Monday, June 24, 2013

What We Pursued On Our Retreat

Those of you who count yourselves a part of Bethel Baptist Church know that the elders and their wives got away this past weekend, Friday evening through Saturday evening, for a retreat. If you prayed for us, thank you! It was a very sweet time together. I give thanks to God for each of these precious couples! We are blessed to have them as part of our church family.

One of the things we did for a couple of hours on Saturday morning was work through an article entitled, "Justification versus Self-Justification" by Ray Ortlund, Jr. We discussed its content and application, and prayed together along its gospel-shaped lines. The paper was originally delivered to pastors and other church leaders at The 2011 Gospel Coalition conference, but the content is vitally important and practically applicable to every Christian. The whole point of this post is to encourage you to go and read it.

Here are a few quotes intended to whet your appetite to read the whole thing:
What I am saying today, on the basis of Galatians, is that the gospel, and justification in particular, calls for more than doctrinal subscription; it also calls for cultural incarnation. 
[G]ospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The gospel does more than renew us personally within. The doctrines of grace also create a culture of grace, called a healthy church, where the gospel is articulated at the level of doctrine and incarnated at the level of culture and vibe and ethos and feel and relationships and community. But getting a church there and keeping a church there is not easy. Without the doctrine, the culture is unsustainable. Without the culture, the doctrine appears pointless and powerless. 
When Paul faced a choice between pleasing himself and pleasing others, he pleased others. When he faced a choice between pleasing others and pleasing God, he pleased God.
It is so freeing to stop needing human approval; it is so freeing to get up and follow Christ, though inevitably some will find fault. It is so freeing not to be bound by how things look in the eyes of man and to be deeply bound to Jesus. If he is our only justification, then he is all the reason we need to live.
What stands out in my mind about Galatians 2:11-14 is that Paul considers gospel culture just as sacred as gospel doctrine. He fought for that culture, because the doctrine of grace-justification cannot be preserved in its integrity if surrounded by a culture of self-justification. 
There are so many more underlined and starred sentences on my copy, but I hope that was enough to convince you to go read the whole thing.

In addition, I encouraged the elders and wives to listen to this message by Tim Keller on their drive up to the retreat (normally, this message would be found here, but at the time of me writing the site is under construction). Once again, I highly recommend it to you. It's a message worth listening to more than once.

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