One Another

I had the privilege of spending this past weekend in Boston with Pastor Kevin Sanders, his family, and church family. In the Sanders’ home, I noticed a list sampling some of the “one another” passages from the New Testament. I thought to myself; “Wow! What a good and healthy practice, to be thinking on these passages often.”

I offer them here and ask you to think on these verses and God’s call to you as a church member, to love your fellow church members. (By the way, it would be near impossible to practice these “one anothers” outside of being committed to a local church.)


  • “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 ESV)


  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV)


  • “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 ESV)


  • “… with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” (Ephesians 4:2 ESV)


  • “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19 ESV)


  • “… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 ESV)


  • “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 ESV)


  • “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 ESV)


  • “Love one another with brotherly affection.” (Romans 12:10a ESV)


  • “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)


  • “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)


  • “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9 ESV)


  • “…exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13 ESV)


  • “Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10b ESV)


  • “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9 ESV)


  • “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)


  • “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 ESV)


  • … so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:5 ESV)


  • “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16 ESV)


  • “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus…” (Romans 15:5 ESV)


  • “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the Flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 ESV)


  • “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)


  • “… submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21 ESV)

In a blog post, Ray Ortlund offered some “one anothers” you don’t find in Scripture that are worth reflecting on as well. He wrote:

…is also striking to notice the “one anothers” that do not appear there (in the New Testament).

For example, sanctify one another, humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, sacrifice one another, shame one another, marginalize one another, exclude one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins…

Let’s strive, by God’s grace and His guidance given in Scripture, to love ONE ANOTHER well.

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The Christian Counterculture

In the previous post, I wrote of how the church is to be a counterculture. This week I finished reading Nancy Pearcey’s recent book, Love Thy Body. After noting how the early church was countercultural within its Greek and Roman contexts, which were contexts “of social chaos that results when sexuality is untethered form marriage and family,” Pearcey challenged the church today. She said, “Christians will once again need to muster their courage to be radically countercultural…they will once again need to be prepared to minister to the victims…wounded by the sexual revolution.” (pg. 190)

She then described what an apologetic, motivated by “profound compassion” as historian Michael Green has said, looks like. Pearcey wrote:

The reason (Christians) speak out on moral issues should not be because their beliefs are being threatened or because they feel “offended.” They should erase the word offended from their vocabulary. After all, Christians are called to share in the offense of the cross. This is not about us.

Christians must make it clear that they are speaking out because they genuinely care about people. No matter how compelling the case for a biblical ethic, people rarely change their minds based on intellectual arguments alone. They are even less likely to change if all they hear is moral condemnation. People must be drawn in by a vision that attracts them by offering a more appealing, more life-affirming worldview. Christians must present biblical morality in a way that reveals the beauty of the biblical view of the human person so that people actually want it to be true. And they must back up their words with actions that treat people with genuine dignity and worth. (pg. 190, emphasis original)

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“Talking Points”

Recently in a sermon, I mentioned the importance of the church being a counterculture for those who will be seeking refuge after the idols touted by the world fail them. When this happens many will turn to an alternative idol, but there will be those who will be weary of sorting through the rubble of idol collapse after idol collapse. These refugees will be seeking some truly Good News that offers the Rock of Ages on which they can securely rest their lives without fearing yet another collapse.

The church has that Good News and it’s the Gospel which points to Christ, the Rock of Ages.  As we proclaim the Gospel, the fruit of the Gospel should be evident in our lives. This fruit gives both credibility to our words and adorns our words. It’s Gospel Fruit in the life of the church that provides the counterculture that will be the refuge many will seek (are seeking).

It’s important that we, as the church, think well about difficult issues facing our surrounding culture. One important aspect of thinking well is thinking with others. Books can provide good conversation partners. I want to introduce you to a helpful series of books (booklets, really) by Pastor Vaughan Roberts. The series is entitled, “Talking Points.” The purpose of these short booklets is to introduce difficult issues and possible responses by the church. However, their purpose presses further in that they are intended to then be discussed with others. Let me introduce you to the first three books of the series.

Transgender (74 pages)

“…the Bible brings great news to our culture with its identity crisis. And great news for people who are trying to work out who they are. It’s wonderfully freeing to know that we live in a world made by a loving God, where identity is not something we’ve somehow got to create for ourselves. Our identity is a given. We’re human beings, made in the image of God; we are creatures, not machines. (pg. 38)

Assisted Suicide (62 pages)

We may lose our job, and feel worthless. We are not, because our value does not depend on what we do; it depends on who God has made us. We may fail an exam, or not find a marriage partner, or suffer from a debilitating illness—and think we are worthless. We are not, because our value does not depend on our intelligence, or ability, or marital status, or physical ability; it depends on God, who made us and loves us.

This should also make us see others differently. The most helpless infant, the most vulnerable and incapable disabled person, the most dependent old person who has lost their memory and their ability to cope—all of them have lives that are truly valuable because they are made in the image of God. (pgs. 39-40)

The Porn Problem (80 pages)

Sex is not simply recreational; it is profoundly relational. (pg. 23, emphasis original)

Porn, which is by its nature selfish and unrelational, not only demeans sex; it also harms us. (pg. 24, emphasis original)

Porn not only demeans sex; it also cheapens people. (pg. 29)

Remember, the fundamental problem that causes slavery to porn is not our psychology or biology, but our sin. And to counter that, we can’t rely on self-help. We need a savior. Only Jesus Christ can truly set us free. (pgs. 46-47)

These books are certainly not exhaustive and you are sure to find points you wish to nuance with greater precision, but these are important issues that need to be discussed. And discussion is exactly what these books are intended to spark…so, take up and read.

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A Final Exhortation

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (7:24)

On this past Sunday, we concluded our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Sinclair Ferguson offers this final exhortation in his book on the Sermon. He wrote:

What does it mean to build on a solid foundation? It means more than hearing God’s word taught and becoming familiar with it, or even agreeing with it. We can do all that and still be a spiritual fool (7:26). Obedience to Christ’s word distinguishes the wise man from his foolish neighbor. (pg. 170, emphasis original)

He then concluded:

…Jesus did not preach it (the Sermon) in order to be admired for his homiletical skills. He preached it to produce obedience. He preached it so that the authority people recognized in his preaching might be realized in their lives. (pg. 171, emphasis original)

Ferguson’s final line is so compressed and rich it’s worth repeating:

(Jesus preached the Sermon) so that the authority people recognized in his preaching might be realized in their lives.

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority…” (7:28-29a)

How will we respond? Amazement? Agreement? Admiration? Mere Hearing? May we hear and believe with the Word taking root, bearing the fruit of obedience.

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Denying Self

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” -Matthew 16:24

In the sermon on Sunday, I offered the following statements from Sam Allberry on this call from Jesus. Allberry states:

Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behavior here and there. It is saying ‘No’ to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. (pg. 9)

He further explained:

the gospel demands everything of all of us. If someone thinks the gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started following Jesus at all. (pg. 10, emphasis mine)

Christian, where is denying self (or dying to self) lacking in your life? Are there areas in your life where the gospel has “slotted” in “without causing any major adjustments”?

  • Is sin reigning in a particular area of your life because you aren’t denying yourself, but are instead gratifying the flesh?

Christian, we have great freedom in Christ and have been called to use that freedom to serve others. (Gal. 5:13-14)

  • Are you denying yourself in order to serve others (fellow church members, spouse, children, neighbors, coworkers, etc.)?
  • Here is a quick test: Serving requires sacrifice and sacrifice costs you something (time, effort, physical/mental/emotional energy, money, etc.). If you don’t have many costs, then you aren’t doing much serving (denying of self).
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Beware of the “Death-trap”

As we have been studying through the Sermon on the Mount, we have seen Jesus continually confront religious hypocrisy. C.S. Lewis offers, what I believe to be, a good analysis of the pride that feeds religious hypocrisy. In Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote:

How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. (pg. 124)

Don’t miss Lewis’ caution:

And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. (pg. 124, emphasis mine)

 What is a sign that we may be caught in this trap? He continued:

Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. (pgs. 124-125)

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Encouragements from Sibbes

Let Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) encourage you, here are some quotes from his work, The Bruised Reed.

But if we have this for a foundation truth, that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us, there can be no danger in thorough dealing (with sin). (pgs. 12-13)

A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope. (pg. 14)

Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look on ourselves as elected to be ‘holy without blame’ (Eph. 1:4). Let us look on our imperfect beginning only to enforce further striving to perfection, and to keep us in a low opinion of ourselves. Otherwise, in case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those he intends to fit for himself. Christ values us by what we shall be…We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing to be so. (pg. 17)

It would be a good contest amongst Christians, one to labour to give no offence, and the other to labour to take none. The best men are severe to themselves, tender over others. (pg. 23)

Sometimes a Christian has such confused thoughts that he can say nothing but, as a child, cries, ‘O Father’, not able to express what he needs, like Moses at the Red Sea. These stirrings of the spirit touch the heart of God and melt him into compassion towards us, when they come from the Spirit of adoption, and from a striving to be better. (pgs. 50-51)

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Adorn Your Faith

C.H. Spurgeon wrote:

Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers, and saints. Above all, it is the truth of God, against which all the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. (Foreword to the Baptist Confession of Faith)

Two things we should heed:

  • “Be not ashamed of your faith…it is the truth of God”
  • “Let your lives adorn your faith…”
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Root Idols

This past Sunday, we spent some time thinking about Idolatry. Idolatry is elevating a good thing to the status of ultimate in our lives. Some say it is making a good thing a god thing in our lives. If you’ve heard me talk about idolatry, you have most likely heard me reference Tim Keller in saying that idols are things we love, trust, and obey. (see Counterfeit Gods, pg. xxi)

An Idol is something that we love because we trust that it is going to give our life significance, value, and worth. Therefore, we obey our idol(s).

You may say, “How do we obey our idols?” Let’s say you have made your work/career into an idol. You love your work because you trust that it will fill your life with significance. Therefore, you must obey it as ultimate and meet all the demands of your work: email, phone calls, over-time, and never resting on weekends. Another way to say “obey” is to think of it in terms of sacrifice. We will make sacrifices for our gods (idols) in worship to them. So, again, if you worship your job/career you will sacrifice family relationships giving all your best time and energy to advancing. You will sacrifice your integrity to close the deal and move up the ladder.

Now, career is certainly not the only potential idol. We can make idols out of family, relationships, material possessions, sex, health, politics, being needed, recognition, hobbies…the list could go on and on.

Yet, something else that I have found helpful from Tim Keller is what he calls root or foundational idols. He primarily identifies four: comfort, approval, control, and power. While there are many surface idols, I do think it is helpful to look at these root idols. When we can identify them in our lives we can see how these root idols bud and bear the bitter fruit of a variety of sins. Here is a quick look at the root/foundational idols. (The following breakdown of these root idols comes primarily from Keller’s Understanding Your Heart handout. I have slightly tweaked some words and added some supplemental sentences.)

  • Comfort (privacy, lack of stress, and freedom)
    • The price you are willing to pay: Reduced Productivity
    • Greatest fear: Stress and Demands
    • People around you often feel: Neglected/Hurt
      • Your ultimate quest for comfort causes you to neglect relationships and responsibilities. Your primary focus is you!
    • Your problem emotion: Boredom
  • Approval (affirmation, love, relationship)
    • The price you are willing to pay: Less Independence
    • Greatest Fear: Rejection
    • People around you often feel: Smothered
      • Others feel smothered because you want more from them than what they can give.
    • Your problem emotion: Cowardice
      • You can’t speak the truth in love to others because you fear rejection.
  • Control (self-discipline, certainty, standards)
    • The price you are willing to pay: Loneliness and Spontaneity
    • Greatest Fear: Uncertainty
    • People around you often feel: Condemned
      • If they would only get their act together or have been better prepared that wouldn’t have happened to them.
    • Your problem emotion: Worry
      • Stuck in a vicious cycle of: worry – seeking greater control – fail – leading to more worry – seeking greater control…
  • Power (success, winning, influence)
    • The price you are willing to pay: Burdened and Responsibility
      • You will take on whatever will gain you more power and influence, thus piling up burdens and responsibility.
    • Greatest Fear: Humiliation
      • You cannot lose…you must win and be the best at everything!
    • People around you often feel: Used
    • Your problem emotion: Anger

The purpose of this is not to evaluate someone else’s heart, but your own. Of course there comes a time as we walk together and help one another follow Jesus to speak the truth in love to one another. However, let us first give ample attention to our own hearts as we stand in Christ. Take some time and slowly yet prayerfully work through the above, asking the Lord to reveal the idols in your life. When the idols come to light, seek to walk, by God’s grace, in faith and repentance (see this post on repentance).

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” -Psalm 139:23-24

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Christian, Don’t Patronize Sin

J.C. Ryle encourages Christians to make war on our sin.

Look within, each one of you. Examine your own hearts. Do you see there any habit or custom which you know to be wrong in the sight of God? If you do, delay not a moment in attacking it. Resolve at once to lay it aside. (Thoughts for Young Men, pg. 55)

Now, before we continue, let me point back to the danger he emphasized earlier in the book on delaying in attacking sin. He said:

Habits are like stones rolling down hill,–the further they roll, the faster and more ungovernable is their course…Custom is the nurse of sin. Every fresh act of sin lessens fear and remorse, hardens our hearts, blunts the edge of conscience, and increases our evil inclination. (pg. 11)

With this powerful imagery in mind let’s return to Ryle’s comments we began with. He continued:

Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely, as an allowed sin. It may be a little one, but it is not the less dangerous for all that. A small leak will sink a great ship, and a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin in like manner will ruin an immortal soul. Take my advice and never spare a little sin. (pg. 55, emphasis original)

I’ll leave you with these two lines from Pastor Ryle:

Put up with a few little sins, and you will soon want a few more. (pg. 57)

Whatever the world may please to say, there are no little sins. (pg. 57)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” –Romans 8:13

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