A Gallery of Pictures of our Beloved Son Luke for His 12 Week Birthday

On Christian Teaching

So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.

– Augustine

The Tragedy of Modern Faith

The tragedy of modern faith is that we no longer are capable of being terrified.  We aren’t afraid of god, we aren’t afraid of Jesus, we aren’t afraid of the Holy Spirit.  As a result, we have ended up with a need-centered gospel that attracts thousands . . . but transforms no one.

Unfortunately, those of us who have been entrusted with the terrifying, frightening Good News have become obsessed with making Christianity safe.  We have defanged the tiger of Truth.  We have tamed the Lion and now Christianity is so sensible, so accepted, so palatable.

Our world is tired of people whose God is tame.  It is longing to see people whose God is big and holy and frightening and gentle and tender . . . and ours; a God whose love frightens us into His strong and powerful arms where He longs to whisper those terrifying words, ‘I love you.’

– Mike Yaconelli, quoted in Will Metzger’s Tell the Truth, 49.

Tom Nettles on the Necessity of Building Life-Giving Doctrine into the DNA of the Local Church

What advice would you give to pastors and church planters to develop themselves and their churches theologically?

The conviction that doctrine is a transformative power must be present from the beginning. It cannot be a subsequent development. If piety and doctrine are developed separately, it becomes extremely difficult to put them back together from a pastoral standpoint. The effort will seem artificial, contrived, and as optional for the Christian life. The “practical” will always seem more manageable for the supposedly ordinary Christian, while doctrinal issues and discussion will be seen as the province of a few heady folks. The fostering of this perception is fatal to the health of the body and to the robust faith of each individual Christian. Pastoral counseling suffers in difficult situations from shallow doctrinal development. A worshipping body, convinced to the person of the divine insistence on his own glory as a right, good, and glorious thing, and the consequent joyful approval of divine sovereignty in creation, providence, and redemption can be a strong and mighty outpost of kingdom labor and worship. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” will receive the sound and hearty “Amen” in the souls of the saints. Whining and perplexity over the difficulties of life will be minimized, courageous consistency in the face of sorrow and tragedy will grow as a witness that confounds the expectations of the world, and oneness develops in the entire congregation in genuine sympathy for each other as they experience together the multi-faceted grace of God. They will not think it strange at any fiery trial that comes to them but will consent that “this is the will of God concerning you.” Pastoral counseling builds naturally off the instruction, admonitions, exhortations of a proclamation ministry. A clear and forceful integration of the biblical doctrines of the Trinitarian existence of God, the intrinsic glory of the Godhead, Christ’s infinite condescension, humanity’s fall and consequent just condemnation and punitive corruption, divine sovereignty in election, reconciliation and redemption, calling, resurrection, and eternal occupation—all of these and others constitute the pastoral task from the very beginning of establishing a worshipping congregation.

What danger would you caution them against in theology?

The errors that may attend to any single doctrine of the Bible are too numerous and nuanced to list. A substantial and continuously growing knowledge of historical theology can enhance one’s exegetical wisdom and aid in avoiding the more common and glaring errors. Close attention to long texts of Scripture set within the framework of the biblical writer’s argument can help avoid the tyranny of isolation—a hyper-textual approach to biblical understanding. Arminianism has developed a peculiarly partitioned approach to understanding certain texts in isolation from concentric circles of context. Constantly working at refining what one believes to be the driving plot of the biblical story continually reframes all the individual texts, chastens exegesis to fit into the particular facet of narrative that carries the big story along, and gives the meta-narrative drive that is necessary if Christian are to embrace a God-centered, heaven-centered, perspectivally revolutionary grasp of their life in relation to the eternal counsels of God. In my view, this continued interaction does not create the insecurity of relativity, but offers the opportunity for progressive clarity in our understanding. This does not mean that confessionally articulated doctrine must constantly yield to new formulations, but that our grasp of the place of these sets of coherent truth in relation to each other, creates an intra-doctrinal teleology of increasingly profound and pleasing and God-honoring proportions. The biblical responsibility of the pastor consistently to place the believers in the context of this picture is at once both experimental and theological, practical and doctrinal. What we do and how we feel and how we respond to life’s details flows out of who we believe we are in God’s relentless push toward subduing all things to Christ, that in all things he might have the preeminence.

HT: Joe Thorn

Also Justin Taylor’s blog (see under blog links above).

P.S. I could not agree more with Dr. Nettles!  A hearty “Amen!”  Oh yeah – italics mine.

We Need to Read Things Like . . .

“Loving My Invisible Neighbor.”  This short post is an oldy-goldy (or is it oldie-goldie?) from Dr. Russell Moore’s blog.  Go here – the conviction and challenge is worth your 28 seconds!

Patrick Schreiner’s Review of “The Great Commission Resurgence”

The Great Commission Resurgence is a fourth level movement of the Conservative Resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention which began in 1979.  The Great Commission Resurgence is a book recently published by B&H, written by Southern Baptists, and edited by Chuck Lawless and Adam Greenway.  My friend, Patrick Schreiner, has written a review of the book at the Gospel Coalition (see in blog links tab above).  His treatment is informative and judicial, while identifying – I think rightly – that though this book moves in the right direction, it has some holes that need to be filled.  Go here to find them.

Young Christian Mothers and their Labors

My wife, Jenny, has been a young mother now for 9 months + 10 weeks and one day.  By God’s grace, she has carried her cross well and with surprising joy.  I could not be more thankful to God for her.  This post, I hope, will serve as an encouragement to her and to other young mothers in their sphere of Gospel labors.  I found an article by Jani Ortlund on the 9 Marks website, “For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt and the Seasons of Life.”  Go here to read it, and be encouraged dear sisters in your high calling.

John Wesley’s Questions for Accountability which He Saw as Essential unto the ‘Power of Godliness’

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

Wesley’s Band Meeting Questions:

1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2. What temptations have you met with?

3. How were you delivered?

4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?

It should be noted that, chronologically and amazingly, the first set of questions were prior to his conversion, and thus, might have been motivated by legalism.  Nevertheless, they are insightful, and when asked in light of God’s grace in regeneration, justification, adoption, and biblical sanctification (and not as a means to the unbiblical and unfortunate Wesleyian doctrine of perfectionism) become helpful questions for an introspection that Christians of all colors have forgotten along with the indispensability of holiness.  This last question is particularly penetrating – it basically begs whether you have lied (sinned) about anything you have asserted!

What it Will Take

“We need to stop calling people for their contributions, and start calling people for their lives.”

– Herschel York, concerning the Great Commission Resurgence

A Lecture on Regeneration

Posted under “Other Writings” tab above.

From the introduction:

Last week I mentioned that I doubted whether there were any more important doctrines to recover, know and experience than the doctrines of God, Christ, depravity, and regeneration.  That was confirmed again this week in a lecture by Adam Greenway, when he identified the lack of a robust knowledge of sin as one of the great depravities in the contemporary evangelical church.  Wherever there is little knowledge of sin, there will be little thankfulness for the reality of the new birth; when one does not acknowledge that he is or has been dead, then he will rob himself of the knowledge of the fullness of God’s mercy and love in granting spiritual life.  This is captured poetically in Charles Wesley’s hymn of 1738, “And Can it Be That I Should Gain,” where he bids us sing, “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray – I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”  Where there is no biblical understanding of the new birth, there is only a shallow Christendom, the shell of true Christianity – religiosity with not an ounce of divine life.  This morning, we want to recover this biblical doctrine of regeneration, or the new birth, and become grounded in it, for the vitality of our own souls, for the health of this church body, for an evangelical distinctiveness from the world, and for the glory of the God who in mercy makes the dead to live.

Regeneration Confessed and Defined. “Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who gives life to those dead in trespasses and sins, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness.  It is a work of God’s free and special grace alone.”  “God effects a change which is radical and all-pervasive, a change which cannot be explained in terms of any combination, permutation, or accumulation of human resources, a change which is nothing less than a new creation by him who calls the things that be not as though they were, who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast.  This, in a word, is regeneration” (Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 96).  What is it that makes the difference between, “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” and “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God,” but God’s monergistic work of regeneration that changes the heart which has not loved God for one second to one which is filled with new throbs of love for God.  Regeneration is nothing less than the onset of new spiritual life, freeing the mind, the heart, and the will to love God and walk in holiness.  Thus, the sinner who receives the new birth is called a new creature.