How To Tear the Church Apart

I really enjoy Kevin DeYoung’s Blog. He usually posts once a day and it is almost always worth reading. Here is an older blog post on trying to balance forgiveness and faithfulness, especially in relationship to church discipline. I enjoyed his last paragraph:

There are two things that will always tear a church apart, sometimes slowly and imperceptibly and sometimes quickly and loudly, but these two things will always rip the fabric of Holy Spirit unity: having no standards and having impossible standards. If you can get one of those two things going on in a church you will be well along your way to ruining that church. But if you can by God’s power find a way to uphold moral and doctrinal standards with a spirit of mercy, humility, and eager forgiveness, then that will be a mighty church and even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Book Review: What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best introduction to the subject that I have read. DeYoung is clear and avoids sarcasm. He walks through the key Biblical passages and answers several common objections. He does not give ground, but he does exhibit compassion towards those who are struggling with same-sex attraction. And as usual DeYoung keeps us tight to the Bible and encourages us with the Gospel. He does not address all the issues. He puts the political aspect in an appendix. But overall this is where I would send people to understand what the Bible says about homosexuality.

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Kevin DeYoung on Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7

Earlier I posted some quotes on the clarity of Scripture. Here is Kevin DeYoung’s helpful analysis of Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7, which says,

“All things in scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear to all; yet those things which are necessary to be know, believed, and observed, for salvation are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned in a due use of ordinary means, may attain unto sufficient understanding of them.” 

Here are Pastor DeYoung’s comments: 

-Some portions of Scripture are clearer than others. Not every passage has a simple or obvious meaning.

-The main things we need to know, believe, and do can be clearly seen in the Bible.

-Though the most essential doctrines are not equally clear in every passage, they are all made clear somewhere in Scripture. 

-That which is necessary for our salvation can be understood even by the uneducated, provided they make use of the ordinary means of study and learning. 

-The most important points in the Scriptures may be not be understood perfectly, but they can be understood sufficiently

I wanted to make a couple of comments on this. First, the “ordinary means” mentioned in the Confession is not primarily about personal reading and Bible study. The Westminster Larger Catechism says:

Q154: What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation? 
A154: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation. (emphasis mine)

So the ordinary means points primarily to worship and preaching, though it would surely include private study. 

Second, I found DeYoung’s last point the most helpful. There is no doctrine in Scripture which we could ever know everything about. God is too deep for us to ever reach the bottom. But that does not mean we cannot know a doctrine well enough to understand it and use it correctly in the Christian life. Jesus is our Savior. This truth is so deep that a 1,000 years of study could never exhaust it. Yet even a child can understand it sufficiently enough to be saved by Him. 

Fifteen Quotes from "Taking God at His Word"

I enjoyed reading Kevin DeYoung’s latest book, “Taking God at His Word.” I am preaching on God’s Word for the next two Sundays. This book was an excellent introduction to the doctrine of God’s Word.

“If you ever think to yourself, ‘I need to know what is true-what is true about me, true about people, true about the world, true about the future, true about the past, true about the good life, true about God,’ then come to God’s Word.”

“The word of God is more than enough to accomplish the work of God in the people of God.”

“The goal of revelation is not information only, but affection, worship, and obedience. Christ in us will be realized only as we drink deeply of the Bible, which is God’s Word outside of us.”

“Inerrancy means the word of God always stands over us and we never stand over the word of God. When we reject inerrancy we put ourselves in judgment over God’s Word.”

DeYoung quoting Herman Bavinck, “In Christ, God’s revelation has been completed.”

DeYoung quoting J.I. Packer, “There are no words of God spoken to us at all today except the words of Scripture.”

“God communicates to reveal, not to obscure.”

“Jesus believed not only that the Old Testament was authoritative, but that it had a fixed meaning that people should have been able to recognize…Jesus approached God’s written revelation as if it could be known and understood.”

“The Bible is never wrong in what it affirms and must never be marginalized as anything less than the last word on everything it teaches.”

“All truth may be God’s truth, but all saving truth is revealed truth.”

“Jesus consistently treats biblical history as a straightforward record of facts.”

“The only Jesus who stands above Scripture is the Jesus of our own invention.”

“Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God. Rebellion against the Scriptures is rebellion against God.”

“You and I simply will not mature as quickly, minister as effectively, or live as gloriously without immersing ourselves in the Scriptures.”

“Sticking with the Scriptures may seem like a light thing now, but we will feel the weight of it someday. There will come a time when it will be shown whether our lives were founded upon trivialities or realities.”

Ten Quotes from Crazy Busy

“For most of us, it isn’t heresy or rank apostasy that will derail our profession of faith. It’s all the worries of life.”

“Doing the cookie drive so you can love others is one thing. Doing the cookie drive so that others might love you is quite another.”

“Of all the possible problems contributing to our busyness, it’s a pretty good bet that one of the most pervasive is pride.”

“Jesus didn’t meet every need. He left people waiting in line to be healed. He left one town to preach to another. He hid away to pray. He got tired. He never interacted with the vast majority of people on the planet. He spent thirty years in training and only three in ministry. He did not try to do it all. And yet, he did everything God asked him to do.”

“What’s important, however, it to think about what really ought to matter compared to what really is mattering.” (emphasis his)

“I can’t serve others effectively without setting priorities.”

“Stewarding my time is not about selfishly pursuing only the things I like to do. It’s about effectively serving others in the ways I’m best able to serve and in the ways I am most uniquely called to serve.”

“Parenting may be the last bastion of legalism.”

“While we can’t avoid being busy with our children–indeed it’s a biblical command (Titus 2:5)– with a good dose of prayer, a shot of biblical reflection, and a little common sense, we can avoid freaking out about them quite so much.”

“Effective love is rarely efficient. People take time. Relationships are messy. If we love others, how can we not be busy and burdened at least some of the time?”

Book Review: Crazy Busy

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big ProblemCrazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very practical, pastoral book on how to deal with a particular mindset that has taken root in our culture. I appreciated his honesty and refusal to give simply, easy answers. The chapter on how we worry too much and are too anxious about our children was excellent. His chapter on technology was also well-balanced reminding us of the pros and cons of it. Every Christian could benefit from this book.

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Book Review: Hole in Our Holiness

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of GodlinessThe Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness by Kevin DeYoung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holiness has gotten a bad rap lately. I am not sure why. But those who strive for holiness are often accused of legalism or pride. The Hole in Our Holiness is the good remedy for this faulty thinking. Pastor DeYoung does a great job showing how important holiness is, how it can be achieve, how it flows out of justification, and how it means striving to obey God’s commandments.

What impressed me most about the book was the tone. Instead of getting done and feeling like I had been flogged, DeYoung put before me the promises of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit to give me a clearer desire to be holy. I did not sense that he was trying to make me feel guilty. Instead I left with a greater faith in Christ my Savior, a greater desire to obey all of his word, and a greater trust in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

You never got the impression that holiness is earning your salvation. Nor did you get the impression that you could achieve perfection. But you also did not get the impression that because we are all in Christ, therefore everyone is really equal in holiness. Some people are more holy than others and we should all strive to be holy.

The book is pastoral in tone and clear. It is filled with verses from Scripture. I appreciated the emphasis on the Scriptural commands to holy living. Too often these verses are explained away. It is balanced. It may not be as theologically dense as some would like, but I think this has to do with the nature of the book and the intended audience. It is a wonderful remedy to much of “grace based” Christian life stuff that goes around. Like DeYoung I believe in grace. But grace leads to holiness and obedience, not to worldliness or spiritual apathy.

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