John Piper: 20 Principles for How Christians Should Relate to Muslims (And Those of Other Religions)

Justin Taylor: John Piper’s August 2002 paper on “Tolerance, Truth-Telling, Violence, and Law: Principles for How Christians Should Relate to Those of Other Faiths” did not get a great deal of attention at the time (so far as I recall), but it remains just as relevant now as it did in the months following 9/11. It was originally prompted by the question of how Christians and Muslims should relate to each other. “This question,” Piper explains, “is part of the larger issue of how Christians are called to live in a pluralistic world. More specifically, how shall we as American Christians think and act with regard to freedom of religion in a pluralistic context defined by the ideals of representative democracy? In particular, how shall we bear witness to the supremacy of Christ in a world where powerful cultures and religions do not share the love of freedom or the ideals of democracy?” I’ve reproduced the principles below. 1. Whether approved

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Heading to East Africa

Off to Tanzania today. Travelling with my son-in-law, Dan Gower. It will be a privilege to serve along side him. We’ll be hosting and teaching at several conferences for pastors in Mbeya and Tukuyu. Later next week, more of the same in Nairobi, Kenya, with young aspiring leaders.  I’ll get some research done too, hopefully! UPDATE: Home safely from a wonderful trip. One of the most challenging and blessed times I’ve known in Africa.

Jesus Gives Us an Identity, Not Just a Task

Trevin Wax: We often think of “witness” as something we do (such as evangelism), rather than something we are. But in the commissioning scenes in Luke (24:44-48) and Acts (1:4-8), Jesus speaks of the disciples in terms of present reality (“you are My witnesses”) and future identity (“you will be My witnesses”). What’s the significance of being Christ’s witnesses? Jesus is the Focus of Our Witness First, note the emphasis in both accounts on Jesus claiming authority over the disciples’ identities and activities: My witnesses. This could refer to the fact that the witnesses belong to the Lord —”you are the witnesses who belong to Me.” Or it could mean that the witnesses speak of the Lord in line with their identity —”you are the witnesses that speak of me.” I’m inclined to go with the latter understanding since Luke 24:44‒48 focuses on bearing witness to all that has been fulfilled in the Old Testament (not to mention the focus in Acts on the expansion

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Tanzania Itinerary

I leave tomorrow for Mbeya, Tanzania: 8th – Arrive 9th – Addressing Mbeya Pastors Fellowship 10th – In the churches 11th – 13th Teaching at City Pastors Conference 14th -16th Teaching at Tukuyu Pastors Conference 17th Churches again 18th Fly to Dar Es Salaam 20th Home I’m exhausted just thinking about it! Praise God, he gives more grace. UPDATE: Home again. Possibly the most significant ministry trip, ever! A great privilege to be instrumental in the forming of a Gospel Partnership in Tanzania.

Not By Might, So It Just Might Work

Kevin DeYoung: I think one of the main reasons we struggle to tell people about Jesus is that deep down we just don’t think it will ever work. We think we’ve already tried to share with people before and nobody was interested. We imagine sharing our faith to be nothing but muscling up our strength to go do our duty and embrace failure. We soldier on, expecting fruitlessness, so we can say, “I did it, pastor.” Most of us lack faith that God actually has people prepared for us who will listen. This is where the doctrine of predestination is the best news in the world. We have not yet exhausted the number of God’s elect. God has more people to be saved, so keep on sharing. When Spurgeon was asked why he kept preaching the gospel when he believed in election, he replied, “Because the elect don’t have yellow stripes down their back.” In other words, he could not

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An Explosion of Joy

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’ This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.” – Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in

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Answer: “They Can’t”

Justin Taylor reasons (along with the Apostle Paul!): How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? —Romans 10:14-15 Break it down into simple theo-logical propositions and it looks like this: No one can call upon Jesus if he doesn’t believe in Jesus. No one can believe Jesus or believe in Jesus if he hasn’t heard Jesus or heard of Jesus. No one can hear Jesus or hear of Jesus if no one preaches Jesus to him. No one can preach Jesus to the unreached unless he is sent. One implication: if you care about people hearing the gospel, believing in Jesus, and calling upon his name—especially where he is not yet named (Rom. 15:20)—then you cannot be indifferent to the twin tasks of “going and telling” and/or “supporting and sending.” “And [Jesus] said to

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What Is the Mission of the Church?

Justin Taylor writes: Here is an hour-long panel discussion at The Gospel Coalition with Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, Jonathan Leeman, and Trevin Wax on the the Great Commission and the mission of the local church. Far and away the best thing I have read on these issues is the forthcoming book by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (forthcoming from Crossway in September). Here is a blurb from Matt Chandler about the book: In what appears to be a growing tension over what the mission of the church encompasses, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a remarkably balanced book that can correct, restore, and help—regardless of which way you lean or land on all things “missional.” I found the chapters on “social justice” and our motivation in good works to be especially helpful. Whether you are actively engaging the people around you with the Gospel and serving the

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God’s Mission and the mission of His people

From a message by Michael Horton: Our mission is qualitatively different from God’s mission. God sends us on a mission, but it’s a different mission than the mission he sent his Son on. It’s different from the mission he sent his Spirit on. The Son could redeem the world. We can’t. Again, loose talk—loose talk in the Church today about our redeeming activity in the world. WE should never, ever sully that wonderful word by saddling it to us as the subject of the verb. When it comes to redeeming anything, we are not the subject of the action. Jesus Christ is. Jesus is the unique, only, exclusive Redeemer of the world. “Well, we’re extending his redemption.” No, we’re not. There is no extension. He accomplished it once and for all. “Well, we are extensions of his incarnation.” No, we’re not. We’re members of his body. I wasn’t born of a virgin. I didn’t suffer under Pontius Pilate. I wasn’t crucified. I

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Home again!

Thank you for your prayers. This recent trip to Burma and Cambodia was a great blessing. The week teaching at the theological college in Yangon went really well, and the students seemed to get a good grasp of the book of Ephesians. My time in Burma also proved invaluable for making new friends and missions contacts. The highlight, undoubtedly, was my first time in Cambodia. I spent time in the capital, Pnom Penh, and the rural provinces ministering to the New Life network of churches. The congregations are very young; a reflection on the country’s troubled past. It was a great privilege to minister God’s word, particularly ‘the mercies of God’ from Paul’s letter to the Romans. God willing – Lebanon next!

Burma Bound Again

Just making last minute preparations for my next trip to Asia. This time I’ll be ministering in Cambodia too. Usual stuff: bible colleges and local churches. Making disciples through teaching believers all that Jesus commanded is the greatest privilege. You don’t have to travel to do that, of course, but I feel particularly called to help those in the poorer and persecuted regions of the world. My travel companion this time is a friend of many years standing, Pastor Simon Robinson (my son-in-law’s boss!). “And much grace was upon them all” is my fervent prayer. Back in a couple of weeks.

How Being Saved by Grace Frees Us to Share the Gospel

Tim Keller, Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything, p. 201 (my italics): The gospel produces a constellation of traits in us: We are compelled to share the gospel out of love. We are freed from the fear of being ridiculed or hurt by others, since we already have the favor of God by grace. There is a humility in our dealings with others, because we know we are saved only by grace, not because of our superior insight or character. We are hopeful about anyone, even the “hard cases,” because we were saved only because of grace ourselves. We are courteous and careful with people. We don’t have to push or coerce them, for it is God’s grace that opens hearts, not our eloquence or persistence or even their openness. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Sharing the gospel

by Tim Chester . Here are two frameworks that may help talk about the gospel in the context of ordinary conversations. . Four points of intersection Everyone has their own version of the ‘gospel’ story: . creation – who I am or who I should be fall – what’s wrong with me and the world redemption – what’s the solution consummation – what I hope for . When we hear people expressing their version of creation, fall, redemption or consummation, we can talk about the gospel story. Talking about Jesus begins with listening to other people’s stories and sharing our own story of Jesus. . Four liberating truths . Everyone’s behaviour is shaped by what they believe. We can listen out for the beliefs that shape people’s behaviour and shape their hurts and hopes. This then allows us to speak of the liberating truth of God which counters the lies upon which people build their lives and which eventually fail

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