Allen Nelson IV

About Allen Nelson IV

Allen's Blog
Allen is Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Perryville, AR. He has been married to his wife Stephanie for 11 years, and is the father of 5 children (newest addition hadn’t made it for the last family photo!) He’s committed to preaching & teaching the inerrant, infallible Word of God and making disciples. He believes sinners are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. He enjoys time with his wife, children, and church family, as well as reading, writing, studying, and sports. He has the opportunity to speak in other churches or conferences and loves connecting with other like-minded brothers and sisters for the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom.

Blog | Twitter



Sojourners and Strangers Book Review

Sojourners and Strangers Book Review

Sojourners and Strangers

by Gregg R. Allison
Length: To read (496 pages)
TCB Rating:
dnf
Buy on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Sojourners and Strangers Book Review 1

Not too long ago I read Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, a book by Dr. Gregg R. Allison.  It is a book that I had wanted to read for some time having had the opportunity to sit under a couple of classes taught by Dr. Allison at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and hearing his heart for Jesus and his love for the local church.  

Perhaps I’ll share some more from this work in the future, but one thing I loved about this book was Dr. Allison’s 7 attributes of the local church. As Believers, we must have cultivate a greater love for the local church. It is at the very heart of New Testament worship, missions, sanctification, and the list goes on and on! Let’s hear a little form Dr. Allison about 7 attributes of the local church:

(pg. 103)

  1. Doxological: oriented to the glory of God
  2. Logocentric: focused on the Word of God – this is understood in two aspects.  The local church is to be focused on Jesus the Word of God incarnate and to be focused on Scripture.
  3. Pneumadynamic: created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit
  4. Covenantal: gathered as members in new covenant relationship with God and in covenant relationship with each other
  5. Confessional: united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the historic Christian faith
  6. Missional: identified as the body of divinely called and divinely sent ministers to proclaim the gospel and advance the kingdom of God
  7. Spatio-temporal/eschatological: assembled as a historical reality and possessing a certain hope and clear destiny while it lives the strangeness of ecclesial existence in the here and now

The first three attributes deal with the church’s origin and orientation.  The church exists for the glory of God! Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone and head of the Body.  The Spirit of God calls us out of death and into life and empowers us to live for Jesus and carry out His mission.  

The final four attributes deal with the church’s “gathering and sending.” We are gathered under the new covenant and confess Christ as our only suitable all sufficient savior in accordance with historic orthodoxy.  We are carry the message of the gospel this lost and dying world realizing that we have been called in a specific time and place as we await the blessed hope of Jesus’ return.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to have a “vision statement” in the sense of needing to create a reason for why a local church exists. Here is our vision!  This is what the church is and this is how and why it exists and these truths are rooted in Scripture. We need to remember that the church is precious to Christ. He loves Her and gave Himself up for her! I am in constant discussions with people who talk about loving Jesus, but who can’t stand the church.

Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church
List Price: $45.00
Price: $34.91
You Save: $10.09
Price Disclaimer

That’s problematic. I don’t mean to suggest that the church is perfect, far from it! But the church is precious in the eyes of Jesus and we would do well to be intentional about studying more about Her so that we can labor to treat the church as Christ would have us to in order to fulfill His purposes for the church.

This book weighs in at about 471 pages, but I would recommend it to anyone who desires to grow in their understanding of and love for the local church.  We have so many options of things to read this days, but I don’t think time will be wasted reading and learning about the local church.

dnf
By | 2018-03-10T10:16:53+00:00 March 9th, 2018|

How to Play Church (Part 2)

L]ast post we discussed that if you want to play church you need to have:

  1. Unity that is Superficial

  2. Sympathy that is Skin-deep

  3. Love that is Self-Centered

We derived all of this from 1 Peter 3:8. Today, we will continue on with this theme and also get into 1 Peter 3:9. So, do you want to play church? I hope not! But if you do, you need to have:

A heart of stone

If you want to play church then be impervious to the needs and trials of others. “Oh they are going through that situation? Well, what’d you expect, that’s the type of person he is.” Or “I simply can’t be inconvenienced at this time.”

If you want to play church, look at your fellow church member beaten up in the ditch and simply pass by on the other side. After all, you’ve got your own interests to attend to.

What if you don’t want to play church? You need a GENTLE HEART

We are given this in regeneration. When we are born again our heart of stone is removed and is replaced with a heart of flesh.  How do I know if I have a heart of flesh? Do you have compassion for the needs and trials of your church family? Do you, like Peter says, have a tender heart? Notice that none of these are ‘suggestions’. We are actually commanded to have a tender heart!

How to Play Church Part 2

A mind that is smug 

If you want to play church then be prideful. Think how lucky God is that you are on His team.
If you want to play church then adopt the world’s mindset that you are #1.Those who play church only want to help if they get the starring role or at least the recognition.

You want to play church? Think about how important and vital you are to God’s work in the church. I mean, if not for you, would there even be a church? Every business meeting needs to feature you. Every event needs to be approved by you. Don’t they understand how much money you give to the church? These are the types of things you need to do if you want to play church.

What if you don’t want to play church? You need a GODWARD MIND

You need a mind that sees God in His proper perspective. If you want to cultivate humility look at the cross. Jesus didn’t just have to die for ‘those people’. He had to die for you. That’s the reality of your sin against a holy God. A proud Christian is an oxymoron. What do you have to boast in? The only reason a Believer is who he his is because of the grace of God and nothing more. What do I have to boast in? Nothing but the cross of Christ.

If not for the grace of God I’d still be in the miry clay. I am nothing. Christ is everything.

Also, think about this: It is impossible to have dissension in a church if everyone, as Peter says, has humility of mind. Pride is an evil vice. Don’t let Satan puff you up. Look to the cross.

 

A life that is spiteful

We finally move from 1 Peter 3:8 to v.9: Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

If you want to play church, look for ways to repay people for the wrong they’ve done to you.

Run them down on Facebook. They didn’t come to your kid’s birthday party, don’t take your kids to theirs. If they wanted your help they should have asked. Those people don’t deserve your kindness after all they’ve done to you!

If you want to play church, live that way.

What if you don’t want to play church? Have a GRACIOUS LIFE

A gracious life isn’t merely ignoring the evil someone has done to you but even beyond that, it is blessing them.

The guy cuts you off in traffic. A few miles down the road he’d pulled over with a flat tire. Ha! Serves him right! Scoot over a little and hit that puddle near him to soak him to the bone!

Nah. A gracious life blesses. You cut me off, and I change your tire. That’s Christianity.

 

An Imitator of Christ

I hope you’re not in the category of a person who is ok with playing church. Have you noticed anything about these 6 things we’ve discussed? A Godward mind, sympathy, love, compassion, humility, graciousness….What do you notice about those? – I see Christ in them.

Christ who came to glorify God, who had sympathy upon our condition, who loved us enough to lay down His life for us, full of compassion and humility and who did not return our own evil upon us but rather came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…

As verse 9 says, if you are a Christian you were called of God to obtain a blessing, namely eternal life. Instead of God justly crushing you in your sin, He called you to look upon His Son and live, to trust Jesus and as a result, we begin cultivating these same qualities within us because we have a new nature. We don’t want to play church! Rather, we want to imitate Christ. That is our desire. This isn’t ‘legalism’, it’s Christianity 101. These qualities are actual graces the Holy Spirit produces in us because we are born again.

So, take some time to meditate on 1 Peter 3:8-9. Consider whether or not your life is characterized as one that plays church or as one that imitates Christ. No, we aren’t perfect in our imitation. But that’s why 1 Peter 2:24 is included in this section of Peter’s letter: He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree… What a glorious gospel promise for you! And why did Christ do that? That we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.

You are healed spiritually, Believer. You don’t have to play church. Go live for Him.

If you are not a believer, you need to heed the warning in 1 Peter 3:12 –

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

This is quoted from Psalm 34:15 and is the reality of those who refuse to bow the knee to Christ. The Lord’s face is against you. The call for you today is not merely to ‘stop’ playing church. It goes deeper than that. The call to you is to lay down your rebellion and flee to Christ as your only suitable and all-sufficient Savior.

You see, playing church is a ‘fruit’ problem of a greater root problem, namely unbelief. But if you will have Christ today, He will not cast you out. Repent and believe the gospel.

Read Part 1 >>

RECOMMENDED READING

What Is a Healthy Church Member? (IX Marks)
List Price: $12.99
Price: $10.48
You Save: $2.51
Price Disclaimer
By | 2018-02-04T09:04:24+00:00 January 25th, 2018|

How to Play Church (Part 1)

It’s cute when children play pretend. I can remember buying Christmas presents for my children only to have them throw the expensive toy aside and jump in the cardboard box and imagine it’s a train! Unfortunately, children aren’t the only ones who like to play pretend. The problem is, when adults do it, it’s not quite as cute. And when it comes to playing pretend in church, it can be downright disastrous for your soul.

So, it is my hope that as you read this post, and the following one, that you are a person who doesn’t want to play church. If you don’t, then we need do the opposite of these 6 points I’m going to give you. Today, we will examine the first of those 3 points.

First, let’s look at a passage of Scripture in 1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Peter exhorts his readers to live out the reality of what God has worked in through the gospel (see for example 1 Peter 1:3, 23). Living out these verses is how we don’t play church. It’s how we adorn the gospel in Christianity. It’s not ‘doing’ in order to earn God’s favor. Rather, it is living in light of the fact that our sins our atoned for in Christ and that by grace alone we’ve been born again and are living out the realities of a new heart, a new nature, and new desires. Anything less than that is just playing church. So, how do we play church?

By having:

  1. Unity that is Superficial 

Peter says we are to have ‘unity of mind.’ Unity and harmony in the church is something that has always been an issue. Otherwise, the New Testament writers wouldn’t address it! So, the solution for those who simply want to play church is to build unity around something else. Maybe music. Maybe an affinity like western culture. Maybe race.

Don’t think that ‘unity’ in and of itself is the unity Peter is referring to. Lots of lost people are unified. But the point is, that’s all superficial. The world can be unified by things other than Christ. Go to your local sports bar and see people unified around things other than the gospel. Big deal.

If you want to play church, have unity that is superficial. Unify around friendliness, or a dynamic youth ministry. Keep that as the center if you want to play church.

But, if you don’t want to play church, we must have GOSPEL UNITY.

This unity of mind Peter speaks to us is a unity and harmony in Christ (think Philippians 2:5). What does your church want to be known for? I hope the answer is Christ. That’s what we are striving for at our church.  I don’t want to be the young people church, or the Senior Saints church or the hymn church or whatever. I want to be known for Christ. 

It is only Christ than can keep a church from disunity. Don’t play church by having someone/something else at the center.

 

  1. Sympathy that is Skin-deep

Not only does 1 Peter 3:8 tell us that we need to have unity of mind, but also sympathy. So, if you want to play church then have a sympathy that only shows in your face. A skin-deep sympathy says “Oh, I’m sorry about that,” but doesn’t do anything to alleviate the pain. Paul says: ‘Weep with those who weep’ (1 Cor. 12:26). If you want to play church, give someone a pat on the back and go about your day.

If you don’t want to play church then GENUINE SYMPATHY is required.

It’s not a ‘hate that for them, but not my problem’ attitude. Rather, the local church is a family. The gospel produces a kindred spirit in us whereby when someone else goes through pain, we go through it too. It’s sympathy that actually hurts both for and with the other person. We walk through pain together because we were never meant to go it alone. God is building His family. No, you can’t ‘feel’ exactly what someone else is going through but you can hold them, cry with them. bring them a meal, etc.

 

  1. Love that is self – centered

For many people in the Bible Belt church has become like Burger King. It’s about me, myself, and I. I want church my way. People choose churches for what the church can provide them. This is a consumeristic mindset isn’t it? And guess what? The customer is always right.

And so, if you want to play church, be a consumer. Have love that is self-centered. Put your needs and your preferences above everyone else. Don’t gather with the church and think “How can I serve” instead think “How can I be served today?” “How can I be recognized today?” How can I make sure everyone knows how important I am?

That’s exactly the mentality you need to have – if you want to play church

What if you don’t want to play church? You need a GENETIC LOVE. What do I mean? Look at the word Peter uses to describe the type of love we are to have for one another:  brotherly. This is familial. Again, the church is a family. Our love for one another is not centered on self. It flows in and through Christ. I put my needs, and preferences on the back burner to serve you.

Brotherly love pertains to ‘feeling’ don’t get me wrong. But it’s also expressed in action. It’s laying down our rights and our preferences for others inside the church. It’s choosing to love one another even if you don’t feel like it. It’s understanding that Peter commands us in this letter to have brotherly love for one another, so case closed. If you want to play church, ignore that command. If you don’t, embrace it.

We aren’t done with these verses yet, but that’s enough to simmer on for today! Take these points seriously and consider whether or not you are playing church.

Read Part 2 >>

RECOMMENDED READING

By | 2018-01-31T02:27:05+00:00 January 24th, 2018|

How to Change Your Spouse

I participated in a Q&A recently where a woman anonymously submitted this question: The Word instructs wives to submit to their husband’s and RESPECT them. How can I respect a man who is not respectable in my eyes?

First, my big picture advice was this: Be willing to go to your pastor or a godly couple in the church to talk these things through. The local church is designed to help us walk through issues just like this. Marriage is not easy. However, it is good, and it is a sacred bond between a man and a woman that is worth fighting for. I don’t say fighting each other! I mean it is worth making the effort to preserve.

I won’t go into all the details of my answer, but I would like to include a very important aspect of my response in today’s post. How do we really go about changing our spouse? If the husband isn’t leading well enough or if the wife isn’t submitting well enough, what do we do to fix it? Here’s what you need to do first:

Take the focus off the other person for a moment.

I’m not saying there aren’t serious issues that arise in marriage that need to be dealt with by going to counseling or even confronting particular sin issues. But here’s what I’m saying: focus on changing you.

You see, marriage is a beautiful covenant between two broken people. The only marriage ever to occur that was between two non-sinners happened at the end of Genesis 2. And it took all of just a handful of subsequent verses to change that forever. Marriage is messy sometimes because people are sinners.

Paul exhorts husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22,25 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Often times in marriage disagreements I hear the wife say something like “I would follow you if you would lead better” or the husband says “I would lead better if you’d submit better.” Yet, here is the reality of Ephesians 5: There are no exception clauses. Paul doesn’t say only love perfect wives, or only submit to perfect husbands, for if he did, these exhortations would be completely meaningless! It’s not the lovely wives that are to be loved or the respectable husbands that are to be respected. That’s not what Paul says.

He says Wives, submit to your husbands and husbands, love your wives. We can’t get out of these commands by claiming our spouse is imperfect. In fact, in other places in Scripture all Christians are told to submit to governmental leaders (1 Peter 2:13ff) and we know that the leaders of the New Testament era were certainly not Christians. The point being, instead of waiting around on your spouse to do what they are supposed to do, first focus on doing what you are supposed to do.

Let the fullness of Christ in you spill over into your marriage relationship. Focus on being the spouse God has called you to be first. No, you can’t be perfect, but there are areas we can all grow in. Wives, follow your husband’s leadership even if it is imperfect. This doesn’t mean you have to be a ‘slave’ or do something that Christ forbids, but it does mean that you can follow in areas your husband is leading even if you don’t always agree.

Husbands, love your wives even if they are contentious. My friend Jim Elliff recently wrote an excellent article about the sad story of James Fraser. Does not Christ continually love the church even though she is imperfect? Is He not full of grace toward Her? Did He not give up His life for Her? Strive to love your wife that way, even if she balks sometimes. You keep doing what God has called you to do.

None of this is to imply that the other person doesn’t need work too. In fact, I don’t even know who they are but I know they need work. Why? They are a fallen human being! If they are a Christian though, I am certain that your joy in Christ will eventually rub off on them (of course, marriage counseling might be a tremendous help too. And there is no shame in wanting to work on your marriage through biblical counseling!).

Let your fullness in Christ spill over. Let your meditations on Scripture, and prayer, and love for the local church pour over in your life so that your husband or wife sees your joy and love for Christ. May your witness show them that obedience to Christ brings delight. If they are not a Christian, your fullness in Christ might just win them to the Lord (see 1 Peter 3:1).

As you strive to do what Scripture teaches regarding your role in marriage, pray for your spouse. Pray that they would understand the role God has for them as well. Pray that the gospel would continually work in their hearts. Pray that you would love and cherish them as the gift they really are to you.

Marriage is hard work sometimes. But sometimes the hardest work might be humbling yourself and seeking the Lord to work in your life before you worry about what your spouse needs to fix. In all of this however, it is worth it.

 

Recommended Reading

 

By | 2018-01-31T02:27:16+00:00 January 19th, 2018|

Kingdom Come Book Review

Kingdom Come Book Review

Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative

by Sam Storms
Length: 592
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ's return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation is symbolic with the emphasis being the King and his Kingdom.

Kingdom Come Book Review

 

Summary: I would not put this on the “must read” list for pastors. However, this is not to downgrade the work. It is extremely valuable especially for those still wrestling with their eschatology or who want to understand the Amillenial perspective.

Storms does a superb job on outlining the amillenial, postmillenial, and premillenial perspectives. The book can be difficult to read at times simply for the fact that most pastors are probably not as up on their eschatology as Storms (I know I’m not!). I would also say that it’s not ok to be a “Panmillenial”, you know it will all “pan out” in the end.

The bible teaches us eschatology so we need to know what we believe even if we are continuing to grow in this area. Kingdom Come is a great place to begin, and a great work to read even if you are already settled in a particular “camp”.

Inspiration/Conviction Power: 6.5

Readability: 7.5

Practical Usefulness: 7.25

Enjoyability: 8.7

Best Trait: Thorough!

Worst Trait: It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant at times.

I gave the “Inspiration/Conviction” section only a 6.5 but this is because the book isn’t written to “convict” you so to speak but it is written to challenge your thinking. Storms also shows why holding to a certain eschatological position affects your stance on the here and now. What we believe about the “end times” matters. However, he also shows us that while eschatology is important, it’s not the gospel. We can be fellow church members but disagree on our eschatology.

Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative
List Price: $29.99
Price: $23.24
You Save: $6.75
Price Disclaimer
With the Nicholas Cage version of “Left Behind” coming out this year, this book may be a helpful addition to your library so that you can at least refute some of the errors that are sure to laden the film.

Ultimately, I whole heartily agree with G.K. Beale’s assessment: “Even those who may disagree with Storms’ amillenial approach will definitely benefit from his book.”

A final warning: This book is 559 pages. It ain’t your vacation reader. It takes some thought to read, but it’s worth it. You’ll be glad you picked this one up.

four-half-stars
By | 2018-01-31T02:38:34+00:00 August 23rd, 2017|

Why the Way Forward is Backward

Why the Way Forward is Backward by Allen Nelson

Lifeway published a study at the end of 2015 where the results showed only 18% of people attending new church plants had zero previous church background (SOURCE). I am not a statistician and I don’t put an unreasonable amount of hope in various studies, but I do think this affirms something I’ve thought for a while now: Novelty in churches today isn’t really reaching new people as much as it is ‘disgruntled’ people. It’s true that this study was nearly two years ago, but it’s my guess that things haven’t really changed, unless they’ve actually gotten worse.

Here’s a few problems with novelty:

Novelty exchanges one problem for another –

I once did ministry in a place where a church had split basically over novelty vs. tradition. One group of people wanted to do things ‘same old same old’ while the other wanted to introduce new music, new dress styles, and an overall new approach. The result was a split and a new church.

But here’s the issue. While one church is idolizing tradition, the other is now idolizing novelty! Where one church thinks people are liberal for using a guitar in worship, the other thinks people are Pharisees for only using hymnals. Novelty didn’t fix anything. It just trades one problem for another, which at the root is the same problem, just with fancier (or less fancy?) clothing.

 

Novelty uses novelty to attract people

Like the church situation mentioned above, and similar situations I’ve witnessed over the last 10+ years of ministry, one major problem with many new churches is that the draw is not Christ, but novelty.

“Oh, I can go there and wear jeans!?” “I can go there and drink a latte!?” “We can go there and experience this awesome new youth ministry!?” And the list goes on… Many people are looking for something to fill their souls. They know (intellectually) that it’s only Jesus who can satisfy but experientially they’ve ‘tried Church’ and have found it lacking. Novelty comes along and says “What you need to try now is this.”

People are drawn to novelty. We live in a society of constant change. There is always something new and better and more innovative coming down the line, and this has affected the church ‘industry’. The more creative we can get in church plants, the better, because it works! But I want to push back on this line of thinking. How does it work? Is it actually working?

If 82% of the people already have some sort of church background, what are we really doing? Swapping sheep?

It’s a grave possibility that many are coming because they love novelty more than Christ.* For a while they actually feel that a void in their life has been filled, when in reality they are still missing Christ. It’s like eating candy when your hungry. Sure, it may offer a momentary relief, but eventually you will feel more hungry than before you ate the junk food!

I know there are many gospel believing, faithful preaching brothers out there in a ‘novel’ church who may not even recognize this danger! But to attract people to a Lord’s Day worship gathering based on music style, coffee variety, or affinity, is missing the heart of the New Testament teaching, that the draw and focus of our gathering is Christ and Him crucified for sinners and uniting with other blood bought rebels who have sworn fealty to Christ the King.

*(It’s not that ‘traditional church’ is the answer. Many are attending those churches and refuse to move in a healthy direction because they love the 1950s era more than Christ.)

 

Novelty doesn’t get to the heart of the issue

In trading one sin for another, the heart of the problem remains unaddressed. The real truth is that a lot of times it’s not sheep being swapped. We are swapping goats. We think people won’t come to church just because we are doing it wrong. If we can just change the music, the lighting, or the ambiance then we’ll get more people to attend. And so we plant new churches where 82% of the people are basically already on someone else’s church roll.

But the truth is, most people who don’t come to church are absent for this one main reason: they aren’t converted, and they don’t want to come to church. The heart of the issue is that many people, particularly in the Bible Belt, love religious formality and not Christ. And where novelty has been particularly troubling is in the fact that it has masqueraded as though it is not ‘religious’.

Religion has been categorized as hymnals and suits at church. But lattes, guitars, media overload, cowboy hats, biker get up, and hunting apparel is just as religious. It just goes by a different name. The heart of the issue is that people need to be confronted with their sin through the preaching of the Law and told how they can find forgiveness for their sin through the preaching of the Gospel.

I don’t think the danger here is ‘what if this novel stuff doesn’t work in 20 years?’ I think the danger is ‘What if it does?’

Because then in 20 years you’ll have a bunch of novel churches that are now ‘traditional’ in their novelty and then you’ll have the same problem all over again! I hear the call for more relationships, and reaching the lost, and I get all that. And I’m on 100% agreement with those needs in the church today. But we won’t get to the heart of these issues by doing anything ‘new.’

 

So what is the way forward?

As I said in the title, it is backward.

Let me clarify a few things:

1. I am NOT against Church Planting (In fact, as an example, I personally know some faithful church planters in Kansas City who are doing a ‘novel’ thing: house church! But as we consider that, it’s really not new at all is it? cf. 1 Cor. 16:19. Also, our local association is currently working to plant a church in a Nebraska town where there is currently no Southern Baptist presence)

2. I am NOT against technology

3. I am NOT against contemporary music (well, not all contemporary music anyway)

4. I am NOT trying to go back to the 1950s

5. I am NOT against novelty just because it’s ‘novel’ (For example, I preach from the ESV, a new translation!, I enjoy heating and air in our sanctuary, we use electricity!, etc.)

The way forward is not back to the Heavenly Highway Hymnal. It’s not back to Cantatas, or same old same old just for the sake of nostalgia.

The way forward is back much further than those things. Back to Scripture. I know, I know, it sounds so dumb and ‘too easy’ to say something like that. But listen, it really is the truth! Scripture is sufficient for what the Church ought to be and what She ought to do! And Scripture is sufficient for a clear recovery of the gospel. Not an assumed gospel, but the blood red saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I maintain that we are not in need of novelty today as much as we are in need of reformation. We look at the traditional church and we (rightly) say “Something needs to change!” And so, our effort has been as of late, to bring more fun, bring more ‘relevance’, bring a better atmosphere, be more ‘organic’ (whatever that really means). But I maintain, that though we’ve rightly seen the need for change, we’ve reached the wrong conclusion. The way forward is not forward (novelty). The way forward is backward.

You won’t find a clearer picture of relationships and a heart for the lost than in the pages of the New Testament.

It’s time to go backward! A recovery of the authority, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture. A recovery of the gospel. A recovery of who God is. A recovery of what a Christian is. A recovery of the truth there are only two types of people: Those recognizing and rejoicing in the reign of Christ, and those who don’t. A recovery of that truth once delivered for all the saints.

I am grateful to see many brothers and sisters committed to going backward today. We see a recovery of the great creeds in many churches. We see a commitment to faithful men preaching expository sermons. We see a true heart for the lost which results in sharing the gospel and calling on all persons to repent and believe it. But let us ever be wary of exchanging the timeless truth of Scripture for something flashy in order to remain relevant in the eyes of the world.

Backward Christian Soldier! So that we may go onward…

Only God can bring the reformation we need. Let’s seek Him in His Word today.

Semper Reformanda

 

Recommended Books

By | 2018-01-31T02:40:35+00:00 August 12th, 2017|

George Whitefield Book Review

George Whitefield Book Review

George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century

by Arnold A. Dallimore
Length: 219
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

God's accomplishments through George Whitefield are to this day virtually unparalleled. In an era when many ministers were timid and apologetic in their preaching, he preached the gospel with zeal and undaunted courage. In the wake of his fearless preaching, revival swept across the British Isles, and the Great Awakening transformed the American colonies.

The previous two-volume work George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival is now condensed into this single volume, filled with primary-source quotations from the eighteenth century, not only from Whitefield but also from prominent figures such as John and Charles Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and William Cowper.

George Whitefield Book Reviews

 

Best Trait: Dallimore has Two Volumes on Whitefield. This book is a summary of those volumes. He does an excellent job giving us a concise overview of Whitefield’s life. Unfortunately, George Whitefield is one of those people in Church History that is too often overlooked. Dallimore writes in such a way that not only will you appreciate the ministry of George Whitfield, but you will be challenged on your own walk with the Lord.

Worst Trait: At times, the timeline can be a little difficult to follow, but not so much that it really affects the value of this book.

Summary: Biographies are something we all need to read more of. Reading about a great man of faith who lived in a different time period than you should help cultivate humility in your life as well as encouraging, convicting, and challenging you in your walk.

Inspiration/Conviction Power: 9

Readability: 8.5

Practical Usefulness: 9

Enjoyability: 9.25

If you don’t know much about Whitefield you should. Perhaps you’ve dismissed him simply because he is of a different denominational persuasion than you. If you read this biography you will see Whitefield’s zeal for the gospel, passion in preaching, heart for discipleship, and desire for unity that is grounded in the gospel, not denominational allegiance.

Dallimore writes “When the present author is stirring at 7 in the morning, he frequently reminds himself that Whitfield had been active since 4. Arising at that early time, he spent the first hour in communion with God…At 5 he preached, and virtually always to a host of men and women…And by 7 Whitfield had often set out on an evangelistic journey or was writing letters or meeting the first of the number who came seeking spiritual advice” (pg. 196).

One of the things that personally challenged me the most was Whitefield’s heart for souls. He took 13 voyages across the Atlantic. While on board he would do his best to build relationships with people, preaching to them, witnessing to them, and catechizing them. He also was a generous man with his time and money. He often preached multiple times a day for sometimes as much as 2 hours a sermon, but also found time to oversee two London churches and an orphan house in the American Colonies. He chose to forsake the pleasures of money in order to give all he could for the furtherance of gospel ministry both in Great Britain and the Colonies. Whitefield was often visibly broken for the lostness of the 18th century. Would to God that I was for the 21st!

No doubt there are other good works on Whitefield out there. Both Steve Lawson and Thomas Kidd have books on him that I highly recommend. I think, however, that this book by Arnold Dallimore is where I would have anyone who is interested in learning more about this great man of God begin. You will not regret learning more about George Whitefield.

five-stars
By | 2018-02-02T03:56:44+00:00 August 11th, 2017|

The Essence and Effects of Sin

The Essence and Effects of Sin by Allen Nelson IV

The Essence and Effects of Sin by Allen Nelson IV

The Essence and Effects of Sin

It has been a joy preaching through the book of 1 Peter at our church. It is amazing how Scripture continues to shape and transform us as we gather around it each week eager to hear from God’s Word. We were going along at a pretty good pace until we hit 1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

As I studied this verse I felt like it would be a good time to slow down, and to walk slowly through the mountains of richness this particular passage contains. We are breaking down this verse piece by piece as we seek to plumb the depths of the gospel and anchor all of our hopes in the magnificent truth of what Christ has done for us. And that brings us to today’s post.

Peter tells us that Christ “bore our sins” (see also Isaiah 53:3-11). In order for us to understand the full weight of such a statement we need to think biblically about sin. This is not an easy subject. In fact, it is often one rejected by our society and sadly, it is even obscured in many pulpits today. The purpose of Christ’s work was not to bear our ‘non-Fridays’, our ‘flat-tires’, or our failure to get the next promotion. God was after our most fundamental need in the atonement: our sin debt. Therefore, Christ bore our sins.

 

What is the essence of sin?

The word from 1 Peter 2:24 (used twice) carries the idea of ‘missing the mark.’ Isaiah 53:5 uses the English words ‘transgressions’ and ‘iniquities’ carrying the idea of rebellion and misdeeds respectively. In 1 John 3:4, John tells us plainly that “sin is lawlessness.” With those truths in mind, consider what others have said about the essence of sin:

  • “Sin is high treason against heaven.” Thomas Watson
  • “Sin is any lack of conformity to God’s will in attitude, thought, or action, whether committed actively or passively. The center of all sin is autonomy, which is the replacing of God with self. Always closely associated with sin are its products – pride, selfishness, idolatry, and lack of peace.” John Macarthur  
  • What is sin? Sin is saying, I renounce the God who made me; I disallow His right to govern me. I care not what He says to me, what commandments He has given, nor how He [disapproves]: I prefer self-indulgence to His approval. I am indifferent to al He has done to and for me; His blessings and gifts move me not: I am going to be lord of myself. Sin is rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven. It is to treat the Almighty with contempt.” A.W. Pink
  • Sin: Any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” Wayne Grudem
  • “Sinning is a discounting of the value of the glory of God.” John Piper

To use the child’s Sunday school answer of sin being the ‘bad stuff we do’ doesn’t quite capture the full essence of sin, does it? It’s not merely the ‘bad stuff’ we do, but all that we do in a life outside of Christ. The essence of sin is a life of rebellion.

 

What are the effects of sin?

How has sin affected man? Only in every conceivable way.

  • It has affected our minds (Titus 1:15)
  • It has affected our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • It has affected our wills (Romans 3:11)
  • It has rendered us unwilling and unable to submit to God (Romans 8:7-8)
  • It has left us in a state of spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1)

The bible teaches us that every single part of a person is tainted by the effects of sin. Furthermore, this has obliterated our relationship with God. Psalm 5:5 and Psalm 11:5 both use strong language for God’s disposition toward sinners. This isn’t because God is mean or a tyrant. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Because God is good, He has a holy and righteous hatred toward sin. It is true that He has no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but this doesn’t mean He will compromise His own holy character. He will one day righteously judge the Nations and in so doing will send many to a just eternity in Hell.

Here’s what we’ve seen thus far: The essence of sin is rebellion. The effect of sin is we are guilty, vile, helpless, and hopeless. We have been rendered unable and unwilling to do the slightest thing about our sin problem. Mankind is spiritually dead and morally bankrupt.

This isn’t necessarily a self-esteem booster is it?

But it is critical we understand the human condition.

  • It helps us to understand how to raise our children.
  • It helps us to understand why marriage is so hard sometimes
  • It helps us understand why society is the way it is
  • It helps us understand why people inexplicably do some sort of heinous crime

Mankind is sinful, rebellious, and has woefully missed the mark of God’s perfect glory. But do you know why it is most critical that we understand the human condition? Because it helps us understand the full weight and beauty of the gospel. When we are soft on preaching about sin, we are soft on the gospel. When we rightly expound upon the black canvas of our sin, it makes the diamond of the gospel shine all the more brightly.

Do you see the glory of 1 Peter 2:24? Jesus bore our sins.

Oh how short we’ve fallen of God’s glory. How hateful we’ve been to one another. How lustful and idolatrous our hearts have been. How self-seeking, self-serving, self-glorying our actions, attitudes, and motivations. Oh the pride! The lying. The stealing. The quest for happiness, joy, and satisfaction outside of God and His Holy will. The gossip. The slander. The half-truths. The failure to care about Scripture, prayer, giving, and the people of God. The deaf ear to the least of these. The lack of concern for God’s glory. The vile thoughts we’ve harbored deep within us that no one knows. The drunkenness, sexual immorality, laziness, hypocrisy. The worship of false gods and idols.

How could we ever hope to be accepted by God based on our sin? How can we who are so wicked enter into eternal fellowship with a perfectly holy and righteous God? 1 Peter 2:24 has the answer.

Chris bore our sins. On the Cross Jesus took our sins and said “MINE”. He who committed no sin, bore ours. The righteous one was treated as unrighteous. This is the only hope of the world. Jesus didn’t bear our ‘mistakes’. He didn’t bear our ‘tried our best’. He didn’t bear our poor decisions. What did He bear? Our sins.

The greatest problem we have in the universe is not that we need more money, or our kids to behave, or that we need a better marriage. Our greatest problem is our sin against a holy God.

The gospel is God’s solution to that problem. That Christ was our sin bearer so that we would not have to bear the penalty of our sin against the wrath of God in hell forever. The essence and effects of sin have eliminated any chance of our making reconciliation with God in and of ourselves. But God! God has made a way in Christ, a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. If you die and go to Hell, it’s not because there was something lacking in Christ’s work. It is because you refused to ever lay hold of these glorious promises that can be yours by faith. You chose sin over the sin-bearer.

But oh, if you lay hold of Christ, a Divine transaction has taken place! He took our sins. Now, there is another aspect of this by which we also receive Christ’s righteousness, but that’s for another post. Today, let’s end by asking this question:

 

How should we respond to such an astonishing claim?

  1. Believe it

Do not delay! If the text says Jesus bore our sins, why are you still bearing them? Why would you bear them for all eternity in Hell since a substitute has been given for you? If the Bible says “Whosever believeth” may have eternal life, what bars you from being a whosever? It is only your cold heart. Repent and believe today!

 

  1. Live it 
    1. Christians don’t have live out the reality of who we once were. We are new in Christ! 
    2. As we go forward in life, we rest in this truth: God loves us and He is for us in Christ! If He has taken care of our greatest need, can’t we be certain that He has our best interest at heart even if that means facing trials in this life? 
  2. Share it

Christ is our sin bearer. Proclaim it to the nations!

 

Recommended Books

By | 2018-01-31T02:45:28+00:00 July 7th, 2017|

Oops!

Hi, thanks for dropping by! Looks like you caught us changing … our site design. Please excuse our mess! If you find any bugs or have an suggestions, email us at info@topchristianbooks.online. We’ll definitely reply.

Hey, before you go!
Grab a FREE Copy of the Institutes
SNAG IT!

 FREE DOWNLOAD 
John Calvin's Institutes 

close-link

Pin It on Pinterest