Saturday, April 16, 2011

How the Gospel Makes You Untouchable

In Matt Chandler's message from the Gospel Coalition Conference entitled "Youth" (Eccelsiastes 11:7-12:14), he provided a compelling summary of how Paul lived out the gospel. He explained the connection between Paul's freedom and his suffering; his view of circumstances through the lens of gospel effect. Here are a few of his best thoughts:

On the connection between Paul's message and pain:
"Everyone loves Pauline theology, but nobody wants Pauline pain. You want that deep girth? That's paid for, man! And it's not paid for in study! It is paid for in pain."
On Paul's freedom from circumstances from Phil 1:12-17:
I've never met a man that is as free as Paul is; you can't touch him!

If you tell him, "I'm going to kill you."
Paul would say, "All right, it is time to go home!"
If you say, "Alright, we're going to let you live."
"Alright, to live is Christ!"
"Okay, we are going to beat you."
"You know how it is...that is sharing in the sufferings of Christ; I welcome that."
"We'll put you in prison."
"I'll convert your guards and most of your prisoners."

Paul was just just an untouchable man. How do you get untouchable like that? You keep going back to the gospel over and over again. Everything drives the gospel forward.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where is Biblical Counseling Headed?

At the Gospel Coalition, I attended a great session on the future of the Biblical Counseling movement. The panel was Steve Viars, David Powlison, Garrett Higbee, and Bob Kelleman.

Testimony by Garrett:

- Came to a crisis in 1992 after a thriving therapy business

- Brought to a Bible-teaching church where he was converted

- Decision point: either continue to rearrange flesh dynamics or do real soul work

- Saw the Word in a new light, saw the Holy Spirit as critical, learned the beauty of truth and grace (John 1:14), saw the power of prayer

- Became convinced of the role of the local church and the body surrounding hurting people

- Wants the church to take back soul care

David Powlison – Growth Trajectory

- Like any healthy movement it is growing and continually needs reformation

- 40 years ago through Jay Adams who articulated large, important truths

o What is counseling about? People in trouble, finding hope, dealing with their sin issues through Christ

o Some things were controversial however it gained acceptance


- Development from behavior toward the interplay of the horizontal and vertical (1 Tim 1:5)

- Largely sin-centric but now focuses on sin and suffering

- Growing understanding of the flexibility in counseling – a movement away from just “admonish the unruly” to include “encourage the weak, help the faint-hearted”

- Growing in understanding the law and the gospel. Formerly biblical counseling was more focused on moral topography often at the neglect of the gospel.

Steve Viars – Numerical Growth

- Biblical Counseling Coalition – renewal of interest and acceptance of biblical counseling

- Relationships and Resources are the main tasks

- Connect people together, provide resources and a portal to link people back to the movement

Bob Kelleman – Director of Biblical Counseling Coalition

- Wants to be like the Gospel Coalition

- Providing resources, links, and connections


1. Do you recommend churches to hire counselors or to develop centers of counseling?

- Viars: encourage you to train your people; he hires as a last resort

- Powlison: Keller took a long view when he was planting Redeemer; focused first on preaching and discipling, and the other would come.

2. What are some resources to train our lay leaders?

- Not just a church with biblical counseling; a church of biblical counseling

- Start with problem/solutions – Instruments in the Redeemer Hands, etc.

3. Does Biblical Counseling negate medical issues?

- GH: No, but every human issue has a spiritual component; every emotional issue has a theological foundation

- Nowhere does God give us an excuse because of the health

- BC will show them the superiority of going the Scriptures for the answers

- DP: Huge question – Imagine 5 concentric circles

i. Soul

ii. Body

iii. Social

iv. Evil One

v. Living God

- The secular culture fails to understand who you really are as a person. Psych 1 will teach you about nature and nurture (think – doughnut). The church has the reverse problem: it values the soul but ignores the other (think – target)

4. Is all sin idolatry or is idolatry a specific sin?

- Idolatry is a theological metaphor for describing a horizontal and a vertical orientation

- People are always functioning on two planes

- Idolatry can become a code-word which is not helpful (“Words are the coinage of fools but they are the markers of wise men.”)

5. What can we do to increase the possibility of opening up?

- Viars: be careful about not over-using the word counseling; use words like discipleship, sanctification.

- “Our church doesn’t have a counseling center; we are a counseling center.”

- Higby: Establish trust, we start by using a life story and the use of advocates who come along-side the person.

6. What is the vision of the Biblical Counseling Movement over the next 20 years?

- Deeper relationships among ministries

- Deeper resources web-based

- Bib Counseling has been more “against” than what they are “for;” we want to change that tone and focus.

- Finding people who have PHD’s in this area.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Summary of the Gospel

Some time ago, I tried to summarize the Gospel in less than 400 words. It was a part of a sermon entitled "The Triumph of the Gospel Over Approval."

There is a triune God who is both creator of everything (Gen 1:1) and infinitely holy (Is. 6:3). Human beings are natural born sinners (Rom. 3:10-11), violate God’s law (James 2:10), and face death (Rom. 6:23) and judgment in Hell (Mt 25:30-46) from a righteous God because of our passive and active depravity. Self-atonement is impossible since every sacrifice would be tainted by our sinfulness (Is 64:6). In ourselves there is no hope for reconciliation with a holy God (Eph 2:12).

But the good news of the Bible is that the second person of the Trinity became a man (John 1:14); his name is Jesus (Mt 1:21), and he lived a perfect, sinless life (Heb. 4:15). He was undeservedly executed on a cross (Mt 27:35), experienced immense shame and painful separation from the Father (Mt. 27:46), personally bore the punishment for the sins of all who would put their trust in Him (John 1:12), and rose again from the grave (1 Cor. 15:20), conquering the power and curse of sin (1 Cor. 15:57) and declaring, once and for all, that He is Lord (Acts 2:36).

The good news of the Bible is that a holy God has made a way to be forgiven (1 John 1:9), to be changed from the inside out (2 Cor. 5:17), and to be brought back into a right relationship with the Creator (Eph. 2:13). And for those who put their faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8), repent of their sins (Acts 2:38), and follow Christ (Rom. 10:9-10), the Father counts Jesus’ death as sufficient for them (Eph 2:14) since through Christ the Father adopts them (Rom. 8:15) and grants complete, imputed righteousness (Rom 8:1).

The good news of the Bible is that based upon the finished work of Jesus a holy God can forgive me (Col. 1:14), be satisfied with me (Eph 2:4), change me (Eph. 4:24), and grant me eternal fellowship with my Creator (Rev 21:3).