PEEVISH: In “Reformed” Style

Something I posted over at Andrew Fuller Study Center:

—————

Clark says: “Baptists were not recognized as Reformed. Why not? Because paedobaptism was regarded as essential to the Reformed faith.”

Okay. And why should I care if this notion of “REFORMED” faith is something I fit into as Clark says I should? Brothers, let Clark have his playpen-understanding of “REFORMED”. Let him kick and scream that we are “have-not’s”. Let him have his corner. Let him make more of “REFORMED” than the essence of Christianity…Christ crucified, our only boast.

Of course we are thankful for the Gospel-awakening that took place during Reformational times. We’d be arrogant if we didn’t appreciate and learn from the unveiling of the Gospel in those days. However, shame on us (!) if we fail to keep our focus upon Christ alone, boasting about Him!

Let’s bear with our brother, Clark, who sees us as misfits, stepchildren, stillborns. He will bear (even so now) the consequence of clinging more tightly to a debatable doctrine, than he does us in Christ.

Let’s bear our brother up in prayer before the Father of all believers.

(((PS…Clark’ demeanor reminds me of my own when I’m peeved at those I once stood with, whom I once thought well of, but afterward see them as betraying me in this way or that.)))

POISON: Christless Preaching

Here we find words that hit the nail squarely on the head!  We can stop wondering folks, about what it is that ails the church, making it to look and sound so much like the world.  Cut the church off from its Head (Jesus Christ, crucified and risen!) and you have something that closely resembles a chicken with its head cut off.  Lots of commotion, but no life (in/of the Spirit). 

Just look and listen closely enough for where the Gospel is being usurped in the inner workings of the local church, and there you will find forms of idolatry that most of us would otherwise call orthodoxy.  Idolatry has a history of being subtle particularly when it is making a direct assault on the Image of God in Christ.  Remember the Garden.  It all began there one lovely day when all else was good. 

Martyn-Lloyd Jones:

“I am increasingly convinced that so much in the state of the Christian church today is to be explained chiefly by the fact that for nearly a hundred years the church has been preaching morality and ethics, and not the Christian faith. It is this preaching of the ‘good life’, or being ‘a good little gentleman’, and of viewing religion as ‘morality touched by emotion’, as Matthew Arnold put it, that has been the curse. Such men have shed the doctrines; they dislike any idea of atonement, they dismiss the whole notion of the miraculous and the supernatural, and ridicule talk about re-birth. Christianity to them is that which teaches a man to live a good life (Life in the Spirit, 19).”

Quote originally found here:   Jim Kang at Pastor’s Perspective

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.

Worship: Being busy or bust?

 

This post is a follow-up on my previous one, regarding Miles McKee’s efforts to awaken the Church from its spiritual stupor, all the while it is dancing about Itself and not Christ.

                                  

Here again are the two links from which my comments below are taken:   

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

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

 

NOTES:

1… We are busy (Mt.7.21-23) making self-centered GOATS into self-centered SHEEP.

2… We are busy converting the “empty” unbeliever into believers who are “full” of themselves.

3… We are busy confusing people with ideas that their being sinners is due to something they did; rather than…teaching that Adam’s sin made us sinners and Christ’s righteousness makes us saints.  In other words, “redemption” is not about what God did in us, but apart from us in Christ himself.  And that, it is Christ himself (Gal.2.20), who is the source of our life, that is our wisdom, our righteousness, and sanctification and redemption (1Cor.1.30). 

4… We are busy making a spectacle of ourselves before a watching world, rather than our being a people who are much consumed with the Specter of Christ, through Word and Sacrament (1Cor.1.23; Col.1.28).

5… We are busy trying to IM-ME-DIATELY make people “feel good” about themselves, without exalting Christ who died for their ULTIMATE good.

6… We are busy making/maintaining ‘self-centered’ believers who remain disinterested in, bored with, Christ Jesus and Him crucified/risen.

7… We are busy curtailing our message to a culture which knows both a cheap product (culturally-relevant ministry) and a cheap imposter (Christ-less religion) when it sees it!

 

*** May the Lord have mercy in making us GET OVER OURSELVES!!!

 

 

 

 

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.

Two: Covenants, Communities, and Stages

Meredith Kline once wrote:

“They [two covenantal canons] are bound to one another in organic spiritual-historical relationship. They both unfold the same principle of redemptive grace, moving forward to a common eternal goal in the city of God. The blessings of old and new orders derive from the very same works of satisfaction accomplished by the Christ of God, and where spiritual life is found in either order it is attributable to the creative action of the one and selfsame Spirit of Christ. …The continuity between them is evident even in the area of their distinctive formal polities. For when we reckon with the *invisible* dimension of the New Testament order, specifically with the heavenly kingship of the glorified Christ over his church, we perceive that the governmental structure of the New Testament order is like that of the old Israel is a theocratic monarchy.

“Nevertheless, at the level of its *visible* structure there are obvious and important differences between the new covenant community and the old organization of God’s people. …When the full weight is given to these differences, the Old and New Testaments, which respectively define and establish these two structures, will be clearly seen as two separate and distinct architectural models for the house of God in two quite separate and distinct stages of its history. The distinctiveness of the two community organizations brings out the individual integrity of the two Testaments which serve as community rules for the two orders.  

Creation: Of the Church by Death

Chad Breeson of Vossed World once mentioned:

 “Understanding Jewish parallelism in both comparison and contrast, especially as it occurs in chiasm, has been part of that huge a-ha moment from which I haven’t recovered.  

“Paul could’ve just written about the new creation and given us some assertions.  Instead, he uses a hymn that is juxtaposed such a way that we come away with a view of the church that is magnificent.  I often hear someone speaking of creation…”Isn’t it great that every molecule is held together by God… he spoke all of this into existence and keeps all of this in motion.. etc. etc.”  But I want to tell them, thanks to the parallelism, that there is something even more mesmerizing… Christ has spoken into existence (new creation ex nihilo) and breathed life into a church with life-giving breath, an existence that he continues to sustain… every molecule of her existence is held together by Christ… and to top it off… Christ died for the church to make it happen.  The church is an amazing creation whose very existence depends on its life-giving source… its “firstborn”.

Preachers: Ambassadorial Office

David Gibson has this further word about ‘preachers’:

“Any authority the preacher possesses in the church is necessarily delegated authority, exercised in view of the Chief Shepherd and his appearing (1 Pt. 5:4). Rather like the way a babysitter cares for children while the parents are out for the evening, so the pastor lovingly cares for what does not belong to him and for those who are unspeakably precious to whom they do belong.

“[T]he stance of being a herald means that the preacher must neither appeal to the world without proclamation, nor proclaim to the world without appeal.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

“The appeal is necessary simply because the preacher is not in the pulpit to communicate information, but rather to call for a relationship between the listener and God.

Gospel: Preached Intelligibly

David Gibson has helpfully explained:

“Indeed, the gospel message can “only be proclaimed through the mediation of a language normally employed by a broad socio-linguistic group for quite other purposes.”  This amounts to the simple claim that it is the doctrine of creation that requires the Bible to be translated into the languages of the world. It also demands that the preacher’s speech belong to the twenty-first century and not to the seventeenth.

Church: God’s New Humanity

David Gibson has helpfully explained:

“The church is God’s new humanity, an example of the future new creation given in advance to the old creation, a sign of the world to come where everything is brought together under the unending reign of Jesus the King.

“This means that expository preaching, because it is addressed to people whose very existence is defined by the world to come, constantly draws on the reality of the next world to help make sense of the present world. The doctrine of the church ensures that preaching is addressed to “strangers in the world” (1 Pet. 1:1) and provides the challenge to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Preaching for the church roots its ethical imperatives in the eschatological reality of both coming judgment and promised reward (2 Pet. 3:11-14). It interprets suffering as a participation in the frustrated groans of a cosmos waiting for its liberation, and holds out the comfort that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18-21). It also means that the proclamation of the gospel does not offer a dualistic “saving of the soul” or merely a “ticket to heaven.” Instead, ecclesiology ensures that expository preaching heralds a whole new way of being human in the world-reconciliation to God and to others by participating in the first-fruits of the new creation.

Scripture: God Speaks

David Gibson has explained:

“God himself speaks in the words of the Bible and the aim of the sermon is an encounter with him. For this reason, a repentant believer, a comforted congregation, or a worshipping convert are all legitimate goals of a sermon, and none could be realized without the conviction that what the text says, God says. This conviction also ensures a clear distinction between the authoritative Scripture and an authoritarian preacher. The former is theologically warranted by Scripture’s ontology and gives preaching its cutting edge; the latter denies the very definition of expository preaching by substituting the messenger for the message.”

Horton on Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today

Chris Anderson over at My Two Cents had the following to say regarding Mike Horton comments about Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today:

Chris said, “Commenting on the tendency for Christians to adjust our ministries so that they are more culture-friendly, Horton asks, “when will we learn what so many of our forebears knew from experience: that the success of the Christian gospel lies precisely in its offense.”

1. Our dissection of culture isn’t working.

“A host of recent studies confirms that the ecclesiastical ideology of ‘mission to postmodern culture’ works least among the people who are supposed to be the most impressed: the so-called Gen-Xers and younger. Even aside from the all-important challenge of biblical fidelity, not even the demographics support the hype that almost tyrannically controls contemporary approaches to mission and worship.”

2. Our dissection of culture isn’t biblical. We’ve made things far too complicated.

“What if, instead of adopting the division of history into modern and postmodern, we followed the New Testament distinction between ‘this present evil age’ and ‘the age to come,’ the reality of life ‘in the flesh’ versus ‘life in the Spirit’?…In this typology, ‘That is postmodern’ no longer becomes a get-out-of-jail-free card, a justification for all sorts of deviance from historic Christian norms in the name of evangelism, mission, and outreach to the postmodern culture.”

3. People haven’t changed–not in their basic nature and need. Listen to Horton:

“So which is it? Is postmodernism the big new thing or the same old thing? For mission, at least, it just does not matter.”

True Church?

I’ve been waiting for years for these guys to spell out what they understand to be a ‘True Church.’  They’ve dealt with aspects of the subject here and there in the past, but on this occasion the conversation is directly focused on the matter.

I understand and appreciate the ‘reformational’ def. of a ‘true church’ but wondered how the crew at the WHI would handle the question.

The part about preaching the Gospel well in context with the Law (redemptive-historically) was decent.  Among other things, I also appreciated the criteria of “denying or omitting” the Gospel as being a reality in false and failing churches. 

Lastly, the comments about a mass-exodus from ‘Evangelical’ churches are sobering!

Click here:  White Horse Inn: What is a True Church?

Upon this Slippery Rock

Chris Arnzen, host of Iron Sharpens Iron, interviewed  Eric Svendsen, author of: Upon this Slipper Rock

 

In the course of their discussion a number of helpful points were made, that address Roman Catholic attempts to “denigrate the Scriptures in their zeal to promote the authority of Rome.”

                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOTING: In The City of Man

John Piper recently wrote:

“So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.”

 

READ IT ALL:

John Piper: Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

 

AND ANOTHER WORTHWHILE READ:

Dr. Hamilton: On Politicians and Elected Officians

Dr. Hamilton: The Church Militant and Her Warfare: We Are Not Another Interest Group

 

 

 

 

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…”

Pro-Life, Rhetoric, and Obama

For those who might be interested, here are four resources that speak to a Two-Kingdom perspective on our current political climate:

 

Mike Horton: How Pro-Life Are You?

 

Don Eberly: The Common Good and Common Grace

 

Jason Stellman: Tender Conscience of King Obamalech

 

Lee Irons: A Plea To Tone Down The Rhetoric