Erik Raymond has a great post today about what happens when we as believers wallow in our own sinfulness. The quote from Spurgeon is priceless. Read more here: The (potential) Stinger in the Tail of All that Sin Talk | Ordinary Pastor.
I’ve been following Tullian Tchividjian’s passionate advocacy of the sufficiency of the gospel and the discussions he’s had with others who want to drive people to law for sanctification. Two people at our church have brought up Tchividjian’s latest book,Jesus + Nothing = Everything, so I thought it was about time I read it. This snippet is from a section of the book subtitled, “The Greatest Threat”:
The Bible makes it clear that the gospel’s premier enemy is one we often call “legalism.” I like to call it performancism. Still another way of viewing it, especially in its most common manifestation in Christians, is moralism. Strictly speaking, those three terms — legalism, performancism, and moralism — aren’t precisely identical in what they refer to. But there’s so much overlap and interconnection between them that we’ll basically look at them here as one thing.
And what really is that one thing?
Well, it shows up when we fail to believe the gospel. It shows up when behavioral obligations are divorced from gospel declarations, when imperatives are disconnected from gospel indicatives. Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.
Our performancism leads to pride when we succeed and to despair when we fail. But ultimately it leads to slavery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to establish our own identity instead of resting in Jesus and what he accomplished to establish it for us. In all its forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and therefore enslaving.
Tchividjian, Tullian.Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. (p. 45–46)
I haven’t completed the book yet, but I’d recommend it on having read the first third of it alone.
Tullian Tchvidjian is one of the best voices for grace and the Gospel out there. He writes today:
But while I’m not surprised when I hear venomous rejoinders to grace, I am saddened when the very pack of people that God has unconditionally saved and continues to sustain by his free grace are the very ones who push back most violently against it.
Read the whole thing at The Gospel Coalition: Might As Well Face It, You’re Addicted To Law.
Justin Taylor of Crossway has an interview today on The Gospel Coalition website with Dr. Stephen J. Wellum of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on credobaptism. I agree with the way that Dr. Wellum lays out the case, and he does it very well: succinctly and completely.
After explaining that paedobaptist Reformed theology “flattens out” the covenants and wrongly — and perhaps simplistically — equates Old Covenant Israel with the New Covenant church, Taylor asks, “What does that have to do with baptism?”
Everything. Under the old covenant, one could make a distinction between the physical and spiritual seed of Abraham (the locus of the covenant community is different from the locus of the elect). Under the old covenant, both “seeds” (physical and spiritual) received the covenant sign of circumcision and both were viewed as full covenant members in the national sense, even though it was only the remnant who were the true spiritual seed of Abraham. But this kind of distinction is not legitimate under the new covenant where the locus of the covenant community and the elect are the same. In other words, one cannot speak of a “remnant” in the new covenant community, like one could under the old covenant. All those who are “in Christ” are a regenerate people, and as such it is only they who may receive the sign of the covenant, namely baptism.
You can read the complete interview at The Gospel Coalition website: Why I am a Credobaptist.
Wellum and co-author Peter J. Gentry have a book coming out next June (cover shown above) which could be a groundbreaking reference: Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants.
Our first fall term begins Oct. 3.
Update: we’re postponing the launch until January 2 so that we can get the largest possible participation.
More about the Porterbrook Network may be found on our local site’s website, porterbrookROC.com.
Porterbrook Network is a two-year church-based theological training program with a supported self-study structure with others who are training in a similar field, church or geographic affiliation.
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, co-authors of Total Church and founders of The Crowded House, created The Porterbrook Network in the U.K. in 2006 in response to a conviction for churches to become more Gospel-Centered and for new Gospel-Centered churches to be planted.
The vision of Porterbrook is to equip individuals and churches to rediscover mission as their DNA, to become better lovers of God and lovers of others, and to proclaim the Gospel through word and action for the Glory of God. Porterbrook is being used in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Italy, Ukraine, India, South Africa, and Australia, and Porterbrook Learning material is currently being translated into Chinese, Russian, and Italian.
By request, here’s the complete paper from July 2010 from which the Completed by the Spirit blog series was adapted. You’re welcome to download it and distribute it freely as long as you do not modify it:
The folks at Grace to You frequently condemn the concept of “contextualization” and do so by defining it in light of those who abuse the term. John MacArthur and Phil Johnson in particular have portrayed contextualization as watering down the message so people aren’t offended by it.
Ed Stetzer correctly defines contextualization and the need for it on his blog today:
I have said it many times, but it always seems to bear repeating — contextualization is not watering down the message. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. To contextualize the gospel means removing cultural and linguistic impediments to the gospel presentation so that only the offense of the cross remains. It is not removing the offensive parts of the gospel; it is using the appropriate means in each culture to clarify exactly who Jesus was, what He did, why He did it, and the implications that flow from it. Oftentimes, it is unclear communication (and a lack of contextualization) that contributes to some rejecting something they do not understand. If the feet of those who bring the gospel are beautiful upon the hills, it is at least partly due to the fact that those who hear the gospel understand and appreciate its life transforming truth. This often occurs through critical contextualization.
My often-used definition of contextualization: communicating in a way so as to make the offense of the gospel most clear.
John Piper posted a video — which looks like he recorded himself in his study — about talking to people for whom God is unreal. They say “don’t give me that God talk. This is a real problem.” It’s an “overflow” from his sermon of this past weekend.
I’ve read and enjoyed two previous books by Randy Newman (no, not that Randy Newman) called Questioning Evangelism and Corner Conversations. Randy, on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980, has just released his third book (which I’m now reading), Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who You Know Well (Crossway, 2011).
In the chapter “Love: Always Craved and Yet Seldom Conveyed” he writes about the need to truly love people and not just use the appearance of love as a means to evangelize:
We need to love people simply because they are people, fashioned by God in his image; we should not show them love just as a way to evangelize them. Surely, we can find traits, common ground, unique gifts, personality nuances, and experiences we can affirm, and, better still, enjoy. But we must not love them merely as a manipulative prelude to preach at them. They’ll smell such nonlove miles away. Instead, we must ask God to enable us to love them. Period. No strings attached. If they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop — a shoe in the form of a gospel presentation — they won’t feel loved by us because, in fact, they’re not.
Manipulation as a means to the gospel is not evangelism — and risks creating a false convert. And that “common ground” — that’s the “point of contact” Francis Schaeffer advocated, a place where conversation can begin.
More importantly, that love does absolutely need to be genuine. As Albert Mohler said at a Desiring God conference whose topic was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, we need to love them — the sinner, the unconverted — more than they love their sin.
After all, God showed his love for us, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)