The Sufficiency of What is Written to Save

Concerning John 21:21, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written,” I found the following deduction to be most helpful, which is usually true concerning that which is most obvious, for God does not like to be assumed –

“He (John) had said enough.  While there were many other things that John could have written, what he had actually written was enough to secure his goal – to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in His name (Jn 20:31).  He had said enough.”

-Jenny Mahon

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The Primary Ministry for Pastors

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  A few of my friends and I took a recent trip northward to the greater Boston area, praying to God for wisdom, discernment, pristine clarity, and the faith necessary to plant a church.  During our stay there, we met with several brothers who helped us in immense ways.  Their counsel was rich, touching upon every possible thing that we might have asked and more.  In hindsight, they varied from one another on certain things ranging from general topics to specific advice over when, where and how.  However, the longer we stayed, the more meetings we had, the more counsel we received from this multitude of advisors, one main gem of wisdom broke through the cloud of words like a beam of sunlight on an overcast day. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.”

Every advisor, no matter his area of expertise, no matter his knowledge base, told us that the most important consideration in church planting and Gospel ministry is the joy of our wives.  I was exceedingly glad and challenged by this counsel.  I’d like to offer it to you also, Christian.  I say “Christian”, for while the joy of our wives in Jesus is paramount for the pastor, so it is no less for any married male disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nevertheless, allow me to take my sniper scope and hone in on my brothers who intend to shepherd the flock of God.

If you are anything like me, you have high hopes and grand plans and majestic visions for Gospel ministry.  Hopefully, you, as well as I, are concurrently wrestling over the fact that faithfulness in ministry in fundamental, and that you, being weak, can accomplish nothing of what you have set your heart upon apart from Christ and the church producing, equipping, building, and mobilizing power of the Holy Spirit.  I am sure that God has given you talents and spiritual gifts to work out the Great Commission and to lead His people to a grander vision of Him.  Perhaps He has given to you the brains of John Owen, the impact of Augustine, the ability to touch men’s hearts like John Bunyan, the meditations of Jonathan Edwards, the faith of George Muller, the voice of George Whitefield, and the piety of John Calvin or John Wesley.  Let me say, if you are not ministering to your wife, if you are not serving her, washing her with the pure water of the Word of God, if you are not fighting for the fullness of her joy in Jesus, if you are not laboring to see her love for God increased, if you are not partnering with her in the Gospel so that she comes to treasure Christ and prize Gospel ministry to others, then it does not matter one lick how much time or what hopes, visions, plans, talents, or spiritual gifts you may have, you are failing in ministry, you are failing in the most fundamental pastorate of your life – the call to love your wife and manage your household well.  Apart from these, how can you love and manage the household of God?  Wife and home are the most natural microcosms of the church.

A few days ago, I sat down with a good man, a man with great intentions for Christ.  In speaking of the difficulties of church planting, he commented that he labored some 85 hours every week.  The most immediate question that popped into my mind was, “How then can you be loving your wife and children?”  You see, he had embraced the illusion that more time spent ministering to the church equaled a greater ecclesial profitability.  I would encourage him to ask his wife!  His plant is dying and he doesn’t recognize it.  Why should I say that?  Because family is not primary.  The primary ministry for pastors is their own family.  If their wife and children are being neglected, so God has established that the church will have a dysfunctional shepherd, and a dysfunctional shepherd can only lead the flock astray.

Brothers, let us be warned.  Humbly, I submit to you even as it was to us, “Husbands love your wives . . . and manage your households well.”

How the Gospel Saves Christians

When believers know and love and live on the meat of the gospel, we will be so gospel-filled and gospel-shaped and gospel-dependent and gospel-driven and gospel-hoping and gospel-joyful that no one will need to tell us why we need to share the gospel or how to share the gospel.  We will be so thankful and so desperately, day-by-day dependent on the gospel for our own hope of eternal life, and our own sanity, and our own stability, and our own marriages or singleness, that it will be impossible not to know that people need the gospel and why they need it and how it relates to their biggest needs – because we know we need it, and why we need it, and how it meets our biggest needs day by day.

– John Piper

Christ, Full of Excellencies

Still reflecting on a sermon that I heard at church last Sunday on 1 Peter 2:1-11.  In that passage, Christ is called a living stone (rejected by men), chosen and precious (in the sight of God).  Now, think about that fact for a moment.  Christ is pressed upon us as chosen and precious in the sight of God.  One more time, when God casts the eyes and heart of divinity upon Jesus, Jesus is declared precious.  If Jesus is precious in the sight of God, ought we not to find Him incomprehensibly glorious?  Indeed, this same passage calls Christ One who is worthy of our praise, that He is excellent to those who by grace have been brought out of darkness into His marvelous light; that is, those who by grace have seen Jesus ought to know how excellent He is insofar as divine revelation grants, and it grants more than we could glean in a single life time.  In fact, it appears that we have been saved with this express purpose: to bear witness to, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ.  Now it is not an excellency, but excellencies.  Now, this brings us to a point of practicality: if Christ is full of excellencies, precious in the sight of God, and we have been saved to proclaim as much, then why is it that we speak of and live for Him so little, bearing, at best, a minimal testimony to Christ and Him crucified?  The answer is quite simple: the reason that we speak of and live little for Christ is because we perceive little of Christ; should we perceive Him who saved us to be surpassingly excellent, then we would proclaim Him with great fervor. It is no fault of God’s revelation that we perceive Christ to be less than excellent.  The fault sits squarely upon our shoulders.  Everything that we perceive to be excellent we parade about in a marvelous manner.  For this reason, I speak frequently of my wife, of my son, of those whom I love and find to be excellent in a variety of ways.  I am found speaking of Clemson athletics (woe is me!), of the latest episode of NCIS, and of the latest book that I’ve read.  I perceive them to be excitable things.  So it is when I behold something of incredible beauty, or something of great personal value, something that has had a profound effect or impact upon my life.  But nothing is more excellent than Christ – God finds Him precious to behold!  And the biblical portrayal of Christ is nothing less than uniquely and divinely compelling.  Aside from the massive undercurrents of OT buildup, I would just pose a few questions for you as a believer that, I hope, might direct your gaze upon the excellencies of Christ.

Do you know saving Truth?  It is Christ.  What of saving Life – sinless, spiritual, resurrection, eternal?  It is Christ.  What of the Way unto God?  It is Christ (John 14:6).  What of your wisdom?  Has not God made Christ to be our wisdom?  What of our Righteousness?  Christ is the Lord our Righteousness.  What of sanctification?  It is Christ.  What about redemption?  It is Christ.  What of the content of all boasting and glorying in God?  Is not Christ preeminent (1 Cor 1:29-31)?  Have you seen the light of the knowledge of the glory of God?  Where, I ask you?  In the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6-7).  Have you any hope of glory, of glorification?  Is Christ not Him that you wait upon?  Is Christ not the pattern of the new man (1 John 3:3)?  Do you desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  As He lives to glorify Christ, would you not then glory in Christ as evidence of His indwelling and practical filling (John 14-16)?  Have you any hope of salvation?  It is Christ.  Any hope of seeing God?  It is Christ (John 17, 1 Pet 3:18).  This could continue for an eternity.  I only set forth a glimpse.  Christ is excellent and full of excellencies.  Drink deeply from the biblical well, let your roots fathom the infinite soils of Christ’s richness, be filled with the contemplation of His saving excellencies, and you will proclaim them.  May God grant us all grace in earnestly desiring to know Christ and so make Him known.

“Why New England is the New American Missional Frontier”

By Jared Wilson, pastor in Middletown Springs, VT.  Interesting.  Go here.

Blurbs from Evangelicals on the Prop. 8 Decision

From Christianity Today blog.  Go here.

And why it matters, go here.