Archive for the ‘Secret Church’ Category

  1. 1 Comment

    Religious Liberty Under Fire In Houston

    Posted on October 15th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    As if we needed more troubling news on the religious liberty front, now comes word that pastors in Houston have had their sermons subpoenaed by Mayor Annise Parker and the city attorney. The subpoenas come in response to the pastors’ opposition to an Equal Rights Ordinance that concerns issues of gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations.

    A number of Christian leaders have spoken out against this quite brash move by the Houston mayor, as the request for these sermons is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and a reminder of how opposition from the culture is becoming more acute. The ERLC is offering suggestions for how you can stand with Houston pastors, which you can see here. In addition, here are several excerpts from Christian leaders reacting to Mayor Parker’s overreach:

    – Russell Moore (ERLC)

    “I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.

    The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.

    The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi. After an earthquake, sent by God, upturned the prison where Paul and Silas were held, Luke tells us that the officials sent the police to tell Paul and Silas they could go. Paul replied. “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned men who are Roman citizens and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly. No! Let them come themselves and take us out” (Acts 16:37).” Read the rest here.

    – Jason K. Allen (Midwestern Seminary)

    “For the church, though, the mayor’s handling of the First Amendment is secondary. Our handling of the Bible is primary. Our indignation over the mayor’s boldness must be displaced by passion and resolve of our own. We are called to speak the truth in love; to preach the Word in season and out. Ordinance or no ordinance, subpoena or no subpoena, First Amendment or no First Amendment, God’s Word doesn’t change—and our convictions must not change either.

    That is why my concern is not so much Mayor Parker’s orchestration of velvet-gloved persecution. My concern is whether or not Christians will persist in having the courage of their convictions. This won’t be the last time the church encounters intimidation—for we are assured that all who desire godliness in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

    And Mayor Parker isn’t the first ruler to threaten the church either. Here we learn from our apostolic forebears. Just as when the Temple authorities threatened Peter and John in Acts 4, their response must now be ours, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Read the rest here.

    – Joe Carter (Acton Institute Power Blog)

    “Texas law makes it clear that the discovery process in a legal proceeding “may not be used as a fishing expedition.” Houston’s city attorneys are certainly aware of this fact, so why are they seeking the sermons and communications of pastors who aren’t even involved in the lawsuit?

    The apparent answer, as ADF notes, is that the Houston city government “has embarked upon a witchhunt.” They are trying to send a message to area pastors that criticism of city policies from the pulpit can result in their being dragged into court. This is a despicable display of government overreach and an attempt to stifle both religious freedom and political speech. If this violation of citizens rights isn’t checked in Houston, other cities will get the message that irrelevant legal actions can be used to harass church leaders who dare to challenge our “public servants.” Read the rest here.

    — For more on how followers of Christ should approach the issue of religious liberty, stay tuned in the coming weeks for posts related to David Platt’s upcoming book, Counter Culture, as well as posts and information related to Secret Church 15: “Christ, Culture, and A Call to Action.”

  2. Beat the Rush: Early Registration for Secret Church is Open

    Posted on October 15th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    We’re excited to announce that Early Registration for Secret Church 15 is now open!

    Simply go here to register for SC15 as a church, as a small group, or as an individual. The last day to get early registration pricing is January 25th. For those who have participated in Secret Church in the past, please note that this year’s gathering will not take place on Good Friday. Instead, the date for this upcoming gathering is Friday, April 24, 2015. Beat the end-of-year busyness by registering now.

    David Platt will be speaking on “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.” In case you missed the topic announcement earlier this year, here’s a summary of what you can expect followed by a video that talks about the purpose behind Secret Church:

    The culture around us is constantly changing, and successive changes are often accompanied by significant challenges. So how does the call of Christ compel us to respond to these challenges? How does a Christian respond to the rapid rise of so-called same-sex marriage and the increasing acceptance of homosexuality? How does a Christian live in a world of sex slavery and rampant pornography, a world where babies are aborted and widows are abandoned? How does a Christian think in a culture of pervasive racial prejudice and limited religious liberty? What does a Christian do in a church that exalts prosperity amidst a world of extreme poverty? During this Secret Church, we will explore biblical foundations for answers to these questions and come to significant conclusions regarding how Christ calls every Christian to engage culture with a firm grip on the gospel in the church and a fervent passion for God’s glory in the world.

  3. Seven Activities the Church Should Be About

    Posted on October 2nd, 2014 by David Burnette

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    It’s easy for churches to get busy doing a lot of activities. Many of these activities are good, and they are done in a sincere attempt to serve Christ. Other activities distract attention and divert funds from what the church ought to be about. However, regardless of a church’s motives or the effect of it’s activities, the question we must start with is this:

    What does Scripture say the church should be about?

    That’s the real issue, not surveys, trends, business models, or even the needs of those to whom we’re called to minister. We get our orders from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and he has not left us in the dark. He has told us in his Word what we’re to be about. In Secret Church 9: The Body of Christ, David Platt lists seven activities that the church should be about (SC 9 Study Guide, pgs. 33-87). Here, according to Scripture, is what the church does:

    1. The church evangelizes.

    “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matt 28:19)

    1. The church baptizes.

    “ . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:19)

    1. The church teaches.

    “ . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:20)

    1. The church nurtures.

    “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship . . .” (Acts 2:42)

    1. The church worships.

    “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)

    1. The church prays.

    “And they devoted themselves to . . . the prayers.”

    1. The church multiplies.

    “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

    Now certainly some of these activities will be carried out in different ways depending on the church. For instance, there will likely be multiple ways church members gather for prayer and fellowship. However, on the whole, these priorities should mark the church’s activities.

    Do these activities mark your church’s ministries and budget?

    — For more on Scripture’s teaching about the church, see Secret Church 9: The Body of Christ and the book Radical Together.

  4. Coming To Life

    Posted on September 30th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    In the Old Testament, God gave his people the law. In the New Testament, he gave them his Son, the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is the only way to the Father, because he’s the only one to ever perfectly keep God’s law. That’s why, in Galatians 5, Paul rails against the idea that our standing before God is dependent upon us doing certain things rather than being dependent upon the death and resurrection of Jesus: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law” (4).

    But if our justification doesn’t depend on the dos and don’ts of the law, why, then, does Paul turn around and give us another list of sins to avoid—the “works of the flesh” (21)? He goes so far as to say our eternity is at stake if we indulge in sexual immorality, idolatry, jealousy, etc. Isn’t this just another attempt to be justified by what we do . . . or don’t do?

    How are we to navigate this impossibly confusing balance of not-looking-to-the-law-for-salvation-but-still-having-to-obey-it?

    Another list from Galatians 5 clears the haze: “the fruit of the Spirit” (22-23). The difference here between works and fruit couldn’t be more important. Works of the flesh are the things we do, naturally. The fruit of the Spirit is what the Holy Spirit does in us, supernaturally. Our Spirit-produced works still don’t save us, but they necessarily flow from our salvation as the Spirit lives in us. Faith is the root and works are the fruit. But unlike the works we produce in our weak flesh, “the Spirit produces the life and character of Christ in every facet of our character” (David Platt, Secret Church 5: Exploring the Holy Spirit). It’s a total transformation of who we are from the inside out.

    It may seem that the Holy Spirit makes our works completely irrelevant, but nothing could be further from the truth. Now, because of the Spirit’s work in us, we not only have the desire to obey God’s commands, but also the power. When we’re walking by the Spirit, we aren’t gratifying the desires of our flesh (v 16), and the character of Christ – the great law-keeper – is manifest through us.

    In other words, the Spirit doesn’t make good works disappear. In a very real sense, they come to life.

  5. Why the Atonement Must Do More Than Move Us to Tears

    Posted on September 16th, 2014 by David Burnette

    It may sound like a contradiction, but it’s true: serious theological errors usually contain a good dose of the truth. That’s why we fall for them.

    Most Christians know to reject a teaching that openly rejects God’s Word, but when the truth is slightly twisted or simply downplayed—maybe even with Bible verses attached—it’s easier to get caught off guard. This is particularly dangerous when it comes to Scripture’s foundational teachings, like Christ’s atonement. Your answer to the question, “What did Christ accomplish by his death on the cross?” has massive implications.

    In Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ, you can see a list of some of the most influential theories of the atonement in church history (SC 6 Study Guide, 14-15). One of those theories is called the Moral Influence Theory, which is the idea that Christ’s death on the cross was primarily a demonstration of God’s love intended to move sinners to repentance.  So what could be wrong with that? Isn’t the cross supposed to demonstrate God’s love to us? Well, yes, but that’s not the whole story when it comes to Christ’s atoning work. Consider just a couple of the problems with the Moral Influence Theory.

    God’s Word clearly teaches that we have sinned against a holy God, and the penalty for that sin is death (Rom 3:23; 6:23). However, if we subscribe to the Moral Influence Theory, it’s not clear how our sin gets dealt with. The cross may deeply affect us, even moving us to change our behavior, but that won’t remove our guilt before God. We have sins that need to be forgiven (Eph 1:7) and a debt that needs to be cancelled (Col 2:14). A Righteous Judge cannot simply overlook this. It’s no surprise, then, that the Moral Influence Theory rejects the idea that our sin requires a payment, thus calling into question God’s perfect justice. Also, as Michael Horton observes, “A moral example or influence need hardly be God incarnate” (1). Clearly another atonement theory is needed.

    If we want to be made right with the holy and just God who is revealed in Scripture, our sin debt must be paid. Gratefully, Christ’s atoning work has done just that. Peter tells us that Christ died in our place, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Pet 3:18). The name of the theory that best accounts for this view of the atonement is sometimes called the Penal Substitution Theory. As the name suggests, Christ’s atonement paid sin’s penalty (Penal) in our place (Substitution). God is both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in his Son (Rom 3:26).

    To be clear, seeing Jesus as our substitute doesn’t mean his atonement is not also a deeply moving demonstration of God’s love, nor does it mean that there weren’t other purposes for Christ’s death (like disarming the “rulers and authorities” (Col 2:15). But unless a sinless, sufficient sacrifice is made for our sins—something only the divine Son of God could do—our guilt remains and none of the other benefits of Christ’s death will work for our eternal good. No mere demonstration of love, however great, will wipe our record clean.

    Not even if it moves us to tears.

    – For more on Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ, go here.

    (1) Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, 504.

  6. New Resource: Small Group Discussion Guide for Secret Church 14

    Posted on September 8th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    If leading others through Secret Church material seems intimidating, or if you’re looking for a Bible study to do with your small group, we’ve designed a simple resource to help. Check out the new Small Group Discussion Guide for Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life (SC 14).

    The Small Group Discussion Guide breaks down 4.5 hours of teaching from SC 14 into a 6-week study that is designed to be used along with the video and Study Guide for SC 14. The Discussion Guide is free for anyone who purchases 5 or more SC 14 Study Guides or a SC 14 DVD. (The cost is $5.00 to order the Discussion Guide by itself.) To get those resources, you can go here.

    To download a free sample of Week 1 from the Discussion Guide, go here.

    You can use this resource to lead  another individual, a small group, or a large class through the material in Secret Church 14. Each week contains the following sections:

    Watch/Fill In

    This Discussion Guide breaks the Secret Church 14 study into six sessions. The Watch/Fill In portion will tell you how much of the video to watch during each session and what portion of the study guide will be used during that session.

    Week at a Glance

    The Week at a Glance section will give you a general overview of the material you will be studying each week.

    Key Takeaways and Verses

    Every week, the Discussion Guide will provide a few key takeaways from the study as well as key verses to help you guide the discussion following the video portion of the study.

    Explaining Terms and Concepts

    This section of the Discussion Guide is a resource to unpack terms and concepts used during the Secret Church study.

    Questions for Discussion and Reflection

    Questions for discussion and reflection are provided to help your small group think through and apply the concepts studied each week.

    For Further Study

    Each week a list of resources is provided for the leader and participants for further study on the content covered in that session.

    — To learn more about Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life, go here.

     

  7. 7 Reasons Why We Boast in the Cross

    Posted on August 25th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    The following is from Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ.

    We should boast in the cross . . .

      1. Because the cross confronts us with who we once were. (Eph 2:1-5)

    • The cross reminds us of how horrible sin is.
    • The cross reminds us how humbling grace is.

      2. Because the cross comforts us with who we are now.

    • We are alive to God. (Rm 6:8-14)
      • Sacrifice: He died our death.
      • We were dead; now we live!
    • We have an advocate before God. (Rm 8:33-39; Heb 7:23-25)
      • Propitiation: He endured our condemnation
      • We were afraid; now we are friends!
    • We have access to God. (Heb 4:14-16)
      • Reconciliation: He suffered our separation
      • We were cast out; now we are invited in!
    • We are adopted by God. (Rm 8:15-17)
      • Redemption: He suffered our separation.
      • We were slaves; now we are now sons!

      3. Because the cross teaches us what it means to be saved.

    • The cross makes clear our justification. (Gal 2:15-20)
      • Christ died for us.
      • We are not working for righteousness, but from righteousness.
    • The cross makes possible our sanctification. (1 Cor 1:18)
      • Christ now lives in us.
      • We are not in debt to Christ; we are indwelt by Christ.
    • The cross makes certain our glorification. (Rm 8:28-30)
      • Christ is coming back for us.
      • We are not living for this world; we are living for the world to come.

      4. Because the cross shows us what it means to love. (1 Jn 3:16-18; Jn 13:35)

    • In the church . . . we unite around the cross.
    • Among the lost . . . we proclaim the cross.
    • Toward the poor . . . we embody the cross.

      5. Because the cross reminds us that our safety is not in this world.

    • We do not fear suffering. (Matt 10:26-31)
    • We are free to suffer. (Phil 1:29-30; Col 1:24)

      6. Because the cross keeps us from wasting our lives in this world. (Phil 3:7-11)

    • This world has nothing for us.
    • Christ is everything to us.

      7. Because the cross grips us with a vision of the world to come.

    • Jesus has identified the ultimate problem. (Rev 5:1)
      • We stand before a holy God hopeless.
      • We stand before a holy God helpless.
    • Jesus has paid the ultimate price. (Rev 5:5-6)
      • He is a conquering Lion.
      • He is a suffering Lamb.
    • Jesus has fulfilled the ultimate purpose. (Rev 5:7)
    • Jesus now deserves the ultimate praise. (Rev 5:8-14)
      • Our song will be new.
      • Our worship will be never-ending.
  8. “Survey of the New Testament” from the Olden Days

    Posted on August 19th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Have you ever thought something along these lines?

    “I wish I had an overview of (insert New Testament book) so that I didn’t have to jump into studying it blindly.”

    Our vault may contain just the remedy.

    Way back before people used the term millennial to refer to a generation, when iPods and cellphones were separate, and before simulcasts were in vogue . . . there was Secret Church 2: Survey of the New Testament. The aim of the study was simple, but not easy: complete an overview of the entire New Testament in mere hours. The mission was accomplished and, thankfully, this ancient bit of teaching has been preserved throughout the years on the Internet, through this link.

    Although you’re welcome to use the online material totally free of charge, you can also purchase the even more traditional, paper form of the study guide in our online store to enable good, old-fashioned note-taking with a pen or pencil–we even invite you to write in cursive. And should your Internet connection speed be stuck in 2007, our scribes have chronicled the night on digital video discs (DVDs) for your convenience.

    Don’t be afraid to take a step back in time and use this valuable resource. After all, when it comes to biblical interpretation, innovation is rarely the best policy . . .

  9. ANNOUNCEMENT: Secret Church 15 Date and Topic

    Posted on July 9th, 2014 by Jonathan

    It may seem like Spring is a long way off, but we want to give you plenty of time to make plans for the next Secret Church gathering/simulcast.

    Secret Church 15 will take place on April 24, 2015, two weeks after Easter. Tickets to the live gathering will go on sale this January, and simulcast registration opens on October 1, 2014. The topic will be Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.” Here’s the synopsis:

    The culture around us is constantly changing, and successive changes are often accompanied by significant challenges. So how does the call of Christ compel us to respond to these challenges? How does a Christian respond to the rapid rise of so-called same-sex marriage and the increasing acceptance of homosexuality? How does a Christian live in a world of sex slavery and rampant pornography, a world where babies are aborted and widows are abandoned? How does a Christian think in a culture of pervasive racial prejudice and limited religious liberty? What does a Christian do in a church that exalts prosperity amidst a world of extreme poverty? During this Secret Church, we will explore biblical foundations for answers to these questions and come to significant conclusions regarding how Christ calls every Christian to engage culture with a firm grip on the gospel in the church and a fervent passion for God’s glory in the world.

    We must not be ignorant of what the Bible says about some of the biggest issues Christians face today. So mark it out in your calendar; mention it to your friends and family; talk with your church leaders about potentially hosting a simulcast; begin making plans, whatever they are. Just make sure you don’t miss out on Secret Church 15.

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  10. Church and Kingdom

    Posted on May 19th, 2014 by Eric Parker

    In Secret Church 9, “The Body of Christ”, Pastor David helps us think through the difference between the Church and the Kingdom of God. To access this Secret Church it in its entirety, click here.