TRUST: Reliability of Apostolic Witness

“The whole of the Christian faith is based on certain historical realities, occurrences and statements that happened sometime in the past.  These events have to do, fundamentally, with the identity of one man, Jesus of Nazareth.  Can we trust the information we have about Him?”

Read entire article:  Matthew and John on the Witness Stand

GOSPEL: Seeing Things As They Are

Another good program by the guys at WHI:  Gospel Driven

Really appreciate what’s said concerning:

1)   Paul’s finding the Gospel (Cross of Christ) to always be the context for seeing things as they are.

2)   The fear/ignorance that b(l)inds men from preaching Christ crucified as the Sum/Substance of faith and life…that which guards and nurtures the body of Christ.

Centered: On Christ or Christian?

Here is what I suspect would be a discussion with a little bite (in a good way!).  Most churches that you either attend, or minister at, are very likely to be found having succumbed to this Gospel-less, Cross-less, Christ-less blight that I have mentioned here before and Miles McKee (in the following sermon) addresses at ‘point-blank-range.’

If you have the stomach (a Spirit wrought fortitude rooted in the Gospel) for it, PLEASE, take some time to listen to and/or read the following:

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

My next post will consist of a handful of notes that capture highlights from Miles’ comments.

Christianity: Not “The Gospel and…whatever”

Here are two programs that discuss the *priority* of the Gospel in ALL that the Church is about.

WHITE HORSE INN:  We Preach Christ Crucified

&

ISSUES ETC: Gospel Driven Church

Some highlights from the first (WHI):

1. After becoming Christians, Christians have a very strong tendency to make becoming a Christian easier than it was for them. Thus missing that the Gospel is not intuitive to the natural man…no matter what coating (i.e., sugar, lemon, etc) is put on it.

2. Preaching today (and probably always has been the majority approach) is a motivational speech wherein ‘Jesus & Friends’ are cited. This has always been a problem…folks wanting to establish their own righteousness, while not fully accepting/understanding that true righteousness is by faith not works (see Rom.3.21-22; 4.5,13,22; 5.17; 8.10; 9.30; 10.3-4,6; and 14.17) . Meaning, sanctification is not about…”Ok, we got that gospel thing down, now lets get busy and holier for God!” No, from start to finish (birth to death) by faith alone!

3. Preaching today (again, always the tendency) is to create a “need” that the pastor, etc can “meet.” All the while, biblical terminology is utilized (emptied its right meaning) in order to sell folks a plan for “fulfilling your destiny.”

4. The Cross is wrongly made out to be an answer to a different set of questions than those the Gospel actually answers. In other words, folks start out on the wrong page and assume that the Gospel “applies” to that very page.

5. Paul sang “one” note…Christ crucified! This and this alone answers man’s greatest and ultimate need, to find acceptance with a thrice Holy God. The foundation of this Throne of Grace, that the Apostle exclusively preached, was made of only true “justice and judgment” (Ps.89.1). It is this Gospel that is the fullest revelation of God’s wrath against human sin (Rom.1.17-18).

The second program (Issues, Etc) is equally good, addressing many of the same concerns…the Gospel ends up being “left behind” by churches/ministries, rather than seeing it as the sole means whereby God makes a people for His name’s sake.

Priorities of the Ministry of the Gospel

Don Carson has warned:

“Our passion must first be the gospel and not assume it to be understood.”

“We must be careful to keep the gospel central and not turn our responses to the gospel as the main target.”

Scott Thomas mentions that:

“…Carson exhorted…Christian leaders to spend our time on prayer and the ministry of the Word and allow our people to begin and maintain efforts in social concern. He said we must distinguish between what the church as church must do and what the community of believers in the church must do…”

In need of a Gospel-driven theology

Someone by the name of “Chris” wrote:

Do you notice how all of those four problems [within the common Charismatic focus] ultimately come down to issues around the person and work of Jesus (addressing your four points in turn):

– Ignoring the significance of Jesus.
– Misunderstanding the work of Jesus.
– Confusion over the uniqueness of Jesus in redemptive history.
– Spiritual deafness to the voice of Jesus (”My sheep know my voice”).

Go here: Cerulean Sanctum for the whole story.

Gospel and Church Health

Steve Mathewson has written:  

“The point is, then, that the gospel is never something we outgrow. It’s at the core of Christian living. It’s at the core of what God is doing to save us – including the past, present, and future aspects of this great salvation. The answer to our struggles with greed, immorality, legalism, jealousy, hatred, and selfish ambition is the gospel… Whatever challenges or problems we are facing in our churches, the solution takes us back to the gospel.”

Reaching the Top and Depths w/ The Gospel

Elyse Fitzpatrick in an interview (re: Because He Loves Me):  “Simply put, I think that this is the most important book I’ve written because I’m finally writing about the One who is preeminent, Jesus Christ. I feel like much of my life has been spent pursuing godliness and encouraging others to do so while leaving Jesus behind. Not that I didn’t love him, just that I didn’t see how relevant he is to everything in my daily life.

“I can’t imagine ever writing on anything else again because once you’ve reached the pinnacle of God’s work in the world, what else is there to say? I’ve spent a good part of a year confining my thinking and reading (when not being silly or reading fiction!) to one topic: God’s love for us in Christ, and it’s transformed my heart. I can see how it’s been so easy for me to gloss over God’s love and move on to my responsibility, and I can see how deeply wrong that is.

Gospel Truth precedes Godliness

Gabriel Wilson once wrote: “I heartily with you regret the great decay of practical godliness, but wonder the less of it, seeing truth is a-going; and you may believe it is vain to talk of the recovery of religion in its practice and power, in order to the revival of truth, and setting matter of doctrine to rights, for this I humbly conceive is not the due order. It will be but a perfuming and supporting a dead carcase, or forcing water forth a flint, to essay (i.e., to perform or attempt something) holiness of heart and life, without the knowledge and belief of the truth.

The gospel is a doctrine according to godliness. The love of the Spirit, and the belief of the truth, are inseparable. The doctrine of Christ being once believed and received, then, and not till then, will godliness natively and inseparably result from, and accompany it; and this, if you look back, has been the blest order in all times of reformation in the church, the light of truth coming in, the Spirit of God coming along, making it effectual to change the hearts and lives of men. O that the Sun of righteousness would return, and rise on us with his life-giving, healing light and heat!”

Our Confession

Lee Irons said:    “To exalt the Reformed confessions is to downplay the primary New Testament confession that “Jesus is Lord.” I’m not a Reformed person who happens to be a Christian. I’m a blood-bought Christian who happens to believe in the Reformed understanding of the gospel. And I do not view myself as a superior Christian for having this belief. It is only by the grace of God that I understand what I do of the grace of God, and even then I betray it all too often in my practice.

Holding the Truth in Charity

Lee Irons said:  “Another point — it is true that the majority of evangelicals in the U.S. are ill-taught, doctrinally confused, and engage in a variety of questionable practices. The teaching from evangelical pulpits across America tends to confuse cult and culture, has a moralistic bent, and often strays into the realm of heresy. Most evangelicals would not be able to explain the gospel clearly and accurately if asked. So identifying as an evangelical runs the risk of sending the message that we support and identify with this mess. But rather than viewing evangelicals as part of a big mess “out there” that we want nothing to do with, charity dictates that we should view them as immature brothers and sisters in Christ who need to be lovingly taught and encouraged to be consistent with the evangelical faith that they claim to profess.”

 

What drives you?

Lee Irons said:   This, I believe, is a most helpful passage [1Cor.15.1-19] in orienting us to what is primary for Paul, and by implication, what ought to be primary for us as well. When people read our books and blogs, or listen to our sermons, or attend our worship services, what do they perceive is “of primary importance” to us?  I hope it is not that we are “Reformed,” or that we subscribe to “the Reformed Confessions,” or that we are “Presbyterian” in our church government. I hope it is that we love, preach, and live out of the apostolic gospel of Christ’s death for our sins.”

First Importance

Lee Irons said:   “Paul makes it clear [1Cor.15.3] that the gospel is “of first importance,” literally, “among the first (i.e., most important) things” (ἐν πρώτοις, cp. BDAG). This implies that there are many other important issues in the Christian faith and life — perhaps some of the topics Paul has addressed in the foregoing parts of his first letter to the Corinthians, e.g., church unity, church discipline, the dangers of immorality, lawsuits, marriage and divorce, food sacrificed to idols, and spiritual gifts — but none of these stands on the same level as the gospel itself.”

At The Gospel They All Stumble

Thomas Goodwin:    “And in the incarnation of his Son, and the satisfaction of his justice, so many more also meet in this one mystery, things of such a seeming contradiction, as the wits of men know not how to reconcile. And this in every part of it, as in election, that God at once loves the sinner with an everlasting, unchangeable love, and yet a child of wrath; which the Remonstrants therefore quarrel. In the work of redemption, that free grace, and richest mercy, and fullest satisfaction, should meet together; which the Socinians therefore are blinded in. In the work of justification, that one in whom God works inherent righteousness, should not stand righteous before God’s tribunal, but be justified by the righteousness of another, which the papists stumble at, as did the Jews, to their destruction. In sanctification, how effectual calling, infallible conversion, should stand with man’s free will, is a riddle to the Arminians and papists, who therefore cut the knot, not being able to untie it. All these are mysteries which God hath revealed and made up in this, on purpose to shew his wisdom, and to make wise his own, and to befool the world.”

Behold and Be Changed – Amen!

Thomas Goodwin:    “That as a glass in itself is but an empty thing, unless the objects to be seen in it be directly placed before it, and by light discovered in it, a glass represents nothing to us; and such I confess the gospel is in itself, a mere verbal representation; but to believers, the saints in the text, the Spirit of the Lord joins with these words, presents Christ by a secret, hidden, and unheard of act to the eye of faith in the preaching or reading of it, opens heaven, and causes the glory of Christ to shine as present in it in a lively, real manner. And so it follows in that 2 Cor. 3:18, ‘We all behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, even as by the Spirit of the Lord;’ and lastly, which is the strangest of all the rest, ‘are changed into the same image.’ That whereas a man may look long enough upon other pictures, though never so rich and glorious, and go away as he comes, his countenance no whit altered; but this is such a representation as, by beholding of it, we are changed into the same image, and the riches of Christ are made ours; which riches are ‘Christ in you,’ says the text; the strangest glass and picture that over yet was seen in the world.”