Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

PreachingAn excellent article by Nick Nye, a pastor of a local church in Columbus, Ohio:

Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

Decapitation and starvation are ravaging though Iraq today. As I have followed the news and prayed for those trapped in the Iraq mountains, I have noticed the other big news feed. Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has been removed from Acts 29.

I (as well as Veritas Church) have served with Acts 29 in some capacity from 2006-2012 and have a deep love for the network. We have planted, funded, coached and partnered with many Acts 29 churches and will continue to pray for their decision regarding Mark Driscoll. With Acts 29’s decision, the long history of blogs, confessions and calls to repentance have poured forth and are being reposted by people all over the world.

Maybe, these reposts are an inner-craving for justice or simply a case of celebrity Christian gossip. Whatever the motivation, I want to remind those of you not a part of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll is not your pastor.

Here is what I mean…

Let us not project accusations against Mark Driscoll onto your local pastor. Because Driscoll is accused of his message conflicting with his character doesn’t mean your pastor is doing the same. I imagine many Christians reading these blogs, maybe even learning of Mark Driscoll for the first time are becoming suspicious that their pastor is on the same path. Seeds of doubt get planted that their pastor has deep ambitions to become mega and toss them out of the bus when they aren’t needed. These seeds could rise to unfounded accusations and projections that crippled the pastors voice in shepherding their church with true humility and Christ-like ambition.

There is little doubt that in your pastors heart of hearts he struggles with thoughts of being a big deal but nearly all of the pastors I know desperately reject those thoughts and want Jesus to be known and them to be forgotten. What we are seeing in our news feed ought to push us to praying for our church leaders. Despite fallen pastors, Jesus gives the church pastors (Ephesians 4:11-16). Your pastor is not Mark Driscoll, Noah (drunkenness and incest), David (sexual affair and murder), or Peter (denier of Jesus) but a fallen human in need of a savior, who is Jesus Christ.

Remember:
Jesus Christ is the apostle who plants a church (Hebrews 3.1).
Jesus is the senior pastor who leads the church (1 Peter 5.4).
Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1.4; 2.10, 19).
Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
Jesus builds a church (Matthew 16.18).
Jesus even shuts a church down for becoming faithless and/or fruitless (Revelation 2.5).

Let us pray for Mark- a broken man and pastor like me, and let us rejoice that Jesus have given local pastors to help us all grow in Christ-likeness.

8 Misconceptions About the Bible

8 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE

Mark Driscoll 

“How can you trust the Bible when it’s been translated so many times?” “Isn’t the Bible full of mistakes and contradictions?” Pastor Mark Driscoll debunks 8 common misconceptions about the Bible in this fourth installment of his blog series, which provides a guided tour of topics such as what is the Biblewhere the Bible came from, and how to interpret the Bible.

Over the years I’ve come across many misconceptions about the Bible. Some of these are due to rampant biblical illiteracy, and others to simple misunderstandings about how the Bible was copied and transmitted over the years. Many misconceptions about the Bible can be cleared up simply by learning how to interpret the Bible, but some require a more detailed response. In this post I’ll briefly look at some common misconceptions.

1. “YOU CAN’T TRUST THE BIBLE BECAUSE IT’S BEEN TRANSLATED SO MANY TIMES”

This misconception assumes that we don’t have an abundance of manuscript evidence in languages such as Greek and Hebrew supporting the Bible. As a result, it makes the added assumption that the Bible may have started out in some original ancient languages a long time ago, but has since been translated and re-translated over and over again into so many different languages that we can’t trust it anymore. This is simply not true. We have access to literally thousands of manuscripts and fragments that are used in translating the Bible, not a long chain of degraded translations.

2. “THE BIBLE IS FULL OF MISTAKES AND CONTRADICTIONS”

This misconception is usually just thrown out without any supporting evidence. Always ask for a specific example when you encounter this misconception. But be prepared, because some people may have specifics or even several examples, and you’ll want to know how to respond. In reality, though, to say the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions usually stems from a lack of understanding of principles of biblical interpretation. Many capable scholars have addressed questions about Bible difficulties.

3. “YOU CAN MAKE THE BIBLE SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO SAY”

This only applies if one takes a relaxed view of Scripture, such as a relativistic attitude that rejects that the author had real intent and meaning. Also, if we treat the Bible fairly in our interpretation, following the basic principles of hermeneutics, then we can’t make it say what we want it to say. I once heard a seminary professor say that the Golden Rule of interpretation is, “Seek to interpret a text just as you would like others to interpret your words, whether written or spoken.”

4. “THE BIBLE SAYS…”

This misconception claims the Bible says something specific, when it really doesn’t. As an example, some will state that the Bible says, “God helps those who helps themselves.” Sorry, that was Ben Franklin, not the Bible. Some will claim the Bible supports the abuse of women, that it encourages slavery, or some other major allegation. There’s a long list of things people say the Bible supports when in reality it doesn’t.

5. “POWER-HUNGRY CHURCH COUNCILS DECIDED WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE BIBLE”

The idea is that at some point, usually much later than the time of the New Testament, church councils met and included whatever books and ideas in the Bible would best help consolidate their own power. This is simply false.

Church councils formalized and officially recognized writings that God’s people had already accepted and used as inspired Scripture for hundreds of years, in the case of the New Testament, and thousands of years in the case of the Old Testament. Some of these councils include the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 363); the Council of Hippo (A.D. 393); and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397). Church councils simply acknowledged the Scriptures that were already known and trusted by Christians everywhere.

6. “THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER THE TIME OF JESUS”

The implication of this misconception is that so much time passed between the writing of the Bible and the actual events it records that there’s no way it could be accurate. Supposedly, the gap between the reality and the writing allowed ample time for corruption, legends, and even myths to develop. In actuality, the time between the New Testament events and when they were recorded is very short, especially when compared with other ancient documents. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, for instance, within about 25 years of Jesus’ life. That’s not enough time for myth or legend to develop, because eyewitnesses were still living and would have objected to what Paul wrote and the church taught if it was historically inaccurate.

The earliest surviving manuscript fragment of the New Testament, from the Gospel of John, dates to about A.D. 130. That’s very close to when John actually wrote his Gospel, between A.D. 70–100. And although it’s still being verified, New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace reports that a fragment from Mark may very well be dated to the first century, making it an even earlier fragment than the one from John.

7. “THE BIBLE IS AN OLD, OUTDATED LIST OF RULES THAT NO LONGER APPLY”

While the Bible is old, it is definitely not outdated. Not only is it filled with practical wisdom, but it lays out God’s plan of redemption for humanity. Its insights are timeless, relevant, and useful in everyday life. A quick reading of Proverbs, for example, will yield much wisdom and timeless advice.

8. “THE BIBLE EXCLUDED OTHER MORE ACCURATE MANUSCRIPTS”

Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code popularized the idea that there were originally numerous competing “gospels,” and church leaders chose their favorites. Supposedly, the four Gospels in the New Testament are biased, and in reality there were dozens or maybe even hundreds of other gospels to choose from. You’ll hear about the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Philip, or even the Gospel of Judas. Occasionally these “other gospels” get a burst of media attention, as though they somehow seal the doom of the New Testament.

There are three lines of evidence that argue against the reliability of these other “gospels.” First, the manuscript evidence for them is terrible, especially compared to the manuscript evidence for the New Testament Gospels. Second, all of these other writings were written down much later than the New Testament. Third, the ideas they present are often completely foreign to what the New Testament Gospels are about, sometimes offering up advice that is just plain bizarre.

In the case of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it’s not even in the style of the New Testament Gospels, instead serving as a sort of collection of sayings. Some of the material is orthodox, while other parts are strange and outlandish. For example, in Saying 114 of the Gospel of Thomas, Peter supposedly says, “women are not worthy of life.” Jesus responds not by clearing up Peter’s mistake, but by saying he, Jesus, will make the woman into a man so she can then enter the kingdom of heaven. That hardly sounds like the gospel we see throughout the rest of Scripture.

When it is rightly understood and wisely interpreted, we can be confident that the Bible is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The Bible is uniquely and solely God’s completely trustworthy revelation to us today.

7 Life Lessons from Dr. John Piper

John Piper Lessons

7 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM DR. JOHN PIPER

By Mark Driscoll

Recently Bethlehem Baptist Church hosted a celebration event to honor Dr. John Piper, who retired from the pulpit after more than 32 years of faithful service. I was genuinely saddened that I was unable to attend, as I needed to serve at Mars Hill Church.

While much can be learned from John’s life, I wanted to share seven lessons I’ve learned from his example that are especially helpful for younger leaders. This may seem basic, but it’s a lifetime commitment to some basic things, faithfully pursued day after day, year after year, and decade after decade, that makes a difference. It’s what Eugene Peterson called “a long obedience in the same direction.”

1. STUDY THE BIBLE

Bible study will help deepen your conviction and clarify your confusion. But don’t just study to have great sermons or a great ministry—study to experience the love of God and grow in love for God. Out of that experience comes family and ministry.

2. STAY IN ONE PLACE

Many leaders, particularly young leaders, are like a husband with a wandering eye. They are never really married to a church or ministry, but rather only sleeping with one while they keep their options open, constantly looking for a potentially bigger and better opportunity. I recently spoke with a young leader and he asked me how you know which ministry opportunity is the best. I told him the best ministry is the one you marry. The family of God is like our own families. There is never an easy way to have a great family. It takes a covenantal commitment and lifetime investment.

3. TEACH THE BIBLE

The Holy Spirit, who wrote the Scriptures, is glad to anoint the man who opens the Scriptures to teach about Jesus. John was originally on a path toward a lifetime of professorship at a seminary when Jesus rerouted his life journey into a local church. And he’s been teaching the Bible ever since. A life spent teaching the Bible is not a wasted life but rather an invested life. Having a bit of passion never hurts either.

4. CARE ABOUT YOUNG LEADERS

I first met John when I was a young man. I have seen him demonstrate a constant concern and commitment to young leaders. His care for them explains in large part why a generation of young leaders appreciates him.

5. IF YOU CAN WRITE, WRITE

Very few are prolific enough to publish 50 books, but when we write down what we learn, we are forced to sharpen our understanding and we are blessed to share it with others. The first book I read by John was Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which he edited with Dr. Wayne Grudem. I was a newer Christian in college, and my pastor recommended it. It’s a big book. But I read it, and it was foundational to the rest of my life, influencing how I read the Bible, how I lead our family, and how we govern our church. Another one of my favorite books from John is Finally Alive. In simple, readable language, he explores the new birth that happens when the Holy Spirit regenerates believers.

Writing is a way to serve more people than you will ever know, possibly beyond your lifetime, even if the writing is something simple, like position papers and blog posts for your own church.

6. YOU NEVER REALLY RETIRE

While John is transitioning from leadership as the preaching and vision pastor at Bethlehem, he will still be serving Jesus and not playing shuffleboard for the rest of his life. Teaching and writing will be occupying much of his time, as he’s committed to investing—not wasting—his final years in God’s kingdom.

7. GLORIFY GOD BY ENJOYING HIM FOREVER

John once quipped in a conversation that he had only one sermon message and everything he’s ever taught was a variation of that big idea: God is greater than anyone or anything, and living for his glory in all things, by his grace, is why we were made and where we find our joy.

In this season, let us thank God for John and learn from his example to walk in God’s grace and invest our lives in what Jesus invested his life in, the people who are the church. Let us pray for Bethlehem Baptist as they enter a new season with their new preaching pastor. And let us pray for John as he still has a lot of tread on the tires for the coming years.

How to interpret Christianese

How to interpret Christianese

By Mark Driscoll

TranslatingI know many of you who read this blog are new to ministry leadership. I consider it a great honor to make any deposit, so thanks for allowing me that privilege.

When it comes to ministry, some things can only be learned through experience. One example is the ability to translate Christianese into English. So, I thought I would provide a handy lexicon of sorts to help accelerate your development.

1. “I prayed about it . . .”

This is what a Christian means when they are about to throw a fit but want it to look spiritual instead of childish. He or she is hoping that saying the word “pray” will overwhelm you with awe at their deep spirituality and cause you to fall into a catatonic state where you nod your head and agree to let them say or do whatever they want. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

2. “The Lord told me . . .”

Translation: “I want to do something that you don’t want me to do, so I am pulling rank on you by saying that Jesus sent me a text but did not include you on the message, which means if you disagree with me you disagree with Jesus, so you should be humble and let me do what I want because you don’t want to disagree with Jesus, do you?” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

3. “Not to be rude . . .”

Translation: “I am about to assault you. I will likely yell at you, make up horrible things about you, and ruin your life. I’ve already sent an email to the entire church/ministry with a lot of exclamation points and out-of-context Bible verses connecting Judas, you, and the Antichrist as the false Trinity sent to deceive the whole world in the Last Days Deception.” If you hear these words, buy a helmet and sleep with one eye open. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

4. “With all due respect . . .”

Translation: “I have no respect for you. I despise you. If it were not a crime I would do horrible things to you, and I still might anyway if I can find a way to avoid getting sued or arrested. I have already gossiped behind your back and I already sent the mob out to look for pitchforks, a rope, and some matches. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

5. “I know you are really busy, but . . .”

Some Christians are good at making people feel guilty so they can manipulate them to get what they want. Practically, what they are saying is, “I am more important than anyone in this ministry. I am more important than your family. I am more important than your health. Whatever else you have to do, you need to drop it all right now and take care of me. If you don’t, it is because you are unloving and not like Jesus who loved people.” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

6. “No offense, but . . .”

Just as an anvil falls on the head of an unsuspecting victim in a cartoon and someone yells “Duck!” just a second too late, “No offense, but . . .” is what a Christian says right before they drop an anvil. What this means is that he or she has been planning to offend you, and now will be offending you while at the same time trying to get you to sit there and endure the whole offense by confusing you with the words “no offense.” It’s a diversionary tactic, like when a bank robber sets off a smoke canister to distract the guard while emptying out the till. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

7. “I don’t mean to be divisive, but . . .”

Translation: “I already recruited a faction to join me. We have taken all of the nice people in the church/ministry as hostages. Underneath our choir robes we have explosives duct-taped to our chest, and if we do not get what we want in this hostage negotiation, we’ll ignite the whole church.” And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

8. “At my last church, they . . .”

When divorced parents get remarried and the kids really want to work their new dad for something (such as a new phone, Monster Energy drinks before a 1 a.m. bedtime, agreement to shoot off fireworks and airsoft guns in the house, or a new video game console), they talk about how awesome their first dad was. This puts their new dad in the tough position of caving in or running the risk that the kids will hate him and riot because he’s the bad dad. When a Christian leaves one church family for another, they like to do the same kind of thing. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

9. “Some people have recently talked to me about [fill in the blank], and the Lord laid it on my heart to bring it to you . . .”

What people actually mean is that, although they are not officially a leader in the church, they have formed enough of a mob that they are now a de facto leader—kind of like a terrorist with a cell of sleeper operatives with hidden identities. This cell embeds in your church and remains unknown until thing start to blow up. And, if a single guy says this it means he wants to sleep with his girlfriend.

Finally, I know some of you will struggle with this blog post. But I assure you that I prayed about it, the Lord told me to write it, I did not intend to be rude, I offer these thoughts with all due respect, and I know you are really busy but I want you to consider them because no offense or division is intended, and these things were really helpful at my last church, based upon what people have recently talked to me about.

First and Last Adam

first adam last adamIn the recent Oasis sermon on Romans 5:12-21, Ray Derr and Adrian Hall touched on the idea in the Bible that there really two men in the history, spiritually speaking.  The first man, Adam, and Christ, the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).  We born into Adam, the corporate “old man,” spiritually dead and sinners by nature and by choice.  We are reborn by faith by the grace of God into Christ as the corporate “new man.”  As Christians, we now walk and live and reign in Christ, the Last Adam.

Mark Driscoll, in his book Who Do You Think You Are?, contrasts the actions the first Adam and the Last Adam (p. 16):

In the Bible, Paul called Jesus the “last Adam” because he is the remedy for idolatry and the redeemer of humanity, whereas the first Adam was the source of idolatry and the downfall of humanity.  The first Adam turned from the Father in a garden; the last Adam turned to the Father in a garden.  The first Adam was naked and unashamed; the last Adam was naked and bore our shame.  The first Adam’s sin brought us thorns; the last Adam wore a crown of thorns.  The first Adam substituted himself for God; the last Adam was God substituting himself for sinners.  The first Adam sinned at a tree; the last Adam bore our sin on a tree.  The first Adam died as a sinner; the last Adam died for sinners.

According to the Bible, we die in Adam but are born again in Christ: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (emphasis added).  In Adam there is condemnation, but in Christ there is salvation.  In Adam we receive a sin nature, but in Christ we receive a new nature.  In Adam we’re cursed, but in Christ we’re blessed.  In Adam there is wrath and death, but in Christ there is love and life.

Image is Powerful

IdentityCameron Russell, supermodel, gave a TED talk in 2012 about the power of image (video below).  Her point, emphasized by her photos, drives home how destructive image can be if place in the wrong place.  Ultimately, our image needs to be not just in the “right place” but in the right Person, Jesus Christ.  If placed in anything or anyone besides Christ, we will ultimately be disappointed and disillusioned.

(For more on finding our identity in Christ, check out Mark Driscoll’s Who Do You Think You Are?)

Tips for Better Bible Study

7 Tips for Better Bible Study

By: Mark Driscoll 
When tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread after a 40-day fast in the wilderness, Jesus responded by saying simply and profoundly, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Paul, when writing to his protégé, Timothy, writes that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

David writes, “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:48).

The implications are clear: life and growth come from the study of God’s words through Scripture. We are not to read and study the Bible begrudgingly but rather view it as the source of life and, like David, love God’s word.

But the reality is that we all struggle at times to study faithfully or joyfully. So, it’s nice to have a few principles to help us refocus our love and study of Scripture. Below are seven principles that I’ve found beneficial.

1. Actively serve and participate in a local church to learn with and from other Christians.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

2. Be under the authority of Scripture to be interpreted by it, not over the Scripture to be interpreted by you.

Hebrews 4:12–13 (NIV): “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-­edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

3. Pick up the Bible for life transformation, not just mental information.

John 5:39–40 (NIV): “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

4. Pick up the Bible for relational purposes—not functional ones—so that you will love God and not just know or use him.

Matthew 7:21–23 (NIV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’“

5. Don’t just get into the Word; get the Word into you.

Memorization, Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Meditation, Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

6. Take advantage of godly Bible commentators, your pastor, respected theologians in church history, and wise Christian friends to better understand Scripture.

Romans 12:7 (NIV): “If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach . . .”

7. Don’t think you need more knowledge. Often you need more obedience to the knowledge you already have.

James 1:22 (NIV): “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”