Archive for the ‘Gospel’ category

Is There Anything Really More Important?

June 7, 2012

Just saying . . .

HT: MD

Triune Praise | Shai Linne

June 2, 2012

When it comes to the doctrine of salvation, central to what I understand in Scripture is that “salvation is of the Lord.” God is the author of salvation, and He has determined the answer to all questions of who, what, when, where, and why. The salvation God brings is essentially and necessarily Trinitarian, and anyone who undermines or deviates from the biblical explanation of how God the Father purposes, God the Son purchases, and God the Spirit pursues sinners is misrepresenting the gospel and misleading sinners in the process.

In light of that, I would like to commend the following hip hop song by Shai Linne called “Triune Praise” wherein he eloquently explains the trinitarian nature of salvation with poetic clarity.

Triune Praise

Verse 1
Praise God the Father, the Immortal Creator
For Your glory you made us, You’re the Sovereign Orchestrator
All that You decree will most surely come to happen
You’re awesome as can be and Your glory none can fathom
Nothing could ever stain You, the heavens can’t contain You
We thank You for sending Your Son to explain You
Otherwise we would have remained in the dark
but You sent Your Holy Spirit to spark a change in our hearts
According to Your eternal purpose and will
You determined to reveal Yourself to those who deserve to be killed
Those of us whom You foreknew adore You
We praise You that You predestined us to be conformed to
The image of Your Son who’s the radiance of Your glory
When I meditate on it, the weightiness of it floors me
So Father, we’ll praise you over and over again
Because You sent Your only Son to atone for our sins

Chorus
Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son,
Glory to The Spirit- Three and Yet One
One in Your essence, Three in Your Person
The same in Your nature, distinct in Your working
Oh my soul- behold the wonder of the Trinity
Blessed be the Trinity, Oh, what a mystery!
I’ll stand amazed for the rest of my days
Pouring out my heart in Triune praise

Verse 2
Praise God the Son, Second Person of the Trinity
You’re distinct from the Father, yet you share in His divinity
Fulfilling an eternal covenant- You came through
To planet earth to save who? All the Father gave You
You became a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief
For the glory of Your Father You extinguished the beef
That stood between us at the cross- the Father’s anger released
The Shepherd slain for the sheep, the situation is deep
I can’t find the right language to speak, in fact it’s making me weep-
Just the thought of You saving this creep
You’re risen from the dead, I still can’t get this in my head,
How the Judge could leave the bench and go to prison instead
Lord Jesus, you’re amazing, Your bleeding is what saved men
It’s the reason why we’re praising, can’t wait to see Your face
In the meantime, please help us to see You as colossal
And by the Spirit live lives worthy of the gospel

Verse 3
Praise God the Holy Spirit, 3rd person of the Trinity
Distinct from Father and Son, yet share in Their divinity
Holy Spirit we praise You, You don’t like the spotlight
You’d rather point away from yourself and give props to Christ
But yet because You’re God, You deserve veneration
And You’re the One responsible for our regeneration
You apply the finished work of Christ to all the elect
Your call is effectual- You haven’t lost one yet
You comfort us when sin, Satan and the world got us bothered
And it’s only by You that we cry out “Abba Father”
You’re the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Truth,
You graciously provide Your people with the gifts and the fruit
You help us kill sin and dis-attach us from our idols
If it wasn’t for You, we’d never understand the Bible
Because You wrote it- For our life it will surely suffice
Amazingly, You do it all for the glory of Christ!

Cultivating Gospel Mission :: PLNTD + New England Conference

May 29, 2012

PLNTD announced today its second regional conference of the year – Cultivating Gospel Mission, scheduled to take place on September 20-22, 2012 in Portland, Maine. Main session speakers will be Scotty Smith and Caesar Kalinowski, with breakout sessions with Jared Wilson. This week only, you can register for 50% off regular ticket price for just $29 (discount ends Friday night). If you live in the New England or Canada area, be sure to check this training event out.

Here’s a blurb from the conference website:

We live in a day where it is commonplace to hear the words “gospel-centered” and “missionally-driven”. The danger, however, is to use those phrases in ways that diminish their meaning to that of a cliché. At the 2012 New England Training Event, PLNTD partners with the Gospel Alliance to focus on why those phrases are grounded in God and His purposes for the church.

Every church planter and pastor should lead their people to live gospel-centered lives on mission as those who have been sent by God. What does that kind of life look like? How does articulate this kind of vision to people in their community? These are the kinds of questions we hope to address as we gather together on September 20-22.

This training event is open to anyone who would like to be instructed and encouraged to cultivate gospel mission, including pastors, church planters, aspiring ministry leaders, leadership teams, and the like.

Unlike the typical conference format, the goal of this training event is interaction, integration and application of teaching and instruction. Our desire is that you leave equipped with practical instruction, edified through meaningful fellowship, and encouraged by Christ-centered passion for greater kingdom advance.

Join us as we press into the call to be oriented around the mission of church and saturated in the message of the gospel!

Six Ways of Minimizing Sin

May 26, 2012

I found these six ways of minimizing sin to be very instructive regarding gospel-centered sanctification/mortification of sin. Take a moment and examine your fight against sin, the ways you are prone to minimize sin, and develop an intentional strategy to renounce them.

Defending

I find it difficult to receive feedback about weaknesses or sin. When confronted, my tendency is to explain things away, talk about my successes, or to justify my decisions. As a result, I rarely have conversations about difficult things in my life.

Pretending

I strive to keep up appearances, maintain a respectable image. My behavior, to some degree, is driven by what I think others think of me. I also do not like to think reflectively about my life. As a result, not very many people know the real me (I may not even know the real me).

Hiding

I tend to conceal as much as I can about my life, especially the “bad stuff”. This is different than pretending in that pretending is about impressing. Hiding is more about shame. I don’t think people will accept the real me.

Blaming

I am quick to blame others for sin or circumstances. I have a difficult time “owning” my contributions to sin or conflict. There is an element of pride that assumes it’s not my fault AND/OR an element of fear of rejection if it is my fault.

Minimizing

I tend to downplay sin or circumstances in my life, as if they are “normal” or “not that bad. As a result, things often don’t get the attention they deserve, and have a way of mounting up to the point of being overwhelming.

Exaggerating

I tend to think (and talk) more highly of myself than I ought to. I make things (good and bad) out to be much bigger than they are (usually to get attention). As a result, things often get more attention than they deserve, and have a way of making me stressed or anxious.

This excerpt is taken from the excellent study called The Gospel-Centered Life. Week one, in which this excerpt is derived, can be downloaded for free.

The Trellis and the Vine on Gospel Centrality

May 23, 2012

A couple of excerpts from the excellent book The Trellis and the Vine on the centrality of the gospel:

“Throughout the world, the gospel is spreading, propagating, budding, flowering, bearing fruit. People hear it and by God’s mercy respond and are saved. But it does not stop there. Once the gospel is planted in someone’s life and takes root, it keeps growing in them. Their lives bear fruit. They grow in love and godliness and knowledge and spiritual wisdom, so that they walk in a manner worthy of their calling, fully pleasing to the Father, bearing fruit in every good work (Col. 1:9-10; 2:6-7)” (36-37). [emphasis mine]

“The New Testament envisages that all Christian disciples will be prayerful speakers of God’s word, in a multitude of different ways and contexts. In each context, the message is essentially the same. It’s not as if we come to know Christ through the gospel word but then use a fundamentally different message to encourage each other as Christians. The ‘word of God’, the message that he has revealed in and through Christ by his Spirit–this is what converts us, and it is also what causes us to grow, bearing the fruit of godliness. The vine grows, both in number and in leaves and in their quality and maturity, through the word and Spirit–through God’s truth being heard, and the Spirit making it effective in people’s hearts” (53-54).

Boom.

Life in Gospel Communities

May 22, 2012

Fromt the Crowded House Network (Steve Timmis/Tim Chester), here is a great video of what life looks like in a gospel community.

HT: Z

Annotations of Gospel Centrality: Colossians (Summary)

May 18, 2012

I’m not finished with my blog series on annotations of gospel centrality, but I am finished with the book of Colossians. 🙂 Here’s the blogposts from this book:

» Colossians 1:6
» Colossians 1:21-23
» Colossians 1:28-29
» Colossians 2:6-7
» Colossians 2:17
» Colossians 3:1-4
» Colossians 3:5-15
» Colossians 3:16-17

I have attempted to make the case for the centrality of the gospel from an exegetical standpoint at a micro level, but I also see that it could be made from a macro level as well.

1:3-8      Praise for the work of the Gospel
1:9-14    Prayer for greater wisdom, walking, and working according to the Gospel
1:15-20 Person of the Gospel (Jesus)
1:21-23 Perseverance according to the Gospel
1:24-27 Purpose of God in revealing the Gospel
1:28-29 Passion for the Gospel’s sanctifying work
2:1-23   Polemic of the Gospel against all other shadows
3:1-4     Perspective-driven life according to the Gospel
3:5-4:1 Practical outworking of the Gospel horizontally
4:2-6    Presentation of the Gospel to the world
4:7-18  Partners in the work of the Gospel

New PLNTD Audio: Jared Wilson

May 17, 2012

In the beginning of April, PLNTD held its first regional training event focused on “Cultivating Gospel Community” in sunny Southwest Florida. We were privileged to have Steve Timmis and Jared Wilson share God’s Word with us during the weekend. These brothers served us incredibly well by speaking plainly about the power of the gospel while graciously exhorting us to faithful perseverance in building gospel community.

Jared opened and closed the training event with exposition from Isaiah 6, and he also shared in a breakout session about creating a gospel culture using his experience at Middletown Springs Community Church. I commend these MP3s for you to download and be encouraged.

Jared Wilson via PLNTD

1.  Gospel Exultation (Isaiah 6:1-8)
2.  Gospel Expansion (Isaiah 6:9-13)
3.  Creating a Gospel Culture (breakout)

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: Spiritual Disciplines

May 4, 2012

So far in this series, I have provided a little background, the triperspectival framework, and the role of gospel forms in the development of the diagram I created to illustrate what I’m calling gospel-centered spiritual formation.

Role of Spiritual Disciplines in Gospel-Centered Formation

Now we have come to the role of spiritual disciplines in gospel-centered spiritual formation. What I’ve done with this approach is create subsets of disciplines that correspond both to the triperspectival framework and particular “form” of the gospel.  The reason spiritual disciplines are intrinsically connected this way is to correct the bifurcation of gospel centrality and formative spiritual disciplines. The former tends to focus on delight (gospel), and the later tends to focus on duty (disciplines). But duty can been an overflow of delight when we discover how spiritual disciplines are cultivated in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In other words, they are not exercises of spiritual growth as much as they are exercises in gospel application (leading to spiritual growth).

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Annotations of Gospel Centrality: Colossians 2:17

May 2, 2012

“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Colossians 2:17

The interpretive grid through which we properly understand the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Everything was created by Jesus and for Jesus, and in Jesus is everything sustained (Col. 1:16-17). The world has always sought for a way to understand reality apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. These lens or worldviews are mere shadows, and Paul mentions several of them in Colossians 2.

Rationalism – plausible arguments (2:4)
Traditionalism – philosophy according to human tradition (2:8)
Ceremonialism – festivals, new moon, and Sabbath (2:16)
Sensationalism – worship of angels, detailed accounts of visions (2:18)
Empiricism – do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (2:21)

All of these are “human precepts” (2:22) and “not according to Christ” (2:8). They give the appearance of plausibility on the surface but in reality they are only shadows. Nevertheless, we are tempted to make much of shadows. If it is not logic (rationalism), it is experience (empiricism). If it is not traditional, it is sensational.  There are ditches on either side we are prone to fall into, unless there is something more substantive, more true, more corresponding to reality.

Paul says the substance is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3). And when we look at the heart of Colossians 2, we discover the way we reject the shadowlands of “isms” is to dwell deep in the substance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only through the gospel can we be “rooted and built up and established in the faith” (Col. 2:7).  Paul says the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus, and we have been filled with Jesus (which means the fullness of God fills our lives!). The substance belongs to Christ, and Christ belongs to us.

In the gospel, you have been buried with Christ in baptism (2:12)
In the gospel, you have been raised with Christ through the powerful working of God (2:12)
In the gospel, you have been made alive together with Christ (2:13)
In the gospel, your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:3)

That’s the substance.

Everything else is shadows. The gospel is an invitation out of the shadowlands and into the eternal realities purposed by God who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). We are called to live gospel-centered lives because any other kind of living would be explorations into the various dimensions of shadows. When the gospel is our hermeneutic for life, we are embodying the divine critique of all elemental principles of the world, calling people out of the dominion of darkness and into the kingdom of His beloved Son (1:13). And the more we center our lives in our union with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, the more substantive and satisfying our lives will become.

May God give us grace to make much of the substance that is found in Jesus Christ!

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: The Gospel Forms

April 26, 2012

At the conclusion of my last post about the triperspectival framework, I mentioned the role of gospel “forms” in the diagram I created to explain gospel-centered spiritual formation. Before I jump into the perspectives individually, I want to explain what I mean by gospel forms and how those forms overlap to give greater gospel focus to spiritual disciplines through the triperspectival framework.

Tim Keller and Gospel “Forms”

One of the most significant articles Tim Keller has written on the gospel can be found at Christianity Today, entitled “The Gospel in All Its Forms“.  In this article, Keller borrows from Simon Gathercole’s chapter in God’s Power to Save to explain the various “forms” of the gospel. Contrary to liberal theologians, Keller says there is not multiple gospels, but one gospel expressed in different forms.

For instance, when Jesus speaks of the gospel in the Synoptic Gospels, kingdom language is employed (“gospel of the kingdom”). In this case, the gospel speaks to the inauguration of Christ’s reign as King, and the focus is more communal and social.  When the Apostle John writes about the Gospel, there is no mention of kingdom language but rather “receiving eternal life,” and the focus is more individual and personal. When you get the writings of Paul, you hear little emphasis on “kingdom” or “eternal life” but instead the focus is on “justification by faith“. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul are all talking about one message, but that message is expressed in different forms. Through an analysis of these forms, what you find is that the gospel can be expressed as story-arc focused (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) as well as content-driven (God, man, sin, Christ). Not to be left out, Keller stresses the eschatological implications of the gospel with the in breaking of God’s kingdom and renewal of all things.

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Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: The Triperspectival Framework

April 25, 2012

In my first post, I provided a little background to the development of this paradigm I’ve created, called gospel-centered spiritual formation. I argued that the literature on spiritual disciplines largely does not factor in the gospel, and gospel-centered literature has yet to address the role of spiritual disciplines in the life of a gospel-centered Christian.  This dichotomy is an unfortunate one, and I think it can be addressed, which I intend to do through a triperspectival framework.

Brief Primer on Tripespectivalism

Although I have written several articles on triperspectivalism, I don’t want to assume everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The two pioneering theologians on triperpsectivalism (or multiperspectivalism) are John Frame and Vern Poythress.  Generally speaking, triperspectivalism focuses on the three offices of Christ’s mediation, namely prophet, priest, and king. In his book Symphonic Theology, Poythress says “each of the three main offices can be expanded into a perspective on the way in which Christ mediates the presence of God to human beings” (39). Ultimately, prophet, priest, and king–the three roles of Old Testament leadership–culminate in the person and work of Christ.

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Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: A Little Background

April 23, 2012

I never heard about spiritual disciplines until I took a class on it while in college. In those early years of my spiritual development, I was directed to books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. As a lifelong athlete training who loved to train for physical fitness, I really liked the idea of spiritually training/discipline for godliness.  I am grateful for this period of time in my life where I was not only taking the call for spiritual growth seriously but also the call to gospel ministry.

Fast forward four years, and I am ending a four-year stint in youth ministry and entering seminary.  It was at this time that God began to work deeply in my about the sufficiency of the gospel, and more specifically understanding how my union with Christ changes how I live as a Christian.  When I looked back at the intentional efforts of being spiritually disciplined, I realized how little attention was being paid to the gospel. For whatever reason, the gospel was absent from a lot of the literature pertaining to spiritual disciplines, and the consequence (in part) was that the gospel was assumed in a lot of my spiritual development.

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been a renaissance of gospel-centered literature, and for that I’m extremely grateful. I have attempted to argue for years that the greatest need in evangelical life is the recovery and rediscovery of the gospel. In the midst of all the excellent literature coming out on the gospel, I have not seen anything written on the relationship of gospel centrality to spiritual disciplines. They appear to have two different approaches to spiritual formation, angling in two different directions for living the Christian life.

And yet I don’t think that must needs be the case.

I have recently thought about this, in particular how the gospel-centered life and importance of spiritual disciplines work in concert for a believer’s spiritual formation. The result is a triperspectival diagram that I want to break down for your consideration.  For now, I’m simply going to post the diagram. In the coming days, I hope to explain it in detail for those interested in my attempt to bridge the gap between gospel centrality and spiritual formation through a triperspectival framework.

Gospel-Shaped Humor

April 19, 2012

I found the excerpt below from Keller Quotes to be incredibly insightful. Not to be overly generic, but I think our culture has bought into a lot of humor, whether knowingly or unknowingly, that militates against the gospel and elevates self-righteousness, pride, and personal insecurity. Most of the men my age or younger than me (I’m 33) seem to have their personality and interpersonal communication profoundly shaped by sarcasm and insincerity. I know I am vulnerable to the charge of being self-righteous in making that assertion(!), but my overarching concern is the absence of genuine sincerity and need of generosity in affections for one another. We need the gospel to be applied to our humor and sarcasm, and once again, Keller nails it.

Below is the complete except from Keller Quotes. I don’t know what the original source is, but the quote is long enough to understand his point in immediate context. Check it out.

“Your humor has a lot to do with how you regard yourself. Many people use humor to put down others, keep themselves in the driver’s seat in a conversation and setting, and to remind the hearers of their superior vantage point. They use humor not to defuse tension and put people at ease, but to deliberately belittle the opposing view. Rather than showing respect and doing the hard work of true disagreement, they mock others’ points of view and dismiss them without actually engaging the argument.

Ultimately, sarcastic put-down humor is self-righteous, a form of self-justification, and that is what the gospel demolishes. When we grasp that we are unworthy sinners saved by infinitely costly grace it destroys both our self-righteousness and our need to ridicule others. This is also true of self-directed ridicule. There are some people who constantly, bitterly, mock themselves. At first it looks like a form of humility, or realism, but really it is just as self-absorbed as the other version. It is a sign of an inner disease with one’s self, a profound spiritual restlessness.
There is another kind of self-righteousness, however, that produces a person with little or no sense of humor. Moralistic persons often have no sense of irony because they take themselves too seriously, or because they are too self-conscious and self-absorbed in their own struggles to be habitually joyful.

The gospel, however, creates a gentle sense of irony. Our doctrine of sin keeps us from being over-awed by anyone (especially ourselves) or shocked, shocked by any behavior. We find a lot to laugh at, starting with our own weaknesses. They don’t threaten us any more because our ultimate worth is not based on our record or performance. Our doctrine of grace and redemption also keeps us from seeing any situation as hopeless. This groundnote of joy and peace makes humor spontaneous and natural.

In gospel-shaped humor we don’t only poke fun at ourselves, we also can gently poke fun at others, especially our friends. But it is always humor that takes the other seriously and ultimately builds them up as a show of affection. ‘We are not to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.’ (C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”)

The Call of Our This Generation

April 16, 2012

It has already been said that the sermon below by David Platt is perhaps the greatest missions message ever preached. I was a freshman in college when the buzz about John Piper’s sermon “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain” filled the campus of University of Mobile. Not long after that, I embarked on my first cross-cultural mission trip and have not been the same.

I was privileged to hear this with 8,000 other folks at T4G last week. But more than that, I eagerly long to be in the company of those who heed the message as what I anticipate will be the call of this generation.

You can download the audio or read the live-blogging notes of Justin Taylor, or watch the video below.  If you have not listened or watched this message, please carve out an hour of your life and have the Spirit ruin you for the nations.