Monday, January 31, 2011
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S. said the following:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -excerpted from CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC “The Man In The Arena” ,Speech at the Sorbonne ,Paris, France ,April 23, 1910
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Let me commend to you the preaching of Rev. Joe Novenson, Senior Pastor of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN. Joe and I preached together at some training for Reformed Youth Ministries at their leader training in Jackson, Mississippi. My assigned topic was ‘Glorification’ and Joe’s assigned topic was ‘Sanctification’. It was really outstanding- all 4 messages. Truly some of the best I’ve ever heard. You can link to the RYM download page by clicking here.
If you followed the blog dialogue last week with regard to the nature of sanctification and indeed how God uses the regular work of the Holy Spirit through faith and repentance then you will be all the more encouraged and challenged by the messages. With regard to the messages I was asked to bring to the group I’d particularly commend the second message to you—- If you are a Type “A”, “Get it Right”…
Monday, February 07, 2011
I came across the following article thanks to an email from Brock Warner. It is very insightful and likely prophetic for the conversations around Southwood for the next couple of years. It is linked below and its content is DEAD ON with regard to the current dialogue going on in the halls of Southwood regarding Sanctification and our participation in that work of the Holy Spirit.
Link to the article entitled: “Are we Transformed YET?” by Mark Galli on Christianity Today’s website.
There is also a great follow-up article by the Internet Monk about Galli’s article. It can be found here.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Should the Gospel be confusing? When we come to the (Lord’s) table should we not know what we are doing? The Gospel is a mystery that was hidden for ages, but now revealed – it is Christ in us the hope of glory (Col 1:27).
There is none righteous.
All have sinned.
All fall short.
We were under a curse and the judgment of God.
Christ redeemed us from the judgment due us (Galatians).
We were delivered out of the domain of darkness (Col1:13 ) and transferred into kingdom of God’s Son.
Eternal life is a free gift received by faith in Christ.
Christ is our righteousness.
The Holy Spirit is the deposit and seal of what is to come.
We are made new in Christ for good works (Eph 2:10).
We are to put on the new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:14).
As those who have believed in God we are to be careful…
Monday, February 28, 2011
I stood in front of the sanctuary last week and received a familiar look accompanied by a familiar question. The look was one of concern, confusion and suspicion. The question was very familiar. It began this way, “I’ve got to ask you a question, are you saying…” I interrupted them, “...am I saying that grace means you can go out and do anything you want to do, throw caution to the wind, embrace debauchery and live with a perpetual “hall pass” to do whatever you want, whenever you want?”
They smiled and graciously said, “well I wasn’t going to ask that exactly, but…” I interrupted again, “...but you were going to ask whether I believed that as Christians we are to put off the old man and put on the new man, participate in the mortification of the flesh, run the race with perseverance, buffet our bodies, die to sin and live to righteousness?” They smiled again. I got it.
I’d heard that question before, probably several hundred times.…
Monday, March 07, 2011
(This question was submitted via Knots last evening and was inspired by yesterday’s sermon which can be found here)
I chose to go to Sunday School Class this morning after the first service. I briefly considered sitting and drinking coffee and waving, but I would have missed out, not on grace, but on the class and it seemed like a profitable way to spend my time. But I wondered, not in an effort to be witty, but in an effort to understand what you are saying: would you be willing to decide at 8:25 a.m. to go and sit on the couch and drink coffee, leaving the pulpit empty, and a few hundred people scratching their heads and looking at each other?
What would be the thoughts that would contribute to your decision either to go and preach, or go and sip coffee on the couch? By the way, if you are going to sip coffee on the couch next week, please let me know, and I will…
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I want to make sure that I let you all know that there are many, many encouraging emails I receive every week. If you are a ‘golden retreiver’ kind of Christian like me then it’s usually easier to remember the critical statements, but this amazing note of encouragement came this morning:
I wanted to say keep preaching what you are preaching!! We NEED to hear and understand Grace. I was a covenant child raised by christian parents at large ‘First Presbyterian’ type church in another city. I knew the catechism by heart, had regular quiet times, and attended church every time the door was opened. I heard the gospel over and over and knew the right answers, but I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was all about checking off the items on a list of “being a good christian.” As you can imagine that the works oriented faith was empty and like the prodigal son I ran to…
Saturday, June 18, 2011
This week’s message, entitled “Gospel Confirmation Hearings” (link is for file download) would probably be more appropriately entitled, “Paul had a dream…” There is likely no more important message that I have ever preached from the Pulpit at Southwood. The grace of God is so pregnant, poignant and rich in this text that I will hardly be able to sleep this evening thinking about sharing it with the church! Please be in prayer for worship tomorrow!
From the message, “You need to know that the question before the Galatian church had VERY LITTLE to do with the ‘sign’ of circumcision, but more to do with the fundamental implications of the law.
Circumcision, as a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, was indicative of ‘obedience to the law’——if circumcision was required in order to be saved, then salvation would not have been by FAITH ALONE.
The best analogy…
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I stumbled across this article this morning from a friends blog. It is apropos for Southwood today:
An Open Letter To Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian
There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him. As I have said before: antinomianism happens not when we think too much of grace. Just the opposite, actually. Antinomianism happens when we think too little of grace.
READ THE ENTIRE BLOG ENTRY:
Monday, June 27, 2011
Apparently our Gospel appetite is about 13 weeks long.
After week 13 in Galatians the dam broke. I have heard rumors, whispers, grumblings from every corner of Southwood. They have come from long-time members and newcomers alike. They range from blatant disgruntled comments about my preaching to subtle fears that by preaching ‘so much’ grace we will never ‘turn the corner’ to obedience. It seems that grace has been viewed as an ‘appetizer’ and the church is ready for the meal.
The comments generally go something like this, “Okay, enough already. Enough of this verse by verse, section by section consideration of Galatians. Get us to the REAL meat of the Bible! Get us at least to Galatians chapter 5! Get us past the indicatives of Paul’s preaching to the imperatives of the Gospel where we finally DO SOMETHING!”
I’ve heard that I just don’t care about holiness at all. I’ve heard the accusation that I am over-emphasizing one aspect of Pauline…
Monday, July 04, 2011
I receive lots of email. Most of the ‘concerned’ email revolves around fears that somehow the preaching and teaching of grace will make us LAZY in our Christian lives. Frankly, I had never come across the question from a person who identified themselves as having struggled this way. I got that question from a person struggling in that specific way last week. Fair warning, the answer is detailed and longer than normal, but worth reading! It’s a PDF download. What is posted here is just an intro to the full article. Enjoy and P.S. If you missed Sunday’s message: “Divide, Conquer and remembering the fine print of grace” you should download and listen to it first. It is amazing how God times these thing to go together!
Dear Pastor Larroux,
Is there such thing as going “too far” with grace? What I mean is this: I am fully aware of my sin and brokenness. I know…
Monday, July 11, 2011
I get lots of questions about the Gospel. Most of them are not as ‘form’ oriented (i.e. content) as they are ‘function’ (i.e. how does the Gospel work?). Most of the inquiries revolve around grace and the ability of a philosophical system that demands faith INSTEAD OF works to ACTUALLY result in the mortification of sin. Just such a question was posed last week about an ongoing struggle with pornography. Below is an exerpt of the PDF paper “How does the Gospel work?” The particular sin addressed in the paper is ‘lying’ but you can make the connection to your particular poison. Grappling through these issues IS the hard work of sanctification and mortification. You should know that it is HARDER to rest, by faith in Christ, and have that change you than to avail yourself of a hundred sin-stifling strategies! John Calvin said, “He who makes the worship of God consist in faith and repentance, BY NO MEANS LOOSENS THE REINS OF DISCIPLINE,…
Monday, July 18, 2011
This post is a link to the blog of Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. It is a profound explanation about the place that the Gospel has in the life of people who ALREADY believe. I HIGHLY recommend to you Tullian’s blog. It is saturated with grace, theologically sound and engaging to read.
“Any evangelical- indeed, any real Christian-would probably say that life’s key issue is whether someone comes into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. How one receives that salvation, however, has been the subject of many debates throughout church history, debates that continue today. At the center of these many debates is an assumption: Every human being born after Adam and Eve is affected (some call this effect total depravity) by the Fall. In order to right the wrong and restore us to a saving relationship with our Creator, Christians affirm that the eternal Son of God assumed to himself a particular human nature in order…
Friday, August 05, 2011
This quote was forwarded to me by Southwood Executive Director/Director of Adult Ministries, Bob Bradshaw. It is pure Gospel gold!
“You want to call people to holiness, as the new creatures they are, AND bring them into a deep awareness of the gospel of Grace. I want to call people to holiness, as the new creatures they are, BY bringing them into a deeper awareness of the gospel of Grace. You believe ‘effort and action (are) central to sanctification.’ I believe the gospel is central to sanctification, and that effort and action are neither central nor optional (optional = antinomanism) but integral. The rhythm of the New Testament is ‘walk in love as a response to how deeply you are loved in Christ’ Be imitators of God, as beloved children (Eph. 5:1). In a nutshell: if the imperatives of Scripture are extracted in preaching without being self-consciously placed within their (heart-transforming) indicative framework, then such bald imperatives will…
Friday, August 05, 2011
Grace is difficult. It is harder than trying harder. We are allergic to resting in the finished work of Christ and the hardest ‘trophy’ to lay down is that trophy of obedience I have been working for my whole life. To make the shift from an life driven by fear to a life motivated by love is very, very painful. The emotional fear involved cannot be overstated. Most of us have obeyed because of fear of reprisal from God. To know that we are loved apart from our obedience or disobedience is a truth that is elusive. This is why it must be pounded into our souls week after week. Tim Keller said, “If you fear that when all fear of punishment is removed that all motivation for holiness will be removed as well then you must acknowledge that the only motivation to holiness at all was FEAR itself!” We have purposed to drive deep into those fields ripe with the green grass of the grace of God, not into the rocky crags of fundamentalism, legalism and pietism hoping that some nourishing shoot…
Monday, August 15, 2011
This is a re-post of the text of a blog entry from Dr. Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Many thanks to Ruling Elder, John Bise for directing my attention to it. It is worth reading every word. The original post can be found here.
“First, Dr Lloyd-Jones insisted that we use the gospel as we edify Christians. In Preaching and Preachers, Lloyd-Jones warns preachers not to “assume that all…who are members of the church, are…Christians. This, to me, is the most fatal blunder of all.” (p.146) He goes on to say that many people have accepted Christianity intellectually but have never come under the power of the Word and the gospel and therefore have “not truly repented.” (p.150)
This is very significant. It is at the heart of the difference between the Old Side/New Side, Old Lights/New Lights controversy during the revivals in 18th century…
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
My friend Steve Brown is not the most subtle guy you will ever meet. If I were to write an S.A.T. question about Steve this is how it would go: Steve Brown is to legalism what a child hopped up on cake and ice cream is to an pinata. I love this guy. Check out his website and PLEASE subscribe to his podcast!
These are quotes from Steve’s book, Scandalous Freedom (here goes the pinata!):
‘What God does or does not do in your life rarely has anything to do with how good you are.’
‘The greatest cause for our not getting better is our obsession with not getting better.’
‘Sanctification becomes a reality in those believers who don’t obsess over their own Sanctification. Holiness…
Monday, September 05, 2011
The first thing to remember is that we must never separate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The Christians who are most focused on their own spirituality may give the impression of being the most spiritual but from the New Testament’s point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality, that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about us and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety be nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Below is an excerpt from Walter Marshall’s book, “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” It is a great reminder that today and everyday all we bring to God is our sin and Jesus. What hope and comfort it is to know that Christ was and is the Redeemer and I am the one who is redeemed!
‘Despair of purging the flesh, or natural man of its sinful lusts and inclinations, and of practicing holiness, by your willing and resolving to do the best that lies in your own power, and trusting on the grace of God and Christ, to help you in such resolutions and endeavors; rather resolve to trust on Christ, to work in you to will and do, by his own power, according to his own good pleasure. – They that are convinced of their own sin and misery, do commonly first think to tame the flesh, and to subdue and root out its lusts, and to make their corrupt nature to be better natured, and inclined to holiness, by their struggling and wrestling with it: And, if they can but bring their…
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I got this as a blog comment on Sunday. Some really good encouragement about Sunday and some frustrated questions. I don’t have time to engage it all right now, but it was so well written I thought it might get some chatter going on Knots…P.S. I told the one who posted this that I was going to steal their line and title my autobiography, ‘HOW I MADE A LIVING WITH CLEVER LITTLE ONE LINERS…’
As far as the execution of the new 3-service, sunday seminar format goes, all I can say is Wow, that was amazing! I can really see that a lot of thought went into the new format, and I just loved being part of something this exciting for Southwood!
On your sermon, ok, I’ll bite! Let me be the first to take the bait: When Jesus returned from praying in the garden, and found his disciples asleep, it seems to me that He should have spent a little more time listening to Steve Brown before He rebuked them,…
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I got an email from a dear friend in the congregation this past week. We have disagreed many times on ‘gospel stuff’ but we both love Jesus and we do have an affection for friendly banter. Rather than answering their email I decided to ‘de-personalize’ it and make a blog entry. One page turned to eleven and the rest is history. It is attached as a PDF file and addresses their concerns, but also some of the same sentiments that recent comments on the blog have echoed.
It is written in response to their entire email, but the first question will give you the flavor:
This is not an “angry” email just a “confused” one… This past week’s sermon was confusing to me so I was hoping you could clarify. First, I would put myself in the group that you were addressing at the beginning of the sermon as far as .... of course I believe by Faith Alone, through Grace Alone, in Christ Alone. And the way I see “Faith In Christ should lead…
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Put February 23-25, 2012 on your calendar. Book your flight to Fort Lauderdale and make plans to attend this conference…I hardly every give you OUGHTS, but this is something you OUGHT to do! The speakers, topics and intention of this conference is aimed directly at our Gospel needs, but more specifically it is aimed at APPLYING the Gospel to our hearts, not simply reiterating the Gospel to our minds.
From Tchividjian’s website, “Even those of us who have experienced the unconditional, saving grace of God find it intuitively difficult not to put conditions on grace- “don’t take it too far; keep it balanced”, we say. The truth is, however, that a “yes grace but” posture perpetuates slavery in our lives and in the church.
I wholeheartedly believe that the gospel of grace is way more drastic, way more offensive, way more liberating, way more shocking, and way more counter intuitive than any of us realize. There is nothing more radically unbalanced…
Monday, October 17, 2011
Jerry Bridges wrote an article for Modern Reformation Magazine in 2004 entitled, Gospel-Driven Sanctification. In it he quotes William Romaine. The quote is pure Gospel gold!
William Romaine, who was one of the leaders of the eighteenth-century revival in England, wrote, “No sin can be crucified either in heart or life unless it first be pardoned in conscience…. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.” What Romaine was saying is that if you do not believe you have died to sin’s guilt, you cannot trust Christ for the strength to subdue its power in your life. So the place to begin in dealing with sin is to believe the gospel when it says you have died to sin’s guilt.
Thank you Jerry for reminding us that we live by FAITH ALONE, by believing what is true as the basis for behaving like it is true!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Below is an excerpt from the introduction of Bryan Chapell’s book, Holiness by Grace. You should buy this book. It is balanced, bold and for broken people who long to see the grace of God take root in their lives and actually propel and motivate them to holiness. Chapell doesn’t disclaimer away the radical grace of God, nor does he soft-sell grace motivated obedience. If you find yourself reading the book and wondering if it was written by two authors then you are probably reading it right, but processing it wrong. God’s radical grace and the radical response He desires from it will often seem to be at opposition to one another, but it precisely the opposite is true. Grace must be EXPERIENCED and EXPRESSED or it is not grace at all!
‘God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ The young preacher quoted the
words of Leviticus…
Friday, November 11, 2011
QUESTION: You seem to make light or down-play the importance of the traditional disciplines of the Faith in stating what we should not do. Or you make the assumption that prior to doing those disciplines (the ten steps in your article) the hypothetical sinner has not done what you desire him to do: see that he has been saved by Grace, and then as a result of that works out his salvation through the traditional disciplines of our Faith.
I guess I’m just trying to understand where you think those disciplines fit into our Christian Life. I’m confused since the majority of the time you mention studying the word, memorizing scripture, prayer, etc. it is in the context of a bad thing: doing those to solely in an attempt make us acceptable to God. Undoubtedly there are those that do, but many more who do them for the right reasons. I know you can’t mean that those disciplines are unimportant since scripture unambiguously teaches us that we are…
Monday, November 14, 2011
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the Pharisee in your life? How ‘bout a book that you will love to hate? Trying to find a handbook on how to exorcise your inner legalist? Tullian Tchividjian has written Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Its not a ‘how to’ book, it is a ‘how He’ book. It is about Jesus and how He has indeed done all things necessary for us to die well and LIVE well. If you are thinking of buying this for someone other than yourself, because they need it, then grab yourself a copy while you are at it. You, like me, need to read this book!
“The fact is, a lot of preaching these days has been unwittingly, unconsciously seduced by moralism. Moralistic preaching only reinforces our inner assumption that our performance for God will impress him to the point of blessing us. A Christian may not struggle with believing that our good behavior is required to initially earn God’s favor;…
Jesus+Nothing = Everything
“Jesus + Nothing = Everything will remind you of the ancient yet ever-fresh truth that everything we need is found in the perfections of Christ—not in ourselves, not in our reputation, our relationships or wealth or accomplishments—in Christ alone. If you’ve never rested in the finished work of Christ this book is for you. If you’ve rested in it for decades like I have, this book is for you, too. Why? Because we forget; And, although we love Jesus, we’re blind to the ways in which his work connects to our daily lives and we wonder why joy and zeal are foreign concepts to us.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick
A Scandalous Freedom
Get ready to be bothered by the Gospel. Steve Brown teaches grace in a way that gets under your skin—- Reading Brown is like having a gospel hair in your mouth of your conscience. The more it bothers you the more beautiful the pearl produced will be
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
From the publisher: “It is a deep and rich biblical study of sanctification - how Christians grow in holiness and become more like Jesus. In a day when Christians are very prone to pursue self-help methods to grow in obedience to Christ, Walter Marshall lays out the biblical way of growth: obedience comes as Christians live by grace, in union with Christ, by faith.” This book influenced me PROFOUNDLY on the topic of sanctification. The Modern-English re-write makes this a TOP PICK for 2011!
12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)
I ‘accidentally’ picked up this book simply for the title alone. I grew to hate it quickly. It hit a little ‘too close to home.’ Fischer’s book plunges the scalpel of self-awareness and need for deep repentance deep into the hard hearts of Pharisees like ME!
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Ricky Jones is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a trophy of grace. If you want to listen to bold preaching by a man who knows his sin, knows his weaknesses and trusts only Jesus to take what he says and use it to God’s glory then you are heading in the right direction. The preaching is bold, the preacher is humble and you will be blessed.
- Key Life Ministries
Steve Brown is not the most subtle guy you will ever meet. If I were to write an S.A.T. question about Steve this is how it would go: Steve Brown is to legalism what a child hopped-up on cake and ice cream is to an pinata! I love this guy. Check out his website and fair warning: you are not heading to a ‘SAFE’ little Christian site!
- Coral Ridge Presbyterian
As one comment on iTunes said: “Tullian preaches the Gospel in an unadulterated and undomesitcated way…The way it should be preached!”
- Mockingbird Blog
Mockingbird is a ministry that seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in as fresh and down-to-earth a way possible.
- White Horse Inn
White Horse Inn is a multimedia catalyst for reformation. We believe that each generation must rediscover and apply the gospel to their own time. We long to see a second reformation take hold of our churches and return them to the God-honoring, Christ-centered, Spirit-wrought places of worship they should be.
- On Earth as it is in Heaven
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is a Florida native, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham.
Smith is the founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, avid writer, prolific blogger and tweeter. His nuggets of Gospel wisdom are seasoned by years of service to the Bride. He is gentle and very purposed in his every comment.