I’ve been working through the Pastoral epistle Titus on Sunday mornings at Zion, and one of the key things we’ve been trying to emphasize is that what you believe about God (doctrine) will of necessity impact your life for God (discipleship).
This can be a hard teaching to swallow: is it really that simple? Can leveraging the Gospel truth in my life really make that big of a transformation? And yet when we remember that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), we are reminded that all of God’s saving work – from the new birth to growing in grace to final perseverance – is grounded in the Gospel. So many texts in Titus have been jumping off the page at me with this idea of Gospel grace bringing godliness to my life, and yet one that really sticks out to me in this sense is Titus 2:11 – 12: “For the grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce ungodliness… and to live godly lives…” As those verses show, God’s grace does more than this, but certainly not less! Continue reading
The original link to “Dating, Relating, and Fornicating” at The Resurgence has been removed. The original article has been copied below via cache.
Dating, Relating, and Fornicating
Christians worship a single guy who died a virgin. Perhaps that should be listed among his many miracles.
For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more unmarried than married adults. And people are waiting longer than ever to marry—women in their mid- to late twenties on average and men closer to thirty. The closer you get to a major city, the more singles you will find—most of them dating, relating, and fornicating.
This trend includes Seattle. Recently, Mars Hill Church Seattle was listed by the Seattle P-I as one of the best places in Seattle for singles to meet somebody. So, if you’re looking to get hitched, Mars Hill is apparently a good place.
One of the reasons I believe we were named among such places as gyms, bars, and (naturally) dog parks—there are more dogs per capita in Seattle than kids—is because we tend to verbally beat boys who can shave (men who are adults chronologically but kids in terms of responsibility) like drill sergeants. The ones who don’t leave to blog about their hurt feelings tend to stay, grow up, man up, and eventually get married to a nice gal who would like to have babies but does not want to be married to one.
Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of singles come to Mars Hill, become Christians, find healing from past abuse, trust Jesus, start dating a godly guy or gal, get married, and have kids to the glory of God. I personally know hundreds of women who were sexual assault victims at the hands of some loser boyfriend/porn-head find help, healing, and hope in Jesus, get married to a guy who was previously a train wreck, and by God’s grace become new people with a fun, free, faithful marriage. Nothing beats the front row I enjoy for the Holy Spirit’s power in the lives of people whom Jesus loves. Continue reading
Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s magisterial Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ is one of my favorite texts on Pauline theology (see also Herman Ridderbos). Methodological concerns of a Pauline “center,” etc., are always challenging, but I think Schreiner – and the scholars that he has influenced – are often closer to going in the right direction than many others.
Here’s my question: did his editor see these?!
Some of Schreiner’s words seem nearly identical, mere sentences away from each other.
Here’s a few examples:
Some see this as “stuffy” orthodoxy and a bourgeois ethic.
4 sentences later…
Some may perceive this as a rigid orthodoxy that focuses on tradition and does not comport with the authentic Paul. (p. 390)
The singular overseer is sometimes seen as distinct from the plural elders, but it is more likely that overseer is a generic term here.
1 sentence later…!
The singular for overseer is likely generic. (p. 387)
No big deal, certainly, but it still left me bemused!
No big deal, certainly, but it still left me bemused!
Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s magisterial Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ is one of my favori
Would you add any others?
It was slightly unsettling how many of their suggestions hit home for me. And yet, there is a lot of good advice here as well.
Three things that really stood out to me:
- Stop preaching for your seminary professors.* Turn around, and let the gallery shape and influence you, but preach for your particular congregation.
- You are not in an audition, so quit seeking immediate praise for the job you’ve done. Start feeding the sheep.
- Content cannot trump communication… and if you’re passionless, you are changing the content, because you’re saying, “Its not important to me.”
Watch the whole thing:
*Side note: At first I disagreed with Tullian’s remark, because I think it is so important to preach with your profs and the “cloud of witnesses” in mind when preparing and delivering the Word of the Lord. But then his remarks from his editor clarified what he meant, and I really appreciate the illustration.
Caught the Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy vehicle Admission. The film was so-so, but I was introduced to some catchy tunes. Honorable mention to Flip Grater’s “Careful” as well. I really enjoyed these and I hope you will too.
But with the immediate (helpful and true) caveat:
In his own words, don’t celebrate the birthday boy unless he helps lead you deeper into a Gospel-soaked piety.
Is Calvin, the man born this day in 1509 in Noyon, France, still relevant? Fortunately, Pope Francis is helping keep Calvin’s ideas current by issuing a new indulgence today:
Pope Francis will grant a plenary indulgence – a remission of all temporal punishment due to sin – to World Youth Day Catholic participants, the Vatican announced July 9…
They will also need to invoke “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil (with the title Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida) as well as other patrons and intercessors of the same meeting, that they may encourage the young to reinforce their faith and lead a holy life.”
The granting of indulgences by the Pope comes from Jesus’ response to Peter, the first Pope, when he proclaimed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16.
Scott Clark points out that Calvin (like Luther) had quite a bit to say about indulgences:
Now very many persons see the base tricks, deceits, thefts, and greediness with which the indulgence traffickers have heretofore mocked and beguiled us, and yet they do not see the very fountain of the impiety itself. Continue reading
“If you decide to stand for Christ, you will not have an easy life…
…in the ministry.”
The sentence starts out making complete sense, and then throws me for a loop. And yet, it also rings very true.
We often hear that standing for Christ in this world will be difficult, but my automatic assumption is that it should for some reason be different in ministry. There, we think, there is where it will always be safe to stand for Christ.
J. Gresham Machen graciously disabuses us of this false assumption, and warns students/pastors in his own day of what they ought to expect if they stand fast for confessional Christianity. R. Scott Clark posts at the Heidelblog a selection from Machen’s 1929
articlesermon “The Good Fight of Faith.” This was Machen’s farewell sermon at Princeton, after the conservatives had lost the fight for the seminary, and just before Machen would organize Westminster that fall. I thought about simply quoting and linking to it, but I appreciated and resonated with it so much I had to say a few things first.
Machen clearly has been reading a lot of new pastor’s diaries when he makes the following astute observations:
- People will attack your ministry using the most pious platitudes.
“Let’s focus on Jesus and not dead doctrine.” “What about the experience of Christ in my heart?” “It doesn’t matter how much you know, it matters what you do/how much you care.” “Christianity isn’t preaching/ministry/truth, it is all about relationships.” All of those statements are heard on a daily basis to denigrate Word and Sacrament ministry, and yet Machen anticipates all of them by more than 80 years.
- Tolerance was getting fuzzy even in the ’20s.
It all depends on what you mean by tolerance as to whether it is a good thing or not. And Machen hits the nail on the head when he calls for honesty and integrity: “the Christian religion is intolerant to the core.”
- Only sovereign grace will keep you from a compromised ministry.
I assumed the challenge of ministry was to keep from sin and to clearly proclaim saving truth. That is true, but the Enemy has a thousand ways to compromise your ministry. Machen puts it eloquently: “All men will speak well of you if, after preaching no matter how unpopular a Gospel on Sunday, you will only vote against that Gospel in the councils of the church the next day…” Sermons and services and letters are fine, but don’t you dare follow through.