John Piper’s sermon from this past weekend is awesome.  He really gets at the heart of the issues involved.  Here’s an excerpt:

So you see where this leads us: As a member of this church, you can be wrong on election, wrong on the power of sin, wrong on the extent of atonement, wrong on the power of grace, wrong on perseverance, and wrong on the sovereignty of God—but you can’t be wrong on baptism. Perhaps that’s the way it should be because of the uniqueness of baptism in its one-time, unrepeatable dramatization of Christian conversion. Or perhaps there should be membership not just for those who don’t fully understand and follow the doctrines of grace, but also for those who don’t fully understand and follow the doctrine of baptism.

This is part of a three part series.  Here’s the link to David Mathis’s summary.  I encourage everyone to check it out.  After listening to this I think the Lord has given me a go ahead to join a local PCA church that I have been attending for some time with a clear conscience even though I disagree with the way they administer baptism.  I praise God for being so faithful to answer my pleas for wisdom.

For anyone interested, a blog-debate (or conversation for those of you who bristle at the word debate) that took place last summer involving Piper, Wayne Grudem, Mark Dever, Sam Storms and others.  Justin Taylor summarized the whole exchange if you’d like to check it out.  This is what got me started thinking about everything over a year ago and I’m excited to have more of an idea where I am on this issue.  I may post in the near future describing my own experience in more detail.  Stay tuned 🙂

P.S.  The end of this message is so encouraging, the way that Piper humbles himself and shares a need for growth for himself and for his church.  It’s incredible to see how his theological convictions are so rooted in real life.

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One of my good friends from Furman just recently kicked off a blog.  He’s a smart guy and his first post made me think.  Here’s another juxtaposition — this one dealing with unity in the Gospel:

Bearing

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

United

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Cor 1:10)

Accursing

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1:8-10)

Note: These types of posts are intentionally vague.  My goal is to spurn thoughts and even comments and conversation.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

I have just finished reading through Ephesians and a particular passage that struck me in a fresh way was Ephesians 4:15-16:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We’re called to be “speaking the truth in love” so as “to grow up…into him.”  Our growth in Christ is a community project, andthere is much more to “speaking the truth in love” than just talking about truth.  The Greek could more precisely be translated “truthing in love.”  The speech aspect is implied.  What I took from this is that we are to be seeking to speak truth gently to our brothers and sisters in Christ, while also aggressively pursuing truth from them in love.  We want to hear truth about ourselves, but we also need to hear truth about the Gospel, truth about Christ, and truth about the cross.  We suffer greatly from short-term memory loss when it comes to our own sin and remembering God’s promises, so we need others constantly truthing us with love.  This is how God has designed us.  When we fail to speak and seek truth to/for/from others then we’re destined for failure.  The picture below illustrates this:

HT: icanhazcheeseburger

The greatest way we can fight sin is with the word of God.  However, we are prone to rely on ourselves and try to handle our struggles all on our own.  Becoming hard-pressed by temptation often leads us to isolate ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and at times physically.  While there are times for great solitude, fighting sin is not one of those times.  In his epistle, James calls us to fight sin together:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16 ESV).

The writer of Hebrews encourages this type of community as well:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV).

And lastly Paul exhorts us to bear each others burdens in fighting sin:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2 ESV).

This clip from Planet Earth made me think of what this should look like in our lives.  Let’s fight together the way these otters do! (Start at 2:29 for illustration)