The Church is a Hospital for Sin-Sick Sinners: J. I. Packer from a Quest for Godliness

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This past weekend in my message, “Friend of Sinners,” I mentioned an article by J. I. Packer that I read many years ago in which he talks about the church as a hospital for sinners. In searching for it, I discovered that the article was actually an excerpt from Packer’s book, A Quest for Godliness. I found an excerpt that I am sharing below:

Truth obeyed, said the Puritans, will heal. The word fits, because we are all spiritually sick — sick through sin, which is a wasting and killing disease of the heart. The unconverted are sick unto death; those who have come to know Christ and have been born again continue sick, but they are gradually getting better as the work of grace goes on in their lives.

The church, however, is a hospital in which nobody is completely well, and anyone can relapse at any time. Pastors no less than others are weakened by pressure from the world, the flesh, and the devil, with their lures of profit, pleasure, and pride, and, as we shall see more fully in a moment, pastors must acknowledge that they the healers remain sick and wounded and therefore need to apply the medicines of Scripture to themselves as well as to the sheep whom they tend in Christ’s name.

All Christians need Scripture truth as medicine for their souls at every stage, and the making and accepting of applications is the administering and swallowing of it.

J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 1990, reprint (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 65, paragraphing added.

The Weekend Wanderer: 8 September 2018

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

 

pew-846021_640“Why Evangelicals Should Care More About Ecclesiology” – At the Mere Orthodoxy web-site, Tish Harrison Warren writes about the crisis in evangelical integrity and moral leadership highlighted by the current political divides and failures of pastoral leaders. What I appreciate about Warren’s article is the way in which she connects this failure with a tendency within evangelicalism to become enamored with celebrity leadership while simultaneously not paying attention to the “boring” institutional necessities that sustain the life of the church.

 

d4e13e1c5865740384133e7da6be19“The rising political power of Evangelicals in Latin America” – This is old news with a new twist as evangelicals continue to have rising influence within Latin America, including in the political sphere. “It would seem that the reach of these religious organisations in Latin America is not only expanding in terms of the number of followers but also in terms of their influence on government policy. The various Evangelical churches are seeing rising electoral support for their moral conservatism.”

 

macarthur.jpeg“The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” – John MacArthur has been at the center of a series of debates on social justice and the gospel culminating in The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. More than 4,000 evangelicals have joined MacArthur, and others like Voddie Baucham and Douglas Wilson, in signing this statement, which equates the emphasis upon social justice within the evangelical church as a cultural distortion on theological and a misunderstanding of the gospel. This seem at least in part to be a reaction to the works of Tim Keller (see his Generous Justice), Matt Chandler, Thabiti Anyabwile and others within conservative evangelicalism who have been calling for engagement in justice and racial reconciliation as an overflow of living in the gospel. Underlying it all is a deep divide about the nature of the gospel and the life to which it calls us as a response. Jemar Tisby has a word of advice about how to respond to the ministries of those who signed this statement: “avoid them.” Ryan Burton King outlines why he cannot sign this statement, even though he was invited to do so.

 

02allen-superJumbo“The Biblical Guide to Reporting” – In an OpEd in The New York Times, Marshall Allen reflects on how his Christian faith has helped him become a better journalist. “The editor scowled and said, ‘So what makes you think that a Christian can be a good journalist?’ He emphasized ‘Christian’ as if it was some kind of slur. I liked that he spoke his mind, but I was taken aback. I explained what I saw as a natural progression from the ministry to muckraking, pointing out that both are valid ways of serving a higher cause. The Bible endorses telling the truth, without bias. So does journalism. The Bible commands honesty and integrity. In journalism, your reputation is your main calling card with sources and readers. Obviously, many people have succeeded as reporters without strong religious beliefs. But I told him my faith had made me a better, more determined journalist. He replied with a noncommittal grunt. But I got the job.” [Thanks to Makoto Fujimura for sharing this article.]

 

ct-aretha-franklin-funeral-eulogy-reaction-201-001“Old-school eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s funeral ignites social media backlash” – Aretha Franklin’s funeral received a lot of attention but it seems to have turned a little too “old school” than many desired when Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr., stepped up for the eulogy. Speaking for roughly 50 minutes, Rev. Williams’ statement that “black America has lost its soul” received intense backlash on social media and other outlets. While it seems as if a lot of people feel like America has last its soul these days, the real problem is that we don’t know what a soul is anymore and what to do with it if we discovered we actually had one.

 

Carl Jung“From Myers Briggs to the Love Languages: the renaissance of the personality test” – I know a lot of people who are obsessed with personality tests, as well as a whole range of other personal assessments. I have subjected myself to many of them over the years, sometimes finding aspects helpful, but oftentimes feeling like I don’t really want to be put in a box like that. If you think that is just an INTJ talking, then maybe you should read Sarah Manavis’ article about how personality tests, in some way, have a renewed attraction because they become a personal gospel by which we can justify the way in which we live our lives. [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

 

the first testamentThe First Testament: A New Translation by John Goldingay” – Old Testament scholar John Goldingay brings us a new translation of the Hebrew Bible. “Most translations bend the text toward us. They make the rough places smooth, the odd bits more palatable to our modern sensibilities. In every translation something is gained and something lost. In The First Testament: A New Translation, John Goldingay interrupts our sleepy familiarity with the Old Testament. He sets our expectations off balance by inviting us to hear the strange accent of the Hebrew text. We encounter the sinewed cadences of the Hebrew Bible, its tics and its textures. Translating words consistently, word by word, allows us to hear resonances and see the subtle figures stitched into the textual carpet. In a day of white-bread renderings of the Bible, here is a nine-grain translation with no sugar or additives. In The First Testament the language of Zion comes to us unbaptized in pious religiosity. Familiar terms such as salvation, righteousness, and holiness are avoided. We cock our ears to listen more carefully, to catch the intonations and features we had not caught before.”

 

wessex“Medieval Tiles Unearthed at Bath Abbey” – “A team from Wessex Archaeology has uncovered brightly decorated 700-year-old floor tiles during excavations at Bath Abbey, according to a Somerset Live report. The abbey has been a religious center for well over 1,000 years, and the current Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul—completed in the seventeenth century—is a renowned example of gothic architecture. The tiles, however, provide a glimpse into an earlier Norman cathedral at the site that was constructed in the eleventh century but fell into decay in the late Middle Ages, and lay in ruins by 1500.”

 

C3PO-R2D2-header“The 100 Greatest Movie Robots of All Time” – Okay, this has little to do with anything other than fun. Why not traipse through the history of film searching for the greatest robots of them all? Sure, there are a lot of reasons not to spend your time on this article, but it might just be entertaining to see who else appears on the list, other than C-3PO, R2-D2, Hal, and the Borg.

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Multiplied Joy

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I concluded our series “Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances” on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I took us through the last section of the letter, Philippians 4:4-23, where Paul draws together some final exhortations and personal reflections. This section has some of the most well-known verses in the entire letter, which makes it both a delight and a challenge to preach in its context.

You can view the video and sermon outline of this message, “Multiplied Joy,” below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Dying to Live (discussion questions)

Jesus at the Center Series Gfx_App SquareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Dying to Live,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fifth part of our series, “Jesus at the Center,” from the book of Colossians. This week we looked at Colossians 2:16-23.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you felt judged by someone else? What happened and how did you respond?
  2. We continue our series, “Jesus at the Center,” from Colossians by studying Colossians 2:16-23. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you through His word, and then read that portion aloud.
  3. Background: This section of the letter builds on 2:6-15, which seems to highlight a type of wrong belief or false teaching present in the Colossian church. While there is some debate about exactly what the nature of that false teaching was, it seems that there were elements of Jewish asceticism and mysticism present. Paul’s desire is to keep the believers focused on the fully sufficient work of Jesus Christ.
  4. In verses 16-17 what is Paul addressing that some people may use as a basis for religious judgment?
  5. What do you think he means by saying these things are “a shadow of the things that were to come”?
  6. What is the false belief he is addressing in verse 18? According to verse 19, what is the outcome of such false beliefs?
  7. What would you say are tendencies toward false belief today that could lead us away from Jesus the center?
  8. Paul highlights the basis of our changed life and reality in verse 20. What is it? Why would this change the way we relate to religious rules and regulations?
  9. How might we move beyond the superficial rules that “lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (v 23) or superficial regulations that “are a shadow of realities to come” (v 17) in our life together as a church?
  10. What is one significant thing that God is speaking to you through this study? If you are on your own, you may want to write it down, pray about it, and then share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, share these things with one another and then pray for one another about these things.

Memorize: This week we continue our memorization of Colossians 1:15-20 by focusing on Colossians 1:18. Read the verse through multiple times a day this week. Consider some of our other recommended helps for Bible memorization here: www.eastbrook.org/memorize.

[Next week we will continue our series, “Jesus at the Center,” by looking at Colossians 3:1-17.]

Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth? (discussion questions)

3 Questions Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth?,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the second part of our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” where we are digging into Jesus’ provocative statement: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you learn something that changed your life, whether as a child or as an adult? What happened?
  1. This week we enter the second part of a three-week series entitled “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus.” In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Before you begin this study, ask God to reveal His truth to you as you read His word.
  1. The theme of truth is particularly important in the Gospel of John. Read the following verses which mention ‘truth’ and reflect on what they tell us about God, Jesus, and truth:
  • John 1:14, 17
  • John 3:21
  • John 4:23-24
  • John 7:18
  • John 8:31-32
  • John 8:40, 45
  • John 16:13
  • John 17:17
  • John 18:23
  • John 18:37-38
  1. Given everything you just read, what do you think is important about Jesus including ‘truth’ in His statement to the disciples in John 14:6? Why do you think it is important that Jesus includes this?
  1. How have you wrestled with questions about the truth in your own life? Has your knowledge of Jesus resolved those questions? How?
  1. Jesus is described as coming from God the Father “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17). Many times Christians are criticized for being arrogant in their claims to truth or in the way they talk about the truth. Do you think these criticisms are valid? Why or why not? What do you think it looks like to be full of grace and truth?
  1. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Based on the surrounding verses in John 8 and your own reflections, what do you think it means to be set free by the truth of Jesus?
  1. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about the truth of God found in Jesus? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Response: Throughout this series, we will be looking at tough questions about Jesus. There may be some questions you wish someone would answer about Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Send us your questions either by emailing them to info@eastbrook.org, writing them on a connect card, or visiting the Eastbrook Church Facebook page.]

Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth?

Does it really matter that Jesus claims to be the truth?

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” addressing that very question. Looking at Jesus’ statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6), I explored just what Jesus means by saying He is the truth. In the midst of walking through themes of truth in John’s gospel, we also touched on the distinctive belief that God reveals Himself to humanity, the exclusive nature of truth, the framework of ‘worldview’, and how to assess truth statements of conflicting worldviews.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

You may also be interested in last weekend’s message, “Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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The Neighbor

Chiseled ThumbWe concluded our series on the Ten Commandments, “Chiseled,” this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at the ninth and tenth commandments from Exodus 20:16-17.

Many commentators divide the Ten Commandments into two categories: 1) those dealing more with how we relate to God and 2) those dealing more with how we relate to others. Strictly speaking, the final two commandments are the only ones that mention the word ‘neighbor’, drawing into focus the ways in which we treat those around us.

The outline for the message is below. You can view the message online here or listen to it via our audio podcast here. You can now access all the messages from the “Chiseled” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This series is part three of an occasional series we are doing from Exodus. You can enjoy the first two parts of this extended series on Exodus here:

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