Crossway recently released John Piper's new book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. C.J. says this is his second favorite Piper book (second to When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight For Joy). In his endorsement C.J. writes,
"Do you ever wish you could feel more deeply about things you know are true? Has it been a while since you were moved to tears at the thought of Christ’s death for your sins? It’s not mysterious: those who feel deeply about the gospel are those who think deeply about the gospel. In these pages John Piper will convince you that thinking is the sturdy foundation for our easily misguided affections. If you want to feel profoundly, learn to think carefully. And start by reading this book!"
– C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Gaithersburg, Maryland
And here is a brief video introduction to Think from Dr. Piper:
September 28, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Church planting | Conferences
A little over 25 years ago we at Covenant Life Church had the privilege of sending out a group of friends to plant a new church in the Philadelphia area. Little did we know that the church would grow and mature and plant a number of other churches around Philly and beyond. Now that church, Covenant Fellowship Church, is hosting Sovereign Grace Ministries' first church-planting conference—PLANT!
We have been planting churches for decades but we have always wanted to learn from others and improve. Over the years we have learned many things, made plenty of mistakes, and experienced much grace in our humble attempts to advance the gospel through church planting.
But we still have much to learn, which is why we packed this conference with church-planting thinkers from a variety of movements and denominations who each bring significant experience to the mission of the gospel.
My friend Dave Harvey (director of church planting and church care in Sovereign Grace) will be speaking along with Darrin Patrick, Mark Dever, Tim Witmer, Mike McKinley, Daniel Montgomery, Shai Linne, Pete Greasley, and Craig Cabaniss. I will also be speaking.
If you dream about church planting, if you’re doing church planting, or if you are supporting church planting, I think you will benefit from the conference. Come join us in Pennsylvania on March 24–26 for PLANT! and learn with us.
Here are the conference details:
Date: March 24-26, 2011
Location: Covenant Fellowship Church, Glen Mills, PA
Purpose: To gather church planters, pastors, and anyone interested in church planting, inside and outside of Sovereign Grace Ministries, for the purpose of inspiring, teaching, and equipping for church planting. This includes young men in high school, college, or seminary who are interested in church planting, as well as pastoral teams who want to build church-planting churches, and members of churches who want to explore being part of a church-planting team some day.
- Darrin Patrick (Acts 29)
- Mark Dever (9Marks)
- C.J. Mahaney
- Dave Harvey
- The Importance of Preaching in Church Planting • Tim Witmer | Associate Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary
- How to Plant an Evangelistic Church • Pete Greasley | senior pastor, Christchurch, Newport, Wales
- How to Build a Church-Planting Church • Craig Cabaniss | senior pastor, Grace Church, Frisco, TX
- Replanting! • Mike McKinley | author, Church Planting Is for Wimps
- Way Finding: A Map for Planting Your Church without Losing Your Soul • Daniel Montgomery | senior pastor, Sojourn Community Church
- Engaging the Urban Context with the Gospel • Shai Linne
Shai Linne will perform Friday night.
Register at www.sgmplant.org
Early registration: September 14, 2010–December 14, 2010
Regular registration: December 15, 2010–March 15, 2011
The conference is giving away prizes every two weeks to early registrants. By registering early, you are entered to win. Prizes include an iPad, books, and a free hotel stay at the conference. Winners are chosen randomly. See the website for more info.
- Dave Harvey, video, “What Makes the Great Commission Great?”
- Dave Harvey, blog series, “Patience, Pace, and Church Planting” (parts 1, 2, 3, 4)
- Toby Kurth, audio, “Church Planting in Urban San Francisco”
- Dave Harvey, interview, “Lessons from an Urban Church-Planting Dude” (parts 1, 2)
September 23, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
As the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, my friend Mark Dever is no stranger to this question. It is a topic I have sought his wisdom on at many points over the years, and it’s a question he addressed directly in his sermon this past weekend: “Jesus Paid Taxes” (Mark 12:13-17).
Mark began the message with a statement made one day by a Muslim friend: "That's the problem with Christianity: you have no vision for the state or for society as a whole."
Mark concluded his message with these words:
Does Christianity have a vision for the state or the society as a whole, or is Christianity—as my Muslim friend implied—so heavenly minded that it's of no earthly good?
I think visions like the one my friend had for the state are way too shallow. They're about swords and external conformity to laws. Jesus Christ comes to do something much deeper than any social revolutionary has ever been able to do. He's come to actually change our hearts, to change our natures. The Bible shows us that God has a wonderful vision for his world. We’ve all rejected that vision. And yet even after that rejection, God, in his amazing mercy and love, continues to pursue us. Jesus Christ, his own son, stood there teaching the very people that would in a few days' time seek his life, arrest him, beat him, have him put to death.
I know there are Marxist and Muslim utopian visions for our world. There are secular visions, too. But none of these visions sufficiently take into account the things the Bible teaches about the sinfulness of humans, about our being made in God's image, about God's goodness, his love, his holiness. Utopian visions of politics or nations or the state always lead to tragedy. They always lead to tyranny and despotism and terrible distortions of God's will.
Friends, it is the truth of Christianity, about God being holy and loving, and our being made in God's image, and yet fallen, and God's provisions and promises for us in Christ—it is all of these truths together that lead us to sufficiently respect the fallen governments of the world, and yet give us hope to endure them, and to work and hope for something infinitely better. So God gives us the peace that comes with such hope and the strength to get up another day, to continue following Jesus until he brings us home.
You can read Collin Hansen’s written summary of the message here and you can listen to the mp3 here.
According to Hansen, Thabiti Anyabwile described the sermon as “a biblical theology of Christians and the state, at once full of unction, intellectually challenging, and affecting the heart. I’ve heard a lot of Mark’s preaching, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard him better.”
Let me begin this post by asking you four direct questions about the condition of your soul right now:
- Do you sense that your affections for the Savior have diminished recently?
- Has your appetite for Scripture weakened?
- Does your soul seem dry?
- Does God seem distant from you?
If so, you are not alone. These struggles are common to even the most mature Christians—so common that Scripture anticipates them. But these are serious problems and must be addressed and not ignored. They don’t just go away over time.
So how should we respond?
Tucked away in the short (and often neglected) letter of Jude we find help and hope:
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:20–21)
In these verses we find a command and three practical ways to obey the command.
First, the command: "Keep yourselves in the love of God." This is our responsibility and it requires effort on our part. The good news is that Jude doesn’t leave us guessing. One commentator writes, “Jude did not leave his congregation in suspense about how to keep themselves in God’s love.”
No, he does not leave us in suspense or wondering how to do this. In fact Jude wonderfully provides us with three means by which the reader can keep himself in the love of God.
1. Remind yourself of the gospel (“building yourselves up in your most holy faith”).
The “most holy faith” is the gospel. And the first way we keep ourselves in the love of God is to grow in our understanding of the gospel and to remind ourselves of the gospel each day. There is no more effective way to keep yourself in the love of God each day than to remind yourself of the gospel.
As you meditate upon the gospel, as you preach the gospel to yourself, as you receive the gospel into your soul afresh each day, your awareness of the love of God increases and your affection for the Savior grows.
So how much time do you devote each day to the strategic study, thinking, meditation, contemplation, reflection, and proclamation of the gospel to your own soul as a means of keeping yourself in the love of God?
Review the content of the gospel, rehearse the content of this “most holy faith,” and rejoice in the gospel each and every day. What a sweet assignment! And as we do this we are keeping ourselves in the love of God.
2. Pray in the Holy Spirit (“praying in the Holy Spirit”).
An awareness of God’s love cannot be sustained without prayer. Nor can a relationship with God be maintained or cultivated apart from prayer. So Jude commands us to pray. In dependence upon the Spirit, we pray to God the Father, through the Mediator he has provided in Jesus Christ.
We pray to God at the beginning of the day. We pray at structured times in our day. We pray spontaneously throughout the day. Prayer is not only a discipline it is a means of keeping ourselves in the love of God. This perspective will transform our perspective of prayer and our practice of prayer.
3. Await Christ’s return (“waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life”).
Waiting is not my preference. I don’t believe in lines! I try to avoid waiting in lines at the grocery store and I try to avoid traffic on the road. In fact I’d rather be moving in the wrong direction than stuck in traffic going in the right direction.
On the other hand, I don’t mind waiting 45 minutes for a table when I’m at a restaurant on a date with my wife. Why not? For the next 45 minutes I will look into the eyes of the woman I love with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. There’s a big difference between waiting in line at the grocery store and waiting 45 minutes to be seated when I’m at a restaurant with my wife.
As Christians we wait. But we await the mercy of our Savior that brings eternal life. Think about that! We do not wait for God’s judgment or condemnation. We do no wait for God’s wrath that our sins deserve! No, we are anticipating mercy. We anticipate mercy because Jesus Christ suffered as our substitute, receiving upon himself the wrath we deserve so that we receive mercy—mercy we don’t deserve. That is what we are waiting for.
As we anticipate the future our perspective of present circumstances will be transformed. It will keep us aware of God’s love. On the other hand, "Those who take their eyes off their future hope will find that their love for God is slowly evaporating.”
So are you waiting with eager anticipation? How often do you think about Christ’s return (Titus 2:13)? How often do you think of the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21:1–4)? How often do you think of eternal life? And how often do you think about the mercy you will receive in light of the judgment that we so richly deserve?
This eternal perspective will keep us aware of God’s love.
Reminding, praying, waiting—this is how we remain aware of God’s love.
To be honest my grip upon God is sometimes weak. I don’t flawlessly keep myself in the love of God daily. I don’t. My love for Him fluctuates. But while my love for him is uncertain, His love for me is fixed. We keep ourselves in the love of God because God is keeping us in his grasp.
Both at the beginning of this short letter (v. 1) and near the end (v. 24), Jude reminds us that our safety is in the Father’s hold upon us and his preserving grace. As Puritan Richard Sibbes once wrote, “As we say of the mother and the child, both hold, but the safety of the child is at that the mother holds him.”
His grip never weakens.
When I neglect the means that He has given me to keep myself in the love of God, when my grip upon him weakens and my love fluctuates, His grip upon me does not weaken and never changes.
God promises to “keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (v. 24). This promise is an enormous assurance for our souls, and especially for those who feel as if their love for God has diminished. Receive this assurance provided from Jude: Our hearts may shift and change but God’s love for you is unchanging. May we keep ourselves aware of God’s unchanging love toward us in the gospel.
If we fail to attend to our hearts, if we fail to attend to our relationship with God, if we fail to obey this gracious command to “keep ourselves in the love of God,” the consequences upon our souls are inevitable. The consequences may not be immediately obvious, but a persisting pattern of neglect will become obvious in time.
So have your affections for the Savior diminished? If so, ask yourself these questions from Jude:
- Am I preaching the gospel to my own soul each day?
- Am I praying with any level of consistency?
- Am I eagerly awaiting Christ’s return and am I longing for heaven?
For more on this topic see C.J.'s recent sermon "Jude: A Call to Contend," at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN (Sept. 12, 2010).
 Tom Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (NAC), p. 474.
 Tom Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (NAC), p. 484.
September 16, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Book reviews | Parenting
This weekend I had the privilege of serving our friends at Bethlehem Baptist Church
in Minneapolis. I love this church and preaching there is a pure joy because they are so attentive and responsive. And I always benefit from my interaction with members of the pastoral team, whom I deeply respect.
But there was a unique highlight on this trip in meeting Krista Horning.
Krista, now 23 years old, was diagnosed with Apert syndrome
the day after her birth and has since undergone more then 60 surgeries. (I simply cannot comprehend that!) But you would probably never know that Krista has spent so much time in hospitals if you were to see her pronounced joy evident in her beautiful smile.
Krista is also the author of the new book Just the Way I Am: God's Good Design in Disability
(Desiring God, 2009). When it was released I received a copy from my friend Jon Bloom at Desiring God
. I immediately read the book when it arrived and was deeply moved as I read it. I think you will be as well.
In the foreword, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:
Every child goes through the "Why?" stage. Kids and questions go together. But it gets tougher when, with doleful eyes, a child asks, "Why don't my legs work like the other kids?" or "Why did God make me this way?"
Krista Horning is a young woman heaven-bent on helping children find answers. Especially the Answer, Jesus Christ. With a tenderness tempered by her own physical challenges, Krista considers it her life's calling to lovingly lead kids with disabilities beyond their questions to discover just how wise and sovereign God really is.
The bulk of the book features photographs
of joyful children at Bethlehem Church who suffer from disabilities. The photographs are complemented with biblical promises. Joni’s foreword is followed later in the book with a pastoral meditation by David Michael and a brief biography of Krista’s life written by her mother Mary (meeting the rest of the Horning family—Mary, her husband, son, and daughter—was another highlight from the trip!). Krista’s book concludes with application questions and a brief list of gospel truths by John Piper.
Just the Way I Am
is a unique and valuable resource for parents and pastors who get asked the honest questions from children with disabilities.
What a joy to see how the Horning family is bringing honor to the Savior. And what joy it was to meet Krista and her family this weekend.
One generation of believers transferring the truth of God to the next generation is a theme that can be found throughout Scripture. Take just a handful of biblical passages and the lessons we can learn from them:
- The older generation is called to proclaim to a younger generation the glorious deeds of God: his deliverance, faithfulness, and righteousness (Psalms 71:18, 78:4, 145:4)
- To some degree the faithfulness of one generation can be traced back to the faithfulness of a previous generation (Psalm 78:5–8)
- In contrast, the faithlessness of a generation can often be traced to a generational distance from faithful believers (Judges 2:10–11)
- Believers in an older generation can hope for long life in order to carry out this stewardship (Psalm 71:18)
- This heritage is often passed on in the home, from parents to children (Deuteronomy 6:6–9)
- A vision for this heritage extends to a generation that is yet unborn (Psalms 22:30, 78:6, 102:18)
- Fundamentally, this heritage is rooted in the unchanging faithfulness of God to every generation (Genesis 9:12–13, 17:9, Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalms 33:11, 89:1)
This succession from one generation to another is also reflected in New Testament pastoral ministry. Pastors are called to identify and train their successors, following Paul’s model: he trained Timothy and expected him to train a generation of teachers that Paul himself could not see (2 Timothy 1:13–14, 2:2).
This stewardship of the gospel requires that churches and pastors think seriously about transitions. This heritage is a priority in Sovereign Grace, and a topic that recently caught the attention of journalist Collin Hansen in his article "Gospel Integrity and Pastoral Succession." In the end, Colin writes, “Succession isn’t simple. It isn’t smooth. It’s not often successful. Yet it’s a matter of gospel integrity.” You can read Collin’s full article here.
In the last post, I introduced you to Dave Taylor, who is leading a Sovereign Grace church plant in Sydney, Australia (www.sovgrace.org.au). We’re always excited to go where we sense God’s direction and, like Dave, never dreamed that would be Australia!
Here’s part two of my interview.
Dave Harvey: What is your strategy for starting the church?
Dave Taylor: The first part of my strategy is to quite simply remember that it is not “my” church but God’s, and that it is not ultimately about me building it, but him. It can sound so ridiculously basic, and I guess that’s because it is, and yet (to this basic guy) this is a truth I have had deeply impressed on my heart throughout this last year of preparation. With major delays on visas and with the whole move nearly falling through on several occasions, this is a truth that I never want to move away from.
The small part that I’m then bringing to the strategic party is simply to do all I can to help build a community of believers who know, love, apply, and proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. For the first ten weeks leading up to our public launch in September, this will simply look like Sunday morning and mid-week times with the planting team. Our times will be spent doing life together, laying the foundation for Sovereign Grace Church, and casting vision for the future.
DH: Has anyone in Australia even heard of Sovereign Grace Ministries?
DT: In Christian circles in Sydney, it seems like everyone has heard of Sovereign Grace Ministries. It always amazes me to be honest—10,500 miles away from the UK—9,750 from Gaithersburg—and yet, most know exactly who we are and in particular, love our music!
DH: What are some of the biggest sacrifices of this church plant for you and your family?
DT: The biggest sacrifices we feel are all relational ones. We had been a part of Christchurch since it began in 1995 and loved every minute of it. To have served at Christchurch for so long was scandalous grace, and so for us as a family to leave the church, pastoral team, friends, and family behind was to do so with great sadness.
They may be out of sight, but they are never far from our minds.
DH: How does Sovereign Grace prepare to plant a church in a new country? Tell us about the preparation process.
DT: Well here’s how it worked for us. There were three clear parts to the planting story.
First, the place. For years there had been a steady interest in the Sovereign Grace Ministries website from online users in Australia. When a group of people began to clearly pursue us, a purposeful relationship began to unfold. Over time, contact only then increased from Sydney in particular, and after a visit, it seemed clear to us that God was calling us to this city.
Secondly, the man. To plant a church anywhere you need a senior pastor. Sovereign Grace is always looking out for these men, to help assess, train, and equip them for the task that God has called them to. This isn’t a quick process and I like that. It’s even slower when you prepare to head to a new country. I thank God for the years of training I have received in Sovereign Grace.
Thirdly, the support. Sovereign Grace is a family and I have experienced that more than ever during this preparation process. In the last year, I have received more support than I ever thought possible. Through encouragement, care, prayer, training, counsel, and a financial grant to help towards the plant, I am one seriously blessed planter! And that’s not where the story finishes—it’s only the beginning. Because the support is relational, it “moves” with us! We haven’t headed out as lone rangers into a foreign land. We go as part of a family who are standing beside us and eager to get in the trenches with us.
By God’s grace, our hope is that this is just the beginning of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Australia story...
Let’s be stirred to prayer for our friends. Dave is right—by God’s grace, this is just the beginning of our Australian story. We are eager to see God bless our friends as they plant a local church for God’s glory. Please continue to pray.
leads international expansion and church planting for Sovereign Grace
Ministries and is based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. For more
information about the Sovereign Grace church-planting process, click here.
September 7, 2010 by Dave Harvey
Categories: Church planting
While I’m sure the word has spread, some of the most exciting news in Sovereign Grace Ministries is that we are now in Australia! That’s right. A new church has just been planted and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Our friend Dave Taylor and his family have relocated from Christchurch in Newport, Wales, to the land down under. Public meetings for Sovereign Grace Church Sydney began this past Sunday.
We’re so grateful for the Taylors and their ambition to see the gospel preached even when it calls them half way around the world away from family and friends. I recently had the chance to ask Dave some questions about his venture. Here you’re going to find a story that is shaped by the grace and wisdom of God, as well as filled with the faith of two people, Dave and Emma, who loves God greatly. I bet God stirs your heart—like mine—as you read. And don’t miss the part about the importance of community.
Dave Harvey: Tell us about the process of discovering you were called to plant a church in Sydney.
Dave Taylor: This story begins in July 2008, when I had the privilege of accompanying Pete Greasley on a church-planting exploratory trip to Australia. [Pete is the senior pastor of Christchurch and serves Sovereign Grace Ministries in our international development.] I had never before even thought about heading over to Australia. It always seemed so expensive of a trip and way too far to go, but my good friend Pete was keen to have me along and so off we went.
It was a wonderful time. Shown around by Mike Pasalich (a Sydney-born Australian) we were warmly introduced to so many people who were excited about the possibility of Sovereign Grace planting a church in Sydney. I returned home from this trip enthused about the doors that seemed to be opening up in Australia. God was clearly at work and I, like many others, was keen to help out—from afar—in any way that I could.
It was in December 2008 that the “afar” status then came into question. You, Dave, were actually in the UK and gave a message to our small-group leaders on ambition. The thrust of the message was actually on contentment, but in making a side point you quoted William Carey: “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” As you said it, I felt particularly provoked, a stirring that I could not shake.
The following week, my wife and I were out enjoying breakfast and randomly Emma asked how things were progressing in Australia. I explained that right now we didn’t have anyone to lead the plant in Sydney. She began to ask about what was needed for the job. I threw out a quick five points as I ate my toast. That’s when the life changing moment occurred, as she replied, “Dave, you seem like that type of guy to me.” We both laughed…nervously…and, yet, in that very moment, I think we both knew, as best we could, that God was at work here.
After a few weeks of prayer the burden just wouldn’t shift and so I talked to Pete. Was it just me? Had I eaten too much cheese? Was my own ambition simply driving this? Why me? Pete was so kind as I chewed this over with him, as were the other pastors on the team and the Sovereign Grace leadership team. By April 2009 our course was set for Sydney.
DH: Tell us about the formation of the team. What was involved for these folks in getting the church off the ground?
DT: Including children, the church planting team is around 60 folks. Having waited at least two years for this plant (many far longer), they’ve all exhibited sacrifice and vision ahead of this plant.
Mike Pasalich invested three years of his life in the US and then the UK to make this plant a reality. Sarah (Mike’s wife), a true American, headed off to Australia in faith to help Mike care for this initial group. Mark and Bianca Williams—native Australians—came to the UK for two months, along with their one-year-old, to throw themselves into Christchurch life. Dave Elsing moved from Perth to the UK to take part in the Christchurch GAP Team, and then relocated to Sydney to get involved in the plant. Patrick and Meg Chavez relocated—twice—just so that they can get involved with the plant. The Woods and the Williams, two Christchurch families, are preparing to make the 10,500-mile relocation from the UK to Australia.
The sacrificial, visionary stories just go on…How can I thank God enough for the joy of serving men and women like these!
Folks, this is just the beginning. We have in Dave and Emma, a couple who love God and the gospel and are sacrificing home comforts, closeness to family, and much more to see God’s church built. Exciting stuff! Don’t miss part 2 where Dave tells a bit more of what’s happening on the ground in Sydney.
Dave Harvey leads international expansion and church planting for Sovereign Grace Ministries and is based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Sovereign Grace church-planting process, click here.
[The following post is part of a series addressing common questions about how Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection relate to each other in Scripture.]
Question 5: With all the preaching and writing about the atonement that we see in evangelicalism, isn’t there a danger that the resurrection will get lost?
I don’t think there is, if
teaching on the cross is handled responsibly. Once again, the cross and the resurrection are two aspects of a unified whole (see for instance 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), and they should never be fundamentally separated. One without the other is meaningless. Attempts to subordinate one to the other are wrongheaded.
This does not mean, however, that we can’t speak at length about one without mentioning the other—an impulse that is well-meaning but often unnecessary. We hear and read a great deal about various facets of Christ’s atoning death for good reason: Scripture reflects extensively upon the death of Jesus in ways that don’t directly apply to the resurrection. Howard Marshall makes a similar observation about Paul’s treatment of the gospel: “The central event in the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus. These two actions belong closely together (Rom 4:25; 8:34; 1 Cor 15:3–5; 2 Cor 5:15; Phil 3:10; 1 Thess 4:14), but the weight lies on the former” [New Testament Theology
(IVP, 2004), 436].
This is in no way to create a hierarchy among the redemptive acts that make up the gospel. It is simply to recognize Paul’s priority of expounding the implications of Jesus’ sin-bearing death for the spiritual health and nurture of the churches to which he wrote.
Take “propitiation,” for example. By definition, it was in his death that Christ endured God’s wrath in our place. The same is true for “redemption”: the ransom price for our redemption was the giving of Christ’s life. This is clear in texts like Mark 10:45, where Jesus says that he came to “give his life as a ransom for many,” and Ephesians 1:7, where we’re told that we have “redemption through his blood.”
And on the face of it, Christ’s death is itself a sacrifice, fulfilling massive structures of Old Testament teaching and practice (the Passover lamb, the sacrificial system, etc.). Without detailed study of the atonement, vast swaths of Old Testament revelation, which molded the thinking of New Testament writers, remain in the shadows.
In this context it bears repeating: in no way do I want to minimize the resurrection, or to neglect its truth or implications for our lives. Indeed, at least one biblical metaphor for the atonement, Christ’s conquest in Colossians 2, richly illuminates it and has perhaps been neglected in some segments of evangelicalism. But I think Scripture itself leads us to place an emphasis on the cross, exploring as it does the significance of Christ’s death with great depth and richness, and at length. It is our privilege and responsibility as teachers of God’s Word to do the same.
There’s another point that I find missing in such objections about cross-centered language, writing, and preaching. It’s instructive that the one ordinance instituted by our Lord to be observed repeatedly among the gathered people of God is designed primarily to picture and call to mind his death for us. In the Lord’s Supper, we partake of bread, symbolizing Christ’s broken body, and we drink from a cup, symbolizing his shed blood. And in doing so we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Of course, the resurrection and exaltation of Christ are also in view in the Lord’s Supper, for we partake in anticipation of his return, when we will feast with Christ in the messianic banquet (Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:9). But the primary focus of the Supper is Christ’s atoning death and the benefits that accrue to those who share in it by faith. If Christ calls his church regularly to celebrate such a “cross-centered” sacrament, are we wrong to give consistent attention to the cross in our preaching and teaching and praise?