February 26, 2010 by Tony Reinke
On Wednesday Mark Dever announced
the addition of Matt Chandler to the 2010 Together for the Gospel conference. Today on the T4G blog C.J. explains why he suggested that Matt should take his main session. Read C.J.’s comments here
February 23, 2010 by Dave Harvey
Categories: Church planting
When people think of church planting in Sovereign Grace Ministries, the idea of reaching Starbucks-studded suburbia often comes to mind. And obviously we have more suburban churches than urban ones, at least here in the U.S. of A.
But Sovereign Grace does not exclusively focus on the suburbs. In fact, a growing number of church planters are being called to urban areas, which creates an incalculable excitement in our hearts.
Now a new church plant is underway in the heart of San Francisco. Christ Church
was planted with a group of folks who have a heart for the city of San Francisco, and is led by Toby Kurth.
I first met Toby when Sovereign Grace had launched an urban church plant in New York City and he was working on his Ph.D. in Early American History. Toby and his wife Rebekah jumped into this church plant with heart and soul and served tirelessly for several years.
As they served in that church, it soon became evident that God had called Toby to preach. So off to the Pastors College he went, and then to Gilbert, Arizona, for a church-planting residence. From there, the invasion plan for a church plant to San Francisco took shape.
Let me introduce you to my buddy Toby.
1) Hey Toby, tell us what drew you there?
One common theme that has run from the earliest days of considering the church plant through today is God demonstrating that he has gone before us. We feel like active participants and spectators at the same time.
California is home for Rebekah and me; and though our burden for urban church planting began in Brooklyn, our hearts were redirected here. I spent a day in San Francisco after my grandmother passed away in October 2005 praying about our future and ever since then God has increased our burden and opened doors for this church plant to happen.
2) What are some of the unique challenges that urban church planters encounter?
The unique challenges we have encountered have all been two-sided. The challenges appear to be obstacles, but are simultaneously opportunities for God to demonstrate the power of Christ and his gospel. Cities are diverse and neighborhoods can change dramatically in cultural and socioeconomic make-up in just a few blocks. This can appear to be an obstacle, but is ultimately an opportunity to build on the cross-cultural transcendence of Christ and his gospel. It is a great opportunity to display love above and beyond any obstacles that where we are from or what we do might present.
Another obstacle is that many city dwellers can be outwardly opposed to what they think the message of Christianity is. Some of that is due to superficial or negative interactions with Christians, and some of it is just that people have never heard the gospel. Either way our goal is to bring people face-to-face with Jesus, with who he is and what he has done.
Finding a place to meet is the last big challenge. It can be hard to get established as a church without a steady, affordable place to meet and a presence in the community. This has been a huge way God has demonstrated that He has prepared the way for us. We have a building! It is a hundred-year-old sanctuary built by German Lutherans and later used by a Baptist church. The building has a rich history of use in ministry to the ever-changing community around it. From Chinese and Russian Jewish immigrants to “Summer of Love” hippies, the church has consistently been used by God to bring people to Christ.
But over time membership dwindled. The church was in the process of praying about their future and what God would have them do to see gospel ministry continue in their building when we arrived in January 2009. God gave me a great and growing friendship with the pastor and the sole remaining elder. What began as a friendship grew into these men wanting to support our church plant in any way they could. Their humility and desire to see the gospel go forward led to them merging in what remained of their people with our church plant on October 4, 2009.
You would be hard pressed to find a church in the Bay Area where the gospel has been faithfully proclaimed for 104 years. We have inherited a rich legacy and pray that we will be faithful to continue and hopefully expand it.
3) Toby, you know Sovereign Grace Ministries is about “gospel-centered local churches planting local churches.” Tell us about Wellspring Church and how they heroically served, supplied, and supported the starting of Christ Church.
Wellspring has been another clear and amazing evidence of God preparing the way for this church plant. Sam Shin’s humility and desire to see churches planted in the Bay Area is compelling.
For starters, almost all of our church plant team came from Wellspring’s San Francisco small group. Sam also gave me the opportunity to preach twice a month starting last February. This enabled me to build much better with the church-plant team, for the people at Wellspring to be more invested in our church plant, and for me to get to launch the church on August 2nd with a running start in the pulpit. In addition to sending off a large portion of their congregation, Wellspring also sent us with a $10,000 check.
We continue to look for opportunities to do as many events together as we can, which has included a fall retreat, various seminars, and a Christmas Eve service. Wellspring is a sister church and a partner in the gospel for us in so many ways.
4) What excites you most about Sovereign Grace planting even more churches in urban areas?
What I personally love about urban church plants is that no two of them will look the same. I think there can be such a temptation with church plants, and it can be so subtle, to put faith in a model more than the active presence of God.
Trying to import a certain way of doing things that works in the suburbs into an urban setting simply will not work. Urban church planters must put their faith in what Christ is calling them to do in their setting. We have a wonderful model in Sovereign Grace and I look forward to working it in a unique urban community.
5) Last question: Let’s say some young guy is reading this and he burns to plant an urban church. What would you say to him?
I would start by commending him for his desire to plant an urban church. We need as many church planters as we can get. But a call to plant is much more than a burden. You must have the confidence that God has placed that burden in you and that God is going before you. That burden may begin in you, but it has to be confirmed outside of you.
You need to be invested in a local church where you can be equipped and evaluated and where those who know you best can ultimately confirm your call. You need to do all you can to cultivate a love for God’s Word, your ability to preach it, and a love for the lost. An urban church plant is an exciting adventure, but our only hope in the midst of it is ever and always in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for passing along your experience, Toby. And thanks even more for serving the Savior in San Francisco!
Welcome back to the conclusion of my interview with Phil Sasser, senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church
in Apex, North Carolina (part one here
Phil, what books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
I have been most inspired by The Sacred Anointing
by Tony Sargent and Between Two Worlds
by John Stott. I have been most practically instructed by Christ-Centered Preaching
by Bryan Chapell.
Of contemporary preachers, I have been probably most influenced by C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. While C.J.’s use of humor and illustrations is a challenge to some of us non-funny, pedantic pastors, his gospel-centered emphasis on application is, in my humble opinion, without equal. John Piper’s preaching emphases on the glory of God, the love of sound doctrine, and passionate commitment to the gospel always inspire me to resist the temptation to entertain or tickle the ears of those to whom I preach.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?
My father once told me that you could determine what a man would turn out to be by two things: the friends he kept and the books he read. My father’s love of reading and commitment to spend time doing it was one of the many wonderful gifts that he gave me.
The time I've spent reading has been significant but the fruit has been immeasurable. Jonathan Edwards has two excellent sermons that have been most helpful in my understanding of the importance of the effective use of time: “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It” from Ephesians 5:16 and “Procrastination or the Sin and Folly of Depending on Future Time” from Proverbs 27:1.
I have an aversion to contemporary time management books.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?
It is very difficult to identify the most significant. I suppose that being more aware of the evidences of grace in a person’s life than his/her sin is one of the most significant. My heart's natural inclination is toward pride and self-righteousness. Those natural tendencies are the enemies of our soul. They leads us to ungodly appraisals of ourselves and others. Being intentional in recognizing the Spirit's work of grace in others is a powerful antidote to censoriousness and a negative view of others.
Having the privilege and responsibility to care for the souls of others requires that I have a grace-filled perspective of them. Seeing the fruit of the Spirit first makes me freshly aware of how powerfully God works in a person's life. My eye becomes more attuned to the effectual work of the gospel. It gives me a better perspective even on the challenging aspects of pastoral care. I am filled with a greater appreciation for others and a greater faith for their continued growth in godliness.
Where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
As our church as grown, I have become more aware of my inadequacies in leading our pastoral team. I am very comfortable in a small church setting. Leading a team of pastors is more of a challenge for me. God has seen fit to overcome my inadequacies by giving us a very godly and mature team. And I have benefited greatly by my relationships with other Sovereign Grace pastors of larger churches.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not? (Please be specific.)
I have a gym membership and try to get there 2 or 3 times a week. Mostly I'm trying to rehab my new left knee. I love to play golf, but it is of minimal exercise value.
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
My first love was baseball, but those days are long gone, so it has been replaced by golf. My favorite sports to watch are college football (Ohio State), college basketball (Ohio State and N.C. State), major league baseball (Reds), and golf.
What do you do for leisure?
Reading is the constant. I also watch romantic comedies with Cassie. I'll probably catch a lot of grief for this admission. When alone I sometimes listen to classic rock and roll. Dylan, The Byrds, and Paul Simon are at the top of that list. I have also been know to shoot pool at the local pool hall and I have a weakness for online chess.
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
My first profession was a pharmacist (I sold drugs legally as opposed to C.J.), but if I had to choose again, something other than vocational ministry, I would either be a teacher (high school or college) or a lawyer.
My friend, you would have made an excellent history teacher. I learn new stuff about history whenever I am with you! But I’m so glad that instead of teaching history you were called to teach God’s Word and pastor the wonderful local church in Apex.
Over the past couple of years I’ve done a series of interviews so that you can “meet” men like John Piper, Carl Trueman, Wayne Grudem, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, David Powlison, and Thabiti Anyabwile. These are men I deeply love and respect. We asked them a set of questions that resulted in some very insightful answers.
But I also like asking these questions of “ordinary” pastors, men less recognized who are laboring faithfully in their local churches. There is nothing ordinary about these men. I consider them extraordinary! I think their work serving the local church is the most important work being done today, work that is worthy of high esteem (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13).
Today I want you to meet one extraordinary ordinary pastor: Phil Sasser.
Phil serves as the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, North Carolina. He has served at that church for 16 of his 29 years in ministry.
Phil and his wife, Cassie, have been married for 40 years and have five children and 15 grandchildren.
Meet Phil Sasser.
Phil, please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
I have some insomnia, so wake up time can vary somewhat. Usually I get up between 6 AM – 7 AM. The first 45 minutes in my office is spent in reading, meditation, and prayer. The M’Cheyne Reading plan has served as a base for my daily Bible reading. This year, I am supplementing M’Cheyne by reading two pages from Herman Bavinck’s Our Reasonable Faith. I have a daily prayer agenda that varies with each day of the week.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
(a) Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards (this is about my fifth time reading through it) and The Work of Christ by G. C. Berkouwer.
(b) Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D. A. Carson
(c) Truman by David McCullough
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray is one. Murray’s treatment of the atonement is outstanding even though the book is relatively short. It is very rich in content and insight. Murray also covers doctrines such as our union with Christ, adoption, and glorification which sometimes are omitted from discussions on the atonement.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
By the grace of God I have a good memory. Or is it that I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten? But if it is a particularly good quote, I copy it and put it in my sermon files on the pertinent subject or text.
If you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those men in Scripture), who would it be and why?
John Calvin, because of both his depth and breadth of theological writing. There is a wonderful simplicity in his commentaries. He is writing to the ordinary pastors of his day, so he “cuts to the chase” quickly. Calvin’s commentaries have a focus on the gospel and the doctrines of grace. On the other hand, you can soar with Calvin in The Institutes.
What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?
C.J.’s emphasis on the centrality of the gospel has obviously affected every aspect of my pastoral ministry. That is especially true of my preaching. I grew up, spiritually, in an atmosphere where the gospel was often marginalized or overshadowed by other, more secondary doctrines such as spiritual gifts, discipleship, eschatology, or ecclesiology. While these are important biblical themes, they must never supplant the gospel in focus or priority in preaching. We must never assume the gospel and, as C.J. has emphasized, there should be a sighting of the gospel (the cross & resurrection) in every sermon. This emphasis has done more, I think, to improve my preaching than any other counsel or criticism.
To be continued tomorrow in part 2...
February 11, 2010 by Jeff Purswell
Categories: Leadership | Preaching
Here’s an interesting thought experiment: how would one of our theological forebears—a sixteenth-century Reformer, say, or an eighteenth-century evangelist in the Great Awakening—assess modern evangelicalism? Let’s remove the inevitable confusion that sheer historical distance would create; how would we fare theologically? pastorally?
Although it’s impossible to know which facet of the contemporary church would look strangest to our hypothetical historical observer, let me nominate one for consideration: the modern paradigm of “pastor as leader.” Tracing its exact roots is difficult, but we can generally surmise that modern business theory, mediated through the church growth movement, is the source of this paradigm—a paradigm that would be unintelligible to our time-travelling friend.
It’s true, of course, that in a very real sense a pastor (along with his fellow elders) is the leader of his congregation. Scripture envisions elders who “rule well” (1 Timothy 5:17) and calls them to “exercise oversight” (1 Peter 5:2) and to employ diligently the gift of leadership (Romans 12:8). And so pastoral ministry inherently involves certain leadership functions: inspiring the church with a biblical vision, administrating the work of the church, training leaders who can help lead the work, creating structures that capture and embody the application of the truth that is taught from the pulpit. Pastors not only teach the truth, but also come alongside their flock to help people apply truth to their lives.
We deviate from Scriptural precept and historical example, however, when a pastor’s role as “leader” displaces his primary role as a teacher—a shepherd who feeds God’s people with the truth of his Word. The relentless call to pastors in the New Testament is to the ministry of the Word, from the apostles’ retirement from mercy ministry (Acts 6:1–4) to Paul’s dying words to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2).
I doubt anyone reading this would reject the content of the previous paragraph. My concern is rather with a false dichotomy that I fear is all too common: a dichotomy in the pastor’s mind between “teaching” and “leadership.” In the pulpit or behind the podium, we’re “teaching;” anywhere else, we’re “leading.” My modest goal in this post is to destroy this dichotomy. There is no more powerful or fundamental expression of a pastor’s leadership than the preaching of the Word. At its core, that’s what biblical leadership is: setting forth for our people a biblical vision of God and his purposes, and then calling them to give their lives to it and live in light of it (and outside the pulpit, modeling for them what it looks like). Every time we preach, we’re making room for God to lead his people, allowing his Word to set direction, to impart encouragement, to provide comfort, and to instill faith. Much more is happening on a Sunday morning than the mere transfer of information. This is our key leadership moment.
When we think about “leading” our churches, we can spend hours with our teams strategizing and brainstorming initiatives and structures, identifying emphases, and planning special meetings—all important functions. But we can spend hours doing all this and leave the Sunday preaching diet entirely out of the equation—when it should be central to whatever direction you’re providing the church in a particular season.
No form of leadership a pastor provides is more decisive than his proclamation of Scripture. Preaching both defines the priorities for your church and fuels the implementation of those priorities in the church. We must never sever the connection in our minds between leadership—providing direction for the church—and your preaching plan. It’s that preaching plan, and its execution, that provide the most powerful and biblically rooted leadership. And I’m not just speaking about the “leadership opportunity” on any given Sunday. The preaching diet over a period of time will be the most formative, shaping influence on a church.
If all this is true, what then? If you’re a senior pastor, then nothing you do this week is more important than, nor should it supplant, your prayerful preparation for the preaching of God’s Word. If you serve on a pastoral team with a specialized sphere of ministry, you should be thinking about how the Sunday preaching can be applied in the life of the church in your sphere. If you’re a member of a church, there is no more important moment for you than when you sit under the teaching of God’s Word, hearing his voice, and receiving direction for your life as a part of your church.
I believe that if we were to more consistently think and respond in such ways, we’d look a lot more familiar to any surprise visitor from the pages of church history.
Jeff Purswell serves as the Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastors College and a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.
February 9, 2010 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Sermons | Sleep
The topic of sleep is rarely far from the newsstands. Studies link sleep to everything from academic scores to obesity. A new line of sleep drinks features a shot of melatonin to help you fall asleep (think anti-energy drink). And of course the news is filled with reports of a major pop musician’s sleep problems and of his doctor, who is accused of inducing permanent and irreversible slumber.
Sleep is rarely far from conversation. Probably because sleep is never far removed from our lives.
Roughly speaking, most of us spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep (whereas mothers of small children spend about 1/8 of their lives asleep). The Bible says quite a bit on this topic, probably because sleep is both a good teacher and a revealer of the heart.
The Bible says:
Sleep is a daily gift from God (Psalm 127:1–2).
- Sleep reminds us daily of our need for God (Psalms 3:5, 4:8).
- Excessive sleep exposes sin and leads to poverty (Proverbs 6:9–11, 20:13).
- Sleep is sweet when we are walking in wisdom (Proverbs 3:19–24).
- Falling asleep provides an opportunity to examine our hearts before God (Psalm 4:4).
For more on these points, see C.J.'s sermon "Sanctifying the Ordinary: A Biblical Understanding of Sleep
February 5, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Fathers | Sports
Given my love for sports I have an obligation to publish a public service announcement to prepare you for the impending Super Bowl…
The Super Bowl is the most overrated sporting event in the history of all sports, dating back to the very first Olympics. The NFL thinks so highly of itself, the Super Bowl is assigned Roman numerals.
Yet despite the hype, year after year this game rarely delivers. With few exceptions, most of these games are neither exciting nor memorable (unless your team is participating). With Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in the Super Bowl, there is at least a chance that Super Bowl 44 will be entertaining, but I doubt it.
For me, the only good thing about the Super Bowl is that it means MARCH MADNESS is fast approaching! Don’t get me started on March Madness and college basketball because year after year college basketball always delivers.
Tips for watching the Super Bowl
I’ll give you a Super Bowl game prediction later but for now some things to keep in mind while watching the Super Bowl (or any televised sporting event). If you chose to watch the Super Bowl, here are four tips for watching the game for the glory of God.
1. Strategically assign the remote.
Some prefer to turn off all the commercials; other prefer to just keep an eye on it and turn off the offensive ones. Either way, be proactive about what shows up on your TV screen. One way to do this is to assign one person (someone with both discernment and quick reflexes) to remote-control duty.” This cannot be just anybody. Throughout the game viewers are assaulted with commercials—immoral commercials, commercials that assault and offend one’s intelligence, and commercials with immodestly dressed women (which both tempt men and belittle women). These are as much a part of the Super Bowl as the game itself.
Working the remote requires skill and coordination as well as discernment. This person needs to be paying attention and anticipating commercial breaks. While everyone else enjoys the game, this person is working and always aware of what’s on the TV.
I recommend you establish on the remote an alternative channel that presents no temptation (C-SPAN for example). Turning to C-SPAN will ensure that conversation will take place.
2. Watch proactively.
I encourage fathers to watch actively and discerningly, never passively and superficially. There is no doubt that throughout the game you will hear one superlative after another attributed to the skill of the athletes. The accent throughout the game will be on skill, not character.
Nowhere is the word great mentioned more often in our culture than in the context of professional sports. If you watch any game this weekend and listen to the announcer’s commentary, then like a mantra you’ll probably hear the word great repeated throughout—great, great, great. Yet it may well be that nowhere in our culture is the absence of true greatness more evident than in professional sports. So be careful about cultivating an excessive love for professional athletics in your child.
Without minimizing the skill as a gift from God, I want to direct my son’s attention to character as theologically defined. So as Chad and I watch the game, I will draw his attention to any evidence of humility or unselfishness I observe, as well as any expression of arrogance or selfishness. I will celebrate the former and ridicule the latter.
3. Foster fellowship.
We need to make sure a room full of people are not simply passively watching the Super Bowl. Commercial time can be time redeemed with the right leadership and by a simply changing of the channel to C-SPAN.
Don’t misunderstand. It’s perfectly legitimate to watch and enjoy the game. I’m not advocating that you invite those who have no interest in the game and who want to distract your attention from the game. You can arrange to meet with those people at another time.
No matter who we invite to our homes on Sunday, let’s not just stare at the TV, paying little attention to our families and our guests. Watching the game should involve building relationships.
4. Draw attention to the eternal.
Sometime after the game—that same evening or the next day—it’s helpful for a father to draw his child’s attention to the game in light of eternity. It’s also helpful for us as fathers to be reminded of an eternal perspective.
Apart from those few who listen excessively to sports talk radio, this game will be quickly forgotten. Let me ask you this—who won the Super Bowl even five years ago?
The day before the 1972 Super Bowl, Dallas Cowboy running back Duane Thomas said, “If it’s the ultimate game how come they’re playing it again next year?” Some players seem to get it. Sadly, many fans don’t.
More recently Tom Brady, quarterback of three Super Bowl championships, is quoted in a 60 Minutes interview saying,
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, “God, it’s got to be more than this.” I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.
I anticipate that in a week or two, after the Super Bowl has been won, the champions will experience this same dissatisfaction. As Augustine said, “You [God] made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you.”
We must impart this eternal perspective to our children.
Super Bowl XLIV predictions
Okay, on to predictions.
Who will win? I predict the Indianapolis Colts. No surprise there.
Who do I want to win? I want New Orleans to win because of my friends at Lakeview Christian Center, the Sovereign Grace church in New Orleans.
How can the Saints win? The Saints can win only if they can force turnovers and make some big offensive plays. They will do the latter but not the former, or at least not enough to win. And the Saints’ defense is average at best.
How can the Colts win? Unless Peyton Manning gets hurt before the game or during the game, Indianapolis wins.
February 3, 2010 by Dave Harvey
Categories: Church planting
I’ve got a friend named Jim. He’s an evangelist. An evangelist is a guy who takes his wife to a romantic restaurant and then spends the meal witnessing to the waiter. That’s Jim, and that’s a true story, but probably for another time.
In my world, Jim exists to help me—and the other guys on our pastoral team—break out of the church and into the world. Jim’s on a mission to make sure our community hears the gospel and that every member of our church is sharing it. Each week, Jim arranges for one of the pastors to go out witnessing, and that’s what put me on a local campus standing in front of a student—I’ll call him Jesse.
As a philosophy student, Jesse was wired for God-talk. As for me, …umm, I was trying to remember my name, how to string words together to form complete sentences and, oh yes, the gospel. Eventually I fumbled through it and Jesse appreciated the conversation. But I don’t think he walked away impressed by my power or presence.
Church planters can relate. Sure, the field is ripe, but the worker feels weak, alone, and ill-equipped for the moment. But even when we feel like we’re laboring alone, our mandate—the Great Commission—fills the field with one magnificent promise.
Check it out in Matthew 28:20: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Our commission is great (always!) because it comes with the promise of God’s enduring presence.
God’s Powerful Presence
Think about it: we are sent by the risen Savior to do his ministry in the earth. So we spill out of the locker room with the Great Commission, the greatest pre-game speech ever delivered, ringing in our ears. Through the tunnel of planning and preparation we run, ready to burst out on the field of church-planting opportunity. But then we realize something: we’re on the enemy’s turf and there is opposition everywhere. Suddenly our numbers seem puny and our playbook pathetically thin and predictable. It is for this moment that Jesus ended his Great Commission with these words:
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We can tend to extract this verse from the context of the Great Commission and slap it on all kind of situations. The primary context of this promise informs us that God is with us as we go. As we seek to plant churches, God is with us. As we stammer to share the gospel with guys like Jesse, God is with us. As we huddle up, looking to call the first play on our launch Sunday, God is with us.
Jesus doesn’t toss out this promise as a stray thought—“And dude, by the way, I’m always around if you need me.” No, when he says, “behold,” he means, “Listen up, you need to know this!” “Behold” typically precedes a payload. And the payload is his permanent presence as we go.
In other words, what he’ll do is always more important than what we’ll do.
Go into all the world and make disciples? That’s great.
Jesus with us? That’s greater.
Baptize and teach? Seriously great.
Jesus with us? Amazingly greater.
Planting churches? Exhilaratingly great.
Jesus with us? Even greater.
God’s Enduring Presence
And this isn’t a time-determined promise. He isn’t going to be with us for three quarters of the game and then hang out in the luxury box for crunch time. He is with us always…even to the end of the age. He is with us every moment in equal measure. And he will be there when the final whistle blows, when the final trumpet sounds. It’s at that time that the mission will be done and we will be with him in glory. Always and without end.
There are eight, or maybe it’s now nine, church planters connected to Sovereign Grace Ministries starting churches over the next year. Can anything strengthen their hearts more than Jesus’s words?
“I am with you always.”
To Dave who is breaking ground for us in Sydney, Australia; Toby in urban San Francisco; Songhwan in South Korea; Kenny in suburban Philly; David planting a church in an unreached region in southeast Asia; Eric in Arlington, Virginia; Wilbroad in Zambia and others already in the field or just preparing to launch—Jesus reminds you:
“I am with you always.”
How about you? Do you have any doubts about your participation in the Great Commission? Christ is with us. Do you have any doubts that your church can make a difference, that your church can actually raise the number of conversions? The Savior is with us. Do you have any doubts that your people can gain an enthusiasm to actually become a church-planting church? The Savior is with us in our going.
Part of the reason I was sharing the gospel with Jesse is because I want to do something great for God. I want to play in the game and score something for God’s glory. But the Great Commission dwarfs any idea of my contribution. The Commission is great in spite of me. It’s great because it comes from one with great authority. It’s great because it is entrusted to a great church. It is great because it graciously allows even people like us to participate in it. It is great because it carries a great promise…even to the end of the age.
That’s truly awesome. So next time you’re planning to share the gospel (and I hope it’s soon!), remember the promise: God is with us in our going. That’s what makes it a GREAT commission!
leads international expansion and church planting for Sovereign Grace
Ministries and is based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. For more
information about the Sovereign Grace church-planting process, click here.
February 2, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Today, pro-choice sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote that we need more Tim Tebows. Her column in The Washington Post titled “Tebow’s Super Bowl ad isn’t intolerant; its critics are” (2/2/10) has left me stunned and grateful.
Where did this come from? I can only imagine this is the fruit of the gospel displayed in the life of Tim Tebow. Tebow is humble. He is a model of self-sacrifice for the good of others. And he is committed to remain a virgin and to experience the gift of sex as God intends in the context of marriage. His testimony does not go unnoticed, even by a columnist who “couldn't disagree with Tebow more” on abortion.
You can find Jenkins’ column here.