Archive for July, 2012

Boldness

Posted: July 31, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification, Spurgeon

 “If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, “I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.” But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.”

C. H. Spurgeon:(Sermons, 6.354.)

He knows me.

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

J. I. Packer:

What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.

All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is not a moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.

This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort — the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates — in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.

Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 41–42, emphasis added.

HT:DesiringGod

After much of the reaction against the macabre violence of The Hunger Games, Winston Smith here offers what I think Christian interaction with pop culture should look like.  Rather than denouncing immorality that exists in the storyline (if that’s your aim, the book of Judges needs some critics), Smith looks at what in the popular book and movie appeals to us as humans, created in the image of God and fallen.

Recently, as I approached the breakfast table I caught the tail end of a conversation my teenagers were having that ended with my son explaining to one of his younger sisters, “I would definitely kill you first if we were selected as tribute.” I was only mildly relieved to find that they were talking about The Hunger Games, the novel by Suzanne Collins and recent blockbuster movie. I’d heard mention of it, but given the way it had ruined my breakfast, I thought I should investigate further…  Enjoy the rest here

Refuge in God

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

 “We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by. We must take refuge from God in God. Above all we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while He disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness”

A. W. Tozer:(The Knowledge of the Holy, 107).

What’s the Story

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

D. A. Carson:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

HT:DesiringGod

“Why Does God Want Us to Sing”

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

As you prepare to worship this Sunday be encouraged as to why we sing songs to our Great Lord.

 

“O Help My Unbelief”

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

remake of an amazing hymn by Isaac Watts originally named “How Sad Our State By Nature Is!”.
In the description of the text he wrote: “Faith in Christ for pardon and sanctification.”
This hymn is based on Mark 9:24 “… Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief

 

 

Thanks to Tom Webb for passing this on!

Fortunately, Father Guido has it wrong here.  I understand that this is a comic routine, but the truth is most people view life in this way.  We see our good deeds and our bad deeds sort of weighing up against one another.  Most of us hope that we’ll be found righteous in the balance.  If we’re not sure, we might comfort ourselves with an idea like reincarnation (remember, most nuns are former mafiosos) in the hopes that somewhere down the line we might be able to balance the accounts.  While this seems more gracious than the classic Christian teaching of God’s judgment for sin, it isn’t.  Take for example, the English football manager who was fired for stating that disabled people were making up for bad deeds done in past lives.  While many Hindu believers reject this idea, suffering people often wonder what they have done to deserve their pain, whether in this life or one past.  The cruelty of this karmic system is that all suffering eventually leads to guilt.  “What did I do?”

On the other hand, more western religious people have imagined the weighing of the scales more immediately.  After you die, everything is added up and hopefully you have enough to get in to heaven.  Inevitably, this leads to the sort of casuistry that was common amongst the Pharisees as we heap greater penalties on the sins we don’t personally struggle with (like the adulterous woman’s accusers in John 8), while we blame others (for example, those in Jesus’ day who blamed the woman for a man’s lust, the reason why Jesus says “If a man looks at a woman with lust in his eyes He’s already committed adultery in his heart,” (Matthe 5:28) or we lessen the penalties for the sins we do struggle with (that’s probably like 25 or 35 cents).

According to Paul, this thinking is only half right.  (more…)

Run hard after holiness

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

From Kevin DeYoung’s forthcoming book, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness  (Crossway; August 31, 2012), page 123:

We must always remember that in seeking after holiness we are not so much seeking after a thing as we are seeking a person. The blessings of the gospel — election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and all the rest — have been deposited in no other treasury but Christ. We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are now being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God. Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to a slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging unionwith Christ leads to an ever-increasing communion with Christ.

HT:DesiringGod

D.A. Carson , Matthew 5

Posted: July 26, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity

THE PARAGRAPH MATTHEW 5:17-20 begins the body of the Sermon on the Mount. It is a complex but enormously evocative section.

Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). These lines have called forth some popular but doubtful interpretations. (a) Some think that the verb “fulfill” must mean the opposite of “abolish,” since the last clause demands an obvious opposition (“not … to abolish … but to fulfill”). So they take Jesus to mean, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to maintain it or preserve or keep it.” But does Jesus really see his mission in such terms, especially if the maintaining or keeping of the Law is understood simply in terms of its demands and prescriptions? Even in some of the antitheses that follow (Matt. 5:21-48), does it not sound as if Jesus is introducing at least some modifications? Does not Jesus introduce some changes to the food laws in Matthew 15:1-20 (cf. Mark 7:1-23)? (b) Some therefore argue that Jesus has only the moral law in mind. But it is far from clear that first-century Christians distinguished moral from civil and ceremonial law as readily as we do. In any case, Matthew 5:18 (“not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen”) sounds too comprehensive to allow such a restriction. (c) Still others want “to fulfill” to mean something like “to intensify” or even “to show the true meaning of.” But the verb never carries that meaning.

The most common meaning of the verb “to fulfill” in the New Testament has to do with eschatology. In the past God predicted something; now he “fulfills” his word; he brings to pass what he promised. That is always what Matthew means by the verb (which he uses frequently). So here Jesus says, in effect, that he has not come to abolish the Law, but to do something quite different: to bring to pass all that the Law predicted. Such fulfillment will go on until everything predicted by the Law is accomplished, to the very end of the age (Matt. 5:18). All of this presupposes (a) that the Law has a predictive function (a commonplace in the New Testament); (b) that Jesus does show the true meaning of the Law and Prophets, not in some abstract sense, but in their prophetic fulfillment, the true direction in which they point; and (c) that Jesus interprets his own mission as prophetic fulfillment of the promises inherent in the Law and the Prophets. He thinks of himself neither as someone who destroys all that has come before and starts over, nor as someone who simply maintains the antecedent tradition. Rather, all previous revelation points to him, and he brings its expectations to pass.

 

from: For the Love of God

Free, sovereign grace

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

“Grace burst forth spontaneously from the bosom of eternal love and rested not until it had removed every impediment and found its way to the sinner’s side, swelling round him in full flow. Grace does away the distance between the sinner and God, which sin had created. Grace meets the sinner on the spot where he stands; grace approaches him just as he is. Grace does not wait till there is something to attract it nor till a good reason is found in the sinner for its flowing to him… It was free, sovereign grace when it first thought of the sinner; it was free grace when it found and laid hold of him; and it is free grace when it hands him up into glory.

“Horatius Bonar: (Sermon, “God’s Purpose of Grace“)

It has all been laid on Jesus

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

“My friend, if you belong to Christ, you can be confident that your suffering is not punishment for your sin. And how do I know that? Because someone has already been punished for your sin so that you won’t have to be. All the punishment you deserve for your sin—your outright rebellion against God or your utter apathy toward God, your refusal to love him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, all of the ugliest, most shameful things you have said and done—it has all been laid on Jesus. He was punished for your sin so you won’t have to be.”

— Nancy Guthrie, “The Wisdom of God”

Just enough mediocrity

Posted: July 24, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

 “Some Christians want enough of Christ to be identified with him but not enough to be seriously inconvenienced; they genuinely cling to basic Christian orthodoxy but do not want to engage in serious Bible study; they value moral probity, especially of the public sort, but do not engage in war against inner corruptions; they fret over the quality of the preacher’s sermon but do not worry much over the quality of their own prayer life.  Such Christians are content with mediocrity.”

D. A. Carson:(A Call To Spiritual Reformation,121)

“Many men think of the call to give themselves for a woman solely in terms of her protection. They say, “I would defend her if there was trouble. If someone attacked her I would step up for her protection.” But they fail to realize that when a woman enters a dating relationship, she mainly needs to be protected from the sins of the very man to whom she is offering her he…art. The enemy that men need to stand up to is the one who lives within themselves: the one who is selfish, insensitive, and uncommitted. It is when that man is put to death that the woman will be safe and will be blessed in the relationship.”

– Richard D. Phillips and Sharon L. Phillips,

Holding Hands and Holding Hearts, P&R, 2006, p. 72.

Your gospel is too small

Posted: July 23, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

 

“A gospel which is only about the moment of conversion but does not extend to every moment of life in Christ is too small.

A gospel that gets your sins forgiven but offers no power for transformation is too small.

A gospel that isolates one of the benefits of union with Christ and ignores all the others is too small.

A gospel that must be measured by your own moral conduct, social conscience, or religious experience is too small.

A gospel that rearranges the components of your life but does not put you personally in the presence of God is too small.”

— Fred Sanders
The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 106