Our Mission as Christians Is….?

by Dr. John MacArthur:

Society has taken a nosedive into greater and greater evil, debauchery, violence, and corruption, and outside the church, the landscape seems filled with “modern barbarians.” The temptation is strong for believers to jump into the cultural fray as self-righteous social/political reformers and condescending moralizers… Our duty as we relate to an increasingly secular and ungodly culture is not to lobby for certain rights, the implementation of a Christian agenda, or the reformation of the government. Rather, God would have us continually to remember Paul’s instructions to Titus and live them out as we seek to demonstrate His power and grace that can regenerate sinners. Changing people’s hearts one individual at a time is the only way to bring meaningful, lasting change to our communities, our nation, and even the whole world.
Author John Seel compliments the message that I now proclaim after much study of God’s Word as well as accurate American history that reveals that many of our Founding Fathers were very hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ including the deity of Jesus Christ:
A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. … Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. … Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity….. American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. 
~ The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)
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The Pursuit of Humility

I have to read and re-read these points made by Dan white on his blog:


A few years ago on personal retreat at a cabin I set out to catch some moles in the garden of my heart. I was not at rest going into that beautiful cabin with a warm and raging fireplace. I was anxious and unsure what God was doing in me and through me. After a couple days of digging I sensed the Holy Spirit setting a new agenda for me to live into. This new agenda was concerning my own humility or lack of. Inspired by Peter Scazzaro and Henri Nowen’s writing’s the following was what I wrote down in my journal. New tracks were being layed down for my character; humility does not come naturally so it must be an intentional pursuit. I revisit this journal entry quite often to refresh my focus on pursuing humility.

The Pursuit of Humility

1 – Recalibrate under God’s acceptance more than seeking acceptance from others – I’ve often felt the pull to be measured and valued by my skill level, my charm, the strength of my knowledge, my accomplishments and whether people agree with me. My Application: In response I will massage into my life a rhythm of solitude and space where I intentionally seek to be still, recalibrate with God, vent, and listen to what He says about me. I don’t study in these times. I purpose to sit still for a long period of time. Once a year I go to a monastery to have a few extra days to reclaim my emotional status before God. To be honest this is a gear grinding discipline for me since I’m an ADD type dude.

2 – Live in transparency and authenticity – I’ve noticed if I keep enough space people begin to idolize me and assume I’m a spiritual giant without doubts, fears, honest struggle and insecurities (this is one of the reasons we won’t podcast our sermons at Axiom). My Application: Be more regular in my teaching and counseling to mix in “this is how I’ve blown it”. In my closest relationships initiate sharing my present fears, doubts, struggles and discouragements even if for a moment that someone thinks I’m a weaker pastor because of it.

3 – Be willing to subject myself to authority – I’m a rebel by nature so I’d rather be independent. My Application: seek to submit to someone even if you don’t agree with everything they are about.

4 – Don’t injure those who inflict harm on you – The drive to retaliate in some way is in all of us, it feels powerful. I do this by talking slightly negative about someone who has wronged me. The last thing I want in my soul is bitterness that creates a cynical, disillusioned outlook on life.My Application: I’ve embraced a life principle of not seeking justice for the ways in which people treat me but only for the injustices done to another. This one frustrates my wife sometimes. She says “I wish you would defend yourself.” Thomas Aquinas said “To desire the good of another” was the definition of loving our enemies.

5 – Speak Less (with more restraint) – Its easy for me to think my opinion needs to be shared because I have one. It’s also a temptation to talk instead of actively listening. My Application: Hold my tongue for as long as I can. Tell myself I’m not the smartest one in the room. Validate what someone is saying first before I express my thoughts on a subject. Don’t talk over someone else. “The wise are known for their few words.”

6 – Be deeply aware of being chief of all sinners – After 15 years of successful ministry, a healthy marriage and family and 100’s of hours of study it is a serious temptation to compare myself to the brokenness in others and think “I’ve got a lot over them.” My Application: Reflect concretely; reciting my sins, secret motives, ugly thoughts and heartless dispositions before God by writing them down in my journal to see them.

7 – Think in terms of serving instead of leadership – As a pastor, power and status are a currency that stirs up ugly stuff in me. My Application:Work to prop others up by coaching them to influence. Deflect attention sent my way towards others achievements and worth. Recount in front of others what other people are doing right. Lead in such a way that those you are leading believe they discovered change on their own. Don’t seek to take credit for ministry I’ve done,

8. Lean into conflict instead shying away from it. – When someone in my community has a problem with me sometimes it makes me nauseous other times it make me defensive. I’ve found that self-righteousness and arrogance breeds in me when I avoid a person who has hurt me.My Application: Don’t let the awkwardness linger. Don’t wallow in self pity and don’t allow myself the lazy space to mentally rip them apart. Seek out a cup of coffee with that someone who I think has a problem with me. Ask them point blank “have I done something to offend you?”.

Some stuff I’ll be working on for a long time.

What Is the Gospel?

by Justin Holcomb on The Resurgence blog

Christian theology is about the gospel, which is focused on who Jesus is and what he said and did. Jesus is the hero of history and the centerpiece of the entire Bible.

God made us to worship him. He was our Father, living and walking among us, giving us everything we needed to live, and yet we chose to sin against him—a cosmic act of treason punishable by death (Gen 2:17; Rm 6:23). As a result, we were separated from God, and we try to be our own gods, declaring what is right and wrong, and living life by our own standards.

Jesus Lived

Despite our pride and ignorance, Jesus, who created the world and is God, lovingly came into human history as a man (John 1:14; Rm 1:3; 8:3; Gal 4:4; Philemon 2:7, 8; Col 1:22; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 4:2; 2 Jn 7). He was born of a virgin, (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14) and he lived a life without sin, (Heb 4:15; 1 Pt 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5) though he was tempted in every way as we are.

Because of his great love for us, he went to the cross and took on the punishment of death that we justly deserved (Rm 3:25; 1 Jn 2:2). Before his death and after his resurrection, he preached that the good news of God’s kingdom, love, promise, forgiveness, and acceptance was fulfilled in him, in both his life and death.

Jesus Died

Our first parents in the garden substituted themselves for God, and, at the cross, Jesus reversed that substitution, substituting himself for sinners (1 Cor 15:45–48). When Jesus went to the cross, he willingly took upon himself the sin of those who would come to trust in him. That means that if you trust him as you Lord and Savior, Jesus went to the cross and took upon himself all your sin—past, present, and future—and that he died in your place, paying your debt to God and purchasing your salvation (Rm 10:9; Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8).

Jesus Exchanged

Jesus not only took the punishment for your sin, but he also lived a perfectly righteous life. When you trust in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous by God, the ultimate judge. The righteous of Christ is attributed to you as if you lived a perfect life. 2 Cor 5:21 tells us this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We are the villains, turned into the adopted, children of God.

Martin Luther called this the Great Exchange: “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.” The famous Christian hymn, “Rock of Ages,” says the same thing: “Be of sin the double cure. Save from wrath and make me pure.”

Jesus Rose

Jesus’ dead body was then laid in a tomb, where he lay buried for three days. On the third day, Jesus rose in victory over Satan, sin, death, demons, and hell (Lk 42:1; Mt 28:1–8; Mk 16:1–8; Jn 20:1). After spending some more time eating, drinking, laughing, and teaching with his closest friends (Jn 20-21), he ascended into heaven, and today is alive and well (Acts 1:6–11).

He is seated on a throne, and he is ruling and reigning over all nations, cultures, philosophies, races, and periods of time. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, and those who trust in him will enjoy eternity in his kingdom of heaven forever. Those who do not will suffer apart from him in the conscious, eternal torments of hell (Rev 21).

He is King of kings and he is Lord of lords (Rev 17:14), and he is ruling and reigning over all people, commanding everyone everywhere to repent. And now he commissions us with the Holy Spirit to be missionaries, telling this amazingly good news that there is a God who passionately, lovingly, continually, and relentlessly pursues us.

Gospel-Centered

To be gospel-centered means to focus on Jesus, who he is and what he has done, not on who we are and what we have done or will do for God. The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1) who came “to seek and save the lost” (Lk 19:10).

The gospel is for every one, every day, and every moment.

In 1 Cor 15:4-6, Paul declares and defines the gospel clearly: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … he was buried … he was raised on the third day … he appeared.” Paul says these facts are “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3).

To hold this gospel message as “of first importance” is what it means for one’s theology to be “gospel-centered.” The gospel should have a central place in Christian theology and ministry. The gospel is clearly the center of the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and the Bible. It should also to be the center of what every Christian and church believes because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).

God Remains Faithful

The focus of the gospel is not on the inadequacy of humankind but rather on the character and glory of God: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Tim 2:13). However, we are transformed when we live “in line with the gospel” (Gal 2:14)—avoiding both legalism and licentiousness—and pursuing the joy found in complete and utter surrender of our unrighteous life in exchange for his righteous life (Gal 2:20). The gospel is what makes us right with God (justification) and it is also what frees us to delight in God (sanctification). The gospel changes everything.

Calling the gospel the “power of God for the salvation of all who believe” (Rm 1:16) means that it is the power to accomplish the whole matter of salvation from beginning to end without a scrap of human effort. We cannot and dare not ever move “beyond” the gospel. There is no such “beyond” for Christians, just a “different gospel,” (Gal 1:6–7; 2 Cor 11:4; 1 Tim 1:3) which is not good news at all. Apart from the gospel there is no forgiveness of sins, no hope, and no transformation into Christ’s likeness.

A gospel-centered reading of the Bible sees it not as a record of good people earning God’s blessing, but bad people receiving God’s blessing because Jesus earned it for them. At the center of the Bible is the good news that God treated Jesus the way we deserved and he daily treats us the way Jesus deserved. The center of the Bible is Jesus. He is the hero. We are the villains, turned into the adopted, children of God.

Jesus, Not Religion

Because of the amazing and radical message of the gospel, it’s important that we don’t confuse the gospel with religion. At Mars Hill, we intentionally talk about Jesus (who he is and what he has done) all the time. We worship Jesus, not religion. As such we desire to talk more about what Jesus has done rather than what people should do (Gal 1:6–9).

There is a God who passionately, lovingly, continually, and relentlessly pursues us.

The beauty of the gospel is that once you truly understand what Jesus has done for you, you desire to do what he calls you to do. Trying to do it the other way around is futile.

The message of Jesus was, “Repent!” not, “Be better!” As Martin Luther said in his first of his 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” So, echoing Luther, we affirm that all of the Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners isn’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but instead the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every one, every day, and every moment.

The Key to Contentment

by Jeremiah Burroughs

Labour to be spiritually minded. That is, be often in meditation of the things that are above. ‘If we be risen with Christ,’ say the Scriptures, ‘let us seek the things that are above, where Christ is, that sits at the right hand of God.’ Be much in spiritual thoughts, in conversing with things above. Many Christians who have an interest in the things of Heaven converse but very little with them; their meditations are not much upon heavenly things. Some give this as the reason why Adam did not see his nakedness, they think that he had so much converse with God and with things above sense, that he did not so much mind or think of what nakedness was. Whether that were so or not I will not say, but this I say, and am certain of, the reason why we are so troubled with our nakedness, with any wants that we have, is because we converse so little with God, so little with spiritual things; conversing with spiritual things would lift us above the things of the world. Those who are bitten or struck by a snake, it is because they tread on the ground; if they could be lifted up above the earth they need never fear being stung by the snakes which are crawling underneath. So I may compare the sinful distemper of murmuring, and the temptations and evils that come from that, to snakes that crawl up and down below; but if we could get higher we should not be stung by them. A heavenly conversation is the way to contentment.

~ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, pp. 219, 220

Spiritual Gifts Inform Us of Our Neediness

by Timmy Brister at Provocations and Pantings blog

We do not have an exhaustive list of gifts of the the Spirit in the Bible, but we do have a lot of them.  These gifts are sovereignly distributed by the Spirit for the common good and edification of the church.  When each member is working properly, the body grows and is built up in love.

In the wisdom of God, He has designed that we are all ministers to one another in various ways through a variety of gifts.  Have you considered what God is saying about us with the equipment of so many gifts?  We are a needy people! You are a needy person. We do not realize how profound our spiritual needs are, but God does, and He has made provision for our needs through the gifts of His Spirit exercised through the lives of His people. For example:

When the Holy Spirit intends a person with the gift of giving to be useful in the church, what does it say about us? We are in deep need of the generous benevolence of others, and God is intentional about providing that financial or practical through others.

When the Holy Spirit intends a person with the gift of exhortation to be useful in the church, what does it say about us? We are in deep need of encouragement and proper motivation, and God is intentional about providing people in our lives to stir our hearts and direct our steps in paths that honor God.

We could extend this exercise through the various lists of spiritual gifts, the point God is making to us is this:

1.  We have profound needs in multiple areas of our lives
2.  God has made provision for those needs to be met by the gifts of His Spirit
3.  Members of the body of Christ supply the needs to one another through exercising the Spirit’s gifts

This is another significant reason for being a covenant member of a local church and meaningful participant in gospel community.  As a needy person, you will feel tempted to address those needs through unspiritual means. But when you understand how God ordered the church, you know that God intends that each member would “have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25).

Lone-ranger Christians are at best disobedient and dysfunctional. They are disobedient because numerous commands of Scripture require us to be in regular contact with other believers (“one another” commands). They are dysfunctional because the needs they have are not being met by the God-ordained means of gifts of the Holy Spirit through each member of His body. Perhaps what exists behind of this is a denial of neediness–a determination of making it by self-determination and independence. Sadly, this state of existence is far too common in the church today.

God knows what we need before we ask Him. God has made provision through the distribution of the Spirit’s gifts through the work of ministry when each member is equipped and working properly. As we have our needs met through the ministry of others, we are also meeting the needs of others by the gifts given to us for their good.

What’s the importance of church?

by Ron Edmondson on his blog by his name:

I was recently asked by someone in our church:

“What’s the importance of church?”

I have been frequently told, “Why do I need to attend church? I can worship God anywhere.”

And, part of that is true. In fact, the entire purpose of creation is to glorify God…to worship. The idea, however that we don’t need church is in error.

Here are 3 reasons you need the church:

We are designed for fellowship – God designed us in His relational image. We are to love one another. Church was designed for that purpose. The Bible says we are to bear with one another and even encourages us to meet together (Hebrews 10:24). Part of our maturing as followers of Christ is to gather frequently with other believers. The best term I know for when that happens is church.

We need each other – In addition to caring for one another, we are commanded to look out for one another’s spiritual we’ll-being. (Galatians 6) We draw strength from each other. The church is a body of believers designed to work together to make each member and the whole body stronger. When we meet together , and fellowship with each other, we learn each other, observe each other and challenge and encourage each other. Iron really does sharpen iron. God intended it to be that way. If you don’t need help now you may feel you don’t need the church, but God may want you there to help others. One day the person needing accountability and strengthening will be you.

We are God’s children – Until my boys left home, and one of them got married, I never realized how much I would miss them when they were gone. I’ve also learned how much I enjoy when we are all together again. Each Christmas night we have a family tradition. We go to Waffle House. This year the 5 of us laughed and talked and celebrated the best part of my Christmas. When all the children were together again. God loves when His children get together. We get to do that on Sundays, all around the world. We call it church.

That’s part of my reasoning.

Be honest, do you look forward to church or does it feel like an obligation? What’s your reasoning?

Is our church full of hypocrites?

by RC Sproul

About thirty years ago, my close friend and colleague, Archie Parrish, who at that time led the Evangelism Explosion (EE) program in Fort Lauderdale, came to me with a request. He indicated that on the thousands of evangelistic visits the EE teams made, they kept a record of responses people made to discussions of the gospel. They collated the most frequent questions and objections people raised about the Christian faith and grouped these inquiries or objections into the ten most frequently encountered. Dr. Parrish asked if I would write a book answering those objections for evangelists to use in their outreach. That effort resulted in my book Objections Answered, now called Reason to Believe. Among the top ten objections raised was the objection that the church is filled with hypocrites. At that point in time, Dr. D. James Kennedy responded to this objection by replying, “Well, there’s always room for one more.” He cautioned people that if they found a perfect church, they ought not to join it, since that would ruin it.

The term hypocrite came from the world of Greek drama. It was used to describe the masks that the players used to dramatize certain roles. Even today, the theatre is symbolized by the twin masks of comedy and tragedy. In antiquity, certain players played more than one role, and they indicated their role by holding a mask in front of their face. That’s the origin of the concept of hypocrisy.

But the charge that the church is full of hypocrites is manifestly false. Though no Christian achieves the full measure of sanctification in this life, that we all struggle with ongoing sin does not justly yield the verdict of hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who does things he claims he does not do. Outside observers of the Christian church see people who profess to be Christians and observe that they sin. Since they see sin in the lives of Christians, they rush to the judgment that therefore these people are hypocrites. If a person claims to be without sin and then demonstrates sin, surely that person is a hypocrite. But for a Christian simply to demonstrate that he is a sinner does not convict him of hypocrisy.

The inverted logic goes something like this: All hypocrites are sinners. John is a sinner; therefore, John is a hypocrite. Anyone who knows the laws of logic knows that this syllogism is not valid. If we would simply change the charge from “the church is full of hypocrites” to “the church is full of sinners,” we would be quick to plead guilty. The church is the only institution I know of that requires an admission of being a sinner in order to be a member. The church is filled with sinners because the church is the place where sinners who confess their sins come to find redemption from their sins. So in this sense, simply because the church is filled with sinners does not justify the conclusion that the church is filled with hypocrites. Again, all hypocrisy is sin, but not all sin is the sin of hypocrisy.

When we look at the problem of hypocrisy in the New Testament era, we see it most clearly displayed in the lives of those who claimed to be the most righteous. The Pharisees were a group of people who by definition saw themselves as separated from the normal sinfulness of the masses. They began well, seeking a life of devoted godliness and submission to the law of God. However, when their behavior failed to reach their ideals, they began to engage in pretense. They pretended they were more righteous than they were. They gave an outward facade of righteousness, which merely served to conceal a radical corruption in their lives.

Though the church is not filled with hypocrites, there is no denying that hypocrisy is a sin that is not limited or restricted to New Testament Pharisees. It is a sin with which Christians must grapple. A high standard of spiritual and righteous behavior has been set for the church. We often are embarrassed by our failures to reach these high goals and are inclined to pretend that we have reached a higher plateau of righteousness than we’ve actually attained. When we do that, we put on the mask of the hypocrite and come under the judgment of God for that particular sin. When we find ourselves enmeshed in this type of pretense, an alarm bell should go off in our brains that we need to rush back to the cross and to Christ and to understand where our true righteousness resides. We have to find in Christ, not a mask that conceals our face, but an entire wardrobe of clothing, which is His righteousness. Indeed, it is only under the guise of the righteousness of Christ, received by faith, that any of us can ever have a hope of standing before a holy God. To wear the garments of Christ in faith is not an act of hypocrisy. It is an act of redemption.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and president of Ligonier Ministries, and he is author of many books