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The Final Word on Contextualization
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Several weeks ago Grace to You launched a blog series examining the subject of contextualization, the pragmatic approach to evangelism that says the gospel can be made more powerful by adapting it to cultural contexts. John MacArthur opened that series by asking an important question: Where did Christians ever get the idea they could win the world to Christ by imitating it?

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By All Means Save Some
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paul’s one aim in making himself the slave of all was so that they might be saved. He was not trying to win a popularity contest. He was not seeking to make himself or the gospel appealing to them. His whole purpose was evangelistic. C. H. Spurgeon, preaching on 1 Corinthians 9, said...

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“Contextualization” and the Corruption of the Church
Thursday, September 22, 2011

It should be clear that modern church marketers cannot look to the apostle Paul for approval of their methodology or claim him as the father of their philosophy. Although he ministered to the vilest pagans throughout the Roman world, Paul never adapted the church to secular society’s tastes. He would not think of altering either the message or the nature of the church. Each of the churches he founded had its own unique personality and set of problems, but Paul’s teaching, his strategy, and above all his message remained the same throughout his ministry. His means of ministry was always preaching—the straightforward proclamation of biblical truth...

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For the Weak I Became Weak
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul models self-sacrificing love toward unbelievers. He explains his willingness to forfeit personal liberties and accommodate himself for the sake of the gospel. He’s already mentioned two groups of people in the first section of this chapter—Jews and Gentiles. Paul was willing to forego his apostolic freedoms in order to reach both races. But racial application was only the beginning...

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A Historic Moment
Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forty-three years ago, John MacArthur set his sights on preaching through the entire New Testament, using verse-by-verse Bible exposition. Over the years he worked hard to accomplish that goal, and he didn’t merely hit the highlights of the New Testament or avoid difficult passages. He expounded everything in a bold, courageous, and in-depth manner that we’ve grown to know and love...

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An Amazing Life
Friday, September 16, 2011

Norm Sper went to heaven Wednesday night. You may never have heard of Norm before, but you probably owe him more than you realize. I certainly owe him more than I could ever repay...

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For the Gentiles I Became a Gentile
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As long as it did not violate God’s Word or compromise the gospel, Paul was willing to accommodate himself to his audience. As we noted in the last post, that was certainly true of his Jewish audience. But Paul didn’t stop with the Jews. He demonstrated the same heart of sacrifice toward the Gentiles—all for the sake of the gospel...

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For the Jews I Became Jewish, Part 2
Monday, September 12, 2011

When Paul wrote, “To the Jews I became as a Jew … to those who are under the Law, as under the Law” (1 Corinthians 9:20), he was not talking about accommodating the message. He was simply saying he would not jeopardize his ability to preach the message by unnecessarily offending people...

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For the Jews I Became Jewish, Part 1
Saturday, September 10, 2011

As we noted in the last post, Paul was not advocating “contextualization” when he wrote to the Corinthians, “I have become all things to all men, that I may be all means save some.” He was calling for self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of reaching unbelievers with the gospel...

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Servants of a New Covenant
Thursday, September 08, 2011

“All things belong to us, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Paul made that tremendous, seemingly unqualified promise to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:21–23). Christians are free. Yet there is a paradox that balances that truth. Though free, all Christians are slaves. It is a new kind of bondage: we are “servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). As willing slaves, we must voluntarily restrict our own liberty for others’ sakes. Isn’t that what Jesus Himself taught? “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Paul applied the principle of voluntary servitude to evangelism. He made himself a slave to all—including the roughest, most contemptible, loathsome pagan. Being free, he nevertheless joyfully entered into slavery for the gospel’s sake...

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Liberty in Christ
Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It is crucial that you understand the nature of Christian liberty. As a Christian, you are not under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). Freedom from the law certainly does not mean that the principles of righteousness revealed in the Old Testament law are now nullified. It does not mean that the Ten Commandments have no application to your present life. It does not mean that you can subjugate God’s holy standards to personal preference. It obviously does not mean you are free from any moral requirements...

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Giving Up to Gain
Sunday, September 04, 2011

One of the most frequently quoted passages church marketing specialists use to justify “contextualizing” the gospel is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 9, he summarizes his gospel strategy by claiming he became all things to all men. But look again at what Paul is actually saying in these verses...

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All Things to All Men
Friday, September 02, 2011

The notion that the church must become like the world to win the world has taken evangelicalism by storm. Virtually every modern worldly attraction has a “Christian” counterpart. We have Christian motorcycle gangs, Christian bodybuilding teams, Christian dance clubs, Christian amusement parks, and I even read about a Christian nudist colony...

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Next: Did Paul Contextualize?
Thursday, September 01, 2011

For our next series, we’d like to piggy-back on John’s YRR posts to address an assumption that comes up often in discussions about the gospel, evangelism, and church planting. The assumption comes across in statements like this: “You’ve got to engage the culture to reach the culture. If you hope to reach your culture for the gospel, you’ve got to become all things to all people.” The oft-repeated refrain comes from 1 Cor. 9:22: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”...

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