Taking the Seatbelt Off

It is always encouraging to hear Matt Chandler share how his church is pressing into the gifts of the Spirit, and clinging to the Word of God. There is much from The Village Church, their intentionality as elders, and the testimonies they have, that all of us can glean from.

Here Matt sits down with the guys form The Remnant Radio to talk about it all. It is a good hour-long conversation of his thinking and story of pursuing the gifts of the Spirit.

Be encouraged.

We don’t need better slogans we need to better understand grace

Admit it, you, like me have wasted entirely too much time thinking of new acronyms and poster ideas that will launch us into holiness. And all that we have achieved is lame preaching on being “better” and trying harder and the realization that we fail time and time again. We don’t get grace.

Matt Chandler is staring this problem in the face and calling it out.

“The problem as I perceive it as a Pastor is that most of those who claim to know and love God want to see sin lose its power in their lives and walk in greater intimacy with Christ; most are exhausted and have been trying to mortify sin by promises and threats rather than through the weapons grace provides. By “promises” I mean they believe that they will have life to the “full” and get a great house in heaven if they behave in this manner or that manner…”

“Another very popular sport… is fighting residual sin with our own vows and resolution—these become our defense.  In the end, you are simply pitting sin against sin and in that scenario you lose.  We fight sin and grow in godliness by using the weapons grace provides.”

Chandler goes on to describe three grace weapons: Scripture, the Blood of Christ and the Promises of the Covenant. Read his whole post here.

Keep up the “Grace Driven Effort” just don’t get the effort confused with the source of grace. Talk less about what you do, talk more about what Jesus has done, live in response accordingly.

History’s Hot Button Issue

It seems like this blog is becoming a sounding board for Matt Chandler sermons and while that is not the intention he just keeps preaching about some hard issues with clarity and grace that I have to share them.

Justin Taylor has highlighted a recent seminar that Chandler held at his Texas church on homosexuality. There is arguably no more divisive and difficult issue in our culture and in Christianity. But it is not a new one. While it may seem that its prevalence is growing it has been in play since the fall and how we react to it has to match how God’s grace does.

I personally know how difficult of an issue this is. Everyone is affected by it either directly or through friendships or family relationships. It is not easy but we are called to relentlessly pursue God and his glory alone and anything that stands in the way of that must be recognized, repented of and turned from.

In Justin Taylor’s post there is close to two hours of video that every Christian should attentively watch and prayerfully respond to. Chandler looks biblically and culturally at the issue and then fields questions via text on all facets of the issue. It is well worth the time. Watch it here.

Save then Neglect

I am often encouraged by the ministry of Matt Chandler – defined by his relentless pursuit of the Gospel and a blunt, honest nature. His recent comments to the Southern Baptist Convention do not diverge from that norm and I think the have implications for the wider church as a whole.

“I, unfortunately, with a great deal of sorrow have walked away from the idea that all of you are men and women of the Word,” Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, told a group of Southern Baptist pastors Monday. “I’ve just come to find that a lot of you are really good at clichés and really bad at tying in the Word.”

Chandler has found some pastors to be preaching the Gospel as a means of justification but failing to teach the Gospel as a means of sanctification. That results in churches primarily focused on evangelism and having “no care in the world for the depths of spirituality and understanding the nature and character of God.”

Though active in bringing people to Christ, churches are not deepening and strengthening believers.

Consequently, many people end up leaving the church or becoming “dechurched,” he lamented.

Also, by leaving out the sanctification part, many pastors start to preach “Christian therapeutic moralistic deism,” a term he borrowed from author Christian Smith. In other words, they preach, “This is how a Christian behaves, this is how you don’t behave,” though they might not use that exact language.

The Christian Post has a full report that is worth a read but these comments get to an endemic in American churches. We are actively evangelizing but we do not disciple or push our members towards sanctification. We offer formulas for life success absent the Gospel because we are creative and rely on business models to grow a congregation. We use the same techniques as cigarette companies use to addict smokers.

We flash images of success, acceptance, and relationship – the Joe Cool Christianity if you will. Then instead of nicotine we addict believers with programming to meet their every coddled need. We create a Christian bubble that they can’t escape without complete shifting their lifestyle (think of the last time you labeled someone a “back slider”.)

The Gospel does not need slick marketing. The story of redemption through our God’s sacrifice stands above your color schemes and brands.  Sanctification through pursuit of Christ is beyond what you have designed and as we hide behind facades of godliness we turn from God and despise his purpose and holiness.

I pray that we can collectively determine to pursue this Gospel unshackled from our own creativity and make the main thing, the main thing.