Monergism Plans Big Expansion Projects in 2008
We just posted this online letter detailing our plans for online expansion in 2008
Comments on Two Cheers for the New Calvinism
Yesterday Justin Taylor posted an interesting guest spot on the â€œNew Calvinismâ€ by a Wesleyan-Arminian professor at Trinity Evangelical entitled "Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism in Evangelicalism: A Wesleyan-Arminian Perspective.â€ The first part was what the author saw as positive elements of the new Calvinism and the second part some criticisms of it. Both positive and negative are interesting and should be heeded but he makes one statement which is not entirely accurate that I felt worth mentioning. He said:
"But it seems quite obvious to me that there indeed is a central dogma to the New Calvinism: belief that God determines everything, and that he does so for his own glory, is taken to be necessary and sufficient."
While it is true that Calvinists affirm the meticulous sovereignty of God over all things and consider this to be of highly critical importance, yet if there is something else which is even more substantial and central than this to their dogma, it is that Christ is all in all. History and creation revolve around Him. Calvinists, in other words, have a Christocentric view of all things.
How is this a distinctive you ask?
The Father says, "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." The Spirit has come to remind us of all that Jesus has done, to take from Him and give to us and ultimately to bring Christ, not Himself, glory. All are to honor the Son as they honor the Father. We preach Christ and Him crucified because it is He and He alone who is our hope. All that we have is from His handsâ€¦all spiritual benefits find their source in Him. In fact, what good things do we have that we did not receive from Christ? As this distinctive regards salvation, consider, what makes someone differ from another? Does Christ ALONE make you to differ from your neighbor, or is it Christ plus something else, such as your "good will" that generates a right thought? Is God's requirement of us, including the command to believe the gospel, something we have the power to do, or is it grace itself in Christ that we even have the desire, understading and faith to believe? It is only the gift of grace we have in Christ itself that we are obedient and humble. Humility is not something that springs from our unregenerate human nature. Only Christ can change that. It is only by grace alone in Christ alone that we have life, this is THE central difference between biblical Calvinism and all other synergistic forms of Christianity.
We believe that all erroneous and inconsistent views of the Bible come from not seeing the truth of Christ as the center of Scripture. See this essay for examples of some of these errors. Hopefully this will clear up exactly what Mccall gets wrong and what turns a lot of people off, the idea that God is sovereign is not the center of calvinism ... it's central but not THE center.
Quote from Suprised by Hope
"As genuine human beings, from Genesis 1 onward, we are given the mandate of looking after creation, of bringing order to God's world, of establishing and maintaining communities. To suppose that we are saved, as it were, for our own private benefit, for the restoration of our own relationship with God (vital though that is!), and for our eventual homecoming and peace in heaven (misleading though that is!) is like a boy being given a baseball bat as a present and insisting that since it belongs to him, he must always and only play with it in private. But of course you can only do what you're meant to do with a baseball bat when you're playing with other people. And salvation only does what it's meant to do when those who have been saved, are being saved, and will one day fully be saved realize that they are saved not as souls but as wholes and not for themselves alone but for what God now longs to do through them." - N. T. Wright (Suprised by Hope pg. 199-200)
The Rebelution - Do Hard Things - Coming to Portland, OR
On May 3rd, 2008 The Rebelution will finally be coming to Alex and Brett's home-state of Oregon. The Portland Conference primarily serves Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Nevada, and Idaho.
ROLLING HILLS COMMUNITY CHURCH (Church Website)
9AM-5PM, SATURDAY, MAY 3RD, 2008
3550 SW Borland Road - Tualatin, OR - 97062
Read this letter to parents about this conference
Images of the Savior (3 -- The First Gospel)
After our first father Adam had rebelled against the word of God, thereby losing all of the blessings and privileges of the glorious state into which he had been created, and inheriting instead a most fearful curse, the promise of death, and an expectation of the terrible wrath of God; instead of receiving only the judgment which he deserved, he was immediately comforted with a promise so rich in the gospel truths of Christ, that theologians have long referred to it as the â€œprotoevangelium,â€ which is a designation meaning simply, â€œthe first gospelâ€. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of this first gospel promise: the rest of the scriptures, both in the old and new testaments, simply unfold the meanings which inhere in this brief statement, and make good upon the promises which it contains.
Where is Your Theology of the Resurrection?
Recently I have been pondering the question: why in traditional theological circles is there such a lack of emphasis on the theology of the resurrection yet so much stress on Christ's death? Not to de-emphasize his atoning death but this oversight is especialy curious in light of the fact that in the New Testament there appears to be a great importance placed on the resurrection, at least, it seems, equal in emphasis to Christ's death, but we don't talk about or theologize about it much ... why? I have to ask because the implications of Christ's resurrection is a critical part of Christ's redemptive work in and for us.
In light of the resurrection of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of our present victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the work of Christ in his resurrection Paul is able to say in verse 58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." As we participate in his resurrection now and are seated with him at God's right hand, where He reigns over all his enemies, including the world, the flesh, the devil and death, then, in light of this, this should somehow translate to our living in the world now.
This is a compilation of my previous posts on preaching. If you would like to download the printable PDF, here it is.
A Personal Manifesto
Part One: Principles by Which to Order My Life
1.Life is short, and comprises the only time I have to labor for eternal results. Psalm 90:10; Ecclesiastes 9:10
2.After the brief duration of my life, I must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account of how I used my time. Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10
3.If I have failed to put my time to eternally profitable ends, but live instead for the present, I will receive punishment and shame. Matthew 25:24-30; Luke 16:25
4.The only way in which I can certainly devise which ends are eternally profitable is by taking heed according to God's Word. Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:14-17
5.The ultimate end of my existence, and the end to which I should direct all my labors, is the glory of God. Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11;1 Corinthians 10:31
6.The glory of God is best displayed by its being seen and delighted in. John 17:1-7; Ezekiel 28:22; Psalm 32:11; 34:8
7.The glory of God is best seen through the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. John 1:14, 18; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
8.The person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Word of God. John 5:39-40; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47
9.Therefore, my time will best be spent in laboring to see Christ from the scriptures, and thus glorifying God and securing my own eternal joy. John 17:24
Reformation 21 Gets a Facelift
The Reformed blog and online magazine Reformation21 with contributors, Derek Thomas, Phil Ryken, Rick Phillips, Justin Taylor, Ligon Duncan, Iain D Campbell, Sean Lucas & Carl Trueman has just had a good looking redesign by Tim Challies.
A ministry of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (www.alliancenet.org)
Preach with Clarity
God himself has condescended tremendously to help us understand his will. Therefore, preachers have no right to dwell in theological obscurity in their pulpits, but are called to preach with clarity. If it is important that the Gospel be understood by all who hear, then preaching should be not only in the common language, but also concise, uncluttered, logical, and memorable. Preachers do well to improve upon these basics of clear communication as they seek to imitate the Fountainhead of all communication, the Word of God incarnate.
No Time for Seminary?
Beginning Theology Curriculum for laypersons wanting to learn theology but don't have time for Seminary. This Theology at home bundle is a great place to start
1) Westminster Confession of Faith
2) A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson
3) The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
4) The Lord's Prayer (paperback) by Thomas Watson
5) Outlines of Theology by A. A. Hodge
6) An Old Testament Theology by Bruce K. Waltke
Read the books listed above in the following order: 1) Westminster Confession of Faith: a) the Shorter Catechism; b) the Larger Catechism; c) the Confession; 2) A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson; 3) The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson; 4) The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson; 5) Outlines of Theology by A. A. Hodge; & 6) An Old Testament Theology by Bruce K. Waltke.
For supplemental historical studies we also recommend 2000 YEARS OF CHRIST'S POWER 3 Volume set by N.R. Needham
Natural Vs. Supernatural Religion
Natural Vs. Supernatural Religion - David Wells
The following are excerpts from The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells. Pg. 188, 190, 196. This is an important, hard-hitting, must-read book which has profound and far reaching implications for the church. Wells, in a contemporary context, focuses on the mother of all controversies: the natural vs. supernatural understanding of the work of God (Pelagianism Vs. Augustinianism). He lays out a profound case that is well thought through and it helps us understand the roots and differences of the Seeker-sensitive, the Emergent and the Reformed branches of "evangelicalism" ... and then points to the biblical Christ and His grace as the only road to recovery of the gospel.
Well's really draws some lines in the sand here and explains why emergent and seeker sensitive churches are religion from below (man reaching up to God) whereas the gospel is a religion from above - God coming to man. He persuasively shows the pagan roots of the religion from "below" and the great thing about his distinctive "from above"/"from below" concept is it's practicality, that is, only a religion that counts on God to reach down and save actually does. As a result of being awakened by the content of this book, I wonder whether the church will stand up and say, the religion from "below" is simply not Christian. There may be Christians in these churches, maybe many Christians but what is being taught in them is not Christian. Make sure you get this into the hands of your pastor and elders.
Preach with Unction
"And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." The anointing of the Spirit is necessary for true boldness in preaching. Apart from the Spirit's empowerment, a preacher might muster some fervor, but he will lack authority, and might not even possess the courage to maintain God's truth before sinners. The right proclamation of the Word requires holy unction, which comes by the grace of God through prayer.
Images of the Savior (2 â€“ The Garden of Eden)
Immediately after his account of God's creation of the world, Moses goes on to describe the creature in whom would be centered God's design for creation, namely, the man whom he had formed; and likewise he describes the place in which the fulfillment of this design would be possible, namely, the Garden in Eden. In this description, we encounter a very notable and foundational glimpse of the coming Messiah, in at least two basic ways: first of all, in the general design and features of the Garden we have an image of the perfect state which Christ's work of redemption should accomplish for its subjects; and second, we have a foreshadowing of the means which Christ would employ in bringing about this final state of blessedness. Let us now reflect upon several specific things in which this twofold foreshadowing may be observed.
United to Christ in His Death AND Resurrection
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."â€”Romans 6:4.
We are united to Christ not only in his death but also in His resurrection. Not only have we been forgiven from the guilt of our sins, but have also been delivered from their power. The fasle notion that the grace of God should lead us to lawlessness should distasteful to every Christian. Our regeneration ... our union in Christ's resurrection ... our new heart and new life in Christ means that, by nature, we now despise doublemindedness and rebellion. We cannot live in it for our union with Christ makes this repelling. The concept or idea that the the grace we have in Christ gives license to sin, does not come from our new resurrected nature, but from the Devil. Though we are, at times, deceived by sin and stil suseptable to it, we detest it more deep than words can express. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live in it any longer."
Visitor: One of my peers recently told me about this movie on the internet about "Zeitgeist." Here is the link: http://zeitgeistmovie.com/main.htm. I searched your website hoping to find an article on it but nothing came up. It seems to me like just another ridiculous occult trend, like the Da Vinci Code, that's going to spark a lot of initial interest but then fade. But it bothered me that my peer said that this movie would be powerful enough to make me an atheist. I would really like to see a refutal of this by someone a lot more educated than myself. One day I'd like to be on your end, though, getting e-mails from people asking me to help them refute the next up and coming occult fad.
Response: The movie is right to point out that atrocities have been commiitted in the name of religion. It is interesting to see that if we are merely swamp gas, as an atheist would acknowledge, that the person who believes this would want to promote it with such missionary zeal to others. Why they would care what other swamp gas believed is a mystery. The movie at one point says nothing is "Bad or Good per se" ... then I suppose that theism is also not bad or good so why should he care whether we are in the "now" or not? If they think there is not "bad or good" then is not their rant against religion itself meaningless?. On the one hand they say there is no bad or good, but then they make a movie to tell us how bad religion is for the world. Confused? You should be because there is not a shred of consistency about it. It seems the producer does, after all, believe in a dogma. The danger of this movie's position is that they erroneously think of their own position as not a position.. is not a belief, is not a dogma is not itself a religion. It like when Oprah demanded that her audience accept that Jesus could not possibly be the only way and rather, she said, all ways are acceptable. Is that not also a dogmatic statement? A firm belief that beliving in one way is bad and that we MUST accept that all ways are equal? This is the height of self-deception. Dogma cannot be avoided and the producers of this film also have presuppositions or strong beliefs as to what is good and bad, or they would not bother making the film to try to convince others. Any hope they have of changing someones mind to think like them is actually a belief in morality, in something outside themselves - that there is a way to live that is better. If they say slavery is wrong, violence is wrong, torture is wrong, racism is wrong, how do they know this if they are merely swap gas, and more importantly, why should they care? They show all these frightening images as if their position is not just as religious and dogmatic and that they are exempt from such atrocities. The greatest danger lies when a group convinces itself it is the only one out there who isn't promoting a view. We all should know by now that this is the height of absurdity.
Preach Christ from All the Scriptures
The person and work of Jesus Christ is the substance of the Gospel. The beginning, middle, and end of the Christian life must be informed by the redemption that is in Christ Jesusâ€”all the Scriptures are helpful for this. Jesus himself made it very clear that he is the main subject of all the Scriptures. Paul set the tone for our preaching by saying, "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Friends, a sermon is not Christian unless it is Christocentric.
T4G 2008 Giveaways
This is a list of new books that were being given away
this week at the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference
|The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David Wells
This book is a broadside against “new” versions of evangelicalism as well as a call to return to the historic faith, one defined by Reformation solas (grace, faith, and scripture alone), and to a reverence for doctrine. Wells argues that the historic, classical evangelicalism is one marked by doctrinal seriousness, as opposed to the new movements of the marketing church and the emergent church. He energetically confronts the marketing communities and what he terms their “sermons-from-a-barstool and parking lots and après-worship Starbucks stands.” He also takes issue with the most popular evangelical movement in recent years--the emergent church. Emergents are postmodern and postconservative and postfoundational, embracing a less absolute, understanding of the authority
|Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson
More than just theoretical, Christ and Culture Revisited is also designed practically to help Christians untangle current messy debates on living in the world. Carson emphasizes that the relation between Christ and culture is not limited to an either/or cultural paradigm — Christ against culture or Christ transforming culture. Instead Carson offers his own paradigm in which all the categories of biblical theology must be kept in mind simultaneously to inform the Christian worldview. Though several other books on culture interact with Niebuhr, none of them takes anything like the biblical-theological approach adopted here. Ground-breaking and challenging, Christ and Culture Revisited is a tour de force.
|Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)
by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
"With a combination of good humor and firm conviction, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck have written an insightful critique of the emergent church movement. From the nature of truth to the identity of Jesus Christ himself, many emergent leaders have articulated an understanding of Christianity that is in desperate need of a thoughtful, even-handed, and biblically-grounded response. This book is a great place to start."
--R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
|A Tale of Two Sons: The Inside Story of a Father, His Sons, and a Shocking Murder by John MacArthur
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) has been preached from nearly every pulpit in the world and is known by many who read and cherish the Bible. The story is so powerful because it presents, in clear and inspiring terms, our struggle with sin, the need for humble repentance, and the Father's inexhaustible mercy and love. Unfortunately, many Christians would say that they have nothing new to learn from this gem of Scripture. It has lost its luster. But in A Tale of Two Sons, John MacArthur restores the brilliance of this passage, giving engrossing historical background and unveiling a surprise ending readers have never heard before.
|Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists by Collin Hansen For nearly two years, Christianity Today journalist Collin Hansen visited the chief schools, churches, and conferences of this growing movement. He sought to describe its members and ask its leading pastors and theologians about the causes and implications of the Calvinist resurgence. The result, Young, Restless, Reformed, shows common threads in their diverse testimonies and suggests what tomorrow’s church might look like when these young evangelicals become pastors or professors.
|The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors Thabiti M. Anyabwile The cliché is that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. But Thabiti Anyabwile contends that it is not the mistakes we must study; it is the people who have overcome them. So he presents three of the most influential African-American pastors in American history who can teach us what faithful ministry entails.
|In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement J. I. Packer & Mark Dever In My Place Condemned He Stood combines three classic articles by Packer—“The Heart of the Gospel”; his Tyndale Biblical Theology Lecture, “What Did the Cross Achieve”; and his introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ—with Dever’s recent article, “Nothing but the Blood.” It also features a foreword by the four principals of Together for the Gospel: Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Al Mohler. Thoughtful readers looking for a compact classic on this increasingly controversial doctrine need look no farther than this penetrating volume.
|Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth
by Al Mohler
The world in which you live is in the midst of a major cultural transformation–one leading to a widespread lack of faith, an increase in moral relativism, and a rejection of absolute truth. How are we to remain faithful followers of Christ as we live in this ever-shifting culture? How should we think about–and respond to–the crucial moral questions of our day? How can we stand up for the truth?
|The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
"The Truth of the Cross is the best book on the cross I have read. It is a 'must' for every church library and a book that I will give away many times to friends. This is so because it is sober (i.e., it contains historically informed reflections on salient biblical texts), sensible (i.e., it is well-argued), simple (i.e., it holds the reader's attention through grabbing illustrations and even a seventh-grader can its substance), and spiritual (i.e., it comes from a heart set ablaze by the Spirit)."
— Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary
|The Gospel & Personal Evangelism
Yet those believers fail to recognize that God has already established who and how we are to evangelize. In The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Dr. Mark Dever seeks to answer the four basic questions about evangelism that many Christians ask: Who should we evangelize? How should we evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should we evangelize? In his answers Dever draws on New Testament truths and helps believers apply those truths in practical ways. As readers understand the fundamentals of evangelism, they will begin to develop a culture of evangelism in their lives and their local churches.
|The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright by John Piper - Wright’s confidence that the church has gotten it wrong for 1,500 years, given his enormous influence, has set off warning bells for Christian leaders such as John Piper, a pastor and New Testament scholar. If Wright’s framework for interpreting the New Testament text and his understanding of justification find a home in the church, not only could the doctrine of justification be distorted for generations to come, but the New Testament writers’ original intent could be silenced. So Piper is sounding a crucial warning in this book, reminding all Christians to exercise great caution regarding “fresh” interpretations of the Bible and to hold fast to the biblical view of justification.
|Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God Bob Kauflin Nothing is more essential than knowing how to worship the God who created us. This book focuses readers on the essentials of God-honoring worship, combining biblical foundations with practical application in a way that works in the real world. The author, a pastor and noted songwriter, skillfully instructs pastors, musicians, and church leaders so that they can root their congregational worship in unchanging scriptural principles, not divisive cultural trends. Bob Kauflin covers a variety of topics such as the devastating effects of worshiping the wrong things, how to base our worship on God’s self-revelation rather than our assumptions, the fuel of worship, the community of worship, and the ways that eternity’s worship should affect our earthly worship.
T4G Video on Deciding on Which Books to Give Away
Coming in October
There are people I like and respect a great deal who seem to be getting VERY excited about the new ESV Study Bible that is due to come out in October (Dr. Wayne Grudem is the General Editor). They are saying some extra-ordinary things about it - and this from folk who are not generally known for "hype" or "exaggeration." The quotes below certainly have peaked my interest...
"The ESV Study Bible is the finest study tool I have seen in fifty years of Bible teaching." Jerry Bridges
"The ESV is a dream come true for me. The rightful heir to a great line of historic translations, it provides the continuity and modern accuracy I longed for. Now the scope and theological faithfulness of the ESV Study Bible study notes is breathtaking. Oh how precious is the written Word of God." - John Piper
"Wow! Concise, lucid, enlighteningâ€”the ESV Study Bible is an amazing resource. With its textual fidelity, doctrinal substance, and artistic beauty, the ESV Study Bible will be an immense help to all who hunger for God-breathed Scripture. I wholeheartedly recommend this exceptional resource." - Randy Alcorn
â€œOutstanding! The ESV Study Bible is a treasureâ€”a beautiful volume, filled with a wealth of resources. It will be just as useful for the seminarian and long-time pastor as it will be accessible to the brand-new Christian.â€ - R. Albert Mohler Jr.
"I canâ€™t imagine a greater gift to the body of Christ than the ESV Study Bible. It is a potent combination indeed: the reliability and readability of the ESV translation, supplemented by the best of modern and faithful scholarship, packaged in an accessible and attractive format. A Christian could make no wiser investment for himself, a pastor could recommend no better resource for his congregation." - C. J. Mahaney
â€œLike the ESV itself, this Study Bible sets a new standard in excellence. The craftsmanship invested in every pageâ€”from the insightful articles and informative notes to the crisp design and gorgeous illustrationsâ€”makes it an invaluable tool for students of Godâ€™s Word. As a pastor itâ€™s my goal to get one into the hands of every member of my church.â€ - Joshua Harris
You can find out more about the ESV Study Bible here.
The Necessity of Grace
image by All Saints Presbyterian Church, Boise Idaho
Preach the Gospel
In order to inspire faith, preaching must convey the Gospel. The Good News is that God is for us in Jesus Christ. Helping the hearer understand this goes well beyond a "simple" evangelistic message. The grace of God addresses us at every point in our lives: it establishes and strengthens our faith (and, therefore, obedience). Certainly, preach the Law as wellâ€”bad news often precedes the Good News. But the majestic goodness of God, displayed in the Gospel, must characterize our preaching week in and week out. This wins our faith.
Meditation on Grace in Psalm 119
â€œYou shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.â€ â€“ Micah 6:15
Among the curses God gave as a warning to Israel for their disobedience was that they would sow, but not reap; they would tread the grapes they had grown but never have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labors.Â Consider this text carefully, because it means that we can labor for something, and externally do everything necessary to expect a positive result (good crops in this instance), but unless God blesses the effort, our labors will come to naught.Â We can plow, sow and water, but only God, who either showers blessing or withholds it, can ultimately cause the growth.Â To extend this farming analogy to another realm, God likewise calls us to labor and pray for the souls of all those around us by indiscriminately casting forth the seed of the gospel to those He places in our lifeâ€™s path.Â We know not whether we cast the seed on fallow ground or on ground that the Lord has prepared.Â Our labor, therefore, is not in vain, for God has called the church to gather up his elect from the ends of the earth in this way.Â Through the hearing of the gospel are the nations reached, but only the Spirit of God can open or leave hardened the hearts of those to whom we cast seed. It is important to remember that election, of itself, saves no one. Election, rather, is the blueprint of God for what He plans to do on earth in time through the redemptive work of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit ...and this through the preaching of the word (Rom 10). Our work is, therefore, a necessary and an integral part of God's plan. Souls will not come to Christ without the participation of the the church whom God uses to gather His elect. So we should labor as if all depended on us while knowing that the final fruit ulimately rests with God. Our witness and our preaching alone will do nothing, and that is why we pray to the Lord to bless it to His good and perfect ends.
Willow Creek Gets Doctrine?
In 1987 when I was a student in China, a few friends and I took a train to do some traveling around the northeast of China. One of our destinations was a little town called Shanhaiguan which is situated on the east coast. The main attraction of the town was that this was the place where ancient ruins of the Great Wall comes down off the mountains and ends in the ocean. Much of the remains of this 2000 year old wall were still intact but they were largely piles of gray rubble. it was beautiful though and incredible to stand upon a piece of history.
A few years later I had the opportunity to go their again, this time as a stop over on a business trip. I was anticipating the opportunity to see the ruins of the wall again and I was telling the people I was with what a wonderful spot this was. We approached the ocean to see the wall but when we arrived there had been drastic changes. The ruins had completely disappeared and were replaced by a brand new flawless wall ... just rebuilt. How greatly disappointed I was that such a decision had been put in the hands of someone who had no sense of history and had instead decided to commercialize the place and in doing so utterly ruined everything that was good about it. Thinking a new wall might enhance the tourist trade someone laid waste to the beautiful historic ruins. How utterly senseless, I thought to myself. This would be like going to Athens Greece if someone decided to bulldoze the Parthenon and replace it with a brand new replica of the original. AAArrgh
Reformation T-Shirts Customization
Last year when we printed up our Reformation T-Shirts there were a number of customers who, afterward, expressed the desire to customize the shirts to their own style and liking. We are about to do a reprinting of our Five Solas and Monergistic Regeneration T-Shirts but before I go to the screen printers if anyone would like to do some kind of a customization (for example, print the design on the front of the t-shirt rather than the back etc.) we will do our best to accomodate you.
For example, the current front and back look of the Five Solas shirt is as follows:
If any of you want something slightly different, please let us know prior to printing. You can respond to this post below and/or you can email us with a specific request.
Here is the back of the Regeneration T-Shirt. If anyone wants this on the front or without a logo on the front, please let us know now - nothing too fancy, but if you want something we can easily change with the given designs, let us know. We will be getting them printed in a few days.
If anyone is interested, I just compiled and self-published a book of poems with Lulu. Quite a variety of poems, mostly lyrical but with a few narratives, and including several hymns such as "Lovely Progression" (which I recently posted here). The download is free, hard copies are $11.95.
Preach against Unbelief
In order to transform people, preaching aims to increase their faith. The desired progression is from sin to holiness (sanctification), which requires faith. A person will only be changed through truly believing the Word of God. Whether Christian or not, all of us have the same problem: we do not believe the Word of God enough to let it shape our lives in every way. Therefore the preacher must target the unbelief in the hearer, and proclaim the Word as beacon that draws forth true faith from those in whom the Spirit works.
Images of the Savior (1 -- The Creation of the World)
When Jesus offered up for all believers his high-priestly prayer in their behalf, he summed up the essence of his request thus: â€œFather, I desire that those whom you have given me might be with me, where I am, in order that they might behold my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the foundation of the worldâ€ (John 17:24). From which circumstance we may learn that the very essence of what Jesus died to provide us with is nothing less than a rapturous gazing upon his glorious person, as we dwell in his presence forevermore. Heaven is nowhere but where Jesus dwells in his glory, and eternal life is nothing besides the sight of this glory. This is why Jesus had earlier defined eternal life as this: â€œthat they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sentâ€ (John 17:3). True life is that which fulfills the purpose for which man was created, namely, to know and enjoy fellowship with God; and Jesus Christ is the only One who is able to reveal the nature of God to mankind, as we may learn from John chapter one, verses 14 and 18: â€œAnd the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as from the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth....No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.â€ If we would be eternally satisfied, we must learn to behold the glory of Christ. And if we would be among those who for all eternity will indeed be in the joy of God's presence, we must learn to seek Christ's glory even now, as we live upon the earth.
Its about Him
"Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Luke 24:27
"Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, â€œNow I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,â€ now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, â€œNow we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.â€
Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of Godâ€™s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.
Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his peopleâ€™s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
Jesus is the true and better Esther who didnâ€™t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didnâ€™t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.
Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. Heâ€™s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.
The Bibleâ€™s really not about you â€” itâ€™s about Him."
(quoted by Tim Keller at a Resurgence 06 seminar entitled "Preaching the Gospel")
Preach to Transform
In order to glorify God, preaching aims at complete redemption and renewal. The goal is to make the hearer better able to engage reality (God, self, others, world, culture, etc.) from a Biblical perspective. Every facet of every life is fair gameâ€”if a person thinks, feels, speaks or acts at all, then those ways of participating in God's world ought to be made to serve God's glory. Sometimes the transformation is dramatic, as when a person is convicted and converted. Sometimes the change is externally imperceptible, as when a person is reassured once again of God's love. Always it should be so that the person loves God with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength better than he did when he first sat in the pew.
Greg Hawkins tells about the big changes Willow Creek is making.
Apparently there are some big changes afoot at Willow Creeek, the mothership of seeker sentitive churches.
The "Out of Ur" blog reports:
Today, Greg Hawkins, executive pastor at Willow, recapped the study and then shared some changes that the church is now making in response to the research. He said theyâ€™re making the biggest changes to the church in over 30 years. For three decades Willow has been focused on making the church appealing to seekers. But the research shows that itâ€™s the mature believers that drive everything in the churchâ€”including evangelism.
Hawkins says, â€œWe used to think you canâ€™t upset a seeker. But while focusing on that weâ€™ve really upset the Christ-centered people.â€ He spoke about the high levels of dissatisfaction mature believer have with churches. Drawing from the 200 churches and the 57,000 people that have taken the survey, he said that most people are leaving the church because theyâ€™re not being challenged enough.
Preach to Glorify God
The ultimate goal of Christian preachingâ€”as with all other thingsâ€”is the glory of the Triune God. When the minister proclaims God's true and beautiful Word, he honors the Persons, attributes, and works of God. But the glory really radiates when the Spirit uses his Word to change lives. If someone is convicted, saved, comforted, inspired, redeemed by the preached Word, God was at work, showing himself to be good, sovereign, gracious, and altogether glorious.
Justification & Regeneration By Charles Leiter
Justification & Regeneration By Charles Leiter
Now available from HeartCry Publishers at Monergism Books!
For years, the HeartCry staff and our missionaries have greatly benefited from Charles Leiter's teaching on justification and regeneration. Now you can benefit from the same truth in written form.
What does the Bible mean when it says that Christians have "died to sin"?
How is it possible for a just God to "justify the ungodly" without becoming "unjust" Himself?
What is regeneration?
What is justification?
Why do all men desperately need to be justified?
If I have died to sin, why am I still affected by it?
As a Christian, am I the "new man" or the "old man"--or both?
What does the Bible mean when it says that Christians have "died to the law"?
Are Christians still slaves to sin?
The answers to these and many other questions become clear once we gain a biblical understanding of justification and regeneration. These two great miracles lie at the very heart of the gospel, yet even among genuine Christians they are surrounded by confusion and ignorance. This book attempts to set forth in clear biblical light the nature and characteristics of justification and regeneration that God may be glorified and His children brought to know more fully the liberty that is theirs in Christ.
From the Foreword written by Paul Washer
"There seems to be a great abyss separating the biblical theologian and the Christian in the pew. While the theologian is able to climb the Everest of Godâ€™s truth and be transformed by the vision, he often communicates the vision in a language that is beyond us. Thus, we are left at the mercy of popular Christian literature that is often nothing more than quaint stories, pragmatism, and baptized psychology.
The Church in contemporary America does not need more strategies, steps, or keys to the Christian life. The Church needs truth, and more specifically, the great foundational truths of historical Christianity. In this work, Pastor Charles Leiter has done a great service to the Church in that he has taken two of the greatest doctrines of Scripture and two of the greatest miracles in the Christian life and explained them in simple language without loss of content. As I read through the manuscript of this book I was amazed at its simplicity and scopeâ€¦Of particular interest to me was the setting forth of a proper view of regenerationâ€¦Pastor Leiter demonstrates that regeneration is the supernatural work of God whereby the sinnerâ€™s dead, depraved heart of stone is replaced with a new heart that is both willing and able to respond to God in love and obedienceâ€¦I have read this book many times before its going to press. I have greatly benefited from its teaching, and heartily recommend its contents. May the Spirit of God illuminate your heart and mind that you may not only understand the Scriptures explained herein, but that they might become a reality in your life."
Justification & Regeneration By Charles Leiter
Tim Keller in Portland 03/08
ON Tim Keller's recent visit to Portland, my new friend David DeYoung snapped a few good pictures before and during his book discussion.
John Owen & John Bunyan
John Owen once went to hear John Bunyan preach. Charles II, hearing of it, asked the doctor why someone as thoroughly educated as he would want to hear a mere tinker preach. Owen replied, "May it please your Majesty, if I could possess the tinker's abilities to grip men's hearts, I would gladly give in exchange all my learning."
The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World
by David F. Wells
Now in Stock!
Jesus Christ: The Prince of Preachers
by Mike Abendroth.
Faith Comes By Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism
Ed by Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson
What about those who have never heard?
Lately, there seems to be growing interest in the resurgence of Calvinism and Reformed Theology among the younger generation of Evangelicals. Persons from within Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism, as well as outsiders, are taking note, and wondering what could be fueling the phenomenon. I was recently approached by someone asking for possible reasons or motivations underlying this resurgence among younger evangelicals, and after a little deliberation I came up with five motivations that I see at work, as listed below. I am sure there are others, but these seem highly instrumental to me. What do the rest of you think?
The Christ-Centered Nature of the Doctrines of Grace
The TULIP can only be made sense of when we consider Christ and His work at its core ... the core from which all redemptive benefits spring. Four-point Calvinism (which rejects the "L") falls short since it inconsistently views whether or not Christ is the center and cause of all grace or redemptive blessings. It tends, rather, to see the TULIP as an abstraction. Here's why: Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the "L" at the top of the pyramid. It is Jesus Christ which makes sense of all the doctrines of grace. Four-point Calvinists who reject Limited Atonement but embrace irresistible grace must consider this: Irresistible grace is not some abstract doctrine but must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ, specially in relation to the grace purchased by Christ upon the cross. The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-wrought. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father. Therefore Christ must have died for the elect so as to purchase that grace in a way â€“ a redemptive way â€“ that he did not die for the non-elect. That is why we often call it particular redemption. Irresistible grace is one of the redemptive benefits purchased by Jesus Christ ... and it was never granted to the non-elect nor intended for them. I believe that until Jesus Christ is seen as central to the TULIP then four-pointers will continue to reject what is plain.
This is a compilation of my previous posts on obedience. If you would like to download the printable PDF, here it is.
Did Christianity Spread Due of the Promise of Power?
Question from Visitor: Religions that tend to spread the best are those that have the promise of power looming behind them, most often the kind of power that comes either from the promise of associating oneself with a powerful outside culture, or else the power that comes from giving one hope against oppression. Notice that neither of these has anything to do intrinsically with the actual message of any given religion-- these are the function of most any religion. I look at the victory of the West in the Cold War and see this as a major explanatory factor behind the spread of Christianity in the so-called Third World: victory over Communism provides a model of a strong, self-confident society associated with a particular religion, and the adherents of that religion can point to its values and the successes of the liberal, democratic West and know that the desired convert will see that the religious values of the West probably play better because of these successes in real-politik terms.
Moreover, missionaries from developed countries coming into Third World countries to seek converts bring with them wealth and social services. I find it impossible that you should ignore the power differentials in this equation. If a poor refugee from a civil war in Uganda or Rwanda or Burundi or Cambodia is met by a US or Korean minister offering food, education, and a job, and oh by the way here's a copy of the King James Bible, don't you think there's a better chance of that refugee probably converting to Christianity than to, say, the Baha'i faith? And why? Because of the inherent truth of Christianity? No. Not to deny the possibility of the Christian faith being true, but it is not because of its truth that the refugee in this case would convert. It is because of two things, and two alone. First, there is a power differential; the minister and the refugee are not meeting on an equal playing field. The power transaction is all one-way: here are my money, my learning, and my power. To get them, all you have to do is allow me to expose you to mybelief system. The refugee is not going to say no. I am not saying that missionaries simplistically require anyone to agree to convert just to get social services, but rather that the provision of social services sets up an expectation that the receiver will take a look at the faith. Many convert as a result of exposure, exposure they might not have had if they had been safe, secure, and well-provisioned-for members of a stable community. Notice that more conversions occur among refugee and Third World communities that need services than among prospering 1st world countries. Missionaries just don't go into areas where people are rich, white, and not in need of social assistance. Why? Because if they do they are more likely to have doors shut in their face, be asked to leave, or be regarded as an annoyance. And that's because those richer people don't need the social services that the missionaries use to attract those poorer converts mentioned earlier.
Response:That is really quite an interesting theory and might even be persuasive if I were sitting in a classroom. But even if it were true in some cases that a person would convert because of "wealth and social services", and not due to the truth of the message, the spread of Christianity would most certainly die out as soon as such assistance were withdrawn. This is because the "convert" had no true root, but only believed in order to get something out of it. And it further would not explain the zeal with which indigenous peoples have spread the news of Christianity to their own people. But most of all, I would argue that this viewpoint simply shows complete ignorance of Christian history and how it has spread in various countries. The first three hundred years of Christianity, the love of Christ spread to multiple ethnic groups under the constant threat of death. Christians were crucfied, beheaded, made into candles and lit on fire and thrown to the lions. There was no "bait" hung over them whatsoever. In fact, Christianity has historically spread the most under the harshest of conditions. For a more recent example, in mainland China there were less than one million Chrisitans in 1949 when the communists took control. Missionaries tried for hundreds of years and had almost no fruit to speak of. The influence of the missionaries was obviously a small drop in the bucket compared to the enormous population. But under the rule of Mao, and beyond, when Christianity was outlawed and leaders were tortured and killed (and without the help of missionaries offering social servces) Christianities growth has exploded to around 100 million in a 50 year period in that country. The biggest revival of Christianity in human history under the leadership of a dictator. This completely blows the above argument out of the water and shows really how silly it is. It may sound good and persuasive in a sociology classroom but when you get on the ground and see what happens in real life, the truth is the opposite and even counter-intuitive. I would encourage you to do your research rather than be taken in by the latest postmodern argument coming out of Columbia University.