Category Archives: bible

God is All You Need (whether you know it or not)

I was intrigued by this statement a few weeks ago: “you’ll never know God is all you need until He is all you have.”

Am I the only person that thinks this is false?  For many people the reality of God’s sufficiency will become clear in a moment of crisis.  However, it is possible to know that God is sufficient by simple faith.

At the moment of salvation you have completely trusted that God is all you need.  If you still need another moment of crisis to prove His sufficiency, then I wonder about your initial conversion.

Benefits of Community

I recently came across this post at Desiring God about one of the benefits of a local church.  I was really interested in the benefits of “righteous judgment” and the need for accountability espoused in this brief article.  I hear the oft-repeated mantra “not to judge” based ostensibly on Luke 6:37.  This verse (“judge not, lest you be judged”) is often the only Scripture some people have memorized and almost exclusively used out of context.  I think the passage in question might is more concerned with humility and genuine faith than some prohibition against pointing out sin or inconsistency in another believer’s life.

I have reproduced the entire Desiring God post below for your consideration.

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:11-12)”

It is dangerous not to be judged. We need other people to judge us, with righteous judgment (John 7:24). We need accountability. If we don’t have Christian friends that are close enough to confront us when our lifestyle doesn’t match our confession, then we ought to tremble.

The type of judgment I am referring to is not generated by a desire to look down on others for the sake of feeling superior—a condescending disposition. Rather, it comes from a tender disposition of love. It comes from a Nathan who is willing to tell David to repent and turn to God (2 Samuel 12).

We should fear God in light of the sin that can deceive and destroy us. We should not fear the judgment that comes from friends in the church which helps us to fight sin. This is grace!

It is immeasurably more safe to be a part of a local church that watches for our souls. Praise God for the safety that is in the righteous judgment of his people. It is grace from heaven!

Disciples that make disciples…

Recently my friend Bryan Barley came to our church here in Suffolk, VA.  He was sharing with our elders on Tuesday night and with the larger congregation on Wednesday.  Bryan and I have been friends for a few years now and I have always enjoyed the way he can challenge me in a Biblical and gentle way.  I genuinely feel that he is a friend that sharpens me and nudges me toward faithfulness.

It was fun to hang out with Bryan as we talked about the gospel, theology, ministry, and life.  We mixed in a some sports, comedy, and ridiculous religious broadcasting to top it off.

If you are unaware of the journey that Bryan and his family are undertaking you should check out their church.  They are moving to Denver, CO in January of 2011 to plant a gospel-centered community right in the middle of the city.  Rarely have I found a church planter as gifted, thoughtful, teachable, and faithful as Bryan.

It was refreshing to be around Bryan because he thinks the way all Christians should be thinking — like a missionary.  Nothing is off limits.  Every strategy, relationship, and plan is tested against the Scriptures for the purpose of sharing the gospel with the nations.

Bryan shared many insightful things about missions, urban ministry, church planting, community, and mission.  One thing he mentioned has continued to haunt me: as Christians we do a lot of different things when are really called to do only one thing and do it well — we are to be disciples that make disciples.

As Christians it is easy to get distracted by buildings, staff, programs, strategies, fads, events, budgets, and more.  The will of God, however, is simple — go and make disciples.  Go to the nations.  Go to the neighborhoods.  Go to the cities.  Go to the companies.  Go to the schools.  GO!

Among all the things (some of them good and some of them bad) that I am doing, am I doing the one thing I am called by God to do?

Watch your life and doctrine…

I came across a brief video clip of C. J. Mahaney.  He was offering advice backstage at the 2010 SBC Pastor’s conference.  His simple advice was from 1 Timothy 4:16:  “Watch your life and doctrine closely.”

I empathize deeply with C. J.’s concern.  It is much easier for me to watch my doctrine than my life.  I must be careful to pay close attention that the information I gain about God results in a life transformed to look like Christ.  The result of any knowledge about God is a life that bears much fruit for His glory.

A timely reminder.

Romans 13 and the Revolutionary War

On the heels of our most recent Independence Day celebration I was contemplating the relationship between the Revolutionary War and the Bible.  Paul says in Romans 13:1-7:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Does America’s War for Independence follow these criteria?  Many have argued on both sides of this issue.  I see some serious problems with arguing that America was upholding the Biblical mandate during the Revolutionary War.  I understand all of the reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain, but none of them could have been more compelling than Paul’s reasons to rebel against the Roman government.

I think I learned a few important lessons from this miniature historical exercise: (1) Do not to glamorize America’s past, realize that God can still bring good from bad.  (2) Do not assume that every decision America has made in the name of “life and liberty” is perfect.  America is not the standard for right and wrong — that is reserved for the perfect and holy God of the Bible.

John Piper’s Advice

On the Desiring God blog, they had some advice from John Piper.  I was particularly impressed by what he said.  Read for yourself.

Hold fast to the Bible.  Base everything on the Bible.  If you are going to criticize, criticize from the Bible.  If you are going to affirm somebody, affirm them from the Bible.  If you are going to do a strategy, do it from the Bible.  Be a Bible saturated people.  That’s what will make for long term staying power for the gospel.

I know this is going to be called bibliolatry, and people will say, “You worship the Bible, not God.”  Bologna on that.  People who reject the Bible for God become idolaters.  The only God worthy of knowing and loving is the one we meet in and discover through the Bible.  I do want him to be everything and the Bible is secondary compared to Him;  but if we try to say Him or something about Him without stressing the foundation of the Bible, then we will lose what we are trying to preserve after a generation.

A Translation of Philippians 3:7-11

Nevertheless, all the things that I used to think were profitable; I have considered them all a loss because of Christ.  But even more than that, I am considering everything (not just my religious heritage) a loss because of the transcending knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord.  Because of Him I have willingly laid everything down.  In fact I am considering everything as crap*, so that I might win Christ and be found in Him:  not having my own external righteousness that comes from the law rather than through the faithfulness of Christ, but an internal righteousness that comes from God through faith.  I desire to know Him and the power of his resurrection, participating in his suffering, being molded by His death, if, in some way, I might also endure until the resurrection from the dead.

*I would use a more descriptive and shocking word if I wasn’t as concerned for the sensibilities of others.  I think, however, that a different translation might be helpful.  See Daniel Wallace’s online article for more help.

Lessons from Jonah

This summer I am teaching the young adults at Nansemond River Baptist Church about the “Mission of God” (Missio Dei for those of you who enjoy dead languages).  After a brief introduction discussing a Biblical Theology of mission (don’t worry, if “teenagers” can learn trigonometry they can learn Biblical Theology) we are spending the next few weeks in the beautiful book of Jonah.  The other night I taught through the first chapter of Jonah.

I don’t want to reproduce the entire discussion but God has really been working in my heart as I study this book.  Here are a few takeaways from Jonah 1.

1.  Jonah was a faithful prophet as long as God acted like he expected.  Jonah, in this story, is not just running away from serving God, he’s running away from serving God where it is hard.  This is a hard lesson for me to learn.  Jonah hated the Ninevites; they are the sworn enemies of his people.  For Jonah, the Ninevites did not deserve a chance to repent.  He was nervous that God might actually save them.  The questions I ask myself are sometimes hard to answer:  Where is it hard for me to serve God?  Who are the people that I feel don’t deserve the love and forgiveness of God?  Do I value my national loyalties more than the souls of the lost persons around the world?  Are their groups of people who I don’t want to hear the gospel?  Would I go to a hard place like Iran, Iraq or Indonesia to share the gospel or am I content to see these people die and spend eternity in hell?

2.  God sent, pursued, and saved His messenger but the messenger was never the point, it was always about the message.

3.  The point of Jonah is not about a whale, it’s about the God of the whale.  It’s about a God who rescued a messenger so He could rescue an entire people.  The story of Jonah is not about how much God loved Jonah, though He surely did; it’s about how much He loved the Ninevites.  The book of Jonah is about an upside-down God showing love and compassion to the last people on earth anyone ever expected.

4.  God does not just want to save you, He wants to use you.  When God confronts you with the needs of the world around you, it’s not just about Him pursuing you; He is pursuing the lost world through you.  When God calls you it is because He loves the world.  When He rescues you it is so that you might bring rescue to the world!

Whose are You? A Friday Quote

If you are a Christian, you are not your own.  Christ has bought you at a price of his own death.  You now belong doubly to God:  He made you, and he bought you.  That means your life is not your own.  It is God’s.  Therefore, the Bible says, “Glorify God in your body.”  God made you for this.  He bought you for this.  This is the meaning of your life

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Is Divorce More Acceptable than Homosexuality?

Richard Bartholomew, always vigilant against religious hypocrisy (though for the wrong reasons), has helpfully pointed out the inconsistency of many “right wing” evangelicals who loudly decry homosexuality yet have no problem with divorce.  You can read the full article yourself which describes Washington State pastor Ken Hutcherson (vocal advocated against homosexuality and defender of “traditional marriage”) officiating Rush Limbaugh’s (yeah, THAT Rush Limbaugh) fourth marriage (one more than three and one less than five).

Hutcherson is also known for asserting a form a overt machismo.  Here is a quote on his view of gender roles.

During his sermon, Hutcherson stated, “God hates soft men” and “God hates effeminate men.” Hutcherson went on to say, “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”

I wonder how he felt that hired performer at the reception was Elton John?

HT:  Richard Bartholomew