Servants of Grace exists to be a resource to the local church through the preaching of God's Word, spiritual growth and training future leaders.


Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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Jesus Expiate That

In our home in Tulsa we had an oubliette in the garage. Oubliette is French for “a place of forgetting”. Whenever something broke, I would stick it in that corner and leave it. Sometimes this would be for weeks, months, or even a year.

I loved that place. I could just shove something into that corner and forget about it. That is until the occasion when I miraculously had margin, and courage, to deal with the broken object. However, more often than not, someone, perhaps my beautiful bride, would express urgency about the item.

I would then venture into that corner of the garage and deal with the brokenness. More often than not, there was only one solution. I would look at that broken object. Knock it around a few times with a hammer. Crack it open. Tinker with it beyond repair. Then I would gather all the parts and bear them away to the trashcan to be removed permanently from the premises.

This, friends, is a picture of expiation. It’s a broken picture, held together by duct-tape, wire hangers, and whatever other contraptions I typically fabricate to poorly fix stuff. But that’s just the point.

I’m a feeble human. My illustrations hold up about as well as my repairs. I am in need of a master wordsmith to demonstrate the complex task that God accomplished in removing sin. I need a master craftsman to go about the repair necessary. Not just to fix my broken illustration or broken objects in the garage, but to fix everything: me, my family, society, and all God’s creation. Through Christ’s suffering on the cross, not just my brokenness is handled, but all the world’s brokenness is handled.

What is Expiation?

One component of this repair process is often grossly overlooked, but it is critical. It is called expiation. John Frame, in his excellent systematic theology, describes expiation. He says, “This means that Jesus bore our sins, took them on himself, and therefore did away with them” (Systematic Theology, 902).

There are a number of helpful verses that give insight to expiation. Isaiah 53:6 says, “And the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Verse 12 says, “Yet he bore the sins of many.” One of the most powerful and vivid depictions of expiation in the New Testament is the exclamation of John the Baptist at Jesus’s approach. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) And possibly the most theologically robust statement on expiation appears in Hebrew 9:28. “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Suffering and Sacrifice

Expiation is indelibly connected to suffering and sacrifice. Christ is pictured as the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 who bears sin away. John the Baptist welcomes Christ as a sacrificial lamb in John 1:29.

Remarkably, expiation began before the cross. If you look back to Isaiah 53 it says that the suffering servant is stricken and wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and with his stripes we are healed. In others words, from the beginning of Christ’s suffering at his trial — the shaming, the beatings, the scourging – expiation took place (Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3, 396). Expiation continued all the way until that final breath exhaled and Christ died.

Christ the Scapegoat

In the Old Testament expiation is pictured through hands transferring sin to animals. Leviticus 16 portrays one of the most pristine examples of this. Aaron, after atoning for the holy places, lays his hands on a living goat. The sins of Israel are passed to this goat. The goat is driven into the wilderness, bearing away the people’s sin. It is the scapegoat.

It is uncanny how Mark’s account of Christ’s baptism (Mark 1:4-13), chronologically falling near to John the Baptist’s statement in John 1:29, retains marked similarity to Leviticus 16. Recall, that John the Baptist is baptizing all the people for the forgiveness of sins in the Jordan River. Then comes Christ who is baptized, too. Immediately the Holy Spirit fell upon Christ like a dove, and He is immediately driven into the wilderness to resist temptation from Satan. Jesus is our scapegoat.

Expiation Is Not Propitiation

Many confuse expiation with propitiation. Others, not liking the propitiation concept, attempt to eliminate propitiation, spinning the Scripture to present only expiation. How is expiation distinguished from propitiation? Propitiation is what Jesus received from God (Romans 3:25-26). Jesus drank the full cup of God’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 51:17; Matt. 20:22). This is an essential aspect of the Christ event. Expiation is what Jesus received from man. Before Jesus experienced God’s wrath on the cross, Jesus bore sin from man. In other words, expiation precedes propitiation.

Expiation, a Once for All Event

Expiation — as Hebrews 9:28 above indicates — is a once for all event. Jesus handled our sin at the cross. Just as all forms of Old Testament sacrificial expiation look forward to the expiation at Christ’s cross, all forms of expiation practiced in the Church, such as prayer and the Lord’s Supper, look back to that one and same event where Christ bore sin away.

John Calvin makes this clear:

“And [it] was done but once, because the effectiveness and force of that one sacrifice accomplished by Christ are eternal, as he testified by his own voice when he said that it was done and fulfilled [John 19:30]; that is, whatever was necessary to recover the Father’s favor, to obtain forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and salvation – all this was performed and completed by that unique sacrifice of his. And so perfect was it that no place was left afterward for any other sacrificial victim.” (Institutes, 4.18.13)

Christ’s righteousness makes expiation possible; Christ’s righteousness makes expiation beautiful. Referring to Christ’s attribute of righteousness, Herman Bavinck says, “In fact it is precisely the attribute of God that gave Christ as an expiation, so that God could forgive sins out of grace while preserving justice” (Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3, 369).

Expiation Changes How We Look at Self

So next time you come across brokenness, whether it is a discarded item in the corner of your garage or sin you’ve pushed away into the corner of your heart, remember that if you are Christ’s, then He paid for that sin. Jesus expiate that.

He suffered as a sacrifice that bore sin away, long before you were born and long before that sin sought refuge in your heart. You have been set free. You do not have to permit that sin to dwell in Christ’s home. There is a new resident in your heart; He is King of it all (Eph. 3:17). He will return. This time it will not be as a sacrifice but as a ruler. Before Jesus came to expiate our sin. Now Christ comes to execute His rule.

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Gospel Series: Imputation

Gospel Series: Imputation


Posted By on Apr 15, 2014

Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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The impu-what? I hope I didn’t lose you already!

You may be thinking, “Seriously? Is this a theology lesson?”

I recall in my undergrad studies, literally hating theology—I remember telling my wife how “dumb” it was. Little did I know I would receive a dual Masters, with the one of the degrees in theology. Why? Why such a drastic change from loathing it to loving it? It certainly was not the riveting textbooks, or the sessions of mono-toned lectures; no, it was the idea that everyone has a theology—they just don’t know it. Secondly, I learned some invaluable concepts about my faith in Christ, the Gospel, and the reasons why I believe what I believe. Theology literally opened up the Scriptures for me. And so, I pray that this is not some boring reading, but an engaging and Spirit-led challenge for you to grow in your faith. This post will not be exhaustive, nor is it intended to be. Its intention is to illuminate you with the doctrine of the imputation and it’s correlation with the Gospel.

So, since this will be somewhat short and precise, I only want to focus on two verses of Scripture: Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 these will be our springboard to launch us into what the imputation is and what it has to do with the Gospel.

What is the Imputation?

First and foremost, we begin by giving the word a more workable definition. We don’t walk around the twenty-first century talking about imputation—it sounds like someone needs their leg cut off. As well, sometimes a modern definition of a word can throw us off, which is exactly what you would find if you looked up the word imputation—as it can mean an accusation, reproach, or a charge against someone. That’s not what the Biblical doctrine means. When we talk about the imputation of Christ it is not a thing, but an event.

Just to make this easier, let’s give our word a new label, just for our understanding—let’s call this word, “counted.” Now, I don’t want you to be thinking of the word counting, in its present tense, as if it’s still happening, but at totaled sum or a calculated amount. For instance, if you needed a new TV, you find the one you like, pick it out, calculate the total amount due, and then go to the register. However, if you don’t have cash, you will use your credit card—right? Then, the amount for the TV is “counted,” on your card. But, you technically did not pay for the item—yet, but you’re driving home with it, putting it on the wall (an epic new flat screen!), and watching it—although, you have never made one payment—hence, it is “counted” as yours.

Now, let’s add to this and say that by some crazy stroke of luck, unbeknownst to you, your credit card company, feeling generous (as if), gives you a credit in the exact amount of the flat screen TV—the amount then that was once “counted” as yours, on your statement, is now nullified—meaning, you don’t own the debt, but you still get to watch the TV and possess it! Sounds great, right?

Well, this is the rudimentary concept behind the imputation. The doctrine states that Jesus took our sin upon Himself, and then put into our account, righteousness instead. Likewise, the Apostle Paul explains to the Roman Church, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19). Because of Adam, all of mankind has been born into sin, as Adam was the head of humanity. Rightly so, Jesus Christ, the only man to have ever defeated death, by being raised to life, conquered death and became the first-born of righteousness.  All who proclaim by faith that Jesus is Lord are saved by that faith and “counted” (there’s our word) as righteous. It is not that believers are righteous, but that they are “counted” as righteous, or declared righteous by God, through the work of Christ.

“For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

The penalty for the sin of man then was grievously put upon Christ (2 Cor 5:21; c.f. Col. 1:14; 2:14-15), while His righteousness was placed upon us, or put into our account. The analogy of the flat screen is applied to show that while we did not pay the penalty for our sin, it was paid by Christ; while we possess righteousness, it is not our own, but His.

What Does the Imputation Have to do with the Gospel?

Paul’s letter to the Roman Church carries a continuum of thought from the beginning. He begins chapter one by acknowledging that all of mankind knows about God, but suppresses the truth.[1] They either have a moral law written upon their hearts[2] or possess the written Law (ch.2). Then, Paul “levels the playing field” leaving no man righteous or justifiable of sin before God (ch.3); meaning, no amount of works can declare any man righteous before God. Paul then continues his argument founded upon on righteousness based on faith for both Jews and Gentiles—excluding works, providing examples of Abraham’s faith and righteousness (ch.4). Paul proceeds by examining justification by faith (a one-time action of Christ) and then accordingly, he finally addresses the imputation of sin by one man Adam, and the imputation of righteousness by one man, Jesus Christ (ch.5). Moreover, Paul shocks his Jewish audience in 5:20, by stating that the Law came into existence to increase transgression, to show that grace “super-abounded” hyperperisseuō.

Grace. This is not some word which merely means that we’re off the hook or that God loves us, or that we no longer endure judgment, but Paul’s illustration paints a picture that all of humanity—whether with the law in their heart (knowing it’s wrong to kill, steal, lie, etc.) or by the adherence of the written Commandments, no one is justified by their actions; no one has an excuse as to whether or not they’re a sinner—the law (in the heart or written) proves to all of us that we are in need of a Savior and not only for salvation, but the need to be washed from the sins, so that we can come into union with a holy God. This is where the Gospel and imputation intersect. Without the grace of the Gospel, which tells us that we all were sinners and that none of us came to faith in Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit.  Imputation teaches us that man’s works are not capable of bringing us into union with a holy God—we see that they must be united and simultaneous acts—both of God.

The fact that God grants grace and that He alone gives sinners the ability to be declared righteous is something which should place us in awe of a great and loving God. To think that not only is it God’s desire was to save sinful man, but also to declare him righteous by placing him in unity with His beloved Son, shows us an incredibly intelligent and amazing Creator. Imputation express that God wants a relationship with His creation, His people. That God would pull the sin from man’s account, nail it to the cross (Col.2:14) and place it in Christ’s account, then in the same fashion, take Christ’s righteousness and put it into the believer’s account (2 Cor 5:21) is far from this human mind to understand all of the complexities, but I do comprehend its worth and grace. Thanks be to God for His love, mercy, and relentless pursuit of sinners. Thank God for the Gospel. Thank God for imputation—so that I can have fellowship with Him.


[1] Romans 1:18

[2] Romans 2:14-15

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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I couldn’t contain my emotion… joy bubbled up and over, each tear singing hallelujah for what God had done – my son Gavin was born! Even now the memory of his birth stirs me deeply. Perhaps you can relate. Each of us experiences a wide range of emotions as we move through our day-to-day lives. Typically, small experiences, whether positive or negative, illicit small emotional responses. Larger experiences naturally produce larger emotional reactions. It would appear then, that our emotional states are tied to and flow from the gravity of whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in. Whether it’s the release of a new album, a broken heart, a new birth, a job loss, or the big game… our emotions follow in kind.

We see this principle fleshed out in Psalm 95:1-5 as the writer calls the nation of Israel into the God-sized worship of God: 1) Sing to the Lord! 2) Shout joyfully! 3) Come with thanksgiving! 4) Sing psalms of praise!

It’s as if the Psalmist repeatedly implores both himself and the people, “The weight of our worship should rise to meet the weight of our present reality in God.” He reminds the people that God’s loyal-love has faithfully delivered them time and time again; God was, is and always will be the immovable ‘Rock of [their] salvation!’ God is worthy of exuberant praise, because He is their Great and Sovereign King of Majesty! Like Israel, God’s rule and reign faithfully and lovingly stands over-and-against every so-called god competing for the affection of our hearts. Indeed, our greatest enemies – the world, the flesh and the devil have each been overcome through the obedient death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our present reality in God is one of eternal victory in Christ.

The Apostle John fleshes out our multi-faceted relationship of holiness to and in Christ: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2-3). We are children of God now. Our positional relationship to and in Christ has set us apart for the enjoyment and glorification of God. However, ‘what we will be has not yet appeared.’ Today falls upon us fast and heavy. Each sunrise carries with it a host of competing desires, agendas, anxieties and relationships… each vying for center stage. Sadly, our divided affections often overflow into the distracted and dissatisfied worship of God – we love too much what deserves little, and love too little what deserves much. Oh, that the Spirit would cause the right-sizing of our affections, that they would truly be in proportion to our present reality in Jesus. Thanks be to God, our eternal and future reality in Christ (“we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”) serves as a dynamic source of hope to dig our heels in and fight for kingdom progress here and now.

We are now deep into the season of Lent. As we round the final turn and pick up speed toward Easter, the Lenten cry of the historical Church beckons us to ‘make room for the risen King!’ Our hearts are overcrowded and overwrought, again heaven cries – ‘make room in your heart for Him to whom your heart belongs!’

The season of Lent is about sweeping the floor of our souls. Daily rhythms of repentance and reflection upon Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross are not undertaken for morbidity’s sake. Jesus didn’t ask us to be depressed for forty days. Rather, as we habitually reflect on the nature of God’s love demonstrated toward us on the cross, the natural result will be the sweeping away of debris obstructing our heart’s view of Him. As our view of God grows in color, depth and beauty, our ability to joyously respond to Him in worship progressively expands. As we reflect on the weight of our sin, the weight of Christ’s isolation, the weight of the Father’s just wrath and the crushing weight of Jesus’ death, a corresponding and eternal weight of glory breaks forth in our hearts, its light and life reaching into the deepest recesses of our souls. This expansion of worship invades the whole of what it is to be human – our minds, our wills, our emotions and our spirits join together in harmony to engage the overwhelming beauty of God’s infinite worth.

Along with the Psalmist, I invite you into the God-sized worship of God. Don’t limp into Easter. As we close the season of Lent, let us fight together to reclaim our blood-bought identity as Easter people. Let us make room for the risen King… Let us make room in our hearts for Him to whom our hearts belong…. May the weight of our worship rise to meet the infinite weight of glory revealed to us in Christ Jesus.

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James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Today’s average person is confronted with a changing world. We live in a world where we are inundated by social media updates, blogs, 24/7 news and much more. Added to the complexity of new media is the fact that in generations past people have had to physically speak to one another. Now, we can speak to one another over social media, podcasts, television, radio, on our phones or even on video conference on our laptops. If there is an issue of quintessential importance to the Christian and the Church it is this, prayerfully, powerfully, and gracefully speaking to the issues to the glory of God.

As quoted above, James 1:19 makes clear, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” These words from James became real to me when I graduated high school. I had just received a letter from my father in which he told me I needed to learn the truth of these verses. At the time, I thought that I was quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Yet, as I’ve grown up and matured by the grace of God, I’ve come to see that I was deceived. Instead of being slow to speak I was quick to speak. Instead of being quick to hear I was quick to anger. Instead of caring for people, I cared about winning arguments and scoring points. Friends, this is not how we ought to be as Christians. As Christians we are to demonstrate we care about one another because of the Gospel—that is Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. His finished and sufficient work provides the basis for our confidence in Him and the reason we can put sin to death and enjoy Him in all of life. Yet, how often are you perhaps like me when I was younger, quick to speak, quick to anger and slow to listen?

I’ve been online writing articles and blog posts since 2000. In that time I’ve seen plenty of people come and go. People who had real talent writing but eventually fell off the map. I’ve seen trends come and go online and in the evangelical world. Yet one major issue never seems to go away and that is that people want to speak about what they think is important. Speaking is an important function of humans. Through speaking we communicate what we value, how we feel and much more. Yet, at its core communication has not only to do with what we communicate but also how we communicate. James 1:19-20 confronts us with the reality of the situation in that God’s Word is given to us for our correction and reproof Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16. As God illuminates His Word to us we are confronted with the reality of where we are at in our walk with Him. The choice is then presented to us—will we by the grace of God heed the Word of God or will we rebel against the authority and truthfulness of the Word of God?

James 3:1 is a scary verse that should cause one to consider its seriousness, because it teaches that not many of us should be teachers. Yet, what do you think you are doing on facebook, twitter, google plus, on your blog, podcast or any other outlet that you have to communicate? Everyone to some degree whether they are engaging in teaching in the Church or sharing the gospel with a lost neighbor or friend is teaching. The content of what we preach ought to be the gospel. Yet, how we present the gospel ought to be true to the Bible. The harshest language in the Bible is directed at those who lead people away from God. Thus, what we speak and how we speak is of central importance.

At the core of speaking prayerfully, powerfully and gracefully to the issues of our day is knowing when to speak and when to be silent. James 1:19 is thus helpful to us. How do you know when to speak on the issues? For me, this usually happens as I’m thinking through a topic and the thoughts on a particular topic are coming at me faster than I can write them down.

As I conclude this article, I want to give you several steps I use that have guided my thinking on this area. First, I daily open my Bible, read it, reflect on it and seek by the grace of God to apply its truths to my life. As I do this, I’m often either encouraged or rebuked by the particular passage I’m reading, reflecting and meditating on. Second, find a group of godly Christians you can discuss doctrinal and theological issues with. Doing so, will help you to know whether you should speak to these issues and whether you have the right voice, tone and motivation for speaking to this particular issue. Often times when I sit down to write on a particular issue when I finish, I delete the whole document. I do this because either the tone is all wrong or my motivation is also wrong. In either case, I want to heed James 1:19 which is to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Thirdly, to speak is to want to be heard and thus in turn to want others to respond to you. On the flipside of this, by speaking on blogs, podcasts, social media and whatever other media we may use—we must in turn listen to those who read or listen to our content. We must hear what they say and not just flippantly but rather take seriously their pushback, or encouragement.

Finally, whenever we write or speak to issues we may get pushback or even encouragement. When we get encouragement to our work, we should thank the person but deflect the glory to God. We can do this by saying thank you to the person and then saying something to the effect of, “Thank you for your encouragement, I’m thankful to God for your encouragement and give Him all the praise you were helped by my work.” By doing this we are not being vain but rather thanking the person that they offered encouragement. When pushback is offered don’t respond personally but rather prayerfully and thank the person that they offered pushback. Respond to the person by engaging the content of their post by quoting from portions you may agree with and engaging the parts you don’t agree with. By doing this, you will demonstrate you care about the person enough to engage them in a respectful and God glorifying manner.

Lastly, I don’t know about you, but speaking prayerfully, powerfully and gracefully is exhausting. It requires great care that comes from a desire to glorify God and exalt His name among the nations. At the end of the day though, as Christians, we write, speak and minister for an audience of One in God whose call in His Word is crystal clear—be faithful to Him and make much of Him and He will use you in powerful ways to speak to issues in a way that honors and glorifies Him. I pray today that you resolve by the grace of God to speak prayerfully, powerfully, and gracefully to the issues to the glory of God.

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This is our weekly roundup of posts for 4/7/2014-4/12/2014. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it.  Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.

Monday 4/7/2014-

Gospel Series: Quickened by Grace by Chris Poblete http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-quickened-by-grace-in-christ/

Tuesday 4/8/2014-

Gospel Series: Christ Our Substitute: The Meaning Of The Cross by Dr. Thaddeus Williams http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-christ-our-substitute-the-meaning-of-the-cross/

Wed 4/9/2014-

Gospel Series: Christ, Forgiveness, and the Cross by Chris Poblete http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-christ-forgiveness-and-the-cross/

Thursday 4/10/2014-

Gospel Series: Christ, Our Substitute by Dr. Thaddeus Williams http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-christ-our-substitute/

Friday 4/11/2014-

Gospel Series: The Beauty of Holiness by C. Walter http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-beauty-holiness/

Saturday 4/12/2014

When Angels Long to Look by Dr. Brian Cosby http://servantsofgrace.org/when-angels-long-to-looksermon/

 

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When Angels Long to Look[Sermon]

When Angels Long to Look[Sermon]


Posted By on Apr 12, 2014

If the prophets of old and the angels in heaven long to look and delight in the salvation through Christ, we – who are the recipients of this salvation – should be the most grateful and intentional about seeking to understand this salvation. John Dr. Cosby as he looks at 1 Peter 1:10-12.

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There are lots of voices out there that suggest that evangelicalism today is struggling, perhaps even dying. This week I was at Together for the Gospel, a conference that draws in pastors, ministry leaders and serious minded lay people from around the country. From my vantage point I cannot more strongly disagree with the statement that evangelicalism is struggling or perhaps even dying. What is dying is a nominal evangelical Christianity that is apathetic to the Gospel because it has assumed the gospel for so long that it has forgotten the gospel. The gospel must always be central in our thoughts, affections and ministries. From my perspective what I see and what I hope to argue for in this article as I reflect on Together for the Gospel is that God is raising up a generation who is gathering around the core of biblical Christianity. My generation is a generation that loves Jesus, the preaching of His Word, His people, and loves to bring the gospel to the lost and all of life to the glory of God.

Perhaps that last paragraph was a bit strong and you disagree. As I was at Together for the Gospel, I met with some of the brightest young confessional evangelicals in the United States. We gathered to hear some of the brightest voices in evangelicalism such as Dr. Albert Mohler, Matt Chandler Thabiti Anayabile, John Piper, and David Platt among others. As we listened we were instructed, rebuked, and encouraged to have confidence in the gospel, so as to take it to our neighbors, friends and cities to the glory of God. As I listened to the sermons and engaged in multiple conversations with people from around the United States I was deeply encouraged by what I saw. What I see is a generation of pastors and ministry leaders who loves to exalt in Jesus and make Him known.

Many voices in evangelicalism today are saying that we are struggling and therefore that in some way we will die off. What makes conferences like Together for the Gospel so appealing is what they are offering to their audiences. Young people today are leaving the Church because they are tired of rehearsed answers. Young people are tired of a shallow nominal evangelicalism that places an emphasis on feelings above the Word of God. Young people want a robust evangelical theology grounded in the Word of God and in the teaching of the history of the Church. Thankfully there is such an evangelicalism, but it is not the evangelicalism that is often associated with evangelical thinking and practice today. What I see occurring in conferences such as Together for the Gospel and organizations like Desiring God, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 9Marks and the Gospel Coalition is a recovery of the evangelicalism of our forefathers headed by men like John Owen, Charles Spurgeon among many others.

The Reformers wanted to reform the Church around the Word of God. To do this they sought to take the teaching of Scripture literally and apply it to the people of God through the preaching of sermons that took the text as the point of their sermon and apply it to the people of God. As they did this God awakened people’s desires to the beauty and sufficiency of the Bible itself. What we are seeing are those who are nominal abandon biblical Christianity for theological liberalism, which is a completely different religion than Christianity entirely.

Biblical Christianity is rooted in the truth of God’s Word which contains the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical Christianity has always taken its cue from the text of Scripture itself. As the evangelical Church has heralded the evangel to the world in faithfulness to His Word the Lord has been pleased to bless His Church because of the gospel.

We need reformation today. We need conferences like Together For the Gospel to be encouraged, instructed and corrected. Make no mistake though, like Dr. Albert Mohler said at the end of Together for the Gospel the most important work we can do happens on the Lord’s Day. It happens in our small groups, in gathered worship, in one-on-one discipleship meetings, in church newsletters, and in a thousand different ways as you seek to be faithful to the Word of God and the gospel of the Risen Christ.

As Together for the Gospel came to a close and I leave Louisville, I do so deeply encouraged, and emboldened because of the gospel. I leave Louisville grateful for my time here but most of all glad I got to spend time here at this conference with my wife. This was my wife’s first time at a conference. We learned a lot while here not only about the Lord but about each other. We enjoyed extended theological discussion with a wide variety of people and were instructed by what they said to us. We leave Louisville and Together for the Gospel encouraged by what we see- a generation gathered around the throne of God, lifting head, heart and hands to the Lord Jesus pleading with Him to use their ordinary efforts in extraordinary ways to impact people’s lives for His glory. I don’t know about you but that encourages me and leaves me speechless that God brought almost 8,000 people to Louisville to lift up His name and be instructed by His Word and then to go home to make much of Him in all of life.

I pray as we go back to our respective vocations and to our churches that we would take with us what we have learned. I sincerely pray that we would not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. I pray that God would continue to raise up an army of confessional evangelicals who are unashamed because of the evangel and herald it to and for His glory with greater confidence and boldness because of being at Together for the Gospel. I greatly enjoyed my time here in Louisville but am excited now for what He will do in this next season in and through those I’ve met here at Together for the Gospel for His glory. May God truly be glorified in and through our efforts for His name as we seek to faithfully proclaim His Word. Then, we will truly be known as the generation who is gathered around His throne, pleading with Him to use us powerfully in the lives of those around us, for His name and glory.

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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Certainly, God is holy and we are not. It is His primary attribute, separating him from humanity. Thus, we stand in awe and in fear of His holiness. Thankfully, Christ is our holiness (1 Cor. 1:30). But God does more than count us holy when we believe in Christ—He calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).

That means Christians must pursue holiness, not shy away from it. Some think the pursuit of holiness is a dull and prudish chore, robbing the pursuer of many pleasures life can offer. But this is a short-sighted view of holiness that misses its true beauty.

As we pursue holiness, we become transformed into the image of Christ as we remove sinful desires, replacing them with new and deep passions for God, the end result of which is inexpressible joy. Holiness, then, results in true contentment and joy in God. That is the beauty of holiness.

But the pursuit of holiness still requires action on our part. We must not be content to remain as we are today.

First, we must put off the old self; we must kill sin (Eph. 4:21-24). The choice must be made to submit to God and to make no provision for the flesh, refusing to succumb to the passions and desires of sin in the pursuit of worldly happiness. This enhances the beauty of holiness, recognizing that the battle is not about removing joy from life. Rather, the battle against sin enhances true happiness—joy in God.

Secondly, pursuing holiness entails putting on the new self; growing toward spiritual maturity. (Eph. 4:21-24). Spiritual growth requires time, occurs in Christian community and is driven by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, among other things. This also enhances the beauty of holiness, for as we grow spiritually we begin to recognize the tangible ways in which we are becoming holy as we become more like Christ.

Finding joy in God through the mortification of sin and growing in Christ-likeness enhance the beauty of holiness because through them both we find the happiness we were created to experience—happiness in God.

That is the beauty of holiness.

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