By / May 2

Tony Evans is a spiritual giant and a mentor to many through his ministry, especially when it comes to the area of racial reconciliation. At the ERLC’s Leadership Summit, his message titled, Oneness Embraced: Racial Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and Justice, painted a hopeful picture of how God will unite his church from every tribe, tongue, and nation. We hope this message gives you a greater heart for diversity.

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By / May 16

In this episode, Russell Moore gives his Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission inagural address at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. About 200 key evangelical and political leaders were there as Moore cast his vision for the future kingdom work of the ERLC.

By / Jan 11

In 1987, R.E.M. released its hit song, “It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” You’ve probably heard it once or twice. It’s a fast-paced, catchy tune that seems oddly jubilant for a song about the end of the world.

In a world where seemingly every news story is saturated with the stench of bad news, it’s easy to plug our noses, close our eyes, and beg for Jesus to come back. R.E.M. can “feel fine” all they want; in reality, it feels like the end of the world is at our doorstep and we’re scared to death to answer the door. Deep down, we all want God to pull the plug and get this over with.

To be fair, it’s understandable to long for Jesus’s return in the midst of a sinful world. We groan with creation for his return, relying on the Spirit to remind us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rom. 8:18-30). The world isn't the way it’s supposed to be, and it’s not the way it always will be. It might be the end of the world as we know it, but we should feel fine.

On earth as it is in heaven

Genesis 1-3 tells us a lot about the future. After a snapshot of God speaking all things into existence, humanity takes center stage. Adam and Eve, though created, didn’t simply exist alongside the rest of creation like roommates sharing an apartment. They were, instead, given the keys to creation. They were landlords of the whole thing, under God’s rule. They were also ordered to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

The idea was not only to have children and propagate the species—they were ordered to multiply humans who could then multiply more humans, resulting in the spreading of God’s image across the whole earth. Like ancient kings who identified their kingdoms and marked their territory by placing their replica on key items (e.g., temples, coins, statues), God wanted to mark the earth with his created image-bearers.

But Adam and Eve didn’t make it very long before they were Trojan-horsed by Satan and evicted from the perfection of Eden (Gen. 3). They traded imperishable eternity with their Maker for rotting fruit. They handed over the keys to creation.

Matthew 4, in an eerily similar scene to that of Genesis 3, tells of Jesus’s encounter with Satan. Satan pulls out his top hat and begins to pull rabbits from within. “Turn these stones to bread, Son of God. Throw yourself from this temple and let God’s angels catch you, Son of God. I will give you all the kingdoms of the world, Son of God.” In response to these tactics, Jesus answers the way Eve should have. He says, more or less, “God said to trust what he says. He has given me authority over creation. I have all I need in him. Now go away.” And Satan, the serpent that he still is, slithers away. Instead of being deceived by Satan, Jesus withstood and defeated him. The God-man took the keys back.

Jesus prays in Matthew 6:9-10 for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” In Eden, this was a reality. God walked among his people. There was no barrier between them. Though sin broke that bond, Jesus stepped into human history to fix it. So when he prays for heaven and earth to meet, he’s not being trite—he’s proclaiming something universe-altering. He’s praying for the inauguration of Revelation 21-22, where Satan and sin have been defeated and where God’s people dwell with him again. Edenic perfection is restored, but better—the world looks like it was eventually supposed to, covered in image-bearers who bask in the rays of his glory for eternity. This is not something to fear; it’s something to rejoice in.

When the bad news is gone

Jesus’ prayer mentioned above, his words in the Sermon on the Mount, his Transfiguration, his call for multiplying disciples of all nations, etc. are all signposts for the new heaven and new earth. He didn’t come live a perfect life and conquer the grave so we could sit on our hands. He made us new creations here and now, to be ministers of reconciliation here and now, and to be his mouthpiece here and now (2 Cor. 5:17-21). He sends us out to mirror what the end of Revelation promises. Our lives should shout eternity to the world around us.

The disciples in Acts 2 weren’t preaching and living out merely good morals; rather, they were painting a picture with their lives that this broken world doesn’t have the final word. They were pointing to something bigger. Peter preached about God’s judgment and the disciples shared all their belongings because, in eternity, everything broken will become unbroken. There will be no more evil or selfishness or famine. People will live together in one accord under the reign of a perfect King.

This is still our call today. We are still ministers of reconciliation. God still uses his people to show the world what redemption looks like. We give because one day, no one will be in need. We tell the truth because one day, there will never be another lie. We gather together to worship God and to press one another toward him because one day, worship will be the air we breathe. We share the good news because one day, there will be no more bad news.

By / Sep 28

In a piece for Her.meneutics, Jennifer Grant cautions parents against trying to “bully their kids into belief,” writing: “Between the extremes of bullying our children into faith and neglecting to teach them to pray is a wide expanse.”

I completely agree, and I suspect most parents would too. And yet…in our practice of parenting, we often act as though our child’s relationship with God is all up to us. In my experience as a child of the church, a pastor, and now a father of four, I’ve found most attempts to force faith onto children stem from a misapplication of a favorite parenting verse:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

At first glance, Proverbs seems to offer an ironclad promise: Raise your children “the right way,” and they will automatically “turn out right.” And who among us hasn’t heard a thousand messages promising just that? We can get “new kids by Friday” if only we apply the right formula.

But here’s the problem. It doesn’t always work. We all know people who were raised in Christian homes yet abandoned the faith in their adult years.

So what happens to Proverbs 22:6? Because we think this sage wisdom is a guarantee from God, we assume that parents of prodigals must have failed somewhere. Racked with guilt, these parents travel back in time through the child-raising years, searching and sleuthing for their big mistakes. And many pastors and counselors are all too willing to help them in this guilt-laden process.

But Proverbs 22:6 was never written to serve as a stand-alone foundation for the biblical model of parenting. It is merely one verse in the entire revelation of God, from Genesis to Revelation.

Furthermore, the common interpretation of Proverbs 22:6 as a promise or doctrine is faulty. Serious Bible students understand that Proverbs, while inspired Scripture, are just that: proverbs. They represent the best collection of the wisdom anywhere in the world. They rise above all other literature, both classical and contemporary.

But the proverbs are not doctrine, and they are not promises.

We don’t apply the other proverbs this way. For instance, Proverbs 15:1 suggests that a soft answer turns away wrath. This is true, the majority of the time. A kind word often diffuses an angry confrontation. But there are also moments when a soft answer will inflame. I’ve had a soft answer land me an uppercut to the jaw. There are precincts in my hometown of Chicago that will reward a soft answer with a gunshot.

Do you see the folly of reinterpreting the Proverbs as promises? To be sure, God does include many wonderful promises in Scripture, promises that are ironclad guarantees that rest on the unchanging character of God.

But Proverbs 22:6 isn’t one of them.

The problem with making this verse the foundation of our parenting is that it tends to move parents away from a biblical, faith-based approach to a humanistic, results-oriented approach.

Putting all the pressure on parents to execute and then blaming only them for failure is both unbiblical and impossible. Unbiblical because it removes the work of God and brings glory to man. Impossible because human parents cannot manufacture what only the Holy Spirit can produce.

We forget that every child is an individual human soul, created with their own accountability before God. Worse, we ignore the work of the Holy Spirit in the shaping of a child’s soul.

So what is the job of a parent? Faithfulness. Parents are given the task of creating a culture of faith that intentionally uses all of life to point their children toward a lifelong relationship with God. We’re to equip them for life.

But the job of conversion and sanctification can only be done by God through the work of the Holy Spirit. Only God can shape the human heart. Too many Christian parenting models operate under the subtle assumption that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is incidental to parenting. But gospel parenting is more than simply hoping our kids nod in affirmation at the offer of the gospel in Sunday School. Gospel parenting frees us from taking the place of God.

In a gospel paradigm, parents are both evangelists and disciple-makers, continually retelling the story of creation, man’s sin, Jesus’ offer of redemption, and the promise of the Holy Spirit in guiding them toward their God-given purpose. And we earnestly pray with fervent trust, knowing that it is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost who will do the work of both justification and sanctification.

Children are a divine stewardship. They are not for us to own, but for us to love, carefully guide, and then release to God’s provident care. We cannot pressure, bully or force them into faith.

We parent, not with anticipation of some promised outcome, but out of faithfulness to Jesus, leaving the outcome to him.

This was originally published here.

By / Apr 2

From the 2015 ERLC Leadership Summit on “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation”

By / Apr 1

From the 2015 ERLC Leadership Summit on “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation”