Archive for August, 2013

Luther, in a sermon on John 16:33

Posted: August 29, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

 

It is as though Christ wanted to say: “My dear friend, write the word ‘I’ with a very large capital letter, in order that you may see it well and take it into your heart. . . . It does not matter that you are small and weak; I am all the larger and stronger. . . .”

Christ declares: I have already overcome the world. Thus the great and the small, the rich and the poor, will join hands and be a match for the great monster behemoth. If he tries to swallow and devour you as if you were a little gnat, I will become a big camel in his throat and tear My way through his belly until he bursts and has to return you in one piece, whether he wants to or not. I am the One who says this to you.

But you must turn your eyes from yourselves and be sure to consider who I am, in order that you may be able to say: “Listen, death, devil, pope, emperor, and world, you are really putting on airs. You are showing your long, sharp teeth and are opening your jaws wide. Compared with you I am a poor little worm. This is true. But what do you think about Him who says: ‘I am the One’ and ‘I have overcome the world’–says this to me and tells me to rely confidently on it?”

– Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapter 14-16, p. 415-17

Praise for Martin Luther

Posted: August 29, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“In my opinion Charles Wesley is the finest English hymn-writer, Thomas Cranmer the best liturgist, William Tyndale the most perceptive Bible translator, Hugh Latimer the finest preacher, and the Westminster divines the ablest catechists. Imagine all of these gifted people gathered up into one individual.

What it took a dozen Englishmen two hundred years to do Martin Luther did in twenty.”

– Victor Shepherd, Witnesses to the Word: Fifty Profiles of Faithful Servants (Clements, 2001), 33

Gospel Promises

Posted: August 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“Those whom God has chosen to salvation by Christ, are those whom God specially loves in this world. They are the jewels among mankind. He cares more for them than for kings on their thrones, if kings are not converted. He hears their prayers. He orders all the events of nations and the issues of wars for their good, and their sanctification. He keeps them by His Spirit. He allows neither man nor devil to pluck them out of His hand. Whatever tribulation comes on the world, God’s elect are safe. May we never rest until we know that we are of this blessed number! There breathes not the man or woman who can prove that he is not one. The promises of the Gospel are open to all. May we give diligence to make our calling and election sure! God’s elect are a people who cry unto Him night and day. When Paul saw the faith, and hope, and love of the Thessalonians, then he knew ‘their election of God.’” (1 Thess. 1:4; Luke 18:7.)

– J.C. Ryle

Go to the Cross

Posted: August 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way…

But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not at all congenial to me…

whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross…

This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must never forget that we do not replace Jesus on earth, or even partner with him in the strictest sense. The work is still his, and Jesus is still the one working. Our role is to bear witness to the person and work of Christ. That’s really the point of Acts: to show the apostles as Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (1:8).

Read the whole article at Kevin DeYoung s blog

“Reader, would you have more faith? Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ. Study your blessed Savior more and more, and strive to know more of the length and breadth and height of His love. Study Him in all His offices, as the Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Friend, the Teacher, the Shepherd of His believing people.

Study Him as one who not only died for you—but is also living for you at the right hand of God; as one who not only shed His blood for you—but daily intercedes for you at the right hand of God; as one who is soon coming again for you, and will stand once more on this earth.

The miner who is fully persuaded that the rope which draws him up from the pit will not break, is drawn up without anxiety and alarm. The believer who is thoroughly acquainted with the fullness of Jesus Christ, is the believer who travels from grace to glory with the greatest comfort and peace.”

– J. C. Ryle, Faith in Christ

Roman 10

Posted: August 27, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

HERE I WISH TO REFLECT on one small part of Romans 10.

As part of his insistence that Jews and Gentiles alike must be saved by faith or not at all, the apostle Paul reviews the fundamental Christian “word of faith”: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). This is then slightly expanded: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:10). The additional verse does not lay out salvation in two discrete steps: step one, believe in your heart and be justified; step two, confess with your mouth and be saved. This would almost imply that justification can take place apart from salvation, and that faith is an inadequate means that must be supplemented by confession. It would be closer to the apostle’s thought to say that the two lines are parallel—not because each says exactly the same thing as the other (they don’t), but because each throws light on the other, clarifying the other, expounding a little what the other means. Faith in the heart without confession with the mouth thus becomes unbelievable; conversely, confession with the mouth that is merely formal and not generated by faith in the heart is not what the apostle has in mind either. He propounds the faith that generates confession; this confession is borne along by faith. Out of this faith/confession comes justification/salvation—again, overlapping categories, such that in Paul you can’t have one without the other.

So Paul drives the point home: in this respect there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for the same Lord is Lord of all, and blesses all who call on him, as Scripture says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13Joel 2:32). That means that Christians need to send people with the good news, for otherwise how shall people call on him of whom they have not heard (Rom. 10:14–15)?

The point to observe is that the same Paul who insists so strongly in Romans 8 and 9 that God is unconditionally sovereign insists no less strongly in Romans 10 that people must believe in their hearts and confess gospel truth with their mouths if they are to be saved, and lays on the conscience of believers the imperative to bring this good news to those who have not heard. Any theology that attempts to diminish God’s sovereignty by appealing to human freedom is as profoundly un-Pauline as any theology that somehow diminishes human responsibility and accountability by appealing to some crude, divine fatalism.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s Blog

“Christianity is not a new morality”

Posted: August 26, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity

Christianity did not come into the world to proclaim a new morality and, sweeping away all the supernatural props by which men were wont to support their trembling, guilt-stricken souls, to throw them back on their own strong right arms to conquer a standing before God for themselves. It came to proclaim the real sacrifice for sin which God had provided in order to supersede all the poor fumbling efforts which men had made and were making to provide a sacrifice for sin for themselves; and, planting men’s feet on this, to bid them go forward. It was in this sign that Christianity conquered, and it is in this sign alone that it continues to conquer. We may think what we will of such a religion. What cannot be denied is that Christianity is such a religion.

Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 2: Biblical Doctrines, 435

Ht:Aaron Armstrong

No room For Idols

Posted: August 26, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“The loving and much loved wife is satisfied with the love of her husband; his smile is her joy, she cares little for any other. So, if you have come to Christ, thy Maker is thine husband – His free love to you is all you need, and all you can care for – there is no cloud between you and God – there is no veil between you and the Father; you have access to Him who is the fountain of happiness – what have you to do any more with idols? Oh! if your heart swims in the rays of God’s love, like a little mote swimming in the sunbeam, you will have no room in your heart for idols.”

– Robert Murray McCheyne

Roman 8

Posted: August 26, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR Christians to be “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)? A considerable body of thought pictures a special group of illustrious Christians who “live above it all,” powerful in confronting temptation, victorious in their prayer lives, fruitful in their witness, mature and faithful in their relationships. And none of that is what the text says.

First, the “us” to whom the apostle refers includes all Christians. All Christians are the ones whom God has foreknown, “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,” called, justified, glorified (Rom. 8:29–30). The people referred to are not the elite of the elect; they are ordinary Christians, all genuine Christians.

Second, the actual evidence that they are “more than conquerors” is that they persevere regardless of all opposition. That opposition may take the form of horrible persecution, of the kind that Scripture describes (Rom. 8:35–38). It may be some other hardship, all the way to famine. The glories of life will not finally seduce them; the terrors of death will not finally sway them; neither the pressures of the present nor the frustrations of the future will destroy them (Rom. 8:38). Neither human powers nor anything else in all creation, not even all the powers of hell unleashed, can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

Third, as the last sentence already makes clear, that from which Christians cannot be finally separated is the “love of Christ” (Rom. 8:35) or the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:39). At one level, of course, that is simply saying that no power can stop Christians from being Christians. That is why we are “more than conquerors.” But that point could have been made a lot of different ways. To make it this way, with an emphasis on the love of Christ as that from which we cannot be separated, reminds us of the sheer glory and pleasure that is ours, both now and in eternity, to be in such a relationship. We are not simply acquitted; we are loved. We are loved not simply by a peer, but by God himself. Nor is this a reference to the general love that God has for his entire creation. What is at stake here is that special love that attaches to “all who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Fourth, the guarantee that we shall prevail and persevere, and prove to be “more than conquerors” in this sense, is nothing other than the sovereign purposes of God (Rom. 8:29–30), manifest in the death of his Son on our behalf (Rom. 8:31–35). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:32). No greater security is imaginable.

 

 

FROM D.A. Carson’s blog

Instant & Complete

Posted: August 21, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“The justification of a sinner is instantaneous and complete. . . . It is an all-comprehending act of God. All the sins of a believer, past, present, and future, are pardoned when he is justified. The sum-total of his sin, all of which is before the Divine eye at the instant when God pronounces him a justified person, is blotted out or covered over by one act of God. Consequently, there is no repetition in the Divine mind of the act of justification; as there is no repetition of the atoning death of Christ, upon which it rests.”

– William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2 (New York: Scribner’s, 1891), 545

Jesus is the Beginning, the Middle, and the End

Posted: August 20, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

Reformedish

way“I am the way, the truth, and the life” is Jesus’ (in)famous reply to Thomas’ request for directions to the Father (John 14:6). The text has been in dispute ever since, especially in light of disputes about salvation, exclusivism/inclusivism, and the sole Lordship of Christ.  What does it mean for Jesus to be the “way, the truth, and the life”? How can a person be a life? Or a way? Or the truth? How are they connected?

Once again, Calvin cuts to the core of the matter and sheds an illuminating (and worship-inspiring) light on the text:

The way, the truth, and the life. He lays down three degrees, as if he had said, that he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end; and hence it follows that we ought to begin with him, to continue in him, and to end in him. We certainly ought not to seek for higher wisdom…

View original post 315 more words

Romans 2;D.A. Carson

Posted: August 20, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

IF ROMANS 1 CONDEMNS the entire human race, Romans 2 focuses especially on Jews. They have enormous advantages in that they were the recipients of the Law — the revelation from God mediated through Moses at Sinai. But here too, Paul argues, all are condemned; possession of the law does not itself save. By Rom. 3:19-20, the apostle explicitly insists that those “under the law” are silenced along with those without the law all are under sin. This prepares the way for the glorious gospel solution (Rom. 3:21-31).

Here in Romans 2, however, there is one paragraph that has generated considerable discussion (Rom. 2:12-16). In verse 12 Paul makes the general point that God judges people by what they know, not by what they do not know. Hence: “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12). Jesus had similarly tied human responsibility to human privilege: the more we know, the more severely we are held accountable (Matt. 11:20-24). Mere possession of the law isn’t worth anything. Those (Jews) are righteous who obey the law.

Then Paul adds, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Rom. 2:14-15).

Many writers take this to mean that some Gentiles may be truly saved without ever having heard of Jesus, since after all, Paul says that some Gentiles “do by nature things required by the law,” and insists their consciences are “even defending them.” Others try to avoid this implication by arguing that the positive option is for Paul purely hypothetical. But Paul is not arguing that there is a subset of Gentiles who are so good that their consciences are always clean, and therefore they will be saved. Rather, he is arguing that Gentiles everywhere have some knowledge of right and wrong, even though they do not have the law, and that this is demonstrated in the fact that they sometimes do things in line with the law, and have consciences that sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them.

His argument is not that some are good enough to be saved, but that all display, by their intuitive grasp of right and wrong, an awareness of such moral standards, doubtless grounded in the image of God, that they too have enough knowledge to be held accountable. For Paul is concerned to show that “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9).

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

Why You Can Trust Your Bible – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Posted: August 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

Why You Can Trust Your Bible
Critics who doubt the reliability and trustworthiness of the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life have issued a make-or-break challenge to the church. They ask us: “How can we be sure the Bible can be trusted as accurate?”

It’s common to see the argument that the Scriptures we have today aren’t the same as what was written by the apostles in the first century. Such arguments attempt to portray the Bible as unreliable and therefore irrelevant. As we will see, however, these challenges do not stand up to scrutiny

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/08/16/why-you-can-trust-your-bible/

Romans 1; D.A. Carson

Posted: August 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

HOW DOES THE WRATH OF GOD manifest itself, according to the Scriptures?

There is no short answer to that question, because the answers are many, depending on an enormous array of circumstances. God’s wrath wiped out almost the entire human race at the Flood. Sometimes God’s punishment of his own covenant people is remedial. Sometimes it is immediate, not the least because it then tends to be instructive (like the defeat of the people at Ai after Achan stole some silver and fine Babylonian clothes): at other times, God forbears, which at one level is gracious, but granted the perversity of God’s image-bearers, is likely to let things get out of hand. The final display of God’s wrath is hell itself (see, for instance, Rev. 14:6ff.).

Romans 1:18ff pictures the revelation of God’s wrath in a slightly different way. What Paul presents here is not the only thing to say about God’s wrath — even in Paul — but it contributes something very important. Not only is God’s wrath being revealed against “all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18), but it manifests itself in such sins — that is, in God’s giving people over to do what they want to do (Rom. 1:24-28).

In other words, instead of rebuking them in remedial judgment or curtailing their wickedness, God “gave them over”: to “shameful lusts” (1:26) and a “depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28). The result is multiplying “wickedness, evil, greed and depravity” (Rom. 1:29). The picture painted in the rest of the verses of Romans 1 is not a pretty one.

We must reflect a little further as to what this means. In our shortsightedness we sometimes think God is a little abrupt when in certain passages, not least in the Old Testament, he instantly chastens his people for their sins. But what is the alternative? Quite simply, it is not instantly chastening them. If chastening were merely a matter of remedial education to morally neutral people, the timing and severity would not matter very much; we would learn. But the Bible insists that this side of the Fall we are by nature and persistent choice rebels against God.

If we are chastened, we whine at God’s severity. If we are not chastened, we descend into debauchery until the very foundations of society are threatened. We may then cry to God for mercy. Well and good, but at least we should see that it would have been a mercy if we had not been permitted to descend so far down into the abyss.

Granted the shape and trends in Western culture, does this not argue that we are already under the severe wrath of God? Have mercy, Lord!

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s Blog