How should we be in the world but not of it?

RC Sproul: The New Testament tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world but that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). Let’s look at those two words that are crucial to that discussion in Scripture, the difference between conformity and transformation. The prefix con-means “with.” And so to conform to this world means literally to be with it. That’s one of the strongest drives and temptations that we have as Christians. Nobody wants to be out of it; we want to be “with it.” We want to be up-to-date. We want to fit in. And we’re often engulfed by peer pressure that wants us to imitate and participate in all of the structures and the styles of this world. The Bible says we are not to be conformed to the patterns of this world. Now, when we hear that as Christians, so often we think that all we have to do

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Should All Believers Take Part in Evangelism?

Simply by being a member of the church of Jesus Christ each Christian has a responsibility to be involved in the missionary call of the whole church. We should all be praying, all giving, all sending. There are two particular passages in which the apostles call all believers to be involved in the work of evangelism. First a passage from Paul (Colossians 4:5-6), and then one from Peter (1 Peter 3:15-16). The words of the Lord through His apostles are clear. Evangelism is not simply the task of church leaders, pastors, and evangelists who are specially called and gifted. (Though the New Testament does recognize the particular responsibility of leaders and pastors in this task and teaches us that God does indeed gift some for this work with special abilities; see, for example,Ephesians 4:7-12 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.) But it is not only the teachers and evangelists who have this task set before them; rather, every believer is called to

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You Can’t Avoid the Missionary Implications of Our Faith

John Stott: “If we have resisted the missionary dimension of the church’s life, or dismissed it as if it were dispensable, or patronized it reluctantly with a few perfunctory prayers and grudging coins, or become preoccupied with our own narrow-minded, parochial concerns, we need to repent, that is, change our mind and attitude. Do we profess to believe in God? He’s a missionary God. Do we say we are committed to Christ? He’s a missionary Christ. Do we claim to be filled with the Spirit? He’s a missionary Spirit. Do we delight in belonging to the church? It’s a missionary society. Do we hope to go heaven when we die? It’s a heaven filled with the fruits of the missionary enterprise. It is not possible to avoid these things.” – from The Contemporary Christian: Applying God’s Word to Today’s World, 335. (HT: Trevin Wax)

The Sin of NoMission

Joe Thorn: A healthy church, a true church, is a church on mission; one that follows Jesus as disciples while making disciples of others. A church on mission maintains both an outward and inward orientation with the hope of the gospel and works of grace. We are to reach out, gather in, and worship Jesus together in all of life. When a church loses sight of the mission Christ gave us (to make disciples) it not only ceases to participate in Christ’s ingathering of those he calls to himself, but it also begins to die. A church can only live as she abides in Jesus, and Jesus is definitely on mission. To abide with him we must go with him. But this sin of “no-mission” will not only kill the church, it will also kill the family. Edmund’s Clowney’s book, The Church, is my favorite single volume on the church. In his chapter on the mission of the church he makes the

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Being Missional

Tim Chester posts 6 simple ways to be missional: 1. Eat with other people We all eat three meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community. 2. Work in public places Hold meetings, prepare talks, and read in public spaces like cafés, pubs, and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies, those of professional exegetes or those of the culture? 3. Be a regular Adopt a local café, pub, park,
and shop so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this! 4. Leave the house in the evenings It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the Internet. Get out! Visit a friend.

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That Awkward Moment When We Speak the Gospel

I’m dedicating this post to the good people of Bethel Evangelical Church (my church!). We have a great evangelistic opportunity before us this week. With God’s grace, let’s go for it! Ken Currie: Evangelism is counter-cultural. It’s true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it’s especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don’t go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don’t go there. So they say. For the time being, it seems the greatest threat to gospel-telling in such a society is not that we will be hauled before the city council, beaten, and have our property taken away. What we are really dealing with is some awkwardness. Awkwardness is perhaps the biggest threat to

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We Cannot Hold the Gospel Hostage to Our Shortcomings

Duane Litfin, writing in Christianity Today: “Some today will claim that there is no true evangelism without “embodied action.” In fact, according to one critic, “Unless [Christ’s] disciples are following the Great Commandment, it is fruitless to engage in the Great Commission.” According to this view, the gospel is without its own potency. Its “fruitfulness” depends upon us. But this is not the testimony of the New Testament. According to Paul—whose itinerant ministry met few of the “embodied action” criteria—the power of the gospel does not reside in us; it resides in the Spirit’s application of the message itself. . . . Few would deny that the holistic mission of the church is the best possible platform for our verbal witness, and that our jaded generation will be more inclined to give us a hearing if we are living it out. (Indeed, the longest section of my new book, Word versus Deed, is devoted to the crucial role of our deeds.) But this does

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If Christ is Lord, Everything Matters

By Jake Belder: It is common to hear Christians talk about “living in the light of eternity.” Not too long ago, there was a popular video going around in which Francis Chan talked about this very thing, using a long rope as an illustration. The Bible, of course, speaks of this too—Paul says that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For…what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). And the glorious vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 gives us great hope for an eternal life in the new creation. While such a perspective is clearly biblical, it needs to be understood properly. When people begin to think in these categories, a common temptation is to view life as split into two areas: spiritual things that matter and that have eternal significance, and everything else, which does not. This perspective is not true to Scripture, and doesn’t honour the confession that most

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It’s not missional if we change the message

Eckhard Schnabel: “If we avoid speaking of God’s wrath, of God’s justice, of the coming day of divine judgment, of Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice for us, we are not changing the form of the missionary presentation of the gospel but its content. The foundational centrality of “Christ crucified” is of critical importance for the existence of the local church. In mission and evangelism the search for a presentation of the gospel that will convince listeners is misguided if the fact of Jesus’ death on the cross and the significance of this death are not central to that message. The cross has been and always will be regarded as a religious scandal and as intellectual nonsense. The search for a message that is more easily comprehensible must never attempt to eliminate the provocative nature of the news of Jesus the messianic Son of God who came to die so that sinners can be forgiven by God who hates sin

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Evangelistic vs. Covenantal Worship

Lee Irons critiques Tim Keller’s ‘Evangelistic Worship’: Some of you may be aware that there is this thing called “the missional church” or “the missional movement” or just “missional.” It is a fundamental shift in thinking in which ecclesiology is subordinated to missiology. The church exists exclusively as a means for the accomplishment of the so-called missio Dei. Therefore, everything the church does should be missional and should engage the culture for the sake of winning people to Christ. Of course, if “everything” the church does ought to be missional, then this will logically impact corporate worship. When the church gathers for corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, what is occurring in that meeting and who is being addressed? The missional movement says that worship ought to be evangelistic and that the service should not only edify the saints but also address unbelievers. I have written a paper in which I critique this view. I have chosen to interact with

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8 Non-Negotiables for Mobilizing the Local Church for Accomplishing the Great Commission

David Platt, speaking at Verge12: Two assumptions: 1. The Great Commission can be accomplished and will be completed. 2. Pastors and church leaders are moblizers and equippers for people in the local church. Eight non-negotiables: 1. A God-centered God. We must give the people we lead a glimpse of the God-centered God who exalts himself. 2. A word-saturated ministry. We give them a glimpse of the glory of God by giving them the Word of God. It’s the only thing that will drive them into mission and then sustain them. Biblical theology drives urgent missiology. 3. A life-changing gospel. Maybe one of the reasons so many in the church aren’t making disciples of all the nations is that they aren’t really disciples in the first place. Should it not concern us that the Bible never offers a “sinner’s prayer” and never talks about “accepting Jesus into our heart.” We have modern evangelism built on sinking sand that runs the risk of ruining souls.

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It’s Monday, and it’s time for work…

From John Piper: Five Ways to Make God Known at Work I have in mind at least five things—five ways to make God known through your secular job and all of them are important. When one of them is missing, the witness to the truth of Christ suffers. 1. The excellence of the products or services you render in your job shows the excellence and greatness of God. 2. The standards of integrity you follow at your job show the integrity and holiness of God. 3. The love you show to people in your job shows the love of God. 4. The stewardship of the money you make from your job shows the value of God compared to other things. 5. The verbal testimony you give to the reality of Christ shows the doorway to all these things in your life and their possibility in the lives of others.

The Missional Calvin

“Calvin so believed in the importance of the everyday activities of Christian life and mission that he had a strange but telling practice in Geneva. He was eager to see Jesus’ church gathered on Sundays, but he was not happy for his flock to retreat from everyday life and hide within the walls of the church during the week. So to prod his congregants to be fully engaged in their city of Geneva — in their families, in their jobs, with their neighbors and coworkers — he locked the church doors during the week. It must have been hard not to get the point. He knew the place of God’s people — gathered together to worship on Sunday, but during the week not hidden away behind thick walls of separation, but on mission together in God’s world, laboring to bring the gospel to metro Geneva in their words and actions, in all their roles and relationships.” — David Mathis, in

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“the gospel is something that can only be proclaimed, because it’s about someone else”

Excerpts from an interview with Michael Horton on his new book, The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples: What are some problems you see with people identifying their ministry as “incarnational”? By “incarnational” a lot of people mean that, like Jesus, we should identify with our neighbors in humility, rather than stand aloof. But it often is attended today by a lot of loose language about “doing the gospel” and “being the gospel,” of our work of partnering with God in the redemption and reconciliation of the world, and so forth—“Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words,” as the oft-quoted saying attributed to Francis of Assisi goes. The problem is that this confuses us with Jesus, the redeemed with the Redeemer, the ambassadors with the King. In Philippians 2, we are called to imitate the humility of Christ, revealed in his descent from glory in order to save the lost. However, everything else in that passage

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