Is conversion easy to experience, or difficult? If you can’t remember your conversion experience, is it likely you are not saved? Do all people come to faith the same way? Does conversion always bring assurance of salvation? Is conversion seen in a decision that is made, or in a process that is experienced?

Turning to God

Turning to God, by David Wells, documents how the doctrine of conversion has been withering away for centuries. Written in 1989, then updated and re-released in 2012, the book catalogs various attacks against a Christian understanding of conversion, and it contains Wells’ call for evangelicals to cultivate a robust understanding of how we entered the Christian life. He shows how the questions asked above illustrate the difficulty inherent in any effort to understand conversion.   Continue Reading…

I can’t decide whether or not to attend “Indecision Anonymous” meetings. While I’m making up my mind about that, I could use your help in picking a cover for my new book on short term missions (STM), called Holding the Rope. Michael Hyatt would call this crowd sourcing; my dad calls it “passing the buck.” Either way, your help would be appreciated.

Deep down we all know that we do judge a book by its cover. So rather than fight that unfortunate reality, let’s embrace it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The creative design team at William Carey Library publishing house has proffered these three options. Please vote for #1, #2, #3, and if you have reasons for your preference, suggestions for improvements, or any other constructive comments, feel free to include those. If you’re bold enough to do so, include your age demographic, and whether or not you’d be interested in this book no matter how gripping the cover. (Just be nice, my wife reads this).

Here’s some blurb about the book:

“Holding the rope” is more than Carey’s iconic catchphrase–it articulates an entire philosophy of ministry. Christian missions is too daunting an enterprise to attempt alone, but the synergy of combined efforts can accomplish untold advancement for the kingdom of God.

Many churches market their STM trips by appealing to the novelty of international travel, but the real goal of a successful STM trip isn’t primarily to enrich the one going, nor is it the benefit for the sending church, but rather it is the missionary family. These have left family and lands and Starbucks, for the sake of Christ’s great commission. It is the missionary who understands the needs, pitfalls, and long-term strategy of his new home. Using William Carey’s life story as a framework, and exploring the biblical models, Holding the Rope shows how to think about STM theologically as well as how to do it effectively.

When I was the STM co-ordinator at Grace Community Church, I was privileged to meet dozens of front-line missionaries and visit them in the trenches. I used their collective wisdom to build a selection and training program for the 120 short term travelers Grace Community sent out each year. This book is half-memoir, half-manual on what I learned on the job.

If you liked my chapter on STM in John MacArthur’s Rediscovering Evangelism then you may or may not like this book. It’s an elaboration on the philosophy of ministry in that chapter, but in a far less formal style.

Here’s a dust-jacket description of the book written by the editor:

Holding the Rope gives an insightful look into the preparation, philosophy, and application of short term cross-cultural ministry. Archer addresses the issues with candor, humor, and most importantly, grace. He provides viable solutions to common problems, and encourages churches, pastors, and volunteers to adopt a biblical and practical approach for engaging in short term missions. This book is a tool for those serving the servants, a guide and celebration of those who hold the ropes.

Without further ado, I give you the three finalists…

#1 Rope Vertical Title

#1 Rope Vertical Title

#2 Hands Holding Rope

#2 Hands Holding Rope

#3 Bright Yellow

#3 Bright Yellow

 

Ideally, churches and seminaries work together in a mutually beneficial way. Like minded churches start a seminary. In turn they send their ministers to that seminary so that their future pastors receive rigorous theological education. When this relationship works, churches thrive. But when a schism cuts between a seminary and its churches, the churches wither.

This unfortunately happened in the 1960s when liberal theology cut a schism between the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and the Southern Baptist Convention. While the convention stayed its conservative course, its flagship seminary drowned in Liberalism. SBTS had abandoned its confessional roots, which date back to its founding in 1859. This meant that it had also shirked its ties to the churches who founded and supported SBTS.

During this liberal domination of SBTS, teachers disavowed the bodily resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, and other key tenets of the faith. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, anecdotally remembers that there was a vivid opposition against the Gospel at Southern. Continue Reading…

November 7, 2013

Truth Remains

by Nathan Busenitz

In our post last week, we celebrated Reformation Day by emphasizing the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. I ended that post with these words:

You may have a dozen copies of the Bible in your house. But don’t ever let your familiarity with the Word of God breed indifference or contempt in your heart. The book you hold in your hand is a treasure. It is the revelation of God Himself — in printed form — empowered by His Spirit to conform you into the image of His Son. The Word of God has the power to change history and transform continents. It has the power to change hearts, including yours and mine.

Today, in keeping with that theme, I want to direct your attention to a great ministry and online resource that details key parts of the history of the English Bible — Truth Remains.

truth_remains_logo

According to the ministry’s website, the mission of Truth Remains is to promote and proclaim God’s written Word, thereby stimulating greater love and devotion to the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, in His church (John 1:14). That mission is primarily accomplished by exposing believers to the history of the English Bible, and thereby reminding American evangelicals of the great sacrifices that faithful men and women made in previous generations so that we could have access to the Word of God. Continue Reading…

Grudem Asmus book titleGlobal poverty is simple in its explanation but complicated in its solution. People are poor because they lack the ability to produce their own wealth. Solving that requires a complex solution consisting of at least 78 different factors that can only really be implemented on a national level.

At least that is the view put forward in The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus. This book is a clear explanation of what governing principles lead to the production of wealth, and it also serves as a refutation of immoral practices that lead to poverty.  Grudem (a theologian) and Asmus (an economist) make a formidable combination, and the case they lay out for how countries should run their governments is convincing.

Grudem and Asmus take complex economic theory and explain it in an accessible way. Wealth is measured by a country’s GDP (gross domestic product) and per capita income (which is arrived at by taking the GDP and dividing it by the total population). Simply put, countries are poor if their GDP is low, and countries are wealthy because their GDP is high. The solution to poverty then is to find ways to raise a country’s GDP (pp. 45, 51), which can only happen through making products of value.

The authors use an intentionally simple illustration to explain how this works. If a woman has a piece of cloth (worth, say…$3), and she makes it into a shirt (worth, say…$13) then she has added $10 to her country’s GDP (p. 53). That sounds simple enough, but consider the implications of this:   Continue Reading…

November 5, 2013

Introducing the King

by Wyatt Graham

He would ride on a royal steed. This king would come with purple draping his shoulders to oust the invaders and bring freedom to his people. When the king returns, he would establish his kingdom and destroy his enemies. At least, this is what many expected Jesus to do.

According to the Gospels, many Jewish people had a basic misunderstanding of the nature of Jesus’ first coming. While they expected a military leader, Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). In other words, the means by which Jesus accomplished his mission was totally different than many first-century believers imagined.

But just because these believers misunderstood the means by which Jesus would accomplish his mission, this doesn’t mean that they misjudged the goal of his mission. I believe that most faithful believers would have grasped the goal of the Messiah’s mission, because of the clarity of Old Testament.

Continue Reading…