Excitement & Alarm with Today’s Reformed Camp

14 09 2006

An exciting and alarming by-product over the increased excitement in reformed theology is the intense individual identification with the reformed theological framework. Of course this is exciting because reformed theology is by in large biblical. However, there are some contemporary trends that are alarming.

For example, when I hear a sermon by a well known contemporary preacher quoting Calvin, Luther & Spurgeon more than the Bible I become concerned. I listen to a guy referring to what Calvin said as if it is authoritative and binding in my life. I need to listen to what Calvin (or anyone for that matter) says because it reflects what God says.

Reformed heroes are not our authority the Bible is. I know that guys do not intend to do this but they end up elevating the dead guys with nice lettuce (hair) to a position of authority, thereby circumventing one of the great Solas of the reformation (Sola Scriptura). And in so doing we create our own little protestant Magisterium. Again I know this is not the intention but what else am I to conclude when guys repeatedly appeal to men as their authority to make their homiletical points?

The preacher is called to ‘preach the word’ (2 Tim. 4.2). This is done by giving the meaning of the text (according to God) to the hearer with personal application. This is not accomplished by quoting and interacting with theologians for 45 minutes while giving a courteous tip of the hat to the text by simply reading the passage.

So to preachers: are you primarily providing and reinforcing theology or are you primarily there to operate on hearts by giving your hearers the word of God?

And to those who sit under the preaching ministry of another: Are you primarily there to learn more about the reformed heritage and concepts or are you primarily there to have your heart operated on by the sacred scalpel of truth (Heb. 4.12)?

The faithfully preached word will provide and reinforce theology and illicit passion in the life of the Christian. My fear is that, even with good motives, some today are not being clear and faithful with the Bible as their ultimate authority and means by which we are sanctified. So I challenge myself and others to ensure that our theology and emotions are derived from the text and not the other way around.

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Any Volunteers?

5 09 2006

Does God ask for volunteers for gospel ministry? David Hegg in his helpful book Appointed to Preach, says:

When it comes to putting men into pastoral ministry, the evidence shows that God drafts those He intends to use in leadership. Far from calling for volunteers, God descended upon Moses, upon the prophets, the disciples, Paul, and a host of other men down through history. The idea that God is waiting for men to come to him and sign on as leaders in his kingdom may appeal to our modern sense of nobility, but it just won’t stand up to the evidence of Scripture.” (p. 17)

I really appreciate this picture that Hegg draws here. I remember as a new Christian looking around at the pastors that God had surrounded me with. I remember guys who were apathetic, compromising, and less than zealous in their post.

I visited The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville and Dr. Danny Akin, who was at Southern at this time, articulately said just what I needed to hear: “Many pastors should not be pastors.” He went on to exhort all of the men who were in attendance with a quote from Spurgeon where the Prince of Preachers said: “Do not enter the ministry if you can help it.” Akin rightly continued exhorting those in attendance : “if you can do anything else than do it!”

This was helpful for me in trying to integrate what I was seeing in ministry from what I was reading in Scripture. It is always good to have my leash tugged by the Word of God. God has gone through great lengths to eradicate any confusion as to what kind of man is supposed to lead his flock.

Here is just a brief job description for a pastor:

desire the post (1 Tim. 3.1)

be above reproach, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Tim. 3.2)

not pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money (1 Tim. 3.3)

be a leader in his home (1 Tim. 3.4)

be disciplined (1 Tim. 4.7)

be a good example of a believer for a believer (1 Tim. 4.12)

be committed to public exhortation and teaching (1 Tim. 4.13)

be absorbed in ministry and clearly making progress (1 Tim. 4.15)

be paying close attention to his life and his doctrine (1 Tim. 4.16)

be persevering (1 Tim. 4.16)

be impartial (1 Tim. 5.21)

be continually pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (1 Tim. 6.11)

be fanatical about personal sanctification (1 Tim. 6.14)

be unashamed of Jesus’ gospel (2 Tim. 1.8)

be willing to suffer (2 Tim. 1.8)

be strong in grace (2 Tim. 2.1)

be committed to discipleship (2 Tim. 2.2)

be captivated by the risen Savior (2 Tim. 2.8)

be committed to his flock (2 Tim. 2.14)

be diligent & conscientious in the study (2 Tim. 2.15)

be fleeing from youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2.22)

be pursuing righteousness, love and peace (2 Tim. 2.22)

not be prone to arguing (2 Tim. 2.24)

be kind to all (2 Tim. 2.24)

be able to teach (2 Tim. 2.24)

be patient when wronged (and you will be!) (2 Tim. 2.24)

be committed to gentle correction (2 Tim. 2.25)

be scared to death of offending Jesus (2 Tim. 4.1)

be committed to preaching the word of God (2 Tim. 4.2)

always be ready (2 Tim. 4.2)

be correcting, admonishing, encouraging> all patiently and doctrinally! (2 Tim. 4.2)

be sober (2 Tim. 4.5)

be doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4.5)

be loving the flock of Christ (Acts 20.28)

and the fuel of it all:>> be loving Jesus Christ preeminently! (John 21.15-17; Jam. 1.12)

Any volunteers?

For the sake of the glory of God, the good of the church, and the preservation of your own sanity, if you are not being fitted by God to carry out such a ministry then please do something else!

On the other hand, if you are being shaped by God for such a work, know that God has always and is now drafting, sustaining and fueling men and thanks be to God!

It is so good this way, for it is in such a system the man of God will not rely upon himself to lead the church but upon the church’s very head, the ultimate Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ himself who will forever outrank everyone.

O’ may pastors fear and love Jesus until we see him!

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Christianity Today highlights Calvinism

21 08 2006

sept-ct-cover.jpgIn the upcoming edition of Christianity Today (CT) the current popularity of Reformed Theology will be highlighted in an article entitled Young, Restless, Reformed.

I am definitely looking forward to reading this article (minus the corny picture of Edwards as a homeboy and a soap opera reference with caviler intimations)

Consistent with their history of highlighting what is popular in the evangelical movement CT will highlight this growing theological trend in the church.

 

Once could have seen this coming when they interviewed Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, when he said, “The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging.”

Reformed Theology is growing and this is a good thing. It is great to see the popularity surrounding the writings of the reformers and the puritans.

This is particularly encouraging if you look at what has happened historically with the increase in this solid, biblical or reformed theology. In a word: revival.

We of course are familiar with the great number of folks born again when Martin Luther and the reformers were used by God to herald the glory of Christ through the recovery of the doctrine of justification. But who can forget the great harvest of souls that were won through the reformed preaching and writing of Baxter, Bunyan and Owen?

Consider also in our own country when in 1729 the Westminster Confession was accepted in the colonies, and then early in the 1730’s God uses the preaching of Jonathan Edwards to unsettle callous hearts with the gospel. In 1740 George Whitfield arrives in the colonies to stoke the flames kindled by Edwards. Then also early in the 1800’s the Second Great Awakening begins with a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon those who are preaching, specifically preaching the doctrines of grace. We also see Princeton Seminary open in 1812 to accommodate and accelerate this revival of preaching.

Read the rest of this entry »





2006 Shepherds’ Conference Seminar Notes

20 04 2006

Attention all: The Shepherds' Conference seminar notes are now on the web… well, most of them anyway. Some of them are still "coming soon"…

Among the ones already posted, you will find…

How Firm a Foundation (by Irv Busenitz)

Rome Is Burning (by Phil Johnson)

Plumbing the Depths (by Carey Hardy)

Restoration Hardware (by Bill Shannon)

Maneuvering through the Ministry Minefield (by Bruce Blakey)

Youth Pastor Needs Help–Apply Inside (by Allen Cagle)

A Recipe for Success (by Carey Hardy)

As for Me and My House (by Bill Shannon)

Justification (by Phil Johnson)

Friend or Foe (by Allen Cagle)

Exegetical Fallacies (by Bill Barrick)

Programs, Get Your Programs (by Phil Johnson)

A Few Good Men! (by Rick Holland)

Dead Right–Part 2 (by Phil Johnson)

Creativity without Compromise (by Carey Hardy)

Cutting It Straight (by Bill Barrick)

Absolutely Not! (by Phil Johnson)

King James Only, Sometimes, Never (by Bill Barrick)

How to Raise a Pharisee (by Carey Hardy)

(Note: All of the above articles are in PDF format.)

Download, save, read, and enjoy these seminar notes. And check back at the Shepherds' Conference website for more to come in the near future.