Theology Tuesday: What Jesus is Enough Does Not Mean?

Clarity is our friend! I’m leading our church to help all of Denver and the nations believe that Jesus is enough! But some have misunderstood that this means we don’t need to do or say anything else. But that’s not even in the ballpark of what that means. Kevin DeYoung explains how “Jesus is enough” does not mean we run away from theological matters, but that He’s enough to be the doorway to deeper matters of the things of God!

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Music Monday: Beautiful Eulogy

You may be surprised that I would listen to hip-hop, but Beautiful Eulogy weaves a tapestry of theological solidity with an amazing grasp of the English language. This is one of their offerings, but my go-to work they have is called “Worthy.” Listen hard to the song “If” … it’s below:

Here are the lyrics:

“If…” (2017)

[Odd Thomas:]
If in one unfortunate moment
You took everything that I own
Everything you’ve given from heaven above
And everything that I’ve ever known
If you stripped away my ministry
My influence, my reputation
My health, my happiness
My friends, my pride, and my expectation
If you caused for me to suffer
Or to suffer for the cause of the cross
If the cost of my allegiance is prison
And all my freedoms are lost
If you take the breath from my lungs
And make an end of my life
If you take the most precious part of me
And take my kids and my wife
It would crush me, it would break me
It would suffocate and cause heartache
I would taste the bitter dark providence
But you would still preserve my faith
What’s concealed in the heart of having
Is revealed in the losing of things
And I can’t even begin to imagine
The sting that kind of pain brings
I would never blame you for evil
Even if you caused me pain
I came into this world with nothing
And when I die it’ll be the same
I will praise your name
In the giving and taking away
If I have you I could lose everything
And still consider it gain

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

[Braille:]
(Everyone who trusts in you will not be put to shame)
If that’s not what I believed
Then why is that what I proclaim?
If it don’t change how I live
Should I still shout it just the same?
If I shout it as loud as I can
Will blessings shower down
From the heavens and land on my crown
To rinse away all my doubt?
And the grace of God is only sweet
To the ears who hear the sound of it
But that sweetness won’t be tasted
By the mouth of a counterfeit faith
Only the thirsty will drink from the fountain of life and count
Everything as a loss for the sake of being found in Christ
Obedience to God’s word is the safest foundation
A safe haven for saints waiting for the glorious great day when
Our saviour will return
That’s the day of restoration
Those who sleep will be awakened
And we will never cease to thank Him
Singing “worthy is the Lamb to receive glory and honor”
Worthy is the Lamb who reconciled us to our Father
Worthy is the one who gives life without end
But if Christ is not raised then we are still in our sin
If…

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

Throwback Thursday: Before We Debate about the Spiritual Gift of Tongues, Consider This…

Amazingly, while many people speak about the gift of tongues, whether they exist or don’t exist, one aspect we tend to forget is how we use the language (i.e., tongue) that God has given us now.

Jump with me to 1 Corinthians 14:23-25:

23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Tongues, Paul says, are a sign for unbelievers. When Peter, skeptical that God would send his Spirit to all the nations to show them His glory and His work through Jesus, we read in Acts 10:44-47:

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

What’s the point? The point is that God used this sign (not the gift, the sign) to show the world that God was moving forward in bringing His message of the Gospel through the Spirit to the whole world. And, friends, we are the recipient of that. God used His messengers through the Spirit and the gifts that He bestowed to take the message of the gospel, of which we are a recipient.

Dear Christians, unbelievers will enter into your life and your church. So how are we using the language God has given to us? Let me show you how some use them. In Romans 1:28-32:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

How many times have we seen Christians come together, and use their tongues not for the purpose of building up believers in the faith, but to tear down other believers and leaders that God has put in their path? Rather than going and speaking directly to the person, they gossip and slander and become insolent, arrogant, boastful! Many of these sins in place are right up there with the flow of the argument—God giving people over to their desires, their sexual sins.

Alan Redpath calls us to think when it comes to what we’re getting ready to say. It’s an acronym:

T–Is it true?
H–Is it helpful?
I–Is it inspiring?
N–Is it necessary?
K–Is it kind?

If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut! And it worked!

But really, it’s not just about what we shouldn’t say, it’s about being clear regarding the person and work of Christ both in private, and in this case in public. Prophesy and preaching and teaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection as the only hope for the forgiveness of sins and eternal must be crystal clear. Intelligible. Distinct. Do we have that? When we tell people phrases we’re used to like, “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Won’t you walk the aisle?”

You see, I fear that many in our churches in America believe that the church exists for them. The spiritual gifts exist for them. God in heaven simply exists to meet our needs. We can only worship if the music is just right, the curriculum is just right, if the money is spent just right. Do you see what’s happening? Everything can come down to the fact that many believe that everything exists for them! But vv 24-25 shatter that. Clarity about the gospel, about Jesus’ person and work will convict as worked by the Spirit. We want to be clear to call everyone to repent and believe the gospel as Jesus said. We want to be clear to our family and friends about the gospel—and that our words and our actions match!

The entire point of 1 Corinthians 14 is that of clarity so that the church would be built up! Outward love toward others always trumps simply building up oneself, whether it’s speaking in tongues or in any other aspect of our Christian walk. But we all speak in a language–how are we using that for God’s glory and building up the church?

A Pastor Processing People Leaving Your Church

One of the more painful things that happens to a pastor is someone leaving the church. Now, if someone takes time to speak with you about why, that does help (still painful, though). I confess, when someone leaves the church and just disappears without taking time to explain why–well, let’s just say that’s a mystery that I won’t have solved until heaven. How does one process this, especially as a pastor?

When I read and preached on Acts 1:12-26, I understood that even Jesus understood. After all, one of his apostles left him–Judas. Now, I’m not saying that everyone who leaves a church is a betrayer; I’m not in that lane at all. But the pain that Judas’ death caused not just Jesus but the rest of the disciples was palpable.

But do you remember in the Upper Room when Jesus and his disciples were observing the Passover? Jesus said, “One of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Each of them looked at the other and said, “Lord, is it I?” This small exchange gives us such a wonderful glimpse into the heart of Jesus. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but he still showed such love to him that the rest of the disciples did not see any difference in his love for Judas. If I knew someone would betray me? Let’s just say I marvel at Jesus.

But I know from the New Testament that Jesus lives in me and I am in Jesus. Therefore, no matter what happens, even having people (and more so, even friends) leave the church, because of Christ each of us can still exhibit that love and care. Whereas there is a question of whether Judas repented, the case for others moving from one church to another does not change the fact that we are still siblings in Christ!

Open the door for future conversations by expressing your love for them and how you will always see them as family. And should they decide to come back and worship at your church, the door is always open. Either way, we will all be worshiping together at the throne of Jesus eventually, right?

Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY, writes so well on Saying “Goodbye” with Grace. It’s worth your time to watch this. But more than Dr. York helping us understand, we know that Jesus is enough to help us navigate through the waters of having to part with fellow believers who leave your church.

Revelation 19 tells us about the marriage supper of the Lamb, and there we will all worship together forever. No more sorrow, no more parting! An eternity of worshiping Jesus!

May this promise help you process something that can be painful!

Jesus is enough!

What is Theology?

Dry academia? A mere seminary discipline? A practice for the intellectual elite?

Theology does not have to be like this! Theology is the study or the doctrine of God. In its truest form, it’s a way for us to get to know our God better. R.C. Sproul helps us out:

The word theology shares a suffix, -ology, with the names of many disciplines and sciences, such as biology, physiology, and anthropology. The suffix comes from the Greek word logos, which we find in the opening of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Greek word logos means “word” or “idea,” or, as one philosopher translated it, “logic” (it is also the term from which we get the English word logic). So when we study biology, we are looking at the word or logic of life. Anthropology is the word or logic about humans, anthrōpos being the Greek word for man. The primary part of the word theology comes from the Greek theos, which means “god,” so theology is the word or logic of God Himself. (1)

Sadly, this term is misunderstood as being the cause of division in our churches. “Why can’t we just love Jesus and love people and be done with the theological debates?” On this topic alone we see the need for us to pursue theology, that is, to understand God Himself. Who is Jesus (fully man, fully God, lesser god, great prophet, teacher)? What happened at the cross? Why did He need to come to earth to begin with? Did He really rise from the dead–and does it matter if he did or didn’t?

You see, all of these questions need answering–and this is just about Jesus! The joy of getting to know not just about God but to know God is an incredible endeavor. We get to know Him in the inspired Word that the Holy Spirit preserved for us. He has given us His church that Christ Himself built in order to hear the Word, to fellowship with fellow believers, and to be sent to our respective mission fields.

What does this have to do with our day-to-day life? J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God says this:

How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God (2).

Theology leads to doxology–that is, a right thinking about God leads to a right praise before God. Theology fueled from the Scriptures must lead to not only praise, but right living and practice (that is, orthodoxy leading to orthopraxy).

Satan has won a great victory by putting the notion in the minds of many sitting in our churches that theology is a class in seminary or simply for the spiritual and intellectual elite. As the book from which the original quote was taken tells us, “Everyone’s a Theologian.”

Yes, that includes you! Let’s get to know our God better through Jesus!

(1) R.C Sproul, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 4.

(2) J.I. Packer, Knowing God.

Music Monday: He Will Hold Me Fast

Performed by students of my alma mater, Southern Seminary, this hymn that gets me through many-a valley.

“When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast

When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

Chorus:
He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

CHORUS

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last

CHORUS”
— Original Words vv 1-2 by Ada HabershonNew Words and Music by Matt Merker©2013 Getty Music Publishing (BMI) / Matt Merker Music (BMI) (admin by MusicServices.org)

Prayer and fasting is about Jesus being enough!

Prayer is connecting with the Triune God. Fasting is disconnecting from the world. Both come together to say, “I want the Holy Spirit to reclaim my life and my church.”

Prayer is a conversation with God, both in speaking to him in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication/requests. The Psalms provide some great templates in these areas, as well as laments and imprecatory prayers. The desire of all of these Psalms is to express what’s happening in their souls to praise Him for His good gifts, or to ask Him about areas that we do not understand and bring about fear.

This is where fasting can come in. Social media, substances, entertainment, and a number of other things can distract us from dealing with the issues in our heart. Fasting keeps us from self-medicating and, instead, running to the Great Physician as He reclaims the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is personally.

We also pray and fast as a corporate body, as a church. Why? Churches can drift easily into clubs that reflect personal preferences rather than seeking the preferences of the Person of Christ. Thom Rainer recently asked:

Does your church have sacred cows? You know those things in your church that members have traded their love and affection for Jesus in exchange for love and affection for pews or programs. Never put your hope and trust in things that are temporal!

And this last phrase is why we fast: We are disconnecting from putting our hope and trust in things that are temporal!

It’s easy for us to love and have affection for those things we see. Our programs and ways of doing things become the things on which we rely. The Holy Spirit, however, exists to connect us to Jesus and to give us wisdom to move forward personally and as a church.

So if you plan on participating in a season of praying and fasting, identify those areas in your life that need strengthening. You can do this by:

  • Reading 1 Corinthians 12 about what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.
  • Read Galatians 5:16-23, taking inventory of those matters that are the fruit of the flesh (5:16-21) or the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23).
  • Look at those things in your life that you feel you really have to have, and decide to pull back or completely fast from. The idea is that the only part of our lives that we really cannot do without is Jesus.

So praying and fasting is all about reinforcing that Jesus is enough. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit is to bring Christ’s people and Christ’s church: to bring everything under the lordship of Jesus.

What ideas do you have when it comes to fast? Food? Tech? Let me know. The goal is to be in one accord under Christ. Let’s strive for this.