What It Means To Be Truly Reformed (Ray Ortlund)

09/09/2010   |      |       |    0 Comment

I ran across this powerful blog post by my friend Ray Ortlund as he humbly addresses the issue that is too pervasive within the emerging reformed movement.  It’s a buzz in the air if you are “reformed” but what does that really mean and how can we stay true to the tenets of reformed theology without making it an idol, making it about advancing self or creating an unnecessary division in the body.  I thought it was worth sharing.  Here’s a snippet of what Ray says:

My Reformed friend, can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart—toward them or away from them?

If your Reformed theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your Reformed theology. The remedy is to take your Reformed theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one—in Christ alone.

To view the full blog post [Click Here].  If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to stay tuned to The Resurgence for other great posts.  They are dear friends of Wellspring.

Feel free to share your thoughts about this.

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church life, Featured, Reformed Theology

What's your legacy – a final look at Gideon's life

08/13/2010   |      |       |    2 Comments

In May, we looked at how Gideon won a great victory for God against the Midianites. This past Sunday, we looked at his epilogue – what happened after that high point. Here’s a recap of the points for those that want to fill in gaps in some of the notes you took. Also feel free to send questions or comments God put on your heart from hearing the message or reading the text in on your own.

The text was Judges 8:22 – 9:5 and the main points are below

  1. Be Genuine – v22 – 26
  2. Recognize the true needs of the people you’re leading – V27
  3. Use your time wisely and prepare people for when you’re not around
  4. Don’t succeed in ministry and fail with your family

Be Genuine – v22 – 26

  • Gideon’s answer was more spiritual than his behavior
  • Gideon’s didn’t accept the invitation to become king, but he took advantage of the favor he had with the people to get what he wanted
  • If you’re trying to be different, why are you collecting status symbols from the people God just delivered you from?
  • Remember that God is more concerned with the consistency of our behavior than the sincerity of our verbal response

Recognize the true needs of the people you’re leading

  • External results are not proof that sin in our lives has been addressed
  • Gideon wanted to set up a monumen to the victory over the Midianites, but the people really needed a reminder to get right with God
  • When God deals with the stuff that everyone can see, we stop dealing with the stop that only He can see
  • The sin that we consider an acceptable loss can easily become a snag to those around us.

Use your time wisely and prepare people for when you’re not around

  • What was Gideon teaching the people during the 40 years of peace?
  • Adversity reveals how much we need God but prosperity reveals how much we want God
  • Adversity shows the distance between us and God while prosperity shows how close we are to the world. When you have options and choices, are you choosing Godly things or worldly things. When I get some more money/ time / energy, I’m going to…….
    What you fill in the gap with says something about where your heart is?
  • Gideon enjoyed a lot of women, had a ton of children and gave the child of his concubine a special name. (Abimelech means: “My father is the king”). We don’t see him preparing the people or leading them in Godliness
  • Don’t be surprised when people throw you under the bus if they’ve already kicked God to the curb (verses 34 and 35)

Don’t succeed in ministry and fail with your family

  • We have to teach our children that character and compassion are more important than ambition
  • We should be praying and looking for confirmation from God just as diligently in raising our family as we do for external battles
  • If we’re not careful, it’s quite possible to succeed on the battlefield / workplace / boardroom and fail at home. We need to put just as much energy into our families as we do into work or ministry

Remember that Jesus succeeded in every area that Gideon failed in. He was always genuine. He addressed people’s real needs. He used His time wisely and prepared people for when He wouldn’t be around. And he didn’t neglect his family for ministry.

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What’s your legacy – a final look at Gideon’s life

08/13/2010   |      |       |    0 Comment

In May, we looked at how Gideon won a great victory for God against the Midianites. This past Sunday, we looked at his epilogue – what happened after that high point. Here’s a recap of the points for those that want to fill in gaps in some of the notes you took. Also feel free to send questions or comments God put on your heart from hearing the message or reading the text in on your own.

The text was Judges 8:22 – 9:5 and the main points are below

  1. Be Genuine – v22 – 26
  2. Recognize the true needs of the people you’re leading – V27
  3. Use your time wisely and prepare people for when you’re not around
  4. Don’t succeed in ministry and fail with your family

Be Genuine – v22 – 26

  • Gideon’s answer was more spiritual than his behavior
  • Gideon’s didn’t accept the invitation to become king, but he took advantage of the favor he had with the people to get what he wanted
  • If you’re trying to be different, why are you collecting status symbols from the people God just delivered you from?
  • Remember that God is more concerned with the consistency of our behavior than the sincerity of our verbal response

Recognize the true needs of the people you’re leading

  • External results are not proof that sin in our lives has been addressed
  • Gideon wanted to set up a monumen to the victory over the Midianites, but the people really needed a reminder to get right with God
  • When God deals with the stuff that everyone can see, we stop dealing with the stop that only He can see
  • The sin that we consider an acceptable loss can easily become a snag to those around us.

Use your time wisely and prepare people for when you’re not around

  • What was Gideon teaching the people during the 40 years of peace?
  • Adversity reveals how much we need God but prosperity reveals how much we want God
  • Adversity shows the distance between us and God while prosperity shows how close we are to the world. When you have options and choices, are you choosing Godly things or worldly things. When I get some more money/ time / energy, I’m going to…….
    What you fill in the gap with says something about where your heart is?
  • Gideon enjoyed a lot of women, had a ton of children and gave the child of his concubine a special name. (Abimelech means: “My father is the king”). We don’t see him preparing the people or leading them in Godliness
  • Don’t be surprised when people throw you under the bus if they’ve already kicked God to the curb (verses 34 and 35)

Don’t succeed in ministry and fail with your family

  • We have to teach our children that character and compassion are more important than ambition
  • We should be praying and looking for confirmation from God just as diligently in raising our family as we do for external battles
  • If we’re not careful, it’s quite possible to succeed on the battlefield / workplace / boardroom and fail at home. We need to put just as much energy into our families as we do into work or ministry

Remember that Jesus succeeded in every area that Gideon failed in. He was always genuine. He addressed people’s real needs. He used His time wisely and prepared people for when He wouldn’t be around. And he didn’t neglect his family for ministry.

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Learning to be Miserable (c/o Acts29)

07/21/2010   |      |       |    0 Comment

This is a great follow-up to my sermon this past Sunday – “Trials & Maturity” from James 1:1-4.  Click Here
Please feel free to share your thoughts.
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community, Featured, growth, Sermon Series

Elders are responsible for the church (John Piper)

06/15/2010   |      |       |    0 Comment

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church life, doctrine, Featured, Titus, videos

God’s Elect

06/09/2010   |      |       |    7 Comments

Last Sunday, I preached a message on Titus 1:1-4 and discussed the doctrine of election.  As I mentioned this doctrine, I knew that there wasn’t enough time to unpack it in a 40-45 minute sermon but I knew it was worth further discussing.  Paul says, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth which affords with godliness (Titus 1:1).”  Without preaching every point that I made, I’ll dive right into what “God’s elect” is and what is a brief explanation of this glorious doctrine.

Defining election

God decided to choose us to be saved before the foundation of the world not because He saw something in us but for His own sovereign purposes and pleasure.  He applied salvation to us prior to Christ dying on the cross.  It is God’s 1st steps towards redeeming us.  When we think of salvation we typically think of our response to the gospel but something happened prior to responding to the gospel… Acts 13:48 – “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”  Other verses that define election for us are – Eph.1:4-6; 1:12; 1 Thess.1:4-5; and 2 Thess 2:13.

As I was studying election it humbly reminded me and led me to repent of living like I had anything to do with my salvation.  This eliminates any credit to me and turns my heart to praise God as the true hero (Eph.1:12).  Salvation is a work of grace, not a work of man (Eph.2:8-10).

Common Disagreements about Election

The argument against election for those who hear the word election and comprehend the definition are real. For starters,  there’s a word called “fatalism” that says that human choices and decisions don’t make any difference.  No matter what we do, things are going to turn out the way they were ordained by God.  Therefore, why bother with responding to God because he’s already determined everything.

There’s also an argument for declaring that we are no more than robots.  It says that we live in an impersonal world that has been determined by an impersonal force and humans just robotically live in accordance to pre-determined plans of the force.  But on the contrary, God loved us and thus chose us to come to himself (Eph.1:5).  We are human beings with the capacity to make choices and accept or reject the gospel.  We aren’t “I-Robots,” we are personal humans with free wills.

Another argument against election is that God’s foreknowledge of our willingness to place our faith in Jesus was the clincher for his electing us.  If he sees that the person isn’t going to come to Christ by faith then God wouldn’t elect him or her.  However, the Scriptures teach that salvation had nothing to do with us but everything to do with God (Rom.8:29).  Scripture never claims that our faith was God’s prerequisite for choosing us.  He chose us according to the purpose of His will (Eph.1:5-6).

There are some that seek to claim God’s election of believers is due to some “good” in us, which is a salvation by merit perspective.  The persons who think this, hold dear to the faulty reality that we deserve “election” credit because we are “good.”  But again, Scripture teaches that we are rebellious sinners deserving of Hell but have been saved by God’s glorious grace.  This tends to lead to a belief that God’s election is conditional upon us.  But election is unconditional because He chooses us in spite of us.

Others would say that “election isn’t fair.”  How is it that God choses some and not others?  Doesn’t that mean that he’s condemning people without their ability to respond by faith?”  Listen to me… It would be perfectly fair for God not to save a soul.  He doesn’t owe wicked sinners anything but eternal judgement and torment.  If God didn’t spare angels why should he spare us?  Wayne Grudem puts it this way, “Paul raises this objection in Romans 9.  After saying that God ‘has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills’ (Rom.9:18), Paul then raises this precise objection:  “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?'” (Rom.9:19)  If God is calling the shots for heaven and hell, how can this be fair?  Here’s the short answer – Who are we to question the justice of God.  He can do anything according to his sovereign will.  But why would God save some and not all?  Intuitively that just doesn’t seem right or fair… equality is how we live life in our world.  But who are we to impose our intuitive grids upon our infinitely wise God.  It is his sovereign choice and we simply must submit to it.

Final thoughts

God still desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) but we just don’t know what God knows… who will be saved and who will not.  However, here’s my last thought on this… God is more concerned with His own glory than answering our limited thoughts of “injustice.”

What are your views and questions about election?  Please share them with us as we seek to humbly engage around the Scriptures.

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doctrine, Featured, Titus

God's Elect

06/09/2010   |      |       |    7 Comments

Last Sunday, I preached a message on Titus 1:1-4 and discussed the doctrine of election.  As I mentioned this doctrine, I knew that there wasn’t enough time to unpack it in a 40-45 minute sermon but I knew it was worth further discussing.  Paul says, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth which affords with godliness (Titus 1:1).”  Without preaching every point that I made, I’ll dive right into what “God’s elect” is and what is a brief explanation of this glorious doctrine.

Defining election

God decided to choose us to be saved before the foundation of the world not because He saw something in us but for His own sovereign purposes and pleasure.  He applied salvation to us prior to Christ dying on the cross.  It is God’s 1st steps towards redeeming us.  When we think of salvation we typically think of our response to the gospel but something happened prior to responding to the gospel… Acts 13:48 – “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”  Other verses that define election for us are – Eph.1:4-6; 1:12; 1 Thess.1:4-5; and 2 Thess 2:13.

As I was studying election it humbly reminded me and led me to repent of living like I had anything to do with my salvation.  This eliminates any credit to me and turns my heart to praise God as the true hero (Eph.1:12).  Salvation is a work of grace, not a work of man (Eph.2:8-10).

Common Disagreements about Election

The argument against election for those who hear the word election and comprehend the definition are real. For starters,  there’s a word called “fatalism” that says that human choices and decisions don’t make any difference.  No matter what we do, things are going to turn out the way they were ordained by God.  Therefore, why bother with responding to God because he’s already determined everything.

There’s also an argument for declaring that we are no more than robots.  It says that we live in an impersonal world that has been determined by an impersonal force and humans just robotically live in accordance to pre-determined plans of the force.  But on the contrary, God loved us and thus chose us to come to himself (Eph.1:5).  We are human beings with the capacity to make choices and accept or reject the gospel.  We aren’t “I-Robots,” we are personal humans with free wills.

Another argument against election is that God’s foreknowledge of our willingness to place our faith in Jesus was the clincher for his electing us.  If he sees that the person isn’t going to come to Christ by faith then God wouldn’t elect him or her.  However, the Scriptures teach that salvation had nothing to do with us but everything to do with God (Rom.8:29).  Scripture never claims that our faith was God’s prerequisite for choosing us.  He chose us according to the purpose of His will (Eph.1:5-6).

There are some that seek to claim God’s election of believers is due to some “good” in us, which is a salvation by merit perspective.  The persons who think this, hold dear to the faulty reality that we deserve “election” credit because we are “good.”  But again, Scripture teaches that we are rebellious sinners deserving of Hell but have been saved by God’s glorious grace.  This tends to lead to a belief that God’s election is conditional upon us.  But election is unconditional because He chooses us in spite of us.

Others would say that “election isn’t fair.”  How is it that God choses some and not others?  Doesn’t that mean that he’s condemning people without their ability to respond by faith?”  Listen to me… It would be perfectly fair for God not to save a soul.  He doesn’t owe wicked sinners anything but eternal judgement and torment.  If God didn’t spare angels why should he spare us?  Wayne Grudem puts it this way, “Paul raises this objection in Romans 9.  After saying that God ‘has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills’ (Rom.9:18), Paul then raises this precise objection:  “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?'” (Rom.9:19)  If God is calling the shots for heaven and hell, how can this be fair?  Here’s the short answer – Who are we to question the justice of God.  He can do anything according to his sovereign will.  But why would God save some and not all?  Intuitively that just doesn’t seem right or fair… equality is how we live life in our world.  But who are we to impose our intuitive grids upon our infinitely wise God.  It is his sovereign choice and we simply must submit to it.

Final thoughts

God still desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) but we just don’t know what God knows… who will be saved and who will not.  However, here’s my last thought on this… God is more concerned with His own glory than answering our limited thoughts of “injustice.”

What are your views and questions about election?  Please share them with us as we seek to humbly engage around the Scriptures.

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doctrine, Featured, Titus

More thoughts on the life of Gideon

06/03/2010   |      |       |    0 Comment

We preached a message this past Sunday 5/30/10 on seasons in Gideon’s life based on Judges 6 and 7.  I wanted to share a few more thoughts that God impressed upon me after the message:

  • God sees you as you can be not just as you are.
  • Sometimes God will use you to be the change you’ve been crying out to him for
  • Reminding God of our limitations implies that He made a mistake choosing us.
  • “Putting out fleeces” is a poor way to discern or confirm God’s will for your life.
  • Sometimes God reduces your resources to make sure He’ll get the glory.
  • God reduced resources because he said Israel would boast, not that Gideon would boast.
  • Encouragement came after  commitment.  God allowed Gideon to hear the Midianite soldier’s dream – but only after he’d sent everyone home but the 300 men God chose.
  • 300 men may not have been enough swords, but it was more than enough trumpets and lamps.   God didn’t just reduce Gideon’s resources, He ended up using the men in a totally different way than Gideon ever imagined.   What’s powerful is that Gideon trusted God enough to be obedient without knowing the plan upfront.
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church life, Featured

Gospel Centered Life Community Group

09/09/2009   |      |       |    0 Comment

Excerpt taken from:  http://theologica.blogspot.com/

The Gospel-Centered Life: Small Group Curriculum

Here’s a new small-group curriculum that looks very helpful: The Gospel-Centered Life: A Nine Lesson Study, published by World Harvest Mission. You can sign-up for a free full-length review copy by email; or download a sample lesson, the table of contents, and/or the introduction.

Here are some endorsements:

“This is a rich gospel-centered small group curriculum that I am really excited to see published.”
–Mark Driscoll

“I have not seen a better resource for training people in the implications of the gospel. It communicates both to the new Christian and to the seasoned pastor, much like the gospel itself.”
–Darrin Patrick

“With simple and direct language, The Gospel-Centered Life helps people understand and effectively apply the gospel to their lives, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey. It’s one of the few resources out there that explicitly challenges others to reach out with the gospel, even as it is growing deeper into their own lives. I highly recommend it!
–Steve Childers

“The phrase ‘gospel-centered’ has become a popular buzzword in Christianity. But just because you talk about the gospel doesn’t mean you’re being transformed by it. I’m familiar with both the publisher and the authors of The Gospel-Centered Life, and I know they are profoundly aware, first and foremost, of their own need for gospel renewal. That’s why I’m so excited to recommend this material to pastors, leaders, and Christians everywhere who long to see gospel transformation in themselves and in their churches.”
–Daniel Montgomery

HT: Michael Johnson

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community, Featured, growth

Lies Woman Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free

09/08/2009   |      |       |    0 Comment

In Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss exposes the areas of deception most commonly believed by Christian women. She not only deals with the lies that women believe about God, themselves and sin but also the lies they believe about their marriages, their emotions and their circumstances. Nancy sheds light on how women can be delivered from bondage and set free to walk in God’s grace, forgiveness, abundant life and peace. Lies Women Believe offers the most effective weapon to counter and overcome Satan’s deceptions—God’s truth.  Community Group starts on 9/14 at 7:30pm.  If you are interested please email Leslie at lesliebond1@gmail.com.

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community, Featured, Women