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Essential- JD Greear

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2023 7:00 pm

Essential- JD Greear

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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May 3, 2023 7:00 pm

Stu interviews pastor and author JD Greear about his new book "Essential Christianity". 

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This is Rodney from the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we explored manhood within Jesus Christ. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Sit back, enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. What is essential Christianity?

What do you believe? And what is the heart of the gospel in 10 words? Well, let's ask the guy who wrote a book by that title. His name is Pastor JD Greer. I've known this guy a long time, and now I'm sitting in his study in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pastor, God is working in the Summit Church. He's working in your life, and this book, why this book? Why now? You've written a bunch of books.

All of a sudden, this one pops up. Yeah, well, a lot of people, especially, I think, younger people in our area, I have a lot of college students, young professionals, they are hungry for spirituality. All the predictions about the rise of science and technology, squelching, a desire for God, those were all incorrect, but they're also anti-institutional.

We know that. And so you even hear about things like deconstruction, how people are rethinking their faith because they see it's been used as a tool of oppression. And so I wanted to get something that really just took the essence of Christianity and said, here's what it is before the institutions. Here's what it is when you consider the most basic questions that human beings ask, whether you're talking about the first century or the 21st century. And as I was working my way preaching through the book of Romans, I thought the book of Romans is Paul's essential Christianity.

So I was like, what if we took the major logic lines, the 10 major points through Romans and said, these are the questions that every person in every generation and every culture asks. Well, and Pastor, your church is grown like crazy. God's blessed.

He's worked your radio program, Summit Life. You've authored a bunch of books. What is it about the word of God that's so foundational? I mean, you know, a lot of these books came out of teaching, came out of your exposition of the word of God. How has that been so central to your ministry and to these books and just preaching God's word faithfully and, of course, connecting all of that to the gospel? Yeah, well, so God wrote one book. It was not called Essential Christianity.

That's the one I wrote. But God's one book is his message to mankind. And, you know, 2 Timothy 3 16 says that in it is life.

It's the breath of God. And as we experienced that, as I've experienced that throughout my life, there's a desire to share it with others. And so every book that I've written has basically been how do you take the word of God that doesn't change and making it understandable and receivable for somebody that may not have grown up in church or somebody that's just got questions about life, eternity, about the sadness, about why their life has fallen apart. And so, anyway, as I say to the word of God, it changes me and I feel like I just have to share it with others. Yeah, and there's a whole lot of pastors that drive to Raleigh for some reason. They come here and you get them in a room and you encourage them, you bless them, you feed them. And those of us looking from the outside in find out that they're actually former members here, former elders here, former leaders here. And of course this other book, Gaining by Losing, that you're talking about sinning out. And then I'm in Winston-Salem at this church called Two Cities and you're preaching one Sunday.

And what a blessing that was. Here this church is blown up and it's impacting that city. But so many churches have come out of here.

Kind of what's going on there, kind of out of this heart. This is something that spreads. I heard someone say recently Christians don't practice spiritual birth control. Like there's something multiplying about the faith. Well, God did not call any of us to achieve our life dreams by building big churches or big platforms. We know that He's called us to reach the world with the gospel. And so if you're committed to that, that means that you're going to raise up other leaders and send them out. So this past Sunday I stood up on stage and we commissioned our 538th church plant.

444 of those are overseas and then the rest about 90 some are right here in the United States. And it's painful, but we know that the way that the gospel spreads is not through one radio ministry or one church getting bigger and bigger. It's by seeing other leaders raised up. And so our church is committed to that as a strategy of mission. Let me ask you, and I want to be a little biographical in this first section.

The next section we'll get deeper into the book in chapter by chapter. But Pastor J.D. Greer is our guest.

I'm Stu. This is Truth Talk. So grateful for all of our amazing affiliates brave enough to carry this radio program all over. This will be made into a podcast.

Please share this like crazy with everyone. They can be blessed and encouraged. Something hit you early on in your ministry, even maybe before coming to pastor, that led you down this track, that influenced you to plant churches, to pastor, to feed the flock, to be faithful to your wife, and then to write this kind of, to culminate in this new book, Essential Christianity, the Heart of the Gospel in 10 Words. Pastor J.D. Greer, we talk about kind of the formative, you throw a shout out to a mutual man who impacted both of us, Steve Robertson, who just, I mean, from the basketball side, he was like my hero, you know, growing up, like this guy's bigger than life. But you talk about him and, you know, from a youth pastor side, encouraging you and all that. Yeah, that's right. So I grew up in Winston-Salem, where you grew up.

In fact, we have a lot of mutual friends from there. And I did not really become a Christian on my own until I was 16 years old. I grew up in a church. And, you know, I mean, when you really meet Jesus, it changes you from the inside out. The one thing you won't be when you really meet Jesus is bored and apathetic.

If you really meet him, you're either going to hate him, or you're going to fall in love with him. And so, for me, growing up, it was always like, oh, it's fire insurance, I prayed a prayer, and I was gonna go to heaven. But when I was 16, I realized that he had to have a personal relationship with Jesus, where you received him as your Lord and Savior.

Steve Robertson was a huge, a huge help in that. Immediately, Stu, like anybody who meets Jesus, I wanted to share it with my friends. And so I started to try to share the gospel. And that really, you know, here we are, 30 some years later, and that's basically all I'm still doing is, is how do you tell people about who Jesus is, and the difference he can make in life and eternity.

And I hope essential Christianity is a tool that unbelievers can use to find Jesus, or that believers can use to help equip them to share them with somebody else. Yeah, and while you're writing this book, you mentioned it here, a beautiful tribute to your mom, a woman of prayer, a woman I remember praying for us when we were little. I remember putting up with us, running around that little church from the nursery to, you know, grade school, you know, at Salem Baptist Church on Broad Street, and she went to heaven during this process. Can you talk about that, the impact of her, a praying mom, a godly mom? I think about Moses's mom, you know, he went out and changed the world.

No one knows who she is, but look at the impact of her pouring into him as a tiny little guy. Yeah, you know, when you face death, something like death, you think about what's important in life. And over the last year, since my mom passed away, there have been many times that I've just, you know, to the point of tears thought about how the one thing that she cared to teach me was to know Jesus, to love him and to make him known. I remember when I first started, since God called me in the ministry, you know, she, I remember her to say, and there's nothing that you could have known with your life that would have made us prouder than to tell other people about the gospel that we've got to teach you from the time you were a kid. Wow. So the book is Essential Christianity.

I love these two questions. What is the essence of the Christian message and why does it still resonate today? What do you want to happen with this book, J.D. Greer, in terms of, it seems like one of those anchor books, like one of those, like, the foundation book, going even deeper to, you wrote a book about what do you want to do with your life.

Remember that? I interviewed about that. What was the title of that book?

What are you going to do with your life? That's a great question, a great title. And then you make people on the cover write, I want to do this. And I did it on that. You know, I think I wrote something about, I want to touch the whole world with, you know, Christian radio, Christian content. But that book inspired me. It was kind of like a takeoff of a book that impacted you. John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life. This book almost takes that and like nails down some anchor points with a faith. So real quick, where do you want this to go?

And we'll plow deeper in the next segment. Okay. So when I was in college, I read Mere Christianity and Basic Christianity. And both those books, if you were to ask me, are these written for Christians or unbelievers? Not yet believers.

I wouldn't know what to tell you because they're good for both. They're good for somebody that's trying to learn the essentials of the faith, but they're also good if you're saying, Hey, this is why to someone who doesn't believe this is why you should believe. Well, but those books are 60, 70 years old. And not that this book will come anywhere close to, you know, what those are, but to let Paul in the book of Romans say, let's just get down to what we believe and why we believe it. Let's forget all the churchianity and all the religiosity. And let's just say, what is God's message for mankind? And how can you share it with somebody else in a way that makes them want to believe? Okay. We'll dive in more next with author, pastor JD Greer, his book.

What was that? Mail model, author, pastor, this guy, he works out. I'm telling you what, I don't know if it's Nautilus or 10 pushups a day or whatever. Essential Christianity, the heart of the gospel in 10 words. And the words, I mean, these are the words right here around the, okay. Therefore announcement, undeniable, refusal, rescue, faith, inclusion, struggle, spirit, and you got the word religion marked through. That's right. Yeah.

Religion, because religion is the counterfeit gospel. All right. So we'll get into that from a guy who grew up on the inside, but Christ transformed him from the inside out. And now he's doing all this. Now, when we come back and we'll talk more about this book and we'll take a quick chapter by chapter, by the way, Joe Gibbs, Superbowl winning, uh, uh, you know, big time NFL coach and NASCAR guy wrote a nice afterward about this. If I asked him right the forward, but he closed the deal so effectively. I was like, Joe, I can't, you can't close the deal before I present the offer. So I put it at the end, called it an afterward.

Well, we might have to get you a ring for that, you know, to get you to have a guy like that, do that. All right. We'll be right back. Hang on.

Don't touch that down more with JD Greer after this. You're listening to the truth network and truth It's a deeper dive into the word of God. It's a challenge to all believers to, to know, understand, and appreciate their faith on a whole nother level. The book is essential Christianity, the heart of the gospel in 10 words by pastor JD Greer. I'm with pastor Greer right now, JD, this is an encouraging book to me. I mean, I, at first I thought, okay, this is going to be a little light read.

I want to hear the kind of basic fine points of the faith, the four laws, whatever. And then I'm going to move on, but you're going deep. I mean, you're, you tell us, Hey, put down the telescope, pick up the microscope. You're saying things that are really foundational, but you're getting into gender issues. You're getting into sexual issues. You're getting into things that people, you know, evolution and creation. I mean, I mean, there's some deep questions out there that, that Christians maybe we should be asking or when our college age kids come home, we need to, we need to have an answer.

Yeah. So I had an unbelieving friend or she was unbelieving at the time, read this book along with me as I was writing it. She was a professor at one of our local universities. She writes for the New York times. She's, you know, Uber, Uber smart.

I graduated from Yale PhD. And I said, I want you to read this and I want you to read it through the lens of somebody that doesn't believe what I believe. Well, good news is she became a Christian during the write of this book, not because of the book, but because of, you know, a lot of different factors. But one of the things she said that really stuck out because she doesn't come from a church background. She said, it is amazing to me studying this book alongside you, how Paul is addressing the same questions that I hear my university students asking today. Like, how do you know there's a God? And if there's a God, why doesn't, why don't people believe in him?

And why does Christianity feel so hard? And so those are the questions Paul's focusing on in essential in the book of Romans that I tried to pick up in essential Christianity. Okay. And let's just go below through the chapters.

One of my favorite things to do. So there's, there's 10 chapters. We promise not to give any spoilers to give away too much in this little sequence segment, but pastor J will just do a point punch, counter punch. I'll ask you, I'll read the name of the chapter.

I'll read the subtitle of the name, which gives a little more, and then just give us a quick power shot. Yes, sir. Give us a quick one-liner. Um, try to be as funny as possible.

No, I'm just kidding. Anything goes, that's a lot of pressure. No pressure. Here we go.

Okay. Announcement. What is Christianity in a sentence? This is chapter one. The gospel is not good advice on how to change your life. It's good news about what God has done. Only two ways to spell religion, D O what you do that earns your way to God or receiving what he's done and the power that comes along with it. Awesome.

Okay. Chapter two, undeniable. How do we even know there is a God? One of the things that everybody everywhere knows, whether they admit it to themselves or not, is that there is a God because God has written it on the conscience. He's written in creation. And so when you are sharing Christ, what you're actually doing is you are tapping into things that they, the way I, one author says, and I quote him in this book is things that you can't not know. You, you, you know that you know them, even if you've never liked put, put voice to them. Yeah. Love it. Okay. Chapter three, refusal. If God is real, why doesn't everybody believe in him?

Yeah. I mean, that's a lot of people have that question, you know, w if, if the evidence for God is so plain, then why are there so many different religions? And what Paul says is it's not a problem with our heads. It's a problem with our hearts that we buy through our desire for unrighteousness. Romans one 18, we suppress the truth. Suppression is different than ignorance. Ignorance means you don't know it.

Um, uh, suppression means you know it and you push it down. And that's what Paul says is happening. Okay. Now this is interesting. This, uh, chapter four.

Yeah. I've never had a chapter where the author wrote a stroke right through the name religion, but it's religion with a mark through it is religion. The answer is a question. So Paul presents in Romans two, he's like, well, so everybody says, okay, if there's a God, then we should just do a lot of religious things and that'll make us acceptable to him. And Paul shows you a couple of reasons in Romans two, while that won't work one, it can't erase the fact of our sin and the number two, it can't heal the damage that sin has done to our hearts. So he's got to, he's got to show you what doesn't work before he leads you to the one thing that does work. That religion, by the way, swings all different ways.

I mean, you have people that grow up in solid, legitimate Orthodox churches, but they think that that's, what's going to save them, I guess. Yeah, that's right. That's right.

Religion, whether it's a Christian version of a religion or whether it's Islam or Buddhism, all of them are spelled DO. It's like the one substitute. Francis Schaeffer once asked, if you had an hour to share Christ with somebody, with a modern man, what would you do? He said, I'd spend 55 minutes trying to get him lost so I could spend the last five trying to get him saved.

And so what Paul does here is he's like, all the things you think will work, don't work. So as you can see the trend here, this is essentially a journey through the book of Romans, which the Bible calls the, many theologians call Romans the diamond ring of scripture. That's right. Yeah. Martin Luther said it was the one book on which all the rest of the scriptures hung together.

Okay. Barnhouse priesthood, I think 13 years, others have gone almost that long with it, but it's just rich. It won't take you, it won't take you that long to read this book, 13 years. So we got, we got readers signing up even as we speak.

So we have chapter five rescue. Why do Christians talk about being saved? What does that even mean? Well, I grew up, you know, where I would hear preachers in two small suits shouting the word saved in 15 syllables. And honestly, I've tried over the years to come up with a different word, but there's no word that I, you know, you don't get enhanced.

You don't get, you know, improved. You were saved. It's like, God actually comes into your life. He forgives you of your sin.

He makes something that's dead new. And so we're saved. We're rescued.

Love it. Okay. Chapter six jumps right into faith. Can anyone actually know they'll go to heaven? Ask 10 Christians what faith is and you'll get 10 different answers. Paul says that faith is what's what, well, Christ is what saves you, but faith is the hand that lays, you know, lays on top of Christ that receives him for yourself.

So what is that? Cause Paul says there is a way that you can know for sure you'll go to heaven, but that's something you really want to get right. And Paul spends a whole chapter on it. So we, we tackle that.

I love it. Now the book is essential Christianity. If you just join us, I'm Stu Epperson. I'm in the office, the study of pastor JD Greer. His new book is just come out recently.

The afterword by Joe Gibbs, famous Superbowl champion coach and NASCAR team leader. And we're in chapter seven. We're just doing a punch by punch through this book.

Each of the chapters, a quick, a quick snapshot for you, the listener and pick a copy up to get the whole, the whole meal deal and share it with your friends, share with your friends that don't even believe in the Lord that they're checking things out. You know, a lot of good stuff, a lot of good intellectually stimulated stuff in here, but, but put very practically by, by our, our friend JD Greer. Okay. Let's go to number seven inclusion. That's a big word.

Wow. Where's this going to go? Aren't all religions basically the same? So the number one thing, one of the few, the top things I hear from college students is how can you possibly believe in something that excludes others that says there's one way to heaven? Um, well, what, what Paul shows you and what I, what I try to demonstrate is that no matter what you believe, even if you believe all good people go to heaven, you've got some kind of exclusion. And what's scandalous about the gospel is not who it excludes.

It's who it includes. And what, you know, to quote Tim Keller here, um, the gospel is the most inclusive exclusivism that there's ever been. That's a great quote. Chapter eight struggle. Why does the Christian life seem so hard? Yeah, I was thinking about you Stu and I wrote this chapter and just, no, I'm just kidding. Um, Romans seven is a chapter that a lot of people, a lot of Christians like me and you find comforting because in it, Paul shows us that even him as a super apostle is, you know, he still struggles sometimes to do the right thing.

Why did I get up this morning? And of all the things I did not feel like reading my Bible. Does that mean that I'm not saved?

Paul actually wrestles with those kinds of things and shows you the answer. Now you have intermissions all throughout the book here. I haven't, I've, I've intentionally jumped past them for the sake of time, but this intermission, I have to, you know, I have to jump into and we don't have to say a lot about it, but I really appreciated this chapter, pastor JD, because you talk about this, the name of it is what about the, what is the Christian view of sexuality? And your church has actually dealt with this practically incarnationally in a gracious way.

Yeah. Well, I mean, it's one of the big issues right now in our culture and we don't do anybody any favors by hiding what the word of God says on it. Paul brings it up in Romans. And so if God sees fit to bring it up, well, I'm just the mail man. I don't write the mail.

I just deliver it. Yeah. No, very good. And there's a sense to which, you know, we don't affirm a lifestyle, but we, we need to love people and they, in someone trapped in a sexual sin or perversity or whatever, they need the gospel just as much as I do. Right. That's right.

Yeah. There's not, there's no matter what kind of sinner you are, matters what kind of savior he is. I love that. And then chapter nine, spirit. What is the difference between being religious and being spiritual? Yeah, well, spiritual is a buzzword today. Everybody wants to be spiritual. Well, that's actually good news for Christianity because Christianity is a religion of the spirit.

And what Paul shows us in Romans is that the way that you know that you know God is the spirit's communion with you. And what a way to close a book chapter 10, this is a heavy word. Therefore now what? So pastor JD, JD, now what?

Yeah. So Romans hinges on one word in Greek and it's the word we translate therefore. And he shows you how everything that you've known about the gospel will transform every part of your life. That the gospel ultimately is like a well, the way that you get the best water from that well, it's not by widening the circumference of the well, but by going deeper, Paul's taken us deep now for 11 chapters.

And so now what he wants to do is say, this is how it transformed your life. And so we spend a chapter looking at that. So that's the book, essential Christianity. Those are the 10 chapters in a little snapshot.

You got to dig deeper. You got to actually read it to get, to get more and you will be blessed. You'll come away really encouraged. Bless your pastor with a copy. Bless your friends, your kids, everyone, the heart of the gospel in 10 words, pastor JD Greer.

Let me ask you, pastor, what is, how would you sum up your passion? You know, people, I look at you as a, you know, you could have just kind of pastured and just kind of minded your own business, but you stepped into the waters of being president of the SBC. Suddenly you had a lot more critics than you ever bargained for. You started writing books. You came on the radio and a lot of people, my nephew and I on the way over here, we're talking about criticisms that people think you believe about that you don't that you don't believe on some of these cultural issues that you get slammed.

And of course, during the whole mask thing and you know, COVID everyone's like, well, you're too woke or you're not woke or don't mask up or do mask up. And you can't, you know, many pastors quit the ministry out of that, you know, and, but you've stepped into those things, but you've been all the way through. There's this consistent Christological and missiological passion and pattern to your ministry. Can you exhort us all on the importance of that and kind of what, how would that, what is your passion at the end of the day?

What do you want to see happen? Well, my mom who went home to be with the Lord this year, as we talked about earlier and my dad, remember when I was growing up, used to always quote the words of C.T. Studd, the missionary, who was one of the most famous professional athletes in his day, left it all, walked the LeBron James of his day, walked away, went to be a missionary in China and people asked him why. And part of what he said is only one life to live will soon be passed. Only what's done for Christ will last. And I think when it comes to why, why do something rather than nothing, why give your life, whether it's your money or your talents or your time to share the gospel, it's one simple reason. Eternity is real and the gospel makes a difference for everybody. Martin Luther used to say only two days on a man's calendar matter, this day and that day. He meant this day, today, what you're doing for Jesus, and that day when you stand before him. What is, what is driving your life?

Is it Christ, the cross, the cross, the gospel? Who are you reaching with that good news? Are you part of a good church? Important to be, the church is God's plan A, right, Pastor? Talk about that real quick as we wrap up. Yeah, well I hope this program, if it blesses you, I hope it doesn't replace your church, hope it drives you to go to a church.

So yeah, do that. If you're in Raleigh area, come to Summit Church. Otherwise, through the Truth Network, you can find a great, a great church to be partnered with. And I think Watson's got a question. Yeah, Watson, you got a question? Come on, from Pastor J.D.

Greer. My nephew's here with me, Truth Warrior intern. Okay, lay it on him. Something heavy here, go ahead.

Um, well recently, I don't know, my uncle's been asking this question to a lot of people. What was, like Moses, it was met with the burning bush. What was a point in your life where God showed himself to you at the strongest, like strongest moment? Oh wow. Yeah, I think one of my defining moments happened when I was a missionary over in Southeast Asia, situation with a bunch of Muslims, and I thought we were going to die.

I thought me and my friend, because there was a mob and everything. And it's hard to describe how God's comfort comes to you in a time like that, conviction, how he shows you what matters in life, what doesn't matter. It was a defining moment and made at a very low point when I really said, what Paul says in Romans 1, this is maybe a great way to end this interview.

I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it's the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes. And so I want to give the rest of my life helping people know Jesus and make him known. Website, folks can listen to your broadcast, podcast, you know, find out more about your book and all that. What's the best place to send them? This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-03 20:38:11 / 2023-05-03 20:50:05 / 12

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