Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment 5

c. It is the frame of spirit that shows the habitual character of this grace of contentment. Contentment is not merely one act—just a flash in a good mood. You find many men and women who, if they are in a good mood, will be very quiet. But this will not hold. It is not the constant tenor of their spirits to be holy and gracious under affliction.

— Contentment is a gracious frame, opposed to natural quietness. Indeed, in contentment there is a compound of all graces. But now the gracious frame of spirit is in opposition to three things:

a. In opposition to the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are so constituted by nature that they are more still and quiet. Others are of a violent and hot constitution, and they are more impatient.

b. In opposition to a sturdy resolution. Some men through the strength of a sturdy resolution do not seem to be troubled, come what may. So they are not disquieted as much as others.

c. By way of distinction from the strength of natural (though unsanctified) reason that may quiet the heart in some degree. But now I say that a gracious frame of spirit is not merely a stillness of the body that comes from its natural constitution and temper, nor a sturdy resolution, nor the strength of reason.

You will ask, “In what way is the grace of contentment distinguished from all these?” Where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God! The difference is very clear: The one whose disposition is quiet is not disquieted as others are, but neither does he show any activeness of spirit to sanctify the name of God in his affliction. But, on the other hand, he whose contentment is of grace keeps his heart quiet with regard to vexation and trouble and at the same time is not dull or heavy, but very active to sanctify God’s name in the affliction that he is experiencing.

I will give you just one mark of the difference between a man or woman who is content in a natural way and one who is content in a spiritual way: Those who are content in a natural way when outward afflictions befall them are just as content when they commit sin against God. When they have outward crosses or when God is dishonored, it is all one to them whether they themselves are crossed or whether God is crossed. But a gracious heart that is contented with its own affliction will rise up strongly when God is dishonored.

— by Jeremiah Burroughs

Make Disciples, Not Converts? Really?

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Cliches are normal in any language. Sometimes they are able to capture a snippet of thought accurately, other times they muddy the waters of theological judgment. Of course, the impact of any cliche is purely subjective, but it seems that western Christianity is full of cliches that are just not biblically supported. Obviously from the title, you know which one I have in mind so I won’t waste time getting to the point.

Where in the bible do we even find a hint that a convert of Jesus Christ IS NOT a disciple? For the most part, I get it. I get that the idea here is that we focus on making true disciples rather than just a mere decision to follow Christ. However, the reality of the matter is, when a person repents of their sin and trusts in Jesus’ finished work to save them from their sin, if their regeneration is from the Holy Spirit and they exhibit a life that bears fruit and perseverance in Christian character and godliness, that person is not only a convert, but a disciple of Jesus Christ. The moment anyone is saved from their sin, they become a disciple. A follower of Jesus. A convert of Christ. The idea that we can gain a convert but not a disciple is not only unbiblical, but absurd.

One of the ways this cliche gains ground is from the Carnal Christian doctrine and Decisionism. Although they are distinct in some ways, both feed off each other. They propose that a person can become a Christian, yet still live carnally. Also, they teach that a person can have Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. Furthermore, you can make a decision to follow Christ, but still be a babe or carnal for most, if not all, of your christian life. If such a thing is believed and taught in your church, run.

For the most part, a person may have good intentions when stating this cliche, or they are ignorant of its presupposition. That happens. We want to try and provide someone with the benefit of the doubt as much as possible. Also, not everyone that states this cliche may come from a Carnal Christian perspective (at least not knowingly). But the main thrust here is to challenge even the possibility that someone can become a true convert to Christ, but not be a disciple. They may be a young disciple, a new disciple, or even a false disciple if they fall away. But, in the mean time, they are disciple nevertheless until proven otherwise. The same goes for the word convert. They are semanitcally interchangeable.

In Acts 3:19 Peter preached repentance and conversion. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas described to the Phoenicians and Syrians the conversion of the Gentiles. In Psalm 51, David mentioned teaching transgressor God’s ways and converting them (sounds like the Great Commission in a nutshell). In Acts 6:1 it mentions how disciples were multiplying. Acts 14 also mentions making many disciples, and they just started in the faith. And even verses that don’t use the words translated as “convert” or “disciple” in both old and new testaments still semantically explain what conversion and being a follower of Jesus/God is, and are an inclusive list which helps us to systematically understand that to turn from sin and turn to God is conversion and discipleship. Sure, it involves lifetime dedication, devotion, repeated repentance, and obedience to the one you profess to know and love. But it is still conversion and discipleship nevertheless. And to throw a wrench in this whole matter, even Judas was called a disciple when, in reality, he was not.

It would necessitate a bible study of multiple passages and words that would help illustrate my point further. Nevertheless, it is my hope that we grasp that this cliche doesn’t really demonstrate a biblical understanding of a follower of Christ. No matter how you slice it, a disciple is a convert and a convert is a disciple. They can be used interchangeably. And that is the beauty of language and words within language. There may be times when using the word “convert” describes an entry level understanding of just coming to faith in Christ, and other times when someone calls you a convert of Christ and you have been in the faith for years. The same goes for disciple. Some can call you a disciple of Christ and you just got saved yesterday, and you can be called a disciple after years of obedience to Him. It depends on the context and how the word is used. And Scripture illustrates this fact.

Therefore, if the Holy Spirit has indeed saved you, regenerated you, called you out of darkness into light, and you drop your nets, repent, and follow Christ, from that point forward you are a disciple and a convert to Christianity. However, remember that you can be a professing disciple/convert, but not truly be one. I pray the Lord opens our eyes to this truth.

-Until we go home

Facing a Task Unfinished

This is a great post about the hymn entitled, “Facing a Task Unfinished.” It can be found here at the Gospel Coalition website.

“In Matthew 24, atop the Mount of Olives, Jesus told his disciples, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Almost 2,000 years later, we’re still here, which is all the proof we need to keep on preaching the gospel, especially in places it’s yet to be heard.

Yet the gospel message isn’t restricted to sermons or tracts or books. Think of how you first absorbed the good news. For many of us, I imagine it wasn’t through a sermon, but a song.

Keith and Kristyn Getty are convinced of the vital role music plays in Christian discipleship. This is why they’ve spent much of the past two decades writing new hymns and restoring old ones—to help Christians and churches continue “making melody to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).

I corresponded with Keith Getty about their re-introduction of what he dubs the “greatest hymn on missions ever written,” how God uses music to shape Christians, other missions hymns your church should start singing, and more.


What’s the story behind the song “Facing a Task Unfinished”? Who wrote it and why?

Frank Houghton, an Anglican bishop and missionary to China, wrote the hymn in the 1930s. Originally it was written with a request to bring 200 more missionaries to China, which was a horrific period in Chinese history.

Facing a Task Unfinished” was a hymn I grew up loving. So I began talks with OMF (China Inland Mission) about a new version around the time of TGC’s Missions Conference in 2013. OMF then approached me last year and asked if we would do something for their 150th anniversary in Singapore, where OMF director Patrick Fung planned to introduce a new challenge and revitalized vision for missions.

We were so excited for the hymn itself. I think it’s the greatest hymn on missions ever written. The vital importance of missions is present throughout the entire song. So we put an agreement together to create a new copyright.

The hymn has fallen out of widespread use over the past century. How’d you come across it?

It was still sung in the churches I grew up in, but I think the hymn lacked two or three things it needed for popular appeal in today’s churches. First, it’s a Great Commission hymn, but it doesn’t give a chance to respond. Second, it was typically sung as a strophic four-part hymn, and with each new word came a new note—this tends to give guitarists sore hands! Third, the hymn doesn’t have an amazing sense of contour or journey, so by writing a new chorus we shaped it into more of a ballad. As a result, we were able to reinvent the song, still allowing people to sing Houghton’s original lyrics but with Kristyn’s new chorus.

You’ve talked about the “power of a hymn to galvanize a community, even in the most difficult of circumstances.” When it was originally written, in what ways did it accomplish that?

The amazing story of the song is that 200 missionaries were able to go out to China. The wider story of China is perhaps the most incredible story of Christian growth in history. The church has grown from fewer than 750,000 Christians in the 1930s to more than 80 million today. My wife and I always comment that when we sing the hymn, it clears our minds of things that are, by comparison, irrelevant.

How do you hope its re-introduction will continue that tradition?

Houghton understood that what we sing affects what we think, how we feel, what we pray for, and, ultimately, every decision we make in life. It is my prayer that by singing this song Christians around the world will get more excited about both music and mission, but also about living the mission of God on our own doorsteps and in our own kitchens, as well as around the world.

I imagine few churches sing hymns about cross-cultural missions—not for lack of desire, but lack of worthy choices. Could you point our readers toward a few missions hymns that are underrated and under-sung?

When Don Carson asked us to do the music for TGC’s Missions Conference, we wrote a song called “Lift High the Name of Jesus.” Over the years, Stuart Townend and I have written hymns inspired by different key missional figures. Our love for Martin Luther’s hymns inspired “O Church Arise.” Our friendship with Operation Mobilization and its prayer book led to us write “Across the Lands.” We also wrote a song called “Hear the Call of the Kingdom.”

The missions hymns I sang growing up were mostly gospel songs from the 19th- and 20th-century worldwide missions movement, which weren’t exactly the most timeless hymns. “All Over the World,” “For My Sake and the Gospel’s, Go,” and “We Have a Story to Tell the Nations” are a few I grew up singing. Other traditional hymns I sang in more choral-based churches include “Who Is on the Lord’s Side” or, my favorite, a hymn called “Go Forth and Tell” (set to the English choral tune “Tell Out My Soul”).

Let’s say a pastor or music director wants his church to start singing this song in their corporate gatherings. What does he need to do next?

It’s simple. If they visit our website, we’ve got everything they’ll need: lead sheets, chord charts, orchestrations, as well as translations into other languages. In fact, this coming Sunday, February 21, we’re asking any church who’s interested to sing “Facing a Task Unfinished.” Our goal is over 10,000 churches across every continent!