From Mark Dever, speaking this week at the Acts 29 Bootcamp in Chicago:
Our differences are enough to separate some of my friends—your brothers and sisters in Christ—from you. And perhaps to separate them from me, now that I’m publicly speaking to you. And I don’t want to minimize either the sincerity or the seriousness of some of their concerns (things like: humor, worldliness, pragmatism, authority).
But I perceive some things in common which outweigh our differences—which the Lord Jesus shall soon enough compose between us, either by our maturing, or by His bringing us home. I long to work with those, and count it a privilege to work with those whom My Savior has purchased with His blood, and with whom I share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I perceive that we have in common the knowledge that God is glorified in sinners being reconciled to Him through Christ. This is not taught by other religions, nor clearly by the ancient Christian churches of the East, or by Rome, by liberal Protestant churches, by Mormons, the churches of Christ, or by groups of self-righteous, legalistic, moralistic Christians. And not only do we together affirm the exclusivity of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone—we agree on the sovereignty of God in life and salvation, the regenerate nature of church members, the importance of church membership and discipline, the baptism of believers alone, the priorities of expositional preaching, and evangelism, the importance of authority and a growing appreciation for the significance of complementarianism. These are not slight matters. And they only fire my desire to encourage you and cheer you on, until you cross that finish line that the Lord lays down for us.
When I first read this, I immediate thought of the man who said that “moderation is the heart of Christianity” – Richard Sibbes. But more importantly, what I read here is someone who does not wear “Together for the Gospel” as a slogan or bumper sticker advertisement; rather, he willingly gives himself to invest in others for the sake of the kingdom even at the expense of his reputation and even long-standing friendships. Finally, I find in this statement a resounding conviction in the unity of the church around the gospel and the glory of God–something for which Jesus interceded on our behalf.
This is not to say that there are differences between solid evangelical Christians who stand on the sole authority of God’s Word. Differences there will be, but those that lay on the periphery should not cloud our vision to appreciate that which we hold most dear–that which we are solemnly entrusted–the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am ever hopeful that others can find such gospel-centered partnerships as a pattern of greater things to come. May God put in our hearts a mutual affection for our Savior and a reciprocating resolve to neither wane nor wander away from the heart of the Christian faith.
Soli Deo Gloria.
(HT :: JT)