Lessons from Watching Mars Hill Church Burn to the Ground

Kalapana Gardens burning

Kalapana Gardens burning

Five years ago, I listened to Mark Driscoll regularly and followed Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. I’ve heard a good 2-3 dozen of his sermons and read several of his book excerpts. I thanked God for what He was doing there, and I benefited from their teaching and ministry. Unlike some, I don’t have a doctrinal axe to grind. I’m a complementarian who fully supports the Scripture MHC has often stood on to support their position (of course, the ways they have gone about that are questionable). I have lots of disagreements with them, but they are biblical, not stylistic. I’m someone who is, though from afar, a close enough watcher to know what MHC is about.

And what we’ve witnessed over the past 15 months at Mars Hill is the absolute incineration of a a local church. The charges of heresy, plagiarism, money laundering, misuse of funds, workplace bullying, and the like were bad enough – then they were found to be true! And instead of repenting, the founding pastor, Mark Driscoll, resigned. Resignation isn’t repentance.

MHC subsequently announced that they would be breaking up their separate campuses and going their separate ways, which is all for the best.

It sounds rough, but Mars Hill going down was what had to happen.

  1. Driscoll wasn’t going to and didn’t repent. He never showed signs of true repentance, like, you know, listening to other elders, naming and taking responsibility for specific sins, and remaining under the discipline of the church. No, he just left. That’s not repentance; that’s self-removal.
  2. The ongoing leadership structure was harmful, not helpful, to the church. Anytime a group of men can unilaterally make decisions and cover their own behinds, bad things tend to happen. In a local church, this is toxic. See the charges against Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, for another illustration of what happens in a similarly governed body.
  3. Therefore, Mars Hill SHOULD CLOSE DOWN. The leaders their, Driscoll in particular, had a chokehold on their people, their precious sheep they were called to be under-shepherds for. The simple fact that so many continue to defend MHC and Driscoll after every charge has been validated just goes to show that we, like sheep, so often blindly follow even when the truth says otherwise.

Thus, several lessons are in order for local churches and their leaders particularly:

  1. Church Leadership Structure Matters. Please don’t be so naive as to think that MHC’s top-heavy leadership didn’t play a MASSIVE role in all of this. Scripture teaches that churches are to led by a plurality of elders yet governed by the entire body (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 1, et al.). Mars Hill wildly distorted this teaching, turning the elders into various sub-groups and boards that all reported upward to Driscoll’s henchmen. How do I know? When you listen to Driscoll’s teaching enough, particularly to other pastors, you hear him lampoon congregationalism in favor of his corporate America eldership apart from Scripture.
  2. Church Leadership Character Matters. Are we really to believe that these elders, helping cover up Driscoll’s and others’ sins, were men of integrity? Are we really to believe that the warning signs were not present earlier in their lives, in their decisions, in their families? Or were these men so pliable that they had to bow to Pastor Mark? Either way, the first elder cover-up should have been grounds for discipline. Which leads us to . . .
  3. Unilateral Decision Making is a Bad Idea. Every statement out of Mars Hill seems to come from some lofty Executive Elder Board or “Board of Advisors and Accountability.” Where are the poor, lowly members? Mars Hill had no structure for the church to practice accountability and discipline, as in Scripture. What happened at Mars Hill, time and again, is that a select few elders got together and made decisions to keep their own jobs, not to shepherd their people in the gospel.
  4. Elder Idolatry is a Real Thing. Sabbaticals are healthy – take a break, guys! It doesn’t all depend on you; it depends on Jesus. Mark Driscoll, friends, is not the end-all be-all of Christianity in the Great Northwest; and shame on some of you for acting like it. Jesus will march on in Seattle – without Mars Hill Church to boot.
  5. Public Repentance is a Command, Not an Option. So many Driscoll defenders say he repented. I challenge any and all DD’s to find one place in the last two years where he specifically and publicly named his sins. It’s not possible because he didn’t do it. Vague apology letters don’t cut it. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19-20, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” The charges came from dozens of people, but the rebuking publicly . . . ummm, that didn’t happen.

“Mars Hill Church burns to the ground” might sound tough. People were hurt, right? Sure they were, but this article and the campuses closing didn’t do it. The leaders did.

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Dear Pastor, Do Your Job

What do I do with this?

What do I do with this?

According to a multiplicity of biblical texts like Mark 1:15, Ephesians 4:10-15, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, and Hebrews 13:7, the pastor’s job is to preach the Bible for the glory of God:

  • His job is not to be a community organizer; his job is to preach the gospel that might get him stoned.
  • His job is not to meet with other pastors and become well-known; his job is to teach the Bible so well that every man under his charge might well become a pastor.
  • His job is not to counsel the hurting sheep but to feed all the hungry sheep, including the hurting. Counseling may follow preaching, but it must not precede it.
  • His job is not to attract unbelievers; his job is to preach the gospel and believe that God will bring whomever He may will.
  • His job is not to manage services, though the preaching ought to well flow in congregational worship. His job is to preach the gospel as an act of worship both to the God who spoke His Word and to bring the people to worship this same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • His job is not to manage the church like a business; His job is to lead her by speaking the Word of God to her.

Often when we see churches going astray and becoming diseased, it is simply because her pastors have forgotten these basic principles. God’s Word never changes, dear pastor, so there’s no need to innovate with bells, whistles, and rock-and-roll show tactics. As Andrew Peterson sings to his son, just “stick to the old roads.”

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

How to Produce Wet, Spineless, Feeble-Minded Men

Why are Western churches full of women, spineless men, and fewer and fewer children? Robbie Low, a vicar in the Church of England, investigates this trend in his Touchstone article, “The Truth about Men and Church.” After explaining a Swiss survey linking a father’s influence to his children’s church attendance, Low illumines various connections between fatherhood and the church: the church’s mission, feminism in the culture, the disintegration of the family, and the training of church leaders.

On the last connection, he drops this hammer of a quote on Western church culture:

One does not need to go very far through the procedures by which the Church of England selects its clergy or through its theological training to realize that it offers little place for genuine masculinity. The constant pressure for “flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry” is telling. There is nothing wrong with these concepts in themselves, but as they are taught and insisted upon, they bear no relation to what a man (the un-neutered man) understands them to mean.

Men are perfectly capable of being all these things without being wet, spineless, feeble-minded, or compromised, which is how these terms translate in the teaching. They will not produce men of faith or fathers of the faith communities. They will certainly not produce icons of Christ and charismatic apostles. They are very successful at producing malleable creatures of the institution, unburdened by authenticity or conviction and incapable of leading and challenging. Men, in short, who would not stand up in a draft.

The feminized church produces feminized men.

Though the characteristics named (“flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry”) don’t seem at first glance to be emasculating, Low explains what a feminized church really wants from their leaders: malleability, spinelessness, feeble faith.

In case we have forgotten, sensitivity, flexibility, inclusivity, and colloborative ministry aren’t fruits of the Spirit. Neither are they characteristics of Christian leaders. The Bible does tell us, however, of elders who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Three of the primary jobs of the Christian leader are to hold fast the word, give sound instruction, and rebuke false teaching. Collaborating with false teachers in the name of “flexibility and inclusivity” won’t get that job done.

As Low puts it, then, the historical timeline for producing wet, spineless, feeble-minded pastors goes something like this:

  1. Fathers begin leaving families.
  2. Feminism (a “lie direct” in its name) takes hold in the culture.
  3. The Protestant church at large follows feminism as a controlling worldview.
  4. The church seeks more female leaders and more femininized male leaders.
  5. Unbelieving men leave the Protestant church en masse.
  6. Unbelieving men seek alternate views of manhood, exampled in womanizing, materialism, violence, and/or homosexuality.
  7. The Protestant church ignores these developments and continues in its unbelieving feminist ways, slightly tweaking its language to suit the culture.

Point #4 is where we want to zoom in. How exactly does the Protestant church tend to seek out female leaders and feminized male leaders? In my experience at least, it looks something like this:

  1. Manhood qua manhood is devalued and quickly neutered.
  2. Church language (contrary to the Bible’s language) becomes emasculated or neutered.
  3. Men, the local church, and families are soon evaluated in women’s terms.

If that seems a little far-fetched, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are men in the church more often lauded for flexibility rather than strength?
  • Why is conviction seen as a sign of rigid bone-headedness rather than faithful service?
  • Why are churches more concerned with the soft skills of counseling and customer service rather than the hard skills of rightly dividing the Word and refuting sound doctrine?
  • Why do more and more worship songs sound like sappy high school poetry than the marching hymns of the King of Kings?
  • Why has church discipline, the protection of Christ’s body, been so often traded for quiet conversations and the overlooking of apostasy?
  • Why do our churches feel more like coffee shops than battlefield hospitals?
  • Why do we ask pastors to rightly manage their homes but are repulsed when they actually discipline their children? (Both, after all, are in the same passages.)

When we begin to pick at the surface, we quickly see that with manhood everything is at stake. As Low puts it, rejecting God’s good order of patriarchy rejects all three persons of the Trinity. No wonder our churches are full of convictionless men when we train convictionless leaders in a convictionless gospel.

The Foundation and the Fire

What Gospel Preachers, Pastors, Leaders, and Teachers Must Understand

Gospel teacher, the Bible teaches that your work will sooner or later be exposed. Whether you build a true building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, build a weak building on Jesus Christ, or teach an altogether false gospel (and those are the three categories), God will expose your work sooner or later – and that with fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says:

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–
13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

However you teach, preach, minister, and lead, you are accountable to God for it: “the Day will disclose it.” Paul writes the same earlier, “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” Every minister is the same: an underservant accountable to God alone – not to numbers, not to other ministers, not to evangelical organizations, not mainly to the congregation, but to God alone.

So ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. Do I believe verse 11, “No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ,”? Do I believe that Christ, not my words nor my ingenuity nor my attendees, is the foundation? Do I feel that deeply in my soul? Do I live and teach and preach that fact? If I do, servanthood and accountability in the ministry will flow out of that Spirit-filled fact.
  2. Do I believe 1 Corinthians 2:2, Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44, 2 Timothy 3:16, and a host of other passages which teach that teaching and preaching Jesus Christ alone from all the Scriptures for the salvation of sinners is the central, foundational, essential criterion by which all “Christian” ministry will be judged? If I do believe this, teaching Christ from the whole Bible will be not a chore, not a boredom, but a blessing of the “wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15).

If, however, you believe #1 but not #2, then your work will soon be exposed by the purifying fire of God Almighty.

If, even worse, you believe neither #1 nor #2, then verse 15 doesn’t apply to you, because you are not a Christian. Your life, rebelling against Jesus Christ’s lordship from head to toe, is no Christian life at all and will be consumed with fire.

We see then that this passage is not about heretical teachers but weak ones. Heresy – including the prosperity “gospel” lies (1 Timothy 6:6-10) – kills both the teacher and its believers.

Dear Pastor, Why Not Preach the Word?

One of my favorite radio hosts is always reviewing sermons, and I love it. So it made me wonder: why don’t you, dear pastor, preach the Word?

  1. Do you think that your ideas are wiser than God’s? No? Then preach the Word.
  2. Do you fancy your stories to be more entertaining than God’s Word? No? Then preach the Word.
  3. Do you find your topical sermons to be more directly applicable to people’s lives? Never! It canot be that you are a better exegete than the Holy Spirit! Preach the Word.
  4. Do you think your pop culture references are better connections than those inspired of the Spirit? No? Then preach the Word.
  5. Do you long to see souls saved from sin, death, and hell? God promises only one means, so preach the Word.
  6. Do you want to see Jesus Christ exalted over your own means, methods, and mole-hills? If not, leave the ministry. If so, preach the Word.
  7. Do you want to see Christ’s church upbuilt? Then preach the Word.
  8. Do you want to see your wife and children saved, strengthened, and sustained until the end? Your family vacation stories won’t do it. Preach the Word.
  9. Do you struggle with pride in your ministry? Only one means slays pride, so preach that Word.
  10. Do you care about the gospel ministry more than anything else you could give your life to? You’d better, so preach the Word.

Marriage for the Waiting

Vaughan Olman of Perserveronews.com writes “True Love Doesn’t Wait,” an interesting exposition of and response to Gracefortheroad’s popular memoir, “I Don’t Wait Anymore.” Olman and Grace harmonize on a singular point well: the “True Love Waits” movement, complete with chastity rings and holiness-for-husbands roads, misguide teens (particularly young women) into thinking that it’s better to wait for the perfect husband than simply marry a Christian man as early as possible.

As early as possible, as in, “Not later. Now. As soon as the “burning” starts and you are of age, get married.”

As Ohlman quotes, Martin Luther makes this point well:

To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God’s name and get married. A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen; that’s when they are still in good health and best suited for marriage. Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them. Should he fail to exalt you and them here on earth, then take satisfaction in the fact that he has granted you a Christian marriage, and know that he will exalt you there; and be thankful to him for his gifts and favours.

At the end, Ohlman ties it all together:

True love doesn’t wait. It marries.

If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute.

[Grace for the Road] It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others.

Our culture, our church, our fathers, have placed our young women, especially, in the position of blaming God for a fault of the church. They were taught to wait, to pray. And then, when the husband they were praying for didn’t come, they were taught, and taught each other, to be content… to find contentment in Christ instead of a husband.

That’s good stuff. Or, rather, it would be good if it were true. If getting married was really supposed to be a thing of waiting and praying instead of a going and doing. I don’t blame these young ladies, I don’t blame this young lady. But I do blame those that failed her. I blame us. We taught her, we taught them, that true love waits.

But true love doesn’t wait. It marries.

So what are our local churches, propelled by gospel love, doing to make this understanding become an expanding reality for our young people? How many would have been saved years of heartache, trouble, doubt, and unbelief in Christ were we to simply teach the Scriptures?

Archives: “Do Stuff” Still Isn’t the Gospel

Talking with a friend tonight, we were both reminded of the great glory of the grace of God in the gospel. God requires not that we “do stuff” to earn His favor or His forgiveness, but commands us to trust Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal favor. The gospel isn’t that we “do stuff,” but that Jesus has already done all we need.

Here’s a rundown:

  1. Jesus Taught Justification by Faith Alone
  2. Did Jesus Teach Justification by Works?
  3. What Preaching the Gospel Is, and Isn’t
  4. Matthew 23: More Reasons “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  5. “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  6. Drink Deeply of Jesus Christ
  7. Hate at the Bottom of Your Heart
  8. Opinions We Make Into Law
  9. Is Your Church Characterized by Commands or Christ?

My prayer is always that we treasure Jesus Christ more through believing the gospel.

How to Disagree on the Insider Movement

. . . without being disagreeable. Kevin DeYoung posts three questions and three concerns in response to the current Christianity Today cover article on the “Insider Movement,” in which former Muslim converts to Christ decide to stay in their Muslim worship context.

He closes with this:

Christianity Today is to be commended for highlighting such an important issue for the global church. What is less encouraging is the cautious endorsement of the insider movement in their editorial and the many weaknesses evident in this featured interview. Let us pray for seminaries, denominations, pastors, missionaries, mission committees, churches, and parachurch agencies as they think through these significant challenges and try to avoid these attractive compromises.

Hiding Behind Conservatism

On “Christian” Cowardice, the Lukewarm “Church,” and False Converts

In my state, we’re in the midst of a popular vote on whether or not we should exclusively define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Several professing “Christians” have posted statements like this:

  • “Love is love is love.”
  • “Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love each other?”
  • “Legal marriage and spiritual marriage are two different, unrelated things.”
  • “I’m not sure this law should be in the state constitution.”

What troubles me more than the muddled thought processes behind such statements is the fact that they reveal an ignorance of the whole of Scripture. Such words have yanked passages out of context, used them in ways God never intended, and thrown them aside.

Such issues shine spotlights on our supposedly converted Christians and evangelical churches. If someone has no concern for God’s Word as He wrote it, is that person converted at all? Has he truly been transferred from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son? Wouldn’t it show in the way he looks at the world?

A converted man would he care more for people’s souls than for the supposed pillars of conservatism. A converted man would stand up against evil, even when everyone else stood against him. A converted man would preach this gospel, live this gospel, and die for this gospel.

“Hold on, that seems harsh.” Is it? When professing Christians cajole, contort, and apologize to get around God’s Word, do they really love God?

The way that Christians respond publicly to abortion and marriage will be one true test of our faith. Do we believe God’s Word or do we care more for other man-centered issues? Do we fear God or man? Indeed, who is our God?

Isolated and Jointless

Your Body is Meant for a Bigger Body

Reflecting on the recent Atlantic article by Stephen Marche about how loneliness is on the rise, particularly with internet users, I remembered God’s words in Ephesians and Colossians about how the local church is held together by its “joints and ligaments,” in other words, by its relationships.

If people are the parts, the joining-together-ness (to coin a rough word) must be their relationships.

And if, as Marche says, “Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence,” then we as Americans are particularly tempted to isolate ourselves. Westerners, it seems, are self-separators, more likely to retreat than truly connect.

In other words, since we value independence, we implicitly value our own rights to stay away from other people. Other people are messy, other people are time-consuming, other people are sinners.

Yet the Bible tells us at this point that the sins, time, and gifts of others are exactly what we need. Why else would God tell us to forgive each other and bear with each other in the church, if we aren’t even interacting enough to wrong each other? These are surely not the commands of loneliness.

So we must ask ourselves:

  • Do I feel isolated and jointless?
  • Am I self-apparently a lonely person?
  • Do I invest significant time, daily and weekly, into the people who ought to be most important to me?

Disciplining ourselves for godliness means disciplining ourselves for
costly, time-consuming, needy relationships that matter most in
eternity. God surely didn’t give us those relationships to throw away, and the deepest of them ought to be in the immediate family and in the local church.

Afflicting the Unconverted

Mike McKinley’s Together for the Gospel 2012 talk about preaching to self-deceived unbelievers in our churches is full of gems. Here’s one:

“[Self-help teaching] only creates high-functioning citizens of hell.”

The whole thing is worth listening to, particularly if you don’t realize the effect of so-called “cultural Christianity.”

As McKinley reminds us, Christianity is a radical thing, not something you slide into because it’s convenient. It is our job, as believers, to help people see their true spiritual state.

A Family Better than a Billion Bars

Working the late-night shift lately I’ve seen how easy it is for single men (and, sadly, too many married men) to architect shaky “friendships” with women. These men drink, they party, they say dirty things to these women and their friends. Despite themselves, they might even get a few phone numbers.

But what they never get is a real relationship. Not out there, at the Irish bar at two in the morning anyway.

What’s more is this: I know that I could easily be out there with them, if not for the mercy of God.

I would be out there with them because I enjoy hanging out with women. God made women beautiful, but not mainly on the outside. Ladies have a kind of joy, gentleness, compassion, and love for people that men like me find baffling.

So instead of leaving me to seek such false friendships in an unsafe, foolish, and evil way (read: flirting and fornication), my good Lord gave me a mother who exemplifies each of those. So I was blessed to know and grow up with my godly mother.

Through her prayers, God brought me my wife, whose beauty shines in her character, full of love, compassion, and service, then it shines through in her appearance. She is my glory, and I am blessed to know and be known by her better than anyone.

Though my wife, God gave me daughters to know and love. In their lives, I see how God has particularly shaped young women to show off Jesus.

And through the rest of my family, grandmothers, my mother-in-law, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, and nieces to boot, God has give me a family literally full of godly women. In such a family, He graciously protects me from my sin while showing me the beauty of Jesus in the character of these godly women. I am truly blessed.

The Bible teaches the same principle in places like 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

While there is always more to the Scriptures and never less, one of the things Paul is teaching Timothy is that, in the Lord, we have safe familial relationships in the church. Men, we are meant to treat younger women as sisters, not lust-targets. We know this because God says we are to encourage these ladies “in all purity.”

In the Lord, I have a family better than a billion bars. I praise Him for my wife and the so many more godly women in my life.

The Nations Are Always Bigger

Why God Wants Us to Grow a Passion for the Nations

As I longed to move overseas recently (this has been a lifelong desire, recently stoked by a teaching trip), I realized that, even when I get to whatever country foreign country God may send me to, I still won’t be in all the nations. I won’t even be ministering in two. Likely only one.

In other words, even in my desire to go to the nations, I can really only go to one at a time. The nations are always bigger than me.

For all of our evangelical talk about “reaching the nations for Christ,” there tends to be a rather individualistic (yay America!) tone to it all. It seems we’ve forgotten: the nations are always bigger than us.

And this is the way God intends the nations, as a term and as a reality, to be: always bigger. We need to know that we always need God more, need each other more, need other churches and churches from other countries more, than we had realized.

God wants us to grow a passion for “the nations” for two big reasons: to grow in our love for the God of all the nations and to feed that first love with a love for all the nations, even while we toil mainly in a single area of this vast world.

God’s design is that the pursuit of the nations undercut our “look at us!” pride and give us great hope in the God who can answer and save.

No Other Message

Thomas Jones, from a 1976 lecture, “Preaching the Cross of Christ”:

True Christian preaching must center on the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the central doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. All other revealed truths either find their fulfillment in the cross or are necessarily founded upon it. Therefore, no doctrine of Scripture may faithfully be set before men unless it is displayed in its relationship to the cross. The one who is called to preach, therefore, must preach Christ because there is no other message from God.

[Quoted in Bryan Chappell, Christ-centered Preaching, p.271]

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