A Sermon on Manhood
The first sermon I heard John Piper preach was on Biblical Manhood. I remember thinking that I’d never heard preaching like it. Of course it was also the subject matter that gripped me. No one has spoken more clearly or passionately than John Piper on the issue of biblical sexuality over the past thirty years. He, along with Wayne Grudem and other pastors and scholars, formed the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
in 1987. Owen Strachan, who is the current president, now spearheads the movement. For a while now, I have admired Owen’s conviction, passion and bravery in accepting the leadership of CBMW and taking them forward in a time where complementarianism is being attacked on all fronts. In fact, as I have said previously
, this issue is the bite point where the gospel is confronting culture today. Al Mohler
has said that homosexuality will be the dividing line in defining the church in coming days. It is true to say that never has the culture or the church been so confused over these matters and so opposed to Scriptural mandate. Yet it is also true to say that it is far more common for churches to speak out boldly on social justice issues, like human trafficking or poverty, than it is to boldly, clearly and biblically speak into and model sexuality.
An Invitation and a New Role at CBMW
Recently Owen Strachan
spoke at our Calvary Grace Church conference on The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, after which he asked me to come on board as CBMW’s Director of International Outreach (here’s the announcement
). This is a great honor and privilege, because CBMW’s role in supporting and equipping churches with the message of God’s good design for human flourishing in biblical sexuality is more vital than ever. Here the church has both the responsibility to stand for truth and the opportunity to engage in mission. CBMW have a good team of men and women who love the truths of complementarianism and will fearlessly stand on the rock of Scripture to defend and declare them. So CBMW’s ministry is vital as a clear public voice and also in resourcing pastors and their people so they are gripped, convicted, encouraged and equipped:
Gripped by divine design, not personal preference, for human flourishing and God’s glory. God’s way is good and should be loved and celebrated.
Convicted not confused on the doctrines of biblical sexuality.
Encouraged and strengthened to declare and demonstrate these same doctrines.
Equipped to advance, casting biblical vision of and cultivating biblical obedience to complementarity.
Mine is a new role for CBMW. It is the role of expanding and establishing:
1. I will work within the existing framework and ethos of CBMW to expand our reach to other countries and nations through preaching, teaching and writing. God’s plan is outward looking. It is to spread the fame of Christ’s name through the conversion of the lost and the establishment and growth of healthy churches. And key to a healthy church is a healthy vision of complementarianism. There are plenty of complementarian churches that need strengthening and there are plenty of others who don’t know what they believe, so conferences designed to set forth the teaching of Scripture on manhood, womanhood, and marriage will be high on the agenda.
2. Also, I will be seeking to establish outposts, or “chapters”, in different countries, which would serve as a constant on the ground CBMW presence and national point of reference, in order to host conferences, convene important conversations and strengthen existing complementarian churches in that place. To begin we will be launching chapters in Canada and South America. We desire this to happen in the UK (I am travelling there in October), Europe mainland, India, China, and Australia.
A Checklist Before The Battle
The expanding and establishing work of God’s kingdom always meets with resistance. We enter the realm of spiritual warfare in frontline, gospel centered ministry ventures. It will cost. So it is crucial to run through a checklist before the battle. Here’s mine:
Check the heart: whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God (Matt. 6: 9; 1 Cor. 10:31). Anything can be made an idol of the heart and soon distract from the gospel. Motivation for the battle is everything – it must be “hallowed be your name”. His honor is at stake.
Check the doctrine: the only weapon that Christians have is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17 cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). But it is a sword, which must be rightly used. The battle is a doctrinal one. It is a battle for the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God, the character of God and the gospel of God. God defines himself, and men and women. Therefore, we must know what God’s Word says, love what God’s Word says, and live what God’s word says. If we are not convicted by it, others won’t be.
Check the power: nothing can be achieved if God is not the power behind it. We need the right people, we need the right money and we need the right strategy, but more than that we need the right power. Therefore, prevailing prayer must undergird and sustain any new work (Eph. 6:18). People can be moved and ground can be taken in the battle only by the power of God. When Moses’ arms were raised in prayer Israel advanced, when they lowered, they lost ground (Ex. 17:11). The ground we need to gain is the ground of human hearts, turning them towards God and holiness. So we need to pray and we need prayer warriors engaged in this specific battle. Prayer is tough, tiring and taxing. It expresses dependency and humility. But God loves to answer prayer for his own praise. So we can expect great things and attempt great things because we have a great God.
Check the time: part of biblical wisdom is to know the times in which you live and see the key issues to address, like the men of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32). Biblical sexuality is where the battle for the authority of God’s Word rages most. In any battle, there is a time to defend and a time to attack, but there is never a time to be passive. At the right time, Christ came and went towards the cross for the sake of God’s glory and the good of his people (Ro. 5:6). He redeemed his church and he redeemed masculinity and femininity. Divine love moves forward. The time to act is now!