Endurance Needed: Strength for a Slow Reformation and the Dangerous Allure of Speed

This is the fourth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Mark Dever                                      Key text: N/A

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

There is a difference between the joys of the spotlight and the joys of enduring ministry. God has always worked in a way that makes it clear that He is doing the work. That is the biblical pattern. The fulfillment of the Great Commission has continued for centuries and will continue until the return of Christ. Not only must every tribe and nation be reached; every generation must be reached as well.

A short-term view of ministry limits our view of the abilities and purposes of God. Instead of meeting the needs we think we have, the gospel meets the needs that God knows we have (even if we don’t know we have them). The allure of results today distracts from the joys of plodding, faithful ministry that yields real fruit. Our ability to take the true gospel around the world has been hindered by watered-down versions of the gospel.

Endurance is a key part of joy and joy is a key driver of endurance (Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 21-22). There is great joy in admitting personal inability and acknowledging God’s power when it comes to shepherding. We can give the gospel, but only the Holy Spirit can give faith.

10 Joys of Enduring, Faithful Ministry  Read more of this post

We Have Only One Priest: The Reformation as a Revolution in Ministry

This is the third post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Albert Mohler                                    Key text: Colossians 1:13-29

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

The Christian church must always be in the business of reforming in order to preserve and protect the gospel. This reformation must take place according to and by the Word of God. The Five Solas define the gospel. For the Reformers, the Solas were not just slogans, they were a matter of life and death. Martin Luther viewed imputation as the main issue at stake in the Reformation. He said that Scripture is “the norm of norms that can’t be normed.” The Reformation began and ended with a crisis in ministry.

Five Key Themes of the Reformation:  Read more of this post

Sustained in Suffering by the Saga of Job

This is the second post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: C.J. Mahaney                                      Key text: Job 3:1-4:8; Job 38-42

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

The Reformers were first and foremost pastors. They worked hard to prepare and equip their people for suffering. Personal suffering in the life of a pastor creates a pastoral pulse in his preaching. Don’t despise suffering; think of it as sermon prep.

Three Components of Suffering in Job

  1. Job’s Lament (Job 3)
    Job’s suffering was sudden and severe. Job’s example humbles us in our trivial trials. His initial response in Job 2 was definitely genuine, but it’s not the whole story: the majority of the book of Job is filled with Job’s lamenting and his friends’ response to it. Job is 42 chapters for a reason! The book of Job, like grief, pain, and suffering, is a long, slow-paced journey. There is no quick fix for suffering. We must lead people to rejoice, but also to lament (especially in the context of rejoicing).
    The poetic form of the book of Job helps us to understand and feel the gravity of Job’s situation. The deepest question Job faces is: “Is God for me or against me?” This lies beneath the “why” questions of anyone who is suffering. The seeming silence of God during suffering is one of the hardest, darkest parts for the believer. People need their best theology in their darkest moments.
  2. Job’s Friends (Job 4:1-8)
    Job’s friends are perplexed at Job’s “why” questions becuase they think the reason is obvious: it is a direct result of some sin he committed. They turn from being friends in mouring to accusing adversaries. Their “cause and effect” theology puts the blame for Job’s suffering on Job’s sin. Eliphaz accuses Job of not applying to himself the counsel he’s given others (Job 4:2-7).
    The friends’ theology is summarized in Job 3:8: “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” They are trying to defend the righteousness of God, but end up missing the whole character of God. They overestimate their grasp of truth, misapply that truth, misrepresent God, and mistrust Job.
    We are prone to this same mistake. The church should seek to relieve suffering rather than intensify it by adding torment through misapplied truth. Man looks backward to try to find a causal effect of present suffering. The Bible looks forward to the hope of what suffering will produce: holiness. Suffering will either make you or break you, but it never leaves you the same. Where you turn your attention during suffering determines if the trial will make or break you. Job’s friends had no category for innocent suffering. A Christian view of suffering keeps us looking forward to the hope of the gospel instead of backwards to the sins of the past. 
  3. Job’s God (Job 38-42)
    Job 38-42 is the longest single recorded discourse of God in the entire Bible. God’s words in this passage quieted and comforted Job and will do so for us. It is evidence of God’s grace and mercy towards His people in the midst of suffering. Job’s suffering wasn’t the result of sin, but in his suffering, Job sinned by finding fault with God. Job needed his view of God widened and expanded in order that he might see the full extent of God’s sovereignty. Job humbles himself despite God not answering his “why” questions. His “why” question was overwhelmed by his “who” question. He goes from hearing about God to seeing God.
    The book of Job isn’t fundamentally about suffering, but about God and who He is and how to worship Him. God has an inescapable purpose for everything He does, even if that purpose is never revealed to the one who is suffering. Job is spiritually cured by the revelation of who God is. That is enough to warm the heart on the darkest, coldest nights. When God allows us to suffer, He provides us with a greater, deeper knowledge of Himself.

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Why the Reformation is Not Over

This is the first post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Ligon Duncan                                       Key text: N/A

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the events that launched the Protestant Reformation. Is the Reformation over? No it is not! There are still disagreements between the Catholic Church and Protestant churches over essential doctrines. The concerns and prescriptions of the Reformers were valid then and are just as relevant today. There is a continuing need for biblical teaching on salvation, worship, sacraments, ecclesiology, and more.

The Reformers should be a critique to the Reformed just as they are to the Catholic Church. We are a part of the problem. Some of the false doctrines have slowly crept into the Protestant churches in more subtle forms. The issues that led to a call for Reformation then are still present today, even in evangelical congregations. The most central of these issues is imputation.

Five Reformation Concerns:  Read more of this post

I Am Barabbas

Las cadenas se cortan por el eslabón mas débil / Chains break by the weakest link

I am Barabbas.

Who’s Barabbas? He’s an often overlooked, relatively minor, character in the events leading up to the death of Jesus on Good Friday. Many of us, myself included, tend to breeze past Barabbas as we read the Passion Week narrative. However, as I was listening to a sermon by Mark Dever a few days ago, he made a passing comment about Barabbas (38:45) that struck me: Barabbas is a preview of what we find in the gospel.

Like Barabbas, I was guilty of insurrection, rebelling against the lordship and sovereignty of a holy God.

Like Barabbas, I was imprisoned as a result of my sin and unable to free myself from its chains.

Like Barabbas, I was as good as dead as I awaited the just punishment for my rebellion.

This is a picture of the hopeless situation that Barabbas (and I) was in. But then, one day, a man named Jesus showed up and turned things around:  Read more of this post

Reverse the Curse

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:1, 31) What a beautiful picture of God’s original creation: organized around the magnification of His creative glory and untainted by the destruction of sin with everything operating at the apex of its created purpose. This is how God intended the world to be.

However, since the Fall of humanity in Genesis 3, “creation was subjected to futility…groaning together” (Romans 8:20, 22) for a return to its original condition. No aspect of the creation has escaped the distorting effects of sin’s curse. In particular, men and women, alone created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), have suffered greatly.

In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the extent to which sin has affected each and every human being. Paul highlights three aspects of our humanity in particular that have been distorted by sin:  Read more of this post

We Cannot Be Silent [Book Review]

The rapid pace of cultural change in recent years has caught many Christians off guard. Marriage has been redefined, erotic liberty is taking precedence over religious liberty, and the “moral majority” is becoming the “maligned minority.” Some Christians have reacted with anger and animosity, causing deep pain and hurt. Others have retreated from culture as much as possible, shielding themselves from those they disagree with. Still others have relinquished the clear teaching of Scripture in order to appease the culture.

None of these responses are helpful or biblical. In his new book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong, Dr. Albert Mohler seeks to provide Christians with the worldview framework to respond biblically, boldly, and compassionately to a culture swept up in a sexual revolution.  Read more of this post

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