Real Community and the Power of the Church

From C J Mahaney: The resurgence of Calvinism in the evangelical world in recent years has, I think, reflected an increasing concern among many Christians for purity of doctrine. But as Francis Schaeffer says in the quote below, pure doctrine by itself isn’t enough to constitute a thriving church—real community matters too. From The Church Before the Watching World: One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world can see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community. This became a conviction of mine many years ago, and I wish now that I could identify who it was that influenced me in that direction. When I was converted, the Jesus Movement and all of its

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What the Gospel Helps Us Want When Someone Sins Against Us

I echo these sentiments from Jared Wilson: I don’t know all the reasons why C.J. Mahaney is stepping down — and I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business. But it’s fairly clear from the comments on this post, that it is not a repentant C.J. some people want, but a demoralized C.J., a humiliated C.J. When we are sinned against, a gospel mindset (and heartset) helps us to seek justice, not vengeance. I pray the process is fruitful and reconciliation/restoration/restitution is found in a way that honors the wronged, convicts the wrong, and above all glorifies Jesus.

Justification & Sanctification

Ed Stetzer writes: The following list is taken from C.J. Mahaney’s work, Living the Cross Centered Life (pages 118-119). Mahaney’s comparisons offer a helpful way to look at the two doctrines. Justification is being declared righteous. Sanctification is being made righteous – being conformed to the image of Jesus. Justification is our position before God, a position that becomes permanently ours at the time of our conversion. Sanctification is our practice that continues throughout our life on earth. Justification is immediate and complete upon conversion. You’ll never be more justified that you are the first moment you trust in the Person and finished work of Christ. Sanctification is a progressive process. You’ll be more sanctified as you continue in grace motivated obedience. Justification is objective – Christ’s work for us. Sanctification is subjective – Christ’s work within us. (HT: Rick Ianniello)

Ministry Wisdom from CJ Mahaney

(HT: Dane Ortlund) Recently C.J. Mahaney completed a series of blog posts entitled “The Pastor and Personal Criticism.” They are well worth the read. 1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism 2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives 3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism 4. A Kind and Painful Bruising 5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives 6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait 7. Deal Gently with Your Critics 8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized 9. Too High an Estimation 10. Distinguishing Criticism 11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God) (HT: Todd Pruitt)

Spiritual Dehydration

From Rick Ianniello: C.J. Mahaney asks some direct questions in his post, The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Spiritual Dehydration. Do you sense that your affections for the Savior have diminished recently? Has your appetite for Scripture weakened? Does your soul seem dry? Does God seem distant from you? And then answers how we should respond based on Jude 1.20-21. To begin with, “keeping ourselves in the love of God.” is a command. As Mahaney points out, it is our “responsibility and it requires effort …” Jude provides guidance to accomplish this. I’m not suggesting this list is comprehensive but it is a good start. 1. Remind yourself of the gospel (“building yourselves up in your most holy faith”). The “most holy faith” is the gospel. And the first way we keep ourselves in the love of God is to grow in our understanding of the gospel and to remind ourselves of the gospel each day. There is no more effective way

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Grace Through the Humble To the Humble

From The Gospel Coalition: Not all that looks like humility is actually humility. And sometimes what looks like pride to the world is actually loving concern. True Christian fellowship means that we must correct friends and family in their sin. So how do we offer such guidance to loved ones in a way that they can receive? And how do we make sure we serve them out of godly motives? Council members James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney hash out these difficult questions in the latest video in TGC’s roundtable series.

Worship, Planning, and Spontaneity

Bob Kauflin has a helpful post today discussing the importance of planning and spontaneity in leading corporate worship. Here’s part of his post: In my experience, people tend to value one or the other. Either we trust completely in our plan and wouldn’t think of veering from it, or we minimize preparation and think God is only active when something spontaneous happens. When it comes to leading corporate worship, both planning AND spontaneity are important values. To consider this further, please see below a conversation with Jeff Purswell, C.J. Mahaney and Bob Kauflin from the recent Sovereign Grace WorshipGod ‘09 conference: (HT: The Gospel Coalition blog)

Justified or Adopted? Which Is Greater?

CJ Mahaney has some helpful posts on the believer’s adoption. Here’s a great quote from J.I. Packer he includes: That justification—by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future—is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment; his law condemns us; guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable, and in our lucid moments afraid; we have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need the forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world; and this the gospel offers us before it offers us anything else… But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into

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CJ Mahaney on Justification and Sanctification

Justification refers to a Christian’s position before God. The moment you were born again, God justified you. On the basis of Christ’s finished work, God thought of your sins as forgiven and declared that you were righteous. Sanctification, on the other hand, refers to our practice before God. It is the ongoing process of battling sin and becoming more like Jesus. Though sanctification is the evidence and goal of our justification, we must never see it as the basis of our justification. Here’s where so many Christians get confused. They try to earn what has already been given to them as a free gift. As Martin Luther stated, “The only contribution we make to our justification is our sin which God so graciously forgives.” There are other vital distinctions. Justification is about being declared righteous; sanctification is about becoming more righteous. Justification is immediate; sanctification is gradual. Justification is complete the moment God declares us righteous. It does not take

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Suffering for Christ

by C.J. Mahaney What constitutes suffering for the name of Christ? Often we recall the most severe examples of suffering—Stephen crying out to the Lord as enraged Jewish leaders hurled rocks at his body; Paul and Silas with feet shackled to a Philippian prison, still feeling the pain of their earlier beating; Jim Elliot and his four missionary friends rushed by armed Huaorani Indians. These are all graphic examples of Christians enduring great sacrifices for the advance of the gospel. Scripture teaches (even promises) that all Christians will suffer, but these graphic examples are not the norm for faithful Christians in the West today. So what does suffering for the name of Christ look like in twenty-first century America? During one panel discussion at the Together for the Gospel conference, Ligon Duncan and I interviewed our friend John Piper on this issue. —— Ligon Duncan: John, you have done a pretty extended exposition on kinds of suffering, available on the

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Disturbing Christmas – by CJ Mahaney

From CJ’s blog: The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it’s equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas. During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death. Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God. Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992). In part, Smith wrote: Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious

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Does God Love Me?

The question “Do I love God?” is often overshadowed by a bigger question—“Does God love me?” This personal doubt of God’s love has haunted Christians for centuries and remains a common question today. Over a century ago a woman posed the same question to pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon. “I once knew a good woman who was the subject of many doubts, and when I got to the bottom of her doubt, it was this: she knew she loved Christ, but she was afraid he did not love her. “Oh!” I said, “that is a doubt that will never trouble me; never, by any possibility, because I am sure of this, that the heart is so corrupt, naturally, that love to God never did get there without God’s putting it there.” You may rest quite certain, that if you love God, it is a fruit, and not a root. It is the fruit of God’s love to you, and did not

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Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World

By Tony Reinke Recently on the blog we posted seven consecutive sections from C.J.’s chapter “God, My Heart, and Clothes,” which will be published in the forthcoming book Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway). The book was written by a team of C.J. and four other Sovereign Grace leaders—Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, and Craig Cabaniss. John Piper added the foreword. Though books will not ship until late September, Crossway Books has extended to our blog readers a generous 35 percent discount on pre-orders. For the next two weeks simply go to the Worldliness product page, click “pre-order” and enter coupon code: 8SG1. And with the completion of the modesty blog series, we’ve created an index of the posts and added discussion questions below (which also appear in the printed book). For convenience, we’ve compiled the chapter (the full content of the blog posts) and the discussion questions into one PDF (download here). Modesty Series Index

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“Completely free of all condemnation”

“Because of the gospel’s power, you can be completely free of all condemnation. Not mostly free; completely free. Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity. It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive his free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.” – C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life, 39, 40 (HT: Of First Importance)