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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
[First posted in 2011] Is it true that the green shoots of recovery are sprouting and there is a gradually surging under current of hunger for Scripturally sound preaching with relentless intensity, indepth theological conviction and astute hermeneutic discipline? A couple of years ago Christianity Today noted that there was a growing resurgence towards Reformed Theology. Reformed theology or Calvinism stresses that the initiative, sovereignty, and power of God is the only sure hope for the sinfulness, fickleness, and moral weakness of human beings—and the glory of God is the ultimate theme of preaching and focus of worship. But how proportional has this interest panned out among different ethnic communities? This in its self is just a glancing over view of the paradigm shift in the Black communities.
This excerpt is from a story recounted to Andrea Ferrari an Italian Reformed pastor. It’s the testimony of a Chinese student Yi Wang in Italy. Born in an atheist family he had never met a Christian until he left his motherland China and travelled to Europe. Yi says…
Being a Christian was never part of my life plan. I used to have many plans, from big ones of studying abroad and establishing the career to the small ones of dawdling with girls in clubs. But I never planned to be a Christian, not even in my dreams. After moving to Italy, I came in touch with Christianity for the first time. I didn’t reject everything about it, but looked down on it as something inferior. My belief was pretty much like Immanuel Kant: Christianity, like other religions, has a positive effect indeed to the personal morality and social mood, but unfortunately it cannot be tested by the science and human rationality. So I respected religious people, but, as an evolved human being, I disdained to believe any religion. The Bible says: “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” What I thought was just the opposite: “the heavens and earth mock and deny God.” When I recall it today, it was such a transgression. I used to resist him, thinking that I had no faults and he has no right to judge me. But he let me realize that I was always sinning against him and that there are much more terrible faults than the lack of secular ethics and morality. I cannot understand how God has such mercy to send his only Son to die for me, a son of disobedience. …Read More!
A hundred to two hundred years ago (just like two thousand years ago) there were bold preachers who preached with Bibles laid wide open and read aloud the text for the people to hear the word of God. Most of these stood on street corners and market places and they reasoned and persuaded men to consider their ways in light of the holiness of God. In more recent times most ‘men of God’ prefer to be popular and few now preach on sin or even call people to repentance. It’s actually more lucrative to hold motivational lectures on personal self esteem and significance. These are topics that have fifty one shades of grey and are liked by the main stream audience.
Recently one popular conference speaker and pastor, Louie Giglio, was hand picked to offer his pastoral blessings and benediction at the soon coming presidential inauguration. An apparent invitation too big to turn down for the popular man of God. However what happened next can only be described as a comedy of errors. Sexual liberation groups picked on an old sermon preached over fifteen years ago on “repentance and sin” leading to Louie being dis invited (or did he dis invite himself?). Some pastors like John Piper were quick to tweet and call him “a hero” but was he really?
Pastor Louie later [as noted by Ken Silva Apprising Ministries and Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith radio in link and audio below] seemed to reluctantly admit that he no longer is keen on stressing some of the things he was passionate about: …Read More!
The message The Subtlety of Satan, by Pastor Jim Murphy of First Baptist Church of Johnson City, N.Y. is one that you must listen to. I listened to it while I was on vacation in Wales during the second week of July and could hardly wait to share it.
I found a concise summary/transcript on The Steak and a Bible blog:
Murphy clearly traces the disintegration of Christianity and its falling away from the truth of the gospel and into more and more error through history – from the attacks on the authority of scripture in the late 1940s, through 1960s liberalism, to modern day mysticism and contemplative spirituality. But in the final ten minutes of the message it becomes crystal clear that this is not mere academics for Pastor Murphy, he is brokenhearted by the error he sees within his own church body and frustrated by the lack of discernment which is due entirely to people not knowing and studying the Bible.
Here is just part of what he told his congregation (and what nearly moved me to tears):
“Now is the time for clarity. No more messing around. No more experimentation. No more dabbling into these dangerous practices. Now is the time for clarity and that clarity comes through discernment: this ability to think Biblically. The ability to read a book and see what it is saying aside from the warm fuzzy you got from it. Discernment takes time and it takes work and shame on you for not taking the time and effort. Shame on you.”
Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” Jer 14:13 ESV
With heads bowed and eyes closed, the music was just right. The preacher shuffles and gently casts his gaze over the reverently silent congregation before he beckons, “Put your hand up if you have tried everything and now you want to accept Jesus into your heart. See, you have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” A hundred to two hundred hands go up in the air. They ask Jesus into their hearts that day-a decision they may well repeat a few more times through that year.
A major denomination which has 11,500 churches throughout the US – in 1991, their first year of what they called “the decade of harvest,” they got 294,000 decisions for Christ. They found that only 14,000 remained in fellowship. That is, they couldn’t account for 279,000 of their decisions for Jesus. And this is normal modern evangelical statistics when it comes to crusades and local churches. Many converts don’t fall away. They get followed up and squeezed into a local church where they’re surrounded by a good social life, and they stay within the church given assurance they’re saved when there is no grounds for their salvation, because they do not have the things that accompany salvation. –True and False Conversions by Ray Comfort
When we hear Christian clichés like ‘Accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour;’ ‘Ask Jesus into your heart;’ ‘Invite Christ into your life;’ or ‘Make a decision for Christ’ and find that such theology is not scripturally based then we realise something must have been omitted. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38).Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance and trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, Heb 6:1). How could it sound so right, yet be so un-right? Yeah. Welcome to the shaken and stirred Gospel Lite! Read More
This short clip expounds on the doctrine of total depravity:
Ever wondered what Sproul’s initials R.C. stand for? oh well I will leave that for another Q and A. Speaking of legacies it is said R.C Sproul and John Piper are extraordinarily gifted preachers, prodigious authors, talented theologians. But they have never gotten over the stunning fact that they were treasonous rebels who were graciously summoned to the King’s banqueting table and clothed with the righteous robes of the King’s Son. “Between Two Worlds” has an interesting take on this:
At one level, all Christians are the same. We are made in the image of God, saved by the grace of God, and live for the glory of God. We are blood-bought brothers and sisters, members of the same family, children of our heavenly Father.
On another level, we are each unique. The apostle Paul said that the body of Christ is like, well, a body: many parts, each with different shapes and sizes, each indispensable in characteristic and function.
The differences between R. C. Sproul and John Piper are easily discerned, even for the casual observer. I’m tempted to enumerate some of them, but it will be more fruitful to focus on the common threads that tie together their remarkable ministries.
Both men became Calvinists during seminary, as their resistance was overcome by God using a professor who insisted on taking God at his word.
Both men discovered and were deeply impacted by Jonathan Edwards during their seminary days. Oh There’s More!
This is an archive post from 2010. In the Evangelical spheres there are probably few people who have more sermon jams than Dr John Piper. He as an excellent communicator has had his sermons replayed, edited and reposted by many of the younger generation. Though commanding a lot of respect from his peers and younger generation, his latest self imposed sabbatical from work drew more raised eyebrows than raised elbows of approval. And what,
This is a Q&A session with John Piper recorded in Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana November 2009. This prison is the largest maximum-security prison in America. It is one of the most famous prisons in the whole world. It has only murderers, rapists, armed robbers and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here. See how many questions you can answer. Read More