Archive for the ‘The Christian Life’ Category

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