Archive for February, 2012

Grace narrative identity

Posted: February 27, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity

There are two basic narrative identities at work among professing Christians. The first is what I will call the moral-performance narrative identity. These are people who in their heart of hearts say, I obey; therefore I am accepted by God. The second is what I will call the grace narrative identity. This basic operating principle is, I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey.

People living their lives on the basis of these two different principles may superficially look alike. They may sit right beside one another in the church pew, both striving to obey the law of God, to pray, to give money generously, to be good family members. But they are doing so out of radically different motives, in radically different spirits, resulting in radically different personal characters. When persons living in the moral-performance narrative are criticized, they are furious or devastated because they cannot tolerate threats to their self-image of being a “good person.”

But in the gospel our identity is not built on such an image, and we have the emotional ballast to handle criticism without attacking back. When people living in the moral-performance narrative base their self-worth on being hard working or theologically sound, then they must look down on those whom they perceive to be lazy or theologically weak. But those who understand the gospel cannot possibly look down on anyone, since they were saved by sheer grace, not by their perfect doctrine or strong moral character.

– Tim Keller

We will be surprised

Posted: February 25, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

I do not know when Christ will come again. I would think it most presumptuous if I said that I did. I am no prophet, though I love the subject of prophecy. I dislike all fixing of dates, and naming of years, and I believe it has done great harm. I only assert positively, that Christ will come again one day to set up His kingdom on earth, and that whether the day be near, or whether it be far off — it will take the Church and the world exceedingly by surprise!

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Coming Events and Present Duties

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.

This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His ” blood & righteousness” alone that we can rest.

B.B. Warfield, Works vol VII pg 113

Are you ready to hear Him

Posted: February 24, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

Let us learn to live the life of faith in Jesus more than we have up to this point. Ever to be found by the fountain side—ever to be eating Christ’s body by faith, and drinking Christ’s blood by faith—ever to have before our minds Christ’s dying for our sins—Christ’s rising again for our justification—Christ interceding for us at God’s right hand—Christ soon coming again to gather us to Himself—this is the mark which we should have continually before our eyes. We may fall short—but let us aim high. Let us walk in the full light of the Sun of righteousness, and then our graces will grow. Let us not be like trees on a cold north wall—weak, half-starved, and unfruitful. Let us rather strive to be like the sunflower—and follow the great Fountain of Light wherever He goes, and see Him with open face. Oh, for an eye more quick to discern His dealings! Oh, for an ear more ready to hear His voice!

~ J.C. Ryle

Old Paths, “Forgiveness”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999], 209.

A.I.M.S.

Posted: February 23, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

by John Piper

I have a new acronym.

Along with I.O.U.S. and A.P.T.A.T. and A.N.T.H.E.M. I now use A.I.M.S. to help me maintain my Christ-consciousness through the day.

A. I will call to mind the stupendous truth that Jesus is ALIVE. (Luke 24:5–6)

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

I. I will remember the breathtaking reality that Jesus is IN me. (Romans 8:10).

“Christ is in you.”

M. I will ponder the all-comforting fact that Jesus is MIGHTY. (Matthew 28:18).

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

S. And I will savor the sweetness that Jesus is SATISFYING. (John 6:35)

“Whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

 

The host of the show and his wife were doing everything they could to pigeon-hole Pope Shenouda into their myopic and misguided charismatic worldview. “Surely, if you believe in MY Jesus, then you believe in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit…” the host said in his inimitable way.

Pope Shenouda’s response I will never, ever forget. Patiently, quietly, calmly, without distraction and without appearing incensed in any way, he said the following, in his rich, deep, and thick Egyptian accent:

“It is written in Galatians (he said, “wrrrriten”—with a trilled ‘r’ and “Ga-lah-tea-ens”!) 5 the fruit of the Spirit: ‘Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control.’ It is better,” he continued, “to seek the fruit of the Holy Spirit rather than the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they can lead to pride and selfishness. But the fruit of the Spirit will lead to holiness.”

*Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church

read the whole post here on MIRACLES AND THE MUNDANE LIFE

In tune for the Kingdom

Posted: February 23, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

Wherever you may live, and whatever may be your trials; however great your difficulties, and however small your helps; nothing should prevent your aiming at the highest standard, to behave like one who believes that Christ is coming again! You should resolve, by God’s help, to live so that the day of Christ shall find you needing as little change as possible! You should seek to have . . .

your tastes so heavenly,

your affections so spiritual,

your will so subdued,

your mind so unworldly —

that when the Lord appears, you may be thoroughly in tune for His kingdom!

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Coming Events and Present Duties