Thursday, April 1, 2010

Celebrating the Gospel this Easter . . . Gospel defined . . . James Brainerd Taylor, Gospel-centered uncommon Christian

From Jerusalem, Israel, Uncommon Christian Ministries wishes you a blessed Easter/Resurrection Sunday.

For the sake of those who are still spiritually "dead in [their] transgressions and sins" and are thus "by nature objects of [God's] wrath" (Ephesians 2:1-3), please join me in praying that the Gospel be preached in churches and street corners throughout the world as God's people celebrate the life, death/crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). May many people repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ this Easter season and thereby advance God's global and eternal kingdom.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written [Habakkuk 2:4]: "The righteous will live by faith."
Romans 1:16-17

Relatedly, I am excited to learn of and wholeheartedly recommend two American Evangelical Christian entities that the Lord has raised up recently to unashamedly defend and proclaim the Gospel.

Led by D.A. Carson and Tim Keller, The Gospel Coalition (est. 2005) exists to equip "the next generation for Gospel-faithful ministry and promote church reform and culture transformation." The Coalition does this by
+ providing Gospel-centered online resources;
+ posting blog entries by various theologians and pastors;
+ hosting national and regional conferences (the next national conference is April 12-14, 2011 in Chicago);
+ publishing Themelios: An International [Online] Journal for Pastors and Students of Theological and Religious Studies; and
+ helping like-minded, Gospel-centered Christian individuals and churches encourage each other--both in-person and online--via the The Gospel Coalition Network.
For the "Foundational Documents" of The Gospel Coalition--"The Gospel for All of Life, Confessional Statement and Vision for Ministry"--and a list of its members, click here.

The other Gospel-centered entity is Together for the Gospel (est. 2006). Led by friends Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney and Albert Mohler, T4G hosts a conference every two years to encourage Christians, and especially pastors and church leaders, to stand "together for the Gospel." The next conference is this month (April 13-15, 2010) in Louisville, Kentucky.

T4G is "convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among those who proclaim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church’s Gospel witness. The goal of [T4G's] friendships, conferences, [blog] and networks is therefore to reaffirm this central doctrine of the Christian faith and to encourage local churches to do the same."

T4G provides a nice summary of the Gospel when they state,

The Gospel is the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Christ (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:68; Eph 1:7; Col 1:20), and that he calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38, 17:30).
Each of us has sinned against God (Rom 3:23), breaking his law and rebelling against his rule, and the penalty for our sin is death and hell (Rom 6:23). But because he loves us, God sent his Son Jesus (John 3:16; Eph 2:4; 1 John 4:10) to live for his people’s sake the perfect, obedient life God requires (Rom 8:4; 1 Cor 1:30; Heb 4:15) and to die in their place for their sin (Isa 53:5; Matt 20:28, 26:28; Mark 10:45, 14:24; Luke 22:20; John 11:50-51; Rom 3:24-25, 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2; Heb 10:14; 1 Pet 3:18). On the third day, He rose bodily from the grave (Matt 28:6) and now reigns in heaven (Luke 22:69, 24:51; Heb 8:1), offering forgiveness (Eph 1:7), righteousness (Rom 5:19), resurrection (Rom 8:11), and eternal blessedness in God’s presence (Rev 22:4) to everyone who repents of sin and trusts solely in Him for salvation.
For the Affirmations and Denials document of T4G (in both English and German), click here.

James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829), Gospel-centered uncommon Christian

Interestingly--and unlike Christmas, Independence Day (4th of July) and New Year's--the uncommon Christian and American evangelist James Brainerd Taylor never mentions Good Friday or Easter in his (extant) letters and journal entries. Nonetheless, we know that Taylor loved to preach "the truth of the Gospel" (Galatians 2:5, 2:14) by which repentant and Christ-believing sinners "are saved" (1 Corinthians 15:2).
+ I have longed to live and preach the Gospel. (Letter from Princeton University. February 13, 1825.)
+ That I have a call of God, besides, to preach the Gospel, I have no more doubt than of my existence. . . . It did not become mine but through strong cries, and many tears and wrestlings, when I was in college. . . . It is a blessing of great worth to any one who attempts to preach the Gospel to feel that he has a commission from God. I now feel as I have felt: "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16). (Letter from Trumbull, Connecticut. May 3, 1827.)
+ Never, perhaps, did any one more intensely desire to preach the Gospel than did James B. Taylor. (Memoir compilers John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice.)
 + A preacher of the Gospel. (Inscribed on Taylor's gravestone, located in the Hampden-Sydney College Church cemetery, Prince Edward County, Virginia.)
Excerpts (pages 273, 364 and 112, respectively) are from the Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, Second Edition (New York: American Tract Society, 1833). Available online via Google Books--click here.

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