Jared Wilson: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance…” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 To be gospel-centered is to be Christ-centered. But as it pertains to the pursuit of holiness and obedience to God’s commands we may opt more often for the terminology “gospel-centered,” because without more qualifications, “Christ-centered obedience” can be misconstrued to imply simply taking Jesus as a moral example. Jesus is our moral example, of course, but the power for enduring, joyful obedience comes not from trying to be like him, but in first believing that he has become like us, that he has died in our place, risen as our resurrection, ascended for our intercession, and seated to signal the finished work
The Gospel Kind of Christ-Centeredness
Jared Wilson: Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance . . . — 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 To be gospel-centered is to be Christ-centered. But as it pertains to the pursuit of holiness and obedience to God’s commands we may opt more often for the terminology “gospel-centered,” because without more qualifications, “Christ-centered obedience” can be misconstrued to imply simply taking Jesus as a moral example. Jesus is our moral example, of course, but the power for enduring, joyful obedience comes not from trying to be like him, but in first believing that he has become like us, that he has died in our place, risen as our resurrection firstfruits, ascended to intercede for us, and seated to
4 Ways to Find God’s Grace in Our Failures
Joe Thorn: If you haven’t figured it out yet let me encourage you to see something that will greatly help you. Not all of your ideas are good. Some of them are bad. And God will often let you flail and fail out there for very good purposes. And when you fail do not lose the opportunity to find grace in the midst of it. I believe this is especially important for pastors to understand. It’s one of the most important lessons I have learned in 16 years of pastoral ministry: failure is to be expected and learned from. I have misspoke, misstepped, and missed the mark in more ways than I can explain here. And failing hurts. Most of us of are afraid of it. Leaders in particular are afraid of failure since it’s always a bit more of a public spectacle. I’m not talking about moral failure that disqualifies someone from the ministry, but ministerial failure. It may
Gospel Centred Teaching by Trevin Wax.
Reading The Bible Narcissistically
Tullian Tchividjian: We often read the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us: our improvement, our life, our triumph, our victory, our faith, our holiness, our godliness. We treat it like a book of timeless principles that will give us our best life now if we simply apply those principles. We treat it, in other words, like it’s a heaven-sent self-help manual. But by looking at the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us, we totally miss the Point–like the two on the road to Emmaus. As Luke 24 shows, it’s possible to read the Bible, study the Bible, and memorize large portions of the Bible, while missing the whole point of the Bible. It’s entirely possible, in other words, to read the stories and miss the Story. In fact, unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own narcissistic self-improvement plans,
“The Arminians say, ‘Christ died for all men.’ Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, ‘No, certainly not.’ We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer ‘No.’ They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, ‘No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?’ and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, ‘No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.’ We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death
The Goal on Which He Had Set His Heart
Dane Ortlund: Scottish-born reformed theologian John Murray taught for many years at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. In the 1920s he was a seminary student at Princeton. For his final homiletics class he wrote a sermon on John 3:30–John the Baptist’s words, ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’ Murray wrote: “We are not to think of these words as spoken in stoical, disappointed submission, but as the expression of a heart full of holy joy that the goal on which he had set his heart had now been actually achieved. His popularity, his increase at the expense of the honour of Christ, would have been his deepest sorrow. . . . The desire for self-supremacy is an expression of the sin which above all others seeks to undermine the very purpose of the gospel and the gospel ministry, which is the restoration of the kingdom of God and the rule and supremacy of God alone in all spheres and departments of life.
Give Up Your Weak Definition of ‘Disciple’
John Starke: Sermons, talks, and books on discipleship usually give a basic definition of disciple as “learner.” But the New Testament gives us a more thrilling and dynamic definition of a disciple and the cost that follows. Take for example the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. How do we know a disciple from merely a “learner”? Matthew 13:23 says, “He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” A disciple is, by nature—by definition!—a multiplier. Disciples are not merely learners but fruit-bearing disciple-makers; they multiply themselves. Dynamic Definition As you read the New Testament, you see that discipleship is complex and thrilling. Hans Kvalbein wrote in 1988 a Themelios article on the concept of discipleship in the New Testament (see the entire archive of Themelios articles) that gives strength and depth to how local churches should think, talk, and teach about discipleship. He gives 13 theses on discipleship. Here are several of them in summary form: The first word for Christians
How to Read the Bible
Tim Keller: There is, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words, is it basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done? If I read David and Goliath as basically giving me an example, then the story is really about me. I must summons up the faith and courage to fight the giants in my life. But if I read David and Goliath as basically showing me salvation through Jesus, then the story is really about him. Until I see that Jesus fought the real giants (sin, law, death) for me, I will never have the courage to be able to fight ordinary giants in life (suffering, disappointment, failure, criticism, hardship). For example how can I ever fight the ‘giant’ of failure, unless I have a deep security that God will not abandon me? If I see David as my example,
What’s My Church For?
In 2004 John Piper wrote the following in his article, “How God and Christians Treasure Christ”: The central experience of the universe and the Christian life — namely, treasuring Christ — is sustained in churches. God has ordained that when people find the “treasure hidden in the field [Christ!]” (Matthew 13:44) and are converted from world-treasuring to Christ-treasuring, they are sustained and strengthened and matured and transformed and refined and guided and mobilized in organisms of Christians called churches. When Paul says, concerning the church, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26), he means for deepening and intensifying and strengthening the experience of treasuring Christ. That is what the church is for. The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25–32). Therefore the local expressions of the universal church (called churches) are to sustain the affections proper to a bride for her infinitely precious husband. By the ministry of the Word (John 15:11) in the power
Five Features of Preaching in the Book of Acts
Kevin DeYoung: In his book on Acts, Alan Thompson notes five characteristics of apostolic evangelistic preaching (90-99). These five features serve as good models for all types of preaching, both then and now. 1. God-centered. The sermons in Acts begin with God. They announce the good news of what God has promised, what God has done, and what God will do. The preaching is not centered around the felt-needs of the audience, but around the mighty acts of God in history. The emphasis is on God’s initiative and how we are accountable to him. 2. Audience-conscious. While the preaching begins with God, it is not ignorant of those to whom the sermon is delivered. We see throughout Acts evidence of audience adaptation and sensitivity to what the audience already knows or doesn’t know. The sermons do not unfold as canned messages with a series of doctrinal propositions. The preaching is deeply theological, but not at the expense of be careful to communicate that
I Have Been Preaching Christ For Nearly Forty Years
I have been preaching Christ for nearly forty years, and in the contemplation of him I am more and more filled with wonder, admiration, and joy. Perhaps this may have given some new freshness, and power and unction to my preaching. ‘O, that I all but knew him!’ In Christ there is a beauty that is unspeakable; there are wonders which human language cannot describe. If I may say so, in Christ there is a an ocean of wonders. For, how wonderful, that he who was so rich, for our sakes became poor–so poor as to have no place to lay his head. How wonderful, that he who, in heaven, is the Savior of all, should for our sakes on earth, become a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief!…This has been the principal theme of all my sermons, and hence what some are pleased to call the ‘remarkable success’ which has crowned my preaching. And to God be all
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How to Deal with Persistent Guilt
From a fantastic little book, The Bookends of the Christian Life, by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington: [A] little-known seventeenth-century Puritan, Thomas Wilcox . . . wroteHoney Out of the Rock, one of the most helpful essays we’ve found on dealing with persistent guilt. We’ve updated into modern language a series of Wilcox’s instructions for dealing with persistent guilt: – Shift your focus away from your sin and onto Christ: don’t persist in looking upon sin; look upon Christ instead, and don’t look away from him for a moment. When we see our guilt, if we don’t see Christ in the scene, away with it! In all our storms of conscience, we must look at Christ exclusively and continually. – Shift your focus to Christ, our mediator. If we’re so discouraged we cannot pray, then we must see Christ praying for us (Romans 8:34), using his influence with the Father on our behalf. What better news could we ever want than to know
This Momentary Marriage: Ian & Larissa’s Story
From Justin Taylor: This is a deeply moving story that I’d strongly encourage you to watch: John Piper writes: I tremble with the glad responsibility of introducing you to Ian & Larissa Murphy in this video. Tremble, because it is their story and so personal. So delicate. So easily abused. So unfinished. Glad, because Christ is exalted over all things. I am so thankful for Desiring God (a free-but-not-free blog and ministry), for books likeThis Momentary Marriage, and for the faithful testimony of people like Ian and Larissa. May stories like this abound ten-thousand-fold.
What Is The Central Message Of The Bible?
Why Does The Bible Present God Focusing So Much Attention On Himself?
Occupied With Christ
If I allow my work to get between my heart and the Master, it will be of little worth. We can only effectually serve Christ as we are enjoying Him. It is while the heart dwells upon His powerful attractions that the hands perform the most acceptable service to His name; nor is there anyone who can minister Christ with unction, freshness, and power to others, if he is not feeding upon Christ in the secret of his own soul. True, he may preach a sermon, deliver a lecture, utter prayers, write a book, and go through the entire routine of outward service, and yet not minister Christ. The man who will present Christ to others must be occupied with Christ for himself. C.H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch, 1862 (HT: Allsufficientgrace)
Revival is Always Christ-Centred
Jared Wilson: He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:14 “In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of JESUS CHRIST, the glory of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, his glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God’s word, the sweetness of the views of his perfections, &c.” — Jonathan Edwards, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions It is the Spirit’s raison d’etre to shine the light on Christ. The Spirit is often called the “shy” Person of the Trinity because of this. He is content — no, zealous — to minister to the Church the Father’s blessings in the gospel of
Jared Wilson: I have been and always will be doggedly suspicious of pastors who rarely (or never) mention Jesus. John Piper says, “What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ.” We ministers of the gospel — and Christians at large — can fumble this commission in three main ways: 1. We speak in vague spiritual generalities. Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. Harmony. Blessings. All disembodied from the specific atoning work of the incarnate Jesus and exalted Lord. It all sounds nice. It’s all very inspirational. And it’s rubbish. He himself is our peace. He himself is love. He himself is life. He does not make life better. He is life. Any pastor who talks about the virtues of faith, hope, and love, with Jesus as some implied tangential source, is not feeding his flock well. 2. We speak Christ as moral exemplar. We tell people to be nice because Jesus was
What preaching the gospel to yourself means
From Erik Raymond: There is a lot of (necessary) talk these days about preaching the gospel to yourself. This is truly a great need for every Christian. We all found ourselves slouching back to the self-promoting, self-worshiping default position of our hearts. That is, we forget the gospel. But let’s be very clear about what it means to forget. We are not simply talking about forgetting facts or Bible verses. It is not like we somehow can’t remember the definition of substitutionary atonement or that Jesus came to save sinners. No, no, it is much bigger than this. The Issue is Our Satisfied Delight When we talk about forgetting the gospel we are talking about forgetting to see the glory of Christ in the gospel. That is, we forget to see the infinite value of Jesus as the redeemer. In this we see our infinite sinfulness, hopelessness, idolatry, and separation from God. The only thing we have to do with