Freedom in the New Testament

A great post over at The Institute for Faith Work and Economics by Art Lindsley. He begins:

The predominant note of the New Testament is not political freedom but freedom in Christ from bondage to sin, the Law, Satan, the old man, and death.

It is not that political freedom or freedom from slavery was unimportant, but that there was an even deeper bondage that had to be overcome first of all. With the Greeks, the problem was with the mind, but in the New Testament, the problem was the bondage of the will. The problem is that even if you were politically free, you could still be in bondage.

I like how he doesn’t downplay the importance of political freedom, but rather points out that there is something even more important. This is a good balance — it is not necessary to look down on good things in order to affirm the best thing. That is a helpful, holistic perspective.

Read the whole thing.

6 Lessons from What’s Best Next

I really enjoyed this review of What’s Best Next by Luke Simmons over at Faithful and Fruitful, a blog dedicated to equipping ministry leaders to be more faithful and fruitful.

He so well captures six key lessons from the book, which I underscore:

  1. The gospel makes productivity about love
  2. Everyday life provides many opportunities for good works that honor God
  3. Know what’s important and put it first
  4. Systems trump intentions
  5. Weekly planning is crucial
  6. Plan your day

Can Christians Actually Change Society?

John Stott has one of the best answers to this, in my view. From his article Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World:

If we are pessimists and think we are capable of doing nothing in human society today, I venture to say that we are theologically extremely unbalanced, if not actually heretical and harmful. It’s ludicrous to say Christians can have no influence in society. It’s biblically and historically mistaken. Christianity has had an enormous influence on society down through its long and checkered history. Look at this conclusion of Kenneth Latourette in his seven-volume work on the history of the expansion of Christianity:

No life ever lived on this planet has been so influential in the affairs of men like the life of Jesus Christ. From that brief life and its apparent frustration has flowed a more powerful force for the triumphant waging of man’s long battle than any other ever known by the human race.

By it millions have been lifted from illiteracy and ignorance and have been placed upon the road of growing intellectual freedom and control over the physical environment. It has done more to allay the physical ills of disease and famine than any other impulse known to man. It’s emancipated millions from chattel slavery and millions of others from addiction to vice. It has protected tens of millions in exploitation by their fellows. It’s been the most fruitful source of movement to lessen the horrors of war and to put the relations of men and nations on the basis of justice and of peace.

In other words, can Christianity change society? Of course. We know it can because it already has. 

Can You Insult Someone to the Glory of God?

Joe Rigney is a very provocative writer, and his book The Things of Earth is very good. But I cannot agree with part of his recent post at TGC called “Surprised by Scripture: Love and Spirit-Inspired Insults.”

In this post, Rigney argues that we need to have a category for “the Spirit-inspired insult.” Referring to Paul’s words in Acts 13:9-10 to a soothsayer who was leading people away from the truth, Rigney writes:

This doesn’t sound like what we would call kind or civil or gentle. These are biting words, pointed words, sharp words directed at a particular person. In this case, the fruit of the Spirit is name-calling, insults, and harsh words. In this case, Spirit-prompted boldness means not mincing words about the wickedness of this magician.

Certainly Paul was being very direct in this passage. He called the soothsayer a “son of the devil,” “enemy of all righteousness,” and “full of all deceit and villainy.” Those are indeed very strong words.

But are they insults?

I cannot agree with Rigney on this because there is something important being overlooked here, and it is this: an insult involves the intent to harm. Therefore, it is not possible to insult someone in the Spirit.

What is going on in these texts, then?

Paul is making a statement of fact. He is indeed stating things boldly and directly, but he is not intending to harm. He is making a statement of fact.

When you insult someone, you are trying to hurt them. You do not have a constructive aim. Further, you are often exaggerating and misrepresenting things. That is not at all what Paul is doing here.

Technically, what we have here is a criticism, not an insult.

Paul is indeed making a bold assessment of this person’s character. But he is doing so truthfully, and not with an intent to hurt, harm, or put down the person. Rather, his aim is to bring the light of truth to bear on the situation. Making this accurate (though direct) statement of fact does that.

Perhaps this is just a technical difference between Rigney and me. That may completely be the case. Yet, I think this is a very important distinction to make. We are to speak in such a way that our words are always edifying (Ephesians 4:29), and we are to make sure that everything we do is done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).

Hence, we need to be careful to keep this distinction clear between insults and statements of fact. Otherwise we could easily (and contrary to the intent of Rigney’s article as well) introduce into our relationships with people a way of speaking God does not intend — all the while thinking we are doing good.

Certainly there are times to speak boldly and directly about sin or even what has been manifest about a person’s character who is opposing the gospel. But even then, the intent should never be to harm or put the person down. We should not, therefore, feel comfortable with a category of “the Spirit-inspired insult.” Instead, it might be more helpful to think in terms of “the Spirit-inspired hard truth,” or “the Spirit-inspired constructive criticism.”

For a different angle from Rigney’s on this, let me suggest Glenn Brooke’s recent post at The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, Speaking Gracefully: One of the Great Joys of Leadership Under the Authority of Christ.

4 Reasons Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Are Making the World a Better Place

This is an excellent post by Michael Hyatt. He begins:

It’s popular to complain about social media and talk about how it is destroying our culture, but what if the exact opposite is true?

I joined Twitter on April 6, 2008. A friend urged me to check it out. He was already using it and loved it. So after some initial eye-rolling, I tried it and fell in love with the medium too.

It wasn’t long at all before I discovered that Twitter is one of the most powerful communication tools ever invented. It also wasn’t long before I got an earful from critics who said social media was bad news.

He goes on to discuss some of that pushback, and then shows how the critics had it backward. He gives four reasons that, contrary to the criticisms that social media is making the world more selfish, it is actually making the world more generous and a better place.

Read the whole thing.


8 Characteristics of GLS Leaders

As many of you know, the Global Leadership Summit was last week. It looks like it was another great year, as always.

Here is a great summary of a message Bill Hybels gave on the types of leaders the Global Leadership Summit is seeking to raise up.

I think he gave it before the actual summit to a meeting with their international partners. Nonetheless, it is useful for everyone as it summarizes very well the vision of the entire summit.

Crowdfunding Project #3: Short Ebook on Gospel-Driven Productivity

For the last few days, I’ve been taking you back into the kitchen of our GoFundMe campaign. So far we’ve looked at the first two projects this is helping support: an online course on gospel-driven productivity, and the online build-out of the resource library.

The third project is a short ebook on gospel-driven productivity — that is, on how to get things done, with less friction and frustration, but in a gospel-centered way (which most current resources on productivity completely leave out).

My book What’s Best Next gives the comprehensive perspective on this. But people have also asked for a shorter, quick hit version of those concepts so they can get going quickly. That’s what this ebook will aim to do. It will be about 25-40 pages, giving an overview of what it means to understand productivity in a biblical way, and then outlining the simple systems you can put in place to keep your focus on the most important things and get them done.

If you have already given to the campaign, thank you! And if you’re still thinking about it or just hearing about it now for the first time, your involvement would be a huge help. You can be involved by giving at the GoFundMe page and/or sharing it by email, twitter, or Facebook. Thank you so much!

Crowdfunding Project #2: The Online Resource Library

Thank you to everyone who has been giving to and sharing our online funding campaign. Please keep it up! Even a simple tweet or Facebook share makes a big difference.

Yesterday I took you back into the kitchen with the online course. Today I want to do the same with a second project, the online resources.

Expanding the Resource Library

You may have noticed the “resource library” section in the global navigation for this site. That is where I post more detailed and long-term articles, as opposed to the general blog posts which are more front-burner and timely (for the most part).

You may also have noticed that there are more categories than there are resources. That’s because this section is under construction. I have between 600 – 1,000 articles I want to post. These articles are on all aspects of theology, leadership, productivity, and management, from a biblical point of view. Once we get them up, the site will hopefully be able to serve you as a large on-going resource site on these subjects, similar to how Desiring God is such a helpful resource site on theology.

What Kinds of Articles?

Someone recently asked me, “how can you possibly have 1,000 unpublished articles?” The answer is threefold.

First, I used to answer theological correspondence for John Piper. I kept many of the more substantial responses I wrote for people on important subjects in theology and Christian living. That totals about 300-400 I think. (Since some of these are short, I don’t always include them in the full count of articles, hence I usually am thinking in terms of 600 articles; but there are about 1,000 units.) These emails were written before this blog, which is why they are not up yet.

Second, in college I wrote a bunch of articles on all aspects of Christian theology and apologetics as I was learning those subjects. I put those articles on the website Justin Taylor and I started together in college, way back in the early days of the Internet. They have been there ever since, and my plan is to move them over here so that everything is in one spot.

Third, over the last 8 years or so I’ve written many articles on leadership and management from a biblical viewpoint, as I have been developing my thinking on the subjects. These articles outline biblical leadership philosophies that also utilize the best of secular research (such as Jim Collins and others), and also develop systems for implementing these principles in your organization (performance management, hiring, meetings that are better than movies, and many other things).

You can see an example of what I’m doing in the “web strategy” category, where I’ve already posted most of my resources on that subject.

I’m also posting the audio and video of my messages over the years, whenever I have it, so this will be multimedia as well.

A Comprehensive Tool for Free

My plan is to get all of these resources posted so that this site can be a comprehensive tool for you, serving you both with fresh content through the blog and a large amount of ongoing foundational content through the resource library. And I want all of this available to you for free.

To make it available for free, of course, costs time and money on my side, getting things posted and set up. Which is a big reason for the financial appeal. If this vision is exciting and compelling to you, would you consider a gift?


If You’ve Benefitted from My Books or Blog, Here’s a Chance to Help Financially

A Special Message from Matt Perman

My mission in life is to build up Christians in the faith so they might point people to Christ, transform their communities, and do all the good they can to the glory of God.

The chief way I aim to do this is through public theology––leveraging the writing, teaching, and organizational gifts God’s given me through various media, speaking, and consulting opportunities. For 13 years this was expressed in different roles at Desiring God, including leading the web department, serving as director of strategy, and helping build the ministry for greater spreading.

Over the past few years, my two biggest projects have been publishing What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done and creating content for, a resource site focused on applying theology to leadership, management, and the world of work. I have also been doing a lot of speaking at churches, conferences, non-profits, and businesses.

Your Help: Why and Why Now?

With the humbling success of What’s Best Next and the passionate feedback I receive, one thing has become increasingly and compellingly clear: there is a deep hunger for more training in these areas––especially in the realms of gospel-empowered productivity and management.

Many Christians today are hungry to do work that matters, but they’re simply overwhelmed. They want to honor God and serve people in their work, but aren’t always sure how to do that with less friction and frustration.

I believe What’s Best Next has a role to play in meeting this need, but I keep hitting two major roadblocks:

  1. I can’t expand these ministry initiatives on my own
  2. Living expenses and family commitments prevent significant financial investment

In order to dedicate my full-time attention in this next season, I need help from a team of generous catalysts. I created this GoFundMe campaign to ask if you’d consider a gift of support to make the following strategic projects possible.

What Your Support Will Accomplish

Your generous support will enable the following:

  • Producing an online training course in Gospel-Driven Productivity (GDP)
  • Creating a much-requested book on GDP (more accessible than What’s Best Next)
  • Editing, organization, and making available over 600 unpublished articles on theology, leadership, management, and the world of work––all from a gospel-centered perspective. These will be free on
  • Start-up funds for building a WBN team

What Supporters Will Receive

If you’re able to support these efforts, I want to say thank-you in the following ways:

  • For gifts over $25, you will receive a free digital copy of the GDP book (when finished)
  • For gifts over $100, the book and free access to the online course (when finished, estimated $250 value).
  • For gifts over $500, the book, the course, and a free coaching session in the realm of personal leadership and personal management that customizes GDP for you.

Thank You

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this opportunity. I am deeply appreciative of your support.

In Christ our Savior,

Matt Perman

[Help Support Matt’s Ministry Projects]