Tag Archives: Kevin DeYoung

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

“What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church – God’s redeemed people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

In doing research for this book, I read three books that had revolution in the title… The Church is certainly called to be salt and light – a beacon of truth and a purifying agent in the world, but I see nowhere in Scripture we are charged with being revolutionary-change architects of a new world order.

Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a revolution of love or revolution of hope… The problem is that all the talk of revolution suggests that what we need are more Christians ready to check out and overthrow, when by my estimation we need more Christians ready to check in and follow through. As Americans, we are so used to getting what we want, when we want it, and how we want it that when the church is not the way we want it to be we think either (1) ‘I’m being abused,’ or (2) ‘I’m out of here.’

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect the next Band Aid or Habit for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up.

What the church and the world needs from us, we imagine, is to be another Bono – Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos. With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the praise team every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income? Even if one is not harder than the other, certainly one is more common. And sadly, that is the one that is more despised…

Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with our coworkers, buy the same groceries at the store, and mow the yard every spring and summer. Church is often the same too – same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works – like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love the Church (pp. 222-225)

An Intro

“In writing my chapters I hope to do more than just talk about people and ideas I disagree with. I really have no desire to make a career being the guy who finds errors in everyone else’s thinking. I don’t apologize for defending the truth both positively and negatively – Paul and Jesus did the same all the time. But my aim is not to create an index of forbidden books and authors who are sick of church or don’t go anymore. My aim is to present to the body of Christ, and to anyone else who cares to listen, a picture of why we should be in the church. Indeed, being part of a church – and learning to love it – is good for your soul, biblically responsible, and pleasing to God.

And I don’t mean the ‘church’ that consists of three guys drinking pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks talking about the spirituality of the Violent Femmes and why Sex and the City is really profound. I mean the local church that meets – wherever you want it to meet – but exults in the cross of Christ; sings songs to a holy and loving God; has church officers, good preaching, celebrates the sacraments, exercises discipline; and takes an offering. This is the church that combines freedom and form in corporate worship, has old people and young, artsy types and NASCAR junkies, seekers and stalwarts, and probably has bulletins and by-laws.

The church we love is as flawed and messed up as we are, but she’s Christ’s bride nonetheless. And I might as well have a basement without a house or a head without a body as despise the wife my Savior loves.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love the Church (p. 19)

On Doctrine

In the spirit of last week’s post, here are a few more quotes on the subject of doctrine:

“Nobody objects to a nondoctrinal Christianity because there is nothing to object to.” – Kevin DeYoung

“A nontheological faith cannot explain itself, but too theological a faith loses contact with the reason for its existence… Too much enthusiastic faith without a corresponding degree of theological understanding is almost certain to lead to error, perhaps to serious heresy. Too much doctrine unaccompanied by a living and growing faith is the recipe for dead orthodoxy.” – Harold O.J. Brown

“How is God’s name hallowed among us? When both our doctrine and living are truly Christian.” – Martin Luther

“The one thing I am here to say to you is this: that it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is virtually necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion about what the church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.” – Dorothy Sayers

“As a man is known by the company he keeps, so it is with a doctrine.” – A.W. Pink

“There is nothing which is so wrong, and so utterly false, as to fail to see the primary importance of true doctrine. Looking back over my experience as a pastor for some thirty-four years, I can testify without the slightest hesitation that the people I have found most frequently in trouble in their spiritual experience have been those who have lacked understanding. You cannot divorce these things.” – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Indifferentism to doctrine makes no heroes on the faith.” – J. Gresham Machen

“The gospel is a reasonable system, and it appeals to men’s understanding; it is a matter for thought and consideration, and it appeals to the conscience and the reflecting powers। Hence, if we do not teach men something, we may shout, ‘Believe! Believe! Believe!’ but what are they to believe? Each exhortation requires a corresponding instruction, or it will mean nothing. ‘Escape!’ From what? This requires for its answer the doctrine of the punishment of sin. ‘Fly!’ But whither? Then must you preach Christ, and His wounds; yea, and the clear doctrine of atonement by sacrifice. ‘Repent!’ Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin ? ‘Be converted!’ But what is it to be converted? By what power can we be converted? What from? What to? The field of instruction is wide if men are to be made to know the truth which saves. ‘That the soul be without knowledge, it is not good,’ and it is ours as the Lord’s instruments to make men so to know the truth that they may believe it, and feel its power. We are not to try and save men in the dark, but in the power of the Holy Ghost we are to seek to turn them from darkness to light.” – C.H. Spurgeon

“If Error be harmless, then Truth must needs be useless.” – Abraham Booth

“Moral power has always accompanied definitive beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need right now a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever.” – A.W. Tozer

Book Review: Just Do Something

Ladies and germs, allow me to introduce you to one of the best books I’ve read this year or any year: Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. And in case you’re wondering what that “something” is, you can start doing it by reading the rest of this review.

The subtitle of the book is How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. Which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. DeYoung is no fan of hyper-spiritual approaches to “finding the will of God”; approaches that bear far more resemblance to hocus-pocus flimflam than to scriptural living.

Too many Christians these days have a tendency to “tinker” – with jobs, with churches, with relationships, even with doctrine – all while worrying about finding God’s perfect will for their lives. Even worse are the people who don’t do anything at all, mired in frustration and anxiety and indecision. What would happen if they took the wrong job, bought the wrong house, or married the wrong person? Wouldn’t that totally screw up any chance they had of staying in “the center” of God’s will?

So they wait. And do nothing.

But here’s the thing: God hasn’t promised to tell us what to do every step of the way. He doesn’t need to. He’s already revealed His plan for our lives: to love Him, to obey His Word, and to live for His glory. Or, in the words of Matthew 6:33, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Put side the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.

The only chains God wants us to wear are the chains of righteousness – not the chains of hopeless subjectivism, not the shackles of risk-free living, not the fetters of horoscope decision making – just the chains befitting a bond servant of Christ Jesus. Die to self. Live for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God’s glory. (p. 61)

DeYoung expands on this idea over the course of a hundred-twenty pages; and even though that might not seem like much, it’s no light or easy reading. It’s challenging, thought-provoking, and aggressive (in a good way). Tullian Tchividjian gives the best, most succinct summary of what Just Do Something is all about: “This book shows that discovering God’s will happens not as we ‘let go and let God,’ but as we trust God and get going.” Bingo.

Speaking for myself, the finest chapter is the one dealing with employment and marriage, which features some of the best writing on those two subjects that I’ve ever encountered. I’d like to quote the entire thing to you, but since I can’t, I’ll content myself with sharing a couple favorites.

On getting a job:

God calls His people to do lots of different things. Sometimes you feel a sense of calling to your job and, you know what, sometimes you don’t. You just work. I’m extremely thankful that I love what I do for a living. I feel badly for people who only tolerate their jobs, or worse. But we must all serve the Lord with heart, soul, strength, and mind wherever He’s placed us. Unfortunately, we’ve turned the idea of calling or vocation on its head. The Reformers emphasized calling in order to break down the sacred-secular divide. They said, if you are working for the glory of God, you are doing the Lord’s work, no matter whether you’re a priest or a monk or a banker. But we’ve taken this notion of calling and turned it upside down, so instead of finding purpose in every kind of work, we are madly looking for the one job that will fulfill our purpose in life. (p. 103)

On getting hitched:

Pray less that God would show you who is the right husband or wife and pray more to be the right kind of husband or wife. If everyone was praying to be the right spouse, it wouldn’t matter nearly so much who is the “right” spouse. Dump your list of the seventeen things you need in a wife and make yourself a list of seventeen things you need to be as a husband. (p. 106)

You need to read this book. Everyone does. So don’t think about reading it; don’t talk about reading it; don’t agonize over whether your TBR pile can possibly handle another addition. Order a copy, crack the cover, and get going.

Just do it.

Romance and Bad Theology

“I’ll never forget my poor beleaguered roommate talking with me after he took a risk and told a nice young lady that he liked her. They went on a long walk. He was pretty sure she would reciprocate his declaration of affection. But it turned out she wasn’t interested. She was a sweet girl, a good Christian. She didn’t mean to have bad theology. But instead of just saying ‘I’m not interested’ or ‘I don’t like you’ or ‘Quit stalking me’ or something, she went all spiritual on him. ‘I’ve been praying a lot about you,’ she demurred, ‘and the Holy Spirit told me no.’ ‘No?’ my confused roommate asked. ‘No… never,’ she replied.

Poor guy – he got rejected, not only by this sweet girl, but by the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity took a break from pointing people to Jesus to tell this girl not to date my roommate. I didn’t know that was in the Spirit’s job description. But I bet at any Christian school there are scores of men and women blaming God for their breakups.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something (p. 50)