Book Review – Gospel

I had the privilege to hear JD Greear preach while I was studying at SEBTS and continue to listen to his podcasts when I run. He is a phenomenal communicator. Gospel is a powerful book that I am glad I read. I was challenged. I was convicted. I recognized my tendency towards legalism instead of grace. You need to read this book! Stop right now, order it here and then keep reading.

JD’s premise is that moralism and legalism have often eclipsed the gospel, even in conservative Christianity. He is up front with his personal struggle with this and the fact that it has taken him a number of years to recognize his dependency on the gospel for all of life. He writes, “The gospel is not just supposed to be our ticket into heaven; it is to be an entirely new basis for how we relate to God, ourselves, and others. It is to be the source from which everything else flows.”

Often, we substitute religious change for gospel change. Greear notes 3 reasons why religious change will not work:

1. Religious activities fail to address the “root” idolatries that drive our sin.

2. When our acceptance is based on our performance, we exacerbate two root sins in our heart; pride and fear.

3. The insecurity of always wondering if we’ve done enough to be accepted causes resentment of God, not love for Him.

In light of this, he offered a “gospel prayer” that helps reorient ourselves to the power of the gospel in our lives. The remainder of the book is an excursion into each of the four parts of the gospel prayer:

1. In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.

2. Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.

3. As You have been to me, so I will be to others.

4. As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.

Lest you think that this focus on the gospel will remove any responsibility on our part, JD emphasized, “The more we taste of the gospel, the more we love it. And the more we learn to love the things of God, the more time we’ll spend time doing those things, less by discipline and more by desire. We enter into a self-reproducing cycle of life. We are sowing to the Spirit, and from the Spirit reaping life everlasting.” We practice the spiritual disciplines not for the purpose of earning God’s favor but in response to the amazing grace we have experienced.

Greear concluded with some helpful distinguishing characteristics of gospel-centered churches:

1. In a gospel-centered church, preaching the message of the gospel is the priority.

2. In a gospel-centered church, the emphasis of the message is more on what Christ has done that what we are to do.

3. In a gospel-centered church, the members demonstrate the beauty of the gospel in the community.

Favorite Quotes

“Love for God is commanded in Scripture, but the command can only truly be fulfilled as our eyes are opened to see God’s beauty revealed in the gospel.”

“The gospel turns religion upside down. The gospel assures us of God’s acceptance, given to us as a gift earned by Christ’s worthiness, not ours.”

“Unless we are actively preaching the gospel to ourselves daily, we fall back into ‘works-righteousness.'”

“Gospel change is the Spirit of God using the story of God to make the beauty of God come alive in our hearts. Having our eyes opened to see our part in that story creates in us a love for God that is strong enough to finally drive out our attraction to other idols.”

“It’s one thing to know that God has accepted your fully in Christ; it’s another thing for that to become the weightiest and most defining reality in your life.”

“Radical generosity and radical commitment to the mission is the response of every person who has experienced the grace of Jesus Christ.”

“There is no shortage in God’s willingness or ability to save. The shortage is in our unbelief that He is as compassionate and powerful as the gospel says He is.”

 

Advertisements

The Supremacy of God (A. W. Pink)

I have been reading A. W. Pink’s The Attributes of God and came across a couple of paragraphs I would like to share with you concerning the supremacy of God. His words are powerful and accurate:

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel,  ‘Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself’ (Psa. 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s ‘free will’ and reduce him to a ‘machine.’ They lower the all-efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere ‘remedy,’ which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to; and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an ‘offer’ of the Gospel which sinners may accept of reject as they please.

The ‘god’ of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The ‘god’ who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form ‘gods’ out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a ‘god’ out of their own carnal mind. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title of Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.

Healthy Living (Remix)

Starting Weight: 225lbs

Goal Weight: 195lbs

If you have read my previous post (7 Goals for 2012) you know that I set a goal to lose 30lbs by my 29th birthday (March 31, 2012). I will not hit 195lbs by my birthday. In the past, several weeks of failure would have knocked me off course for good. This time it will be different – I will persevere and will lose 30lbs! Stay tuned to follow my progress.

* If you want to join me on this journey leave a comment with (1) your starting weight and (2) your goal weight. Check back in each week (Monday), update your progress, and share any tips that were helpful over the past week – Let’s do this!

Where is God in the middle of tragedy?

This is a question that many are asking in our community. In the past couple of weeks we have seen a student in our community die in a car wreck and a father commit suicide. Many are grieving and many are asking questions.

Last night, at 24/7 Worship, we talked about how to answer this question and how to approach tragedy in our lives. At some point in time, we will all have to deal with tragedy in our lives. My hope is that what is provided below might help you think through tragedy biblically and equip you to answer some of the questions that you may hear.

1. God is in control. There is never a moment in time where God sits back, scratches his head and says, “I didn’t see that coming.” He is the sovereign creator and sustainer of this world and tragedy does not catch him by surprise.

– Psalm 103:19

– Jeremiah 32:17

– Romans 11:33

– Colossians 1:16

– Revelation 21:6

2. God is good. We must never forget that God is good and his grace falls on the just and the unjust. Every person on this planet has benefited from God’s goodness. Even in the middle of tragedy, God is good.

– Exodus 33:19

– Psalm 33:5, 135:3, 145:9

– Matthew 5:45

– Luke 6:35

– Romans 8:28

3. We live in a world shattered by sin. Our world is broken and will remain broken until Jesus returns. Bad things happen because we are sinners and we live in a sin-tainted world. This should deepen our longing for the other world (heaven) we were created for!

– Genesis 3

– Romans 1:18-31, 8:22

4. Life is short. The mortality rate is 100%. We will die. This should not discourage us but challenge us to “number our days” so that we will be of maximum impact for God’s kingdom while we still have breath.

– Psalm 39:4-6, 89:4-7, 90:12

– James 4:14

5. The mission is urgent. People who die without Christ will spend eternity in hell. We cannot waste time and opportunities to make disciples. This is the one mission Christ gave to his disciples and we must see this mission as URGENT! If the people around us don’t hear the glorious message of the gospel from us…who will tell them?

– Matthew 28:19-20

– Isaiah 1:18

– Romans 10:13-17

– 2 Peter 3:9

**Pray for the families that are grieving and pray that much would be made of Jesus through these tragedies!