Part 2 of Saved From… To… For…
This post is by no means comprehensive. However, over the past couple of years, God has deepened my love for the Gospel through him teaching me on the points above. It is my prayer that through a better understanding of biblical salvation, perhaps we can minimize statistics such as “twice baptized.” I also pray that a better understanding will drive a never-ending gratitude for the Gospel and fuel a quicker obedience to the commands of Christ. Finally, I pray that God would be glorified in our words and deeds as we live lives worthy of the Gospel and go to all the peoples of the earth and herald the good news about Jesus. May we never neglect so great a salvation.
Guest Blog by Josh Reed –Josh is a follower of Christ, husband, father of 4, an intern at North Wake Church (A church planting church, check out their plants in Tampa and Washington D.C.), and a student at SEBTS pursuing MDIV in Christian Ministry. Josh is considering doing church planting either nationally or internationally.
Saved From, To, For…
I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist church. I walked the aisle at the age of 8, prayed a prayer asking Jesus into my heart, took baptism shortly after and lived like hell for 16 years. Even though I do not see that as the time I was born again, even from an early age, I knew I did not want to go to hell (at least cognitively, but there was a lingering Jer. 17:9 problem in my heart). At the age of 24, newly married, it was time my wife and I “got back in church.” (Still not quite sure what that means, but we had embraced the lingo and the action. Proved to be a good decision!) We began attending a large church and a young married Sunday School class. The pastor and teacher clearly explained the Scriptures regarding the person and work of Christ and man’s need for salvation. After 9-10 months of sitting under deep conviction, I repented of my sin and trusted Christ to save me from the wrath of God due me because of my sin. I was baptized and became a member of the local church. At that moment, that was about all I knew regarding salvation.
Over the next year, my wife and I grew closer to the people in our Sunday School class. Our teacher met up with me somewhat regularly and began to challenge me regarding sin and holiness, being a faithful husband, and most importantly, spending time with Jesus. Then the Lord saw fit to bring a man into our Sunday School class to co-teach it. This brother and his family had served in a South Asian country and was working for a missions agency focused on church-planting all over the world. He began to disciple me. I count this as one God’s greatest acts of kindness to me. Even though I could not articulate it at that time, I was experiencing “body life.” I had been saved to the people of God.
But one thing this brother emphasized (and still does!) is that Christ did not save us to sit. People need to hear the Gospel and see how it changes those who trust Christ. We read through the book of Romans verse by verse for a year and half with another brother. During this time Christ began to use this brother to encourage me to see my office as a mission field. We went to India twice together, which ironically, is where I began to learn how to share the Gospel. Upon returning from India, the Spirit of God began to move me to share and serve the people in my office. The people at the restaurant. My friends I grew up with. Through all of these experiences (and many more) Jesus was teaching me that when he saved me, he saved me for the mission of God.
Over the course of the last couple of years, through God’s amazing grace via 1) reading and rereading the biblical narrative 2) going ‘behind the scenes’ of a church in a pastoral internship and seeing the intentions and theology that drives its methodology, while seeking to make disciples in the community/world 3) multiple conversations with multiple brothers within the community of faith 4) proclaiming the Gospel to unbelievers and 5) reflecting on my story, God has been revealing a portrait of salvation that is much more robust than an ‘event-based’ understanding of salvation. Many of us have come to articulate this as the “From-To-For.” Perhaps biblical salvation can be better understood and lived out if we think in a comprehensive,God-centered way: We are saved by Christ from the wrath of God, to the people of God, for the mission of God.
In the final part, Josh will explore more in-depth this idea of being saved from the Wrath of God, to the People of God, for the Mission of God…
Guest blog by Pastor Dwayne Milioni: Milioni is the lead pastor at Open Door Baptist Church in North Raleigh. Under Milioni’s leadership Open Door has trained and sent out leaders for seven church plants (check out their locations). He has also led in the formation of the North American Church Planting Foundation, a church-planting network that facilitates church planting through local churches. And he is the pastor of B21’s Nathan Akin and has had a tremendous influence on him.
Hope for NAMB
I recently had the privilege of spending several hours with the Kevin Ezell, the new president of our North American Mission Board. In sum, our time together was everything I had hoped for and more. As a pastor who is infatuated with the local church and loves church planting almost as much, I immediately connected with Dr. Ezell. Upon entering the NAMB building, I began to recall the many stories (some I assume were rumored) of NAMB’s mis-management our cooperative dollars, fudging on numbers of actual church plants, and the evident misdirection of agency priorities away from church planting, Forgive me, but I’ve been a little skeptical.
Add to the fact that I tend to be ”anti-political” in denominational affairs and have not had much success in building relationships with local associations and state conventions. Much of this is my fault for not seeing much value in “playing ball” with organizations that seem to take more than they offer to give. Still, my disappointment is minor compared to friends who have been faithful servants of our denomination and who have labored to see Southern Baptist agencies and state conventions do the right things and do them in the right ways.
I found Kevin Ezell to be a strikingly different leader. Immediately after assuming office, he began to do the right things the right way. Being directed by our recent convention to promote the GCR (the Great Commission Resurgence), president Ezell has begun his work as a “man under authority.” With a broken heart, he told us how he has had to make deep cuts into NAMB’s staff in order to reduce their budget. It takes integrity to clean up your own house before you ask someone to clean up theirs. Ezell is setting an example for other Baptist agencies and state conventions. I pray they will follow suit.
One of the most striking statements made at our meeting came when Dr. Ezell said, “a pastor would never be allowed to do what has been allowed to take place here at NAMB,” As a local church pastor that struggles to stretch every dollar given, I really connected with this comment and felt glad that we now have a leader who serves with a pastor’s heart.
After asking Dr. Ezell what he wants the “New NAMB” to look like, I was excited to hear his desire to see millions of dollars diverted to church planting. He also wants to partner with key churches to plant churches in critical areas of North America. I asked how a local church that has been planting churches apart from the traditional path might get involved and he said that what we are doing at Open Door through our North American Church Planting Foundation will serve a model for church planting within the cooperative program. This comment really encouraged me, not just because it came from our NAMB president, but for first time I felt that our approach to planting churches via a network rather than directly through a local association and state convention was acceptable. I left feeling hopeful and more a committed Southern Baptist.
I’ve heard the mantra, “We exist to serve you,” from agency officials more times than I care to remember without seeing much application. At the new NAMB, they are really trying to live this out. Change is difficult, especially when bureaucracy has set it and the word is still out if NAMB will be able reinvent itself. After meeting with Kevin Ezell, NAMB has at least one more pastor’s support, encouragement and prayers.
Guest blogged by Lindsay Swartz and Melanie Coppenger
The last session of the conference was a culmination of excitement over the Truth about womanhood being taught this weekend. Some women were hearing these truths for the first time, while other weary saints were being refreshed in the battle. Following a casual panel discussion of six women, Nancy Leigh DeMoss addressed the ladies one last time.
She began by declaring that Revive Our Hearts is not just about one True Women event, but about believing God for revival and a quiet, counter-cultural movement of true women who go into the world and live out God’s design for womanhood.
DeMoss then taught from Judges 4 and 5, giving the account of Deborah, a woman who fulfilled her God-given mission. She was not a weak or wimpy woman, but one who exerted strong, godly influence in a way that was distinctly feminine. Most notedly, she encouraged men to fulfill their God-given roles.
She explained that Judges 4:1-3 sets the stage for her story. These verses describe a cycle of Israel that is repeated at least seven times throughout the book of Judges. She used four words to describe this cycle: Disobedience, Discipline, Desperation, and Deliverance.
Once “again” in this passage, God’s covenant people abandoned Him, marking a period of spiritual apostasy, backsliding, and decline. As a result, God brought his divine discipline by giving His people over into captivity. DeMoss explained that this often takes place in our lives, homes, and churches. One of the marks of His discipline during the time of the judges was the lack of strong male leadership. She compared this to our day, stating that God has given us over to this in many respects because we, as women, have taken the reigns of control.
She pointed out that it took the Israelites 20 years to reach the point of desperation, coming to the end of themselves and crying out to the Lord in humility. She then posed the question, “How long will it take in our nation, your home, your heart?’ However, when we do cry out to God, He brings deliverance. In Israel’s case, He used Deborah, a wife and judge, to encourage male leadership that would lead Israel into victorious battle.
Several characteristics are important about Deborah. She did not neglect her home in her ministry of God’s Word. In addition, there is no evidence that Deborah sought to be a self-appointed leader. Instead, God raised her up and she used her influence to promote, encourage, and cultivate male leadership. She was not driven by a desire for power, control, position, or recognition. This is seen in her encouragement to Barak in Judges 4:14 when she asked, “Does not the Lord go out before you?” DeMoss pointed out that she could have demeaned or emasculated him, but she chose to encourage him to trust in the promises of God, instead.
DeMoss also said it is important to note that God’s normal pattern is to use men as the primary providers, protectors, and leaders for His people. The same is true for our day. Biblical womanhood is at the heart of influencing a return to this model. In fact, Pastor John Piper has said that the “heart of mature femininity is a freeing inclination to affirm, receive, and nurture leadership in worthy men.”
There is a vicious battle going on in our day over God’s design for manhood and womanhood. God has brought up Nancy Leigh DeMoss and many others to champion God’s Word on this topic. In addition, he is moving in the hearts of women across the world for such a time as this. DeMoss stated that He will move heaven and earth, if necessary, to defend His people and glorify His Name. Yet, as she reminded us, the battle comes before the rest that victory brings.
By God’s grace, our resolve is that of the hymn-writer who wrote, “Though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us!” May God be pleased to triumph his Truth through these 6,000+ women by our glad embrace of biblical femininity. We know the Word of God to be true in this battle, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
There were so many additional moments during the conference where the work and encouragement of God’s Spirit was obvious. In particular, were the testimonies last night of two women who have experienced God’s transforming and sustaining grace.
First, we saw a short video testimony from Kim Wagner. Mrs. Wagner, wife of LeRoy, the Pastor of Dayspring Church in Hot Spring, Arkansas, has taught in Christian schools, is a women’s Bible study teacher and conference speaker, and is a frequent panel guest on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy Leigh DeMoss said they discovered through evaluations that Wagner’s testimony was the single most impacting moment of the previous TW ’10 conference.
Mrs. Wagner is a pastor’s wife who struggled with understanding and living out true womanhood. Admittedly, she frequently gave into the temptation to belittle and disrespect her husband. In fact, it created such a struggle in their marriage that her husband sunk into a crippling depression.
But God, in His grace, opened her eyes to His design for her heart toward her husband through a small book written by Mrs. DeMoss. Her heart was immediately transformed and, over time, the trust of her husband was won back and her family was restored. Today, God’s glory in magnificently on display through the peace of Christ that reigns in their family.
As a result of this testimony, many married ladies were convicted of their sin and stood to pray, consecrating themselves to be faithful in marriage and respecting their husbands. You can view Mrs. Wagner’s full testimony here: http://www.truewoman.com/?id=1191.
In addition, we had the immense benefit of hearing from Joni Erickson Tada. Mrs. Tada is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization that promotes ministry for the disability community. She has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in her teens. In addition, she has struggle with chronic pain for the last several years and has recently been diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. As a result, Mrs. Tada was not able to join us in person, but sent a message via video.
Mrs. Tada, full of humor and gentleness, used Hebrews 12:1-4 to encouraged us to look to Jesus in the midst of our trials; we have not yet resisted sin or struggles to the point of shedding our blood. She said she remembers this truth when she feels like she is going to crack from constant suffering.
She also spurred us on to think about Ephesians 3:10, remembering that the way we respond to our pain declares something about God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. She remembers this truth, especially at night when she feels claustrophobic because of the inability to move, and is reminded that she has a cosmic responsibility to glorify God in the midst of hardship.
Mrs. Tada’s deep joy in Christ is evident from the moment you see her. Her testimony was steeped in Scripture and full of hope in her future with Christ. Because of her love for her Savior, she has chosen to cling to and live out God’s design for true womanhood in the midst of trials that threaten to eclipse His truth. Yet, as C.S. Lewis said, her suffering is a megaphone declaring God’s perfect love and sovereignty to thousands of women.
Mrs. Wagner and Mrs. Tada’s testimonies were particularly powerful because they demonstrated to us that God’s Spirit can transform our hearts and minds, we are able to obey Him in every season, and the good fight of the faith is worth it because Christ is our reward. Praise the Lord for giving us such a faithful cloud of witnesses here on earth that helps us to press on to know and serve the Lord until we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
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