Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Spirit Leads by the Word

"It seems so much more exciting to live with a freewheeling openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than practicing the laborious discipline of mastering His Word. This is exceedingly dangerous ground. If we want to do the will of the Father, we need to study the Word of the Father—and leave the magic to the astrologers." —R.C. Sproul

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do you really have a God?

"For you do not have a god if you [just] call him God outwardly with your lips...but [only] if you trust him with heart and look to him for all good, grace and favor...."

"Such faith and confidence can be found only when it springs up and flows from the blood and wounds and death of Christ.  If you see in these that God is so kindly disposed toward you that he even gives his own Son for you then your heart in turn must grow sweet and disposed towards God and in this way your confidence must grow out of pure good will and love, God's toward you, and yours toward God." [lightly edited]

 -- Martin Luther

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Don't be a fool...

"Consider now, tempted one, which of his whispered promises to you the Devil has ever kept."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Christ's Gift of Peace

"Peace is Christ’s distinctive gift—not money, not worldly ease, not temporal prosperity. These are at best very questionable possessions. They often do more harm than good to the soul. They act as clogs and weights to our spiritual life. Inward peace of conscience, arising from a sense of pardoned sin and reconciliation with God, is a far greater blessing. This peace is the property of all believers, whether high or low, rich or poor."

— J. C. Ryle

Sunday, March 22, 2015

This world is passing away

"....the world with all its allurements is passing away..." (1 Jn. 2:17)

“You are surprised that the world is losing its grip, that the world is grown old? Think of a man: he is born, he grows up, he becomes old. Old age has its many complaints: coughing, shaking, failing eyesight, anxious, terribly tired. A man grows old; he is full of complaints. The world is old; it is full of pressing tribulations. . . . Do not hold onto the old man, the world; do not refuse to regain your youth in Christ, who says to you, ‘The world is passing away, the world is losing its grip, the world is short of breath. Do not fear. Thy youth shall be renewed as an eagle.'”

-- Augustine, quoted in Peter Brown, "Augustine of Hippo" (Berkeley, 1967), pages 297-298.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Seems Obvious

"Nothing seems more reasonable to me than that lasting joy will never be found by a person who ignores or opposes his Creator." -- John Piper

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What God Wants Us to Be

"When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted." -- C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Communing with the living Christ

"Meditating on Scripture can and should be a real-time experience of communion with the living Christ" (John Jefferson Davis).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can a man ask a question God can't answer?

"Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask - half of our great theological and metaphysical problems - are like that."

-- C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Behind the Cultural Changes -- a War of World-views

The story of any society is the story of its primary beliefs and fundamental ideas about the nature of reality. For a long time in America and in the West, those primary beliefs were significantly shaped by Biblical (Judeo-Christian) teaching. Now, that is less and less true. A new fundamental belief system (virtually religious in the way it functions in society and culture) is becoming more and more dominant in the inevitable contest of ideas.

And so for example, the Old Wisdom said that man was fallen, and thus there was a strong current of evil and folly at the core of his nature that kept leading him to choose self-destroying and shalom-shattering ways. The "New" Way of Thinking teaches that human beings are basically good, and following one's own heart is the best course to take in the whole range of choices that one faces in life.

But even apart from divine revelation, how anyone, in light of the actual events of human history (including current events), and the honest assessment of one's own heart, and in light of the increasing manifestations of folly and vice in popular culture and media -- how anyone, defying all this evidence, can seriously maintain that human beings are essentially good is incomprehensible to me.

The "New" Beliefs may well prevail in the clash of the core ideas that shape the West; but the Old Reality will still play out too....we will reap what we have sown.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Key Biblical Words for Worship

The Key Biblical Words for Worship:

1. Worship as homage or grateful submission (proskynein)

  • kneeling, or prostrating oneself, bow down (cp. Gen. 24:26ff., “Then the man bowed down and worshiped [lit., fell on his face to] the Lord…..” Cp. Gen.42:6; Ex.4:31; 34:8; 1 Chron.29:20; 2 Chron.20:18; Ps.95:6; Isa.66:23; Matt.2:11; Phil.2:10
  • expression of awe and submission
  • falling on one’s face in reverence/prayer/petition/entreaty/supplication Cp. Num.20:6; Rev.7:11
  • offerings given to God (cp. Rom.12:1-2; Phil.2:1; 4:187; 2 Tim.4:6;)

2. Worship as service (latreuein) rendered to God

  • The service of a slave; cf. Deut.5:9; cp. Deut.10:12,20; Matt.4:8-10
  • Specifically, religious or priestly service (cp. Rom.12:1-2; Heb.12:28-29)
  • “The language of service implies that God is a great King, who requires faithfulness and obedience from those who belong to Him.” (D. Peterson, “Engaging with God” p.69), cp. 1 Cor.10:31

3. Worship as reverence or respect (sebomai)

  • · Cp. again Heb.12:28-29; Acts 9:31; 2 Cor.7:1; Phil.2:12-13

Friday, March 13, 2015

What is faith? (Keller)

"Faith is not primarily a function of how you feel. Faith is living out, trusting, and believing what truth is despite what you feel."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Way Up Is Down

“Why should we be surprised, then, asked Luther, that our lives are often filled with darkness and pain? Even God himself in Christ did not avoid that. But though God’s purposes are often every bit as hidden and obscure as they were to Job and to the observers at the foot of the cross, we— who have the teaching of the Bible and have grasped the message of the Bible— know that the way up is down. The way to power, freedom, and joy is through suffering, loss, and sorrow.”  -- Tim Keller

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Prayer and the Inscripturated Word

The Relation of Prayer and God's Inscripturated Word:
'What exactly is prayer, anyway? Most people might say it’s talking to God, mostly to ask for what we need. This is partially true, but there is a piece that is missing. As Tim Keller writes in his latest book, prayer is connected to God’s revelation:
'What is prayer, then, in the fullest sense? Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him. . . . The power of our prayers, then, lies not primarily in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather in our knowledge of God.
'This is why, as Donald Whitney says, “. . . of all the Spiritual Disciplines, prayer is second only to the intake of God’s Word in importance.” Prayer is second in importance because it relies on our knowledge of God, which comes from reading his Word. Engagement with Scripture is an essential—though often missing—component of prayer. Without this piece, prayer becomes problematic.
'If we include this missing piece we can craft what I believe is a robust definition of Biblical prayer:
'Prayer is an encounter with God that is initiated by him through his Word and that changes our hearts as we humbly communicate and worship the Lord, confess our sins and transgressions, and ask him to fulfill both our needs and the desires of our heart according to his will.
'Without engagement with Scripture, our prayers are like a phone conversation in which the other person can hear us but we can’t hear them. Fortunately, we have an easy solution to our prayer problem: To fully encounter God in prayer, encounter him first through his Word.'
-- Joe Carter, "The Gospel Coalition"