14 March 2011

Thanks to God for Sovereign Grace

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. --Romans 1:8

Yes, I am most thankful for sovereign grace itself, but here I'm talking about Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Theologically I don't fully align with our brothers and sisters in SGM in some non-essential points, but, well--they're non-essential.

What a gift to the church these brothers and sisters are.

A few reasons I bless God for C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Jeff Purswell, Tony Reinke, Dave Harvey, and the rest of our good friends in SGM--

1. Love of the gospel. Contagious, transparent, happy love of the gospel of grace as the wellspring of all Christian living (not only Christian conversion).

2. Doctrines of grace, culture of grace. The doctrines of grace--reformed soteriology--tend to have two very different effects on people, with little middle ground. One is humbling, humbling that accords with the doctrine subscribed to. The other effect is hardening, hardening that goes against the doctrine subscribed to. One generates a culture of grace, the other a culture of scrutiny. The ethos of one is open arms, the ethos of the other is peering eyes. Sovereign Grace embodies the former as well as any Christians I know.

3. Desire to learn from others. I have never observed another group of Christians so quick to receive criticism wisely and non-defensively. And it doesn't result from doctrinal flabbiness--their theological convictions are clear and firmly held. But they understand that it is the way of the fool to shirk critique and the way of wisdom to receive it. This is an area I would like to grow in.

4. Church-based pastoral training. I'm a seminary grad myself and wouldn't trade my five years at Covenant Seminary (yes, it took me that long to get through) for anything. But the strategy and vision behind the Pastor's College could not be more noble and, it appears, effective. I have no doubt (none) that 10 months as a student in the pastor's college would do me a world of good, and provide a layer of training that no grad school experience can provide.

5. Impatience with worldliness-in-the-name-of-'cultural-engagement.' There's a difference between in the world and of the world. The left is both, the right is neither. But SG pastors, churches, and leaders winsomely model how to be in but not of.

6. Love of sports. It is not surprising that little books like this one or this one come from the Sovereign Grace circle. Though I will never be a Redskins fan, I am glad to be instructed by my SG friends in how to enjoy athletics to the glory of God.

Go Bears.

3 comments:

Ray Ortlund said...

I enthusiastically agree. So much to learn from these amazing men of God.

John Samson said...

Ditto. Thanks Dane. They have so much to teach us - C.J.'s book on humility is outstanding. I also think it takes great humility to rebuke someone correctly as it is to receive the rebuke. I was rebuked by a friend on Sunday and am so thankful for both his courage and humility. I wrote about it briefly here: http://effectualgrace.com/2011/03/15/faithful-are-the-wounds-of-a-friend/

Joey Phillips said...

As a long time SGM member, this was very encouraging. Thanks for taking the time to write this!