RSS

Tag Archives: Thabiti Anyabwile

Christ-Centered Expositional Commentary Series Coming in the Spring of 2013!

Dr. Danny Akin Commenting on a New Exciting Biblical Commentary Series

At the SBC in Phoenix last year, David Platt, Tony Merida and I sat down with the great folks at Broadman & Holman to dream and brainstorm about the possibility of an expositor’s preaching commentary that would be both expositional and Christ-centered. In other words we talked about how faithful, verse by verse, exposition of the whole Bible could properly point to Christ as Jesus Himself taught us in text like John 5:39, Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-47. Well, that vision has come to fruition.

In the spring 2013 the 1st of a 40-volume preacher’s commentary entitled “Christ-Centered Exposition” will be published. David Platt, Tony Merida and I have the great honor of serving as the editors of the project as well as authoring together the first volume. The initial volume will be “Exalting Jesus in the Pastoral Epistles.” David will produce 1 Timothy, Tony will write 2 Timothy and I will pen Titus. The goal is for the entire series to be complete in 10 years! We certainly need your prayers for that goal to be met!!!

By God’s grace we have enlisted an incredible array of contributors for the series. We thought you might be encouraged and excited by the list of authors who are currently assigned to help us in this significant project, so I have listed them below. It will be apparent that the authors are all committed evangelicals, the majority are Southern Baptists, and most are on the younger side when it comes to age. That was by intention. Further, the Southern Baptists contributors represent the healthy diversity of theological perspectives that exist within our convention of churches within the parameters of the BF&M 2000. And, 6 of the contributors are African-Americans which is a real plus in my judgment.

Now, we recognize in a project of this magnitude there may be some adjustments along the way, but as of today those are the men who will participate and the book(s) they have been assigned.

Our goals in all of this are several. Above all we want to exalt and honor King Jesus. Second, we want to model faithful, biblical exposition. In this context we are excited to show the appropriate differences that exist within in this preaching model. Third, we want a strong missional thread running throughout the series. Building Christ’s Church and extending the gospel to all the nations will be a consistent focus of this series. Finally, for all who preach and teach the Bible, it is our hope and prayer you will be helped in your own ministry of the Word. These are exciting days for the Church of the Lord Jesus. The faithful preaching of His Word, as always, is essential to the health and vibrancy of His Body. May our Lord by His grace and for His glory, use this series for the fame of His Name and the great good of His people.

                                      The Old Testament

Genesis  Volume I Russ Moore
Genesis Volume II Russ Moore
Exodus Tony Merida
Leviticus Allan Moseley
Numbers David Prince
Deuteronomy Al Mohler
Joshua Robert Smith
Judges / Ruth Eric Redmond / David Platt
1 & 2 Samuel J. D. Greear / Heath Thomas
1 & 2 Kings Tony Merida / Jim Hamilton
1 & 2 Chronicles Danny Akin / Adam Dooley
Ezra / Nehemiah Tony Merida  / Jim Hamilton
Esther Jimmy Scroggins
Job Tullian Tchvidjian
Psalms  Volume I Danny Akin / Josh Smith
Psalms Volume II David Platt/ Jim Shaddix
Psalms Volume III Danny Akin / Tony Merida/ Johnny Hunt
Proverbs Jon Akin / Danny Akin
Ecclesiastes Darrin Patrick
Song of Solomon Danny Akin
Isaiah Andy Davis
Jeremiah / Lamentations Steven Smith
Ezekiel Landon Dowden
Daniel Danny Akin
Hosea / Joel Kevin Smith
Amos / Obadiah Greg Heisler
Jonah / Micah Eric Redmond / Bill Curtis
Nahum / Habakkuk Ken Fentress
Zephaniah / Haggai Micah Fries
Zechariah / Malachi Stephen Rummage / Robby Gallaty

 

The New Testament

Matthew David Platt
Sermon on the Mount Tony Merida
Mark Danny Akin
Luke Thabiti Anyabwile
John Matt Carter
Acts David Platt / Jimmy Scroggins
Romans David Platt
1 Corinthians James Merritt / Danny Akin
2 Corinthians Eric Mason
Galatians Tony Merida / David Platt
Ephesians Tony Merida
Philippians Tony Merida
Colossians / Philemon Matt Chandler / Danny Akin
1&2 Thessalonians Mark Howell
1&2 Timothy / Titus Tony Merida / David Platt / Danny Akin
Hebrews Al Mohler
James David Platt / Francis Chan
1 Peter Mark Dever
2 Peter / Jude Mark Dever / Danny Akin
1st, 2nd, 3rd John Danny Akin
Revelation Danny Akin

About Danny Akin: Daniel L. Akin [follow on Twitter] is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in theology, preaching, and hermeneutics. Danny was previously the senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including A Theology of the Church, God on Sex, and the volume dedicated to 1, 2, 3 John in the New American Commentary Series. He also contributed a chapter to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Time. Danny is married to Charlotte, is the father of four boys, and is a proud grandfather of four. The Akins are members of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Danny’s personal website can be found at DanielAkin.com. The article above is adapted from the June 12, 2012 edition of http://betweenthetimes.com/index.php/2012/06/12/excited-to-announce-the-launch-of-christ-centered-exposition-exalting-jesus-in-every-book-of-the-bible/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From Mecca to Calvary: The Testimony of Thabiti Anyabwile

Interview with Thabiti Anyabwile – on his book “The Gospel for Muslims”

 By Matt Svoboda

From the Bible belt, to Islam, to following Jesus, to going into the ministry, and now he has a nationwide stage. Thabiti Anyabwile is a gospel-centered pastor who has preached at the last several Together for the Gospel conferences.  He served under Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC before becoming the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.  I can’t forget to mention that he doesn’t even like the beach!  He has written a few other books, all of which I have read, and I have been greatly blessed by his preaching and writing ministry.

Thabiti Anyabwile has written a book that I have not read, but have ordered it and am very much looking forward to reading. The Gospel for Muslims appears to be a great book for helping Christians to share Christ with confidence to Muslims. I am grateful that Thabiti agreed to do this interview.  Admittedly, I have not really studied Islam or how to share the gospel with Muslims.  This interview and book will be as beneficial for me as anyone. Enjoy the interview below and you can buy the book at the link above:

1) Could you summarize your testimony of how you converted from Islam to Christianity? What were a couple of “milestones” in your process of conversion?

I grew up in small town North Carolina, smack in the middle of the Bible belt.  My family was nominally Christian, attending church at Easter, Christmas, and few times during the year.  The first turning point came for me when I was arrested after my sophomore year in high school.  I’d never been in trouble before; so I did what my big brothers sometimes did when they got in trouble—I went to church.  But sadly, I didn’t have ears to hear the gospel, and I don’t think the gospel was always preached clearly.

So, I went off to college an angry young man.  There, I began friendships with a number of Muslim men.  By my sophomore year in college, I became a practicing Muslim, zealous for Islam.  I practiced Islam through the rest of undergraduate school and a short time after.  The next turning point came near the end of undergraduate school.  During Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting, while reading the Qur’an, I was suddenly aware that the Qur’an admitted too much about Jesus on the one hand (virgin birth, miracles, prophet, gospels are signs from God, etc.) but denied too much on the other hand (not the Son of God, not crucified, etc.).  After a year of trying to find satisfactory answers, I finally concluded that the inconsistencies couldn’t be explained.  Islam was false.

About the same time, a casual conversation with co-workers exposed a nagging problem I’d had all along.  We were discussing various people from world history who we respected.  And a co-worker look at the group and said she couldn’t think of anyone more righteous than me.  After my protests, she continued to insist and to list off the reasons why she thought that.  In that conversation I could see that the righteousness she described was all external behaviors.  But inside, I knew my heart was corrupt and sinful, full of unrighteousness.  I knew I didn’t have the kind of righteousness that would satisfy a holy God.

Rather than turn to Christ, I went further in despair.  Around that time, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with what would have been our first child.  We lost the child three months into the pregnancy.  The Lord dealt us a kind blow.  He humbled us.  And in that period of humbling, we heard the preaching of the gospel with faith for the first time.  The preacher, expounding Exodus 32, explained the sinfulness of sin, and I was deeply convicted.  And the preacher held out Jesus Christ, the only Savior, who not only took God’s wrath against sin but also supplied the perfect righteousness we need to satisfy a holy God.  In God’s amazing kindness, my wife and I both came to faith in the Lord that morning.

2) What is the main reason that you wanted to write this book “The Gospel for Muslims?”

I’m often asked by people who know my testimony, “How can we share the gospel with Muslims?”  When they ask this, they’re really asking, “Is there any special knowledge I need or technique that will be effective in evangelizing Muslims?”  But when you think about it, that’s the wrong question.  The question suggests that we lack confidence in the gospel itself to change the hardest hearts or to save our Muslim neighbors.  So, I wrote the book to remind Christians that “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first but also to the Gentile,” including the Muslim.  What we need is fresh confidence in Christ and the news of His salvation through His death, burial, resurrection, and coming.  If we know the gospel, we know everything we need to know to see our Muslim friends, coworkers, and neighbors saved from the coming wrath of God, and saved to love and enjoy the Savior forever.

3) What are some common misconceptions that Christians have about Muslims?

There are many.  We sometimes think that every Muslim is a terrorist.  Television images and our own fear have a lot to do with that.  But the chances are overwhelming that our Muslim friend or neighbor is not a terrorist.  They’re people with the same concerns, ambitions, and needs as our non-Muslim neighbors.

Also, many people tend to think that every Muslim has memorized the Qur’an by three years old and is able to give extended and sophisticated explanations of their faith.  But in reality, most Muslims don’t know the Qur’an very well at all.  And Islam itself is not one thing all over the world.  Arab Islam differs significantly from Islam in Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world) and North Africa and North America.  You’re more likely to meet a nominal Muslim, much like my nominal Christian family back in NC, than you are to meet a Muslim with the entire Qur’an committed to memory.

But perhaps the biggest myth is that Muslims do not convert.  That simply is not true.  Many, many Muslims are saved by God’s sovereign grace through faith in Christ all the time!  They pay significant costs—losing family, friends and sometimes jobs.  But this is exactly what Jesus tells His followers to expect, and it’s worth it.  As those who already believe, we should expect that the same gospel that saved us will save our Muslim friends.  And we should be ready to help them pay the costs of following our Lord.

4) What are the key passages in Scripture that you use when sharing the gospel with Muslims?  Is there a certain “method” that you use?

I don’t use a certain method in evangelism.  Rather, I concentrate on explaining the gospel clearly, making distinctions in terms so that things like “repentance” and “faith” are seen to be distinct from those things in Islam.  Also, I want to make sure that distinctively Christian realities—like the Trinity, the crucifixion and resurrection, the necessity of turning from sin, abandoning our righteousness, and trusting Jesus alone to save us—are driven home.  I want to make sure my Muslim friend knows that these are personal issues, not just abstract theological issues.  His sin is real.  He has personally offended the holy God of all creation.  His rejection of Jesus means He is abiding in His sin and in God’s wrath.  And unless he repents and trusts Christ, he will suffer eternal judgment.

In my experience, most Muslims are eager to either hear what we think about Jesus, or to try and disprove the gospel.  To do that, they often turn to the gospels themselves.  That puts us on home turf, familiar ground.  Normally, I start where they start and I make sure to read the five verses before and after the verse they usually misquote.  It’s amazing how often the gospel is right there in the context!  So, simply modeling good Bible reading and explaining what’s there tends to “work” as an evangelistic approach.  The Spirit blesses the word.

5) Along with reading your book, how can Christians get trained in order to better share the gospel with Muslims?

There are many good books out there on evangelism.  Continue to read books that encourage in a biblical approach to evangelism.  I’d recommend Mark Dever’s The Gospel and Personal Evangelism and Mack Stiles’ Marks of the Messenger and Speaking of Jesus (which has a video training resource as well).  Those would be wonderful works to study.  Also, reading good books on the gospel itself, including: Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel?, and John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

But there’s really no training like actually sharing your faith.  Don’t worry about “having all the answers.”  In the process of sharing and being questioned, God gives us grace and teaches us things we won’t likely learn any other way.  Consider Philemon 6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  Isn’t it awesome of God to tie our evangelism together with granting us “a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”?  The Lord simultaneously reaches the sinner and rewards the evangelist!

6) Are there any “pitfalls” that Christians often fall into when sharing the gospel with Muslims?

There are several, most of them connected with the misconceptions we have of Muslims.  We sometimes give in to the fear of man.  We sometimes find ourselves playing Bible “ping pong,” lobbing verses back and forth in an effort to win an argument.  Sometimes we try to make unpleasant aspects of the gospel more appealing by leaving them out or softening them.  Or, we’re lured into accepting the claims and premises of Islam as though they were true.  All of these can be pitfalls.

7) What are some “things to avoid” when sharing the gospel with Muslims?

I don’t think it’s helpful to get into discussions of politics, to attack the Qur’an or Prophet Muhammad, or to be disrespectful.  When we’re fearful, feeling under-prepared, and lose sight of the fact that we’re trying to win people to the truth that is in Christ, our flesh exerts enormous control and we tend to do things we’d probably be better off avoiding.

Also, it’s important to avoid serving pork products (or having them in your home) if you’re inviting a Muslim friend or neighbor over.  Avoid immodest clothing and cross-gender conversations.  Many Muslims associate Christianity with the decadence and moral decay of the West.  We want to avoid those associations.

Try your best to avoid assumptions, like: they’d never be interested in attending my church.  Actually, your Muslim neighbor or friend may find themselves with freedoms and interests that they couldn’t pursue in other countries.  Don’t assume they’re not interested in the faith and the church.

8) What are some good ways Christians can lovingly engage Muslims in their community?

Love Muslims the way you’d love anyone.  They’re people made in God’s image, and they experience the same burdens, needs, ambitions, and cares as everyone else.  So, in general, simply move toward them in intentional love.  As we pay attention to them, opportunities for specific acts of kindness and love will emerge.

But some general things also come to mind.  Volunteer in an English-as-Second-Language class or group.  Invite them to your home for a meal or to watch a game.  Most internationals will live in the United States without ever entering an American home.  Practice hospitality.  Also, if you both have children, ask them how they and the kids are adjusting to the culture and ways of the U.S.  Invite your Muslim neighbor and their children to participate in a ball game or some other activity you share with your children.  Be something of a cultural broker, empathizing with their struggles and helping them negotiate life in your community.

9) Any final thoughts or advice that you would like to share with Christians who would like to better engage Muslims with the gospel?

Let the gospel do the work!  Be confident in the power of God encased in the gospel.  Get out there are share the good news and trust the Spirit to use you for the glory of Christ!

More About Thabiti Anyabwile: He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. In his own words, “I love the Lord because He first loved me. I love His people because He has given me a new heart. I have received God’s favor in the form of my wife, Kristie. And together we know His blessing through three children. I was once a Muslim, and by God’s grace I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s unfathomable grace I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which I hope to serve Him until He returns or calls me home!”

He earned his B. A. and M. S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Before moving to minister in the Caribbean, he served with Dr. Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is married to Kristie and they have three children: Afiya, Eden, and Titus. As a native of Lexington, North Carolina, he has an affinity for Western-NC-BBQ. Thabiti writes regularly at Pure Church as part of The Gospel Coalition blog crew. He has also authored several books, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Thabiti converted to Christianity from Islam); Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons; Ephesians: God’s Big Plan for Christ’s New People; May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes; What Is A Healthy Church Member?; The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity; The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African American Pastors. He has also contributing chapters to the following books: For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper; Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God; Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity; and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology.

The Interview above took place on About the Author: Thabiti Anyabwile is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. In his own words, “I love the Lord because He first loved me. I love His people because He has given me a new heart. I have received God’s favor in the form of my wife, Kristie. And together we know His blessing through three children. I was once a Muslim, and by God’s grace I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s unfathomable grace I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which I hope to serve Him until He returns or calls me home!”

He earned his B. A. and M. S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Before moving to minister in the Caribbean, he served with Dr. Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is married to Kristie and they have three children: Afiya, Eden, and Titus. As a native of Lexington, North Carolina, he has an affinity for Western-NC-BBQ. Thabiti writes regularly at Pure Church as part of The Gospel Coalition blog crew. He has also authored several books, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Thabiti converted to Christianity from Islam); Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons; Ephesians: God’s Big Plan for Christ’s New People; May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes; What Is A Healthy Church Member?; The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity; The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African American Pastors. He has also contributing chapters to the following books: For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper; Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God; Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity; and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology.

The interview above took place on May 7, 2010 and can be found on SBC Voices: http://sbcvoices.com/interview-thabiti-anyabwile-the-gospel-for-muslims/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thabiti Anyabwile on Winning Souls With C.H. Spurgeon

At the conclusion of T4G, a dear brother approached me to give me a copy of Spurgeon’s classic, The Soul Winner: Advice on Effective Evangelism.  Perhaps he felt sorry for me because I didn’t have any Spurgeon quotes for my sermon.  But I suspect, having gotten to know him and his wife a little, it was one of those loving gestures that so often occur in the brief exchanges God blesses us with at our churches and at conferences.  Praise the Lord.

I’ve been reading the book slowly, enjoying Spurgeon’s unique gift and praying the Lord would make me a better evangelist.  In God’s grace, I’m feeling fresh stirring and I’m praying the Lord would not stop until He gives me real fire.

From time to time, I’m hoping to reflect a little on The Soul Winner and I hope you’ll join me.  We begin today with chapter 1, “What Is It to Win a Soul?”

That’s a foundational question, isn’t it?  We have to be clear about the “it” before we can do “it.”  And it’s important that we maintain a sense of the priority of evangelism.  Spurgeon writes, “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer” (p. 5).  Amen.  But what is soul winning?

What Soul-Winning Is Not

Spurgeon identifies three things soul-winning is not:

(1) “We do not regard it to be soul-sinning to steal members out of churches already established, and train them to utter our peculiar Shibboleth: we aim rather at bringing souls to Christ than at making converts to our synagogue.”  

He continues, “We count it utter meanness to build up our own house with the ruins of our neighbors’ mansions” (p. 5).  How often do we hear boasts of swelling numbers added to the ranks of the converted (or more often baptism and church membership) at the expense of neighboring fellowships?  I agree with Mr. Spurgeon; that’s not soul-winning as much as its plain ol’ competition.  I love Spurgeon’s charge:

There is such a thing as selfishness in our eagerness for the aggrandizement of our own party; and from this evil spirit may grace deliver us!  The increase of the kingdom is more to be desired than the growth of a clan.  We would do a great deal to make a Paedo-baptist brother into a Baptist, for we value our Lord’s ordinances; we should labor earnestly to raise a believer in salvation by free-will into a believer in salvation by grace, for we long to see all religious teaching built upon the solid rock of truth, and not upon the sand of imagination; but, at the same time, our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of our natures.  We would bring men to Christ and not to our own peculiar views of Christianity.  Our first care must be that the sheep should be gathered to the great Shepherd; there will be time enough afterwards to secure them for our various folds.  To make proselytes is a suitable labor for Pharisees: to beget men unto God is the honorable aim of ministers of Christ. (p. 6)

(2) “We do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year (p. 6).  Here!  Here!

(3) “Nor is it soul-winning, dear friends, merely to create excitement” (p. 9).

What Soul-Winning Is

Having dispelled the imitation acts, Spurgeon then turns to positively defining “soul-winning” as he sees it.  He brings his students’ attention to three positive aspects of evangelism:

(1) ”I take it that one of its main operations consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God (p. 10).

To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavor to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with a bird-lime, or lure a star with music.  The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow, which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which can heal the deadliest wound.  Preach it, and preach nothing else.  Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel.  You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones.  Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfillment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.” (p. 13)

(2) “Secondly, to win a soul, it is necessary, not only to instruct our hearer, and make him know the truth, but to impress him so that he may feel it (p. 13).

A sinner has a heart as well as a head; a sinner has emotions as well as thoughts; and we must appeal to both.  A sinner will never be converted until his emotions are stirred.  Unless he feels sorrow for sin, and unless he has some measure of joy in the reception of the Word, you cannot have much hope of him.  The Word must be like a strong wind sweeping through the whole heart, and swaying the whole man, even as a field of ripening corn waves in the summer breeze.  Religion without emotion is religion without life. (p. 14)

You and I must continue to drive at men’s hearts till they are broken; and then we must keep on preaching Christ crucified till their hearts are bound up; and when this is accomplished, we must continue to proclaim the gospel till their whole nature is brought into subjection to the gospel of Christ.  Even in these preliminaries you will be made to feel the need of the Holy Ghost to work with you, and by you; but this need will be still more evident when we advance a step further, and speak of the new birth itself in which the Holy Spirit works in a style and manner most divine. (p. 16)

(3) “Of all whom we would fain win for Jesus it is true, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’  The Holy Spirit must work regeneration in the objects of our love, or they never can become possessors of eternal happiness” (p. 16).

According to Spurgeon, regeneration will be shown in:

(1) conviction of sin,

(2) the exhibition of a simple faith in Jesus Christ,

(3) unfeigned repentance of sin,

(4) a real change of life,

(5) true prayer, and

(6) a willingness to obey the Lord in all His commandments.  

It’s funny, but many today would regard anything more than “a simple faith in Jesus Christ” as a telltale sign of legalism.  But Mr. Spurgeon was no legalist.  It’s more likely that our own day has so low a view of conversion–equating it only with “a public profession of faith”–that we’ve grown squeamish and downright afraid of insisting that regeneration must entail newness of life, a radical change, a friendly disposition toward God rather than a stubborn refusal (enmity).  If we have any hesitancy at affirming the bulk of this list, might we be unaware of our slippery grip on the magnificence of the new birth?  Might we be in danger of rushing to affirm “professions” while overlooking the fruit of conversion?

It hardly seems necessary to say that the problems Spurgeon identified are with us today, and were with the church during the apostolic era.  The evidence of false converts–biblical, historical, and contemporary–is plentiful.  And one could become discouraged, judgmental, contentious, or indifferent.  But when the Lord of the harvest commands we pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers, we’re meant to understand that the Lord of the harvest plans on reaping and there’s no need for fainting!  We should be encouraged because the problem of false converts simply means the unsaved have been brought near!  We should be encouraged that the cotton has grown so high that by God’s grace we may pick without stooping!  Brother, be encouraged to win souls!

So much more could be said, but Mr. Spurgeon should have the final word of exhortation:

You may say to yourself, at the close of a service, “Here is a splendid haul of fish!”  Wait a bit.  Remember our Savior’s words, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was fully, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”  Do not number your fishes before they are broiled; not count your converts before you have tested and tried them.  This process may make your work somehow slow; but then, brethren, it will be sure.

Do your work steadily and well, so that those who come after you may not have to say that it was far more trouble to them to clear the church of those who ought never to have been admitted than it was to you to admit them.  If God enables you to build three thousand bricks into His spiritual temple in one day, you may do it; but Peter has been the only bricklayer who has accomplished that feat up to the present.

“Do not go and paint the wooden wall as if it were solid stone; but let all you building be real, substantial, and true, for only this kind of work is worth the doing.  Let all your building for God be like that of the apostle Paul According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; pp. 27-28).

Preach, Mr. Spurgeon! Preach!

About the Author: Thabiti Anyabwile is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. In his own words, “I love the Lord because He first loved me. I love His people because He has given me a new heart. I have received God’s favor in the form of my wife, Kristie. And together we know His blessing through three children. I was once a Muslim, and by God’s grace I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s unfathomable grace I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which I hope to serve Him until He returns or calls me home!”

He earned his B. A. and M. S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Before moving to minister in the Caribbean, he served with Dr. Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is married to Kristie and they have three children: Afiya, Eden, and Titus. As a native of Lexington, North Carolina, he has an affinity for Western-NC-BBQ. Thabiti writes regularly at Pure Church as part of The Gospel Coalition blog crew. He has also authored several books, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Thabiti converted to Christianity from Islam); Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons; Ephesians: God’s Big Plan for Christ’s New People; May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes; What Is A Healthy Church Member?; The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity; The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African American Pastors. He has also contributing chapters to the following books: For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper; Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God; Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity; and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology.

The article above is adapted from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2012/05/03/winning-souls-with-charles-spurgeon

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Thinking, Loving, Doing edited by John Piper & David Mathis

Theological and Practical Help For Balancing the Mind, Heart, and Hands

This book is a compilation of several outstanding pastoral addresses from experienced Christian leaders from a recent Desiring God Conference on the theme of balancing the mind, the heart (emotions), and the hands. I will seek to summarize what each chapter/leader addresses in their specific topic of choice and what I benefited from in my reading of each chapter:

The Introduction is written by David Mathis (an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis). He makes a helpful distinction between churches that focus on being pure and those that focus on unity and encourages those who lean one way or the other to learn from the other side. He then proceeds to use Dr. John Frames helpful distinctions of tri-perspectivalism, whereby some churches emphasis The Kingly role, some the Priestly role, and others the Prophetic role of Christ. He then sets up the following chapters in the book and shows how each contributes to bring balance to how we can love Christ with our minds, hearts, and hands.

I personally really enjoyed this chapter as it caused me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses in my personal and corporate involvement in the body of Christ and what I have to offer others and what I can learn from others in becoming more Christ-like in balancing the tri-perspectivalism as described in the chapter via John Frames helpful schema.

Chapter Two is entitled “The Battle for Your Mind” by Rick Warren (everyone knows who he is – if you are on planet Earth). He does a topical study from the Scriptures on the pitfalls we wrestle with in the battle between our ears, and then proceeds to give four principles on thinking; five levels of learning; and five things to remember when we are teaching others.

As usual, Warren is very practical, and gives some good acronyms whereby one can remember easily his various points. What I liked about this chapter is that it was very thorough and broad and it is a chapter I will go back to again and again in my teaching others, and being reminded myself how to win the battle for the mind utilizing distinct principles in taking every thought captive for Christ.

Chapter Three is the most intellectually demanding chapter written by Albert Mohler – the President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He gives a very thought provoking analysis of our present state of thinking in light of Romans 1:18-32 and postmodernism. He gives 14 insightful noetic effects on the mind due to the fall; five precepts of the modern mind, 12 features of the natural mind, and three practical ways to combat the blind spots that we all have due to the fall.

Dr. Mohler has an amazing mind and what this chapter did for me primarily is to help me think more theologically about how thinking must be reformed and renewed by the Scriptures and the amazing effects of the fall upon our minds. It really motivated me to study the Scriptures and Culture more thouroughly then I typically do, so that I give more thought to how to declare the gospel the “natural” mind, and well as to the “spiritual” mind of those I seek to reach and grow in the gospel.

My favorite modern theologian – Dr. RC Sproul – founder of Ligonier Ministries writes about how Paul addresses the secular mind from Acts 17 and what we can learn from what he did, in our own approach to skeptics today.

Dr. Sproul makes the case for how we can never find “an explanation for being, for life, or for motion if we try to find it outside the being and character of God.” I was encouraged by this reminder of how amazing it is to have the perspective of God in my worldview, when so many have suppressed this, and are thus in great need of modern “Paul’s” to address the issues of the day from a Theo and Christo-centric perspective.

In Chapter Four Thabiti Anyabwile (Pastor in the Cayman Islands) addresses how we may encounter Islam by using the mind of Christ as opposed to being driven by fear where he rightly says, “where fear takes control, thinking does not.”

Pastor Anyabwile (a former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a young adult) does a fantastic job of giving an overview of pluralism, Islam, and how we should respond to Muslims. His chapter helped me to fear Islam less, and gave me a bigger heart to share the good news with the many Muslims who live in my community.

In Chapter Five, Francis Chan (Pastor and Writer in San Francisco) addresses how to think hard, combat pride and stay humble based on an exposition of 1 Corinthians 8. In this chapter Chan really does a great job showing how we can love more like Jesus by thinking more like him.

The Concluding chapter is by John Piper (Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church) and addresses how love flows out of us when we love God with all of our minds. He gives 8 points that he hopes this book will prevent in Christians, and then what he hopes that this book will awaken and increase: ‘Thinking for the sake of loving.”

I really enjoyed this book because it was deep theologically, and gave helpful applications from the Scriptures in how to love God and others with our minds, emotions, and actions. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars because it’s a book I will come to again and again for my own personal walk with the Lord, and because it will help me to be more balanced in my own teaching, and coaching ministries.

*Note: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to give a favorable review.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: