Archive for May, 2012

Summer Reading Plan

Posted: May 31, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Discipleship

Free summer Bible reading  plan here:

https://olivetree.com/store/secure_login.php

Always Looking to Jesus

Posted: May 31, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

But what’s important for us to see is the WAY he is doing this. I want to be free this summer, don’t you? I don’t want to be enslaved. I don’t want to live under the burden of being told to do things I don’t have any desire to do. But I don’t want to turn away from God and make my deceitful desires the center of the universe. That would be the worst kind of slavery, in the disguise of freedom. What I want is for my desires to be so transformed by the Spirit of the Lord that when God commands me to do something, my whole heart says, “YES, Lord!”

How shall that happen? It will happen, as verse 18 says, by steadily looking to Jesus, the Lord. The Holy Spirit—the Spirit of the Lord—has one main task, to glorify Jesus (John 16:14). To help us see him and show him. Therefore when we turn to the Lord and set our hearts on Jesus, the Spirit works to help us see him. He opens the eyes of our hearts to apprehend and appreciate and savor and cherish and treasure the glory of the Lord. And then by that means he changes our inner drives and desires and longings so that we want what Jesus wants, and are free.

When Jesus says, love your enemy, we are free because the Spirit is working this very love in our hearts as you look to Jesus. When he says love your neighbor as you love yourself, we are free, because the Spirit is working in us this very love as we look to Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit is love. When he says, love one another with tender, family affection, we are free because, even though this does not lie in our power to do, we can, degree by degree, grow into this freely, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. He is in us awakening those very affections as we steadfastly look to Jesus.

The Spirit is not working this transformation in us without reference to Jesus. Not while we watch endless hours of empty, trifling TV; not while we dribble our hours away aimlessly exploring the World Wide Web; not while we set our minds on things that ignore Christ. No. The Spirit moves and works and frees in a very definite atmosphere, namely, where we are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord Jesus” (v. 18). The Spirit exalts Christ. The Spirit opens the eyes to Christ. The Spirit applies the image of Christ to or soul. If we choose not to focus on Christ, if we go our own way and preoccupy ourselves with other focuses in life, then let us not say, “Where is God?” when we bear the painful fruit of our bondage to sin; and experience the law of God as a burden rather than a joy. He has told us the path of freedom. If we spend our days and evenings looking elsewhere, we will probably stay bound up in all our enslavements.

from a sermon by John Piper, “Summer Is for Seeing and Showing Christ

A strange story, indeed

Posted: May 31, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“In the biblical drama, all of our expectations, assumptions, and cherished ideas are thrown into question. God the judge bears the sentence that his own justice demands. The offended party becomes the redeemer, even as he is subjected to further acts of the most heinous violence from those he redeems. The outcasts become royal heirs, the outsiders become insiders and the insiders outsiders, those who thought they were righteous are in fact condemned and those who were beyond any hope of moral recovery are declared righteous. A strange story, indeed.”

– Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2009), 64

You Become What You Behold

Posted: May 30, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

But this main point has another part to it in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Paul tells us how this is happening. How are we being transformed? Suppose you are jealous for this to happen to you. Suppose that last week, God touched you—as he did some in an extraordinary way—and you long to be transformed into the kind of person who loves other believers with authentic, tender affection. How does it happen?

Paul says in this verse,

We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The key, Paul says, is that we “behold [see] the glory of the Lord.” In other words we are transformed into his image by looking at his glory. You become like what you constantly behold.

In the five or ten years after I left Fuller Seminary, people would see me teach who knew Dr. Daniel Fuller and they would laugh at how many of his mannerisms I had absorbed. The reason? He was my hero. I loved his wisdom and his pedagogy and his spirit of humble teachableness. I was with him a lot and I looked and listened. Unwittingly I started to sound like him and move my hands like him and think like him and ask questions like him.

Now Paul says, when you “behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, you will be transformed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another.”

So if we want to show Christ this summer so that people can see him in us, our strategy must be to see him. To see him for who he really is. To fix our gaze on him and look to him and think about him, and put him before us again and again. This is the key to becoming like him. Seeing is the key to showing.

from a sermon by John Piper,  “Summer Is for Seeing and Showing Christ

from a great chapter in a book I recommend to you,

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home.

The author is dealing with Romans 8:12-13 in this chapter.

What are we to do with sin that remains in us? The answer is simple: kill it. Killing sin, however, is never simple.

Mortification, or as the ESV correctly translate it “[putting] to death the deeds of the body” Rom 8:13, means what it says: we are not to show sin mercy; sin is to be killed –outright.

There is to be no “peace” with sin. WE dare not baptize our sins with benedictions. It is imperative that sin be destroyed. Its life is not to be spared. There must be a radical destruction of sin. Kill it; strangle it; starve it of oxygen until it cannot breathe again.

There is no other way.

It is not just Paul who shows intolerance for sin. Do you remember Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount?

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Matt 5:29-30

“Tear it out.” “Cut it off!” Without such radical action on our part, there can be no progress in Christian discipleship.

Paul makes a similar exhortation in his letter to the Colossians, where he gets specific about the sins he has in mind: ” Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”(Col.3.5).    It is fascinating, isn’t it that in Paul’s day, as in our own, the most prevalent sin has to do with sex.

We are in the midst of a war in which the enemy is sin — not just sin in general, but particular sins with names such as lust, envy, pessimism, laziness, greed, and gossip. We must show these enemies no quarter.

Can sins really be killed?

Has cynicism rendered us content with a certain level of sanctification — one that lives at peace with occasional bouts of indulgence in sin — knowing that there is forgiveness in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ?

…….assurance of forgiveness should never make us complacent and indifferent about sin. This complacency is what Paul anticipates in Rom 6 when he asks, ” Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom 6.1) The answer is decisive and precise: ” By no means!” The spirit of antinomianism, whether derived from laziness in compliance with the law’s demands or resignation because of our constant failure, is to be resisted.

…Owen brought his discourse to a close with these words:

” Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for the sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror; yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet.”

…There can be only one eventual victor. We either set about killing sin or sin kills us.

Lean not on anything of your own now

Posted: May 30, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Think, you who take comfort in some fancied ideas of your own goodness – think, you who wrap up yourselves in the notion, “all must be right, if I keep to my Church,” – think for a moment what a sandy foundation you are building upon! Think how miserably defective your hopes and pleas will look in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment! Whatever people may say of their own goodness while they are strong and healthy, they will find but little to say of it when they are sick and dying. Whatever merit they may see in their own works here in this world, they will discover none in them when they stand before the tribunal of Christ. The light of that great day of judgment will make a wonderful difference in the appearance of all their doings. It will strip off the tinsel, shrivel up the complexion, expose the rottenness of many a deed that is now called good. Their wheat will prove nothing but chaff, their gold will be found nothing but dross. Millions of so-called ‘good works’ will turn out to have been utterly defective and graceless. They passed current here in this world, and were valued among people, but they will prove light and worthless in the balance of God. They will be found to have been like the whitened sepulchers of old – fair and beautiful on the outside – but full of corruption on the inside. Alas, for the person who can look forward to the day of judgment, and lean their soul in the smallest degree on anything of his own now!

~ J.C. Ryle

“It is more blessed to give than to receive”

Posted: May 30, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

Do you want to understand what the times require of all Christians in reference to the souls of others? Listen, and I will tell you. You live in times of great liberty and abounding opportunities of doing good. Never were there so many open doors of usefulness, so many fields white to the harvest. Mind that you use those open doors, and try to reap those fields. Try to do a little good before you die. Strive to be useful. Determine that by God’s help you will leave the world a better world in the day of your burial than it was in the day you were born. Remember the souls of relatives, friends and companions; remember that God often works by weak instruments, and try with holy ingenuity to lead them to Christ. The time is short the sand is running out of the glass of this old world; then redeem the time, and endeavor not to go to heaven alone. No doubt you cannot command success. It is not certain that your efforts to do good will always do good to others but it is quite certain that they will always do good to yourself. Exercise, exercise, is one grand secret of health, both for body and soul. “He that waters shall be watered himself” (Prov. 11:25). It is a deep and golden saying of our Master’s, but seldom understood in its full meaning “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

~ J.C. Ryle

Spiritual benefits of summer

Posted: May 29, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

From an article written by John Piper, “Setting Our Minds on Things Above in Summer” (May 31, 1995)

Every season is God’s season, but summer has a special power.

Jesus Christ is refreshing, but flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word, but then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.

Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come — “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations, picnics, softball, long walks, and cookouts. He invites us in the summer: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This is serious summer refreshment.

Do we want it? That is the question.

Christ gives himself to us in proportion to how much we want his refreshment. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, RSV). One of the reasons to give the Lord special attention in the summer is to say to him, “We want all your refreshment. We really want it.”

 

hear the sermon by John Piper,  “Summer Is for Seeing and Showing Christ” (June 11, 1995)

HT:DesiringGod

The tree is to be known by its fruits

Posted: May 29, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“The apostles… in addressing others also whom they conceive to be living in habits of sin, and under the wrath of God, they rather advise them to amend their ways as a preparation for their coming to Christ, than exhort them to throw themselves with deep prostration of soul at the foot of the cross, there to obtain pardon and find grace to help in time of need… Doubtless there have been too many who, to their eternal ruin, have abused the doctrine of Salvation by Grace; and have vainly trusted in Christ for pardon and acceptance, when by their vicious lives they have plainly proved the groundlessness of their pretensions. The tree is to be known by its fruits; and there is too much reason to fear that there is no principle of faith, when it does not decidedly evince itself by the fruits of holiness… Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, was the sum of the apostolical instructions.”

– William Wilberforce

Seek on, and Expect to find

Posted: May 29, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Make it your daily prayer that you may have an increase of faith. According to your faith will be your peace. Cultivate that blessed root more, and sooner or later, by God’s blessing, you may hope to have the flower. You may not perhaps attain to full assurance at once: it is good sometimes to be kept waiting; we do not value things that we get without trouble. But though it tarry, wait for it. Seek on, and expect to find.

~ J.C. Ryle

Throne of grace

Posted: May 28, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Let us pray more heartily in private, and throw our whole souls more into our prayers. There are live prayers and there are dead prayers; prayers that cost us nothing, and prayers which often cost us strong crying and tears. What are yours? When great professors backslide in public, and the church is surprised and shocked, the truth is that they had long ago backslidden on their knees. They had neglected the throne of grace.

~ J.C. Ryle

He lives forever—to make you happy forever

Posted: May 28, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

“In trusting your souls to him, you do not commit them to a dead Savior. It is true, he was once dead, but now he is alive; and behold he lives for evermore.

He lives to communicate his Spirit for your sanctification; he lives to look after you in your pilgrimage through this wilderness; he lives to send down supplies to you according to your needs; he lives to make perpetual intercession for you, to plead your cause, to urge your claims founded on his blood, and to solicit blessings for you.

He lives forever—to make you happy forever.”

— Samuel Davies

read more here

(HT:OFI)

D.A. Carson, 2 Peter 3

Posted: May 28, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

2 Peter 3

PETER URGES HIS READERS TO “wholesome thinking” (2 Peter 3, especially v. 1), in particular about the Lord’s return. This presupposes that unwholesome thinking about the Lord’s return was circulating. Today even more forms of unwholesome thinking about this event exist than in the first century. Peter stresses that:

(1) In every generation there will be scoffers who sneer at the notion of Christ’s return (2 Pet. 3:3). Sometimes this scoffing will be grounded in a profoundly anti-Christian worldview. In our own day, philosophical naturalism obviously has no place for the ultimate supernatural visit to Planet Earth, nor even for an end of history brought about by God himself. The stance may be tied to some uniformitarian perspective (2 Pet. 3:4). Never should we forget that such perspectives often have moral dimensions to them. It is so much more convenient, for those who cherish their own moral autonomy, to deny that there is a final accounting (2 Pet. 3:3).

(2) We should never overlook the fact that God has not left himself without witness in this regard. Not only has he imposed massive judgments on powerful nations and empires (often by “natural” means), but two events in the record of the earth’s existence testify to God’s cataclysmic intervention: Creation, and the destruction of the Deluge (2 Pet. 3:5-7). Here our society suppresses, for example, the extremely articulate forms of the argument from design: we “deliberately forget” what God has done. Our evaluation of these matters is tied to our moral andspiritual alienation from God our Maker.

(3) The delay before Christ’s return reflects not only God’s very different view of the pace of events (2 Pet. 3:8), but his matchless forbearance: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Paul says something similar: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

(4) When Christ does return at the end, however, his return will be sudden, unmistakable, and cataclysmic (2 Pet. 3:10). It will mark the end of the universe as we know it. During the 1950s, when residents of North America were sometimes asked to build nuclear bomb shelters to shield themselves from the holocaust that threatened, I asked my dad if we should build one. He quietly replied, “Why? When Jesus comes, the very elements will be destroyed [cf. 2 Pet. 3:10, 12]. Be ready for him, and fear nothing else.”

(5) And that is the point. In light of all this, “what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11-12). The test of eschatology is ethics.

post from: For the Love of God

“We are often told (I mean those of us who are commonly nicknamed by the title of Calvinists—and we are not very much ashamed of that; we think that Calvin, after all, knew more about the Gospel than almost any man who has ever lived, uninspired), we are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not.

The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men?

They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular?

They answer “No.” They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, “No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if”—and then follow certain conditions of salvation.

We say, then, we will go back to the old statement—Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He?

You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody.

We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.” We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this.

General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way; it does not secure the salvation of anybody.

Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream.”

– C. H. Spurgeon

HT: John Samson

He loved them before they knew Him

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

“God’s electing a certain definite number is a manifestation of His glory. It shows the glory of His divine sovereignty. God is declaring His absolute sovereignty over His creation. He is showing us just how far that sovereignty extends. In purposely choosing some and passing on others, He shows that His majesty and power are unparalleled. Those who do not see glory and dominion in election simply do not understand God. They are not aware of His greatness, and do not understand grace. Grace is defined in election. God chose His people to happiness and glory long before they were born. He chose them out of the mass of fallen mankind. He loved them before they knew Him. He chose them when they did not deserve to be chosen. That is grace! The doctrine of election shows that if those who received God’s grace had earnestly sought it, it was God’s grace that caused them to seek it. It shows that even their faith itself is the gift of God, and their persevering in a way of holiness unto glory is also the fruit of electing love. Believer’s love of God is the fruit of and because of God’s love to them. The giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and the appointing of ordinances are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to mankind, either in this world or in the world to come, is comprised of the electing love of God.”

– Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 2, page 936: Sermon 13 in occasional sermons on 1 Peter 2