Here is a sermon that I gave to my old roommates student ministry in North Carolina a few weeks ago. Sorry for my lack of ability to tie it into one main point/big idea. I would re-do a lot of things if given the chance. Nevertheless, watch/listen and tell me what you think.
S/O to my friend Mason Crawford for allowing me to borrow his camera to record this.
Throughout this semester I have been briefly going through one chapter of The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make with my leadership team (from my hall). This past week the mistake happened to be the absence of affirmation. Now, I don’t personally know anyone who feels like they have been affirmed enough. Not only that but I don’t know anyone who is consistently affirmed well (i.e. in a God-centered way rather than man-centered).
This leaves us with quite the predicament… wouldn’t you say?
Well… knowing my own propensity to affirm myself and never affirm others I recently purchased Practicing Affirmation (after John Piper endlessly recommended the book – now I know why). I will not spend the time to review it here (just look a few posts back where it is reviewed).
One of my favorite parts of the book was the end where it gave 100 practical ways to affirm others… and knowing my inability to think of ways to do this on a regular basis I thought it would not only be helpful for me but also helpful for you. Enjoy.
I have been studying through the Pastoral Epistles this summer… reading through each book over and over… I plan on doing this until Christmas time… so by that time I will probably have read them all end-to-end nearly 50-60 times. Probably more.
As I study, I am not only reading each book but also translating each book which calls for a much more meticulous approach. I translate each section (breaking them up by thoughts, i.e. 1:1-2; 1:3-7; 1:8-11, and so on), and then diagram it and BibleArc it. After doing both of these steps I then create an outline. Once this is completed, I generally have a good grasp of the flow of the text and how things are functioning and therefore focus even closer by the use of “meditation” (no, not emptying my mind… rather filling it.). This entails spending much time contemplating the purpose and meaning of each and every word. While doing this I often move between thoughts and prayer seamlessly. [I also, after reading through my commentaries and cleaning up my translation, print out the passage and read it over and over and mark it up quite a bit, this generally helps me to see even more connections.]
During this period of meditation I began to notice something from the beginning command that Paul gives to Timothy in 1 Timothy that I had previously glossed over.
Paul commands Timothy to remain in Ephesus.
So what? What’s the big deal with that?
Well lets think about it for a moment. Ephesus at this time is not in a healthy state. The church that is. It is struggling with some sort of unclear heresy that is semi-Jewish and undeveloped. It is tearing the church apart, just as Paul prophesied in Acts 20:25-35.
That seems to be a pretty good reason to leave a church right? Heresy? I don’t think anyone would fault Timothy for leaving that church. But what does Paul tell him? Remain.
Stop for a moment and think about your own situation. How often are you quick to quit on a church? The music is weak you say. The preaching just isn’t my style. There is no one my age. I don’t like all those hypsters. Okay… maybe you are more committed than that and would never leave for those reasons… Well, what about not preaching the Bible but rather mere opinions and hobbyhorses? What about unbiblical church leadership and structure? What about incorrect understandings of baptism? Etc. You get the point. What would you do? Quit? Or Remain. And not just remain with a heavy heart that shows anyone and everyone within 50 miles that you can’t wait to leave… but really… Remain.
So why does Paul ask Timothy to stay longer with an unhealthy church like Ephesus? Well it can’t be for the sake of Timothy’s own spiritual appetite… hoping to grow under the *wonderful* teaching… because that in itself is heretical, full of law based justification and sanctification.
So what is the reason then? Answer: Verse 3 and 4a… “Command certain men to not teach differently, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies…”
Paul doesn’t want Timothy to quit. He wants him to actually help guide the church back toward healthy doctrine… healthy doctrine that leads to true godliness. To true love. To true and correct understandings of God.
This is not the easy way out. This is not the popular way out. This is not the obvious way out. This is the hard, painful, frustrating way. This is the God-honoring way.
Don’t quit. Remain! Be faithful. And be apart of the change. Rebuke (gently yet sharply 2 Tim 2:23/Titus 1:9) the different teaching. Train them in the healthy teaching of God.
This will not be easy. This will not be quick. But why else do you think Paul tells Timothy to ready himself for suffering so often (2 Timothy)?
To be very clear: This is not for the faint of heart. This is not for the young Christian. Remember: Timothy was an elder at this church. He had invested there for a period of time. This is *not* a call for those who are unsure of their doctrine to remain in an unhealthy church. This *is* a call to the mature Christian to remain and be a catalyst for change.
Here are two other articles regarding “leaving a church” that could prove useful:
For you Greek sharks out there, the word Paul uses for “remain” is προσμένω. The root of that being μένω, which is used in the ever-popular John 15 “remain/abide” passage from Jesus. But I don’t want to draw too much from that because often times drawing comparisons based on word etymology is inherently flawed and leads to many exegetical fallacies.
During the summer months, I was scanning over twitter in some down time during my day and ran across a tweet from Jared Wilson. Now, I am sure someone said it before him, but that is irrelevant. The tweet said: “what you win them with, you win them to.”
Now that really started turning the wheels within my head… especially considering I had been thinking recently about the summer camp that my home churches student ministry attends every year. I attended this camp somewhere around 8 years in a row (forgive me if I am off by a year or two… I claim an inability to remember much of my past in a linear manner) and have missed it the past two years. If you are unfamiliar with the camp, I would recommend going to their website.
I have often thought about why so many who attend this camp never *stick.*
Many *profess* faith or *proclaim* life-change… yet… 3 weeks later… 3 months later… they have disappeared. What happened? Where did they go?
Many I see singing along with the *worship* songs while hoisting their arms high in the air, reading their *devotionals* every day, having *spiritual* discussions and the like… yet it never sticks. What is up with that?
My normal conclusion has been: Nothing ever changed to begin with. They faked that whole thing. But I say it in a much more politically, or should I say “spiritually,” correct way.
But after marinating on this tweet, I think that previous conclusion is only half of the equation. Did they really have a heart-felt, Spirit-motivated, Jesus-driven, *insert other cool hyphen here* change? Unlikely. But the equation needs more than that. The other part of the problem is that they have been sold a slight deception.
These students buy into the concert quality music, bagillion dollar stage set ups and lights, hilarious videos and skits, fantastic speakers (who are funny in their own right), the beach, and friends. They never really are told about the cost of following Jesus. They are told about the love of God but not the holiness of God. They are told about compassion and grace but not wrath and tribulations. In all honesty… they arent really told much about God to begin with… but that is an entire different topic. It seems to be some type of back room hidden trick. Hide the cost of following Jesus until after you make the decision to follow him. To quote Matt Chandler: “a seeker model of church is simply a model of church that says lets not offend everybody and lets keep it as light as we can to get them in the door and then we will switch it up at some back room Bible study and tell them what the Bible really means, what it really says.” They make Jesus seem amazingly awesome with no recoil at all. This is backwards! *Now, they don’t blatantly preach prosperity, but it becomes a driving force without realizing it.*
According to the ministry style and preaching content of Jesus himself… any time the crowd really started to follow him… he would always turn it up a notch and explain the extreme cost of following him… and most often… it kept everyone from *sticking.* This was not done haphazardly – it was intentional.
Maybe the reason why so many *quit* after bigstuf has to do more with bigstuf than anything else. We have won them to something that is not the Christian life. We have tried to hide the normal Christian life from them without realizing it.
Once those who bought into the whole “Jesus = bigstuf” mentality begin to lose that “high” and the memories begin to fade… they realize they were jipped… this is more than I thought it was going to be! Peace.
How about we just be honest up front? Less numbers? Definitely. But I would rather not confuse people to death [literally and figuratively - I would recommend this short clip from David Platt on this divergent issue]. I would rather not make them think they are Christians… or possibly take the classic… “oh, you have just back-slidden *every* year for the past 9 years and the only time you show *growth* is during bigstuf and immediate after… but you are okay! Its a hard world.”
How about win them to Jesus… over the lights, the music, the friends, and the beach? Why do we need to travel to Florida to see God move? I had no idea God had only particular places that he changed lives. I had no idea that people could only share the gospel at youth camp. Apparently I missed that in Galatians or something. Why is it God moved without all of this stuff for the past 2,000 years but suddenly needs someone to filter his word… to hide the hard stuff?
Maybe there is a reason my home church takes 200+ people every year to bigstuf to only see half of them stick… on a hopefully *bi-weekly* basis.
Not only does bigstuf negatively impact confused non-christians, but I can be sure to tell you that those who *are* Christians arrive back from bigstuf more excited about bigstuf than about Jesus. I can say this because not only have I witnessed it time-after-time but I have been one of those people.
Now, know that I am not some guy standing on the sidelines blasting bigstuf and the like without ever being apart of it or knowing the peoples intentions, etc… I previously was a bastion of this movement… causing some of the same problems. Inviting people to follow Christ without delineating the entire cost. I also have a very good friend who worked there – knowing the ins and outs of this business. These observations are not off-the-wall.
Therefore, remember – at the end of the day…. “what you win them with, you win them to.” Make it be Jesus. Make it be the gospel. Make it be the glory of God. Not lights. Not music. Not games. Not stand up comedy routines.
**I am fully aware that I may get “hated” on (that is the new “pastoral” term for criticism, right?) for this… that is why I saved posting this for months… But I think it needs to be said.**
*This principle transfers to far more than just youth camps… this is merely a case study to illustrate the point.*
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ – John Owen – Grade B
Considering this was written 400 years ago, the language is at times quite archaic and hard to understand, so multiple readings will be required. I felt that Owen would make brilliant points throughout but would then run himself in a circle, saying the same thing five different times. The book could easily have been cut in half and still had the same amount of arguments. But at the end of the day, there is a reason that this book has gone unopposed and unupdated throughout the years… because no one has been able to refute his arguments with anything substantial. (P.S. Yes, I know I started this before summer break… but I finished it during break, so I am including it in my summer reading)
Journey Into God’s Word – Duvall and Hays – Grade B
This book would be an excellent addition to any new Christians arsenal or any Christian that is unfamiliar with interpreting the Bible correctly. It is very small and concise. It doesn’t waste time explaining things that would be necessary for the average Joe. If nothing else it would be a solid refresher. It was not overly stimulating but for the size, it was pretty easy to go through. If you have a good amount of education in this area, I would not recommend it unless you are planning to use it as study tool for people at your church. If you were wondering, this is the condensed version of “Grasping God’s Word,” the 400+ page textbook. Overall, the book accomplishes its purpose, which is to create a small manual for the average working Christian who has never had the benefit of formal theological training.
Counterfeit Gospels – Trevin Wax – Grade B+
I really enjoyed the first half of this book more than the second half. I think some of his examples were excellent but some toward the end seemed vague and unnecessary. He basically tried to explain the gospel in three parts: Story, Announcement, and Community. I think he did a pretty good job and explaining what it is and what it creates. With each of those points of the gospel he described two different counterfeits. Ultimately this book led me to see where I allow certain “counterfeits” into my own life – mostly related to works based sanctification (i.e. growth in Christ). I would recommend this book to nearly any Christian as Trevin’s writing style is fluid and easy to follow.
Gospel-Centered Discipleship – Jonathan Dodson – Grade B-
Starting with the good… His chapter on actually listening to the Holy Spirit was excellent and challenged me more than any singular chapter from any book has in quite some time. His writing style was often very enjoyable as was his transparency throughout the book that made things connect on a deeper level. I believe he did a good job of defining what a disciple should look like and grow in (rational, relational, missional). I enjoyed his explanation of how he constructs discipleship within his church and the practical tips he gave. The problem with this book is that he drags it on for quite some time explaining the same things over and over again. He also seems to try and attack accountability groups but then his structure of what he calls “Fight Clubs” seem to be eerily similar to what he described as being bad in accountability groups! I understand the difference he would point to is that in Fight Clubs you point to Christ and trust him to change you while in accountability groups you simply try harder. I will say though, by the end of the book, I did want to start my own “Fight Club…” but I still am unclear on how exactly I am supposed to multiply the group. He was very vague regarding that and how exactly it is supposed to be “missional.” I also found his introduction to be slow and slightly boring; I believe he could have cut it in half and still brought out the same point.
Give Them Grace – Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica – Grade B-
The concept was excellent. The length was unnecessary. I think they could have accomplished the same thing in half the number of pages. There were some good one sentence gems in each chapter, so it is worth reading the entire thing. I think they explained a much needed concept that does not get much air time in this moralistic church culture that we are immersed in. I do think they were careless with addressing sin in one of the chapters, dealing with a very deep theological issue and not taking the time to explain what they were trying to say. To their credit, they do footnote their belief, but it is only a brief paragraph. Overall, I felt like many of the examples were unrealistic and cheesy. But the concept can and should be implemented. I really enjoyed that they shot down the “list” approach to parenting and made it clear that it is much more biblical to be led by and lean on the Spirit. I also appreciated their approach to the Scriptures on parenting. They noted well that there are only two New Testament passages on parenting, and dealt with each excellently, giving a good paradigm to remember. I agreed with their treatment of the Proverbs being, as they call them “general maxism’s,” meaning that the Proverbs are a literary style that denotes things that should happen generally but not across the board. I think their overall idea that Christian parenting should be different from Jewish parenting or Mormon parenting… and that difference is the Gospel of God’s grace was brilliant and something we have lost.
The Art of Biblical Narrative – Robert Alter – Grade B
This book takes no punches, hitting the ground running. From page one you are automatically initiated into the argument that he tries to construct without any warning. On one hand I appreciate the fast start, feeling tired of the five chapter introduction that I have heard over-and-over before the real argument starts, yet it did seem abnormally abrupt. The language throughout can be a challenge to grasp if you are unfamiliar with many biblical concepts, Hebrew terminology (I am lost there myself), or literary structure. But this is overshadowed by the fantastic incites he makes, throughout the book, into biblical narrative. Early on he mentioned many other scholars and methods of interpretation that I was completely unfamiliar with (I am not very educated in the Old Testament… thats partly why I read this book!) so at times I felt at the mercy of the author for deciding what was legitimate or not. It was sad to find out that he considers nearly every portion of the Old Testament to be works of complete fiction. He continually, nearly to the point of annoyance, takes every opportunity to advance his ideal that each section of the Old Testament is *clearly* fiction, or at best semi-historical with much fictional embellishment (akin to what a Protestant would say about the Apocrypha). There are often points throughout the book that are quite dry and challenging to push through, but right before you choose to give up he offers an excellent illustration and incite to keep you motivated to keep plowing on. This book may be short, but it packs a heavy punch.
Redemption – Mike Wilkerson – A-
I originally intended to read this book as another resource in serving others while being able to glean some insights for myself… but after reading it, I was truly impacted myself to a much higher degree than I anticipated. There are many books that I have to push through because of the poor writing style, this is much different. I found myself continually being drawn into the book as if it were one big story. Mike does an excellent job of weaving stories that grab the mind throughout the book to keep the reader engaged. He takes different stories of peoples lives and weaves them into his unpacking of the redemption of the Israelites in Exodus. His treatment of the redemption in Exodus is not only thorough but highly relate-able and applicable. He does an excellent job of bringing out the emotions and feelings of the passages. I am by no means an expert or well read within this circle of book-styles, but I felt Mike did an excellent job reminding the “victims” that they are not alone and that they are not merely victims but also transgressors themselves. On a negative note, the vast majority of personal stories he includes will be beyond what most people have encountered or will encounter, but one must remember the target audience for this book is not the average Christian but the one struggling with major addictions (although everyone can relate to having deep sin idols, whether they are *big* sins or not). Mike did a very good job reminding the reader that pain and suffering still continue after one has been redeemed. Likened to the Israelites situation, being redeemed from Egypt but still struggling through the wilderness, the Christian too is free from sin yet not fully glorified, living in the “already-not-yet.” This was not a self-help book on breaking free from addiction but a Christ-centered book on desiring and enjoying God. He understood clearly that the end goal is not to break free from life’s addictions (i.e. our idols) but rather to enjoy God. To have an end goal of change is idolatry of self. Overall, I thoroughly appreciated Mike’s ability to continually point the reader back to Christ and his cross. One more slight note on the negative side, I did feel that at times he forgot that the Israelites were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit, so even though he tried to make them a prime example, that fails because they were not New Covenant Christians with the available help of the Holy Spirit – but this only happened occasionally.
Exegetical Fallacies – D.A. Carson – Grade A+
This is my third time through this book, so clearly, I do believe it is well deserving of a high grade. Carson is an excellent writer and does a superb job of explaining many deep and challenging subjects with great clarity. He understands the great temptation that accompanies sustained negativism and how it can easily lead to pride and does well to warn against it and avoid it. Carson does not just identify the fallacy in the book either, he also corrects it and shows the process necessary to avoid such mistakes in the future. Nearly every fallacy he describes in this book I had heard at some point or another in my life. This is a must read for all pastors and would be highly beneficial to the lay-christian as well.
Also… I have been reading commentaries on 1 Timothy… Notice that all four of these commentaries are on ALL of the pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) but I have only read the introduction and the section on 1 Timothy in each of them, so this is not a complete review.
Pastoral Epistles – Word Biblical Commentary – William Mounce – Grade – B+
This series, known for rigorous exegesis, and annoying format (by my thoughts), critical scholarship, and normally liberal sidings (although this volume is an exception), delivers a gem. His introduction to the history and background of the situation is by far the most in depth and thorough of any commentary. If you can get past the frustrating set up of the commentary, it will prove to be invaluable. As with most commentaries that boast of their criticalness, it would leave me hanging on many more serious matters of greek sytnax… but that seems to be the case with nearly every commentary these days.
The Pastoral Epistles – The New International Greek Testament Commentary – George W. Knight III – Grade B+
This commentary was probably my favorite, in a close competition with Mounce’s due to its succinctness, although Mounce’s was a better resource overall. It had a good introduction on the background of the situation, eliminating the fluff and directing the reader to the necessary resources for further study. I did find it troubling at points that he skipped over dealing with portions of the Greek in detail (after boasting of being a commentary based on the Greek text). He would ignore dealing with what type of participle was at hand or how a certain prepositional phrase functioned. But, then again, that would not be a terribly debilitating flaw if you were not interested in the grammatical syntax, but I am, therefore it frustrated me often. One large negative by my scale is his use of in-text citations (I dont know what the name of the format is that he uses). Instead of using the footnote (which Religion books use with near universality) he chose to have every citation included in a parenthesis within the text making reading the commentary very hard and choppy.
1, 2 Timothy & Titus – The New American Commentary -Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin Jr. – Grade – C
Overall, this commentary is very accessible to the average lay-Christian. It doesnt go into much of any depth but offers an excellent outline of the books and has some small commentary on each passage.
1&2 Timothy and Titus – R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell – Grade – B
Two of my favorite authors and pastors. Excellent outline of the text for homiletical purposes. The major problem I found with this commentary is that they would randomly not explain portions of the text, completely ignoring it as if it werenonexistent. For example, in the section on 1 Timothy 1:3-7, it does not explain verse 6 or 7 at all. But this comes with the territory of not being a “critical” commentary, so based on the genre of the series, it makes some sense to be more brief in dealing with the text and more thorough in giving presentable material to others. This commentary was far and away the most practical and convicting of the four commentaries that I studied from.
Whats up next on my reading list??? Well… I am currently in the middle of “Disciplines of a godly man” by R Kent Hughes, “The Institutes” by John Calvin, “Progressive Dispensationalism” by Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock, and all my text books for school (stuff on the Psalms, Isaiah, OT poetry, and Hebrew). I plan on starting “Kingdom through Covenant” by Gentry and Wellum soon, along with “The Christ of the Covenants” by O. Palmer Robertson… among many other books.
The way that Christians in general talk these days, would probably lead you to think that if you aren’t doing *big* things for God (i.e. changing the world) or seeing tremendous results you aren’t doing something right… maybe God just doesn’t like you or maybe He possibly forgot to give you your share while he was passing out the proverbial blessings of ministerial fruit… and at the end of the day you feel like you are, as my friend Rich Goldman would say, “swimming in mundane,” leading a very ordinary and boring Christian life, wondering if you missed the secret meeting where they laid out the details of changing the world.
Well, what if I told you that this whole, if I could borrow a phrase from Jerry Falwell for a moment, “Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goal” (you know, the “BHAG”) business was a little off the mark… and in reality it was actually unnecessarily causing the vast majority of us to become entirely too anxious and easily disappointed; wallowing in a pool of self-pity and despair?
Maybe you would agree with me… or maybe you would chant along with the “big-vision” lovers, saying, “What’s so wrong with having huge dreams and going after them and even accomplishing them?” Nothing! It’s perfectly fine and often biblical. Matthew 28 does call us to reach ALL of the nations… that seems pretty big to me! And I love all the great Andy Stanley vision casters out there. But taking a peak into the Bible… I just don’t see this *heroic* and *celebrity* Christianity thing being the *norm* of the Christian life.
“Wait,” you say! “You will stifle many leaders and great champions for Christ with all that talk!” Hog wash, I say! “Why,” you ask? Because if you truly read the Bible and truly catch some special “vision” from God (which I think is highly overused… but that is not for this discussion), I won’t be able to stop you with any type of talk. You will do great things for God regardless.
“So, biblically… do you have any evidence for this??? What about that one verse in Proverbs (that I have to use Google to find the reference…)??? Without “vision” the people will perish!!!” First off, stop using the random obscure translation for that verse and realize it doesn’t mean that (The NET Bible footnote says this: “The Hebrew word “vision” (from the verb חָזָה [khazah, “to see”]) refers to divine communication to prophets (as in 1 Sam 3:1) and not to individual goals or plans.”). Sorry leadership gurus. Secondly, look at the life of Jesus. First 33 years of his life? Pretty normal and average if you ask me. Just working hard as a general contractor. Building stuff. Being awesome in the most normal of ways. Remaining faithful and holy. Then 3 years of crazy awesome stuff for God. Then the most intense suffering imaginable. Well, in my count, normal outweighs “BHAG” 33 to 3.
“Wait, wait, wait… slow down there Jordan. You know, we talk about being ambitious for God all of the time in church, right?!? What about Philippians 4:13??” Well, actually… that verse plays right into my hand when we understand the context… and really should be the theme passage for this entire post. It is actually contentment that is missed out on, not doing “world-changing” things. Being content in EVERY situation; whether we do big things for God or small things… we can do it all through Christ who strengthens us for his great glory.
Let’s continue to look elsewhere.
1 Thessalonians 4:10b-11 - “But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.”
Paul calls them to 1) Lead a quiet life, 2) Attend to their own business, and 3) Work with their own hands. Seems pretty *normal* to me.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 - “First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Why does Paul command prayer? So that they may lead *normal* lives in godliness!
I could stop here and be done… but let’s dig a little deeper into the whole “God’s will” and “vision” for our lives.
1 Peter 4:12 - “Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise, according to Peter, that suffering comes along our way. It shouldn’t be surprising that things don’t go the way we had planned. That results don’t come. That we actually lose ground.
1 Peter 2:20-21 - “For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps.”
Peter here lets us know that we are called to suffering… Later, 1 Peter 4:19 lets us know that it can be the very will of God! Suffering is a way bigger theme in Scripture than we give it credit for. Paul even calls it a gift in Philippians 1:29.
My point is this: God’s will for you is not so much catching some awesome vision but rather becoming holy. Maybe that includes some type of “sun stand still” moment… maybe that means actually changing the world… but more than likely… it won’t… more than likely you will be living a very normal and mundane life where you are; and remaining faithful and growing holiness will be the goal… still.
So… Grow in holiness. Remain Faithful. Then die and be forgotten.
Because at the end of the day, it is not about people remembering your name or life. It is not about going out and building your own little kingdom. It is not about having something great to put on your tombstone. It is about pointing people to the greatness of Christ. That is all that matters. And as far as I am concerned, you are probably going to reach a lot more unbelievers with your faithfulness in the boring portions of life and the suffering that comes your way than while being underneath the lights of fame and greatness.
Honestly, I think we have painted the picture of the normal Christian life incorrectly. We say, “God’s will for your life is to: Be like Paul! Be like Jesus! Be like Peter! Be famous and great in God’s name!” But what did that mean for them? Paul? Suffering. Stoning. Pain. Jesus? The Cross. Enough said. Peter? Suffering. Also a cross. That does not seem to fit inside the grand “vision” that people try to paint for us these days. The common thread among even the great “celebrity” Christians is what? Suffering. God’s more normal will is suffering! Not fame. And think for a moment about all the other “nameless” Christians that lived during the New Testament times that far outnumber the spiritual giants. God used them in the quietest of ways. God’s sovereign plan does not include the *vast majority* of us being “celebrity” Christians. Are those “celebrity” Christians bad people? Absolutely not. But we probably won’t be them.
Why is it that we understand that we probably won’t be LeBron James, Barak Obama, or Oprah (not that I would really want to be any of them…) but we can’t get our minds around the fact that we probably won’t be the Apostle Paul or Peter? We cannot look to them as the *only *model of effective and biblical Christian living! We cannot just look to the Mark Driscoll and Andy Stanley’s of the world as our only model. They are the rare breed. Let me put it this way: There were only 12 direct disciples of Jesus. Don’t expect to be one of them. Not everyone will be given the opportunity to be a great and famous Christian. The overwhelming majority will be called to live a godly life within their own mundane circumstances and sufferings.
Why give so much air-time (or better phrased, blog-time) to this? Because I think many people are leading depressed and disheartened lives because they were sold the idea that if they didn’t come up with huge numbers and results for Christ they were a failure. Clearly they didn’t have enough faith. Or didn’t pray enough. Or didn’t read their Bible enough. Or… well, you get the point. But in reality, according to the Bible, this just isn’t the case. Some of the most holy and godly men and women will be names you have NEVER heard of and have had near ZERO results. Their example of faithfulness is extraordinary.
Now hear me say that the mundane is not the *only* life that is pleasing to God. Please do not take that away. It is not the only way. But it is a completely valid, biblical, and generally more common life that is given to us from God. Don’t waste it in self-pity and bitterness. Use it for God’s glory. Be faithful where you are. Be holy where you are. Regardless of status. Regardless of fame. Regardless of smallness or bigness.
P.S. Please don’t get all up tight with this post because of my word choice of “normal.” I am not defining it in a way that means we should live like the world. This is not a post endorsing the idea of doing everything that non-Christians do. Context is king in how I define the term.
All Bible verses are quoted from the New English Translation (NET).
Last sermon of the semester… and I cant even come up with a title… sorry for the lack of creativity!!!
Was pretty sick heading into this sermon so I felt like I was in a fog the entire time… So there are probably points when I look lost.
I was a little behind in preparing for this sermon (created it and gave it on the same day…), so it wasnt as good as I was hoping… a little disorganized throughout.
Was rolling along pretty well… until I realized I was running short on time. Therefore I squeezed a good amount of information into the last 2-3 minutes and morphed my conclusion into my last point so I could still hit them both.
Not my best sermon eye contact and fluidity/smoothness wise… but okay overall. P.S. sorry for the lame title… I tried my best to think of something catchy or cool…. but I failed utterly.
Not a big fan of this sermon personally. I felt like I had to do an injustice to the text to only explain one verse of a narrative text that spans so much more. I felt as though I left many things unexplained and unfinished. I almost did not post it, but hopefully it can be of some use.
I had the privilege to hear from D.A. Carson (and meet!) the past two days (twice at Heritage Baptist Church and once at Liberty University; the morning session for Liberty was cancelled due to snow). He became progressively better over the weekend and truly challenged me in a way that not many can. He is the prefect blend of scholar and pastor. There are not many who can *melt my face off* with biblical truth like him. I took down as many notes as I could throughout each session and will be posting them below. I have also listed the links were you can find his talks (some may not be up yet). Note that I had cool indentation type things for each sub point, but they dont show up on here… sorry!
- Made up of two Dialogues
- In both cases the lawyer (theologian – he studies the law [the Pentateuch]) poses a question and Jesus responds with a question back. Then the lawyer answers and only then does Jesus give an answer.
- The parable of the good Samaritan is only a set up to Jesus’ question.
– In ancient times, students would stand up when they desired to present a question. The lawyer stood up to *test* Jesus. i.e. he stood up to fake respect. He was asking a question just to show how smart he was.
– He quotes Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19 in his response.
c.f. Mark 12:28-34
– The context of the answer controls everything!
– Why does Jesus in Mark answer with both Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19? Remember that during this time the world was polytheistic. The wisdom in his answer here is monotheism. Jesus did not cite this to show you how to get saved!
– What makes sin so bad is it is sin against God (c.f. Psalm 51)
– What if God and then others were the center of my thinking? From waking up to sleep?
– This lawyer cites these (Deut and Lev) in a different context than Jesus did. He cites them to say in essence that obedience is the key to salvation.
– Jesus responds with a terrific sense of humor. Ex. “well done chap. go ahead and try that.”
– The lawyer responds slightly embarrassed and needs to justify himself.
– So much of our sin is bound up with self-justification (This is a minor theme of Luke)
– In Jesus’ day, society was highly structured (could tell one’s class by speech, clothing, etc.)
– They stripped the man, thus there was no way to identify who he was or to what class he belonged.
– The Samaritans were DEEPLY hated. It is hard to capture the dislike.
– An attempt at illustrating the gravity of the parable – A fundamental conservative baptist preacher and a well known Presbyterian minister pass by the man… and then the Muslim stops to help.
– In the 2nd century B.C. the Jews attacked the Samaritans and destroyed their temple.
– 2 denarii covers around two weeks. He also promises to cover future expenses.
– In the ancient world there was no credit. If you owed someone money, you paid back by selling yourself or your family into slavery.
– Not only did the Samaritan save the man from death but he saved him from slavery!
– The notion of a crucified Messiah was completely alien to the Jews (including the disciples). Dont Messiah’s win?!
– Everything from Luke 9:51 on is under the shadow of the cross – “heading to Jerusalem.”
What do we learn from this?
1) Eternal life really is inherited – it cant be earned.
2) The narrative as a whole (Luke’s point) is that Jesus is the ultimate good Samaritan. (He was despised, an outcast… yet saves us from death and slavery).
3) Jesus expects his followers to behave like him (The Gospel transforms).
– Dont ask questions, like the lawyer, to make excuses. Just serve!
- The beginning of idolatry is the de-goding of God.
- Look back to 16:13, 16:11, 16:14-15.
- Not all idols are intrinsically wicked.
- An intrinsically good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a God thing.
- God does not detest what we highly value because he is egotistical and cant handle the competition but rather because he knows that idolatry destroys…
- Money, self-justification, and idolatry.
- Look back at the context – Luke 15 – The Prodigal WASTES the fathers possessions. Luke 16 – The Manager WASTES the rich mans possessions. Luke 16 – The Rich man WASTES his own possessions. The theme of wasting what God has given is big here.
- 2 Parts: The Narrative of two different men (v19-23) and the Dialogue (v24-31).
- Rich Man – Note:
– Wearing purple = rich. Only two ways to get purple clothing then. Thus if you have it, it is for purely wealth and flaunting purposes.
– Fine linen = even his underwear is first class.
– feasting everyday = gourmet! waiters! rich!
– Has a gate! Not just a big house.
– Has dogs – in the ancient world dogs were not pets. they were either wild or guard dogs. he had guard dogs!
– Not to be given a name in a story means you are a minor character (in the Ancient world).
- Lazarus – His name means, “the one who God helps” Dont judge too quickly on if God has helped him.
- Abraham’s side = Being at the 1 Patriarchs right hand! (Think last supper with John and Jesus).
- What the rich man sees sets off three cycles of conversation.
Cycle 1 – verses 24-26
– The rich man doesnt address Lazarus! He didnt stoop to speaking to him in life or death!
– He demands services from Lazarus when he didnt even give him dog food!
– Even in Hell the rich man cannot imagine giving up his self-importance!
Cycle 2 – verses 27-29
– Still there is no sign of repentance! No apologizing! Still doesnt address Lazarus!
– If he cant be a table waiter (Lazarus), maybe an errand boy!
Cycle 3 – verses 30-31
– Luke knows where this book is going… Jesus rises from the dead and many dont believe in him.
– Even the most spectacular of miracles will not guarantee Christian faith.
Lessons for us:
1) There is a sphere of rejoicing to pursue and sphere of torment to flee.
– Many complain and warn of people being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. But if you really are prepared for heaven, your life will be changed now. Being heavenly minded is much better than being earthly minded.
2) Hell is NOT made up of a lot of people who are sorry for what they did, want to leave, and want to repent of their wrong doing. It is made up of people who for all eternity still cherish their own sin.
– These people still want to be the center.
– These people want relief over repentance.
3) The things in which we take so much pride may make us blind to our need of grace.
– Everything (our good works, etc.) flows from our reconciliation to God. You cant have the social change without the Gospel. All that does is create moralism and hypocrisy.
– Lust for ANYTHING is highly corrosive.
4) We must listen to the witness of Scripture or we are damned.
– Nurture peoples love for Scripture!
Link to Heritage Sermons
John 3:1-21 *This message was by far his best and quite possibly the best message I have ever personally heard. I missed so much in my own notes. I would recommend you watch the whole thing. I will insert a few of my friends notes were I feel like they were clearer than my own. Also note that some of my notes will be a little paraphrastic because there was so much info to take down. I will also add words at points to clarify what he was saying.*
- What is the gospel? News. But what about?
– The essence of news is announcing. That is what you do. Many say of the gospel, “preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.” This is like telling the 11 o clock news caster to deliver the news and if necessary use words. We must declare it!
- The Gospel is what God has done in Christ supremely in Christ’s cross and resurrection to reconcile rebels to himself.
- You must know the bad before you can know the good.
- It is not just how we become just but how we are transformed. [My friend James quoted him as saying, "The Gospel isn’t just about how one becomes JUST before God but also how He TRANSFORMS us"]
- We are transformed by the power of God to live differently.
- There is also a relational component to what God does. An indirect effect of the Gospel: reconciling people to each other.
- Eschatological component.
John 3:1-21 – 1 component of the Gospel
(1) v1-10 – What Jesus said about being born again
- Nicodemus – apart of the Jewish ruling council (which rules most of the nation – legislatively and all), not an average Pharisee; a brilliant biblical scholar and expert.
- If there is nothing to suggest it in the text, dont push it!
- “come at night” – John loves using facts in symbol laden ways. He is approaching Jesus out of utter (spiritual) darkness.
- A.D. 200 – Rabbi title only for those who went through school, but not here… by Nicodemus calling him Rabbi he is attaching a certain amount of respect to him.
- Nicodemus is claiming to see something in Jesus; something important. Jesus responds by saying he actually sees nothing.
– You might see the miracle but not the kingdom!
- There was no way Nicodemus was so stupid as to think that Jesus was talking about a legitimate re-birth.
– Jesus was explaining that to really see the kingdom you have to start all over again! Nicodemus then responds by saying that you can start all over again! (how be born again?).
- Born of water and spirit = born again (parallel statements).
- We must think… where did Nicodemus have knowledge that Jesus could appeal to?
– In the domain of your expertise, what does spirit and water mean?
– Look to Ezekiel 36. The coming of the new covenant.
– All Jesus added was the metaphor of new birth itself.
- The teach of Israel is supposed to know this! He has the entire Old Testament memorized… in Hebrew!
– People are cleaned up and transformed.
- Even if you cant explain the mechanics of spirit transformation you can always see the effects!
- Do you really think the Spirit of God is so weak that it produces no effect?
(2) v11-13 – Why Jesus could speak so authoritatively about being born again
- Why does Jesus choose to say “we?” Sarcastic response back to Nicodemus for using “we” earlier.
- You are finding it hard to understand the stuff here on earth… how are you going to understand the throne room of God?! Tell you what… I have been there!
- Jesus can speak so authoritatively because he has come from the right hand of God!
- The gospel brings men and women to God! Not reason, not mysticism.
(3) v14-15 – How Jesus brings about this new birth
- Numbers 21:4ff (Nicodemus would have them memorized! All Jesus needs to do is allude to it)
- Do you know how often whining in the Bible is viewed as idolatry? Whining is idolatry!
- If you want to understand the fundamental basis – Look to Numbers 21.
– We are a sinful, idolatrous brood, due for judgment, under God’s curse and wrath.
– How do we escape? Not a snake on a pole. The son of man on a pole.
- “lifted up” on the cross. To escape THIS death we must look to him.
- Belief = trusting. Abandoning self. Bowing the knee.
(4) v16-21 – Why Jesus was sent to bring about this new birth
- It was all grounded in the love of God! He didnt owe salvation to anyone!
- Eternal life is the fruit of the new birth.
- When God loves the world – It is NOT like our love (you will have to watch the full thing to capture the fantastic illustration he used for this).
- John’s gospel – the world is a damned place. A world of darkness, under condemnation. There is nothing lovable about it. (we often think God finds us irresistible and he cant live without us – wrong!)… it is a terrible place … BUT God loves us anyway because he is that kind of God!
- God loves us not because of who we are but DESPITE who we are!
- Unless you learn to wallow in the limitlessness of the love of God you cannot be mature! [once again, my friend James quoted him a little differently, saying, "You cannot be genuinely mature as a Christian unless you learn to wallow in the limitless dimensions of God’s love for you"]
— How are we to use repentance in the Gospel (specifically with reference to the unbeliever)?
– Most unbelievers have no idea what this word means.
– Remember, its not the use of a particular word that matters! Just get the non-negotiable across. Turning from old lifestyle and frame of reference.
– If it is genuine belief it necessarily means turning away from all that Christ isnt.
— John 3 – Is it born again or born from above?
– The word’s root makes it seem to be “from above” but word meanings arent always from the etymology! Think of a butterfly. HOW the word is used is more important.
– John probably meant both. But I stick with the translation I am using [when I am speaking].
— What is the greatest threat to a proper understanding of the gospel?
– Depends on what part of the world you are in!
– Hedonism can undercut the gospel without changing any doctrine. The new tolerance threatens. consumerism threatens.
— Are invitations a hindrance to the Gospel?
– [Quotes a story of D.L. Moody] I’d rather have people making lots of mistakes than not doing anything!
– With a poor presentation we are in danger of “healing my people slightly” without understanding the real issues.
– [Most invitations today ask if we want the "abundant life." What idiot doesnt want that?] But we dont hear what those in the 1st century heard with John 10:10 abundance. This was in the context of a story about sheep.
– We must explain the categories!
– How faithful is the presentation? THAT is the big question!
— What is the balance between law and gospel?
– Law presents the fundamental need of God
– 600+ times the Bible says God stands over us with wrath
– The grace of God without the problem becomes cheap grace
– You cant get the gospel right until you see what the problem is
– [Quotes a story on John Wesley and the law] Tim Keller says: Dont begin with the law. Begin with idolatry. Idolatry portrays the same thing but in a relational way.
– This generation gets betrayal better than trespassing.
— Your points about being transformed and living differently sound like works based salvation?
– The inevitable result of genuine salvation is change in your life. By their fruits you will know them. This does not mean we are perfect or grow at the same rate…
– Holiness becomes attractive over something we must put up with
— Scott McKnight says Christology over soteriology?
– He is right in what he affirms but wrong in what he denies.
– It is not either/or it is both/and. Why pit these two things against each other?
– Dont correct an error bu asking for a pendulum swing.
– How biblically ought they to be intertwined?
— Should disagreements on such topics as dispensationalism and covenant theology be worthy of breaking fellowship over?
– Local church? sure. but you can still share and be kind.
– Some say “anything that doesnt directly effect salvation is irrelevant.” That is dumb! They are essentially asking the question, “what is the least I can believe and get away with it?”
– The right approach is, “how can I understand more correctly so I can think God’s thoughts?”
– If God didnt think it was important, why did he give it?
– We are advocating the debasing of the knowledge of God – that is idolatry!
– We can disagree and be civil
– The constant panting over lowest common denominator theology leaves us with nothing to think about… nothing to glory in, nothing to pant over.
– HATE lowest common denominator theology!
– you cannot become a faithful expositor if you have already adopted a least common denominator theology
– Stay civil and humble.
— How do we best preach the full gospel in light of our busy culture?
– Dont duck the truth!
– We arent THAT busy. Not like the industrial revolution.
– In every culture there are problems to face.
– When you get up in the morning do you check your email or read your Bible? It is a choice.
– You never drift into self-discipline.
– Stop making excuses about how busy you are.
– It is not how busy you are, but what you do with it.
– Dont let the world squeeze you into its mold.
Link for Liberty Sessions
First sermon of the semester. Wish I had more time to unpack this concept and the practical ramifications. Let me know if you notice anything that I can improve on.
Often times when we read our Bible we become stuck in many different “spiritual ruts,” whether it be simply skimming the Bible and never absorbing anything or jumping from passage to passage so as to never find and understand the context. But there is one rut that I seem to fall into all too often… that is the “Find Waldo Approach.” What does that mean, you ask. Well Sinclair Ferguson is the one who I heard coin the term when he said:
Too often preaching on the Gospels takes what I whimsically think of as the “Find Waldo Approach.” The underlying question in the sermon is “Where are you to be found in this story?” (are you Martha or Mary, James and John, Peter, the grateful leper . . . ?). The question “Where, who and what is Jesus in this story?” tends to be marginalized.
That is the basic premise of the “Find Waldo Approach;” searching the Scriptures in eager anticipation of finding myself… rather than searching for the one who they are pointing to… Jesus.
In an effort to help reverse this trend in my reading (it is not always bad to find yourself… but it becomes bad when you continually do this… yes there are many passages that are directed at the reader/hearer… but many are designed to show Jesus.) I decided to have some of my friends and I read through the book of Hebrews… and rather than searching for application points in our lives… search for all the different awesome aspects of Jesus. Then afterward we were to pray over the aspects (minimum of 15) and thank God for the all-surpassing awesomeness that is Jesus!
Below is the list of the awesome aspects that I found about Jesus… in Hebrews alone I found 28 in just one reading through! I know there are many more awesome aspects of Jesus just waiting to be found out there… in Hebrews and beyond! What better way to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness and humility than to soak in the greatness of God?
Prophet – 1:2
Son – 1:2
Heir – 1:2
Creator – 1:2
God – 1:3
Sustainer (Sovereign) – 1:3
Priest – 1:3
King – 1:3
Superior – 1:4
Founder of Salvation – 2:10
Propitiation – 2:17
Merciful – 2:17
Faithful – 2:17; 3:2, 6
Sufferer – 2:18
High Priest – 3:1
Apostle – 3:1
Sinless – 4:15
Perfect – 5:9
Source of Salvation – 5:9
Forerunner – 6:20
Guarantee of a better covenant – 7:22
Holy – 7:26
Innocent – 7:26
Unstained – 7:26
Separate from sinners – 7:26
Exalted above the heavens – 7:26
Mediator of a new covenant – 9:15; 12:24
Great Shepherd – 13:20
Sorry for the lack of blogging as of late (not that not blogging is anything new) – I am working on a few new posts (I have no idea when they will be done)… therefore… in the meantime, check out this quote (passage really…). I found quite beneficial and challenging on multiple levels. Enjoy.
We hear the Word of God commanding us to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and so read our experience into the text that our “cross” becomes rheumatism, shortage of money, an irascible relative, an awkward roommate, a personal defeat, or even (God forgive us!) a joke. But we are far too light on ourselves; to the first century reader, the person who literally took up his cross not only was condemned to die, but also was condemned to die the painful, ignominious, humiliating death Rome reserved for noncitizen criminals, the scum of the earth. If Jesus is telling us to take up our cross and follow him, the “death to self” he envisages is not death, nor some quick step of faith that kills off some ontological part called “the old man,” but a painful, humiliating death made endurable only because Jesus physically passed this way first. – D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 103-104
Final sermon for the semester. Based on Ephesians 4:1-3. I had about 9 minutes of material… and somehow fit it into a little over 8 minutes. I completely missed saying my first point, so I will give all three here:
1. The Call to Gospel-Centered Living
2. The Manner of Gospel-Centered Living
3. The Means of Gospel-Centered Living
“Doctrinal” sermon on the Church from Ephesians 4. Not the easiest topic to cover and to understand in 8 minutes… Also below are the very first two messages I ever preached. You can thank my friend Nick for making me put them up. Hopefully they will give you a good laugh. I am pretty sure I used nearly 50 Bible verses in the second one if that tells you anything…
Sermon on 2 Timothy 2:1-2. As always… too much ground to cover in just 8 minutes. However I did have the opportunity to wear my favorite tie – it is the perfect preaching tie!
As I pondered whether or not to discuss this issue I was (and still am… even after typing this whole thing…) very hesitant. Why? Because…
First, this is a very hot issue (if you aren’t up to speed on the issue, feel free to read the articles I list below because I will not be setting out all of the details of the predicament here) and some people are very engrained in their position… thus anger and bitterness are likely to spill forth.
Secondly, there has already been a large response to this issue and by people with a much greater influence and understanding of the Bible and its outworking than I.
Interested in the issue? Look here for just a small portion of it –
Phil Johnson and Todd Friel (this may be the best and fullest treatment on the issue)
*Updated Links for “Post-Game” Reviews Below as of 2/15/2012*
Therefore, I found this task daunting… yet necessary… why? Because I see in Scripture something contrary to what is happening and desire to explain my positioning in hopes of encouraging others to follow what God calls us to in this matter. I have been asked multiple times about what I think of the new Elephant Room and thus feel it is a necessary thing to clarify my beliefs (for the guys on my hall, the fellow student in class, and beyond… this is not intended to be some giant blast of James MacDonald and company). Thus the main intent of this post is not to be an exhaustive survey of the Elephant Room but rather what I personally believe on the matter in a concise (well… somewhat concise…) blog post. I pray that this does not stir division. I pray that this would cause others to think through things clearly before endorsing any event. I pray that this brings up men and women who defend the truth of the Gospel and the outworking’s of it with passion, clarity, correctness, and love.
Disclaimer: I do not write any of the following lightly… this is a serious matter that should be considered carefully… purity of doctrine in major issues should never be sacrificed… Christ and His word trump any of my opinions or feelings…
So what is the big deal then?
Simply? The Elephant Room.
The Second one that is. It boils down to the T.D. Jakes issue. With the final implications of: Attend it or don’t attend it?
There is one on campus at my school for a mere $20. No harm, no foul right? Why not listen to some pastor’s hash out a few divisive issues?
Well, I will attempt to argue briefly against attending it.
And for the record… I own the first Elephant Room and benefited from them (although I felt like they could have done a better job of discussing the issue at hand rather than dancing around each other… but that is beside the point…). I also never intended on arguing against this. I desired to simply be silent on the issue and if asked whether I was attending give a simple “no.” But I feel as though the example set forth is not in line with the words of God – which trumps all authority and as stated previously, have been asked numerous times about the subject and haven’t really had the opportunity to fully explain my reasoning. So let’s get to it, shall we?
I think the most pointed passage of all (not that there aren’t more… such as Galatians 1:8-9… I just don’t have ample time to delve into the details and implications of other passages in a blog post that is already way too long… I think I passed my 400 word count interest level limit 600 words ago… haha) in light of inviting T.D. Jakes (who is a heretic if you wondered…) to the Elephant Room (apparently a staunch evangelical function) is found in 2 John. I actually would advocate reading the whole chapter… but here is the main meat that I wanted to get to…
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christdoes not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting,because the person who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds.” – 2 John 9-11 (NET)
This seems pretty pointed to me… no real sidestepping the issue at hand… it says if anyone… and in the Greek that means… “anyone”… so, anyone who does this, you are not even to greet him! Wow! Case closed? Well let’s discuss this a little deeper…
The basic ordeal is this: False teachers were using the kindness of Christians to gain influence among other Christians. Is that not what is happening with the Elephant Room? We are providing a kind and gentle platform for a man who is a false teacher (modalism, prosperity gospel, and beyond)! This could be detrimental to many who will be watching. This could easily give Jakes and company ammunition to fire back at the conservative evangelical wing, thus having the ability to say that some of their “figure heads” (MacDonald, Driscoll, etc.) did not shut him up or fully correct him and thus Jakes and company must be correct… or at least still worthy of listening to and learning from. MacDonald and company, whether they agree with his theology or not, are giving the impression that they believe he is a brother in Christ and should be treated as such (which is amazing to think if you hear the way they rip on him in the first Elephant Room). Don’t get me wrong, I considered attending the event myself. Mark Dever, one of the most solid pastors I know, was going to attend… but then Jakes was added to the list… and I do not feel comfortable endorsing a heretic in any way, shape, or form… even by simply paying $20 to attend an event where they discuss certain issues. Therefore I chose the route of Mark Dever (whom I greatly respect… and respect even more for leaving the event once Jakes was announced); back out of the event and leave it alone.
Here are some more notes on the passage at hand (Thanks, NET Bible footnotes)
Do not give him any greeting does not mean to insult the person. It means “do not greet the person as a fellow Christian” (which is impossible anyway since the opponents are not genuine believers in the author’s opinion).
Shares in his evil deeds. Giving a public greeting could be understood by an onlooker to suggest agreement with the (false) teaching of the opponents and is thus prohibited by John.
This seems like an open and shut case to not endorse or attend the event, to me, in light of what Scripture teaches. Not in light of my opinion or feelings.
Thus, I cannot support a function that promotes Jakes as a brother when he clearly rejects evangelical theology (which I believe is correct). The place to confront is not in front of people who could be confused by this but rather in private.
At the end of the day, I will not shun you or look down on you for supporting or even attending the Elephant Room. But I for one will not support or attend this event because I believe Scripture teaches this to be flat out wrong. There is no real “win” for this event. Think about it. Jakes has clearly taught things contrary to that of Scripture. Men of God have called him on it. He has not changed. Why would he waste his time and platform by attending an event where no one agrees with him and they simply plan on attacking him in order to force him to recant of his beliefs? This makes no sense for a wolf… unless of course the wolf sees even the slightest opportunity to advance false doctrine and his platform.
I will close with a few comments from Thabiti Anyabwile and Anthony Carter on the issue (statements from the links I posted above):
“MacDonald and Driscoll can moderate discussions with anyone they wish. But we kid ourselves if we think inviting someone so recalcitrant about fundamental biblical teaching as Jakes can result in anything positive. MacDonald, Driscoll and others will not be the first to privately and publicly exhort, admonish, instruct and challenge Jakes on this vital issue–to no avail thus far. And we kid ourselves if we think the Elephant Room invitation itself isn’t an endorsement of sorts.” – Thabiti Anyabwile
“This invitation gives a platform to a heretic.” – Thabiti Anyabwile
“They desire a tribe that “holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity”. I like that. However, last I checked, the Trinity was an essential tenet of the faith, and unless someone has moved the goal post since I last looked, it still is.” – Anthony Carter
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Maybe this should have been one of the topics on the last Elephant Room……. because this seems to be the REAL elephant in the room. HA!
Well, this was not as good as it could have been – The Cardinals mounting a ridiculous comeback cut my preparation time down quite a bit… You will notice some really fast talking toward the end (had a lot of ground to cover and a little time left! I guess I am a Baptist after all…) and a good amount of looking down. Thankfully the Cardinals will not be there next week to distract me so that I can ensure more clarity in the message.
Over the next few weeks and months I will be putting up messages given to my classmates in my preaching class. It is a weird dynamic but should be beneficial to working on my speaking. Let me know what you think. The good. The bad. and the ugly.