I would recommend reading this and thinking deeply about partnering with your local church. As Josh Harris would say, "Stop dating the church" and make a commitment.
HT / Reformedish
You will hard pressed to hear the gospel any clearer than right here - repent and believe. Jesus is mighty to save - SDG!
After having this discussion with a friend just yesterday, I came across these wise words from Kevin DeYoung...
Error #1: The good we do can in some small way make us right with God. This is a denial of the gospel. The good we do is of no use to us in our justification because “even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin” (HC Q/A 62). We “cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment” (BC Art. 24).
Error #2: We must be good Christians so that God will keep loving us. To the contrary, the good news of justification by faith alone means that we can now “do a thing out of love for God” instead of “only out of love for [ourselves] and fear of being condemned” (BC Art. 24). In the midst of daily sins and weakness the struggling Christian should “flee for refuge to Christ crucified” (CD 5.2), truths that “it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost” (CD 5.8).
Error #3: If sanctification is a work of divine grace in our lives, then it must not involve our effort. We are absolutely “indebted to God for the good works we do” (BC Art. 24). He is the one at work in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. At the same time, “faith working through love” leads “a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word” (BC. Art. 24). Our ability to do good works “is not at all” in ourselves, but we still “ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in [us]” (WCF 16.3).
Error #4: Warning people of judgment is law and has no part to play in preaching the gospel. Actually, “preaching the gospel” should both “open and close the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming to believers what God has done for us in Christ. The kingdom of heaven is closed by proclaiming “to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony” (HC Q/A 84).
Error #5: There is only one reason Christians should pursue sanctification and that’s because of our justification. The Heidelberg Catechism lists several reasons—motivations even—for doing good. “We do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ” (HC Q/A 86).
Error #6: Since we cannot obey God’s commandments perfectly, we should not insist on obedience from ourselves or from others. While it is true that “in this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience,” that’s not the whole story. “Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments” (HC Q/A 114). Because we belong to Christ and our good works are “sanctified by his grace” (BC Art. 24), God “is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections” (WCF 13.6).
Error #7: The Ten Commandments should be preached in order to remind us of our sin, but not so that believers may be stirred up to try to obey the commandments. The Heidelberg Catechism acknowledges that “no one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly,” but it still insists that “God wants them preached pointedly.” For two reason: “First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.” And “Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection” (HC Q/A 115).
Error #8: Being fully justified as Christians, we should never fear displeasing God or offending him. The promise of divine preservation does not mean that true believers will never fall into serious sin (CD 5.4). Even believers can commit “monstrous sins” that “greatly offend God.” When we sin in such egregious ways, we “sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time” until we repent and God’s fatherly face shines upon us again (5.5). God being for us in Christ in a legal and ultimate sense does not mean he will never frown upon our disobedience. But it does mean that God will always effectively renew us to repentance and bring us to “experience again the grace of reconciled God” (5.7).
Error #9: The only proper ground for assurance is in the promises of God found in the gospel. Assurance is not to be sought from private relation but from three sources: from faith in the promises of God, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying to our spirits that we are children of God, and from “a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works” (CD 5.10). Assurance is not inimical to the pursuit of holiness, but intimately bound up with it. We walk in God’s ways “in order that by walking them [we] may maintain the assurance of [our] perseverance” (5.13). Personal holiness is not only a ground for assurance; the desire for assurance is itself a motivation unto holiness.
Error #10: Threats and exhortations belong to the terrors of the law and are not to be used as a motivation unto holiness. This is not the view of the Canons of Dort: “And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments” (CD 5.14). Notice two things here. First, God causes us to persevere by several means. He makes promises to us, but he also threatens. He works by the hearing of the gospel and by the use of the sacraments. He has not bound himself to one method. Surely, this helps us make sense of the warnings in Hebrews and elsewhere in the New Testament. Threats and exhortations do not undermine perseverance; they help to complete it. Second, notice the broad way in which Dort understands the gospel (in this context). In being gospel-centered Christians, we meditate on the “exhortations, threats, and promises” of the gospel. In a strict sense we might say that the gospel is only the good news of how we can be saved. But in a wider sense, the gospel encompasses the whole story of salvation, which includes not only gospel promises but also the threats and exhortations inherent in the gospel.
Loved this section from "Growing Up"....
“Another reason for the lack of disciple-making is the influence of the secular world upon believers. As Christians, we can easily fall into the trap of gauging success in the church by our buildings, the number of bodies present, and the size of our budgets. However, this mentality presents a serious problem: Jesus never gauged effectiveness by these criteria. During His earthly ministry, He never owned anything. In fact, our Lord never had a place to lay His head, much less a regular meeting place for His “congregation” (Luke 9:58).”
“Additionally, Jesus never attempted to draw large crowds for the sake of counting heads. Although He spoke to the masses, He consistently departed to be with the twelve. Acts 1 records that, after He ascended into heaven, only 120 disciples gathered together to pray for God to empower them through the sending of His Spirit. This fact defies all modern church growth standards. Jesus spoke with unprecedented authority. He raised the dead. He gave sight to the blind. He healed the sick.
And at the end of His ministry, the church had grown to only 120 people. This is not to discount the miraculous work of our Lord, but to simply point out that Jesus was not interested in growing a mile wide and an inch deep. Rather, He focused on developing mature, faithful disciples who would go out and make more disciples.”
“Jesus, as demonstrated above, measured success by something other than buildings, bodies, and bucks. He taught us that disciple-making is what matters, and it is a process that takes time...”
Excerpt From: Robby Gallaty. “Growing Up.”
Looking forward to the rest!
- Jesus is the Savior. His name means the one who will save us from our sins.
- He is the Messiah. He’s Jesus Christ. Christ is not His last name. It means the Promised One. The One Promised through out the old testament has come.
- He is the Son of David. He’s from the kingly line of David.
- Son of Abraham.
- Center of history.
- Fully human.
- Fully divine.
- Sovereign over the wise.
- Shepherd of the weak.
- Jesus inaugurates a new exodus.
- He’s ending
- He loves his fiercest enemies
- He’s the Savior King
- He’s Righteous Judge
- He’s filled with God the Spirit
- He’s loved by God the Father
- He’s the new Adam
- He’s the true Israel
- He’s the Light of the World
- He’s the hope for all nations
HT / Verge
-David Platt, Follow Me, p. 3,4
Two thousand years later, I wonder how far we have wandered from this path. Somewhere along the way, amid varying cultural tides and popular church trends, it seems that we have minimized Jesus’ summons to total abandonment. Churches are filled with supposed Christians who seem content to have casual association with Christ while giving nominal adherence to Christianity. Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus involves acknowledging certain facts or saying certain words. But this is not true. Disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, John…show us that the call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it’s a summons to lose our lives."
HT / Z
This months free audio book from Christian Audio is "The Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler (and Jared Wilson). Do yourself a favour and grab this one up. You will never outgrow your need for the gospel. Check out this trailer for the book. Crossway explains, "You know you know it... But then again, maybe you don't. Just because you go to church, used to go to church, or spend all your time at church, doesn't mean you really get the gospel—at least not in all its fullness and specificity. Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, popular pastor Matt Chandler shows that the gospel has implications for more than just conversion as it comes to bear on the cosmos, our every day lives, and the full scope of redemptive history. With wisdom and wit, Matt plumbs the depths of the gospel in his debut book so that we might see the staggering implications of the good news of grace."
I couldn't have said (wrote) it better. Thanks to Stephan Altrogge who writes...
It’s been a pretty big brouhaha (I’ve always loved that word) lately, hasn’t it? First, NBA player Jason Collins openly admits that he is gay. Then, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard raises questions about the rightness/wrongness of being gay. Then all fury erupted. Now, Christians, and anyone else who questions the morality of homosexuality, are being accused of “intolerance”, “bigotry”, “closed-mindedness”, and other similar things.
And I get it, I really do. It takes a lot of courage for a professional athlete to admit that he is a homosexual. And then us hoity-toity Christians swoop in, raining on everyone’s parade. If I wasn’t a Christian, I’d probably be mad too. Christians are always ruining everyone’s party, or so it seems.
But see, here’s the thing: the reality is, you probably shouldn’t be calling me a bigot, you should be calling Jesus a bigot. Or I suppose you could call us both bigots. What I mean is, the only reason I oppose homosexuality is because of what Jesus says in the Bible. If it were up to me, I’d agree with the Beatles that all you need is love. Or, as Sheryl Crow put it, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. I want everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life.
But ultimately it’s not up to me. As a Christian, I have given my life completely over to Jesus, which means all my opinions, ideas, desires, and dreams are submitted to him. He is the king, I am not. His word is final, his rule is complete. I can’t make Jesus fit me, I must fit him. I can’t make Jesus fit my opinions, I must make my opinions fit Jesus. The reason I oppose homosexuality is rooted solely in what Jesus says in the Bible (I am counting all of the New Testament as being the words of Jesus). The New Testament makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin. It’s not worse than any other sin, but it is a sin nonetheless.
Therefore, please don’t interpret my opposition to homosexuality as personal opposition to you. I have no vendetta against you, and carry no grudge toward you. I love you, and want you to experience God’s absolute best. I want to be friends with you, hang out with you, barbecue together. My opinion about homosexuality springs out of my allegiance to Jesus. My allegiance to Jesus takes highest precedent in my life, and informs everything I think and do.
So am I an intolerant bigot? I guess that depends on what you mean by “bigot”. Do I think certain things are objectively right and wrong? Yes. Jesus defines what is right and wrong, and my opinion must line up with his. Does that mean I hate those who do wrong things? No, absolutely not. In fact, I actively “tolerate” and respect those who hold different opinions than me, which is the true meaning of tolerance. When you call me a bigot you are implying that I actively hate you, which is far from the truth!
Ultimately, I want to be like Jesus. The Bible describes him as being full of grace and truth. On the one hand, he was gracious, loving, and respectful to those who did what was morally wrong. He spent many hours hanging around those who were despised by the religious leaders of the day. His love for people was not based on their righteousness. On the other hand, he lovingly spoke the truth to those who did what was wrong. He called people to submit their lives totally to him.
So if you’re going to call me a bigot, you must also call Jesus a bigot. But please don’t call Jesus a bigot. Bigotry implies venom and hatred, which is the opposite of Jesus. He loves you far more than you can possibly imagine.