The Gospel Isn’t Just For Getting Saved

Far too many churches today neglect preaching the Gospel.  Well, maybe that is not quite accurate.  When it is time to do evangelism, they preach the good news that God will forgive all those who admit they are sinners and accept Christ.  But once the evangelistic talk is over, and people have come to faith, that message of sin and grace is tucked away in a drawer someplace until the next time that someone wants to do evangelism.  It seems that many Christians, especially pastors and Christian leaders, think that the Gospel is relevant for becoming a Christian, but not all that useful for living the Christian life.  Instead of making the Gospel the central theme of their preaching and worship, many churches neglect the Gospel in favor of moralistic pep talks, self-help tips, and shallow praise choruses.

“Come on,” someone may object, “how can you preach the Gospel every week?  That would be the same sermon over and over again.” If people have repented and turned to Christ, why bother going over the same talk about sin and grace again and again? They’ve got it already.  They became Christians.  It is time to go on to bigger and better things.  The Gospel and grace are fantastic for getting people in the door, in helping them to come to faith in Christ.  But once they are Christians already, they need something more than just a simple Gospel outline.  They need something that will motivate and inspire them to holy living.  They need something that will encourage them when life is difficult.  They need something practical for daily living.

The Calvinist's Motivation for Holiness

John CalvinOne of the accusations often leveled against the doctrine of predestination (or election) is that if you believe that God chooses ahead of time those who will be saved, there is no motivation to live a holy life.  And if ultimately falling away from the faith is impossible because God will assuredly make His people persevere to the end, then there is no motivation for holy living. 

And we must admit that this argument has some teeth to it.  In the history of the church there have been many people who have used this kind of logic to rationalize and justify their own bad behavior.  But at the same time, some of the greatest advocates for the biblical doctrines of predestination, election, and free grace have strongly opposed such rationalizations as utterly unbiblical. 

In 1528 and 1529, Martin Luther and his associates made a series of parish visits in the Electorate of Saxony and were shocked at the way in which people who had received the gospel of free grace were using it as an excuse to engage in immorality.  In his introduction to his Small Catechism, Luther writes:

Thai Language Schools for Missionaries

From time to time, future missionaries who are preparing to come out to Thailand ask me for advice about Thai language study options.  In this post, I want to give an overview of what is out there, together with links that will with help you do further research about where to study.

If you are looking for a formal Thai language school, you will most likely need to go to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai. You can find someone to try to tutor you privately anywhere in the country, but the quality will varying widely and you may not get the type of teaching you are looking for. To get a solid foundation in Thai, you need to learn the tonal and pronunciation system, as well as the writing system, all of which need concerted time and effort. Thai is not like some European languages that you can pick up as you go.

Book Review "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer

J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, Second Revised Enlarged Edition. Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2005, 256 pp.

reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

There are a number of books that provide a theology of the work of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, there are also a number of books that critique the charismatic movement, pointing out its excesses and disputing its biblical foundation.  However, it is rare to find a book that both affirms that God is at work in the charismatic movement and also rejects the major claims of that very same movement.  But in “Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God”, J.I. Packer has done just that.  In just 200 pages or so, Packer lays out a positive theology of the work of the Holy Spirit and issues challenges to both cessationists and charismatics.  So what will you find inside?  Let me give you an overview.

Book Review: “Risk is Right” by John Piper

Book Review: John Piper, “Risk is Right”, Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway, 2013, 64 pages

Reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

I love the title of this little book. “Risk is Right.” Why do I love it?  Because so many voices today say that risk is wrong.  It is irresponsible.  It is reckless.  It is bad stewardship.  It is unloving.  And I often hear my own voice saying, ‘It is not worth it.  My time, energy, and money are too valuable to risk it on doing that. I don’t want to make that investment and have it come to nothing.”  That’s the voice that I am battling, and that’s why I decided to read this book.

Being familiar with John Piper from other writings and sermons, I had an idea of where he was probably going from the outset, and I was not disappointed.  In just a few hours (did I mention that this is a short book?), Piper defined risk, blew up the myth of safety, provided biblical examples of risk, and set forth the hope and motivation that should compel us to take risks for God’s glory.

“Christianity and the Cults” : an English overview of the Thai book

One of the projects that I have been involved with at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand) this past year has finally been published.  “Christianity and the Cults” (Thai title: รู้เท่าทัน) covers six cult groups that are operating in Thailand that Thai Christians may encounter.  In the post, I want to give an English summary of what’s in the book so that missionaries and other English speaking Christians can knowledgeably recommend it to their Thai Christian friends and use it in ministry.  This is not a translated book, but is an original Thai book that has been written “in-house” by Kanok, with the help of various contributors.

Introduction

The introductory chapter addresses three areas that help set the tone for the book, and assist readers in preparing themselves to meet cult groups and false teaching in general.
 
First, why this book?  For some people it may seem distasteful to label someone a false teacher or to say that such-and-such group is a cult, but these are things that we must do because the Bible makes such distinctions. 
 

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