The Church

In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures. They are the church’s foundation documents. And just as a foundation cannot be tampered with once it has been laid and the superstructure is being built upon it, so the New Testament foundation of the church is inviolable and cannot be changed by any additions, subtractions or modifications offered by teachers who claim to be apostles or prophets today. The church stands or falls by its loyal dependence on the foundation truths which God revealed to his apostles and prophets, and which are now preserved in the New Testament Scriptures.

Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (Kindle Locations 1529-1533). Inter Varsity Press UK. Kindle Edition.

Mission Field

Mission Field

“You don’t have to go overseas to have a mission field. You don’t even need to make new contacts to have people to pursue with the gospel. God has already set each of us among unbelievers that we can take steps to reach for him. These people are our natural mission field. God calls us to reach them just as certainly as he calls others to preach the gospel in Ecuador or Malawi. Looking for new contacts to evangelize is fine, but is that where we should start? Can we expect God to bless our efforts to contact new people when we aren’t doing anything to help those he has already given us? Evangelism falters when we don’t see our mission field, or when we don’t get busy and do something with it.” ~ Dr. Andrew Young

The above quote is taken from an Evangelism course notes that Andrew developed and delivered.

Andrew YoungAbout Andrew Young

Andrew is the founding (and now former) Principal of Grace Theological College.

Christian Meditation

Christian Meditation and Wisdom

“The wisdom of God displayed in the meekness and suffering of his Son is not the wisdom of empty speculation. It is the wisdom of effective, sovereign grace….. Christian meditation takes the yoke of Christ and learns of him as the suffering servant and triumphant Lord. In every way Christian meditation is in submission to Jesus Christ. It is not and cannot be unmediated access to God, far less an experience of the identity with God. Not ecstasy but wisdom marks the path of Christian meditation.”

Edmund P. Clowney. Christian Meditation. (Craig Press, USA. 1982), 29.

About Christian Meditation

What place does meditation have in Christian devotion? Is the same thing as the “cosmic” or “transcendental” meditation associated with Hindu gurus? And what about spiritual exercises such as yoga? Are they compatible with the Christian faith? In Christian Meditation Edmund Clowney reflects such questions, and in doing so provides an introduction to theology and the practice of what he calls “Christian Meditation.” This book is not so much a handbook of techniques as it is a reflection on what the Bible has to say about he subject. Even so, it offers many practical suggestions and develops a thoroughly biblical approach to meditative Christian living ” both as individuals and together as the people of God.

About Edmund Clowney

Christian MeditationEdmund P. Clowney was Emeritus Professor of practical theology and former President of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His other books include Called to the Ministry, Preaching and Biblical Theology, and The Unfolding Mystery.

Confidence

Confidence

A Brief History of John Calvin

The man behind the name

Born July 10, 1509 in Noyon, France, Jean Calvin was raised in a staunch Roman Catholic family. The local bishop employed Calvin’s father as an administrator in the town’s cathedral. The father, in turn, wanted John to become a priest. Because of close ties with the bishop and his noble family, John’s playmates and classmates in Noyon (and later in Paris) were aristocratic and culturally influential in his early life.

At the age of 14 Calvin went to Paris to study at the College de Marche in preparation for university study. His studies consisted of seven subjects: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Toward the end of 1523 Calvin transferred to the more famous College Montaigu. While in Paris he changed his name to its Latin form, Ioannis Calvinus, which in French became Jean Calvin. During this time, Calvin’s education was paid for in part by income from a couple of small parishes. So although the new theological teachings of individuals like Luther and Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples were spreading throughout Paris, Calvin was closely tied to the Roman Church. However, by 1527 Calvin had developed friendships with individuals who were reform-minded. These contacts set the stage for Calvin’s eventual switch to the Reformed faith. Also, at this time Calvin’s father advised him to study law rather than theology.

By 1528 Calvin moved to Orleans to study civil law. The following years found Calvin studying in various places and under various scholars, as he received a humanist education. By 1532 Calvin finished his law studies and also published his first book, a commentary on De Clementia by the Roman philosopher, Seneca. The following year Calvin fled Paris because of contacts with individuals who through lectures and writings opposed the Roman Catholic Church. It is thought that in 1533 Calvin experienced the sudden and unexpected conversion that he writes about in his foreword to his commentary on the Psalms.

For the next three years, Calvin lived in various places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes—an instant best seller. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to permanently leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out between Francis I and Charles V, so Calvin decided to make a one-night detour to Geneva.

But Calvin’s fame in Geneva preceded him. Farel, a local reformer, invited him to stay in Geneva and threatened him with God’s anger if he did not. Thus began a long, difficult, yet ultimately fruitful relationship with that city. He began as a lecturer and preacher, but by 1538 was asked to leave because of theological conflicts. He went to Strasbourg until 1541. His stay there as a pastor to French refugees was so peaceful and happy that when in 1541 the Council of Geneva requested that he return to Geneva, he was emotionally torn. He wanted to stay in Strasbourg but felt a responsibility to return to Geneva. He did so and remained in Geneva until his death May 27, 1564. Those years were filled with lecturing, preaching, and the writing of commentaries, treatises, and various editions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

— Dr. Karin Maag, H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies

Christians May Remain Lonely

“It is possible that Christians may remain lonely in spite of daily worship together, prayer together, and all their community through service – that the final breakthrough to community does not occur precisely because they enjoy community with one another as pious believers, but not with one another as those lacking piety, as sinners. For the pious community permits no one to be a sinner. Hence all have to conceal their sins from themselves and from the community. We are not allowed to be sinners.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Prayerbook of the Bible, Works vol. 5, Fortress, 2005, 108.

About Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer graduated from the University of Berlin in 1927, at age 21, and then spent some months in Spain as an assistant pastor to a German congregation. Then it was back to Germany to write a dissertation, which would grant him the right to a university appointment. He then spent a year in America, at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, before returning to the post of lecturer at the University of Berlin.

The 3 Biggest Idols In Western Churches Today

TIM KELLER ON THE 3 BIGGEST IDOLS IN WESTERN CHURCHES TODAY

In Tim Keller’s eyes, here are the three biggest idols in western churches today, followed up with secondary points that Keller includes:

1) Experience.

  • Instead of looking to the Word of God to be their norm and their guide, people tend to look to their own experience, feelings, intuitions, and impressions to be their guide.
  • This is part of [Western] individualism.
  • Emotion and expression are very good, but when you make it more important than the Word of God, or put it higher than the Word of God, it becomes an idol.

2) Doctrine.

  • This might surprise some people that I say this.
  • But I do think some people make an idol out of doctrine.
  • There are some sectors of the church that say if you have your doctrine straight, and if you have your doctrine right, then you’re pleasing to God.
  • If you have your doctrine right, they say, then you are part of the solution, not the problem: you’re not heretical like everyone else.
  • There is a pride and a smugness about having good doctrine that, to me, almost puts it into the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

3) Consumerism.

  • Instead of looking to the church to give themselves into community, people look to the church to get the services they want.
  • They have emotional, vocational, and relational needs and they go to a church because it is a good place to network.
  • People see the church as a mall, rather than a family that they give themselves to.
  • Consumerism becomes the idol – that is, my felt needs become an idol; they are more important than being apart of a community.

From Keller’s point of view, these idols are the ones that are most prominent. But this is not the consensus – not every church struggles with the same idol in the same way. Keller adds, “These idols don’t exist equally across the whole church. Certain sectors of the church struggle more than others, but these idols are all there, and they hurt us quite a bit.”

Link to Original Article

About Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.  For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. In over ten years they have helped to launch over 250 churches in 48 cities. More recently, Dr. Keller’s books, including the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages.

Christianity Today has said, “Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.”

Dr. Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He previously served as the pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Director of Mercy Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America.

Entering the Kingdom

Entering the Kingdom

Entering the Kingdom“A person does not enter the kingdom with anything – not with wealth, not with accomplishments, not with degrees. We come into the kingdom with one possession: the grace of Jesus Christ.”

Michael Card. Mark: The Gospel of Passion (Biblical Imagination) (Kindle Locations 1411-1412). Kindle Edition.

 

The Gospel of Mark on Entering the Kingdom

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:17-31)

The Calling of the Church

The Calling of the Church

[10 August 2016]

“The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission. That is, the work of the church is not to be an agent or servant of the culture. The churches’ business is not to maintain freedom or to promote wealth or to help a political party or to serve as the moral guide to culture. The church’s mission is to be the presence of the kingdom… The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God. The true gospel is portrayed best by the community that believes it, embodies it, and testifies to it in the midst of any given culture in all places and at all times. The church is not the same as the predominate culture. It is an alternative culture that points to the kingdom of God and the reality of the new heavens and new earth.”

{Robert Webber, interacting with Leslie Newbigin, in The Younger Evangelicals, p.132-133}


According to Amazon.com:

Robert E. Webber has led worship workshops in every major city in the United States and Canada. Through his conversations and contacts with a network of emerging church leaders he calls the “younger evangelicals,” Webber sees how this new generation and their style of leadership is bringing change and renewal to the evangelical church. These leaders, who include those young in spirit as well as young in age, have important insights to offer all generations faced with “doing church” in a rapidly changing postmodern culture.

The Younger Evangelicals explores the characteristics of these emerging leaders and provides an outlet for their stories. Beginning with a brief overview of twentieth-century evangelicalism, Webber examines what is different about the twenty-first century younger evangelicals’ way of thinking about faith and practicing church. He allows them-Ph.D.s and laypeople-to speak in their own words on issues such as communication, theology, apologetics, pastoral leadership, evangelism, worship, and spiritual formation.

Thought provoking, energizing, and timely, The Younger Evangelicals is a landmark book for pastors and church leaders, culture watchers, ministry students, and worship leaders who want to prepare for and respond to the new evangelical awakening brought on by our changing cultural context.


According to The Institute of Worship Studies:

The Calling of the ChurchDr. Webber was born in Congo of missionary parents, and was raised in the Philadelphia area. He earned the Th.D. from Concordia Theological Seminary. From 1968 to 2000 he served as Professor of Theology at Wheaton College, and was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2000. He was appointed William R. and Geraldine D. Myers Professor of Ministry and Director of the M.A. in Worship and Spirituality at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 2000.