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Posts by Austin Brown

Jonathan Leeman on Church Discipline

III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.  [Chapter XXX of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Of Church Censures]

Church discipline is hard, painful, touchy, easily misunderstood, misapplied, maligned, loving, ignored, frightening, sanctifying, corrective, and a mark.  But unless we forget, it is also biblical.

It is easy to find lectures exploring the subject of baptism or the Lord’s Supper.  It is also easy to find a multitude of messages on the Gospel.  But church discipline?  Not so easy.  It is a subject rarely discussed.

Here I would like to introduce you to two lectures by Jonathan Leeman, editorial director of 9Marks.  With clarity, conviction and wisdom, Mr. Leeman very helpfully unpacks the subject of church discipline.  While the messages are certainly geared for pastors, it is entirely relevant and beneficial for the average listener.  In fact, I would urge all the saints to familiarize themselves with the subject matter at hand.  It is worthwhile.

A Church Discipline Revival, Part 1

A Church Discipline Revival, Part 2

GenRef Interview: Rich Holdeman

“The design of God in our cancer is not to train us in the

rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets

comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count

their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count

their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in

the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design

is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9: “We felt that we had

received the sentence of death. But that was to make us

rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

The aim of God in our cancer (among a thousand other

good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts

so that we rely utterly on him.”

-John Piper-

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

In this podcast it was our pleasure to speak with Dr. Rich Holdeman, pastor of Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church.  Having been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Dr. Holdeman explores the challenges that come with battling cancer, as well as the grace and comfort the Lord gives His own during such trials.

Interview length: 43:27

Download

It is sometimes the case that significant details are shared after the end of an interview.  Instead of trying to splice those comments into the main body of the conversation, it seemed best to simply add another five minute file here.  Let’s call it bonus material.  

Download

2013 Desiring God National Conference

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to any of the Desiring God 2013 National Conference messages on the works/thought of C.S. Lewis, consider doing so.  Several of them are exceptional.

The conference is entitled “The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis.”  Here are a number of them that stood out to me:

C.S. Lewis and the Care of Souls

Myth Wars: C.S. Lewis vs. Scientism

C.S. Lewis, Romantic Rationalist: How His Paths to Christ Shaped His Life and Ministry

Undragoned: C.S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation

Inerrancy and the Patron Saint of Evangelicalism: C.S. Lewis on Holy Scripture

C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering

What God Made Is Good — And Must Be Sanctified: C.S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation

GenRef Interview With Dr. Ardel Caneday

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Col 1:21-23

We are quite comfortable with the above verse, until, of course, we come to that little word “if.”  It jumps out at us like a bugbear, startling us, even disturbing us.  Why say that, Paul?  Why toss in an “if.”  It sounds like you’re positing a condition to salvation?  Isn’t our salvation secure?

Even more forceful passages could be gathered from the apostolic letters, exhortations warning us of the dire consequences of committing apostasy.  The book of Hebrews certainly comes to mind.

So what are we to do with such statements?  Brush them under the rug?  Explain them away?  Perhaps we should just flip the page quickly?

In today’s interview with Dr. Ardel Caneday, co-author of the insightful book The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance, we’ll explore the biblical relationship between promise and warning, assurance and perseverance.

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For myself, I am convinced that Dr. Caneday and Dr. Schreiner have provided the church with an invaluable resource, helping us understand how these two thorny and often polarizing concepts harmonize with one another.  If after listening to the interview, you’re interested in learning more, you can find the book online at Amazon.  Just click the picture below.

 

 

 

Humiliation Through Humiliation

He [Christ] disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (ESV).  

-Col 2:15-

With a stroke of the pen, the apostle Paul added a small but profound detail in the above verse.  In so highlighting the triumphant nature of Christ’s victory over the principalities of darkness, something of the cross’ humiliating design is brought out.  Christ is said to have made an open spectacle of his enemies, thereby shaming or humiliating them. 

In a word, God embarrassed the kingdom of darkness.

But how? Read more

Yearning For Heaven

Positioned on a grassy hill, looking down on the stage where the musicians sang and played with artistic fervor, my heart could not help but yearn for heaven.

Last night, my wife and I, along with her sister, had the joy of attending a large concert.

At one point, I peered out over the crowd.  Thousands upon thousands of people were spread across the landscape, hands raised, bouncing, their faces aglow from the flashing lights.    

At that moment, my thoughts were lifted heavenward, and my heart ached.  There we were, fixed in a mass of people, singing with delight, and yet, the delight fell short.  My heart wanted more.

But what? Read more

Jesus on Every Page – An Interview with David Murray

The son trudges uphill, bearing wood for his own sacrifice; his father has decided to give him up to death. What biblical event does this bring to mind? Is it Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, or Christ’s passion in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? The kinship between these two stories is deeper than mere coincidence. Christ is present in the story of Abraham and Isaac. In fact, he is present on every page of the Old Testament…”

So writes Dr. David Murray in his new book Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament.

When I first read those stirring words, I was immediately captured by the imagery. God’s preparations for the arrival of His Son are awe-inspiring! History is a canvas, and God is an artist infusing events with multi-layered meaning.  He uses pictures to foreshadow Christ- pictures through poetry, pictures through stories, pictures through law, covenants, events, human lives.  God is not unimaginative.  He is the kind of artist who doesn’t simply use red paint, He creates the very color itself.  What a wonderful thing!

And yet, for all the brilliance, sometimes we miss it. 

Thankfully, however, God has raised up voices to help show us the way.  David Murray is one such voice.

Today we’re pleased to bring you an interview with Dr. Murray, author of the book Jesus on Every Page.  Barry and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, and as we dive into a few of the details of this helpful work, we trust you’ll be encouraged as well.

To download, click here: David Murray Interview

Murray imageWe would like to also provide you with an opportunity to receive a free copy of the book.  It is simple.  If you look to your right, you will notice on the sidebar a section designated “Gentle Answers.”  Simply fill in your name, provide your email, and answer the following question (which can be found in the interview): What passage does Dr. Murray cite as an example of an obscure or challenging text prefiguring Christ?   

The first two correct answers will receive a free copy.

If you would like to order a copy of his book, do check out the following webpage to obtain extra goodies: http://jesusoneverypage.com/

Also, for a helpful review of the book, Barry York has written a brief post on the subject here.

Is God Thankful?

I was out walking the mail, just beginning to set off on another relay, when I received a text.  It was from my wife.  It read:

“Give me your answer tonight: Is God thankful?  Something to ponder.”

I was immediately intrigued.  The question had never entered my mind, and I was already mentally “Googling” the Scriptures in search of a clue.

I texted back: “Hmm.  Interesting!  Will be fun to think about :)  What made you think of that?”

The familiar whistling sound soon came back: “I was talking to Ticy [our 3 year old daughter] about being thankful, and I realized that it’s one of the few attributes that we are to have that I’m not sure God has.  Who would He be thankful to?  Within the Trinity?”

——–

So is God thankful?  Read more

Quick Audio Pick

I stumbled upon a gem of a lecture.  It’s by Dr. Megan Best.  The title:  New Directions in Assisted Reproduction: How Did We End Up Here?

In the span of an hour, Dr. Best surveys the current landscape of assisted reproduction (think IVF and the like) in a highly informative and crystal clear way.  As an expert in the field, she is able to unpack the procedures and ethics involved with wisdom and insight. 

Pastors should certainly acquaint themselves with the material, as it is becoming more commonplace for infertile Christian couples to consider the various medical options available to them.  There is much to be aware of in the field, not to mention, leery. 

She has written a book on the subject, one which D.A. Carson has said “is now the ‘must read’ book in the field.”  That’s an impressive statement.  It has certainly piqued my interest.  The work is entitled “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.”  I plan on grabbing a copy.

Audio Picks

Here are a few audio picks for your consideration:

Conversations Special: Jonathan Edwards – Douglas Wilson

Not long ago, Douglas Wilson and Joe Rigney sat down to discuss the theology of Jonathan Edwards.  Topics such as typology, the Trinity, and the church are explored in an interesting fashion.  Lovers of theology and aficionados of Edwards will naturally be eager to listen in on the conversation.  Note that the discussion is broken up into seven segments. 

What Every Christian Needs To Know About The Qur’an – Christ the Center with James White

Yes, I know you’ve more than likely heard something like this before- a breakdown of the basic tenets of Islam.  But this is different.  James White brings that something extra to the table, a refreshing combination of scholarship and passion, depth and clarity, as well as evangelistic zeal.  I found myself wanting to hear more by the end.

Presuppositional vs. Natural Theology (June 22nd episode of Unbelievable)

I’m always a sucker for debates revolving around apologetic methodology.  So naturally, I was excited to see Dr. Scott Oliphint invited to the radio show Unbelievable to discuss that very topic.  It wasn’t a stellar episode, but it wasn’t a bad one either.  I’d give it, oh, a B- or B.  The main problem is how much time had to be devoted to explaining what presuppositional apologetics is not.  This stunted the forward progress of the conversation somewhat.       

Jesus’ Resolve To Head Toward Jerusalem – Don Carson

Not only is this a fantastic message worthy of digestion, but in my mind Dr. Carson provides us with a superb example of how scholarship can and should enrich the exposition of Scripture.  Few do this as well as he.  Dr. Carson keeps his finger firmly planted on the text.  Therefore students should pay careful attention to both his style and structure and seek to emulate it to some degree (without trying to be a parrot, of course).

One Converstion To Have With An Atheist – With Answers

The atheism of today is a strange brew.  Many of the more vocal proponents have a kind of eat their cake and have it too approach.  They want to be nice atheists, champions of morality and meaning, while yet maintaining that we are nothing more than biological accidents in an otherwise unimaginably unlikely incident of space and time.

The view is paradoxical, to say the least.  And it baffles me.

But it also frustrates me.

I can understand unbelief.  It’s a stance of the heart and mind, a set of convictions undergirding a worldview.  While I firmly disagree with the tenets of atheism, I don’t think proponents of the view should be illogical.  They can draw consistent and clear conclusions from their core presuppositions.  What frustrates me, however, is the tendency to hijack atheism with warm and fuzzies- warm and fuzzies that sound good, but fail to comport in a meaningful way with their viewpoint.

I must have something specific in mind here.  And I do.

I was recently directed to an article by Greta Christina, a well known proponent of free-thought.  The blog post is entitled, “9 Questions Not To Ask Atheists – With Answers.”  Here Christina succinctly details common questions that “make atheists feel second class- and make you look like a jerk.”

Numbered among the 9 or so questions that irritate atheists is the issue of morality.  The question succinctly stated goes like this:

“How can you be moral without believing in God?” Read more

Gospel Coalition: National Conference

Gospel CoalitionTalk about bursting at the seams!  This year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference will make a glutton out of your ears.  The sheer range of topics is astonishing.  Workshops alone tickle the fifty mark.  Plenary messages land somewhere in the mid teens.  I can’t imagine someone walking away from the vast range of choices muttering, “Meh.” 

Here’s the entire list.  Check it out.

As for a sampling of initial recommendations, consider the following:

The Biblical Basis for Missions: Treasure in Jars of Clay, D.A. Carson

Panel Discussion: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

Jesus Vindicated, Tim Keller

Is The World Really Flat? Al Mohler

What Do We Mean When We Confess Jesus to be the Son of God? D.A. Carson

A Biblical Theology of Revival, Tim Keller

Some Long Overdue Audio Picks

  • For an engaging and lively discussion on church polity (don’t worry, you won’t fall asleep… I think), check out the following 9 Marks panel discussion, Polity Is For Everyone.
  • When I heard that James White and N.T. Wright were going to be discussing the subject of justification, I did a somersault (Or maybe I just quickly right-clicked my mouse on the download button).  Either way, I was thrilled with the prospects of hearing these two engage the subject.  And you should be too!  It is the February 9th episode of Unbelievable.   
  • Reformed Forum recently interviewed Melissa Kruger, author of the book The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World.  Covetousness is rarely discussed in our culture, but in this discussion, the subject is helpfully dissected.  It is both insightful and convicting, so beware my fellow materialistic Americans.  
  • Lastly, it would be nearly a crime not to draw attention to Piper’s farewell sermon.  After having served so faithfully, and after having had such a profound impact on so many lives (myself certainly included), I happily and heartily recommend his sermon.  The message is entitled, “God Raised Your Great Shepherd From The Dead.”

What Are We Defending? A Simple Plea To Christian Apologists

Formal introductions are made, the crowd applauds, and the Christian and non-Christian position themselves behind a lectern, notes in hand.  It is a debate, a venue where two worldviews collide in an open forum.

Ever since the advent of the internet, there has been a veritable explosion of resources and recordings of such encounters.  One need only check out the Veritas Forum, or Justin Brierley’s UK radio show Unbelievable, for two more recent examples.  There are hundreds of debates just waiting to be heard out there.  Thousands and thousands of recorded hours.  Most are a mere click away.

Over the past decade, I’ve been afforded the luxury of having a job where I can listen to such exchanges.  It’s been an absolute joy.  But if I may be so bold, I’ve noticed a problematic tendency in the area of Christian apologetics, particularly as expressed in the domain of public discourse. Read more

A GenRef Podcast: Interview with Rosaria Butterfield & Ken Smith

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

-Psalm 9:1-

Stories of conversion are a wonderful thing.

Through them God’s grace is set on display.  Here we see the mysterious workings of the Spirit.  God shines in a person’s heart the light of the knowledge of the glory of Himself in the face of Jesus Christ.  As a result, the person is transformed, mightily and to the core.  And while we do not behold this miracle directly, we certainly witness its effects.

What a wonder it is!

Recently Barry York and I had the distinct privilege of getting to hear firsthand one such story of God’s grace.  It’s the account of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.  And it is nothing short of astonishing.

Rosaria could not have imagined she would ever wear the name “Christian.”  And yet, through a simple and rather unexpected letter from Pastor Ken Smith, a tide of events was set in motion.  Her world was soon turned upside down as she found herself meeting with Pastor Ken and his wife, Floy, grappling with the One whom she had so pointedly rejected, Jesus Christ.

In this podcast, we’re pleased to have both Rosaria and Ken on the phone.  Listen as they recount this tale with warmth, honesty and insight.  You will especially enjoy hearing how this pastor and his wife ministered to Rosaria before, during, and after her conversion.

For more information, the reader should consider visiting Rosaria’s website.  There you will find an interesting Q & A section where she grapples with a number of tough issues.  Also noteworthy is her testimony which can be found at Christianity Today.  This has been the most-read article ever on their website with about 1 million views.  Truly amazing!

Podcast MP3

Podcast Timeline:

Introduction: 0:00 – 4:00
Rosaria’s conversion story: 4:00 – 24:40
Various Questions to both Rosaria and Ken: 24:40 – 1:02:00