The Sovereign Grace Pastors College welcomes Dr. John D. Woodbridge this week as our guest Church History II instructor. Over the last decade the Pastors College has greatly benefitted from his outstanding instruction. And through his many visits he has become well loved by the Sovereign Grace staff.
Day-by-day, Dr. Woodbridge serves as the research professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he has taught since 1970. In the past, among many things, he has served as a senior editor at Christianity Today.
As impressive as details are themselves, they comprise only a slice of a very interesting life. Here are a few other facts we’ve learned about this man over the years:
- Woodbridge has lectured on French history, in French, at the Sorbonne in Paris.
- Woodbridge taught himself to play the piano and in 1965 he wrote a score he titled "Sans Vous" ("Without You"). The score was ostensibly stolen by a composer and used in the 1983 TV mini-series "The Winds of War." The theme song sounded oddly familiar to Woodbridge when he heard it. In 1991 a federal jury in L.A. determined that the composer had in fact plagiarized his song. High praise! He still composes (but not regularly).
- Woodbridge is a descendant of Jonathan Edwards.
- His grandmother was a first cousin to Woodrow Wilson and introduced Woodrow to his first wife.
- His father, Charles, served on the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in the very early days and taught church history.
- His father was a personal friend of J. Gresham Machen and served as one of Machen's trial lawyers. In his will, Machen left Charles with money and his personal copy of the trial records.
- His father led a World War II hero to the Lord. As thanks, the officer gave him Hitler's personal pistol, taken from the Fuhrer's apartment in Munich. With Maurice Possley, a Pulitzer winning journalist, Woodbridge wrote and released the book Hitler in the Crosshairs: A G.I.'s Story of Faith and Courage about the soldier who had accepted the suicidal mission to take out Hitler in his Munich apartment. The pistol given to Charles was later stolen from the Woodbridge family home in Savannah, Georgia, was sold around, and is presently in a private collection in California.
The Woodbridge family history is remarkable as Dr. Woodbridge’s gifts as a historian himself. We are grateful to have his experience and expertise in the Pastors College once again this week.
Years ago we took the opportunity between classes to discuss matters of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture — one area of his expertise (among many!). He is the author of three valuable books on this topic:
In the studio we asked him:
- What threats to Scripture most concern you today?
- What are the pastoral implications of the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture?
- Describe for us how inerrancy has been debated in church history.
- Who are some pastors in church history who functionally modeled a high view of Scripture?
- For a pastor who lacks a conviction about the power and authority of Scripture, what would you say to him?
You can download or listen to the 15-minute audio recording here:
June 18, 2013 by
Categories: Resources | eBook
Have you ever been confused about the topic of spiritual warfare? What is this battle the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians chapter 6? And, what resources does God provide for us to deploy in this warfare?
The following ebooklet titled, "A Call to Arms" by Jeff Purswell addresses these questions and many others while calling us to stand firm in what God has done for us, what God has done in us, and what God promises to do for us.
A Call To Arms (276.19 kb)
This ebooklet is based on Jeff Purswell's second general session message at our 2012 Pastors Conference. You can download that message (right click), or listen here:
June 17, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Video
This coming fall, Andrew Kalvelage will plant Covenant Community Church in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Andrew is a 2012 graduate of our Pastors College and is currently completing a church planting residency at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where the church plant will be sent from.
In the below video, Andrew shares some more details about the vision and history behind this church plant. If you're interested in this church plant, fill out the church planting interest form.
June 14, 2013 by
Categories: Articles | Prayer
A Spiritual Father
Thirty-two years ago, I met a man who would change my life. His name was Harold Burchett—a man who had pastored many fruitful churches in the New England states. In the providence of God, he ventured north into Canada and took on a dying church as its pastor. He used to say that he felt he was mainly a revivalist. Well, God certainly used him to revive that old church and bring it to life!
I distinctly remember how about four to six people attended the prayer meetings when he arrived, and most of the praying was for the aches and pains of those who were praying. Fast-forward two or three years, and over 100 people filled the church prayer room each week with earnest prayers for revival, the lost, wayward believers, and spiritual renewal. The meeting pulsated with life and became “the engine room” of the multiple ministries that the church developed—particularly outreach initiatives into the surrounding community. The church ended up giving about 30% of its annual offerings to mission-related ministry.
Harold Burchett took an interest in me and started to meet with me one-to-one. He was the first person I ever met who preached and discipled “cross-centered.” He taught me all the major doctrines and how they related to the gospel and to daily living. He taught me much about the close connection between prayer and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But most of all, I just loved listening to him pray. The atmosphere in the room changed when he spoke to God. He prayed with such an authority and yet with such reverence! Listening to him pray deeply challenged my casual view and practice of prayer.
During those years, he taught me many things about prayer by example and through careful teaching. One of these was what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. I have included a short piece he wrote for the prayer manual Take Words With You below. I hope it encourages you as much as it has encouraged me over the years!
What Does It Mean to Pray in Jesus’ Name?
By Harold Burchett
A key phrase that opens to us the heart of the New Testament is: “In Christ” or “In Him.” Related to this is our present subject, “Praying in Jesus’ Name.” Grasp that truth and you can approach the God of the universe with a confidence befitting to his own child.
A personal experience, back in WWII, opened my eyes as to what this means. I stood there in a very busy jewelry store in my hometown hoping for attention from the owner himself. My request was a very special one—dear to me and a challenge for such a busy place. “Be sure and tell him that you are my son,” my father had instructed me, “or he might not take on your project.”
I was a sailor on a very short leave, and I held in my hand a unique replica of the destroyer I had just left in the Pacific. So much I wanted to have this pin made into a tie clasp that I could wear after my discharge! “You are Mr. Burchett’s sailor son?” the proprietor asked with warm enthusiasm. “I’ll see what I can do: Come right back this afternoon!”
And back I came! After another warm greeting, he held up the finished product. My precious pin mounted between gold chains attaching to a tie clasp. “Wow! Now what will that cost?” I gasped. “Oh,” he said, “there is no charge. You see, your Father is my friend!”
Then and there I learned what it means to approach a benefactor in the name of another. That is what Jesus tells us to do—going in his name to the Father who loves him so: “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:23-24
When we take time to align ourselves in this manner with the Father in heaven, in the name of his only beloved Son, God binds himself to hear us. This arrangement shakes us free from our tendency to make selfish, sinful requests. We ask what is pleasing and in alignment with our Savior’s mind. Lining up our hearts with his becomes a key issue in making intercessions with traction and power.
This requires study and practice. As John 15:7 instructs us: Position yourself in the Savior, using his Word, and you will be on your way to new power in prayer. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7
*Dr. Harold E. Burchett has pastored churches in New England, Virginia, and Ontario and has been a seminary professor. He is a graduate of Gordon College (B.A.), Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (D.Min.). He has published “People Helping People: How Every Christian Can Counsel” (Moody Press, 1979) and “Last Light: Staying True through the Darkness of Alzheimer’s” (NavPress, 2002), as well as “Spiritual Life Studies: A Manual for Personal Edification” (1980) and “Healing for the Church: New Life for You and Your Church” (1989). More recent books are “Bringing Christ Back” (2006) and “Wisdom Words” (2008). www.bcbministries.com
Tim has spent half his life in Asia. He grew up in India, the son of missionary parents, and after returning to Canada for several years, he moved to Japan where he was involved in church planting for 12 years. He has been the pastor of Sovereign Grace Church Toronto since its inception 8 years ago. Tim is married with 4 children aged 18 to 25.
Church plants are exciting. The idea of building a God-glorifying church that reaches a community with the gospel of Jesus brings joy. A church replant differs in that it starts with an existing people being revitalized in their commission, but has the same exciting goal: reaching the lost and grounding God’s people in His gospel for His glory. In previous posts, you heard about the Sovereign Grace replant in the Annapolis area. On Sunday, June 9th New Covenant Church of Arnold (NCC) celebrated the beginning of our new life of gospel ministry to our community. Here are some highlights from the day to encourage you in how God is at work in our family of churches.
A mark of grace at NCC is the widespread commitment to serving and creating a context for fellowship. This was clearly on display as members jumped into the work of planning the celebration. As the day began to unfold the activity outside the building for the post-service picnic was matched by a tangible excitement inside. Our singing was a picture of the unity we experience within our family of churches; members of NCC and friends supporting the replant served and worshipped side-by-side. With one voice we exalted His great name. We were blessed to have servants from Solid Rock Church provided child care to allow maximum participation for our church family. What a privilege to be cared for in this way! Mark Prater preached an encouraging and vision casting word on the gospel partnership we enjoy together. All of this was followed with honoring the five men who have been laboring to unify NCC during the past years of difficulty. They have led with integrity, wisdom, and commitment to the gospel so it was fitting that we praised God for the gift they’ve been to the people. How good of God to use us to display His great grace. The day concluded with a cookout celebrating our history and looking forward to our future.
What cannot be captured in conveying the course of the day is the change of heart that has occurred at NCC. Replanting a church starts with an inward revitalization that works outward into the community. There is great hope in the Lord at work in NCC! The signs of life are evident and the body is beginning to spring into action. Gospel ministry will go forward as God continues to have His way. The events above are a snapshot of how God works through partnership. As men and women gather around the word of God to strengthen each other, His work goes forward. We don’t count it a small thing to be connected to a broader family of churches. We neither can nor desire to carry out the call to replant alone! God is a God of unity and we thank Him for how we are one with our fellow SGM churches. Please continue to pray for us. There is much more ministry ahead of us as there is ahead of you. This Sunday celebration was just one step in expressing the mission to which we’ve been joined. We praise God for the opportunity to continue to link arms with you so that God’s Kingdom would be made visible to all the earth through His Church!
You can find out more about New Covenant Church of Arnold, Maryland, by visiting their website.
June 12, 2013 by
This day is going to go by lightning fast. Before you know it you will be setting the alarm and putting your head on the pillow again. If all of life is a vapor than you can count on today being a blink.
Before the day flies by be sure you don’t forget this one thing—Jesus.
Paul said to Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…” -2 Timothy 2:8
That’s not just for Timothy. That’s for me. That’s for you.
Don’t forget Jesus today. Forget your keys. Forget your dentist appointment. Forget your password. But don’t forget Jesus.
There is no single spiritual discipline that is more significant to your spiritual vitality than remembering Jesus. Daily reflection on the gospel fuels just about everything good and godly in your life.
Remember Jesus Exists
Don’t forget that Jesus is real. He is the First and the Last. The One who was and is and is to come. Jesus is the God-man who created you, sustains you and was sent by the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit to rescue, rule and restore you because he loves you. Remember that this Jesus eternally exists and is worthy of your unending love, loyalty and worship today.
Remember Jesus’ Life
Don’t forget that Jesus lived the life you could not live so you can be accepted and blessed by God. When God says, “Yes” we say, “No.” When God says, “No” we say, “Yes.” That’s sin. We are rebels who don’t deserve God’s blessing but instead deserve God’s wrath for our disobedience. Jesus always said, “Yes” to his Father. He obeyed for you. Remember that Jesus’ perfect life of obedience is the basis upon which you are accepted and blessed by God today.
Remember Jesus’ Death
Don’t forget that Jesus died the death you deserve to die so that you can be forgiven all your sin and delivered from all God’s wrath. On the cross Jesus was treated like you deserve to be treated so that you can be treated like he deserves to be treated. There is no condemnation left for you because it was all poured out on him. It is finished. Remember that Jesus’ death recues you from sin’s penalty, frees you from sin’s power, and will one day remove you from sin’s presence.
Remember Jesus’ Resurrection
Don’t forget that Jesus is alive and as long as he lives you will live. Jesus rose from the dead to give you a new quality of life—righteous and holy. Jesus rose from the dead to give you a new quantity of life—everlasting and eternal. Remember that Jesus’ resurrection ensures a new you now and a glorious resurrected you in the future.
Remember Jesus’ Ascension
Don’t forget that Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, has poured out the Holy Spirit and ever lives above to make intercession for you. Jesus has not left you alone. The Holy Spirit is in you to empower your obedience, illumine the Scriptures, guide you in God’s will, gift you for mission, convict you of sin, convince you of grace, make you like Jesus, and manifest God’s presence to you and through you. Remember that Jesus is with you and has your back today.
Remember Jesus’ Return
Don’t forget that Jesus is coming back! One glorious day Jesus will split the skies and all eyes will see him as he is. He will judge the living and the dead and make all things new. Everything broken will be fixed. Everything ruined by sin will be restored. Everything sad will no longer be true. God’s story has a breathtaking climax! You could be here when this happens. Remember that Jesus is coming soon. Even so come Lord Jesus!
* This post originally appeared on Ian's website, Blue Collar Gospel.
Ian is the pastor for preaching and vision at Grace Bible Church in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which he replanted in 2005 (watch a video of his story). Ian and his wife, Rachel, have three children.
June 11, 2013 by
Bob Kauflin recently interviewed Marty Machowski on Raising Gospel-Centered Children, content that will inform his teaching at the upcoming WorshipGod conferences.
Training children to put their hope and trust in Christ is one of the greatest privileges we have. Marty Machowski has devoted decades to helping churches and families do just that. Although my kids were grown before he wrote his materials, I read The Gospel Story Bible to my grandkids and can’t recommended his children’s ministry curriculum highly enough.
I’m excited that Marty will be teaching seminars at both WorshipGod West and WorshipGod East this year. He graciously took the time to answer a few questions about his life and seminar.
1. Briefly share your testimony of conversion with us.
I submitted my life to Christ I the summer between by junior and senior years of college. Every morning that summer I followed the same routine. I got up, got showered and dressed then ate a bowl of cornflakes while I watched the early morning news. One Monday, in the providence of God, the programming changed. Instead of the news, a televangelist was on, holding a crusade. Since I only got one channel on my small black and white TV, I continued my routine. That week I understood for the first time that Christ died for ME and each day as the preacher pointed to the television audience and called us to join him in prayer, I bowed my head and asked for God’s forgiveness. Sometime in that week, the Spirit of God filled my heart and rescued me from darkness.
2. Why do you think what you’re teaching on is an important topic?
The Bible is clear that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Our children, meeting in classrooms during our Sunday worship services represent the largest group of gathered unbelievers across the world. It is critical that our teaching present the gospel. Helping pastors and teacher know how to partner with parents in the gospel work of reaching the next generation is something I’ve given the last 25 years of my life for.
3. What do you hope will be filling people’s minds and hearts as they walk away from your message?
Sometimes we need the encouragement to keep up the good work of the gospel and to be reminded that our labor to pass the gospel to the next generation is not done in vain. Many folks, converted later on, look back at their Sunday school days with fondness, recognizing God was at work in the lessons of their teachers, drawing them to himself.
4. Is there any passage of Scripture that sums up what you’ll be sharing?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” That verse, Matthew 19:14, gives us all the motivation we need to make sure we are proclaiming the gospel to our children.
5. Can you expound on one point that you’ll be making in your message?
It is really important that we avoid teaching moralistic messages to children, particularly when we are presenting the Old Testament stories. It’s not that we can’t draw moral lessons from the Old Testament heroes, but God didn’t give us those stories to challenge us to grow in our courage or to tell the truth. David, for instance, fought Goliath as Israel’s representative head. He went into battle to answer the charge of Goliath for one Israelite to fight for all of Israel. The other soldiers were standing fearfully on the sidelines. David came as a picture of God’s salvation to deliver them from their sinful disobedience.
David was a picture of God’s salvation in Christ, who came to deliver us from our sinful disobedience and defeat our giant – death. While David did display great courage, that lesson is presented, like the others in the Old Testament, to point toward God’s gospel plan through Christ.
6. How has what you’re going to speak on affected your own life?
God has graciously given me six children. While I’ve been tempted to trust in my own work and look for a system to guarantee my successful parenting, God has allowed those efforts to fail, that I might be brought back to my knees in prayer, and then trust in nothing but the gospel and the Spirit of God to save my children. Ultimately, I now know any success in parenting I’ve come to know is by God’s grace and the power of his word.
7. Can you recommend any books, articles, websites, or materials on this topic?
If folks would like to get a preview of the materials I’ve put together to promote the gospel in both church and home, they can visit my website. If folks would like a great book to read, I would recommend Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley.
8. What would you say to someone who is trying to decide whether or not to come to WorshipGod2013?
WorshipGod is all about showcasing the gospel in your church. Because you just can’t get a better message than the gospel, you can’t get a better conference than WorshipGod.
June 10, 2013 by
We all experience stress, anxiety, grief, conflict, depression, and despair – pain that causes us to cry out for peace. Taking on these common yet critical hardships, a seasoned pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church and biblical counselor Andy Farmer shows us where to find and how to experience true, lasting peace—peace with God, peace with each other, and peace with ourselves.
Andy writes that, “The thing that pushed me to actually do this [write Real Peace], was my experience in pastoral counseling and care. As I studied peace, I became much more attuned to how people I was meeting with related to it. I began to realize that nearly everyone I talked to, regardless of their situation, was thirsting for something like peace in their lives. Whether they use the actual word or not, embedded in the language people used to describe their life struggles is a desperate cry for peace. This is abundantly obvious with the people I talk to who don’t claim a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Even among Christians who are not in difficult struggles, the lack of peace is real. I had a friend ask me today what I was writing on, and when I told her it was peace, she simply sighed, ‘Ahh…I’d love that.’”
Real Peace: What We Long for and Where to Find It is now available through Crossway Publishers in both paperback and eBook form.
You can read more from Andy Farmer at the Biblical Counseling Coalition blog.
June 8, 2013 by
Categories: Audio messages | Polity
Sovereign Grace Ministries is a family of churches.
Yes, our new polity has ushered in denominational structures. And yes, we are a network intent on planting churches. But there’s something more to our ecclesiastical union. The churches of Sovereign Grace possess shared traits that give us a family resemblance. These shared traits are the shared values we celebrate in relationship with one another. Church to church. Pastor to pastor. Member to member.
At the inaugural Council of Elders, Craig Cabaniss addressed these shared values of Sovereign Grace churches by citing page 50 from the Sovereign Grace Book of Church Order, which states:
All the elders of the joining church commit themselves to promote the shared values of the Sovereign Grace churches, including
- Reformed soteriology
- Gospel-centered doctrine and preaching
- Continuationist pneumatology
- Complementarian leadership in the home and church
- Elder-governed and -led churches
- National and international outreach and church planting
- A family of interdependent churches united in fellowship, mission, and governance
These seven shared values Craig said, “make up the DNA of our family of churches.” And they serve in three primary ways for the future of SGM.
- Our seven shared values provide clarity.
- Our seven shared values provide a basis for unity.
- Our seven shared values provide opportunity for a healthy diversity.
Clarity, unity, and diversity. By God’s grace and through his Spirit, these shared values can draw Sovereign Grace churches further together amid the storm we have been weathering. We believe these are biblical values that make for healthy, enduring churches that glorify Jesus.
Grateful for our past, we now have this opportunity to join together in the present as we follow God in the mission that lies in our future.
You can listen to the entirety of Craig’s message here.
June 6, 2013 by
Planning that Brought Change
A couple of months ago, I was on a personal retreat. I gained much of my planning and preparation strategy from Mike Bullmore. Bullmore often has books that he begins reading, books that he finishes reading, and books that he may reread.
The book that I was rereading was John Piper’s Brothers, We are Not Professionals. As I read, I came to chapter 8 entitled, “Brothers, Let Us Pray.” After reading that chapter and spending some time in prayer, I opened up Acts 6 and read were the apostles delegated good work (serving the widows) to do essential work. They said, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). I pondered the question, “Do I devote myself to the Word and prayer?” I think I have simply answered “yes” to this often times in my twelve years of pastoral ministry. After all, I spend a lot of time praying and studying God’s Word.
However, this time I pondered this question with a new intrigue and thought that God was hitting on something that needed to change in my life. I do think I could say in integrity that I devote myself to God’s Word each week (both in my devotional times and in the amount of sermon preparation I do). However, I could not honestly say that I devoted myself to prayer. Yes, I pray daily in my devotion time, but I do not think I had been devoted to prayer throughout the course of my pastoral ministry workday.
Conviction that Brought Change
Upon returning home from my personal retreat, I started looking for ways to be devoted to prayer. I starting praying more throughout the day and then I also began to take chunks of time to pray throughout my week, specifically in my workday. I now have a prayer bench in my office that continually reminds me of both the need and priority that prayer should be in my pastoral ministry. I also came up with categories that I felt like I should prayer through that I had previously neglected in my daily devotion time.
Over the last couple of months I can honestly say that I have felt much grace in praying and felt a greater grace in pastoral ministry. I’ve seen specific prayers answered and I have felt a greater communion with my Lord…seeing as He is the Chief Shepherd and I am merely an under shepherd.
Prayer that Brought Change
I’ve also noticed within the last couple of weeks an encouraging development. We’ve had folks in our church who were battling specific sin or struggling spiritually or having marriage issues they have gotten resolved by the power of the Holy Spirit working and not because I was counseling them. I think counseling is a huge blessing, but I also think since God is the one who began the good work and will complete it (Phil 1:6) at times in my past pastoral ministry I relied a lot on my counseling skills instead of my prayer “work.”
I am a pastor and I am called to be devoted to the ministry of the Word and prayer. If you read Acts 6:5 you see how the people responded to the apostles giving their job description. It was not with mild irritation or with a grumbling that the pastors were not going to care for the widows. It says, “…and what they said pleased the whole gathering.”
May we be pastors who are devoted to the Word and prayer and see our churches happy that we are!
Mike is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of the Lowcountry outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Prior to planting this church, Mike served as a pastor at CrossWay Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a graduate of our Pastors College and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.