The Miracle of Striving

Often, the mystery of how we grow as Christians baffles us. There are some Christians who say, “God takes care of all the work. Those commands in the Bible simply show you that you can’t do them and need Jesus.” Others say, “No, you gotta clench your fists and get to work. God gets this rolling, but you need to seal the deal.” I think both of those approaches to sanctification are wrong. If we are going to be ruthlessly biblical however, we are going to see grace and effort working together. We are going to see that Paul is adamant that … Continue reading The Miracle of Striving

Effectively Shepherding Yourself and Others

If you are like me, then you have probably wondered how to be an effective self-shepherd. God’s family—the church—is absolutely essential and necessary to our growth. We cannot be Lone Ranger Christians. But we can’t always talk to a pastor or a friend when we feel defeated, and we are primarily responsible for our own progress, so we need to learn to be self-feeders and help others to be self-feeders as well. We need to learn how to be self-shepherds. I recently read Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission, the newest book from Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. One of … Continue reading Effectively Shepherding Yourself and Others

This I Believe: God’s New People

God’s New People I believe that from all eternity, God ordained to redeem and justify a multitude of guilty sinners by grace through faith in Jesus Christ from all ages from every tribe, language, people, and nation. He has set his love on this people for no other reason than that he loves them. God’s new covenant people make up the universal church, the body of Christ. The universal church manifests itself in local churches, of which Christ is the Head. Local churches are gatherings of this new people who observe baptism and the Lord’s Supper and exercise the gifts, … Continue reading This I Believe: God’s New People

What is Preaching?

When you listen to a sermon at church, what do you hear? In his book Transforming Conversion, Gordon T. Smith has some very important words for all Christians to keep at the forefront of their minds: Preaching is not about urging hearers to work harder, try harder, and do more so that they are more faithful. They cannot do so; the depth of the human predicament makes this impossible and thus futile and (rightly) results in much cynicism about the Christian life—better put, it is cynicism about a false conception of the Christian life. Rather, preaching is about drawing the people … Continue reading What is Preaching?

Does Our Effort Nullify God’s Grace?

There has been quite a bit of debate lately, particularly in Reformed Evangelical circles, about the relationship between God’s grace and our effort in sanctification. A while back, there was quite the conversation on The Gospel Coalition blogs about this relationship. I’ll spare you the details, but check out the roundup of the debates if you have time. God demands that we pursue holiness after being saved. We are not saved to “let go and let God.” Rather, by grace we strive to flee from sin and strive to pursue holiness. This past month, my morning devotions in 1 Timothy have made this clear. In chapter 1, … Continue reading Does Our Effort Nullify God’s Grace?