Jesus and your wife loves Jesus, but she doesn’t like you.

You fill in the blank. There is despair and discouragement that can come even to faithful servants. And when it comes you learn what you love, believe, treasure, and where you rest.

Elijah’s deepest dream has been shattered.

So he is running. To the south, not just to Judah, but past Judah and down in to the wilderness to the mountain of God.  And then at the mountain of God he went into a cave and wanted to die.

2. Even people who fight against idolatry can succumb to it.

The source of Elijah’s discouragement: he forgot his name and he forgot the message he wanted Israel to embrace.

His name means Yahweh is Lord—and he’s forgotten it.

God first comes in a whirlwind. It’s not an F5, it’s an EF6.

And then the Lord comes in a mighty earthquake and then in fire, but Elijah’s still inside; he wants to die.

This is a picture of what Elijah wanted—a spectacular demonstration of God’s power, as the Lord as the only God. And it didn’t happen. God did not purpose to answer the cries of Elijah’s heart that God would operate spectacularly.

And finally a small whisper inexorably draws him out.

Then God says, “What are you doing here? This is not where you’re supposed to be! I’ve got stuff for you to do!” And then His follow up to that is, “Head north, young man, and you pass right through Judah and you pass right through Israel, and you head straight to Syria because”—you want to hear the tender words of compassion? Hear God’s tender words of compassion: “Elijah, I’m putting you on the shelf. You’re done. The only ministry that you’re going to have for the rest of your life is preparing the way for others who are going to do the job that I had sent you to do.”

You cannot  possibly imagine how hard those words were for a man who had lived for one thing.

You know, when a voice whispers in your ear, “You ought to always have your heart’s desires.” You can be assured that that voice always speaks with a hiss from a forked tongue. But when you hear a voice say to you, “You see that treasure? The thing that you want more than anything else in the world? You can’t have it, but I’ll give you Me instead.” You can always be assured where that voice comes from. It’s just like you, Lord.

Jesus was battling idolatry in the garden (not my will, but yours be done). And God loves Elijah too much to let him stay there.

God will not let you preach a message that you do not live.

Lord, you are hard to your servants! No. Even when Elijah can’t eat, God sends an angel to prod him to eat a hot breakfast.

Elijah’s ministry is essentially over. It doesn’t end well. Elijah has all but had his day.

3. Even when it looks like God is being hard on his servants, you can be assured that his provision is staggeringly and lavishly loving, generous, good and kind.

The balm of God on Elijah’s discouraged soul: God’s lovingkindness is the ground of a certain hope and everlasting encouragement

But see 2 Kings 2. Look at vv. 1-14, and vv. 9-10 in particular. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah says something really strange: “You will only be able to get it if you see me when I’m taken.” What is up with that? What do you mean I’m not going to get it if I don’t see you when I’m taken, but I am going to get it if I see you when I am taken?

Look at verse 11: “As they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

You don’t think God didn’t know the deepest desires of Elijah’s heart? You think he doesn’t care about your dashed hopes and broken dreams? God brings him home by fire and whirlwind—I know my servant’s heart. This is how we’re bringing him up.

The man who was so dead of all his hopes and bereft of all his treasure that he didn’t want to see the glory of God in the whirlwind was ushered into glory—by a whirlwind and horses and chariots of fire.

“And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more.”

Why did Elisha have to see him? So that he could come back and tell the writer of Second Kings, “Let me tell you how God took him! He not only took him on horses and chariots of fire; He took him by the whirlwind and he saw His glory.” Because the One who took him is worth infinitely more than anything he had ever taken from Elijah. And He showed him His glory whether Elijah wanted to see it or not.

But I want to tell you my friends, it gets better than this. This is not the last time we see Elijah in the Bible. Turn to Luke 9:28ff.

Elijah: I want you to go down on a mountain again. There’s something I want you to see.

He’s on a mountain. Do you see what Elijah was able to see? He was is looking into the face of Jesus and beholding the transfigured glory of God (2 Cor 4). It all makes sense now.

Do you see the lesson that Elijah has learned? A costly and brutal lesson. God has ruthlessly and emphatically pursued his fundamental idolatry and he’s ripped it from his heart and crushed it and then He said, “Don’t underestimate me. I’m enough for you, Elijah. I’m the only treasure worth having and I’m the only treasure that can’t be taken away from you. Elijah, I am to be your vision.”

Every single one of us faces that choice. Believers face this choice and they ache and they cry and they mourn and they ask why. They ask it a thousand times. But in the end, they go limping along their way for the rest of their lives having learned His grace is sufficient for me and His power is perfected in my weakness and they go on fixed on Him as their treasure.

 
 

Apr

11

2012

Justin Taylor|7:12 pm CT

T4G 6: David Platt, “Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions” (Revelation 5:1-14)

One Overarching Truth

A high view of God’s sovereignty fuels death-defying devotion to global missions.

Pastors who believe that God is sovereign over all things will lead Christians to die for the sake of all peoples.

Three Underlying Premises

This will clarify where we’re going, and maybe even disarm you a bit from objections that may already be rising in your mind and your heart.

(1) Local ministry and local mission are totally necessary.

I am not saying tonight—or advocating at any point—that we should neglect local ministry, in the local church or the local community.

(2) Global missions is tragically neglected.

The northern part of Yemen has 8 million people. That’s twice the population of the entire state of Kentucky.

Do you know how many believers there are out of those 8 million people? 20 or 30.

There are more believers in a Sunday School class in your church than in all of northern Yemen.

Over 2 billion people in the world today are classified as unreached—which means more than “unsaved” but that the gospel is simply not accessible to them.

(3) Pastors have the privilege and responsibility to lead the way in global missions.

Over 6,000 people groups with over 2 billion people in them are not yet reached with the gospel. This is a problem not for mission boards and mission agencies to address—this is a problem for every pastor and every local church represented in this room to address.

Pastors, we love people in our local churches (local ministry) and we love people in our local communities (local mission) to the end that one day all peoples in all the world receive the gospel of God and revere the glory of God (global missions).

And what drives all of this—in the heart of a pastor and in the heart of a local church—is rock-solid confidence in the sovereignty of God over all things.

Revelation 5:1-14

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me,

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Four Theological Truths in the Text

(1) Our sovereign God holds the destiny of the world in the palm of his hand.

Revelation 5:1, “I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll. . . .”

Revelation 4:11, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy:

Almighty God, just because he is almighty, needs no support.

The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God that is precisely what we see.

Twentieth-century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. . . .

Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world. . . .

Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his hearers, not only for the heathen but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support.

I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of.

Add to this a certain degree of commendable idealism and a fair amount of compassion for the underprivileged and you have the true drive behind much Christian activity today.

(2) The state of man before God apart from Christ is utterly hopeless.

Revelation 5:2, “I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.”

The scroll contains the grand purpose of God in the world. And the silence of heaven testifies to the sinfulness of man. No one is worthy, and John is weeping. There is no hope apart from Christ.

Thomas Watson: “Thus it is in Hell; they would die, but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead; the smoke of the furnace ascends for ever and ever. Oh! Who can endure thus to be ever upon the rack? This word ‘ever’ breaks the heart.”

George Whitfield used to speak with tears in his eyes of “the torment of burning like a livid coal, not for an instant or for a day, but for millions and millions of ages, at the end of which souls will realize that they are no closer to the end than when they first begun, and they will never, ever be delivered from that place.

The way we talk about hell—helluva game, helluva song—shows we have no idea what we’re talking about.

The state of the unreached in the world: they haven’t heard of God—and yet they have heard him and seen him.

Romans 1:18-23, “What may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Although they knew God, they neither glorified God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like birds and animals and reptiles.”

The innocent man in Africa goes to heaven—the only problem is that he doesn’t exist. There are no innocent unreached people in the world. They are guilty before God and thus they need the gospel!

There are over 2 billion people in this world at this moment whose knowledge of God is only sufficient to damn them to hell forever. But there is hope!

(3) The greatest news in all the world is that the slaughtered Lamb of God reigns as the sovereign Lord of all.

“One of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’” (Revelation 5:5).

He was promised centuries ago to patriarchs of old: “the lion of the tribe of Judah . . . to whom shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10).

He is the Root of David: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him . . . and he will stand as a signal for the peoples” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 11).

“I will raise up,” declares the sovereign Lord, “for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king” (Jeremiah 23:5).

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Throughout history, from the beginning of time, men have come and men have gone, women have come and women have gone, all of them, the noblest of them, the kindest of them, the strongest of them, the greatest of them—all of them have fallen prey to sin.

All of them—every single man and every single woman—a slave to Satan.

All of them—generation after generation, century after century—every single man and every single woman succumbed to death.

But then came another man—unlike any man or woman before.

This man did not fall prey to sin; He possessed power over sin.

This man was not enslaved to Satan; He was enslaved to righteousness.

And this man did not succumb to death; He triumphed over death.

How? By suffering as a lamb.

He was marred / despised / rejected / stricken / smitten / afflicted / wounded / chastised / oppressed/ pulverized in our place—and all who hide under the banner of his blood will be saved.

The Lamb of God has not only endured death in our place; he has defeated death by his power. He bears the scars of death, yet he is sovereign over death.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Revelation 5:7, “He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.”

Breathtaking audacity.

Salvation through sacrifice.

The consummation of the kingdom comes through the crucifixion of God’s Son.

Jesus was “obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-9).

(4) The atonement of Christ is graciously, globally, and gloriously particular.

“Four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed/purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth’” (Rev. 5:8-10).

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has “chosen you in him before the foundation of the world, that you should be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, He predestined you to be adopted as his son through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in Him. In Him you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of your trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on you according to His purpose. . . . In Him you have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:4-11).

Brothers and sisters, if there are 6,000 people groups that have still not been reached with the gospel of Christ, then we have missed the point of the atonement.

Our obedience to the Great Commission of Christ is incomplete if we just make disciples. Our commission is to make disciples of all the nations, of all the peoples.

Particular atonement drives global missions. So if we believe Revelation 5:9 (if we believe that Jesus died to purchase people from every tribe and tongue and nation), then let us go to every tribe and tongue and nation.

Why? Because we feel guilty that we’re reached, that we have all these resources? Aren’t we just “guilting people” into going overseas to the unreached? We feel bad so we go?

No.

What drives passion for unreached peoples is not guilt, it’s glory—glory for a King.

It’s people who know that our sovereign God deserves the praise of not just 10,000 people groups on the planet, but all 16,000 of them. And we’re not going to stop until every single people group purchased by Christ is exalting His Name.

Four Implications of What We Should Do

(1) Let us lead our churches to pray confidently (for the spread of the gospel to all peoples).

Tell them Matthew 24:14. Tell them that “the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Tell them that, and then lead them to pray for the end to come. Ladd said this verse is “the single most important verse in the Word of God for the people of God today.” “God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who all the nations are, but I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.”

Teach them how to use Operation World.

(2) Let us lead our churches to give sacrificially.

For every $100 a Christian in North America makes, an average of $0.05 goes to the unreached.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: “The Bible’s teachings should cut to the heart of North American Christians. By any measure, we are the richest people ever to walk on planet Earth.”

See Psalm 67.

God gives his people worldly wealth for the spread of worldwide worship. The sovereign God of the universe has willed for us to be wealthy for the sake of his worship.

(3) Let us lead our churches to go intentionally to all peoples.

We need to have short-term, mid-term, and long-term missions.

There’s no question that we see Timothy-type people in the NT and Paul-type people in the NT.

God calls Timothy-type people to stay in a church (among the reached) and shepherd the body.

God calls Paul-type people to leave the reached and scatter to the unreached.

And pastor, there are men and women in your church whom God is calling to Paul-type ministry. Maybe not everybody, but some of them. God is calling them to pack their bags and move overseas to spread the gospel among unreached peoples.

So are you

  • encouraging them?
  • calling them out?
  • coming alongside them?
  • taking time during the year in your preaching and in your pastoring to speak specifically to them?
  • leading the church to fast and pray like Antioch in Acts 13 and listening, “God, who are you calling out next to go long-term to unreached people groups overseas?” and waiting until he answers.

Are you listening? Could he be calling you?

Why don’t we just send money and let the local people do it? There are no local Christians, there are no local churches . . . that’s what it means to be unreached. God’s design is not for you and me to send them our money so they can lose their lives spreading the gospel instead of us.

(4) Let us lead our churches to die willingly.

A high view of God’s sovereignty fuels death-defying devotion to global missions. Pastors who believe that God is sovereign over all things will lead Christians to die for the sake of all peoples.

Romanian pastor Josef Tson recounted a time he was being interrogated by six men. He said to one of them:

What is taking place here is not an encounter between you and me. This is an encounter between my God and me. . . . My God is teaching me a lesson [through you]. I do not know what it is. Maybe he wants to teach me several lessons. I only know, sirs, that you will do to me only what God wants you to do—and you will not go one inch further—because you are only an instrument of my God. Every day I saw those six pompous men as nothing more than my Father’s puppets!

Tson again:

During an early interrogation I had told an officer who was threatening to kill me, “Sir, let me explain how I see this issue. Your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. Here is how it works. You know that my sermons on tape have spread all over the country. If you kill me, those sermons will be sprinkled with my blood. Everyone will know I died for my preaching. And everyone who has a tape will pick it up and say, ‘I’d better listen again to what this man preached, because he really meant it; he sealed it with his life.’ So, sir, my sermons will speak ten times louder than before. I will actually rejoice in this supreme victory if you kill me.” After I said this, the interrogator sent me home. Another officer who was interrogating a pastor friend of mind told him, “We know that Mr. Tson would love to be a martyr, but we are not that foolish to fulfill his wish.” I stopped to consider the meaning of that statement. I remembered how for many years, I had been afraid of dying. I had kept a low profile. Because I wanted badly to live, I had wasted my life in inactivity. But now that I had placed my life on the altar and decided I was ready to die for the Gospel, they were telling me they would not kill me! I could go wherever I wanted in the country and preach whatever I wanted, knowing I was safe. As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it.

So pastors:

Let us be finished and done with puny theology that results in paltry approaches to missions in our churches.

Let us believe deeply in the sovereign God of the universe who holds the destiny of the world (and our lives) in the palm of his hand.

Let us see the hopeless state of man before God apart from Christ, and let us lead our churches to pray, to give, and to go to unreached peoples with the greatest news in all the world.

We have been saved by a graciously, globally, gloriously particular sacrifice, so let us lead our churches and let us give our lives—let’s lose them, if necessary—for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom and the accomplishment of Christ’s commission.

And let’s not stop until the slaughtered Lamb of God and sovereign Lord of all receives the full reward of his sufferings.

 
 

Apr

11

2012

Justin Taylor|6:41 pm CT

T4G Affirmations and Denials

At T4G they have played several kinetic typography videos on the Affirmations & Denials that the T4G principals drafted and distributed in April of 2006. You can read it here in three languages:

 
 

Apr

11

2012

Justin Taylor|9:40 am CT

T4G 5: Kevin DeYoung, “Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Audio of this session here.

Kevin’s next book will be The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway, August 2012). [Not sure how long this will last, but Amazon has it on pre-sale for 53% off.]

I could be wrong, but in general, I believe that for all the good that we see in the Young, Restless, Reformed movement (or the New Calvinism, or the Reformed Resurgence, or whatever you want to call it)—for all the good that I see (and there is much), I believe that there are critical elements of Christian discipleship that we are not yet known for.

We are, I believe, known for

  • our commitment to the Scriptures,
  • our commitment to expositional preaching,
  • our commitment to the doctrines of grace,
  • our commitment to biblical manhood and womanhood,
  • our commitment to the uniqueness of Christ,
  • our commitment to penal substitutionary atonement,
  • our commitment to justification by faith alone, and above all
  • our commitment to the centrality of the gospel.

All of this is to be celebrated and commended.

But there are two critical areas in which I think we need to grow: (1) a commitment to global missions and (2) a commitment to personal holiness. David Platt will speak on the former; I want to take this time to talk to you about the latter.

Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “strive for . . .  for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

The writer is talking about progressive sanctification not our positional holiness in Christ. That’s why he says “strive for holiness.” Without it, we won’t see the Lord.

As we celebrate what Christ has saved us from, we must also give thought to and make effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to.

Those most passionate about the gospel of God’s free grace should also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness.

This talk is not about why we must be holy, but how we can grow in holiness.

Thousands of people in the church feel “not very holy” and they want to move into the category of “more holy.”

What will you do and say? How will you help them get there? How will you get there?

  • Will you give them legalism?
  • Will you give them license?
  • Will you give them platitudes?
  • Will you ignore the topic altogether we are gospel people and gospel people don’t talk about personal holiness?
  • How do Christians grow in godliness?

That’s the question of this message. And here is my answer: Spirit-powered, gospel-driven, faith-fueled effort.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Paul says that he is last (v. 8) and least (v. 9), but, v. 10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Paul is not saying, “don’t judge, God made me this way.” He’s saying, “I’m an apostle by the grace of God. I may be one untimely born. I may be completely undeserving. I may not have the history that the other apostles have. But I am still an apostle by God’s grace.”

Paul says he is “working hard,” and he also says “that’s the grace of God at work within me.”

Our work is not only a response to grace, but an effect of grace.”

Two things you need to understand about the pursuit of holiness: (1) You need to work hard, and (2) God’s grace needs to work in you.

Growth in godliness requires (1) Spirit-powered, (2) gospel-driven, (3) faith-fueled (4) effort.

Sometimes we speak in generalities; good phrases—even biblical—but they can become meaningless (like sports inteviews).

“Just look to Jesus.” “Just bathe it in prayer.” “Just be soaked in the Spirit.” “Just be washed in the word.” Sure sounds clean!

So we need to unpack what ” Spirit-powered, gospel-driven, faith-fueled effort” means.

 

I. Spirit-powered

1 Peter 1:2: “sanctification of the Spirit.”

Biblical image 1: Spirit as power, not a weak little spirit (Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:9-13)

Biblical image 2: Spirit as light, revealing sin (John 16:7-11), revealing truth, revealing glory (John 16:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).

The Spirit sanctifies by revealing sin, revealing truth, and revealing glory.

When we close our eyes to this light, the Bible calls it resisting the Spirit (Acts 7:51), or quenching (1 Thess. 5:19) or grieving the Spirit (Eph. 4:30)—situations where we do not accept the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives.

The Spirit keeps flipping the light on, but do you keep running into another dark room?

II. Gospel-driven 

Everyone agrees that the pursuit of holiness must flow from the gospel.

But how exactly do good deeds grow out of good news? How does the flow work? We need to connect the dots for our people.

Two examples:

(1) The gospel drives us to godliness out of a sense of gratitude (Rom. 12:1—”in view of God’s mercies, present yourself”). A fitting response to grace. Piper: Humility + happiness from  thankfulness tend to crowd out what is coarse, ugly, or mean.  If you have anger problems or bitterness problems, you can be sure you have a gratitude problem.

(2) The gospel drives us to godliness by telling us the truth about who we are.

Certain sins become more difficult when we understand our new position in Christ.

  • If we are heirs to the whole word, why should we envy?
  • If we are God’s treasured possession, why be jealous?
  • If God is our Father, why be afraid?
  • If we are dead to sin, why live in it?
  •  If we’ve been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways?
  • If we are seated in the heavenly places, why act like the devil of hell?
  • If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world?
  • If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself?

We need to do spiritual warfare with the sword of the Spirit.

  • Remember that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
  • Remember that the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (Rom. 8:11).
  • Remember that you are a child of God, and if a child then an heir (Rom. 8:16-17).
  • Remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

Understand your identity. Embrace your identity. Be your identity.

Lady Gaga’s “born this way”—it resonates, it’s a half-truth, and it conceals a damnable lie. We resonate with the idea that “we cannot be something that we are not.” You are absolutely right—but you can be born again a different way.

III. Faith-fueled        

We are justified by faith, and, in a different sense, we are sanctified through faith.

“Sanctification by faith.” This can be a true statement, but we should be cautious about using it because we have to mean something different by the word “by” than we do with “justification by faith.” The two phrases only both work when you mean something very different by them.

In justification faith is passive (to receive and rest). In sanctification faith is active (to will and work).

We need to be so careful here!

Better to say: the pursuit of holiness is the fight of faith—fueled by belief in God’s word to us.

We believe

  • the gospel
  • what God says about our identity in Christ
  • the word of God against the lies of the devil
  • God’s promises

You can see this illustrates in the faith-fueled promises of the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:5, 8; 6:1, 4; 7:13.

The holy life is always a life of faith, (1) believing not just in our justification but (2) believing with all our hearts all that God has promised to us now and in the future, and then (3) acting as if it were really true.

IV. Effort 

Not saying

  • we do it in our own strength,
  • we do it to make ourselves right with God,
  • we get justified by faith and then it’s nothing but work as we get sanctified.

The call of Christian preaching is never to make effort at godliness apart from the power of the Spirit, the truths of the gospel, or the centrality of faith.

But  neither do the realities of Spirit, gospel, and faith eliminate the need for human effort.

“Effort” should not be a four-letter word in your theological vocabulary.

Romans 8:13 says by the Spirit we must put to death the deeds of the flesh.

Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs us to put off the old self and put on the new.

Colossians 3:5 commands us to put to death what is earthly in us.

1 Timothy 6:12 urges us to fight the good fight.

Luke 13:24 exhorts us to strive to enter the narrow gate.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 speaks of running a race and beating the body.

Philippians 3:12-14 talks of pressing on and straining forward.

2 Peter 1:5 flat out commands us to “make every effort!”

Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus says the reward of eternal life goes to those who conquer and overcome.

As gospel Christians, we should not be afraid of striving, fighting, and working.

Ryle: “The child of God has two great marks about him: he is known for his inner warfare and his inner peace.”

Calvin: “As it is an arduous work and of immense labor to put off the corruption which is in us, he bids us to strive and make every effort for this purpose. He intimates that no place is to be given in this case to sloth, and that we ought to obey God calling us, not slowly or carelessly, but that there is need of alacrity; as though he had said, ‘Put forth every effort, and make your exertions manifest to all.’”

Hodge: “In the work of regeneration, the soul is passive. It cannot cooperate in the communication of spiritual life. But in conversion, repentance, faith, and growth in grace, all its powers are called into exercise. As, however, the effects produced transcend the efficiency of our fallen nature, and are due to the agency of the Spirit, sanctification does not cease to be supernatural, or a work of grace, because the soul is active and cooperating in the process.”

Monergism v. synergism is not the right debate for sanctification. That has to do with regeneration.

Bavinck: “Granted, in the first place [sanctification] is a work and gift of God (Phil 1:5; 1 Thess. 5:23), a process in which humans are passive just as they are in regeneration, of which it is the continuation. But based on this work of God in humans, it acquires, in the second place, an active meaning, and people themselves are called and equipped to sanctify themselves and devote their whole life to God. . . .”

We don’t just say “get more gripped by the gospel.” We also need to work. We don’t hold to Keswick’s “let go and let God.” Sanctification is not by surrender but by divinely enabled toil and effort.

V.  Applying this to ourselves and to our people.

 To ourselves. 

Being a pastor is hard work.

Colossians 1:28-29: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

People should see in us an example of faithful toil.

What about workaholics? Family neglect? Lack of sleep? We can’t work too hard (just like you can’t be too gospel-centered or too focused on grace). But we can work in the wrong way (just like we can be gospel obliterating or have a one-dimensional view of grace). We can work in an imbalanced way (or not work hard at resting or turning away from emails or saying no to requests).

No one is in danger of working too hard—but we can be working very foolishly. You need to work hard at resting, at not being distracted, at being present when you come home in the evening, to guard your day off. Working 80 hours a week as a pastor is not hard work—working 60 is. It’s easy to be a lazy workaholic.

 To our people.

I think many of us are getting scared to tell people to do some stuff—and not do some stuff. The Bible is full of lots of texts telling God’s people to do things (Great Commission—teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus!).

I don’t meet any hardcore antinomianisms (against the law). But plaguing some of our churches could be nomophobia (afraid of the third use of the law). But law came after gospel. Ten commandments after deliverance.

If you preach on David and Bathsheba and never say anything about great David’s greater Son who succeed for David failed, then you aren’t connecting the dots.

But if you preach on David and Bathsheba and don’t say anything about adultery and sexual sin and how the thing David had done displeased the Lord, then you aren’t preaching the text. It ends: “the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

Luke 18: the parable is told so that they won’t stop praying and will not lose heart. There’s a legalistic way to lay into people about this—it’s easy to do. Everyone feels guilty for everything you’re talking about. But as an alternative, the climax of a sermon on prayerlessness ends with forgiveness. There are lots of things to motivate us in the text (elect, God as father, faith).

Preach not just the content, but the mood of the text.

You cannot assume that everyone in your church needs a kick in the pants—or a hug. Preach the text!

Making an effort to be holy is not somehow sub-gospel.

The gospel is the good news about salvation. And salvation is in three tenses—it’s about God saving you

  • from wrath
  • unto holiness
  • for glory.

Don’t give people half a Savior—half of the grace of God. When we get to obedience we are still talking about grace—the grace that will change you.

Benediction from Hebrews 13:20-21:

    Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Rock of Ages:

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood,

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure;

save from wrath and make me pure.

With faith in the gospel, the power of the Spirit, and the grace of God at work within us, we will be teaching pigs to fly.

But without the biblical exhortation to effort we’ll be confused, wondering why sanctification isn’t automatically flowing from a heartfelt commitment to gospel-drenched justification. We’ll be waiting around for enough faith to really “get the gospel” when God wants us to get up and get to work (Phil 2:11-12).

When it comes to sanctification, we need to understand two points: (1) holiness does not happen apart from trusting, and (2) trusting does not put an end to trying.

 
 

Apr

11

2012

Justin Taylor|8:27 am CT

T4G 4: Thabiti Anyabwile, “Will Your Gospel Transform a Terrorist?” (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

The greatest hindrance to the gospel is the Christian’s lack of confidence in the gospel itself.

Is there any obvious, compelling marks in your life revealing a deep and unshakeable confidence in the power of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ?

More specifically, do you have confidence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is enough to transform the people who seem to you the farthest away, with the hardest heart toward the Lord?

Do we underestimate the gospel’s ability to change what we think are the worst or sinners, the hardest hearts?

The title of my sermon refers to “terrorists.”  Many of us have particular images that flash to mind when we hear or read that word.  But don’t just think of the dominant stereotype.  Try to get in mind the person(s) that provoke fear in your heart, the person you’re tempted to view as unreachable.  It could be the imagined Muslim terrorist detonating bombs in civilian marketplaces or the radical Hindu burning down churches.  Or, it could be the prostitute down the street, the drug dealer in that neighborhood, or uncle Clint the violent alcoholic.  It could be Mrs. Hatcher, your third grade teacher, or Granny Jones who used to kiss you with that hairy mustache.  Fix that person in your mind and ask: Am I confident—down in my bones with Romans 1:16 styled unashamedness—that the gospel of Jesus Christ will transform this person?

Is Romans 1:16 really our boast?  Is that boast obvious in our lives and ministries?  If not, what do we need to do?  How do we need to repent of our unbelief?

 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

1. The Great Change in One Terrorist’s Life (1 Tim. 1:12-13)

Paul begins his instruction by calling Timothy to deal with false teaching and false teachers (vv. 3-4).

This falsehood is destroying faith and Christian witness (vv. 5-7).

This turn from the truth to the Law is contrary to the intended audience of the Law (vv. 9-10), contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which [God] entrusted to [Paul]” (vv. 10-11).

When Paul mentions “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” entrusted to him, the mention of the gospel has a certain effect on him.  We’ve all had the experience of driving along in our cares when “our song” comes on the radio.  No matter what we’re doing, we’re instantly transported back to the time and the frame of mind when the song first became “our song.”  The glorious gospel of the blessed God is Paul’s song and it takes him back.

Verses 12-13 give us a dramatic “before and after” testimony-portrait of the apostle.

The After Picture

Verse 12: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service.”

The Before Picture

Verse 13—”once. . . “  “Even though I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. . . ”

When first meet Paul as Saul. See Acts 7:54-8:3; 9:1-2; 22:4; 26:9-11.

Three Questions

1.1. Why do you suppose Paul remembers these things he once was so vividly?

Sin had left its crimson stain.  Sometime the deeper the sin the deeper the remembrance.

1.2. Why do you suppose Paul threw himself so fully into what appears as such a demonic and destructive course to us? 

In a word, Paul was lost.

We can define “lostness” as convinced blindness and misdirected love resulting in eternal damnation.

We don’t tend to use this word that much anymore. What happens when Christians lose certain words key for gospel understanding?  When we lose words we also lose the ideas and meanings for which the words were containers.

  • We lose the necessity of repentance (because no one is seen as going in the wrong direction).
  • We lose the necessity of substitution (because man only needs to reform himself).
  • We lose the love-worthy majesty of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (because other loves are seen as more satisfying—especially in this right now, gotta have it, materialistic and worldly life).
  • We lose wrath and hell (because man isn’t at enmity with God if man is not lost; he’s simply on a journey, a seeker, and it would be cruel of God to be angry with or to eternally judge people doing their best to make their way).
  • We lose missions and evangelism (because no one really needs to be saved from anything if they’re not willfully blind with misdirected affections).

Lose “lostness” and you lose the whole shootin’ match.

1.3. What caused Paul’s great change?

The gospel.

2. The Great Cause of Paul’s Change (1 Tim. 1:14-16)

2.1. Paul Tells Us the Gospel Supplied His Need.

Verse 13: “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”

Verse 14: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

All that he lacked was now supplied in Christ. All that had ruined him was renewed in Christ.

2.2. Paul Tells Us the Gospel Is Trustworthy.

Verse 15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”  The cookies are on the button shelf; this is a neon sign. “Put your confidence HERE!” It’s trustworthy, and it’s all here in one sentence:

  • Christ—a chosen Messiah, an anointed one from God
  • Jesus—the historical and eternal Son of God
  • Came into the world—from where? (glory) How? (the Incarnation)
  • To Save—Salvation, and implied damnation and wrath
  • Sinners—all of Adam’s posterity need this

3.3. Paul Tells Us the Gospel Reaches the Worst and He Is Simply an Example.

The gospel comes to the worst of sinners. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”  Paul is just an example meant to inspire others to believe.  Verse 16: “For this very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners. Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

What Would Confidence in the Gospel Look Like?

9 marks:

(1) We would be around the worst of sinners looking for gospel opportunities.  We would strategically place ourselves in locations and times conducive to gospel conversation.

(2) We would share the gospel slowly and clearly.  If the gospel does the work, then we only need to release it.  Are we trying to release the gospel or are we trying to help it out?

(3) We would redirect our fears from man to God.  We would fear being unfaithful more than we would fear being unfruitful.  Fruitfulness lies in God’s hands; faithfulness lies in ours.  It is required of stewards that we be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

(4) We would endeavor to preach the gospel in every sermon.  On what Sunday do expect there will be no lost people in your congregation?  On what Sunday do you think Christians can go without hearing the gospel?  If the Good News is our confidence then we will show that by legitimately working from every text of Scripture to Christ and to the gospel.  Our manner of preaching should say every Sunday, “My confidence is in the Good News.”  Our lack of confidence will likely show itself in a desire to say a lot of things other than the gospel.

(5) We would be careful with new converts and with our evangelistic methods. It’s tempting to see Paul’s sudden and dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road as paradigmatic for all conversions.  Many, if not most, of the conversions in the NT appear to us like gradual dawnings of truth on the minds and hearts of the lost. Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament, p. 5:

The implications of this insight became quickly apparent.  In its evangelistic work the church has sought to replicate in others what happened to St. Paul: a sudden, point-in-time transformation based on an encounter with Jesus.  Thus evangelism has focused on a single issue: accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior now, at this moment in time.  It was assumed that all people at every moment in time were able to answer the question: “Will you accept Jesus?”  There was little room for those still on the way in understanding who Jesus is.  Evangelistic methods were geared around producing instantaneous “decisions for Christ.”  Mass rallies ended with a call to come forward and make a decision for Jesus.  Visitation evangelism dialogues were designed to confront people with the need to accept Jesus at this moment in time, lest they die and not go to heaven.  Tracts were written that always ended with a prayer of commitment.  Certainly the impulse behind such efforts was and is positive.  Concerned Christian men and women long for others to enter into the kind of life-changing experience of Jesus they themselves have had.  But these evangelistic methodologies are derived from an understanding that the  model for conversion is what happened to St. Paul.  To confront people with the need to decide in a moment for Jesus is derived from a punctiliar understanding of conversion.

Ask, “Do I need to see something happen in order to bolster my confidence that the gospel worked?”

(6) Study the gospel in deeper and more varied ways.  Take one aspect of the gospel per month—justice, wrath, substitution, joy, forgiveness, etc.  Search the scriptures for the entirety of that month peering into the gospel indicatives and imperatives regarding that theme.

(7) We would preach in order to open eyes, not just transfer information (Acts 26:18). We need to bring insight that leads to turning and forgiveness of sins and eternal lives.

(8) Ask, “Is my confidence in myself (e.g., my preparation, delivery, eloquence, wisdom ) or in the power of the gospel itself?” 

(9) Preach in a way that relies on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:5, “so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

3. The Great Celebration that Results from the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:17)

Verse 17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever, amen.”