Archive for June, 2010

Thanks to Bruce Geary for passing this along

“I cannot withhold my conviction that the professing church of the ninetheenth century is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within as it is by sceptics and unbelievers without. Myraids of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound. If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and  heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error. Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, high church or low church or broad church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amis to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it! Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everyone is going to be saved and nobody is going to be lost. Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is that they dislike distinctness and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong! ”
 
JC Ryle Holiness

The JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

Buy the Jesus Storybook Bible here

Hearts Aflame: Reformed Piety

Posted: June 29, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

by Philip Ryken

Calvinism is well known and widely respected for its theology. But can we say the same thing about its piety?

It is sometimes said that Calvinists do not make very good Christians. According to one critic: “Nothing will foster pride and indifference as will an affection for Calvinism. Nothing will destroy holiness and spirituality as an attachment to Calvinism. The doctrines of Calvinism will deaden and kill anything: prayer, faith, zeal, holiness.”

Perhaps it is true that some people who call themselves Calvinists are not very good Christians — the “frozen chosen,” they are sometimes called. But if they are not very good Christians, then they must not be very good Calvinists either, because a true understanding of Reformed theology results in a vibrant Christian experience that is full of spiritual vitality. Far from hindering warm personal piety, the doctrines of grace help cause it to flourish.

read the rest here

Salvation is a gift, a free Gift

Posted: June 28, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity

there are two men seeking food and shelter. One has money and wishes to be treated in accordance with his means. They both ask for something to eat, but the second man is poor and does not have a penny, so he begs for alms. They both have something in common, for they both seek food, but the first has money with which to satisfy his host. Thus, after eating and drinking well and being courteously entertained, the host, for his part, will be happy to receive his payment, no longer thinking that his guest is in any way indebted to him. Why? Well, he has been satisfied and has even gained from it. But the life of the poor man who asks for alms depends upon the one who can provide him with food and shelter, for he can give him nothing in return. In the same way, if we seek to be justified by the law we must deserve that justification; for then God will receive from us and we from him in a reciprocal manner. Is such a thing possible?

Not at all,…. We must, therefore, conclude that we cannot obtain righteousness by the law, and that if we believe we can make God our debtor, we will only provoke his wrath. The only option is to come as poor beggars, that we may be justified by faith. Not as if faith were a virtue proceeding from us, but we must come humbly, confessing that we cannot obtain salvation except as a free gift.

John Calvin, Justification is by Grace Alone – Galatians 2:15-16

My dad was a pretty well travelled businessman.  He was frequently out of town, working hard all (literally)  over the world.  One of the things he would do when he went out of town was get me some small present that he picked up on his travels.  Though I don’t go out of town nearly as much as my dad, I have picked up the habit of grabing my son David a little gift when ever I do have to go out of town.  My wife and I spent this past weekend in Charleston, attending the New Wine conference at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant (fantastic!) as well as getting some much needed one on one husband and wife time.  We left David in Myrtle with his godparents. On the way home we stopped at Barnes and Noble and were pleased to see that they carried the Jesus Story Book Bible.  Having received many good recommendations about this children’s Bible, I sat down and read a few of the stories and quickly determined to purchase it for David.  Let me just say before we get too far along, I’m very excited about this book, not only for David but also for myself and Stephanie.  As Dr. Tim Keller has said, “I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian.”  This may sound like a bit of an exageration, but having read through it I must agree.  This is a great book for kids, but I’m ready to go ahead and go out on a limb, adults should purchase this book.  Seminarians should purchase this book.  Pastors should purchase this book.  And yes, it’s just a children’s Bible.  So what makes it so good?

The full title of the book is The Jesus Story Book Bible: every story whispers his name.  Many Christians have a difficult time connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Like many children’s bibles, the The Jesus Story Book Bible covers the major episodes of the Old Testament.  However, unlike many children’s bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible links every story in the Old Testament to Jesus, and applies the Gospel to every story in both the Old and New Testaments as part of the lesson.  For example, below is a caption from the creation story in Genesis.

 

God looked at everything he had made, "Perfect!" he said. And it was. But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened. Whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began...

 

This is the Jesus Story Book Bible’s version of the creation.  Note how this Bible is preparing us for the fall as well as for our redemption.  “God loved his children,” the story reads, “Whatever happened.  Whatever it cost him, he would always love them.” Just as the cover advertises, ever story whispers his name, and this Bible is very good at whispering the name of Jesus in ever story, as well as his highlighting his marvelous and merciful work on the cross.  This will not only help children connect the dots between the O.T. and the N.T., but I think it would be a great help to adults.

It might surprise you to hear me say again that I think adults should purchase this book for themselves.  Let me give two examples.  A good friend of mine, and fabulous preacher, Hamilton Smith, has already confessed to using some of the points made in The Jesus Story Book Bible in his sermon prep.  And before you pick on Hamilton for using a children’s bible for sermon prep, consider that the famous preacher and author, Timothy Keller, uses the story of Abraham and Isaac from The Jesus Story Book Bible almost word for word in a conference message about the church engaging postmoderns.  That’s how good this children’s bible is.

It’s not just the content that impresses me.  I consider the artwork to be outstanding and highly engaging.  David loves it, but so do I.  Below are some of my favorite pics from this little book. (problems loading, will post later)

 

from the JSB's creation storyThe JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

 

The JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

You were on the cross

Posted: June 26, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

Dangerous Book

Posted: June 26, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Current Issues, The Christian Life, Uncategorized

“Have you ever heard of anyone in history being imprisoned or executed for distributing copies of Grimm’s fairy tales?  What would you say if you’d heard that copies of The Iliad and The Odyssey had been banned in Saudi Arabia and North Korea?  Imagine people trying to smuggle copies of Hans Christian Andersen’s works into China?  Such ideas are comical, but the Bible, which has been called a mere collection of myths and fairy tales, has suffered all of these fates.  Throughout history and even today, copies of the Bible are banned and burned, and those possessing it are persecuted and imprisoned.  There’s something about this ancient book that threatens and frightens those in power, especially those who use power to oppress people weaker than themselves.  And they have every reason to be frightened.”

Eric Metaxas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (Colorado Springs, 2005), page 155.

(HT: Ray Ortlund)