July 23, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
For the next two weeks I have the joy of creating a memory-making blast while on vacation with my family in Tennessee. I expect the blog to be silent for at least that long.
On July 25 and August 1 I’ll have the privilege to teach at Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. I’ll resume blogging after I return from the family vacation.
I am humbled that you read this blog and hope in some small way it serves you.
July 20, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: End times
Eschatology is not optional. In fact, our theology is incomplete without an understanding of the “last things.” In Jeff Purswell’s message at Next 2010, he explained it this way:
Eschatology is not intended to be an add-on to your theology. In many ways eschatology is the crown of theology. It answers questions that other doctrines raise.
And so we believe in God’s good providence. Where is God’s providence leading? We know Jesus paid for our sin, and he’s helping us battle that sin. But how will sin finally be overcome? We know that Jesus triumphed on the cross. What will it look like when he finally triumphs over all things? How will the Holy Spirit finish his work in us? What will the church ultimately look like?
Eschatology answers all these questions. If your eschatology is unformed, your doctrine—your beliefs—will be unformed as well.
Here is another way to define eschatology: it’s the study of the consummation of the purposes of God. All of God’s purposes find their consummation, their resolution, their completion, in biblical eschatology. It’s a glorious study. And at the center of those purposes, the climax of God’s redemptive work, the unifying theme of the Bible, the unifying theme of history itself, is Jesus Christ and him crucified.
So when you think about eschatology, make sure your thinking flows from the gospel.…Eschatology is the consummation of the gospel.
You can download his message (“The End Times”) from the Next website
This post concludes our series of excerpts from the conference. Here's a list of all ten excerpts:
- Old Atheism (Mark Dever)
- Self-Atonement? (Mark Dever)
- The Imitation of Christ (Mark Dever)
- Disappointment with the Church (Kevin DeYoung)
- De-Young Liners (Kevin DeYoung)
- Plodding Visionaries (Kevin DeYoung)
- Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung)
- The End Times (Jeff Purswell)
- The Last One (Jeff Purswell)
- The Crown of Theology (Jeff Purswell)
July 16, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: End times
In Jeff Purswell’s message at Next 2010, “The End Times,” he made an important point about the focus of eschatology. When studying the end times, we are easily distracted from the grand purpose of it all: the revelation of Jesus Christ. Or to say it another way, eschatology is emphatically Christ-centered.
Jeff said it like this:
When the New Testament deals with eschatology, it is much more concerned with the last One than the last things. The early church looked not so much for a succession of events as they did for the arrival of a person. It was very personal for persecuted Christians. It should be very personal for us as well.
Let me put this in theological terms: eschatology is thoroughly Christological. It’s about Jesus. Christ’s return is like the hub of a wheel, and all the other stuff is like spokes coming off that wheel. And they only have meaning relative to the hub, relative to Christ’s return.
That’s not our normal tendency when it comes to this topic. Our tendency is to be fascinated with times and seasons and charts and graphs, the events of the end, the when and the how.
The Bible is primarily concerned with the Who. When the last One arrives, the succession of events will matter little.
You can download Jeff's message (“The End Times”) from the Next website
July 15, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Theology | End times
There is often no lack of interest in—or confusion about—the topic of eschatology. So I was grateful that Jeff Purswell, dean of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College
, took up the topic for his contribution to our Next 2010 conference in Baltimore.
Jeff brought both clarity and appropriate emphasis to this important topic, helping us avoid two of the dangers associated with the end times: speculation and negligence.
His message was a conference highlight.
What follows is an outline of the message and one excerpt (more excerpts are forthcoming). Let’s be clear—this is none other than my attempt to encourage you to listen to the entire message.
Jeff taught from 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11
and made these five important points:
- Eschatology is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Eschatology is centered on the return of Christ.
- Eschatology looks forward to perfect fellowship in the presence of God.
- Eschatology pronounces the coming justice of God.
- Eschatology provides hope and motivation for our daily lives now.
Jeff introduced us to the importance of the study of eschatology this way:
Here’s how we can sum up the thrust and import of eschatology: Eschatology assures us that God’s purposes will prevail, and it motivates us to live faithfully until those purposes are fulfilled. It changes the way we live. We live in light of those purposes and in light of the destination to which all things are heading.
You can download his message (“The End Times”) from the Next website
July 13, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Local church
To close out his Next 2010 conference message, “The Church,” Kevin DeYoung gave a list of suggestions for how to be a difference maker in the local church. He said:
• Find a good local church.
• Get involved.
• Become a member.
• Stay there as long as you can.
• Put away thoughts of a revolution for a while.
• Join the plodding visionaries.
• Go to church this Sunday and worship in Spirit and truth.
• Be patient with your leaders.
• Rejoice when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed.
• Bear with those who hurt you.
• Give people the benefit of the doubt.
• Say “hi” to the teenager that no one notices.
• Welcome the old ladies with the blue hair and the young men with tattoos.
• Volunteer for the nursery.
• Attend the congregational meeting.
• Bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everybody else.
• Invite a friend.
• Take a new couple out for coffee.
• Give to the Christmas offering.
• Sing like you mean it.
• Be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet for you.
• Enjoy the Sundays that “click.”
• Pray extra hard on the Sundays that don’t.
• And in all of this, do not despise the days and weeks and years of small things (Zechariah 4:8–10).
I cannot recommend this message too highly. Please take time to download and listen to “The Church” by visiting the resource page at thisisnext.org
There is one more message from the conference I want to highlight. We will do that next time.
July 9, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Local church
As the pastor of a local church for 27 years, I am deeply grateful for every person who, when they came to Covenant Life Church, remained for many years. Those who persevered through the years and were patient with me personally and patient with my deficiencies in preaching—it was these people who ultimately made the difference in the church and helped build the church. They demonstrated their love for the Savior through their enduring service.
That's how local churches are built. Local churches are built when humble servants commit, and remain, and serve, and do so over a period of years. Local churches are built by those Kevin DeYoung identified as “plodding visionaries.” In his message at our Next conference in May, Kevin DeYoung made this compelling point.
It is easy to blast the church for all her failures. It is harder to live in the church day after day, year after year, with all of the ho hum, hum drum, and to slowly and consistently make a difference.
What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. We need to ask the right questions, we need to have the right expectations, and we need to establish the right vision.…
Here is my burden for our generation: along with all of the necessary pleas we have to be earnest and intense and radical and sold out. With all of that, I just also want to wave the banner from Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise the days of small things.” That is what I mean by being plodding visionaries.
If you are a visionary, you don’t have your head in the sand. You are going somewhere. You are looking out. You are moving in a direction. But you are a plodder. One foot in front of the other.
Many of us are attracted to a Tasmanian Devil kind of Christianity…splattering, spinning around. You get fired up—praise God for that—and you spin out like the Tasmanian Devil ready to conquer the world for Christ and you blow up into a tree somewhere.
We need plodding visionaries.
When I wrote the book on the church I read nine books that called for a revolution. Every other day it seems like I read of a new manifesto. We may need to just simplify a little: Get on the right road and keep going.
Our generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We want to change the world and we have never changed a diaper. You want to make a difference for Christ? Here is where you can start: this Sunday, volunteer for the nursery. Say, “Here I am, pastor. What can I do to serve?”
Without folks like this, Covenant Life Church would have never been built. No church can be built without plodding visionaries.
Kevin’s entire message, “The Church,” can be downloaded from the resource page at thisisnext.org.
July 7, 2010 by Tony Reinke
Recently C.J. was invited to join Mark Dever in the latest 9Marks Leadership interview with Greg Gilbert, author of What Is the Gospel?
(Crossway, 2010). The interview covers the gospel, the kingdom, the church, and how these three are both related and distinct. Along the way Greg displays his unique gift of speaking backwards. ereh netsiL
July 6, 2010 by Chad Mahaney
Video games are one of the most influential and time consuming recreational activities in our society today. On average gamers spend 18 hours per week playing video games. This extensive time investment is reflected in the money invested in video game consoles and software. In 2009, $19.7 billion was spent on video games worldwide, $2.6 billion more than was spent on movies in both box office ticket sales and DVD sales combined.* Many parents are surprised to discover that video games generate more profit than Hollywood.
What this all means is that few children escape the influence of video games, and the temptation to idolatry.
So how can parents lead their children in such a media-crazed world?
In this Q&A session C.J. answers one father’s question about how to monitor his child’s use of video games. The following excerpt was originally recorded during a Pastors College meeting on December 4, 2009.
Question: As kids get older, how do you deal with idols in their lives?...For example, my 12 year old son is generally obedient, but he loves to play video games. If that privilege is lifted he is like a different kid. How much do we restrict? Do we just say no more of this? What have you done in those situations?
C.J. Mahaney: Great question. We are always reluctant to answer parenting questions because they are so child specific, and the more you know about the child the more, I think, wise and precise you can be. But, in general, you want your child to be convinced that you can identify with them. So I want to find illustrations from my life that parallel an illustration in his life. So I could say, “Son, this is not a foreign topic to your dad. We are fellow sinners both in need of a savior.”
So I want to do two things. I want to try to introduce my son to a study that isn’t correction specific to an occasion. I want to study the heart, I want to study anger, I want to study idolatry, unrelated to an occasion where I am bringing discipline, so that the study hopefully can have the most effect. I want to engage in a study from Scripture. I want to choose age-appropriate material. I want to choose appropriate passages. And then my study with my son is supplemented by stories from my life, because I do the same thing. I don’t cry anymore like a child but I know how to cry in adult ways. I want my child to know that no matter what the category, I can identify.
So let’s say for my son fear of man would be a category. “Well, your dad is just as familiar with that, son, and here are the ways fear of man will play out in my life today.” Not “Here are the ways fear of man played out when I was 16.” No—“Here are the ways fear of man is a real temptation to your father this week.” I think by humbling myself, I hope I make it easier for him to receive from me, so that when I say “Listen,” it’s not “Listen to your self-righteous father who is angry at you because he doesn’t understand why it requires this kind of attention to help you to see how stupid a video game is.”
It is too easy for me to view my son’s form of idolatry as childish, but in essence, at root, there is no difference between our idolatries. His expression is consistent with a 12 year old, mine is consistent with a 56 year old, but in essence it’s no different. Therefore I must make sure my heart is softened by my own sinful tendencies. I don’t want the study to be punitive, I don’t want it to be (if possible) connected or related to discipline, because I think that can make it more difficult for a child to comprehend and to be convinced I have their best interest at heart. I want to supplement it with my own stories.
At 12 years old I would want to start leaving your son with questions to consider rather than pronouncements. But from 12 years old on up, it is far more complicated than when they are younger. For a toddler, discipline is pretty simple. You are not having to work through heart issues. It is a blatantly ethical world, at that age, nothing but right/wrong, yes/no. But as they get older you want to draw your child in and give him an opportunity to think about his own heart, think about it in relation to material, think about it in relation to Scripture, think about it with time for the Spirit to possibly convict. You are not bringing every conversation to a conclusion that he must agree with.
With your restrictions, you want to explain why you are doing what you are doing. Restrictions are important. We are fully for restrictions as long as the purpose is explained—so your child doesn’t think this is just punitive action we are taking in your life without explanation, without a why, without a purpose. We want to create an alternative. We want to anticipate this temptation, anticipate this restriction and [ask] what alternative can we present to wean our child from that particular form of idolatry.
Helping our children identify idols is hard work. Your son may grow out of his love for video games, but he will not grow out of the idol factory in his heart. So as parents, we need the Lord’s help, and we can be confident that he will lead and guide us as we serve and lead our children with the gospel.
Special thanks to Chad Mahaney (son of C.J. Mahaney) for writing the introduction to this post during his work as a Sovereign Grace Ministries intern.
* Sources: http://bit.ly/4ICbOL http://bit.ly/5cZVcf