So thankful for John Piper and his desire to help us to pursue our joy in Christ. He gives a great word that all aspiring preachers would do well to heed.
Monthly Archives: January 2014
Why did God give leaders? “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (4:12). We must take the step from realizing God has given leaders, to the next step of realizing why these leaders were given—to equip. It goes back to the acronym we’ve given for equipping: engaged in a quest to invest in people. God sent leaders on a quest to invest in the people His Son bloodily redeemed.
Now, let’s take another step. That God has not only given you the opportunity to be equipped, but He saved us and called us to His work. We were not born nor born again completely ready to move forward in our faith. We need equipping—the bones of the body of Christ need setting so they may be whole. Our leaders of our churches must engage in a quest to invest. Saints that have come to Christ and connected with His church most be on a quest to be invested in out of a thirst to contribute to their King and His kingdom!
First, for the sake of unity in the church. The reason we are equipped is to keep the church unified. How? I read a lot of leadership materials that help with organizational structure, but none of these structures and practices can change a heart. You have all the right structures and operate well within those structures, but you are unifying around the wrong thing.
Leaders were called to focus on “prayer and ministry of the Word.” This shows the primacy and sufficiency of these two items. We can surely be unified around lots of things. Our entire city last week rallied around two phrases: Time to Ride and United in Orange. We can be unified for lots of reasons: denominational loyalty, sweet fellowship in loving each other, tax brackets, how we dress, age and other types of demographics.
But our unity is based on the truth of God’s Word (its truthfulness, it’s eternal nature, its inspiration, but now the days is our sufficiency). If we continue to pull from other resources rather than Scripture, then the ‘church’ will be centered around something that we deem more sufficient or as sufficient as Scripture.
Secondly, for the sake of maturity in the faith. We are called to grow into Christlikeness. We are called to be like Christ. This is why God saved us and connects us to His church—movement toward Christlikeness. And how did Christ walk? Again, we beat the drum of prayer and ministry/obedience to the Word. Why? Because we are not intended to be children anymore.
Children. What does he mean here? Jesus told us to become as little children. That seems like a good thing. Isn’t Paul contradicting Jesus in saying being a child is bad? When Jesus spoke of a child, he meant in dependence. This is the stage of young children, completely dependent on their parents. But children also struggle with focus. During the Christmas season, you take them to a toy store or they see commercials on TV—“I need that! I gotta have that!” They grow up and older children in their teenage years want independence.
Paul here is talking of an unfocused, unlearned child who runs to everything that’s shiny. That’s bad. What is needed is the child Jesus speaks of—dependence on Christ through prayer and ministry of the Word, but also an independence where we seek Him on our own. John MacArthur gets it right.
“Even the most biblical and efficient of church organizations will not produce spiritual maturity without the leadership of God’s gifted ministers who are continually in prayer and in His Word. Administration and structure has its place, but it is far from the heart of spiritual church growth. The great need of the church has always been spiritual maturity rather than organizational restructuring. All the books on leadership, organization, and management offer little help to the dynamics of the church of Jesus Christ” (John MacArthur, Ephesians, p. 154).
Lastly, for the sake of purity in knowing Christ. “The knowledge of the Son of God.” Children are being tossed around. By what? The picture is that of one on the stormy sea being knocked about by the high and destructive waves that threaten to bring them under. These waves are kicked up by the wind. What does the wind represent? The wind of the false teachers preaching a false doctrine.
With our vision, this knowledge is not simply a “come to Christ” knowledge, but a “connected to Christ” knowledge. This serves as a deep desire to dig into all that Christ is. After all, he is “the treasure of all wisdom and knowledge.” When does this learning stop? After you graduate seminary? I tell you, even though I have a degree, it was then I realized how little I really knew.
So pray for your leaders that (1) they would seek Christ with all they have, (2) that they would see a need for themselves to be equipped, and (3) that we all would take advantage of the opportunities for equipping and growing and see this as a blessed privilege Christ has given us.
This is from The Lanier Library Lecture Series titled New Evidences the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts by Dr Peter Williams given March 5, 2011.
The authorship of the first four books of the New Testament has fascinated scholars for centuries. If the authors were eyewitnesses, one could assume greater reliability. If not, then questions are naturally raised about the historicity of details in the writings. Because the first three Gospels are so similar, many theories have been proposed and argued to explain the sources of verbatim sections, as well as the unique material. Did Mark rely on Peter for eyewitness details? Luke admits his use of other sources, but did he use Mark or Matthew or both? What about Matthew and John? New evidence in the discussion of these questions and more will be the focus of this lecture.
Dr. Peter Williams. is a biblical scholar and also the Director of Tyndale House, Cambridge.
The Lanier Theological Library is an exciting new resource for all students and scholars of the Bible. The LTL is a research library and is open to everyone who will use it responsibly. Within the library, you will find a comprehensive collection of books, periodicals, historical documents and artifacts with topics ranging from Church History and Biblical Studies to Egyptology and Linguistics. The LTL regularly hosts events with noted authors, guest lecturers, and researchers who will challenge you both academically and spiritually. Come to the Lanier Theological Library and find serious tools for serious study.
For more info on this: http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/
For those interested in Dr Peter Williams and the translation work he is involved in here is a YouTube clip from those proceedings here:
This summer the Translation Oversight Committee of the English Standard Version (ESV) met at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England to consider improvements in certain specific English word choices. For example, should the Hebrew word ‘ebed and the Greek word doulos be translated “slave,” “bondservant” or “servant”? The question involved lexicography, biblical theology, and both ancient and modern culture.
During deliberations, the BBC stopped by and filmed a segment, which they reduced to a four-minute clip–reflecting hours of discussion based on hundreds of hours of scholarly research. Speaking in the video are C. John Collins (Covenant Theological Seminary), Peter Williams (Senior Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge, and a past and future presenter in the Lanier Theological Library Lecture Series), Gordon Wenham (Trinity College, Bristol; son of the late John Wenham of Oxford, who contributed the Foreword to the second edition of The Fire That Consumes), Paul House (Beeson Divinity School), Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary), and Lane Dennis (Crossway Books & Bibles).
We find ourselves in very interesting times. We find ourselves in a place where people are particular about where they will contribute. For decades, many Southern Baptists (our denomination) would contribute to their denomination and the various organizations and associations primarily out of loyalty. Today, many contribute not out of blind loyalty, but to a just cause that makes a difference. Loyalty to an organization just because doesn’t wash much anymore. If that organization has lost its vision, then this generation will take their business or their resources and invest in that which itself invests.
The vision God has for us has captured our leaders here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church and we pray will capture all of you here who have already come and connected to ARBC. Some of you are here out of loyalty to ARBC. No matter how we may move forward, you love this church and will stick with it. I’m thankful for you.
Yet, we live in Denver in 2014. If we want people to connect and contribute, we need to be clear as to what they are connecting and contributing. Telling them that they should connect and contribute to Christ and ARBC ‘just cuz’ is not a legitimate reason. Nor should it be for us. We should want more. We should want to contribute more.
We connect to a church to contribute to His kingdom. This may sound very restricting and very un-today when it comes to thinking about the Christian life. But consider what God has revealed about His church:
- The body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12)
- The bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33)
- The building of Christ (1 Peter 2:1-7)
- The manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)
- The pillar and ground/buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
In His universal church, God has raised up local churches with elders and deacons in order to preach the word, equip and serve the saints, and make disciples (that is, reaching those who need Christ and helping them grow biblically and spiritually in Christ).
We connect to a church, not ‘just cuz,’ but for a just cause–in order to contribute to His Kingdom. God set up His church as the primary vehicle to accomplish His mission. We are part of a body, we are not maverick, renegade, or lone rangers. In Ephesians 4:11-12, look at why:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
The leaders in the church that God has gifted for the church are there to help all peoples connect with the church, but then to help all take that next step and contribute to the Kingdom work both inside and outside the church.
We contribute based on the love His Spirit pours his love into our hearts. Look at Romans 5:1-5:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
A genuine love is a love that comes from the one who is love. And the one who is love is the one who pours this authentic, Spirit-driven love into us.
Don’t blur the line to what is good. It’s much like the word ‘love.’ For many, expressing love is often defined in our culture as, “If you love me, you’ll let me live my life as I wish.” No, if I love you, then I will love you enough to tell you God’s will and truth. Remember what it says, “Transform your mind… so you may test what his good and pleasing and perfect will is.”
Love then is transformed in the mind not simply to be selfish but selfless. Paul shows us what a true love looks like in God’s economy. This love is that which God pours into us by His Spirit as we contribute to His kingdom.
Just cause or ‘just cuz?’ This is a question all of us who are part of any organization need to start asking.
You’ll be hearing about Project 720. Arapahoe Road Baptist Church has agreed to do a fundraiser called Project 720 to put in ESV Pew Bibles (the version from which Adam Burgess Embry and myself preach, and ones with excellent binding to last for years to come) and to send the NIV Pew Bibles to ministries that could use them. Each pew Bible costs $7.20. We will purchase 4 cases (96 Bibles), and any donations that come in over and above what’s needed to purchase these Bibles will go into the general fund of our church.
Can you help, ARBC?
I have long been indebted to 9 Marks for their desire to help churches be biblically healthy. So often, we look to so many other schemes and methods to build the organization that we fail to see the sufficiency of Scripture in building a healthy, thriving organism that is the body of Christ.
The 9 Marks Journal for January-February 2014 is out. I’m truly pumped about the topic: the prosperity gospel. Plans are in the works for me to return to Trinidad and Tobago in September of this year to preach and teach on the prosperity gospel which has taken hold in that beloved country.
And it’s to their peril.
And ours. After all, that country gets most of our TV programs–and that includes the religious programming.
I hope you find this journal helpful in sorting out this false gospel from the true and pure gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve been called hyper.
I’ve been called ‘high energy.’
I’ve been called animated.
And I used to hate being called each and everyone of those things.
You see, whenever someone called me any of the above, the context always implied that this was due to my youth or my perceived immaturity. Fair enough. I haven’t always been 42, married, with four kids. When I first came into ministry, I was 22 years old directing a small choir as a music minister over a summer while off from college. I have always loved people, loved being in ministry, and loved the Savior that called me. Ministry has had it’s ups and downs, but I always found it exciting to lead people in worship through music and preaching.
Now I preach usually 2-3 times a week. And the Bible still thrills me. God has spoken in history as recorded in the inspired text—and God still speaks through His Spirit working in hearts. This past Sunday, I had reactions to the sermon as “on fire.” One sent me a message saying, “Your enthusiasm can take people off guard, but they need that. We all do!”
Enthusiasm. That is an absolutely appropriate word for me. The word comes from a Greek phrase ‘en Theos.” That means, “In God.” God puts His excitement and passion in us. And the more we study, the more we pray, the more we connect with His people and contribute to His Kingdom, the more passion He gives us to sustain us during the valleys.
Enthusiasm is not a disengaged, unfocused, undirected energy. Enthusiasm is engaged in the work and Word God called us to. It’s focused on learning and digging more into the work of the Lord and the Lord of the work. And the vision God gives a direction in which to move forward.
When God redeems hyperactivity, he turns in into a true and pure enthusiasm.
He really is able to do far more than we ask or think!
From the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks:
And from Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning:
Sinclair Ferguson in his book In Christ Alone, shares this remarkable account of a revival he experienced:
Many years ago, I witnessed revival in its most microcosmic form in a sudden, unexpected, and remarkable work of God’s Spirit on a friend. The work was so dramatic, the effect so radical, that news of it spread quickly to different parts of the country. People were asking, “Just what exactly happened?”
Five things seemed to have happened, and they were still fresh in the memory two and a half decades later:
- A painful exposure of the particular sin of unbelief occurred. Listening to preaching was a staple of my friend’s spiritual diet, but what came with overpowering force was a sense that God’s Word had actually been despised inwardly. God’s own Word, preaching in the power of the Spirit, stripped away the mask of inner pride and outward reputation for spirituality. There was a fearful exposure of sin.
- A powerful desire arose to be free from all sin. A new affection came, as if unbidden, into the heart. Indeed, a desire seemed to be given actually to have sin increasingly revealed and exposed in order that it might be confessed, pardoned, and cleansed. Disturbing though it was, there was a sweetness of grace in the pain.
- The love of Christ now seemed marvelous beyond measure. A love for Him flowed from a heart that could not get enough of Christ, ransacking Scripture to discover more and more about Him.
- A new love for God’s Word was born—for reading it, for hearing it expounded and applied, and especially for knowing every expression of God’s will, so that it might be obeyed.
- A compassionate love for others now flowed. It came from this double sense of sin and need on the one hand and grace and forgiveness on the other. Christian witness ceased to be a burden and became the expression of Spirit-wrought and powerful new affections.
Kathy Caprino brings an excellent article on Forbes.com about 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children from Growing Into Leaders. They are:
- We don’t let our children experience risk.
- We rescue too quickly.
- We rave too easily.
- We let guilt get in the way of leading well.
- We don’t share past mistakes.
- We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity.
- We don’t practice what we preach.
A good word!
HT: Tony Cruise