How to know for sure that you are saved: My interview with J.D. Greear (Part 2)

stop asking jesus into your heart

I recently read J.D. Greear’s new book “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.” I was drawn to the book because of the confusion the term can sometimes bring when explaining the gospel to kids.

J.D. Does a fantastic job addressing the topic of eternal security in a practical and theologically correct way. His book is a fantastic read for leaders and those wanting to think more about how we live our faith. He covers the sacrifice Christ paid for us, what is belief, what is repentance, once saved always saved, doubt and baptism.

Here is Part 2 of my interview with J.D. Greear

5. There has been more and more of an emphasis on the gospel in the church world over the past several years, but it really hasn’t fully made its way into Children’s ministry and youth ministry yet. Why has the gospel-centered movement not reached youth literature?

I am not familiar enough with the field to make too many sweeping assertions, but I can say that some groups are doing good work here. For instance, Lifeway’s Gospel Project is producing some excellent gospel-centered literature for children.

The bottom line is that some things take time, but good things are happening.

6. How do we guard against the gospel being used as a catchphrase by those who may not understand the implications of the gospel, but are using it as a church growth strategy? From your book, I believe you were addressing this in the area of assurance. How do we avoid it in other areas of Gospel ministry as well?

The gospel can always be high-jacked by those who want to box it up and use it for their own ends. Gospel-centeredness is a hot topic right now, so there may be some churches or pastors who are riding the “gospel-centered” train simply because it is trending upwards. If that is the case, we will know it when they part ways with the movement if it loses steam. But if they are using the gospel for some other purpose, then what they are preaching is some other gospel, or as Paul said to the Galatians, not the gospel at all.

The gospel is the proclamation that Christ has done everything necessary to reconcile us to God. He lived the life that we were supposed to live, and died the death that we were condemned to die. Those who believe in him and repent of their sins will be saved because of his substitutionary sacrifice. That’s the gospel. And as long as that is the content of preaching and teaching, as long as that is driving the mission of the church, it will be impossible to use that story as a catchphrase for my own ends.

Does preaching the gospel lead to church growth? Jesus said that it would. He said that he would make us fishers of men, and that our boats would overflow like Peter’s did when he called him. Every church that is concerned for the souls of the people around it should care about church growth. Why would we want to reach less of the people around us for Christ? But church growth is the fruit of the gospel, not its root. Our concern ought to be on the faithfulness of our ministries first, and their fruitfulness second. It is possible to grow crowds without preaching the gospel, so a large crowd is no guarantee we’re being faithful. And there are certainly seasons—I have had many—when I preached faithfully with little fruit. It bothered me, as not catching fish should bother any fisherman, but it was not in itself proof I was not being faithful. Fruitlessness should not settle the question of faithfulness, but it should certainly raise it.

7. As a family pastor, I believe you can be saved at a very early age. I was myself at age 5. In the Scripture it says, “Repent and be baptized.” What restrictions (if any) do you have on children being baptized at your church, and why do you have those restrictions in place?

As you mention, baptism and repentance go hand in hand. Baptism signifies that we have repented and believed in Christ, and that the Spirit of God has given us new life with him. By being baptized, we identify with Christ’s death and resurrection, trusting that he will one day raise us from the dead to live with him forever.

That is the core of what baptism means, and anyone being baptized should—to the best of their abilities—understand that. That includes children. Can a child of 18 months truly understand repentance and belief? I doubt it, which is why we don’t baptize 18-month-olds. But is there a magic age, then? Is it 4 years old? 7? 13?

At our church, we do not have an explicit age restriction, but we do require that those who are to be baptized understand what it symbolizes. In practice, that usually makes the lowest age somewhere around 5. (I baptized my own daughter at age 5.) But the number is not nearly as important as the substance of the person’s belief.

I firmly believe that baptism is only for believers, but it should be something we grow from, not toward. There were several times in my life after I had been baptized that I had “awakenings” and defining moments that made my previous beliefs seem pale. But that didn’t invalidate the sincere profession of faith and the baptism that accompanied it.

8. Although this book is still fresh off the presses, is there anything you would already change based on further reflection or feedback from others?

If there were one thing I would change about this book, it is that I would have written it a lot sooner! The concept for this book first struck me after I preached a sermon about assurance a few years ago. Dozens of people responded by telling me that this was a major issue for them. And as I mention in the book, it was a major issue for me for years, too. I wrote the book because I sensed that there was a great need for someone to address the issue of Christian assurance. Since it has come out, the book has prompted a lot of the same positive responses as that initial sermon.

I also wish I had emphasized involvement in a local church more as essential to assurance. God gave us the church to help us see more accurately what God is doing in our lives.

So appreciate this book that J.D. wrote. If you have not picked up a copy do it today the Kindle version is just 4.99 go get it now.

 

Parents want to know what apps your kids are downloading?

appcertain

Like it or not the digital age is here to stay. As parents we are immigrants to this digital world that our kids are natives of. Despite its many benefits all the digital devices our kids are connected to require more from us as parents. So any time a tool comes along that makes monitoring what are kids are doing digitally I am for it. With the rise of Android, iPod, iPhones and tablet devices knowing what apps our kids are downloading would be nice.

Enter Appcertain

At AppCertain, they are passionate about computer security and motivated to discovering what behavior apps show. They are dedicated to helping us as parents understand and trust our family’s mobile devices by providing a window into the behavior of mobile apps. Recent advances in the business world have given companies greater insight into their employees’ mobile devices, and they believe we parents deserve a similar insight with respect to our families.

 

How to know for sure that you are saved: My interview with J.D. Greear

 

I recently read J.D. Greear’s new book “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.” I was drawn to the book because of the confusion the term can sometimes bring when explaining the gospel to kids.

J.D. Does a fantastic job addressing the topic of eternal security in a practical and theologically correct way. His book is a fantastic read for leaders and those wanting to think more about how we live our faith. He covers the sacrifice Christ paid for us, what is belief, what is repentance, once saved always saved, doubt and baptism.

Making social media work for you.

if this than that

A few weeks ago I came across a site that is fantastic. It’s called “If This Than That” It is basically a social media automation site. It’s fantastic. What does it do? My mom and dad don’t use Instagram so I created a recipe that emails my parents a picture of every Instragram picture I take automatically. It’s a very power tool that is only getting better.

Here is how it works.

1. You start with a channel

Channels are the basic building blocks of IFTTT. Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions. Some example Channels include – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, dropbox ect.

2. Next comes the trigger:

The this part of a Recipe is a Trigger. Some example Triggers are “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “I check in on Foursquare.”

3. The Action What you want your trigger to do:

The that part of a Recipe is an Action. Some example Actions are “send me a text message” or “create a status message on Facebook.”

4. What specifically you want your trigger to tell you:

Pieces of data from a Trigger are called Ingredients. For example, the Ingredients of an Email Trigger could be: subject, body, attachment, received date, and the sender’s address.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.18.00 AM

If you want to pause a recipe you simply turn the recipe off and it stops working to resume the recipe you switch it to on and you pick up where you left off. Easy.

Check it out the possibilities are endless.  

 

 

3 things creative people struggle with

creativity

At Redeemer we started a new thing for us called Creative Community Night. It’s a time where the creatives in our church can join in community and grow in relationship and in their various gifts. The format is basically small groups based around relationship and skill development, followed by a creative service where we worship and receive from the Word, lastly we work on creating a flow for the weekend service.

At our first Creative Community Night I shared the three things that all creative people struggle with.

I shared from Matthew 25:14-30

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and Isettled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The three things creative people struggle with most:

1. The have a wrong view of our creator. – We don’t see Him as who he is. We see him as harsh and demanding. Our father is filled with wrath but that wrath was satisfied in Christ Jesus on the cross. When we understand our master it changes how we invest the talents we are given. We gladly lay down our lives in gratitude understanding that we deserve the wrath of God but have been given new life in the work of Christ.

2. Fear – It’s easier to bury your talent and to not put yourself out there. It’s easy to do what you are comfortable with because that doesn’t take faith. You never put yourself in a place where you need to trust Christ more than anything else. Fear comes from an improper view of your master.

3. Laziness – As a creative it’s easy to be lazy and to use what you have been given by God. The problem with laziness is that doesn’t bring glory to God. When we leverage the gift we have been given by God and grow and multiply that gift we draw the attention of others and deflect the glory that is God’s alone. It’s easier to rest in our God-given talent than to do the work necessary to bring the gift you have been given to maturity.