20/20 Conference, Plenary Session IV: Bill Brown

Bill begins with a story about the squalor of Calcutta: who takes care of these people? Hindus don’t-this is their lot in life. Muslims don’t-they are the scum of the earth. Only the Christians take care of these people.

Bill looks forward to the day when people don’t think of right-wing extremists when they hear Christian, but think of the gospel come to life. He’s talking to us about “Engaging the Culture for Life.”

The text is 1 Corinthians 9. In this chapter, Paul is talking about his Christian freedom until he reaches verse 19-23: though Paul is free and belongs to no man, he makes himself a slave to everyone. Paul has become all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some.

If Jesus came to set us free, he has set us free to be slaves to everyone, so that we might win as many as possible. We enslave ourselves to others so that we might win others to Christ. Whoever is within your sphere of influence, you have been called to be enslaved to them for the sake of the gospel. We must know how they think and what they do so that we can build a bridge from them to Jesus Christ.

The problem is too many churches have tried to enslave the world to us: dress like us, vote like us, think like us, or you are not welcome. That’s the opposite of what Paul says we must do. We must learn the culture, enter the culture, and build bridges from the culture to Christ.

Three alliterated points about cultural engagement (the crowd is laughing):

Bill wanted to be an astronaut until he met Jesus Christ. Then he got married and spent seven years of tribulation at Dallas Seminary (I promise, he said it). Now he speaks about the Christian worldview. We have Christian music, Christian habits, Christian lingo, but we don’t think like Christians. We are called to exegete both the Word of God and the world of God.

1. Attitude of the heart

Proper cultural engagement begins with the heart.

Three Christian approaches to culture:

A. Offended by culture-we withdraw. We get offended when non-Christians act like non-Christians, so we separate from them and retreat into our Christian subculture.

B. Delighted by culture-we assimilate. We want to find the church in the culture and the culture in the church, so we confuse the two. We can try so hard to be relevant that we become irrelevant. Like the prophets, we need our hearts broken over our culture so that we will properly engage our culture.

(The third approach was not clearly stated)

2 Peter 2:7-8 – Lot was distressed by the lawlessness of his culture, he was tormented by it. Do we have the spiritual sensitivity of even Lot, who was no paragon of virtue? Acts 17:16-17 – Paul was greatly distressed to see that Athens was full of idols.

More theology is communicated in a half hour of television than a whole month of church. We live in a theologically saturated culture; it’s just bad theology. We must be passionate for Jesus Christ, trusting that will lead us to a life of humility and a broken heart for our culture.

Nehemiah is an example of a believer who had a balanced understanding of how to engage the culture. He had a position of cultural prominence, but he knew his God and his people and he mourned over the destruction of Jerusalem.

Bill is glad that Christians are finally paying attention to human trafficking, AIDS, etc-we should have done that a long time ago.

2. Altitude of our minds

We live in a world under a curse because of the power of sin. The last word in the Old Testament is “curse.” The New Testament ends with the curse lifted. We have a wonderful story to tell.

Bill reads a nasty letter from a secular humanist. The letter is mean-spirited and inarticulate. Kind of like how many Christians respond to criticism.

You need to know the biblical worldview, but you also need to understand other worldviews. You must know what you are challenging with the gospel. You must know what need the gospel provides the answer to. You must build intellectual bridges to bring Jesus Christ to all people.

Lots of quotes from famous non-believers, some of whom who hate Christians-these are the prophets of our days.

Worldviews are the foundation of cultures. Every person has a worldview-it is part of being human. A worldview is a way of explaining and interpreting the world around you. Your worldview determines your values which determine your behavior. Worldviews answer the ultimate questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

Three major worldviews:

A. Naturalism – the world as we see it, dominated by science. Everything is natural, nothing is supernatural, everything is physical, nothing is metaphysical. Representative naturalists: Thomas Edison, Katherine Hepburn, Stephen King, Marilyn Manson, Hoard Stern, Eddie Vedder, Bjork, Annika Sorenstam, Thomas Nagel, Christina Aguilera.

B. Transcendentalism – the world as we want it. C. S. Lewis says this is the natural bent of the human mind. This is a spiritual version of naturalism-nature is divine. Think pantheism, panentheism, etc. Divinity is not a person to know, it is a spirit to be used. “Luke, use the force . . . trust your feelings.” Representative transcendentalists: George Lucas, Tommy Lee, Kirsten Dunst, Madonna. Hebrews 9:27 negates transcendentalism: we die once and face judgment.

C. Theism – the world from God’s hand. God is the source of all things and all things are for him. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all theists. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is at the watershed of theism.

3. Authenticity of life

Knowing Christ transforms our lives and priorities. Francis Schaeffer says we cannot expect the world to believe if they look to us and do not see our love for others and our unity with each other. 1 Peter 3:15-16 – we must be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us.

We need to live the gospel so that our very lives commend Christ to the world.rpg online gamesonline game

20/20 Conference, Session III: Mark Driscoll

Today Mark is picking up where he left off last night: his seventh point.

7. The doxological view of culture

Worship is not an event. It includes events, but it is all of life. Worship does not start and stop, like a church service. Worship is not reduced to music, but it includes music, because music is part of our life with God. Worship is not something done solely by Christians or religious people; all people worship something. Worship is part of what it means to be human.

Christian worship begins with our Triune God and reflects the perfect, intra-trinitarian relationships. Because of sin, we worship things besides our Triune God: this is idolatry. Luther said that most of our worship is self-directed. We are our own favorite gods.

Jesus Christ died the death we should have died and rose to give the gift we could not earn. This takes us out of the loop with our self, reconciles us with the Father, and enables us to worship God and not idols.

Culture is worship and is created as worship acts. Romans 11:36-12:2 provides us with a wonderful picture of worship.

Worship is glory and sacrifice-it is a lifestyle. Something motivates each of us in all that we do, it is our centerpiece of existence. This is our glory. Sacrifice is the way we serve our glory in our actions and priorities. Our money, our time, our emotions, etc. indicate what is in the position of glory in each of our lives. We sacrifice (worship) on behalf of that which we most glory in.

Examples: when a Christian woman wants to marry a non-Christian man, she has a worship problem. When a Christian man would rather play sports or pursue a hobby than gather for corporate worship, he has a worship problem. When someone is a glutton, they have a worship problem. All of these people are sacrificing for a glory that is not God.

What is idolatry? We tend to think of little statues in a shabby hut in some primitive country. Mark recounts a mission trip to India and all of the Hindu rituals he witnessed. A Christian woman in India told Mark she would never visit America again because of all of the idolatry in America: the stadiums looked like temples. The restaurants were filled with food. Televisions are more compelling than shrines.

The point of the story: we are more aware of the idols of others than our own idols.

Romans 1:24-25: idolaters exchange the truth about God for the lie and worship and serve created things than the Creator of all things. One truth-worship God. One lie-worship anything else. Idolaters buy into the lie. The lie goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

There are some people who worship the environment. Mark says the earth is not his mother, but God is his Father!

Some worship their pets-in Seattle, people worship their dogs. Dogs outnumber children. People dress up their dogs and call them their babies.

Some worship other people-parents, friends, boyfriends, teachers, etc. This includes sexual sin of every kind, which is ultimately worshiping someone else’s body. Homosexuality is a worship problem. Adultery is a worship problem. Porn is a worship problem

Some worship food-gluttony is a worship problem.

One problem with our fallen culture is that they want to free you from one idol by replacing it with another. “Moral issues” are really worship issues.

Every man in the audience he downloaded porn last night committed idolatry. Every woman who compromised her integrity last night for the approval of a man committed idolatry.

Even the most irreligious people are fervent worshipers.

Mark does not want us to be idolaters who want to impact our culture for the gospel.

Summary of I John: keep yourself from idols.

According to Luke, the two greatest commandments (love God and love others) are about helping us to avoid becoming idolaters. If we really loved God and really loved others, we would not break God’s commandments. We would not be idolaters.

Huxley and Orwell debated whether or not we will be enslaved by what we love or what we hate. Mark says we will be enslaved by what we love-this is idolatry. Good things become “god things” which makes them bad things: idols.

Question 1: who or what do you really love? What is in the position of glory in your life?

Mark loves his children a lot, but they can become idols. A member of his church told him they attend for their family-that is idolatry. Be a part of a church because you love the Lord, not because you want God to fix your family and thus bless your idol.

Responding to grief inappropriately reveals our idolatries: “If you loved me, God, you would not have taken that person away.”

Many Christians make idols out of their families and churches aid and abet them in their idolatry.

Question 2: what is your real gospel? The real gospel is that Jesus Christ saves sinners in his perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. But many of us choose substitute gospels to “save” us.

Example: some single ladies think being single is “hell” and that a good relationship will “save” them. This is idolatry. Single men do this with sex: chastity is “hell” and sex is “salvation.” Someone else has become our functional savior.

The cover of every magazine at the bookstore is a picture of somebody’s “heaven.” Magazines are evangelistic tracts that are giving you steps to peace with whatever functional savior you are interested in. Everybody is looking for a savior, a heaven.

Heaven is not a place, but a person: Jesus. If Jesus were not in heaven, it would be hell.

What is your view of heaven? If it is anything other than Jesus, you are an idolater.

Question 3: what mediates between you and God? What/who makes you feel close to God? Is it your church? It is singing? Is it your pastor?

Is it your parents? Are you still following their faith? Kids go to college and reject God because their parents are their real mediators, not Jesus.

Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity.

Question 4: who/what do you fear? Who do you live to seek the approval of?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but idolaters are people-pleasers. This is also called “co-dependency” and “peer-pressure.” Some of us live in absolute rule because we fear men who are not godly and do not have godly expectations of us. The fear of men is a snare.

Question 5: where do you give your “first fruits?” Where does your money go first? Does it go to God?

You cannot worship both God and money. To worship money is idolatry.

If you love God, you will use money and love people. If you are an idolater, you will love money and use people.

This applies to more than money. Where do you put your best? Do you give God your leftovers?

Christian collegians are notorious for substituting their studies for devotional time and corporate worship. They are studying to be idolaters.

Stages of renewal:

1. Personal renewal-Mark hopes this conference is a time of personal renewal. Examine yourself, turn from sin, embrace the good. Reorder your priorities around the gospel.

2. Relationship renewal-start treating people differently. If God can help Mark, he can help you too. When we get excited about the gospel, it affects those around us.

3. Church renewal-most awakenings in church history began will college-aged people. It spreads from the collegians to the churches.

4. Cultural renewal-it spreads from the church to the culture.

It all starts with you and Jesus. Instead of complaining about what a mess the world is in, start with Jesus and trust that he will use you to affect the rest.

Objects of idols:

Status-for collegians, pick schools for the right reason and pursue good grades for the right reason. It’s not about pleasing parents, getting the right job, buying a bunch of junk, etc. We become like the rich young ruler. Don’t make an idol out of your status.

Possessions-this is particularly a big deal in our culture. The most likely person to have credit card debt is a college-aged woman. Many collegians are racking up debt hoping that one day the debt collection fairy will show up. Live within your means as an act of worship before God. Your spending problem is really a worship problem.

Comfort-this is perhaps the idol in our culture. College students are notorious for high conviction and low commitment. The difference between conviction and commitment is comfort. College students can tell you everything that is wrong with the world, but are not willing to log off the internet to make a difference. If you worship comfort, you cannot worship Christ.

Appearance-this is behind eating disorders and steroids. Your idol is how much you weigh. You do not think of yourself as an image-bearer of God. Man looks at the outward, but God looks at the heart. Appearance in the sight of God is more important than appearance in the sight of man.

Sex-sex and Jesus are the two most popular religions in America. Jesus has three denominations: Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. Sex has three denominations: gay, straight, and bi-. About a billion people worship Jesus. Billions more worship sex. People get their identity from sex. They make sacrifices for it.

It goes bad for boys, but it goes worse for girls. The average girl loses her virginity as age 16. About 1/3 of all pregnancies are out of wedlock. The abortion epidemic (child sacrifice). STDs. 90% of women who are prostitutes were raped or molested as young girls. Prostitution is the fruit of idolatry.

Pornography-we spend more money on porn than foreign aid, all major sports, all four major networks on TV, etc. Number 1 consumer of online porn: boys age 12-17.

These are all sacrifices made for the glory of sex.

Idolatry dishonors God and destroys us. True worship honors God and is for our good.

20/20 Conference, Plenary Session II: C. J. Mahaney

After sensing the leading of the Spirit, C. J. is changing from his original plan and is now preaching from Mark 14: the woman’s anointing of Jesus’ head and feet with costly perfume. He wants us to meditate on the gospel that has so ably been applied by Mark Driscoll in the previous address. The title of C. J.’s message is “Extravagant Devotion.”

An insight from an article of Sports Illustrated written during the Clinton Administration: “we live in an age of profound baloney.” Trite phrases get thrown around too much: “awesome,” “greatest,” “profound,” etc. The point of the article is the trivialization of profundity.

How can C. J. teach us something profound from the Scripture in an age of profound baloney? He needs the help from the Holy Spirit, because unlike the Super Bowl this year, Mark 14 gives us a truly historic moment.

Mark 14:9 is a truly profound statement that is made during a truly historic moment in redemptive history: Jesus promises the woman’s story will be told throughout all history. Why her? How can we be affected by her? Why was this promise made to her?

The passage begins with disturbing revelations about the chief priests: only Jesus’ popularity among the common people restrains the religious leaders from carrying out their plot to kill Jesus. It is only when Judas betrays Jesus at the end of Mark 14 that the religious leaders are emboldened to kill Jesus.

The scene in the center of the chapter is a party full of people who love Jesus, except for Judas, though most believe at this point he too loves Jesus. Simon the Leper (who is apparently a leper no more) is hosting the party. Was Simon once one of those homeless lepers who heard about Jesus and was healed by the Savior? No wonder Simon was throwing a party for Jesus!

John’s Gospel gives us the same party with more details. Lazarus is a guest-he also has a unique story to tell. C. J. would have a lot of great questions to ask Lazarus if he was also a guest-Lazarus had done death! (Very funny comments.) Martha-the servant-is catering the event.

Jesus is present, and he is the reason for the party. This is one festive occasion. No Pharisees have been invited, so there is no reason to anticipate a confrontation during the evening. And then, suddenly, Lazarus’ sister Mary (so says John in his account) breaks the jar of perfume, pours it over the head of the Savior, and there is no ignoring her.

Think about the conversations taking place around the room-it would have been impossible to ignore this public and passionate display of affection for the Savior. The disciples do not react favorably as this scene unfolds. They don’t get it, and they publicly scold Mary and speak to her harshly.

Suddenly, this festive occasion is complete transformed. All conversation has ceased. The environment has become volatile. And then the voice like no other voice speaks on her behalf: Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. Wherever the gospel is told in the whole world, this story must be told in memory of her.

Question: what provoked Jesus to make this promise about Mary, a promise he did not make to any other?

Answer: this story must be told wherever the gospel is preached because of her anticipation of his death, and her most appropriate response to his impending death. Mary uniquely exemplifies the transforming affect of the gospel: extravagant devotion to the Savior. This is the difference the gospel makes. She is an example for the church universal, the church in all ages.

Her story is told so that we might evaluate whether we have been genuinely transformed by the gospel. So that we might evaluate whether we are being consistently transformed by the gospel. Two points of application for us:

1. Extravagant devotion is evidence of genuine conversion.

Mark’s Gospel is written with evangelist intent without. Unlike some in the Gospel of Mark, Mary is “in.” She is what being “in” looks like. Profession must result in affection and obedience-even immature affection and obedience-or the profession must be examined to see whether or not it is false.

C. J. wants to be careful not to cause anyone to worry over their profession, but rather wants us to have assurance of our profession. He speaks to any unconverted in the audience, assuming there are some present. One reason for this conference is to care for you who are lost, to present the gospel to you, to see you transformed by the gospel, and by God’s grace, emulate the example of Mary.

C. J. wants us to examine and evaluate our professions of faith. Is there evidence of affection for and obedience for the Savior? If not, C. J. wants us to be unsettled-and flee to the cross. And cry out for mercy upon our sins.

But C. J. assumes the majority of us are converted. It is evident in the way we sing about our Savior. And that affection is one evidence that we have been transformed by the gospel.

C. J. has been transformed by the gospel. He grew up in a nominally Roman Catholic home, rebelled against Catholicism, embraced the drug culture, and for a period of years he was daily high. The drugs got worse and worse-he did everything but heroin because he was afraid of needles.

He had no interest in the gospel and was ignorant of the gospel. He had no category for “church.” He wanted to recruit others to sin and train them in how to sin. C. J. loved to sin. And he was irritated when his high friends wanted to wax eloquent about the meaning of life. For C. J., the drugs were about the moment.

He was a happy sinner, without restraint.

One of C. J.’s friends was converted in a Southern Baptist church, then returned to Maryland and began sharing the gospel with his friends. By God’s grace, C. J. was one of his friends. His friend asked to meet with C. J. and shared the gospel with him. His friend didn’t know much, but he knew enough: Christ died for sin.

This was the first time C. J. remembers hearing the gospel. The Spirit was working in C. J., and he was converted that night. He was dramatically transformed. His affections were altered. He did not understand the KJV Bible, but he read it diligently anyway (much laughter).

C. J. still had no category for church, but he found his way to a meeting of Christian collegians. They were singing like they had been changed by Jesus. Prior to his conversion, C. J. would have thought these folks were insane. But that evening, he sang with them because he had been saved from the justified and furious wrath of God against C. J. and all of his sins.

C. J. thinks his above-mentioned experience is more or less the norm for the majority of the audience, but he knows there are some for whom this may not be the case. He is pleading with the non-Christians in the audience to trust Christ. He is pleading with Christians to share the gospel with their non-Christian friends. He is urging all of us to study Mary and learn from her example.

Extravagant love is never concealed, but is expressed through worshiping, serving, evangelizing.

If there is affection in your soul for the Savior, it was placed their by the grace of God. The presence of this affection is a means of your conversion.

2. Extravagant devotion is the increasing experience of the converted

C. J. begins with a lengthy illustration about a woman who became convicted that she had lost her excitement for Jesus when she saw someone else who obviously still had that excitement.

Are we still excited about our love for Jesus?

In Mark 14, what should have happened to the others in the room when Mary started pouring the perfume on the Savior? They should have walked over, one by one, and asked if they could pour some perfume on Jesus. He had healed them. He had forgiven their sins. He had raised them from the dead.

Who do we resemble more? The self-righteous disciples? Or Mary?

How can we emulate Mary’s example? How can we be freshly affected by her this evening?

We must review and reflect upon the gospel for extravagant devotion to be restored. C. J. reads a lengthy Spurgeon quote about reviewing and reflecting upon the gospel. The mostly Baptist crowd clearly digs the Spurgeon quote.

We must “dwell with the cries of Calvary” (from the Spurgeon quote). C. J. asks us to close our eyes and listen to the cries of Calvary. He quotes the words of Jesus on the cross. The cries of Calvary were necessary and sufficient for our salvation.

When our affection diminishes, we should go at once to Calvary. When our devotion diminishes, it is because the gospel has been ignored.

What do we review and reflect upon each day? Is it the gospel? We need to custom-design at least some point during our day (preferably at the outset) when we survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

The problem is we want to feel deeply without thinking deeply. We want an effortless experience. We need to think on the gospel so that we will be affected by the gospel. We need to take advantage of these means so that we can be increasingly amazed by grace.

This is crucial for our cultural engagement. The world needs to sense the presence of affection for the Savior in each of us if our cultural engagement is to be gospel engagement.

May our engagement be characterized by affected hearts.