Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Challies (page 1 of 4)

Matt Chandler on God’s Lavish Grace in Forgiveness

I’m so thankful that Tim Challies pointed us to this video today. This truth is too precious to not soak in, marvel at, and be changed by.

Listen and be blessed.

We Wait Patiently for Justice

Justice does not come quickly. The righteous answer is not always the obvious one. And, quite frankly, you’re not always the judge and you don’t always have the clarity you think you do. That’s why, biblically, every matter must be established by two or three witnesses and it must have a due process.

Tim Challies wrote what ended up being a pretty controversial post on patiently waiting for justice to be done in the matters relating to Sovereign Grace Ministries. He pointed out that we are to love, hope all things, wait until the matter is fully heard, and entrust justice to those authorities appointed by God. Even in the cases where there is alleged sexual abuse and alleged cover-ups.

For some, that was asking too much. Apparently, for a Christian seeking justice, we don’t need such waiting games. ‘The powerful are hiding and maneuvering to oppress the victims,’ we are told, ‘and therefore we ought to stand up for the victims.’

Rachel Held Evans, in her response to Challies, made it clear that the obligation of the church in seeking justice is the protection of the weak rather than the strong:

As Christians, our first impulse should be to protect and defend the powerless, not the powerful.

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Do You Know Tim Challies?

He’s the owner & proprietor of Challies.com, one of the world’s most popular and influential evangelical Christian blogs. He’s the author of several great books. He’s the guy who got the Discerning Reader up and running, as well as being one of the founders of Cruciform Press. He is a conference speaker and world-traveller. In short, Tim is famous.

But ‘Famous Tim’ is just one side of the man. And if ‘Famous Tim’ is the only side of him you know, then let me humbly suggest that you don’t know him all that well.

I know Tim as my friend. I’ve observed him living life as a husband and father. I’ve watched him serve as a pastor of a small, independent, not-famous church in Canada. I’ve watched him live his life before God. And the more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I thank God for him.

I’ve wanted to write this for some time now, because I’ve read a lot of things written about Tim in various seasons of his public ministry that are simply not true. But I didn’t want this to seem reactionary or defensive, so I’ve waited for a time that’s relatively controversy-free.

My intention in writing about Tim is not to glorify him or make him seem more perfect than he is. But I do want to make sure you know that the man behind the blog is a real man of God. He is not someone different when he is out of the public’s view. Continue reading

Two Posts That Are Worth Your Time

Two posts caught my attention this morning and I wanted to pass them along to you. Interestingly enough, both have to do with things that will happen only as the believer is fully engaged in the life of the local church. I simply cannot say enough how important it is for believers to be connected and committed in a local context.

How to Receive Criticism Like a Champ

Quite frankly, receiving criticism is not something I’m particularly good at. So posts like this convict me like crazy. I’m thankful for the pastoral wisdom and quick wit of Mark Altrogge in this post.

I don’t love to be criticized or critiqued. I must admit, I don’t love “input.”

I think this goes back to my Intro to Design class in college. One day Dr. Grinchwold (named changed) walked past my desk, looked disdainfully at my project, a 3-dimensional paper fly (which was brilliant, by the way), and muttered something. “Excuse me, what did you say?” I asked. To which he replied for the whole class to hear, “I said, ‘Do you have a match?’ Because you should burn that thing.” I was stunned, mortified and humiliated. I wanted to say, “If I had a match I’d light your pants on fire,” but I didn’t.

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An Interview with Tim Challies

Tim Challies

This is the best kind of post, in my opinion: Where I get to ask a few questions and let someone else do all the work of answering them. Particularly, when the someone else is smarter than me.

That was the case when I got to do a little conversation / interview with Tim Challies. Click here to go to the interview at Challies Dot Com or read the premise below and then head on over.

In NHL hockey politics (which is big news here in Canada) there has been lots of talk over the last couple years about “the code.” Rumor has it that there is some moral code that guides how players hit each other or when they fight. Supposedly everyone knows it and it is universally seen as “dirty pool” when someone breaks this code. However, whether the code actually exists is a matter of debate.

It’s clear that for the average blogger with a readership of 20, anything is fair game. You can say whatever you want about whomever you want in whatever way you want whenever you want because only he and his mom will read it. But I think a lot of people suspect that there is a “code” in the evangelical blogging world. There are certain places you cannot go, certain things you cannot say, certain people or ministries that you cannot criticize.

I wanted to actually explore this a little bit, so I took the following questions to the biggest blogger I know, Tim Challies. I wanted to find out, “Is there a ‘code’ amongst big-name bloggers?”

‘The Code’ in the Christian Blogosphere: An Interview with Tim Challies.

You Just Don’t Get Me…

Scoldings are hard to hear. Especially when you feel misunderstood.

I’m really having a hard time obeying Tim Challies. He told us that we need to listen to John MacArthur. MacArthur has begun a series critiquing the ‘Young, Restless, and Reformed’ movement and Tim says we need to listen to him because he’s older, wiser, and proven. He has perspective and experience that we do not. He has seen more, lived more, and earned the right to speak.

I agree. But man, it’s hard to hear.

I talked to Tim about it. The best analogy I could give him (ironically enough) is that of a young adult being scolded by a parent. When I read MacArthur’s post I can’t help but feel that he’s the dad who is disappointed in how I’ve turned out (i.e. I’m not like him) and I’m the son who thinks, ‘My father just doesn’t get me.’

MacArthur’s opening comments about the positive things in the movement feel condescending — you know he is about to lower the boom. And then he does. And it’s so predictable. When Tim first mentioned to me that MacArthur would be doing this series the first thing that came into my mind was this: ‘He’s going to tell us to dress in suits.’ And then I thought, ‘Don’t be so harsh. Go in with an open mind. Be ready to hear.’ So I read. And this is what I read:

But for heaven’s sake don’t dress for hardball. HCo. clothes and hipster hair are essential tools of contextualization. The more casual, the better. Distressed, grunge-patterned T-shirts and ripped jeans are perfect. You would not want anyone to think you take worship as seriously as, say, a wedding or a court appearance. Be cool. Which means (of course) that you mustn’t be perceived as punctilious about matters of doctrine or hermeneutics. But whatever you do, donot fail to pay careful attention to Abercrombie & Fitch.

And yes, the italics are his. The one paragraph italicized and set apart from the rest. And it’s about clothes. Really? And then he adds this:

I sometimes think no group is more fashion-conscious than the current crop of hipster church planters—except perhaps teenage girls.

Was that really necessary? Is that really going to win a hearing with the crowd he’s ‘admonishing’? Or is it merely a dig so that all the MacArthurites around the world can rejoice that they’ve struck down another foe?

I feel like he doesn’t get me. It seems like he’s so angry at Mark Driscoll that he hasn’t taken the time to get to know me. Like the father who thinks his son is the same as the rock stars on MTV. That’s Driscoll, not me.

Sure, for some fashion may be a thing. But it’s not for me. I just don’t care about clothes, as long as things are done decently and in order. Even his analogies fall short. A lot of people in our generation don’t wear suits to weddings or to court. Or to funerals for that matter. It’s not that I pay careful attention to Abercrombie; it’s just that I don’t think what I wear to church is nearly so crucial to the gospel as you.

This series seemed to me like it could be a really good thing. I honestly was looking forward to reading it, once I preached some truth to my heart. But this tone and these opening observations make it hard. Very, very hard.

But now here’s the most frustrating part for me. When a wise parent scolds, the wise child listens. Even when the child feels self-assured. In life I’ve seen this. Things that older parents and older Christians have told me — though I didn’t believe them when I was younger — have proven to be true as I’ve grown up. And I’m sure, in some senses, even though I may hate what MacArthur says now, I need to grin and bear it. I know we need to grow up as a movement. I know I need to grow up as a man. And if a proven man like MacArthur can’t scold me, then who can?

If I listen only to those who agree with me, is that to my credit? Even the pharisees do that…

Saved Through Childbearing (1 Tim 2.15)

Yesterday, Tim blogged his interpretation of 1 Timothy 2.15 — an admittedly difficult verse. Mary Kassian responded with her take on the verse, which was somewhat different than Tim’s (although, the practical import of the differing interpretations is probably negligible.

I’m thankful for the discussion on the passage, which is tough on any understanding, so I thought I’d contribute my 2 cents. Here’s the passage in question:

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (ESV)

The Context

Before getting to verse 15, let me offer a word on the passage. Paul is very clearly addressing the church with very plain, straightforward instructions on how they are to function in a normative sense. He is hoping to come to them soon to give these instructions in fuller detail, but in case he is delayed, he wants them to know how to behave right away (1 Tim 3.14-15).

Furthermore, all these instructions on how the church is to operate (their ‘godliness’) is to be built on the foundation of the ‘mystery’ of Christ, which is the gospel (1 Tim 3.16). That’s what he’s doing in this whole section of the book, so that’s what we can expect to find here. In other words, we won’t here find temporary fixes based on temporary principles, nor will we find allegories or metaphors, but plain pastoral instruction on how to behave because of the gospel.

The Instructions

Now, to our section. Verses 11-12 give the instructions: women must not teach or have authority over men, but should learn quietly, with all submissiveness. Now, don’t miss the obvious. Paul actually commands women to learn in the churches. That is stunningly ground-breaking. Women were not typically allowed to learn, but Paul here commands it. He wants women who care about theology because they love their God. Nevertheless, they are to learn in a manner fitting their role as women.

The Reason

If verses 11-12 give the instructions then verses 13-14 give the reason for the instruction. Paul, a wise pastor (like a wise parent) won’t give blanket instructions with a ‘because I say so’ attitude to a church that loves him. If they are to obey God in a way that honours him, they need to know why this type of behaviour honours him. So he expresses that this was always God’s order–it’s the way God made it. Why did God make it like that? He doesn’t answer here. The mind of God is the mind of God. But we know what we need to know to honour him: he made it this way on purpose, and we’ll do well to keep it that way.

What’s significant about God’s order in this context, however, is that it was inverted in one famous instance: the fall of humanity. There Satan dishonoured God by ignoring his order, and encouraging Eve to do the same. When Paul says ‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived,’ he’s not saying outright that Adam wasn’t deceived, and still less is he saying that women in general are more gullible than men. Anyone with a half a brain and a few years’ worth of living under their belt knows that there are just as many gullible men out there as women. What is Paul getting at then? In saying that Eve was deceived, he’s emphasizing that it was Eve that Satan came to; it was Eve who was tempted; it was the woman who took the lead. Satan inverted God’s roles and brought destruction and death to all mankind.

So the instructions are don’t invert God’s order in the male-female relationship in the church. And the reason is that this is the way Satan operates to bring disorder and destruction. But again, as the gospel-centred pastor that Paul is, he will not simply draw out principles and command them without rooting them in the gospel (remember the pattern of 1 Tim 3.14-16). That would be to motivate by law, not gospel, and in the NT it is grace that compels obedience (cf. Rom 6.1-14). So verse 15 offers the gospel hope which is to undergird all of our actions in maintaining role distinctions within the church.

The Gospel-Hope which Compels Endurance

Paul, building on his case from Genesis 2-3, recalls that even the curse (which would bring a competitive striving for ruling the home between the woman and her husband) still brought a promise of deliverance through childbearing (Gen 3.16). Immediately after the curses, comes these words: ‘The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living’ (Gen 3.20). Before the curse and after the curse, God’s plan was unchanged–women had a role; but it will be cursed with pain now, so that they must endure. Mary would ultimately fulfill this purpose and promise, giving birth to the Saviour of the world, who delivers us from the curse (Gal 4.4-5). The creation of woman in the image of God, the promise of the seed of the woman bringing salvation, and the coming of the Saviour from a woman all give nobility to that role. Paul is reminding the Ephesian women that this is no second class calling, but was the role and the means essential for bringing salvation to men, women, and children worldwide. They will do well to follow in the pattern set in creation and in redemption.

As for the word ‘saved,’ I think it is best to take that in the typical Pauline sense of ‘salvation from sin and judgement.’ But it’s important to see that it’s in the future tense. He is holding out the completion of the work of salvation in a holistic sense–you will be saved, if you endure. The work of salvation will finally be accomplished, if you persevere, content in your role. This fits well with the curse-redemption motif, and with the Satan-temptation motif as well. Just a couple chapters later Paul says, ‘So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan (1 Tim 5.14-15).’ There again we have a reference to biblical femininity and being ‘saved’ from the temptations of Satan who would induce discontentment and uprising from the God-ordained role. Just as Eve would have been saved, and just like younger widows will be saved, the women of the church will be saved by contentedness in fulfilling their role.

But the trouble with this, of course, is that it seems to make childbearing and role-fulfilling a work necessary for salvation. But the remainder of the verse takes care of that. These women will be saved as they persevere in ‘faith, love, and holiness.’ Those are important concepts, as related to salvation within the letter of 1 Timothy. Paul has already said that the aim of his gospel-protecting charge is ‘love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience (holiness) and a sincere faith‘ (1 Tim 1.5). That only comes from the gospel. Those things that women are called to persevere in are only found in the gospel. Again, in 1 Tim 1.13-14, Paul says of himself, ‘though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy … and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.’ So even the apostle Paul had no other hope of holiness, faith, and love, than what is found in the gospel Christ Jesus. The gospel which was, after-all, first prophesied to a woman (Gen 3.16) and first witnessed by women at the tomb (Luke 24.10-11).

Conclusion

So what am I saying? That Paul is laying out a gospel-hope as the foundation for living in godly submission as a Christian woman. Christian women, though called to submission in their role, and denied the role of teacher in the church, are no less human and are in no more need of salvation than men. Their role is dignified, honourable, pleasing to God from the beginning of creation to now, and was used powerfully by God in the redemption of humanity. Women are, at the end of the day, to be saved in the exact same way as men–even the apostle himself: clinging to the gospel of Jesus, and walking in a manner worthy of that gospel.

The ‘self-control’ he reminds them of, then, is merely a concluding word, noting that all of what he has written to women from verse 9-15 can only be carried out as they use gospel-gained self-control to persevere in their role, thus saving themselves from the temptation of Satan and the judgement that follows it.

Again, at the end of all the debate, I really don’t think that the practical outworking of all this will be much different from this interpretation than from Tim’s or Mary’s, but I do think this is probably the best way to understand Paul’s line of reasoning in this text.

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