Tag Archives: gospel

Gospel Fluency

This promo video is of Jeff Vanderstelt, a pastor at Soma Communities, is very challenging. I would hope that I would personally view all things through the lens of the gospel. In addition, I hope I am teaching and equipping my church to think this way.

For more thorough and involved teaching on this subject, see this post by Justin Taylor.

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Racism and the Gospel

In view of John Piper’s newest book, Desiring God has produced a short documentary cataloguing his growth from a full-fledged racist to the father of an African-American daughter. It is worth your time to watch because it very concretely details the implications of the gospel in all areas.

Life in 6 Words

This is one of the best and most creative presentations of the gospel I have ever seen. It is both memorable and theologically rich. It manages to take complex concepts and present them in a simple way without devolving into naïve simplicity.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this video, please do not pirate it but, rather, support those who made it and purchase it from Dare2Share ministries.

“You Can Change”

If you have ever struggled with sinful habits or negative patterns of living, then this book is for you. This is the best book I have read in regard to overcoming sin.

This book is not some sort of self-help manual but a reminder of how the gospel can change us:

I want to be like Jesus. I can observe him in action as I read the Gospels. I can study the life he lived and the love he showed. I could try very hard to imitate him. But at best that would lead only to a small, short-lived improvement, and indeed even that small improvement would probably only make me proud.

I need more than an example. I need help. I need someone to change me. Trying to imitate Jesus on its own only leaves me feeling like a failure. I can’t be like him. I can’t match up. I need sorting out. I need rescuing. I need forgiveness.

The great news is that Jesus is not only my example but also my Redeemer.

I could tell that Chester was on to something, particularly in Chapter 2, when he described three wrong reasons to change: 1) to prove myself to God, 2) to prove myself to other people, or 3) to prove myself to myself.

At the heart of any advice that Chester gives is the theological reality of God and the gospel. For example, he talks about some “reminder phrases” that he uses to help others stay focused on the gospel in the midst of fear:

God is greater than your thought.

Not what if? but what is, and what is, is that God is in control.

The reality of the gospel is that behavior does not justify us before God and, therefore, only changing behavior will always be short-lived and misguided. At the heart of behavior are the affections that motivate those behaviors. To overcome sin I not only have to purge it from my life, I have to replace it with an affection for Jesus alone.

Christianity, Proselytization, and Ginsu Knives

Pastor Tim Piland shared an excellent message from Matthew 28:19-20 this past Sunday at Nansemond River Baptist Church. I love to listen to Pastor Tim share; he is biblical, passionate, and relevant. I like to tell people that he’s 65 going on 20. He has the energy and passion of a young man with the wisdom and wit of a seasoned veteran. I think he has a faint hint of Jimmy Stewart in his voice as well .

In any case, Tim made a comment (I think I’ve heard similar comments before) about sharing the gospel:

The gospel is not a commodity to be sold; it is a relationship to be shared.

I grew up learning all the methods of evangelism (E.E., Romans Road, 4 Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, F.A.I.T.H., etc.). As I’ve grown (a little) older I’ve found methods to be helpful but often inadequate. Each person is different and, therefore, every time I share my faith it sounds a little different. The content must always be biblical but the method of organization and communication is often ad hoc.

More important than the method, however, is the relationship. We must build relationships with people that can bear the weight of the gospel. The message of sin and salvation is heavy stuff and casual conversations rarely offer the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue. Talking about football and the weather is hardly a natural segue to the magnitude of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Too often fervent evangelists see people as converts to be won. I am reminded of Kevin Roose’s experience at Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University chronicled in the book Unlikely Disciple:

When I told the Liberty students at Thomas Road that I hadn’t accepted Christ as my savior, the entire dynamic of the conversation changed. It began to feel distant and rehearsed, like a pitch for Ginsu knives.

People are unique and interesting and the gospel is not formulaic. Different people have different objections and hangups to the gospel. I know that I value authenticity and honesty much more than a polished presentation.

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?