Thursday, May 31, 2012

7 Evils of a Grumbling Spirit

B.J. Stockman:
As a sequel to my recent post “Mr. Grumbly Gills”, I thought it’d be helpful to draw from the deep wells of Jeremiah Burroughs’ old work The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment to further demonstrate the sin of grumbling. It’s easy to ignore pervasive “normal” sins like grumbling and fixate on more occasional “shocking” sins like that sexual sin that held you years ago or that time you dropped the F-bomb on your parents, kids, or spouse. But don’t be deceived: a murmuring mouth is particularly grieving to God because it reveals discontent in God. Psalm 106 says that one of the reasons God made the people of Israel “fall in the wilderness” was because they “murmured in their tents” (v. 25, 26). Therefore having a case of Mr. Grumbly Gills has serious consequences. In the following, I summarize and add to Burroughs’ section on “The Evils of a Murmuring Spirit” and offer seven evils of a grumbling, murmuring, and complaining heart within the Christian:

His 7 Evils:

1. It models Satan.  
2. It is contrary to who you are. 
3. It is the opposite of prayer. 
4. It is simply a waste of time. 
5. It swallows up the blessing of mercy before it arrives. 
6. It worsens sufferings and afflictions. 
7. It wears the hopeless costume of pessimism.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

John Piper's Successor

This is extremely encouraging. John Piper and his successor, Jason Meyer, sit down to talk with Justin Taylor about what the succession process looked like.

Very cool.

American Evangelicals Do Not Behave As Badly

It bothers me every time I hear someone (usually a Christian) rattle off facts about how Christians sin at the same levels as everyone else. It simply isn't true. Cultural, nominal Christians? Yes, of course, because cultural evangelicalism is a moralism that has no power to change. Truly born again, regenerate believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ? No way. By definition, it simply isn't possible.

John Stackhouse:
Christian Smith has written about it briefly. Brad Wright has written about it at book length. And I’ve written about it in a nice, big article that ought to have laid the matter to rest once and for all. 
Yet the myth can’t be killed. Weirdly, it’s a myth perpetuated especially by evangelicals themselves: We’re just as bad as everyone else, we feel (or ought to feel) terrible about that, and now here’s what we’ll do. The classic American sermon style known as the “jeremiad” never goes out of date, it seems. But in this case, its basis is just wrong. 
Evangelicals–and here’s the key point: according to any definition that John Wesley or Billy Graham would recognize–do not, in fact, behave as badly as the American population at large. They do not, in fact, have extramarital sex as often or abort babies as often. (Even the National Association of Evangelicals seems to have gotten these basic facts wrong.) They do not experience the same levels of marital unhappiness and divorce. They do not give to charity or volunteer at the same low levels as the population at large. And so on, and so on. 
Preachers fasten on these egregiously mistaken claims–mistakes by people such as George Barna, the Gallup organization, and Ron Sider, who really ought to know better. (I mean, Barna, the late Mr. Gallup, and my friend Ron are all believers: Why, when they concluded that evangelicalism apparently makes no practical difference, would they not give their heads, and their data, a shake and say, “Hmm. Perhaps we got something wrong here.” Guys, you did: Your definitions are wrong, so your conclusions are wrong.) Then the preachers typically castigate those of us in the pews and offer whatever their latest stricture to solve the “problem” might be. 
But this whole conversation is off the mark. And it jolly well better be, because if faithful Christian profession and practice doesn’t make any difference in these obvious markers of behaviour, then how can anyone take our gospel seriously? Yet it does, so they can.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Date Your Wife

Really looking forward to reading this new book from Justin Buzzard, Date Your Wife:

The Paint on My Walls Is More Important Than the Joy in Your Heart!

Thought this was pretty good by Kevin DeYoung. Convicting.
Recently I learned something about parenting from a stand-up comedian. I was listening to this bit about children from Brian Regan and around the 1:35 mark he tells the story about his son flinging around half-eaten spaghetti from his mouth and watching the sauce splatter across the room. Regan explained that he made a mistake as a parent because he stopped him: “Hey man, knock that off. Can’t you see the paint on the walls is more important than the joy in your heart?!” At that last line the audience burst into loud laughter and applause. 
I know, I know, it’s a stand-up routine and a not a sermon. Let’s not take it too seriously. But the audience resonated with the line–and so do many of us I imagine–because there is something uncomfortably and refreshingly insightful about the joke. Why would spinning around with spaghetti always be the wrong thing for a child to do? Obviously, probably not a good idea as a guest. And not a good habit to develop as a general rule. But isn’t the best response to such antics–on some days, in some situations, with some people–simply to laugh? Even better, think of the fun you might have if you slurped up your own spaghetti, started bobbin your noggin, and joined Junior in the act. Being a parent means being responsible, but does it have to mean always being the heavy?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Evangelize Your Children; Don't Indoctrinate Them

Thought this post from Barnabas Piper was really good.
We get this idea we have authority over our children's hearts. We demand right responses to theological questions. We put in biblical material and expect biblical results. We catechize them to perfection under the assumption if their answers are right so too are their hearts. In short we indoctrinate them.  
The reality is that we have no more authority over our children's hearts than we do our next door neighbor's or our office mate's. Now, if given the opportunity and liberty, we might indoctrinate them too. But I tend to think we find more pleasure and genuineness in seeing people come to belief rather than imposing belief on them. Oh, and no free-thinking adult would allow this sort of imposition, whereas our children have very little choice in the matter. 
Why is it we do not often evangelize our children with the same grace, patience, interaction, and mutual respect we do our neighbors? We correct our children’s ideas about God or morality with a “no, that’s not right” method rather than an “I believe _____ because _____.” method. But what if our children don’t agree? They are under our authority and either afraid of or tired of the “no, that’s not right” response so they keep their thoughts and disbelief to themselves until the day comes they no longer have to listen to us. Then they go about believing and acting upon whatever it is they feel like. 
When my daughter comes from school and asks why one classmate has two mommies or why another classmate doesn’t eat all day because of something called “Ramadan” how do I react? Or, just as likely, what about the times she will express those counter-biblical, but very cultural, notions of “self” that will suffuse her education? What if she quotes her teacher’s views on the existence of God and empathizes with the doubts? And I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about the horrors of high school sex ed. Am I going to respond as one whose indoctrinations have failed or as a gracious evangelist seeking to win and convince? 
It’s my responsibility to teach my kids. But if I replace education and evangelism with information and indoctrination I am setting them up to fall far and fall hard. My children are my neighbors and thus deserve grace and conversation about truth and belief. In their early years this is a more one-sided conversation but, it must become a two-way flow of ideas in time. I do not rule their hearts, so to attempt to wield authority over them is a vain and angst inducing effort. I shepherd them, but I do not convert them. I teach and influence them, but I do not make them. And so I should emphasize evangelizing them not indoctrinating them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Josh Hamilton, Relapse, and the Means of Grace

Great post at Desiring God on Josh Hamilton, the best player in baseball right now.
In case you missed it, Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in one game last week. 
In case you don't know baseball, that's a big deal. Only 15 other players in Major League history have accomplished the feat. 
But what's impressive about Hamilton is that it's not just one good game. It's now several outstanding seasons, and an unusual career. An unashamed evangelical, Hamilton is one of the more amazing sports stories of our time as he has recovered from drug addiction and alcoholism, with God's help, to become one of the game's elite players. Not only is he a four-time All-Star, and the 2010 Most Valuable Player, but he currently leads the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. 
ESPN's Pardon the Interruption interviewed Hamilton the day after his four-home-run performance, and in the course of the interview, he was asked about his recent "relapse" (he admitted in February to consuming 2 or 3 drinks at a bar in Dallas). Hamilton responded with depth and authenticity about his faith and that he's been learning to evaluate the weeks and months that lead up to temptations to relapse. In particular, he says he's learned to ask, "Did I stop praying? Did I stop getting into the Word? Did I stop fellowshipping and allowing people who care for me into my circle?" 
What he's talking about are the so-called "means of grace." In fact, John Frame (who explains the means of grace as "certain channels by which God gives spiritual power to his church") categorizes the various Christian means of grace under the three precise headings Hamilton mentions: Word, prayer, and fellowship. 
So how do we Christians, recovering sinners as we are, avoid relapse, grow in our faith, and continue to avail ourselves of the grace of God for everyday life? 
Read the rest of the article.

Here's the PTI clip referenced:

What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality

Kevin DeYoung:
On Tuesday afternoon, CNN ran an article on its Belief Blog by Catholic priest (sort of) Daniel Helminiak entitled “My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality.”  The article is amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space. A quick trip through the piece will show you what I mean. Helminiak’s writing will be in bold and then my response will follow. 
This is a great example of how to engage the (poor) arguments of people with the Biblical truth on the issues. It's difficult to even read the article by Helminiak as the exegesis is so bad, but DeYoung does a good job of methodically walking through and debunking his points.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Should You Ask Jesus Into Your Heart?

J.D. Greear:
I’m finishing up the manuscript for a new book I have coming out early next year called “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.” Because of the recent controversy stirred up by my friends David Platt and Steve Gaines, I thought I’d put my .02 in (for more on that controversy, read here). For the record, the book will cost more than .02. But that’s just because it’s hardback. The content value probably remains about .02. 
This is from a section at the beginning called, “A Couple of Things I’m Not Saying.” 
“Asking Jesus Into Your Heart Is Heretical” 
When I say “stop asking Jesus into your heart,” I do not mean to imply that “asking Jesus into your heart” is an entirely inappropriate way to express repentance and faith. When you get saved, Jesus “comes into your heart” (Romans 8:9–11; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27–28; Galatians 2:20). My concern is that quite often reducing salvation to this phrase obscures the primary instruments of salvation, repentance and faith. 
There are lots of things that happen at the moment of salvation: we are washed in Jesus’ blood, sealed by His Spirit, guaranteed a home in heaven, grafted into the vine, our names are written in the book of life, Satan’s claims against us are nullified, and Jesus comes into our hearts… just to name a few. Asking Jesus to do any one of these for us is not inappropriate, but we do not want to obscure the fact that the necessary instruments for laying hold of salvation are repentance and faith. 
For example, if we were to go around telling people that if they want to be saved they should ask Jesus to “begin construction on their home in heaven,” that would not be wrong, per se (John 14:1–3), but it could be misleading. People with no remorse for their sin might still be excited about Jesus providing them with an eternal vacation home. Focusing on what Jesus promised to do after we are saved might obscure the one thing He said we must do if we are to be saved: repent and believe the gospel. Salvation is indeed a request for forgiveness of sins and for union with Jesus and with many other wonderful things, but the request is made by a posture of repentance and faith toward Christ’s finished work. 
My concern in this book is not on what words we might use to express their faith, but how we understand true conversion and find assurance that we have it. Many Christians see salvation as a transaction one conducts with Jesus (signified by “inviting Jesus into your heart” or some equivalent) rather than the beginning of a posture they take toward the finished work of Christ. 
“Pressing for a Decision When We Present the Gospel Distorts It” 
Finally, I do not want (in any way) to discourage pressing for a decision when the gospel is preached. Preachers of old invited sinners to come forward and ask Jesus into their hearts if they want to be saved. While I do not care for the terminology they employed, the gospel is indeed an invitation and must be personally received (John 1:12; Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17). Every time we preach we should extend that invitation. In fact, if we do not urge the hearer to respond personally to God’s offer in Christ, we have not fully preached the gospel. 
I am calling on people to “stop asking Jesus into their hearts” because God has settled their salvation in Christ and wants them to rest upon that fact in repentance and faith. Conversion is not a one-time ceremony you go through and you’d better get right or else be eternally lost; it’s a posture toward Christ that you begin at a point and maintain for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Short Documentary About My Alma Mater's Game Against UK

Most of you won't care about this, but it was cool for me to watch.

In college, I played basketball for a few years for Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, a small, division 3 school literally blocks from Rupp Arena. This year, Transy had the opportunity to play against the University of Kentucky in an exhibition game to start the season. Obviously, Kentucky went on to lose only 1 game all year and win the national championship, so they beat TU pretty handily, although we gave them their best battle in their first games of the year.

A guy I played with at Transy runs a film production company now, and he put together a short documentary about the game and the story of how it came together. Thought this was well done.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Win the Public on Homosexuality

Collin Hansen:
As columnist Ross Douthat argues in his recent book Bad Religion, "Ultimately, the Christian sexual ethic asks more of people with same-sex attraction than it does of straights---a far greater self-denial, a more heroic chastity." Whether you've struggled with same-sex attraction yourself or counseled anyone with these inclinations, you know the agony Douthat describes. Problem is, gays don't see us as agonizing over our acceptable sins. The pursuit of self-fulfillment covers a multitude of adultery, divorce, and pornography in our churches. Why shouldn't it also cover homosexuality? 
Consider the case of "Reggie," described by the team of sociologists led by Christian Smith who researched and wrote Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood.Reggie lives at home with his mom while studying business administration at a nearby state university. He works part-time as a youth leader in the church of his own youth. And he spends his free time seducing women. Following hundreds of interviews, the sociologists regard him as typical for his generation except in one way: Reggie believes the Bible teaches sex outside marriage is wrong. He just doesn't think it makes any difference, because we can't control our urges. In the stories of Reggie and many others, we see echoes of Major: God gave me these urges, so he won't deny my enjoyment of them, and you can't tell me they're wrong. 
It's so easy for us to look up Romans 1 and observe the obvious gap between biblical teaching and homosexuality. We think if they only recognized biblical authority, the gap would shrink and possibly even disappear. But rebellion against biblical authority may not sufficiently explain the problem in our day. Observe what Brett Major's parents wrote to the administrators at the University of Nebraska. 
Gays can be raised in the "perfect" family environment with parents active and nurturing, raised in the church to become lovers of the scripture. They are Christians---Brett is such an example. 
We're fighting today over authority, yes, but it's not straightforwardly biblical. Many gay-rights advocates have excused themselves behind a professed love of God's Word. You won't likely win a debate with them by citing Bible verses they've been trained to explain away. Rather, we're losing a more fundamental struggle over the very definition of God. Straight or gay, Reggie or Brett, we're not satisfied with a God who calls us sinners. Who calls on us to deny ourselves. Who calls our gaze heavenward to receive his blessing: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 5:14). 
Romans 1 reveals the horrifying outcome of this idolatry, when we deny God his divine right as Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Judge. God can do nothing worse to sinners than grant their desires. So Christians do not so much fear the hostile imposition of gay marriage as its so-called flourishing. In this world God created, such idolatry produces neither life, nor liberty, nor happiness (2 Peter 2:19). It will only spread the regret and frustration "Reggie" and his generation of sexually liberated young adults confessed to Smith and his fellow researchers. So why hasn't freedom resulted in happiness? 
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24; see also Mark 8:34Luke 9:23). These hard words point us toward the only source of abundant life: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24; see also Mark 8:35Luke 9:24). For presidents and paupers, gays and straights, there is no other way to true happiness than the one Jesus traveled, the way that ended in the agony of the Cross and the ecstasy of the Resurrection. 
To deny ourselves is to welcome the God who delights in giving every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), especially freedom from the vain pursuit of self-fulfillment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Responding to Public Criticism of Christians

Barnabas Piper:
Late last month, nationally syndicated columnist and noted gay-rights activist Dan Savage made headlines for his abrasive (abusive?) anti-Bible commentsat a high school journalism seminar. He encouraged students to “ignore the [expletive] in the bible about gay people” just like they do about virginity, masturbation, and a few other subjects. Then when offended students began leaving he called it a “pansy [expletive]” reaction. 
This past week, Rick Reilly wrote a column at lambasting a Christian assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska for his view on homosexuality. He took special umbrage to the idea that the coach would use his platform at a large university to spread his views. Reilly referred to it as “campaigning for the right to discriminate.” 
...As followers of Jesus, we are called to suffer, to be reviled, and to do so with rejoicing. We were promised with great clarity that suffering would come and that the world would see the gospel of Jesus as drivel. So why do we get so up in arms when it actually happens? 
Defending the truth is right and biblical. But defending the truth is different than public displays of defensiveness. What Christians are doing by firing back at Savage or Reilly is,as Jesus says, throwing “pearls before pigs.” In that same verse He says that those pearls will be trampled and the pigs will turn on us to attack. Jesus is saying that response, defense, and judgment are not always wise and will often be harmful. 
It is not our strong defenses against blow-hard anti-Christians that will lead people to Jesus. It is the exemplification of a Christ-like life and the firm proclamation of His gospel. Our spar-and-parry articles will not overcome the influence of Dan Savage, Rick Reilly, or those like them. We cannot win this cultural war of words. But, through our lives and testimony, the Spirit can win the war for souls.

Ian and Larissa

This made the rounds yesterday, so most people have likely seen it, but still worth posting again. Such a powerful testimony to the nature of marriage.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quotes from Matt Chandler's "Explicit Gospel"

Desiring God has a list of 20 quotes from Matt Chandler's fantastic new book, Explicit Gospel. Here are some of my favorites from that list.

“More often than not, we want him to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin’s Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.” (29) 
“The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury — instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength — we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.” (39–40) 
“This avoidance of the difficult things of Scripture — of sinfulness and hell and God’s notable severity — is idolatrous and cowardly. If a man or a woman who teaches the Scriptures is afraid to explain to you the severity of God, they have betrayed you, and they love their ego more than they love you.” (41) 
“Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it’s a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it.” (49) 
“He created the flavors! He created the colors. He created it all, and he did it all out of the overflow of his perfections. It’s not like he was thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got some fajita flavoring over here. I know: let’s put it on the cow and the chicken.’ He created the avocado to have a certain flavor; he created the skirt steak, the fillet, and the tenderloin to have certain flavors. That was God’s doing. So every aspect of creation, from the largest galaxy to the tiniest burst of flavor in food or drink or seasoning, radiates the goodness of God.” (102) 
“The reconciling gospel is always at the forefront of the church’s social action, because a full belly is not better than a reconciled soul.” (150) 
“Once we remove the bloody atonement as satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, the wheels really come off. Where the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is preached and proclaimed, missions will not spin off to a liberal shell of a lifeless message but will stay true to what God has commanded the church to be in the Scriptures.” (198) 
“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.” (211) 
“Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.” (217–218) 
“Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the dos and don’ts of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s ‘Done!’” (221)

Music Video of the Week: Jenny & Tyler

Jenny & Tyler - "Little Balloon"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dialogue on Evangelical Issues

I had the privilege of attending this in person as part of a class I was taking to coincide with the Together For The Gospel conference. I thoroughly enjoyed the panel and thought it was one of the better ones I've seen. Genuine disagreement, yet humble engagement on the issues.

Here's Russell Moore's description:
A few weeks ago, a conference, Together for the Gospel, met here in Louisville taking up the theme of “The Underestimated Gospel.” In conjunction with that, some colleagues and I taught a class on the issues under discussion. Part of that was the opportunity to have some friends, old and new, that I admire and enjoy join me for a conversation. 
In this video, I’m joined by J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC; Joshua Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD; Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia; Matt Pinson, president of the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville; and Jefferson Bethke, poet-artist whose video on “Jesus vs. Religion” rocked the world last year. 
In this conversation, we talk about some broad themes of what the challenges are facing evangelical Christianity, and what the future looks like. 
We discuss, for instance, why Matt Pinson, as an Arminian theologian, finds both promise and peril in the “Young, Restless, Reformed” movement, and what he wishes Calvinists knew aboutreal Arminianism (instead of the semi-Pelagian caricature). Carl and J.D. go at it over whether the NT allows for multi-site churches. Jefferson Bethke explains what he learned about ministry from being castigated by some evangelical leaders he admired (and being gently discipled by others). 
I hope you enjoy hearing these brothers talk from the heart. I love and respect each one of them and am glad to co-labor with them for the kingdom.

Fantastic Description of the Christian Life

I am not what I ought to be.
Ah! how imperfect and deficient.

Not what I might be,
considering my privileges and opportunities.

Not what I wish to be.
God, who knows my heart, knows I wish to be like him.

I am not what I hope to be;
ere long to drop this clay tabernacle, to be like him and see him as He is.

Not what I once was,
a child of sin, and slave of the devil.

Thought not all these,
not what I ought to be,
not what I might be,
not what I wish or hope to be, and
not what once was,
I think I can truly say with the apostle,
“By the grace of God I am what I am.”
—John Newton (1725-1807), cited in Letters of John Newton, p. 400.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Has the Gospel-Centered Emphasis Gone Too Far?

Michael Horton:

Over these two decades, we’ve been through a series of controversies within evangelicalism about the character of God and his gospel: open theism, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and the “emergent” movement, to name a few. Along the way, we’ve engaged Robert Schuller, with the publication of his Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, at a moment when it seemed from the Christian best-seller list that Christianity was being radically re-written in the subjective and therapeutic categories of modernity. 
There are still enormous challenges, of course. As our latest issue of Modern Reformationpoints out, the diet of Christian trade books doesn’t exactly point in the direction of widespread renewal of catechesis. Nevertheless, there has been a proliferation of gospel-centered resources. Groups like the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel sponsor large national conferences. Reared on moralism, a number of younger pastors—many of larger nondenominational churches—are being gripped by grace. 
Just think of some of the titles of late in this genre: The Gospel as Center, D. A. Carson; The Prodigal God, Tim Keller; Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian Tchividjian; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, J. D. Greear; The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung; What Is the Gospel?, Greg Gilbert. I’ve added a few of my own logs to the “gospel” fire, so I can only rejoice in what Charles Swindoll called a while back “the grace awakening.” 
Of course, there is always a danger that when you take God’s Word out of the church—out of the ambient environment of expository preaching, baptism, Communion, prayer, confession, absolution, and praise—it becomes a genre. Like “gospel music,” gospel or grace can easily become an adjective more than a noun—like a category on “Jeopardy,” carved up into emphases of each parachurch ministry. The latter can do a lot to put “first things” back on the radar, but they can’t proclaim the whole counsel of God week after week, baptize, commune, look after you and your family, and preach your funeral. 
We have to be careful that this wonderful recovery of something so precious doesn’t become reduced to “the gospel thing.” I think that this is in part what people are reacting to when they wonder if it has all gone too far. But has it? From what I hear with some growing frequency, this is becoming a real question in our circles. With all this talk about grace, are we becoming antinomians? Maybe we’ve taken the gospel for granted, but are we now over-reacting by taking holiness for granted?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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