My notes for Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt (The Gospel Coalition Courses).
…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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16 (ESV)
Speak the truth of the Gospel into each others’ lives. Not just speaking truth in a loving way, but speaking the truth of Christ into everything.
Gospel Fluency = “People learning how to speak the truth of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life”
Our greatest desire should not be to change behaviour, but to lead people to Christ.
Q: What ideas and philosophies “toss” you around? How about your friends and neighbors?
One of the biggest, unacknowledged, “ideas and philosophies” that generally toss Christians in North America around is the lie of leisure culture. It is allowing leisure to take an oversized portion of your time. Of course it is not a bad thing to rest. The issue is when it becomes excessive, even to the point of feeling like we’re entitled to leisure that it can become an issue, even idolatrous – meaning, sinful. I definitely fall into this trap as the temptation to “zone out” is all too present with all of the things available to distract us from the things in life that really matter.
Q: What does speaking the truth in love look like for you, today?
I can definitely relate with what Jeff is talking about in the lecture/chapter, that we certainly act as if we don’t believe in Jesus when it comes to some aspects of our lives. As such, it’s important to speak the Gospel into these things and allow the Christ to transform us.
Q: How would you need to grow in order to speak the truth in love to those around you so they can grow up in Christ?
I would need to be more observant and to be more sensitive to the application of the Gospel in many things in life. I aspire to learn how to personalize and specify the fallen condition in order to make the Gospel relevant to those around me.
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the Candle of Joy.
Christmas is a season of joy. It’s a season for family, friends, food.. And presents under the tree! But all these things are temporal and cannot bring true joy. Certainly we should be thankful that God has blessed so abundantly! But in the midst of these things, let us never forget the source of true and unending joy.
The nativity story is filled with vivid expressions of this joy – there’s Mary, who exclaimed “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”… the Angels declaring to the Shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” And the Wise Men, who “when they saw the star, rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
This joy was a recognition that Jesus, stepping into history, was the messiah that the scriptures long foretold. For this reason, we can truly join in with the Psalmist who wrote:
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
In the Fall of 2017, I finally realized my dream of living in Japan. A year after the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016, I moved on from my work as an Associate Pastor at NorthLife Church to become a Missionary English Teacher in Osaka, Japan. I had never been to Osaka, despite three prior trips to Japan. On those trips, I focused on exploring Tokyo and the Tohoku region, but I of course wanted to visit Kyoto and Osaka. Little did I know that I would eventually live there for two years.
When I arrived in Osaka, I did many of the typical “tourist things” that you might expect. One of which was visiting Kuromon Market. And that’s where I saw all the Fugu shops. Fugu was made infamous by the Simpsons episode “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” (Season 2, Episode 11). In that episode, Homer demands to eat the poisonous fish even though the restaurant’s head chef wasn’t around to prepare it. Hilarity ensues, and fugu entered into the American mainstream.
I had watched tons of video about Fugu while researching things to do in Japan for my earlier trip. But I never really had the opportunity to try it until those early days of living in Osaka. I didn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity. I had some fugu! And it was… meh. It doesn’t really have flavour, so it’s definitely a fish you need with a bit of sauce. Anyway, obviously I didn’t die – because serving Fugu is heavily controlled. Apparently about 100 people die every year of eating Fugu, but pretty much all of them died because they tried to prepare it themselves.
And so, Fugu is the most adventurous thing I’ve ever eaten. And, I cheated death just like Homer Simpson.