Monthly Archives: November 2011

What is a Gospel-Centered Church?

A commenter this morning asks, “What is a gospel-driven church? What does a Bible believing church look like?”

Always helpful to refresh.

Joe Thorn reflects on “Gospel-Centered”

Ray Ortlund answers “What does it mean to be a gospel-centered church?”

Redeemer City Church’s definition and list of marks thereof.

And the best short piece I’m aware of is this one by my friend Joel Lindsey: “What is a Gospel-Centered Missional Church and Why Do We Need One?”

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Can Real Christians Not be Gospel Wakened?

I am grateful this morning for Aaron Armstrong’s positive review of Gospel Wakefulness. Aaron highlights a few passages from and features of the book most others do not, and that is an encouragement to me. It is clear that he felt the book, yet understood what I was trying to say about feeling, which is a double bonus and a great comfort for the author.

At the end of his review, however, Aaron expressed a concern, writing:

As much as I appreciate Gospel Wakefulness, I do have one point of concern. That is the distinction between the gospel awakened Christian and the one who believes, but isn’t necessarily captivated by the gospel. My concern is that this distinction could be used to create a false dichotomy between believers—as if there were Varsity and Junior Varsity Christians (an idea that tends to permeate certain segments of Pentecostal circles). While I’m not sure that was Wilson’s intention, it’s something that could be problematic for some readers who are particularly sensitive to that kind of thing. But it reveals an elephant in the room — can a believer truly not be in awe of the gospel? We all have season where our hearts wander and our affections are weak, but do the Scriptures give us room to say that there really is a distinction? I’m not sure that the Scriptures give us room to say that it’s the case, particularly as we look to what Jesus says to the lukewarm Laodiceans in Rev. 3:16. …

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What Works

The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself? The heart cannot be prevailed upon to part with the world, by a simple act of resignation. But may not the heart be prevailed upon to admit into its preference another, who shall subordinate the world, and bring it down from its wonted ascendancy?

If the throne which is placed there must have an occupier, and the tyrant that now reigns has occupied it wrongfully, he may not leave a bosom which would rather detain him than be left in desolation. But may he not give way to the lawful sovereign, appearing with every charm that can secure His willing admittance, and taking unto himself His great power to subdue the moral nature of man, and to reign over it?

In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object, is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away and all things are to become new. To obliterate all our present affections by simply expunging them, and so as to leave the seat of them unoccupied, would be to destroy the old character, and …

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TD Jakes and Theological Arrhythmia

Popular religious spokesperson T.D. Jakes, overseer of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, was all over my blog subscription feed a few weeks back because of his invitation to the Elephant Room. Jakes has a background in Oneness Pentecostalism which is traditionally known for its view of the Trinity, commonly classified as modalism.

Modalists maintain that there is one God and that he exists in three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — but not simultaneously. Instead, modalists use language like “God exists in three manifestations,” inferring that God is sometimes Father, sometimes Son, and sometimes Holy Spirit. This view has always been untrue but was officially declared a heresy (twice) by the Church in the fourth century. The “sometimes” of modalism’s manifestation language is at odds with both Scripture and the verbiage of the creeds. Here, as an example, is a taste of the Athanasian Creed’s Trinitarian confession:

And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

When the Athanasian creed speaks of the three Persons of the Trinity having coeternal majesty it denies a God who morphs into one of three persons at a time.

Now, T.D. Jakes wishes to distance himself from his Oneness …

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Justification by Vocabulary?

Matt Smethurst recently interviewed me for The Gospel Coalition on my new book Gospel Wakefulness. Here is an excerpt that has been making the rounds today:

Near the end of the book you ask, “Is gospel centrality just a trend?” What are some practical ways that we who champion gospel-centered theology and living can guard against this temptation to treasure the trend more than God himself?

Keep asking this question, for starters.

We need to also work at making sure the “gospel-centered” jargon doesn’t become our badge of orthodoxy, that we don’t shrink the church to the size of our tribe. I think when we trend that way, we have clearly made the gospel-centered movement more cherished than Christ and his body.

I also think we ought to take care that what we are seeing and doing are acts of worship, exulting in the gospel, which looks like—to borrow from Piper —“oh!” language, rather than merely recitations of the mechanics of salvation or rote theology. When Paul is outlining the workings of the gospel, he doesn’t do so simply or a-theologically; he is nearly breathless. He ransacks his vocabulary to do some sense of justice to it, to revel in it. His sense of awe is palpable.

Matt’s questions reflects a genuine concern. It’s a good question, and we need to keep asking it and not get irritated by those sincerely challenging on this point.

Here is the portion of the book he is referencing in his question, which comes from the book’s Conclusion:

I met …

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Gospel Wakefulness Giveaway Notice

I’m giving away two copies of my new book Gospel Wakefulness tomorrow to randomly selected “likers” of my public Facebook page. If you’ve already “liked” me, do nothing. If you haven’t, go on ahead with yo bad self.

I’m using an online random number generator and will discover, announce, and notify the winners at end of day tomorrow (Wednesday).

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May I Go In There?

This is taken from an illustration in John Phillips’ Exploring Hebrews commentary that has always moved me.

Imagine with me a Moabite of old gazing down upon the Tabernacle of Israel from some lofty hillside. This Moabite is attracted to what he sees so he descends the hill and makes his way toward the Tabernacle.

He walks around this high wall of dazzling linen until he comes to a gate and at the gate, he sees a man. “May I go in there?” he asks, pointing to the gate where all the bustle of activity in the Tabernacle’s outer court can be seen.

“Who are You?” demands the man suspiciously.

“I’m from Moab,” the stranger replies.

“Well, I’m very sorry, but you can’t go in there. You see, it’s not for you. The Law of Moses has barred the Moabite from any part in the worship of Israel until his tenth generation.”

The Moabite looks so sad and said, “Well, what would I have to do to go in there?”

“You would have to be born again,” the gatekeeper replies. “You would have to be born an Israelite, of the tribe of Judah, or of the tribe of Benjamin or Dan.”

“Oh, I wish I had been born an Israelite,” the Moabite says and as he looks again, he sees one of the priests, having offered a sacrifice at the brazen altar and the priest cleansed himself at the brazen laver and then the …

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