Archive for June, 2012

“O Praise the One”

Posted: June 29, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

Special love

Posted: June 28, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology, Spurgeon

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.”

– C. H. Spurgeon

Only Christ Can Fill

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

Take the advice of a minister of Christ. Seek a treasure that cannot be taken from you; seek a city which has lasting foundations. Do as the apostle Paul did. Give yourself to Christ, and seek an incorruptible crown that fades not away. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ as lowly sinners, and He will receive you, pardon you, give you His renewing Spirit, and fill you with peace. This shall give you more real comfort than this world has ever done. There is a gulf in your heart which nothing but Christ can fill.

~ J.C. Ryle

When we meet around the cross

Posted: June 27, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Spurgeon

We give our hand to every man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ, be he what he may or who he may. The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians, not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God’s chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold that there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance.

We do hope the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus.

– C. H. Spurgeon

Fellowship

Posted: June 27, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Sheep love to be together; they do not like being alone; there are no animals which seem to take such pleasure in being in a flock, and cling to each other’s company so faithfully. And so is it with true Christians: it is their delight to meet each other and be together, if possible. It is their continual sorrow and complaint that far too often they have to journey on alone, without any who are like-minded to commune with, about the things which their souls love most; and this is a very sore trial. Friends and relations may be kind and affectionate, they may have everything to make this world enjoyable – but what Christ’s sheep sigh and crave after is to have with them people who can enter into their secret feelings, who understand the unseen workings of their inward man, who can comprehend the hidden warfare which goes on in their hearts – people with whom they can take sweet counsel about their souls’ health and souls’ trials, with whom they can converse freely and unreservedly about their Lord and Master and their hopes of forgiveness through His name.

~ J.C. Ryle

The giving of his own Son

Posted: June 26, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

The verb “elect” means to select, or choose out. The biblical doctrine of election is that before the Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify and glorify in and through Jesus Christ. This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter of endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so, when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect.

– Dr. J.I. Packer

Be patient and hope unto the end

Posted: June 26, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

We must run with patience, or we shall never obtain. There may be many things we cannot understand, much that the flesh could perhaps wish otherwise, but let us endure unto the end, and all shall be made clear, and God’s arrangements shall be proved best. Think not to have your reward on earth, do not draw back because your good things are all yet to come. Today is the cross, but tomorrow is the crown. Today is the labor, but tomorrow is the wages. Today is the sowing, but tomorrow is the harvest. Today is the battle, but tomorrow is the rest. Today is the weeping, but tomorrow is the joy. And what is today compared to tomorrow? Today is but seventy years, but tomorrow is eternity. Be patient and hope unto the end.

~ J.C. Ryle

It is Christ

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

“Christ is not offered us merely as a Savior who does something for us, but he is offered us as Someone who, having done something for us, is himself the propitiation [Romans 3:25]. . . . It is not as if Christ handed you something and said, ‘Here is your redemption, here is your forgiveness,’ and then ran away, as a messenger hands a gift in at the door and the door shuts and away goes the messenger; he has done his job.  Not a bit of it!  It is Christ himself, the Worker, who comes to us himself.  It is Christ personally who is our salvation. . . . It is Christ himself, personally, who comes to us with all the efficacy, the fruit of what he has done, and is the propitiation for our sin.”

William Still, The World Of Grace (Fearn, 1998), page 96.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Days of paradise

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

What will you see when the great event of Christ’s return takes place? You will see the eternal Son of God return in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will come to raise the dead saints and to change the living ones, to punish the wicked and to reward the godly, to summon every one before His bar,and to give to every one according to His works. He will come to bind Satan, and deprive him of his usurped dominion, to deliver the earth from the curse, and to purify it as the eternal dwelling-place of a holy nation; to cast out sin, and all its accursed consequences, – disease, death, sorrow, wars, poverty, injustice, and oppression. You see the world defiled now by the presence of evil. You will see it at length restored to its former state, and the days of paradise before the fall brought back again.

~ J.C. Ryle

Fountain of Life

Posted: June 22, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“Jesus, our head, is already in heaven; and if the head be above water, the body cannot drown.”

— John Flavel
The Fountain of Life
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth)

HT:OFI

“What Grace Is Mine”

Posted: June 22, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

Upward look at Jesus

Posted: June 21, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

What will you get by looking upward to Jesus? Comfort and strength in all the daily battle of life. What thought more cheering than the thought that Jesus is ever looking at you and watching over you! What idea more strengthening than the idea that you are never alone, never forgotten, never neglected, never without a Friend who is “able to save to the uttermost all them who come unto God by Him!” (Heb. 7:25). This daily upward look at Jesus is a most important point. The life of Christ for His people in heaven is only second in importance to His death for them on the cross. The blood, the sacrifice, the atonement, the satisfaction for sin can never be too much prized or thought of. But the session in heaven, the priestly intercession, the daily advocacy of Jesus ought not to be forgotten. I sadly fear they are not so much considered in this day as they ought to be.

~ J.C. Ryle

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina just released this statement in anticipation of this summer’s upcoming General Convention.  The General Convention has historically been the main governing body of the Episcopal Church.  In anticipation for GC 2012, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has published this 84 page document entitled Excerpts from ‘I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing’ Resources for Blessing Same Sex Relationships.”  This document ends with two resolutions.  Resolution A049 intends to ‘Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships’ and Resolution A050 intends to “Create [a] Task Force on the Study of Marriage .  The clear intent of this document and the resolutions is to begin blessing same sex relationships.  While the Standing Committee’s message is clear, I want to let you (especially members of Trinity Church) know where I stand as your Senior Pastor.

First off, let me simply reiterate that while I will be dealing with the issue of same sex blessings here, it is not the real issue.  The real issue in the Episcopal Church today is that we belong to a denomination that is increasingly abandoning the uniqueness of Jesus, His substitutionary death for sinners, and the authority of the Scriptures. 

The issue of same sex blessings/marriages, as an expression of these issues, has been to date one of the most controversial issues in the history of Anglicanism.  In the past decade it has threatened to tear apart one of the largest international Christian fellowships in the world.  It does not look like the issue is about to resolve itself either in the Anglican Communion or in the culture at large.  At the same time, this is an intensely personal issue.  It effects everyone who struggles secretly with same sex attractions, afraid of what friends and family will think if they find out.  It effects those who have taken the radical step of embracing a homosexual lifestyle as part of their identity.  And it effects everyone who knows and loves any of these people.  As such, it behooves the Christian to deal with this issue sensitively and in obedience to the full council of Scripture. 

You can expect a fuller treatment from me on the issue of homosexuality and same sex relationships from a biblical perspective in the future.  Suffice it to say today that I am in agreement with the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina’s statement.  Marriage exists as a central piece of the Biblical narrative.  The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve and ends with Christ being united with His Bride, the Church.  Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that marriage is a living symbol of the reality of the Trinitarian God (Ephesians 5:28-32, 1 Corinthians 11:3). The relationship between a husband and a wife is designed by God to show the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as well as the Relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church.  Because these relationships are essential to the Christian faith, any change in either the doctrine of marriage or the practice of marriage jeopardizes the Biblical understanding of who God is.  Recently I preached a sermon about how God is love because of His inter-Trinitarian relationship.  This sermon would be meaningless if we changed the doctrine of Christian marriage.

That being said, it is my opinion that the church has much to repent of in how we have dealt with people who have same-sex attractions.  Romans 3:23 states very clearly that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  That includes the homosexual and the heterosexual.  The church has been all to ready to condemn not only homosexual sin above heterosexual sin, but sexual sins above other kinds of sin.  The Gospel exists to free us from every kind of sin from adultery to envy, murder to gossip, the hatred of racism to the ambivalent acceptance of human pain and suffering while we live in opulence.  This means that no heterosexual Christian can boast in his sexuality.  According to the Scriptures, every human being is sinful and broken in every arena of their lives in desperate need of the salvation of Jesus Christ. 

Furthermore, the Gospel is readily available to forgive and cleanse any who would accept it.  To state that any non-Biblical behavior is beyond the transforming power of the Gospel is to deny the Gospel’s efficacy and relevance for our lives. In Romans 1:16, Paul says “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes.”  If the Gospel were not powerful to overcome sin, I would be lost.  I must sensitively say then that the Gospel has the power to overcome any sexual desires condemned in Scripture. 

What Can You Expect at Trinity

Now that you know my personal stance here, what can you expect from your leadership in reaction to these upcoming events?  You can be sure that I will labor as vigorously as I always have to keep the Gospel in the very center of our vision.  I cannot communicate to you the level of concern I have that we would be sidetracked from the mission of the Gospel by these sideline issues.  Trinity must continue to labor to become a City on a Hill, a community that shines with the light of the Gospel.  There is no other option for us.  You can also be assured that I, the clergy, and the staff will continue to treat all people at Trinity with the same level of respect that we always have, regardless of sexual identity.  The ground at the foot of the cross is level ground and none of us has grounds to boast above another.  Finally, you can be sure that the Gospel, not morality, politics, or tolerance, will continue to be our message as long as I am here. 

In conclusion, I beg everyone at Trinity to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,” (2 Timothy 2:8 ESV).  Remember that it is He who has died for your sin.  Remember that it is He who lives for you today.  Remember it is He who will judge the living and the dead.  In light of that truth, let us treat one another charitably with respect knowing that none of us would be salvageable apart from the work of Christ.  I so dearly love being your pastor.  My prayer is that we would continue to move into a deeper and deeper knowledge and love of the One who died for us, and that we would do so together.

In Him,

Iain

n.b. I have decided to keep comments open.  Please remember to seek to honor Christ in every comment you make.

The Way of Peace

Posted: June 20, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Look steadily at Jesus on the cross, if you want to feel inward peace. Look to anything of your own, and you will never feel comfortable. Your own life and doings, your own repentance and amendment, your own morality and regularity, your own church-going, your own Bible-reading and your prayers, your own almsgiving and your charities, – what, what are they all but a huge mass of imperfection? Rest not upon them for a moment, in the matter of your justification. As evidences of your wishes, feelings, bias, tastes, habits, inclinations, they may be useful helps occasionally. As grounds of acceptance with God they are worthless rubbish. They cannot give you comfort; they cannot bear the weight of your sins; they cannot stand the searching eye of God. Rest on nothing but Christ crucified, and the atonement He made for you on Calvary. This, this alone is the way of peace.

~ J.C. Ryle

Beliefs

Posted: June 20, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“Bring your beliefs to the test of the Scriptures, and you are likely to discover that it is much harder and more painful to unlearn some things than it is to learn new ones.” – A.W. Pink