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.

Natural Revelation and the Gospel

Here’s one reason from ‘natural revelation’ that makes me rejoice in the greatness of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Go here to view: Privileged Planet

 

Ps 103.11

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…

 

Rom 5:8

…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

1Jn 4:9-10

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

Why worship?

David Wells once stated:

“The purpose of worship is clearly to express the greatness of God and not simply to find inward release or, still less, amusement. Worship is theological rather than psychological.”

From Faith to Joy!

Ps.28.7  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” 

D.A. Carson wrote:  “Here is no faith of mere resignation; here, rather, is a faith that wells up from (or produces?) a heart that “leaps for joy” and expresses itself in thankful song.  One cannot read the Psalms without recognizing that genuine faith does not produce a merely stereotypical emotional response.”

 

 

Gospel Ministry? What other sort is there?

Thomas Foxcroft on Gospel Ministry:   “Christ is the grand Subject which the ministers of the gospel should mainly insist upon in their preaching” and “In all their ministerial labors, pastors should make the conversion and edification of men in Christ their governing view and sovereign aim.”

Fix your eyes!

J.R. Miller once wrote: 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

Keeping the heart upon Christ–transfigures the life.

The old monks intently gazed upon the crucifix,
thinking that the print of the nails would come in their hands and feet, and the thorn-scars in their brow–as they gazed.

It was but an utter fiction–yet in the fiction there is a spiritual truth. Gazing by faith upon Christ–the lines of His beauty indeed imprint themselves on our hearts! That is the meaning of Paul’s words–“We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord–are transformed into the same image!”

The gospel is the mirror. There we see the image of Christ. If we earnestly, continuously, and lovingly behold it–the effect will be the changing of our own lives into His likeness. The transformation is wrought by the Holy Spirit, and we are only to behold, to before Christ–His image is imprinted on our soul.

Faith, A Regulative-Principle

Christian Cryder:  “If Justification By Faith is the heart of the gospel, and Sanctification By Faith is its lifeblood, then Worship by Faith explains the reality of our fellowship with God.  …[O]ur churches will die when we fail to understand the gospel – that we are justified by faith, sanctified by faith, and that our worship is made pleasing in faith.”

Which Jesus…

Doug:  On any given Sunday, in any church across the US, the Jesus that you hear about may not be the real Jesus. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. You see, our culture is awash with all kinds of religions that distort Christ and His Gospel. How can I make such a statement?

Read more…

 

MY THOUGHTS…

To say exactly what’s happening (?)…I can’t.  But, it seems as in other eras of the church’s history there is something of a *cross-roads* before us.  Meaning, as the “church” has a real degree of apostasy in its midst, simultaneously there is found an ever deepening and abounding delight in the Person and Work of Christ Jesus.  It’s interesting when we find both of these in the same congregation, like the one you attend perhaps.

We know that judgment begins at the house of the Lord.  We also understand that God gives the wicked over to their own cravings.  In the meantime, there are those to whom the Lord provides an ever increasing clarity of His face in Jesus Christ.

At one and the same time…we face frustrations (being anxious for the churches) and delight in His exaltation (being awestruck with His glory).

Christ our Colossus

Been reading through Colossians this evening and took a moment or two to kind of outline the Christological thread of the Text.  This is what I skimmed off the top…

 

Colossians 1, 2 & 3:

 

1.5-6) It is this Gospel, of God’s grace, that grows us in the Way fruitful.

1.15)  It is by this Gospel, we behold the Image of the Invisible God, and are changed.

1.19)  It is in Christ, the Second Adam, the God-Man, that, God’s Image fully dwells. 

1.22)  It is in Christ, we are reconciled into a state of holiness and blamelessness, irreproachableness.

1.23)  It is by faith in Christ, we continue stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.

1.27)  It is Christ in you, that, this Gospel makes known.

1.28)  It is Christ we proclaim, for in knowing Him we are matured in Him.

2.2)    It is in Christ proclaimed, we come to a full assurance of understanding.

2.3)    It is in Christ, that God stores such treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2.4)    It is Christ, we must know, so that, we may not be deluded by ‘very plausible’ arguments.

2.5)    It is Christ, upon whom our faith must fasten firmly.

2.6)    It is in this Christ, THE Lord, who’s revealed in the Gospel, we must walk believingly.

2.7)    It is in Christ, we must be rooted and growing up in, established in a faith in Him.

2.8)    It is in Christ, our minds must be taken captive.

2.9)    It is in Christ, we encounter the Godhood of God.

2.10)  It is in Christ, we are full-filled.

2.11)  It is in Christ, we have a spiritual circumcision, by His having been both physically and spiritually cut-off!

2.12)  It is with Christ, we have suffered a baptismal-death.

2.12)  It is with Christ, we have raised by ‘faith in God’s powerful working’ in resurrecting Christ.

2.13)  It is with Christ, we are made alive, having no sin counted against us.

2.15)  It is Christ, who disarmed(s) the power of sin and death.

2.16)  It is in Christ, we have an “identity” that is lifted far above shadowy religious rites.

2.17)  It is Christ, who is the substance (object) of our faith and practice.

2.19)  It is Christ, who we cling upon by faith, and thereby nourished and knit together, growing up by God. 

2.20)  It is in Christ, we have died to the world, and will keep dying to the world (which includes our sin-flesh).

2.23)  It is in Christ, we find true religion and God’s regulating us, avoiding flesh-exalting ritualism.

3.1)    It is Christ, with whom we are raised, and in whom we seek and find the Kingdom.

3.3)    It is in Christ, we are hidden in God, being dead to what’s less.

3.4)    It is Christ, who is our life, now and forever.

3.5)    It is Christ, who enables us to die, again and again to idolatry (the root-sin), by our beholding Him.

3.9)    It is Christ, who puts the old-man (Adamic) into context, with all his fleshly practices and faithless purposes.

3.10)  It is Christ, the New-man, the Image of the Creator, who renews us by beholding (knowing) Him.

3.11)  It is Christ, who is ALL, and by Whom all temporal social barriers are destroyed.

3.12)  It is in Christ, God chooses, sets-apart, and loves us; and produces the fruit of the Spirit.

3.13)  It is in Christ, that, we obtain and exemplify the forgiveness of God.

3.14)  It is in Christ, crucified, that, we find God’s love fully demonstrated and unleashed, and the Source of our love-bond.

3.15)  It is in Christ, we have peace with God and any hope of peace with one another.

3.16)  It is Christ, the Word incarnate, that becomes the Source and Content of our conversation with one another.

3.17)  It is in Christ, we have access to the Father; and by Whom, all we do or say is sanctified.

3.18-23)  It is on Christ, THE Lord, a household is rightly founded upon and found heartily working unto. 

3.24)  It is Christ, who is (and will give) our Inheritance and Reward.

3.25)  It is Christ, who is (and will bring) Justice.

 

Amen!

 

How about last week?

Jonathan Bowers:  Why it’s okay that I can’t remember last month’s sermon.

 “What is most important about a sermon is the immediate effect that it has on me while I am listening. Does it make me see Jesus? This is how I change: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whether or not I can recall its content at a later time is secondary.

 

Checking out of so-called “worship”

There are times when we’re pressed (even while remaining seated in the assembly) to check out of so-called “worship,” as it turns its face from God to hope and lean upon lesser things (2Cor10.5).  No measure of earnest in what is preached apart from Christ will suffice to rightly comfort, protect, and equip the saints; nor does it render honor unto Whom honor is due. 

Just Jesus, thanks!

Steve Z.:  “When you [pastor] do call me back once a week out of the world, all you need to give me is Christ, in both Word and sacrament and through sound liturgy. Preach the Law in its full force and provide the Gospel equally. Though we both may think so, I don’t need your creativity.  I need neither your advice nor your castigation. I don’t need to be moralized or shown how to be more spiritual. I don’t need to be coddled or brutalized, energized or inspired. Don’t acquiesce to my desire to be any sort of consumer—intellectual, social or emotional. Open the scriptures and the historical tradition and teach me but only with the ambition of making me a disciple and not a student. And do not feel yourself compelled to show me how to change or take over the world, just send me out into it after you have truly administered Christ to me.”

G’muse:  Nicely said, Steve!

 

 

 

 

If not Christ, then what?

Bill Wilder:  “If I could issue a plea to our pastors and priests and ministers of the Word in the world today, it would be this: Give me Christ, or else I die.

“I mean that in the most specific sense—not just what Christ can do in me or to me or for me or through me (or the church or the world), but Jesus Christ himself, clearly portrayed as crucified and preached as having been raised from the dead. Not Jesus Christ as the assumption or foundation or the means for all that is preached, but as its very content and core.

“So, please, preach Christ. Preach him in all of Scripture….

“This is what I need to hear. Because my attention is so easily drawn to lesser things—to my plans, my ambitions, my problems, my triumphs, my failures, my family, my friends, my church, my community. So, please, turn my eyes upon Jesus. Help me to look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely clear in the light of his glory and grace.


“Do you want me to repent of my sins? Then show me Jesus—in his robust goodness and love and self-sacrifice. Linger on that. Do you want to bring me to hope in the midst of suffering? Then show me Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross and scorned its shame. Do you want me to know what it really means to be human? Then show me Jesus in his cruciform love and resurrection glory. Do you want me to worship God? Then show me Jesus, the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.


“What I really need is a vision (not of myself or my community or even the church or the world but) of Christ! Give me that and all these things will be added unto me.

 

G’muse: What more essential thing is there to preach upon and worship than the Lamb of God who is the essence to all our existence now and forever?  Sadly, going to church on Sunday is too often (commonly) a taste of death, for Jesus Christ ends up merely an appendage to so much else that claims centrality.  Hence, the tail ends up wagging the head.

 

 

 

Idol-bashing Gospel

Here is a helpful discussion by Tim Keller (click on name to listen to lecture) regarding the correlation between all idolatry and a lack of the Gospel.

Things that Keller discusses:

·        Idol = something that you will die for or without (dying either emotionally, psychologically, or otherwise)

o   Ending up angry enough to die!  (Jonah 4:3)

§  Because that something was lost.

·        Gospel = Christ’s person and work

o   May at times prove to be nothing more than a mere abstraction

§  “Yes, I know Jesus died that I might live (Rom.6.8; 2Cor.5.15; Gal.2.19; 2Tim.2.11), but I can’t live with having lost…”

·        Sin = Idolatry

o   All sin is ultimately rooted in idolatry (1Cor.10.13-14; 12.2; Col.3.5; Jn.5.20-21)

§  Every wrong behavior has an idolatrous motive.

§  Every wrong thought has an idolatrous nature.

o   All idolatry is a disbelief in the Gospel

§  Idolatry is our being functionally self-righteous (or seeking to be)

·        Idolatry rooted out (expelled) by the Gospel

o   Mere behavior modification will never break the bonds of idolatry

§  Unless there is an ‘overmastering passion’ for/in Christ…there will be no ‘dispossessing of passion’ for idolatry

·        It is a question of what’s the ‘reigning affection’ of the mind.

o   We all were made with the capacity to idolize (Col.3.1-5)

§  Idolatry is the idolizing of anything other than God in Christ

·        Having something (besides Christ) as your ‘functional lord’

§  Maintaining Christ as Idol happens in a daily renewal, putting on the mind of Christ (Col.3.10) through the word of Christ (Col.3.16).

“The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in

inventing idols.” John Calvin

 

See also C.J. Mahaney’s article  — _Idol Factory_

 

 

Fed ‘Up’ with/or ‘By’ the Gospel?

Once Martin Luther was asked by his church as to why he preached the Gospel Sunday after Sunday.  He replied, “Well, because week after week you forget it. Until you walk in here looking like people who are truly liberated by the truth of the Gospel, I’m going to keep on preaching it to you.” 

Solely of/for God

Marshall:  “God has designed salvation in such a way that from the beginning, middle and end He retains all the glory. Not even in the slightest respect may works serve as the efficient (Sola Gratia), material (Solus Christus), instrumental (Sola Fide) or final (Soli Deo Gloria) cause of salvation.”

Deadly Relevance

Fonville:  “The believer who is saturated in “relevance” Sunday after Sunday will not progress in sanctification. Why? The law is weak through the flesh and it cannot justify nor sanctify him.  …Thus, if pastors desire to truly help their believers to grow and stay motivated to obey, they must be eager to preach more gospel not less.