Posted on December 6th, 2013 by David Burnette
Ronnie Smith was recently shot and killed at the hands of a gunman in Benghazi, Libya. World has the full story here. This American teacher was a follower of Christ and he was influenced by John Piper’s ministry. Here is Piper’s reflection on Ronnie’s death:
Ronnie is not the first person who has died doing what I have encouraged them to do. He won’t be the last. If I thought death were the worst thing that can happen to a person, I would be overwhelmed with regret.
But the whole point of Ronnie’s life is that there is something worse than death. So he was willing to risk his own life to rescue others from something far worse. And he could risk his own life because he knew his own risking and dying would “work for him an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And he knew God was able to meet every need of his wife and son (Philippians 4:19).
We are not playing games. When I preach that risk is right, I know what I am doing. When I say, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him — especially in suffering,” I know what suffering may mean. When I say, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Matthew 10:28), I take seriously the words of Jesus: “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:16).
Finally, I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world. We do not seek death. We seek the everlasting joy of the world — including our enemies. If they kill us while we love them, we are in good company. Jesus did not call us to ease or safety. He called us to love for the sake of his name. Everywhere. Among all peoples.
Read the entire post here.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
This year, just in time for Christmas...
By purchasing one of these new Radical t-shirts, you can fund one day of free downloads from our website. Your purchase helps to provide free biblical resources and you get a good t-shirt, so everybody wins.
To purchase a t-shirt and to get descriptions and sizes, visit the Radical store.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
Ronnie Smith, chemistry teacher at the International School Benghazi in Libya, was shot and killed yesterday morning while going on a jog. He was a member of the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. Below is an open letter regarding this tragedy, posted to the church on Austin Stone’s website. Let us join them in grief and prayer as we are inspired to emulate the example of sacrificial service Ronnie gives us, to the glory of God among all nations.
It is with a very heavy heart that we write to you today about the loss of our dear brother Ronnie Smith. Ronnie was shot and killed in Benghazi while going for a morning jog. We don’t fully understand the motives of his attackers. He had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi in Libya for the last year and a half.
Before moving to Benghazi, Ronnie was a member of the church staff at the Austin Stone. Ronnie, his wife Anita, and his son are dearly loved by our church family; many of us knew Ronnie and his family well. Ronnie and his family were planning to spend time before Christmas with us here in Austin. Anita and their son had returned to the U.S. and are safe with family. Ronnie, out of a sense of dedication, had stayed in Libya to be with his students through their midterm exams.
Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.
Ronnie was a brother in Christ and a faithful servant of this church for many years. Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now. Though we don’t fully understand right now, we place our full trust in the one who does until we see our friend again.
For right now, we ask you to:
- Pray for Anita, Hosea, and the rest of Anita and Ronnie’s family
- Grieve for the loss of our brother with the hope of Christ
- Trust that God’s will is perfect and His purposes are good
If you happen to be contacted by news media, please refer them to Dave Barrett, our Executive Pastor.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together…” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
“… follow me.” – Luke 9:23
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
“Nelson Mandela’s heroism will outlast him throughout untold generations. Mandela will be remembered for standing up to a racist regime, for persevering under persecution, and for leading his country toward democracy,” [Russell] Moore told Baptist Press. “Mandela’s move from prison cell to president’s office was a living parable of the power of freedom over apartheid. Even those who don’t agree with all of Mandela’s political or religious views ought to give thanks for the many good things that came from his life and work. As we remember Nelson Mandela, let’s pray for a South Africa that experiences the freedom not only of the voting booth but also of widespread gospel reconciliation to God and to one another.”
Read the rest of the article – featuring quotes from other leaders, quotes from Mandela, and a brief overview of his life and death – HERE.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
From our friends at Shattered Magazine comes the story of Radical’s very own Jim Warren.
Jim, now Executive Director of Radical, has the same story as all believers – he once was lost but now is found. And though this basic template of redemption in Christ remains constant, each “found” person fills it in with their own unique, providential journey. Check out Jim’s story and see God’s glory on display in the life of a man whose success shifted from being worldly to being heavenly, from being temporal to being eternal.
In the words of article writer Mitch Eubank, “When we hear a story like Jim Warren’s, let us not only be encouraged by his truly radical steps of faith, but more importantly, let us be drawn into the worship of our great God; the same God who chooses to use helpless sinners in His great plan of redeeming a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.”
Read the entire story HERE.
Posted on December 5th, 2013 by Eric Parker
Note: The following excerpt was adapted from a sermon delivered by Pastor David Platt on 12/6/09 entitled “To Destroy the Devil.” Visit the media page in order to access the sermon in it’s entirety.
First John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s works.” “Christmas destruction.” Kind of has a nice, warm holiday ring to it. What’s Christmas about boys and girls? Annihilation and obliteration; demolition and destruction! That’s what Christmas is about!
What I want to pose to you is that until we realize that there is something in us, something in the world that needs to be destroyed, then we will miss the meaning of Christmas. Why Christmas? This is what 1 John 3:8, what Christmas, is all about. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Let me show you this in 1 John as a whole.
What John does in 1 John 3:4-8 is develop one argument, and he actually does it twice. He does it in verses 4-7, and then he starts all over again in verse 8 using different words. And I want to show you the argument he develops around the reality of sin, the reason Christ came, and the result for Christians.
The Reality of Sin…
So we’ll start with the reality of sin. John is showing us that sin’s scope is universal. He says, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4). Sin’s nature, he says, is lawlessness. Now this is not a term that we necessarily use very commonly today, so what does this mean? What John is basically saying in this definition of sin is that sin is a direct violation of the law of God.
Not only is sin a direct violation of the law of God, but sin has its origin in the devil himself. Verse 8, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). This is what Jesus talked about in John’s Gospel. In John 8:44, Jesus is talking to some teachers of the law, who were talking about how their father is Abraham. And Jesus looks at them and says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The point that John is making here is that whenever we sin, we choose to rebel against the law of God, which is the core of what originated with the devil.
The Reason Christ Came…
Why did Jesus come? Why Christmas? “To destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). What’s the devil’s work? Sin. Jesus came to destroy the lawlessness that originated with the devil, and now characterizes every single one of us. How did Jesus destroy the devil’s work? Look at the beginning of 1 John 2:1-2, where he says, “Jesus Christ, the righteous one.” Christ, in his essence, is without sin. He says in 1 John 2:29 that Jesus is the righteous one – “he is righteous.” In 3:3 he says “he is pure,” and then in 3:5 he says, “…in him is no sin.” That’s not John just saying, “Well, he never sinned,” or “he never committed a sin.” This is John saying that in his very essence, in his very nature, there is absolutely no sin.
Now catch this – the righteous one; the one who had no sin in him; the one whose very essence has nothing to do with sin–the righteous one “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2). The righteous, infinitely holy Son of God took the guilt of your sin and my sin upon himself. Not only ours, “but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).This is really, really, really good news. It’s the gospel that John’s showing us here, that he came to destroy sin by taking the payment of our sin, and the guilt of our sin, and the shame of our sin upon himself, so that we would not have to bear the wrath of God due our sin.
The Result for Christians…
This is the good news of Christmas, but what does it mean for us as Christians? In 1 John 3:6, John says, “No one who abides in [Christ] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6). And you get down to verse 9: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).
The first thing John is saying is that our belief in Christ makes persistent sin inconceivable. Now I want to clear up a potential misconception here from the start. When you read this passage, it talks about, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:6, 9), you might walk away thinking, “Well, does this mean that a Christian can never sin at all?”
It is important to understand that these words are translated that way because there’s a present tense verb here that conveys an active, continual, persistent walking in sin. What John is saying is that when you believe in Christ the righteous one, it would make absolutely no sense for you to live your life continuing in sin. He’s not saying that a Christian will not fall into sin here or there. But John is saying that when a Christian falls into sin, he does not stay there and live there. He is convicted, and he confesses his sin, and he fights his sin, and he runs from that sin.
The second thing John is saying is that our new birth in Christ makes persistent sin impossible. He said in verse 9, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Did you notice that he said, “…he cannot”? So he’s saying it’s impossible—“he cannot keep on sinning” (1 John 3:9). Why? “because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). And the picture is that once you are born of God, and God puts his seed, his life, his Word, his Spirit inside of you, then it is impossible for you to continue in sin. Being born again is about so much more than getting a ticket out of the line going to hell, and into the line going to heaven.
This is what John has developed here. Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. So why would those who believe in him, who have been born of him, continue in the works of the devil? It’s unthinkable and impossible.
Posted on December 4th, 2013 by David Burnette
We're excited to announce that the date for the second Radical Intensive has been set for May 18-21, 2014. This gathering will be held at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Find out more about the Radical Intensive by going here. Registration will open on Monday, January 27, 2014, so begin making plans now. Availability is limited!
The Radical Intensive is a gathering designed to serve pastors and church leaders who are interested in discussing how to infuse global disciple-making into the heart of their local church. Registration is only open to church leadership, and the team attending from each church must include the senior pastor. To find out more about who can attend, go here.
From the Radical Intensive website, here's what you can expect during the days of this gathering:
Participants will join together to worship at Brook Hills on Sunday evening and then, over the next few days, join in discussions with Senior Pastor David Platt as well as other church leaders and members as they share how biblical principles have guided the mission practices in our faith family. You will also have the opportunity to interact with our Global Disciple-Making Team and others during breakout sessions to consider the implications of a priority on global disciple-making in the local church.
Along with The Church at Brook Hills, we're excited to be hosting this gathering again. We hope you and your church will consider joining us as we talk about how to make global disciple-making a priority in our local churches.
Posted on December 4th, 2013 by Eric Parker
Jonathan Edwards writes in his well-known book, Religious Affections, talks about the way we should feel about Jesus. He says,
We are depressed at our losses and excited and joyful about our worldly successes and prosperity. But when it comes to spiritual matters, how dull we feel! How heavy and hard our hearts! We can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear Son–and yet be cold and unmoved!
If we are going to be emotional about anything, shouldn’t it be our spiritual lives? Is anything more inspiring, more exciting, more lovable and desirable in heaven or earth than the gospel of Jesus Christ? Not only is it worthy of our emotion, but it is shown to us in a way that should affect us emotionally. In the same way, the glory and beauty of Jehovah is worthy in itself to be the object of our admiration and love, but it is demonstrated to us in a way that should shake our hearts, for it shines with the luster of an incarnate, infinitely loving, gentle, compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of the Lamb of God, His humility, patience, gentleness, submission, obedience, love, and compassion, are exhibited in the gospel so that our emotions should be deeply moved. Christ should move us more deeply than any other thing, for he is the source of our hearts’ life, and our hearts’ feelings were designed to perceive him.
Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 45
Posted on December 3rd, 2013 by David Burnette
The latest roundtable discussion at TGC features John Piper, Matt Chandler, and David Platt talking about how God’s sovereignty and his “bigness” sustain us through suffering.
Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by David Burnette
“You want to be successful? If you live comfortably, share what you have. If you have a spouse, serve him or her sacrificially. If your home is filled with the clamor and clutter of children, savor the monumental challenge of raising them. If other follow you, point them to Christ. If you are given accolades, receive them humbly. Love and serve the people around you. Walk well through the inevitable sufferings of life. Live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is true success. And really, what more could we possibly want?”
–Embracing Obscurity, Anonymous, 89
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