Mark Dever, from It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement: Christian brothers and sisters, do you climb up the church steps every Sunday burdened with guilt, as if there’s some way you need to perform on a Sunday morning in order for God to once again be sufficiently pleased with you to allow you to go on for another week? That’s not the gospel; that’s not the good news of Jesus Christ. Do you feel that there is something you still need to do to gain God’s favor? There isn’t. There is nothing else you need to do in order to gain God’s favor. God has done that for you in Christ. God has provided a substitute to bear His correct punishment of us for our sins, to bear His wrath for us, and because of that we are left in the incredible state of freedom and acceptance. Indeed, for us to think there is something else we need to do
Mark Dever: BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE 1. Pray. 2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel. 3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant? 4. Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships. 5. Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life—places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matthew 7:3-5). 6. Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt). IF YOU GO . . . 1. Don’t divide the body. 2. Take the utmost care not to sow discontent
Ever wondered what the basic difference between Christianity and Islam is? Read on… From Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church: One time at Cambridge I was talking with a Lebanese Muslim friend of mine about a mutual friend who was a fairly secular Muslim. My friend wanted him to embrace a more faithful Muslim lifestyle, and I wanted him to become a Christian. So, in a strange way, he and I had something in common. We were both concerned about this friend, though we had very different solutions for his problem. We commiserated on the difficulty of living in a secular British culture. Then my friend remarked on the corruption of this Christian country. I responded that Great Britain is not a Christian country, that in fact there is no such thing as a Christian country. That, my friend said, quickly seizing the opportunity, is the problem with Christianity compared to Islam. Christianity does not provide answers and guidelines
By Mark Dever: Public opinion appears to be changing about same-sex marriage, as are the nation’s laws. Of course this change is just one in a larger constellation. America’s views on family, love, sexuality generally, tolerance, God, and so much more seems to be pushing in directions that put Bible-believing Christians on the defensive. It’s easy to feel like we’ve become the new “moral outlaws,” to use Al Mohler’s phrase. Standing up for historic Christian principles will increasingly get you in trouble socially and maybe economically, perhaps one day also criminally. It’s ironic that Christians are told not to impose their views on others, even as the threat of job loss or other penalties loom over Christians for not toeing the new party line. In all this, Christians are tempted to become panicked or to speak as alarmists. But to the extent we do, to that same extent we show we’ve embraced an unbiblical and nominal Christianity. Here, then, are seven principles
A Biblical Vision for the Church Mark Dever proclaims what the church should be in this overview of 1 Corinthians:
From The Gospel Coalition: Talk to certain critics of Reformed theology, and you might think something about the doctrines of grace inhibits church growth. Talk to some proponents of Reformed theology, and you might reach the same conclusion. We—both the pastors up front and the Christians in the pews—assign spiritual value to church size, depending on our background and perspective. We see large churches as a sure sign of God’s faithfulness in some cases, and small churches as a sign of God’s faithfulness in other cases. So what, really, does church size matter? That’s the question discussed in this video by pastors Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler, and Mark Dever. Their friendly banter touches on serious subjects, including: the awesome responsibility of giving pastoral account for thousands of souls; the urgent need for more ambition to see Jesus Christ change many lives; and the practical nightmare of exponential church growth. They also suggest some helpful resources, no matter your church size.
NO! Great thoughts from Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, at this year’s T4G.
Mark Dever talking my kind of language: I was in a meeting not too long ago in which a pastor said that he was going to lead his church to be the first church in history that fulfilled the great commission. That’s a breathtaking claim. And it reminded me of many other such vision-casting mission statements. One of the most famous slogans has to be the watchword of the Student Volunteer Movement, from over a century ago—“The evangelization of the world in this generation!” That stirring call was used by God to send thousands of evangelical Christians from the English-speaking world around the globe to share the gospel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But I have to be honest—I’ve always thought that famous slogan was a mixed bag. I love the call to the evangelization of the world! That stirs my heart, and I mean to be giving my life to that work. But the second half
Mark Dever, What Is a Healthy Church? (IX Marks; Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), p. 79: Quick Tips: How to Find a Good Church 1. Pray. 2. Seek counsel from a godly pastor (or from elders). 3. Keep your priorities straight. The gospel must be truly affirmed, clearly preached, and faithfully lived out. A serious lack in any of these expressions of the gospel is very dangerous. The preaching must be faithful to Scripture, personally challenging, and central to the congregation’s life. You will only grow spiritually where Scripture is treated as the highest authority. Also very important is to consider how the church regulates baptism, the Lord’s Supper, church membership, church discipline, and who has the final say in decision making. In short, read chapters 5 to 13 in this book! 4. Ask yourself diagnostic questions such as: Would I want to find a spouse who has been brought up under this church’s teaching? What picture of Christianity will my children see in
(HT: Timmy Brister)
A couple of advance blurbs for Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s next book, Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (due out at the end of the month): Well, they’ve done it again. The two guys who should be emergent, but aren’t, have followed up their first best seller with what I hope and pray will be a second. In Why We Love the Church DeYoung and Kluck have given us a penetrating critique of church-less Christianity and a theologically rigorous, thoroughly biblical, occasionally hilarious, but equally serious defense of the centrality of the church in God’s redemptive purpose. In spite of her obvious flaws, DeYoung and Kluck really do love the church, because they love the Christ whose body it is. You don’t have to agree with everything they say to appreciate and profit from this superbly written and carefully constructed book. This is a great read and I recommend it with unbridled enthusiasm. Sam Storms,
“Saving belief is not mere mental assent, but a believing in – a living in – the knowledge of that news. It is a leaning on, a relying on. We must come to grips with the fact that we are unable to satisfy God’s demands on us, no matter how morally we try to live. We don’t want to end up trusting a little in ourselves and a little in God; we want to realize that we are to rely on God fully, to trust in Christ alone for our salvation.” -Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 41. (HT: Of First Importance)
Abraham Piper blogs these helpful summaries of Mark Dever’s messages on evangelism at the DG Pastors’ Conference. 3 Reasons to Share the Gospel 1. A Desire to Be Obedient to God’s Commands Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. That is exactly what the early disciples did. Paul spoke of a compulsion to share the gospel. To evangelize is to obey. In Acts 8:4, we see that those who had been scattered preached the gospel wherever they went. One of the clearest examples of evangelism being commanded is in 1 Peter 3, where Peter commands believers to “always be…prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Our silence is not a matter of neutrality. You need to tell yourself that. Our silence is a matter of guilt and sin. Obedience is definitely a biblical reason to evangelize. 2. A Love for the Lost
Mark Dever: “Expositional—a sermon which takes the point of the text as the point of the sermon . . . an exposition of Scripture simply seeks to uncover, explain, and apply the divinely intended meaning of the text.” “. . . expositional preachers are modern day prophets, serving merely as conduits through which the Word of God may flow into the people of God in order to do the work of God in them.” “Pastoral authority is directly related to Authorial intent. The preacher only has authority from God to speak as His ambassador as long as he remains faithful to convey the Divine Author’s intentions. This means that the further the preacher strays from preaching the intention of the text, the further his divine blessing and God-given authority are eroded in the pulpit.” “Does a commitment to expositional preaching mean that I should never preach other kinds of sermons? No. Topical and biographical sermons still have value. It is
“I often tell my congregation that when it comes to battling sin in our lives, the difference between Christians and non-Christians is not that non-Christians sin whereas Christians don’t. The difference is found in which side we take in the battle. Christians take God’s side against sin, whereas non-Christians take sin’s side against God. In other words, a Christian will sin, but then he will turn to God and his Word and say, ‘Help me fight against sin.’ A non-Christian, even if he recognizes his sin, effectively responds, ‘I want my sin more than God.’” -Mark Dever (HT: Reformed Voices)
….evangelism, worship, the Kingdom, ecclesiology (doctrine of the church), the gospel, seeker sensitive services, culture, humour in the pulpit, and a few other things besides! (HT: Tony Reinke)
From Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, p. 214-215: “A healthy church has a pervasive concern with church growth–not simply growing in numbers but growing members. A church full of growing Christians is the kind of church growth I want as a pastor. Some today seem to think that one can be a “baby Christian” for a whole lifetime. Growth is seen to be an optional extra for particularly zealous disciples. But be very careful about taking that line of thought. Growth is a sign of life. Growing trees are living trees, and growing animals are living animals. When something stops growing it dies. “Growth may not mean that you negotiate this rapid in half the time you negotiated the last; it may simply mean that you are able to continue in the right direction as a Christian, regardless of the adverse circumstances. Remember, it is only the things that are alive that swim upstream; the dead things
This post, and the next (above), concern a couple of books I’m currently reading. They were among the freebies given out at T4G last week. They are excellent reads and in different ways prophetic. This first one addresses the central doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. My thanks to Justin Childers for this: In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement by JI Packer and Mark Dever is a great compilation of articles. This is a book to become familiar with and to return to again and again. Article 1 is called “The Heart of the Gospel” and is a discussion of the Biblical concept of propitiation (wrath-quenching sacrifice). Article 2 is called, “What did The Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution.” This is a difficult article to navigate but extremely helpful in thinking through the essence of the atonement. Article 3 is called, “Nothing but the Blood” and deals with some of the more modern
Next week I’ll be heading out to Louisville, Kentucky, for the T4G conference. This has been made possible by some good friends. To whom I’m very grateful! Many of my favourite preacher/teachers will be speaking. It’s a mouth watering prospect indeed, but more importantly I’m expecting it to be a life changing encounter. You can check out the titles of the sessions here. Here’s some highlights from the last conference in 2006. I’m also booked in for the Band of Bloggers luncheon. Should be fun!