All posts by Theron St. John

Theron St. John, Theron currently serves as the associate pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and is pursuing his Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies with Capital Seminary and Graduate School at their Indianapolis site. His passion is to teach Christ-followers what it means to live as stewards of the gospel. You can find Theron’s blog at www.entrustedbygod.org.
Theron St. John

A Gospel Reception

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How do you respond when somebody has wronged you? Better yet, how does the gospel inform you in your response? The temptation for each one of us is to respond to the person by giving ourselves to bitterness, seeking revenge, and calling for justice.

The Gospel Way 

The gospel shows us another way, however.

Consider the story of Jim Elliot and four other missionaries. Taking the gospel to the unreached and violent Auca tribe of Ecuador, these five missionaries gave gifts before making ground contact with the tribe. Their first ground contact was their last. Jim Elliot and the four other missionaries lost their lives at the hands of these Aucas.

Now, put yourself in the place of these missionaries’ families. How would you react to such a tragedy? Maybe you would say the Auca people deserve to be left alone because anyone who takes the life of another human being should have their lives taken from them. It would be easy to hold a grudge and call for justice. But the response of the late Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of Jim Elliot, shows us there is another way, a way that is informed by the gospel and reveals the power of the gospel. It is the way of forgiveness and reception.

Gospel Impact on Our Affections

If forgiveness and reception are the way, then the next step is to see how we go about this way. The book of Philemon does just that. In this letter, Paul lays out how the gospel impacts our affections, our attitudes, and our actions. The point is this: As God has received us in Jesus Christ through the gospel, so we receive those who have been received by Him and those who we pray would receive Him. This involves even loving and forgiving those who have wronged us.

We can only learn to forgive and receive when the gospel informs and impacts our affections. Paul is confident Philemon will listen to his plea to receive his former slave Onesimus (v. 21) because of the gospel affections evident in Philemon’s life, namely his faith in the Lord Jesus and his love for all the saints (v. 5) which bring his fellow Christian family much joy, comfort, and refreshment (v. 7). Philemon’s affections cause Paul to respond in thankful prayer to God.

Gospel Impact on Our Attitudes 

The gospel’s impact on our affections leads to the gospel’s impact on our attitudes.

Notice, once Paul has commended Philemon on his affections, he turns to the issue at hand. Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon, has encountered Paul, has been received and has come to faith in Christ, and is now useful to Paul (vv. 10-12). But Paul is sending him back. The manner in which Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon is what speaks volumes.

Paul’s attitude is in line with the gospel.

Where he could use his apostolic authority to command, he chooses to appeal for love’s sake (vv. 8-9). Although he would be glad to keep Onesimus with him, he places the concern of Philemon before himself and sends Onesimus back. This gospel-shaped attitude goes even further, though. When Paul tells Philemon to receive Onesimus back, he tells him “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (vv. 15-16).

Gospel Impact on Our Actions 

In the story of Philemon, and in the life of Elisabeth Elliot, we not only see the impact of the gospel on affections and attitudes but also on actions. Paul’s point to Philemon is to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ.

The gospel compels it and Paul is committed to it. His astonishing statement in verse 18, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account,” reminds us of the One who did no wrong, received what we deserved, and we can be counted as righteous because of Him. It is the gospel that produces this action of reception. Only in the love of God can reconciliation and forgiveness take place.

The Gospel Bears Fruit

When affections, attitudes, and actions are informed and impacted by the gospel, the gospel spreads.

Because of the gospel-shaped life of Elisabeth Elliot, the gospel did reach the Auca people. Rather than holding onto bitterness, Elisabeth made the decision to forgive. She went and lived with the tribe that had killed her husband. As a result, many in the tribe repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ. Most amazingly, one of the murderers of the missionaries, Kimo, became the pastor of the tribe and had the opportunity to baptize Steve and Kathy Saint, one of the other missionary’s children.

Only in the gospel does such an act occur. Only in the gospel can our affections, our attitudes, and our actions be transformed, even when we are wronged. Because God has received us in Christ, we can and should receive one another. That is the gospel reception.


Theron St. John

Marriage: To Reflect, Not Complete

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A Word from Your CBC Team: This blog was originally posted at Theron St. John’s blog site. We are re-posting it at our site with Theron’s permission. You can also read the original post at Theron’s site here.

Our Culture’s View of Marriage 

Now, while I am currently single and unmarried, I do have the hope, if the Lord wills, to one day be married. Thus, as I look to the future and ponder what marriage is, I cannot but be disturbed by our culture and what they have done with marriage and love. Love seems to be a term used much, yet poorly defined, if at all (but that is the subject for another post coming later this month). 

What I would like to focus on is this false sense of your spouse being the person “who completes you.” This idea lies on a faulty foundation and a misunderstanding of marriage. If a man is looking for a wife to complete him, then he must realize there is emptiness in his life. Yet, to think marriage will fill that hole completely is unrealistic. 

God’s View of Marriage

Don’t miss what I am saying here: Marriage is a good thing. Indeed, God Himself said it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So, I affirm marriage because it is good, but marriage is not ultimate. 

In a marriage relationship, there will be disappointments, there will be arguments, and there will be hurt. That is because marriage is a unique relationship between two sinners. They will sin against one another and need to ask for forgiveness and grace. Two sinners cannot complete each other; only God can bring true fulfillment and completion through the gospel. 

Marriage is not meant to complete, but to reflect. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This verse from the beginning pages of Scripture is referenced in the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. In chapter 5 he says: 

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see she respects her husband” (vv. 22-33). 

Essentially, what Paul is saying here is that marriage is a picture of the gospel. Marriage is the mystery in which we are called to reflect Christ and the church. As the husband loves his wife with a sacrificial, sanctifying, selfless love, the wife willingly submits to her husband because she knows it is for their good and God’s glory. Marriage is a picture and reflection of the gospel. 

In fact, Dr. Hershael York says the marriage relationship is the greatest evangelism tool we have. If we reflect Christ and the church as the Scripture calls us to, people will see something distinct and different in us and will want to know what the secret is to the love and adoration for one another. The conversation toward the gospel, then, is started. 

Therefore, when I pray for and think about my future wife and our marriage, I am not looking for someone to complete me; I am praying for someone I can reflect Christ and the church with.

Crossroads Bible College

To Glorify God by Training Christian Leaders to Reach a Multiethnic Urban World for Christ


Theron St. John

Getting to Know a CBC Alum: Theron St. John

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At Crossroads Bible College, we believe that people who are committed to and dependent upon Christ are what’s most important about any educational institution. It’s with this conviction in mind that we’ve created this Crossroads Bible College series Getting to Know… Today we get to know one of our CBC alumni, Theron St. John. 

CBC: “It’s great to connect with you, Theron. What years did you attend Crossroads Bible College, and what was your program of study/degree/major?” 

TSJ: “I had the privilege to attend Crossroads from the Fall of 2010 to the Spring of 2014. My focus was a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Leadership which included a rigorous two years of Greek and one year of Hebrew.” 

CBC: “What first attracted you to CBC?” 

TSJ: “There were three major things that attracted me at CBC. The location, finances, and doctrine. The college is in close proximity to where I live so I was able to commute my four years at Crossroads. The college also was, financially, more affordable than other colleges I looked at. Finally, the sound doctrine of the college was a major player in coming here. It is really the only Bible college in this general area I knew I could be confident in being biblical.” 

CBC: “What did you most enjoy about your studies at CBC?” 

TSJ: “Since CBC is a smaller school, I would say the relationship with the professors and students was one of the greatest joys from my time there. The emphasis on multi-ethnicity really opened my eyes to the world around me. The priority of discipleship was seen not only from theory in the classroom, but also from practice outside of it. In particular, Dr. Piotrowski really had an impact living out what it means to be a disciple and make disciples.” 

CBC: “What one class or one lecture/lesson from a class at CBC did the Lord most profoundly use to impact your life and ministry?” 

TSJ: “The one class that most profoundly impacted me was Hermeneutics. Within that course, the one lecture that has changed my life was the lesson on the redemptive-historical, or Christological, context of Scripture. Understanding the Bible through the lens of gospel centrality has changed the way I not only read God’s Word, but also how I live my life. I see how the gospel impacts everything and, in large part, it was because of that one lecture in that class. I would say Introduction to Philosophy was a close second, equipping me to discern and develop a biblical worldview.” 

CBC: “How are you now using your training from CBC?” 

TSJ: “I am helping teach others how to study and apply the Bible accurately and how to see life through the lens of the gospel. My training from CBC is also being used in coming along the Body of Christ and counseling those who need direction and discernment from God’s Word.” 

CBC: “So, give us your ‘elevator speech’: What’s your 30 second or 30-to-50 word summary that captures the essence of Crossroads Bible College? Or, what’s your 30 second or your 30-to-50 word summary of why a student should consider attending CBC?” 

TSJ: “Crossroads Bible College is an institution that both teaches the truth of Christ and shows the love of Christ. They want to see lives transformed by the gospel. That is why a student should consider attending CBC.” 

CBC: “Where do you pastor/minister, how long have you served there, and please tell us about your pastoral/ministerial role at your church.” 

TSJ: “Just recently, I became the associate pastor with Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana. This involves discipling the youth, but includes preaching and teaching adults as well. Shepherding is, likewise, a major part of the role as the Word of God commands for church leaders to watch over God’s people and care for them.” 

CBC: “Do you have a favorite Bible verse or passage that has been meaningful in your life? Why does it mean so much to you?” 

TSJ: “There are so many to choose from, but Philippians 1:21 is the first that comes to mind. ‘For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ pretty much captures what I long to say by God’s grace. I want to treasure Christ so much that, for me, it does not matter whether I live or die, but that God would get glory. To live is to bear fruit by being and making disciples of Christ. Yet, to die is to be in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Either way, if Christ is my treasure, I win.” 

CBC: “How can people be supporting you in prayer?” 

TSJ: “First and foremost, people can be supporting me by praying for me to be a faithful ambassador for Christ. That is the call we’re given and we need to take it seriously and humbly. Secondly, they can be praying for me as I continue my education with Capital Seminary and Graduate School. Endurance, diligence, and faithfulness will all be needed for that.” 

CBC: “Tell us a bit about your family…” 

TSJ: “I am currently unmarried so I do not have a wife or any children. Nevertheless, I do have my parent, three siblings, two which are married, and am expecting a niece in February 2015. Both of my parents are on disability as they struggle with their health. To say the least, I am blessed to have the family I do.” 

CBC: “What do you like to do for fun?” 

TSJ: “I enjoy spending time with family and friends, whether that is playing board games or watching movies. Moreover, I enjoy reading and writing. Since graduating, I have made it a priority to blog by writing weekly devotionals, periodical articles, and book reviews. My heart’s passion in it is to help Christ-followers learn what it means to live as stewards of the gospel. My blog can be found at www.entrustedbygod.org.”

CBC: “Thank you so much, Theron, for making the time to help our readers get to know more about you and your ministry at CBC.” 

Crossroads Bible College

To Glorify God by Training Christian Leaders to Reach a Multiethnic Urban World for Christ