Posts Tagged ‘Phil Johnson’
Phil Johnson unplugs:
So: (gladly, with no reluctance whatsoever) I’m officially retiring from blogging, social media, and every other activity that intrudes on things that ought to be the real priorities in the final two decades of a man’s life.
Read it all. Real food for thought, whatever age you might be.
These books will surely take their place right alongside the earlier works. The “definitive collection” is no longer complete or truly definitive without them. My prayer is that they’ll help awaken new appetites for Spurgeon’s preaching. May they influence the current generation of preachers to be more bold and more biblical in their content. May the next generation of preachers gain from them a better vision of what makes preaching truly “relevant.” And may our grandchildren and all subsequent generations continue to benefit from them as so many of us have.
By the way, Phil Johnson is in south London in a few days time, not so far from us here, preaching at Trinity Road Chapel, Wandsworth Common, Upper Tooting, both morning and evening services on February 7.
the tendency of so many pastors lately to employ profanity, crude and obscene words, vile subject matter, carnal topics, graphic sexual imagery, erotic language, and filthy jokes. Most of you, I know, are aware of the trend I’m talking about. I’m tempted to call it the pornification of the pulpit. The justification usually given is that coarse language and sexual themes are the tools of contextualization. It’s a way to make us sound more relevant. Lots of voices in the church are insistent that this is absolutely essential if we want to reach certain segments of our culture.
It is a clear, vigorous presentation of the case for “sound words” and we would do well to consider it carefully. Mark Driscoll is plainly referenced (consider his sermon at a Desiring God conference on the topic of words, How sharp the edge?), as is Ed Young Jr (of the seven-day sex challenge fame), though they are not simply lumped together. Phil has answered some of the brouhaha over at Pyromaniacs, making plain that – while he thinks that Mark has a case to answer – the sermon is not merely an assault on him. There he makes clear that he has sought to address his concerns personally with Mark, and was clearly not particularly impressed with his response.
These are not insignificant issues: the Scriptures are full of instruction with regard to our tongues, our mouths, our words, our speech. The significance of speech, not least with regard to sin and holiness, is a prominent theme of God’s Word. We would do well to consider the relevant Scriptural principles, not simply to line up behind Johnson or Driscoll from our predetermined positions or as a member of a fanbase. We must consider what God says, heed the careful counsel given by those appointed to teach, meditate on the truth concerning our words, and seek to be holy as God is holy. When it comes to our words, which of us can say anything but this?
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6.5)
Update: Rich Barcellos has some thoughts on the language of the New Testament.
Phil Johnson has been attempting this over at Pulpit Magazine, in his usual pointed and provocative style, in five parts (so far?):
- Clarifying Calvinism (Part 1): Is Arminianism damnable heresy?
- Clarifying Calvinism (Part 2): Spurgeon: “Calvinism IS the Gospel”
- Clarifying Calvinism (Part 3): Some book recommendations
- Clarifying Calvinism (Part 4): One more recommendation, and an explanation of why this issue is important to me
- Clarifying Calvinism (Part 5): Why this issue is really a lot simpler than most people think
Update: he is still going.
Still going . . .
OK, I think we’re there . . .
With my father still away in the US, I had both services again. He returns this week, but then I am away, visiting Emmanuel Baptist Church in Coconut Creek, Florida, for a couple of weekends. On my return, I am preaching almost immediately at a Ladies’ Conference hosted by the church, and then our friend from the Reformed Baptist Church of Chelmsley Wood, Pastor Gearóid Marley, will be preaching on the following Lord’s day (when we shall be having a special ‘Sunday Listen & Dine’ service, inviting unconverted friends).
This morning I preached from Luke 5.27-32, on Christ’s calling of Levi, under the title, “Follow me”. The structure was very simple. On the one hand, we considered Christ’s call: it was sudden, almost random to the eyes of men; surprising, because Levi seemed to have no expectation or desire of Christ, was in a business for collaborators from which you would not expect disciples to be drawn, and was in the grip of wealth which he was in the process of collecting; gracious, for the same reasons, and yet Christ is pleased to speak to him; personal, as the Lord bids Levi come into relationship with him; simple, being crisp and clear – leave your sin and life of sin and come after me; absolute, issued with no qualifications or options, demanding an absolute renunciation of his old life and absolute commitment to Christ; purposeful, because though men might have imagined Levi a waste of space, yet our Lord would use him to bring others, and would make him the Spirit’s scribe to record the gospel of the kingdom; and, effectual, working a response in Levi by the power of God.
Then there is Levi’s response: fundamentally, it is obedient – called to follow, Levi got up and followed; furthermore, it is immediate – there is no delay, he neither denies nor defers; sacrificial, for he leaves all behind, the unqualified call receiving an unqualified response; joyful, without regret for what is left behind, and honouring Christ with a great feast; public, for Levi did not so much leave his friends behind as seek to draw them with him, demonstrating a missionary spirit without leaving home; shocking, for such men and women as this to be found keeping company with Christ, and he with them – but this is just where we should expect to find the Great Physician; and, encouraging – if then, why not now? If them, why not you?
We paused with the two enduring images of Christ: the Son of God looking at Levi, and – with authority, integrity, and tenderness, bidding him “Follow me”; and, the Saviour among sinners, the Redeemer among the lost, the light shining in the darkness, the Lord Jesus about his saving business.
With these images before us, we asked the believers to remember Christ’s gracious dealings with us, contrary to our deserts, expectations and desires. Has he captured our hearts like he captured Levi’s? Do we have the disciple’s grateful and missionary spirit?
Or has the spirit of the Pharisees crept in, whereby we preach for the pleasant but dismiss the perverse, look for the worthy and despise the unworthy? Do we receive the righteous, or sinners? How much we need confidence in this Saviour for all sinners, to call men of all sorts to follow him, and pray for the Spirit to make the call effectual. Out and out Pharisees, too, need a Christ, but they must first humble themselves and confess themselves sinners: the church is not a moral club for the socially acceptable and outwardly upright, but a joyful gathering of black-hearted wretches saved by grace and made followers of the Saviour of sinners like us.
Then, this evening, I continued in Colossians: Beware the predators. Paul now launches into battle on behalf of the Colossians, proceeding by way of admonition and affirmation – exposing error and affirming truth, applying Christ’s personal, saving and sovereign fullness to the errors being pushed on the church.
We began with a clear warning given. Paul calls the church to be always on their guard. Though danger is clearly implied and alertness demanded (a vigilance modelled by Epaphras), he does not merely give a general directive.
There is also a real danger identified. A person or persons in the Colossian church is seeking to carry Christians off captive, to take them as prey. This is a real danger, the very opposite of walking in Christ. To false teachers, Christians are prey, and so we need to recognise that there are such enemies of our souls who have such designs; pastors must issue specific warnings as appropriate; and, the saints, once warned, must be on their guard.
Finally, there is a seductive method exposed. The tools of the predator are “philosophy and empty deceit.” Such weapons, used cunningly, are effective against all manner of Christians, striking at every weak point. Philosophy here is (not a genuine love of wisdom but) the elevation of the human mind above revelation, a blanket term for claimed mystical, intuitive, imaginative ‘insights’ into the divine nature and natural phenomena. By definition, such philosophy is empty deceit – seductive, impressive, even intimidating, but really just high-sounding nonsense, a pretty poison. It is that which pleases fancy and ruins faith. I gave some examples of this kind of material from hypercovenantalism (the Federal Vision), the emergent church, post-modern Gnosticism, the Lakeland revivals, and current philosophy of science, to take but a few. Though a wide spectrum, they share characteristics of style or elements of untruth that put them firmly under this banner. It is a mask for old errors, the garb of neo-paganism, and altogether dangerous. Phil Johnson posts some words from Charles Spurgeon that echo some of the same issues.
The three marks by which such empty deceit can be identified are its being according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. While intending to consider these marks in more detail, we paused simply to note that an accurate knowledge of Christ, in whom is all fullness, and in whom we are made full, is the antidote to such error. This is why it is so vital, having received Christ Jesus the Lord, to go on walking in him.
Mikey Anderson posts a lecture from Tim Keller to the assembled Google hordes. An interesting environment and a fascinating address.
Phil Johnson posts stirring reports from India about persecution in the state of Orissa. “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them — those who are mistreated — since you yourselves are in the body also” (Heb 13.3).