spiritual vitality, cross and tongue, peace of mind

spiritual vitality

When people lose their global vision, they begin to lose their spiritual vitality. And of course all this affects their values. – Tom Julien, Antioch Revisited, 23.

cross and tongue

When the message of the Cross captures our hearts and captivates our imaginations, our tongues, stammering, halting, insulting, awkward, sarcastic, imperfect as they may be, won’t be far behind. As Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” [Matthew 12:34] – Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 144.

what’s to come

Christianity is not finally about anesthetizing us to life’s pain, or even about waking us up to it and teaching us to live with it. it is about teaching us to live with a transforming longing, with a growing faith, with a sure and certain hope of what’s to come. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 35.

The gospel, you see, is not simply an additive that comes to make our already good lives better. No! The gospel is a message of wonderful good news that comes to those who realize their just desperation before God. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 40.

peace of mind

marks of the messenger

This week I read through the book Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. It is a concise book that’s not easy to put down. I highly recommend this book to any teacher, youth leader, missionary, church leader, or follower of Christ desiring to live a gospel-centered life. I am seriously considering the possibility of having our children’s ministry leadership read the book this coming year as we share the gospel with our community and core families.

A messenger is marked by his character–the character of Christ. Jesus asks His followers to be so concerned about what I am doing, but more about who I am becoming. people of faith [18]. Jesus is not. The greatest obstacle to healthy evangelism is pragmatism: “doing evangelism” before we ever think who we are meant to be as evangelists [19].

Living a gospel-centered life is God’s expectation for His followers. “The gospel,” in modern language, means, “Breaking News!” And the news is good news, because there was bad news before [27]. As Timothy Keller often says, “The gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z’s.” The cross of Christ and the gospel message that streams from the cross is the river that rage my entire life. People need to see their sin in all its horror, not so they are motivated to “clean up their act,” but so they fall at the feet of Jesus knowing that He is their only hope [31].

Have you heard people say that Christianity is a crutch? They’re far too optimistic. We don’t need a crutch; we need spiritual defibrillators [27].

One of the greatest dangers is to assume those passing in the church hall, sitting in the pew next to you, or your small group companion understands the gospel. We must ask the hard questions, probe deeper, and see if the gospel is really taking root in peoples lives. Stiles, in his book, mentions Kevin Roose, a Brown University student going undercover at Liberty University all the while other students assuming he is a follower never asking him about his faith. A follower to many Christian is–one who goes to church, prays and says they believe in God–nothing more than moralism and cultural adaption. The gospel goes deeper than that. It changes the core of a man. At least that is what God intends for the gospel to do.

The challenge for healthy evangelism is to stop trying to clean people up through rules rather than bring them to the cross [44].

The imperative of the church and its followers is to display the glory of Christ as it shares the gospel. The church does not exist to make me happy; it demonstrates the truth of Christ to a watching world [103]. The church is the gospel made visible [Mark Dever, The Church, 767].

What is the gospel? Check out these posts about the gospel:

gospel gumbo

lies we believe about following Christ

5 terrifying truths about Christianity

plan G

what’s IT?

together 4 the gospel

Random thoughts on what it means to stand together for the gospel:

The church is the proof of the gospel. The Church reflects and defines the gospel. What Kind of gospel is our church making visible? To follow Jesus is to see others follow Him too. [Mark Dever]

This is how the gospel becomes mine: I am an alien of righteousness and any righteousness I have is given to me by Christ. The gospel is who Jesus is and what He does. The person and work of Christ on the cross is the nonnegotiable data about the gospel. You cannot improve upon the gospel. You cannot prove the gospel. The gospel is our only hope in life and death. [RC Sproul]

To love Christ is to contend for the gospel. The cross is beautiful, not pretty. The gospel is credible, Jesus makes it so. [Al Mohler]

Do not sow synthetic seed reaping mutations of another gospel. [John MacArthur]

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus is my life. [John Piper]

Will you stand together for the gospel with me?

Note: These quotations are personal highlights from the T4G 2010 Conference The [Unadjusted] Gospel in Louisville, Kentucky.