Tag Archives: Worship
Evangelism for God’s Glory
by Burk Parsons
To borrow a theme from John Piper’s classic book Let the Nations Be Glad!, evangelism isn’t the ultimate goal of the church: worship is. Evangelism exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not evangelism. Evangelism isn’t the end but a means to the end, which is God’s glorious rescue of His people to know Him truly, worship Him purely, enjoy Him fully, and glorify Him eternally. We evangelize in order that God might gather for Himself worshipers from every tribe, tongue, and nation for His glory. Evangelism is a temporary necessity, but worship abides forever.
Although we certainly need to be discipled in our knowledge of the gospel and equipped to proclaim the gospel, we must not forget that gospel proclamation isn’t first and foremost a program, it’s a way of life. It’s not something we only do on a particular day of the week when our schedules allow it; it’s something we do every day of our lives. Like children who cannot help but express their tender love for their mother and father, or like a married couple who cannot help but express their love for each other in daily words and deeds, we are the born-again, adopted children of God. Moreover, we are the redeemed bride of Christ who cannot help but proclaim the beautifully adorned narrow way, the liberating truth, and the abundant life that all men in all nations can have if they put their trust in Jesus Christ.
The life of the Christian is the daily life of gospel proclamation to our own stubborn hearts when we sin; to our spouses whenever they need to hear our repentance and God’s forgiveness in Christ; to our children whenever we discipline them and point them to their desperate need for Christ; and to our coworkers, colleagues, classmates, communities, and to the ends of the earth. We don’t just enter the mission field when we drive out of our church parking lots each Lord’s Day, we enter the mission field when we get out of bed each morning. Our proclamation of the gospel takes place around the kitchen table in our homes, across the tracks in our communities, and around the world — wherever God has us presently and wherever He might call us in the future.
God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light and has now called us to go into the darkness and shine, being always ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us a reason for the hope within us, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). For those whom the Spirit is seeking will, indeed, be found as we reflect Christ’s light by following Him in His mission to a dark and hell-bound world. They will see our good works and they will ask, so let us be ready to proclaim the gospel that they might give all glory to God.
Article Adapted from Tabletalk Magazine, June 1st, 2012 http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/evangelism-for-gods-glory/
Burk Parsons is the editor of Tabletalk magazine and serves as co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. He is editor of the book John Calvin: A heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. He is on twitter @BurkParsons © Tabletalk magazine
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Michael Wilkins has defined a disciple of Jesus as one who “has come to Jesus for eternal life, has claimed Jesus as Savior and God, and has embarked upon the life of following Jesus.” His very presence in my life and his promise to never leave nor forsake me, encourages me to daily follow Him. At the heart of following Him is this undeserved relationship I have with Him.
2. Discipleship is enabled and empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit indwells and fills believers (Eph. 5:18), guides us into all truth (John 16:13), brings forth fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23) and empowers us for ministry in the church and in the world. The Spirit is God’s presence in us (Rom. 8:11) to confirm that we are indeed children of God (Rom. 8:16) and to convict us of sin for the continuing process of conforming us into the image of Christ. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit encourages the response of submission to His sanctifying work.
3. Discipleship is grounded and guided by the Word of God
The Bible is our authority in all areas of life. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Consistent nourishment is a vital component of one’s spiritual growth (Psalm 1, John 15).
4. Discipleship is nurtured in community
Community with other believers is a vital part of our growth as disciples. We were made to be in fellowship with one another. Thus the imagery of the body of Christ portrays how vitally linked we are to one another. In such community we are able to fulfill the command of loving one another and with this community then to love the world.
5. Discipleship is a continuing process of being transformed from the inside-out
“The ultimate goal of the believer’s life is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29).” Jesus described a radical way of life in the sermon on the mount. In a world in which righteousness was very much regarded by one’s outward actions, Jesus emphasized the transformation of the heart.
6. Discipleship produces spiritual fruit
As the Holy Spirit works to transform the individual and change is made from the inside-out, the characteristics of God become evident in the believer’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
7. Disciples of Christ who are in the process of inward transformation, yield to the Spirit’s leading in service and mission.
Spiritual formation is both about the inward change of heart and the outward manifestation of that changed heart. Christ modeled the life of service for His disciples and commands us to serve in humility and love while proclaiming His truth in a lost world.
8. Disciples are called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings
As we live in a sin-cursed world, we bear the effects of sin on a daily basis. With the presence of Christ and the promise of future hope with Him, we are able to endure the pain and even be transformed in the process. Paul writes of this truth in 2 Cor. 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” God invites us to suffer for His sake, for living to honor Christ in a world that is hostile toward Him. In this, we share in his sufferings and bring glory to Him.
9. Disciples Must Count the Cost
Following Christ as His disciple means letting go of one’s own will and seeking the will of God in all things (Luke 9:23). Nothing must take the place of Jesus as the “focus of allegiance,” as Wilkins explains.
10. Discipleship is a Life-long Journey
In my own life, describing my faith and discipleship in terms of the journey metaphor has been vitally important on many different levels. As I come to different forks in the road, or experience difficult trials, knowing that Jesus is my trustworthy Master and Leader, is my sole comfort and motivation to continue in this journey of faith. We must continue to realize and endeavor to endure the trials of faith that come with renewed commitment to following Christ on a daily basis.
 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 40.
 Michael Glerup, “The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation,” in The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, ed. Alan Andrews (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2010), 251.
 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 133.
 Michael J. Wilkins, An Outline Study Guide to “Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship,” 69.
*Article above adapted from http://www.thetwocities.com/practical-theology/discipleship-2/discipleship-principles/ Posted by Jeannette Hagen – February 25, 2013
About the Author:
Jeanette Hagan is currently a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Durham. Studying under John M.G. Barclay, she is writing her thesis on the relationship between Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith and the continuing participation a believer experiences in the death, resurrection and life of Christ. Previously, she studied English literature for her B.A. at Biola University while being in the first graduating class of the Torrey Honors Institute. In 2011 she completed her M.A. in New Testament at Talbot School of Theology. Her passion is training and equipping disciples to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. She has served in a variety of ministry capacities. Highlights include: organizing summer camps and humanitarian efforts for orphans in Ukraine and Russia, traveling 5 continents sharing the Gospel, helping to facilitate for theological and practical ministry training for believers around the world, and serving in a church plant in Whittier, CA. In her free time she enjoys reading, being outdoors in a variety of recreational capacities, playing piano, and mostly just spending quality time with family and friends.
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. – PSALM 27:4
Now, admit it—you love yourself, and you have a wonderful plan for your life. Somehow, someway we all are too focused on our own lives. All of us get captured by what we want, what we feel, and what we have determined we need. Every one of us is a dreamer. We have all been given the amazing capacity to envision the future and to plan toward it. A dream is imagination coupled with desire and projected into the future. There are things that you would love to have as part of your life. There are things that you would like to accomplish. There are locations you would love to experience. There are relationships you would like to enjoy. There are situations you would like to avoid. Every day you get up and you work toward some kind of dream.
But dreamers don’t just dream their dream; they also dream to be sovereign. In some way, at some time, all of us have wished that we had enough control over our lives to guarantee that we could experience the things we have dreamed. We would like to control people and situations just enough to ensure that the “good things” we’ve dreamed would actually come true. What does the Bible call all of this? The Bible calls it worship.
You see, you and I are worshipers. This is one of the things that separates us from the rest of creation. As worshipers we are always living for something. Something is always laying claim to the affection and rulership of our hearts. There is always something that commands our dreams. There is something that we look to for identity, meaning, and purpose, and that inner sense of well-being that everyone seeks.
Scripture says that there are only two choices (Rom. 1:25). Either you are living in pursuit of the creation or you are living in pursuit of the Creator. You are looking for your satisfaction and meaning in the physical, created world, or you are finding it in the Lord.
This means that there is a war of dreams that rages in our hearts, and in the middle of the fog of this war it is so easy to get it wrong. It is so easy to think that because we have our theology in the right place, because we are biblically literate and functioning members of a good church, that our lives are shaped by worship of the Lord. But that may not be the case at all. On closer inspection, it may actually be the case that underneath all of those things we are driven by personal success, or material things, or the respect of others, or power and control. I am deeply persuaded that there’s a whole lot of idolatrous Christianity out there. The most dangerous idols are those that fit well within the culture of external Christianity.
It’s here that Psalm 27 is so helpful and convicting. What is David’s dream for his life? What is his plan? Well, the answer sounds so spiritual as to be impractical, but it gets right to the heart of why we were created in the first place. David says, in Old Testament language, “I want to spend my life in worship of the Lord. I want to dwell in his temple and gaze upon his beauty.” The shekinahglory presence of the Lord filled the holy place of the temple, like a cloud. It was a physical picture of God dwelling with his people. David was saying, “I want to be where God is. I want to do what I was created to do.”
No, David isn’t some super-spiritual mystic. David gets it right. His quest is for a life shaped and directed by a daily worship of the Lord. David knows who he is: a creature created for worship. David knows who God is: the only “thing” in the universe truly worthy of worship. His dream is the best dream that you could ever dream. Far from being impractical, this dream, if lived out at street level, will bring purity and peace to your life.
What is your plan for your life? How close is your plan to the plan God had for you when he gave you life and breath? Is there, perhaps, something in your plan that competes for the place that only God should have?
May your plan for you be identical to his plan for you!
Take a Moment
1. How close is your dream for your life to the plan for life to which God has called you?
2. Is God calling you to let go of a dream so that his plan for you may flourish?
*The article above adapted from the excellent book by Paul David Tripp. A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble. Wheaton: Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. 2009, pp. 149-150.
About the Author:
Dr. Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries (www.paultrippministries.org), a nonprofit organization, whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” This mission leads Paul to weekly speaking engagements around the world. In addition to being a gifted communicator and sought after conference speaker with Paul Tripp Ministries, Paul is the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written many books on Christian Living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella and they have four grown children.
He is the author of the following excellent Christ-centered books:
Dangerous Calling: Confronting The Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2012.
Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
What Did You Expect? Redeeming The Realities of Marriage. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (contributor). Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.
A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.
Broken Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad. Shepherd Press, 2009.
Helping People Change (with Timothy S. Lane). Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.
Helping Your Adopted Child. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
Peer Pressure. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2008.
A Quest for More: Living For Something Bigger Than You. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2007.
Grief: Finding Hope Again. Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2005.
Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God. Shepherd Press, 2004.
Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood (contributor). Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001.
War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Communication Struggles. Phillipsburg, NJ P&R, 2001.