Links I like (weekend edition)

Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition

Tullian Tchividjian:

It’s been a much quieter week for me. Last week was loud and exhausting. And (other than Miami Heat games, Dallas Cowboy games, Ultra Music Festival, and the music in my car) I’m not a fan of either loud or exhausting. Not many are. So, I’m grateful that God has granted me a quieter week.

Still, the very public “break-up” between The Gospel Coalition and me weighs heavy on my heart. And I want to say just a few things about it now that I’ve had some time to reflect.

‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and the Subversion of Human Nature

E. Stephen Burnett:

Marvel, when given a chance to take its unprecedented shared-universe superhero films to the small screen, chose to write stories that subvert naïve optimism about basically-decent government agencies and even human beings themselves.

What does this say about humans?

Clearly we do not believe our own press.

Concerns about the “Efficacy” of Works

Richard Phillips, interacting with a recent article by Mark Jones:

I am less eager to support the teaching of good works as efficacious in salvation, however, regardless of the Puritan gravitas attached to the idea. Now, if what we mean by the efficacy of works in attaining eternal life is James’ teaching that faith without works is dead, so that the evidence of work is needed to justify our faith, then I will of course agree. Moreover, if we mean that works are efficacious, as Owen says, “as the way wherein we ought to walk, for the coming to and obtaining of the inheritance so fully purchased and freely given,” then I will earnestly bow once again to Owen’s lucid biblical accuracy. But when we suggest that works enter into the instrumentality of salvation, so that in the consummation of our salvation eternal life is granted on the basis of good works, then I find myself expressing both objections and concerns.

Jesus Is Not a Cagefighter

Joe Carter:

Although well-intended, these ministries that focus on “ultimate fighters” are giving young men a deformed view of Biblical masculinity. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus praised the meek, a word that in the Greek is used in reference to a “tame” wild animal. The lion is able to lay down with the lamb precisely because he is not given over to his hyper-aggressive nature.

 

The Internet needs a cookie

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There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling.

At least, that’s what it looks like based on the craziness in the Christian side of the Twitter- and blogospheres:

  • People are continuing to wrestle, with varying degrees of helpfulness (very little, for the most part) with the Nathan Morales trial and the question of who knew what when. People continue to (again with varying degrees of helpfulness) press for statements from TGC’s leadership.
  • Tullian Tchividjian officially left TGC, something he’d planned to do (but evidently several months earlier than he’d originally intended), leading some to get their rage on even more.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Rachel Held Evans, in a ham-fisted effort to illustrate God being beyond gender (since He’s neither male nor female) wrote a post referring to God as “She,” and was declared a heretic for her trouble. She’s since been asking everyone on the Internet if they think she is one.

There’s a lot right and wrong with everything that’s happening at the moment. Those who are legitimately angry about a horrific crime not being reported to police are right to be angry. The crime itself should never happen, ever, nor should any concerned parent feel like silence is acceptable.

But is it right to start spiralling and getting all conspiracy theory-y? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Because I’m friendly with a lot of TGC folks, I’m inclined to think the best of them. That’s what we all do with people we like, though (which is sometimes what gets some of these things happening). But, of course, thinking the best of someone doesn’t mean they’re exempt from criticism, as we all also know…

Tchividjian, likewise, is a guy who has taken a lot of heat—and been called a lot of nasty names—because of his views on sanctification. Again, he’s a guy I’m on good terms with, and I tend to agree with a lot of where he’s coming from (even if I’d nuance some of it differently). But does that mean he’s the right horse to bet on in the sanctification debate? Probably no more than Mark Jones is (I’m one of the few who didn’t find his book Antinomianism terribly compelling or helpful).

And then there’s Evans. Is it fair to call her a heretic for her attempt to say God is beyond gender? I don’t know; at a minimum, I’d think it’s more accurate to say she’s a sloppy lay theologian who lets her desire to win the Internets get the better of her and cries foul whenever her bluff is called. (Full disclosure: this opinion is based on her public persona as I have no personal relationship or connection with her.)

When a perfect storm of crazy comes together like it did this week, it’s easy for people to get their rage on. But we should also remember something really important: We don’t do anger well. Paul (and the Psalmist) encourage us to “be angry and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26; Psalm 4:4). James warns that our tongues are “a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). 

We should take this seriously. If even our righteous anger yields unrighteous results, particularly because of our hasty, harsh, mean-spirited words, it means we’ve got a problem. We should all be very cautious about how we use our words—especially when we’re angry! We say things we’ll regret. We say things we mean in the wrong way. And worst, we don’t take our words and redirect them to the Lord.

We don’t pray. We don’t ask for God’s wisdom. We don’t ask for God to reveal to us the state of our hearts.

That’s the danger we’re all in in this latest hullabaloo—and it’s the thing we, individually, need to protect ourselves against the most.

And sometimes the best way to do that is to just chill out, have a cookie and ask God for wisdom. You might feel better if you do.


photo credit: Bob.Fornal via photopin cc

Around the Interweb

Fearful Might, Majestic Love

My first article for The Gospel Coalition Voices blog:

When a natural disaster strikes, whether last week’s tornadoes or last month’s earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Japan, we are confronted by a terrible truth: Despite our best efforts, this idea that we have mastered creation is just an illusion.

We cannot tame the weather any more than we can make the sun shine in Seattle or make it stop snowing in Canada. And when the illusion is shattered, we are left horrified.

Then there’s this awe that comes from witnessing the power of the whirlwind as I am forced to stop and consider the unfathomable power of God. And I fear that many of us, myself included, have taken for granted the Lord’s might.

Read the rest at TGC

Also Worth Reading

Ministry: Matt Chandler asks “Is Church Membership Biblical?”

Life: My friend Amber shares the woes of prenatal consumption

Technology: The Christian Email Signoffs Debate

Books: Have you heard about Crossway Impact yet? Check out the video:

In Case You Missed It

The Promise of Change and the False Hope of Politics

John Flavel: Self is the Poise of the Unrenewed Heart

My Memory Moleskine: Wash, Rinse, Repeat…

Tim Keller: The Death of the Mushy Middle (video)

Book Reviews:

  1. The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms
  2. Voices of the True Woman Movement

Matt Chandler: Following God May End Badly (video)

D.A. Carson: Genuine Love is Odd

Around the Interweb

Tempted and Tried by Russell D. Moore

Crossway just released the trailer for Russell D. Moore’s new book, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. Take a look:

 

(HT: Crossway Blog)

Introducing ESV GreekTools

This is a phenomenal new add-on to ESVonline.org that allows you to interact with the Greek text of the New Testament. Here’s a video explaining:

 

Crossway is offering this new tool at an introductory price of $9.99 (regular price $14.99). This is a tremendous deal for such a great resource. I’ve got it and am really enjoying it.

Also Worth Reading

TGC Bonus Session: Listen to the audio from the panel discussion, God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty

Adoption Story: There was a girl, fifteen years old…

Spiritual Growth: The Tragedy of a Self-Centered Life

Contest Winners: The winners of the Don’t Call It a Comeback giveaway are Andrew Hall and Ben Thorp. Congratulations, gentlemen!

In Case You Missed It

Book Review: Don’t Call It a Comeback edited by Kevin DeYoung

This week I was at the Gospel Coalition’s 2010 National Conference and had the opportunity to live blog the event. Here are my notes from eight of the plenary sessions:

Al Mohler: Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus

Tim Keller: Getting Out

Alistair Begg: From a Foreigner to King Jesus

James MacDonald: Not According to Our Sins

Conrad Mbewe: The Righteous Branch

Matt Chandler: Youth

Mike Bullmore: God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own

D.A. Carson: Getting Excited About Melchizedek

Emily and I also took some time to reflect on our experiences at the conference: day one, day two and day three

#TGC11 Day 3 Reflections

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to talk about the final day of The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference:

 

The last few days have been fantastic for Emily and I. We’ve been greatly encouraged by our time in Chicago and were blessed to talk with so many great people.

More from us when we get home!

Mike Bullmore: God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own #TGC11

Mike Bullmore is the founding pastor of CrossWay Community Church in Bristol, WI. Mike served for 15 years as an associate professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, as well as chairman of the Practical Theology Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.

Dr. Bullmore addressed the conference from Zephaniah 3:9-20.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

 

My notes follow:


[Dr. Bullmore opens reading from the beginning of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress]

I can imagine someone reading that and saying, “clearly the problem with that man is that book. What he needs to do is put it down and stop reading it… Just put that book down and pick up something else… there are magazines about celebrities and romance novels and… Christian, why would you keep reading that book unless it’s really true and all that other stuff was designed to keep you trapped in a make-believe world?”

Well, the book Christian is reading is, of course, the Bible. And this book, Zephaniah, could well be the book Christian was reading, because this book is a miniature version of [the Bible]. All the prophets are like this.

The Old Testament is pregnant with the gospel. Through progressive revelation, while the gospel is initially obscured, it becomes increasingly clear as you continue to read. The gospel is in utero, if you will, but all the parts are there.

What Zephaniah tells us is that God has provided salvation, and not just as an escape from God’s judgment, but as entrance into God’s joy. Zephaniah offers three steps: [Read more...]

#TGC11 Day 2 Reflections

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to talk about some of the highlights of day 2 of the Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference. Check out the video below for our thoughts:

 

And just a reminder—the Don’t Call It a Comeback giveaway is still on until Friday afternoon. If you’ve not entered already, now would be a great opportunity. Go here for more details.

Conrad Mbewe: The Righteous Branch #TGC11

Conrad Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Reformed Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa. He is widely regarded as the African Spurgeon. KBC is presently overseeing the establishment of ten new Reformed churches in Zambia and Botswana. Conrad is the editor of Reformation Zambia magazine and writes three columns in two weekly national newspapers. His most recent contribution to a book is found in Dear Timothy—Letters on Pastoral Ministry, published by Founders Press. He is also the principal of the Reformed Baptist Preachers College in Zambia.

Mbewe expounded on Jeremiah 23:1-8.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

 

My notes are below:


As I meditated on this passage, the subject of leadership was burned afresh in my own heart. Clearly this is the issue that arises in this passage that we have just read. And again and again in the Bible we find, as the leaders go, so go the people of Israel. You see the people hardening their hearts and going their own way.

Often you find phrases like “the king led the people into great sin”… And in Malachi, we find God chastising the priests, saying “It is you who have led my people to desecrate my temple…” And the converse is also true, where repentance first comes to the king and then the people.

What Jeremiah deals with here is the need for consistent, godly and fruitful leadership that ultimately brings glory to God… Oh that God may help us see how we should deal with our lives, so that we might be the means by which God blesses His people. [Read more...]

James MacDonald: Not According to Our Sins #TGC11

James MacDonald is the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel here in Chicago. His message comes from Psalm 25.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

My notes follow.


Not sure if this was a gift or Carson throwing down the gauntlet—“let’s see you preach Christ out of this text, yo!”

Before we can preach Christ, we first need to preach. Many are not actually heralding the Word that has been given to them. We need to preach Christ from all the Word.

4 things by way of background on Psalm 25:

  1. It’s a psalm. They’re the most quoted books of the OT in the NT. They’re quoted over 400 times in the NT. The psalms are the songbook of Jesus.
  2. It’s a poem. Ancient Hebrew poetry with two main artistic structure. It’s an acrostic and the truths come in couplets, synonymous parallelism.
  3. It’s a pattern. Prayer, creed, prayer. It’s David in pursuit of total trust in God. That’s why I’ve called this message “When You Don’t Know What To Do.” Some of it’s about learning, some is about leaning, but it’s all about building trust.
  4. It’s the plea of a broken-hearted man. Don’t ever let your study cause paralysis in remembering that this is a real life. A psalm like this can only come from someone who understood what it was like to be crushed. Many debate when this took place in David’s life, but most agree that this has to do with Absalom (see 2 Sam 3-15).

Psalm 25:1-2a: Trust God. The whole theme of the psalm. The word for “soul” means the center of the desires, but can include the whole body.

Psalm 25:2b-3: No Shame. Can his prayer be anymore clear? “Let me not be put to shame.” It may look really bad today, your heart might be in the vice of some crushing reality, but it’s not over. What we have to learn is that there is no shame. Not in the end, not when God’s done. Is there ever an excuse or reason to be betrayed? Pastors, parents, children, people don’t deserve that. [Read more...]

#TGC11 Day 1 Reflections—Plus Free Stuff!

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to chat about the first day of The Gospel Coalition’s national conference. Sufficed to say, we had an awesome time. But for a few details on why we felt this way, as well as some info on a book giveaway that starts today, watch the video:

Update: As I mentioned in the video, I hadTWO copies of Don’t Call It a Comeback to give away (reviewed here Monday).

The winners have now been selected and notified via email. Thanks for entering!

Alistair Begg: From a Foreigner to King Jesus #TGC11

Alistair Begg spoke next on preaching Christ from the Book of Ruth (Ruth 1-4).

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

A few of my notes follow:


What makes Ruth sparkle so much is the background in which it’s set. The time of the Judges at the very least was a time of instability. But in that you see God at work through a wealthy man, foreign worker, and a thrice bereaved widow.

Who could ever imagine that Naomi’s predicament would lead first to the conversion of her daughter-in-law, the birth of David and ultimately the coming of Christ.

How can we effectively preach Christ from these chapters? Learning to do this is the journey of a lifetime. But our listeners should be able to follow the progress of our thought that leads them to Jesus, especially in the Old Testament narrative. We come to the text with certain assumptions, [among them]:

  1. God has provided both the record of redemption and the interpretation in Holy Scripture.
  2. The proper Christian use of the Old Testament is an urgent need.
  3. We will be helped if we read the Bible from back to front. It will be easier to find the tributaries if we start at the mouth of the river and move our way back from there.
  4. The message of Ruth cannot be understood without the coming of Jesus.
  5. The Old Testament Scriptures can and should mean more to us than they did to the people of the Old Testament for we live in light of their Christian fulfillment.
  6. The genre of the text should determine the way in which we illustrate the coming of Christ. The way in which the story is crafted is so wonderful in that it gives the sense that there is something more to this if we’ll just read further.

Three charcoal sketches:

  1. Three women on the road to somewhere. It starts out with three women on the road back to Judah. The backdrop is one of poor choices and judgment. And on this road, we see Ruth’s conversion. When Orpah turns and goes back to Moab and Ruth stays, what motivates it? She believed. God does not believe for us. We believe. And Ruth believed. She entered through the narrow gate.
  2. The title of a man. At this point, the author introduces a new character, Boaz. In chapter 2, Ruth has been learning the Law of God, and she knows that God provides for the poor. “Let me go into the fields,” she says, “behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” The word “favor” points us in the direction we need to go. And it so happened that she found herself in the field of Boaz who happens to be of the clan of Elimelech. And a short while later, we see Naomi up to her tricks. “Did you know that Boaz is our kinsmen redeemer…?” Boaz as the redeemer has the right to intervene in the circumstances of Naomi and Ruth. He has the right, the prerogative, to take on their needs and all their troubles, to take them on and bear them as if they were his very own. Paul points us to the mystery of Christ and the Church, where He takes on the troubles and needs of His bride, and makes them His own.
  3. Look at that little bundle. We might want to talk about the birth of David’s grandfather or that the hills where they stood and it would be where the shepherds would stand and hear angels sing at the coming of Christ; and we might focus on the images of grain and punch right through to Luke 15, where we see that fellow who says, “In my Father’s house there is bread to spare, and yet I go hungry. I shall arise and go to him.” These nudges are to point us to the provision of God. The author keeps pointing out that Ruth was a Moabitess, and that she was naturally excluded from the covenant. But God in His mercy, extended His blessing and brought her into covenant with Himself.

Tim Keller: Getting Out #TGC11

Tim Keller spoke next from Exodus 14.

*Update* The audio is available for download here. Video can be viewed below:

A few selections from my notes follow.


Not only want to preach to you but also teach you something about preaching the Old Testament

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Red Sea crossing to the rest of the Bible. There are at least two-dozen direct references to it in the OT, and innumerable references in the NT.

When you go to Luke 9, the transfiguration, Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah about His departure, about His death in Jerusalem, but the Greek word there is “Exodus,”—Jesus’ death on the cross is the greater exodus.

Hebrews uses the Red Sea crossing as a paradigm for Christian faith.

If there is one passage that the Bible invites us to read in light of Christ, it would be this one [Exodus 14].

Salvation is about getting out: [Read more...]

Al Mohler: Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus #TGC11

R. Albert Mohler is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His session centers around John 5:31-47, the only New Testament passage to be expounded today.The following are a few of my notes.

Update: The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

 


It’s interesting in this day that a frighteningly large number of young people are leaving. And we have to ask ourselves why?

Christian Smith and his team have named the belief system of emerging adults today Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—that God wants His creations to behave, to be happy and He doesn’t want to be involved.  And one author suggests that these young people aren’t really Christian at all, but they’re Christian-ish. And we quickly realize that they’re not the only ones.

The absence of biblical preaching, of gospel preaching has led the way to preaching that encourages moralistic therapeutic, practical deism.

We meet with the context of very real challenges. Protestant liberalism, something that is 2 centuries old is back. The denial of essential doctrines, the denial of the Christian meta-narrative and the call for a new kind of Christianity altogether. [Read more...]