Zacharias & Chan on Rights, Opinions, & Convictions

While watching an unrelated Francis Chan video, I noticed this intriguing ten-minute piece from a peacemaking conference.

The speakers give their answers to this question posed by someone at the event:

How do we unify the church when the culture views our beliefs as oppressive, and without compromising our convictions?

Both come from different angles but meet in a hysterical middle!

Their insights are helpful for such a challenging issue.



How Agreeing on the Truth Fuels the Kiss of Love


Our church learned the importance of the lesson of this post the hard way. Unity disintegrated big-time over major doctrinal differences. It was ugly, according to those who endured it.

After emphasizing the role of joy, wholeness, and submission in enhancing the practice of greeting with a holy kiss in 2 Cor. 13:11-12, the apostle Paul turns to yet another significant factor.

“Agree with one another.”

The text reads literally in the Greek this way: the same thing, think. I call it like-mindedness.

Paul says this kind of thing a lot in his epistles. He likes this command.

For example in Phil. 1:27 we read, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

Phil. 2:2 provides another example. “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

He doesn’t lobby for uniformity in all thinking. It’s not possible. But he does argue for a oneness of mind about especially the priority of the gospel in the community of faith.

He pleads for a focus on the truth so passionate that when it comes to the essential truths of the gospel and the great doctrines on which it depends, as opposed to any kind of false teaching, let us all be thinking the same thing.

John MacArthur credits this reality significantly for the unity enjoyed at Grace Community Church over the years:

I’ll tell you right now, the key to living in peace is having the same thoughts, isn’t it? One of the reasons this church is so harmonious, one of the reasons this church doesn’t split up and fracture all the time is because we believe the same things. And whenever…listen carefully…and it’s only really occurred once in my tenure here, there has been a fracturing of this church, it is because some people believed something different was true and we didn’t have that truth. Where you have a common grasp of the Word of God, you have the commonality that perpetuates itself in peace. But when you get some people who start teaching something different, then you create the fracture. So if you’re going to live in peace, you have to be like-minded and submissive to the truth and expressing joy in that truth.

For this reason among others I rejoice that OGC is a confessional church. A document like the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith helps us do that by spelling out the truth so we know what we believe together.

Does your church have a clear statement of faith upon which you can agree? It definitely helps make for a unity that fuels the kiss of love.

Nothing for Which Jesus Cares So Much (Part 5)

Today’s message from John 14:15-24 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the flow of the argument this way:

We could spend multiple messages unpacking the doctrine of the Spirit, but I will resist that temptation for we will encounter His ministry nuymerous times to come in this discourse. But before we move on next time to the role of the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, I do want you to see in verses 16-18, in addition to the identity of the Spirit as Helper, four other particulars that Jesus identifies about Him – His perpetuity, His priority, His exclusivity, and His intimacy. All of these contribute to the force of the advantage that comes to Jesus’ followers upon the loss of His presence in so short a time (John 16:7).

Praise God for the extraordinary help of the Holy Spirit in whom we find rest, are filled, and enjoy intimate relationship!

Helpful Tools for Truth Acquisition

This morning I introduced part one of what will end up as three sermons with the same title from John 8:31-38: How To Be Certain Your Faith Is Not Fatally Flawed.

Jesus prescribes three tests for testing faith’s genuineness in vv. 31-32:

  1. Continuation in His word – If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.
  2. Acquisition of the truth – you will know the truth.
  3. Liberation from one’s sin – and the truth will set you free.

I made much of the connection between the first and second points. One glorious consequence of remaining in the word of Jesus, hearing and obeying it, is that we gain increasingly greater understanding of truth over and against falsehood.

Certain tools must belong in your toolkit if you hope to grow in your knowledge of the truth. It is not enough to read the Bible, though that certainly is essential to what Jesus means when He says we must abide in His word as a test of genuine faith. We have to get our arms around the meaning of His words and grasp the truth contained within them.

Along the way several extra-biblical helps can aid in one’s understanding of the truths taught in the Bible, truths that serve to set us free from the bondage of sin.

Some, not all, you can access online. I have sought to provide links below where this is the case.

Here are my suggestions for helpful tools for truth acquisition as a follower of Jesus Christ. More exist for sure, but these seem basic to  me.

First, you need a solid one volume commentary of the Bible. Puritan Matthew Henry’s complete and unabridged work can be accessed here. You don’t want to rely on a commentary to do your own study, but you definitely want to check your work by comparing it to a solid teacher either from the past or today. If you can afford it, John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentaries are now available. But here’s a tip. Much of those works come right from his sermons that you can access here. The same is true of John Piper’s sermons here. Save yourself some bucks. Calvin’s commentaries are online too here.

Second, make sure you have a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia at your disposal. You can access ISBE, a classic for cultural and historical background study, here. For example, if you wanted to learn more about Abraham and the significance of his reference in John 8:33, you could look up his name in the encyclopedia and have a wealth of information about him at your finger tips.

Third, invest in a one-volume systematic theology. Wayne Grudem’s is among the best for accuracy and readability. However, if you can’t afford that option, you still have online hope. John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion can be found here. You don’t get a helpful index with this masterpiece by the reformer, but you will be reading one of the all time great digests of truth that has ever come from the pen of man. This year I am reading through this work a paragraph at a time as part of my devotions. It is a must read for the reformed follower of Jesus.

Fourth, utilize a devotional guide. I love Ligonier’s TableTalk. After using this resource for a year now, I am amazed at how much truth this little booklet crams into each monthly installment. It is the first thing I open each morning as I approach the Lord for communing with Him. You will find a daily reading and themed articles each month that will greatly contribute to the increase of your truth quotient.

Fifth, make sure you include some reading from the saints of the past. You can get absolutely free Free Grace Broadcaster from Mount Zion Bible Church in Pensacola, Florida. Every quarter they publish a booklet of largely Puritan writings on different subjects. Order your subscription or read online here.

Sixth, books, you’ve got to read books! As I mentioned this morning, books change your life. They bring truth to life. I can’t even begin to tell you how often God has brought a book across my path that He has used to further my sanctification in a significant way. I have referenced often recently J. C. Ryle’s classic Holiness as a book I am currently digesting. Guess what? You can get it online too here! Reading good, solid, extra-biblical literature that opens your eyes to the truths of the Scriptures will make a huge difference in your life.

Seventh, go to conferences. God shows up at meetings that honor His name and teach His truth. Ligonier Ministries holds their annual conference every year right here in Orlando. How sweet is that! No travel costs. No hotel costs. Pack your own food if you need to save even more money. Register early like Nancy and I did and you will get the benefit of early bird pricing. This year’s conference theme is Tough Questions Christians Face.The lineup of speakers will knock your socks off. Take a vacation day or two and go to Ligonier. You can learn more about this year’s conference here.

No doubt there are more. Faithfully attend church and the preaching of the word. Utilize the 9:30 equipping hour. Get into a growth group. Attend the 1689 Confession tutorial class every other Wednesday (see the events calendar on the website) or listen to the classes online on our website.

If it is true that acquiring the truth in greater degrees of understanding is a mark of true discipleship, then let us be a people who are rabid for truth and as crazy about accumulating tools to that end as the carpenter is for stocking his toolkit with nothing but the very best equipment!