The Real Difference Between Sheep and Goats

Hayden Hefner: I love the music of Keith Green. I love the intense, heavy-handed piano. I love the wordy lyrics. I love that it’s so early-1980s. I love that it’s Jesus People-ish. I love its passion.  My dad originally introduced me to Green—often during our drives home from school. In my opinion, there is no better example of a Green song than “The Sheep and the Goats.” In this song, Green sings through Jesus’s parable in Matthew 25:31–46. In the passage, Jesus describes the final judgment of the world as a shepherd separating the righteous sheep from the unrighteous goats. The way the shepherd distinguishes between the two groups is by examining the sacrificial love they have shown toward the “least of these, my brothers” (Matt. 25:40, 45). Green stays remarkably close to the text. However, in the song’s last line, Green gives this final commentary on the passage: “And my friends, the only difference between the sheep and the goats, according to

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Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Fruit

Tim Keller: Gifts are abilities God gives us to meet the needs of others in Christ’s name: speaking, encouraging, serving, evangelizing, teaching, leading, administering, counseling, discipling, organizing. Graces, often called spiritual fruit, are beauties of character: love, joy, peace, humility, gentleness, self-control. Spiritual gifts are what we do; spiritual fruit is what we are. Unless you understand the greater importance of grace and gospel-character for ministry effectiveness, the discernment and use of spiritual gifts may actually become a liability in your ministry. The terrible danger is that we can look to our ministry activity as evidence that God is with us or as a way to earn God’s favor and prove ourselves. If our hearts remember the gospel and are rejoicing in our justification and adoption, then our ministry is done as a sacrifice of thanksgiving – and the result will be that our ministry is done in love, humility, patience, and tenderness. But if our hearts are seeking self-justification

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To be a good person you need to be a God person

Kevin DeYoung: We equate love with indifference to sin when the Bible’s logic is exactly the opposite. The cross is the fullest expression of God’s love not because it shows God’s indifference to sin, but because it shows God’s holy hatred toward sin and his willingness to pay for it himself. That’s love. At the end of Acts 7, we see Stephen praying for the angry mob stoning him to death. He says with his dying breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Surely this is love: Stephen wanted them to receive a mercy they did not show him. He had done nothing wrong. Stephen was not deserving of death. Their actions were a profound instance of criminal injustice. And yet in a final gasp, on his knees, he cries out on their behalf,  “Lord have mercy.” How did he do that? How could Stephen love like that? How do we love like that? Pray like that? Forgive

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Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Grace

Gifts of the Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit, and Shipwrecking Your Ministry. Tim Keller, via Resurgence: “You may mistake the operation of spiritual gifts for the operation of spiritual grace in your life. . . . Here’s how this danger can begin. Your prayer life may be nonexistent, or you may have an unforgiving spirit toward someone, or sexual desires may be out of control. But you get involved in some ministry activity, which draws out your spiritual gifts. You begin to serve and help others, and soon you are affirmed by others and told what great things you are doing. You see the effects of your ministry and conclude that God is with you. But actually God was helping someone through your gifts even though your heart was far from him. Eventually, if you don’t do something about your lack of spiritual fruit and instead build your identity on your spiritual gifts and ministry activity, there will be some

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