Martyrdom and Mission: Why Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours

This is the tenth and final 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: David Platt                                      Key text: Psalm 51

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

The Reformers remind us that it is right to give our bodies to defend the Bible and the gospel. Even if we don’t die, we mist give our lives to the same task. A theology of danger and martyrdom is not a prominent theme in our churches today. Our views of safety and security are far too often American and not biblical.  Read more of this post

The Reformation Began with Paul: Justification the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forevermore

This is the ninth 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: Thabiti Anyabwile                                     Key text: Romans 3:21-26

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

If we are genuinely Reformed it isn’t because we’re following the teachings of a certain group of men, but because we believe it to be what the Bible genuinely teaches. The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not a Reformed doctrine (in that it began during the Reformation), but a biblical doctrine.

We ought to be able to demonstrate this through Scripture alone. For example in Romans 3, we see that God  justifies through faith in Jesus Christ (v 21-22) because man has fallen short of the glory of God (v 23-24) in order to display His own glory to the universe (v 25-26).

Five Truths About Righteousness:  Read more of this post

God’s Glory as the Base of our Courage

This is the eighth 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: Matt Chandler                                    Key text: Romans 11:33-36

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Those who persecute the faithful think they are serving the cause of justice. As hostility towards Christians increases, we lose the opportunity to explain ourselves. We are automatically characterized as something we are not and this causes us fear. Romans 11 provides a blueprint for increasing courage in our hearts and the hearts of others. Thin portraits of God won’t sustain us like a big, deep theology of God.

Not only is God big, but He is rich: He owns everything in the heavens and the earth. He is no stifled by a lack of resources. This encourages us because we are His sons and daughters. He has our back (Romans 8:31-39)! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This has tremendous implications for our courage. Having Christ as our inheritance gives us courage because it helps us put the sufferings of this age in the context of eternity. Everything now will seem worthless and small. We realize there is nothing that man can do to us. Even if we die, we gain eternity with Christ.  Read more of this post

Christ’s Call to Reformation

This is the seventh 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: John MacArthur                                     Key text: Revelation 2-3

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

Have you ever heard of a church that repented for sins against its Head? Churches are rarely broken over their collective sins and cry out in repentance. Revelation isn’t written to the hating world, but to the churches (Revelation 1:4). When Revelation was written, paganism was in power, persecution was intensifying, and the church was struggling. Jesus and Paul both warned the church that this persecution and hardship would come (John 15:18-25; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-9). Revelation 2 and 3 are God’s spiritual diagnosis of the church. Two churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia) are true churches in good standing before God, but five are in decline and need to repent. In those five churches, there was compromise, hypocrisy, sin, and greed. It’s shocking that the church could decline so quickly after Jesus’ ascension.   Read more of this post

The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace, and the Glory of God

This is the sixth 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: John Piper                                  Key text: Various

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Are humans so sinful that God’s sovereign grace needs to create and decisively full and produce all inclinations to believe in and obey God? At the heart of Martin Luther’s theology was the idea that humans are dependent on God to rescue them from the bondage of the will. If free will truly exists, then it makes it incredibly difficult to understand how much credit for salvation goes to God and how much should go to us. Election gives God all the credit for faith. “The failure to see the depth of sin and the bondage of the will, left unchecked, becomes an assault on God’s sovereign grace.” -Martin Luther. Any exaltation of the “goodness” of self or the will negates the need for God’s decisive transforming grace. Luther doesn’t mean that the human will is inactive in salvation and obedience, but where the will is involved, God is actively creating the desire. “The gospel takes all the credit and glory from man and ascribes it to God, the One who created everything from nothing.” -Martin Luther.

Five Ways the Bible Describes the Bondage of the Will:  Read more of this post

Can We Be Glorified Without Being Sanctified? Good Works, Good News, and Christian Assurance

This is the fifth 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: Kevin DeYoung                                   Key text: 1 John

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Good works, good news, and Christian assurance aren’t opposed to one another, but go together. Can we be glorified without being sanctified? No! If your life is habitually marked by sin, Christ calls you defiled and you are not on your way to heaven (Mark 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:17-21). We are in a dire situation if our life is marked by sin. Only those who conquer and overcome will escape the second death and eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2-3).

The authentic Christian life is filled with weakness, but not capitulation. Paul revels in his weakness, but never refer to is as a weakness or excuse to sin. To be a Christian, one who receives the reward, is to conquer and overcome sin. There is a close relationship in Scripture between sanctification and glorification (Romans 8:29-39; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 12:14). Without sanctification, we can have no confidence of our justification. Works are the fruit; not the root of salvation. One of the hallmarks of theological liberalism is to not be concerned about the meaning of words–favoring slogans over precision.

“Grace is glory begun as glory is grace consummated.” -Francis Turretin. Sanctification is the work of God to prepare us for the life and world to come. If we are to be glorified later, we will experience sanctification now.

Three Evidences We are on the Road to Eternal Life: Read more of this post

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

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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.

Read more of this post

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

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