Four Things the Gospel is Not

In Mark Dever’s The Gospel & Personal Evangelism he gives us a list of four things that the gospel is not.

  1. The gospel is not simply that we are okay.
  2. The gospel is not simply that God is love.
  3. The gospel is not simply that Jesus wants to be our friend.
  4. The gospel is not that we should live the right way.

In another book of his, The Deliberate Church, he gives us a helpful four step guideline to sharing the gospel.

  1. God– who is God, and what is he like?
  2. Man– what is man, and what has he done?
  3. Christ– who is Jesus, and what did he do?
  4. Response– a call for repentance and belief

New Bibles Spark Singing in Malawi

How I love the global church! There’s something about seeing cultures completely different from mine rejoicing in the same God as mine that moves me. A Desiring God blogger posted this, and I had to share it.  What an amazing, global God we serve.

I’ll also share the description of the Word of God he cited at the end of his blog– it’s powerful.

THE BIBLE contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.

CHRIST is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Oh how I take the Word of God for granted!

Proletariat vs. Pundit: A Level Playing Field

Dr. John MacArthur writes about the impact of the web on our culture, and it’s sobering:

Meanwhile, the ease, immediacy, and affordability of Internet publishing has leveled the playing field between pundits and the proletariat. Anyone can start a blog, for free. Anyone with a computer (or cell phone) and an Internet connection can instantly broadcast his every opinion worldwide. Novices and scholarly authorities alike can employ the same media. Those who are most adept at gathering an audience are the ones who are being heard, not necessarily those most qualified to speak.

For the whole article, go here.

How Long is an Effective Sermon?

How’s your attention span?

Many Anglicans wanted a sermon to last less than 10 minutes – although up to 20 minutes was fine if there was no “waffle” – while Baptists were happy to sit through at least 75 minutes. Catholics wanted their homilies to be completed within 10 minutes.

Read the whole article here.

Book Recommendation: The Trellis and the Vine

Here’s an excerpt from The Trellis and the Vine. Mark Dever called it the best book he’s “ever read on the nature of church ministry.” It has been for me, too (Dever has read a lot more books than I have, so his endorsement carries a little more weight). Enjoy.

At the most basic level, the Bible says that Jesus doesn’t have two classes of disciple: those who abandon their lives to his service and those who don’t.  The call to discipleship is the same for all. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). There are not two sorts of disciples– the inner core who really serve Jesus and his gospel, and the rest. To be a disciple is to be a slave of Christ and to confess his name openly before other” “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32-33).

The call to discipleship is thus a call to confess our allegiance to Jesus in the face of a hostile world; to serve him and his mission, whatever the cost. Don’t bother attending your dad’s funeral, Jesus says to a passing enquiry: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).

The Great Commission, in other words, is not just for the Eleven. It’s the basic agenda for all disciples. To be a disciple is the be a disciple-maker.

For a PDF of the first two chapters, click here. To buy the book, here’s Amazon’s link.

Give them Gospel

What’s the point of trying to entertain kids toward Jesus. Never works. How about some gospel?

Today I am going to share with you the pure gospel.

You who have been Christians all your lives: please do not turn off your ears.  The minute you think that the gospel is something that saved you in the past, and is not something to help you right now today is the day you cease to grow in Christ.  You can never outgrow the gospel. Listen.

The gospel is the good news that Jesus came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life and died on the cross. On the third day he rose victorious over the powers of hell, Satan, and sin.

He died the death we should have died, and offered a righteousness we didn’t deserve. So that, if we believe in him—with real authentic belief, not just “belief” on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights—we will be forgiven of our sins, and adopted by God as his sons and daughters into his eternal heavenly kingdom.

There are three categories of students in this room.

  1. Some of you know this, and you stake your life on the promises of God. You strive to live every moment by the power of the gospel. You want more people to know and understand and believe it. I thank God for students like you.
  2. Some of you know the gospel, but your life doesn’t match up. You live like a hypocrite. You say that you live for Jesus but you don’t. Christianity is just something to help you when you feel down or depressed—it’s not your everything. You know the gospel intellectually, but you haven’t tasted it. God knows your heart, not me.
  3. And then there are without a doubt some of you who either don’t know the gospel or don’t believe the gospel. You are not trusting in Jesus Christ, so you can only expect condemnation.

Here is my plea for all of you. Believe the gospel. That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for your sins. He rose triumphantly on the third day. Forgiveness of sins comes freely through him by faith alone. Not by following rules, but simply by faith.

Do not put it off. Please come talk to me.

This is the talk I gave today at IMPACT, the on campus ministry we have at Fallbrook High School.

Biblical or Gospel-Centered?

A while back I sent a question off into the twitterverse to see if there was any opinion on the subject.  This was my question, in it’s 140-character concised glory:

Is there any difference between being gospel-centered and biblical? Or is it just semantics? What do you think?

A friend of mine replied in a tweet of his own:

It’s semantics if you’re thinking biblically. 🙂

I think he’s right.

I’ve recently discovered that there are many pastors and churches out there who are beginning to use “gospel-centered” to describe their church and ministry. Whereas a typical church might say: “Here, we are biblical, everything we do is by the book” more churches are starting to say things like “we try to make everything gospel-centered and gospel driven.”  Should such a distinction exist?

Well, in short, no. The resurrected Jesus told his friends on the way to Emmaus that all the scriptures pointed to Christ. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Essentially, the Bible is the story of the gospel.  It’s all about Jesus and what he did for mankind. The Bible is the gospel. Being biblical is being gospel-centered.

But those who are beginning to use this “gospel-centered” language actually have a point. Pastors and churches have falsely assumed that it is possible to be biblical without being gospel-driven.  There are churches that hold up the banner BIBLICAL and yet refuse to clearly address the issues of sin- how it offends God and merits eternal judgment.   Robert Schuller once said this about the subject:

I don’t think that anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality, and hence counterproductive to the evangelistic enterprise, than the unchristian, uncouth strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.

But how can there be a gospel without these things? John MacArthur said this in referring to these kinds of “gospel” messages:

No repentance, no judgment, no hell, no heaven, no self-denial, no discussion of sin, no laying down of the law of God against which the sinner is broken, no sense of guilt, no sense of condemnation, no fear of eternal torment– that is an inadequate gospel. That is a gospel that I will tell you will contribute to apostasy. It will contribute to defection.  Because people are going to come to that which they think is the saving message and when it doesn’t do anything, they’re gone. A shallow gospel presentation that doesn’t present the reality of eternal judgment, the reality of the law of God, the reality of condemnation, eternal hell, does not warn of God’s wrath, that does not crush the sinner under the weight of his violation of the law of God, that does not make him stand before God guilty– the gospel presentation that doesn’t do that isn’t a faithful gospel presentation.

And because there are so many popular preachers out there who are “biblical” and yet say nothing of the gospel, I like the distinction. And from now on, I’m going with gospel-centered.

Kill or Be Killed: 1/3/10

Here’s a synopsis of my sermon last Sunday, titled “Kill or Be Killed.”  I included some of the verses I referenced in my points.

1. A Hard Look at Sin: Answers to 5 crucial questions about sin

What is sin? 1 Peter 1:16, Jeremiah 2:12-13, Romans 1:25

Where does sin come from? Psalm 37:4, James 1:14, 2 Peter 1:9

Why is sin so appealing? Romans 8:5

Why is sin so offensive to God?

Why do we need to kill it? 1 John 3:9, John 8:34

Conclusions:

Sin happens when we are not satisfied with God and we turn from him to other things, called idols, and try to use them to satisfy our desires.

Salvation, then, is not a mere decision to believe a fact; it is a work of God that opens your heart to treasure all that God is for us in Jesus above all else.

2. Asceticism: Kill Sin the Wrong Way (Colossians 2:23)

3. Killing Sin the Right WayBy the Spirit (Romans 8:13) What does by the Spirit mean?

a. Romans 8:5– those who live by the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

b. 1 Corinthians 2:13–  the things of the Spirit are the words of the apostles, contained in the New Testament letters, in which Jesus affirms the Old Testament as inspired.

c. Ephesians 6:17– the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The only offensive weapon mentioned in the “Armor of God’ chapter.

4. How Does the Word of God Kill Sin?

a. Galatians 3:5– the Spirit of God does miracles in people’s lives when they hear with faith.

b. Hear what with faith? The promises of God. 2 Peter 1:3-4–the promises of God enable us to participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world.

5. The Practical Use of This Truth

a. Verse memorization to fight sin.

Two Bad Shepherds

Peter and I attempt to act like shepherds for a church video.  Turns out we’re not that talented when it comes to acting.  Hence, all the outtakes.  Fun, though.

SHEPHERDS

Fighting Loose Living by Killing Legalism

rules_1668_1668Rules.

What is their role in the Christian life?

If you were to survey an entire high school asking this yes or no question, I bet 80% of them would say YES.

“Is Christianity primarily about following a set of specific rules?”

Essentially, most people have no idea that salvation has nothing to do with rules.  And until you debunk that, telling a student to follow Jesus because Jesus loves them is like telling a patient to fill out more forms because doc is concerned.

No thanks.

Thank Tim Keller for this insight