Tullian Tchividjian explains that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation as well as fuel for living the Christian life.
HT to Timmy Brister
Timmy Brister posted an extended discourse yesterday on cooperation between Calvinists and Arminians that is well worth your time.
This morning, Timmy’s senior pastor, Tom Ascol, followed up with a quote from Charles Simeon that is too good not to repeat. Charles Simeon is talking about himself as a young calvinist minister meeting the elderly arminian, John Wesley.
A young Minister, about three or four years after he was ordained, had an opportunity of conversing familiarly with the great and venerable leader of the Arminians in this kingdom; and, wishing to improve the occasion to the uttermost, he addressed him nearly in the following words: “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions, not from impertinent curiosity, but for real instruction.” Permission being very readily and kindly granted, the young Minister proceeded to ask, “Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved, that you would never have thought of turning unto God, if God had not first put [it] into your heart?”–“Yes,” says the veteran, “I do indeed.”–“And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by any thing that you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”–“Yes, solely through Christ.”–“But, Sir, supposing you were first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?”–“No; I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”–“Allowing then that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?”–“No.”–“What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its motherâ€™s arms?”–“Yes; altogether.”–“And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom?”–“Yes; I have no hope, but in him.”–“Then, Sir, with your leave, I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is, in substance, all that I hold, and as I hold it: and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”
The Arminian leader was so pleased with the conversation, that he made particular mention of it in his journals; notwithstanding there never afterwards was any connexion between the parties, he retained an unfeigned regard for his young inquirer to the hour of his death.
(Charles Simeon, Expository Outlines on the Whole Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Leviticus Preface, pp. xvii-xviii)
here is Matt Chandler talking about the necessity of the centrality of the Gospel and the danger when it is assumed.
Love that last line.
“But you don’t put God in your debt. I know this because really really faithful men in the Scripture have it go really really bad for them.”
hat tip to Timmy Brister.
In other words, it’s an unmitigated disaster unless the Gospel is heard louder, longer and much clearer than anything else.
I’d really like to apologize to anyone- and there are a lot of these people- who ever showed up at church and heard the “good news” that if they would take their talent and use it for the Lord, they’d be blessed. Or if they surrender their all to Jesus, they’ll be happy no matter what happens. Or if they will stop making excuses and get serious about following Jesus, they can please God.
Really, I apologize. We’ve got better news than that.
We’ve got the news that if everything sucks, asteroids hit the earth, you die, the economy tanks, no one at work likes you, Christians are jailed, your computer breaks and your kid turns out to be a lawyer, you still can’t stop the Good News of what God has done for you.
We’ve got the news that God has declared religion out of business. We’ve got the news that the church has nothing to offer or say except the Gospel, so that should simplify your search for a church. We’ve got the news that at the end of the world, there’s going to be a party for you and me, where we’re going to be embraced, loved and taken to the new heaven and the new earth completely on the free grace of God in Jesus.
Hat tip to Vitamin Z.
Dr. Mohler is wondering if we are at the terminal generation of evangelicalism. It is a very fair thing about which to wonder.
We should be very concerned about certain trends in contemporary evangelicalism that threaten this integrity. The first is an ominous confusion about the Gospel itself. The heart of the Gospel is the objective truth that Christ died for sinners, and that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ–alone. The cardinal doctrine of justification by faith is, as Martin Luther warned, “the article by which the church stands or falls.”
If so, the church is falling in many quarters. Much of what is presented in many pulpits–and marketed by flashy television preachers–bears little resemblance to this simple message. Instead, sinners are told to seek after riches, material blessings, vibrant health, and earthly rewards. Salvation is packaged as a product to be hawked on the airwaves and sold at a discount. The notion of salvation from sin and judgment is entirely missing from this scenario. Instead, salvation is presented as a gift of self-enhancement.
On the theological left, the Gospel had long ago been transformed into a social and political message of liberation from oppression. Now, among some who consider themselves evangelicals, the Gospel of Christ has been reduced to a form of self-expression or therapy. Salvation is promised as the answer to low self-esteem and emptiness. Gone is any notion of a holy God who offers salvation from sin and its eternal penalty.
the foundational issue is the exclusivity of the Gospel and our generation’s general unwillingness to take a stand thereon
Against these various attempts to evade the simple clarity of the Gospel stands the Word of God. Our evangelical integrity stands or falls on this truth–salvation is found through faith in Christ alone. This is the logic of the missionary mandate and the sustaining conviction for all evangelism. Nevertheless, the worldview held by many individuals today–especially those among the educated classes–flatly rejects such claims as imperialistic and arrogant.
Sociologist James Davison Hunter has long warned that younger evangelicals tend to go soft on this doctrine. Educated in a culture of postmodern relativism and ideological pluralism, this generation has been taught to avoid making any exclusive claim to truth. Speak of your truth, if you must–but never claim to know the Truth. Unless this course is reversed, there will be no evangelicals in the next generation.
I think Dr. Mohler is correct to be concerned. do you agree? what can we do about it? anything?