Friday, September 21, 2007

We Are Not Professionals

I just finished reading John Piper's plea to pastors, entitled Brothers, We Are NOT Professionals in which he outlines what he calls an appeal for "radical ministry." The word 'radical' comes from the Latin word 'radix' meaning 'root.' Ironically, radical ministry today just means getting back to the roots -- the basics -- of what ministry was when the apostles lived.

My thanks to Jim Hatfield for recommending it.

The book was published in 2002 and I don't know how long it takes for something like this to gain traction in the 'marketplace of ideas' but I sincerely hope, in this case, that it's quickly. It targets pastors, but since a pastor is a spiritual shepherd, the lessons apply to anyone in the Body who has a leadership role relating to anyone else. Fathers are 'pastors' of their families and church staff members similarly are in leadership positions.

Read it and then return to this blog and post your thoughts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Taking Hell Seriously

Bill Weise ( claims that in 1998 he had an out-of-body experience in which he visited hell.

This is, to me, a very sobering thought. Today, it's theologically fashionable to postulate that either everyone will be eventually saved, or that hell is not really that serious; that is, either it's not permanent or the flames aren't really that hot.

Or that it's all parables and figures of speech ... I won't catalog all the theories; just ask any ten church-goers and you'll hear plenty.

Weise and those who interview him tend to think that this experience, and Weise's relating of it, are intended to energize the believers in their efforts at 'soul-winning.' I'm too Reformed to accept that, and think the problem the Lord is addressing lies elsewhere.

Of course, it's also evangelically fashionable to believe that the Lord is basically very satisfied with us: our attitudes, our lifestyles, our effervescent worship services, etc. So we're lagging a bit in the area of personal evangelism and He sends us a wake-up call in the person of Bill Weise, and the message is "Get out there and witness! Your neighbors will go to hell if you don't warn them!"

As I said, some Reformed thinkers may find this problematic. I certainly don't believe the Lord will allow someone to perish because I am disobedient. We can pursue this later (or write me). I think the real problem is ingratitude in the Body. We Christians don't really believe that being saved from hell was all that big a deal, so we lack gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

Check out the video. More importantly, check out what the Bible has to say about hell. Read Jonathan Edwards' classic Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God. Meditate on what God says you were like, and what condition you were in, before you were saved. Then thank God for His grace toward you, and for the mighty deliverance that was wrought for you in Christ. A flat tire, a layoff, a serious disease, a tax levy -- none of these should be even considered as evidence against God's passionate love for you in light of your deliverance from hell. So don't insult Him (as I confess I have) by questioning His love and compassion because of the temporary inconveniences of this brief experience we call life. I don't know what you may be going through right now, but no matter what it is, it sure beats hell.