The Trellis and the Vine on Gospel Centrality

Posted May 23, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Gospel

Tags: , , ,

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).


CinePro – An iPhone App You Need to Check Out

Posted May 23, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

I used to tote around my Canon D-SLR camera with me everywhere. Interchangeable lens, external flash, batteries, CF cards, and the whole deal. Then something crazy happened. I got an iPhone 4 years ago, and the camera I have used 95% of the time is not my Canon D-SLR but my iPhone. Having said that, I’ve looked for great camera apps for creative iphonography and enjoyed great new developments in recent years.

However, I haven’t seen many apps that address iphone videography. That is, until now.

A friend of mine has been developing an app that will give your iPhone professional features for video capturing and editing.  CinePro, which launched just yesterday, is the iPhone videographer’s one-stop app. Whether a novice capturing home video or looking to for mobile videography to share on social networks, this app delivers on numerous levels, including adjustments for exposure, ISO, filters, aspect ratio, frame rate, focal length, and white balance. How cool is that? Additionally, you can share directly from the app to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or upload it to a Dropbox account.

For a limited time, the CinePro app is available 60% off at just $1.99. If you are looking to expand your videography potential via the iPhone, that’s two bucks worth investing. After all, how often are you going to be carrying around your D-SLR or camcorder? 🙂

Life in Gospel Communities

Posted May 22, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Community, Gospel

Tags: , , ,

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


Help Crossway Meet Their Urgent Ministry Opportunity!

Posted May 22, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Miscellanies

Tags: ,

I, like many of you, are indebted to the great work Crossway has done to provide an excellent translation of the Bible as well as numerous wonderful books covering our library shelves. Recently, they have been given an all-or-nothing matching grant should they be able to raise $270,000 by the end of this month. As you can see below, they are hoping to use this money to provide Bibles in some of the most populous and needy places in the world.  Please consider donating today!

AS YOU MAY KNOW, Crossway is a not-for-profit ministry that relies in part on gifts from people like you to accomplish major ministry projects worldwide.

We’ve recently been presented with an extraordinary opportunity. Generous donors have offered an all-or-nothing matching grant IF we are able to raise $270,000 by May 31st—just days from now.

This grant could not have come at a better time. In God’s kindness, we currently have unprecedented opportunities forcreating, translating, and delivering ESV Bible resources for Christians in great need—especially in China, India, and multiple countries in Africa.

Will you help us toward meeting this matching grant before the end of May? Your gift of any amount will help Crossway provide significantly more Bibles and Bible study resources to the church worldwide.


Revisiting Discipleship (Definitions Matter)

Posted May 21, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Discipleship

Tags: , ,

It is commonly said that if aim at nothing you will hit it every time. The aim of biblical discipleship begins with understanding the nature of a disciple. What is a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do you define that? Without definition, there cannot be direction; without direction, there cannot be devotion.

So last Saturday night, I pitched the question on Twitter, asking people to define a disciple of Jesus by answering the question “What is a disciple of Jesus?” in 140 characters or less. To give you an idea of why definitions matter, let me provide you a sampling of some of the responses:

A slave.

Someone who has turned away from sin, and trusted in Jesus. And who keeps doing so.

Sitting at His Feet and eating His Word and living your life for Christ!

Life touching life.

[Someone who] follows Jesus, being changed by Jesus, committed to the mission Jesus.

A disciple of Jesus Christ is one loved by Jesus, bought by Jesus, taught of Jesus, dying to self and living by faith in Jesus.

One who is affected by the saving Cross of Christ in such a way as to strive to emulate the character of Christ in faith+works.

One who seeks to see from gods perspective, be in his presence and live out his purposes.

Bought by His blood so I glorify God with my mind and body to spread the fame of His Name that others may know the same gift.

5 Solas saved sinner: Joyfully submitted, faithfully obedient, content & thankful 2b dead 2 self & alive in Christ.

One who reads their Bible and does what it says.

Someone who is listening, learning, and leading others to the Word of God, the Son.

Someone who has been born into the kingdom by way of the gospel & who now loves, learns from, and leads others to the king.

One who now has the story of the gospel written in pencil, waiting for that day for it to be written in stone.

One who delights in and finds his deepest joy in Jesus Causing him to devote his life to pursuing that joy, living in community & on mission.

There are some common threads to this list of definitions, but there’s a lot of differences too. Granted, you can’t say everything you want to say in 140 characters on Twitter, but there is a value in being able to define your aim in a short and succinct statement.

At the very heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples. Do we know what we are making? Are we clear on what we are developing? How we are growing people? Without a clear definition, there won’t be clear direction. Could it be that a major reason a majority of churches today are not disciple-making powerhouses is because we don’t really know what we are doing? Could it be that a simple place to start in revitalizing churches today is to get back to the fundamental question of “What is a disciple of Jesus?” and set about implementing the biblical answer to that question as the governing filter of all that we do?

Bethlehem All-Church Vote on Jason Meyer

Posted May 21, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Personal Commentary

Tags: , ,

Last night, Bethlehem Baptist Church had an all-church congregational meeting to vote on the unanimous recommendation of the elders for the successor of John Piper as Associate Pastor for Preaching & Vision. As many of you know, I have had the privilege of knowing and being mentored by Jason Meyer, so I am particularly interested in the outcome of these events. The result of last night’s vote was an 99% affirmation (784 yes, 8 no), further paving the way to a healthy succession plan under the leadership of the elders (and of course John Piper). Plans are for Jason to begin ministering in this capacity on or before August 1, 2012. Pray for him, BBC, and this process!

John Piper reflected on this vote through a blogpost on BBC’s website. He wrote:

On February 13, 1980, Bethlehem voted to call me as her pastor. The vote was 149 yes, 17 no (89.7%). Thirty-two years later the church is more united than ever behind her leaders. For this I am on my face with tears of thankfulness and joy.

Jesus Christ is the head of this church. And he means to have the glory. Let him have it from your heart and lips. Gather your family and friends and give thanks. Tell him how amazing he is. Exult in the cross of Christ. Without it there could be no such blessings on sinners like us.

Praise God for the unity He has given BBC, wisdom to the elders, and humble dependence upon God to shepherd them through this critical period in the life of their church.

If You’re God’s Child, Part 4

Posted May 20, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: If You're God's Child

Tags: , ,

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Last year, I compiled a series of 36 blogposts based on tweets from Scotty Smith on “Signs You’re Growing in Grace.” I, and I know countless others, were greatly encouraged in the gospel by those daily tweets.  Another person who brings the gospel to bear regularly on twitter is Paul Tripp.  He has recently begun a series of tweets called “If You’re God’s Child . . . ” and I have compiled them for you as well.  Depending on how many tweets he does, I may make this into another blogpost category/series. But for now, here’s the fourth installment of “If You’re God’s Child . . .”

If you’re God’s child you have reason for hope no matter how hard things are or how weak you feel because Christ lives inside you.

If you’re God’s child you have been given an identity you didn’t earn and blessed with potential beyond your natural gifts.

If you’re God’s child you have to accept the bad news of your sin before you can celebrate the glorious news of God’s amazing grace.

If you’re God’s child, you have been called to be an ambassador of the same grace that has given you life and hope.

If you’re God’s child, you have been called to carefully obey, but not with the motivation of achieving acceptance with God.

If you’re God’s child your personal story has been woven by grace into God’s grand and glorious redemptive story.

If you’re God’s child you must remember that your faith is deeply relational – called to loving community with God and with others.

If you’re God’s child you must remind yourself today that your walk with God is designed to be a community project from beginning to end.

If you’re God’s child you still suffer from spiritual blindness and need the personal insight-giving wisdom of the body of Christ.

If you’re God’s child, your life doesn’t belong to you anymore, to act like it does never leads anywhere good.

Annotations of Gospel Centrality: Colossians (Summary)

Posted May 18, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Annotations of Gospel Centrality, Compilations, Gospel

Tags: , , ,

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

Revisiting Discipleship (As You Yourselves Know)

Posted May 18, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Discipleship

Tags: , ,

I’ve been hanging out in 1 Thessalonians this week for devotional meditations, and one of the things that surfaced after multiple readings is how often Paul employs the phrase “as you yourselves know” or simply “you know.”  When you take a look through his letters, I believe it can be argued that the majority of the content is not new information. It is truths or practices they already know but are being called to remember, be faithful, and work it out in gospel-fueled obedience.

I wonder how much of a role “remembering” has played in our discipleship process. How often do we tell people we are investing in “as you yourselves know . . .”? Take a look at this short letter to the Thessalonians how many times Paul does this:

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thess. 1:5

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
1 Thess. 2:1-2

For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
1 Thess. 2:5

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
1 Thess. 2:9

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:11-12

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker1 in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
1 Thess. 3:1-4

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
1 Thess. 4:2

Compiling those verses like that, it sounds like Paul is a broken record! But then again, perhaps Paul is keenly aware of our natural tendencies to forget, to wander, to lose our focus. I think Paul’s letters are instructive to us when it comes to discipling others because we discover patterns of gospel transfer from the portrait of Paul’s life and ministry.

As you yourselves probably know this already.

New PLNTD Audio: Jared Wilson

Posted May 17, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Church Planting, Gospel, Resources

Tags: , , ,

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)

Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program

Posted May 16, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Books

Tags: ,

I know that bloggers like free books. Over the past six years, I have connected hundreds of bloggers with dozens of book publishers and given away over 20,000 books through Band of Bloggers. One of the generous publishing companies has been Moody Publishers, and they have just recently announced a new Blogger Review Program. If you are blogger who likes to read and review books, I encourage you to check this program out. It’s a great way to get good books you would normally buy for free.

Inerrancy and Church Discipline – The Two Go Together

Posted May 16, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Church Discipline, SBC

Tags: , ,

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Nothing too profound here. Just an observation I think bears repeating. The fight over biblical inerrancy was one of the most important evangelical battles in the 20th century, and nowhere was the drama on greater display than in the Southern Baptist Convention. I am indebted to the pastors and leaders who were on the front lines of turning the denomination I grew up in from turning away from a high view of Scripture.

Of the churches that hold to biblical inerrancy (at least in the SBC), I wonder how many are committed to the functional outworking of the inerrancy as it relates to church discipline. The classic text of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 speaks to the purposeful outworking of a high view of Scripture.  Those purposes are teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.  It is worth noting that 50% of the Scripture’s profitability has to do with corrective discipline. Reproof is correcting wrong beliefs and false doctrine while correction addresses wrong behavior and sinful lifestyle.

Churches who embrace biblical inerrancy certainly want the inerrant word to have 100% profitability for each believer, but for that to take place, correction and reproof ought to be normative and expected in a “Bible-based” church. If not, then we are accepting a standard where only 50% of the Scriptures intended usefulness is evidenced in the life of the church. A church who believes in 100% biblical inerrancy and 50% biblical usefulness is sending mixed signals, and worse, failing to use the prescribed means of seeing God’s people equipped for every good work and mature in Christ.

The grounds for practicing church discipline is both in the nature of Scripture, and man.  Scripture is authoritative, prescriptive, redemptive, and corrective. We are sinful, broken, and prideful, such that we can easily be blinded in our beliefs and wandering in our behavior. Churches who practice church discipline humbly confess the need for mutual accountability, submission to Christ and one another, and hold to an uncompromising commitment to do whatever the inerrant Word of God calls them to do.

On a most basic level, there are churches who hold to biblical inerrancy but have more than half of their membership utterly uninvolved in the life of the church even to attend a Sunday morning gathering. Churches are losing the moral authority to speak on issues like the sanctity of marriage when things like homosexual marriage debate surfaces because of unchecked cohabitation and unaddressed infidelity in the ranks. The distinctives of genuine unity of faith and love for the brethren are corroded by the prevalence of gossip, slander, and bitterness, and those distinctives are replaced by superficial standards like being relevant and entertaining. We turn the lights down when Jesus has told us to be the light of the world.

Church discipline is redemptive in more ways than one. It is redemptive to the one whose beliefs or behaviors are held accountable to the authority of God’s Word. It is also redemptive to the integrity of witness in a gospel community who live together in repentance and faith so that the qualitative value of being counter-cultural is profoundly winsome and worthy of intrigue. If we lose care and concern for the ongoing work of the gospel in each others lives, and if the Gentiles blaspheme the name of Jesus because of us, then the fight for biblical inerrancy will be battle with no spoils in the here and now and no soldiers for the battles to come.

Josh Hamilton and Jesus

Posted May 15, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Miscellanies


I was encouraged by this interview with Josh Hamilton, especially how natural he talked about Jesus and His accomplishments when others wanted him to his own accomplishments.

[HT : Z]

Revisiting Discipleship (The Three I’s)

Posted May 14, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Discipleship

Tags: , ,

Revisiting discipleship, I have found three “I’s” that shape the methodological convictions of a robust commitment to disciple-making. Let me explain them briefly.


The goal for every Christian is Christ-likeness. Therefore everything we do in the church corporately and in our investments individually should intentionally be driven with that purpose/goal in mind. In Galatians, Paul tells his disciples that he wants “Christ formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). In Ephesians, he tells his disciples that the goal is “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). In Colossians, Paul’s goal is to present every man “mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). All of his efforts from personal visits to writing letters to training up leaders was so that every believer would grow up in Christ-likeness. He was intentional about it, and so should we.  That means our systems, processes, programs, etc. should be have this as a governor on them – how are we maturing people to know and love Christ, serving and giving themselves in the mission of making other disciples?


Disciple-making should not be relegated to a classroom experience or curriculum.  The sphere of discipleship is all of life.  Discipleship should be relational, so that their “manner of life would be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). It should be practical, so that the knowledge is met with experience, understanding with application. To the Philippians Paul wrote, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). And it should also be missional, so that the maturity of the Christian is intrinsically connected to the growth of the church. As Jesus put it, an invitation to follow (discipleship) is a promise to make you fishers of men (mission). The two should never be divorced. Biblical discipleship begets missional Christians because, inherent to the Great Commission is the sending thrust of the word “go.”


Evangelical tribes tend to focus on one aspect of discipleship more than the others. The Reformed evangelical tribe tends to emphasize truth and doctrine (head), and rightly so. We need to have a refocused understanding and growth in truth. The Pietistic or revivalistic evangelical tribe tends to emphasize experience and motivation (heart), and rightly so. We need to have our motivations rewired and have our affections stirred to know, love, and experience God. The missional evangelical tribe tends to emphasize social justice, mercy ministry, and serving the needs of the community (hands), and rightly so. We need to have our lives reoriented away from self and toward others in sacrificial service. However, when one is emphasized to the exclusion of others, discipleship is disintegrated. He need to balance head, heart, and hands. We need growth in truth (understanding), growth in experience (affections), and growth in service (mission).

So, methodologically speaking, I believe that discipleship should be intentionally pursuing Christ-likeness, interactive in engaging the relational, practical, and missional dynamics, and integrated so that our head, heart, and hands are all transformed in the process.

What do you think?

Annotations of Gospel Centrality: Colossians 3:16-17

Posted May 14, 2012 by Timmy Brister
Categories: Annotations of Gospel Centrality

Tags: , , ,

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:16-17

The gospel is both the catalyst and content for all teaching, admonishing, and singing.  We are called to dwell deep in the word of Christ and have its riches lavishly poured out on others.  What is “the word of Christ”?  Certainly all of God’s Word is the word of Christ and about Christ. But most commentators agree that Paul is speaking more specifically about the gospel – the message of who Jesus is and what He has done for sinners.

The consequence of dwelling in the gospel is greater usefulness in the service of others.  From the overflow of the riches of the gospel, others are blessed by instruction, encouragement, and celebration–all of which is centered on Jesus Christ.  What greater teaching is there than the truths about Jesus Christ? What greater exhortation do we have than to remember, repent, and return continually to Jesus Christ? What greater song do we have to sing than the glories of Calvary? What produces greater thankfulness than the profound sense of once being lost, now found, one blind but now see, once an enemy but now a son? What channels our thoughts and affections with greatest intensity so that we “do everything in the name of Lord Jesus” than that very message that has captivated our lives?

We are called to live gospel-centered lives because the riches of the gospel demand that be immersed in them. To be rich in the “word of Christ” is to be utterly soaked in it.  God delights in believers who are excessive and lavish about the excellencies of His Son so that the commentary of our lives declare the abundance of the inheritance we have as children of God.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  So if we have little to say about Christ, what does it say about the state of our dwelling richly in word of Christ? It is said that you and I speak a minimum of 6,000 words a day (over 2 million words each year!). Paul says whatever we do in “word and deed” should be done in the name of Jesus Christ.  How else can we interpret that other than to have a conscious awareness and commitment to the dominating reality of King Jesus?  The prescriptive means to make our 6,000+ words count, whether aimed at instruction, encouragement, or celebration, is to have our hearts immersed deeply in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we never lose the wonder of sheer grace, we guard our hearts from the wandering tendency to do everything in our name.  May God grant to us an understanding of the value of dwelling richly in the gospel, and from its overflow, cause others to be refreshed by the life-giving words of our Risen Savior.