Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

new blessing every day and hour

Posted: February 3, 2014 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“All that Christ did and suffered, from the manger to the tomb, forms one glorious whole, no part of which shall ever become needless or obsolete; no part of which one can ever leave without forsaking the whole.

I am always at the manger, and yet I know that mere incarnation cannot save; always at Gethsemane, and yet I believe that its agony was not the finished work; always at the cross, with my face toward it, and my eye on the crucified One, and yet I am persuaded that the sacrifice there was completed once for all; always looking into the grave, though I rejoice that it is empty, and that ‘He is not here, but is risen’; always resting (with the angel) on the stone that was rolled away, and handling the grave-clothes, and realizing a risen Christ, nay, an ascended and interceding Lord, yet on no pretext whatever leaving any part of my Lord’s life or death behind me, but unceasingly keeping up my connection with Him, as born, living, dying, buried, and rising again, and drawing out from each part some new blessing every day and hour.

— Horatius Bonar
“Not Faith, But Christ”

HT:OFI

the Christian’s secret of a Christian life

Posted: January 14, 2014 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. For this is the Christian’s secret of—a happy Life?—yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life, and these are the aspects of the situation that really matter. May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine. To help us realize more adequately who and what, as children of God, we are and are called to be, here are some questions by which we do well to examine ourselves again and again.

Do I understand my adoption? Do I value it? Do I daily remind myself of my privilege as a child of God?

Have I sought full assurance of my adoption? Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me?

Do I treat God as my Father in heaven, loving, honoring and obeying him, seeking and welcoming his fellowship, and trying in everything to please him, as a human parent would want his child to do?

Do I think of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, as my brother too, bearing to me not only a divine authority but also a divine-human sympathy? Do I think daily how close he is to me, how completely he understands me, and how much, as my kinsman-redeemer, he cares for me?

Have I learned to hate the things that displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which he is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve him?

Do I look forward daily to that great family occasion when the children of God will finally gather in heaven before the throne of God, their Father, and of the Lamb, their brother and their Lord? Have I felt the thrill of this hope?

Do I love my Christian brothers and sisters with whom I live day by day, in a way that I shall not be ashamed of when in heaven I think back over it? Am I proud of my Father, and of his family, to which by his grace I belong? Does the family likeness appear in me? If not, why not?

God humble us; God instruct us; God make us his own true children.”

J.I. Packer–Knowing God, pp. 258-260

Ht:Reformedish

Joy of the Spirit

Posted: January 6, 2014 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“It is the word of God alone which can first and effectually cheer the heart of any sinner. There is no true or solid peace to be enjoyed in the world except in the way of reposing upon the promises of God. Those who do not resort to them may succeed for a time in hushing or evading the terrors of conscience, but they must ever be strangers to true inward comfort.

And, granting that they may attain to the peace of insensibility, this is not a state which could satisfy any man who has seriously felt the fear of the Lord. The joy which he desires is that which flows from hearing the word of God, in which he promises to pardon our guilt, and readmit us into his favor. It is this alone which supports the believer amidst all the fears, dangers, and distresses of his earthly pilgrimage; for the joy of the Spirit is inseparable from faith.

 

— John Calvin
Commentary on Psalmscommenting on Psalm 51:8

HT:OFI

Christ’s Love

Posted: December 31, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“There is no other solution to the marvellous mysteries of His Incarnation and Sacrificial Death but this: Christ has loved us.

There is not a circumstance of our Lord’s history which is not another form or manifestation of love.

His incarnation is love stooping.
His sympathy is love weeping.
His compassion is love supporting.
His grace is love acting.
His teaching is the voice of love.
His silence is the repose of love.
His patience is the restraint of love.
His obedience is the labor of love.
His suffering is the travail of love.
His cross is the altar of love.
His death is the burnt offering of love.
His resurrection is the triumph of love.
His ascension into heaven is the enthronement of love.
His sitting down at the right hand of God is the intercession of love.

Such is the deep, the vast, the boundless ocean of Christ’s love!

— Octavius Winslow

 

HT:OFI

Kingdom of the cross

Posted: December 27, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“For all of its joy and celebration and for all of its gifts of life and grace, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of sacrifice. The central event in the history of this kingdom is a shocking and unthinkable sacrifice. This moment of sacrifice confounded the followers who were there to see it and has interested theologians ever since. It is at once the most terrible and most beautiful event in the kingdom. It is a sacrifice that makes perfect sense and no sense at all. And this sacrifice forms the operating agenda of the kingdom from that time on.

Jesus, by his bleeding and broken body on the cross, not only gave the kingdom of God its life and hope, but its paradigm for living as well. That history-changing death on the cross is also the life-changing call of Christ to everyone who would follow him. And as it did on the cross, that willingness to die will always result in life. This kingdom is a kingdom of the cross, and everyone who celebrates that sacrifice is called to drag a cross along with them every day.

— Paul David Tripp
A Quest for More
(Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 178

 

HT:OFI

Our Sin is cast into the depths

Posted: December 23, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Puritan Faith

“God the Father takes the pen, dips it in the blood of his Son, crosses off the sinner’s accounts, and blots them out of his debt-book.

The sinner outside of Christ is bound over to the wrath of God; he is under an obligation in law to go to the prison of hell, and there to lie until he has paid the utmost farthing.  But now, being united to Christ, God says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom!’ (Job 33:24). The sentence of condemnation is reversed, the believer is absolved, and set beyond the reach of the condemning law. His sins, which were set before the Lord (Psalm 90:8), so that they could not be hidden—God now takes and casts them all behind his back (Isaiah 38:17).

Yes, he casts them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). What falls into a brook may be retrieved—but what is cast into the sea cannot be recovered. But there are some shallow places in the sea; true—but their sins are not cast in there—but into the depths of the sea; and the depths of the sea are devouring depths, from whence they shall never come forth again. But what if they do not sink? He will cast them in with force, so that they shall go to the bottom, and sink as lead in the mighty waters of the Redeemer’s blood.

— Thomas Boston
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1964)

 

HT:OFI

Glory of The Cross

Posted: December 21, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“We want the fact of substitution to strike us, and then the cross will grow sublimely great. In vision I behold it! Its two arms are extended right and left till they touch the east and west and overshadow all races of men; the foot of it descends lower than the grave, till it goes down even to the gates of hell; while upward the cross mounts with a halo round about it of unutterable glory, till it rises above the stars, and sheds its light upon the throne of the Most High.

Atonement is a divine business; its sacrifice is infinite, even as the God who conceived it. Glory be to his name for ever! It is all that I can say. It was nothing less than a stretch of divine love for Jesus to give himself for our sins. It was gracious for the Infinite to conceive of such a thing; but for him to carry it out was glorious beyond all.

— Charles Spurgeon
“Jehovah-Jireh” in Human Depravity and Divine Mercy: Sermons on Genesis

 

HT:OFI

He atoned for your sins

Posted: December 20, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“One of the sweetest statements from the lips of Jesus is this: ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34b).

There is a plan of God designed for your salvation. It is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for Himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross.

Your salvation has been accomplished by a Savior, One who did for you what the Father determined He should do. He is your Surety, your Mediator, your Substitute, your Redeemer. He atoned for your sins on the cross.”

— R. C. Sproul
The Truth of the Cross

HT:OFI

…for a more substantive assessment of Whitefield’s preaching, we turn to a fellow believer, and a fellow evangelical, a fellow Anglican, and a fellow Calvinist: J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). In his short book on Whitefield, Ryle gives six characteristics of Whitefield’s preaching:

1. A Pure Gospel.
First and foremost, you must remember Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. “Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ,” he would frequently say; “I must bo excused if I mention it in almost all my sermons!” This, you may be sure, is the corner stone of all preaching that God honors. It must be preeminently a manifestation of truth.”

– See more at:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2009/12/happy-birthday-george-whitefield/

I’m even worse than you think

Posted: November 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification

“Satan accuses Christians day and night. It is not just that he will work on our conscience to make us feel as dirty, guilty, defeated, destroyed, weak, and ugly as he possibly can; it is something worse: his entire play in the past is to accuse us before God day and night, bringing charges against us that we know we can never answer before  the majesty of God’s holiness.

What can we say in response? Will our defense be, ‘Oh, I’m not that bad?’ You will never beat Satan that way. Never. What you must say is, ‘Satan, I’m even worse than you think, but God loves me anyway. He has accepted me because of the blood of the Lamb.’

 

— D. A. Carson
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 98-99

 

HT:OFI

And in another letter to Jerome (#82), Augustine writes:

“Of all the books of the world, I believe that only the authors of Holy Scripture were totally free from error, and if I am puzzled by anything in them that seems to me to go against the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either 1) the manuscript is faulty or 2) the translator has not caught sense of what was said or 3) I have failed to understand it for myself.”

Augustine is pretty clear here on his doctrine of Scripture. He understands Scripture as inerrant, but he also recognizes that humans err in 1) manuscript transmission, 2) in translating, or 3) in simply not understanding a passage. I think the way Augustine approaches this is a helpful example for us today. How many times do we counsel people or even find in ourselves a struggle with the difficult things of Scripture and unfortunately rely on human, fallible understanding, and Scripture then loses out. Going all the way back to Augustine’s era, this has clearly been a struggle for centuries.

Read the rest at link below

http://butintheselastdays.com/2013/11/18/inerrancy-the-early-church/

I am to believe God and be quiet

Posted: November 18, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification

“If we have sinned, it is wonderful consciously to say, ‘Thank you for a completed work,’ after we have brought that specific sin under the finished work of Christ. The conscious giving of thanks brings assurance and peace. We say, ‘Thank you’ for work completed upon the cross, which is sufficient for a completely restored relationship.

This isn’t on the basis of my emotions, any more than in my justification. The basis is the finished work of Christ in history and the objective promises of God in the written Word. If I believe Him, and if I believe what He has taught me about the sufficiency of the work of Christ for restoration, I can have assurance, no matter how black the blot has been. This is the Christian reality of salvation from one’s conscience.

For myself, through the thirty years or so since I began to struggle with this in my own life, I picture my conscience as a big black dog with enormous paws which leaps upon me, threatening to cover me with mud and devour me. But as this conscience of mine jumps upon me, after a specific sin has been dealt with on basis of Christ’s finished work, then I should turn to my conscience and say, in effect, ‘Down! Be still!’ I am to believe God and be quiet.

 

— Francis Schaeffer
True Spirituality

 

HT:OFI

Rowan Williams points out that the Greek of the Nicene Creed does not say that we believe in the Church, but “that we believe the Church.” Williams suggests that means that the church which tells us to believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not to have the same status as what we say we believe when we affirm our belief in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But, Williams argues, because we believe that the Holy Spirit vivifies the church, we can trust the church when we are told by the church to believe in the Holy Spirit. We believe as Christians that the Holy Spirit makes us believers in the Holy Spirit through the witness of the church. The Holy Spirit is, therefore, at once the subject and the object of our faith. That is why the Holy Spirit is rightly understood to be the animating principle of the central practices that makes the church the church – that is, it is the Spirit that makes preaching, baptism and Eucharist more than just another way of communication, initiation, of sharing a meal

The article is a little long, but well worth your time. Read it at link below.

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/11/14/3891054.htm

From the 9 marks blog:

But how often have you heard a seventeen-year-old say, “I’m considering this college because there is a great church nearby”? Or, “It’s a good university, but I’m not going to apply because I asked around and couldn’t discover any good churches in that town.”

A godly brother looking at various graduate programs said the latter to me a few days ago. For him it meant he was rejecting a school where some of the top scholars in his field teach.

Do you think my friend is being foolish? After all, college is only for a few years. Should the presence of a nearby healthy church really make or break what school you decide to attend?

Oh, please, yes. Follow my friend’s example. I dare say, determining whether there is a nearby healthy church may not be the most important criteria for a Christian in the college-selection process, but it should be a non-negotiable. If there is no healthy church nearby, Christian, there’s another college for you, somewhere.  

EIGHT REASONS WHY A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A NON-NEGOTIABLE

Read the rest at link below:

http://feedly.com/k/17S9baU

Collosians 4

Posted: November 11, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

HERE AND THERE IN THE New Testament we are suddenly given brief glimpses of arrays of Christian people. Romans 16 provides such a snapshot, and Colossians 4:7–18provides us with another. The men and women briefly introduced lived entire, complex, interlocked lives, of which we know almost nothing. But they are our brothers and sisters in Christ; they faced temptations, overcame challenges, discharged very different tasks, and played out their roles in diverse strata of society. The brief glimpses afforded here fire our imaginations; our fuller curiosity will be satisfied only in heaven.

A few comments may hint at some of the things that may be learned from the information Paul’s letter provides.

(1) Paul kept a team of people working with him. One of their roles was to travel back and forth between wherever Paul was and the churches for which he felt himself responsible. Combining Paul’s letters with Acts, it is often possible to plot some of their constant travels. Here, Paul sends Tychicus to the Colossians with explicit pastoral purposes (Col. 4:7–8).

(2) The “Mark” of Colossians 4:10 is almost certainly John Mark, and the author of the second Gospel. Here he is identified as a relative of Barnabas. This may account, in part, for the dispute between Barnabas and Paul as to whether Mark should be given a second chance after he withdrew from the first missionary expedition (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:37–40). Certainly by the end of Paul’s ministry, Mark had been restored in the apostle’s eyes (2 Tim. 4:11).

(3) Paul’s co-workers often included both Jews and Gentiles (Col. 4:11). It does not take much imagination to recognize the challenges and stresses, as well as the blessings and richness, that this arrangement entailed.

(4) Epaphras emerges as a formidable model. He is “always wrestling in prayer” for the Colossian believers. What he prays, above all, is that they “may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col. 4:12). How the church of Christ needs prayer warriors with similar focus today!

(5) The “Luke” mentioned in Colossians 4:14 is almost certainly the author of Luke and Acts, and a Gentile (since he is in the Gentile part of this list, Col. 4:11ff.). This makes him the only Gentile writer of a New Testament document. Demas is mentioned in the same breath, but he is probably the same one who ultimately deserts the mission and the Gospel (2 Tim. 4:10). Good beginnings do not guarantee good endings.

(6) Churches in the first century did not have their own buildings. Believers regularly met in the homes of their wealthier members. Nympha of Laodicea is one of the wealthy women of a wealthy city, and the church there met in her home (Col. 4:15).

 

 

From D.A. Carson’s blog