Posts filed under ‘Christianity’
Are you planning on attending the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus? If so, here is a list of events happening during the annual meeting that would be worth your consideration. As you can see, they are organized by meal time…since we are baptist.
Monday, June 15th
- Breakfast: The CBMW panel on marriage, gender, and the future of Christian ministry in a post-Christian age. The panelists include Danny Akin, Jason Duesing, Nathan Lino, Thomas White, and Owen Strachan. Register here.
- Lunch: Send North America Lunch sponsored by NAMB and IMB. Hear the future of SBC missions from Kevin Ezell and David Platt. Register here.
- Late Night: Connecting Church and Culture: A Conversation Hosted by the ERLC (Russell Moore) and 9 Marks (Mark Dever). Join the conversation by asking Dr. Moore and Dr. Dever your questions about the Church and cultural engagement. Register here.
Tuesday, June 16th
- Breakfast: The Gospel Project panel discussion on Biblical Preaching with Ed Stetzer, JD Greear, HB Charles Jr., and Chip Henderson. Each attendee will receive over $125 worth of books on preaching. Only 400 seats available. Register here.
- Lunch: Baptist 21 panel discussion with David Platt, Albert Mohler, H.B. Charles Jr., Russell Moore, and Danny Akin. The panelists will be discussing the most pressing issues facing the church and cooperative missions. Register here.
- Lunch: For The Church conference luncheon, designed to encourage and equip pastors and leaders with Jason Allen, Matt Carter, Mark Dever, Ronnie Floyd, Paige Patterson, and Jared Wilson. Register here.
- Late Night: Nine Marks at Nine with SEBTS. Mark Dever, Danny Akin, Albert Mohler Jr., and David Platt will discuss the state of the SBC. Register here.
Wednesday, June 17th.
- Breakfast: SBC Men’s Breakfast sponsored by LifeWay and NAMB, focused on how you can invest in the lives of the men of your church. The speakers include JD Greear, Matt Carter, Michael Catt, Mark Dance, Jason Ellerbrook, Michael Lewis. Register here.
- Breakfast: Women’s Leadership Breakfast by SEBTS and NAMB. A panel discussion from gifted leaders who will share their expertise and wisdom about the importance of equipping for leadership. Panelists include: Lizette Beard (moderator), Denise O’Donoghue, Elicia Horton, Kathy Litton, and Selma Wilson. Register here.
- Make sure you attend your alma mater seminary gathering. You can find the full list of events here.
- Take time to visit the exhibit hall and LifeWay store.
- Here is a list of the 2015 annual meeting reports.
I recently picked up Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction at a used book store (I love the title). I have always found Peterson’s writing soul stirring. In this book Peterson offers an honest and reflective journey through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). Consider this thought on worship based on Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (ESV)
But very often we don’t feel like [worshiping], and so we say, “It would be dishonest for me to go to a place of worship and praise God when I don’t feel like it. I would be a hypocrite.” The Psalm says, I don’t care whether you feel like it or not: as was decreed, “give thanks to the name of God.”
I have put great emphasis on the fact that Christians worship because they want to, not because they are forced to. But I have never said that we worship because we feel like it. Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshiped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith. Paul Scherer is laconic: “The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel.”
We live in what one writer has called “the age of sensation.” We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured.
The Bishop Basil of Caesarea is well known in church history for being one of the most influential theologians of the early church. Basil was a stout theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early church. At the same time, Basil was also known for his care of the hurting and neglected. It was once said of Basil that “his words were like thunder because his life was like lightning.” This is powerful imagery for pastoral ministry, imagery that connects our pastoral calling with our Christian character.
When one examines the character qualifications for pastors in the New Testament, especially in the Pastoral Epistles, it becomes clear that there is a standard for spiritual and moral maturity (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). In short, pastoral character is vital for faithful ministry. Don Carson has said on many occasions that what is most remarkable about the qualifications for a pastor is that they are so unremarkable. In other words, the quality of character called for in pastors can be found mandated for all Christians in other parts of God’s word.
So, while the pastor is not expected to be the ideal of perfection, pastors are to be mature exemplars of the character demanded of all Christians. One way to think of it is that pastors lead with a limp. While not perfect, pastors are to set an example in Christian character (1 Peter 5:3). This has several implications for pastoral character, and for the development of Christian character within the congregation.
First, as pastors, we must apply God’s word to our own lives as we call the congregation to do the same. The unique element found in the qualifications for pastors, other than being a recent convert, is that a pastor is to be set apart for the teaching of the word. As we know, the teaching of the whole counsel of God includes how to live a God honoring life (1 Timothy 4:16). Pastors must submit their lives to the word they proclaim. For example, it is hard for us to call the church to care for the hurting and neglected, unless we too are committed to the same.
Second, pastors are to lead in repentance. Philosopher Charles Taylor has described our secular age as “the age of authenticity”. Taylor’s analysis is helpful in showing us that confession of weakness and repentance can actually help to endear us to our people. Our people need to see that the character in the Christian life isn’t marked by the sinless life; it’s marked by the repentant life (1 John 1:9). Christ is the only sinless shepherd. We cannot call people to repentance when we are not repenting ourselves. In many ways, the bedrock of pastoral character is a willingness to repent (Ephesians 2:8).
Third, pastors are to commit themselves to the community of faith in which they serve. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, even for pastors (Hebrews 10:25). The church community is the primary context where Christians are called to work out the application of God’s word. Moreover, the church community is the place where your need for the gospel is powerfully revealed. This is why it is important for the pastors to be deeply invested in the community of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). God uses those around us to reveal our sin and encourage us to godliness.
I think all of us want churches full of people with honorable Christian character. This starts with the hard work of developing character within our own lives. Too often pastors want the rain of God’s blessing in their ministry without passing through both thunder and lightning. Pastor, we are expected to lead the congregation not just with the words of our lips, but by the fruit in our life. Our words will be thunder when our life is like lightning.
This post is excerpted and adapted from the Christ-centered Exposition Commentary on Galatians (1:6-7). You can get the whole set in WordSearch right now for $69.95. Here are three important truths accompany a person’s tragic turn from the gospel, by Tony Merida.
When you turn from the gospel, you turn from God Himself
Paul says that the Galatians are turning away from “Him,” not merely from a set of principles. When you turn from the gospel, you are turning from the God of all grace. You are turning from the Christ “who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age”. Paul says he is amazed that the Galatians are turning from their Redeemer, the fountain of all grace. When you turn from the gospel, you turn from God Himself. Disbelieving the gospel is no small error. If you miss Christ, you will lose everything.
When you turn from the gospel, you turn from the grace of Christ
“The grace of Christ” is a synonym for the gospel (cf. 5:4). Remember, the Judaizers believed salvation was Jesus + circumcision and the requirements of the OT law. But salvation is not Jesus + anything. Why? Because salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Notice how the words “called” and “grace” are together in Galatians 1:6 and in verse 15. The Galatians were called by grace, and they were called into the realm of grace. This type of call denotes God’s sovereign action and believers’ experience. When God calls you to Christ, you sense His power. You sense God dealing with you. Just as He called Abraham, Moses, and Paul, He calls sinners to Himself today. He calls us not because of any good in us but because of His grace.
When you turn from the gospel, you have nowhere else to go
Paul tells the Galatians that they are “turning to a different gospel,” but adds, “not that there is another gospel”. In other words, Paul says the false teachers’ message is no gospel at all. There is only one gospel. In all likelihood the false teachers were saying that their gospel was not different from what Paul taught. But Paul says, “Yes, it is.” There is nothing else like the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, false teachers have been using the same “Oh, we believe in Jesus, too” line for centuries. But when you go deeper into the teachings of any cult, you realize that it presents a [another] gospel (cf. 2 Cor 11:3-4).
The point is that there is no other way to be right with God, to experience forgiveness of sin, apart from the gospel of Christ Jesus (see John 14:6-7). It is difficult for people to embrace the exclusiveness of the gospel when they swim in a sea of religious pluralism and philosophical relativism. We often hear, “All religions are equally valid, and there is no one truth.” But finding right relationship with God is not like selecting a deodorant. You may choose any of a number of antiperspirants to keep you fresh, but that is not the case when it comes to securing eternal life. Only one path to God will do: Jesus. He has no equal. He is not one among many religious leaders. He is the one and only Messiah.
This is the workshop that Tim Keller led at The Gospel Coalition National Conference in Orlando, 2015.
We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others.
“There are great stories in the Bible…but it is possible to know Bible stories, yet miss the Bible story.” – Ed Clowney