This past Sunday we closed up our series through 1 Peter with a sermon on Peter’s closing greeting. It could not have come at a better time. Here was our passage:
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. —1 Peter 5:12–14
Peter commends Silvanus, a partner who will likely deliver the letter. He connects churches with one another. He affirms one brother whom he has been discipling. In all this he is setting an example for us of the kind of warm and wide-hearted love that should mark the church in exile.
In the coming weeks we have an opportunity to work out this spirit as a church by welcoming several “faithful brothers.” I’m eager for you to meet them and to greet them in Christ.
So, let me make some introductions for us. I’ll make these remarks personal where I can, taking my cue from Peter who commended Silvanus to his own readers. I also asked each of these brothers for recommendations of things the other brothers have written lately, since they are all friends.
Receive David Mathis, a Man of Faithful Words
I don’t know where our relationship began exactly, but we really hit it off once I wrote an article for Desiring God on marijuana. Just like every good friendship. In return, David heard of our executive pastor search and pointed us to Jason Read, his brother-in-law. We are ever-grateful! David is the speaker for this year’s men’s retreat, from February 18–19. He grew up in the Upstate, he’s a graduate of Furman, and his parents live in Spartanburg. He’s also a husband and a father of four.
David is a man of words.
David is executive editor for desiringGod.org, a ministry that we’ve been helped by over the years in many ways. Desiring God is a ministry that grew out of John Piper’s preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. I remember coming into Pastor John’s book, Desiring God, as a college student. I remember that memorable line, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” And I remember the internet in its earlier days when Desiring God was a little site that had Piper’s sermons available for free, a novel idea back then. And an idea made possible by generous donors who believed in its spreading mission. I remember when the iPod was released. Among my aspiring pastor friends, that device might well have been called an iPiper. It carried all those sermons and lectures we devoured. In any case, there’s a lot to thank the Lord for here. Read up on the history of this ministry and note the tie to Greenville. David is a steward of the mission of this ministry. Pray for his editorial clarity and courage.
David is also a writer. One book we’ve recommended for years around here is, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. But more than an editor and writer of words, David is a preacher, a local church pastor at Cities Church, in St. Paul, MN. So much of his writing flows from the loves and labor of any pastor. You’ll sense that in some of his recent writing:
- “Who Really Has Your Ear?: The Re-Forming Power of Words“
- “A Strange and Holy Calm: Holding Our Peace in an Age of Outbursts“
- “The Doctrines of Race: A Call to Make Christ Central“
- “We Will See His Face: What Is the Beatific Vision?“
- “Let Passing Controversies Pass: When Wise Pastors Choose to Say Less“
Greet Andy Naselli, a Faithful Guardian
Andy Naselli will preach both Sundays, February 20 and 27, to bookend GO Week on this year’s theme, Spreading a Passion for God’s Glory. When we learned that he was in the region on sabbatical to write a book, we extended this invitation.
Andy Naselli is a long-time friend of our church. When he worked as research assistant to D.A. Carson, Andy was responsible for editing the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, which he could do from anywhere. So, Andy and his family moved to the Upstate, where his wife, Jenni, is from. They were members for years at one of our church plants, Grace Bible Church, in Moore. You may know him as a co-author of that helpful book we point you to, Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ.
On a personal note, Andy and I have been friends since we shared a burger in Louisville back in 2011. Five years later Heritage reached out to Andy for contacts in our search for a preaching pastor. In a momentary lapse of judgment, Andy thought of me and put us in touch. Blame him.
Andy is a guardian.
Pastors are called to instruct in and defend sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9). Andy is a busy instructor. He is associate professor of systematic theology and New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary and one of the pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He’s got a whole bunch of PhDs, including one from Bob Jones University here in town. If you’re the kind who teaches the Bible here at Heritage, pick up a copy of, 40 Questions about Biblical Theology. If you’re a kid, you should get your parents to buy you a copy of a book Andy wrote with another brother connected to Heritage, Champ Thornton, The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles: The Kambur Chronicles.
Or, for all of us, read these articles on eternal things:
- “Three Tips for Better Bible Reading“
- “Death Is Not the End: What We Still and Will Believe“
- “Don’t Always Follow Your Conscience“
He is an instructor in the faith but also a defender of the faith. One of Andy’s unique contributions is his ability to discern precisely where and how Christ’s bride is vulnerable to doctrinal subversion. For example, his book, No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It’s Harmful. Or his book review, “Does Anyone Need to Recover from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?.” Or this article for all of us: “Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge in Pornography.” Andy has been of helpful counsel to our pastoral team concerning some of the doctrinal challenges in our day.
Welcome Joe Rigney, a Faithful Shepherd of Shepherds
Joe Rigney will preach for us on Sunday, March 6. When Andy learned that Joe would be in the area on a family vacation, he put us in touch and we invited him to preach. One faithful brother commends another. That’s how it often happens.
I first came to know of Joe Rigney through his writing on the goodness of creation and how exactly we’re supposed to go about enjoying it. For example, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. For a good place to start, try his more recent and shorter volume, Strangely Bright: Can You Love God and Enjoy His World?. Related to our enjoyment of God’s gifts, he recently published, More Than a Battle: How to Experience Victory, Freedom, and Healing from Lust.
Joe also helps the church benefit from the life and writings of C.S. Lewis with, Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God, and, Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles. There’s a lot we could learn from Lewis when it comes to persuasion. Joe helps us out here with his piece, “The Cracks in Our Debates: Lessons from Lewis on Disagreement.” Narnia fans, check out his seven interactive talks on The Chronicles of Narnia.
Joe Rigney is a shepherd of shepherds.
He’s a shepherd in the church as a pastor at Cities Church along with David Mathis. He’s a shepherd in his home as a husband and father of three. But he’s also a shepherd of shepherds as a professor and newly appointed president of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
Joe shepherds pastors not only as an institutional leader but as a theological leader. A pastor’s job is to teach, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). Deceitful schemes are deceitful because they come off as true and obvious. One of the problems we’re dealing with in our day is the subtle manipulation of biblical compassion in service of false visions of justice. In this way, goofy theories about just about everything play on the best parts of us as Westerners and as Christians in particular. We’re a people with a high view of humanity. That’s good. But we’re having trouble, and that’s because we’re untethered from the Word in our understanding both of justice and of compassion.
In this vein, read two pieces by Joe: “Do You Feel My Pain? Empathy, Sympathy, and Dangerous Virtues,” and “Dangerous Compassion: How To Make Any Love a Demon.” This is not the first topic I would have turned over for help in navigating the times, but you’ll be surprised at how important this insight is. In a conversation with Doug Wilson, “The Sin of Empathy,” (yes, provocatively titled, but read it in context), Joe and Doug tease out the implications of these reflections for the times. In this way, Joe helps us pastors read the winds so that we may speak the truth even as we do it in love.
True compassion will often require courage. Empathy can often become a disguise for anxiety or cowardice. In fact, it’s for a failure of true compassion that we often fail to act in love. Sharpened by this discussion, Joe spurs us on to true biblical courage.
No surprise, in both pieces, Joe draws from the life and teaching of another pastor of pastors, Apostle Peter, a pastor who learned courage through some of his own failures of courage.
On March 6, Joe will shepherd our church to sing with a sermon from Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” That will be a timely message ahead of our evening with the Gettys on March 11.
A lot of good material came out of Rome. Paul was from there. Peter wrote from there. Minneapolis has been a hot-spot for faithful Word workers, as have been other cities in their own way, including ours. Join me in greeting these faithful brothers from Minneapolis.