Monthly Archives: June 2013

Not a Celebrity Pastor? Flourish in the Obscurity

I read an article the other day regarding pastors ministering in obscurity. Many young pastors have ambition of writing books, speaking at big name conferences, and general have a national, even worldwide influence, so as to garner almost a celebrity attention. So many long to be the next Piper, MacArthur, Begg, Driscoll, or any other famous preacher or speaker.

I confess that the thought had occurred to me as well. I knew my heart–I wanted to help the church. By that, I meant the church where I served and beyond. I wanted to preach like John MacArthur, blog like Tim Challies, connect with the cultural issues of the day like Al Mohler, and be missional like Ed Stetzer.

I’m barely in my forties, which means the majority of my ministry time was in my 20s and 30s. I felt qualified in a way to speak, write, and influence. But deep down I also felt in over my head. Many of these people I sought to lead had children or grandchildren my age at that time. I may have had a philosophy that was out of sight, but I did not have the experience, maturity, nor wisdom.

Where am I now?  At peace with the fact that I may never write a book (though I do have a couple of projects in mind) nor speak at a big-time conference.  If all God ever gave me was the opportunity and the grace to preach, teach, love, equip, and serve with my family and my flock here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church (ARBC) in South Denver, then praise God for that.  

Whatever speaking or books that may come will not come from my own desire to be ‘known,’ but from a desire to make Christ known to ARBC and in Denver.

In other words, we pastors need to love where we are and the people to whom God has called us to minister, both inside and outside the church.

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Does Your Christianity Ever Give You Joy? It Should!

How sad and tragic it is when one’s Christian walk is done with mere duty but no delight!

Look at verses 9-11:

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

The Father has lavished a great love on His beloved Son! In fact, the times when the Father spoke from heaven, whether at Jesus’ baptism or at his transfiguration, he said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Or, “This is my beloved Son—listen to Him.” All throughout John, Jesus kept telling his disciples that he only spoke what he heard the Father say and only did what the Father did.

You see, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Trinity—are what Jonathan Edwards called “a sweet and holy society.” The Father has loved the Son throughout all eternity. And as a gift to the Son, God called out a people for Himself known as the church. This is a love gift from the Father to the Son.

Jesus has made it clear that we are saved in order to be set apart for His use. The Father authored our salvation. The Son accomplished our salvation. The Spirit applied our salvation. Why? In order that we may abide in His salvation. So here, Jesus is not saying, “If you do this then I will save you.” No, he is saying, “If you do this, then you will show you are already saved.” You see, this is called perseverance.

John Calvin rightly said in his commentary on this verse:

For these two things are continually united, that faith which perceives the undeserved love of Christ toward us, and a good conscience and newness of life. And, indeed, Christ did not reconcile believers to the Father, that they may indulge in wickedness without reserve, and without punishment; but that, governing them by the Spirit, he may keep them under the authority and dominion of His Father. Hence it follows, that the love of Christ is rejected by those who do not prove, by true obedience, to be my disciples.

The more we abide in His Word and His love, the more joy we have in Christ. And there is no other joy to be had than that which is in Christ. How often do we wonder, “Why is my Christian walk so dull? What aren’t I getting anything rolling? Why am I not progressing? Why do I not have the joy in Christ that another has?” A number of reasons may abide:

First, you may not be connected to Christ. Have you considered that? You may not have ever surrendered and placed your trust fully in Christ. Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” But in Christ, you receive all the spiritual nutrients you need.

Secondly, you may not be letting the word prune you. Are you letting things sap your spiritual strength? Are there dream chasings, time wastings, irritations, aggravations, concentrations on the things that will not build you up spiritually? Is there disobedience? Are you using the wrong ingredients? Going the path of least resistance? Just doing what’s expedient? The Word needs to clean us out. The whole process of sanctification is killing the flesh so that the Spirit may move and prosper in us through the cross of Christ. C.S. Lewis once said in a very famous quote:

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

It makes us wonder what kind of mudpies in what kind of spiritual slums we are dealing with that are showing the weakness of our desires. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourselves in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. What is robbing your joy in Jesus? There is no other joy than in trusting the one who lived, and died, and rose again to rescue you from your sin and yourself.

Vance Havner once said, “You have not really learned a commandment until you have obeyed it. . . . Nothing clarifies a doctrine like doing. Each new thing learned becomes a millstone if we do not make it a milestone.”

I want to leave you with a quote from Spurgeon. Part of this text is about self-examination. In a sermon entitled, “A Sharp Knife for the Vine Branches,” he spoke:

Does your religion ever give you joy? Is it mere matter of duty, a heavy chain for you to drag about like a convict, or is your religion a harp for you to dance to the tune of? Do you ever rejoice in Jesus Christ? Do you know what the “joy of the Lord” means? Does it ever give you joy to think that He is the same even when the fig tree does not blossom, and the herd is cut off from the stall? Do you feel a joy in reading the Promises of God’s Word? Have you a joy in secret prayer; that joy which the world never gave you, and cannot take away from you? Have you a secret joy, like a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, which is only open to you and your Lord, because your fellowship is with Him, and not with the sons of sin? He who never mourned because of sin, has never repented; but he who has never rejoiced because of forgiveness, cannot have seen the Cross. Come, then, have you produced this fruit of joy? The Lord give it more and more to you! If you have never had it, then hear the sentence—“Every branch in Me that bears not fruit He takes away.”

A disciple’s life is filled with an inner joy that comes not from circumstances but from the Savior who rescued them from their sin by atoning for them on the cross. Are we connected to the vine?

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From Moral Majority to Missional Minority—A Good Thing

Today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling regarding various issues regarding same-sex marriage.  The 5-4 rulings were as follows:

  • They ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996) unconstitutional.  The ruling states that DOMA wrongly, according to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.”
  • They dismissed an appeal of Court of Appeals overturn of Proposition 8, which under California would exclusively define marriage as between a man and a woman.  Chief Justice John Roberts:  ““We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend a state statute when state officials have chosen not to.”
  • As a result of striking down DOMA, the so-called “same-sex” marriages may now receive federal benefits—but only in states where this type of ‘marriage’ is legal. 

Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissenting remarks, wrote: 

“Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

Yes, the ruling was limited, but the ruling spoke volumes.  Congress passed DOMA, the voters of California passed Proposition 8—but now the tone of law has shifted.

Trevin Wax recently published an article entitled “Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church.”  I borrowed a phrase from this article to use as the title of this blogpost because I couldn’t do better and I like the attitude.  In addressing the threats this ruling brings to religious liberty, he gives the good news and the bad news:

The bad news: As the norm of marriage shifts, individual Christians will find themselves in situations where they face penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. We’ve already seen this take place when Christian caterers, for example, feel conflicted about taking part in a same-sex wedding. Threats to religious liberty are not good news for the church, because they cause us to spend time and energy in preserving “space” for us to live according to our religious convictions without fear of reprisal.

The good news: These threats may bring about in the church a much-needed change of mindset. It’s time we recognized we are no longer the “moral majority” and embrace our identity as the “missional minority.”

My friends in Great Britain and Romania tell me it’s a noble task to serve Christ when you are clearly in the minority. Though the challenges often seem insurmountable, God’s people have the opportunity to learn how to love those who oppose us, to serve and suffer under governmental or cultural bigotry, and face hatred with respect and kindness. So let’s recognize our minority status and learn to serve those who we’re called to show God’s love.

We do not have a seat at the political table as we once did.  We may have been a majority, and leveraged that to believe we were right because more believed in biblical principles and morality.  For that reason, many identified as believers because it was culturally expedient.  It was considered a ‘winning team.’

No longer.

And for that, I’m glad.

We do not follow Christ because of any man-made perception of popularity.  We must follow Christ in spite of being a minority.  Our faith in the eternal, virgin-born, perfect, crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus will become more powerful and potent because for a change it may actually come at a cost.  We have an opportunity to step outside the church walls and show the world what it’s like, following Jesus and trusting in His Word.

Missional minority!  Yes, Trevin—I’m bringing that saying on-board.  For that, I thank you!

Categories: apologetics, culture, homosexuality, Marriage | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are We Blaming Satan for Something God is Doing?

God takes time to prune the believers to make sure that the spiritual nutrients go where they need to go.  At times, we go through this painful process, and because we are Americans with a low pain tolerance in every way, we think that all suffering and all pain has to be connected to Satan.  But the vinedresser goes through the painful process of pruning so that we will bear stronger fruit for Him.

Look with me once again in verse 2-3:

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. . . . If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

We all understand at least in theory that the Bible is an important book. We were reminded in our denomination that a gigantic battle was fought (and largely won) in regards to the nature of the Scriptures being the literal, actual, inspired Word of God.

Yet, statistics bear out that fewer and fewer in our denomination are reading the Bible less and less. They are looking to other things for fulfillment, satisfaction, and direction. So the battle on the Bible front for many in our congregations is that of the Bible being sufficient! Is the Bible enough?

According to Jesus, the Bible is plenty. How is a Christian made ‘clean’? By His Word—we call this the Bible. We said this pledge in VBS:

I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word.
And will make it a lamp unto my feet,
A light unto my path.
And will hide its words in my heart, that I may not sin against God.

While this pledge is taken largely from Psalm 119:11 and Psalm 119:105, there is another Psalm 119 verse that speaks volumes:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.

We drastically underestimate the creating and cleansing power of God’s Word. But this is how we are made ‘clean.’ Consider the vine analogy again. Basically the vinedresser of a grape vineyard is to cut off the dead branches, then prune the suckers off the branches that are bearing fruit. Why? Because the water and the light that comes to give that plant nourishment is needed for the productive branches. It will be used for the dead branches or for those suckers—when it could be used to produce fruit.

In order for us to bear fruit, we must take prayerfully consider what is sapping our spiritual energy that may keep us from bearing fruit as we should.

When God cleans us with His Word (a Word that comes from Him), we see another avenue of communication that opens up: prayer. Look at verse 7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The pruning brings the spiritual nutrients and keeps spiritual energy from being sapped. Then the spiritual wherewithal opens up another aspect of the connecting and abiding in Christ. The Word comes to us, then prayer is another way we abide—we long to have His will accomplished in our hearts and minds and lives and in the church and in the world. We pray in His name.

(This is Part II of What Makes a Disciple of Christ?  Part I is here.)

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What Makes a Disciple of Christ (Part I)

Jesus tells us in John 15:8: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Disciples are those who bear fruit! Disciples are not those who have walked an aisle. Disciples are not those who have signed a card or parroted a prayer alone. Disciples are not even those who are on the roles, although we would say that being a member of a church most certainly is a piece of the Christian puzzle that many do miss.

The gospel is about making disciples! It’s about a change, a transformation that takes place not by our own effort and will, but by His work and by His will. We are changed based on what He has done, not by what we can do.

We have some confusion as to what a disciple is all about. It’s here we must address a false dichotomy. We may have heard, “Well, a Christian is someone who is a follower of Christ, but a disciple is someone truly committed.” Scrub that from your minds—there is only one type of Christian (and this is synonymous with disciple): one that bears fruit.

Are you connected to the vine?

A cursory reading of this passage will show a pattern that Jesus is working to drill into his disciples—and for good reason. We must be reminded that John 13-17 is Jesus taking his disciples aside and readying them for his crucifixion, resurrection, and departure to the Father. In the previous chapter, when Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you… and will come again to receive you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” we are reminded that they had questions about the meantime. Jesus then said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

So Jesus tells us that through the Holy Spirit he would send, we would be connected to Him and He with us—we would not be alone! But in John 15, we get another picture of what belief is all about. And lest we think that belief is simply mental and intellectual, it’s not. It’s committal, connecting and abiding in “the vine,” who is Christ. And when Jesus talks about the “greater works” from John 14, he uses another term in regards to being a disciple: greater works=bearing fruit.

You demonstrate you are connected to the vine if you bear fruit! But the reverse is true as well: you demonstrate you are not connected to the vine if you do not bear fruit. In verse 2, he makes it clear, “he takes [the branch] away.” In verse 4, Jesus says, “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Verse 5: “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Verse 6: He will be thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

In other words, there is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. “By this my Father is glorified if you bear much fruit, and thus prove to be my disciples.” Again, it’s here we must address a false dichotomy. We may have heard, “Well, a Christian is someone who is a follower of Christ, but a disciple is someone truly committed.” Scrub that from your minds—there is only one type of Christian (and this is synonymous with disciple): one that bears fruit.

For those who may think that Jesus is this easy going fellow who simply tells us, “Do your best and that’s what matters,” hasn’t really encountered Jesus’ own words. You may say, “Isn’t Jesus being exclusive? Or worse, isn’t this arrogant? If you’re connected and abide in me, then you’re in good shape?”

Jesus has the right to say this as our Creator. Remember what the Apostle Paul says, “Everything was made by Him and for Him”? He’s our creator and our redeemer. He loves us as our creation and loves us enough to give us a message of rescue. He would seal that message by atoning for the sins of all who would believe by dying a bloody death and being laid in a borrowed tomb.

(Tomorrow:  A Disciple Perseveres Through the Pruning)

Categories: church, church growth, Church Life, discipleship | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Modesty: Not Just For Your Grandma

Jessica Rey, actress and fashion designer, shares about the evolution of the swimsuit.  In this, she speaks much about modesty and how certain styles of skimpy clothing trigger a part of the brain that, in men’s minds, turns women from persons to objects—almost going counter the the feminist movement’s desires. 

Hmm, maybe the Apostle Paul was on to something in 1 Timothy 2:9-10

(NOTE: No inappropriate photos included.  HT: Challies.)

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Did Jesus and Paul Contradict Each Other on the Issue of Homosexuality?

It’s amazing the theological discussions in which one engages, and the place where they take place.  In this case, it was in an emergency room at our local hospital.

This past Sunday, I preached on “Why Are Christians So Homophobic?”—a question the culture (and even some who identify with a church) lob at us with marked frequency.  I received mostly positive comments.  One elderly gentleman, who said it was the best sermon I ever preached (glory to God), nevertheless asked to speak with me at some point about something I said. 

I braced myself and we set up a time.

Turns out, this gentleman found himself in the ER during the time we were to have our talk, so we evidently changed venues for the conversation. 

He came to Christ in the 1990s and had a burden to reach and minister to the outcast downtown.  While doing some construction there, the conversation came up about homosexuals.  One other ‘believer’ noted, “Well, I hope they don’t come to my church.”  As a new believer saved later in life, he could not understand that.  Didn’t they need Christ like anyone else?

It was here that the conversation turned to something he heard me say, that he needed reconciling in his mind.  “Preacher, I see where Jesus loves everyone, no matter what.  But then I see Paul condemning and calling things an abomination.  I read them both, and decided I’ll stick to the red letters.”*

I had heard this argument before, some in church, most in seminary—never in a hospital room.  I was grateful that God still has people thinking about His Word, and that God gives people to help sort through it all.

I told him, “You just said that before you were a Christian, you were a first-class jerk, right?” 

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Your wife sitting over there (almost married 60 years)—would she testify that you were this way?”

“Oh, sure!  How she put up with me, I’ll never know!”

“But she still loved you, right?”

It was then some clarity came about!  We didn’t need to go any further.  It is possible to love someone deeply, passionately, without reservation, yet hate the very things in them that they see could and would destroy them if gone ahead to the full measure. 

You see, we as believers can say that God loves you through Christ, but hates your sin.  He hates your sin because of His great love for you.  True Christians have that heart of Christ in them as well. 

So this is one way to think of how Jesus (“For God so loved the world…” in John 3:16) and Paul (“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and how their messages reconcile to one another.

The unity of the Scriptures is evident:  “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). 

Amen!  And Amen!

Categories: apologetics, Apostle Paul, Bible, Theology | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Great Commission Baptists? Reflections on the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting (Part II)

Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC brings a powerful message entitled:  “Will Southern Baptists Be Great Commission Baptists?  Six Marks of a Great Commission People” from (Romans 15:14-24).  Please watch this:

May God continue to give us Southern Baptists and all evangelicals a Great Commission heart. 

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Homophobia, Father’s Day, Baptisms, and Standing Strong: Reflections of Sunday at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church (6.16.2013)

I eagerly anticipate Sundays—it’s our main time together in gathering for magnifying Christ in worship, maturing in Christ through hearing the Word in the assembly and small groups, ministering the name of Christ to those who need that strengthening, and then being fueled up to mobilize once we leave our time together.  Here’s my reflections:

  • This Father’s Day was special.  My dad (and mom) traveled from North Carolina to spend two weeks with us here in Denver.  We played together in our annual Jack Knight Memorial Golf Tournament (and the Littleton Golf and Tennis Club’s par 63 course).  Our foursome (Dad, Dana, Jim, and myself) finished a distant third in the tournament, so I used a gift certificate to buy another hat (remind me to show you my collection) Smile.
  • I concluded my “Apologetics—Not Apologies” by addressing the question “Why are Christians so homophobic?”  The “—phobia” part of the word means fear or that something is wrong with the attitude.  Mark Mittelberg had it right: “We Christians are not afraid of you, but we are afraid for you.”  You can listen to the audio here.
  • In this regard, Tim Challies notes that Satan is only satisfied with our utter destruction!  Denny Burk also speaks of the slippery slope of redefining marriage.
  • We baptized a young man who is excited to serve Jesus.  We recognized from John 15:18-25 that if we are identified with Christ (which is what baptism is about in part), the world will hate us because we are identified with the one they hated first.  Confessing Christ is an understanding of an enlistment in the Lord’s army, engaging in the warfare!
  • Another young man came to Christ.  In our church, we have an invitation time when folks use that time to ‘come forward’ and make their profession public or use that time to join our family of faith.  While this serves as an opportunity for him to join, his being unashamed of Christ could serve as a witness to compel them to make a commitment for Christ.
  • We must be careful not to simply go after sins that with which we do not struggle, but then smooth over those sins in which we do.  First Corinthians 6:9-11 show that various sins that are from a wide swath.  Do we see each of these sins as those in need of redemption and forgiveness?  Do we realize that when we surrender to Christ, that we are ‘washed, justified, and sanctified’ in Jesus?
  • We must also realize that as Christians we may have to choose between, as one lawyer said, between our conscience and our paycheck.  What choice will we make should it come to that?
  • On a non-church matter: I was pulling for Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open.  This was his sixth second-place finish.  But his commitment to family in the days preceding the Open Championship, flying back across country to his daughter’s eighth grade graduation, then back to Philadelphia where he landed at 4:30 a.m. for a 7:00 a.m. tee time.  The story resurfaced of his 2nd place win in 1999 when he was in a tight contest with the late Payne Stewart.  He had a beeper with him to tell him when his wife would go into labor.  If that beeper went off, he would have left immediately to be with his wife.  He was prepared, regardless of where he was in the tournament.  This makes him my favorite golfer.  He didn’t win the Open, but he’s a winner in an area that counts.
  • Our annual church picnic is Sunday, June 30th.  We’re renting tents to have it outdoors, breaking out our new grill that busts out 96 burgers or 104 hot dogs (no, I didn’t count how many brats it may cook, but hey, let’s find out!); along with a bouncy house, face painting, cornhole, ladder golf, and other games–but it’s a time where you can invite friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors to enjoy a time together.  Who will you invite?
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My Reflections on the SBC Annual Meeting (Part I)

I am now back in Denver after spending the last few days at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting.  I was blessed on a number of fronts by this meeting—and am growing more and more encouraged by the direction our convention is taking. 

Over the next few days, I hope to give some reflections on our denomination’s get-together.  But let me start with some things that encouraged me:

First, I love the direction of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).  For me, the highlight was Monday’s (free) lunch that the NAMB sponsored, where Kevin Ezell and others gave a report and rallied the troops to begin planting churches (15,000 in the next ten years).  With Denver being a SEND North America city (one of twenty) that has a need of more of a gospel presence, I am all on-board.  Plus, knowing that men like Dave Howeth (Church Planting Coordinator of the NAMB) and Jim Misloski (State Missions Director for Eastern Colorado) are on our team here makes me glad I am in Colorado.  God is starting to stir our church (Arapahoe Road Baptist Church) into considering the possibilities of planting.  This lunch in particular and the NAMB in general stoked the fire even more.

Secondly, I’m thankful for Fred Luter, Jr., being the president of our convention.  Dr. Luter serves as Pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, and possesses a heart to reach the lost and unify the convention under the banner of Christ.  His sermon on Tuesday night possessed a power and an unction of the Spirit in my own heart to such a degree that I felt the stirrings of revival take place in me.  All this at a convention meetingAbsolutely!  Such is another encouraging direction in the SBC and its annual meeting.  I love one particular quote from his sermon:  “Nothing can be politically right if it’s biblically wrong.”  Should his talk ever become available, I will be sure to link to it on this blog. 

Thirdly, I’m thankful for unifying conversations.  As you may have heard, the Southern Baptists have had a controversy stemming between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.  So, rather than talk at and around each other, Dr. Frank Page of the Executive Committee started a conversation with a 19-member Calvinism Advisory Committee, containing both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.  The report that came out showed a unity even amidst the disagreements

“We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together,” the 3,200-word report reads. “We have learned that we can have just this kind of conversation together, and we invite all Southern Baptists to join together in this worthy spirit of conversation. But let us not neglect the task we are assigned. The world desperately needs to hear the promise of the Gospel.”

As one who calls himself a Calvinist, I have never really understood how, in the scope of history of Spurgeon and Edwards and even Calvin himself, how one could dispute the need to evangelize.  Even Jesus said, “All that the Father has given to me will come to me” (showing God’s sovereignty in calling a people to himself) “and whoever believes in me, I will in no ways cast out” (showing our responsibility in responding to the call—and even the fact that Jesus himself issued that call).  Consider Calvin’s own words:

Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace . . . even severe rebuke will be administered like medicine, lest they should perish or cause others to perish. But it will be for God to make it effective in those whom He foreknew and predestined (John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. J. K. S. Reid (London: James Clarke and Co., Limited, 1961, p. 9).

And also this:

God certainly desires nothing more than for those who are perishing and rushing toward death to return to the way of safety. This is why the gospel is today proclaimed throughout the world, for God wished to testify to all the ages that he is greatly inclined to pity (John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963), vol. 23, The Library of Christian Classics, eds. Baillie, McNeill, and Van Dusen, 402).

As mentioned in my previous sermon from June 2, God does not send anyone to hell against their will

So I thought this conversation was very important, because it all stems around the effect and execution of the Great Commission.  This report finally began to help many see regarding both sides that we know that God is the one who saves, and that we want that to happen in Christ.  Yes, there may be some differences—and that will elicit another conversation, I’m sure.  But we’re all on-board for the Great Commission.  So let’s ‘go’ and get it done for the cause of Christ.

More reflections next time regarding the Boy Scouts Resolution.

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