Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Interview on Moody's Prime Time America

Paul Butler of Moody Radio's Prime Time America interviewed me today on my favorite subject: the gospel. Paul read an article I wrote entitled, "A Message Worth Fighting For," that appears in the February issue of TableTalk and thought it might be helpful to discuss the simplicity of the gospel on the program.

It is slated to air at 5:20 Easter Time on Moody Radio stations. An mp3 will be available later. I will provide a link once it is accessible. EDIT: Here is the link to the mp3.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dr. Wyman Richardson goes to Congress

Wyman Richardson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dawson, GA has been invited to give a brief devotional before the Georgia House of Representatives tomorrow morning at 10AM Eastern time. His comments will be livestreamed, beginning promptly at 10AM. You may tune in by going here and clicking on the House link.

Pray for Wyman as he seeks to bring God's Word to these governmental leaders in a way that will be helpful to them and honoring to our Lord.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Radio Interview Tuesday, January 26, 2008

Kevin Boling of the "Knowing the Truth" radio program will interview me tomorrow in conjunction with their month-long celebration of 2009 as the 500th anniversary of the birth of Calvin. Kevin is interviewing several of the contributors to Burk Parsons' book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine and Doxology. Previous guests on the show include Phil Ryken, Richard Phillips and Thabiti Anyabwile.

I think Kevin wants to talk to me about what Calvin was like as a boy and my memories of him from the neighborhood. :-)

The broadcast can be heard at 1:00-2:00 PM tomorrow on Christian Talk 660 originating out of Greenville, SC. It may also be heard live via the internet here. For more information on Kevin and the program, check out their website (and note the wonders of photoshop in the last mug on the page!).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pray for Lakeshore Baptist Church

Pastor Don Elbourne has reported that the Hancock County Planning and Zoning Board recently voted to require Lakeshore Baptist Church to remove all temporary structures from their property by May 31st. Under Don's leadership, the church has been responding to the needs of that community in Waveland, Mississippi since it was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Though the church lost all of its structures, it has delayed rebuilding them, choosing rather to meet in temporary structures, so that they could help rebuild homes in their community.

For the last 3.5 years, they have stayed with that effort and have coordinated thousands of volunteers and marshaled untold amounts of money to help people get back on their feet by supplying food, clothing, supplies and shelter in the Name of Jesus. One of the neighbor's who has been blessed by these efforts is Mrs. Redford. Watch her testimony here.

Pray for Pastor Elbourne and the church as they seek to respond with wisdom and Gospel-grace to this ruling. If you are able to support their efforts financially, let me encourage you to do so. Though the board's decision may cause Lakeshore to take a different approach to its ministry in the community, they will no doubt continue to need volunteers to come assist in the rebuilding effort. Our church has sent 3 teams and each group has come back wanting to return. Consider going to lend a hand. It is a worthy effort, and the Gospel is going forth in word and deed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exponential Change, Eternal Constant

The following video highlights the nature of the world we live in, where at times, the only constant seems to be change. More than ever followers of Jesus need to be like the "sons of Issachar, who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). We must neither bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the world is not the way it really is nor allow the reality of a rapidly changing world to deceive us into thinking that God Himself has changed.

Remember these words, then watch the video.
  • "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6)
  • "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
  • "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." (Isaiah 40:8)

Fascinating, isn't it? "But the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:25 ).

HT: Ashley Clayton

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Getting the Gospel Right

The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ and the message of Jesus Christ is good news, or "the gospel." God took thousands of years to reveal the gospel and it was not until the time was ripe that Jesus appeared on the scene of history (Galatians 4:4). If the gospel is central to the revelation and purposes of God then it cannot be incidental to the lives of His people. Nothing is more important than getting the gospel right.

It has been my privilege for the year to contribute a monthly article to TableTalk magazine, edited by my friend, Burk Parsons. Burk and his staff do an excellent job making TableTalk very useful to serious-minded Christians. I highly recommend it.

Following is the article I wrote for the current, January 2009, issue. It is entitled, "Getting the Gospel Right" and appears on pp. 26-27. It is a fitting theme for the new year and one that I intend to keep central in my own life until I finish my race.
Sometimes what is not said speaks more loudly than actual words. The silence, as we say, is deafening.

In the opening verses of his letter to the churches of Galatia the Apostle Paul employs this communication technique to underscore the seriousness of the subject at hand. As he does in all of his letters, Paul begins by identifying himself as the author (1:1), naming the intended recipients (1:2) and expressing a blessing on them (1:3-5).

It is what comes next that is so uncharacteristic for him. Immediately after his introductory comments and before launching into the body of the letter Paul writes…nothing. He offers no expression of gratitude to God for them or words of encouragement about their spiritual vitality.

When compared to his warm greetings in his other letters (ie. Ephesians 1:15ff, Philippians 1:3ff, Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4ff, etc.), what Paul does not say to the Galatians speaks volumes.

He leaves no doubt about the seriousness and urgency of the topic of his letter. His burden is to explain and defend the true gospel of God's grace. He launches into the subject early and writes with fiery tone employing sarcasm, threats, warnings and rebukes to get his points across.

Like a soldier rushing into battle with guns blazing, Paul immediately begins contending for the truth of the gospel. His purpose is not simply to win a theological argument. Rather, he is determined to fight for the spiritual lives of the Galatian believers.

Getting the gospel right is crucial. It is a matter of spiritual life and death. If you miss this it does not matter what you get, you will miss God.

Paul understands this and therefore strongly refutes the false teaching of those who have begun to undermine the Galatians' confidence in the simple gospel that he had preached to them.

That message is all about finished work of Jesus Christ "who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (1:4). The gospel that Paul preached to them proclaimed salvation by grace alone received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

This message is great news for sinners, because it reveals that salvation, from first to last, is God's work and not dependent on anything in us. It eliminates any basis for pride as well as any cause to despair. Those whom God saves are made right with him not because anything they have done or not done, but because they have been "called…in the grace of Christ" (1:6).

On the one hand the worst of people are genuine candidates for salvation because the only way that God saves is by grace. On the other hand if the most respectable people are to be saved it will not be because of any goodness in them but, again, only by the grace of God.

No wonder Paul was "astonished" to learn that the Galatians were so quickly and easily being led away from the gospel of God's grace (1:6). The false teachers insisted that trusting Christ was not enough--to be right with God a person must also keep certain Old Testament ceremonies. But adding to the gospel is just as disastrous as subtracting from it. Both "distort the gospel of Christ" (1:7).

Any change in message of Jesus Christ turns it into "a different gospel" (1:6) that keeps people from knowing God. This is why Paul writes with such passion, warning the Galatians never to tolerate anyone--not even an apostle or an angel--who would dare to preach as the gospel any other message than salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, plus nothing.

Twice Paul says that any creature who distorts the gospel should be "accursed." He literally pronounces "anathema" on such a person. Those who spread false gospels are worthy of God's damnation.

Paul intends that his use of such strong language should have a sobering affect on us. Misrepresenting the gospel is serious business. Those who believe false gospels will wind up in hell. Those who teach false gospels deserve nothing less.

The churches of Galatia were very young when Paul sent them this letter. Yet, he expected that they--all of the members and not just the leaders--would be doctrinally alert enough to discern the true gospel from counterfeits.

This is the responsibility of every Christian. Like sheep who will follow only the voice of their shepherd, we must learn to recognize the simplicity and fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and refuse to tolerate any teaching that deviates from it.

Our very souls depend on it.