I have a few pastors and writers who encourage me. Keller, MacDonald, Willard, Piper, Wimber, Edwards, Foster, Furtick, R T Kendall, Stott, Breen and obviously the good Doctor. Encouragement for Pastors can often be in rather short supply so you need a few- alive and dead- to help you on your way and to walk with you. It's part of my motivation for keeping the blog- to encourage and resource a soul or two. Most Pastors, it often seems to me, are so preoccupied with their own issues and challenges, churches, reputations, people and projects that they have very little overflow to spare for encouragement of other pastors. Incidentally, I have been reading 'Letters to a young pastor' by Calvin Miller which is packed with wisdom and encouragement that will surely be much needed for all that lies ahead. Not sure I any longer qualify as 'young' though :(
Yesterday, I started on a new series on Galatians. In my sermon, I quoted the conversion story of Lloyd-Jones as it was wonderfully recounted by his daughter. It so struck me I transposed it from the you tube story of his life. It seemed to me to sum up the whole letter in a paragraph.
Perhaps, it is worth asking yourself the same question that was asked of Lloyd-Jones and see how your answer compares to his. It may be a bit different or you may never have thought about it.
The Doctor was asked this:
"Why are you a Christian?"
This was his answer:
'There is no difficulty whatsoever in answering that question. I am a Christian solely and entirely because of the grace of God not because of anything that I have thought or said or done. It was he who by his Holy Spirit quickened me and awakened me to the realisation of certain profound and vital truths taught in the bible.... He brought me to know that I was dead in trespasses and sins. A slave to the world, the flesh and the devil. That in me dwelleth no good thing that I was under the wrath of God and heading for eternal punishment. He brought me to see that the real cause of all my troubles and ills and those of all men was an evil and fallen nature which hated God and loved sin. My trouble was that not only that I did things that were wrong but that I myself was wrong at the very centre of my being. This led to the realisation that I was helpless as well as hopeless- for can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots. All moral teaching and moral effort is useless- for God demands perfection. I could not atone for my past sins or please God in the present or hope to do so in the future. Then he revealed to me the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God who had come into the world to seek and to save that which is lost. He taught me that Christ had died for my sins bearing my punishment in his death upon the cross and that he had rendered a perfect obedience to God's laws on my behalf. As a result of this he forgave me freely and in addition imputed the righteousness of his son to me that it would be as if I had never sinned at all. Moreover, he created in me a new nature, adopted me into his family as one of his Sons and showed me that I was a joint heir of Christ of a glorious inheritance in heaven'