Just coming up for air.
This is a great article. The section entitled Girly-Men Pastors was great just because of the title!
Here are some data in the article I always thought were anecdotally true but now I have some hard numbers:
According to an oft-quoted statistic from Promise Keepers, when a mother comes to faith in Christ, her family follows 34 percent of the time, but when a father comes to faith his family follows 93 percent of the time.
Read the rest of the article. There are more where those came from (Yes, US based, but I’m sure the UK churches will wake up to the same problem).
Churches need to evangelise men, disciple men.
As I speak I have a number of college deadlines thundering towards me over the next couple of months. Therefore I need to get my head down and brace myself. So don’t expect much around here (not that you did anyway), except the occasional good quote and family news. I probably won’t even read other people’s blogs – it’s that bad.
C J Mahaney answers the question, “What is the gospel?” on the Together for the Gospel blog. Quoting with approval another writer, he says:
The gospel is the good news of God’s saving activity in the person and work of Christ. This includes his incarnation in which he took to himself full (yet sinless) human nature; his sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God; his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for man’s sin and satisfied the righteous wrath of God; his resurrection demonstrating God’s satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his glorification and ascension to the right hand of the Father where he now reigns and intercedes for the church.
Such news is specific: there is a defined ‘thatness’ to the gospel which sets forth the content of both our saving faith and our proclamation. It is objective, and not to be confused with our response. It is sufficient: we can add nothing to what Christ has accomplished for us–it falls to us simply to believe this news, turning from our sins and receiving by faith all that God has done for us in Christ.”
I like this definition. It is a topped and tailed version of what normally passed for the gospel. What I mean is that two things are often added to this message.
- The top: the nature of God and man’s sinfulness before him. This an essential message. It defines the reason for the need of the gospel. But it is not part of the gospel.
- The tail: that through repentance and faith I receive all that God promises. This also is an essential message. But it is not the gospel. This is the call to respond to the gospel.
I think it is important to get this clear in our minds. It is possible to squeeze out the glory of the gospel message by spending time on the perilous situation man finds himself, terrible though it is, hammering away at it. It is possible to put all our efforts into calling and calling and calling. But all the time not having properly expounded the glory of the person and work of Christ.
The more I preach the more I think that this is the need of the day. From my own experience it is easy to spend time in a sermon on the predicament of man and on urging responses. To spend time on Christ and his work requires a certain kind of man in the pulpit, who has a deepening love for Christ and appreciation of the work he has done. This is a spiritual man, spending time on apparently unproductive activities such as prayer and meditation. This is a man who loves the gospel.
I finally got round to watching some of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, “The New Fundamentalists” presented by Rod Liddell and aired about a month ago. (I recorded it not knowing that the tape was going into Susan’s school the next morning. I didn’t get it back till a few days later and by then I had lost the urge, so to speak.)
Liddell doesn’t like evangelical Christians, as is made clear. His concern is the growing influence of such in political life. For him this was a big SCARE STORY. Waahh!
Impressions so far? Big Wows. Yawn. The fact is evangelicals (of many and various stripes) have always existed in the UK, always had the influences he describes. Indeed, in the past some of the greatest ever influences for good in society have come from evangelicals. What’s the big deal now? It’s like Liddell himself was completely unaware of this until recently and now he is SCARED and wants to tell everyone about his WORRIES. Waahh! And what a privilege for him – he has the chance to worry on TV!
My response? Well, each time he raised an issue that worried him, I couldn’t help thinking, “Yes. And?”
But here’s a more substantial response (but even then it’s more of a kind of fat-bloke-in-a-‘La-Z-Boy’-chair type of response). One of Liddell’s issues is state-funded ‘faith’ schools, part of Labour’s education policy. OK, I’ll be fair. He is not against Christians paying to send their kids to private Christian schools. Let them. He is against the state funding schools set up by Christians and running along Christian lines. Why should the state subsidise Christian education?
Fair point, maybe? OK, suppose Christian parents wanted to pay for a private education for their children in order to avoid the secular pagan faith position in our schools, could they opt out of paying some of the taxes which fund the state system? Not yet, and so they would effectively pay twice to get the education they want for their children. The question is now the other way round – why should these Christians subsidise state education?
Yes we are free to send kids to private Christian schools, but the fact is, the freedom to differ with the State in this matter costs an exceptional amount of money.