The resurgence of Calvinism in the evangelical world in recent years has, I think, reflected an increasing concern among many Christians for purity of doctrine. But as Francis Schaeffer says in the quote below, pure doctrine by itself isn’t enough to constitute a thriving church—real community matters too. From The Church Before the Watching World:
One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world can see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community.
This became a conviction of mine many years ago, and I wish now that I could identify who it was that influenced me in that direction. When I was converted, the Jesus Movement and all of its attending festivals and conferences were, at first glance, where it seemed God was primarily at work. Speaking at those events, as well as the Tuesday-night teaching ministry I was involved with back then (TAG), had the feel of something significant. And God did use those contexts in wonderful ways.
But it wasn’t long before the limitations of these venues began to appear—and near the top of the list was a lack of real community. Moving from festival to conference to teaching nights didn’t afford anyone the opportunity to practice the many “one anothers” of Scripture. And the more I studied Acts and Ephesians and became amazed at the goodness of God’s plan for community in the local church, the more that dynamic became dissatisfying.
Humanly speaking, that dynamic is what ultimately let to the end of TAG and the beginning of Covenant Life Church. To many, that was a dumb move—we changed from teaching 2,000 people to teaching 20. But community was being built, and whereas TAG, festivals, and conferences would have inevitably declined and ended, Covenant Life Church continues to build. So it’s a dumb move I would do over again in a heartbeat. Schaeffer was right: real community matters.
At the Next conference in May, we’re going to spend a few days getting teaching on the doctrine of the church. I’m praying that those who join us will walk away amazed by the goodness of God’s plan for the local church and motivated to sink down their roots in the real community that only the church can offer as the fruit and effect of the gospel.
March 6, 2012 by C.J. Mahaney
The theme of this year’s Next conference is the role of the church, and what it means for each member to play his or her part. And we do all have a part to play. Ephesians 4:7 affirms this loud and clear: The ascended Christ has specifically given a gift of grace to each of those who have been reconciled to God and regenerated by God. John Stott makes a helpful distinction here between “saving grace” (referred to in Ephesians 2:1-9) and “service grace.” Each one regenerated by grace has also been uniquely gifted by and with grace.
And these gifts are not given to us simply as duties, but privileges. Here is how Stott put it in Cross of Christ: “If the church was worth his blood, is it not worth our labour? The privilege of serving it is established by the preciousness of the price paid for its purchase.”
This point is central to one’s understanding of service in the church and I hope is impressed even more on our souls at the Next conference in May. Service in and to the local church is a privilege because we are serving the object of Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross. Our motivation for service is rooted in the cross. Indeed I don’t think anyone can truly persevere in service without being informed primarily by the Savior’s death.
Without this theologically informed motivation we are vulnerable to substitute motivations for service. I’ve spoken to many people over the years who, for example, found themselves serving and participating in the church almost as a tradition. A routine. Something they kept doing because, if they ceased to do it, they would feel guilty. But that’s not gospel-motivated service. And over time such substitute motivations have a slow and almost imperceptible wearying effect on the Christian’s soul. Service is no longer a joy. Participation in church is no longer filled with expectation of encountering God. And the significance of the mission of the church slowly fades out of view. I know because I have experienced this myself.
We are all susceptible to this slow drift if we don’t keep the gospel in view when we think of the local church. Acts 20:28 describes the church as “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (And what’s true of the whole is true of the part: in Romans 14:15 Paul describes one’s fellow believer as “the one for whom Christ died.”)
That is why it is a privilege to serve the local church—because it is the church that our Savior “obtained with his own blood.” So this year at the Next conference we’re going to be exhorting each other to labor for the church. We are all gifted by Christ to do so. And because of his great sacrifice, we are motivated as well.
February 28, 2012 by C.J. Mahaney
This coming Memorial Day weekend Sovereign Grace Ministries is going to host the final Next conference (formerly New Attitude). Over the last decade or so Joshua Harris, Eric Simmons, and Grant Layman have all taken turns planning this event—and each has done an exceptional job. This year I have the privilege of leading Next along with my friend Bob Kauflin. We are two old guys who used to lead Celebration conferences together, so it’s a pure joy that we get to reunite for the purpose of serving the next generation. This year’s theme is the role of the church, and what it means for each member to play his or her part in the church. This is a most appropriate theme for our last Next conference and I’m very grateful for the lineup of teachers who have agreed to come address us on this topic.
Below are the speakers and the topics I’ve asked each one to cover. Later on I hope to talk more here about why I invited these men to cover these subjects.
"The Church and Friendship"
"The Church and Holiness"
Kevin DeYoung pastors University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and is the co-author of What is the Mission of the Church?
"The Church and the Purpose of God"
Jeff Purswell is the dean of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College and the editor of Bible Doctrine.
Matt Chandler is a lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, and is the author of The Explicit Gospel.
Ian McConnell leads Grace Bible Church in northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jared Mellinger is the senior pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
"The Church and Disappointment"
C.J. Mahaney leads Sovereign Grace Ministries in their mission to establish and support local churches.
These are some of my favorite teachers and their speaking alone would be more than enough to make me eagerly anticipate this conference. But there is another reason that getting to see this conference come together is a unique joy to me. When we began Covenant Life Church and then Sovereign Grace Ministries three decades ago, it was because we wanted to build something we could pass on to the next generation. A love for the local church and desire to see it grow was where it all began for me in pastoral ministry. As we proceeded to labor in the church, I was sowing toward a future I wasn’t sure I would see. But lo and behold, after all these years I am still alive, and through this conference I get to see something come to fruition in my late 50s that I began praying for in my early 20s: that we could pass on a love for the local church to the next generation. I’m grateful to God for this expression of his kindness to me.
Speaking of the local church many years ago, John Stott said, “How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the centre.” At Next, we hope to put the church at the center of our lives, where it belongs. I hope you’ll join us.
January 25, 2012 by C.J. Mahaney
What follows is the letter I wrote in response to today's announcement from the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board.
The only appropriate place to begin this letter is by expressing my gratefulness. My heart is filled with gratitude to God for all who are involved in Sovereign Grace Ministries, who have trusted God and patiently endured a difficult season in our history. First, I want to thank the interim board. These men were handed a most unexpected and unappealing assignment, and for the past six months they have served and sacrificed on behalf of all of us in Sovereign Grace. I simply cannot thank these men enough. Many thanks are also due to the wives and children of the board members for supporting them during this challenging time. And I want to thank the panelists who accepted a most unenviable assignment requiring countless hours of complex and concentrated work. Finally, I want to thank each of the pastors and each of the members of Sovereign Grace churches for your patience and trust in God during this process. I know it has been a difficult and confusing time for many of you. And I am sorry for the challenge it has presented to our pastors—the men I respect the most—and the members of our churches—precious ones for whom Christ died and for whom we have the great privilege to serve. I deeply regret where my mistakes, leadership deficiencies, and sins contributed to the relational conflicts detailed in these reports. And I am truly grateful for your support throughout this trying time. So with all my heart I want to say thank you.
Over the last six months I’ve spent many hours reflecting upon Sovereign Grace, our history together, and our purpose and mission. I’ve also taken time to think and pray about my calling and how I might best serve Sovereign Grace in this new season before us. I have sought counsel from friends and leaders within SGM and in the broader evangelical church. There is much work for SGM to do in the years ahead, and I want to do all I can to make this work fruitful. The opportunities for church planting in this country and throughout the world are numerous. The requests we receive for help exceed our resources. And one can’t help but be excited about the immediate future given the present Pastors College class and the church planting ventures we have planned for the next few years.
In light of all of this, here is how I think I can best serve you in the days ahead: as I step back into the role as president, I will do so only temporarily. I think it would be wise for SGM to have a new president who has gifts better suited to serve Sovereign Grace in this next season. I love SGM and I want the best for SGM. Lord willing, I look forward to serving SGM more effectively in a different role. So my return will be temporary and with a few important intentions. Let me briefly explain what they are. First, I want to give immediate attention to helping the interim board transfer governance to their successors. In 2010 we began considering how to expand the SGM board and better define their role in evaluating and overseeing the president. Now that the interim board has served its purpose, it is time for us to complete the transition to a more permanent expanded board. I look forward to seeing this process through and benefitting from the leadership that an expanded board will provide for Sovereign Grace. Despite the many evidences of grace in our midst, I’m aware of a number of present weaknesses in SGM and some past failings; as our president, I take full responsibility for these and I am grateful that with a new board in place we can together continue to address these issues. Second, once the new board is formed I want to assist them however I can in identifying and installing my successor as president, although that decision will be for the board to make. There are a few other matters I want to address in my remaining time as president, all of which is subject to the priorities that the board establishes for me. But I hope these primary goals can be accomplished within the next few months.
After supporting the board through these important transitions, I hope to return to what I believe is my primary calling from God – pastoral ministry and the pulpit. This plays a significant role in why my return as president is temporary. Let me explain. I think preaching and pastoral ministry are where grace is most evident in my life and where my leadership is most effectively expressed. Others seem to agree. And I think I have neglected this call to preach for a number of years as I have endeavored to serve as president. Over the past five years many faithful friends have brought this concern to my attention and impressed upon me the importance of preaching as a primary means of my serving and leading. However moved I was by their concerns and encouragement, the many responsibilities of the presidential role would quickly preoccupy me again and the effect of their counsel would subside. Over the past six months I have seen more clearly than ever the wisdom of their counsel. So I think the most effective way I can serve Sovereign Grace is by planting a church and leading a local congregation through faithful expository preaching and teaching, as well as serving Sovereign Grace in other tasks and roles the board might recommend for me. I also hope to continue to serve the broader church where strategic opportunity and invitation present themselves, as I have with my good friends in Together for the Gospel. I simply can’t wait to get started. And I can proceed into this future confidently when our new board and president are in place. So that is what I am returning to do and why my return as president will be temporary. I would be most grateful for your support in prayer in this season of transition.
For the past 30 years God has been merciful to Sovereign Grace Ministries. This is the theological explanation for any fruitfulness in SGM. And He has not ceased to be merciful to us during this challenging season. His mercy has been evident in countless ways. I wish there was space to rehearse them for you. In God’s gracious providence I believe much good and growth will come from this season that will serve us as we move forward, as well as serve a future generation we won’t live to see. God is sovereign, good and wise, and His good purpose for His church and for our small contribution to the advance of the gospel cannot ultimately be frustrated. And now I look forward to a new season where we give ourselves to proclaiming the gospel, planting and supporting churches, and caring for pastors in the 22 countries where we presently serve, as well as the different parts of the world God may call us to serve in the days ahead. So let me conclude where I began, by expressing my gratefulness to you. Thank you for making this mission possible by the way you serve in your local church and support SGM. Thank you. It is an unspeakable honor and joy to serve the Savior with you and be numbered among you.
With my gratefulness for each of you,
Many of you have kindly inquired about my leave of absence and how I will be spending my time during this season. Before I give you an update, I want to take this moment to thank each of you who have expressed your encouragement and your support in prayer.
Some of you have asked where I will be attending church during my leave. That’s a good question, as it’s not uncommon for pastors to take a leave in a church that is away from their home congregations, and this seems wise. During my leave of absence I will be attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is the senior pastor. After seeking counsel about this decision, I’ve concluded that this is the best place for Carolyn and me to receive care and counsel, to examine my life and leadership, and to consider my future during this season of reflection. I want to learn all I can during this season, and I pray that this time will benefit not only me but Sovereign Grace as well.
Mark and I have a rich history of friendship. I met Mark thirteen years ago and since then we have become very close friends. Mark has been not only a unique friend but also a mentor to me. I want to continue to take advantage of our friendship and his mentoring as much as possible during this time, benefiting from Mark’s unique pastoral wisdom and his gift of leadership. I am deeply grateful for his kindness and this opportunity. Actually, other than my wife Carolyn and those with whom I have served closely in Sovereign Grace Ministries, no one has had more influence on my life in the last ten years than Mark.
This leave of absence from my role as president of SGM will allow me the time necessary to process the valuable feedback I have received (and continue to receive), and to devote time to consider how I can best serve Sovereign Grace Ministries in the future. I’m seeking and benefiting from the advice of the SGM board and a number of leaders in the broader church—men I admire and who have become my friends over the years. I am approaching this task without making any assumptions or presuming upon any particular outcome. By God’s grace and the kindness of these men I am not lacking wise counsel as I seek to discern the will of God about how I might most effectively serve when this leave of absence concludes.
So for those who have kindly asked, I hope this information is helpful. I deeply appreciate the encouragement and support of so many at this time. I simply do not know how to adequately express this, but I trust you feel my deep gratefulness for your support. And I would appreciate your prayers, given the importance of the decisions before me and their impact on Sovereign Grace Ministries, the pastors I respect the most and the people of our churches for whom I have the deepest affection.
Finally, many of you know that this spring Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell, and I were invited to speak at a pastors conference in the Dominican Republic. We are currently in Santo Domingo and the conference (Por Su Causa 2011) begins tomorrow morning. Please pray for us and for this very strategic conference. Earlier, during this same trip Jeff and I, along with Al Pino, visited the pastors that Sovereign Grace Ministries are honored to serve in Cuba. I was deeply humbled by the men and women I met, all of whom display remarkable joy and trust in God. I believe we will be sharing more about this trip on the Plant & Build blog later. In the meantime, please pray for our friends in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and for our friend Al Pino, who represents Sovereign Grace in our work with these remarkable saints. Please pray that Christ would be glorified in their midst and the gospel would go forth in these countries.
July 6, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
From from Dave Harvey: Please see "A note about online confessions" for an explanation of why I removed the original content of this blog post.
June 23, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
As promised, here's an excerpt from Kevin DeYoung’s message “Who Am I? Humanity in the Eyes of the World and the Christian” from the 2011 Next conference. Here’s the first excerpt, on gender roles, personal identity, and why husbands must not be dictators or doormats:
The world says you are free to create yourself. God says, “You are created to reflect my image.”
What does it mean to be in God’s image? It means we have a certain resemblance to God with our intelligence, our appreciation for beauty, our rationality, and in our capacity for worship and language. It means we represent God, that we have dominion over creation as rulers, as stewards, as those called to cultivate. It means that we are relational beings, interacting with God and with each other so that the image of God consists in these relational virtues of knowledge and righteousness and holiness.
Listen to Colossians 3:9–10: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Likewise, Ephesians 4:24 says, “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” So the restored image of God shows us what sort of image bearers we are. We are those who have the righteousness and holiness that is characteristic of God himself.
Now the world says, “You are not created for divine exaltation. You are here for self-exploration. You are not made to be stamped with a divine impression, but you are here to spend your life on self-expression.”
So we have all these commercials.
Cingular at least used to say, “Express yourself.”
Dr. Pepper, “Be you.”
I am thankful for the Army, but the Army got in on it with, “An army of one.” I don’t know a lot, but what I learned from playing Risk is that even if you have your army of one Kamchatka—you’re gone. You need more.
Our world tells us you are a blank slate. Whatever you choose to paint on the canvas of your life will be beautiful because you painted it. That is what the world says.
Now common sense tells us this does not work in any other area of life. Try it when you have a job selling refrigerators and you don’t sell a single one, and you get fired and you tell your boss, “But I believe in myself.” And he is going to tell you, “Believe in yourself and get somebody else to pay you for it.”
One of the most dangerous areas where we see this self-exploration and self-creation is in the area of gender. In the world’s eyes there is no male/female, masculine/feminine gender. Gender is just cultural, social constructs, antiquated concepts better to be just disregarded, relics of an oppressive, less enlightened past.
But I hope you see how patently unbiblical this is.
“From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’” (Mark 10:6).
And we see already in Genesis before the fall that there were distinct, yet complimentary, roles for men and women. Man was given as the name of the human race and he was the one to whom God gave the command. He was the one to be accountable.
Have you ever noticed that after Eve sins by taking a bite of the fruit, who does God first address? Adam. He was to be responsible. And yet he abdicated the very authority that he was supposed to lovingly exercise. And Eve, contrary to design, usurped her husband’s authority.
When you come to Ephesians 5:25 you find the overarching command for the husband to love his wife. The women may think, “Well, that is lame. The husband just gets kind of a freebie. I mean, we have all got to love. I have got to respect and submit.”
No, there is a reason that the husband is told to love in this unique way as the head of his household. It is because the male propensity to sin is to either be a dictator or a doormat. And both are abdications of our responsibility to love. And the woman, her overarching command is to submit to her husband or to respect her husband because, twisted by the fall, her point of sinful inclination is to usurp her husband’s authority.
God has designed us male and female and it is not simply God’s design as his image bearers, but it is actually the way in which the world works best.…
I must stop, but Kevin continues to develop this point in his message, which you can listen to here.
June 22, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Conferences | Sermons
I appreciated and benefitted from all the messages at the Next 2011 conference in Orlando. I would encourage you to set aside some time to listen to all of the messages (you’ll find the main sessions here and the breakout sessions here). But if listening to all these messages is not possible, I would particularly commend Kevin DeYoung’s message, “Who Am I? Humanity in the Eyes of the World and the Christian.”
Kevin structured his message to answer five important questions about ourselves:
- Are we here by chance or by design?
- Are we free to create ourselves or to reflect God's image?
- Are we basically good or fundamentally flawed?
- Are we ethically excusable or morally culpable?
- Are we destined for a happy heaven or a blessed extinction, or are we on the way to heaven or hell?
Kevin summarized his conclusions to these questions like this:
Here are two views of the human person:
According to the world we are here by chance, free to create our own self, basically good, ethically excusable, and destined for a happy heaven or a blessed extinction.
According to God we are here by design, created to reflect God’s image, fundamentally flawed, morally culpable, and destined to worship God in heaven or face his wrath in hell.
You can listen to the whole message here.
Over the next couple of days on the blog I plan to post a few choice excerpts from Kevin’s message.
June 10, 2011 by Tony Reinke
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,” wrote sailor and poet John Masefield. That is my motto. I love the ocean. In fact I am at the beach right now with my family. But I enjoy the sea as a novice, as one who is little more than an enthusiastic spectator from the seashore. Being a Nebraskan by birth and upbringing, my direct experience with the ocean is quite shallow.
John Newton’s knowledge of the ocean was deep. It was the ocean that provided Newton his early livelihood and it was the ocean that nearly took his life. Whether it was giving or trying to take away, the ocean was a central part of his life for several years.
Even more important to Newton was the gospel. Not surprisingly, in Newton’s writings the greatness of our Savior finds metaphorical expression in the far-reaching limits of ocean. I’m sure he would have agreed with Spurgeon’s often quoted statement: “In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore.”* The ocean in many ways is a suitable metaphor.
The gospel is unfathomable, and that of course means there is always a need for us to grow in our knowledge of the Savior. By grace this is possible—by observation this is necessary.
Some knowledge of Christ indeed they [Christians] have, which is their differencing character from the world. How small a portion! That they know him a little, is plain, because they love him and trust him; but how little, is plain likewise, because their love is so faint, and their trust so feeble.
Newton elaborates on what these weaknesses expose.
Their doubts, fears, complaints, and backslidings, are so many mournful proofs that they are but poorly acquainted with him; and sufficiently evidence, that a great part of what we account our knowledge, is not real and experimental, but notional only.
The literal sense of what we read concerning Jesus, is attainable by study and human teaching; but the spiritual import can be received only from Him who teaches the heart, who increases it in us by the various exercises and dispensations we pass through; and the best have much more to learn than they have already attained.…
The knowledge of Christ, in the present life, may be compared to the knowledge that a shepherd has of the sea, from having viewed it at the top of a cliff. In a sense, it may be said he has seen the sea; but how little has he seen, in comparison of what lies beyond the reach of his eye! How inadequate is such a prospect to give him an idea answerable to the length, and breadth, and depth, of the immense ocean!**
Yes; or compared to a vacationing Nebraskan’s knowledge of the ocean. It is one thing to stand on the pebbled shore and to look out at a few miles of ocean, but another thing altogether to sail over the top of, or to dive down into the heart of, the wine-dark sea.
So it is with our knowledge of Christ in this life. Saving knowledge of Christ is not an exhaustive knowledge. Newton helps us see this point in two ways.
First, the more we learn the more we see how much more we have to learn. And our ignorance of Christ is behind our waverings, our doubts, our fears, our backslidings. Our propensity to sin reveals the shallowness of our knowledge of the Savior. We must press on not just for more learning, but for more of the experiential knowledge of the gospel, the knowledge that changes our attitudes, our thinking, and our behavior.
Second, a complete knowledge of Christ, like the majority of the ocean, remains beyond the reach of the eye. Right now our knowledge of the Savior is partial and fallible; one day our knowledge of Christ will be full and face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).
A vacationer on the shore, a shepherd on the cliff—neither can see the breadth and length and height and depth of the ocean. Nor do we yet fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for us shown in the gospel (Ephesians 3:18–19). Like a wide-eyed shepherd looking out from a window seat on a clear day from 40,000 feet over the ocean, one day we will more fully comprehend the dimensions (1 John 3:2).
And we will be stunned.
Tony Reinke serves as the editorial and research assistant to C.J. Mahaney. Reading Newton’s Mail is a series of blog posts reflecting on various published letters written by John Newton (1725–1807), the onetime captain of a slave trading ship—a self-described apostate, blasphemer, and infidel, who was eventually converted by grace. Newton is most famous for authoring the hymn “Amazing Grace,” or maybe for helping William Wilberforce put an end to the African slave trade in Britain. Less legendarily, Newton faithfully pastored two churches for 43 years, a fruitful period of his life when a majority of his letters were written. Reading Newton’s Mail is published on Fridays here on the Cheap Seats blog.
* Charles Spurgeon, sermon: “Bread Enough and to Spare,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 17 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1872), 389.
** John Newton, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, 3rd ed. (London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1820; Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985), 2:417–418.
June 8, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Ordinary Pastors
Part 12 in a 12-part series. For the series intro and index, click here.
On the last day there will be a parade of ordinary men, whose names you have never heard, who will hear the following from the Savior: “Well done, good and faithful pastor.”
This parade will include men like Tom Carson.
At the conclusion to the biography of his father, Don Carson writes these words:
Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them. He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book. He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough. He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity. He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.” His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them. He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle. His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive. He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.
When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation. In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.
But on the other side all the trumpets sounded. Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man—he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor—but because he was a forgiven man. And he heard the voice of him whom he longed to hear saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.*
Pastor, if you find yourself weary and discouraged, meditate on that day. Ponder Paul’s description of the day that is coming for all ordinary pastors who love Christ’s appearing. God himself, with countless reasons to condemn us, will instead commend us—all because of the perfect life and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
That is extraordinary grace for ordinary pastors.
The “Ordinary Pastors” blog series is adapted from C.J.’s unpublished chapter by the same title and is scheduled to appear in the Together for the Gospel compilation book, The Unadjusted Gospel (Crossway, 2012). C.J. has contributed chapters in two other similar compilation titles: Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology (Crossway, 2009) and Preaching the Cross (Crossway, 2007).
* Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, 147–148.