Alex Kocman: “Sit down, young man. When God decides to save the heathen, he will do it without your help.” These were the words of John Ryland to a passionate, young English Particular Baptist named William Carey, now known to us as the father of the modern missionary movement. Since then, the temptation to pit Reformed theology and missions against each other as enemies has continued to plague the broader evangelical movement, despite the Calvinistic bona fides of Carey and countless others like him. “If you’re a Calvinist, you must not really believe in evangelism”—so goes the logic. Men like William Carey and Andrew Fuller, and more modern writers like J.I. Packer in his Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, have demonstrated repeatedly that the Reformed emphasis on particular redemption is the sweet companion of the missionary endeavor and not its antagonist. But in our day and age, for some observers, another sticky question remains—the question of that pesky “L” in the “TULIP.”
read more 3 Reasons Definite Atonement is Basic to Biblical Missions
John Piper’s reply to a letter from a 12-year-old about heaven and hell: You asked what happens to people who live far away from the gospel and have never heard about Jesus and die without faith in him. Here is what I think the Bible teaches. God always punishes people because of what they know and fail to believe. In other words, no one will be condemned for not believing in Jesus who has never heard of Jesus. Does that mean that people will be saved and go to heaven if they have never heard of Jesus? No, that is not what God tells us in the Bible. The main passage in the Bible that talks about this is Romans 1:18–23. Here is what it says. Then I’ll make a comment or two. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be
read more What About Those Who Have Never Heard?
Chase Bowers & Scott Zeller: What happened on January 2, 1998, altered the course of my (Chase’s) life. Along with thousands of other college students, I attended the second Passion conference, which was then a new series of gatherings seeking to raise a banner for God’s glory. I heard John Piper preach for the first time, and what he communicated about God’s heart for the nations—specifically the idea that he was gathering for his fame a people from among all peoples—was paradigm-shifting for me. Afterward I began digging into Piper’s now-classic book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker). It opens with groundshaking words: Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. This paragraph profoundly changed what
read more The Goal of Missions May Not Be What You Think
Erik Raymond: It is one of the most staggering and gripping narratives in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah is allowed to see a vision of God’s holiness that leads him to pronounce judgement upon himself and then concludes with him going to tell other people about this unfathomably holy God and their substantial lack of holiness. What is particularly instructive is the connection between his cleansing and his commissioning. When he realized what he had been cleansed from then he was more apt to embrace who he was cleansed for. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons why we sputter in evangelism is a truncated view of God’s holiness. Isaiah saw this and he was focused on his mission. Cleansing The need for cleansing comes from the awareness of sin. In other words, seeing a lack of holiness next to God’s ineffable holiness leads one to a gratitude for being cleansed. Isaiah tells us that this vision came in the year
read more Faithful Evangelism Begins with Clear Sight
Without the Bible, world evangelization would not only impossible but actually inconceivable. It is the Bible that lays upon us the responsibility to evangelize the world, gives us a gospel to proclaim, tells us how to proclaim it and promises us that it is God’s power for salvation to every believer. It is, moreover, an observable fact of history, both past and contemporary, that the degree of the Church’s commitment to world evangelization is commensurate with the degree of its conviction about the authority of the Bible. Whenever Christians lose their confidence in the Bible, they also lose their zeal for evangelism. Conversely, whenever they are convinced about the Bible, then they are determined about evangelism. – John Stott in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, p.21 (HT: Zach Nielsen)
Kevin DeYoung: So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). We do not know when God’s purposes will be accomplished. We do not always know whether the divine plan is to harden the heart or to soften it. We do not know the outcome of our work. But we should know that our work in the word is never in vain. No sermon from the word, no bible study, no time of prayer in the word with your children, no memorizing of scripture, none of it is wasted. If there is time spent in the word, God promises it is working. Working something. The same sun which melts the snow hardens the clay. Why should missionaries continue to labor in the hardest parts of the world with limited success,
read more Missions, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Unapproachable, inaccessible in location or situation, untouched, untouchable, disconnected, unable to be met or out of touch. These are all words and descriptions given for yet another word: Unreached. (HT; Justin Taylor)
John Piper: In 2012, sociologist Robert Woodberry published the astonishing fruit of a decade of research into the effect of missionaries on the health of nations. The January/February 2014 issue of Christianity Today tells the story of what he found in an article called “The World the Missionaries Made.” There is a lesson implicit in these findings that I would like to draw out for the sake of the eternal fruitfulness of missions as well as her power to transform cultures. Titled “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” Woodberry’s article in the American Political Science Review, defends this thesis: “The work of missionaries . . . turns out to be the single largest factor in insuring the health of nations” (36). This was a discovery that he says landed on him like “atomic bomb” (38). A Sweeping Claim To be more specific, Woodberry’s research supported this sweeping claim: Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically
read more Missions: Rescuing from Hell and Renewing the World
John Piper: Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in themainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father. Weep with Those Who Weep How do I feel about sharing in the cause of his going to his death? I came to tears this morning praying for Anita and Hosea. Weep with those who weep was not a command in that moment; it was a sorrow rolling over me. I remember being 33. That’s how old I was when
read more When We Send a Person to His Death
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)
Justin Taylor posts: Below is a panel hosted by Ligonier at the 2013 PCA General Assembly, with Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Ligon Duncan, Richard Pratt, and R.C. Sproul, moderated by Steve Nichols. They talk through the following: What is the biggest theological battle today and for the next generation? (00:00:00) What advice would you give to the next generation of pastors, especially church planters, as they try to address contextualization, Christology, and similar issues? (00:08:30) What might we learn from history about the parallel rising of Christianity and Islam? (00:11:35) What role does Christology play as we see the needs of the global church? (00:16:00) How do we guard against the various distortions when it comes to the person of Jesus? (00:22:40) Discussion on the work of Christ pertaining to justification and imputation. (00:30:45) The panel shares thoughts on substitutionary atonement, and how it is going to be an issue in the next generation. (00:41:52) Is the church in danger
read more Christology in the 21st Century: A Discussion
John Piper: Just think of it. The God of the universe focused his special revelation and redeeming work on one small ethnic people, Israel, for 2,000 years — from the calling of Abram in Genesis 12 to the coming of Christ. For all that time “he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). Then at the entry of his Son into the world, all this changed. As Jesus was leaving to return to heaven he said, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [my] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). This was a pivotal change in the history of the world. God’s Careful Planning But the command to disciple all the nations was not an afterthought. It was the plan from the moment God chose Israel. God said to Abram, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Then Paul
read more The Thrilling “Now” of Christian Mission
“If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess Him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ for the honour of His name—troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it. The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ. Only one imperialism is Christian, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.” — John Stott The Message of Romans (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1994), 53
read more The highest of all missionary motives
Next ministry/missions trip is upon me. Tomorrow I fly to Bucharest and then head north to Focsani for a week of bible teaching and encouraging the churches. It’s been over 22 years since I visited Romania. I wonder if it has changed much? UPDATE: Last minute cancellation! My poorly travelling companion has been grounded due to ill health. So, everything is on hold. For the moment. The Lord knows! Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Thabiti Anyabwile: 1. To experience the power of God (Matt. 28:18). “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” proclaims the Lord. He invests that authority and might in the work of redemption. Our participation in the Great Commission brings us under that Heavenly Authority. No better place to be. 2. For the glory of God in Christ (Matt. 28:18). The Lord’s words in verse 18 harken back to that wonderful vision of Daniel 7:13-14. The transfer of “authority, glory and sovereign power” that Daniel foresaw is completed in our Lord’s post-Resurrection commission to His Church. The bringing of nations to worship Christ spreads the glory of God in His Son. 3. To express obedience and love (Matt. 28:19). The commands us to “go and make disciples.” We’re not only to “teach them to obey everything I commanded,” but we’re also to express such obedience ourselves. Participating in the Great Commission is in a sense the simultaneous way we
read more 7 Reasons to Care About the Great Commission
It has been my privilege to lecture at a couple of Bible Colleges in Rangoon, Burma, during the last four years. I love being involved at a theological and pastoral level in preparing young aspiring leaders for ministry in and from the local church. This time I’ll be teaching on the Pastoral Epistles. These short letters by the apostle Paul teach into a Christian scene in the first century (not unlike our own), that is marked by doctrinal error and moral compromise. The only antidote is the Gospel; correctly understood, and skilfully applied, within the local church context specifically, and all of life generally. Particularly relevant for today, me thinks! Back in a couple of weeks. UPDATE: Home again after a wonderful time in Burma. In eleven days I delivered about 30 hours of bible teaching and preaching. The students and church members have an insatiable appetite for God’s word. “Exhausted, yet perusing!”
Thanks for stopping by. I’m just about to head out to The Lebanon for a couple of weeks to teach at a conference aimed at preparing Christians for missional life and ministry, and preach in a number of churches. Looking forward to being with my pastor friends Josef and Elie. That’s iced coffee, by the way! UPDATE: Home safely from a very busy and blessed time of bible ministry. It is definitely gratifying to teach/preach among believers who have such a hunger to hear the word of God. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon as the seek to minister to refugees fleeing into their country from neighbouring Syria.
If you’re interested, here are my sermons preached at Frinton Mission last week. My theme was The Goal of the Gospel – what it is, how it works, and why it’s important: Jesus is Building His Church (preached at St. Mary’s Parish Church) The Fall of Man The Essential Elements of the Gospel The Goal of the Gospel Beholding the Glory of Christ What it means to be Born Again Does it really matter what we believe? (evangelistic sermon)
David Mathis: I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. –2 Timothy 2:10 The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital arteries and mutilate hurting people by spinning out untrue implications. In this five-minute clip of his most recent sermon, John Piper encourages us to follow the apostle Paul’s powerful example in 2 Timothy 2:10 and wield the dear doctrine of election with gospel care. .
I leave for Tanzania this morning to speak at a conference for pastors in Mbeya. These church leaders have formed a gospel partnership across the denominations in the 3rd largest city in Tanzania. What a joy and privilege to be teaching and serving brothers in Christ who love the gospel. May its God-glorifying transformative power be evident among us. UPDATE: Back home! Wonderful trip. Thanks to everyone who prayed. The week of conference ministry went very well. I expounded the book of Ephesians each morning, and then taught on related theological subjects in the afternoon. My aim was to introduce the benefits of consecutive expository preaching and teaching. Something quite new to these faithful pastors. Also to show them the connection between right biblical understanding and God-honouring Christian living. It is always a thrill to expound the gospel and to see the word begin to shape vision for a glorious local church. Hallelujah! I have now formed an official relationship with this
read more Tanzania Today!