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Yesterday, I highlighted D A Carson’s book about his father, Tom Carson, entitled ‘Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor’. Herebelow is an excerpt from Chapter 4 – Crisis – that was etched in my mind, teaching me a valuable lesson in life. The chapter opened with the following lines on page 49:

When I began seminary study in Toronto in 1967, it was at a school called Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, not Toronto Baptist Seminary where my parents had attended more than thirty years early. I knew that Cental has grown out of TBS, or split off from it, toward the end of 1948.  There had been some dispute or other about which I knew little and cared less.  The first I heard about the details was in a course on Canadian Baptist history.  Only then did I discover the role my father has played.  When I next went home and confronted my Dad with this account, I learned the most striking lesson of all: why he had never told me.

Then he narrated what he had learned about the entire matter till I, as the reader, would come to their conversation on page 59.  But a paragraph before the conversation, Don Carson continues  to write:

I had not heard a whisper of these events at home.  It has occasionally struck me as a bit odd that Dad, who was an ordinary pastor, seemed to be on a first-name basis with most of the perceived leaders of the Fellowship, considering that most of them were pastors of much larger ministries and had often held high office in the national association. But I had not thought deeply about my observation. From my parents, I had heard only positive things about T. T. Shields.  I can still remember Mum summarizing some of his sermons from the 1930s when she had been a student at TBS.  I recall her reflections on his sermon “Other Little Ships,” which became the title of one of his books of sermons.  The McMaster controversy of the 1920s was faithfully recounted to me, but nothing of the Drummondville affair. My siblings were similarly ignorant.

And here’s where that golden nugget of life appears:

So the next time I went home, I brought this matter up.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: ‘I’ve been learning some interesting Baptist history from 1948-1949″

Dad: “Oh?”

Me: “It seems you had a pretty significant part to play.”

Dad: “What were you told?”

So I summarized the events as I understood them, though of course at that point I had seen none of the primary documents.

Dad: “I suppose that’s pretty close to what happened.”

Me: “So how come you never told us kids any of this?”

Dad (after a long pause):  “There were two reasons.  First, you were children of the manse, and although you have seen the outworking of the gospel, you have also seen more than your share of difficult and ugly things, and we did not think it wise to expose you to this history when you were young.  Second, Marg and I decided we needed to protect our souls from bitterness.  So we took a vow that neither of us would ever say an unkind thing about T. T. Shields. And we have kept our vow.”

As soon as I read this, I remembered the Word of God in the Proverbs:

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” – Proverbs 13:3.

Keil & Delitzsch provides this short commentary on this proverb: Mouth and soul stand in closest interchangeable relation, for speech is the most immediate and continuous expression of the soul; thus whoever guards his mouth keeps his soul (… ὁ τηρῶν τὸ στόμα ἑαυτοῦ φυλάσσει τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ), for he watches that no sinful vain thoughts rise up in his soul and come forth in words, and because he thus keeps his soul, i.e., himself, safe from the destructive consequences of the sins of the tongue.

James has strong Holy Spirit-inspired words concerning the tongue. He wrote, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:6-10).

As we have learned yesterday, through the message of the gospel which is received by faith,  not only are we saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus who propitiated for our sin, but we also see the outworking of the same grace of the Lord which sets us free from this malady resulting to repentance and persevering trust in Him even for the Spirit’s sanctifying work that will transform every facet of life. His mercy is available to the one who would seek Him at all times in faith, and through the mediation of the Holy Spirit, we can guard our lips and so prevent us from falling into sin of slandering others. Tom and Marg and Tom Carson [Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor]Marg Carson are examples of those who chose not to be bitter by keeping their tongues guarded and held by the gracious restraint of the Lord, and therefore, not speak a word against those who might have caused them injustice, ill and hurt in the course of their life and service to Jesus Christ.

Forgive us Lord each time we take bitterness into our hearts and utter even the slightest shade of slander against others. Let your good work be accomplished in us through Christ Jesus so that we may be found only with speech, seasoned with the salt of grace, such that is good for building up. Enrich us Lord with your truth and let the work of your Spirit continue to transform us, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

 

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D A CarsonPreached at the Gospel Coalition convention, clearly this is one the best Scripture expositions of 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 that I have heard – hands down! As I have mentioned in my About Me page, Donald A. Carson is my favorite biblical theologian.  He is a prominent, conservative scholar of the evangelical movement. He is currently a research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which is based in Deerfield, Illinois, USA.  Carson’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from McGill University and a Doctor of Philosophy in the New Testament from the University of Cambridge. A detailed biography written by Andreas J. Kostenberger can be accessed and downloaded as pdf file by clicking here.

He has written more than 45 books which were translated to various languages including Chinese. Among aMemoirs Of An Ordinary Pastor dozen of Carson’s books I already own, his book entitled ‘Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor: the Life and Reflections of Tom Carson’ has impacted my heart and perspective as a servant of Jesus Christ deeply, and I could only thank the Lord for the privilege of having read this biographical sketch of Carson’s father, Tom.  Michel Lemaire, pastor of Eglise Baptiste de la Foi, Drummondville (in Quebec, Canada) commented on the backcover, ‘CCommentary on the NT Use of the OTarson strikes at the heart of what’s wrong when we forget that, as servants, we were meant to live ordinarily under the gospel of grace.’ Among his other books that I heartily recommend is the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament which he co-authored with G. K. Beale. Pastors, teachers, seminarians and ordinary Christians who desire to have an indepth understanding of the Bible must have this book in their personal library. Invited to lecture and preach in many Christian conferences, seminaries and churches worldwide, he travels about two-thirds the time each year.

Hereunder is my very brief notes on his sermon and when you link to either the audio or video provided below (you will need a high speed DSL connection for to these links), may God’s eternal Spirit bless you with the glory of the gospel of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? by D. A. Carson

A sermon based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-19

[click here for audiolink; for videolink; for a lightly-edited transcript]

Introduction: Three Common Views

  • Gospel tips us in the kingdom, followed by discipleship.
  • Identify the first two commandments: Love God… and love your neighbors…
  • Tendency to assume the gospel and devote all other passions in other peripheral issues of life. After a generation, the gospel is set aside all together and makes these passions the central points.

Eight Summarizing Words

Intro: “First importance” (another way of saying ‘pay attention’): The Gospel lies in the center of whatever Paul is about to say.

  • The Gospel is Christological: Irrevocably Christ-centered (e.g. John 14:6); New Testament’s dominating theme is Jesus Christ.  Not only His Person but also His death and resurrection. He is the promised Messiah who died and rose again.
  • The Gospel is theological:  First, 1 Corinthians 15 repeats: God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  Second, theological in a sense that Christ not only died, but He died for our sin. It describes that sin is firstly, an offense against God, but sin also brought about the degradation of life. Hence, God sends salvation to us through His Son. Third, the issues of eternal destinities. God-sin-wrath-death-judgment are themes inescapable in the preaching of the Gospel.
  • The Gospel is biblical: According to the Scriptures, Paul writes. Although we are not told which specific Scriptures texts Paul referred.
  • The Gospel is apostolic: Paul draws to the apostles as Jesus appreared to the apostles, including himself.  Take note of the pronouns in verse 11, I (Paul), they (11 apostles), we (the 11 plus Paul). He emphasizes the apostolic witness to and of the Gospel.
  • The Gospel is historical: 4 things: (a) specifies burial (place) and appearances (proving resurrection on the third day – a dateable sequence); (b) manner of access to the historical events by means of the records of witnesses are the same applied to all historical documents. The bible is a written record;  (c) the central Christian claim is irreducibly historical.  Compare with other major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam – all of these will still exist because of their content not because of the historicity of their means (Gautama, Krishna , Mohammed); their revelation are the doctrines contained therein, not the personalities involved in transmission. However, in Christianity, the doctrines depends on the historical Jesus Christ because He is the revelation of God, not a set of teachings. Christianity disappear if Jesus is removed from it. Paul writes that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there is no forgiveness of sins, our faith is futile, no hope at all. Faith is not abstract but has its object – the historical Christ. The doctrine of salvation is Christ.  We are not saved by Scripture texts of salvation but we are saved by Him whom the Scriptures bear witness; (d) involves the miraculous as well.
  • The Gospel is personal: It sets out the way of individual salvation, see verses 1 and 2. It personally saves and transforms us.
  • The Gospel is universal: Jesus is referred to as “the new Adam” – the new humanity in Christ where people from every tribe, tongue and nation will be included.  There is a comprehensive sweep.
  • The Gospel is eschatological: Has to do with the end of things. Firstly, some of the blessings Christians received today are from the end of the age.  Second, Paul focuses also in the final transformation – we will all be changed on the last trumpet.  We are not to focus only on this age but also prepares us for the new heaven and new earth.

Five Clarifying Sentences

Several wonderful truths are included, these are:

  • Proclamation (preaching, announcement, declaring)  is the means of the Gospel’s dissemination (see verses 1 and 10)  God was pleased to the foolishness of what was preached (the Gospel is foolishness to the Gentiles).  It is first and foremost news to be delighted in.
  • The Gospel is fruitfully received in authentic persevering faith – the Gospel which you believed if you have not believed in vain.
  • This Gospel is properly disclosed in personal self-humiliation.  When it is properly understood and received in persevering faith – this does not result in pride but humility. Verse 9-10 shows the humility of Paul resulting from the Gospel. Gratitude, dependence on Christ, contrition are characteristics.
  • This Gospel is rightly asserted as the central confession of the whole church – every congregation of the saints everywhere in the world – see verse 11, also verse 32. Be suspicious of any church that flaunts itself to be different.
  • The Gospel is boldly advancing under the contested reign and inevitably victory of Jesus the King. Amply taught in the New Testament e.g. Matthew 28:18 – all authority in heaven and earth is given to Me. His kingship will be continually challenged until the consummation of age when Jesus mediatorial kingship will end when God will be all in all.

One Evocative Summary

The Gospel is cognitive and propositional. Here is what is to be understood, believed, obeyed; here is what is promised, taught, explained. All of this must be said, loudly and repeatedly, in a generation that feels slightly embarrassed when it has to deal with the cognitive and the propositional.

Yet something else must also be said. This chapter comes at the end of a book that repeatedly shows how the gospel rightly works out in the massive transformation of attitudes, morals, relationships, and cultural interactions. Calvin insists that justification is by faith alone, but genuine faith is never alone; we might add that the gospel focuses on a message of what God has done and is doing, and must be cast in cognitive truths to be believed and obeyed, but this gospel never properly remains exclusively cognitive. 

Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Quote from D. A. Carson

Brothers and sisters in Christ,  when we merely assume the Gospel, we are only one generation of denying it.  The Gospel is never something to be assumed.  It is never something to be mastered so that you can then move on, it is what must master us.  And all of its ramifications, all of its control, all of its thoughts, all of its lifestyle, all of its patterns, all of its morality, all that it discloses of God and of us, must be thought thru and re-thought thru, and taught and applied again, and again, and again.

D. A. Carson

Sermon – The Primacy of Expository Preaching, part 1

 Audio Link:  http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/The-Primacy-of-Expository-Preaching-part-1#

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