Friday, April 29, 2011

O, let the nations be glad...

Peter Leithart once quipped that his ideal Sunday morning liturgy would be "Nigerian Anglican." In other words a worship service that blended the timeless truths and forms of historical Christendom with the full-bodied gladness of culture not yet calloused to the freeness of God's free-grace and eager to worship the LORD with hands as well as heart. Enjoy.

HT: Allie Bradley

"Next time someone asks me..."

Ouch. Sadly, those of us who regard ourselves as the guardians of "the doctrines of free grace" are not generally regarded as either the preachers or practitioners of the same. Trevin Wax has some helpful thoughts on this regrettable situation here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Most Urgent Duty

From the Introduction of Evangelism, edited by John MacArthur

“…the cares of this world and the distractions of daily life vie for our time and attention. Eventually, as the disciple becomes more and more familiar with the gospel, that profound initial sense of wonder and amazement fades somewhat. The gospel is still good news, of course, but we begin to think of it as old news, and that sense of urgency is lost.

It is therefore necessary to remind ourselves constantly how utterly vital the task of evangelism is, and how desperately in need of the gospel this fallen world is. Evangelism is not merely one incidental activity in the life of the church; it is the most urgent duty we as Christians have been given to do. Virtually every other spiritual exercise we do together as members of Christ’s body we will still be able to do in heaven-praising God, enjoying fellowship with one another, savoring the richness of God’s Word, and celebrating the truth together. But now is the only time we have for proclaiming the gospel to the lost and winning people to Christ. We seriously need to be redeeming the time (Eph. 5:16).

A Christian does not need to be individually called or specially gifted to be a herald of the good news; we are commanded to be witnesses of Christ, commissioned to train others to be disciples. This is an individual obligation, not merely the collective responsibility of the church. No duty is more significant, and none bears more eternally rewarding fruit.

Furthermore, the field are white for harvest (John 4:35). The current generation is as ripe for the gospel message as any other generation in history. No matter what aspect of contemporary culture you examine, what you will discover are crying spiritual needs-and people whose souls are parched and famished for truth. The answer to such a spiritual famine in our land is not the artificial arousal of religious sentiment, not more political activism, not a better public relations campaign, and certainly not for Christians to adapt their message to the prevailing secular worldview.” (page 8)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Special Thanks to the Folk at GCC

"For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." (Paul to Philemon)

A very special thanks to the elders of Grace Covenant Church for "refreshing" my heart and the heart of my dear wife, Ellen.

At every gathering of The Spurgeon Fellowship the good folk at GCC treat two pastors (and their wives!) to a one night stay at the beautiful Bavarian Lodge in Leavenworth, WA. And at our last TSF, Ellen and I were blessed to receive one of the certificates.

We went up to Leavenworth late Sunday afternoon for our stay. We'd never been inside the Bavarian Lodge before. Wow, and double wow. The old country charm and beauty of the lobby lowered our blood pressure a few points even before we had reached our room on the fourth floor overlooking downtown Leavenworth.

Upon entering the room we were blessed to discover that a CBF (Christian Book Fairy) had visited our room and deposited ten treasures by authors Piper, Mahaney, Alcorn, Goldsworthy, etc. There was also dinner money tucked into an thankyou card (isn't that a bit backwards? Uhmmm...You're welcome for giving us this gracious gift????) Don't you just love the ridiculousness of grace?

We had appetizers, salads, and a really nice bottle of Italian wine at Visconti's Restaurant, strolled back to the hotel and snuggled in to our Bavarian refuge. The next morning we slept in, read together, went for a walk along the river and ended our retreat with brunch at Sandy's Waffle Haus.

Dear folk at Grace Covenant Church, I can't say it any better than the apostle Paul. So, from Ellen and me, we have derived much joy and comfort from your love, our brothers and sisters, because our hearts have been refreshed through you. Thank you!

With Gospel Affection,

Gene and Ellen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Without the Gospel...

John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Oliv├ętan’s 1535 translation of the Bible. “To all those who love Christ and his gospel,” Calvin writes:

Without the gospel

---everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

---we are not Christians;

without the gospel

---all riches is poverty,

---all wisdom, folly before God;

---strength is weakness, and

---all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

---children of God,

---brothers of Jesus Christ,

---fellow townsmen with the saints,

---citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

---heirs of God with Jesus Christ,

by whom

---the poor are made rich,

---the weak strong,

---the fools wise,

---the sinners justified,

---the desolate comforted,

---the doubting sure, and

---slaves free.

The gospel is the Word of life.

HT: Justin Taylor