“Has there ever been a phrase more adept at smuggling in doctrinal confusion and moral laxity than the slogan ‘spiritual, not religious’? Granted, for some people this means, ‘I want a personal, life-changing relationship with God, not mere church attendance.’ But more often than not the phrase implies a dislike for theological standards, moral absolutes, and organized religion. Being spiritual in contemporary jargon means you are open to mystery and interested in ‘spiritual’ things like prayer, healing, and inner peace. [But] True spirituality means being transformed by the Spirit through communion with the Father and the Son. If you are interested in spirituality, your priority should be to grow in the holiness that comes from the Spirit. Righteousness is the goal of Christian discipleship” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 35).
Enjoying God Blog
In his instructions to Elders/Pastors, Peter insists that they must not lead for love of power, which is to say they must not “domineer” those in their charge but rather be “examples” to them (v. 3b).
How might a pastor or elder “domineer” his flock? In other words, what makes a man a pastoral bully? Here are some ways.
A man can “domineer” or “lord it over” his flock by intimidating them into doing what he wants done by holding over their heads the prospect of loss of stature and position in the church.
A pastor domineers whenever he threatens them with stern warnings of the discipline and judgment of God, even though there is no biblical basis for doing so.
A pastor domineers whenever he threatens them with public exposure of their sin should they not conform to his will and knuckle under to his plans.
A pastor domineers whenever he uses the sheer force of his personality to overwhelm others and coerce their submission.
A pastor domineers whenever he uses slick verbiage or eloquence to humiliate people into feeling ignorant or less competent than they really are.
A pastor domineers whenever he presents himself as super-spiritual (his views came about only as the result of extensive prayer and fasting and seeking God. How could anyone then possibly disagree with him?).
A pastor domineers whenever he exploits the natural tendency people have to elevate their spiritual leaders above the average Christian. That is to say, many Christians mistakenly think that a pastor is closer to God and more in tune with the divine will. The pastor often takes advantage of this false belief to expand his power and influence.
A pastor domineers whenever he gains a following and support against all dissenters by guaranteeing those who stand with him that they will gain from it, either by being brought into his inner ci
“It’s all too easy to turn the fight of faith into sanctification-by-checklist. . . . And inevitably, checklist spirituality is highly selective. So you end up feeling successful at sanctification because you stayed away from drugs, lost weight, served at the soup kitchen, and renounced Styrofoam. But you’ve ignored gentleness, humility, joy, and sexual purity” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 34).
I want to share a few thoughts about why I so strongly dislike intinction and why I believe it is detrimental to the message communicated in the Eucharist and to the fullness of what I believe the believer should experience in partaking of the elements.
For those of you not familiar with the word “intinction,” it refers to a particular way in which the elements of the Lord’s Supper are served and ingested. With intinction, the believer dips the bread into the cup and ingests it in one act. There is no eating of the bread as a separate act or drinking of the cup as a separate act. Here is a more formal dictionary definition: “the act of steeping the bread or wafer in the wine in order to enable the communicant to receive the elements conjointly.”
Here at Bridgeway we observed the Eucharist by intinction for several years, much to my displeasure. We have recently enacted what I call the “extinction of intinction”! Here is why.
First, with intinction there is something quite profound that is lost in terms of what both the bread and the wine signify. When I partake of the bread, I want to meditate on the reality of Christ’s body, broken for me. His human frailty and the reality of his body being nailed to a tree for me are so important that I want the opportunity to meditate and pray and worship over that profound reality. The action of physically ingesting the bread is such a beautiful picture of my spiritually ingesting what that bodily sacrifice achieved for me.
It is much the same with the cup. There is something unique and worthy of special focus in the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. Yes, the body and blood are together the grounds for our hope. It was the holistic offering of Christ on the cross that saves. But when Jesus instituted the Eucharist he spoke distinctly of the breaking of the body and the pouring out of the blood and ordained that each should be received
[Last night I had the unique privilege of joining nearly 4,000 believers in Minneapolis in a celebration of thanksgiving for the ministry of John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church. I was also given the honor of issuing a “challenge” or “charge” to John for the remaining years of his life and work on earth. I thought you might enjoy reading what I said.]
John, as you know, we first met 29 years ago, appropriately, at Wheaton College. It was a conference devoted, again appropriately, to the theology of Jonathan Edwards. I want to begin tonight by thanking you for nearly three decades of friendship, support, and partnership in the gospel.
I have to make a confession, John. I’ve never agonized over a ten-minute exhortation as much as I have over this one. This has not been easy. When I was first asked to deliver this “challenge” to you regarding the remaining years of your life and ministry, I initially thought there would be no problem. I’d simply say something silly like, “Sam loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Or perhaps I’d say something that you’ve never heard or thought about before, such as: “For heaven’s sake, John, don’t waste your life!”
After giving this a lot of prayer and thought, I came to the conclusion that it would be misguided of me to suggest that you do anything different from, less or other than what you’ve done these many years of ministry. Why would I want you to change course or redirect your focus or pursue something that might distract you from what has been the central and powerfully influential direction your life has taken?
So I’d like to begin by joining with the others here tonight in saying a heartfelt “Thank You”, and encourage you to “stay the course!”
Thank you for your passionate and unrelenting commitment to the unborn. Thank you
Just when you thought you’d seen and heard it all, there appears an article in the most recent issue of World magazine on the battle over gay marriage in our country. On p. 36 is a photograph of a man in front of the U.S. Supreme Court dressed in a red, skin-tight, mesh leotard, a multi-colored tutu around his waist, wearing purple sun glasses to match his purple lipstick, together with a red wig and red horns protruding from his head. One supposes he’s portraying a demon, but one can never be quite certain in such cases.
Of greater interest is the sign he’s carrying, written in large colored letters. It reads: “I Bet Hell Is Fabulous.” I’m not sure what he’s trying to communicate. Perhaps it’s a defiant response to the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that “neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In any case, my mind immediately turned to the most graphic description of hell in Scripture: Revelation 14:9-11. There we are told that he/she who resides there “will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.”
Now let’s be clear about one thing. I’m not singling out “men who practice homosexuality” as if to suggest that they alone are in danger of eternal torment. In Revelation 22:15, John also includes, among others, “the sexually immoral [both heterosexual and homosexual] and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Paul also includes the “covetous” (Eph. 5:5), as well as those who engage in unrepentant “strife, jealousy, fi
“. . . holiness is more than middle-class family values” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 34).
Pope Francis (Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) made history in becoming the first Jesuit to be elected as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. But who are the Jesuits?
The answer to that question begins with a man named Don Inigo de Onez y Loyola, otherwise known as Ignatius (1491-1556). He was the youngest in a family of thirteen children who spent his early years seeking fame and fortune in the military. He "grew up a courtier and caballero, captive to the romantic ideals of medieval chivalry" (Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform, 410).
Both his legs were severely injured in a battle against the French in 1521, whereupon he spent much time in a hospital enduring excruciating pain and ultimately unsuccessful therapy. During long periods on his bed he studied and meditated on religious literature that focused on the life of Christ and famous saints in history. In March, 1522, he made a pilgrimage to a shrine near Barcelona. There he entered a cave at Manresa where he spent the next ten months in solitude. He underwent a profound spiritual experience that led him to devote himself to the church and the pope. After a brief trip to the Holy Land he devoted 12 years to study and eventually settled at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he, with nine other men (among whom was Francis Xavier), founded what would become the Society of Jesus (1534). They vowed poverty, chastity and obedience to the pope. The organization was recognized and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and Ignatius was elected its first general on April 7, 1541. He held that office until he died on July 31, 1556.
The Society's major functions included education, suppression of dissident elements, and foreign missions. In 1548 Ignatius published his Spiritual Exercises, "the Counter Reformation's manual of self-discipline for clergy and laity" (Ozment, 412). The focus of the treatise was on special disciplines or exercises designed to induce certain feel
“If the war on poverty is worth fighting, how much more the war on your own sin? The fact of the matter is, if you read through the instructions to the New Testament churches you will find few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the needy in our communities and no explicit commands to do creation care, but there are dozens and dozens of verses that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:13-16)” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 21).
Let’s me summarize what we’ve seen thus far. (1) God is not a miser with his mercy. (2) Paul prays for joy and peace because pleasure in God is the power for purity. (3) Pleasure in God is the fruit of faith in God.
Fourth, the purpose of pleasure in God is hope in God.
Why do we lack hope? Could it be because we’ve been “burned” by putting our confidence in something that we really didn’t need in the first place? We “hope” for a good paying job when we graduate. Some are “hoping” for a husband to wake up spiritually and get off the couch. Others “hope” for some way to cover next month’s car payment. But in the end, all we need is Christ. He is the object and focus and obsession of our hope:
Paul applauds the Thessalonians for their “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). What is our “blessed hope”? It is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). We are to “hope in Christ” (Eph. 1:12). The mystery of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
John Piper put it best when he said, “Sometimes what we need from the Bible is not the fulfillment of our dream[s], but the swallowing up of our failed dream[s] in the all-satisfying glory of Christ” (When I Don’t Desire God, 101). The reason that may not resonate with our souls or sound very encouraging is because we really don’t believe Jesus Christ is all-satisfying. We don’t savor him. And we don’t savor him because we don’t see him, and we don’t see him because we fail to look upon him as he has revealed himself in Holy Scripture!
Hope is ultimately beyond our ability to produce. When we do try and create it or crank it up, it either degenerates into presumption or soon gives way to despair.