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What I Read Online – 08/25/2011 (a.m.)

25 Aug
    • Dr Lloyd-Jones taught that we should evangelize with the gospel even as we teach and edify believers
    • This is a very common experience; people at different levels seem to be able to extract, under the influence of the Spirit, what they need, what is helpful to them… [T]hey had continued to grow in their understanding until now they were able to enjoy the full service, the full message.”
    • Lloyd-Jones’ Sunday sermons, even his more evangelistic ones, were very theologically rich, yet he was always careful to explain things with non-technical language. If you couldn’t understand the concept, it wasn’t because he was using technical language, but only because the Christian doctrine before you was unfamiliar and counter-intuitive to you.
    • Non-believers, especially in New York City, did not simply want light fare designed exclusively for them. They really wanted to know how this Christianity “worked.” Lloyd-Jones’ kind of preaching, that used the gospel to grow Christians and evangelize non-believers simultaneously, was the answer.
    • So many churches provided either sermons that were not theologically rich enough to convert anyone—or sermons that were not gospel- and heart-oriented enough to convert anyone.
    • That in no way requires that you try to copy my personal style either. It does require you, as a preacher, to understand and apply the gospel to the hearts of every listener every time.
    • Theology Refresh: John Piper
    • Of course, we do have to be sensitive to different contexts of pastoral ministry, but every believer and therefore every church is simultaneously justified and sinful. Not only at the beginning, but always, every believer needs the law and the gospel.
    • What we’re dealing with today in the majority of cases, I believe, is not accurately described as either antinomianism or legalism, but a pragmatic and narcissistic appeal to moralism. It’s not “stop going to parties or you’ll go to hell,” but “follow these ten principles and your life will be a party.” It’s “principles for living” on any number of life management topics, mining the Bible for quotes, but for the most part ignoring the interests of the text itself.
    • So you can’t really call this diet antinomian: it’s full of imperatives (rules, steps, principles, motivational tips—some kind of “To Do” list). But you also can’t call it legalistic, because the reference point isn’t really salvation or damnation—or even God,  but me and my happiness or unhappiness. God only makes a cameo appearance. The whole paradigm is what sociologist Christian Smith defines as: moralistic, therapeutic deism. Say what you will about the legalists and antinomians of yesteryear, but despite their heterodoxy, they were more interested in the Triune God and in interpreting and applying Scripture than a lot of what passes for evangelical preaching today.
    • First, there’s the redemptive-historical transition from “the law” as an era when the church was under the supervision of the Mosaic types and shadows, to “the gospel” as an era in which the old covenant is fulfilled and is therefore obsolete.  In thise sense, law and gospel are not opposed, even though the latter is greater than the former.
    • Second, “law” and “gospel” refer to radically opposed principles for gaining the covenantal inheritance.
    • So in this second sense, “law” and “gospel” refer to two antithetical answers to the question, “How can I be saved?”  This is what most people have meant by the need to clearly distinguish law and gospel.  There is basic continuity between law and gospel in the redemptive-historical sense (as Old and New Testaments), but radical discontinuity between law and gospel in a covenantal sense.  That’s why the law-gospel distinction was espeically developed in Reformed theology by way of the differences between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.
    • The Triune God directs us by his law, but delivers us by his gospel.
    • [I]f indeed it is just for God to punish the wicked everlastingly, then it is a certainty that the saints in heaven will perceive that justice and will rejoice in its administration, even as they rejoice in all of God’s works and decisions. This does not mean that either they or God will derive glee from watching the torments of the damned. It means that they will agree that God’s decision to punish the wicked is right and good, and that the punishment that He allots to each lost person is precisely what that person deserves. They will realize that it is only God’s grace that stands between them and a similar fate, and so there will be no element of pride or vindictiveness in their joy….

       

      [T]he joy the redeemed in heaven will feel over the punishment of the wicked will in no way derive from sadism or a spirit of revenge, but it will express their gratitude toward God for their own salvation and their clear-eyed understanding of the justice of His judgments.

    • God is not merely holy; He is infinitely holy. He is not merely good; He is so good as to pay an infinite price for our salvation. He does not merely dislike sin; He hates it with a passion that can be fully expressed only on Calvary or in the depths of an everlasting hell. The Bible’s doctrine of eternal punishment does not only teach us about punishment; it teaches us about the character of God. As John Piper has written, “The infinite horrors of hell are intended by God to be a vivid demonstration of the infinite value of the glory of God.”
    • Consecutive expository preaching has become vogue in many churches. I come from a background where it was not so common. In the Scottish Highlands, pastors tended to preach what the Lord “laid on their hearts and minds” each week. They were definitely expository sermons, yes, but they were not part of a months-long-series of sermons on one book, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter. If one such series was being preached in, say, the morning service, usually the pastor would use the other sermon to preach on texts that had captivated or burdened him in the previous week. But the idea of having two long series (or even three if you include the midweek) running at the same time was rare and even frowned upon as “quenching the Spirit!”
    • The Cross and Criticism
    • Some might think that is what MacArthur does in the article, but I beg to differ. You can search that document up and down, but you will never see a place where MacArthur says partaking of alcohol is sin. I really do not think he cares if you drink beer or wine; I think he believes you are free to do that short of becoming intoxicated. What MacArthur is against is pastors encouraging people to drink alcohol, and that is an altogether different matter.
    • Apparently, we are so excited about drinking alcohol that we want to have theology meetings at the pub, teach our folks to brew beer, and to go to church sponsored wine tastings. At what point are we acting like a kid who just got out from under curfew? Sure, he is all excited that he can stay out past midnight, but really, who cares? If you keep on telling everyone how awesome it is to be able to stay out past midnight, eventually someone is going to think you are crazy, especially people who like sleep. If you are inclined to have a Corona tonight after dinner, it’s hardly a William Wallace freedom moment.
    • ohn MacArthur wisely encourages a younger generation to cultivate the virtues of (1) steadfastness, (2) seriousness, and (3) self-control. It’s worth reading.

       

      I know there has been some controversy and discussion revolving around Dr. MacArthur’s previous posts in this series.

       

      Some of the responses—this comes to mind—are classic examples of winning the battle and losing the war. But there have been other examples—like this—that are models for gracious discussion, agreement, and disagreement.

       

      All of us—critics and those being criticized—would be well served in reading (or re-reading) Alfred Poirier’s excellent essay, “The Cross and Criticism.” I’ve summarized it here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 25/08/2011 in Current Issues

 

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