“Who Am I that I Should Have Been the Object of His Mercy?”

C.J. Mahaney is the founding pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland and the author of several books including Humility: True Greatness.

His testimony is a powerful testimony to God’s grace in saving the ill-deserving.

Sermon Audio: True and False Worship

On Sunday, July 11th, I once again had the opportunity to preach at Poplar Hill Christian Church in Poplar Hill, Ontario. The message is from Romans 1:18-25, True and False Worship.

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The abbreviated transcript follows for those who need/prefer:

The last time I was here, I spoke on obedience and how obedience—to God’s Word, for His Glory—is the evidence of the Christian life. That message has weighed heavily on me since I was last here and as I’ve examined my own life in light of it, I’ve been left with a question: If obedience is the evidence of what we worship, who or what am I worshipping? Is it God or something else?

What we’re going to discover together is this:

Because God is the only One worthy of our praise, we must examine our lives and discover who or what we truly worship. [Read more...]

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Rule of Service

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
John 12:26

So you are proposing to yourself that you will serve Christ, are you? You are a young man, as yet you have plenty of vigor and strength, and you say to yourself, “I will serve Christ in some remarkable way; I will seek to make myself a scholar, I will try to learn the art of oratory, and I will in some way or other glorify my Lord’s name by the splendor of my language.”

Will you, dear friend? Is it not better, if you are going to serve Christ, to ask him what he would like you to do?

Now listen: Your Lord and Master does not bid you become either a scholar or an orator in order to serve him. Both of those things may happen . . . but first of all he says, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.”

This is what Christ prefers beyond anything else, that his servants should follow him. If we do that, we shall serve him in the way which is according to his own choice. . . .

What does the Savior mean by bidding us render to him our best service by following him?

[F]irst, I understand by these words that we are to follow Christ by believing his doctrine.

Our Lord says, practically, “If any anyone serves me, let him follow me as Teacher; let him sit at my feet, let him learn of me.” . . . [Christ] has come to be the Teacher of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and it is only by teaching the truths which he has made known, and by publishing the message which he has revealed, that you can really be his servant. . . .

[N]ext, I think that the text means, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me by obeying my commands.”

 If you want truly to serve Christ, do not do what you suggest to yourself, but do what he commands you. Remember what Samuel said to Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” . . .

 [T]hirdly, I think that by these words our Lord means, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me by imitating my example.”

It is always safe, dear friends, to do what Christ would have done under the same circumstances in which you are placed. . . . [T]he ordinary life of Christ is in every respect an example to us. Never do what you could not suppose Christ would have done. If it strikes you that the course of action that is suggested to you would be un-Christly, then it is un-Christian, for the Christian is to be like Christ. . . .

Once more, I think the Savior means this: “If anyone serves me, let him follow me by clinging to my cause.”

Cling to the cause of Christ, dear friend, give yourself to that kingdom for which you are taught to pray, and be ready to make any sacrifice whatever that you may advance and extend it.

Yea, throw your whole self into the holy service of your Lord; make the name of Christ to be more widely known, and the cause of Christ to be further extended among the sons of men. Cling to the cause of Christ, and so carry out his own words, “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” . . .

If any man will serve Christ, let him follow Christ.

Let him put his foot down as nearly as he can where Christ put his foot down; let him tread in Christ’s steps, and be moved by his spirit, actuated by his motives, live with his aim, and copy his actions. This is the noblest way in which to serve the Lord.

From the sermon The Rule and Reward of Serving Christ, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, June 27th, 1889

Sermon Audio: Obedience – The Fruitful Life

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more about “Obedience – The Fruitful Life“, posted with vodpod

On Sunday May 30, 2010, I had the privilege of preaching at Poplar Hill Christian Church in Poplar Hill, Ontario. Our time together was spent in Matthew 7:24-27, where we looked at the meaning and implications of Jesus’ statement at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

An MP3 is also available.

The sermon’s manuscript follows: [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (05/30)

Does a Sermon Really Change Anybody?

Zach Eswine wrote a short post on the effectiveness and importance of preaching. I felt very ministered to reading it:

Sometimes we may feel there is no point in preaching because we do not see the kinds of changes in our hearers or ourselves that we had hoped for. . . .

All is not lost when the after-sermon desert offers no water.This moment may have been meant to prepare some for what they have yet to face. It may be meant to call out to others months from  now when they are more heedless or needy than they are today.

It may serve as one more evidence of the hardness of one’s heart. It may serve as one more piece in a puzzle God is putting together for another–the picture will not complete for some time, but completeness will not happen without the corner-piece offered by the sermon today. Those who are changed seemingly in a moment by your sermon today have had multiple moments of God’s working prior. Take heart. There is seed there though it lay beneath the ground. Step out into the barren field dear friend, and pray for His rain to fall.

Read the whole thing

HT: Justin Taylor

In Other News

Prayer Request: I’m preaching today at Poplar Hill Christian Church in Poplar Hill, Ontario. We’re studying Matthew 7:24-27. Please pray that God would bless this time. Thanks!

Interview: Justin Taylor interviews Tullian Tchvidjian on the Gospel and Law

Food: The Most Harmful Drinks in America

Conferences: Desiring God has released the trailer for the Desiring God 2010 National Conference. Here’s a look:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Ted Kluck’s latest, Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood

Selling Ointment and Stealing Moneybags (why, perhaps, we’re not actually called to end poverty)

A word about my anniversary

Who influences you?

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Rule and Reward of Serving Christ

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
John 12:26

You cannot have Christ if you will not serve him.

If you take Christ, you must take him in all his characters, not only as Friend, but also as Master; and if you are to become his disciple, you must also become his servant.

I hope that no one here kicks against that truth Surely it is one of our highest delights on earth to serve our Lord, and this is to be our blessed employment even in heaven itself:

“His servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face.”

This thought also enters into our idea of salvation; to be saved, means that we are rescued from the slavery of sin, and brought into the delightful liberty of the servants of God. O Master, thou art such a glorious Lord that serving thee is perfect freedom, and sweetest rest! Thou hast told us that it should be so, and we have found it so.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

We do find it so; and it is not as though rest were a separate thing from service, the very service itself becomes rest to our souls. I know not how some of us would have any rest on earth if we could not employ our daily lives in the service of Christ; and the rest of heaven is never to be pictured as idleness, but as constantly being permitted the high privilege of serving the Lord.

Learn hence, then, all of you who would have Christ as your Savior, that you must be willing to serve him.

We are not saved by service, but we are saved to service. When we are once saved, thenceforward we live in the service of our Lord.

If we refuse to be his servants, we are not saved, for we still remain evidently the servants of self, and the servants of Satan.

Holiness is another name for salvation; to be delivered from the power of self-will, and the domination of evil lusts, and the tyranny of Satan,—this is salvation.

Those who would be saved must know that they will have to serve Christ, and those who are saved rejoice that they are serving him, and that thus they are giving evidence of a change of heart and renewal of mind.

Come, beloved, and when the text says, “If any man serve me,” let each of us read his own name there, and let us say, “Yes, I would serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

If we cannot read our own name there as yet, let us pray God that we may first believe in Jesus unto eternal life, and then, receiving that eternal life, may spend the full force and strength of it in his service.

From the sermon The Rule and Reward of Serving Christ, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, June 27th, 1889

Jesus Finds Wrecked People

An exerpt from Mark Driscoll’s recent sermon, Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, from Luke 7:11-17. The edited transcript follows:

Jesus finds wrecked people.

That’s what he does. That’s our Jesus. God comes to earth as the man Jesus Christ, and he goes looking for absolutely wrecked people, people on the worst day of their whole life.

Luke says it this way: “He went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out.” Do you feel that?

Read these lines, “The only son of his mother, and,” what? “She was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had,” what? “Compassion on her.” Compassion on her.

This is a devastating day.

This is a wrecked woman. [Read more...]

Martyn Lloyd Jones: The Peculiar Task of the Church

[T]he primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy. I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information, she does bring them happiness, she does make them good and better than they were.

But my point is that those are not her primary objectives.

Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God.

This really does need to be emphasised at the present time, because this, it sees to me, is the essence of the modern fallacy.

It has come into the Church and it is influencing the thinking of many in the Church—this notion that the business of the Church is to make people happy, or to integrate their lives, or to relieve their circumstances and improve their conditions. My whole case it that to do that is just to palliate the symptoms, to give temporary ease, and that it does not get beyond that.

I am not saying that it is a bad thing to palliate symptoms; it is not, and it is obviously right and good to do so. But I am constrained to say this, that though to palliate symptoms, or to relieve them, is not bad in and of itself, it can be bad, it can have a bad influence, and a bad effect, from the standpoint of the biblical understanding of man and his needs. It can become harmful in this way, that by palliating the symptoms you can conceal the real disease. . . .

The business of the Church, and the business of preaching—and she alone can do this—is to isolate the radical problems and to deal with them in a radical manner.

This is specialist work, it is the peculiar task of the Church.

The church is not one of a number of agencies, she is not in competition with the cults, she is not in competition with other religions, she is not in competition with the psychologists or any other agency, political or social or whatever it may chance to be.

The church is a special and a specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 30-32 (paragraph breaks and emphasis added)

The Kingdom is About Jesus

A challenging excerpt from Mark Driscoll’s sermon, The Beatitudes, Part 1 from Luke 6:17-36. Watch the video or read the transcript below:

The kingdom of God is not about getting. That’s what Jesus is saying. It’s not about getting wealth. It’s not about getting power. It’s not about getting comfort. It’s not about getting fame. And the kingdom of God is not about doing. It’s not what you do so that God will be pleased with you.

The kingdom ultimately is about being.

It’s about being in relationship with God.

And there are two ways that some will teach you to work out the counterculture kingdom ethic of Jesus.

One is absolute nonsense, religious garbage that arouses anger as I travel throughout this land, and I see Muslims, Jews, and Jack Christians who are religious, worshiping places, worshiping people, identifying themselves by their performance, and their power, and their prestige, and their prosperity. This is no holy land! This is a very unholy land! This is among the most unholy lands on the nation of the earth! The idolatry is steep and deep!

It’s just like the days when Jesus went to the temple, and absolutely was filled with fury. There is a righteous anger in the heart of God over those who would pilgrimage here, and cut in line for food, and steal, and cheat, and download porno in their hotel, and flirt with others, and follow ridiculous religious rituals, and then talk about the holy land. It’s not about the holy land. It’s about the holy king, and the holy kingdom, and repentant people by grace being connected to him, and being conformed to him.

The kingdom is not about going somewhere, but about belonging to Someone.

And so for us, it is never a place, it is a person, and the center of our faith is Jesus. [Read more...]

Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – Lessons from The Gospel Coalition 2010 Conference

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, I had the privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition’s first ever Canadian conference featuring D.A. Carson and Mike Bullmore as the keynote speakers.

Dr. Carson kicked off the conference with the message Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – The Need for the Gospel Coalition.

He began with by giving us a bit of background on how the Gospel Coalition came together as he and Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian came together and realized they’d been reflecting on something similar: The centrality of the gospel was being lost in evangelicalism. “Today, people do what is right in their own eyes—with the gospel becom[ing] something assumed rather than central,” lamented Carson. The Gospel Coalition came together out of a desire “to be robust about Scripture [and] to hold up the centrality of the gospel.” And this is of the greatest import for those of us living in “the last days.”

While some have indulged in “a feeding frenzy of speculation over the end times,” Carson reminded us that, “The last days refer to the entire period between Christ’s ascension and second coming. Whether it’s three weeks or three thousand years is irrelevant. . . . All authority has been given to Jesus, and while it’s contested, the kingdom has still come. The old is passing away.”

This led to a study of 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8, first asking, “What does Paul see in the last days?” [Read more...]

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Faith Creates a Prompt Obedience

Genuine faith in God creates a prompt obedience.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed.”There was an immediate response to the command. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

I wish some Christians, who put off duty, would remember this. Continued delay of duty is a continuous sin. If I do not obey the divine command, I sin; and every moment that I continue in that condition, I repeat the sin.

This is a serious matter. If a certain act is my duty at this hour, an I leave it undone, I have sinned; but it will be equally incumbent upon me during the next hour; and if I still refuse, I disobey again and so on till I do obey. Neglect of a standing command must grow very grievous if it be persisted in for years.

In proportion as the conscience becomes callous upon the subject, the guilt becomes the more provoking to the Lord. To refuse to do right is a great evil; but to continue in that refusal till conscience grows numb upon the matter is far worse. . . .

Obedience is for the present tense: it must be prompt, or it is nothing. Obedience respects the time of the command as much as any other part of it.

To hesitate is to be disloyal.

To halt and consider whether you will obey or not, is rebellion in the germ.

If thou believest in the living God unto eternal life, thou wilt be quick to do thy Lord’s bidding, even as a maid hearkens to her mistress. Thou wilt not be as the horse, which needs whip and spur; thy love will do more for thee than compulsion could do for slaves. Thou wilt have wings to thy heels to hasten thee along the way of obedience. “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, from the sermon The Obedience of Faith, delivered on August 21st, 1890, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

The Default Mode of the Human Heart

A thought-provoking clip from Mark Driscoll’s recent sermon Jesus the Sabbath Lord:

At Mars Hill, I wrote this down, I think the campuses that are most susceptible to religion and to legalism are the Federal Way Campus, the Olympia Campus, the West Seattle Campus, the Bellevue Campus, the Lake City Campus, the Shoreline Campus, and the Albuquerque Campus ‘cause it’s steeped, that whole city is, in Catholicism. I’ll go on record and say it. Legalism and religion are real threats to the health and well-being of those campuses.

Now for Ballard, Downtown, and the UW Campuses, the real threat and risk is reverse legalism. “Oh, they don’t drink? We’re gonna drink. Oh, they don’t smoke? We’ll smoke a pack a day to show our freedom in Christ.” Right? “Oh, they tithe, we’re not gonna tithe. That’s how free in Christ we are. Oh, they serve, well, we’re not any of that kind of works theology, we have a nap theology. We sleep like Calvinists. We don’t do anything, Jesus said, ‘It’s finished.’ So we’re done. Oh, they read their Bible every day, oh, that’s a lot.

Yeah, we don’t have a list like that, yeah, we’re not legalists. We don’t read the Bible at all. Don’t want to get all religious, read a book or pray or serve or care or give. We’re free in Christ. Anybody see my pants? I go to the Ballard campus,” right? We can be total reverse legalists. “Oh, that church doesn’t use instruments, we got a punk band, yee-haw, thank you, Jesus,” right?

And we can just be reverse legalists, and we could appoint ourselves as judges. We could judge all the religious people, and we could condemn them, and we could feel holier than they are because they’re trying so hard, and we don’t do anything. [Read more...]

Does Every Sermon Have to be About Jesus?

Recently, John Piper addressed the question of whether or not he believes every sermon needs to be about Jesus.

The edited transcript follows:

How important is it for a preacher to preach Christ from every text of Scripture?

It’s an ambiguous question. Let’s see if I can give the two ways I’m hearing it.

It’s important that every sermon from a Christian preacher be a Christian sermon, that is, a sermon that, if a Jewish or Muslim person heard it, they wouldn’t like. If they like it, something is wrong with it, because they reject Christ as Messiah and crucified and risen as the forgiver of the sins of the world.

And since they reject it, if they hear a sermon that they’re totally OK with, then something is missing. The sermon should somehow communicate that this is all based on and aiming toward the work of Christ and the glory of Christ. [Read more...]

"Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism?" – John Piper at Together for the Gospel

The aim of my title is not to criticize the gospel of evangelicalism but to assume that it is biblical and true, and then to ask whether Jesus preached it. If I had it to do over again, I would use the title “Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?”—the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone, for the glory of God alone.

This week at Together for the Gospel, John Piper shared a message that many considered the highlight of the conference: 

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more about “Video from Together for the Gospel ::…“, posted with vodpod

The full manuscript is available at Desiring God, but here are a couple of highlights: 

Did Paul Get Jesus Right?

So the problem I am wrestling with is not whether evangelicalism gets Paul’s gospel right, but whether Paul got Jesus’ gospel right. Because I have a sense that among the reasons that some are losing a grip on the gospel today is not only the suspicion that we are forcing it into traditional doctrinal categories rather than biblical ones, but also that in our default to Pauline categories we are selling Jesus short. In other words, for some—perhaps many—there is the suspicion (or even conviction) that justification by faith alone is part of Paul’s gospel, but not part of Jesus’ gospel. And in feeling that way, our commitment to the doctrine is weakened, and we are thus less passionate to preach it and defend it as essential to the gospel. And we may even think that Jesus’ call to sacrificial kingdom obedience is more radical and more transforming than the gospel of justification by faith alone. 

Only One Thing Missing

[W]hen it comes to justification, it doesn’t matter whether the rich ruler is right when he says, “All these I have kept from my youth.” What matters is what he is depending on. What he is trusting in. So Jesus says to him in Luke 18:22, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [. . .] [Read more...]