Matt Smethurst: Human trafficking. Racial prejudice. Health care. Immigration reform. Same-sex marriage. Environmentalism. Poverty. Abortion. What comes to mind when you think of social justice? In this new video, John Piper talks with Matt Chandler and David Platt about this trendy, vital, and often blurry topic. Piper has contended that Christians “should care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering,” Similar, Platt notes, is his own church’s informal motto: “As we work for justice in the world, we speak clearly about the Judge of the world.” Opportunities for social action will inevitably spring up as members are holistically discipled in the faith according to Matthew 28:19. “Church elders should so minister a robust gospel—a full-blooded, deep, sanctifying, transforming, humbling, radical-making gospel,” Piper says, “that these sorts of [social justice ventures] naturally happen.” As Platt adds, “A robust commitment to the gospel and the Great Commission will inevitably lead to encounters with the impoverished, the orphaned, and so forth.” “Be where
Matt Smethurst: So long as this broken world endures, suffering will remain a painfully relevant subject. It’s not far from any of us. As Christians we know we’re supposed to lean on God, but what kind of God is he? In light of all the heartache and sadness that plague our lives, is he really worth our trust? “One of the biggest mercies of God took place long before my suffering arrived,” recalls Chandler, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009. For a while he had been working to prepare his young congregation for suffering. Little did he know, however, that all along God was preparing him. Contrary to popular belief, Piper observes, awareness of the bigness and majesty and sovereignty of God practically helps when we’re in the throes of perplexity and pain. Though it may sound comforting at first, the idea that “God didn’t have anything to do with this” is actually horrible news, since it means he’s not in control after
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.
“All your church attendance, all your religious activities, your Sunday school attendance medals, your journals, having a “quiet time,” reading the Scriptures—it’s all in vain if you don’t have Christ. We are saved, sanctified, and sustained by what Jesus did for us on the cross and through the power of his resurrection. If you add to or subtract from the cross, even if it is to factor in biblically mandated religious practices like prayer and evangelism, you rob God of his glory and Christ of his sufficiency. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for us, not because of all the great stuff we’ve done but because Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. My sin in the past: forgiven. My current struggles: covered. My future failures: paid in full all by the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace found in the atoning work of the cross of Jesus Christ.” — Matt ChandlerThe Explicit Gospel(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 15 (HT: Of First Importance)
Matt Chandler: Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that
(HT: Todd Pruitt)
Justin Taylor: Matt Chandler’s first book, The Explicit Gospel, is being released next month. Matt is convinced that even though there is a lot of talk these days about the “gospel,” the message still hasn’t reached the wider church and culture. And even those of us in the so-called gospel-centered resurgence tend to focus either on (what he calls) “the gospel in the air” and the “gospel on the ground.” Matt shows that the gospel has implications for both conversion and for the cosmos, both for our individual lives and for the full scope of redemptive history. And he does it all in a deadly serious way laced with humor. Mark Dever picks up on this in his blurb, saying that the gospel is unpacked in a way that is “balanced, hope-filled, and very, very serious, all the while presented with Matt’s trademark humor. Even more faithful than funny, Matt insults all of us (including himself) in a strangely edifying way.”