The Heidelberg Diet (Week 3)

Questions: From where do you know your sins and misery?

Answer: From the law of God.

Rom 3: 20; 7:7-25.


Piper on How His Pastoral Ministry Has Shaped his Pulpit Ministry

I am not sure where the Lord is leading Jess and I in the ministry. We both have a desire for the proclamation of the Gospel to be expressed overseas through the local church. My pastor asked me if I had any desires for the pastorate of which I said no but am open. I’ve preached twice in my life and both were bad experiences but I do not doubt that the Lord used those times to speak some. I did feel that I preached with sincerity in my heart and would say I was eager to see lives changed and joys increased by my message but at the same time I felt incredibly ill-equipped to handle the word of God. Of course nerves played a huge role as well. I am still open to the Lord’s calling to preach in the position of a pastor.

I have just finished listening to a recording of John Piper at the Resurgence Conference called How My Pastoral Ministry Shapes My Pulpit Ministry. He gave 16 convictions that shape how he preaches and 16 examples on how his pastoral ministry shapes his preaching. I am grateful for men such as John Piper who have helped shape my thoughts about what “preaching” entails. To listen to the sermon click here.

16 Foundational Convictions that Shape How I Preach

1. God predestined us and created us for the praise of the glory of his grace.

2. No one by nature wants to live for the praise of the glory of God’s grace.

3. Therefore every person is accountable to God and guilty with no excuse and is under his just and holy wrath.

4. The final expression of that wrath is an eternal hell of torment cut off from the presence of God and all that is good.

5. The plight of all men on the way to that punishment is that they are spiritually dead and blind and morally unable to see Christ as true and beautiful.

6. People are rescued from this deadness and this destiny of destruction by the death and resurrection of Christ in their place.

7. This atonement is applied to specific people in the new birth through the preaching of the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

8. Preaching the Word of God continues in the life of the believer and the life of the church as a God-designed means (along with other means) of bringing about the reason for our creation—the praise of the glory God’s grace.

9. Preaching is more than teaching; it is the rising of the preacher’s heart to exult over the exposition of truth. It is both exposition of biblical texts and exultation over the reality in those texts.

10. This form of speech—preaching—is designed by God to correspond to his aim in creation and redemption to be glorified by his creatures, namely, his aim to be known and enjoyed.

11. Therefore preaching is worship, it does not follow worship.

12. Therefore preaching corresponds to the design of God to be worshiped in spirit and truth.

13. Therefore preaching is always more but never less than the exposition of Scripture.

14. People are changed into God-glorifying lovers of Christ by seeing Jesus Christ in the fullness of his biblical beauty through Spirit-anointed expository exultation.

15. The glories of God in Jesus Christ are not meant to be the foundation that we stand on while preaching about other things. They are meant to be the main thing we preach about and to which all other things are leading.

16. In preaching I am jealous to show my people the very words in the Bible in which I see the glories of God and the path of Christ-exalting joy.

The Flaws of the Seeker Approach

Christianity Today has just posted an article on Willow Creek’s Reveal. Willow Creek has put together a study to see how effective their respective ministries were in helping people grow spiritually.

Below is an excerpt from CT:

In Reveal, talk about the church is framed as if it were merely a distribution point for spiritual goods and services. For example, the study says that the dissatisfied, more than any other segment, have a much higher level of expectation “for what the church can and should deliver.” Furthermore, the dissatisfied say that when it comes to engendering personal spiritual growth, “the church is letting me down.”

The study’s answer suggests a disturbingly low view of the church: It concludes that the dissatisfied need to realize that “much of the responsibility for their spiritual growth belongs to them” (emphasis in the original). And “We [at Willow] have to let people know early on in their journey that they need to look beyond the church to grow” (emphasis added).
But according to the apostle Paul, the church is where each one is given a gift “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12–13).

For Paul, solid spiritual growth cannot be found “beyond the church,” but only in its midst. The study rightly says, “Our people need to learn to feed themselves through personal spiritual practices.” Unfortunately, the study fails to hint that these spiritual disciplines are intrinsically grounded in the ongoing life of the church. This implicit dualism (between private and corporate spiritual growth) suggests something different from Paul’s view that it is in the body of Christ that we are joined together to “grow up into him who is the Head” (Eph. 4:15).

Jonathan Leeman has posted some of his thoughts on the study at 9 Marks. Click here for his conclusion.

For further interest see: Willow Creek Repents?

(HT: JT)

Keller Interviewed on Reason for God

Pastor Mike Sharrett of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Lynchburg, VA just purchased 30 copies of Tim Keller’s new book titled The Reason For God. I haven’t been able to purchase my copy yet but am looking forward to the read. They will be out on the book table this Sunday. If you attend Redeemer feel free to stop by the book table and pick up your copy.

Also, Anthony Sacramone of First Things interviews Keller on his new book. Click here to read the interview.

This book was mainly written with skeptics in mind. If you have never read the book or are interested I have linked a couple of review below by Tim Challies.

Below is an excerpt from Westminster’s Bookstore about the book:

Although a vocal minority continues to attack the Christian faith, for most Americans, faith is a large part of their lives: 86 percent of Americans refer to themselves as religious, and 75 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. So how should they respond to these passionate, learned, and persuasive books that promote science and secularism over religion and faith? For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.

Why is there suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? Shouldn’t the Christian God be a god of love? How can one religion be “right” and the rest “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God? These are just a few of the questions even ardent believers wrestle with today. In this book, Tim Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning, and even pop culture to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth.

Survey by Pew Forum on Religion: "U.S. Religious Landscape in Flux"

Pew Forum on Religion recently released an interesting study on Americans and the switching from religious affiliation to another. I ran into this article through MSNBC. I am always a little leary when it comes to statistics although I must admit this is an interesting study….

Below is an excerpt:

“The study released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is unusual for its sheer scope, relying on interviews with more than 35,000 adults to document a diverse and dynamic U.S. religious population.

While much of the study confirms earlier findings — mainline Protestant churches are in decline, non-denominational churches are gaining and the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing — it also provides a deeper look behind those trends, and of smaller religious groups.”

Another excerpt:

“The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey estimates the United States is 78 percent Christian and about to lose its status as a majority Protestant nation, at 51 percent and slipping.

More than one-quarter of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another religion or no religion at all, the survey found. Factoring in moves from one stream or denomination of Protestantism to another, the number rises to 44 percent.

One in four adults ages 18 to 29 claim no affiliation with a religious institution.”

Al Mohler comments on this study:

“Evangelical Christians and churches should look at this report closely. There is a wealth of data here that helps to define the mission field we face in America. There are danger signs. Here are several points of concern:

  • Our evangelism is not keeping pace with growth in the population. Evangelical churches are growing, but falling behind in the task of reaching Americans with the Gospel.
  • We are losing many young people and many of those who switch from evangelical identity switch to “nothing in particular.”
  • Evangelicals are accustomed to being part of a Protestant majority, but that majoritarian posture is about to be taken away (and already has been in some communities).

All this reminds us of the complexity of our context and the immensity of our challenge. We cannot look at this data with mere interest. These numbers represent real people who desperately need to hear the Gospel — and to see authentic Christianity made visible. ”