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[CHRISTIANITY] Francis Chan (Interview & Background)

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  • madchinaman
    Interview With Francis Chan http://www.jamaglobal.com/wp/interview-with-francis-chan/ - His Website: http://www.francischan.org/ Church Website:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 17, 2007
      Interview With Francis Chan


      His Website: http://www.francischan.org/
      Church Website: http://www.cornerstonesimi.com/
      College Website: http://www.eternitybiblecollege.com
      Charity: http://www.childrenscharityfund.org
      Charity: http://www.worldimpact.org
      Mission: http://www.268generation.com
      Video: http://www.shaungroves.com/shlog/comments/chan_and_change/
      Video on the Disenfranchised:
      Video (Chan's Video based on this Sarah McLaughlin video:
      Sermon: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?
      Contact: talk@...
      Video 1: http://youtube.com/watch?v=mG7EStr8s3I
      Video 2: http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?


      Francis Chan is the founding pastor and teaching pastor of
      Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA. After being raised
      by his Buddhist grandmother in Hong Kong, Francis came to America at
      the age of five. His mother died at his birth, his stepmother died in
      a car accident when he was nine, and his father died of cancer when
      he was twelve years old. Francis came to know the Lord in high school
      in Stockton, CA. In 1994 Francis and his wife Lisa started
      Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley. Over the past ten years,
      the church has grown to over 3,000 regular attendees. Cornerstone has
      many ongoing ministries including Cornerstone Television, an
      evangelistic cable television show. Pastor Chan is a highly sought-
      after speaker at many Christian colleges and youth conferences
      nationally and internationally. He is also currently active with
      Children's Hunger Fund, African Renewal Ministries and World Impact.

      EN: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
      FC: Blessed, undeserving, in over my head.

      EN: What was your childhood like?
      FC: My childhood was weird with my mom dying and my stepmom dying and
      my dad dying. When you deal with such big things early on in life,
      pretty soon things like death are really not that big a deal to you.
      They were at the moment because I had to grapple with it, deal with
      it and understand it. But now when people die, I see it as just a
      part of life. It doesn't overwhelm me. So in that sense it was good.
      As a child I wasn't really attached to anyone. Maybe my brother a
      little bit and eventually my friends. There was really no sense of
      family growing up. It was awkward. I came from Hong Kong, so I had to
      deal with switching cultures. I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere,
      not at school, not at home.

      EN: You were never close to your father?
      FC: No, he was just a very authoritative figure. Typical Asian father—
      demanded a ton but never really spoke with me. I don't remember any
      conversations we had.

      EN: Did this shape the way you saw God?
      FC: For years I treated God as someone I feared. I feel like I
      understand the fear of God well because of my dad. I didn't
      understand the love of God well until I became a dad. I had a lot of
      these feelings of never thinking that I was good enough and I wasn't
      as smart as my sister. Those types of feelings definitely entered
      into my relationship with God. I felt like because I did this sin or
      because I did this in the past He'd never forget this. Those are all
      feelings I've felt about God in the past.

      EN: How did you meet Christ?
      FC: Our dad made us go to church and so did my mothers. I never would
      deny God or Christ but it's hard to know when you really know God,
      when you've had a genuine relationship with Him. I know in high
      school I really understood my relationship with God. I may have had a
      relationship before that but I remember in high school I definitely
      believed in Him and loved Him. In high school a friend of mine took
      me to a youth group where I started learning from a youth pastor that
      taught in a way that I could understand. Since then God continued to
      develop my relationship with Him. I personally think it was
      definitely ingrained in me as a kid but it was understood by me in
      high school.

      EN: Did you know that God was going to call you into ministry?
      FC: It's weird. I had thoughts of it when I was young of possibly
      going into ministry. In high school and junior college I knew I was
      supposed to speak and be a pastor. I definitely had no idea what I
      was in for. I didn't know that any of the stuff that I'm doing today
      was going to happen. I never dreamed that it would be this big or
      that there would be this many people who would listen to anything I
      have to say so that's been a real surprise and every year it gets
      more and more surprising.

      EN: What are some advantages of being a Chinese American amongst
      mostly Caucasian Americans?
      FC: There really hasn't been a ton. It really opens the doors to so
      many different venues like some of the more Caucasian venues are open
      to me because they want a token Asian. So I think that's cool. And
      then at the Asian events I feel at home because I totally understand
      the youth and their upbringing. I feel like I relate because I get
      the way some of them were raised because that was me. Because of my
      nationality, when I work in inner-city ministries, it breaks any
      prejudices or barriers. I feel like God's used my ethnicity to open a
      lot of doors for me.

      EN: How did you decide to move here and start a church in Simi Valley?
      FC: The starting of the church was so strange. As I look at my life,
      the greatest things that have happened have been "accidents." They
      weren't anything I planned for. It wasn't like one day I sat down and
      said, "I'm going to pastor a church." In fact, my plan was to be a
      youth minister for life. That's what I came out of college saying I
      was going to be. Here I was in this city working at a church that
      kind of fell apart. I was somewhat disillusioned with churches in
      general. I always had in my mind what I thought church ought to be
      like and it really was like a spur of the moment decision or calling
      or sense of a calling by God to start a church at the time that I
      did. It was about a month after I got married. I had to tell my new
      bride that I wanted to start my own church. I asked her, "Even if
      it's like a dozen people in my living room, but we knew that we were
      all there just to worship God and just to hear from His word and we
      had confidence that something genuine was happening, wouldn't that be
      a great worship experience on Sunday mornings?" And I thought that if
      it didn't turn into a church that supported us, it wouldn't be a big
      deal, I could just work a second job. It was this really strange
      beginning but that's the way that everything works in my life.
      Everything is spur of the moment and really sensing God's leadings
      and then as I pursue, God confirms that it's Him by making everything
      fit into place.

      EN: Was there a time of your life when you were inclined to turn away
      from God?
      FC: The only time I can remember when I thought about genuinely
      turning away from God, was when my grandmother died and she was
      Buddhist. My brother and I watched her die and we were in the room as
      the doctors turned the EKG off—you know the machine that was keeping
      her alive. Watching the EKG go flat was so disturbing to me—the
      thought that she was going into eternal punishment and it was so hard
      for me to bear and accept. I was very tempted to just walk away from
      everything I knew. But my logic wouldn't allow me to do that. I would
      have to throw away all the knowledge I knew—the knowledge of prophecy
      and history and I would have to throw away all that I knew to be true
      to my heart. But at that moment that I wanted to walk away from God,
      because if I was right my grandmother would be spending eternity in
      hell and that was just too much for me, but I couldn't turn away from
      what I already knew. I just had to deal with the pain and I have to
      deal with the pain even to this day.

      EN: How do you deal with the pain?
      FC: Honestly, I try not to think about it, which probably isn't the
      right thing to do. Maybe it is the right thing because I'm supposed
      to dwell on things that are excellent and praise worthy and lovely. I
      think it's painful and it's meant to be painful and it's supposed to
      spur me on to not want to feel that pain again and so I do everything
      I can to tell people what the love of Christ has done for them. It's
      just like every other pain in the world. You don't know how you get
      through it but you do.

      EN: What would you say to people who find it difficult to surrender
      their lives to God because of unsatisfactory answers about God?
      FC: I have this belief that everyone either longs for God or they
      suppress, deny and want to run from God as far as they can. When
      someone has a question that's a road block for them, if they really
      want God, they'll find answers to those questions that will satisfy
      them. If they don't want God, they won't find the answers and if they
      get an adequate answer, they'll just find another question but that's
      not really the issue because it's a heart issue. So I don't put too
      much stock in the questions that aren't answered to their
      satisfaction because at the end, even if the questions are answered
      to their satisfaction, they won't be satisfied. It's not the real

      EN: Who has been the most influential person in your Christian walk?
      FC: In the early days it would be my youth pastor who discipled me
      and met with me every week for four year and really walked the walk.
      I'm still friends with him today. We still get together so he's been
      this long-term model. His name is Stan Loubeck. There have been
      several men who have taught me along the way. Now, someone who has
      influenced me just through his writings is John Piper. He's discipled
      me without having more than one conversation with me. I've only had
      one conversation with him but the rest of it has just been through
      his teachings and reading his books. It's really changed my
      perspective on God.

      EN: What are some areas in your life that you feel are easier to
      surrender, relatively speaking?
      FC: Not that anything is totally easy. I think the money thing has
      never been a real issue for me, unless I'm just blinded, but I feel
      like I really don't care. The less I have the happier I tend to be.
      Giving—I love giving and seeing what giving does and caring for the
      poor and seeing what it does for them. There's no greater joy for me.
      I've never been possessive of my things. If anything I'm more scared
      to have things because I feel like it might be so much better if I
      gave it away and got something eternal for it. That part I would say
      is the easy part. The harder things are loving people, being able to
      look at people and really care on a regular basis. It's hard for me
      to overcome my selfishness in that area. When it comes to my time and
      really giving of my time and my affection, sympathy, passion, it's

      EN: What are some areas where God is challenging you right now?
      FC: I would say in the area of faith and my prayers. Having so many
      things to do, God's challenging me to pray more and trust that the
      praying I do will accomplish more than preparation time, study time,
      counseling time, speaking time. To really believe that rather than
      spending eight hours preparing for a sermon and studying, to spend
      six hours in study and prep and the other two hours in prayer, if you
      want to break it down in a ratio, and believing that's better than
      crafting a sermon with the perfect transitions. So, it's just
      trusting prayer.

      EN: What's your favorite book?
      FC: Besides the Bible?

      EN: Yeah, besides the Bible.
      FC: As far as a Christian book, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper.
      That really resonates with me. It's so simple. It's so obvious. God
      is the Gospel, also by John Piper.

      EN: Favorite movie?
      FC: Cinderella Man, Gladiator.

      EN: What's your favorite food?
      FC: Sushi.

      EN: Describe your perfect day.
      FC: My favorite things to do personally would be surfing and golfing
      and then just playing with the kids and having dinner with the wife.
      That would be my perfect day.


      Easter Message

      This past Easter, as I was preparing another "please come back and
      worship with us all year" message, it occurred to me: Jesus never
      begged. On the contrary, He made others beg. God sees Himself as so
      valuable that He expects us to beg to follow Him! When people did beg
      for Him, he made sure they knew how difficult it would be to follow
      Him. His point: God is only interested in those who desperately want
      Him, treasure Him, and would give anything up to follow Him…

      …Why haven't I answered people like Christ? I hate rejection. I'm
      scared of loved ones rejecting God, so I don't share too much of the
      commitment Christ requires. That would increase the likelihood of
      rejection. I share the benefits of Christianity. Then beg them to
      agree. I don't ask too many questions because I'm scared of how they
      might answer. I don't really want to know if they're not true
      followers. I just want to keep believing that they are. In doing
      this, I've preached a message that cheapens the value of God.

      God calls us to accurately describe the glory of God and invite
      people to treasure Him and pursue Him whole heartedly. Our goal
      should be to act like Christ and teach like Christ. Jesus humbled
      Himself to take the form of a servant, not a beggar. Let's keep
      serving people, sacrificing for people, loving people…. but let's
      stop begging. It cheapens the value of the God we're called to
      magnify. Let's tell how great out God is, and let them beg.


      Francis Chan

      Francis Chan, founding/teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community
      Church in Simi Valley (California), is a graduate of two Macarthur
      schools and an enthusiastic student of John Piper. Chan has made a
      15-minute Gospel presentation called "Just Stop and Think." He is
      the President of Eternity Bible College and serves on the Board of
      Children's Hunger Fund and World Impact.

      After being raised by his Buddhist grandmother in Hong Kong, Francis
      came to America at the age of five. His mother died at his birth, his
      stepmother died in a car accident when he was nine, and his father
      died of cancer when he was twelve years old. Francis came to know the
      Lord in high school in Stockton, CA.

      In 1994 Francis and his wife Lisa started Cornerstone Community
      Church in Simi Valley. Over the past ten years, the church has grown
      to over 3,000 regular attendees. Cornerstone has many ongoing
      ministries including Cornerstone Television, an evangelistic cable
      television show.

      The church is focused on teaching the Bible verse by verse. Their
      commitment is to teach the exactly what the Bible says, even when it
      is unpopular. The elders voted that 50% of the budget go to
      ministries outside of their church at Cornerstone with the commitment
      to give to others as much as we give ourselves. Church is
      considering meeting at a amphitheater instead of a building to save
      money. (Note: Recently, he led his church to forgo building a multi-
      million dollar worship center and instead to start plans to build an
      amphitheater. The outdoor facility will be completed for a fraction
      of the price and the money they save will help fund ministries that
      feed hungry children around the world. What a vision! -

      Pastor Chan is a highly sought-after speaker at many Christian
      colleges and youth conferences nationally and internationally. He is
      also currently active with Children's Hunger Fund, African Renewal
      Ministries and World Impact.

      Cornerstone set-up a church that addressed these concerns:
      1) Students don't lose touch with the world be being isolated from
      it. This was done by partnering with sescular colleges where the
      students take their general education classes.

      2) Students instructed by professors who aren't in ministry. This
      was addressed by having credentialed pastors teach the courses

      3) Students graduating with thousands of dollars of debt which
      prevents them from entering the ministry. This was addressed by only
      chargine $50 per unit.


      Cornerstone Community Church Purpose Statement:
      To give every individual an accurate picture of God, and to help
      those who believe become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

      Church Values:

      When one begins to study the Bible it doesn't take long to determine
      what God values the most: he values himself above all else and then
      his "own image" creation, humans. Jesus Christ summed this truth up
      by leaving two integral commands for those that choose to follow him,
      the two great values of loving God with everything that we are and
      loving people as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).  

      Love God: The love of God is to be summed up in our fear and awe of
      him (Eccl. 12:13) and our passion towards him (Matt. 10:37-38)
      through obedience (1 John 5:2).

      Love People: The best way to sum up love towards people biblically,
      is to understand it as John did, "We love because he first loved us"
      (1 John 4:19). John also intricately connects this love of people to
      obedience of God's commands (5:2).  Therefore, it seems that love of
      others is rooted in the understanding of our love for God.

      We Believe
      - The Bible is the inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word of God
      for the Christian faith and living. (The Bible)

      - That there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father,
      Son and Holy Spirit. (God the Father)

      - In the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His
      sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His
      bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father
      and His personal return in power and glory. (God the Son)

      - In the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling
      every Christian is able to live a godly life. (God the Holy Spirit)

      - That all people are lost sinners and must turn to Christ in saving
      faith and repentance for regeneration by the Holy Spirit. (Salvation)

      - In the resurrection of both those who believe in Jesus and those
      who do not believe: those believing to eternal life with Christ and
      those unbelieving to eternal punishment in hell.

      CORNERSTONE was started twelve years ago and has been growing ever
      since. We are committed to teaching straight from the Bible every
      Sunday to help everyone learn more about our Creator and His desire
      for our lives.


      provided the way to be declared not guilty. This is why Jesus
      came….To know Jesus Christ personally and have your sins forgiven,
      you must acknowledge that you are a sinner separated from God and
      that your only hope is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came and
      died for your sins.

      To stop here, however, would be to stop short of salvation…There are
      two things you must now do to enter into a relationship with the God
      from whom you have been separated:

      1) Repent….You see, there are some things only God can do and some
      things only you can do. Only God can remove your sins and give you
      the gift of eternal life, but only you can turn from your sins and
      receive Jesus as your Savior…..

      2) Believe in Jesus Christ and Receive Him Into Your Life." Having
      seen the enormity of your sin and having decided to turn from it, you
      then must believe in and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and

      Becoming a Christian, however, is far more than following a creed or
      trying to live by certain standards. Jesus said that you must
      be "born again," or more literally, "born from above" (John 3:3).
      This spiritual rebirth happens when we personally believe in Jesus
      Christ, receive him by inviting him into our lives, and turn from our

      In other words, we ask Jesus to come and take residence in our lives,
      making the changes he deems necessary. A person must take this all-
      important step in order to become a child of God. Notice that this
      offer is yours for the asking, and it is free. You don't have to work
      for it, trying to clean up your life before you make this life-
      changing decision.

      The Bible says: "The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ
      Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)…To hear God calling us, we must know
      how he speaks. One way in which God speaks to us is described in the
      Bible as a "still, small voice." This could be described in another
      way as that tug you may have felt on your heart from the Holy Spirit
      showing you your need for Jesus. He may even be speaking to you right
      now! It is at that point that you must "open the door." Only you can
      do that. Jesus will not force his way in.- Francis Chan, "Just Stop
      and Think"

      This cross is not about you, but about God.

      God does not passionately love you.

      God has decided your eternal destiny, and no decision on your part
      affects that decision.

      We must not make God out to be the passive Lover of our souls.

      Somewhere along the way, those of us who communicate the gospel to
      others are confronted with some decisions regarding what we will say
      and how we'll say it. If you have been influenced by reformed
      theology to any extent, these choices will be unavoidable,
      particularly as you become aware that many Calvinists believe the
      gospel is commonly shared in a way that is problematic.

      If you are an evangelical of some kind, and if you are involved in
      evangelism or preaching, you are going to have to decide how you are
      going to make "the offer" of the Gospel. "The Offer" is the offer of
      salvation by grace, through faith, by Christ. When you evangelize,
      you are offering the message of Christ's salvation as a gift to those
      who hear and believe.

      For example, Paul said we are God's ambassadors and we make God's
      offer of reconciliation to the world.

      Verse 14
      For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this:
      that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died
      for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but
      for him who for their sake died and was raised.

      Verse 16
      From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even
      though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him
      thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
      creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All
      this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and
      gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was
      reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses
      against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20
      Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal
      through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
      21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him
      we might become the righteousness of God.

      The most fundamentally sound summary of the Bible is John 3:16. "For
      God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever
      believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

      Is John 3:16 an offer of salvation? Is it the story of God's love? Is
      this a verse about an active, pursuing love ? Does it mean God is, in
      some sense, awaiting your response? Or is this the story of your
      already determined eternal destiny, and no response from you does
      anything except reveal God's predetermined choice of where you'll
      spend eternity?

      Once you start down this road, a lot of questions will follow you.

      Perhaps there's not an "offer" at all. Maybe there's just Christ, and
      you believe in him, trust him, or not. In other words, "the offer"
      implies that something is incomplete, and salvation in Jesus is not
      incomplete. It's a totally finished work of God done entirely for us.

      We not only have to articulate the "offer," we must explain faith,
      the human response to that offer. Some will say that faith in what
      God has done for us isn't ever an offer to conduct a transaction for
      us if we do something. Faith is believing that God has done
      everything for those who are the elect.

      Of course, that faith response doesn't do anything but believe in
      what has already been done, so faith isn't a necessary part of
      salvation in the sense of completing an incomplete offer. Faith is
      necessary in one way–it's always present in those saved by Christ–but
      it's not necessary in any way that makes salvation complete.

      If you haven't heard this or similar ways of discussing faith and
      salvation, you will. And you will need to make up your mind about how
      you are going to present the Gospel.

      Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, has made that
      decision. A graduate of two Macarthur schools, an enthusiastic
      student of John Piper and recent speaker at Louie Giglio's
      Passion '07, Chan has made a 15-minute Gospel presentation
      called "Just Stop and Think." You need to watch it, and you need to
      listen to how Chan presents the Gospel.

      In particular, you need to listen to the language and the theology
      Chan uses. According to some reformed critics, it's commendable for
      zeal, but Biblically way off base and an example of "the problem" in

      Chan's presentation has much in common with evangelism teachers like
      Ray Comfort and Will Metzger. Chan talks about the wonder of
      creation. He uses the Ten Commandments to explain our relationship to
      God, our sin, and the certainty of judgment. He unapologetically says
      that God loves us, that God passionately loves the world, that Christ
      died for you, and that God is inviting you to say "Yes!" to a
      relationship of repentance, faith and God-glorifying obedience.

      In the process, Chan says that the cross was the way a God of love
      saved sinners. He says that God passionately loves and pursues sinful
      people. He believes that sinners must respond and he urges them to do
      so in intense, emotional terms. He says that God wants the viewer,
      right now, as they watch the film, to pray a prayer of faith and
      surrender, and then begin living out what it means to appreciate a
      God who sends his Son to love, die for and save undeserving sinners.

      Chan, like a lot of young pastors who are influenced deeply by John
      Piper, isn't frightened by the language of traditional evangelical
      invitations, and especially isn't afraid of the language of
      passionate, pursuing love. I can appreciate that, because in my
      encounters with Calvinism as a pastor and a preacher, this was a
      never-ending controversy: What could you say to unbelievers, and how
      would you say it?

      Here are some very familiar sample comments and conversations,
      probably similar to conversations many of you have already had if
      you've been in reformed circles. They are typical of the reactions of
      some critics to language like Francis Chan's:

      "Jesus died for you." Better not say that, because Jesus only died
      for the elect. You will confuse people.

      "God passionately loves you." Wrong. God is actually very angry with
      you, and people don't need to hear about the love of God when the
      Bible says God is angry with the wicked every day. They need to hear
      about God's wrath and anger. Don't tell unbelievers that God loves
      them in their rebellion.

      "God doesn't want you to go to hell." You don't know that. According
      to Romans 9, God does want some people to go to hell. That's why they
      go there. That we all don't go there when we all should is the good

      "Right now, God is inviting you to give your life to Jesus." That
      makes it sound like God is passive and helpless, waiting on sinners.
      God doesn't do that. He regenerates sinners and they believe on him.

      "Give your heart and your life to Christ now. Don't wait until
      tomorrow." This is rather manipulative and emotional. You have
      nothing to give to God. You belong to him anyway.

      "Pastor, your invitation today asked people to make a decision for
      Christ, and the Bible never says that. The Bible tells people to
      believe. Making a decision is something we do, and we do nothing in
      our salvation. You need to be Biblical in what you tell people to
      do." I heard this a lot when I was a pastor, and I gave a very modest

      I don't want to sound unsympathetic here. I'm against the public
      invitation and have three essays on this site kicking it. I'm aware
      of the problems of non-Biblical language in evangelism and have
      written on that. I'm aware that romanticism and emotional
      manipulation are cultural idols that Biblical Christians can't ignore
      or treat as neutral. I've written an entire essay on the problems
      with romanticism in worship music.

      Many evangelical Calvinists have been able to use evangelistic
      language such as Chan's without gagging or choking. Spurgeon was a
      master of direct, evangelistic invitations. Many of the Puritans were
      as well, in ways that would shock some of their contemporary
      promoters. D. James Kennedy is a Calvinist. Certainly John Piper, as
      serious a Calvinist as exists in evangelicalism, can use the language
      of passionate intensity in evangelism.

      Notice Piper's language in his presentation of the Gospel
      called "Quest For Joy."

      Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied
      with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in
      your life.

      What should you do?

      Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you
      from the guilt and punishment and bondage. "All who call upon the
      name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). Start banking your
      hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin's
      promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God's promises.
      Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises,
      which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church
      and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure
      Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).

      The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict
      between our happiness and God's holiness. Being satisfied with all
      that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.

      Now it is clear to anyone who reads this that Piper is a careful
      Calvinist. He avoids things that would violate his reformed faith,
      such as implying Christ died for all persons or that faith precedes
      regeneration. At the same time, he commands sinners to repent, turn,
      call, start banking, have faith, obey and so on. He explicitly tells
      his hearers to find a desire to submit to Christ and to follow it. In
      no way do these commands imply that God is passive or that the sinner
      is completing salvation by his/her response.

      This is solid, evangelical evangelism that one would have heard from
      Wesley or Whitefield.

      But there is also a puzzle. Piper does demonstrates the reluctance of
      some Calvinists to speak of the love of God in personal terms.
      Nowhere in "Quest for Joy" does it say that God loves sinners or that
      God loves you.

      Listen to Piper in point 5.
      5) God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy

      "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ
      Jesus came into the world to save sinners…" (1 Timothy 1:15)
      The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose
      physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death
      and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20).
      This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans
      3:25-26). "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for
      the unrighteous, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to
      God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.

      There are 326 verses in the ESV New Testament that use some form of
      the English word "love." Most of them refer to our love for God or
      for one another. But a substantial number refer to God's love for
      people and individuals.

      In John's Gospel, God loves the world. Jesus loves Lazarus, Mary,
      Martha, the disciples, the church and John himself. A typical
      Johanine use of love would be something like this in John 15: 6 As
      the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. From
      Jesus, to all those he met and ministered to, to those who believe.

      We need to decide, did Jesus love Lazarus? The woman at the well? The
      woman caught in adultery? Did he love Pilate? Did he love the men he
      prayed to forgive at his crucifixion? Did Jesus command love for
      enemies but not love his enemies?

      Can we talk about God's love for the person in front of us? The
      person we are having coffee with and talking to about the claims of
      Christ on his/her life? Does God love them in the present? Is the
      death of Christ "for" them in the present? Is there a response on
      their part?

      These are crucial questions, because Romans 5 says:

      6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the
      ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though
      perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows
      his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for

      Does the "us" in this passage–a limited group in some senses, but an
      unlimited group in others–mean that we cannot say to an ungodly world
      that God showed his love for each one of them by Christ's life and
      death? No one can argue that New Testament language doesn't
      eventually narrow down to an "us" that are believers only, but is the
      language of the coming of Christ for the world, the death of Christ
      for the ungodly world and "the offer" of salvation to the whole world
      appropriate for evangelism to every person or not?

      This is not about buying the worst of evangelical language. It's not
      about saying Chan's presentation couldn't be improved or Piper's
      improved as well. (See the "Two Ways to Live" presentation.) It's not
      denying the legitimate criticisms of many Calvinists. I've made many
      of these same criticisms. I'm not buying all that revivalism has done
      or taught. I've seen the results up close. Language does matter.

      Ultimately, it is about whether you can look at the children that you
      see at the playground tomorrow and can say to them all, "God loves
      you and gave his only son Jesus so you can know and enjoy His love
      forever." Can we say to all the people we meet this year, "Jesus
      passionately loves you?" Can we invite all people–not just all kinds
      of people–to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ because he loves them
      and he died to save them? Can missionaries go anywhere and say to
      everyone, "God loves you passionately and Christ died for you?"

      The critics of Chan's language say that we cannot portray God as
      a "passive Lover of our souls." This is an odd phrase. The love of
      God in the Bible is not passive. It is active and pursuing in both
      testaments. But some reformed critics seem to be saying that unless
      God does everything, then he is passive.

      As a classroom teacher, I do many things for my students, but I do
      not do everything for them. They make a response to my teaching. I
      would find it odd if someone said that giving my students the
      opportunity to respond means that I am "passive." Is it possible to
      believe in depravity and regeneration and not condemn Chan's gospel
      presentation as presenting a "passive" God?

      Is it possible that in seeking to give God credit for all of
      salvation–as we must in all ways that pertain to the essence of what
      salvation means–some make the mistake of distorting obvious Biblical
      aspects of God's genuine, bona fide invitation and offer? In saying
      that the cross is not about us, but about God alone, are we going too
      far in the way the New Testament presents the "offer?" It seems that
      the critics are attempting to theologically correct Biblical language
      and imagery so that we are always describing what was done for us and
      never offering a real invitation where our response is crucial.

      I'm firmly of the belief that we have to find a way to be faithful to
      the Gospel and say exactly those things to the world that God gives
      us to reach and influence, whether it be a world of Muslims or a
      world of three co-workers.

      The Bible portrays God's love as creator, father, husband, mother,
      judge, redeemer, and many other ways. It uses the language of law,
      business, marriage and intimate sexuality. It tells stories and uses
      illustrations of marriage, families, courts, farms and judgment. The
      Bible is diverse and exhaustive in its language explaining the Good

      The most basic Biblical words are Jesus' first words: Repent.
      Believe. Follow. They are words of recognition of what is, and of a
      faith response to what must be. With due respect to Dr.
      Piper, "Delight yourself in the Lord," is a good command, but it
      cannot replace the Bible's call to repent, believe and follow.

      And if our theology has brought us to the point that we are careful
      to not speak too extravagantly about the love of God, something is
      seriously wrong. If we can read the Prodigal Son or the woman at the
      well and not see the passionate Lover of our souls, we've simply gone
      too deeply into our own theological mazes.

      At that point, whatever we're defending simply doesn't matter
      anymore. When we can no longer articulate an offer of salvation,
      we've lost what it means to evangelize.

      I think this is a very important issue to many younger evangelicals.
      If "Just Stop and Think" is the wrong Gospel, then we need to have a
      much longer conversation.


      08.07.07 Chan and Change
      Francis Chan is just a guy who pastors a large church in California.
      He's not the smartest, most famous, most respected, most
      anything...I'm guessing. He's just a guy. But the direction he lead
      his church in, or so the legend goes, is remarkable and unheard of.
      Or perhaps it wasn't lead as much as allowed. Anybody know?

      The story is - correct me if I'm wrong - that his church was on track
      to spend 20 million dollars to build a new building. What happened,
      and I don't know how, was that the decision was made to build an
      outdoor meeting place instead. Much cheaper. Much much cheaper.
      And the money that was saved would then go to the truly poor around
      the world. And, the story goes, meeting outside on rainy days or hot
      days would serve to remind folks in the church of the discomfort
      others live in every day.

      Spend less. Create empathy. Mobilize to show mercy. Sounds like
      church to me.

      I've never met Francis Chan. I saw him in the hotel lobby in Austin
      a couple weeks ago and didn't want to interrupt to say hey. But this
      weekend I'm looking forward to interrupting him just long enough to
      say thanks for the story and to get more details. Even if it's not
      entirely true - what do I know? - it's inspiring. What could church
      become? How does it become it? What is the pastor's role in that
      becoming? Can it happen without him?

      There are (8) comments.
      Cruz-Control said:
      He told this story at the National Worship Leader Conference. He
      said that he told them it was repulsive to spend that much money on
      themselves, and he could never pastor such a group of people. He
      said that he, as a pastor, would be responsible for that before God.

      He suggested that every time an offering was taken that it was
      divided equally - half spent on their church, half spent on others
      outside the church. This is the only way Christians can claim that
      they love their neighbor as much as themselves.

      He said that if we really believe Jesus is starving (cf. Matt 25),
      then we can't sit back and let that happen and expect to call
      ourselves Christians.

      So, he told the elders it was repulsive to spend that kind of money
      on themselves when Jesus was starving on the other side of the
      world. He suggested building a park with an amphitheater that the
      community could use and they could hold services in - and would cost
      less money; the rest could be given away. When one asked about the
      weather, Chan reminded them of the Green Bay Packers fans who sit
      through a blizzard for the season every year. Packers fans are that
      dedicated for the team; are Christians that dedicated to sit outside
      in Southern California weather so that Jesus, who is starving on the
      other side of the world, can be fed?

      His sermon was one of the best I've ever heard. An audio copy is
      available from the Worship Leader folks.

      This guy and his church are an inspiration to me. As a missionary
      who is often discouraged by the lack of engagement of the American
      church to reach the poor and disenfranchised, he is truly a pastor to
      me through his podcasts, and he gives me hope that somebody "gets" it
      when it comes to missions.

      His church, Simi Cornerstone, has committed to giving away 50% of
      what comes in at their church this year to care for the poor around
      the world - estimated to be $4 million this year alone. God bless

      I'm pretty sure that is his wife, Lisa, singing in the video.
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