Lord, help me be O.C.D.

Several weeks ago Matt Fowler, Senior Associate Pastor at Grace Life Church of the Shoals, gave us a method for handling conflict biblically.   I was reminded of his alliterated principles O.C.D., recently.  Good stuff!  If you want to hear it from him you can listen here.  He offers commentary on the points found below.  The O.C.D. content begins at 13:20 and goes through 26:15.  The following is the outline for practical application.

Be O.C.D. in resolving interpersonal conflicts…

Overlook an Offense:

  • Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11
  • Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.  Proverbs 10:12

Cultivate a Heart of Mercy:

  • Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.  “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  Matthew 18: 21-35

Decide to deal with conflict biblically:

  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18: 15-20

*None of these are possible apart from humility.

Christians Must Vote, Logically

Yes, I have very much stepped over the line on this one.  I can see some of you wince as you read this.  However, I can’t deny the truth of a logical argument.  If you feel that I am in error please respond with a logical argument of your own.  Here goes…

The argument:  If the Democratic platform supports and promotes unbiblical ideas, then Christians should not support its candidates.  The 2008 Democratic platform does support and promote unbiblical ideas.  Therefore, Christians should not support its candidates.

The Democratic platform supports and promotes unbiblical ideas

The 2008 Democratic platform does support and promote unbiblical ideas that are of importance to the Christian.  The two that I want to discuss are marriage and abortion (obviously, this is not an exhaustive treatment of neither the platform document or the bible).  First, on pg. 52 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform, it reads “We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections. We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act. We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”  What is the statement saying?  It says that democrats support a rejection of the biblical understanding of marriage, which promotes marriage of a man and a woman.  It says very clearly that democrats oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines legal marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  This is contrary to the bible’s overall teaching concerning marriage.  Specifically Jesus quotes Genesis in Matthew 19, “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  Not only this but the Old and New Testaments both call homosexuality a sin.  My point in this post is not to call attention to the sin of homosexuality.  If I did, I think it would only be fair that I talk about sexual ethics in general, which would include heterosexual sin.

As for abortion, on pg 50 of the Democratic National Platform is a statement in support of the “unequivocal” availability of abortions.  It states “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”  I could not be any more concisely thorough on the biblical understand than Andreas Kostenberger when he writes in the excellent book God, Marriage and Family, “Abortion is not a practice condoned by Scripture, both on account of its general teaching regarding the value of human life and on the basis of specific passages.  Both testaments teach that children are a blessing from God (Ps. 127:3-5; Mark 10:13-16) and regard the killing of children with particular horror (e.g., Ex. 1:16-17, 22; Lev. 18:21; Jer. 7:31-32; Ezek. 16:20-21; Mic. 6:7; Matt. 2:16-18: Acts 7:19).  God is shown to be active in the creation of human beings from the time of conception {here he includes several Old Testament passages and a couple of New Testament}, so that human procreation in fact represents “a co-creative process involving man, woman, and God.”  He then lists Psalm 139:13-16 .

Christians should not support its candidates (those who support unbiblical ideas)

First let me say that Christians in general and Baptists in particular love religious freedom and oppose creating a theocracy.  As these two issues, marriage and abortion, become increasingly legislated away from the biblical ideal, opposition to them becomes increasingly difficult.   I am not speaking about personal courage but rather legality.  If it becomes a crime to call homosexuality sin and abortion murder, then the attack is on the gospel.  The gospel must never be compromised.  What the Lord considered sin a thousand years ago is still sin today.  Culture does not dictate truth, God does.  Why would Christians want to support individuals who represent them in making laws for the city/county/state/country when those laws offend, undermine, and destroy beliefs that are of supreme importance to the Christian?

The fact is, we should not.  Christians should not support candidates who will undermine the beliefs that they hold sacred.  Christians should vote.  They should vote from their Christian convictions.  Sadly, most church going Americans do vote from conviction, but it is far from biblical or Christian.  God is not glorified when I condone sin.  Therefore, as I live to do all things to the glory of God, it cannot include a willful vote in opposition to His Word.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Motivation for the Procrastinator

I got the following information from a free little ebook called Biblical Productivity by C.J. Mahaney.  In it he includes the following quote by Alexander MacLaren and article by R.C. Sproul.

No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.                                                                                                                                   Alexander MacLaren (1826‐1910), Scottish preacher


Time Well Spent by R.C. Sproul (excerpt)

Given my propensity to waste time, I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to some of you.

First, I realize that all of my time is God’s time and all of my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc. But it is time for which I must give an account.

Second, time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, day-dreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.

Third, the mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.

Fourth, use your leisure time for pursuits that are life enriching. Leisure time is often spent on avocations. Reading is a valuable use of time. It enriches life to read outside of your major field or area of expertise. Augustine once advised believers to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching include the arts. I like to study the piano and I dabble in painting. No one will ever mistake me for a serious musician or an accomplished artist. But these avocations open up the world of beauty to me that enhances my view of God and His manifold perfections. I also enjoy working cross-word puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and to expand my vista of verbal expression.

Fifth, find ways to cheat the “Sand Man.” Several years ago I had an epiphany about time management. Though my life-long pattern had been to stay up late at night I realized that for me, the hours between 9–12 p.m. were not very productive. I reasoned that if I used those hours to sleep I might secure more time for more productive things. Since then my habit has been to retire between 8–9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has effected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are a time free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer….

Sixth, use drive-time for learning. Driving a car is another mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of audio tape can be put to great use during these times. I can listen to lectures and instructional tapes while driving, thereby redeeming the time.

Finally, in most cases a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. I find it freeing in that the schedule can include time for leisure, recreation, and avocation. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying productive life.

Why We Love Having Children

First let me say that I sympathize with those who can’t have children.  Because of the fall, sometimes that can be the case.  We were unsuccessful (with the exception of a miscarriage) for about five years with no medical explanation.  There are those who are never able.  We have known a very small portion of the agony and struggle that you have faced.  The Lord for His own reasons chose to give us children after a time of unexplained barrenness.  What follows are just some thoughts after discovering that we will have our third child in January.

It Is Biblical To Desire Children (For a more thorough treatment of these ideas click here or here)

  • Psalm 127:3-5:  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  • We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply in several places (Genesis 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 35:11; Jeremiah 23:3)
  • Great quote from Dr. Al Mohler:  “Christians must recognize that… rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God’s design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift… Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but instead in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.”

They Are Our Spiritual Legacy

  • One of the reasons that God gives us children is because we make disciples this way.  We are always teaching and training our children in something.  We want to make sure that we are training up our children to love the Lord.  Voddie Baucham said, “One of the principle purposes of marriage is procreation.  Of course, this goes beyond merely having children to actually bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) in an effort to spread the image of God (and the gospel) throughout the earth.”  That’s exactly what we are purposing to do.
  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9 :  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
  • Psalm 78:1-8:  Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God,but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Lord Often Uses Children To Conform Us To The Image Of Christ

  • There is no doubt that God uses all kinds of means to form us in character, both adversity and blessing.  Two very powerful ways that the Lord chisels us into the image of the Son is through marriage and having children.  Whether it is asking forgiveness from your wife or struggling not to discipline your children in anger, the Lord knows just how to expose your weaknesses through family relationships.
  • Romans 8:28-29:  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Men, be comple-mentarian-ly courageous!

I am a complementarian.  Simply stated, I believe that God has made men and women with different roles in all of life.  Within the marriage relationship, as each person fulfills their biblically defined, God ordained roles, they are “complete”, or “complement” one another.  (Not compliment, though they may do that from time to time.)  The late Adrian Rogers explained this very clearly when he said, “A hammer and a screwdriver are different tools designed for different jobs.  Is the hammer better than the screwdriver? No.  Is a screwdriver better than a hammer?  Of course not!  Can you use a screwdriver as a hammer?  Maybe, but it won’t work as well… A man is infinitely superior to a woman at being a man, and a woman is infinitely superior to a man at being a woman. Men and women are different—by design. Neither is superior to the other, but they are very, very different.”

If you have never heard of the terms complementarian or egalitarian I encourage you to at least read this simple article.  If you are brave check its sources, download this book, go to CBMW.org, or follow Denny Burk.  (You should following Dr. Burk’s blog regardless)

I just wanted to take a moment to “account for life”/preach to self and maybe challenge other men to be complementarianly courageous:

  • Be Courageous!  Do hard things.  Don’t waste your life.  Be candid.  Tell the truth.  Don’t fear what others think about you or the God given passions of a Godly man’s life.  Accept your role as a leader, and lead!
  • Take responsibility!  Take responsibility as the one who will pastor, provide, and be the prophet for your home.  Study the Word and teach it to your family.  Set the agenda for how your home will honor the Lord.
  • Work hard!  Work hard at everything.  Stop whining.  Stop letting your wife work harder than you.  Show your kids that hard work is good.  Don’t forget the balance of rest and avoid work idolatry.
  • Love your wives!  Paul said we should love our wives as Christ loved the church.  Christ gave himself up for her.  Sacrifice for her well-being.  How are you at demonstrating Christ’s love for the church as you love your wife?  Stop being selfish. Be a warrior ready to do battle over things that take away your attention from fulfilling your role as a husband.
  • Serve your family!  Let your children see that you love Christ, you love your wife, and you love them.  Be wildly consistent to serve your family as its leader.  Tell other people no.  Make family a priority, but not a deity.

Culture Wars and the Sufficiency of Scripture Part 2

Culture Wars and the Sufficiency of Scripture Part 2

 **Obviously, I can’t be exhaustive with my argument here, because I want you to actually have time to read.  If you need me to fill in the blanks leave a comment and I will do the best I can.**


Scripture is sufficient for Teaching/Doctrine:  It tells us what is right.

2 Timothy 3: 16a  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching…

The Word here for “teaching” (didaskalia) means, the content that is to be taught, the doctrine that we teach, and even the act of teaching itself.  Paul tells Timothy here that there is one place to get your doctrine from.  That one place is the God-breathed (inspired) scriptures.

For instance, the Bible teaches…

God’s word is the supreme and final source and standard of truth:

  • Psalm 119:160, The sum of your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
  • John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth, Your Word is truth.

Scripture tells us about the power of God unto salvation:  (The Gospel and its specific content)

  • Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation.
  • 1 Corinthians 15 For I delivered to you as of first importance which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.

Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the words of Christ.

  • Romans 10:14; 17 How then will call on Him whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher? So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word concerning Christ.

As Christians we have convictions.  These convictions are informed by the scriptures and are often confirmed in the world.  We often call what we believe doctrines, or teachings from the scriptures. Let me be clear:  All doctrine must come from scripture.  Otherwise, where does it come from?

Further, the scriptures speak clearly and positively to culture war type issues.  For instance…

Concerning marriage/sexual ethics (what is right)

Concerning homosexuality

  • The Bible never views homosexuality in a positive light so I can’t mention that the bible teaches homosexuality as a “right” doctrine.

Just a bit of commentary

Let me say this:  I am not a homophobe.  I have a deep commitment to understand and following the scriptures.  The scriptures call out homosexuality as sinful.  Yes, you can find people who will justify the lifestyle.  The Episcopal Church, specifically the Anglican Communion, has destroyed their hermeneutical heritage to accommodate cultural norms.  But as a Christian I can’t allow cultural norms to tell me how I should believe.  As a Christian I trust the Lord and His Word.  I want to be very careful as I read and interpret the scriptures.  I can take full confidence, no matter what circumstance I find myself in, no matter how the culture tries to sway me, that God is not silent.  He has spoken.  He has not left me alone in this world to follow whoever has the loudest voice.  From that, I am encouraged and take confidence.

Dr. Mohler’s Call for Theological Triage

Over the past week I have referenced an old article by Al Mohler several times. It is titled, “A Call For Theological Triage and Christian Maturity”.  The article has been extremely helpful for me when thinking about the differences Christians have over certain doctrinal matters.  In the article Mohler categorizes doctrines into a threefold framework that is easy to remember.  He illustrates this structure by using a medical triage reference.  In this kind of outline priority is given to the most essential and serious matters.  Here are a few excerpts:

“…first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.”

“The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident.”

“Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations.”

If you don’t know Dr Mohler, he is a theologian and serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.  He is a brilliant cultural spokesman and is always pastoral in his approach to relevant issues.  His website is www.albertmohler.com .

Culture Wars and the Sufficiency of Scripture Part 1

Recently, there has been more and more discussion and divide between progressive Christians (liberals) and evangelical Christians (conservatives) over “culture war” issues. Namely, what they believe concerning marriage/sexual ethics and abortion. As I read articles and blogs related to these views I was reminded of J. Gresham Machen and his book Christianity and Liberalism. The book was first published in 1923 and is a great defense of Orthodox Christianity, answering many liberal objections of the day. Machen nailed the foundational issues at stake as he wrote about doctrine, God and man, the Bible, Christ, Salvation, and the Church. I, too, want to point to that foundational battleground and say that the “culture wars” still have to do with where doctrine comes from, the Bible. The battle for this sacred text goes on today and is of utmost importance. As a follower of Christ I believe that the bible is trustworthy and to be interpreted with sound methods. Specifically, we believe the historical-grammatical method of hermeneutics is most accurate and helpful. This method seeks to understand authorial intent through context, grammar of the original language, and how the church has historically interpreted the text. This method, by the way, is the same method that conservative justices use as they interpret constitutional issues (i.e. authorial intent). To clarify, one saying I remember as I was learning this method (haven’t arrived, still learning) said a text of scripture can never mean what it never meant. Those who oppose conservative “culture war” views do so, on the basis of some other kind of hermeneutic. Many of them would say that the bible is a document whose central interpretation changes with the culture. I disagree. What I hope to accomplish in these posts is to argue that scripture is sufficient to speak into our lives and cultural norms are not. I want to do this through an exegesis of one of my favorite texts of Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Through these series of posts I will share excerpts from a sermon that I have preached several times. This is an early form of it titled “The Sufficiency of Scripture”.

When we say sufficiency we aren’t just talking about the inerrancy of scripture, but rather inerrancy lived out. Sufficiency means, according to Jimmy Draper and Ken Keathley in their book “Biblical Authority”, that “the Word of God has the ability to address every area of human existence”. So we are saying that scripture, correctly interpreted, accurately addresses every situation of life. To say that the bible is sufficient is to say exactly what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: that All scripture…is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness…to make us complete, equipped for every good work.

What the bible gives are a set of clear teachings, principles, and commands that provide the Christian with the framework and tools to deal with all the issues of life. In 2 Timothy 3 Paul exhorted Timothy to look to the scriptures for teaching doctrines, presenting reproofs, providing corrections, and supporting training in the knowledge of God.

Christian leaders today must believe the scriptures are sufficient for faith and practice. We must understand the sufficiency of scripture because, as my pastor reported at a conference a few years ago, “it is likely that we have become inerrancy idolaters. We have become a people who will slam our bibles on the pulpit for the cause of inerrancy, but when it comes to practical use, we discard it for man-centered methods of evangelism, corporate worship, and psychological self-help in the place of absolute truth. It is my sincere prayer that the Spirit of God will rekindle the flame of the sufficiency of scriptures in our churches today.”

Memorial Day

This year the males of the family went to Naval Air Station Pensacola on Memorial Day while vacationing in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  It was a great experience.  I am very thankful for the sacrifice of soldiers who have fought to preserve freedom from oppressive nations.  I was especially struck by a talk I heard from one particular veteran who served on the USS Enterprise during World War II.  He spoke of two particular incidents that he had witnessed during the War.  One was of a pilot who was killed by friendly fire, and another of sailors who were trapped in a capsized ship.  The sailors in the capsized vessel were communicating with rescue personnel on the outside, who were attempting to cut into the hull of the ship.  Knowing that they would not be rescued before they ran out of air, they tapped out in Morse code how privileged they were to have served their country.  They also made known that it was obvious they would run out of air soon, so the rescue workers should move on to help others!  These two stories, on top of watching video of kamikaze destruction in the Pacific, made me even more grateful for those who have served and suffered.  I am highly aware that I live a neat, clean, privileged life.  I am sheltered from much of the ugliness that exists in the world.  For the most part, I am very grateful and happy to live in my own little world.  However, it is good to be reminded that there is depravity and suffering that goes on the world that is unthinkably horrible.  Here’s why:

  • Depravity reminds me that the whole world is desperately in need of redemption.  There is only redemption in Christ. (Romans 8:18-25)
  • I too am depraved.  In the eyes of God, my wickedness is just as appalling as Adolf Hitler’s.  I need a rescue.  My only rescue is in Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12)
  • It makes me long for the ultimate redemption.  I long for the day when things will be set right.  I am an alien here.  My citizenship is in heaven. (Phil 3:20/1 Cor. 15)
  • It makes me hate sin.  When I am confronted with the ugliness of sin, I hate it.  Recently, Noah Crowe passed away.  He was a little boy who suffered from cancer.  His cancer is a result of sin.  I am not saying he got cancer because he sinned in some way (John 9:1-3), I am saying he had cancer because we live in a fallen world.  Reading his parents journey through this makes me hate sin all the more.  I long for the resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)
  • Still, God has purposes for suffering that are greater than worldly comfort:  The Glory of God (John 9:1-3), Conformation to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29), growth in Joy and perseverance (James 1:2-4), instruction (Hebrews 12:4-11), and to help others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Father, help me to always be reminded of the ugliness of sin.  Give me grace to flee from it.  Give me grace to learn from it.  May it make me always flee to Christ!

Proclaiming the Gospel

I finished Voddie Baucham’s book, Family Shepherds, Calling and Equipping men to lead their homes a few days ago.  There are so many great things packed into this small book I would recommend it to anyone.  Also, it was a fast read (the book is less than 200 pages)!   Its brevity doesn’t mean that it lacks for content.  A few things that I liked the most were:  a clarification of the gospel, an exposition of the wickedness of feminism, and the challenge to be a spiritual leader in the home.  Below I want to share something small from the book.

(BTW, I am so very thankful for my pastor Jeff Noblit, who always knows how to bring balance to spiritual matters.  His sermon this past Sunday night was dead-on helping me see things clearly concerning the dangers of what some are espousing in the FIC movement.  You can hear the sermon here.)

I love the gospel.  It is how I am saved and how God sanctifies me each day as I remember Christ’s provision set forth in the gospel (read A Gospel Primer for Christians for understanding how the gospel relates to Sanctification).  One thing that is promulgated in weak pulpits is the idea of living the gospel, rather than speaking the gospel.  Just a few weeks ago I had lunch with a gentleman who shared with me an experience where a man was consequently converted because he “experienced” the gospel through others, with no declaration of the gospel (written or spoken).  Now, obviously we want to live in a loving and pure way.  We don’t want our actions to be a stumbling block so that others don’t want to hear anything we say.  But the gospel needs to be proclaimed.  Indeed, the gospel must be proclaimed!  If souls are going to be saved they must hear the truths of the gospel.  The Holy Spirit then does His illuminating work.  This is the way that God has designed conversion.

I thought that Baucham illustrated the need for gospel proclamation well in Family Shepherds.  The following is an excerpt:

“The Gospel is news, first and foremost.  The Greek word (transliterated) evangelion refers to news, an announcement of a message.

Think about it; the gospel is news!  Therefore, we don’t “live” the gospel; we proclaim it.  We can no more live the gospel than live the nightly news.  Imagine saying, “let’s go live out last night’s eleven o’clock news headline story.”  That’s sheer foolishness.  The event has already happened; it cannot be relived.  You can live in the light of the news, or because of the news, but you cannot live the news.  And as famous as certain words of St. Francis of Assisi happen to be, he was wrong; we do not “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”.  Again, imagine the parallel:  “Channel 10 News…News so Powerful, We Don’t Use Words!”

I know this flies in the face of contemporary vernacular, but this is no minor distinction.  This is the difference between a life that views Christ and his finished work as the central message of Christianity and one that views its own experience as the central message.  If Christ’s life is the central message, then I have to tell the news.  If my life is the central message, then my living is enough.”