Their practice will be according to their convictions

Jude St.John: This is great stuff by Edwards. In the 11th lecture of Charity and Its Fruit, Edwards convincingly declares that men’s practice will be according to their convictions. That is, if a man truly believes something, he will act on it and if he does not act on it, it seems that he is not really and entirely convinced of that truth. Nowhere is this more true than in man’s dealings with the gospel. Gospel-truth is efficacious truth; if you believe it sincerely, your life is changed and this results in a change in the manner in which you live your life. If a man hears important news that concerns himself, and we do not see that he alters at all for it in his practice, we at once conclude that he does not give heed to it as true; for we know the nature of man is such, that he will govern his actions by what he believes and

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Gospel doctrine, gospel culture

Ray Ortlund: Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.  The doctrines of grace create a culture of grace, as Jesus himself touches us through his truths.  Without the doctrines, the culture alone is fragile.  Without the culture, the doctrines alone appear pointless.  For example: The doctrine of regeneration creates a culture of humility (Ephesians 2:1-9). The doctrine of justification creates a culture of inclusion (Galatians 2:11-16). The doctrine of reconciliation creates a culture of peace (Ephesians 2:14-16). The doctrine of sanctification creates a culture of life (Romans 6:20-23). The doctrine of glorification creates a culture of hope (Romans 5:2). The doctrine of God creates a culture of honesty (1 John 1:5-10).  And what could be more basic than that? If we want this culture to thrive, we can’t take doctrinal short cuts.  If we want this doctrine to be credible, we can’t disregard the culture.  But churches where the doctrine and culture converge bear living witness to the power of Jesus.

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The A-to-Z of the Christian life

“The gospel shows us that our spiritual problem lies not only in failing to obey God, but also in relying on our obedience to make us fully acceptable to God, ourselves and others. Every kind of character flaw comes from this natural impulse to be our own savior through our performance and achievement. On the one hand, proud and disdainful personalities come from basing your identity on your performance and thinking you are succeeding. But on the other hand, discouraged and self-loathing personalities also come from basing your identity on your performance and thinking you are failing. Belief in the gospel is not just the way to enter the kingdom of God; it is the way to address every obstacle and grow in every aspect. The gospel is not just the “ABCs” but the “A-to-Z” of the Christian life. The gospel is the way that anything is renewed and transformed by Christ — whether a heart, a relationship, a church,

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The Gospel according to the Minor Prophets

Matt Harmon’s helpful concluding thoughts to his series on the Minor Prophets: Two Key Concepts The Covenantal Context. After discussing things like author, date and historical context we quickly moved to what we called the covenantal context. We did this because the respective covenants were the governing structure of how God interacts with his people throughout the Old Testament. So in looking at each Minor Prophet, we paid careful attention to how they drew upon the Abrahamic (Gen 12:1-3), Mosaic (Exod 19-24), and Davidic (2 Sam 7) covenants. Initial & Final Fulfillment. Although we tend to think of the relationship between promise and fulfillment as a simple one-to-one correspondence, we have seen that in the Minor Prophets that is often not the case. The various promises made in the Minor Prophets often have an initial fulfillment in an event in the near future of the prophet while at the same time having a final fulfillment in the distant future. Nowhere was this clearer

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Becoming what we behold: A vision correcting gospel

Jonathan Dodson: Only by looking to Jesus can our disfigured image be restored and our contemptuous disregard forgiven. When we look away from ourselves into the face of Christ, we behold “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). This gospel knowledge corrects our vision so that we not only behold but also become the image of the glory of God in Christ. True nobility and beauty converge in the image of Jesus. It is a fundamental truth that we become what we behold. Children become like their parents; interns become like their mentors. If we behold the beauty of Christ, we become beautiful like Christ. While it is true that our first glance into the face of Christ restores our image (Rom. 5:1-2; 8:29-30), it is also true that we drift back into fashioning our own distorted image. We slip into our own distorted forms of masculinity and

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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,

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Tim Keller on Every Believer as Prophet, Priest, and King

Timmy Brister: Tim Keller, in his new book Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, writes about the triperspectival New Covenant nature of Christians united with Christ. Jesus has all the powers and functions of ministry in himself. He ha a prophetic ministry, speaking the truth and applying it to men and women on behalf of God. Jesus was the ultimate prophet, for he revealed most clearly (both in his words and his life) God’s character, saving purposes, and will for our lives. Jesus also had a priestly ministry. While a prophet is an advocate for God before people, a priest is an advocate for the people before God’s presence, ministering with mercy and sympathy. Jesus was the ultimate priest, for he stood in or place and sacrificially bore our burdens and sin, and he now brings us into God’s presence. Finally, Jesus has a kingly ministry. He is the ultimate king, ordering the life of his people through his revealed law.

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Are we true to the gospel?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:31-32 Ray Ordlund: The gospel is in these verses: “. . . as God in Christ forgave you.”  The rest of it is how we are to be true to that gospel, how not to be a living denial of the very gospel we profess, how to be living proof of that sacred gospel. Faithfulness to the gospel is more than signing a doctrinal statement.  That’s a good thing to do.  But faithfulness to the gospel is more.  Far more. Faithfulness to the gospel is also treating one another as God in Christ has treated us.  It is not that hard to sign a piece of paper or take a vow that we stand for the gospel.  Again, that’s a good thing to do.  But

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Gospel-centred counselling is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ

“We live in the Age of the Counsellor  It’s not much of a question any more whether people will get counselling at some time or other. The question is what kind of counselling they’ll get… Every (counselling method) has foundational beliefs about what is wrong with people and how they can be helped. “…Gospel-centred counselling… is the process of one Christian coming alongside another with words of truth to encourage, admonish, comfort, and help – words drawn from Scripture, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of relationship. The goal of this counselling is that the brother or sister in need of counsel would grow in his or her understanding of the gospel and how it applies to every area of life and then respond in grateful obedience in every circumstance, all to the building up of the church and for the glory of God. “(The) gospel-centred paradigm is derived from the Bible…We derive our paradigm from the Bible because we distrust merely human diagnoses

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Gospel-Centred

Joe Thorn (with American spelling): At Redeemer Fellowship we talk a lot about being gospel-centered as a church, and we encourage gospel-centered living among our people. From time to time we get asked by our newcomers, “What exactly does that mean? What does it look like?” Here is a brief explanation. THE GOSPEL Before we jump into gospel-centeredness we need to be clear about the gospel itself. In the simplest of terms the gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that accomplishes redemption and restoration for all who believe and all of creation. In his life Jesus fulfilled the law and accomplished all righteousness on behalf of sinners who have broken God’s law at every point. In his death Jesus atones for our sins, satisfying the wrath of God and obtaining forgiveness for all who believe. In his resurrection Jesus’ victory over sin and death is the guarantee of our victory over the same in and through him. Jesus’ saving work

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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

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5 Questions To Ask of a Book

Tim Challies: …It will be helpful to assume that the book in question is meant to address the Christian life, falling under the broad categories of Christian Living or Spiritual Growth or something similar (I would have very different questions to ask of a general market book or of a Christian biography). Here are five questions, plus a bonus, that I ask myself as I read. Does It Draw Its Truth from Scripture? First and foremost, a good book will have a heavy dependency upon Scripture. Whatever truth it seeks to teach will be ultimately drawn from God through the Bible rather than from any kind of human wisdom or experience. In the Bible God gives us the great privilege of seeing the world through his eyes and seeing life from his perspective. Therefore, whatever we teach about living the Christian life ought to depend heavily upon his wisdom. This is the key difference between Randy Alcorn’s Heaven and Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven—the first is

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The Trellis and the Vine on Gospel Centrality

A couple of excerpts from the excellent book The Trellis and the Vine on the centrality of the gospel: “Throughout the world, the gospel is spreading, propagating, budding, flowering, bearing fruit. People hear it and by God’s mercy respond and are saved. But it does not stop there. Once the gospel is planted in someone’s life and takes root, it keeps growing in them. Their lives bear fruit. They grow in love and godliness and knowledge and spiritual wisdom, so that they walk in a manner worthy of their calling, fully pleasing to the Father, bearing fruit in every good work (Col. 1:9-10; 2:6-7)” (36-37). [emphasis mine] “The New Testament envisages that all Christian disciples will be prayerful speakers of God’s word, in a multitude of different ways and contexts. In each context, the message is essentially the same. It’s not as if we come to know Christ through the gospel word but then use a fundamentally different message to encourage each other

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Greear on a Gospel-Centred Church

The last chapter of J.D. Greear’s book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary,  focuses on the marks of a gospel-centred church. They are: 1.  In a gospel-centred church, preaching the message of the gospel is the priority. Greear: “The gospel is an announcement that Jesus is Lord and that He has won the battle for your salvation. We are to respond in repentance and faith (Mark 1:15). The gospel is not good advice about how to live; it is good news about what God has done. Jesus told His disciples to be ‘His witnesses,’ which meant they were to tell everyone, faithfully, the story of what He had done for the world. Their lives would certainly demonstrate the changes His power brought in their lives, but they were to constantly point to what He had done that made those changes possible (222). 2.  In a gospel-centered church, the emphasis of the message is more on what Christ has done than what we are to

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Is the main thing the only thing?

Joe Thorn writes: When I was in Bible College I often heard an old preacher tell the students, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Of course he wasn’t the first to say it, but I loved it. I still do. Recently someone I respect asked me, “is it possible that within the ‘gospel-centered movement’ some people are making the main thing the only thing?” It is a great question, and I think it does point to a problem of unhealthy reductionism among some well-meaning brothers and sisters. I believe this brother was essentially saying, “Look, our people need to know what their hope is before God. This is of first importance. But, they also need to know how to pray, fast, love, give, fight, and serve.” Of course, I agree with this sentiment. There is more in God’s word than the gospel. God has given us his law to show us the way, uncover our corruption

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Never Assume the Gospel

By D.A. Carson: In a fair bit of Western evangelicalism, there is a worrying tendency to focus on the periphery. [My] colleague . . . Dr. Paul Hiebert . . . . springs from Mennonite stock and analyzes his heritage in a fashion that he himself would acknowledge is something of a simplistic caricature, but a useful one nonetheless. One generation of Mennonites believed the gospel and held as well that there were certain social, economic, and political entailments. The next generation assumed the gospel, but identified with the entailments. The following generation denied the gospel: the “entailments” became everything. Assuming this sort of scheme for evangelicalism, one suspects that large swaths of the movement are lodged in the second step, with some drifting toward the third. . . . What is it in the Christian faith that excites you? . . . Today there are endless subgroups of confessing Christians who invest enormous quantities of time and energy in one issue or another: abortion, pornography,

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