Archive for June, 2011

Soul Shrinking

Posted: June 30, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

“We grow small trying to be great.”

Eli Stanley Jones.

You cannot merely decide to love classical music or country western music – much less God. The music must become compelling. Something must change inside of you. That change makes possible the awakening of a compelling sense of attractiveness. So it is with God. You do not merely decide to love Him. Something changes inside of you, and as a result He becomes compellingly attractive. His glory – His beauty – compels your admiration and delight. He becomes your supreme treasure. You love Him.

– John Piper,”Think – The Life of the Mind and the Love of God”, pg 87

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical”

– Tim Keller. The Prodigal God

Isaiah 50

Posted: June 24, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity

by Don Carson

ISAIAH 50 HAS A TRANSITIONAL importance that belies its brevity. In Isaiah 50:1–3 God addresses the children of Israel in exile, especially those who think he has utterly abandoned them. He hasn’t. He has neither divorced their mother, i.e., Zion, nor sold them into slavery to pay off some creditor—so the way back to him is still open. In this light, the last two lines of Isaiah 50:1 should be read as irony: if the children were “sold” or the mother “sent away” in any sense, it was because of their sin, not because of some final legal action on God’s part. Moreover, the sovereign Creator is certainly capable of bringing them back (Isa. 50:2b–3). The real question is, why did none of them come to him when he called? (Isa. 50:2a).

Then the Servant speaks (Isa. 50:4–9), more to himself than to others, but so as to be overheard (Isa. 50:10–11). Who is he? There have been many suggestions: Isaiah, or a sixth-century disciple of Isaiah; Jeremiah; Israel, personified as an abused and suffering person (cf. Ps. 129:1–3). As the book unfolds, Isaiah will make the Servant’s identity clear. Even now, observe his characteristics: This Servant is a gifted counselor. His words sustain the weary, for he himself has an ear for all the Sovereign Lord says, and he has not been rebellious (Isa. 50:4–5—unlike Israel). Thus he is a perfect disciple, but of the Lord, not of Isaiah (compare John 5:18ff.). He does not draw back from obedience (Isa. 50:5), even in the face of implacable abuse (Isa. 50:6; cf. Matt. 27:30; Mark 14:65; 15:19). The Sovereign Lord sustains him in his mission, so he sets his face like a flint to complete the task assigned him (Isa. 50:7; cf. Luke 9:51), confident that God will finally vindicate him (Isa. 50:7–9; cf. Phil. 2:9–11).

How, then, does the second part of this chapter relate to the first? Surely in this way: those who are addressed in Isaiah 50:1–3 still seem alienated, distant, unresponsive, cynical, while here in Isaiah 50:10–11 a line is drawn in the sand, and this line concerns the Servant. On the one side is the person who “fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant,” who despite the terrible darkness that now engulfs him “trust[s] in the name of the LORD” (Isa. 50:10, italics added). On the other side is the person who tries to provide his or her own light, who lights fires of rebellion; God says to such a person, “This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment” (Isa. 50:11). Thus the identity of “the people of God” is undergoing subtle redefinition. In Isaiah 49:8–12 they embrace both Israelites and Gentiles; here one element that defines them is that they obey the word of the Lord’s Servant.

HT: For the Love of God

A great day

Posted: June 23, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

A day is coming when banknotes will be as useless as rags, and gold will be as worthless as the dust of the earth. A day is coming when thousands will care nothing for the things for which they once lived, and will desire nothing so much as the things which they once despised. The mansions and palaces will be forgotten in the desire of a “house not made with hands.” The favor of the rich and great will be remembered no more, in the longing for the favor of the King of kings. The silks, and satins, and velvets, and laces, will be lost sight of in the anxious need of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. All will be altered, all will be changed in the great day of the Lord’s return. – Bishop J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion pg. 40

The Trinity acts as one Savior

Posted: June 21, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

From page 13 of his book, The Pillars of Grace, Steve Lawson writes:

“… divine sovereignty in salvation involves each of the three persons of the Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three work in perfect unity to rescue the same undeserving sinners. Within the Trinity, there is one saving purpose, one saving plan, and one saving enterprise. Those whom the Father chooses are precisely those whom the Son redeems and those whom the Spirit regenerates. The persons of the Godhead act as one Savior. The Trinity is not fractured in its saving activity. It is not divided in its direction and intent, as if each person of the Godhead seeks to save a different group of sinners. Instead, each member of the Trinity purposes and irresistibly proceeds to save one and the same people – God’s chosen people.

Sadly, many believe otherwise. They insist that the Father saves only the few sinners whom He forsees will believe in Christ, this mistakenly confusing foreknowledge (Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:2, 20), which means “forelove,” with mere foresight. They also imagine that Christ hypothetically died for all sinners – a different group from which the Father saves – naively assuming there is only one meaning for the scriptural words world and all. They further claim that the Spirit saves yet another group, that is, some sinners whom He woos. Sadly, they mistake His internal, saving call (1 Cor 1:2, 9) for a general, non-saving conviction (Heb. 6:4-5). According to this leaky scheme, the three persons of the Godhead are purported to be pursuing three different groups of individuals – fewall, and some. Thus, the persons of the Godhead are sorely divided in Their saving activity. Even worse, the sinner – not God – reigns as the determinative in his or her salvation.

But the Bible teaches otherwise. Scripture reveals a perfect unity within the Trinity, a perfect oneness between the Father, Son, and Spirit in Their saving activities. God’s Word teaches that the Godhead acts as one Savior in saving one people. The truth is that man is not sovereign in salvation – God is. All three members work together with absolute sovereignty and unwavering resolve to save the very same people for Their own glory. This is accomplished through the free exercise of the supreme authority of all three members of the Trinity.

(HT:EffectualGrace)

preached by Rob Sturdy

Saving faith

Posted: June 17, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“The only kind of faith that matters in the end is saving faith — the faith that unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours in justification, and his power flows into us for sanctification. In other words, . . . I am not interested in faith in general — the faith of other religions, or the faith of science in the validity of its first principles, or the faith of children in their parents, or any other kind of faith that is not in Christ. I am only interested in the faith that obtains eternal life. The  faith that saves (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9). The faith that justifies (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16) and sanctifies (Acts 26:18; 1 Pet. 4:11).”

– John Piper, Think: The life of the Mind and the Love of God(Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 69-70.

Cling to truth, Cling to Christ

Posted: June 15, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

 

 

Let us embrace this truth reverently, and cling to it firmly. Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell. Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners. Christ is the fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed. Christ is the Prince and Savior, who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the altar of refuge. He that hath the Son hath life,—and he that hath not the Son hath not life. May we all strive to understand this. No doubt men may easily think too little of God the Father, and God the Spirit; but no man ever thought too much of Christ.

–JC Ryle  ” Expository thoughts on the Gospels”

The One hanged on a tree

Posted: June 14, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Apologetics, Christianity, Uncategorized

A portion of a sermon preached by Melito Bishop of Sardis around 180 ad

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
This One is “the beginning and the end”
—the beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
“To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.”

Melito Bishop of Sardis, translated and quoted by James White in his book “The Forgotten Trinity”

(HT:AOMIN)

1. It reminds us of the unity of God’s action in the past and in the present, in revelation and in salvation, in Christ and in us. The believer and the church should not be surprised if what happened to Christ happens to them. The theologia crucis is for these theologians an insistence on the paradigmatic nature of the cross: it is not solely a soteriological event which remains locked in the past, but is a paradigm of the way in which God always works. For this reason, atonement theologies which regard the cross as purely a past action, the benefits of which one simply enjoys in the present, are inadequate if they fail to make the connection between God’s action in Christ and God’s action in the ongoing life of the church or the Christian.

2. It stands as a critique of theology which becomes exclusively academic. This is not just because of the tendency of academia to forget this theme, but more because it insists on the involvement of the theologian with God himself. For salvation and the knowledge of God to take place, there must be a conformity of the knower to what is known. In other words, the God who reveals himself in the cross of Christ can be known only from the cross of the Christian and the church. The forms of these ‘crucifixions’ are different, yet all three insist on the necessity of the personal experience of being humbled, becoming powerless, whether socially, soteriologically or epistemologically, and on the fact that only from that perspective can God rightly be known. This means that Christian existence today must be shaped by the form of God’s self-revelation, the crucified Christ. Quite simply, it becomes difficult for a church to use power in manipulative ways if its theology is founded upon the cross, and it seeks to remain true to the God revealed in it. Instead, the church’s use of power must be marked by the way God in Christ has used his power: in its giving power to those who lack it, and in the use of power to advance the interests of those disadvantaged by power relations.

3. In the face of postmodern critiques of the notion of power, the theologia crucis is a protest against forms of relationship between people, or between people and God, which are based primarily on manipulative power rather than love. It is not an ideology, but because of its insistence on the unity of God’s action in the past and the present, it makes demands on actual relationships within communities, the way leadership operates, and the way those on the margins are heard. Because the theologia crucis depicts the God who does not abandon power, but who uses it for the healing and salvation of his creation, exercising his own power in the foolish, powerless vulnerability of the cross, it can therefore offer an alternative model of power for the Christian community. The truth revealed in theologia crucis is not oppressive, but liberating, because it is inseparably connected to self-giving Love as its mode of expression. It tells of the God who places himself at the service of his people, and invites his people to follow suit.

from “Theology of the Cross: Subversive Theology for a Postmodern World?” by Graham Tomlin

(HT:SteveWood)


The world says, the gospel says…

Posted: June 11, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

a helpful post byJohn Sampson

“Most Americans believe that their major problem is something that has happened to them, and that their solution is to be found within. In other words, they believe that they have an alien problem that is to be resolved with an inner solution. What they gospel says, however, is that we have an inner problem that demands an alien solution – a righteousness that is not our own.” – Al Mohler, ‘Preaching with the Culture in View,’ in Preaching the Cross (Crossway 2007), p. 81

That’s very clarifying.

The world says: the problem is outside you, the solution inside you.

The gospel says: the problem is inside you, the solution outside you.

safe ground

Posted: June 10, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

“It is doubtless a most joyful thought that we have redemption through the blood of our adorable Savior.  But I have no less comfort in the thought that He is exalted to give repentance and remission of sins. . . . Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all.  The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears.  I long to be in my proper place, my hand on my mouth, and my mouth in the dust. . . . I feel this to be safe ground.  Here I cannot err.”

Charles Simeon, quoted in H. C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon (London, 1956), pages 133-134.  Italics original.

(HT:Ray Ortlund)

John 14

Posted: June 9, 2011 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
preached by Iain Boyd

Is God Unfair?

Posted: June 8, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

an article by J.I. Packer from here

When the great good given is not only undeserved but contrary to our deservings, we should humbly receive it and give thanks for it, not stand back and complain that in this or that respect it ought to be greater than it is. There is no warrant whatever for the “ought to be” in such complaints (more…)