Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles

Book Review - Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles

Few words give rise to more fear and trepidation among Christian as the word evangelism. Fear of sharing one’s faith, or fear of making an unattractive gospel presentation, is common in churches. The irony of a word associated with “good news” eliciting so much angst makes one wonder if we have veered off the track somewhere. Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus addresses the topic of evangelism and its author, J. Mack Stiles, clearly understands the problematic nature of this topic and the need for clear, biblical teaching on it.

The overarching purpose of this book is hinted at when one consider the series it is a part of: the Crossway Books published 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series. Evangelism is a book that addresses the need for biblical evangelism as an integral component of a healthy church.

More specifically, Stiles writes about “biblical evangelism” (17), and “more than that, [the book is] also about developing a culture of evangelism” (18). The author is concerned about teaching the reader what biblical evangelism is and he believes that it includes implementing and encouraging a culture of evangelism within the church. Stiles further expounds on this issue with teaching on healthy evangelistic platforms as well as “basic principles that shape the actual practice of sharing our faith” (19).

Chapter one concerns itself with important definitions of evangelism, the gospel, and biblical conversion. These definitions provide the foundation for the rest of the author’s discussion of this topic. Evangelism, “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade” (26), is thoroughly explained. Teaching the gospel–“the joyful message from God that leads to salvation” (33)–is the means of evangelism. And, the goal is biblical conversion which occurs when we “repent, place genuine faith in Jesus, and walk with him” (38).

Chapter two’s content is made obvious with its title: A Culture of Evangelism. Stiles initiates this discussion with a polemic against both programmatic evangelism and pragmatic evangelism. The antidote for these unbiblical methods of sharing the faith is an approach that the author sees as “communal and personal: a culture of evangelism” (47). In the chapter we read that a culture of evangelism, though hard to succinctly and exhaustively define, is a culture that: is motivated by love for Jesus and his gospel (48), is confident in the gospel (49), understands the danger of entertainment (50), sees people clearly (51), pulls together as one (53), has people teaching one another (53), models evangelism (55), celebrates when people share their faith (56), knows how to affirm and celebrate new life (57), does ministry even when it is risky and dangerous (58), and understands that the church is the chosen and best method of evangelism (60).

The importance of the church as God’s plan for evangelism is the sole concern of chapter three. Stiles seeks clarity for the reader by defining the church and arguing that the church is “God’s great plan for evangelism” (100) and the way we can best implement God’s great plan is by developing and nurturing a culture of evangelism in Christ’s body. In fact, Stiles argues that all churches have a culture of evangelism and that the difference from church to church is in the health of that culture. This chapter deals with evangelism at the corporate level.

Chapter four considers the individual Christian within a healthy culture of evangelism. Stiles indicates that believers must be “intentional evangelists” (79) with the context of a church’s evangelistic culture. Stiles elucidates how individual Christians become intentional evangelists: by preparing our hearts, mind, and feet (84); by understanding a gospel-shaped way of life (88); by slaying our assumptions (90); by perceiving evangelism as a discipline (94); by praying (96); by giving leadership in evangelism (97).

Finally, in chapter five Stiles addresses the actual sharing of our faith. The author purports the best instructions we receive on sharing our faith come through the New Testaments illustration of Christians as ambassadors. Stiles indicates the significance of conversations and displays what these might look like. He instructs that an ambassador must be bold, clear, and deliver the message while trusting Christ for the response. Stiles finishes with a call for ambassadors to not lose heart.

On a practical level, I found Stiles’ book edifying, enriching, and encouraging with both myself and the church in mind. His faith-filled optimism and clear biblical teaching is both informative at the head level and motivating at the heart level. His practical wisdom won from real-life experiences was also helpful.

I have noticed a greater awareness in my life for opportunities to share the gospel and find myself less apprehensive than I once was. For those two reasons alone I am thankful for this book. This book is an easy-to-read and hard-to-put-down volume on evangelism that will benefit both leaders and members of churches.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Review: Church Elders: How to Shepherd People Like Jesus by Jaramie Rinne

Much time, money, and energy is expended in North America by well-intentioned people who desire to live a healthy lifestyle. Many spend their hours, hard-earned cash, and strength, while eating healthy foods, so as to reach and maintain one lofty goal: health. Church Elders: How to Shepherd People Like Jesus is a book that is also concerned with health. However, author Jeramie Rinne is not concerned so much with healthy individuals, but rather with healthy churches. This book’s inclusion in the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series, published by Crossway books, make the book’s purpose obvious. The book’s title makes it clear that the author believes church elders are part of what makes a church healthy.
More specifically, Rinne believes that a proper understanding of biblical church leadership among both the leadership and the congregation will promote vitality in the local church. Thus, Rinne provides a “concise, biblical job description for elders” which is “an easy-to-read, inspiring summary of the elder task” (15). The author hopes to instruct the church on biblical eldership, instill a desire in men to pursue the office of elder, and inspire any men whom God may be calling to vocational eldership to consider this great privilege in ernest.
The author, Jeramie Rinne, is the Senior Pastor of South Shore Baptist Church and studied church eldership when he became a full-time pastor (elder). He graduated from Wheaton College in 1993 with a B.A. Bible and Ancient Languages and followed this degree with a Master’s of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 1996. Rinne’s passion for church leaders and congregations is apparent in the pages of this book.
In chapter one, the author initiates his attempt to provide a proper understanding of eldership, which will lead to healthy churches, by listing six qualifications of elders. These qualifications are gathered from the New Testament. Rinne invites the reader to consider the following marks of an elder: the desire to be an elder (1 Tim. 3:1, 1 Pet. 5:2), godly character (1 Tim. 3:2-3, Titus 1:7-8), the ability to teach (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:9), leading one’s own family well (1 Tim 3:4-5), being male (1 Tim 2:12, Eph. 5:22-6:4), and being an established believer (1 Tim. 3:6).
Chapter two describes the overarching responsibilities of elders with the job description of “shepherding church members toward greater Christ-like maturity” (102). Elders have as their goal seeing the image of Jesus in their congregation and understanding the means to this end being investment in their lives. Thus, elders are more like shepherds and less like trustees.
The emphasis of chapter 3 centers on sound teaching; elders accomplish their tasks through teaching the Word. The author recognizes there are many different scenarios in which teaching occurs–from one-on-one discipling to small group leadership to preaching to the congregation–but he insists that biblical teaching is integral to shepherding God’s people.
Rinne uses the fourth chapter to expound on another duty of elders/shepherds: tracking down stray members/sheep. While explaining the duty of searching for lost sheep, the author also describes five different types of strayers: sinning sheep, wandering sheep, limping sheep, fighting sheep, and biting sheep. With each of these types of people he includes some ideas for how the church elder might help.
Lead Without Lording, the title of the fifth chapter, indicates the direction the author moves. Rinne wrestles with two ideas that are often in tension. The first, confident leadership, often seems to clash with the second, gentleness. According to the author, an elder should lead confidently but with being a bully, without being arrogant, and without domineering. In fact, a “Jesus-shaped humility gives [the elders] a moral authority to which the church willingly defers” (103-4).
Chapter six introduces the issue of polity: a church is to be lead by a plurality of elders. The life of the elders is a mirrored microcosm of the life of the church. The author demonstrates the plurality of eldership present in the early church with a brief survey. He follows this up with a brief apologetic for multiple elders.
Much of the preceding chapters are about doing eldership; chapter seven is about being an elder. Rinne calls elders to model maturity. Elders should live lives that the church can imitate and should encourage congregants to do so. God uses elders who have a “well-tended life” (105). Eldership is not for those who have finally arrived, but rather it is a call to a deeper and more profound imitation of Christ.
The importance of prayer is the focus of the eighth chapter. The author produces arguments for the necessity of prayer and also includes what a “prayer-soaked elder ministry” (113) should look like. This includes public prayer, presbyter prayer (praying at elders meetings), personal prayer (praying with members), and private prayer. In praying for their sheep, elders are joining with the Great Shepherd, Jesus, who is currently praying for his people (Heb. 7:25).
In concluding this book, Rinne reminds the elder and potential elder the eternal ramifications of being an elder. On a serious note, the author warns the reader that an elder will give an account for his stewardship of this office: elders will “answer to the Groom for how [they] treat his bride” (122). Secondly, the author reminds the reader that there is an unfading reward for those who faithfully shepherd God’s flock.
Church Elders is a book that challenges me on a very personal level. As someone who has been in that office and continues to aspire to that office, I found ample opportunities in the pages of the book to question my own character and calling. In particular, the love a shepherd has for his sheep and the sacrifices he is prepared to make for them, as they are compellingly presented in the book, cause me to re-evaluate my own life in light of what biblical eldership is.
On a practical note, this book offers many helpful suggestions on the day-to-day aspects of being an elder. It offers ideas that the author has formulated from his experience leading the church. The suggestions are powerful because they are attainable and they come with a persuasive, urgent plea from the author. The author is serious about this topic and his gravity is coupled with a great joy. Both the seriousness of the calling and the enjoyment of the office as expressed by the author are contagious. I found this very edifying.
Finally, this book strengthened many philosophical positions that I already held. I hold to a view of church leadership that is very close to the one espoused by the author. The book did not challenge my beliefs, but rather bulwarked them.

Church Elders strength is its content and its conciseness. The book is very accessible and very readable. It is relatively short in length and the style is informal. That being said, its message is very important and the author covers a surprisingly significant amount of material considering the size of the volume.

Friday, August 15, 2014

80 Tweetable Quotes from Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles

Here is another collection of Tweetable quoted from another book in Crossway/9Marks' series called Building Healthy Churches. This one, Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles, was simply excellent. This was a much needed and timely read for me. This process of collecting Tweetables is a great way for me to review a book and quickly remind myself what it was all about. I hope these are useful for you as well. Enjoy.



  1. “Usually the wrong ideas [of evangelism] are based on marketing principles or on human understanding about how to argue someone into the kingdom.” (18)
  2. “Much of our problem with evangelism is that we don’t have a big enough view of the church.” (19)
  3. “I believe that God loves the world and has a wonderful plan for evangelism: his church.” (19)
  4. “There is much room for humility when it comes to evangelism.” (23)
  5. “There is no formula that dictates how god must work in evangelism.” (23)
  6. “I…will take people practising evangelism as best they can over those who forgo evangelism until they have the perfect practice.” (23)
  7. “…the Bible never uses results to guide or justify evangelistic practice.” (24)
  8. “…when we set out to practice evangelism, we must start with biblical foundations.” (24)
  9. “We must look to [biblical foundations] to shape, guard, and inform how we share our faith rather than looking for a way to gain maximum impact.” (24)
  10. “Sadly, what often informs our evangelistic practices is the world…business…self-help section…rather than Scripture.” (25)
  11. “…people trade biblical principles for worldly desires and our evangelistic practices get twisted.” (25)
  12. “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” (26)
  13. “…many churches offer a costless, comfortable, and benefit-giving “gospel” that is found nowhere in Scripture.” (28)
  14. “Jesus was engaging, but he never entertained…” (28)
  15. History of modern evangelism: “The high-pressure sales job has been replaced by the soft sell of self-help.” (28)
  16. “First, there is no evangelism without words.” (29)
  17. “J. I. Packer…says that Paul’s method of evangelism was primarily a teaching method.” (30)
  18. “Great things happen when we can teach the gospel.” (30)
  19. “Being able to teach the gospel benefits our spiritual lives as it makes sure we are living according to gospel themes.” (30)
  20. “If you do not know how to teach the gospel, you may not truly understand it.” (30)
  21. “…remember that the gospel must be taught before someone can become a Christian.” (31)
  22. “We make the gospel too small by thinking it only “gets us saved,” that it is a sort of fire insurance…” (32)”
  23. “…the gospel becomes both the door of salvation and the pattern for life.” (32)
  24. “Additions to the gospel, however good or good-hearted, corrupt the gospel.” (33)
  25. “The hope in evangelism is that we so steep ourselves in gospel truth and gospel living…that the gospel can’t help but come out of us.” (34)
  26. “…we don’t just lay out gospel facts academically or haphazardly. We have an aim or direction in our gospel teaching.” (35)
  27. “…no one is born a Christian…all Christians are converts.” (36)
  28. “…just as we cannot produce conversion, neither can we produce genuine faith.” (37)
  29. “We aren’t persuaded in a biblical sense unless we repent, place genuine faith in Jesus, and walk with him.” (38)
  30. “Unbiblical evangelism is a method of assisted suicide for a church…” (39)
  31. “…if you ask most normal people what hinders their evangelism, the vast majority will tell you it’s fear.” (42)
  32. “Evangelize with believing friends who will pull you along.” (42)
  33. “…since I believe in the church as the engine of evangelism, we need to develop cultures of evangelism in our local churches…” (42)
  34. “It just makes sense to share our faith alongside friends.” (43)
  35. “…usually when we think of evangelism in community, we think of evangelistic programs, which is not the same.” (43)
  36. As opposed to evangelistic programs, “most people come to faith through… [familiar] Christians intentionally talking about the gospel.” (45)
  37. “A strict diet of evangelistic programs produces malnourished evangelism.” (46)
  38. “…programs can often make us feel as if we’ve done evangelism, when we haven’t.” (46)
  39. “I yearn for a culture of evangelism that never trades confidence n the gospel for confidence in techniques, personalities, or entertainment gimmicks.” (49)
  40. “In a culture of evangelism, we don’t mistake entertainment for ministry, or ministry for entertainment.” (51)
  41. “We need a culture of evangelism that never sacrifices to the idolatry of entertainment…” (51)
  42. “When Paul says that we should see people through the eyes of Christ, he means for us to have a gospel view of people.” (52)
  43. “…in a culture of evangelism, most of all we’re mindful of what people can become: new creations in Christ…” (53)
  44. “…I long for a culture that remembers what people can become through the gospel.” (53)
  45. “I would happily trade all the pizzazz of stunning speakers, mind-blowing music, and…popular…pageants for a culture of evangelism…” (55)
  46. “In a culture of evangelism, people carefully teach one another how to share their faith in a biblical way.” (55)
  47. “The practice of celebrating evangelistic efforts is…hugely important in developing a culture of evangelism.” (57)
  48. “I yearn to be in a church where even evangelistic attempts are championed.” (57)
  49. “Even if an evangelistic effort doesn’t lead to a gospel conversation, evangelistic failure is better than not trying evangelism at all.” (57)
  50. “I long for a culture of evangelism that is risky in the sense that we’re confronting culture.” (59)
  51. “I long for a church that understands that it…is the chosen and best method of evangelism.” (60)
  52. “I long for a church that disarms with love, not entertainment…” (60)
  53. “I long for a church that…lives out countercultural confidence in the power of the gospel.” (60)
  54. “…if you are part of a healthy church that has a culture of evangelism, you are part of the greatest way of evangelism ever known.” (63)
  55. “…a culture of evangelism is grassroots, not top-down.” (65)
  56. “In a culture of evangelism, people understand the main task of the church is to be the church.” (65)
  57. “The question is not, “Do we have a culture of evangelism?” but “Is our culture of evangelism sick or healthy?”” (67)
  58. “Every Christian should know what makes a church a church.” (70)
  59. “In a culture of evangelism, people who love Jesus work together as instruments in the grand symphony of God’s work.” (81)
  60. “…in a maturing culture of evangelism, people trust God to do something bigger than what they see with physical eyes.” (81)
  61. “Sometimes we unwittingly motivate congregations with blunt instruments such as guilt.” (85)
  62. “[Churches] must use their gatherings to regularly rehearse and think through the gospel…” (85)
  63. “It is easy to go from a welcoming church to become a church that jettisons the gospel in its desire to be “friendly.”” (87)
  64. “Unfortunately, many churches fall into…heresy when their main concern becomes the non-Christian rather than fidelity to the gospel.” (87)
  65. “The quickest route to heresy and error is “relevant” evangelism.” (87)
  66. “Good-hearted motivations that try to shape the church for the needs of man and not the glory of god are the death of biblical churches.” (87)
  67. “…churches are called to concentrate on God, while individuals are called to be sensitive to seekers.” (87)
  68. “…trying to live a moral life is impossible. Living a gospel life is a gift from God.” (89)
  69. “If we live gospel-centered lives, we will find ourselves sharing the gospel.” (90)
  70. “If you are bored with the gospel, you need to take a deep look at the sin of your heart.” (91)
  71. “…if the gospel does not resonate in your heart, check and see that you are truly converted.” (91)
  72. “We don’t know whom God is calling to himself. Praying for others keeps us mindful of that.” (96)
  73. “Besides teaching and modeling, one of the most important things leaders can do is just talk about evangelism.” (97)
  74. “We must deliver the message regardless of the discomfort produced, effort required, and shame endured.” (101)
  75. “Ambassadors exist to deliver messages.” (101)
  76. “It’s my sense that boldness is the most needed element for evangelism for the Christian community.” (106)
  77. “The Bible calls us to remember those who have been brave and faithful, and to follow their example.” (107)
  78. “…I’m convinced that sharing our faith, regardless of the response, is a key to spiritual health for the individual and for the community.” (112)
  79. “Evangelism is bigger than what we see.” (114)
  80. “Sometimes God lets us see tired people transformed into people filled with light. That’s a glorious thing…” (114)


Thursday, July 31, 2014

70 Tweetable Quotes from Ortlund's The Gospel

 
I thoroughly enjoyed and was edified by Ray Ortlund's book The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. I have amassed a hockey-sock full of Tweetable quotes from the book. Enjoy!

  1. Let's not assume that our churches are faithful to the gospel. Let's examine whether they are (17).
  2. So the test of a gospel-centered church is its doctrine on paper plus its culture in practice ... (18).
  3. Nothing is gained by merely repackaging the church in forms more attractive to outsiders (18).
  4. We possess, in the gospel alone, God's wonder-working resources for the display of Christ among us (19).
  5. Any church ... that falls short of the gospel of Christ in either doctrine or culture will inevitably collapse ... (19).
  6. Gospel doctrine creates gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace (21).
  7. We need strength from beyond ourselves, because it's hard to hold on to gospel doctrine (22).
  8. This is the massive love of God-the Son leaving nothing of the Father's glory unexpressed, leaving nothing of our need unfilled (31).
  9. I want to be really forgiven of my real sins by a real Savior (34).
  10. God's final category for you is not your goodness versus your badness, but your union with Christ versus your distance from Christ (34).
  11. If you don't believe your way into Jesus Christ, you will perish (35).
  12. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace where good things happen to bad people (39).
  13. Gospel doctrine and gospel culture do not coexist by lucky chance (39).
  14. Being part of church frees us from a vague idealism and gives us traction for real gospel advance ... (40).
  15. Obviously, we pay a price to give our lives to a real community (40).
  16. We didn't ruin God's plan; we are his plan, his eternal plan to love the undeserving, for the display of his glory alone (40).
  17. There is nothing degrading in Christ. nothing we need to worry about or filter out (44).
  18. How can we hope to be true to Christ if we look away from the Bible's stark portrayal of our natural corruption (44)?
  19. The real holiness Christ creates is beautiful (47).
  20. A gospel-defined church is a prophetic sign that points beyond itself (51).
  21. Despair is an intellectual and social sin. It denies gospel doctrine and destroys gospel culture (55).
  22. Fixing broken things is the way of God (56).
  23. There is nothing petty and small about a church when it believes this massive and noble gospel (62).
  24. ... the hope of the gospel makes us cheerfully defiant toward every disappointment ... (62).
  25. ... the hope of the gospel and the triumph of our Savior make us cheerfully defiant even toward our own sin and failures (63).
  26. ... the beauty of human relationships, is the first thing that outsiders are likely to notice when they enter a church (66).
  27. A church should offer the world ... a counterculture, a living embodiment of the gospel (67).
  28. ... we must not import into our church families today the failed patterns of our earthly families in the past (70).
  29. The household of God must offer a clear and lovely alternative to the madness of this world (71).
  30. The family of God is where people should find lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time (72).
  31. The goal is not to make the church safe for sin; it's to make it safe for confession and repentance (73).
  32. We must not allow anything in our churches to compete with the high visibility of the gospel (75).
  33. A church can offer living and palpable proof that the gospel makes a real difference for real people living in the real world (76).
  34. As a pillar and buttress of the truth, our churches are God's Plan A for world redemption, and he has no Plan B (76).
  35. We either proudly believe we are too good to be judged, or we proudly believe we are too bad to be saved (79).
  36. We lose sight of him quickly, don't we? We all need frequent exposures to his overruling good news (82).
  37. A gospel culture is harder to lay hold of than gospel doctrine (82).
  38. And when a whole church luxuriates in Christ alone, that church embodies a gospel culture (83).
  39. Exalting ourselves always diminishes his visibility (83).
  40. The false safety of self is an enduring problem for us Christians (85).
  41. ... it is possible for us to unsay by our practical church culture what we say in our official church doctrine (88).
  42. It is possible to hold to the gospel as a theory even as we lose it as a reality (88).
  43. Right gospel doctrine + anti-gospel culture = a denial of the gospel (88).
  44. We can sincerely love the doctrine of God's grace and, at the same time, unwittingly nullify that grace (89).
  45. We must also ask, is our church culture clearly aligned with that gospel doctrine (89)?
  46. The gospel gives us more than a place to stand; it also leads us into a path to follow (89).
  47. A gospel culture is not easy. But it is possible (91).
  48. Going forward with The Lord means that the future will be both more thrilling and more
  49. It is the strong scent of Christ that people detect when our churches are filled with the gospel (94).
  50. Whatever people might thin of us, God savors us as we lift up Jesus Christ crucified (95).
  51. Throughout the Bible, God's pleasure comes to a focal point at the cross of Christ (95).
  52. And the clearer our churches are about Christ, the more polarizing we will be (95).
  53. But the one thing the gospel never does is nothing (96).
  54. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to be held at arm's length with critical detachment (96).
  55. No one judges the gospel. It judges all, and it saves some (96).
  56. ... no one is static. No one is not responding to the gospel (98).
  57. ... we must never be deflected from faithfulness to Christ because of human rejection (98).
  58. Eternal consequences hang in the balance in every gathering of the church, every Bible study, every personal conversation, every blog post (99).
  59. Faithfulness makes enemies on earth. But faithfulness also has a Friend and advocate on high ... (102).
  60. Every one of us is always five minutes away from moral and ministry disaster (103).
  61. If our purposes rise no higher than what we can attain by our own organizing and thinking, then we should change our churches into community centers (105).
  62. The gospel never advances without someone paying a price (107).
  63. The greatness of Christ creates courage in us (108).
  64. Trust him that, with every false treasure you surrender, he will  more than bless you with true spiritual riches (108).
  65. But if the leaders are courageous for Christ, their church will be too (109).
  66. The beauty of love is the crown of a well-taught church (111).
  67. This is who Christ is. He will always be to us an endless sea of sweetness (111).
  68. Love is Christ's authorized way for us to be convincing (112).
  69. If we fail to love one another in ways so striking that we actually start looking like Jesus, then the world has the right to judge that we know nothing of him (113).
  70. A heart aloof from God grows aloof from others (117).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Intentionality and Growth


The impetus for this post came with a picture that Crossway Books posted on their Twitter account (@CrosswayBooks). Here it is:


God is gracious and may cause us to grow in spite of ourselves. He is loving and kind and understands our frailty. But generally speaking, I do not think we are supposed to stand idly by and wait for God to do something in terms of our spiritual development unbeknownst to us. We should not anticipate growth in godliness to be a matter of happenstance.

Rather, as the picture above suggests, Christlikeness does not happen by accident. There is no accidentally getting closer to God. There is rarely unintentional and inadvertent sanctification. Christian maturity is not a function of passivity. If we are not intentional about discipleship in our own lives, it is either not going to happen at all or it will happen to such a minute degree that it will be hardy noticeable.

This picture also reminded of a quote from a book I am currently reading called God in the Whirlwind. The author, David Wells, suggest "we need to carve out space for ourselves in which we can daily attend to God’s Word, to study it, mark it, learn it, and inwardly digest its truth." The key word in this quotation is "carve." Carving suggest intentionality. It's cutting, but it's purposeful cutting. And it also indicates pain. It might hurt a little to carve out time for God.

But the pain is worth it. And it won't happen by accident.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Gospel as the foundation for family religion - Whitefield


George Whitefield preached a sermon from the text in Joshua-Joshua 24:15-where we get the familiar saying "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The sermon's title is The Great Duty of Family Religion and Whitefield's three main points are as follows:
I. First, That it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, “serve the Lord.”
II. Secondly, I shall endeavor to show after what manner a governor and his household ought to serve the Lord. And,
III. Thirdly, I shall offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the manner that shall be recommended.
At the sermon's conclusion,Whitfield makes it clear that it is the gospel, the cross, the person and work of Jesus Christ that is the foundation for all his exhortation to the heads of families concerning their leadership in having their families "serve the Lord." He writes,
And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
In encouraging his listeners to reflect on the gospel, finding power and desire to obey, Whitfield writes further,
Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more neglect your family's spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God's free grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own household.
For Whitfield, the power and motivation for leading families in their relationship with God is closely, inextricably, connected to the glorious gospel.

God the All

From The Valley of Vision:

I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,
that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,
that every good work or thought found in me is the effect of thy power and grace,
that thy sole motive in working in me to

will and to do is for thy good pleasure.
O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.
This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.