Heath Lambert – It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church

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Heath Lambert – The Power of Purity

Romans 6:1-14

Dr. Heath Lambert, author of „Finally Free” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things: (1) Affordability (2) Accesability (3) Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem. (READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW THE VIDEO)

The Power of Purity – Romans 6:1-14 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

I speak to you today with a great deal of urgency and I am aware that I speak to you today in a time of crisis. These are dangerous days in our culture, these are dangerous days in our church. The specific thing I want to talk about with regard to that danger today, right now is the danger that the church faces with the epidemic problem of pornography. Pornography is not the only problem that the church faces, it’s not even the only problem with sexual immorality that the church faces. There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things:

  1. Affordability
  2. Accesability
  3. Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem.

At the risk of making this a little too uncomfortable, I know that there are people in this room who are struggling with pornography. It is absolutely impossible that this room is clear of people who don’t have an issue here. I don’t know who, I don’t want to make you suspicious, and I don’t want you creeped out looking at the person next to you. The goal is not suspicion, but, the goal is vigilance. And if we’re going to have to be vigilant, we’re gonna have to face facts. So, I want to speak, not about porn in general, not about culture in general. I want to speak to YOU. If you’re here, I take it that God wants you to be here and this is something God would have you hear. And so, I want to speak specifically to men. It’s not because there aren’t women in the room. It’s not that women do not struggle with porn, because they most certainly do. But, I want to speak to the men in the room who struggle with pornography, because God has raised you up to be leaders in your home. God has raised you up to be leaders in your church. And here’s the hard and fast reality.

If our homes and our churches are to be pure, then they’re going to be led by men who are pure. And if they are not, then they won’t be. And I’m so concerned when I pray for you. And I pray for you all the time. I don’t even know most of you, but when I pray for you, as I do all of the time, I am praying that you will stop doing what you are doing, if you’re in here and you’ve got a problem with porn. And here’s what you’re doing: Every time you do it, you sip, sip, sip on poison and you are storing consequences. Maybe nobody knows right now. But they will. It is the nature of sin to ooze out of the boundaries that we create for it. My concern for you is: You’re here because you wanna be a Godly man. You wanna be a Godly husband, you wanna be a Godly father, you wanna be a Godly minister of Jesus in the church. And what you’re doing is destroying all of it. And you don’t even see it yet.

Now, if you’re here, I take it you know it. I don’t need to persuade you that this is wrong. You know it’s wrong. You know you’re living a lie. You know you need to quit. But you just don’t know how. And what you need is not a lecture about how it’s wrong, but you need somebody to give you some resources to be different. And this is what it’s about. This is me, talking to you, trying to give you some resources, because if we tell you, if anybody says, „Be pure. It’s a pornographic culture and you need to get pure!” Good luck with that. The reality is that being pure requires power. You have to have resources and energy if you are to be vigilant against the pornographic onslaught in which we are living. And, Romans 6 is about that power. And this is what the apostle Paul says (8:00):

Romans 6:1-14

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, butpresent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Here’s what Romans 6 is about. When you read commentators and you listen to preachers talk about Romans 5 and Romans 6, they regularly highlight the flow that exists between those 2 chapters. Though, pay attention, especially to Romans 5:20-21 – Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And what commentators regularly do, rightly, is they show how the connection between Romans 5 and Romans 6 does not lead to a lawless Gospel.

The hypothetical argument that the apostle Paul responds to is, „Ok, if I want grace, if I need grace, I can’t outsin my need for it. Grace always superabounds above my sins. So, whenever I sin, I get more grace. And so, hey, if I wanna experience God’s grace, I’ve got it. I’ll just keep sinning. And then, I’ll get more grace. So the ticket to more grace is more sin.” And the apostle Paul says, „No. Grace does not lead to more sin.” The argument is that grace ought to lead to obedience. That’s the argument of Romans 5-6. But, here’s what I’m eager for you to see this afternoon. I am eager for you to see that this is not just about rhetoric. I’m eager for you to see that what Paul is doing is more than building a strong argument. He’s doing more than unfolding logical progression.

In Romans 6, the apostle Paul is communicating power, for you to overcome, by the grace of Jesus, the sin that is in your life. And today, I specifically wanna apply it to the power that you have from Jesus to live a pure life, in the midst of porn everywhere. So, 3 things about Romans 6 that communicate power for purity:

1. The facts of Romans 6

I want you to see the power for purity in the facts of Romans 6. This passage communicates powerful information for you. Paul wants to provide facts that will fuel your vigilance to be pure. And he gives 2 facts for us to consider in the first 10 verses of Romans 6.

  1. First fact: You are dead. The whole point of the first 10 verses is that you’re dead to sin and you cannot live in it anymore. And your baptism is your signification of your reality. He says, „How can we, who died to sin, still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, Baptism is the point of reference because Paul doesn’t know any unbaptized believers. And so, he used the baptism as the point of reference to talk about our conversion. And he says, „If you’ve been baptized, you’re a Christian, and you’re dead. The death that you’ve died, what is that? Seems like I’m alive. Seems like my heart is beating. What is the death that I’ve died? Well, verse 6 says the death is the death of the old self being crucified.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. The death that we died in Christ is the death of our old self. Romans 5 sets up 2 heads for the human race. There is Adam, as a head. And, there is Christ as a head. And all of humanity is under one of those 2 heads. For believers, Adam signifies the old self, who they were before they came to know Christ. And, Jesus signifies the new self, stands for the new person, who they have become in Christ. The old self is who we were in Adam, so old person is a redemptive historical category, it’s a redemptive historical designation and it refers to the fact that our representative head used to be Adam. And he’s no longer our head. Jesus Christ is our head. Our old self was crucified to make something happen, in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing (verse 6).(16:56) Notes from the first half hour.
Reclame

Pornography – What’s at risk when people think they can maintain a life of Christian discipleship while continuing to view pornography?

Dr. Heath Lambert, author of „Finally Free” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’d answer that (question) like this:

The men I’m doing ministry with, who are coming to me and saying, „I have this incredible struggle with pornography, I’ve been stuck for a long time and I don’t know how to get out of it.” By the time I’m having this conversation with someone, I’m actually encouraged. That doesn’t freak me out at all, I’m really encouraged when you’ve got a guy who says, „Let me open up my life and tell you what’s going on.” The people that concern me are the people that I’m not talking to. People that aren’t talking to the pastor, that aren’t talking to somebody else, because those are the people who are destroying their ministry, or their future ministry. They’re destroying their marriage and family, or their future marriage and family.

Because the way sin works, is it destroys. The lie of internet pornography is ‘, I’ll do this little thing over here, and it’s nasty, and it’s ugly, but I get finished with it and I cover it up, and I’ll go back to the rest of my life.” And the problem is that sin doesn’t stay covered up. You think you can control it, and you cannot control it. And it will break out, it will ruin your life.

And the tragedy of that is that the worst consequences are actually the ones that are stored up over a long amount of time. And so, these men who are doing this are sipping on poison that is eventually going to kill their ministry efforts and their efforts at marriage and family. They’re literally destroying their lives and their effectiveness for Christ, and they don’t even understand it. (Photos via Amazon)

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385832

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(2) For those seeking to overcome pornography, 

what practical measures are commonly missing from their strategy?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385831

See Parts 3 & 4 also which answer the following questions:

Part 3 – How can people identify whether their sorrow over sin is godly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385833

That’s a great question, and where so much of the action is. Because you can have 2 people that are both sobbing, that are begging to be different, that are both begging you to help them and they swear they’re gonna change from now on. And you don’t know if either of them, or any of them, if they’re serious about it, if that’s the kind of change that will last. And so, this is why Paul’s language in 2 Corinthian 7 is so helpful, because he makes a distinction between these 2 kinds of sorrow. There’s Godly sorrow that leads to life and peace and there is worldly sorrow that leads to death and despair. And the difference is fundamentally, whether the sorrow is about you and your kingdom, or about Jesus and His kingdom. If you’re sad because you got found out, if you’re sad because of the consequences, that is the kind of sorrow that will kill you. The Bible is very clear on this. But if you’re sad over your sin because God’s law has been broken, because you’ve grieved the Holy Spirit, then that is the kind of sorrow that indicates that you’re turning the corner because it indicates that you’re moving from yourself, in your own lust, which is why you looked at the porn to begin with, towards God and His kingdom. And the markers between those are a number that I mention in the book. But, just a few that I’d mention here that are most significant are:

  1. Do you have the willingness to reach out to others for help? Do you have the willingness to expose yourself and bring the darkness into the light?
  2. Do you have the willingness to accept the consequences? Are you willing to have your wife be upset?
  3. Are you willing to tell your parents and have them cut off your internet privileges?
  4. Are you willing to lose your job at your church because of being sexually immoral?

People who are willing to face the consequences are people who are demonstrating that their sorrow is the Godly kind that leads to life.

Part 4 – How are pastors particularly vulnerable to pornography, and what are the dangers?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385834

There is a recent statistic out that says that 75% of pastors do nothing to make themselves accountable to anyone with regard to pornography. That’s terrible. I don’t think I wanna make a law here, where the Bible leaves people free, but I think I wanna say that in this pornographic age, it is reckless and irresponsible for a minister of the Gospel to take no measures to insulate themselves from pornography, for this reason: Pornography is looking for you. You don’t even have to think, „Oh, I might struggle with this.” Pornography is looking for you. There’s all this research that the porn industry is engaging in marketing , and in paying all kinds of things to attract people that aren’t currently looking at it. They’re spending millions and billions of dollars to get you in. And pastors that are really concerned to protect themselves and their families, and their flock from this real silent killer, need to be serious about putting some kind of accountability measures in their life, whether it’s just an accountability partner to say, „Hey, here’s where I’m struggling. Here’s some areas where you can pray with me.” Certainly, internet filters and protection on tablet devices and phones. That’s something that everybody can do, but I say that particularly for pastors since that recent statistic is so high.

Al Mohler on Reading

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Bapt...

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fun short clip with insight into the childhood love for reading Al Mohel, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler recounts how he used to slip a couple of Encyclopedia Britannica’s into their family car, as they packed for vacation so that by the time they hit the road it would be too late for his family to make him put them back. He also recounts reading Francis Schaefer’s book ‘He is there and He is not silent’ when he was 15 and had an apologetics crisis. Good stuff!

VIDEO by GraceChurchSunValley

Rob Bell interviewed on the Unbelievable Broadcast

English: Rob Bell at the 2011 Time 100 gala.

Rob Bell, former founder and pastor of Mars Hill Church up until 2012, has just released a new book earlier this month, titled ‘What we talk about when we talk about God‘. This follows his prior book „love Wins’ which stirred up controversy over the idea of universalism and the existence of hell. In this interview, done right after the release of his newest book, Andrew Wilson debates Rob Bell on God, Salvation & Homosexuality on Justin Brierly’s radio show ‘Unbelievable’ which airs in the UK. (You can listen to the interview at the link above the video). In the video, Dr. Oakley of Alpha and Omega Ministries (website www.aomin.org) examines Rob Bell’s interview and his statements on several points.

From Dr. Oakley:

Dr. Oakley reviews Rob Bell’s appearance on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable Radio Broadcast recently. The discussion turned to his new position on homosexuality, and Mr. Bell demonstrated that his position is one of cultural compromise, not biblical reflection. To read up or learn more about Rob Bell and the issues surrounding his views on universalism and hell, see the links below the video.

You can listen to Rob Bell’s interview here –

 http://www.premierradio.org.uk

Dr. Oakley’s review of the interview

  1. Heaven and Hell debate – http://www.premier.tv/id/1_qkhmbyby (Rob Bell debates Adrian Warnock after the release of his book ‘Love Wins’. 
  2. Mithra? Attis? Really, Rob Bell? by Dr. Oakley (Review of troubling Nooma video)
  3. Panel Discussion of Rob Bell’s book ‘Love wins’ at Gospel Coalition 2011
  4. Love Wins: A ‘Theological’ Conversation on Rob Bell’s New Book at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  5. Martin Bashir -Interviewed about “Love Wins” (Part 1-4, 40 minutes)
  6. Rob Bell vs. Adrian Warnock Video Debate – Heaven & Hell with Justin Brierly
  7. Hell Yes, Hell No: A Response to Rob Bell & Love Wins, Bobby Conway

 

John Piper at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – The sadness & beauty of Paul’s final words

From February 17, 2013 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Text 2 Timothy 4:9-22

 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained atCorinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.

22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Here are a few notes from the message-

John Piper SBTS 17 feb 2013Piper: We’ll look at some of the most beautiful and some of the saddest words in the Bible, that are intended, I think, to establish you in your mission and your ministry… I think, the overall impact God wants you to have- to the Timothy’s in the room especially- is to inform you that ministry will be hard, and that in spite of all of its hardness, Jesus will stand you.

I have about 7 observations about the ministry in church and the ministry in missions. If you live long enough, you will find them all to be true in your life:

  1. Christian ministry is relationally hard
  2. Friends in ministry can let you down, and never care for you again. I want to give a warning to culture embracing Christians in the room, because you’ve got to embrace culture to be relevant. There is an embrace of culture- God ignoring, God denying, God demeaning, Christ distorting products of culture that is mutually exclusive with a deep love for Jesus. There is a love for the world that is irreconcilable with world exposing ministry, witnessing to world ministry. Rescuing from world ministry. If your heart is in love with the world, you just love what unbelievers love, you’ll either change your ministry to be compatible with that love, which happens all over the place, or you will leave the ministry, like Dimas did. More people leave Christ, more people leave church, more people leave the ministry, and more people leave the hope of heaven, out of love for the world, than anything else. (10:45)
  3. Good friends in ministry can let you down and still be your friend.
  4. Jesus never intended the enjoyment of His presence would replace the enjoyment of other Christians. In other words, when Christ died, so you would enjoy Him supremely, He did not nullify the enjoyment of other Christians. Christ always intended for your friendship with Him to be the centerpiece of your friendship with others. The joy of Christ centered friendship is meant to magnify the worth of Christ, as the common treasure of the friendship, and thus deepen the sweetness of the friendship, not eliminate it.
  5. Nevertheless, Jesus is the only totally reliable friend for sinners. He is the only flawless friend, and therefore the all satisfying friend, and therefore the only friend who can make other friendships eternal. As much as you may love your earthly friends and your earthly family, they can’t do this for you. They cannot rescue you from every evil deed, and bring you safely to the heavenly kingdom. Only one friend can do that (Jesus). Seek Christian friendships, but when they fail, when they don’t show up at your trial, don’t turn on your one Friend who will be there. Have you ever thought how insane it is, how many people, being let down by christian friends, use it as the reason to leave the one Friend  who will never let them down.
  6. Closeness to God at the end of your life does not remove the need or the desire to read or be spiritually nourished. (25:00)
  7. People with great influence and great authority don’t need great possessions. Paul handled a lot of money for his day and he kept very little for himself. Don’t lay up treasures on earth, lay up treasures in heaven. Keep it simple.

Let me close, by reading a quote form William Tyndale. This was written a year before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. He was in prison, just north of Brussels. He had been arrested for putting the Bible into English. He’s gonna die for helping people read the Bible in English. And, as he’s in prison languishing, he writes this. It’s just a beautiful, powerful (in my mind, anyway, in my heart) illustration of what we’ve just said.

„I beg your lordship, that if I am to remain here through the winter, you will request the commissary to send me, from the goods of mine, which he has, a warmer coat, also. For, this which I have is very thin. A piece of cloth, too, to patch my leggings. But, most of all, I beg and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the commisary, that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew grammar, and the Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study.”

The Sadness & Beauty of Paul’s Final Words

Al Mohler – The Conviction to Lead

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Bapt...

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part 1

R. Albert Mohler Jr., author of ‘The Conviction to Lead,’ discusses why we should lead, conviction in difficult times, and words: the tools of convictional leadership, among other topics.

Part 2

R. Albert Mohler Jr., author of ‘The Conviction to Lead,’ discusses the two cultures of evangelicalism, the importance of passion, generational challenges, and a leadership response.

Violence against women – What is the church’s response

Sunday was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the United Nations. Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote an excellent post here – http://www.russellmoore.com//the-church-violence-against-women

I have to say that this is the strongest language I have seen used by a church leader and it is right on the mark. Dr. Moore points out that men will stand at the „Judgment seat of Christ, at which they will give account of how they cared for their families”.  And he advises that  church leaders must tell women in the congregations that-

A man who hits you has surrendered his headship, and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this church in enacting church discipline.”

In the public arena, Dr. Moore also urges that christians-

..should call on the powers-that-be to prosecute abusers of women and children in ways that will deter others and make clear society’s repugnance at such abuse.

Please read the entire article here- http://www.russellmoore.com//the-church-violence-against-women

Al Mohler – Hebrews 12

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Bapt...

Expositors Summit 2012: General Session 6

 

Expositors Summit 2012: General Session 6 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Why We Believe Children Who Die Go To Heaven by Daniel L. Akin and Albert Mohler Jr.

I found out about this article via the Christian Post and wanted to share it with our readers.

Daniel Lowell Akin is the current president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as of January 2004. Dr. Akin has authored numerous books and journal articles. He is devoted to expository preaching. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is an American theologian and the ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.(source)

Dr. Akin writes:

Every couple of years, we republish this important article. This article addresses one of the questions we are most frequently asked by students, laypeople, and persons in need of spiritual counsel. For that reason, it seems beneficial to once again make this resource available. It is longer than our average post, but we think it should be published in its entirety. It is our prayer that this article will help you come to biblical convinctions about this very important issue.

click here for the article- http://betweenthetimes.com/2012/10/02/why-we-believe-children-who-die-go-to-heaven/

Carl Trueman at SBTS (4) Panel discussion (from the Luther lectures)


See

Southern Seminary SBTS Panel with Carl Trueman, Dan Dumas, and Michael Haykin. Unlike the three lectures which were all on the subject of Luther, this discussion turns to seminaries and their role in the spiritual formation of the students.

A few of the points discussed:

  • What about Spiritual formation as something within the curriculum (that pervades the curriculum) instead of as a separate discipline in the seminaries?

Michael Haykin: Biblical spirituality is the teaching and the communication of biblical truth about the way in which we draw near to God, then He is drawn near to us. It is therefore rooted deeply in the cross and the meritorious work and life of Jesus Christ and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. And so, it’s reflecting about theology, which has to be there as a foundation, that is why the recent interest in spirituality in evangelical circles ( a la Dallas Willard and Richard Foster) which doesn’t lay religious doctrinal foundations is problematic. So it’s definitely got biblical foundations, building on that, showing and teaching how we appropriate the riches that are in Christ via prayer, bible meditation,  and the other things we describe as spiritual disciplines that are a means of grace.

(16 min) There has been a significant collapse of patterns of piety established at the reformation, honed through the puritan period, still in place there, among evangelicals in the 18th and early 19th century, but then have collapsed completely in the 20th century.

Carl Trueman: The sheer size of seminaries today imposes limitations on how we can form individual students as christians. And that’s where I can see again, the church coming into play. Certainly, when I stand up in front of the class I can model a certain kind of christianity to my students. But, I think the primary place where spirituality is formed has to be the church. It also goes back yo my fear that the parachurch (seminaries included) supplants the church

  • Concerns about the overall trends in the evangelical circles, primarily about what the church should be doing being passed down to parachurch ministries (such as seminaries).
  • Sometimes spiritual formation gets very narrowly defined by seminaries in a way that can be somewhat self serving. We should not make the attendance of chapel compulsory. We have a different profile of student than we had even, say 30 years ago. Lots of our students are working their way through seminary and I’m not sure the person who had to go to chapel at 10:30 in the morning is doing something more meritorious and forming than coming off night shift, straight to my 8:30 class, then going home to see his wife.

Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman Lecture at SBTS (3) Martin Luther – The Tools of the Trade

Watch

Dr. Carl Trueman: In the first lecture I wanted to make the argument that theology and the practice of ministry are intimately connected. Luther is a great example of this. You see that Luther’s theology really drives his understanding of the shape of pastoral ministry. And I wanted to challenge you to move beyond the merely historical point I’m making there, to reflect longer on how you perceive ministry and how your perception actually reflects something about your theological convictions and to urge you to allow your theological convictions to drive how you think about ministry.

The second lecture I talked about Luther’s understanding of the word of God, how God is fundamentally to us, a God who speaks. And God’s speech essential constitutes reality. And I applied that to the nature of preaching. I think one of Luther’s great insights is the connection he makes between the speech of God and the speech of the preacher. And I hope that those of you who are preachers, or are going to be preachers will be excited by that idea that when the preacher speaks God’s word is powerful.

The final lecture- The Tools of the Trade- I wanna make the point that ordinary people mattered to the shape of Luther’s reformation. These are the people that are not typically featured in the textbooks other than as statistics, because, by and large they were too busy working to put bread on the table than to write books about how they’re feeling. But, yet, Luther’s connection with these people profoundly shaped how he executed his task as pastor.

So, in the third lecture I want to examine the practicality of Luther’s own pastoral ministry. As with all pastors, Luther is of course a flawed human being. And the details of his actual practice do not entirely square with his theology. One obvious example would be his increasingly bitter preoccupation with the Jews, which one finds from the 1530’s onwards. Frustrated by their failure to convert to Christianity, Luther adopted, and, indeed sharpened many of the standard –- of the anti Jewish polemic, which was so common in late medieval Europe. Indeed, his very last sermon, preached in 1546 ended with a bitter harangue against the jews. Thus, I accept at the outset that if you dig deep into Luther’s life, you will find inconsistencies and hypocrisies, here and there. My point here is not to argue for the total consistency of Luther, but rather a general conformity of his practice to his theological commitments.

The reform of worship

The first point to make as we now approach Luther’s pastoral practice, is that the way in which he reformed worship was intimately connected to his care and concern for ordinary people. Many of us are familiar with his treatise on prayer, which was originally a letter to his hairdresser Peter, who had told him while cutting his hair that he struggled with his prayer life. Reflect on that for awhile. Luther had time to write a handbook on prayer for the man who cut his hair.

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ lag in Todes Banden, and who, with Johann Walter, also wrote the melody (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even the briefest glance at Luther’s volume of letters reveal a man who was equally comfortable writing to powerful princes and to much lesser individuals with words of encouragement, counsel and occasional letters of rebuke. Yet, Luther’s care for people has significance, not simply for his personal relations, but also for the pace and shape of the Lutheran reformation. Basic to the reformation was the education of the people in the patterns of thought and behavior reformers required by their new theology. This issue raised all manner of pedagogical questions, which in turn raised questions about what we might call now broadly – aesthetics. What was church meant to look like? What was church meant to sound like? What was family piety and individual devotions meant to look like and sound like?

In the early years of the reformation, leadership at Wittenberg was shared by Martin Luther and his academic colleague, one time friend and later nemesis, a man called Andreas Bodenstein, (named Karlstadt after his birthplace). In the years after 1517, these 2 men came to represent 2 different visions of reform and Wittenberg would ultimately prove that it was only big enough to allow only one man to succeed.

Things came to a head in 1522. After the Diet of Worms, Luther was kidnapped by his prince, Frederick the Wise’s men and kept for his own safety in the Wartburg castle, high on the hills of Eisenach where he began his work of producing a German reformation Bible, by translating the New Testament.

As Luther is in the Wartburg castle, the leadership passes to Karlstadt. Luther’s young assistant Philip Melanchthon and  his colleague Conrad Zwilling pushed very hard for radical reformation, which has all of the hallmarks of social revolution. Iconoclasm, violent rhetoric at rapid pace. Luther, later in 1521 travels to Wittenberg incognito to see the chaos first hand. And then in 1522 he’s brought back by Frederick the Wise because the riots are getting out of hand and if the reformation descends into total chaos, Frederick will have to act to crush it because the emperor Charles V will move against Saxony. Luther comes back and I think this is the point in his career where he is actually in most danger because if he can’t quell the riots in Wittenberg, and all he can use to do that is his own force of personality, he will be replaced by Frederick the Wise.

Luther comes back, quells the social revolution in Wittenberg and introduces  a much more conservative vision of reformation. There will be no iconoclasm. If you go to a Lutheran church today, you will find crucifixes. The conservative however of Luther’s intervention in 1522 was not simply a piece of political pragmatism. I think it was also connected to his pastoral sensitivity. Luther knew that lasting change could only be brought about by gentle persuasion. Most people then, as ever since did not like change. And so, Luther demonstrated in 1522 and throughout his subsequent career an aesthetic conservatism, which was designed as much to prevent the disturbance of tender consciences as it was to appease the desire of his political masters.

We tend to romanticize the reformation and we think that everybody is desperate for the reformation to come to town. We see evidence of this in Luther’s liturgical innovations. From as early as 1520, it is clear that Lutheran theology demands vernacular liturgy. How could the mass, for example, be any use if the words of promise are not clearly articulated in a language which the people could understand? Yet, for a man who stands out in history as a volcanic revolutionary, Luther’s move towards liturgical reform are gradual and hesitant. This is how he describes his approach in a pamphlet in 1523(6 yrs. after the crisis of 1517): Until now, I have only used books and sermons to wean the charts of the people from their Godless regard for the ceremonial. For I believed it would be a christian and helpful thing, if I could prompt a peaceful removal of the abomination that Satan sets up in the holy place, through the man of sin. Therefore I’ve used neither authority or pressure, nor did I make any innovations for I have been hesitant and fearful, partly because of the weak in faith who cannot suddenly exchange an accustomed order of worship for a new and unusual one and also because of the fickle  and fastidious spirits who rush in like unclean swine without faith or reason and who delight only in novelty and tires of it as quickly when it is worn off. Such people are a nuisance, even in other affairs. But, in spiritual matters they are absolutely unbearable. Nonetheless, at the risk of bursting with anger, I must bear with them, unless I want to let the Gospel itself be denied to the people.

Here, Luther made it clear that he was concerned to handle the delicate consciences with care and also to give no ground to those who seek novelty or innovation for its own sake. The liturgy he then described in 1523 was itself very conservative. Essentially, a cleaned up version of the traditional mass. Still in Latin, except for the sermon and a few hymns. And later, Luther can hardly be described as being in the vanguard of the application of his own theological principles to liturgical reform.

Indeed, even in 1524, as he wrote against the radicals, Luther rejoiced that the mass was now said in German, but also argued that such a practice should not be made compulsory lest it become a new legalism. And also because he was not yet satisfied that the German liturgy captured the full beauty of what was going on. It was not until October 1525 that a full German mass was celebrated in Wittenberg.  That’s as early as Luther feels able to push forward with the full application of theology that he’s fully articulating in 1517-1518. It’s remarkable sensitivity. (17 min mark)

The Tools of the Trade from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman at SBTS (2) The Word in Action – Luther’s theology of the preached word

See

Dr. Carl Trueman:

In lecture 2 I want to talk about the power in the Word. In the first lecture (click on link above for first lecture)  I sketched out the basics of Luther’s theology, with particular reference to his understanding of God’s revelation of Himself in the incarnate and crucified flesh of Jesus Christ. There, and only there did Luther believe one can find God revealed as being gracious towards sinners. To approach God in any way, outside the flesh of Christ was to approach the God of righteous judgment. A consuming fire, the terrifying God who rides on the wing of  a storm and who is accountable to no one. And before whom no sinful creature can stand and expect to live.

In the second lecture I want to move from the theological foundations we’ve established to Luther’s theology of the preached word. And by the third lecture we’ll finally get to Luther’s practice of pastoral ministry. But, it’s in the preached word that the church encounters the crucified Christ and thus the preached word which must be central to the church’s life and actions. In addition, we must also remember the basic arguments of these lectures as a whole, that Luther’s theology is determinative of his understanding of the nature and the toils of the pastoral ministry.

That he would have found modern evangelical claims to ‘agree on the Gospel’, but, ‘to allow freedom in method and practice’ to be strange. Not that the Lutheran reformation looked exactly the same, everywhere in Germany. Liturgy varied in detail between places, but the basic shape of pastoral ministry and of church life enjoyed a high degree of consensus. As is the historian’s way, however, I cannot begin the story of Luther’s understanding of the word of god with Luther himself.

The late medieval background

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

…..  In many ways Luther remained a man of medieval ages. His politically conservative futurism and his acute sense of the physical presence of the devil, and also of demons and imps are just two examples of what separates him from the other reformers. who were trained as renaissance humanists and were men of the modern age. On the theological front, it was the late medieval critical philosophy of the language, connected to the radical application of what was called the dialectic of God’s two powers which gripped Luther’s theological imagination and remained with him from the monastic cloister to the day of his death.

…..Competency in human reason had been declining from the 12th century onwards in Europe. And this dialectic between the 2 powers of God was used in a dialectic and critical way to articulate the increasing epistemological modesty that people had with regard to God. Human reason came to be regarded less and less competent to predict what God would be like. And first, theologians focused increasingly on revelation as the source of the knowledge of God. We shouldn’t get too excited, as that revelation was not identified with Scripture, by these late medieval theologians so much as the teaching of the church’s magisterium. The distinction also fed and strengthened a perennial linguistic debate about the nature and function of words. And this will become significant for Luther’s understanding of preaching. Taken to its extreme this became an anti-essentialist view of being which effectively made words themselves the determiners of reality. This is what is known as late medieval nominalism and it was the linguistic school in which Luther was trained and whose basic assumptions remained with him throughout his entire career, to the day of his death.

Those critics of post modernism, such as Terry Eagleton have pointed out there are pointed similarities between medieval nominalism and certain schools of post modern linguistic theory. We might summarize these similarities by saying that both envisage the world as a linguistic construct. Words, not essences become determinative and constitutive of reality. I suspect that Luther would have little time for the excesses of postmodern anti-essentialism with the kind of kaleidoscopic anarchy it has created with the regard to gender, sexuality and even the notion of human nature. Nevertheless, we should note that Luther would not object to postmodernism by reasserting a kind of essentialism. Rather, I suspect, Luther’s rejection of postmodern anarchy would be based on his belief that God is the supreme reality, that He is ultimately the one who speaks, and whose speech is therefore the ground of existence and of difference. Reality is not determined by the linguistic proclivities of any human individual, or any human community, but by the word of God.

The theological implications of this should become obvious. For example, to refer back to the theology of the cross- the empiricist, the essentialist looks at the cross and sees weakness, agony, suffering and defeat, and no more. That is the outward aesthetics of the cross would seem to indicate. And it is what the social and philosophical conventions of Jews and Greeks of 1st Corinthians would also lead them to believe. But, neither the empirical aesthetics, nor their interpretation through the grid of their constructed social conventions are actually any guide to the reality  of what is taking place. God has extrinsically declared the cross to be powerful, a victory, a moment of triumph. And God’s word trumps everything in determining the reality that is there. Thus, only those christians who reject the evidence of their senses, and reject the established logic and expectations of their culture and trust instead in their counter intuitive truth of God’s words can truly understand the reality.

The same, of course applies to justification. Older medieval approaches to justification required the individual actually to be somewhat righteous before God could declare the person to be justified. Late medieval theologian Gabriel Biel had broken with this tradition, arguing instead that God could set His own criteria for the declaration of justification. For Biel, God had entered into a pact with human beings and had agreed that according to His ordained power He was going to accept an individual’s best efforts as righteousness, as meeting the condition for God to declare that person to be in a state of grace. Once in such a state of grace, the individual could then benefit form sacramental grace  and do works of real righteousness and intrinsic merit.

Luther came to reject the theology of Biel as a form of semi pelagianism. The very idea that one could do one’s best and meet any condition became anathema to him. If human beings are morally dead, then the only things they can do is acknowledge that in all humility despair in themselves and look to God for unmerited mercy. Yet in breaking with Biel, Luther remained indebted to one of Biel’s most important conceptual moves. For Biel, as later for Luther, the justified person was not necessarily, actually, intrinsically righteous. They were simply declared extrinsically to be righteous by God.

By making entry into a state of grace, something that was not based on intrinsic merit, but rather on merit determined on extrinsic pactum. Biel first shattered the link between essential reality and divinely determined reality. For those of you interested in the history of the ‘History of Dogma’ will know that this is something for which conservative catholic historians of dogma have never forgiven him and which indeed shapes how our contemporary historians like Brad S. Gregory of Notre Dame views the reformation. The reformation is seen as the ultimate evil fruit of late medieval anti-essentialism.

The practical significance of this linguistic philosophy for Luther as pastor is that words become absolutely foundational to everything the pastor does. If words determine reality, then of all things the pastor does, the words he speaks are the most important: Reading the bible in public, preaching the word form the pulpit, applying the word individually in the confessional. Each of these things determine the reality of the church. This linguistic emphasis also helps explain to those of us with less sacramental proclivities than Luther why he holds such high views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That on the latter point at least, he’s willing to divide protestantism over the issue.  Incidentally, Luther’s objection to transubstantiation is not in 1520 that the body and blood of Christ are there, it’s that the bread and the wine have disappeared.

It would be remiss of me simply to reduce Luther’s reformation theology to a particularly radical application of late medieval linguistic theory as a means of solving his own personal issues

The Word in Action from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman at SBTS (1) Theological and Biographical Foundations – Reflections upon Luther

Dr. Carl Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History and Paul Woolley Chair of Church History and he blogs regularly at Reformation21.

See his full bio here http://www.wts.edu/faculty/profiles/trueman.html

Dr. Trueman’s teaching history:

  • Tutorial Assistant in Church History, University of Aberdeen, 1991–1993
  • Lecturer in Theology, University of Nottingham, 1993–1998
  • Senior Lecturer in Church History, University of Aberdeen, 1998–2001
  • Westminster Theological Seminary, 2001– Currently serving

If you have never read or heard Dr. Trueman, here are some notes from the beginning of this lecture (from the first 18 minutes). Dr. Carl Trueman:

Reflections upon Luther’s life & practice of the Christian ministry

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

–In the years since the reformation, especially in the last 100 years of scholarship, the categories used to understand him (Luther) have become more variegated and subtle. Amongst many other approaches, he has been studied as the man who brought to a church shattering conclusion, the critical theology of the late medieval nominalists. He’s been the freudian man. (this will be discussed at length in part 2- to be posted tomorrow) projecting unto God his disrupted relationship with his own father.  He’s been the heir of late medieval eschatological expectation. He’s been the quintessential humorist of theological polemics. And, in a darker vein he has been seen as the fountainhead of German anti-semitism.

One area of comparative neglect, however in Luther’s studies is that of Luther’s pastor, and that’s surprising. Prior to the Reformation Luther was not only a monk, he was also a priest. He was ordained in 1507 and that meant that his professional religious life would never simply have been that of a university professor, or the monastic cloister. He was also  involved, on a day to day basis, with the lives of the people in his church. And indeed, it was this pastoral life, this pastoral concern which provided the trigger for the Reformation protest. when he came to see the sale of indulgences as impacting the lives of ordinary men and women of Wittenberg who were wasting their material goods on such counterfeit grace. (8 min mark)

In this 1st video Dr. Trueman lays out the basic theological elements of Luther’s thoughts, which then impacted his pastoral practice, and how Luther regarded the identity of God relative to fallen humanity, and central to this is the crucified flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • The topic of Luther as pastor is not simply  one of interest to historians, it also makes it significant to those pursuing pastoral ministry today. In the current conservative evangelical climate, much is made often of agreements on necessary theological doctrines in the context of the freedom to disagree over issues of pastoral and ecclesiastical practice. By way of contrast, the life and theology of Luther shows how theology and practice are actually more closely connected  than we might perhaps wish to imagine. Thus, in these lectures I am not primarily advocating Luther as a pastoral paradigm to be followed, although one could surely choose worst examples, but, rather as a test case for showing how theology and practice have certain necessary connections. A point which I believe is absent from major currents of American evangelical life, where a routine separation of theology and method, or perhaps theology and practical ecclesiology is often standard.

1. Theology of the cross

It is an oft repeated cliche that Luther was not a systematic theologian. Luther is in fact a remarkably consistent theologian. His treatise on The Bondage of the Will (1525) is a remarkably consistent exploration of  the theological foundations of justification by grace through faith, both as it relates to the issue of human choice and as it related to the question of Scriptural perspicuity. Similarly, the development of his Christology in relation to the Lord’s Supper between 1520 and 1529 is again a story of the consistent application and outworking of fundamental concern and insight  which are right there at the start of his reformation protest.

One of the foundational insights which emerges in Luther’s early thinking, early in his reformation career and receives dramatic exposure at the Heidelberg disputation in 1518 is the so called Theology of the Cross. When Luther places his 95 Theses on the castle door, in October 1517. In actuality, if you read The 95 Theses, it’s a petty boring document. You need to know quite a bit about medieval theology  even to understand what he’s getting at.

A much more appropriate start for the Reformation is April 1518, when Luther, as a member of the Augustinian order is attending a standard meeting of the order, in Heidelberg and has one of his friends present a series of theses for debate, that he himself had written. These are called the Heidelberg Disputation. It is often said here that he articulates the theology of the cross. In the theses of the disputation Luther himself does not refer to it as the theology of the cross, he refers to a theologian of the cross. And the text has frequently been mistranslated on this point and does not help to convey the richness of what Luther is trying to communicate.

The difference is important. Luther is not thinking of theology in some abstract way, as a technique or a set of rules, or procedures to follow which often lead one to correct theological formulations. He’s rather thinking in holistic terms. A theology as an action, performed by an individual which is intimately related to the nature and status of the person performing the action. Here are the key thesis in laying out the theology of the cross idea in full:

–„That person does not deserve to be called a theologian, who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and the manifest things of God, seen through suffering on the cross. A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works, as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded and hardened”.

In short, one might summarize Luther’s basic epistemological points here by saying that theologians of glory  assume that God is much like themselves.  and therefore must conform to their conventions. The theologians of the cross, however, know that God is who He is and to know Him one must look to His revelation of Himself and that, primarily, on the cross. In placing the cross at the center of his theological program, Luther stands in continuity with his preoccupation of certain influential strands of late medieval theology. (16 min mark)

……………..

For Luther, the cross becomes the criterion of theology and thus the means for understanding the whole of spiritual reality. This has numerous implications. For example, it points clearly to Luther’s later abolition of the line between sacred and secular callings. What makes the theologian of the cross a true theologian? It’s not that he does theology, that he thinks and talks about God. That is the task he shares with theologians of glory…. Luther is actually making the point that everyone is a theologian. Either of glory or of the cross. What makes the difference is the mode in which the person does theology… The theologian of the cross does theology by faith in God’s revelation alone and based upon God’s revelation alone. (18 min mark)

Theological and Biographical Foundations from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Related posts

Panel discussion SBTS – Helpful question & answer session on marriage and ministry

A great session at the end of a one day conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, geared towards pastors and ministry leaders, however every couple (even the one not in active ministry) can learn and apply most of the answers given  in this very candid conversation.

See previous messages on marriage and ministry at SBTS by-

  1. After Russell’s message this morning, just talking about something as serious as pornography, having a discussion- husband and wife- about that, CJ (Mahaney) had some things to add from his years of shepherding, where something like this has to occur, (what is) the process…?
  2. What if you have a pastor who is leading the church, pronounced leadership, but, he’s not leading in the home? How is the wife to respond. We say ‘love covers a multitude of sins’, it doesn’t cover all sins, here’s a wife who sees inconsistency, she’s hearing him preach, but at home he is not a good leader. What would you recommend?
  3. How do we deal with the inconsistency that we experience? We preach a better message at times. So, we have the standards and we can’t lower the Scriptures to our lifestyle. How do we work through that? That can be a challenge at times. I mean, you’re going to church and a fight breaks out and you’re gonna stand before the people of God… and that’s tough.
  4. Where do we go for help, as pastors in the local church?
  5. What are some of the early warning signs in a Gospel ministry couple of indications where they need to get help? There’s obviously some sins that we handle through grace induced progressive sanctification, others you need to get intensive, you need to nip it in the bud. What are these early warning signs?
  6. How do you work through a dry season? ( a dry, flat [or too busy] time in your marriage)
  7. Sometimes, in your church you come across a couple who says they never fought. What do you think about them?
  8. (Give) some principles, real practical, of how to fight fair. What does a good fight look like in your home?

Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

 

Al Mohler on Marriage and Ministry Crisis

Al Mohler – President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: When you think of all the things that might demand our attention, it’s hard to come up with anything that is more important than this: Marriage and Ministry.

Jesus Stills the Sea

Luke 8: 22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them,“Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they beganto be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

In the introduction (first 1/2 hour) Al Mohler talks about assuming the role of President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the spring of 1993.
  • Everybody reacts differently in a crisis, some people just disappear. You’re gonna discover who your friends are during a crisis because they’re the ones standing with you.

Normative picture of a minister in the New Testament: One who is married to one wife; representing the covenantal commitment and the integrity and fidelity of that love.

Ten principles for marriage during ministry crisis

  1. Your marriage and your ministry are inseparable. That’s not an uncontroversial statement. Your marriage is who you are and that commitment you’ve made and covenant fidelity n marriage and that commitment you’re going to make is a commitment prior to your calling to any specific place in ministry. You are not going to ever be able successfully to separate your ministry or your marriage because if you think you’re doing that, you’re lying to yourself and you’re setting yourself up for a horrible disaster. I’ve known pastors who had tragic marriages and were great exopsitors, but that was a clear limp, at least. And I have seen several of them come to the end of their ministry and you realize there is something horrifyingly missing even now. We can’t just act that our marriage and our ministry are inseparable, they’re not because we’re not individually separable from our call and we’re not individually separable from our covenantal commitments. We are all we are all the time. If we suffer under the illusion that we can somehow set our marriage on the side and our ministry on the other side, that we can set them apart as 2 distinct dimensions of who we are, we fool ourselves.(47 min)
  2. Your marriage will anchor your ministry, not the other way around. Never for a minute think that the ministry’s gonna save your marriage. It won’t. Now, your marriage can save your ministry. If you think you can find better fulfillment that will compensate for what you don’t have in your marriage, you’re doomed.
  3. Your marriage will determine your state of your heart, not your ministry. The state of our heart is a very urgently important thing because we’re never higher than our heart.
  4. Your home is to be your haven in a heartless world. In other words, when you go out in the world expect to be hurt, ministry is a risk, you are exposing yourself to criticism and injury. You can be hurt at home… but you better not be hurt n the same way and it has to be the haven from those hurts.
  5. Your wife must be a partner in ministry, not a mere observer. If she is you’re living in a bifurcated world and setting yourself up for disaster.
  6. When crisis come, lean on each other, drawing strength from each other. It’s just common sense, that is what marriage is all about. You lean on Christ and you lean on each other and you’ve got to be careful about leaning on e=anyone else.
  7. Protect her heart and trust in God. If you think that what you are going to do is protect your wife from reality, that’s not going to work. That’s making her into an observer, sometimes even a distant observer, not a participant. But, if you take everything home to her, in terms of your hurts, you need to be careful when you have a moment of anger, or you’ve been let down, that you don’t poison her view of someone, horrifyingly.
  8. Protect your children and interpret events for them and live confidently. Children don’t need to have all the data… they just need to know you’re happy with mom, and you’re secure in your calling and that you’re confident in Jesus.
  9. If you have to choose, lose the ministry, not the marriage. And, the second thing you would have to say after that is, „If you lose the marriage, you’d better lose the ministry anyway”. If you get to that point… and I don’t mean just because your wife doesn’t want to live in this state, or you got hurt feelings and you wanna go home. I mean, if you realize, „I can’t do this, I can’t stay here and stay married”… Then Stay married! God’s sovereign. If He’s called you, you’ll get to a place where you can stay both faithful in ministry and faithful in marriage.
  10. Aim to grow old and happy together. The biblical picture here is really rich. Plan a life from beginning to end together.

Leading Your Family Through Ministry Crisis from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

C J Mahaney – Marriage and Pastoral Ministry

photo via http://www.girltalkhome.com

C J Mahaney talks to husbands at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary speaks about his marriage to his wife Carolyn for 37 years:

  1. Care for her soul
  2. Consistent communication
  3. Create romantic memories

 

 

Marriage and Pastoral Ministry from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

 

The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage by R. Albert Mohler

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Bapt...

Image via Wikipedia

From the introduction of  The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriagemade in an Address by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Delivered to the Men of Boyce College March 13, 2004

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” Job 31:1

The intersection of pornography and marriage is one of the most problematic issues among many couples today—including Christian couples. The pervasive plague of pornography represents one of the greatest moral challenges faced by the Christian church in the postmodern age. With eroticism woven into the very heart of the culture, celebrated in its entertainment, and advertised as a commodity, it is virtually impossible to escape the pervasive influence of pornography in our culture and in our lives.

At the same time, the problem of human sinfulness is fundamentally unchanged from the time of the Fall until the present. There is no theological basis for assuming that human beings are more lustful, more defenseless before sexual temptation, or more susceptible to the corruption of sexual desire than was the case in any previous generation.

Two distinctions mark the present age from previous eras. First, pornography has been so mainstreamed through advertising, commercial images, entertainment, and everyday life, that what would have been illegal just a few decades ago is now taken as common dress, common entertainment, and unremarkable sensuality. Second, explicit eroticism—complete with pornographic images, narrative, and symbolism—is now celebrated as a cultural good in some sectors of the society.

Growing out of those two developments is a third reality—namely, that increased exposure to erotic stimulation creates the need for ever-increased stimulation in order to demand notice, arouse sexual interest, and retain attention.

The bottom line is that, in our sinfulness, men are drawn toward pornography and a frighteningly large percentage of men develop a dependence upon pornographic images for their own sexual arousal and for their concept of the good life, sexual fulfillment, and even meaning in life.

Mohler concludes:

The deliberate use of pornography is nothing less than the willful invitation of illicit lovers and objectified sex objects and forbidden knowledge into a man’s heart, mind, and soul. The damage to the man’s heart is beyond measure, and the cost in human misery will only be made clear on the Day of Judgment. From the moment a boy reaches puberty until the day he is lowered into the ground, every man will struggle with lust. Let us follow the biblical example and scriptural command that we make a covenant with our eyes lest we sin. In this society, we are called to be nothing less than a corps of the mutually accountable amidst a world that lives as if it will never be called to account.

Read the entire paper here – http://www.sbts.edu/documents/Mohler/EyeCovenant.pdf (It is only 12  pages long and double spaced at that)

The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil by Dr. Albert Mohler

I found this article extremely helpful with the response to ‘God and evil’ from the Albert Mohler blog. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Every thoughtful person must deal with the problem of evil. Evil acts and tragic events come to us all in this vale of tears known as human life. The problem of evil and suffering is undoubtedly the greatest theological challenge we face.

Most persons face this issue only in a time of crisis. A senseless accident, a wasting disease, or an awful crime demands some explanation. Yesterday, evil showed its face again as Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast.

For the atheist, this is no great problem. Life is a cosmic accident, morality is an arbitrary game by which we order our lives, and meaning is non-existent. As Oxford University’s Professor Richard Dawkins explains, human life is nothing more than a way for selfish genes to multiply and reproduce. There is no meaning or dignity to humanity.

For the Christian Scientist, the material world and the experience of suffering and death are illusory. In other religions suffering is part of a great circle of life or recurring incarnations of spirit.

Some Christians simply explain suffering as the consequence of sins, known or unknown. Some suffering can be directly traced to sin. What we sow, so shall we reap, and multiple millions of persons can testify to this reality. Some persons suffer innocently by the sinful acts of others.

But Jesus rejected this as a blanket explanation for suffering, instructing His disciples in John 9 and Luke 13 that they could not always trace suffering back to sin. We should note that the problem of evil and suffering, the theological issue of theodicy, is customarily divided into evil of two kinds, moral and natural. Both are included in these passages. In Luke 13, the murder of the Galileans is clearly moral evil, a premeditated crime–just like the terrorist acts in New York and Washington. In John 9, a man is blind from birth, and Jesus tells the Twelve that this blindness cannot be traced back to this man’s sin, or that of his parents.

Natural evil comes without a moral agent. A tower falls, an earthquake shakes, a tornado destroys, a hurricane ravages, a spider bites, a disease debilitates and kills. The world is filled with wonders mixed with dangers. Gravity can save you or gravity can kill you. When a tower falls, it kills.

People all over the world are demanding an answer to the question of evil. It comes only to those who claim that God is mighty and that God is good. How could a good God allow these things to happen? How can a God of love allow killers to kill, terrorists to terrorize, and the wicked to escape without a trace?

No superficial answer will do. Our quandary is well known, and the atheists think they have our number. As a character in Archibald MacLeish’s play, J.B. asserts, “If God is God He is not good, if God is good He is not God; take the even, take the odd . . . .” As he sees it, God can be good, or He can be powerful, but He cannot be both.

We will either take our stand with God’s self-revelation in the Bible, or we are left to invent a deity of our own imagination. The Bible quickly excludes two false understandings.

First, the Bible reveals that God is omnipotent and omniscient. These are unconditional and categorical attributes. The sovereignty of God is the bedrock affirmation of biblical theism. The Creator rules over all creation. Not even a sparrow falls without His knowledge. He knows the number of hairs upon our heads. God rules and reigns over all nations and principalities. Not one atom or molecule of the universe is outside His active rule.

The sovereignty of God was affirmed by King Nebuchadnezzar, who confessed that God “does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” [Daniel 4:36]. Process theologians have attempted to cut God’s power down to size, rendering the Creator as one power among others. The evangelical revisionists pushing open theism have attempted to cut God’s omniscience down to size, rendering Him as one mind among others.

Rabbi Harold Kushner argues that God is doing the best He can under the circumstances, but He lacks the power to either kill or cure. The openness theists argue that God is always ready with Plan B when Plan A fails. He is infinitely resourceful, they stress, just not really sovereign.

These are roads we dare not take, for the God of the Bible causes the rising and falling of nations and empires, and His rule is active and universal. Limited sovereignty is no sovereignty at all.

The second great error is to ascribe evil to God. But the Bible does not allow this argument. God is absolute righteousness, love, goodness, and justice. Most errors related to this issue occur because of our human tendency to impose an external standard–a human construction of goodness–upon God. But good does not so much define God as God defines good.

How then do we speak of God’s rule and reconcile this with the reality of evil? Between these two errors the Bible points us to the radical affirmation of God’s sovereignty as the ground of our salvation and the assurance of our own good. We cannot explain why God has allowed sin, but we understand that God’s glory is more perfectly demonstrated through the victory of Christ over sin. We cannot understand why God would allow sickness and suffering, but we must affirm that even these realities are rooted in sin and its cosmic effects.

How does God exercise His rule? Does He order all events by decree, or does He allow some evil acts by His mere permission? This much we know–we cannot speak of God’s decree in a way that would imply Him to be the author of evil, and we cannot fall back to speak of His mere permission, as if this allows a denial of His sovereignty and active will.

A venerable confession of faith states it rightly: “God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any way to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

God is God, and God is good. As Paul affirms for the church, God’s sovereignty is the ground of our hope, the assurance of God’s justice as the last word, and God’s loving rule in the very events of our lives: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28]

We dare not speak on God’s behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to happen at this time to these persons and in this manner. Yet, at the same time, we dare not be silent when we should testify to the God of righteousness and love and justice who rules over all in omnipotence. Humility requires that we affirm all that the Bible teaches, and go no further. There is much we do not understand. As Charles Spurgeon explained, when we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.

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