The Pen

Jesus Did Not Call You to Be A Hipster

There is taking place, right now as I write this, a supernatural move of God that is the greatest resurgence and reclamation of lost doctrine since the Protestant Reformation. By God’s strong hand and outstretched arm, he has shown a dying culture and a nation under judgment the extent of his grace and mercy by lighting the flame of Reformation on dead coals and sending the rain of Reformation in a land of theological famine. The doctrine that we preach here, the utter and complete sovereignty of God over all things, the divine and eternal decrees of God, his providential care over creation, the doctrine of God’s divine choice and HIS free will over the hearts of men, a grace that is as magnificent as it is powerful, and a return to many the doctrines of old…this is what we are seeing happen right before our eyes.

The spirit’s presence through the preaching of God’s word, the simple fellowship, the concept of discipline, love, mutual affection, accountability, the exposition of Scripture, and the reverence of worship…what I hear repeatedly is, “I’ve never seen a church like this.” Oh, but we are not altogether alone. What is happening here as we return to Scripture is happening in many, many places as the treasures of time past are being dug up from long forgotten heaps of modern rubbish; like Josiah finding the Law buried in the temple, by God’s Spirit so many are now finding the Gospel hidden and buried away in the church.

My fear is that young men, in particular, might think that it’s always been this way. There’s always been people out there preaching about God’s sovereignty and election and his free and sovereign grace – oh, there have been. But those shining lights have been flickering wicks only kept alive by the breath of God and his refusal to take out the candlestick of His Spirit from the church altogether. He’s had his remnant – but they were so rare. But young men, they do not recognize or understand what it took to bring them these doctrines – the ones that you hear each Sunday that bring life to you and edify, convict, quicken, kill and resurrect again.

Do you have any idea what it took to bring to you the Gospel and the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace?

Do you know what it was like for those Christians to be fed to lions or the Apostles to be hung upon their own cross? Do you know what it was like to bring to you the Gospel, for these men and women to be stripped bare, tarred and feathered and made to jump off the roof of the coliseum? Do you realize this is how the Gospel came to you? Do you know that to bring you these doctrines that the crimson line of the Gospel came through the Apostles to the early Christians by being hounded by Rome and martyred? Do you know what it was like for you to have this Bible in your hand in modern tongue for Wycliffe to have been on the run, to die, and to be hated with such reproach the Catholic church dug up his body and burned it as punishment after his death, or Tyndale to translate and disseminate the Bible in your modern tongue, to be betrayed to the imperial authorities, tried for heresy, strangled at the stake and then set to fire? Do you know what it was like, for you to be an heir of the doctrines of grace, for the Lion of Scotland, John Knox to stare down Bloody Mary who could have sentenced him to death, say unto her, “Your will madam is no reason, neither doth your thought make that Roman harlot to be the true and immaculate spouse of Christ?”

Do you know what it was like in order for you to enjoy these doctrines of Scripture that were brought to you through blood-washed and martyred saints for Whitfield to have to taken to fields to preach because he was blacklisted by New England clergy, or the greatest preacher on American soil, Jonathan Edwards, to be fired from his church to die among the Indians? Do you know what it was like for you to be given what you’ve been given – doctrines that seem normal and average and ordinary now –  to have been preaching the Doctrines of Grace before it was cool, and men to be fired from church after church for preaching what we now take for granted? And might I show you a few of my scars as well? Do you have any idea what it  took for the Gospel in all of its fullness to reach you?

Therefore…gird up the loins of your mind and be sober-minded.

My grandfather was saved in his middle age, and the only doctrines he knew he learned from behind an old country pulpit. And for him, that was sufficient and God’s grace shined from that sacred desk and illumined what Scripture he knew. No television, no John Piper, no John MacArthur, no library full of Spurgeon and Calvin and Luther and Knox. No Grudem’s Systematic, no seminary courses, no Bible Logos software to give you the Greek. Just Sunday best in overalls and a black, leather Bible is all he had, and in the next generation, the light grew all the more. Then my father was raised in the Lord and I believe that now-old man’s life exists to demonstrate the power of a man and his Bible when divinely illumined by God to understand what is written, and the powerful impact as a Sunday School teacher to countless young people because of a plain, normal man and the Word of God. And he taught me many, many things but of one I am the most grateful. He taught me the inerrancy of Scripture and fed it to me from birth like milk from a mother’s breast. He taught me the Bible is true. And then, more than any generation before me, I have access to the full light of God’s revelation.

But then came the day I read Romans 9 and God opened my eyes to see his greatness and had nowhere to run from the Doctrines of God’s pure grace because I was taught the Bible was true. I had to believe it, but around me there were no answers. Whole chapters of the Bible I was never taught, whole attributes of God forgotten, whole aspects of salvation neglected and never preached for fear of controversy or out of sheer ignorance. Oh, but given my place and time I could turn to the giants and the greatest lights of generations and millennia past and learn at the knee of Spurgeon and from the exposition of Gill and labor of Matthew Henry and dine at the table of the Puritans and be catechized by Edwards and take communion with Knox. Oh, glory to God! What a time it is we live. And now you have a pastor who can preach these things and a church that supports it and won’t run him out of town on a rail. Oh, what God has done to fully shine light on his Scripture just for you!

I look at my children, and I realize how God has given greater and greater glimpses into the council of his word from generation to generation; both in my own family and in this great revival of the doctrines of old that are now becoming common place once again. Just the journey that I’ve made in my own life…and they were born into a household where their father has the works of all the best Reformed thinkers and every Bible translation and all the Greek and Hebrew helps on a Bible program on my computer and a library greater than most clergy of centuries past could ever dream of to help explain the only infallible rule of faith and practice, the fullness of the Word of God! I look at little Augustine Knox and whatever the Lord shall make of Him I will be content, but I pray, “Oh, my God! Make this boy conquer kingdoms! What are the limits of him with this treasury of knowledge from the Holy Word? The power of God unto salvation, the Gospel, flows like water from this place and I pray like a mighty cedar of Lebanon planted upon the river’s shore he might grow into a formidable man of God that goes forth and plants the flag of Zion in places where it’s yet to fly.

Do you know what would be my worst nightmare? It would be if Augustine wasted it – this precious, blood-soaked knowledge – and spent his life playing like a child. If he refused to grow up, to be sober minded, to gird up the loins of his mind and be a man. To whom much is given, much is required. And young men, from what you’ve been given already, the Saints of old would die for, and from you much is required!

There is a plague of young men who call themselves Christians and call themselves Reformed who can quote the greatest theologians and speak all the right lingo and call the Puritans their homeboys and who trade Bible doctrines back and forth like they were Pokemon cards. They believe that what makes them Reformed is the right catechism or believe that their doctrine has something to do with beards and beer and cigars but in spite of their facial hair and affinity for certain Christian liberties are nothing but little boys playing church! Listen to me, beloved:

Christ did not call you to be a hipster; Christ has called to be holy.

Now, I don’t mean, young men, to attack your style. This isn’t about style. We all have our own. I’m a hillbilly, and so I drink my tea from a mason jar and I think the best music on a warm summer night comes from coyotes and crickets; you might like gourmet coffee and microbrews. I get it. I don’t mean to attack your style; I mean to convict you over your substance. Listen to me beloved, when who you are in Christ have more to do with the style of your particular Christian-subculture and less to do with the substance of your holy character and conduct, it implies that all of the rich doctrine in the world cannot overcome the spirit of immaturity.

[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

[Contributed by JD Hall]

[Editor’s Note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast on this topic, here, and was also taken from my sermon notes from, “Who Killed Holiness? Sober-Mindedness in an Age of Drunkenness“]