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How Much Do You Love Your Local Church?

A Painful Question

Are you cold, indifferent, angry, frustrated, intolerant, castigating or hostile towards your local church? Or are you warm, concerned, involved, sympathetic, committed, patient, and full of love, grace, hope and peace, in your relationships and dealings with your brothers and sisters in the blood-bought congregation of God?

A Pauline Concern

Paul’s own personal response to God’s people seems to have fluctuated with the ups and down of the churches, over which he was given charge, and to which he was bound with cords of compassion and love.

A Pertinent Text

The giveaway text comes at the end of the letter of 2 Corinthians. The Achaian congregations, contained many of his harshest critics. In this epistle, like no other, for the sake of the progress of the Gospel, and Corinthian spiritual growth, he has to defend His ministry repeatedly, from false accusations and disparaging charges. Yet, like a parent deeply involved with happenings of their children, when the Church is progressing nicely it causes Paul to sing, but when the congregation goes bad it forces Paul to lament.

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish – that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, […]

Browse Worthy: The Nashville Statement

Nashville Statement | Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood issued a declaration consisting of fourteen articles addressing the gender and marriage issues of our day. Called the Nashville Statement, it was originally signed by a group of influential evangelical and Reformed men and women. You may have seen that it is receiving a great deal of attention.  Here are some interesting perspectives as you consider not only what it says, but its tone, purpose, and effectiveness.

Rosaria Butterfield | Why I Signed the Nashville Statement

The author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert explains why she believed it was important that she sign this document. She highlights the need for the church to continue to speak prophetically in our age.

Al Mohler | I signed the Nashville Statement. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people.

The president of Southern Baptist Seminary explains the intent of the document is to offer clarity in an age of confusion. With counter declarations like the Denver Statement already being made, Mohler reminds the church of the cultural divide it faces and urges it to rally around Biblical truth.

Rod Dreher | Is the Nashville Statement a Surrender?

The promoter of the Benedict Option, Dreher […]

Browse Worthy: David Powlison on the Sexually Broken

The Crossway blog site recently published a series of four articles highlighting truths found in David Powlison’s new book Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken. Powlison, the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, writes with a biblical directness, captivating illustrations, and compassionate tone on this subject. Just the title of the articles, as seen below, will draw you into the subject, and the content is very helpful and hopeful. After reading them, my wife and I decided to purchase a few copies of the book so we can read it to help us minister to others and to even give to others.

You may want to do the same after reading them yourself.

An Open Letter to Those Debilitated by Their Sexual Sin
Sanctification Is a Direction
Is Sexual Renewal a Simple or Complex Process?
An Open Letter to Those Nonchalant about Their Sexual Sin

 

Kindred Spirits

Anyone familiar with Anne of Green Gables will immediately think of Anne’s search for true friendship when they hear the term “kindred spirits.” This poor orphan finally finding heart companions in such persons as Diana, Matthew, Marilla, and ultimately Gilbert is what makes the story so touching and tender. She viewed a kindred spirit as one who saw things and cared for life in the same manner that she did.

Interestingly, this term is found in the NASB version in Philippians 2:20. Paul says of Timothy, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.” This phrase is a translation of the Greek word ἰσόψυχοs, which combines the word equal (“iso” like in the word isoceles triangle) with the word for soul. So the term is defined to mean “like-minded, equal in soul, same hearted.” The increasingly popular ESV does not quite do justice to the word when it has Paul saying “I have no one like him.” The NKJV and KJV get closer when they use the more literal “I have no one like-minded.” Not to be sentimental, but a brief study would show, I believe, that Paul would have been happy with us thinking of him and […]

Addendum on Resisting Redefinition

I’ve been thinking a little more on the need to guard against the casual adoption of the language of the PC establishment.

What I have found really helpful in thinking about this question is some recent reading about Martin Luther’s ‘Theology of the Word’. The German Reformer, pointing to biblical texts like Genesis 1.3, Romans 10.17 or 2 Corinthians 4.6, believed that the Word of God, as Carl Truman summarizes, “not only describes reality but also determines reality: all reality,” in ‘Luther and the Christian Life’ (p.80).

From the point of view of the Gospel, it is good to ask the question, why is it necessary and important to resist redefinition? Can I suggest that it would be good to bear in mind some or all of the following reasons?

First, because the chief instrument Satan uses to promote unbelief and undermine the truth, is the lies he tells. One example might be the lie of ‘same-sex marriage.’ In reality there is no such thing. Marriage is between one man and one woman. This linguistic redefinition is a false construction of the PC establishment which bears no relation to reality before God.

Second, because this blinding power of words is only removed by the […]

A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce

The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians and Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry. She is married to William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History at Puritan Theological Seminary. They have four children.

During a recent visit, my wife and I discussed these types of issues with Bill & Rebecca. I am thankful for her willingness to express her thoughts so clearly and powerfully in this article.   

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God hates divorce, doesn’t He? Absolutely. Isn’t the gospel about forgiveness and love? Yes, it is. And pastors and elders can use these two truths in isolation from the rest of Scripture and biblical principles to deny people divorce for biblical grounds. “But marriage is a precious thing,” one pastor told a woman whose husband was in prison for pedophilia. “It would be a wonderful picture of God’s grace to move on from this and focus on your marriage,” another one told the husband of an adulteress. “We’re working with him; he’s really struggling, and so you need to forgive him,” a session tells a woman whose husband has been using pornography for years.

Evangelical and confessional churches are striving to maintain a high […]

In it for the long haul?

Just back from an unexpected house visit at the end of a 3rd hot sunny day in Nantes (I can sense you feel my pain!).

We were just finishing our evening meal with our host missionary couple, when the phone went – a separated, middle-aged, French lady was on the other end of the line: she needed a male hand lifting a washing-machine out of her apartment and putting into her car boot (trunk).

This lady turned out to be a long-term, 25 year, contact – she hadn’t been seen or heard of for quite some time. However, even though we were a little skeptical as to the value of accepting the challenge, off the three of us went, to help her bear the weight.

Once the fuse had been replaced (she hadn’t mentioned that in the call, and none of us are electrically minded), the power turned on, and the washing-machine transferred as required, suddenly, and surprisingly, we began to get into a conversation about the Jeremiah, Israel, Christ and the Bible. For almost thirty minutes we talked in-depth about spiritual matters.

What was the verdict of the missionary? Well he was genuinely, pleasantly, delighted: “The best conversation we’ve had with her in […]

Mercies in Mission

This is just a brief ‘diary entry’ after day 2 of my current pastoral visit to two missionary families in Nantes, West France.

After waking up late and bleary-eyed on Friday morning (having tried unsuccessfully to stay awake for the UK General Election results the night before), I grabbed a bite of breakfast, a mug of coffee, and headed off to our Team Meeting.

I began our time by reading Romans 1.1-17. I briefly stressed Paul’s note of thanksgiving and desire for mutual encouragement expressed in v7-12, in their saving Gospel faith v16-17, which is located in the promised, incarnate, risen, glorified Christ v1-6:

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long […]

An Emoji Testimony

I want to give you a simple way to share your faith. Not trivialize it, as the title of this post could imply, but help solidify it in your heart and mind as a ready way to share the hope of Christ in you. Let me explain.

In Matthew 13, our Lord told a parable likening the kingdom of God to a sower sowing seeds indiscriminately. Regardless of the soil type – hard, rocky, weedy, or fertile – the sower just threw out the seed. Later, when Jesus explained the parable to his disciples, he told them the seed was God’s Word and the soils represented people’s hearts. Though other applications can be made from this parable, one thing we learn is that we are to be liberally and widely sharing God’s Word with others.

Often, we stop short of testifying to Christ with unbelievers around us, be it a neighbor, a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even a longtime friend because we simply do not know what to say. We are unprepared, and I know many Christians can also feel unqualified to speak.

Yet this parable should encourage us in at least two ways. First, it reminds us that we are not accountable for […]

Presbyterian Partiality?

I’m hoping to preach on the sin of partiality tomorrow evening from James 2.1-7.

In preparing, yesterday morning, I was really surprised to discover that one of the chief reasons or motivations for the prohibition of prejudice is the doctrine of election!

“Listen my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith & heirs of the Kingdom, which God has promised to those who love him?”

It actually makes me wonder why we, in particular, as died-in-the-wool Calvinists, fall into the trap of ‘Presbyterian Partiality’ (apologies in advance to other readers)? There are strong reasons why ‘The Reformed’ (for want of a better term), of all people, should be less vulnerable or prone to this sin.

We ought to have a strong doctrine of scripture. Yet exegesis of the text forbids partiality in church, James 2.1, which in comparison to Saviour is an inglorious sin:

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.”

The definition of Thayer helps us get a better handle on the problem of partiality which is:

“…the fault of one who when called on to requite or to give judgment has respect to the outward […]