Archive for the ‘The Christian Life’ Category

The Mount of Disappointment

Posted: March 12, 2015 by boydmonster in The Christian Life, Trinity Sermons

On the Friday before I preached this sermon, I learned that my dad would likely need to be taken off of life support soon.  I had already begun preparing this sermon in the midst of my dad’s illness, not knowing that he would’t survive.  Although my associate was ready to preach, I decided to go ahead and preach this sermon.  My hope was that as I brought this message of hope in the midst of sorrow other strugglers might believe the wonderful truths of the gospel.  If it is helpful to you, I thank God.  If it can be helpful to others, please pass it along.

In Him,

Iain

http://www.trinitymyrtlebeach.org/sermon/february-15th-2015/

I preach to you today with a heavy heart. Thursday after work, Shelly and I drove up to Charlotte to check on my Dad and my family. For those of you who do not know, Dad went in to the hospital 3 and a half weeks ago with the flu and has been largely unconscious for most of the time since then. He had been showing some signs of progress with improved lung and kidney function. He had even opened his eyes and responded to some pain tests. When we went to go see Dad on Friday, we were told that there was no reason for him to not be awake and so they were going to do an MRI to see if they could find a reason. On the way home, I got a phone call from my brother. The MRI showed that Dad has had a number of strokes. They are on both sides of his brain and up the middle of his brain as well. At this point, his chances of survival are negligible. Even if he does survive, his quality of life will likely be dismal

That news came on the wake of a lot of ups and downs. At several points the medical professionals and we thought Dad was going to pull through, only to have our hopes dashed by another new development in his case. I stand before you today on a Mountain of Disappointment. Not the least point of disappointment is that on Friday when we heard they were going to do an MRI, I had a bad feeling and so I asked you all to pray. After sending that out, I had a sense of hopefulness that God’s people were praying to their loving heavenly father. That prayer was not answered the way I had hoped it would be.

I tell you all that today not for your sympathy. I cannot say how much I appreciate it and how much I need your prayers. I have been encouraged a hundred fold in the way that this church has carried me and my family through this time. Were I to live a hundred lifetimes, I could not pay you back. I tell you this today because I want to take the gravity of this situation and appeal to you to turn your eyes to some wonderful truths.

I know, that you too have stood, are standing, and will stand on the Mount of Disappointment. You have seen the all too early demise of loved ones. You have seen marriages not turn out the way you thought they would. You have lost your jobs and struggled to support your families. You have seen your children walk into pains that you would have given your life to keep them from.

You have stood there and you have wondered where God is. You have wondered if He cares. You have wondered why it has to be this way. You have wondered if you’ll ever be able to be the same again.

I want you to come with me this morning on a trip to some other Mountains of Disappointment. Stand with me if you will on Mount Nebo, the highest point in the Pisgah mountain range just east of the Jordan River. Stand there and see the man Moses.

If ever there was a man who had reason to hope in God, it was Moses. Imagine him thinking back through the years when he climbed Mt Sinai to meet with the Lord. He and the people of Israel had seen God do wondrous and powerful things in Egypt. Imagine as he speaks face to face with God and dreams of entering into the Promised Land as the people of God.

(more…)

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

The happiest way of living

Posted: November 12, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Discipleship, Spurgeon, The Christian Life

“Every day I find it most healthy to my own soul to try and walk as a saint, but in order to do so, I must continually come to Christ as a sinner. I would seek to be perfect. I would strain after every virtue, and forsake every false way. But still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat when first I looked to Jesus, on the rock of His works, having nothing to do with my own righteousness, but only with His.

Depend on it, dear Friends, the happiest way of living is to live as a poor sinner, and as nothing at all—having Jesus Christ as All in All. You may have all your growths in sanctification, all your progress in graces, all the development of your virtues that you will. But still I do earnestly pray you never to put any of these where Christ should be. If you have begun in Christ, then finish in Christ. If you have begun in the flesh, and then go on in the flesh, we know what the sure result will be. But if you have begun with Jesus Christ as your Alpha, let Him be your Omega.

— Charles Spurgeon
The Blessing of Full Assurance: Sermons on 1 John

HT:OFI

1Cor 4 , D.A. Carson

Posted: September 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, The Christian Life

PAUL IN 1 CORINTHIANS 3 HAS BEEN telling the Corinthians how not to view servants of Christ. They are not to view any particular servant of Christ as a group guru, for that means other servants of Christ are implicitly inferior. When each different group within the church has its own Christian guru, there are therefore two evils: unnecessary division within the church, and a censorious condescension that pronounces judgment on who is worthy to be a guru and who is not. Paul insists that all that God has for the church in a Paul or an Apollos or a Cephas rightly belongs to the whole church (1 Cor. 3:21–22).

At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 4, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians how they are to view servants of Christ: “as those entrusted with the secret things of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). The word rendered “secret things” does not mean “mysterious things” or “things that only the elite of the elect may learn.” The word is often rendered “mysteries” in our older versions. In the New Testament, it most commonly refers to something that God has in some measure kept veiled, hidden, or secret in the past, but which he is now making abundantly clear in Christ Jesus. In short, these “servants of Christ” are entrusted with the Gospel—all that God has made clear in the coming of Jesus Christ.

Those given a trust must prove faithful to the one to whom they are accountable (1 Cor. 4:2). For that reason, Paul knows that how the Corinthians view him is of little importance; indeed, how he assesses himself has no great significance either (1 Cor. 4:3). Paul knows that it is important to keep a clear conscience before the Lord. But it is possible to have a clear conscience and still be guilty of many things, because conscience is not a perfect instrument. Conscience may be misinformed or hardened. The only person whose judgment is absolutely right, and of ultimate importance, is the Lord himself (1 Cor. 4:4). It follows that the Corinthians should not appoint themselves judges over all the “servants of Christ” whom Christ sends. When the Lord returns, the final accounting will become clear. At that point, Paul says, “each will receive his praise from God” (1 Cor. 4:5)—a wonderful thought, for it appears that the final Judge will prove more encouraging and positive than many human judges.

Some place remains in the church for discernment and judgment: see tomorrow’s meditation! But there are always batteries of critics who go way “beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6) with legalistic tests of their own disgruntled devising, attaching themselves to their gurus and abominating the rest. They often think they are prophetic, whereas in fact their pretensions come close to usurping God’s place.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

1 cor 3 , D.A. Carson

Posted: September 18, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, The Christian Life

THE TWO EXTENDED METAPHORS that Paul deploys in 1 Corinthians 3:5–15 make roughly the same point, although each carries a special shading not found in the other.

In the agricultural metaphor (1 Cor. 3:5–9), the Lord is the farmer, Paul prepares the ground and plants the seed, Apollos waters the fledgling plants, and the Corinthians are “God’s field” (1 Cor. 5:9). In the context, which is designed to combat the Corinthians’ penchant for division based on attaching themselves to particular “heroes” (1 Cor. 3:3–4), Paul is concerned to show that he and Apollos are not competitors, but “fellow workers” (1 Cor. 5:9)—indeed, “God’s fellow workers” (i.e., they are fellow workers who belong to God, not fellow workers along with God, as if God makes up a threesome). Not only so, but neither Paul nor Apollos can guarantee fruit: God alone makes the seed grow (1 Cor. 3:6–7). So why adopt a reverential stance toward either Paul or Apollos?

The architectural metaphor initially makes the same point: the various builders all contribute to one building, and therefore none should be idolized. Now the Corinthians are not the field, but the building itself (1 Cor. 3:9–10). Paul laid the foundation of this building; otherwise put, he planted the church in Corinth. The foundation that Paul laid is Jesus Christ himself (1 Cor. 3:11). Since his departure from this building project, others have come and built on this foundation. Thus, so far the architectural metaphor implicitly makes the same point that the agricultural metaphor made explicitly.

But now the architectural metaphor turns in a slightly different direction. Paul insists that later builders are responsible to choose with care the material they put into this building (1 Cor. 3:12–15). A “Day” is coming (1 Cor. 3:13), the day of judgment, when all that is not precious in God’s sight will be consumed. It is possible that a builder could use such shoddy materials that in the end, all that he has built is devoured, even if he himself escapes the flames.

Two observations: (1) The person Paul describes as being “saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:15), is not some purely nominal Christian whose conduct is indifferentiable from that of any pagan. Such do not enter the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9–10). This is a “builder,” not the mass of Christians who constitute the “building” (1 Cor. 3:10). The question is whether these evangelists and pastors are using proper materials. (2) In 1 Corinthians 3:16–17, the building, the church of God, becomes a temple. Later on, God’s temple is the individual Christian’s body (1 Cor. 6:19–20), but here it is the local church. God loves this building so much that he openly threatens to destroy those who destroy God’s temple. Damage the church, and you desecrate God’s temple—and God will destroy you.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

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

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

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

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

Judges 14;D.A. Carson

Posted: August 13, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

 

SOME OF US HAVE WONDERED why God has occasionally used in powerful ministry people blatantly flawed. This is not to say that God should only use perfect people, for that would mean he would be using no people. Nor am I referring to the fact that we all have weaknesses and faults of various kinds. George Whitefield, for instance, despite his enormous stature as a preacher and evangelist, did not fare very well on the marriage front, or in his (misguided) conviction that his son would be healed of his mortal illness. Virtually any Christian leader, whether from biblical times or more recent history, could not stand up under the onslaught of that sort of criticism. No, what I have in mind is the flaw that is so public and awful that one ponders two questions: (a) If this person is so powerful and godly, why the ugly fault? (b) If this person is so filled with the Spirit, why doesn’t that same Spirit enable him to clean up his act?

 

There are no easy answers. Sometimes it is simply a matter of time. Judas Iscariot, after all, engaged in public ministry with the other eleven apostles — even miraculous ministry — yet with time proved apostate. The passage of time would show him up. But sometimes the flaws are there from the beginning to the end.

 

That is true, it appears, in the life of Samson. The Spirit of God came upon him mightily; the Lord used him to curb the Philistines. But what is he doing marrying a Philistine woman, when the Law strictly forbade marriage to anyone outside the covenant community (Judg. 14:2)? When his parents warn him of the consequences, he simply overrides them, and they acquiesce (Judg. 14:3). True, they did not know that “this was from the LORD” (Judge. 14:4), in the same way that the selling of Joseph into slavery in Egypt was of the Lord; but that did not make the human actions right.

 

Samson’s risky bet (Judg. 14:12-13) is more cocksure and greedy than it is wise and honorable. Of course, the Philistines are really cruel in the matter (Judg. 14:15-1820), but Samson’s murder of thirty men to fulfill the terms of the wager is motivated less by a desire to cleanse the land and restore the covenant people to strength than it is by personal vengeance. Similar things must be said about his tactics in the next chapter, and about his steamy living in the chapter after that.

 

It appears, then, that Spirit-given power in one dimension of life does not by itself guarantee Spirit-impelled discipline and maturity in every dimension of life. It follows that the presence of spiritual gifts is never an excuse for personal sin.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

Acts 17;D.A. Carson

Posted: August 12, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

 

MOST OF PAUL’S EVANGELIZING of Gentiles began with the synagogue. His regular procedure when he arrived in a new town was to visit the synagogue and (since it was not uncommon to ask visitors to speak) avail himself of the opportunity to preach the Gospel. This meant that his hearers were a mix of Jews, proselytes (i.e., Gentile converts to Judaism), and God-fearers (i.e., Gentiles who were sympathetic to Jews and Jewish monotheism, but who had not formally converted).

The book of Acts shows that in several instances (e.g., 13:13-48; 17:1-9), the synagogue authorities soon tired of Paul and banned him. At this point many of the proselytes and God-fearers went with him, so that although he was now preaching to a largely Gentile crowd, the core of that crowd had received some exposure to the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, in such cases Paul was able to preach to people who largely shared with him the vocabulary, facts, and movements of the Old Testament storyline.

But what would Paul do if he were preaching to biblical illiterates — that is, to people who had never heard of Moses, never read the Old Testament, never learned a single item of the Old Testament plotline? Such people would not only have to be informed, but would have to unlearn a lot of notions they had absorbed from some other cultural and religious heritage. We have a glimpse of such an encounter in 14:8-20, when the citizens of Lystra excitedly conclude that Paul and Barnabas are incarnations of Greek gods. The brief report of Paul’s address (Acts 14:15-17) provides a glimpse of the apostolic response.

But it is the account of Paul’s visit to Athens (Acts 17:16-31) that is most revealing. Here, too, Paul began in the synagogue (Acts 17:17), but he also set about evangelizing in the marketplace with whoever happened to be there (Acts 17:17), and this precipitates the invitation to speak at the meeting of the Areopagus. And there, one clearly perceives how the apostle Paul has thought this matter through. In a world of finite gods (often supported by one pantheistic deity), cyclical views of history, sub-biblical understandings of sin, multiplied idolatry, dualism that declares all that is material to be bad and all that is spiritual to be good, tribal deities, and not a little superstition, Paul paints a worldview of the true God, a linear view of history, the nature of sin and idolatry, impending judgment, the unity of the human race and the oneness of God — all as the necessary framework without which his proclamation of Jesus makes no sense. What does that mean for evangelism today?

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

Obedience in and through Christ

Posted: July 25, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

Obedience must be in and through Christ. ‘He hath made us accepted in the beloved’ (Eph. 1:6). Not our obedience, but Christ’s merits procure acceptance. In every part of worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of our faith.

Unless we serve God thus, in hope and confidence of Christ’s merits, we rather provoke Him than please Him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with leprosy (see 2 Chron. 26:20); so, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up incense to Him without a priest; and what can we expect but severe rebukes?

— Thomas Watson“Obedience”

 

 

HT:OFI

Deut. 34; D.A. Carson

Posted: July 24, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship, The Christian Life

HOW DOES THE PENTATEUCH end (Deut. 34)?

At a certain level, perhaps one might speak of hope, or at least of anticipation. Even if Moses himself is not permitted to enter the Promised Land, the Israelites are on the verge of going in. The “land flowing with milk and honey” is about to become theirs. Joshua son of Nun, a man “filled with the spirit of wisdom”(Deut. 34:9), has been appointed. Even the blessing of Moses on the twelve tribes (Deut. 33) might be read as bringing a fitting closure to this chapter of Israel’s history.

Nevertheless, such a reading is too optimistic. Converging emphases leave the thoughtful reader with quite a pessimistic expectation of the immediate future. After all, for forty years the people have made promises and broken them, and have repeatedly been called back to covenantal faithfulness by the harsh means of judgment. In Deuteronomy 31, God himself predicts that the people will “soon forsake me and break the covenant I made with them” (Deut. 31:16). Moses, this incredibly courageous and persevering leader, does not enter the Promised Land because on one occasion he failed to honor God before the people.

In this respect, he serves as a negative foil to the great Hebrew at the beginning of this story of Israel: Abraham dies as a pilgrim in a strange land not yet his, but at least he dies with honor and dignity, while Moses dies as a pilgrim forbidden to enter the land promised to him and his people, in lonely isolation and shame. We do not know how much time elapsed after Moses’ death before this last chapter of Deuteronomy was penned, but it must have been substantial, for verse 10 reads, “Since then (i.e., since Moses’ death), no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses.” One can scarcely fail to hear overtones of the prophecy of the coming of a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-18). By the time of writing, other leaders had arisen, some of them faithful and stalwart. But none like Moses had arisen — and this is what had been promised.

These strands make the reader appreciate certain points, especially if the Pentateuch is placed within the storyline of the whole Bible. (1) The law-covenant simply did not have the power to transform the covenant people of God. (2) We should not be surprised by more instances of catastrophic decline. (3) The major hope lies in the coming of a prophet like Moses. (4) Somehow this is tied to the promises at the front end of the story: we wait for someone of Abraham’s seed through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

Not On A Whim

Posted: July 18, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

“Many of us picture the atonement as nothing but undeserved mercy from a loving God. We forget that the mercy we receive is a mercy merited on the cross. God has not saved us by the removal of justice, but by the satisfaction of it. Justice is shot through the entire plan of redemption. God never once set aside his justice. There is a hell because God is just. And people go to heaven because God is just. Our sins are counted to Christ, so that he died in our place. His life and his death counted to us, that we might live. We are not forgiven and given eternal life because God waved a magic wand and decided he would just overlook our sins. He has not overlooked the smallest speck of your sin. The good news of the cross is that the tiniest little speck of your sin, and all of the great big sins as well, have been paid for by the perfect and final sacrifice. We were not saved on a whim because God decided one day he might as well have mercy on sinners. We are saved because God sent his Son to become the curse for us. Every last lustful look, every proud thought, every gossiping tongue, God demands justice for all of it. And the resurrection of Jesus bears witness to the glorious good news that all the demands of justice have been met so that Christ would be the first to conquer death, but not the last. Divine satisfaction through divine self-substitution.”

– Kevin DeYoung

 

HT:JohnSamson

There is hope in the Gospel for any man

Posted: July 17, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, The Christian Life

There is hope in the Gospel for any man, so long as he lives. There is infinite willingness in Christ to pardon sin. There is infinite power in the Holy Spirit to change hearts. There are many diseases of the body which are incurable. The cleverest doctors cannot heal them. But, thank God! there are no incurable diseases of soul. All manner and quantity of sins can be washed away by Christ! The hardest and most wicked of hearts can be changed.

Reader, I say again, while there is life—there is hope. The oldest, the vilest, the worst of sinners may be saved. Only let him come to Christ, confess his sin, and cry to Him for pardon—only let him cast his soul on Christ, and he shall be cured. The Holy Spirit shall be sent down on his heart, according to Christ’s promise, and he shall be changed by His Almighty power, into a new creature.

— J.C. RyleThe New Birth

 

 

HT:OFI