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Why Being "Blessed" is Better than Being "Happy"

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 12:00

Our culture is obsessed with happiness. From the movies we watch, the purchases we make, and our obsessive use of technology and social media, it is clear that many people today live for happiness.

You might be thinking, “So what? Isn’t happiness a good thing?” Well, that depends on what is meant by happiness ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

5 Ways the gospel transforms your parenting – Part 2

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 10:14
  1. The gospel reshapes parenting by calling parents to become disciple-makers

So what happens when parents begin to see their children as potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ? The writings of Paul provide us with a hint. The same apostle who called Timothy to encourage younger believers as Christian brothers and sisters also commanded fathers to nurture their offspring “in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Eph. 6:4; see also Col. 3:21). In other letters, Paul applied these same two terms—discipline and instruction—to patterns that characterize disciple-making relationships among brothers and sisters in Christ. Discipline described one result of being trained in the words of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Instruction implied admonitions and guidance to avoid unwise behaviors and ungodly teachings (1 Cor. 10:11; Titus 3:10).

Seen in light of these texts, Paul’s command to nourish children in the “discipline and instruction” of Christ suggests that Paul was calling parents—and particularly fathers—to do far more than merely manage their children’s behaviors and provide their needs. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to relate to our children just as we would respond to non-believers in the world or young believers in our church, speaking the gospel to them and training them in the ways of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). God’s creation and humanity’s fall have positioned parents as providers and disciplinarians. Through the gospel, Christian parents have been called to become disciple-makers as well.

This process of parental disciple-making is likely to look different in every household. In my household, it means a family devotional every Sunday evening, intertwined with daily prayers and weekly discipleship times with each of my children. In another household, it might look like a nightly family devotional combined with spiritual debriefings after movies and sporting events. In still other families, it could take the form of songs and Scriptures memorized in the car during morning commutes. The precise way that you disciple your children is negotiable; the practice itself is not. This is not to suggest, of course, that Christian parents should become their children’s sole instructors in Scripture! After all, the Great Commission to make disciples was given to the whole church as a calling to reach the whole world, including children (Matt. 28:19). Consistent practices of discipleship should, however, characterize parents’ priorities in every Christian household.

  1. The gospel reshapes parenting by providing us with a purpose larger than this life

A few years ago, parents were asked in a survey how they would know if they had been successful in their parenting. The most popular answers from parents were that successful parenting means raising children who are happy and who have good values. The response that landed closest behind these two had to do with whether the child was vocationally successful.1 If this survey rightly represents parents’ real priorities, fathers and mothers are focused on raising children who act good, feel good, and are financially successful.

Morality, happiness, and success aren’t bad, of course—but they make miserable goals for parenting. When these goals become our definition of successful parenting, the gospel is no longer shaping our day-by-day parental practices. Apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, a focus on good morals tends to result either in self-righteousness or rebellion in our children. Financial success can’t guarantee lasting joy or peace, and what makes our children happy in the short term may not be what aims them toward Jesus Christ in the long term. None of these values lasts past this life. And yet, these are the dominant values in our culture when it comes to parenting.

Now, if children were nothing more than a gift for this life, a single-minded focus on children’s happiness and success might actually make sense. As long as the family’s frenetic schedule secures a spot for the child in a top-tier university, forfeiting intentional spiritual formation for the sake of competitive sports leagues and advanced-placement classes would be understandable—if children were a gift for this life only. Working round-the-clock would be plausible, provided that your children’s friends are visibly impressed with the house you can barely afford. If children were a gift for this life only, it might make sense to raise children with calendars that are full but souls that are empty, captives of the deadly delusion that their value depends on what they accomplish here and now.

But the gospel calls us to seek a purpose for our children that’s far larger than this life.

Even before humanity’s fall into sin, God designed the raising of children to serve as a means for the multiplication of his manifest glory around the globe (Gen. 1:26–28). A few bites of forbidden fruit, raising Cain as well as Abel, and a worship service that ended in fratricide took their toll on that first family—but God refused to give up on his first purpose to turn the family into a means for the revelation of his glory. God promised that, through the offspring of Eve, he would send a Redeemer to crush the satanic serpent’s skull and to flood the earth with glory divine (Gen. 3:15; 4:1, 25; Hab. 2:14). From the beginning to end of God’s plan, the family has been his chosen pathway for the defeat of the darkness, the revelation of his glory, and the passing of his story from one generation to the next.

What this means practically is that we should view our children in light of a larger purpose, as potential bearers of the gospel to generations as yet unborn. In God’s good design, our children will most likely raise children who will in turn beget more children. How we mold our children’s souls while they reside in our households will shape the lives of children who have yet to draw their first gasp of air (Ps. 78:6–7). That’s why our primary purpose for our children must not be anything so small and miserable as temporary success.

“For what does it profit someone if he gains the world world but loses his soul?” Jesus asked his first followers (Mark 8:36). When it comes to our children, we might ask a similar question: What does it profit your child to gain an academic scholarship and yet never experience consistent prayer and devotional times with his parents? What will it profit my child to succeed in a sport and yet never know the rhythms of a home where we are willing to release any dream at any moment if we become too busy to disciple one another? What will it profit the children all around us in our churches if they are accepted into the finest colleges and yet never leverage their lives for the sake of proclaiming the gospel to the nations?

In the beginning, God infused humanity with a yearning for eternity (Eccl. 3:11). If the scope of our vision for our lives or for the lives of our children shrinks any smaller than eternity, our thirst for eternity will drive us to attempt to fill the emptiness with a multitude of lesser goals and lower gods—including the fleeting happiness and success of our children. When the happiness and success of children becomes the controlling framework for life, parents expect their children to have, to do, and to be more than anyone else, and they are willing to sacrifice family discipleship and the proclamation of the gospel to achieve this objective.

I am not suggesting that successes in academics or athletics or vocation somehow stand outside God’s good plan. Learning and play are joys that God himself wove into the very fabric of creation. Although cursed in the fall, work was also part of God’s good design before the fall (Gen. 2:15; 3:17–23). And yet, whenever any activity—no matter how good it may be—becomes amplified to the point that no margin remains for family members to disciple one another or to share the gospel in the world around us, a divinely-designed joy has been distorted into a devil-spawned idol. Our purpose in everything that we do as parents should be to leverage our children’s lives to advance God’s kingdom so that people in every tribe and every nation gain the opportunity to respond in faith to the rightful King of kings.

There are a couple of clauses that I have repeated over and over throughout my children’s lives, particularly when they’re considering vocational possibilities. What I’ve said to them is simply this: “I would rather have you on the other side of the world seeking God’s glory than in a house next door to me seeking your glory, and I would rather have you in a grave in God’s will than in a mansion resisting God’s will.” A few weeks ago, one of my children put these statements to the test.

Our oldest daughter had chosen counseling as her major before starting college, and she was halfway through her first semester of the degree. One afternoon, she met me at a coffee shop, and we began to talk about how she might use her education in the future.

“Dad,” she said after a few minutes, “did you know I’m not in the degree program I’m supposed to be?”

“No,” I said, with a bit of confusion. “What degree should you be in?”

“I’m supposed to be in missions, but I don’t know if I want to be that far from my family.”

This admission opened a door in our conversation, and we stepped through it ever so gingerly, exploring a calling that my daughter had sensed for some time. There were a few tears and a lot of questions, but in the end she settled on switching in her degree from counseling to global studies.

As we got up from our table, she said to me, “You always said you’d rather me be on the other side of the world in God’s will than to be right next to you outside God’s will, but I never knew if that was for real or not.”

The only honest answer I could give her was this: “Neither did I. But I hoped it was; I always hoped.”

God calls us—just as he called our father Abraham—to be willing to release every longing for our children’s safety and success for the sake of obedience to God’s Word (Gen. 22:2–18). Not every child will—or should—grow up to be a missionary on the other side of the world. But every child is called to place God’s kingdom first wherever they are, and every Christian parent is called to be willing to seek the spread of God’s kingdom above and beyond every earthly comfort or success. This attitude does not come to us easily. In fact, this willingness doesn’t come from us at all! Nothing less than the work of God through his Holy Spirit can create this willingness within us. And yet, what God asks of us in releasing our children to join his mission is no less than what he himself has already done in Jesus Christ: “He…did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32).

  1. The gospel reshapes parenting by freeing us from the delusion that our value depends on our parenting 

The longer I’ve been a parent, the more I’ve found myself taking refuge in one final truth about the gospel and parenting. The truth that has become my refuge is simply this: Because of the grace that comes through the gospel, God’s disposition toward me does not depend on how I perform as a parent. I did nothing to gain God’s favor, and there’s nothing I can do to keep God’s favor. Through faith, I have been adopted in Christ (Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 3:26). Because I am in Christ, God the Father can never think anything less of me than he thinks of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

So what does this truth have to do with parenting?

Everything!

Meditate for a moment on the implications of this truth: Because of the gospel, God’s approval of you doesn’t depend on whether you provide your children with everything that everyone else thinks they need. God’s approval of you doesn’t depend on how your children act in the checkout line at the grocery store. It doesn’t depend on whether your children grow up breastfed, potty-trained by two years old, classically educated, and protected from artificial preservatives. It doesn’t even depend on whether your children persist in the faith past the pomp and circumstance of their high school graduations. The good news of the gospel declares that God’s approval of you doesn’t depend on anything you do; it depends solely on what Christ has already done. All that any of us must do—which is really no “doing” at all—is to receive what God in Christ has already done.

The implications of this simple truth for parenting are staggering, and I desperately need to be reminded of these implications every day. Because we no longer have to prove ourselves right through our perfect performances, we can humble ourselves and ask our family’s forgiveness when we fail. When we feel overwhelmed as parents, we can cry out for help. When we say no to commitments that would consume our calendars and our souls, we can do so without the guilt and fear that grow out of our desperate yearning for others’ approval. We can be set free from our nagging desire to demonstrate our own righteousness by demanding that other parents measure up to our family’s standards. We can guide our children toward Christ from a foundation of joy and rest, knowing that God has already delivered to us everything that he demands from us.

There is no list of rules for gospel-shaped parenting, with items you can check off as you complete them. There is, however, Christ himself, who has given us his Word, his Spirit, his people, and his gospel. In all of this, our goal is not merely getting to the end of the day with the same number of children we had at the beginning of the day. Our goal is a kingdom that never ends, and our purpose in parenting is to see this kingdom revealed through our families.

1 Mark Kelly, “LifeWay Research Looks at the Role of Faith in Parenting” (March 24, 2009): www.lifeway.com

__________

Timothy Paul Jones serves as the C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry at SBTS. He is the husband of Rayann and the father of three daughters. The Jones family serves in children’s ministry and community group leadership at the east congregation of Sojourn Community Church.

The post 5 Ways the gospel transforms your parenting – Part 2 appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

4/12/2017 DBTS Chapel: Bob Johnson

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 08:28
Bob Johnson, a DBTS Alumnus and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, MI, preaches from 1 Timothy 4:6-10. Pastor Johnson sets forth three exhortations and results for seminary students who are “being trained in the words of the faith.” Download and subscribe to our Podcasts here
Categories: Seminary Blog

Jesus’s Transfiguration, Last Days of Jesus DVD

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 12:00

... The Old Testament background is very helpful for understanding the deeper meaning of the New Testament scriptures. In the transfiguration account, we read in Matthew 17 that Jesus “was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” We remember that in the Old Testament, after Moses went up Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive the ten commandments, his face “was radiant,” and he wore a veil (Exodus 34:33-35). Matthew 17 is showing us that Jesus is the new (but better) Moses ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Retreat: Not an Option

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 09:30

In the midst of the raging culture wars and a sharply divisive political environment, Christians in America can often feel schizophrenic over how they should relate to our culture. Should the church retreat from the world and form Christian communities—tiny pockets of Christian civilization—or should the church remain embedded in the world while not taking on the ways of the world? These options have always been before the church in every age. What option does the Bible give us?

Evangelical Christians in general, and Baptists in particular, should not be surprised at the increasingly marginal state in which we find ourselves in our culture. Paul reminds us that we are living in this present evil age, and all who would live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Living counterculturally as believers in the world not only reminds us that we must enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation, but it also constantly challenges us to define what our primary role in society is as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Israel in exile is a good model for understanding the place and role of the church in the world. God has embedded His people in cultures around the world in order to be salt and light and to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Jesus calls and sends the church to be sowers of Gospel seed in the field of the world. God does not call us to retreat but to engage.

The church in Jerusalem was scattered abroad after the stoning of Stephen and led to the advancement of the Gospel outside of Jerusalem. Both Peter and James wrote to the diaspora of Christian believers under their pastoral charge. The assumption of the writings of the New Testament is that local churches existed in cities and not Christian cultural enclaves. We are not called to geographical isolation from the world but daily engagement with the world through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, bearing witness to the Kingdom of God among the kingdom of humankind.

The church is not a place but a people. Why has there been temptation for Christians to retreat from society? I believe it is in part the failure of evangelical churches to live up to our collective calling to be what we are: a family and a fellowship, overcoming our cultural individualism by engaging life together as the people of God, equipping and being equipped to live godly lives in this ungodly age, and bearing witness to the Gospel in our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. We are part of the fellowship of the Gospel, which means that we are a community that God has transformed through the Gospel and that is now responsible for being the agent of the Gospel to all nations.

Our options are defined by Christ’s commands. We are to live worthy of the Gospel, following the pattern of Christ’s love and sharing in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Christ commands His church to make disciples of all nations, a command that is undercut by Christian retreat. Making disciples of all nations involves the Holy Spirit’s empowering and sending of God’s people to the ends of the earth. God does not call His people to be concerned about self-preservation but to Gospel propagation. It is in the propagation of the Gospel that the church not only survives but thrives. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Christian travail in the world is a means God uses to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Further insulating ourselves from unbelievers only undercuts the mission of the church.

In our time, we must return to the well of Scripture to refresh our understanding of the identity and role of the church. We are salt and light, a city set on a hill, and a holy priesthood tasked with the joy of proclaiming the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into light. We are not called upon to preserve a mythic Christian civilization but to bear witness to the coming Kingdom of God through our individual and corporate lives together as the people of God. Such Kingdom witness calls upon believers to engage culture at all levels, not retreat from it.

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Call for Introspection: When Helping Hurts

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:00

Don’t you just hate it/love it when a book takes a long-standing ministry practice or cultural disposition you’ve unwittingly nurtured and totally applies the ol’ command-option-esc (or control-alt-delete to be P.C.) to completely reset things? A text I’ve been reading for the Kern Reading group at Talbot School of Theology--namely, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert’s, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012)--just pulled this on me. Let me explain ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Do the Laws of Logic Provide Evidence for God?

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 12:00

Dr. Craig,

I cannot thank you enough for your philosophical and theological work. Your work and Reasonable Faith is a constant encouragement and motivation to me as a Christian. In a unit on German philosophy (in a specific section on Leipniz), I recently had my German 3 class translate, discuss and respond to your argument, "Gott ist die beste Erklärung warum überhaupt etwas existiert," from your debate with Ansgar Beckermann. Your argument provoked a reaction and interest I was not expecting.

Here is my question: Why do you not employ the laws of logic as evidence for the existence of God? It seems to me that God (a necessarily existing mind) is the best explanation for the laws of logic in a similar way that he (a necessary personal being of moral perfection) is the best explanation for certain necessary moral truths. Am I mistaken about logic as evidence for the existence of God? Is there a reason the laws of logic should not be used in an argument similar to your argument from objective moral values and duties? ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Jesús el Inmigrante

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 12:00

Jesús fue un inmigrante. Todos los cristianos también somos inmigrantes. Por lo tanto, Cristo se identifica con nosotros y nos entiende. Como sus seguidores debemos imitar su ejemplo y aprender de él. También debemos mostrar compasión por aquellos que son extranjeros al venir de otros países y regiones ya que reconocemos que todos nosotros somos también peregrinos y extranjeros ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Jesus, the Immigrant

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 12:00

Jesus was an immigrant. All Christians are also immigrants. Therefore, Christ identifies himself with us and understands our situation. As his followers we should imitate his example and learn from him. We should have compassion for those foreigners who come from different regions and countries because we recognize that we all are also strangers and exiles on earth ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

5 Ways the gospel transforms your parenting – Part 1

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:56

“Daddy, you didn’t say anything about twisting people’s arms,” she said, and I discovered how dangerous it can be to make a list of rules for your child.¹

The year that we adopted our oldest daughter, she attended first grade at a nearby Montessori school. There, she had some struggles when it came to interacting constructively with other children. To be specific, when things didn’t go her way in a play-group, someone inevitably ended up hurt, and that “someone” was never her.

Not wanting to be sued by the school or by the parents of my daughter’s classmates, I made a list of practices that civilized people generally perceive as unacceptable ways to respond to one another. This list included the many activities that my daughter had already tried—hitting, kicking, punching, scratching—plus a few that she hadn’t yet considered but probably soon would, such as detonating thermonuclear weaponry on the playground. Each morning, I went through the list with her and pointed out how God calls us to value every person as someone created in his image. Everything went quite smoothly for almost a week. Then, on Friday afternoon, I received a call from the school.

“Your daughter has something that she would like to discuss with you,” the school administrator said. She handed the telephone to my child, and the first words that I heard were, “Daddy, you didn’t say anything about twisting people’s arms.” And she was right. I hadn’t included that action on my list, and I was reminded of the danger of making a list of rules. Once we make a list, it’s easy to assume that everything we should or shouldn’t do is included on the list. As long as we stick with the list, everything is fine—or so we think.

Rules are necessary but never enough

The assumption that keeping a list of rules can make everything right isn’t limited to arm-twisting seven-year-olds. “Human nature after the fall,” a German preacher named Martin Luther once pointed out, “is no longer able to imagine or conceive any way to be made right with God other than works of the law.”² Apart from the grace of God in Christ, every one of us tends to lapse into judging our lives and the lives of others by lists of rules and laws.

The problem is that no list of rules can ever lead us or our children to life.

This isn’t because rules are bad; it’s because we are bad (Rom. 7:12; 1 Tim. 1:8). Lists of rules and laws provide helpful guides to reveal our shortcomings and to restrain evil, but they can never produce the righteousness that leads to life (Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:24). Only the gospel can fill our lives with true righteousness (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:6-9), and God gives us this righteousness through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, completely apart from any human effort to check off the items on anyone’s lists (Rom. 3:21; 10:4-13). “The law,” evangelist D.L. Moody once pointed out, “can pursue a man to Calvary, but no further.”³

As followers of Jesus Christ, we understand the centrality of the gospel and the limits of the law. And yet, when it comes to parenting, it can be difficult to see how the gospel should shape our day-by-day practices of guiding our children. That’s partly because parenting requires a seemingly endless list of rules simply to increase the likelihood that our children survive childhood! If none of us made any rules for our children, our preschoolers would most likely spend their days picking their noses with paper clips, sliding butter knives into electrical outlets, and seeing how long the family’s hamster can survive in the microwave. Even when children and teenagers grow older, they need limits to keep them from pursuing foolish and destructive paths.

The problem is that, sometimes, these lists and limits can become the primary focus of our parenting—despite the fact that we’re fully aware that no law can produce lasting joy in this life or fruit that lasts past this life.

I want to challenge you to ask yourself one simple question: What might look different in my day-by-day practices of parenting if the gospel reshaped my perspectives and priorities?

Before we begin to unpack some possible answers, I must admit to you that I am not speaking to you as a master who has reached a final destination; I’m sharing with you as a pilgrim who is on a journey with you. As the father of children ranging in age from second grade to the second year of college, I am struggling day-by-day to allow the gospel to reshape my practices of parenting, and I am reminded daily that gospel-shaped parenting is difficult. It nails our pride-packed human agendas to a bloody cross and calls us to a purpose far greater than our children’s happiness or success. Perhaps most difficult of all, it requires us to see our children as far more than our children and to release their futures to a God who loves them far more than we ever could. With that in mind, let’s look together at four ways that the gospel can reshape our parenting.

1.The gospel reshapes parenting by Revealing who our children really are

To see how the gospel reshapes parenting, let’s first remind ourselves what the gospel is and what the gospel does. The gospel is the good news that God has inaugurated his reign on earth through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we repent and rely on Christ’s righteousness instead of our own, his kingdom power transforms us, and we become participants in the community of the redeemed. United with Christ through his Spirit, we are adopted as God’s heirs, and we gain a new identity that transcends every earthly status. Husbands and wives, parents and children, orphans and widows, immigrants and citizens, the addict struggling in recovery and the teetotalling grandmother—all of us who are in Christ through the gospel become brothers and sisters, “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17; see also Matt. 12:50; Luke 20:34–48; Gal. 3:28-29; 4:3-7; Eph. 1:5; 2:13-22; Heb. 2:11; James 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:7).
So what does this mean for us as Christian parents?

It means that our children are far more than our children. Our children are, first and foremost, potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ.

Viewed in this way, our relationship with our children suddenly takes on a very different meaning. I will remain the father of my daughters until death, but—inasmuch as they embrace the gospel—I will remain their brother for all eternity. As a parent, I am responsible to provide for my daughters and to prepare them for life; as their brother in the gospel, I am called to lay down my life for their sakes (1 John 3:16). As a parent, I help them to see their own sin; as their brother, I am willing to confess my own sin (James 5:16). As a parent, I speak truth into their lives; as a brother, I speak the truth patiently, ever seeking the peace that only the gospel can bring (James 4:11; 5:7–9; Matt. 5:22–25; 1 Cor. 1:10). As a parent, I discipline my daughters so that they consider the consequences of poor choices; as a brother, I disciple, instruct, and encourage them to chase what is pure and good (Rom. 15:14; 1 Tim. 5:1–2). As a parent, I help these children to recognize the right path; as their brother in the gospel, I pray for them and seek to restore them when they veer onto the wrong path (Matt. 18:21–22; Gal. 6:1; James 5:19–20; 1 John 5:16).

Your children and mine are also eternal beings whose days will long outlast the rise and fall of all the kingdoms of the earth. They and their children and their children’s children will flit ever so briefly across the face of this earth before being swept away into eternity (James 4:14). If our children become our brothers and sisters in Christ, their days upon this earth are preparatory for glory that will never end (Dan. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:17—5:4; 2 Pet. 1:10–11). Children are wonderful gifts from God—but they are far more than gifts. Seen from the perspective of the gospel, every child in your household is, first and foremost, a potential or actual brother or sister in Christ. Whatever children stand beside us in eternal glory will not stand beside us as our children. They will stand beside us because—and only because—they have become our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Does this mean that, once a child becomes a brother or sister in Christ through the gospel, the parent-child relationship somehow passes away? Of course not! The gospel doesn’t cancel roles that are rooted in God’s creation. Jesus and Paul freely appealed to the order of God’s creation as a guide for leadership in the Christian community (Matt. 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–9; Acts 17:24–26; 1 Cor. 11:8–9; 1 Tim. 2:13–15). Far from negating the order of God’s creation, the gospel adds a deeper and richer dimension that fulfills God’s original design.

2.The gospel reshapes parenting by calling parents to become disciple-makers

So what happens when parents begin to see their children as potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ? The writings of Paul provide us with a hint. The same apostle who called Timothy to encourage younger believers as Christian brothers and sisters also commanded fathers to nurture their offspring “in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Eph. 6:4; see also Col. 3:21). In other letters, Paul applied these same two terms—discipline and instruction—to patterns that characterize disciple-making relationships among brothers and sisters in Christ. Discipline described one result of being trained in the words of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Instruction implied admonitions and guidance to avoid unwise behaviors and ungodly teachings (1 Cor. 10:11; Titus 3:10).

Seen in light of these texts, Paul’s command to nourish children in the “discipline and instruction” of Christ suggests that Paul was calling parents—and particularly fathers—to do far more than merely manage their children’s behaviors and provide their needs. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to relate to our children just as we would respond to non-believers in the world or young believers in our church, speaking the gospel to them and training them in the ways of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). God’s creation and humanity’s fall have positioned parents as providers and disciplinarians. Through the gospel, Christian parents have been called to become disciple-makers as well.

This process of parental disciple-making is likely to look different in every household. In my household, it means a family devotional every Sunday evening, intertwined with daily prayers and weekly discipleship times with each of my children. In another household, it might look like a nightly family devotional combined with spiritual debriefings after movies and sporting events. In still other families, it could take the form of songs and Scriptures memorized in the car during morning commutes. The precise way that you disciple your children is negotiable; the practice itself is not. This is not to suggest, of course, that Christian parents should become their children’s sole instructors in Scripture! After all, the Great Commission to make disciples was given to the whole church as a calling to reach the whole world, including children (Matt. 28:19). Consistent practices of discipleship should, however, characterize parents’ priorities in every Christian household.

¹This chapter was developed from a transcript of my teaching session in Men’s Leadership School at the Jeffersontown congregation of Sojourn Community Church on February 24, 2016; some portions of that teaching session were drawn from Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis: Wesleyan, 2011) and Practical Family Ministry (Nashville: Randall House, 2015).

²Martin Luther, “Tertia Disputatio: Alia Ratio Iustificandi Hominis Coram Deo,” Quinque Disputationes, thesis 6.

³D.L. Moody, Notes from My Bible (Chicago: Revell, 1895), 152.

_______________________
Timothy Paul Jones serves as the C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry at SBTS. He is the husband of Rayann and the father of three daughters. The Jones family serves in children’s ministry and community group leadership at the east congregation of Sojourn Community Church.

The post 5 Ways the gospel transforms your parenting – Part 1 appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

How Do You Become Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History? An Interview with Thaddeus Williams

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 12:00

Thaddeus Williams was a dorm mate of mine as an undergrad at Biola, and now we are both on faculty for our alma mater. Dr. Williams is also an author and frequent speaker at churches and conferences.

He gave me the opportunity to endorse his most recent book Reflect: Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History, and I found it both insightful and enjoyable. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy this interview and think about getting a copy of his excellent book.

Categories: Seminary Blog

2 Lessons from Living on Skid Row

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 12:00

Last week I had the opportunity of co-leading a trip of 30+ high school students to stay at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row for three days. The students served meals in the kitchen, played Bingo with Mission residents, cleaned, played with children, served cold water to people living in the streets, shared meals with strangers, and much more. The trip was life changing for me, the students, and we hope maybe even some of the people at the URM ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Evangelism is not a Spiritual Gift

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:30

The 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz portrays the fantasy tale of Dorothy Gale’s journey to the Emerald City in order to inquire of its wizard the way home from Oz to Kansas. While on the yellow brick road to the city, she encounters and subsequently enlists a brainless Scarecrow, a hollow-chested Tin Man, and a cowardly Lion. In addition to Dorothy’s wish to go home, the Scarecrow desires a thinking brain; the Tin Man, a beating heart; and the Lion, ferocious courage.

Arriving at the Emerald City, Dorothy and her band of misfits present themselves before the great and powerful Oz, who knows what they want before they even ask. He agrees to grant their requests providing they can defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and bring him her broomstick. So, Dorothy leads her mindless, heartless and fearful army to undertake a mission impossible to achieve without brains, heart and bravery.

In a reality that mirrors fantasy, Jesus assembled an unlikely group consisting of fishermen, a tax collector, and a Zealot in an assault on the god (2 Corinthians 4:4) and ruler of this world (John 12:31) by proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In fact, one time, when 70 of them returned to Him after preaching the Gospel, He told them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18).

What was the secret of their success? Did all of them possess “the gift of evangelism”? No, they did not. Those who heard them preach perceived them as untrained and uneducated men (Acts 4:13a). How, then, did the followers of Jesus who preached the Gospel “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, ESV)? They did it through their Gospel preaching because of the time they spent with Jesus (Acts 4:13b) and because they had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 18).

The belief that the Holy Spirit bestows a “gift of evangelism” upon a select, exclusive group of believers to carry out the work of evangelism is gaining increasing acceptance today. Some believers convince themselves that only those who possess “the gift of evangelism” have a responsibility to evangelize. Other believers accept the responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission through evangelism but conceive that those not “gifted” in evangelism can practice it more passively and occasionally than those they believe have “the gift of evangelism.”

The Bible never mentions “a gift of evangelism.” Paul does identify grace-gifted “evangelists” (Ephesians 4:11) whom he explains equip all saints for ministry along with the grace-gifted apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:12-13). In the contemporary era, Christ continues to equip believers for ministry through evangelists, pastors and teachers. As such, all believers are responsible to be equipped for ministry, which includes being equipped by grace-gifted evangelists to evangelize. Rather than describe a spiritual “gift of evangelism” bestowed upon a select few, Scripture presents evangelism as a spiritual discipline to be practiced by all believers intentionally and consistently.

However, what would it mean for Christ’s evangelistic enterprise if such a “gift of evangelism” did exist? A number of problems would arise. Consider the following:

1.    If evangelism were a spiritual gift, then additional spiritual gifts would exist outside those identified in the New Testament. The New Testament spiritual gift inventory can be found in Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Ephesians 4:7, 11-13; and 1 Peter 4:10-11. The following comprises the Bible’s list of spiritual grace gifts: a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, faith, healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, administration, service, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This list verifies, as mentioned earlier, that the Bible never references “a gift of evangelism.” If the Holy Spirit does endow some believers with a “gift of evangelism,” then it follows that additional grace gifts of the Spirit exist outside those provided in Scripture. How can the existence of additional spiritual gifts not mentioned in Scripture be verified? What prevents someone else from asserting a “gift of reading the Bible” or a “gift of prayer” as a reason why he does not have the responsibility to read the Bible or pray either consistently or at all?

2.    If evangelism were a spiritual gift, then the beneficiaries of spiritual gifts would need to be reconsidered. The New Testament’s inventory and explanation of spiritual grace gifts demonstrate that the purpose of every spiritual gift is to unite differently gifted believers in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5); to benefit the common good of the body (1 Corinthians 12:7); to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12); and to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10). Generally speaking, all the spiritual gifts are given to serve the body of Christ, not unbelievers. Specifically, Ephesians 4 states that Christ gave evangelists to equip the saints, not to be the only ones who evangelize sinners. Rather than do the work of evangelism for the saints, grace-gifted evangelists equip and encourage the saints to do evangelism.

3.    If evangelism were a spiritual gift, then fewer unbelievers would hear the Gospel. The world-wide, evangelistic mission cannot be achieved by evangelism practiced only by believers supposedly endowed with “a gift of evangelism.” A couple of reasons for this assertion include that 1) God has ordained that all, not a select few, believers evangelize all creation (Mark 16:15); and 2) these so-called “gifted” evangelists will never have access to as many unbelievers in their spheres of influence to evangelize all creation as all believers do. Nowhere in the Gospels did the Lord appoint only spiritually gifted evangelists to fulfill the Great Commission on their own. If He had, not all of those first disciples who received the Great Commission would have evangelized others; neither would they have encouraged those who became His disciples, through their evangelism, to evangelize. Their example remains a model for today’s believers.

4.    If evangelism were a spiritual gift, then the Great Commission, as well as the promise of Jesus’ presence, would be reserved only for evangelists. In An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, William Carey confronted those in his day who argued that the Great Commission was not binding on the English Baptists. He described the position many believers during his day held concerning the Great Commission when he wrote the following:

[B]ut the work has not been taken up, or prosecuted of late years (except by a few individuals) with the zeal and perseverance with which the primitive Christians went about it. It seems as if many thought the commission was sufficiently put in execution by what the apostles and others have done; that we have enough to do to attend to the salvation of our own countrymen; and that, if God intends the salvation of the heathen, he will some way or the other bring them to the gospel, or the gospel to them. It is thus that multitudes sit at ease, and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow-sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry. There seems also to be an opinion existing in the minds of some, that because the apostles were extraordinary officers and have no proper successors, and because many things which were right for them to do would be utterly unwarrantable for us, therefore it may not be immediately binding on us to execute the commission, though it was so upon them.[1]

Nevertheless, Carey contended that all believers of all ages have a duty to obey the Great Commission of our Lord. Among other things, he exposed the fallacy in their logic by arguing that if Jesus’ commission to make disciples were no longer binding upon him and his contemporaries, then the promise of His presence always to be with them by means of the Holy Spirit would no longer be binding (Matt. 28:20).[2] Carey rejected this erroneous idea and maintained that believers of all ages are promised Jesus’ presence just as they are also obligated to make disciples through evangelism.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion returned triumphantly to the wizard with the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. The wizard rewarded the Scarecrow with a Doctor of Thinkology diploma, the Tin Man with a ticking heart clock, and the Cowardly Lion with the Triple Cross Medal of Courage. He explained to them, however, that by virtue of the way they defeated the Wicked Witch, the brainless Scarecrow had been able to think all along, the heartless Tin Man had been able to love all along, and the Cowardly Lion had been courageous all along!

Similarly, believers abound who have convinced themselves that because they have not been endowed with a “gift of evangelism,” they do not possess enough knowledge, love and/or courage to evangelize. However, God’s people do not require a “gift of evangelism” in order to evangelize; they already have what—or, more specifically, Who—they need in order to evangelize intentionally and consistently. God does endow believers with a Gift to evangelize, but it is not a “gift of evangelism” … it is His Holy Spirit!

[1]William Carey, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens (Leicester: n.p., 1792), 8.
[2]Ibid., 9.

Categories: Seminary Blog

It Must Have Been So Painful

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:00

Have you ever experienced pain from someone you deeply love? I have. Few things in life are harder. The hurt penetrates even deeper when the person who has spurned you also turns his back on the Lord. Following is a list I drew up in my journal some time ago during a period when I was facing rejection from someone I deeply loved. This list helped me remember that there are examples in the Bible of others before me who experienced relational pain from close family members, friends, or mentees, but who continued to look to the Lord in the midst of their sorrow ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Faculty Books

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 10:42

The post Faculty Books appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Faculty News

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 10:16
SBTS trustees elect Haykin, respond to SBC referral

Southern Seminary trustees unanimously approved all recommendations in the board’s Oct. 10 meeting, including the election of esteemed church historian Michael A.G. Haykin to the faculty and a response to a referral from the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

“The election of Michael Haykin brings to Southern Seminary’s permanent faculty a scholar of world renown and a Christian of such wonderful heart,” Mohler said. “He is not only a prolific author and scholar, he is also a man of deep conviction and a teacher who invests personally in his students.”

Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, has taught at Southern since 2008 and serves as the director of the seminary’s Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He has authored or contributed to dozens of books, including Rediscovering the Church Fathers and 8 Women of Faith.

Trustees unanimously approved a response to a referral from the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis requesting “all SBC entities to consider examining establishing a policy that trustee meetings, including committee meetings, be open to news media.” The recommendation clarified all plenary sessions are open to media and seminary leadership “will do everything within their means to assist members of the media as they endeavor to provide accurate, complete, and fair reporting.”

— S. Craig Sanders

Harvard graduate Tyler Flatt joins Boyce faculty

Harvard University Ph.D. graduate and classics scholar Tyler Flatt joined the Boyce College faculty in January as assistant professor of humanities.

“The more I learned about Southern and Boyce, the more I knew there is nowhere else in the world I would rather work,” said Flatt, who graduated from Harvard in March.

Born and raised in Canada, Flatt dedicated his early life to the study of Greek and Roman culture. He first interacted with Boyce College when the Worldview Certificate program toured Harvard under Flatt’s guidance. Specializing in the works of Plato, Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton, Flatt says he plans to provide students in his Great Books courses with ample evidence that God works through his creation.

— Zachary Ball

SBTS at ETS 2016

Southern Seminary led all participating institutions with more than 40 paper presentations from faculty and students at the 68th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Antonio, Nov. 15-17. Of those, 15 presentations dealt with topics related to the conference’s theme on the Trinity in the areas of systematic theology, biblical studies, church history, and practical theology.

Speaking to a room full of faculty, alumni, and students at Southern Seminary’s late night event Nov. 16, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said 25 years ago SBTS was a “small band” of scholars at ETS because the majority of the faculty did not consider themselves evangelicals. But Mohler expressed gratitude that several current faculty have served as past presidents of the society and the seminary continues to lead in faculty and student presentations.

— S. Craig Sanders

Schreiner co-chairs CSB revision

Southern Seminary professor Thomas R. Schreiner served as co-chair for the new Christian Standard Bible translation, released by LifeWay in March 2017. The CSB is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which was published in 2004.

“The revision of the HCSB into what is now called the CSB makes a good translation even better,” said Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation. “It is an honor for me to serve on a translation team of men and women who truly love God’s Word. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this fresh translation for the spread of the gospel, for the edification of churches, and in times of private reading and prayer.”

Schreiner said the new revision retains the “optimal equivalence” of the HCSB, which is a translation philosophy in between formal (literal) and dynamic (readable), while improving both the faithfulness to original languages and its readability. More information on the translation is available online at csbible.com.

— SBTS Communications

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Categories: Seminary Blog

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