Archives For Kevin DeYoung

EFCA One, our bi-annual national conference, was held the first week of July in New Orleans. It was a great conference with excellent plenary speakers/sessions and teaching/training tracks.

There were two types of plenary sessions this year: three expository messages from the Word, preached by Kevin DeYoung and Gordon MacDonald, and two hot topic sessions, given oversight by Ed Stetzer.

Expository Preaching

  • Kevin DeYoung (Monday PM):“The Pleasure of God and the Possibility of Holiness” (Romans 12:1-2) Application: Where will you focus your imperfect yet possible obedience this week?
  • Kevin DeYoung (Tuesday AM): “What is the Mission of the Church?” (Matthew 28:18-20). Application: What value do you place on preaching the “unpopular, impractical message” of the gospel?
  • Gordon MacDonald (Wednesday AM):  “Jesus’ Call: hear it again….for the first time!” (Matthew 5:13-16). Application: Who are the 10-12 people you’re intentionally discipling?

Hot Topic Panels

  • Hot Topic (Monday night): “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel”: Application: How are you bringing the gospel to bear on various areas of ministry in your local church?
  • Hot Topic (Tuesday night): “Ministry As the Scattered Church”: Application: How does your church or ministry respond to a post-modern culture?

Tomorrow I will include a separate post on the Hot Topic plenary session focused on “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel.” Later in the week I will also be posting recordings and notes from the Forum on Expository Preaching (“Preaching Laments and Imprecatory Psalms”) and the Teaching Track (“The Reformation of the Pastoral Office”).

In this and a few forthcoming posts I will be addressing the moral issue of the day: homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I do so not because this is the only moral issue of the day, but because it is one of the critical moral issues of the day. Certainly other moral issues of the day must also be addressed. But this issue, despite the cultural push towards its acceptance, does not get a pass. It must be addressed. And yes, other moral issues must also be addressed.

Kevin DeYoung helpfully explains “Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage Are Persuasive.” DeYoung does not believe “the arguments for gay marriage are biblically faithfully, logically persuasive, or good for human flourishing in the long run, but they are almost impossible to overcome with most Americans, especially in younger generations.” He then lists the “ways gay marriage fits in with our cultural mood and assumptions.” He lists five:

  1. It’s about progress.
  2. It’s about love.
  3. It’s about rights.
  4. It’s about equality.
  5. It’s about tolerance.

Who has not felt this? DeYoung then challenges parents and churches in the following ways:

For starters, churches and pastors and Christian parents can prepare their families both intellectually and psychologically for the opposition that is sure to come. Conservative Christians have more kids; make sure they know what the Bible says and know how to think.

We should also remember that the church’s mission in life is not to defeat gay marriage. While too many Christians have already retreated, there may be others who reckon that everything hangs in the balance on this one issue. Let’s keep preaching, persevering, pursuing joy, and praying for conversions. Christians should care about the issue, and then carry on.

It is a matter of knowing, living and teaching the truth of the Word of God. More pointedly, it is knowing what God says generally about morality and ethics and how the gospel is foundational to it all, and then, specifically what God’s Words also says specifically about this moral issue. Regardless of how the culture now views this moral issue, God’s Word is our touchstone!

If we are to make any inroads in our discussion and interaction with those who have imbibed (or determined?) the cultural mores, DeYoung encourages several moves, which I just list, while including the complete thought in his final “both-and” approach:

  1. We need to go back several steps in each argument.
  2. We need more courage.
  3. We need more creativity.
  4. We need a both-and approach. I’m convinced we need to do both. Let’s keep preaching, teaching, and laboring for faithful churches. Let’s be fruitful and multiply. Let’s train our kids in the way they should go. Let’s keep sharing the good news and praying for revival. And let’s also find ways to make the truth plausible in a lost world. Not only the truth about marriage, but the truth about life and sex and creation and beauty and family and freedom and a hundred other things humans tend to forget on this side of Adam. The cultural assumptions in our day are not on our side, but if the last 50 years has shown us anything, it’s that those assumptions can change more quickly than we think.

Your turn to ponder, interact and reply.

  1. Do you agree with his reasons why same-sex marriage fits our present-day cultural mood and assumptions?
  2. What might you add to this list?
  3. What do you do to prepare and equip yourself, your families and the church family to understand God’s Word and its response to these issues?

Prayer in the Body of Christ

Greg Strand – March 25, 2013 2 Comments

Last week there were two posts on lessons learned on the need for prayer as pastors.

Michael Strand, associate pastor at the Free Church in Cheyenne, WY, and my son!, wrote of some lessons he is learning about life and ministry as a pastor in the local church, and the need for prayer, not only for the church, i.e. people that make up the church, but also for the pastors: “Praying for Your Church”.

Michael notes, “We should all be praying for the church.” Paul and his prayers in his epistles are used as the model for this sort of praying. He also lists specific things for which to pray, also listed from the Bible. Michael concludes with the following reminder/exhortation:

Pray for the pastors, elders and deacons who are in your church that we may faithfully lead the people that God has entrusted to us. May all of us remember to pray for our churches that God’s name may be made great and He would get all the glory.

Often the perception is that pastors are the ones doing the praying for others, but they are just as needy, just as desperate for prayer as others. This is a lesson Kevin DeYoung has relearned. Recently Kevin and his wife experienced a medical problem that caused pain to body and soul. As they walked through this, one of the elders at the church encouraged Kevin to let the people of God know so that they could join them in prayer. Kevin shared what he learned with an encouragement to others, “Pastors, Ask for Prayer:”

Here is one of the main lessons:

Every Christian needs the care and compassion of the body of Christ. Pastors knows this better than anyone. But we can be slow to accept it for ourselves. Obviously, I’m not suggesting we embrace a martyr’s complex or take advantage of our people’s kindness. But there is something deeply biblical, fundamentally wise, and particularly powerful about the shepherd acknowledging he is first of all a sheep. Pastors are real people-real fallen, hurting, human beings-and we need the church like everyone else.

What are the lessons you are learning about prayer . . .

  • in both doctrine and practice?
  • in both praying for others and requesting prayer for yourself?

Cultural Engagement for the Christian

Greg Strand – September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Kevin DeYoung, “The Three R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture War” (August 3, 2012)

During the past few years culture has become an important topic of discussion among Evangelicals. Fundamentalists were separatistic and eschewed any engagement with culture. Liberals were accommodating to culture, so the motto of the World Council of Churches was fitting for the liberal church: the world sets the agenda for the church. Evangelicals have generally wanted to be engaged-in-but-not-accommodating to culture. This issue generally generates more discussion and polarization during election years. As you would expect, this year is no exception. What has made this even more intense is the discussion/debate about same-sex marriage and religious freedom.

I don’t necessarily like the notion of a “culture war,” because that expression has a great deal of baggage, and it tends to frame how we engage in the debate. But then again, if we define that expression biblically and engage in that war faithfully, then I affirm the use of the expression. Paul writes that though we are in this world, “we are not waging war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3-4a). Later he informs those in Ephesus that they as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are in a battle (6:11-12). Peter, too, notes believers are in a battle, and the goal is the destruction of one’s soul (1 Pet. 2:11). Yet the biblical authors also inform how Christians are to engage in this battle, and it is not with earthly, fleshly weapons or weaponry (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4b-5; Eph. 6:10, 13-18; 1 Pet. 2:12).

DeYoung suggests three ways Christians ought to respond: No Retreat; No Reversal; No Reviling. And his conclusion, which is additional support to what I have written above: “In the fight against powers and principalities we must never go away, never give in, and never give up on love.”

  1. No Retreat. In the face of controversy and opposition, it’s always tempting to withdraw into friendlier confines. But working for the public good is part of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The pietistic impulse to simply focus on winning hearts and minds does not sufficiently appreciate the role of institutions and the importance of giving voice to truth in the public square. Conversely, the progressive impulse to stay quiet for fear that we’ll invalidate our witness is a misguided strategy to win over the world by letting them win. Either that or a disingenuous attempt to hide the fact they’ve already sold the ethical farm.
  2. No Reversal. No matter the pressure, we must never deviate from the word of God to please the powers of the world (Rom. 12:1-2). This principle does not automatically determine the course of action in every sphere, for politics must sometimes be the art of compromise. But as far as our doctrinal commitments, our pulpit preaching, and our public values, we mustn’t give a single inch if that inch takes us away from the truth of Scripture (John 10:35). He who marries the spirit of the age becomes a widower in the next. The church is not built on theological novelty, and souls are not won by sophisticated ambiguity. Whoever is ashamed of Christ and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).
  3. No Reviling. If this is a battle, then the followers of Christ must be a different kind of army. Even when our passions run high, our compassion must run deep. There is no place for triumphalism, cynicism, and settling scores. We must be happy, hopeful warriors. When reviled, we must not revile or threaten in return, but entrust ourselves to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). We must not be surprised by suffering (1 Peter 4:12). We must not hate when we are hated (Matt. 5:43-44). And when we rest peacefully at night may it not be because all men think well of us or because the culture reflects our values, but because our conscience is clear (1 Peter 3:16). In the fight against powers and principalities we must never go away, never give in, and never give up on love.