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Archive for June, 2009

Grace and Legalism from “Religion Saves”

web_cover_image2Mark Driscoll’s new book, Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions, is now available.

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, in which Paul answers a series of questions posed by the people in the Corinthian church, Driscoll set out to determine the burning questions among visitors to the Mars Hill Church website. The result was 893 questions and 343,203 votes. Religion Saves contains Driscoll’s answers to the top nine questions.

Download Chapter 3 on Dating or check out the sermons this book was based on.

Here’s an excerpt from his chapter Grace:

Legalists see only the demands and commands of Scripture and make long lists of rules by which to judge people and enslave them to the law of duty that kills delight. They also overlook all that Jesus has done to fulfill the demands of the law in our place, so that our hope and trust is in our own efforts and not Jesus’ finished work, which is a disgrace to grace. Rebuking such erroneous teaching, Paul condemns legalists, saying, “You have fallen away from grace” to people who basically thought that they were saved by grace but kept by their own works and law-keeping so that God would love them. They wrongly believed that if they obeyed, God would love them, rather than believe the truth of grace, which is that God loves us so that we will obey. That is why Paul says that the entire domain in which true Christians live is no longer works but grace, “this grace in which we stand.”

The self-efforts of works that dominate every religion but Christianity focus legalistically on what we must do so that God will accept us, forgive us, embrace us, or, in a word, love us. Conversely, Christianity alone says that human works are antithetical to God’s grace. Romans 11:6 declares that “if [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Indeed, we are saved by God’s saving grace and are saved to good works. Nonetheless, those good works are also by God’s grace through us:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The issue is not whether Christians should do good works, such as loving their city, feeding the poor, caring for single mothers and their children, loving their enemies, or telling the truth, but rather how and why. The answer is not that we do good works so that God will love us or because we have to do them. Rather, we do good works because by grace in Jesus Christ, God does love us. Furthermore, God’s saving grace has so utterly transformed us that we no longer have to do good works, but rather we get to do good works by the empowering grace of God the Holy Spirit, who is at work in our regenerated hearts.

(Religion Saves, pp 115-116)

June 29, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 11:35 am | 1 Comment »

How to Argue Like Jesus—An Interview and Giveaway

Joe Carter and John Coleman discuss How to Argue Like Jesus on the Christian Book Notes Blog. Carter and Coleman will be returning to the blog to answer any questions readers may have in the comments section. You also have an opportunity to win one of two giveaway copies by simply asking a question on the blog, re-tweeting the giveaway (@ChristBookNotes), or blogging the giveaway.

June 25, 2009 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:26 am | (2) Comments »

Popular and Relevant Verses Foolish and Irrelevant

An excerpt from Daniel L. Akin’s  A Future-Directed Proposal for the SBC in Southern Baptist Identity:

Seduced by the sirens of modernity we have jettisoned a word-based ministry that is expository in nature. We have, in our attempt to be popular and relevant, become foolish and irrelevant. Skiing across the surface needs of a fallen, sinful humanity, we have turned the pulpit into a pop-psychology sideshow and a feel-good pit stop. We have neglected preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word and the theology of God’s Word. Too many of our people know neither the content nor the doctrines of Scripture. Preaching the cross of Christ and the bloody atonement accomplished by his death is the exception rather than the norm. Some choose to focus on politics, others on the emotions, still others on relationships, and so on. If the Bible is used at all, it is usually as a proof-text out of context with no real connection to what the speaker is saying. For those of us who profess to believe both the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, there must be in our pulpits what I call “engaging exposition.” That is, there must be preaching that is biblical in content and dynamic in delivery, preaching that is expositional and theological on the one hand, and practical and applicable on the other. We must advocate an expositional method with a theological mindset under an evangelical mandate. It is preaching that models for our people how they should teach the Bible. Before it is too late, we need to heed the wise words of a liberal Methodist who has been down this modernist road and found it to be a dead end street. Listen to what William Willimon of Duke Divinity School says, and weep. In a fascinating article written in 1995 titled “Been There, Preached That,” Willimon sounds a prophetic warning to Southern Baptists:

I’m a mainline-liberal-Protestant-Methodist-type Christian. I know we’re soft on Scripture. Norman Vincent Peale has exercised a more powerful effect on our preaching than St. Paul . . . I know we play fast and loose with Scripture. But I’ve always had this fantasy that somewhere, like in Texas there were preachers who preached it all, Genesis to Revelation, without blinking an eye . . . I took great comfort in knowing that, even while I preached a pitifully compromised, “Pealed”-down gospel, that somewhere, good old Bible-believing preachers were offering their congregations the unadulterated Word, straight up.

Do you know how disillusioning it has been for me to realize that many of these self-proclaimed biblical preachers now sound more like liberal mainliners than liberal mainliners? At the very time those of us in the mainline, old-line, sidelined were repenting of our pop psychological pap and rediscovering the joy of disciplined biblical preaching, these “biblical preachers” were becoming “user friendly” and “inclusive,” taking their homiletical cues from the “felt needs” of us “boomers” and “busters” rather than the excruciating demands of the Bible.

I know why they do this . . . It all starts with American Christians wanting to be helpful to the present order, to be relevant (as the present order defines relevance). We so want to be invited to lunch at the White House or at least be interviewed on “Good Morning America.” So we adjust our language to the demands of the market, beginning with the world and its current infatuations rather than the Word and its peculiar judgments on our infatuations.

If you listen too much of our preaching, you get the impression that Jesus was some sort of itinerant therapist who, for free, traveled about helping people feel better. Ever since Fosdick, we mainline liberals have been bad about this. Start with some human problem like depression; then rummage around in the Bible for a relevant answer.

Last fall, as I was preparing in my office for the Sunday service, the telephone rang. “Who’s preaching in Duke Chapel today?” asked a nasal, Yankee-sounding voice. I cleared my throat and answered. “The Reverend Doctor William Willimon.” “Who’s that?” asked the voice. “The Dean of the Chapel,” I answered in a sonorous tone. “I hope he won’t be preaching politics. I’ve had a rough week, and I need to hear about God. My Baptist church is so eaten up with politics, I’ve got to hear a sermon!”

Learn more about Southern Baptist Identity here.

June 24, 2009 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:24 pm | (2) Comments »

A Committment to Missional Thinking

As the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting continues, check out this excerpt from Ed Stetzer’s chapter entitled Toward a Missional Convention in Southern Baptist Identity:

Many churches will go to great lengths and tremendous expense to involve members in “missional” activities far from home, yet fail to fully engage their own neighborhood. Perhaps one of the contributing factors to this seeming inconsistency is the ability for us to behave “missionally” for a short period of time in a “far country” where co-workers and neighbors can’t see us. In these short-term/long-distance mission events, we are able to experience the passion of missional living without really becoming incar-
national to our own context.

This approach to missional work is perhaps the unfortunate outcome of a separation between missions and evangelism in popular thinking among Southern Baptists and other evangelicals. To many, missions is something done “elsewhere” by “someone.” Thus, some churches that are “far-thinking” and “far-reaching” in terms of international missions are failing to reach the people in the shadows of their steeples. North America is not viewed as a mission field. In fact, many believe it to be a “reached” field only in need of an evangelism strategy, not a true missional engagement.

What is needed is not merely an understanding of missiological thinking, but a commitment to missional thinking. While missiology concerns itself with study about missions and its methodologies, missional thinking focuses on doing missions in every geographical location. Such thinking is needed if the SBC is to remain faithful in its calling to serve churches by equipping them to impact their surrounding communities.

Southern Baptist Identity, pp. 186

June 23, 2009 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:05 pm | 1 Comment »

Read Dockery’s Intro to Southern Baptist Identity

Southern Baptist Identity is hot off the press just in time for the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting this week in Louisville, KY. More information and live streaming is available here.

Read the introduction by David Dockery, “Southern Baptists in the Twenty-first Century”, or view a list of the contributors and their respective chapters each offering insight into how America’s largest evangelical denomination is facing the future.

June 22, 2009 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 10:04 am | 0 Comments »