The Justification Crisis
This is the introduction by Sinclair Ferguson to the book, Justified in Christ: God's Plan for us in Justification
It has been commonplace in contemporary analyses to comment that evangelicalism has experienced a series of seismic shocks, ranging from the charismatic movement (whose influence is felt everywhere either in expression or reaction) to the (not unrelated) "worship-wars" with their attendant issues of seeker sensitivity and, in their wake the emerging/emergent church movement. But, all the while, something deeper has been taking place under the surface, the full force of which is now becoming increasingly evident.
One index that this "something else" would soon emerge should have been evident from the books produced by evangelical publishers, by the nature of pulpit rhetoric, and the themes of the conferences and seminars evangelicals organized and attended. One great theme tended to be overlooked. Sadly, it was one of the defining themes of historic evangelicalism: Jesus Christ, his Person and Work. Doubtless it was always assumed. But throughout the middle period of the twentieth century evangelical literature paid scant attention to this central theme of the gospel or to the way in which union with Christ brings the Christian every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). The most substantial literature published in the period tended to be reprints of earlier works. Despite the best efforts of a small number of scholars (particular tribute should be paid here to the late Leon Morris) it was probably not until the publication in 1986 of John Stott's The Cross of Christ that a prominent evangelical drew attention to the theme that had been so missing from book catalogues. And it would surely be safe to say that the sales of even Dr. Stott's widely praised and appreciated work pale by comparison with the sales of The Purpose Driven Life. It would be fascinating to know how well a book entitled The Cross-Driven Life would have sold.
Ryken Appointed Wheaton President
On behalf of Rev. Dr. Peter A. Lillback, president, and the Westminster family, a sincere congratulations to Rev. Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, WTS trustee and 1992 MDiv, on being appointed the eighth president of Wheaton College (IL). We trust the Lord will use Dr. Ryken to bless Wheaton in continuing to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, ESV).
Click to hear Dr. Ryken's announcement to the Tenth Presbyterian Church congregation.
“My simple hope is to fulfill my calling as a wise and visionary leader for Wheaton’s faculty, staff, and students,” Dr. Ryken says. “I pray that during my tenure Wheaton will grow in academic excellence and spiritual vitality, so that our graduates are equipped to go out into the world and make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom.”
“The decision to select this president was rooted in a presidential profile document that highlighted desired qualifications for the role. This profile was created with input from multiple groups within the College community,” says Donald Meyer, co-chairman of the Presidential Selection Committee. “Dr. Ryken was a clear choice, as his gifts and abilities are aligned with those qualities.”
The Shepherd's Blog
I have launched The Shepherds’ Blog! The purpose of this blog is to provide an opportunity for me to interact with church leaders (and members!) about the subject of shepherding the flock. Please send your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer them.
When a question raises an issue that I sense will be of interest to many I will use this blog to present some of my thoughts. I am hoping that the readers of The Shepherd Leader will send questions about the book. My goal will be to put up a new post roughly every week.
Check out: www.theshepherdleader.com. You will notice that there is a link to Shepherding Resources where you will find downloadable resources and forms, including those mentioned in the book.
You will also find a link to The Shepherds’ Institute Consulting Services which is a non-profit that I started in 2000 to advance the cause of shepherding in the church. There is a modest administrative fee required. My goal will be to return my comments within 30 days. There is also an opportunity for you to extend an invitation to me to come for an on-site consultation. I can only accept a limited number of such invitations and I will let you know if I am available to come to your church, conference, or meeting. Again, click on that link and provide the details and I will respond as soon as possible.
My prayer is that the book and the blog will help you to become more effective in shepherding your flock and that it may be said of you as it was said of David:
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72 NIV).
Rev. Dr. Timothy Z. Witmer, Westminster MDiv 1979, department coordinator, professor of practical theology, director of the supervised ministry program and pastor of Crossroads Community Church
Westminster's Mentored Ministry
“I have just finished reading from the web all the Mentored Ministry information that you have posted…I need to repent. The impression that I have always held about WTS is that it was a place of outstanding academics, but it was weak in the practical aspects of ministry preparation. You have proved me seriously wrong, and I apologize for such an unfair caricature.
In fact, after studying (similar institutions), you have the most comprehensive program of all. I was especially blessed to see you reference Sonship, Evangelism Explosion, and short-term mission involvement as all three of these have been major components of our ministry (here),” pastor of 27 years, western PA
Student Testimonies + Teaching Churches Network
Westminster Welcomes Brown Vincent
The entire Westminster community wishes a warm welcome to William Brown Vincent, Jr.
On March 15, Brown joins the staff as VP of Development. With an extensive background in real estate acquisition and development, he brings a plethora of professional skills and experiences that make him uniquely suited to his new role. Decades of management, marketing, sales and leadership along with his honed interpersonal and communication skills prepare Brown for this strategic leadership position at Westminster.
Reflecting on the critical role of Westminster in the work of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, Brown explains, “Increasingly we are experiencing, both in the Church and culture, the effects of egocentric compromise, the rejection of God’s Word, and the consequential emptiness. Many who think they have saving faith are very misled because God’s Word, and more specifically, the Gospel is not being taught by Church leaders and educators at the highest levels of Christian academia. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6). Yet God’s grace applied through the full counsel of His Word is THE power that changes lives and cultures for His sake. I believe WTS hits at the core of this matter.”
READ THE FULL STORY
Martyred in Jos, part 3
"This picture (below) is our pastor's house that was burned down. We continue to crave your prayers for us in the city of Jos, Nigeria. Our school has been reopened but things are just dull. Two members of our community were killed, a student and a husband of one of our staff. Many people have left Jos permanantly, because Islamic terrorism is unbearable. The end is not in sight. It's difficult to love Muslims but, by the grace of Christ, I still went to look for Mohammed - the Muslim I had picked up in my car and to whom I started sharing the gospel. I couldn't find him. I may not find out what happened to him since some Muslims lost their lives in the mayhem too." - author's identity concealed for security
HOW IT BEGAN
Stefanos Foundation, in an effort to ascertain the cause(s) of the crisis, led a combined team of security and media men to Jos Jarawa, where the crisis purportedly started. The intension was to come up with an unbiased “on the sport” assessment of the situation that will help bring a clearer understanding for better judgment. The team met with eye witnesses and victims who recounted their ordeals.
Various accounts reveal that one Kabiru NEPA (as he is called in the area), a staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), brought in over 200 Muslim men to rebuild his house on Sunday, January 17, 2010.
Kabiru’s house is one of those burnt during the November 28, 2008 crisis; it is situated on one of the streets at Gindin - Atili, behind Great Commission Movement Ministry compound in Jos Jarawa area. This was the street that was mostly affected during the November, 2008 crisis which left no building standing in the area, both of Non-Muslims and Muslims alike.
READ THE FULL STORY
Meet Carl Trueman
An excerpt from the "Meet Carl Trueman" interview by C.J. Mahaney...
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?
Two things. One is not a piece of counsel but a perk of my job as Academic Dean. I have a delightful lady who works as my assistant and looks after my schedule for me. That has helped. I am an organizational numbskull, as she, and her longsuffering predecessor, will confirm.
The second was the insight that, if you wait for an extended period of time to get a project done, it never comes along. Make constant use of the fragments of time you get on a regular basis. Use that fifteen minutes before a meeting to read or to write a paragraph. Use your time driving to work to think through the passage you are going to preach on at the weekend. Use the little bits of time and you find they really add up to something more substantial. To quote Bruce Springsteen: “You spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come; don’t waste your time waiting.”
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?
Again, I have to plead to be allowed to break the rule and list four things.
(a) Pick your battles. Not every hill is worth dying on; and not every battle is something you are competent to fight. As a younger man, I wanted to fight all comers and win every battle. Neither necessary nor possible.
(b) Be part of a team who care for you and whom you trust to tell you when you are going the wrong way or crossing a line that should not be crossed—and listen to them. Yes-men are fatal to good leadership. A trustworthy colleague who is prepared to oppose you to your face is worth his weight in gold.
(c) Understand that leadership is lonely; being liked by everyone is a luxury you probably cannot afford. Deal with it and get on with the job. If you want to be liked, be a circus clown; if you want to lead and lead well, be prepared for the loneliness that comes with it. This is why, for me, a happy home has been crucial for it has been a place where work is, as far as possible, kept far away. Home is the one place I can go each night and know that I am loved, and I guard it fiercely. I have even banned my kids from Googling my name—if there is nasty stuff out there about me, I deal with it at work; I do not allow it into my house.
(d) Don’t waste time defending your own name for the sake of it. If Christ’s honour is at stake, or the innocent are made vulnerable by some attack on your character, you need to respond; otherwise, let it be. If I responded to every wannabe crank who thinks I’m arrogant, hypocritical, lying etc. etc., I’d never have the time to do anything else. The secret is not caring about your own name except as it impacts upon others...