Ray Ortlund and Sam Allberry address how to build gospel culture through a worship service.
In this episode:
- Introduction—favorite movies (0:00)
- Creating gospel culture (1:56)
- Two of the most important minutes of the service (3:43)
- It’s pastoral ministry (6:04)
- “How did you come. . . ?” (9:52)
- Challenging messages are a total failure (11:17)
- Setting a tone for the glory of Christ (13:56)
- Pastoral prayer (14:52)
- Sermons that nurture gospel culture (21:27)
- Three Ps of preaching (25:01)
- It’s an anointing (28:45)
- Send people out with a message (32:02)
- Recommended resource: What God Has to Say About Our Bodies by Sam Allberry (37:03)
Explore more from TGC on creating a gospel culture in your church.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Ray Ortlund: Welcome to You’re Not Crazy: Gospel Sanity for Young Pastors, a podcast from the Gospel Coalition. I am Ray Ortlund, and I’m here with my friend and cohost, Sam Allberry. Sam, I’ve got a question for you. What’s your favorite movie?
Sam Allberry: It’s a hard one, isn’t it? One of my favorite movies is called A Few Good Men. Came out in 1991, I think, ’92, something like that. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, I think the best I’ve seen of either of them in any movie. It’s about a court-martial going on in the US Navy. Actually, it’s great because it talks about honor and all these sorts of things. That famous line, “you can’t handle the truth,” that comes from that movie.
Ray Ortlund: Oh, interesting. I’ve never seen it.
Sam Allberry: All right, well, let’s stop this right now.
Ray Ortlund: I would say it would be a toss up for me between It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart and the Hunt for Red October with Sean Connery. Very different movies, but I love them both. I think I would give the edge to It’s a Wonderful Life because it’s a story about humaneness prevailing in a world of brutality and disgusting oppression. Humaneness prevails, not by swagger and pushiness, but by accepting affliction, hardship, and even injustice.
Sam Allberry: Wow.
Ray Ortlund: And that’s a wonderful life. You have to be a Christian to be crazy enough to believe that’s real.
Sam Allberry: Yeah.
Ray Ortlund: Great. Now, so we’re talking about gospel doctrine, creating gospel culture. We’re saying that faithful ministries, young pastors pursuing faithful ministries, are not only preaching the Bible faithfully, but they’re also leading the people into an experience of grace, a shared experience of grace. Gospel culture is not a matter of isolated individuals in the congregation being blessed by the ministry, although that’s wonderful. But a culture is what we all share together in a certain body of people. The gospel says something and the gospel does something. The gospel says that there is a God in heaven, who for Jesus’ sake receives the undeserving.
The gospel does something. It creates a receptive, welcoming social environment where good things happen to bad people for Jesus’ sake. We all share that together as a sacred reality, it’s not a compromise, it’s not a concession. It’s the highest of holy experiences in all this world. Anyway, since this is about gospel culture, what we’d like to do this time, Sam, is just think our way through the main points of a typical, Sunday morning worship service, in an evangelical church, in a non-denomination, specific way, the component parts of a worship service that so many young pastors are building out every Sunday faithfully.
How can a worship service both preach gospel doctrine, and cultivate, and nurture gospel culture? The verse that you suggested just before we began to record, of course, is Romans 15:7, “Therefore, welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.” What if thousands of churches across the country over the next five years begin to stand out in our angry world for the welcoming tone that’s being set there? It resonates. It is so unmistakably clear and alluring. Well, that’s why we’re doing this podcast. We long for that, we pray for that.
Sam Allberry: That’s interesting. That verse is one that… It’s only been in the last couple of years, I’ve realized that the first two minutes of a service are two of the most important minutes of the service. I think I’ve always sort of thought, “Well, it’s just saying hello and saying welcome,” but it’s amazing what you can do in that first two minutes. It’s amazing what you might fail to do in that first two minutes, because that is setting the tone for the entire rest of the meeting. We care deeply about preaching.
We want the sermon to be fundamental, and a central part of that service experience, and of what happens. But if the service starts off on the wrong note, then you’re already having barriers. By the time you get up to preach, you’re already having to go against a grain that you didn’t want to be there. Whereas, if the opening of the service goes well and the rest follows suit, people are already lined up in the right direction even before you’ve stood up to preach.
Ray Ortlund: Many people walk into church expecting to get a pep talk or maybe even a tongue lashing, and sort of a cheerleader experience perhaps from the front. Exhausted, weary, defeated, sinners don’t need cheerleading.
Sam Allberry: They don’t need scolding.
Ray Ortlund: Yep. I strongly agree. It really matters, those first two minutes, the tone that the pastor sets, and this is pastoral ministry. This is not something you hand off to whoever’s leading the band, or leading the singing, whatever it may be. This is pastoral ministry. I don’t remember what the occasion was, but I discovered on the home page of the website of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, wonderful PCA church. I discovered there a call to worship, that I don’t know if they composed it themselves, or if it came out of Presbyterian tradition, but I was captivated by this.
Here’s what it said. “To all who are weary and need rest. To all who mourn and long for comfort. To all who fail and desire strength. To all who sin and need a savior, this church opens wide her doors with a welcome from Jesus, the friend of sinners.” I thought that says it exactly. That is what I want to say to Nashville. That’s what I want to say to the world, because who isn’t exhausted these days and needs rest? By the way, in a Bible belt place like Nashville, people walk into church perhaps expecting that the message they’re going to get that day is the pastor saying, “Y’all are slackers. You need to re-up, you need to get serious this time,” and so forth.
Well, what if they hear the opposite message? What if they experience the opposite tone? What if they walk into this sacred cloud of assurance and all sufficient divine grace for people who are weary, people who are mourning, people who are failing and people who are sinning, that’s a game changer.
Sam Allberry: Well, it’s so similar to what Jesus himself says, “Come to me, all who labor, and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” As well as the tongue lashers, you also get the kind of welcome that can often unintentionally imply, “We’re the good people, because we’ve all come to church, and we’re patting God on the head just by being here. Isn’t he lucky that we’re down here being such good people?”
Ray Ortlund: That is so absurdly blasphemous, I have to just laugh. I’m sorry.
Sam Allberry: Yeah.
Ray Ortlund: Crazy.
Sam Allberry: That’s the beautiful thing about that call to worship is it’s catching people where they actually are in reality. They’re not having to pretend to be something, as they walk into the churches. To all who are weary, and all who mourn, and who fail and who sin. That includes everyone, it’s inclusive.
Ray Ortlund: We’re not saying this is a magic formula. We are saying we have found that gospel greeting, that gospel culture nurturing declaration that we make, gently and even quietly, has landed powerfully on people so many times. Right from the get go, they start to tear up because- [crosstalk]
Sam Allberry: Well, when I first started attending Emmanuel, I remember sitting next to a guy who looked very much like a man’s man. Gruff exterior, tattoos everywhere, there was an oily hair kind of thing. I remember saying to him, “How did you come to Emmanuel?” He said, “Oh, my wife and I moved to Nashville a few years ago and a friend of hers was attending so we came along.” He said, “I walked into the building, looked around and thought no, this isn’t going to be for me.” Then he said Ray then stood up and did a call to worship. He said, “I burst into tears and we’ve not been anywhere since.”
It seems to me there are two frames of mind people often have as they walk into church. One is, “I’m just too bad to be here. Everyone else looks like they’ve got their Christianity sorted out, and their lives together, and I’m the one who hasn’t. I’m the imposter here.” The other danger is that the person who walks in thinking, “I’m atoning for everything I’ve done badly this week by showing up. This is what will make me right with God is the fact that I’m a church attender and I’m fulfilling all righteousness.”
The great thing about that type of welcome is it sets both mindsets in the right frame of mind, doesn’t it?
Ray Ortlund: Coming back to the verse you just read a moment ago, Sam, Jesus did not say, “Come to me all who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you a challenge.” If I preach on a Sunday morning and someone walks up to me afterwards, intending to be very kind and encouraging, but they say, “Pastor, that was a challenging message.” I felt like saying, “I’m so sorry. Can we back up and do this again,” because that’s total failure. People do not need a challenge. Religious culture might have taught them that’s the English word they’re supposed to use to be kind to the pastor.
Young pastor, you and I both know very well people don’t need challenge. We’re walking through advertising is challenge. Advertising is law. Advertising is an insinuation of inferiority and inadequacy. “Buy our product, you’ll stop being a loser. You will be amazing.” It appeals to everything that is fraudulent about us. It’s a culture of fraudulence preying upon our insecurities. Church is not a better version of that. Church is the counterculture. When we are plowing through work, Monday through Friday, sometimes through Saturday, at work, we never fully measure up. We’re always having to pedal faster and do better, try harder.
We walk out of that social environment where we never fully belong, into a Christian church covered with the finished work of Christ on the cross, who said, “It is finished.” We walk into a message and an environment of acceptance and completeness already prepared. We receive it with the empty hands of faith. We enter in and we exhale, and we rest, and we breathe. We are reoxygenated to go out and love and serve in all of that stress, and all of that soul injury until next Sunday, when we come back into the message and experience of the grace of Christ in church. The call to worship sets that tone.
Young pastor, if you will steward wisely that the first two minutes, as Sam said, of the worship service, Sunday by Sunday, your people will notice it, their hearts will melt, and the rest of the service will accomplish far more for the glory of Christ through that simple way of beginning it.
Sam Allberry: It’s trying to find a way of starting a service that gives people a sense of relief that this was the right place to come this morning. This was worth getting out of bed for. It’s not that God needs me to worship him, to give him a shot in the arm. Actually, God invites me in all of my need to receive from him.
Ray Ortlund: I love that. We’re not saying our way is the best way. Pastor, you figure out a better way and let us know and we’ll steal your idea.
Sam Allberry: Yes.
Ray Ortlund: Now, we’re going through the service. By God’s grace for his glory, you’ve set the tone that you want to set of assurance and all sufficient divine grace, is this cloud we’re now walking into by faith. We come along to let’s say the pastoral prayer. It’s unimaginable that a Christian service of worship would not have prayer.
People come to church, they need to hear their pastor pray for them. Sam, your ministry in pastoral prayer is you did it yesterday. I found it so meaningful, so helpful, it was powerful, it was compelling. What do you believe? How can a pastoral prayer in a Sunday morning worship service help people into gospel culture?
Sam Allberry: I think we’re trying to do several things at the same time with a pastoral prayer. We’re showing people how to come before God in prayer, that we can, that we’re welcome to, that we’re invited to. It’s not presumption on our part because he’s invited us to. I think we’re also trying to show people these are the sorts of things we should have on our hearts if we are the people of God. I always think back to the Lord’s Prayer and how the very fact of the Lord’s Prayer and how Jesus structures it, shows us prayer is not about trying to bring God on board with our agenda, trying to twist God’s heart around to what we want.
The Lord’s Prayer shows us one of the functions of prayer is to reorient our lives around God’s priorities. I think prayer is a way of trying to reflect the priorities God has given us, as his people, and to show something of how those things should lie on our hearts. The very tone and posture that we adopt in prayer, I would hope reflects that kind of gospel culture. We don’t pray about people in desperate need in a way that sounds flippant, and cavalier, and lacking in any kind of empathy. Actually, we want people to care about things in a certain way.
Ray Ortlund: When you lead in the pastoral prayer at Emmanuel, let’s say you pray for two or three minutes. By the time you have finished praying, I have relocated, I’ve been relocated. I start out just being me. I’m making progress because we’re 15 minutes into the service so I’m better than I was 15 minutes before. When I’m done, I feel loved. I feel thought about, and how do I even say this? I feel that God is involved in my reality. It just sounds so basic and sort of almost primal to put it that way but that’s what prayer accomplishes. As I hear Pastor Sam Allberry, pray over me, this awareness comes over my being, God is here, god is involved, I’m not God forsaken. I’m not alone, I’m not friendless, I’m not powerless.
Whatever the words might be, whatever the issue of the day might be and so forth, there’s just that broad awareness that washes over me. I’m lifted into hope. I’m feeling less oppression and more hope and expectancy. When a pastoral prayer helps, sort of elevates a congregant, I’m just a pew warmer, for crying out loud. I am being served and ministered to. I’m experiencing gospel culture with everybody else in the room. We’re all going there together because the guy up front prays that way. It’s amazing.
Sam Allberry: There are other things, I think, that a part of the dynamic. If I’m doing the pastoral prayer, I will try to have liaised with the person I’m preaching to get a sense of what is he hoping the Lord will do through the sermon, and how can the pastoral prayer soften some of the ground of our heart to receive that? I try and pray in a way that prepares us for what I’m now knowing is going to be the burden of the sermon. Something else it’s worth, I think, thinking about is I’m a Church of England clergyman, Thomas Cranmer’s collects, I love the way he structures them. He always begins with theology. The piece of theology that is most pertinent to the request that is about to be made of God.
If it’s a request that God would be near to the sick. It might be a prayer that begins by acknowledging that actually God is the one who draws near to the broken- hearted. God is the one who is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness. Something that reflects in God’s own revelation of himself. Something that shows us why this is a concern we can legitimately bring to him that he’s going to care about. Cranmer’s prayers are a great model, I think, of how to pray in a way that shows we’re not just bringing to God our own. It’s not room service. It’s not just, “Hey, I quite like this so I’m going to ask for it.” It’s actually thinking what has God shown us that he cares about?
Ray Ortlund: That’s fascinating. That explains to me why a big part of the reason why your pastor prayers work. The collects of Cranmer, you don’t recite them, but the categories of thought and the grander of vision have flowed through you, and are translated by you into a pastoral prayer that lands on me today with real power. I know I can trust it because there’s legitimate, substantial theology in your prayer, without being tedious but heart-lifting.
Sam Allberry: Well, the other thing that should do, as well as it shows it, I’m not just praying for something that is my hobby horse. If I can draw a straight line between something God has shown us about himself, and the thing I’m now bringing to him in prayer, it legitimizes the request.
Ray Ortlund: That’s good. Call to worship, pastoral prayer. Not long after that, there is going to be the sermon, preaching the gospel. How can preaching a sermon, an expositional sermon, the Bible is open, you’re working through a passage, how can the ministry of preaching simultaneously announce gospel doctrine and nurture gospel culture? Let me throw out two things on the table, Sam, that I’d love to know what you think too. One is two considerations. One, the message to the tone. The message, you mentioned Matthew 11 a few minutes ago. Let me read this again.
I think this is basically the whole message of holy scripture from cover to cover. When Jesus says, “Come to me all who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” that I think is the best hermeneutic, with which to read the Bible from cover to cover, and the best message to convey wherever we are from Genesis to Revelation. It is all about, ultimately, even though each passage will take us into Jesus from a different angle of vision and show us something more about him.
Not every passage has to be a deeply comforting. There are really unsettling passages in the Bible. When you’re preaching through a book of the Bible and you come to an unsettling passage, let it be unsettling. Don’t muffle the voice of that passage. It will, if you’re not just preaching the passage, but preaching Christ, it will take you to this Jesus that we find in Matthew 11, ultimately. The message is one of Jesus in his personal invitation and because this is preaching, not teaching, it’s not come learn about Jesus. The ministry of preaching, as opposed to teaching, is Jesus himself saying, “Come to me.” He’s saying that through the preacher.
That’s the other thing I would want to point out, that the message can announce gospel doctrine, leading people to Jesus himself. We all get re-energized, and less despairing, more hopeful in Jesus himself. That’s the message. It’s not just instructional, it’s alluring. Then the other thing, the tone. I was with Willie Mackenzie in the Highlands of Scotland a few years ago, and he was recalling an ordination exam. I think there in the Church of Scotland, maybe the Free Church, I don’t know. John Murray of Westminster Seminary was one of the examiners. He asked the perspective ordinand, “What is the difference between preaching and teaching?” The young man did not have a clear answer.
John Murray proposed three Ps: personal, passionate, pleading. When a pastor is preaching the Bible, expositionally leading people, the whole message funnels down to the all sufficient grace of Christ for the undeserving. In his own authentic, non-weird, socially acceptable way in his cultural context, that pastor wants to reach out to the very hearts of the people with personal, passionate pleading. Opening the door for them to close with Christ, whether for the very first time or at their personal point of need that day and take the outstretched hand of Christ in their own hand.
A faithful pastor leads people to Christ himself, not just to biblical information. Every faithful sermon will have instructional content. At the end of a sermon, I want to know something more about the Bible than I did when I walked in. That’s a legitimate expectation, but I want something even more. I want the pastor to preach to me in such a way that he opens a door for me to come to Christ himself, and that happens through personal, passionate pleading. That’s the difference between preaching and teaching. If all I do is have people journaling and taking notes as I preach, I feel like a failure.
Sam Allberry: I may have misremembered this. I think it was Martin Lloyd Jones, who said that he wanted people to stop taking notes in the last part of his sermon. That if they were still taking notes, then he regarded himself to have failed. He wanted people to be so focused on Jesus, so conscious of the presence of Jesus, that they weren’t now thinking, “Oh, I need to write this down.” They were just too in the moment. I love that aspiration. I’m struck, and I know you’ve been haunted by this verse as well, but in John 5:39, Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them, you have eternal life,” and we think great.
Searching the scriptures, great, realizing that they have the message of eternal life, fantastic. He then says, “It is they that witnessed to me, yet you refuse to come to me.” It’s possible to come to scripture without coming to Christ. It’s, therefore, possible to teach scripture without presenting Christ. If preaching is media, data transfer, it’s not preaching. The demons believed in one God, James tells us. Just having information about God being one is not enough.
Ray Ortlund: Preaching can nurture an anti-gospel culture.
Sam Allberry: Yeah.
Ray Ortlund: Preaching can “succeed in nurturing” an anti-gospel culture. Preaching from an open Bible that follows the text at some level, can actually create unhealthy churches but there is another kind of preaching. I saw my dad do this thousands of times in his ministry. He was the best preacher I have ever heard, hands down, because he had… I want to say to every pastor listening, we have to ask the Lord for this. This is not something you can learn from a podcast.
It’s not something you can take. It’s not a course in seminary. It’s an anointing, it’s a gift from above. The Lord is able to put his hand on you, as a preacher, such that you, in ways you’re not even fully aware of. You are helping people experience Jesus in his presence, in his glory, his reality, his immediacy, his accessibility with such alluring power, they’re lifted to him. That’s preaching.
Sam Allberry: Ephesians 2:17 has ruined preaching for me because Paul writes to them that Christ came and preached peace to you, who were far off and peace to you, who are near. Paul’s writing to these people in Ephesus, and he’s saying, “Christ came and preached to you.” The question is when? When did Christ go and preach to them? Is there a bit in the gospel where Jesus takes a ferry to Asia Minor, and goes off to Ephesus and preaches there for a bit, and that’s what Paul’s referring to?
No, Christ came and preached peace through presumably, the gospel ministry of Paul and his colleagues. Paul says in the same letter, a few verses earlier, that Christ himself is our peace. Christ was preaching himself to the people of Ephesus, both Jew and Gentile. Christ had come and preached to them. If that’s the case, I don’t ever want any sermon to be anything less than that.
Ray Ortlund: That’s right. It is so sacred. We’re not talking about handy tips that we can master for that to happen. When a church grows in its awareness, a whole church, not isolated individuals sprinkled throughout the church, the whole church grows in its awareness. When we are under the ministry of the word, we’re experiencing Jesus. He is present here.
That is gospel culture at its highest, and most holy, and most glorious. That is the ministry of preaching. I’m thinking maybe I, and every young pastor listening, maybe we just need to get down on our knees and ask the Lord for that grace and that gift.
Sam Allberry: I know for me, if someone comes up to you at the end of a service and says, “You’re a great preacher,” that’s nice. It’s better than, “You’re a lousy preacher.” If they say to you, “Isn’t that an amazing passage?” That’s better. Best is when someone comes up and says, “isn’t Jesus amazing?”
Ray Ortlund: And given what I’m facing this week, maybe he will get me through this. I’m going to dare to believe that. That’s what we live for.
Sam Allberry: Absolutely.
Ray Ortlund: The call to worship, pastoral prayer, the sermon, and we’re going to spend the rest of our lives growing in this area of real preaching, such that the doctrine and the culture are happening with this wonderful magic. Call to worship, pastoral prayer, preaching, and then the benediction at the end. We’re going to send the people off into their week with some kind of message, some kind of impact, a gift right at the very end.
It’s not an announcement. Maybe there’s something to be said of that nature, but the final word. The sermon is not the touchdown. The sermon is getting the congregation to the red zone. The benediction at the end is the touchdown. Sam, what can a pastor do, through a benediction, to send the people away with the power of gospel culture in their hearts?
Sam Allberry: The answer isn’t weigh them down with a task you want them to do this week. It is rather to send people out of the building propelled by their own assurance of the love of Christ for them. That they are going into this week with Jesus, with his love, with his grace, with that rest for the soul that he has promised.
Ray Ortlund: Personally, I really like traditional benedictions. They’re triune, they’re densely packed. What we’ve done it Emmanuel, again, this is not the best way. Please let Sam and me know your way, it’s probably better. I always ask the people, “Would you raise your hands in openness to God?” And so we all just lift our hands like this. Then I give them, and I always say, “This is God’s benediction. This is not my benediction.” I’m not pronouncing my benediction of the people. “Would you receive God’s benediction as you go into your week?” They’re just one of the classic, simple, and I’ll look them right in the eye, so important for the pastor.
See, I’m an introvert, I’m bookish, I’m withdrawn, and so forth, so I have had to make myself get over that and just look at the people, by faith in Christ. Look at them as if they matter because they do. They matter supremely. Treat them as if they matter. Treat them as if their week is consequential. It’s important in the sight of Christ himself. Invite them to lift their hands, look them right in the eye with all my heart. “May the blessing of God, almighty Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be and abide with you both now and forevermore. Amen. “Boom, done. Maybe that doesn’t work for anybody else. It sure works for me.
Sam Allberry: There are some amazing benedictions right there in the Bible.
Sam Allberry: I’ve got the end of one testimony is open in front of me. “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, and soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful. He will surely do it.”
Ray Ortlund: People need to know the God they’ve experienced in the worship service, the fellowship and the social dynamics they’ve experienced in the worship service, the vision of reality that is not heart-crushing, but heart-lifting that they’ve experienced in the worship service, was not a fluke. It is a new reality and they’re not going to leave it behind when they walk out of church. They’re going to be exporting it when they walk out of church. The Lord, who is so close to them in those sacred moments, is going to be just as close to them in the unsacred moments about to descend upon them. They’re going to soak it through this week.
They are going to make an eternal difference in the world this week. It’s going to be a great, it’s going to be an amazing week. It’s going to be filled with suffering. They’re going to sin, they’re going to fail, they’re going to stumble. The grace of God will be all sufficient. We’re going to be back here next Sunday and he’s going to do it all over again. He’s going to get us from here all the way into eternity. Our lives are going to make a difference the entire way. The benediction just radiates that confidence.
Sam Allberry: We’ve often talked about wanting people who limp into church to float on their way out of church.
Ray Ortlund: There is a way to steward a worship service on a typical Sunday morning or maybe Saturday night, in such a way that both message and experience converge on the gospel itself. Now, pivoting, Sam, to our gratitude for Crossway Books and their sponsorship of You’re Not Crazy: Gospel Sanity for Young Pastors. I want to talk about your book that’s coming up soon. Going to be released, well, actually by the time this podcast goes out, it might actually be available to people.
What God Has to Say About Our Bodies by Sam Allberry, published by Crossway. Wait a minute, hold everything. What God has to say about our bodies, I deeply believe God has second thoughts about the fact that he ever gave me a body. My body’s icky, and I feel bad things, and I get sick, and I sneeze. My body is just an embarrassment to the all holy God above. Am I right about that?
Sam Allberry: He seems to have enjoyed making several billion of these bodies and he thought them up so presumably, for all their quirks, and idiosyncrasies, and peculiar noises from time to time, he’s a fan of the human body. It’s hard to pay the human body a bigger compliment, than the fact that Jesus, himself came to us and became human.
Ray Ortlund: Wow.
Sam Allberry: And stayed human. He didn’t ditch his humanity when he returned to heaven. There is now a human at the right hand of God on high. Really, I just wanted to think about how the gospel is good news for our bodies. It’s good news in the sense that it shows us how much dignity we have in our physicality, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s good news because if our bodies now belong to Jesus, which Paul says they do in First Corinthians six, the only person who needs to be pleased with our bodies is Jesus.
Ray Ortlund: Wow.
Sam Allberry: He’s a much kinder master than our culture is. The body that is pleasing to Jesus is a body that has consecrated to him. You don’t need to look like the person on the billboard in order to be physically pleasing to Jesus. Of course, we see in scripture that we will experience the full redemption of our bodies. Romans eight, we will experience a resurrection. That the bodily experience we have now is not the only bodily experience we’re ever going to get, so physically, our best days are ahead of us. Not behind us.
Ray Ortlund: It’s hard to think of a more urgently, relevant consideration right now in our culture, than the human body and what the gospel has to say about that. Your book is timely, your book is faithful, your book is relevant. There’s a personal dimension to this that is very meaningful to every single one of us, because who of us is entirely comfortable inside our own skin? Who of us looks in the mirror and says, “Oh yeah,” not anymore. Are you saying that in this book, for you, as you researched it and wrote it, what was the most surprising and striking insight you gained from writing the book?
Sam Allberry: That very point that my body simply needs to be pleasing to Jesus, not to the people in Hollywood, not to the people on Madison Avenue but to Jesus. Actually, this lumpy piece of flesh I carry around, if in Roman six, I offer the parts of my body as God for instruments of righteousness, offering our bodies to him, Romans 12:1 and 12:2, is pleasing to him.
Ray Ortlund: His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Sam Allberry: Here’s the other thing, Psalm 34, I think it is says, “Those who look to him are radiant.” It’s not what we look like, it’s what we look at that is going to be the key for us.
Ray Ortlund: Gosh, that’s perfect. Sam, thank you for writing that book, what God Has to Say About Our Bodies. We know you have a ton to do these days, and so it means a lot to us that you would listen to the podcast. Thank you for listening to this episode of You’re Not Crazy: Gospel Sanity for Young Pastors. Do visit tgc.org/podcasts for more episodes. It would be great if you’d subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, thank you for doing that, Spotify, wherever you listen, wherever you hang out. Thanks.
The You’re Not Crazy Podcast was made possible by multiple team members at TGC. That team includes the hosts of the show, Ray Ortlund and Sam Allberry, as well as Steven Morales and Andrew Laparra, as executive producer and producer. Heather Farrow, our podcast lead, Gabriel Reyes, our graphic designer, and Josh Diaz, our audio engineer. You’re Not Crazy os a part of the Gospel Coalition Podcast Network. You can find more podcasts at tgc.org/podcasts.