Here are a few of the books we’ve been given so far at The Gospel Coalition:
Which ones do you want to see reviewed? Which do you would you want me to give away?
Here are a few of the books we’ve been given so far at The Gospel Coalition:
Which ones do you want to see reviewed? Which do you would you want me to give away?
I’m in Chicago today for The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference and I’m super-excited. Here’s D.A. Carson and Tim Keller talking about the big idea of this year’s event:
Look for updates throughout the day!
Also, if you weren’t able to make it to the conference, Desiring God is live streaming all the plenary sessions at DesiringGod.org beginning at 2 p.m. CDT. I hope you’ll be able to tune in!
A personal testimony does not replace a biblical proclamation about Jesus, but it is an important complement. And it requires that we have a close relationship with the Lord. If we are not excited about God’s Word, if we are not warmed by close fellowship with God, and if we are not humbled by Christ’s suffering on the cross for our sins, we will not be very effective witnesses. Yet it is essential that we be able to give such a witness. MacArthur is right when he says:
Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual…. In the overwhelming majority of [new believers' testimonies], they tell us they came to Christ primarily because of the testimony of a coworker, a neighbor, a relative, or a friend…. There’s no question that the most effective means for bringing people to Christ is one at a time, on an individual basis.
Between [Peter and Andrew] we see the two main kinds of witnesses God provides in the church: the public preaching of the Word and the personal testimony of individual Christians. Every church needs a Peter who will preach the gospel publicly, and God greatly uses faithful preaching. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, when three thousand people believed on Christ, is one such example. But as important as preaching is, it is at least as necessary that a church have a legion of Andrews: those who bring people to Jesus one by one through their heartfelt testimonies.
Richard D. Phillips, Jesus the Evangelist (Kindle Edition, location 573)
[T]here were many who saw Jesus and did not see the glory of God. They saw a glutton and a drunkard (Matt. 11:19). They saw Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Matt. 10:25; 12:24). They saw an impostor (Matt. 27:63). “Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear” (Matt. 13:13). The glory of God in the life and ministry of Jesus was not the blinding glory that we will see when he comes the second time with “his face . . . like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev. 1:16; cf. Luke 9:29). His glory, in his first coming, was the incomparably exquisite array of spiritual, moral, intellectual, verbal, and practical perfections that manifest themselves in a kind of meek miracle-working and unanswerable teaching and humble action that set Jesus apart from all men.
What I am trying to express here is that the glory of Christ, as he appeared among us, consisted not in one attribute or another, and not in one act or another, but in what Jonathan Edwards called “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies…” These excellencies are so diverse that they “would have seemed to us utterly incompatible in the same subject.” In other words,
The list could go on and on. But this is enough to illustrate that beauty and excellency in Christ is not a simple thing. It is complex. It is a coming together in one person of the perfect balance and proportion of extremely diverse qualities. And that’s what makes Jesus Christ uniquely glorious, excellent, and admirable. The human heart was made to stand in awe of such ultimate excellence. We were made to admire Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself, pp. 51-53
Over the last few weeks, since Justin Taylor brought everyone’s attention to the trailer for Rob Bell’s new book, there’s been a good deal of debate, discussion… and a bit of name calling. Bell’s been making the rounds with the media, including a story in USA Today, a live webcast with Newsweek editor Lisa Miller, and even a stop with Martin Bashir at MSNBC.
Particularly in the last two events cited, it’s been fascinating to see how Bell reacts to pointblank questions. Lisa Miller asked him outright if he was a liberal mainline Protestant posing as an Evangelical, stating that everything he’s writing in this book has been said in the mainline denominations for the last 50 or 60 years. And he squirms for a moment before answering that he believes he’s totally an Evangelical and orthodox. And while some might think that Bashir was being uncharitable, he took the opportunity to ask the hard questions that many have been wanting to ask Bell for years, giving him ample opportunity to clarify. Again, he squirms and fails to ever give a simple or straight answer, which is incredibly frustrating.
Regardless of where you stand on the Rob Bell-arama of the last month, whether you’re for or against what he’s teaching, a question we all should be asking is, “What good is going to come of all of this?”
My wife and I have been talking about this since for weeks now and she made much the same point as Kevin DeYoung in his monster review/response:
Love Wins has ignited such a firestorm of controversy because it’s the current fissure point for a larger fault-line. As younger generations come up against an increasingly hostile cultural environment, they are breaking in one of two directions—back to robust orthodoxy (often Reformed) or back to liberalism. The neo-evangelical consensus is cracking up. Love Wins is simply one of many tremors.
This point is bang on. There is incredible division underlying the whole evangelical movement and this is only going to make it more evident. Because the place of the Bible within corporate worship and within the lives of so many of us has been downplayed in favor of entertainment or having a good experience, we’ve forgotten what it says, why it matters and who is in authority over us (that’s Jesus, if you’re wondering where I stand on that).
So as this divide becomes more and more evident, here are a few positive things that I can see coming:
1. People will eventually have to put their cards on the table. As Jared Wilson put it well, “Thanks to the inevitable picking of sides, we get to see who aligns with heterodox views and who doesn’t.” This will actually help us all to understand how to talk to one another if we actually want to have meaningful dialogue, as many profess is their desire.
2. People will learn the difference between asking questions and questioning. This, ultimately,has to do with motivation. If asking questions about essential doctrines is based on a desire to understand how they came to be and why they matter, it’s a good and God-honoring thing. If questions come unceasingly and answers are never accepted, perhaps there’s something more going on than wanting to know the answer.
3. Doctrinal clarity will emerge. Heresy and scandal have had a way of helping the Church come to a clear position on the key doctrines of the faith. It happened with Athanasius and Arius over the eternality of Christ. It happened with Augustine and Pelagius over the sinful nature of man and our ability to attain salvation on our own. It happened with Marcion and his dualistic view of God that ultimately led to the solidifying of the biblical canon. These weren’t mere dialogues over different perspectives. They were efforts to contend for “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This debate opens the door for the Church to regain a robust understanding of, and appreciation for, the essentials of the faith and an opportunity for us to repent of being like the church at Pergamum and turning a blind eye to the false teaching in our midst (cf. Rev. 2:14-15). The Christian faith, if we really believe it’s true, is worth contending for and conforming to.
That, in a nutshell, is the good that I hope will come from the Bell brouhaha. How about you?
This is a fascinating interview with Mark Driscoll and Dr. Andrew Jackson, one of the foremost authorities on biblical history in the country of Turkey.
In the first video, Dr. Jackson explains the history and importance of the city of Ephesus:
In the second, Dr. Jackson discusses the seven churches of Revelation:
The interviews above are well worth your time and provided some particularly interesting nuggets for me. For example, the order of the seven churches listed in Revelation 2:1-3:22 is deliberately organized for the travel circuit through each region is a very helpful bit of information as it means there was a specific reason for why the books were placed in the order they were.
Most of all, the videos remind me just how important the study of history is to our understanding of Scripture. Archaeological expeditions allow us to get a much better sense of what the culture was like, to see some of the remains of the cities where the gospel first went forward and bring believer today that much closer to our earliest counterparts.
And it’s all the more reason to give thanks.
Do you look into archaeological expeditions of biblical sites? If so, what’s been the most interesting you’ve learned?
A great excerpt from Mark Driscoll’s message from the Advance09 conference:
The full length video is available below & is well worth spending an hour or so watching. In it, Driscoll asks 11 questions about ministry idolatry:
Dear Song Leader,
You have a tough job. You’ve been tasked with leading the congregation in song, choosing music that flows with the sermon to be preached and is actually enjoyable.
And everybody has an opinion on what “enjoyable” means.
There are some songs that are just offensive to my taste. There are some songs that are just impossible for me to sing because I’m a guy and the key is just too high (and I can’t pull off the skinny jeans that could make it possible to hit those high notes). I don’t like songs that go on for seven minutes when they have six words.
And I don’t like Hillsong United.
Truthfully, I could go the rest of my days without ever hearing another one of their songs and die a happy man. Because honestly, I doubt we’ll be singing any of their material in Heaven—not even “Mighty to Save.”
That’s my taste—and it’s something I am trying to get over every time I hear one of their songs. My taste is not what’s important. What’s important is that our songs are pleasing to Christ and communicating truth about Him and praise to Him.
Song leaders, I have a request:
Challenge us when we sing.
I’m not saying that you need to start rocking the classic hymns. (Although you could. They communicate the truths of the gospel in a way that many modern songs simply don’t even come close.)
I’m not saying put Romans 8 to music, or write a song that goes through the doctrines of grace or advocates for the free will of man in salvation (if such is your theological position).
I’m asking you to make us think deeply when we sing. Make us think deeply about what we’re singing. Confront us with our sin.
Help us rejoice in our salvation.
A couple years back, Piper was asked, “what could unravel the gospel-centered movement?”
His answer was insightful: The disconnect between the majesty of God and the way we entertain ourselves.
“There’s an awakening to the majesty of God around the country, a filling of hearts with God-centered, Christ-exalted, Bible-saturated songs . . . a zeal for truth and biblical doctrine . . . and I’m concerned that there’s a disconnect between the big thoughts of God and how we live our daily lives.”
I’ve been thinking hard about this for the last few days. Am I inconsistent in how I entertain myself? Probably. Am I seeking to be more consistent? I hope so.
If anything is going to be offensive about how I live, I want it to be the gospel.
How about you?
HT: Justin Taylor
A few weeks ago, Dustin Neeley sat down with Mark Driscoll to talk about what encourages and concerns him about young Christian leaders. Here’s the video:
(HT: The Resurgence)
In the video, Driscoll points out a couple of things he finds encouraging:
He also notes the following concerns, specifically in regard to what’s been called the Young, Restless & Reformed/New Calvinism:
Neeley asks viewers to consider the following questions in light of these encouragements and concerns:
“Where do I fall on the spectrum he describes?” and “What changes do I need to make to become more balanced?”
I don’t know about you, but here’s where I fall:
I absolutely love Jesus, the Church and the Bible and want to consistently be a better witness to Christ in my city (although I fail constantly). However, when I look at those concerns listed above, there are a number of things that caught my attention—not necessarily because I’m guilty of them (constantly), but the propensity is there.
It’s easy to develop convictions about what you’re against, for example, in the name of discernment. It’s a lot harder to develop strongly held convictions about what you’re for.
And it’s even harder to strongly hold to your convictions with humility.
This is where I’m learning that an increasing dependence on the Holy Spirit to work in and through me—both to make me more like Christ and (where necessary) speak words of correction—is so essential.
When I’m not actively depending on the Holy Spirit to guide my words, thoughts and actions, it usually goes bad. I’ll say the right thing the wrong way or I’ll say the wrong thing altogether.
Becoming balanced means being immersed in the Word.
Becoming balanced means cultivating a consistent prayer life.
Becoming balanced means becoming dependent on the Holy Spirit.
God, help me.
Back in September, Alistair Begg joined us at the Toronto Pastors’ Fellowship and shared the message, Preaching Between Two Worlds, from Ecclesiastes 12:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Begg also engaged in an enlightening Q&A with Pastor Paul Martin.
Powerful messages for preachers and wannabe preachers in these videos.
Take some time to chew on them today as you go about your day.
I was done. I’d had enough.
I didn’t want to go to church anymore.
At the time, we were going to a very big church that would probably be best characterized as seeker-sensitive in its ministry model. Top-notch band; comfortable setting; short topical messages; the works. Lots of people were coming, a new multi-million dollar facility was just being completed and there was a lot of excitement in the congregation.
But I was miserable.
There wasn’t anything going on that was bad per se, but… something was off.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” as they say.
Except in this case, it was me.
Every week, it was the same. I would pray that God would give me contentment. I would come, Bible open, ready to hear the message; I would listen, seeking to find that one thing that might be what I needed to hear… but there was nothing.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Eventually, I stopped caring.
And it didn’t matter if I went or not. Heck, sometimes the days when we called in “Bedside Baptist” (ie skipped) were the most fruitful for me. Not necessarily because I was spending huge amounts of time in private worship; I just wasn’t ticked off about something.
So yeah, I was done.
But I was wrong.
See, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to church anymore—it’s that I couldn’t be a part of the church I was attending anymore. Continue Reading…
In the above video, Pastors Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever and James MacDonald speak of the challenge of engaging in personal evangelism as pastors who spend a great deal of time with Christians. The dialogue is quite intriguing and well worth spending a few minutes watching.
After you’ve watched the video, consider the following questions:
HT: Colin Hansen