A Different Kind of Rock Star- Mike Huckabee and SBC Hypocrisy

June 29, 2009

Around here we like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 and T4G, Matt Chandler and JD Greear, the Gospel Coalition and 9Marks.  Many are on-board with this.  But others would criticize it, saying all that these things represent are the new rock star breed of Christianity.  That’s their prerogative to say, but as for me, I know that what I witnessed one week ago at the SBC Pastor’s Conference (SBCPC) when Mike Huckabee took the stage (I shiver to say pulpit) was nothing more than their own breed of rock star worship.

Huckabee rose to prowess during his failed attempt at the Republican Presidential nod last year, and from the word “Go” he wore his Southern Baptist credentials high.  For many people this was enough to garner their vote, but I never really bought in.  Aside from standing more firmly on his religious beliefs than other former governors of Arkansas and a ludicrous tax plan, Huckabee showed little political difference from his slick predecessor from across the aisle.  Still, watching him as a speaker at the SBCPC I was willing to forget my political concerns and listen simply as a fellow brother in Christ.  Unfortunately, by the end of his speech, a flat tax was the least of my worries.

People swarmed the room to watch Huckabee’s half-hour amalgamation of theology, morality, and politics.  I’ve seen Driscoll speak several times, and never has he his appearance created such a buzz.  To be fair, Huckabee made several good theological insights, but honestly, this made the whole thing that much more disappointing.  For someone who apparently knows the Bible well, he  demonstrated a horrific ability to connect it with the reality of Christian living.

His main message was, “We need to recognize that real leadership does not bring power to ourselves but brings power to those we serve.”  Uh, okay.  Now, move to application.  How do we do this?  Among the apparent answers offered by the Huckster were “to live by the Golden Rule,” “to have higher personal morality and personal responsibility,” to end abortion, and to comprehend that “our relationship with [political] Israel is organic and not just organizational.”  Whoop-dee-doo!  I mean, really?  If “the role of leadership is to empower people to stand before God as righteous, responsible people” (which I do not agree that it is), how does throwing a bunch of moralism and pep-rally jazz at an audience accomplish this?

But you know what?  People ate it up.  Standing ovations.  An amen corner.  If Jesus had come back at that moment, I honestly believe a lot of people in the room would have been disappointed.  And for what?  A bunch of non-biblical moralistic therapeutic deism?

Maybe Piper and Driscoll and Keller and Mahaney are rock stars.  Maybe people like myself focus on them too much.  Regardless, at the end of the day, I can fall back on the fact that these men, as over-hyped as they might sometimes be, are at least pouring out a true, deep biblical theology to the screaming masses, which is plenty more than I can say about the “acceptable” rock star worship I witnessed that afternoon in Louisville!

Resource Saturday- Advance’09 and Resolved Audio

June 20, 2009

In the past two weeks thousands of Christians have been blessed by two incredible conferences put on on two different costs, all singing praise to one holy God.  But for those of us unlucky enough to have had to stay home, we missed out.


Thanks to the wonders of technology and the belief that resources for building up the body of Christ should be as available to the church as possible (hmmm . . . *cough*J316C *cough*), both conferences, Advance ’09 from Raleigh, NC and Resolved 2009 from Palm Springs, CA, have made every sermon available to us online.

Advance ’09

A conference about the power of God’s gift to his people- the Church!; featuring John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Ed Stetzer, Eric Mason, Bryan Chapell, Danny Akin, J.D. Greear, and Tyler Jones.

Sermons available here

Resolved 2009

Resolved 2009 will focus on sin. What is sin? How bad is it? Where did it come from? How can I be saved from it and its consequences? Is it possible to stop? Our 5th Resolved Conference will explore these questions and provide biblical answers; featuring John MacArthur, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Rick Holland, Steve Lawson, and special guest Mark Driscoll (just kidding!)

Sermons available here


Resurrection Sunday 2009

April 12, 2009

[For Easter this year I would like to republish two old posts containing sermons by Mark Driscoll.  The first includes his sermon on the Day of Atonement from Holy Week 2008 and the second includes his sermon on teh resurrection from the Vintage Jesus series.]

Redemption- The Purpose of Good Friday

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” -1 Peter 2:24

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” -1 Peter 3:18

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” -Leviticus 17:11

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” – Hebrews 9:22

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” -1 John 4:10

On this day, that which we celebrate as Good Friday, the day that we placed Jesus Christ upon the Cross to die our death so that we may live, I wanted to just share with you two pieces which I have gone to in order to place this day in perspective for myself. The first is a sermon by Mark Driscoll describing the Day of Atonement and how it is a picture of Christ’s sacrifice for us. The second is a song by Johnny Cash about the wonderful meaning of the blood that was shed for us on the Cross. I pray that you may take these and listen to them as you reflect upon the central importance of this day for everything that we believe and that the crucifixion is not just a flippant event for us speak vainly about, but was instead a brutal day of agony for the only one who was righteous in order that we may be forgiven of our horrible lives.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.”
– Isaiah 53:5

The Day of Atonement- Mark Driscoll

Redemption- Johnny Cash


Without the Resurrection There is No Hope- The Importance of Easter

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” -John 10:17-18

“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” -John 20:6-9

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” -1 Corinthians 15:17

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” -Acts 2:24

“And was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” -Romans 1:4

“Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” -Romans 4:25

As a non-believer looking in at Christianity it would not be much of a stretch to think that the most important part of Christianity is what we celebrate at Christmas. That is the holiday full of decorations and presents and songs and movies. And yes, the coming of God in the form of man was a glorious thing, but the reason it was so wonderful is specifically for what was accomplished 33 years later in the event we celebrate by Easter.

It is with Easter that we remember and rejoice at the resurrection of Christ. The same Christ who three days earlier gave up his life on the cross in order to pay the penalty of our sins, now takes his life back up to show that death no longer has hold. It is because of this that we are able, as it says above, to be justified, or made clean and righteous before God. This is important because unless we are righteous we have no hope of living eternally in the presence of the Holy God. As the apostle Paul says, if Christ were not raised then we are totally hopeless. However, knowing that he has been resurrected we should celebrate all the more, for this is the only power which can free us from our sins!

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?- Mark Driscoll

In Christ Alone- Newsboys

For Only Pennies a Day . . . – The Wrongful Human Fascination with Eliminating Suffering

April 6, 2009

I was driving home the other day and this thought hit me.  So I wrote it down and continued to think on it for awhile, but hadn’t really gone much further with it.  Then tonight I was listening to Mark Driscoll’s sermon on 1 Peter 3.8-17 and it hit me again.  And as I was thinking about it I looked at the verses in front of me and listened to what Driscoll was saying and I felt like the thought was worth sharing: I don’t understand why we place so much value on human suffering!

What I mean is this: we run around campaigning and complaining acting as if the worst possible situation in the world is to be in suffering, either our own personal suffering or someone elses.  Heck, we even talk about the suffering of animals and of the environment.  I challenge you to not be able to name at least five different groups dedicated to alleviating the suffering of some special group in some special place.

And yet, I am not all that convinced that suffering is not inconsequential.

I mean, what are we trying to do?  If we get those kids out of the dirt shack that we see them in on TV, are they no longer suffering?  Or if we provide clean water to a village, are they now safe forever?  Removing landmines removes pain?  I think the clearest way to see the fallacy behind all of this is to look at the amount of suffering sustained by the richest, most well off people in our country: CEO’s.  Are they not suffering?  It seems almost cliche to talk about corporate CEO’s considering suicide or easing the stress if their life by participating in recreational drug use and promiscuous sexual encounters.  The bottom line is, no matter what suffering we ease or alleviate, new sufferings will crop up to replace them before too long.

This is true because we are human.

Hebrews 5.8 tells us about Jesus’ experience: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”  So does Hebrews 2.18: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Christ was fully God, but in order to show his humanity and to be able to identify as a high priest who can faithfully intercede for his people, Christ had to come to earth and suffer.  It was his sufferings that sat his humanity apart from his deity.  It made him human.

Because of this fact, because suffering is a part of humanity, we don’t see in the Bible a call to be without suffering.  There is no Joel Osteen-type health-wealth-and-prosperity crap that says if you suffer you aren’t saved.  Instead what we see is a theology of suffering that teaches us how to suffer well.  Specifically, it tells us, “Who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3.13-14a) and “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8.35-37).  We are not to be without suffering, but we are to suffer in a way that we may be blessed because of it and with hope that nothing we can suffer in this world can remove us from the family of God.

It is not suffering that is the worst thing.  The worst thing is what we find in 2 Thessalonians 1.8-9,

[Those] who do not know God and [those] who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus . . . will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

If we are called into the family of God, the sufferings we face will only be for a little while (cf. 1 Peter 1.6) and then we have the hope of eternal salvation and glory in the presence of the Lord.  But those who are outside of God’s family, who haven’t heard or haven’t believed, the sufferings of this life are nothing compared to the sufferings of an eternity separated from Our Father.  

We need to embarce this.  We can do social works all day long, but we will not see change that gives hope and keeps people from wasting their sufferings until we have seen a life that has been washed in regeneration and renewed in the Holy Spirit (cf. Titus 3.5).  The goal is not to alleviate sufferings, it is to make them worthwhile.  Caring about human suffering seems so altruistic, but an unbalanced approach to handling it belies a spirit of pridefulness which places the self and our needs in front of God and his eternal purposes of glory.

Enough Already!- The Continuing Saga of Evangelicals Attacking Driscoll

April 5, 2009

(Note: It has been brought to my attention since writing this that John MacArthur has made attempts to contact Mark Driscoll and deal with the issues that exist between them.  I am glad to hear that news and wish to repeal any critical comments I have made about MacArthur not doing so that appear in the article and comments below.) 

The twists and turns of evangelicals bitter affair with Mark Driscoll have been well-documented here (1, 2, and 3) as has my unwavering support of his ministry in Seattle and acround the world.  Now, with the recent passing of the 2009 edition of John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference, the harsh light of interrogation has turned once more to Pastor Driscoll and his “language” in the pulpit.

First, and I wish to say this just as a confession, I have often found myself at odds with John MacArthur and those who follow closely to his beliefs.  Beyond the fact that I think Reformed Dispensationalism in the Dallas Theological Seminary tradition makes absolutely no sense, I think that Dr. MacArthur tends to be awfully arrogant and presumptuous in promoting it.  More than that, however, I take issue with his extreme moral positions.  From issues of alcohol use to those of contextualization, Dr. MacArthur and his followers often times have presented themselves, at least in my estimation, wrongly as God’s final arbiters of what is biblical and what is not.  I typically find Marthur’s writings to be very informative, I own several and have benefited from them greatly, but there always comes a level at which I just don’t trust him.  This has only been compounded by his comments in 2006 about Driscoll which he has just let be tossed all about by evangelicals in print and on the net without him ever taking the opportunity to expound upon what he’d said or confront Driscoll with it himself.  I don’t like that– it reeks of self-importance and I find it to be awfully unhelpful to the greater cause of reaching people with the message of the gospel.

I share this first of all as a means of confessing what is probably on some level a sinful feeling in myself.  I don’t like disliking John MacArthur and his ministry, but more and more I find them to be guilty of the same self-aggrandizement and moral golden calfs as other evangelical establishments that MacArthur would likely preach against, and so I struggle to reconcile that.  

I also share this as a full disclosure before I refer you to a series of posts on Jonathon Christman’s blog The India I Know which address the recent exchange of feelings between Mark Driscoll and MacArthur disciple Phil Johnson.  As in prior Driscoll-related conflicts, Johnson’s beef with him has to do with pulpit behavior and does not really sound any different to me than anything anyone else has said.  However, this case is unique in that the full correspondance has been digitally immortalized by Christman including a direct and public response from Driscoll to the questions/charges.  Though I’m sure if you are like me you have had enough of this conflict, it is interesting to see Driscoll directly reply to it finally.

I do not necessarily mean to support all or any views on Christman’s site, but due to his diligent work in getting this up I ask that you visit the posts on his blog to see for yourself what is going on.  Check out the posts here: Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII

Imagine a Red, Horny, Hoof-footed Menace- Why Christian Mythology is So Dangerous

March 28, 2009

In my last post I discussed the recent Nightline Face Off between Team Driscoll and Team Deepak over the question “Does Satan Exist?”  It was a very illuminating debate and was of particular interest to me to see the ways in which Deepak Chopra attempted to use his New Age metaphysical approach to explain evil. However, as I watched it there was one thing that stuck out most to me, though I shouldn’t have been surprised by it, that being the amount of Christian mythology being brought to the table in dealing with this question.

Christian mythology is something that all of us are familiar with.  It is the overlaying of centuries of tradition and perversion of biblical teachings that result in apocryphal/extra-biblical ideas explaining and describing various facets of Christian experience.  We all participate in it, if only as a hearer, and yet very rarely do we call attention to it.  

A prime example of this is angelology, where people have taken the relatively small amount of information concerning angels in the Bible and expounded it into a whole subject with numerous charaters and stories (myths).   Did you know that the Bible never mentions any angel bearing the name Raphael?  Or that a cherub is not a cute baby angel in a diaper but is described in Ezekiel as being a creature with four faces and four wings, among other odd characteristics?  (I bet your grandma doesn’t have a statue of that on her mantle!)  So clearly, there is a lot of mythology that has come to be peppered into our understanding of biblical teachings.

Christian mythology is also very much at work within the narrative of Satan, where we have created a whole realm of understanding about who he is, where he came from, what he looks like, &tc., that is far and beyond what can be gleaned from Scripture.  We say that Satan is red, hooved, with horns and a pitchfork; that he was God’s worship leader before trying to be God, at which point he was cast down to earth.  Many believe that he is omnipresent just like God, that he is God’s equal and his necessary counterpart.  Unfortunately, pretty much all I just said is bogus, and yet somehow managed to be spoken as truth (or at least as biblical teaching) at the Face Off event.  That’s a problem.

I say this is a problem, not just because it is a misrepresentation of God’s revealed word, but because it truly is dangerous to Christianity, as was displayed by Deepak Chopra’s teammate, “Bishop” Carlton Pearson.  You see, when we allow Christian mythology to become confused with Christian truth, we are allowing what is real and attested and defensible to be replaced by what is false, fantastical, and full of more holes than swiss cheese.  At one point we created a big scary red beast to provoke an adequate fear of the devil, but now that same image of a pitchfork carrying, goatee wearing sadist give an opening for skeptics to ridicule our beliefs.  At one point we weren’t satisfied with resting on what the Bible taught and setting our hearts on holding to that truth, so now we have all but disqualified ourselves from legitimate conversation because our beliefs are so comical and rested upon human tradition, not the infallible Word of God.

Actually, the place where this bothers me most is in our mythical understanding of heaven.  While growing up I remember being sold on the image of a place where I could climb trees everyday, and if I fell out of one I would not get hurt.  Today, I look around the church and see many adults whose conception of it is not much different, waxing poetic about the crowns and jewels and thrones that they will have, the open land and beautiful fishing locales.  Yet, besides going much further than anything the Bible ever portrays, this type of thinking on heaven just seems to completely miss the point.  For one thing, if you read 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Corninthians 15,  or Revelation 21, you will see that the place we are resting forever is not on a cloud in a disembodied spirit, but instead on the earth (a new earth) in resurrected, glorified bodies.  Plus, check out Revelation 21.3:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

If anything is the point, that’s it.  Not that we can have our wildest dreams and run around all day in the most beautiful places imaginable, but that finally the presence of God can dwell with us again in the way he had intended from the very beginning.  Maybe that’s not enough for you, as I imagine is why the whole self-centered vision of heaven came about in the first place, but it is what’s taught in the Scriptures, and honestly, I can’t imagine anything better, even if heaven had me owning seats behind homeplate at Fenway Park.

If we are going to see Christianity being taken seriously by the world again, we must quit this crap.  It is bad enough that we have entire denominations devoted to maligning God’s Word with interpretations that allow gay bishops and multiple ways to salvation, but let’s not compound it by surrounding otherwise good theology with all these flea market ideations that make the whole package just look tacky and unappealing.  There is nothing more desirable than the truth of what God has shown us, let’s stop dressing it up with our own myths so that its natural glory can shine through.

What the Devil?- Cultural Commentators Debate the Existence of Satan

March 27, 2009

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’

With this, which is Genesis 3.1, we are introduced to evil and to the head of all evil, “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2.2), Satan.  From this point forward Satan is ever-present in the Scriptures, reappearing in name in such passages as 1 Chronicles 21.1, Job 1.6-2.7, Zechariah 3.1, Matthew 4.10, and Revelation 20.2, and in allusion in places like Matthew 4.1, 12.24-27, 2 Corinthians 11.3, John 12.31, and 1 John 2.13.  Still with all of the evidence, many people today, including a number of “Christians,” are finding it sexy to deny that Satan actually exists.

It is because of this that ABC News recently held a Face Off debate, asking the question “Does Satan Exist?”  And to be honest, though I don’t know their intentions, they seemed to do a good job.  If nothing else, the lineup held promise, and a promise on which it delivered.  There were four participants in all, but the two headliners were on one side, Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, and on the other New Age guru/philosopher/metaphysician Deepak Chopra.  When I heard these two would be facing off I knew it would be worth watching.

One highlight of the night was the following exchange:

  • Deepak: Thank you for having at least the intention of saving me.  I don’t know what I would do in the absence of people like you.
  • Driscoll: I love you and I want good for you
  • Deepak: Thank you sir
  • Driscoll: I do
  • Deepak: Thank you.  I’m really okay, you know.  I don’t need the devil because I don’t have the guilt and shame that you people have
  • Driscoll: I don’t have guilt and shame.  I used to.  I used to, and then being forgiven, listen, and then I don’t need to rejoice in myself, I get the joy of thanking someone rather than being proud.


  • Deepak: Everyone is saying what they’re saying from their level of consciousness and actually there is no need for debate here because everyone totally believes in their truth.
  • Moderator: Well, the debate is not for you guys it is for the people at home . . . 
  • Deepak: Yeah, okay
  • Moderator:  . . .  and they may be learning something

Honestly, at times the arrogance of Chopra and his teammate, “Bishop” Carlton Pearson, was about too much, and I was extremely proud of how Driscoll handled it.  I know myself watching it that I wanted to just blast the deniers side, but in proper Christian charity Driscoll well-represented the message of the gospel and the true love of Christ (which I’m sure some people would have as much trouble believing as Deepak does the devil).

Below I have linked the 10 parts of the full debate off of YouTube.  If you have the time and interest you should check it out.  This is certainly not a question that is going to go away anytime soon.

Part 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Enjoy and please be prepared to join in the debate as well.

Rocking the Cutting Edge of the 16th Century- Time Magazine on the Influence of the New Calvinism

March 18, 2009

(Note: If you like what you have read on this blog, please go here and vote for it in the 2009 Blog Madness competition. I am listed as the 15th ranked blog in the West Division. Thank you for your support.)

In case you may have missed it (and honestly, I don’t know how much press this got because I was out of town last week) but recently Time Magazine released its 2009 edition of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,” and among these, listed at number 3 overall, was the New Calvinism.  Pointing to the influential ministries of guys such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Al Mohler, Time said that (in true pop culture fashion) “Calvinism is back”! 

Truthfully, this really is surprising to me.  If they had been doing a list on the top 10 ideas changing the church right now, sure, I would have definitely listed the New Calvinism.  But the world?  Wow!  That really is something.  

The question then becomes two things.  First, can we infer from the rising influence of the New Calvinism (which really is the old Calvinism just with new guys, right?) that there is a global revival in the church?  Second,  can we infer from the rising influence of the New Calvinism if the global church is moving towards orthodox, conservative Christianity?

In the first question, I think that I would have to say ‘No.’  I do not think from the fact that Calvinism is enjoying a resurgence that we can infer that Christianity as a whole is experiencing revival in the world.  It is true that many places such as Africa and the Global South are simply booming with new believers these days, but I don’t know that across the board we are seeing any more people coming to Christ (percentage-wise) than we have over the years past, it is just that the distribution of where believers are has shifted drastically.

On the second question, I do believe that we are seeing a move towards historic, orthodox, conservative Christianity, at least in the realm of theology.  Though there are still plenty of loud voices out there pushing the emergent agenda, it seems that the “Great Emergence” that they have been predicting has been nothing more than sociological wishful thinking thus far.  Particularly when you look to the abundant harvests being gathered in the Global South and Africa, these people are among the most conservative believers in the church today, leading the charge in various arenas such as the recent battle against the liberalization of the Church of England.  They may not all be Calvinists per se, but as Dr. Mohler was so wonderfully quoted in the article, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.”

This is certainly something to be excited about.  It is a great day when a movement towards biblical authority and orthodox beliefs gets so large that a secular magazine recognizes how important it is.  Thanks be to God that we are living in a time where great men are being raised up with great ideas and are leading a great impact on the church and the culture.  Unlike the Jews after the exile, God is not silent in our day, if only we are prayerful enough to listen.

See the full article here.

Why So Many are Depressed in SBC Churches, part 1- Martyn Lloyd-Jones Speaks on the Spirit of Bondage

March 6, 2009

I have already this week made one post concerning the contents of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ great book Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cure and over the next couple of posts I want to give two more excerpts which I think are especially pertinent in light of recent topics we have covered here.

The first passage I want to quote deals with people who are Christians yet continue to be depressed by the spirit of bondage (Romans 8.15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear . . . “).  We have spoken of this recently in the posts relating to Matt Chandler’s recent message at the FBC Jacknsoville Pastors’ Conference and Mark Driscoll’s definition of the worldliness of tradition.  The spirit of bondage in many SBC churches is characterized by a fear of updating oneself, of stepping into contemporary ideas and movements, thinking that God is only in the olden ways and that abandoning them will in effect be abandoning Him.  Speaking on the spirit of bondage, here is what Dr. Lloyd-Jones has to say:

The ‘spirit of bondage’ always brings with it and in its train, a spirit of fear. . . .  

Well, in what sense does this produce a spirit of fear?  In the first place, it tends to produce a wrong fear of God. . . .  [People under this] regard God as a taskmaster, they regard Him as Someone who is constantly watching to discover faults and blemishes in them, and to punish them accordingly.  Others think of God only as a stern Law-giver far away in the distance. . . .

Then another way in which this spirit of fear manifests itself is that they tend to be afraid in a wrong way of the power of the devil. . . .  [W]e must not be subject to a craven fear of the devil.  [Some] people are, because they are aware of his power.  they are spiritually-minded people– this is a peculiar temptation to some of the best people– and they see this mighty power, the power of the devil set against them, and they are afraid.

Then they are equally afraid of the sin which is within themselves.  They spend their time in denouncing themselves and in talking about the blackness and darkness of their own hearts. . . . 

In other words I can sum it up like this, the spirit of fear which results from the spirit of bondage in this type of Christian is ultimately a fear of themselves and a fear of failure. [pp.167-169]

Do you agree?  Do you see where many churches are full of people who, for one reason or another have become afraid of failure and afraid of themselves, to the point where they erect extrabiblical moral standards, that in keeping them makes them feel strong?  When people feel threatened our natural response is to reassue ourselves of our strength and worthiness.  I propose that in the SBC many of us are guilty of trying to regain face in this matter by taking stands on things like rock music, or Sunday morning attire, or which companies to boycott, which puff us up for doing, but never fully address the spirit of bondage and spirit of fear which we have succomb to.  What then does Dr. Lloyd-Jones suggest we do instead?

What is the antidote to this condition?  The Apostle [Paul] gives an outline in this magnificent statement [i.e. Romans 8.15-17].  What is the answer?  It is that we must realize the truth concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian.

That is the message, and that, according to the Apostle, works out in two ways.  The first is that as I confront this mighty, glorious task of denying myself and taking up the cross and following the Lord Jesus Christ I realize that I am to walk through this world as He walked.  As I realize that I have been born again and fashioned by God according to the image of His dear Son, and as I begin to ask: ‘Who am I ever to live so?  How can I ever hope to do that?’– here is the answer, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the truth that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. . . .  

[Now] to the second principle– the presence of the Holy Spirit in us reminds us of our relationship to God. . . .  How does it do so?  Well, it enables us to see that our object in living the Christian life is not simply to attain a certain standard, but is rather to please God because He is our Father– ‘the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’  The slave was not allowed to say ‘Abba’ and that slave spirit does not regard God as Father.  He has not realized that He is Father, he regards Him still as a Judge who condemns.  But that is wrong.  As Christian people we must learn to appropriate by faith the fact that God is our Father. [pp.169-170,172]

“The object in living the Christian life is not simply to attaina certain standars, but it is rather to please God because He is our Father.”  Wow.  I fear that we left off trying to please God long ago in many of our churches and attaining a standard is all we strive for anymore.  And even this standard is short-sighted, it is not enough.  We allow ourselves to compromise on things like church attendance and tithing and yet create new standard for judgment so that we can counterbalance the places where we would rather just fail.  

“We must learn to appropriate by faith the fact that God is our Father.”  He is not only our Judge any longer.  If we are truly saved then we have been truly justified, and God is now our Father.  This does not mean there are no longer things we must be obedient towards– our earthly fathers always have had expectations for us as children– but what it means is that we must learn to be obedient through the power of the Spirit that has been given to us, and knowing of the fact that our obedience is now judged by grace, not by our own righteousness.  We must no longer act like employees and start to act like sons and daughters, or else we will never know anything of the joys of the Christian life and will be perpetually depressed; a most miserable misunderstanding of our standing with God.

Visitors Not Welcome?- Akin Responds Directly to Criticisms Over Driscoll

February 23, 2009

Today during chapel at Southeastern seminary, seminary president Dr. Danny Akin introduced the sermon passage of 1 Timothy 2.1-7 with the unusual disclaimer that if anyone had small children or would be easily offended by things of a sexual nature then they should consider not staying for his message.  That is interesting, seeing as how this passage deals with prayer for those in authority, God’s desire for salvation of all peoples, and the mediatorial work of Christ, but 25 minutes into it the reason became clear: Dr. Akin is addressing the criticisms he has received for inviting Mark Driscoll onto his campus two weeks ago for the 2009 collegiate conference.

Obviously, if you have been here you know what I’m talking about, but just to recap, the largest criticism being lobbed at Driscoll, and by consequence at Dr. Akin, is the one that says Mark Driscoll is a dirty man who uses dirty words trying to ramp up attendance by speaking all too casually about sex and sexual practices from the pulpit (see here and more comically here).

Before ever actually addressing the specific criticism, Danny Akin throws his support behind Driscoll foremost for his heart in ministry saying, “I commend him for wanting to pastor and guide and help his people.” From here, Akin then shares his own experiences in speaking about sex on the campus of a Christian undergraduate institution, where after his series of messages several female students confronted him about why he did not address issues of “masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex” during his talks.  Akin admitted his surprise, and later expressed his overall ignorance to this concern as several others made him aware of the prevalence of such questions among the younger generation.  Because of this, Dr. Akin makes the statement that, “I think it is ministerial malpractice not to talk about such issues. . . .  If the church and the ministers don’t address these issues for [their people] then who will and where will they get their information?”  Wrapping this all back around to Driscoll, Akin admits that it is his belief that, “”If you have a desire to see all people saved, you will first of all wisely contextualize your ministry.”

I know personally I was appreciative to see this response.  Dr. Akin is a stand-up guy, and to see him put his reputation among older, hardline Baptists on the table by confessing that if specific sexual practices are what’s being asked about then specific sexual practices are what need to be addressed was very exciting.  If todays brand of young Baptist leaders (who are truly conservative, despite some nay-sayers) are ever to gain acceptance among the old guard stalwarts of the SBC, we will have men of integrity and vision like Danny Akin to thank for bridging the gap.

If you would like to see his whole message, it may be accessed here.