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Archive for May, 2011

A Book Piper Couldn’t Stop Reading

About God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, John Piper writes:

“I was riveted. Never do I sit down and read sixty pages of ANY book that I get in the mail. But I could not stop—could not stop reading and could not stop rejoicing over God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment. It is the kind of overview of redemptive history Edwards wanted to write. It’s what I hoped would be written.”

Learn more about God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James Hamilton or read a sample chapter.

May 12, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 2:02 pm | 0 Comments »

The Aim of Preaching: To Awaken the Dead

“The power of a great sermon does not belong to or emanate from the preacher. “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). All truly great preaching starts with that recognition. Preachers who rely solely on their skill, technique, or creativity may sometimes appear “successful” when the only measurement is human applause. But if the aim of preaching is the awakening of spiritually dead souls and the cleansing and transformation of lives spoiled by sin, then all that really counts is that the preacher be faithful in proclaiming the Word of God with clarity, accuracy, and candor. His people must also be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
Truth Endures by John MacArthur

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church Ministry,Life / Doctrine,Preaching / Teaching | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 10:49 am | 0 Comments »

You Can Change! (Or Can You?)

By Tim Chester from The Desiring God Blog

I wanted my book on sanctification, You Can Change, to be an anti-self-help book written in the style of a self-help book! So each chapter is built around a question to ask of yourself and ends with questions to help readers work through an area of their lives they would like to change.

But the central message is that we cannot change ourselves through our own effort. Instead, we are changed by God through faith. The key is understand how the dynamic of change by faith takes place and how other disciplines (like avoiding temptation and the means of grace) fit into a faith-based approach.

Here’s how the book unfolds:

1. How would you like to change?

We were made in the image of God to reflect his glory in the world. Jesus is the true image of God who reflects God’s glory. Through Jesus we can again reflect God’s glory as we image his Son. So the change that matters is becoming more like Jesus so that we reflect God’s glory.

2. Why would you like to change?

We often want to change to prove ourselves to God or to other people or to ourselves. But this puts our glory at the centre of change and that is pretty much a definition of sin. Plus Jesus has proved us right or justified us through his death. Instead, we change to enjoy the freedom from sin and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus.

3. How are you going to change?

We cannot change ourselves through rules and disciplines because behaviour comes from the heart. Instead God changes us through the work of Christ for us and the work of the Spirit in us.

4. What’s going on in your heart?

Our circumstances and struggles can trigger sin, but sin is caused by the thoughts and desires of our hearts.

5. What truths do you need to turn to?

We sin when we think or believe a lie instead of trusting God. Change takes place as, in response to God’s goodness and grace, we turn to him in faith. Legalism says, ‘You should not…’ Faith says, ‘You need not… because God is bigger and better than anything sin offers.’

6. What desires do you need to turn from?

We sin when we desire or worship or treasure an idol instead of worshipping God. Change takes place as, in response to God’s goodness and grace, we turn from idolatrous desires in repentance. This repentance is a continual act of turning from sin and denying self. It is often called ‘mortification’—putting to death whatever belongs to the sinful nature. Repentance is the flip-side of faith: we turn from sin in repentance as by faith we recognise that God is bigger and better than anything sin offers.

7. What stops you changing?

What stops us changing is our pride. Our pride makes us minimize or excuse or hide our sin. Or we think we can change on our own.

8. What strategies do you need to put in place to reinforce faith and repentance?

We are not to sow to the sinful nature. This means saying ‘no’ to whatever might provoke our sinful natures (which we do by fleeing temptation) and saying ‘no’ to whatever might strengthen our sinful desires (which we do by avoiding the influence of the world). Instead, we are to sow to the Spirit. This means saying ‘Yes’ to whatever might strengthen our new, Spirit-given desire for holiness (which we do through the word, prayer, community, worship, service and so on).

9. How can we support one another in change?

God has given us the Christian community so that we can change together by speaking the truth in love to one another to reinforce faith and repentance.

10. Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?

Change is a lifelong, daily struggle that will end with an eternal harvest of holiness.

The key moves in the book, but also the key moves for anyone wanting to help others change are:

  • ensuring the what, why and how of change are God-oriented not self-oriented (otherwise we will just produce more effective legalists);
  • moving the discussion from merely looking at behaviour to looking at the affections of the heart;
  • showing how change takes place through daily faith and repentance, and making this connection concrete for people;
  • introducing the ideas of fleeing temptation and discipling life only once this foundation has been built as means to reinforce faith and repentance rather mechanisms for self-induced changed;
  • showing how the Christian community is the normative context for change and how we can help one another change.

In future posts I’ll unpack some of these ideas.

Tim Chester is Director of The Porterbrook Institute and a leader in The Crowded House. He is the author of You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions and co-author of Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Communityboth published by Crossway.

May 11, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 1:00 pm | 1 Comment »

Video: Talking Faith with Your Unbelieving Family

Family and friends can be the toughest people in the world to talk to when it comes to the gospel. First attempts to share with family can be awkward or met with antagonism and rejection. Randy Newman, author of Bringing the Gospel Home, recognizes that evangelism isn’t easy or comfortable for most of us. How do non-evangelists do evangelism?

Learn more about Bringing the Gospel Home or read a sample chapter.

Become What You Already Are in Christ

Post modified from the 1 & 2 Thessalonians commentary by James H. Grant Jr. in the Preaching the Word Series

The Pattern of Biblical Obedience:
One of the greatest struggles in the Christian life is a failure to understand the basic pattern of Biblical obedience. If we don’t understand what God has done, we’ll constantly struggle to obey. If we don’t understand the indicative, the act of God, the cross of Jesus Christ, it is impossible for us to joyfully obey the imperatives, the commands of God. The gospel is so powerful that God has already transformed us. We have already been changed. As God’s people, we have received all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). We have been called, regenerated, forgiven, and adopted. The Biblical ethic is that we are now called to live like that. In other words, we are called to become what we already are in Christ.

We are called to live a life that pleases God. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Paul was hitting on two aspects of the Christian life.

  1. He was reminding them of how they started the Christian life. They received the word of Jesus Christ and obeyed it. They turned their backs upon the world and its sexual immorality. That type of repentance is a crucial start.
  2. Paul was explaining that they must continue to obey Jesus and to persevere. Sometimes when we first believe the gospel, things seem to fall into place. Life makes sense because we are supposed to live this way. But as we continue in this walk, the path is often difficult to maintain in the face of all the obstacles. So Paul was urging them forward.

Do you see the progression?

  • We received the word.
  • We have progressed in the faith.
  • But we must continue to grow.

Why? Because the Christian life is not so much about how we start but how we finish. Where will we be in a year or two? What happens once we settle down into the long haul of the Christian life? When we get married and have children, will we still be faithful, or will the cares of the world draw us away? After a few years of marriage, will we still be committed to our spouse? Or will we be tempted to find excitement and pleasure somewhere else? Let us be committed to remaining steadfast in this journey and not view it as a sprint but as a marathon.

Learn more about 1 & 2 Thessalonians or see other volumes in the Preaching the Word Series.

May 10, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 2:11 pm | 0 Comments »