What is Theology and How Do We Study It? Kevin DeYoung

August 17, 2014

What is Theology and How Do We Study It? from URC Web on Vimeo.

Kevin DeYoung – Incentives for Acting the Miracle from Desiring God Conference September 28-30, 2012

source: By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

View/Read John Piper’s Conference messages here-

  1. John Piper – Putting Sanctification in Its Place – Part 1 of 2 from the Desiring God Conference September 28-30, 2012
  2. John Piper – Future Grace, the Word of the Cross, and the Purifying Power of God’s Promises – Part 2 of 2 from the Desiring God Conference September 28-30, 2012

Some great points from Kevin DeYoung’s message (see full transcript below): God has a vision of holiness. As we would grow to share in this holiness that belongs to God, that we are in Christ and now we start to look like Christ. So those are the commands. But, what does Paul do, and what does God do by the Holy Spirit, through Paul to get us from here to there? There is holiness- put away, anger, malice, immorality. Put on love, patience, gentleness. What does he do to get us from here- we don’t have those things and we’re more sinful than we think, and we’re less gracious than we realize and he wants to get us over here. Well, he doesn’t just give a long list of commands; he gives motivation. He gives theology. If you don’t care about theology, you don’t care about holiness. Because, what God does is to give the Colossians lots of theology to stir them up to this new kind of life.

He says in verse 1 – „You have been raised with Christ, so seek the things that are above, with Christ seated at the throne above. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. You see the motivation? Set your mind on heavenly things. Why? Because you have been raised form the grave with Christ, you have been raised in His ascension, so that you now are seated in the heavenly places with Christ.

  • So, here’s the logic: If you reside in heaven now with Christ, why are you making choices as if you lived in hell?
  • Your placement with Christ is a motivation for your progress in Christ likeness.
  • And God will say .. to you, „Do you know where you are?” You’re seated with Christ. You’ve been raised with Him where He is. Shouldn’t where you are make a difference to what you’re like?
  • You have to picture Christ on the cross and see Him hanging there not only for the penalty of your sin, but FROM the power of that sin
  • Some people have a very hard time understanding that threats and warnings in Scripture are there for our sanctification.
  • „Shouldn’t we be emphasizing God’s grace? Isn’t it all of grace?” And I say, „Yes! And what makes you think the warning of God’s wrath is not His grace to you?”

Kevin DeYoung (my full transcript):

One of the aims of this message is to correct a problem. The problem is this: Believing, preaching, praying, counseling, and self diagnosing as if there were only one proper motivation for holiness.

That’s a problem not always stated explicitly. It sometimes seeps into our bloodstream and how we do ministry, or how we speak to others, or to ourselves. And, if proper is too strong a word, we might say ‘best, deepest, pious, truest, ultimate motivation. Is there only one? My concern is that as we try to help people on their journey to sanctification, we not unnecessarily limit ourselves. I fear that we often remove some of the tools from our sanctification tool belt, or we set aside some of the weapons of our warfare. Or that we flatten the promises and commands and warnings of scripture, so that we no longer say all that the Bible allows us to say and would have us say.

I think of it like this: Jesus is our great physician. And, as any good doctor, He knows how to write different prescriptions for different illnesses. Jesus knows what we need, He has many doses at His disposal. God knows personalities and sins and situations. And so He is gracious to come at us with all sorts of truth, from all sorts of angles to make us more like Christ. Jesus has many medicines for our motivations. Good doctors can give lots of different prescriptions and what I fear is that we may get locked in a ‘one size fits all’ approach to our growth in godliness. And we may even stumble upon a true, good, biblical motivation. But, if we make it the only one, we will be short circuiting our sanctification.

Sanctification at the micro level

Let me give you a few short examples:

  1. Duty. Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Eclesiastes 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. We do have a duty, something that is required of us before God. We owe Him our obedience. He is God, we are not. So, duty’s not bad. But, it’s far from the normal way in which God speaks of His commandments. He doesn’t just come our way and say, „I’m the Lord, your God, so you’d better do it!” Think of what He says in the 10 commandments, „I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,” don’t miss that part. Before He gives us a list; God doesn’t just give us a bald list of commands, „Here you go, top 10 commands, for Christians, there it is”. He starts by saying, „I am the Lord your god, your God… I brought you out of Egypt…Do not worship anything or anyone else”. He’ll say, „Don’t bow down to graven images.” Why? „Because I am a jealous God and I visit iniquity, visit the sin in the third and fourth generation and I show steadfast love to thousands of generations.” „Do not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain. Observe the Sabbath day,”  and in Exodus ‘observe the 7th day’ because God rested on the 7th day. Deuteronomy says, „Take a beak, give your people a break because you were slaves once too, so don’t be treating your servants like they’re slaves. Honor your mother and father, that it may go well with you.” So, God comes at us, not just with a list of commandments, but with many reasons for those commandments.
  2. Gratitude. Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. I believe he is hearkening back to all of the promises in Romans 1 through 11, all of the massive truth there, in view of those realities in in gratitude for them. Ephesians 5:4- Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, gratitude helps to squeeze  out what is mean and bitter and nasty. So, whatever problems you may have, if you’re an angry person, one of your problems is gratitude problem. But, gratitude by itself is not enough. It can quickly turn into s debtor’s ethic. i.e. All this has been given to me by God, so the rest of my life I’m trying to prove how thankful I am. Or, there is a tendency, with gratitude as your only motivation that you only look backwards at what has happened. So duty is fine, gratitude is good, but not by themselves as the only motivation.
  3. Justification. It is gloriously true that we are accepted before God because of the work of Christ alone, the benefits of which we receive through faith alone, by grace alone. That ought to be our sweet song and confession at all times. And, this is a MAJOR motivation for holiness. If we are accepted by God, we don’t have to live for the approval of others. If there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, then we don’t have to fear the disappointment of others. So there’s no doubt that justification is fuel for our sanctification. But, it is not the only kind of fuel we can put in the tank. If we only remind people of our acceptance before God, we will flatten the contours of Scripture and we will be poor physicians of souls.

James 4:1- What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? James is saying, „Because you have now come to grips with your acceptance.” He says, „But, you’re covetous, you’re selfish, you want things that you don’t have, you’re demanding, you’re in love with the world. You’re envious”. That’s what’s going on with your heart right now.

The problem is that we fall into this risk of thinking that there is just one need, there is just one motivation. It’s the same problem, but on a different level that some of christian psychology fell into- assuming a universal needs theory. Sin is always an expression of unbelief. But, there are lots of God’s promises I can be disbelieving at any moment: His promise to accept me in Christ, His promise to judge the wicked or His promise to come again, or His promise to give me an inheritance, or His promise to turn everything to my good. To remind each other of justification is never a wrong answer, it is a precious remedy. But, it is not the only one that we need and it is not the only one that Scripture offers.

Colossians 3– We see in this chapter and we see in so many chapters the multiplicity of biblical motivations for holiness. The first part of the chapter, verses 1 through 17 give a macro level view of how God motivates us. It deals with general commands, general principles. And then, the last part of the chapter- the household code, verses 18 and following, gives us the micro level view where you zero in on the family and day to day life and see how God gives specific motivations for specific commands.

At the macro level– first thing to notice is that this passage is full of imperatives. Paul wants the Colossians to live a certain way. He doesn’t assume that just by telling them the good news of the Gospel, that it will happen. He goes on to tell them what it should look like. He wants them to grow in sanctification. So look at the commands here:

  • verse 2 Set your minds on things that are above
  • verse 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you. That means immorality, impurity, evil desire, idolatry, covetousness
  • verse 8 put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
  • verse 9 Do not lie
  • verse 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience
  • verse 15 let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
  • verse 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
  • verse 17 do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God

The whole passage is a long series of statements with imperatival force. God has a vision of holiness. As we would grow to share in this holiness that belongs to God, that we are in Christ and now we start to look like Christ. So those are the commands. But, what does Paul do, and what does God do by the Holy Spirit, through Paul to get us from here to there? There is holiness- put away, anger, malice, immorality. Put on love, patience, gentleness. What does he do to get us from here- we don’t have those things and we’re more sinful than we think, and we’re less gracious than we realize and he wants to get us over here. Well, he doesn’t just give a long list of commands; he gives motivation. He gives theology. If you don’t care about theology, you don’t care about holiness. Because, what God does is to give the Colossians lots of theology to stir them up to this new kind of life. (20:11 minute mark)

  1. You’ve been raised up – He says in verse 1 – „You have been raised with Christ, so seek the things that are above, with Christ seated at the throne above. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. You see the motivation? Set your mind on heavenly things. Why? Because you have been raised form the grave with Christ, you have been raised in His ascension, so that you now are seated in the heavenly places with Christ.  So, here’s the logic: If you reside in heaven now with Christ, why are you making choices as if you lived in hell? Your placement with Christ is a motivation for your progress in Christ likeness. He wants to remind the Colossians, „Do you know where you are this morning? And God will say that to you, „Do you know where you are?” You’re seated with Christ. You’ve been raised with Him where He is. Shouldn’t where you are make a difference what you’re like? 
  2. You’ve died – Then in verse 3 he says, „You’ve died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God to turn from your past and sin and your unrighetousness„. You have to do more than just turn the page. People say you have to turn over a new leaf. No, you have to consider your old self dead, buried. You have to picture Christ on the cross and see Him hanging there not only for the penalty of your sin, but FROM the power of that sin. And you have to see, hanging up there on that cross with Christ is the ‘you’ that was into drugs, and the you that manipulated people, and the you that was angry all the time and the you that was filled with bitterness, and the you that lived from sensuality to sensuality. That you is dead. You died.
  3. Consider what you will become – You see now, verse 4 „When Christ, who is your life appears, you will also appear with Him in glory”. So, this motivation is working in the opposite direction. Instead of considering what you once were and how you are dead, now, you consider what you will become.  What you will be like when your Christ comes and you appear with Him in glory. There’s a better you that you’re getting to. That’s why, as you’ve heard last night, sanctification and glorification are all of a piece- the process of making you perfectly glorified, fit for heaven, for all eternity is under way now. And so, Paul motivates by saying, „Think of who you will be when Christ appears. Think of whom you will be, that man, that woman, that child, without sin, without all of the anger and the bitterness that you have now. Now, think of that you”. Isn’t that what we do when we have a goal in life. 1 John 3:2 „Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared. But, we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is”. 
  4. Consider God’s wrath – Here is a different kind of motivation, he tells them to put away these earthly desires and in verse 6 he says, „On account of these, the wrath of God is coming”. Some people have a very hard time understanding that threats and warnings in Scripture are there for our sanctification. You try to piece together, „I thought we have eternal security and God’s gonna keep us and He’s going to preserve us, to the end”. That’s wonderfully, absolutely true. And how do you think He preserves the elect to the end? By warning them of what will happen if they did not. In God’s people, these warnings stir up something in their hearts so that says, „Oh Lord, You would be just to judge and keep me in the love of God, even as You keep me in the love of God”. The warnings are God’s means of preserving the saints. Sometimes, in an effort to be Gospel centered we shy away from the warnings in Scripture. Some of you may desperately need to hear about your new identity in Christ, you need to hear how much God loves you in Jesus and there may be others of you that you need to hear, „Look, the way you are living right now, and the stuff that you are into right now, this is why the wrath of God is coming. Coming for people who do things like those you are living for. His wrath will be poured out on the earth for the things you think are no big deal. Some people need the literal hell scared out of them. But you say, „Shouldn’t we be emphasizing God’s grace? Isn’t it all of grace?” And I say, „Yes! And what makes you think the warning of God’s wrath is not His grace to you?” If you are not giving to yourself, or to your friends or to your people all of the grace that God has for you. If you are not warning them of what God will do, and what He will pour out upon those who are found to be unrighteous and unbelieving.
  5. You are a new creation in Christ. Paul goes on in verse 9 & 10 to describe the reality as a new creation in Christ.
  6. Christ is in all of you. In verse 11, „that’s why you are to bear with one another and love one another, and maintain unity with one another„.
  7. Consider your identity as God’s chosen ones, holy. Don’t pass by that verse 12. Pay attention to what God calls us: Chosen ones, holy, beloved. There’s a difference in how a coach can talk to a player. That’s how I picture God, pulling us in and saying, „Listen, my chosen ones, my holy ones, my beloved ones…” Don’t you know this parents, how a father can pull aside his son and those identity words can make all the difference? You can bark out commands to your son or you can say, „Look, you are my son and I love you with all of my heart. And you are my special boy and you are special, smart and I am so proud of you. And you will always be my child and I will always be your daddy, but, we gotta talk about some of the things you’re doing.” That’ll get their attention. God comes at you and He doesn’t just yell out commands. He says, „My chosen ones. I chose you before the foundation of the world. You had nothing good in you that I should choose you, but, in order to set my affection on you, that you might be my treasured possession, I chose you. I count you holy in Christ  and you are beloved to me.
  8. verse 13, Paul says, „We’ve been forgiven, so we ought to forgive. verse 14 „consider what love does, it binds things together in harmony. verse 15 „consider you are one body, so therefore be at peace”.

Do you see the multiplicity of motivations coming from a dozen different angles to get us from here to there? To move one itty, bitty degree of glory to the next? God doesn’t just say, „Here’s the list and just do it”. He says, „Let me tell you all the reasons why”. Here’s a simpler way of looking at what God did. Step back and think for a moment here at what God is doing in Colossians. He basically does three things:

  1. He tells them what was- you died, you were raised, you’re not your old self
  2. He tells them what is- you’re in heaven, you’re in Christ, you’re a new creation, you’re one body
  3. and He tells them what will be- the wrath of God is coming, and Christ is coming, and the glorious appearing is coming, and an inheritance is coming

(transcript from first half of the video) What follows – Sanctification at macro level from Colossians text.

Related articles from the same conference

Related articles by Kevin DeYoung and others

Repentance is always an option. It’s never too late (via Kevin DeYoung)

from thegospelcoalition.org website-Kings of Judah: Manasseh’s Metanoia

2 Chronicles 33:1-25

He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea… (v. 13a)

Change is hard. We all make goals we don’t meet–exercise more, eat less, have a quite time, turn off the t.v. Sinful habits are especially hard to change: pornography, gossip, unforgiveness. Repentance is hard work. It means more than regret or embarrassment for our mistakes. Repentances means sorrow for sin, confession of sin, and turning from sin. Repentance means metanoia, the Greek word for change of mind or direction.

Manasseh was a bad king, probably the worst king Judah has ever had, at least the worst king who ruled long enough to do the most worst things. Most of Manasseh’s reign was positively wicked. But toward the end of his life, the Lord broke his pride. Manessah prayed to the Lord and the Lord heard his prayer. Manesseh was a changed man, who changed his actions and changed the kingdom.

Repentance is always an option. It’s never too late. Granted, Manasseh’s previous wickedness could not all be undone. He was still known as a bad king. But don’t miss the two miracles of this story.  One, Manasseh changed after years of wickedness. Two, God forgave. Come to Jesus and keep coming back. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Read a more in depth article  about Manasseh here at GospelTeacher.org

The Gift of Friendship and the Godliness of Good Friends By Kevin DeYoung

We talk a lot about relationships in the church. There are scores of marriage seminars, retreats, and conferences. There are video series and books for newlyweds and engaged couples. Most every church offers marital counseling and most every pastor preaches somewhat regularly on marriage. And the same is true for parenting.
There are dozens of books on raising children. There are Sunday school classes, blog sites, and ministries that focus on the parenting relationship. All this is good. But have you ever noticed we seldom study friendship? It is the most important-least talked about relationship in the church.
Think about your greatest joys in life. They probably center around your friends–the fun times hanging out, the great conversations, the laughter, the sharing, the pleasure of “clicking” (not cliquing!) with someone else or a group of people. And now think of the most painful times in life. No doubt, sickness and tragedy are on the list. And yet, oftentimes these difficulties are made sweeter by the support of friends and family.
But when friendship goes bad–when things get awkward or you feel like you are on the outside looking in–no amount of health and prosperity can fill the gap. Almost anything bad can be wonderful with friends, and almost anything good can be terrible without them.

The worst summer of my life was the summer I spent holed up in a cabin in the mountains of Colorado working on a national government textbook. For three months I worked 10 hours a day studying political science with a classmate and our college professor. We had no electricity (we charged our laptop batteries in town every day) and no indoor plumbing (we used an outhouse). But that wasn’t the main problem. I got used to the rustic lifestyle. The problem was the absence of friends. I was surrounded by amazing natural beauty, engaged in work that I liked fairly well, and allowed time every night and every weekend to read, run, or explore. But I was miserable because I felt all alone.

It’s surprising we don’t talk more about friendship in the church. Depending on how you define friendship, the Bible may have more to say about the friend relationship than it does about marriage and parenting. Further, I bet church “satisfaction” is largely based on two things. If you find happy churchgoers I wager you’ll find these two items present, and where church members are unhappy, I can almost guarantee these two things are missing: quality teaching and quality relationships. No doubt, there are many other important aspects of church life. But for most folks these are the two that matter most. People want a church that teaches them well (which includes sermons, songs, classes, and Bible studies) and a church where they can make friends. Read the rest of Kevin DeYoung’s  post below:

Vezi acest document pe Scribd

(via) The Gospel Coalition

Kevin DeYoung on Money and Possessions (essential reading)

You can read the entire article here: The Gospel Coalition (Please use Google translate for Romanian translation)

In his post Kevin lists the  ten principles from Proverbs on money and material possessions, from the sermon he preached at the Church he pastors. This is the most in depth (yet short) and wise, theological subject – essay I have come across and it is much needed in our Romanian-American community.

Money and Possessions in Proverbs

The Bible says a lot about money and possessions. There are a lot of verses about wealth and poverty. With some topics, we can get off track because the Bible says so little. What should we think of tanning? Well, we don’t have a lot of specific instructions, so there’s not much to be dogmatic about.

But when it comes to money and possessions there’s an opposite problem. Because the Bible says so much about money it is tempting to develop an imbalanced theology of money.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Prosperity Theology comes from. Take a few promises of the Mosaic covenant out of their national context, take the promise in Malachi 3 about throwing open the storehouses of heaven, mix in some of Jesus’ statements about receiving whatever you ask for in faith, and you can bake up a little health and wealth gospel.

On the other hand, it’s possible to come up with an imbalanced Austerity Theology. Point out that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, turn to the story of the rich young ruler, stir in the parable of the rich fool, and you’ll have a theology that says money is bad and so are those who have it.

You could make a biblical argument that God loves rich guys. Just look at Abraham, Job, and Zacchaeus. Look at the way he blesses obedient kings. Look at the vision of cosmic delight in the garden and in the age to come.

You can just as easily make a biblical argument that God hates rich guys. Just look at the rich man and Lazarus. Look at the book of James. Look at Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.

So how should we think of money and possessions? What biblical principles should we keep in mind as we see wealth and poverty, as we handle our own wealth or poverty? There are few things the Bible talks about more often. Which is good, because there are few things as relevant to all people everywhere as getting a good theology of money.

A Place to Start

Proverbs is a good place to start in developing a biblical theology of material possessions. For starters, there are a lot of verses on the subject. More important, there are several diverse strands of teaching on the subject. If you started with Genesis, you might conclude God always prospers his people. If you started with Amos, you might think all rich people are oppressors. But Proverbs looks at wealth and poverty from several angles. And because Proverbs is a book of general maxims, the principles in proverbs are more easily transferable to God’s people at different times and places.

I’ll give the points roughly in order of how much Proverbs says about a particular principle. That way we’ll end with the most important themes.

Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs

1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).

2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:9; 13:7).

3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:2; 29:13).

4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-10; 11:24; 22:9).

5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:15; 14:20; 19:4).

6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:7; 11:28; 13:8).

7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:6; 22:16, 22-23).

8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:21, 31; 19:7; 28:21)

9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-11; 10:4; 13:11; 14:2421:17, 20; 22:4, 13; 27:23-27; 28:20

10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-11, 18-19; 24:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:17; 17:1).

Reaching Delicate Conclusions and Finding Christ

You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.

  • You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
  • Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
  • God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
  • It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
  • Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 says that Christ is for us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Money can’t give you any of the things you ultimately need. It can’t make you holy. It can’t make you righteous. It can’t save you from your sins. Wealth is a sign of blessing, but it’s also one of your biggest temptations because it entices you to boast in yourself. It promises to be your self-worth and promises to make you self-sufficient. It invites you to boast in something or someone other than the Lord.

So through and through money is an issue of faith. Believe that doing things God’s way is the best way for you. Believe that if you give your money away, he can give it back. Believe that money can be good. But don’t you dare believe it is everything. Money is a gift from God, but the gifts you really need can only be found in God.

Books by Kevin DeYoung

Do you believe in the existence of a literal hell? (I believe what’s in this video)

Justin Taylor was the first to sound the alarm. I have been following his blog and reading his commentary daily for years. His posts are uplifting and Scriptural, sometimes he quotes and writes about the saints that have gone before us, sometimes he reviews books and contemporary issues (as he is editorial director and associate publisher at Crossway Books, most recently served as managing editor for the ESV Study Bible. some awesome accomplishments for his age), but  always through a Biblical lens. Last week he correctly pointed out something about Mega Church Pastor Rob Bell that echoed through the Christian community, publishing houses and hallways of major newspapers, including the New York Times. Considering the subject – Hell (or the non existence of it) it is not that surprising. If there is no hell, maybe I don’t have to try and be so good and keep myself from all those sinful pleasures everyone else around me is enjoying?–There are deceived Christians who actually think that way and are always looking for the way out, not realizing they are already on the outside of Christ’s presence and in danger of falling away. Kevin DeYoung also wrote a piece agreeing with Justin Taylor :

Rob Bell is right about one thing: what you believe about heaven and hell says a lot about what you believe about God. That’s why theological error of this magnitude cannot go unchecked. The God of the Vimeo clip (promoting the new book)is not a God of wrath, not a God of eternal recompense, not a God who showed us love in sending his Son to be a propitiation for our wretched sins, not a God whose will it was to crush the Suffering Servant in an exercise of divine justice and free grace. Indeed, says Bell—even if he says it with a question—such a God could not be good.

Here is a short piece from Ann Arbor.com

Rob Bell, pastor of Grand Rapids’ 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church and author of the popular Nooma video series, has sparked a frenzy among evangelical leaders over his yet-to-be-released book, „Love Wins,” according to the New York Times.

Bell describes the dogma that “a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell,” as „misguided and toxic,” the article said.

Based on book summaries and a promotional video, Christian blogger Justin Taylor wrote that Bell “is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity.” Dozens of other theologians chimed in, and the name Rob Bell quickly became of the top ten trending topics on Twitter.

The heresy of Universalism strikes again. I was shocked when watching an ABC News Nightline debate ‘Does Satan exist?‘ with Mark Driscoll, Deepak Chopra  (who does not believe in Satan or sin, and who says people should have no guilt or shame, but who also wrote a book about Jesus that bookstores promoted heavily) and Carlton Pearson , a Pentecostal who attended Oral Roberts University and Due to his stated belief in universal reconciliation, Pearson was declared a heretic by his peers in 2004 and rapidly began to lose his influence in ministry. He then switched denomination and became a Universalist.

This 6 minute Paul Washer video seems to be a very appropriate response for me. As with all Paul Washer sermons, the word of God preached by him is piercing and convicting. And I thank the Lord for young godly men such as Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung who in the tradition of Paul ‘are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ’ and can call out (someone who was one of their own) blatant heresy when they see it and point people to the real Christ (through his teachings) of the Bible.

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Listen to an audio panel discussion

Universalism and the Reality of Eternal Punishment,

featuring John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson,Greg Livingstone, and others.

Some more articles on the subject (of hell):

Two good books on the subject: Faith comes by hearing, by Christopher Morgan and Jesus; The only way to God: Must you hear the gospel to be saved? by John Piper.

Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person (via) Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung from a post on the Gospel Coalition website on Feb 24,2011

Our evening service was canceled last week because of the snow. The portion below is an edited portion of the larger sermon, a message on conflict from Proverbs. I thought it was worth posting (although now I haven’t preached it yet) as a follow-up to Tuesday’s post.


Quarrels don’t just happen. People make them happen.

Of course, there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree propositions, but that’s not what the Bible means by quarreling. While studying Proverbs recently I was struck by the fact that most of the advice about conflict is not on how to resolve it, but how to avoid it.

Quarrels, at least in Proverbs, are unnecessary arguments, the kind that honorable men stay away from (17:14; 20:3). These fights aren’t the product of a loving rebuke or a principled conviction. These quarrels arise because people are quarrelsome. Some Christians have a lifeline to Speedway and love to pour gasoline on every tiny spark of conflict.

You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the nice Nazis to believe that quarreling is wrong. You only have to believe the Bible (James 4:1). Hot-headed, divisive Christians are not pleasing to God (Proverbs 6:19). We are told to drive them out (22:10) and avoid such people (Rom. 16:17). This doesn’t mean we only huddle with the people we like. We are not talking about awkward folks or those who disagree with us. We are talking about quarrelsome Christians–habitually disagreeable, divisive, hot-headed church people.

So what does a quarrelsome person look like? What are his (or her) distinguishing marks?

1. You defend every conviction with the same degree of intensity. You don’t talk about secondary issues, because there are no secondary issues.

2. You are quick to speak and slow to listen. You rarely ask questions and when you do it is to accuse or to continue prosecuting your case. You are not looking to learn, you are looking to defend, dominate, and destroy.

3. Your only model for ministry and faithfulness is the showdown on Mount Carmel. There is a place for sarcasm, but when Elijah with the prophets of Baal is your spiritual hero you may end up mocking people instead of making arguments.

4. You are incapable of seeing nuances and you do not believe in qualifying statements.

5. You never give the benefit of the doubt. You do not try to read arguments in context. You put the worst possible construct on other’s motives and the meaning of their words.

6. You have no unarticulated opinions.

7. You are unable to sympathize with your opponents.

8. Your first instinct is to criticize. Your last is to encourage.

9. You have a small grid and everything fits in it. Everything is a social justice issue; everything relates to the regulative principle, everything is Obama’s fault; everything is wrong because of patriarchy; everything comes down to one thing–my thing.

10. You derive a sense of satisfaction and spiritual safety in being rejected and marginalized. You are constitutionally unable to be demonstrably fruitful in ministry and you will never affirm those who appear to be. You only know how to relate to God as a remnant.

11.You are always in the trenches with hand grenades strapped to your chest, never in the mess hall with ice cream and ping pong. Remember G.K. Chesterton: “We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.”

12. You have never changed your mind on an important matter.

Just some food for thought. I know I choke on my own words at times.

Kevin DeYoung on preaching advice from Martyn Lloyd Jones

De ce predicile si scrierile lui Kevin DeYoung aduc roade- Pentru ca el isi face ‘examinari de sine’ la toate cele ce predica. Mai jos urmeaza una dintre aceste examinari de sine.

Great Advice on Preaching from a Great Preacher

The preacher’s danger:

To love to preach is one thing, to love those to whom we preach is quite another.

The golden rule:

At this point there is one golden rule, one absolute demand–honesty. You have got to be honest with your text.

The definition of preaching:

It is theology on fire.

The purpose of preaching:

What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women as sense of God and His presence.

The romance and the realism of preaching:

Any many who has had some glimpse of what is it to preach will inevitably feel that he has never preached. But he will go on trying, hoping that by the grace of God one day he may truly preach.

Taken from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers.


The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

I read this back in November, before I started this blog and I think it can be very useful to us.

It is a post written by Kevin DeYoung (Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan) for the Gospel Coalition website.

The Hole in Our Holiness

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 03:55 AM PST

I have a growing concern that younger evangelicals do not take seriously the Bible’s call to personal holiness. We are too at peace with worldliness in our homes, too at ease with sin in our lives, too content with spiritual immaturity in our churches.

God’s mission in the world is to save a people and sanctify his people. Christ died “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15). We were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4). Christ “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

J.C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool from the nineteenth century, was right: “We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world…Jesus is a complete Saviour. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more–He breaks its power (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 12:10).” My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ saved us from, we will give little thought and make little effort concerning all that Christ saved us to.

The pursuit of holiness does not occupy the place in our hearts that it should. There are several reasons for the relative neglect of personal holiness.

1) It was too common in the past to equate holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices like drinking, smoking, and dancing. In a previous generation godliness meant you didn’t do these things. Younger generations have little patience for these sorts of rules. They either don’t agree with the rules or they figure they’ve got those bases covered so there’s not much else to worry about.

2) Related to the first reason is the fear that a passion for holiness makes you some kind of weird holdover from a bygone era. As soon as you talk about swearing or movies or music or modesty or  sexual purity or self-control or just plain godliness people get nervous that others will call them legalistic, or worse, a fundamentalist.

3) We live in a culture of cool, and to be cool means you differentiate yourself from others. That has often meant pushing the boundaries with language, with entertainment, with alcohol, and with fashion. Of course, holiness is much more than these things, but in an effort to be hip many Christians have figured holiness has nothing to do with these things. They’ve willingly embraced Christian freedom, but they’ve not earnestly pursued Christian virtue.

4) Among more liberal Christians a radical pursuit of holiness is often suspect because any talk of right and wrong behaviors feels judgmental and intolerant. If we are to be “without spot or blemish” it necessitates we distinguish between what sort of attitudes, actions, and habits are pure and what sort are impure. This sort of sorting gets you in trouble with the pluralism police.

5) Among conservative Christians there is sometimes the mistaken notion that if we are truly gospel-centered we won’t talk about rules or imperatives or exhort Christians to moral exertion. To be sure, there is a rash of moralistic teaching out there, but sometimes we go to the other extreme and act as if the Bible shouldn’t advise our morals at all. We are so eager not to confuse indicatives and imperatives (a point I’ve made many times) that if we’re not careful we’ll drop the imperatives altogether. We’ve been afraid of words like diligence, effort, and obedience. We’ve downplayed verses that call us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), or command us to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1), or warn against even a hint of immorality among the saints (Eph. 5:3).

I find it telling that you can find plenty of young Christians today who are really excited about justice and serving in their communities. You can find Christians fired up about evangelism. You can find lots of Generation XYZ believers passionate about precise theology. Yes and amen to all that. But where are the Christians known for their zeal for holiness? Where is the corresponding passion for honoring Christ with Christlike obedience? We need more Christian leaders on our campuses, in our cities, in our seminaries who will say with Paul, “Look carefully then how you walk”? (Eph. 5:15).

When is the last time we took a verse like Ephesians 5:4–“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”–when is the last time we took a verse like this and even began to try to apply this to our conversation, our joking, our movies, our you tube clips, our t.v. and commercial intake? The fact of the matter is if you read through the New Testament epistles you will find very few explicit commands that tell us to evangelize and very few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the poor in our communities, but there are dozens and dozens of verses in the New Testament that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Peter 1:13-16).

I do not wish to denigrate any of the other biblical emphases capturing the attention of younger evangelicals. But I believe God would have us be much more careful with our eyes, our ears, and our mouth. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.

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