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From Ray Ortlund:

“Be of good courage and cast these dreadful thoughts out of your mind.  Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. . . . When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

Martin Luther, in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

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This is from a post by Ray Ortlund about church planting, but it also resonates with me when we talk about the kinds of marriages we’re praying God forms within our church:

I long for the rising generation to have their own living memory of what only God can do.

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“And they devoted themselves . . . .”  Acts 2:42

When the early believers converted to Christ, it never occurred to them to fit him into the margins of their busy lives.  They redefined themselves around a new, immovable center.  He was not an optional weekend activity, along with the kids’ soccer practices.  They put him and his church and his cause first in their hearts, first in their schedules, first in their budgets, first in their reputations, first in their very lives.  They devoted themselves.

Unmistakable evidence that the Holy Spirit was being poured out.

They devoted themselves is a post from: Ray Ortlund

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From Ray Ortlund:

What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered?  That’s a popular concept these days.  Good.  What if we were scrambling to be law-centered?  But the difference is not so easy in real terms.

A gospel-centered church holds together two things.  One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace — so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe.  Not our performance but Christ’s performance for us.  Not our sacrifices but his sacrifice for us.  Not our superiority but only his worth and prestige.  The good news of substitution.  The good news that our okayness is not in us but exterior to us in Christ alone.  Climbing down from the high moral ground, because only Christ belongs up there.  That message, that awareness, that clarity.  Every Sunday.

Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology.  The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another.  In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical.  How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe.  It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment.  We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.

A gospel-centered church looks something like this album cover — my all-time favorite.  A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners.  They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture.  The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.

The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church: anyone for any reason turning it into a culture of legal demandingness and negative scrutiny.  Few would do that in the theology, of course.  But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms.

A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace.  The latter is harder to accomplish than the former.  It is more intuitive.  It requires more humility and self-awareness.

May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity in all our churches.

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