T4G Joshua Harris: Dug Down Deep

This afternoon’s session at the T4G 2010 Conference was by Josh Harris, pastor & author, based on his new book Dug Down Deep: Helping Others Build Their Lives on Christ-Centered Doctrine.

Evangelical Christianity in America today is now characterized as moralistic,therapeutic deism. People think it’s all about doing good things, getting their problems fixed, under the eye of a benevolent but uninvolved God.

The question is: What are we going to do about it? What is our reaction?

Do we see the contemporary Christian landscape as sheep without a shepherd who need the truth?

As we look at luke 6, we see that Jesus faced the same sort of problem that we face today, people who call Him Lord but do not do the things He said. People do not know the Gospel, so they don’t know how to apply the reality of the Gospel to their lives.

What did Jesus do with these people? He spoke grace to them, shepherded them, and that is what we are called to do. Pastors, don’t study Barna, study your people, the individual people that God has brought to you. Here are four points as you shepherd your people in the life-transforming reality of the Gospel.

One: Tell Them Simply

When Jesus spoke to the immature, He spoke simply. Don’t preach your message for fellow pastors. You can feed a child a steak, but if you love him you will cut it up into bite sized pieces.

Two: Tell Them Why

Let them know the real benefits of a transformed life. You can do this without pandering to selfishness. Tell them why doctrine matters to real life. Tell them the storms are coming to their lives, and what they believe about God & Jesus will make all the difference. Show them that we are all theologians. Make them confront the questions: Do you see the foundation you are building on? Do you see how you will be swept away if you keep clinging to your incorrect beliefs about yourself & God?

Three: Tell Them How

The parable of the two houses in Luke 6 shows us a three step process that we should teach and model:

Step One: Come to Jesus– make it clear there is no solid foundation except in the person & work of Jesus. The point of all theological doctrine is to know and obey this Person. Not ritual or rule keeping or anything else: all else is sand. Jesus is the Rock.
What are the popular false foundations in your church, the things that people functionally stake their lives on, have confidence in, even if they would say that Jesus is their Lord? Ask people: What is special about our church? It probably reveals your false foundation. In reality, nothing makes us special, all we have is Christ. Christ is the only foundation. Are we training our people to be most passionate about their relationship with Jesus?

Step Two: Listen to His Words– We serve a God Who speaks. People want to separate doctrinal truth and relational intimacy into two tracks, but correct doctrine is relational. There is no relationship without knowing God. If you want to feel deeply, you must think deeply. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the interpretation of the facts is doctrine.

Step Three: Put His Words into Practice– we often see people with foundations of sand as people who do not KNOW doctrine, but Jesus says it is people who do not FOLLOW doctrine.

What do people see as the word picture of sound doctrine? A fight, a trophy? Or building?

Doctrine is for building your life. It has to be put into practice. Doctrine doesn’t end when people shut their Bibles and walk out of the church building.

That’s why Paul said, “Watch your life & your doctrine closely.”. Your life must be a testimony to the importance of sound doctrine.

Four: Tell Them Compassionately

We often learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.

Will we gently and compassionately show them the importance of digging down deep?

Will we be an example with our lives?

My life was changed because I had a pastor (C. J. Mahaney) that not only taught sound doctrine, but lived it and showed me his life, his house that he had built on sound doctrine.

There is a whole generation of churchgoers who have not seen a life based on a solid foundation, lived with humility and integrity.

They need to see such a life, they need someone who will let them inside their house, jump on the floor and see that it really is firm, to see that it stands in the worst of storms. They need to see the value and goodness of building their life on Jesus Christ.

Will you be that person?

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