Thursday, April 12, 2012

Press On!

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Philippians 3:12-16

Today, Pastor John MacArthur, issued an official statement regarding Pastor Jesse Johnson's Shepherds Conference message, The Way(s) of the Master. Pastor MacArthur's statement, which is accompanied by an introductory and closing statement by Living Waters, already appears to be going viral on the social networks and the blogosphere.

While there may later be carefully worded rebuttals to Pastor MacArthur's statement--carefully worded out of respect for Pastor MacArthur and his 40+ years of faithful pastoral ministry and exposition of the Word of God--the initial response to Pastor MacArthur's statement has been very positive. Some have expressed relief, as if they have been waiting with bated breath for Pastor MacArthur's response. I know. I've been one of them.

I not only felt a personal sense of theological and practical vindication as a result of Pastor MacArthur's public statement; I was also edified by the fatherly, pastoral wisdom with which he graciously made suggestions for theological growth and maturation for Living Waters and for those who employ the biblical evangelism principles taught through The Way of the Master. His support of the ministry with which I serve is a great encouragement to me.

This situation, resulting from Pastor Johnson's sermon, has been the topic of both civil and uncivil discourse--some seven weeks of conversation (the conversation actually began before Pastor Johnson preached the sermon). But it's time to move on.

This is not to say we should not continue to study the Word of God on all matters pertaining to doctrine and the application of doctrine in our lives and ministries. Again, I found Pastor MacArthur's words of counsel instructive. The moment we stop learning, the moment we think we have it all figured out, is the moment the Lord should take us home. For it is at that moment that we become too prideful and arrogant to be of any use to Him. But it's time to move on.

The use of the Ten Commandments (a summary of God's Moral Law, which is a reflection of His perfectly holy character) in evangelism was biblical before Pastor Johnson's message. It was biblical during his message as he presented his case. And it remains biblical in the aftermath of his message. It's time to move on.

So I want to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ--those courageous and loving men and women who risk more than just their reputation (inside and outside the church)--who faithfully proclaim the law and the gospel on the streets, in the workplace, in their friendly relationships, and even in their homes. Press on!

Forget what lies behind and press on. Move forward with all of the strength the Lord has given you (Philippians 4:13), facing head-on whatever lies ahead, and press on.

Press on toward the goal for the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Press on. Press on to glorify Christ in every area of your life, not just in the area of evangelism. But do, indeed, press on to herald the gospel of Jesus Christ, bringing the law to the proud and the grace of God to the humble. Do not be discouraged. Do not be dismayed. Do not be dissuaded from obediently doing that which God has commanded every believer to do--preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15); make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20); and be the witnesses of Christ throughout the world (Acts 1:8).

Press on and proclaim Christ (Colossians 1:28). Warn everyone of God's impending wrath against sin. Wisely teach everyone you can the gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope that everyone who hears will--by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone--one-day be presented mature before Him. It is Him we proclaim. Press on!

Press on. Love your neighbor (Mark 12:31). Love your enemy (Matthew 5:43-48). Love Christ enough to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Love your pastors and elders (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). Love your church family (John 13:34; 15:12). And press on to bring the law the gospel--law to the proud and grace to the humble (James 4:6)--to everyone who needs to hear. Press on!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ--faithful witnesses, ambassadors, and heralds of Christ--I love you. I am honored to serve alongside you in announcing the imminent return of our soon and coming King, through the proclamation of His gospel.

Together, let us press on!

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