Thursday, May 08, 2008

...let no one look down on you because you are young,, but be an example in your youth

There is an ugly rumor going around the Christian blogosphere these days that people don't want to read more than 25 words in a post. In fact, one blogger only posts articles that are 22 Words in length (and that is wise if you don't have anything to say). You can't turn the great truths of Scripture into spiritual fast food McNuggets that takes all of 30 seconds to read and expect to grow to any depth in your walk with the Lord. If you want to bury the gospel in your blog, just keep your articles to 22 Words; but I won't do that here.

The Puritans certainly didn't adhere to this sandy philosophy did they; the Scriptures don't subscribe to this kind of shallow thinking either; and thankfully, contemporaries such as my friends John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, James White, and Jerry Bridges have not embraced the spirit of the age and dumbed down the message to the pabulum-driven sound bite. Personal devotions, learning each day to die to self and live for Him, submitting to His Lordship, our struggle with sin and its desires, praying for our precious sons and daughters, and our daily walk with the Lord demands and deserves more than 22 Words... don't you think?

So in light of the above, I offer you this rich, lengthy, powerful article by J.C. Ryle below. It is 4,299 words (not including this introduction) and worth every syllable. Let us walk with the Lord today and not play tittley winks with Him. The One Triune God of the universe deserves more than a moiety of time from us. Even His most ardent foes, heretics, and critics extend more than 22 Words to Him.

I know we all have busy lives; but let's at least give Him as much time as we spend watching the NBA playoffs, American Idol, or Everybody Loves Raymond reruns. :-).

From the Good Cup

Jeremiah 15:16

by J.C. Ryle
When the Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to Titus about his responsibility as a minister, he mentioned young men as a group requiring particular attention. After speaking of older men and older women, and young women, he adds this advice, "Encourage the young men to be self-controlled" (Titus 2:6). I am going to follow the Apostle's advice. I propose to offer a few words of friendly exhortation to young men.


What are the general reasons why young men need specific exhortation? I will mention several of them in order.

(1) For one thing, there is the painful fact that there are few young men anywhere who seem to be Christians.
I speak without respect of persons; I say it of all. Rich or poor, gentle or rough, educated or uneducated, in the city or in the country--it makes no difference. I shudder to think how few young men are led by the Spirit, how few are on that narrow road which leads to life, how few are setting their affections on things above, how few are taking up the cross, and following Christ. I say all this with sorrow, but I believe, in God's sight, that I am saying nothing more than the truth.

Young men, you form a large and most important class in the population of this country; but where, and in what condition, are your souls? Regardless of where we turn for an answer, the report will be one and the same! Let us ask any faithful minister of the gospel, and note what he will tell us. How many unmarried young people can he remember who come to the Lord's Supper? Who are the most backward about the doctrines of salvation, the most irregular about Sunday services, the most difficult to draw to weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings, the most inattentive to whatever is being preached? Which part of his congregation fills him with the most anxiety? Who are the Reubens for whom he has the deepest "searchings of heart"? Who in his flock are the hardest to manage, who require the most frequent warnings and rebukes, who cause him the greatest uneasiness and sorrow, who keep him most constantly in fear for their souls, and seem the most hopeless? Depend on it, his answer will always be, "The Young Men."

Let us ask the parents in any county throughout this land, and see what they will generally say. Who in their families give them the most pain and trouble? Who need the most watchfulness, and most often provoke and disappoint them? Who are the first to be led away from what is right, and the last to remember cautions and good advice? Who are the most difficult to keep in order and limits? Who most frequently break out into open sin, disgrace the name they bear, make their friends unhappy, embitter the older relatives, and cause them to die with sorrow in their hearts? Depend on it, the answer will generally be, "The Young Men."

Let us ask the judges and police officers, and note what they will reply. Who goes to the night clubs and bars the most? Who make up street gangs? Who are most often arrested for drunkenness, disturbing the peace, fighting, stealing, assaults, and the like? Who fill the jails, and penitentiaries, and detention homes? Who are the class which requires the most incessant watching and looking after? Depend on it, they will at once point to the same group, they will say, "The Young Men."

Let us turn to the upper classes, and note the report we will get from them. In one family the sons are always wasting time, health, and money, in the selfish pursuit of pleasure. In another, the sons will follow no profession, and fritter away the most precious years of their life in doing nothing. In another, they take up a profession as a mere form, but pay no attention to its duties. In another, they are always forming wrong connections, gambling, getting into debt, associating with bad companions, keeping their friends in a constant fever of anxiety. Note that rank, and title, and wealth, and education, do not prevent these things! Anxious fathers, and heart-broken mothers, and sorrowing sisters, could tell sad stories about them, if the truth were known. Many a family, with everything this world can give, numbers among its relatives some name that is never named, or only named with regret and shame, some son, some brother, some cousin, some nephew, who will have his own way, and is a grief to all who know him.

There is seldom a rich family which hasn't got some thorn in its side, some blot in its page of happiness, some constant source of pain and anxiety; and often, far too often--the true cause is, "The Young Men"?

What shall we say to these things? These are facts, plain facts, facts which meet us on every side, facts which cannot be denied. How dreadful this is! How dreadful the thought, that every time I meet a young man, I meet one who is in all probability all enemy of God, traveling on the wide road which leads to hell, unfit for heaven! Surely, with such facts before me, will you not wonder that I exhort you, you must allow that there is a good reason.

(2) Death and judgment are waiting for young men, even as it waits for others, and they nearly all seem to forget it.
Young men, it is appointed for you to die; and no matter how strong and healthy you may be now, the day of your death is perhaps very near. I see young people sick as well as the elderly. I bury youthful corpses as well as aged. I read the names of persons no older than yourselves in every graveyard. I learn from books that, excepting infancy and old age, more die between thirteen and twenty- three than at any other period of life. And yet you live as if you were sure that presently you will never die.

Are you thinking you will pay attention to these things tomorrow? Remember the words of Solomon, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1). "I will worry about serious things tomorrow," said an unsaved person, to one who warned him of coming danger; but his tomorrow never came. Tomorrow is the devil's day, but today is God's. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow. Oh, give no place to the devil in this matter! All men don't live to be elderly fathers, like Isaac and Jacob. Many children die before their fathers. David had to mourn the death of his two finest sons; Job lost all of his ten children in one day. Your lot may be like one of theirs, and when death comes, it will be vain to talk of tomorrow, you must go at once.

Do you think that you will have a more convenient time to think about these things? So thought Felix and the Athenians to whom Paul preached to; but it never came. The road to hell is paved with such ideas. Better make sure to work while you can. Leave nothing unsettled that is eternal. Run no risk when your soul is at stake. Believe me, the salvation of a soul is no easy matter. Every one needs a "Great salvation," whether young or old; all need to be born again--all need to be washed in Christ's blood--all need to be sanctified by the Spirit. Happy is that man who does not leave these things uncertain, but never rests until he has the witness of the Spirit within him, testifying to him that he is a child of God.

Young men, your time is short. Your days are but a brief shadow, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, a story that is soon told. Your bodies are not made of brass. "Even the young men," says Isaiah, "stumble and fall" (Isaiah 40:30). Your health may be taken from you in a moment: it only needs an accident, a fever, an inflammation, a broken blood-vessel, and the worm would soon feed upon you in the grave. There is but a step between any one of you and death. This night your soul might be required of you. You are fast going the way of all the earth, you will soon be gone. Your life is all uncertainty, your death and judgment are perfectly sure. You too must hear the Archangel's trumpet, and go forth to stand before the great white throne of judgment, you too must obey that summons, which Jerome says was always ringing in his ears: "Get up, you dead, and come to judgment." "Yes, I am coming soon," is the language of the Judge Himself. I cannot, dare not, will not let you alone.

Oh that you would all take to heart the words of the Preacher: "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment" (Ecclesiastes 11:9) Amazing, that with such a prospect of coming judgment, any man can be careless and unconcerned! Surely none are so crazy as those who are content to live unprepared to die. Surely the unbelief of men is the most amazing thing in the world. The clearest prophecy in the Bible begins with these words, "Who has believed our message?" (Isaiah 53:1). The Lord Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Young men, I fear this be the report of many of you in the courts above: "They will not believe." I fear you be hurried out of the world, and awake to find out, too late, that death and judgment are realities. I fear all this, and therefore I exhort you.

(3) What young men will be, in all probability depends on what they are now, and they seem to forget this.
Youth is the planting time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning point in the history of man's mind.

By the shoot that springs up we can judge the type of tree that is growing, by the blossoms we judge the kind of fruit, by the spring we judge the type of harvest coming, by the morning we judge the coming day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up.

Young men, do not be deceived. Don't think you can, at will, serve lusts and pleasures in your beginning, and then go and serve God with ease at your latter end. Don't think that you can live with Esau, and then die with Jacob. It is a mockery to deal with God and your souls in such a fashion. It is an awful mockery to suppose you can give the flower of your strength to the world and the devil, and then put off the King of kings with the scraps and remains of your hearts, the wreck and remnant of your powers. It is an awful mockery, and you may find to your loss that the thing cannot be done.

I dare say you are planning on a late repentance. You do not know what you are doing. You are planning without God. Repentance and faith are the gifts of God, and they are gifts that He often withholds, when they have been long offered in vain. I grant you true repentance is never too late, but I warn you at the same time, late repentance is seldom true. I grant you, one penitent thief was converted in his last hours, that no man might despair; But I warn you, only one was converted, that no man might presume. I grant you it is written, Jesus is "Able to save completely those who come to God through him" (Hebrews 7:25). But I warn you, it is also written by the same Spirit, "Since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you" (Proverbs 1:24, 26).

Believe me, you will find it no easy matter to turn to God whenever you please. It is a true saying of the godly Leighton, "The way of sin is down hill; a man cannot stop when he wants too." Holy desires and serious convictions are not like the servants of the Centurion, ready to come and go at your desire; rather they are like the unicorn in Job, they will not obey your voice, nor attend at your bidding. It was said of the famous general Hannibal of old, when he could have taken the city he warred against, he would not, and in time when he would, he could not. Beware lest the same kind of thing happens to you in the matter of eternal life.

Why do I say all this? I say it because of the force of habit. I say it because experience tells me that people's hearts are seldom changed if they are not changed when young. Seldom indeed are men converted when they are old. Habits have deep roots. Once sin is allowed to settle in your heart, it will not be turned out at your bidding. Custom becomes second nature, and its chains are not easily broken. The prophet has well said, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil" (Jeremiah 13:23). Habits are like stones rolling down hill--the further they roll, the faster and more ungovernable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak when it is a sapling--a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full grown tree. A child can wade over the Thames River at its fountain-head--the largest ship in the world can float in it when it gets near the sea. So it is with habits: the older the stronger--the longer they have held possession, the harder they will be to cast out. They grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength. Custom is the nurse of sin. Every fresh act of sin lessens fear and remorse, hardens our hearts, blunts the edge of our conscience, and increases our evil inclination.

Young men, you may fancy I am laying too much stress on this point. If you had seen old men, as I have, on the brink of the grave, without any feelings, seared, callous, dead, cold, hard as stone--you would not think so. Believe me, you cannot stand still in your souls. Habits of good or evil are daily strengthening in your hearts. Every day you are either getting nearer to God, or further off. Every year that you continue unrepentant, the wall of division between you and heaven becomes higher and thicker, and the gulf to be crossed deeper and broader. Oh, dread the hardening effect of constant lingering in sin! Now is the accepted time. See that your decision not be put off until the winter of your days. If you do not seek the Lord when young, the strength of habit is such that you will probably never seek Him at all.
I fear this, and therefore I exhort you.

(4) The devil uses special diligence to destroy the souls of young men, and they don't seem to know it.
Satan knows very well that you will make up the next generation and therefore he employs every trick to make you his own. I would not have you to be ignorant of his schemes.

You are those on whom he puts his choicest temptations. He spreads his net with the most watchful carefulness, to entangle your hearts. He baits his trap with the sweetest morsels, to get you into his power. He displays his wares before your eyes with his utmost ingenuity, in order to make you buy his sugared poisons, and eat his accursed treats. You are the grand object of his attack. May the Lord rebuke him, and deliver you out of his hands.

Young men, beware of being taken by his snares. He will try to throw dust in your eyes, and prevent you seeing anything in its true colors. He would eagerly make you think that evil is good, and good is evil. He will paint, cover with gold, and dress up sin, in order to make you fall in love with it. He will deform, and misrepresent, and fabricate true Christianity, in order to make you take a dislike to it. He will exalt the pleasures of wickedness--but he will hide from you the sting. He will lift up before your eyes the cross and its painfulness– but he will keep out of sight the eternal crown. He will promise you everything, as he did to Christ, if you will only serve him. He will even help you to wear a form of Christianity, if you will only neglect the power. He will tell you at the beginning of your lives, it is too soon to serve God--he will tell you at the end, it is too late. Oh, do not be deceived!

You don't know the danger you are in from this enemy; and it is this very ignorance which makes me afraid. You are like blind men, walking among holes and pitfalls; you do not see the perils which are around you on every side.

Your enemy is mighty. He is called "The Prince of this world" (John 14:30). He opposed our Lord Jesus Christ all through His ministry. He tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and so brought sin and death into the world. He even tempted David, the man after God's own heart, and caused his latter days to be full of sorrow. He even tempted Peter, the chosen Apostle, and made him deny his Lord. Surely his hostility towards man and God is to be despised.

Your enemy is restless. He never sleeps. He is always going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is always going back and forth in the earth, and walking up and down on it. You may be careless about your souls: but he is not. He wants your soul to make you miserable, like himself, and will have your soul if he can. Surely his hatred towards men and God is to be despised.

And your enemy is cunning. For thousands of years he has been reading one book, and that book is the heart of man. He ought to know it well, and he does know it--all its weakness, all its deceitfulness, all its folly. And he has a storehouse full of temptations, such as are most likely to do the heart of man the most harm. Never will you go to the place where he will not find you. Go into the city--he will be there. Go into the wilderness--he will be there also. Sit among drunkards--and he will be there to help you. Listen to preaching--and he will be there to distract you. Surely such ill-will is to be despised.

Young men, this enemy is working hard for your destruction, however little you may think it. You are the prize for which he is specially contending for. He foresees you must either be the blessings or the curses of your day, and he is trying hard to effect a place in your hearts early in your life, in order that you may help advance his kingdom each day. Well does he understand that to spoil the bud is the surest way to mar the flower.

Oh that your eyes were opened, like those of Elisha's servant Dothan! Oh that you could see what Satan is scheming against your peace! I must warn you--I must exhort you. Whether you will hear or not, I cannot, dare not, leave you alone.

(5) Young men need exhorting because of the sorrow it will save them, to begin serving God now.
Sin is the mother of all sorrow, and no sort of sin appears to give a man so much misery and pain as the sins of his youth. The foolish acts he did--the time he wasted--the mistakes he made--the bad company he kept--the harm he did himself, both body and soul--the chances of happiness he threw away--the openings of usefulness he neglected; all these things that often embitter the conscience of an old man, throw a gloom on the evening of his days, and fill later hours of his life with self-reproach and shame.

Some men could tell you of the untimely loss of health, brought on by youthful sins. Disease racks their limbs with pain, and life is almost a weariness. Their muscular strength is so wasted, that the slightest weight seems a burden. Their eye has become prematurely dim, and their natural energy abated. The sun of their health has gone down while it is yet day, and they mourn to see their flesh and body consumed. Believe me, this is a bitter cup to drink.

Others could give you sad accounts of the consequences of idleness. They threw away the golden opportunity for learning. They would not get wisdom at the time when their minds were most able to receive it, and their memory most ready to retain it. And now it is too late. They don't have the time to sit down and learn. They no longer have the same power, even if they had the time. Lost time can never be redeemed. This too is a bitter cup to drink.

Others could tell you of grievous mistakes in judgment, from which they suffer all their lives. They had to have it their own way. They would not take advice. They formed some connection which has been altogether ruinous to their happiness. They chose a profession for which they were entirely unsuited. And they see it all now. But their eyes are only open when the mistake cannot be retrieved. Oh, this is also a bitter cup to drink!

Young men, young men, I wish you did but know the comfort of a conscience not burdened with a long list of youthful sins. These are the wounds that pierce the deepest. These are the arrows that drink up a man's spirit. This is the iron that enters into the soul. Be merciful to yourselves. Seek the Lord early, and so you will be spared many a bitter tear.

This is the truth that Job seems to have felt. He says, "You write down bitter things against me and make me inherit the sins of my youth" (Job 13:26). So also his friend Zophar, speaking of the wicked, says, "The youthful vigor that fills his bones will lie with him in the dust" (Job 20:11). David also seems to have felt it. He says to the Lord, "Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways" (Psalm 25:7).

Beza, the great Swiss Reformer, felt it so strongly, that he named it in his will as a special mercy that he had been called out from the world, by the grace of God, at the age of sixteen.

Go and ask believers now, and I think many will tell you much the same. "Oh that I could live my young days over again!" He will most probably say, "Oh that I had spent the beginning of my life in a better way! Oh that I had not laid the foundation of evil habits so strongly in the springtime of my journey!"

Young men, I want to save you all this sorrow, if I can. Hell itself is truth known too late. Be wise in time. What youth sows, old age must reap. Do not give the most precious season of your life to that which will not comfort you in the latter days of your life. Sow to yourselves rather in righteousness: break up your hard ground, don't sow among thorns.

Sin may be easy for you to do with your hands, or run smoothly off your tongue now, but depend on it, the effects of your sin and you will meet again in time, however little you may like it. Old wounds will often ache and give pain long after they are healed, and only a scar remains: so may you find it with your sins. The footprints of animals have been found on the surface of rocks that were once wet sand, thousands of years after the animal that made them has perished and passed away; so also may it be with your sins.

"Experience," says the proverb, "is a hard school to attend, but fools will learn in no other." I want you all to escape the misery of learning in that school. I want you to avoid the wretchedness that youthful sins are sure to entail. This is the last reason why I exhort you.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had read that article when I was a teenager.

Maybe it would have kept me from at least some of sin that still dogs me today.

Nice post. We should all think of at least one young person (or parent of that person) and forward this to them.


- Steve Martin

MarieP said...

Great stuff from Ryle...

My pastor just preached from 1 Tim. 4:12 last Lord's Day, as five teens were baptized that day! (The Lord is indeed doing a great work among us at church).

Paul's Admonitions to Youth

JPS said...

I think it's just as easy, if not easier, to bury the gospel in logorrhea.

I'm surprised that someone of your caliber is publicly accusing a brother in Christ, insinuating that he is burying the gospel, spreading "ugly rumors", doesn't have anything of value to say, has "a sandy philosophy," "shallow thinking", playing "tittley winks" with God, etc.

You offer no evidence except that his blog consists of 22 words and he pointed to an article by a web usability expert. He does not think everyone should have a blog of 22 words. He consistently writes longer articles himself.

So your accusation is unfounded and, as I said, unworthy of yourself. I hope you reconsider it.

littlegal_66 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
littlegal_66 said...


Sorry I responded to a "drive-by" in my previous comment just above this one; I went back and deleted it.

Anyway, thanks so much for posting this. Really good word.

BTW, you’ve spared yourself a phone call, because I’ve been intending to buy up a few copies to save for my boys and for a few other young boys that I know would someday benefit greatly from the book, and I couldn't remember who authored it or the title......(so, with this post, I guess you’re “off the hook” for a little bit longer).:-)


SJ Camp said...

I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog. Please enable your blogger profile and I will be delighted to converse with you on your drive-by post.

Grace and peace to you

JohnCP said...

Pretty petty, mean spirited and arrogant intro! I love 22words - It is God honouring and soul satisfying.
You say:
Personal devotions, learning each day to die to self and live for Him, submitting to His Lordship, our struggle with sin and its desires, praying for our precious sons and daughters, and our daily walk with the Lord demands and deserves more than 22 Words... don't you think?
Of course they do, but it is pretty shallow of you to think that we would turn to blogs to get this! I read almost daily, I love JC Ryle, and I turn to the Word. Blogs are not my spiritual substance. I find it impossible to read heavy stuff without a pen in hand, so I do not even attempt to read your looooong posts. I am just so cheesed off by your arrogance to think that size matters. This seems so American....

BTW - the first 3 petions of the Lord’s prayer are 22 words, and the whole prayer is less than 100.

The thing is man, I read and enjoy many blogs, even yours with the "heaping up of many words", but I do think you have not only underestimated the unique place that 22words fills (showing effort and creativity), and over-estimated your own efforts and impact.
It is just not nice.

SJ Camp said...

What was mean-spirited about my remarks? 22 Words doesn't really deal with spiritual content. Only one post in his entire blog even mentions the gospel and that being a quote from his dad.

The new young, restless and reformed we're finding out are more the immature, the reckless and the pseudo-reformed.

I do appreciate that Abe Piper recognizes that he doesn't have much to say and that 22 Words is more than enough for him to tickle the ears. I applaud his honesty.

But he was the guy at the T4G bloggers seminar that said, "don't bury the gospel at your blog." I just wondered why he chooses to on his?

Now, what did you think of Ryle's article? Or was it too long for you to handle?

SJ Camp said...

I wish I had read that article when I was a teenager.

Maybe it would have kept me from at least some of sin that still dogs me today.

I say a hearty amen as well. Words such as Ryle's are a rarity today. How refreshing to read and piercing to my own heart.

Thank you brother,

SJ Camp said...

Always great to have you comment here. Thanks for your thoughts and the link as well.

Grace and peace to you,

SJ Camp said...

You should have left your original comment as well. Glad you could enjoy the link to this wonderful tome by Ryle. When you compare his writings with those that fill the shelves of most bookstores today, no wonder we are in need of a new reformation.

In His grace,

Jesse Hines said...

"Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." [Emphasis mine]
--William Strunk, Jr. Elements of Style

Mr. Camp,

Tightly written, well broken-up text is much easier to read.

Ryle and the Puritans wrote some great stuff, but that doesn't mean that they wrote well.

Presenting the truth doesn't excuse long, drawn out, massive paragraphs that exhaust readers.

To not bother with sharp editing and instead to just write and write without regard to length or ease of reading tells me that the writer may have too high an opinion of himself.

If we’re writing to be read (and not just to pontificate), then we should write to be read.

If a writer can’t express his message clearly, simply, and concisely, he may not have that good a grasp on his message.

One of the most profound verses in the Bible (rich with theological content), reads “Jesus wept.”--John 11:35

GUNNY said...

I don't know much of the context of the discussion with regard to burying the gospel on the blog, etc., but I do know this ...

We are dealing with an epidemic in Christian circles of the short-attention span.

There seem to be 2 approaches to this phenomenon, one accommodating and the other combative.

But, I'm not sure we can only do one or the other. It would be nice, however, to have as the ultimate objective in this regard to move people to greater spiritual depth and tolerance for weighty discussion.

SJ Camp said...

1. Quoting a small verse isn't the same thing we are addressing here. Context my friend.

2. I understand you are a writer. Your current post is 607 words and it is the fifth part of a 10 part series on blogging and "writing clean and simple." If the other articles you have penned are anywhere near that same length, then your combined articles on this theme would be well over 3,000 words (soon to double in length). You prove my point Jesse. It takes more than 22 Words to give foundation, clarification, illumination, etc. when unfolding certain concepts to others. How much more does that hold true when rightly dividing the Word of God. (2 Tim. 2:15).

3. You quote A. Piper in saying this: "It motivates me to concentrate on presentation when I realize that badly written truth is almost as bad as being just flat wrong." (23 words - hmmmm). :-).

That statement makes no sense at all. Style is as important as substance. Is that really true? Truth is truth - poorly expressed or not, it remains truth. Being wrong, or more accurately, untrue, is not "almost as bad..." If you believe that axiom, then you would have to affirm the antithesis as well: "an untruth written well is almost as good as just being flat right." That would be a false statement.

4. You express on your blog that you have learned from more established bloggers... but yet you quote from a blogger (A. Piper) who has only been blogging for about 3 months. Is that what you call established? Looks like we have the same vocabulary, just a different dictionary.

Young guys like Abe don't deal with theology, doctrine, or expositing Scripture. It requires time, thought, and careful study. They are content to talk about more surface, temporary things. And that's cool... But let's not confuse that kind of "writing" with what many of us do in blogging when unfolding and expositing biblical truth.

5. Lastly, your brief comment you expressed here was 170 words; and some of that was out of context. All to say, it takes time to say something well, biblical, and in context.

IMHO, 22 Words is a sign of immaturity; not great writing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Psalm 119

SJ Camp said...

One more quick thought for you, Here is what Abe says is his objective at 22 Words: "Exercises in getting to the point (or avoiding it)..."

I couldn't have expressed my concern more succinctly about the influence on postmodernism on the "reformed" yutes of today.

JohnCP said...

Young guys like Abe don't deal with theology, doctrine, or expositing Scripture. It requires time, thought, and careful study. They are content to talk about more surface, temporary things. And that's cool...
Yes it is cool! (even though I would dispute that it is about temporal things!) So why did you decide to go after him with tooth and claw? I have 30 blogs in my Google Reader that I try and give attention to daily, more than half of those deal with doctrine etc.

22words is unique amongst the 30, and gives me joy in the way it is set up. If he was the only blog available, you would be quite right, but he's not, so why the animosity?

Ps 117

SJ Camp said...

"Tooth and claw?" A little dramatic aren't we? Just an honest opinion shared.

BTW, you have said some very hurtful accusatory things on my blog impugning my motives on this. I haven't gone after Abe's person; I have addressed his blog and the absence of the gospel, sound doctrine, and theology. There is a difference.

Lastly John, I don't allow anonymous commenters here. Fill out your blogger profile or refrain from posting further. Read the rules brother. I let people say what ever they will here, but I want to know who I am speaking with.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Debbie said...

What priceless advice –- truly counter-message in our chronically short sighted and (dare I say) 22-word count culture. Whether we like it or not, bright and capable young people will at some point in their lives (probably sooner rather than later) encounter a message that will engage their critical thinking and hold sway over their hearts --- how sad if we give that ground to something that masquerades as truth simply because we fail to realize their capacity to digest more than just snippets and sound-bites. I’m thankful we aren’t left to go it alone!

Off for a “good cup” of my own,


SJ Camp said...

" sad if we give that ground to something that masquerades as truth simply because we fail to realize their capacity to digest more than just snippets and sound-bites."


Jesus is not a little nugget of truth to be consumed with 30 seconds of free time; and whereby left to our pomo skewed thinking we have really "spent time with God."

You could go to 22 Words and read powerful gospel focused, doctrinally rich, theologically precise little articles like this: "I’m manly enough to be comfortable with my somewhat feminine fascination." No joke... that is an actual title of an article by A.Piper being comfortable carrying shoulder bags that look like women's pursues.


Thanks again Debbie...

Jesse Hines said...


1. I know the context of the verse I quoted. I quoted it to simply point out that great truths can be conveyed within very few words.

It's not alway necessary to write a tome when dealing with weighty issues.

2. The 10-part blogging series is about a lot more than writing cleanly and simply--that was the theme of just one post. So, I'm not writing 10 posts on one specific topic.

3. Presentation matters, even if some people choose to ignore it.

Blogging is not the same as book writing or even magazine writing.

No blogger deserves to be read just because they think they are proclaiming the truth.

We have to earn the right, and part of that involves respecting our readers enough to make it easy for them to read what we've written.

4. Abraham Piper's personal blog may be only three months old, but he's been blogging for much longer than that.

In my post, I linked to a guest post Abraham wrote for Justin Taylor's blog back in June of 2007.

5. You say,

"Lastly, your brief comment you expressed here was 170 words; and some of that was out of context. All to say, it takes time to say something well, biblical, and in context."

None of my previous comment was out of context--I don't casually quote verses or other writers.

I spent time--I edited and revised that comment down by about 50% before I published it, because I know that presentation matters and excessive wordiness is often just that.


You also say:

"Young guys like Abe don't deal with theology, doctrine, or expositing Scripture. It requires time, thought, and careful study. They are content to talk about more surface, temporary things. And that's cool... But let's not confuse that kind of 'writing' with what many of us do in blogging when unfolding and expositing biblical truth."

I doubt Abraham thinks his blog is so important that he needs to occupy his readers' time with long, deeply involved posts that often say more about the writer's ego than it does his concern for truth in all of its facets.

I think most believers are much better served by getting their biblical exposition in church or from a rich theological book.

Blogging is a different medium, just as TV is a different medium than radio.

Effective communicators understand the unique attributes of their chosen medium and adapt to it.

As you noted, context matters.

SJ Camp said...

I am sorry that my reply to you made you so defensive. No need to be brother.

Here is an interesting quote from you: "deeply involved posts that often say more about the writer's ego than it does his concern for truth in all of its facets."

Talk about judging motives; I must have hit a pretty deep nerve with you.

When Ezra gave the law to the people his duty was to "give the sense of it." (Neh. 8:8). The people stood for six hours as he preached the Word. I guess that would be according to you more about Ezra's ego than the preaching of God's Word.

You come off as a pragmatist. You're not a preacher are you; or a Bible teacher? If you were, you would know the difference between writing tight; and writing "simple" because there is little to say.

I would very much like to hear your views on what J.C. Ryle wrote though. There are some very powerful truths in this piece if you will invest the time to read carefully.

BTW, the blogosphere is not about trite little 22 Word snippets of "avoiding the point." As you know, it began as part of the new media in reporting the news/politics. It is a great tool for communicating the Scriptures and the gospel. It is designed for good solid content; not just for kids who like to share their take on the latest "sandbox" with their friends.

Most respected Christian bloggers write more than their share of lengthy articles that the readers respect and read faithfully..

I must say, you've been insulting to the COT audience and to most pastors and theologues who do take the time to invest in careful exegesis, exposition and writing from a biblical worldview concerning faith, politics, church, culture, art, etc.

May I direct you to a very good friend of mine's website at . I would encourage you to read his blog. If it's too much for you, then you've always got this option.

I look forward to your thoughts on Ryle's amazing article.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Debbie said...


Yes, I saw that particular “article” (thrift-store satchel’s??) and left the site thinking how unfortunate that I had wasted a perfectly good 15 minutes! Honestly! I’ve said before that I try to make COT a part of my daily reading because I know that what you post is going to be worth the investment of my time. It’s just that simple.

“Lost time can never be redeemed.” J.C. Ryle

Debbie said...


I hope that you will take the time read through some of the articles you’ll find here. You won’t have to look far to find biblical exposition that is solid and powerful for all the days of the week when you’re not in church, excerpts from wonderfully rich books and incomparable authors (my personal library, though small, has taken on such a refreshing complexion since coming to COT) and writing that respects readers enough to effectively use however many words are necessary to carefully handle His Word! Vigorous indeed …. and refreshingly ego-free. ;-)


Carla said...

Steve wrote:

"Personal devotions, learning each day to die to self and live for Him, submitting to His Lordship, our struggle with sin and its desires, praying for our precious sons and daughters, and our daily walk with the Lord demands and deserves more than 22 Words... don't you think?"

To which I say, amen.

Blogs are weird, and fun, and useful and annoying. Sometimes, all 4 of those things apply to teh same blog in just a few days time. Some people use theirs for the strangest reasons, and other people use theirs for good and useful things.

What I appreciate about Christian bloggers who use theirs to teach, edify and encourage, is that they take the amount of space needed to truly expound on a text, by also teaching cultural background, original language, or contrary religious world views. I LIKE knowing that information, and it demands alot of space to type it all out.

I like this blog for that reason. I like Pulpit Live and and TeamPyro for the same reasons. So, my hat is off to those who take the time required to dig deep and present truths that matter. Even if they're going to be accused of egotistical motives for doing so.


PS - I didn't do a word count on this reply, and quite frankly, I couldn't care less how many words it is. I said what I felt compelled to say and it folks don't have the attention span to keep reading past an invisible word-limit count, that's okay with me too.

JohnCP said...

Debbie?? You wasted 15 minutes on 22words?? Honestly??

you guys are playing the man not the ball.

Jesse Hines said...

Steve, there several issues here so I must leave a few posts so that I don’t drop one huge bomb of a post.

I fail to see how I’ve “been insulting to the COT audience and to most pastors and theologues who do take the time to invest in careful exegesis, exposition and writing from a biblical worldview concerning faith, politics, church, culture, art, etc.”

If I have insulted you or your readers, I apologize--perhaps some of my comments could be construed that way and I do absolutely respect that you’re proclaiming Christ as Lord loudly--but truth is, I’ve mainly been noting that the blog medium lends itself better to short, well-broken up, tightly written articles. That’s not pragmatism--that’s realism.

Most people are not interested in reading 5000 words of text on a computer screen. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested in weighty matters. They may very well, as I do, read great books on these subjects, from authors such as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Schaeffer, Packer, Piper, Horton, and Sproul--all favorites of mine.

But blogs are not books. That’s pretty much been my point. Recognizing that many people prefer to read long text in books and much shorter text in blogs, and thus writing to still get your message across, is not capitulating to the spirit of the age. It’s simply enabling your readers to better access your message.

For an example of a great Christian blog, using the medium highly effectively and profoundly, check out the Desiring God blog--outstanding short posts with weighty thoughts.

Certainly, you wouldn't accuse John Piper of not dealing with theology--he writes differently in his books, articles, and yes, his blog.

Jesse Hines said...


My biggest issue with your post is that you paint Abraham Piper (22 Words blog author) in a very bad light for your readers, while utterly neglecting to give a fair presentation of him.

You say (in the post and your comments):

"If you want to bury the gospel in your blog, just keep your articles to 22 Words; but I won't do that here."

"I do appreciate that Abe Piper recognizes that he doesn't have much to say and that 22 Words is more than enough for him to tickle the ears. I applaud his honesty."

"Young guys like Abe don't deal with theology, doctrine, or expositing Scripture. It requires time, thought, and careful study. They are content to talk about more surface, temporary things."

"IMHO, 22 Words is a sign of immaturity; not great writing." [All emphasis mine]

Instead of just trashing a fellow
believer, you could have simply made clear your disagreement with his blogging approach.

You should also have given your readers a more accurate picture of who he really is--I’ll do that now.

Abraham Piper is the web content editor for Desiring God Ministries.

He also writes blog posts there, along with his dad, John Piper, a theological giant.

Read it at:

Abraham wrote this article for the September 2007 of Decision Magazine:

“Let them Come Home: 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child”

I hope all of your readers will check out the DG blog and the above article by Abraham to get a better representation of who the man really is, and then decide if he really doesn’t deal with theology or doctrine.

Remember: there is indeed only one way to God, but there isn't only one way to blog to the glory of God.

SJ Camp said...

"I hope all of your readers will check out the DG blog and the above article by Abraham to get a better representation of who the man really is,"

So you're saying the trite adolescent boy on 22 Words who has only posted one (count em) one article in his entire blog on the gospel (and that being a quote from his dad) is not (in his words) "burying the gospel in his blog?"

I do not and did not misrepresent young Piper; I accurately held him to his own standard.

I want to be teachable Jesse, so show me, on his own blog, where he has consistently dealt with biblical issues, sound doctrine and most importantly the gospel in an up front, lucid and accurate way.

Thank you for your thoughts here.

SJ Camp said...

you guys are playing the man not the ball.

What is the ball then my brother in your view?

To me its content; and the man determines the emphasis he wants to bring to his own blog. Young Piper brings to his blog feminine identity issues when it comes to handbags for men :-). I think the centrality of the gospel is a better subject - personally.

As I just said to Jesse, Young Piper exhorted a group of about 150 at a T4G blogging seminar to "not bury the gospel in their blogs." I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. So I decided to do some research on his blog to see if that was rhetoric or reality. Sadly, it was nothing more than rhetoric.

Now, if he had said, "it's not necessary to have the gospel front and center on your blog - it's ok to bury it" then there would be no issue here.

Just trying to "keep it real" as the kids would say. Are you down with that my brother?


Debbie said...

John CP,

No, it took about 15 minutes to see all there was to see at the site. :-) Really, I have no axe to grind whatsoever. It’s much more fundamental than that.

Steve’s intro. to this article and the article itself really ring true to me. I don’t want to see our children’s generation short-changed because we fail to recognize their immense capacity for something more than what our culture is throwing at them every day. With two teenage daughters who, as you said in your bio, are growing up way too quickly, time really is of the essence and particularly in regard to spiritual formation. I don’t want them to settle for an imitation simply because it’s short and sweet when the genuine article is theirs for the taking. The reality is that the short and sweet can be found at every turn and with very little effort. It’s everywhere. On balance, we need more of the J.C. Ryle types in our diet (parents and kids), don’t you think? If we give them a little more to chew on, we might be surprised to see what they begin to crave. I’m under no illusions – this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and diligence; all the more reason why the proverbial “15 wasted minutes” matters.

So, speaking of balance, the latest issue of “Food and Wine” came yesterday and I can’t wait to open it up …


Jesse Hines said...


You have misrepresented Piper, in at least two ways:

1. You call him a "trite adolescent boy."

Fact: He's a grown man with a wife and son; he and his wife also lost their daughter during birth last year. He's been married over four years.


2. You said "(A. Piper) who has only been blogging for about 3 months."

Fact: He has been posting to the Desiring God blog since at least August 6, 2006--there are 18 pages of entries by him on that blog.


Some of his longer posts (from over a year ago) and other articles can be found here:

Please examine the above and you'll see that your flippant remarks weren't well-informed at all.

Please do better homework on someone before you start declaring things about them. It's only fair, and I'm sure you'd want others to extend that same courtesy to you.

Finally, no there aren't in-depth articles on his blog about the Gospel--that's not his approach nor am I aware that he claims it is.

He writes in 22 words--it's a unique approach--and it's entirely possible to capture a great thought within that framework.

He does have some great Gospel-induced posts, such as:

" 1. God intended
2. Jesus to die and rise,
3. accomplishing redemption,
4. offered through faith alone
5. for regeneration, justification, sanctification
6. and eternal joy in God."

It's not a quote from his dad; it's an adaptation of one of his dad's messages. Even so, it's Gospel and it's on there--in 22 words.

Another one:

"Understanding teenage rebellion only as sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll implies that the goal is celibacy, sobriety, and employment. It’s not.

It’s Jesus."

On his blog, he also links to an article he wrote for the DG blog:

The Irony of the Cross

Steve, Abraham Piper certainly is much more than the caricature you've made him out to be here in this drive-by post of yours.

His blogging style may not be to your taste--which is fine--but that's no excuse to present such a shallow, negative, and unfair picture of the man.

Certainly, in light of the above, you can agree?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Isn't he a poet? Maybe he writes so much through the day hence the idea for the blog,theres only so many hrs in a day..

Think your way to tough on him,but his dad does like Mark ahhhhhhhhh BINGO your getting to be transparent Steve ;-)

Arthur Sido said...

It seems some are missing the point of your post, instead focusing on a particular person. Your point is well taken, that we have become so fixated on snippets and brevity that we have lost the desire and ability to read deeply. I have fallen victim to this menatlity as well, give me a snapshot, a briefing but don't bore me with long posts. It has led to shallower thinking on my behalf and impacted my reading habits off the blogosphere, something I regret and seek to remedy. Keep up the lengthy, deep posts Campi. Brevity for the sake of brevity is no virtue, and emulating the world is certainly not.

SJ Camp said...

"It seems some are missing the point of your post, instead focusing on a particular person. Your point is well taken, that we have become so fixated on snippets and brevity that we have lost the desire and ability to read deeply."


Thank you for really getting it...

Jesse Hines said...

Not at all.

I made clear that I read Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Schaeffer, Packer, Piper, Horton, and Sproul and many others--reading deeply is something I love doing.

I'm not necessarily looking to blogs for the deep sustenance that books offer though--at least not in the same, lengthy fashion.

Besides, if that were all Steve were trying to do--critique the increasing lack of "desire and ability to read deeply" of current society, then that's what he should have done. I would have strongly agreed with Steve's essential thesis.

However, he felt the need to trash Abraham Piper first, using him as a foil to make his point.

Steve made snide, uninformed comments about him that reflected a serious lack of fair research on Piper--that's why I focused on that angle of the post.

I outlined a couple of specific misrepresentations that Steve made of Abraham in my earlier comments--I did my research by reading deeply enough to know what I was talking about.

Good writers can make their point without denigrating a fellow believer.

Camp on that.

JohnCP said...

Yes! Bingo, Jessie.
We are the ones accused of focusing on a "particular person" while Steve attacked 22words and Abraham Piper with at least 12 snide and very negative comments in his short 4 paragraph intro to his long posting.

Steve - when I responded to this by saying:
Pretty petty, mean spirited and arrogant intro and
why did you decide to go after him with tooth and claw?

It was very easy for you to interpret these 2 comments in the following way:
you have said some very hurtful accusatory things on my blog impugning my motives on this

All I am asking is that you use that personal reaction you felt to take a cold impersonal look at what you did when you focused on a person and used 4 paragraphs to trash him with 12 very critical observations.

I hope that through my bio you can see that I am an impartial observer and not part of any of the American camps that love to bury the gospel in the way they respond to each other.