Seven awesome Christ-centered articles from around the web for you to read this month!
If you can read this without bursting into worship I’ll be impressed.
I grew up in the town next to Newtown, CT. I played sports against them. My mother taught at Newtown High School for a time. I believe the principle killed in the shooting may be related to a high school teammate. It’s hit close to home for me.
I have a tendency to try to explain things. And I’ve been searching for some way to explain this tragedy. Normally I’d say something like this. But Joel Miller looks at the gospel and recognizes:
That is our hope. Not to make sense of evil, but to hope in grace. When answers elude, only mercy remains.
Dane Ortlund does an admirable job of looking at the gospel-centered nature of a text that doesn’t immediately lend itself to such a treatment. More important is his exhortation not to jump straight to the cross but let the passage speak on its own terms first:
Running backs are taught to be patient, waiting for the hole to open up as blockers do their job. If they try to hit the hole too soon, the play collapses. Gospel-excited preachers need a similar discipline of patience. We can’t run to the gospel or Christ too soon out of a fear of becoming moralistic etc. Let the play develop. Let the people hear that this is the life to which they are summoned. Don’t soften it. Let it land.
And not just in a second-use-of-the-law kind of way that drives us to Christ. If the extent of your preaching of this this psalm is to say “Well, none of us can do any of this–but thank God for Jesus, who did it in our stead!” you are hitting the hole too early. Not letting the play develop.
For my thoughts on that concept check out Examining the Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutic.
Mark Lauterbach reminds us, “2 hours of daily Bible reading and prayer is foundational just doesn’t float,” for Christians in real life and, “asking [a single, Christian mother] to weight her motives before she acts, to make sure she is feeding on her justification is placing a burden on her.” Sometimes the theory of gospel-centered living doesn’t meet up with the practice.
Lauterbach gives us 7 helpful suggestions on how to practically live out of the truth of the gospel without becoming monks.
Mark Lauterbach (is on a roll!) warns against turning gospel-centeredness into legalism:
Have we created both a new law and a perfectionism?
What I read on one side of this debate is pretty much advocating an endless monitoring of the state of my heart. Am I resting in Christ’s work for me? Am I feeding on my justification?
This seems to be a new legalism, an internal one. It is getting the functional Gospel right in my heart. I dare not do anything until I do so.
“Oh my, I obeyed, but I did so with a trace of self-righteousness. I need to make sure that does not happen again!”
“Dear me, I sought to please God but there was some self-sufficiency in that obedience, and I must repent and try to get it right next time.”
This paralyzes people. I think it is contrary to the apostolic method.
Scotty Smith has a great post at Ligonier about church discipline that is just soaked with the gospel:
1. Create a leadership culture marked by gospel astonishment, joyful repentance, and corporate prayer.
2. Pray for, ordain, train, and equip elders for discipleship as well as in church discipline.
3. Put the DNA of the gospel into the blood and heartbeat of the whole church family.
4. Build a worship culture that is both a showing and telling of the gospel—not just telling.
5. Lastly, we need to learn how to celebrate gospel breakthroughs as a church family.
Ray Ortlund explains that there are two ways to read the Bible:
If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us we should do. Even the promises will be conditioned by law. But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do.
And what do all the promises point to? A cross and an empty tomb.