If you are a Christian and if you live in a postmodern world (which we all do), then you need to read The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.  The book wonderfully tackles tough issues that Christianity faces in our world today and how we can overcome those issues to continue advancing the kingdom.

It is a collection of essays that are taken from messages given at the 2006 Desiring God National Conference.  Contributors include Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Don Carson, Voddie Baucham, Jr., David Wells, and John Piper.   Piper and Justin Taylor are the general editors.

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19 thoughts on “A Must Read

  1. By itself meaning it and it alone? That is well and good, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot learn from other men — who are older and wiser! Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” After all, a pastor is a person who teaches the Scriptures (it’s a spiritual gift). What is the difference between preaching a sermon and merely putting the manuscript into book form?

    Even Paul, when writing to Timothy, said, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul wanted to read. He wanted to learn. The Bible contains God’s truth, but not all of God’s truth is in the Scriptures alone (for example, 2+2=4 is a truth not contained in the Bible).

    Finally, Charles Spurgeon, preaching on that section in 2 Timothy, said, “We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service.”

    This book isn’t next to Scripture in authority, but it provides some insight from men who love the Lord and are building his kingdom.

    So, jeremiah17, are you saying that you only read the Bible and nothing else? You obviously read other blogs. ;)

      1. When God “reveals” something to you, do you not, in turn, teach it to others (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2)?

        Further, do you go to a church and gain instruction from a Bible teacher who explains the Bible? That’s what preaching and teaching is (they are spiritual gifts mentioned in Romans 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-12). Most importantly, look at Ephesians 4:11-12, which says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

      2. One more thing, jeremiah17…

        In 1 Corinthians 1:12, Paul says he has a problem when people are devoted to one “favorite preacher.” He also says he has a problem when people distance themselves from *every teacher* and say, “Well, I *only* follow Christ.” Here’s what he writes:

        What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?”

        The bottom line is that we shouldn’t have a “favorite preacher” like the Corinthians. On the other end of the spectrum, we shouldn’t be that guy that says, “I only learn from the Bible and nothing else.” After all, Apollos and Barnabas and Timothy and Titus were men who taught and helped people grow in their faith, but even they didn’t write Scripture.

  2. Well, we have to remember that the Bible is the most important thing to read. It’s how guys like Calvin, Driscoll, Piper, Keller etc. got to be what they are today. But of course, Calvin drew off the teachings of Augustine, just as much as Driscoll, Piper and Keller draw off of the teachings of Calvin. We are at an advantage still because we can draw off of the Bible first and foremost, Augustine, Calvin and the new writers.

    Just imagine how smart the next generation of pastors SHOULD be with all of this knowledge made readily available to us online and through Amazon.com and our libraries. I have a long ways to go.

  3. Chuck & James –

    A major problem with reading the works of other men is discerning which authors to read. The authors you mentioned may be those that you personally like or those that simply reinforce your beliefs. Authors that you don’t like are rejected.

  4. What about Timothy and Titus (who were not apostles), yet they were told to teach and preach and evangelize?

    We do listen to Jesus’ words, but they do need to be explained!

    . . .

    Larry,

    What you mentioned is not really a *major* problem. We must trust the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what is truth based on the Bible when we hear other men speak. That’s why these other men that we read are not authoritative. God’s word is. However, we can read them (or hear them!) and ask the Spirit for guidance and understanding and wisdom as they explain and teach the Bible.

    I could say the same “major problem” exists when it comes to going to a church and listening to a particular pastor. Does that mean we only stick to reading the Bible with our family or alone and avoid church because every preacher isn’t Jesus?

    1. James:

      You wrote, “The Bible contains God’s truth, but not all of God’s truth is in the Scriptures alone (for example, 2+2=4 is a truth not contained in the Bible).”

      I believe all of God’s spiritual truth is in the Bible. I don’t believe in progressive revelation, that is God continues to reveal greater spiritual insights, but only to select men. Therefore, the Bible is authoritative and it does not need to be supplemented by the understanding and wisdom of other men. Such belief is a grave error. (Think of Joseph Smith, Jr)

      You also mentioned, “That’s why these other men that we read are not authoritative. God’s word is.” In theory that may be true, but in practice is is not. Doesn’t the Reformed church look to John Calvin as a chief expositor of their beliefs?. Thus, such church makes John Calvin authoritative.

      1. Larry,

        You are right. I shouldn’t have given that particular example. I’m sorry for illustrating my point so poorly. I don’t believe in progressive revelation either. My point was (supposed) to be that we can expound on truths in the Bible. That’s what pastors and teachers do, i.e. exposit Scripture.

        The “Reformed” church is a vague thing to refer to (since there are even minor difference among Reformed believers). Nevertheless, is Calvin authoritative like the Bible? No. (Reformed people do not believe this–at least I haven’t met any who do.) But, is he an authority? Most certainly. Is my pastor in authority over me as a shepherd of God’s people? Yes. Is a husband in authority over his wife as the Christ-figure in a marriage? Yes. Is a parent in authority over his child? Yes. But are any of these individuals authoritative like the Bible? No.

        Therefore, there is a fundamental difference between being authoritative (God’s word) and having authority (individuals whom God puts in other people’s charge). I keep bringing this up, but no one has responded to it yet: Timothy and Titus weren’t apostles, yet they were given charge to “preach” and “teach” and “train” and “exhort” and “evangelize” and “rebuke” and “reproof” and “correct.” Further, Peter even writes to the pastors in various cities to “shepherd” and “exercise oversight” over the flock (1 Pet. 5:2).

        Did these men–Timothy, Titus, and other pastors–have authority? You bet they did.

  5. jeremiah17,

    I don’t prefer preaching over the Bible. However, I do love *good* expository preaching from preachers who want people to hear about Jesus and be saved by Jesus.

    Could you provide a list of those who “preach for their belly.” There are some, of course, but all?

  6. Are we or are we not called to make disciples, share the Glorious life changing news of the Gospel, tell people about Jesus and how he changes lives and saves us from the hell we deserve? If everyone is keeping to themselves, if there aren’t pastors out their spreading this to their churches every Sunday, would we be disobeying the very things Jesus commissioned us to? I think so. We cannot sit back and make our faith something we enjoy in private. Share it with others. Thats what books are, Piper, Keller, Driscoll, Grudem, they are all sharing their passion for the truth. They and hundreds or thousands of others write and preach because they see the beauty of scripture and strive to help others see and understand it as well.

    Tell me how effective it is to come up to someone who is cold and closed off from the Gospel and ONLY read them scripture without explaining it, without telling them how it has applied to your own life. If they are not in the light, and do not want to be in the light, do we just give up on them and go hide in our rooms and enjoy our own little Christian bubble?

  7. What if you are an elder and you are prayerfully selected by the other elders? You can call it hired, if you want to, sure. But if you are saying that a person who is selected to be pastor and receives a salary is not a legitimate pastor, then you are quite wrong.

    Even pastors “deserve” and have the “right” to be appropriately compensated (see 1 Tim. 5:17-19; 1 Cor. 9:1-12).

  8. James:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. In your response you mentioned,

    I keep bringing this up, but no one has responded to it yet: Timothy and Titus weren’t apostles, yet they were given charge to “preach” and “teach” and “train” and “exhort” and “evangelize” and “rebuke” and “reproof” and “correct.”

    I’ll take a try at a response. –

    It could be argued that Timothy and Titus were given the above “charge” because the church (and the population in general) in those very early days really only had word of mouth communications. Obviously, there was no Bible. Since John Calvin wasn’t born until some 1,400 years later, I really doubt that his thoughts or insights were even taught. If they were taught (by Timothy and Titus) at that time, there would now be a vast general knowledge and acceptance of such insights and thoughts. We wouldn’t have had to wait some 1,400 years. Therefore, I conclude that what was taught (by Timothy and Titus) was very basic and may have addressed some issues pertinent of that day – such as meat sacrificed to idols – or how Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the old testament. I don’t think their teaching was the equivalent to the Bible studies we have today where the assumption is that we need to continually study the Bible supplemented by other men’s insights.

  9. Larry,

    Thanks for your thoughts, and I understand your point. However, I do disagree because Timothy and Titus were supposed to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9) and “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 1:2) and to “be able to teach [sound doctrine]” (1 Tim. 3:2) and “command and teach these things [i.e. sound doctrine]” (1 Tim. 4:11).

    This, to me, seems to indicate that they were teaching the whole counsel of God, that is, everything from meat in the market and Jesus as OT Messiah to substitionary atonement, walking in the Spirit, water baptism, spiritual gifts, and everything else you can think of. Just because it’s 2,000 years later doesn’t mean people suddenly know more because we have blogs and podcasts. We cannot simply point them to the Bible for them to learn on their own. In fact, what I hear from pastors and seminary professors is that the knowledge of the Bible is significantly less than what it was 20 years ago. If we are to make disciples, like Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20, how can we do that without teaching the Scriptures? This is what Calvin (among others) did. He made disciples, not theologically intellectual giants.

    What I find when I read the Bible is that it is clear that God has so spiritually gifted certain Christians with the ability to teach and expound the Scriptures. Paul says in Romans 12:6, 7, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:…the one who teaches, in his teaching.” What is this person teaching? Not P.E. or Home Ec. He is teaching the Scriptures (like Calvin did, and guys like Keller, Piper, Mahaney, Grudem, Carson, and others do today). Furthermore, Paul told Timothy to take what he learned and teach other men who would then, in turn, be able to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).

    Further still, Peter said that Paul taught things that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). Who explains those hard things? Preachers and teachers. The job of preachers and teachers is to study and labor over the text, and history, and context, and explain it to God’s people — even (especially) the hard texts. This has been consistent throughout the history of Christianity: preachers help people grow by “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).

    I have the Holy Spirit in me, and ultimately, what I decide to believe is between me and the Lord based on what he has taught me through his revealed word. And I believe it in faith (because whatever is not from faith is sin, Rom. 14:23). However, I do believe it is good that I — and everyone! — learn from other people (especially pastors/elders) who have walked with Jesus much longer than I have and who are much wiser than I am.

    james

  10. I won’t take up any more of your time with this blog, but in closing I’ll offer these comments.

    You wrote, “The job of preachers and teachers is to study and labor over the text, and history, and context, and explain it to God’s people — even (especially) the hard texts…. teach what accords with sound doctrine”

    The fact is preachers and teachers have failed miserably in the job you described because there is no universal agreement among preachers and teachers. They all should be teaching the same thing, but they don’t. Preachers and teachers are offering their opinions or interpretations. That’s why the church is divided into numerous groups (from Pentacostal, to Baptist, to Reformed, prosperity gospel, etc.) One claims the other has some doctrinal “error” (from baptism to the eucharist, etc.) The claimed error can even be miniscule (from teachngs on post-tribulation to pre-tribulation, etc.) They all may say that they agree on the basics, but do they really? And some of the teachings of one church may even be considered sin by another church (MD’s teachings on sex, for example). The preachers and teachers have caused the divisions which works to their advantage because they can write (and sell) more books or attract a following. The basics are simple – John 3:16 and the book of Galatians.

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