First of all, I am here raising a completely hypothetical question. In over two decades of ministry, I have never had a person ask me that exact question. If someone had, I suppose my initial inclination would be to say, “Probably not, but it depends.”
Sadly, it has been reported that some ministers are interpreting the appendix of “Why I Preach from the Received Text” in a way that undermines my initial inclination and, I believe, misinterprets the actual advice offered therein. The charge has even been voiced that the advice is dangerous and decidedly divisive.
Leaving a local church is a monumental decision and always involves many different considerations. I, in fact, once wrote a ten-step procedure for how saints should make and execute so weighty a decision in a manner that honors the Lord. Apparently, and as previously stated, the advice I offered in the anthology is being interpreted differently.
The purpose of this article is to clarify the advice that was offered that none might misunderstand the intent. Could I have possibly been more clear? Undoubtedly. At the same time, could my critics also be more charitable in their interpretation? Probably.
Let us proceed to review the advice [indented] as I offer some brief commentary on my intent. *
You Might also like
By David Kaywood — 1 year ago
Productivity is not what you think. When you think of productivity, you think of an upper-class CEO yelling at his employees for not getting more done, threatening consequences if the report isn’t completed by Wednesday. This is tyrannical leadership, not productivity. “Stewardship” and “productivity” are interchangeable. Or, as Tim Challies put it: “Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.” Seen this way, every Christian should care about productivity since every Christian is called to steward what God has entrusted to him or her, and will one day give account for this stewardship.
In 2016, Zondervan released What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. The book is on the intersection of Christian faith and productivity and, as the subtitle suggests, Perman teaches how the gospel affects the way Christians think about personal productivity. Gospel-Driven Productivity, or GDP, as Perman calls it, is the distinguishing mark that separates a secular understanding of productivity from a Christian one. The book has sold well and was named on Zondervan’s “Best of the Decade” list. Perman is also the author of a second book on productivity.
Less than a year before the release of Perman’s book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, hit the market by Cruciform Press. Written by Tim Challies, the book is about productivity from a Christian worldview. Whereas Perman’s book is on the theory of productivity, Challies’ book is on the practical side of productivity. The book is short and succinct. Five plus years after reading the book, I am still daily applying some of the material to my life.
Before Challies’ book, I’m not sure I had ever heard of a book on the subject, or if it was ethically permissible for Christians to talk about being productive. I’m not alone. When Christians hear the word “productivity,” they often think of secular business. But Challies debunks this mischaracterization. Challies, instead, teaches that productivity is about stewarding your life for the glory of God and the good of others. Apathy about productivity means negligence in stewardship which means disobedience. Do More Better recently inched over 700 Amazon reviews.
A book that has not garnered the same amount of attention as the titles mentioned above, but is still worthy of consideration, is Brandon Crowe’s Every Day Matters. “I know of no better book to place in the hands of aspiring Christian men and women who want their life’s trajectories to be productive for Christ and his kingdom,” says Kent Hughes in the foreword. The premise of the book is captured in the title: Every day matters or, as R.C. Sproul used to say, “Right now counts forever.” Crowe’s book is practical, well-written, and theologically sound.
But the CPM movement is more than books. It’s also courses, email newsletters, and online communities. Enter Reagan Rose, the founder of Redeeming Productivity, a web-based ministry that teaches “Personal productivity, from a Christian worldview, for the glory of God.” The ministry began as a hobby. But in early 2021, Rose took a leap of faith and went all-in with Redeeming Productivity as his full-time vocation, and by the end of the year, the ministry was financially sustaining. The fact that Rose was able to turn an internet ministry on Christian productivity into a full-time job in less than a year reveals Rose’s adept business savvy, but it also reveals the desire for Christian resources on productivity. Turns out, Christian productivity is not a viability. Rose has a book bearing the name of his ministry forthcoming with Moody this fall.
By Christ Reformed Presbyterian Church — 1 year ago
Contrary to the uncharitable assumptions of some of our detractors, we do not rejoice in being a “micro” denomination, either in terms of size or strictness. We believe that there are many who share our convictions and look for the Lord to add to our number in His time. We believe that there should be latitude in matters beyond our common commitments. However, we respectfully disagree with the prevailing wisdom of our sister denominations in the matter of defining what is a sufficient common commitment as to provide for the lasting peace and unity of the Church.
Dear Readers of the Aquila Report,
Though we greatly respect those who edify so many with this publication, we did not request our Testimony and Covenant to be posted on the Aquila Report, as we take no delight in the weakness of the Bride of Christ and did not wish to magnify her failings. As to the accusations which have been posted in response to this announcement, we do not regard the court of public opinion to be the proper venue before which to lay the evidence which would clear our names and put to shame those who have slandered us. The evidence would surely sadden and shock you as it has us, would edify no one, and would only bring more grievous dishonor to the name of Christ before a watching world. At our separation from Vanguard Presbytery, we provided evidence to our brothers there sufficient to provide our rationale for leaving, to clear our names of the baseless slanders and threats of legal suit which this same member of that presbytery was already making, and to provide them with the evidence they should require to hold this rogue presbyter to account. As to the slanders which have been repeated since we left, we refer these to Vanguard Presbytery’s attention, as they are the party which Christ has made responsible to address the chief source of the slander. If Vanguard Presbytery publicly denounces these slanders, then we will consider ourselves vindicated of these baseless attacks and will gladly keep the shameful evidence which exonerates us as contained as possible. (1 Cor. 12:23) If Vanguard Presbytery continues a pattern of refusal to hold this individual to account and does not denounce these accusations, we will consider ourselves further vindicated in our decision to leave and will continue to make available the documentation proving our innocence of these charges to any who contact us and have need to know. In the interim, we are content that the unprejudiced child of God is already able to discern in the slanders against us, the anger of a man not accomplishing the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
For those who have been quick to criticize us, we are not overly concerned about the opinions of those who lack the information or jurisdiction to render any just judgment. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Prov. 18:13) With Paul, we are content to answer before the throne of Christ. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Cor. 4:3-5)
To address the matter of why we felt compelled to form a new denomination upon separation from Vanguard Presbytery, we wish to clarify that we count those of many other denominations as brothers in Christ and legitimate expressions of the visible Church. We firmly believe in the catholicity of the Church. We are not schismatics without love for Christ’s Church or a desire for her unity. However, we have not been able to find any of our sister reformed presbyterian denominations which require faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards without either allowing exceptions or adding their own distinctive requirements.
Contrary to the uncharitable assumptions of some of our detractors, we do not rejoice in being a “micro” denomination, either in terms of size or strictness. We believe that there are many who share our convictions and look for the Lord to add to our number in His time. We believe that there should be latitude in matters beyond our common commitments. However, we respectfully disagree with the prevailing wisdom of our sister denominations in the matter of defining what is a sufficient common commitment as to provide for the lasting peace and unity of the Church. We do not claim any such wisdom as to provide our own answer to this question, recognizing the wisdom set forth in the creeds of the Church, most especially the Westminster Standards of Faith. As stated in our Book of Church Order:
“Our Constitution requires faithful subscription to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly as adopted with minor revisions by the initial synod of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in 1788. By faithful subscription, is meant what has sometimes been described as “strict” or “full” subscription, specifically, that the main point of each paragraph of the Confession and each answer of the Catechisms is subscribed to without reservation. Thus, it is the solemn obligation of the Presbytery to determine that the candidate so faithfully subscribes, or else the Presbytery must determine that the candidate has not sustained his examination.”
All of our sister reformed presbyterian denominations join in admiration of the wisdom of the Westminster Assembly in producing a magnificent summary of biblical truth. However, the Westminster Standards were not written abstractly as a summary of the biblical system of doctrine, but specifically to provide the core of Christian theology necessary to provide a sufficient foundation for the union of the Christian church. While we grant that this Assembly and its documents are fallible, we believe that church history bears out the wisdom of the Assembly in identifying the doctrines they did as being necessary to secure peaceful and lasting unity. By allowing exceptions to the Standards, whether more generally as “system” subscription provides, or more specifically, as a departure from the plain language of the statement regarding Creation exemplifies, other reformed presbyterian denominations have rejected the wisdom of the Westminster Divines in this respect. Rather than eliminating division, consolidating differing convictions on these essential matters within a denomination only serves to bring the lines of division within the denomination. As a current example, the division between PCA Missouri Presbytery and certain other presbyteries in the PCA is no less a real division than the divisions which exist between denominations. We certainly do not rejoice in this strife, but recognize that differences over such fundamental issues within any association of churches is not sustainable. “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25) While we are under no delusions that ours will be a fellowship free of the spots and blemishes which are common to this age of the Church, we do hope that by requiring faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards, we will be able to avoid much of the disunity and strife which men of differing convictions must engage in elsewhere, such that we can pursue our ministry of fulfilling the Great Commission without such distractions and pain of conscience as are burdening our brothers in other fellowships.
Free from the covenant obligation of contending with others who simply do not share our convictions, we desire to share to the greatest extent possible ecumenical partnership and fraternal relations with other expressions of the visible Church which are pursuing the same ministry on behalf of the same Lord and Savior. However, the realization which motivates us above all else is that by holding the essential tenets of the Reformed Faith without apology, as expressed in the Westminster Standards, we can best serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As God knows our hearts, it is not from any sense of superiority or pride, but because we would rather contend with the evil of this world in the power of God than with brothers of different convictions, that we have joined together to form the Christ Reformed Presbyterian Church with faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards as our defining distinctive.
We love Christ, we love Christ’s Church, and we do not believe that Christ is best served when the Church is employing her gifts and expending her time and energy in an inward facing war. As sad as the multiplication of denominations may be, we believe that separating from brothers holding fundamentally different convictions is a more honest and more peaceful approach to the division which must exist among us over issues of truth, than is the attempt to remain in a common fellowship marked by constant strife. Christ will bless the ministry of those who are standing for what He approves, and we look for the Holy Spirit to continue disciplining each of our fellowships such that as we all draw closer to Christ and become more faithful to his Word, we might see a day when our fellowships might reunite. Until then, we do not have the heart to fight against brothers when there is so much work at hand to carry out the Great Commission where Christ has placed us. We have seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and have many new converts and covenant families to disciple as well as older saints to edify as we continue the ministry which Christ has given us. To any who would call us away from this work to defend our names of baseless accusations or to engage in an endless war against brothers in an existing fellowship, we say with Nehemiah “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3) God will bring all things to light in time and until then, we cannot think of anything better than to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Pet. 4:19)
Stated ClerkChrist Reformed Presbyterian Church
By Michael Teddy — 2 years ago
The Christian faith is the sole and direct product of God’s word. He who made the whole world by the word of His power, is the one who awakens our spirit from death to life by the word of Christ. And faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Therefore, by virtue of teaching and training, God’s word ensures to reprove and correct.
As Christians we believe that the Bible is important, but how important is it really? Is it enough that we read a passage every day during our family devotions, only to forget about it the rest of the day? Is it enough that we stick to the simpler parts of the text and avoid the difficult passages? If you ask the average Christian if the Bible is God’s word, he’ll probably say yes. Ask him if we should live according to this word, he’ll still probably say yes. Yet, one of the main problems in the evangelical world today, is not an acceptance of the importance of the Bible, but a misunderstanding of how important it really is, or the nature of its importance. This affects the way we approach the Bible and how we handle different passages.
Too many evangelicals today pick and choose what they like to read in the Bible because they find some passages either too difficult to understand, or too contradictory to other passages in the Bible that they are unable to resolve. Yet, that is the task of the Christian who understands what the Bible is. People have either forgotten or misunderstood what it means to be Bible-believing, or to use a more contemporary phrase, bible-centred. A bible kept as a showcase piece on the centre table in the living room is central in a way that is not the kind of Bible centrality we are talking about. Being bible-centred is not a superficial ideology that one agrees with, it is an objective reality that one experiences when they believe and apply all of Scripture for all of life.
I would like to direct your attention to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, as I try to use Paul’s directive here to give you 5 key points on what God’s word is, that helps me realize how important it is, and the way it affects our lives.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Breathed Out by God
It may be true that Paul has the Old Testament in mind when he writes this, but it is plain to us through the nature of the New Testament texts and how they were cited and received during the apostolic era, that the same applies to all the New Testament as well. God’s word from Genesis to Revelation, in the 66 books of the Bible, though it was written by men, was divinely inspired by God.
Jesus in answering the Sadducees, when they questioned Him on the resurrection, used the tense of a verb in Exodus to make His case. That is how much our Lord trusted the veracity of His own word. As bible-believing Christians, this phrase “breathed out by God” is enough for us to believe that texts of Scripture in their original writing were inerrant, infallible, and sufficient.
What about the contradictions in the Bible? Well, there are none. Now, I could get into the details of arguing this case (and the arguments are solid and are plenty available) but doing so here would compromise the reasonable length for this article.