Justin Perdue: Welcome to the members’ podcast. Before we go any further, just want to say a thank you to all of you out there who support the ministry of Theocast. We are grateful for you. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for joining in the reformation in locking arms with us to see these truths of Christ and rest in Christ spread as broadly as we can see them spread. We are continuing our conversation about obedience now. And our brother, our friend John Moffitt in his own words, says that he has a zinger to start us off with. John, go ahead and zing us, man.
Jon Moffit: Well this is what’s great about the member’s podcast. It’s, it’s like the after show where we get to sit around with some, you know, something to drink and around the coffee table and, and uh, you know, kick our shoes off is what I like to say. Uh, so here’s the Zinger. I wanted to get to this in the podcast, but, there’s just so much good material it’s, it’s hard to pack it all in. So here are the Zinger guys, is God ever disappointed with you for your lack of obedience? Is God ever displeased with you?
Jimmy Buehler: Okay, so now you can’t use different words there, John.
Jon Moffit: Hmm, are they not, are the same thing?
Jimmy Buehler: Well, and here’s, here’s the thing. Disappointed words matter. Can we all just agree on that?
Justin Perdue: Precision matters man. Precision matters.
Jimmy Buehler: Right. Category confusion is the fundamental problem in the Christian life.
Jon Moffit: Have you been made justified or have you been declared justified? Which one is it?
Jimmy Buehler: Michael Horton says that category confusion is the reason why so many Christians are miserable or something along those lines.
Jon Moffit: I can think of some famous pastors who fall into category confusion.
Jimmy Buehler: Hey now, so the word disappointed again. I would argue that the word disappointed that falls under the legal scheme category. That I’m disappointed in you that you did this or you didn’t do this where there is a so, so let me just bring in the example of, you know, fatherhood, right? Um, for those of you that are listening and God has not given you the gift of children, pray to those ends because having children helps you see the fatherly disposition of God in ways that you never thought imaginable. And so being a father, you know, there is, I’ll just give you an example from the other day. So, I’m helping out a church plant in the twin cities, you know, while we are transitioning with our church plant here in Willmar. And so my wife did a very brave thing and she brought our children to church in Willmar to a reformed church outside of Willmar, I should say, on her own. And you know, she called me and said, church was really rough today and you’re going to need to talk to our boys when you come home. And so when I came home, you know, I used this word, I used daddy is disappointed in your behavior and what it did was, man, it just crushed my kids. Like they were just, they kind of sat before me just sobbing and in that moment I kind of realize, okay, wait a minute, was there a better word choice? Like could, there have been a better word choice. And I think, you know, as we were talking about this podcast just on the phone earlier, perhaps the better word choice is not disappointed, but there’s grieving from God. You know, there is a, there is a fatherly disposition of, man, I’m grieved. I’m grieved over your disobedience.
Justin Perdue: No, that’s right. I, I think, let’s just talk about it in these terms. Is God happy?
Jon Moffit: This is awesome.
Justin Perdue: Is God happy when we sin? The answer to that is of course not.
Jimmy Buehler: No.
Justin Perdue: The question, does God want us to sin? The answer is of course not. Of course not. And so it is true. We can hold these things in appropriate tension that we are covered in the blood and the righteousness of Christ. God is entirely pleased with us in his son. That’s absolutely true. That’s the rock on which we stand and at the same time and at the same time, God is grieved when we sin because if for no other reason it is terrible for us. Jimmy, you touched on this reality.
Jimmy Buehler: And our brother, and our brother.
Justin Perdue: That’s right. It’s terrible for us and it’s terrible for our brother. And so when I see my own children doing things that are sinful and wrong and I see the wreckage that that produces or I see the wreckage that sin has produced in their own lives, even though they’re still small. My heart as a father is moved with compassion. It’s, it’s moved in one sense. To a place where I’m like, man, look at this. I don’t want this for my child whom I love. And so I think we understand that our acceptance before God has never conditioned upon our performance. And at the same time, God as a good and loving father feels this way toward us when we sin and does not want us to sin and works in us by his Holy Spirit so that our lives will continually be transformed.
Jon Moffit: Okay, so here’s my pushback. I set you guys up. Here’s my pushback. Zinger number two. That is to assume that you are actually aware of your disobedience and this is my pushback when Psalm 103:12 says he has removed our sin as far as the east is from the West so that it’s seen no more. We live in a constant state of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ and there is an importance here. There’s an important reality here because every man around the microphone this morning would agree that we actually don’t know how disobedient we really are.
Justin Perdue: That’s absolutely true.
Jon Moffit: We don’t know the level and I don’t disagree with anything you guys said, but it’s important for the listener to hear that. I don’t believe that there is an up and down disappointment with God, or there’s an up and down grievance of you’ve lived well, he’s not grieved. You have not lived well, he’s grieved. Uh, and I will get to some passages specifically in Ephesians here it says grieve not the Holy Spirit. I’ll explain what that is. Um, I even believe that when it says in Hebrews that God disciplines those whom he loves, that that discipline was categorized in love. He does not say he disciplines those. He’s disappointed and he does not say he disciplines those with whom he’s grieved. He understands that our actions are being a hindrance to the glory of God, to the work of God, and to ourselves and others around us. Therefore, he gently and lovingly corrects us. But I think it’s important to understand that God does not relate to us and it’s hard for us to see this. God does not relate to us as we relate to our children. It’s a one-to-one correlation that is very, very complicated, and dangerous to make. In that God only is pleased with us because of who we are in Christ, which is a difference between child and son relationship. Jimmy, go ahead.
Jimmy Buehler: To be the word Smith here, the term disappointed I think implies surprise that God is surprised. Like, wow, I’m just, I’m surprised that you would have after all I’ve done for you, that you would do that, that you would say that you would think that, that you would disobey in that matter where there is one where the word grieve I think carries with it this compassionate tone where God, partly God grieves over the sickness of his child. He grieves that sin has perhaps won the day that sin has caused us to be so sick. Where disappointment implies that God is, you know, he’s taken off guard by our sin. And so I think we just need to be careful. And even as pastors, you know, to the pastor listening that how we address people in sin, how we talk to people in sin that to point people to this angry, judgmental God is not going to pull them out of sin. It’s just not. It’s going to, it’s going to perhaps cause them to sin different ways because they’re going to be so terrified of this judge up in heaven. Now granted there is space and there is room, you know, let the hearer understand there is space and there is room to warn people, right? We do see this in the new testament that there are definite warnings, right? Hebrew 6, 1 Corinthians 10 there are definite warnings of the writers of like, Hey, don’t run headlong into sin. Right? But at the same time, that is so buttressed by the grace of God in Christ. We want to hold those things in a little bit of balance.
Justin Perdue: That’s right. And I think just a brief word here in interjection on warning. As I’ve surveyed the New Testament, and I speak this way with our church all the time, there is absolutely, as you’ve alluded to Jimmy, harsh language in the new testament at points, but I would say that that harsh language is reserved for one of maybe four scenarios. One is just unrepentant sin, like I’m sinning and I don’t care. Okay? Two is kind of a variety of that where I’m doing something that God says is sin, but I’m not going to call it sin. Okay, well that’s fair. Warning time for warning and hearts language. Third, you can think of a category like 1 Corinthians 5 where there’s a man who’s doing something and sleeping with his stepmother that even pagans know is wrong, and the church rather than being grieved by that is arrogant. So you’re celebrating sin. All right, so that’s three. And then fourth would be false teaching. So those are the categories to me that I see in the new testament where that kind of harsh language of warning is used when we’re talking about the saints who are still struggling under the weight of their own corruption and are battling against their own sin. You know, when their inner man is delighting in the law of God, but yet they still find themselves doing things they don’t want to do and they’re not doing the things they want to do. The language and the tone and the tenor of the New Testament and of the apostles is one of compassion. It’s one of love. It’s one of assurance and peace, like pointing people to Christ, continue to trust Christ as God does his transforming work in you. And that’s the kind of tone that we’re after here at Theocast. We’re just trying to take our cue from the scripture in pointing people to Jesus. The rest, the peace, the joy that they have, you know, as they’re pursuing obedience.
Jimmy Buehler: That’s helpful.
Jon Moffit: I think to add to that, Justin, is, I agree with everything that Jimmy and Justin have just said, but I think it is very important to understand the posture of our father and the posture of our father is very much the posture of the prodigal son’s father in that there is this constant welcoming after sin after headlong in sin. There is a constant welcoming in because I do not believe our performance adds or takes away from our position. Our position is secured by Christ.
Justin Perdue: I think we all agree in that.
Jon Moffit: It is so dangerous, and we can often feel that our performance is going to affect our position and it cannot do that. Our position is that the father has adopted us, clothed us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and has claimed us to be his own. And Jesus says, those who the father holds in his hand, no one can get out. And that there is, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Justin Perdue: Amen.
Jon Moffit: The passage I alluded to in Ephesians, when it says, grieve not the Holy Spirit that is in your, among you. It’s a really important that’s used often. I know some of you are probably sitting there going, well, I don’t know John. You say you can’t grieve. In that context, he is talking to Christians, believers who are fighting. They’re being ugly and nasty. They’re not being careful with their words. They’re not being careful with their money towards each other and he, he gives this long list of attitudes and at the end of that list he is saying, if you reject what I’m giving you, that spirit of bond and unity that he mentioned at the beginning of chapter 4, he says, that’s what ends up you grieving that unity and bond. Don’t grieve that. Don’t make it so that there is a separation that’s there. What he is not saying is that your disobedience, be careful bud, because you don’t want to put yourself in a position where God is unhappy with you. That’s impossible. God can never be unhappy with you because he doesn’t look at your own righteousness, but the way you treat your brothers and sisters, you can absolutely remove that bond and that unity that’s supposed to be there. So you can grieve your brothers. Absolutely. And your sisters. And I think that’s big. We have to always be careful about this constant fear of, well, I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. Uh, because I was angry this morning or I was upset or I have this besetting sin. That’s the danger I think of that balance that we’re trying to find.
Jimmy Buehler: I can’t remember where I read this and so perhaps one of the listeners can remind me. I think it’s in John Owens writing where he talks about if God were to show you the full wickedness of your own heart, you would be so crippled, you would be so disparate. And we, we mentioned this earlier where, you know, we talked about like, you know, kind of measuring obedience, measuring sin, measuring where we’ve gone wrong and where, you know, where we’ve gone, right. But if God were to show you how disobedient you actually were on a daily basis, you would be so grieved and crippled to the point where you just wouldn’t want to get out of bed. And so even when, even when we are confronted with our disobedience, even when we view that, not as this, God’s saying, how dare you, I’m so disappointed. We view that as a grace.
Jimmy Buehler: That’s right.
Jimmy Buehler: That God would reveal to us either through the spirit or through our brother, that God would say, Hey, I’m, I’m seeking to get your attention here.
Justin Perdue: You brought up John Owen. Another thing that Owen perhaps famously said in his work, communion with the Triune God, he says that, this is a paraphrase, that the greatest, the greatest sort of grievance that we could ever lob against the father, uh, that we could ever levy against the father is to doubt his love for us. And so I think in this whole conversation, John, I appreciate the Prodigal son reference because I think that that parable is so helpful in understanding the father’s posture towards us as his children because I think there is a temptation always to think it’s like, oh yeah, well he was happy, you know, at that moment of justification to kind of run out and accept us and kind of bring us in. But now that we’re a part of the fold, like his posture and his demeanor towards me has changed and that we have to be careful that we don’t go that direction. And so that I want to be really clear. Like in all the things that I’ve said about God kind of looking at, you know, sin and the wreckage that it’s produced in us, by no means do I think that that means that his posture and his demeanor towards us changes at all. It’s just simply out of his love and his care and his concern for us know he wants what is good for us and he works sovereignly by his spirit to bring that about. That’s the wonderful news for all of us who are in Christ.
Jon Moffit: Paul even gives this rebuke in Romans 2:4. He says, or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness is meant to lead you to repentance, right? So there’s this idea again of the father who is kind and forbearance and he’s patient, and as we look at that, we turned from disobedience, repenting towards obedience. It is not an angry father. You better obey turning repentance because I’m afraid it is love. We are drawn into obedience, we are drawn into pursuing holiness, pursuing godliness, pursuing a unity because of the kindness of our father, which is, I’ll be honest, I still struggle if we’re all honest around the microphone. We all there always that fear of like, well, maybe I should’ve done this. I should have done that and you and you and I need the gospel every Sunday to be read over to me. I need the scriptures read over to me. Uh, this, this phrase, Lord, confront us with your law and comfort us with thy Gospel. I live by that motto because it reminds me of the posture of a loving father who says, John, come back to me. You straight away. Come back, come back. Over here is where rest is found.
Jimmy Buehler: So this is good. This is my, this is my hot take and then I’ll just be done. Here’s my hot take. The hard work of the Christian life is not obedience. The hard work of the Christian life is understanding your forgiveness in Christ. I’m done. Mic drop. I’m done.
Justin Perdue: I’m with you. We say this all the time. The fundamental battle, the Christian life is that fight for faith. It’s the, it’s the battle to trust and rest. So, all right, my question is, obviously we, we’re, we’re getting, we’re getting to the end here of the member’s time. We haven’t even addressed Jimmy’s shot across the bell about quiet time.
Jon Moffit: Oh, whoops.
Justin Perdue: So, I guess, I guess we just go ahead and tell people that we’re sorry.
Jon Moffit: Hey, you know what? There’s no time frame. You guys, you guys got time?
Justin Perdue: So, alright Jimmy, you kind of threw that out there about quiet times. Like when talking about how does God produce obedience in us and, and kind of how do we live the Christian life? And I made the observation that I just find it borderline comical within the people that are most fired up about personal devotions and are most fired up about accountability and all these kinds of things in the Christian life are often the people that miss service on the regular and, and don’t show up to church on Sunday. It just kind of blows the mind and it demonstrates that in, in our church context, we have been just pounded with what you do in private matters most and that’s where the real transformation takes place. And then what happens in the corporate, you know, life of the church is almost secondary. Whereas what we’re trying to do is say, hey, no look like the realities in the new testament are all corporate. God works by his spirit through the church to transform and whatever happens in your personal devotional life, the corporate reality fuels that and the corporate reality is primary. So you guys are both wigging out to jump in on this conversation.
Jon Moffit: I have a quick comment, Jimmy, and I’ll throw it to you. When I have someone who is hyper on personal devotions, which we’ll explain, we’re not anti devotions or bible reading, I hate the word devotions.
Jimmy Buehler: Yeah, read your bible it’s a gift.
Jon Moffit: Exactly. I always tell them, hey listen, I need you to do me a favor. Whatever your Bible reading plan is, I needed you to add to or pause and read only the last four chapters. Sorry, chapters 4 and on in Ephesians. Just spend your time there and I need you to meditate on everything that Paul says there and then come back to me and we’ll talk. Because they are confronted with the reality that their Christian life is not an individual pursuit on their own personal bible reading time. Go ahead, Jimmy.
Jimmy Buehler: I love, let’s just, let’s just be real. The personal devotion time is the evangelical sacrament.
Jon Moffit: Come on.
Justin Perdue: Oh yeah. It’s the first one.
New Speaker: It is solely where, where God comes to meet you and, and, and again, we cannot overemphasize this enough. Read Your Bible. It’s a gift. It’s been printed in readable language like read it. We are not saying that it’s wrong. However, when your personal devotion time becomes the barometer of your Christian life and the barometer of your obedient Christian life, what’s going to happen, I guarantee you is you are going to stand on the high horse and look down because you’re going to find the person and that man, this is where it just gets me so worked up. Right. You know, because we have young children, my, my wife is a, is a young mother. We have a lot of young mothers in our church that just to be honest, man they, they are tired and weary and overrun with children hanging on them like and when you want to make this personal devotion time, the barometer of the Christian life. Man, I just want to come out in defense of the weary mom.
Justin Perdue: Amen, bro.
Jimmy Buehler: You know what, like God and man, I’m just, I’m getting worked up. I’m going to need someone else to step in.
Jon Moffit: Let me step in here. Here’s, let me, let me, let me put it this way. To the listener, I think it’s, it’s helpful to understand sometimes when Theocast gets on the air, people hear either or it’s either all in or all out and that is a danger, what I would call fundamentalism in fundamentalism, either all in or you’re all out, you see it. And that’s how Christianity works. And I am a personality where I’m either all in or all out and I’ve had to break this out of my own personality and spiritual personality. Listen, we are talking about levels of priority. We are talking about more, more specifically levels of promise. The spirit has promised to come to us, feed, care for and grow us in the means of grace. Those means historically and biblically are the public preaching of God’s word through God’s people, ordained and gifted by the spirit, the pastors and elders and the word through baptism and the table. God has promised to grow and feed his people there. All right, so the primary promise that we are speaking of is that now if you want to add to that and should, you can add to that spiritual books, you can add to that spiritual song and you can add to that your own personal time in the word. But I will tell you and all well prayer actually is a primary means. I Apologize, I should have left that in there. Uh, but if you, if you, what happens is, uh, all we’re pointing out is primary means word in sacrament. And what should supplement that and encourage us is our involvement in spiritual things such as reading the Bible. What has happened is this, we, you guys can’t see what I’m doing, my hands. It’s an inversion where we put Bible reading as the primary means of our spiritual growth. And if you’re not reading your Bible every single day, then you will not be growing spiritually. And our pushback on that is you cannot make that argument. And I will, I’ll, I’ll throw it back to you, Justin here in one second. People say, well, what about hiding thy word in my heart? And I will say to you, he does not mean you. Cause that’s an old testament reference you in the closet with your Bible. That does not mean hiding thy word. It means to take the truth that’s been read over them. Cause the law would be read to them and implanted as if you were hiding a child that you love and you’re going to protect it. Protect that truth from anything, taking it away from you. So it is the word preach that we are protecting. Not necessarily our personal bible reading time. I’m done
Justin Perdue: So I’ve got so many things going around in my head here. I’m going to try to be very brief and just kind of fire a few shots. So Jimmy, when you were talking about moms being weary, I’m married to a woman who is caring for four very young children and is the wife of a pastor.
Jon Moffit: And the wife of Justin is just difficult in general.
Jimmy Buehler: Yeah, he’s a diva.
Justin Perdue: I can recall so many conversations where my wife is looking at me through tears. I don’t even know how I’m going to take a shower tomorrow. You know? And it’s, and it’s like, that’s real life man. And so then to come in and just kind of pile it on the weary saint, whoever it is, you know, who is just literally just struggling to try to keep their heads above water, you know, and say, oh, well, you know, what about, what about your Bible reading is just, it lacks compassion and awareness and all kinds of things. Just talking about quiet times versus the ordinary means quiet times versus the corporate reality. I agree, could not agree more than in the New Testament. God promises to uniquely bless, you know, preaching and sacrament and the church gathered in a way that he has not promised to bless your quiet time. The bottom line, and so my, my sort of beef with this is that the way that so many people think about it, it’s like, well my family, they’ll just talk about the way we do it. In my family, we’ve got it completely backwards because we prioritize the local church assembly, the corporate gathering on Sunday. That is the most important thing that happens in our week. And so even my wife and I, with everything we’ve got going on, it’s like that is the one thing that’s not negotiable. We’re doing it. Well, I guess if evangelicalism had a say, it’s like, well I guess what you need to do is forget the corporate gathering. It just makes sure that on Sunday just stay home and read your Bible because that’s what really matters and it’s just absolute craziness. I could rant for a long time, but rant’s over. John, you want to say something?
Jon Moffit: Well, I want to go back to,
Jimmy Buehler: Oh, I’m going to, I’m stepping in.
Jon Moffit: Go on brother. I thought you thought you were done. Then bring it in.
Jimmy Buehler: Again to go back to the obedience issue cause that’s what, that’s honestly what we’re talking about. Um, look, if you’re a pro bible reader, if you are a pro devotional life liver and you are not a member of a church…
Justin Perdue: Come on.
Jimmy Buehler: There is a discrepancy there that you need to really think about. If you are, if you are a pro bible reader, if, if your Christian life is just marked by excellency and devotion to reading the Bible and praying on an individual level daily and yet you are not under the care and shepherding of a local church body. I’m just saying there’s something off
Jon Moffit: And the church doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m going to add to this, Jimmy, I’m going to go back to Ephesians 4 here real quick. And because what people say is, well, aren’t we supposed to verify? Aren’t we supposed to be like the Bereans and listen, let me just read you the Apostle Paul. In a world where people did not, in a world where people did not have their own bibles, okay, they, it was a, there was a community where they would have to go to the synagogues. So everybody knows the history. Let me just read you. Ephesians chapter 4 Paul gets done and he says, and he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the son of God to mature manhood to the measures of the statues of the fullness of Christ so that we are no longer children. Okay? I can keep going. He just goes on and on and on and on, on. What did he give? He never mentioned Personal Bible reading. He said gifted shepherds, gifted teachers are given. So these are men we identify that have the gift of the spirit who are then going to dedicate their lives to the ministry of the word so that they can prepare the word in such a way that the church, what does Jesus say to Peter? Feed my sheep, right? Feed my sheep. So the pastors, this is why you do not lay hands on an elder quickly because you’re about to give him a strong responsibility. This is why James says not many of you should be teachers because the responsibility is so weighty. It’s so heavy.
Justin Perdue: That’s right. So just sort of parting shots here before we land the plane. If Personal Bible reading is the primary means of obedience and sanctification in the Christian life, I don’t know what we can say for saints for about 1600 years because nobody had a bible to read. The word that they experienced in terms of the ministry, the word, it was all in the corporate setting and it was when the word of God was read over them. Second observation, Jimmy, to agree with you on that. Like if you’re a pro devotional life liver but you’re not a member of a local church, like you need to rethink it. I’ll go a step further at the risk of offending everyone and say I have zero hope. I have zero hope biblically that anybody will be in heaven apart from being in the church. And I’m not saying that from a Roman Catholic perspective. I’m just saying that God’s plan for his people is that we live life in the corporate community of the church, full stop and there are, there is not this category in the new testament of you kind of living the Christian life by yourself. It will not work. And then finally, last observation. I would say to the guy or the girl out there who so prioritizes personal bible reading and devotions that they are neglecting other primary responsibilities in their lives. You also need to rethink some stuff. So if your family, for example, is suffering, if you have this sort of super pious posture, my wife and kids are going to need to figure it out cause I got to sit down and read my Bible, you know, that is, that is absolutely ridiculous. And Paul says, first Timothy five eight, if you neglect your family, you’re worse than an unbeliever. So this is where we’ve got a, we’ve got a hold these things together and stop kind of with this pious nonsense that is so often just spewed every place. John.
Jon Moffit: I had two thoughts and I know Justin; you’ll agree with this. What Justin is not saying is that if someone liked the apostle Paul who ended up dying in prison, he, he wasn’t necessarily a part of the corporate reality.
Justin Perdue: God gives grace.
Jon Moffit: Exactly. It’s the person who’s rejecting the reality of the church. And the second thing I would say is, you know, people will ask me, do you, do you have your children do personal Bible reading? And I do devotionals with my kids. I do moments where we talk about the gospel. I will tell you that I’m not, I’m not consistent. We have it every Monday or we have it every night. Um, but I, we do spend time around the dinner table and there’s a corporate wide, I should say there’s a family time. But where I positioned my children is that it’s like the night before thanksgiving, every, every Saturday, hey, go to bed on time and don’t you know, you’re not going to be eating sugar before you go to bed or, you know, the idea of it is, I want them to wake up and understand that the, that the day we sit down with Jesus is, is more important than anything else we do throughout the rest of the week. And we’re not going to let anything get in the way. We will maybe miss one Sunday a year because we’re traveling for a vacation on that one Sunday. But it’s not legalistic. I just want my children to go, wow. Receiving from Christ is how I live. It’s one of those means by which I need to survive.
Justin Perdue: Well, you’re just illustrating the fact, John, that that here at Theocast, we really do care about sanctification. We care about obedience. We care about what’s good for us, you know, as individual men, as families, and we care about what’s good for our audience. Well, friends, it’s clear that we don’t care about these things at all given that this members’ podcast has gone. I don’t even know. This might be the longest members’ podcast in history. I’m not sure. Who knows. So we’re, we’re coming out of the gates hot. But again, we thank you so much for listening. We thank you for being total access members and partnering with us here at Theocast. We are excited about the future and we hope that you are too. We will talk with you again next time.
New Speaker: We’d like to thank you for your generous support through your membership at Theocast. You can contact us with questions, feedback, or encouragement at theocas.org thank you.