Archive for May, 2012

Summer Reading Plan

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

Free summer Bible reading  plan here:

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