Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Own Op-ED--Isn't It Lovely?

This entire series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) was an attempt to critique an editorial without ad hominen. There are three reasons why this has been my pursuit, and why I want to state that clearly.

    I have been wrong in the past.
A brother I love recently stated that I do not recant or concede clearly in writing. At times, I think I am making concessions or admitting wrong doing, yet it is clouded or veiled. Therefore, I want to state this clearly: I have sinned on this blog before and have been/am in the process of confessing that to individuals and making it right. It is perfectly reasonable for brothers to disagree publicly and can be edifying for all involved. However, it is not appropriate to assume motive or attack character on the part of these difference.
    This wasn't about Ed.
It was wonderful to have Ed's permission to post these articles. I hope one reason why is that it really wasn't about Ed anyway. I know Ed loves and affirms the gospel. I know Ed has a passion for discipleship and not just conversions. I know Ed affirms eternal security. Therefore, to attack Ed would be foolish. However, I also do not believe his editorial expressed these truths that I know he affirms. And if it were just one editorial I probably would not have said a thing. However, I do believe there has been a growing tendency for ministry partners to assume (or neglect to communicate) the power of the gospel in the midst of their communication. While I am not attacking Ed at all (or anyone else in the Fellowship), I do think the tone and message of his editorial is pervasive in our circles and should be addressed.

So Danny, if you do not have a problem with Ed, and you know he would agree with your posts (probably, I have not heard what he thinks of my conclusions, just that he was ok with me posting them), Why write the series?

Because, Brothers, we have something so much greater to share than we often do.
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal {this} to you, but My Father who is in heaven. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.--Matthew 16:16-18
Notice a few things from this text:

--Peter nails it! In this one sentence, Peter affirms that Jesus is the Anointed One, He is divine and the necessity of the resurrection!

--God is the One who graciously reveals Himself. We know Peter. We know He doesn't get it on His own. An answer like this comes to Peter only because God has graciously revealed it to Him!

--This message is that which Christ will use to build His church. There is nothing about programs, cultural trends or methodology in this comment. There is no statement about moral reform, conservative values or traditions either. Jesus simply says that upon the message Jesus will build His church.

Any orthodox pastor believes this, but we are all tempted not to practice it. We're tempted to take this message for granted. In times of perceived prosperous ministry (however one wants to define that) we are tempted to superiority. In times of perceived fruitlessness (again, however a person defines it) we are tempted to feel defeated. In reality, both are an expression of pride. How? Both place far more prominence and attention upon the actions of self rather than the activity of the gospel.

But I also think a generic "God did it" response is insufficient to express Christ's truth. He did not simply say, "Good answer Pete. I'm going to build My church." He told Him the very message by which He would build His church. This means that we do not simply say it is up to Jesus to build His church, but that it is up to Jesus to build His church through the proclamation of the very gospel message. And build is not just a numeric statement. We build people up in the faith. The church will increase in quantity, purity and maturity on the rock!

This gospel is powerful:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.--Romans 1:16

Notice Paul did not say, it is the power of God unto justification. He said it is the power of God unto salvation. Just a quick survey of Romans will show that Paul means justification, sanctification and glorification in this verse. Our gospel we preach must be that which calls the non-believer to repentance and faith for the salvation of their soul in justification. It is also the same gospel we are preaching to the saved in our congregation for the sake of their salvation from sin in the process of sanctification. And our people better learn to love it, for it will be the focus of their worship during their eternity in glorification. This gospel does not merely change your eternal domain, it changes your eternity!

This kind of gospel preaching is powerful. It will powerfully call the lost to Christ. It will powerfully call the sheep to abide in Christ. Its power, reach and grip are far stronger than any program change or structure adjustments.

We really don't fully understand how powerful it is.


Brad said...

I know you said you plan to get to definitions, so please pardon my impatience, but I thought another clarifying question might help me (I found your answer to my last one quite beneficial).

Is there anything, anywhere in the preaching, teaching, or writing of the apostles that you would consider to be something other than the gospel?

danny2 said...


clear as mud?

Brad said...

A good start. I'll follow up.

danny2 said...

just teasing you bro.

is paul's instruction on why believers should not sue one another gospel?


is his answer rooted in the gospel?


is his instruction in ephesians 4 that one should no longer steal the gospel?


is his answer rooted in the gospel and only possible for a person to be found innocent of theft through the gospel?


[is that a better start?]

Brad said...


It seems like you're making a distinction between what God has done for us in Christ and how we are to live in response. I agree that there are many (one could even say "sundry") very important reasons for maintaining that kind of distinction.

However, consider this passage: "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in the present world..." (Titus 2:11-12).

In this passage the grace that saves is the same grace that instructs. I wonder (genuinely) if the scriptures really distinguish between the one as the "gospel" and the other as something other.

Perhaps I can phrase the question another way: do you think a pastor who always preached the cross but never preached taking up one's cross could really be said to be faithfully preaching "the gospel"?

danny2 said...

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."--Jesus, Luke 14:27

doesn't seem like Jesus would consider that a faithful gospel.

danny2 said...

again, the TItus verse you quote seems to be stating that living out a God pleasing life (in denying worldly and ungodly lusts) is rooted in the grace of God that has appeared.

i don't believe i can live out the gospel. the gospel is that Christ died for my sins and rose to give me life. i (as a sinner) cannot accomplish that by model.

however, i am commanded to live out a gospel changed life. and the way i live this life is by dwelling in the gospel.

so that....taking up a cross will not save me. however, the one who calls upon the Lord for salvation will be expected to take up his cross daily.

i can't be His disciple unless i take up my cross. but a person could take up a cross and not be His disciple. so, when i preach "take up your cross and follow Him," i better do it in the context of His work on the cross!

Brad said...

All right. I'm almost completely satisfied (as if I were the one to whom you had to answer).

One more question: you said, "i don't believe i can live out the gospel."

How would you reconcile this statement with the biblical notion that the gospel is something to be "obeyed" (II Thess. 1:8; I Peter 4:17)?

danny2 said...

in each reference you listed, those are clearly unbelievers. their lack of obedience to the gospel is equivalent to a lack of faith in the gospel.

it reminds me of Jesus' words in John 6:

28--Therefore, they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"

29--Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Brad said...

Always a pleasure, brother.