Sunday, March 29, 2009

"The Sorrow and Joy of the Seasoned Soul" -- John Piper

“It is not a sign of a seasoned Christian soul that steady joy is untinged with steady sorrow.
Or to put it positively, the seasoned soul in Christ has a steady joy and a steady sorrow.
They protect each other. Joy is protected from being flippant by steady sorrow. Sorrow is protected from being fatal by steady joy.

"And they intensify each other. Joy is made deeper by steady sorrow. Sorrow is made sweeter by steady joy.

"For the seasoned Christian soul, I do not see how it can be otherwise while people are perishing and we are saved. I do not see how it can be otherwise while these two passages are written by the same inspired man:

"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Romans 9:2-3)

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)”

~ John Piper, “The Sorrow and Joy of the Seasoned Soul”

(HT: Desiring God blog & Josh Etter & "The Big Picture")

Saturday, March 28, 2009

J.C. Ryle: Comparing Justification and Sanctification

In what ways are justification and sanctification alike?

(a) Both proceed originally from the free grace of God. It is of His gift alone that believers are justified or sanctified at all.

(b) Both are part of that great work of salvation which Christ, in the eternal covenant, has undertaken on behalf of His people. Christ is the fountain of life, from which pardon and holiness both flow. The root of each is Christ.

(c) Both are to be found in the same persons. Those who are justified are always sanctified, and those who are sanctified are always justified. …

(d) Both begin at the same time. The moment a person begins to be [that is, becomes] a justified person; he also begins to be a sanctified person. He may not feel it, but it is a fact.

(e) Both are alike necessary to salvation. No one ever reached heaven without a renewed heart as well as forgiveness, without the Spirit's grace as well as the blood of Christ, without a meetness [appropriateness] for eternal glory as well as a title. The one is just as necessary as the other.

In what ways are justification and sanctification different?

(a) Justification is the reckoning and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another, even Jesus Christ the Lord. Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous, though it may be in a very feeble degree.

(b) The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own, but the everlasting perfect righteousness of our great Mediator Christ, imputed to us, and made our own by faith. The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted, inherent, and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.

(c) In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful.

(d) In sanctification our own works are of vast importance and God bids us fight, and watch, and pray, and strive, and take pains, and labour Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.

(e) Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ by faith as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is eminently a progressive work, and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives.

(f) Justification has special reference to our persons, our standing in God's sight, and our deliverance from guilt. Sanctification has special reference to our natures, and the moral renewal of our hearts.

(g) Justification gives us our title to heaven, and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our meetness [fitness] for heaven, and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.

(h) Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

-- J.C. Ryle

Sinclair Ferguson on What We Can Learn from the Puritans

(via Justin Taylor)

A new lecture by Sinclair Ferguson at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids) upon the opening of their new Puritan Resource Center.

HT: Tony Reinke

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sinclair Fergsuon on "Expelling Worldliness with a New Affection"

"Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was one of the most remarkable men of his time—a mathematician, evangelical theologian, economist, ecclesiastical, political, and social reformer all in one. His most famous sermon was published under the unlikely title: 'The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.' In it he expounded an insight of permanent importance for Christian living: you cannot destroy love for the world merely by showing its emptiness. Even if we could do so, that would lead only to despair. The first world-centered love of our hearts can be expelled only by a new love and affection—for God and from God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot dwell together in the same heart. But the love of the world can be driven out only by the love of the Father. Hence Chalmers’ sermon title.

"True Christian living, holy and right living, requires a new affection for the Father as its dynamic. Such new affection is part of what William Cowper called "the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord"—a love for the holy that seems to deal our carnal affections a deadly blow at the beginning of the Christian life. Soon, however, we discover that for all that we have died to sin in Christ, sin has by no means died in us. Sometimes its continued influence surprises us, even appears to overwhelm us in one or other of its manifestations. We discover that our "new affections" for spiritual things must be renewed constantly throughout the whole of our pilgrimage. If we lose the first love we will find ourselves in serious spiritual peril.

"Sometimes we make the mistake of substituting other things for it. Favorites here are activity and learning. We become active in the service of God ecclesiastically (we gain the positions once held by those we admired and we measure our spiritual growth in terms of position achieved); we become active evangelistically and in the process measure spiritual strength in terms of increasing influence; or we become active socially, in moral and political campaigning, and measure growth in terms of involvement. Alternatively, we recognize the intellectual fascination and challenge of the gospel and devote ourselves to understanding it, perhaps for its own sake, perhaps to communicate it to others. We measure our spiritual vitality in terms of understanding, or in terms of the influence it gives us over others. But no position, influence, or evolvement can expel love for the world from our hearts. Indeed, they may be expressions of that very love.

"Others of us make the mistake of substituting the rules of piety for loving affection for the Father: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" Such disciplines have an air of sanctity about them, but in fact they have no power to restrain the love of the world. The root of the matter is not on my table, or in my neighborhood, but in my heart. Worldliness has still not been expelled.

"It is all too possible, in these different ways, to have the form of genuine godliness (how subtle our hearts are!) without its power. Love for the world will not have been expunged, but merely diverted. Only a new love is adequate to expel the old one. Only love for Christ, with all that it implies, can squeeze out the love of this world. Only those who long for Christ’s appearing will be delivered from Demas-like desertion caused by being in love with this world.

"How can we recover the new affection for Christ and his kingdom that so powerfully impacted our life-long worldliness, and in which we crucified the flesh with its lusts?

"What was it that created that first love in any case? Do you remember? It was our discovery of Christ’s grace in the realization of our own sin. We are not naturally capable of loving God for himself, indeed we hate him. But in discovering this about ourselves, and in learning of the Lord’s supernatural love for us, love for the Father was born. Forgiven much, we loved much. We rejoiced in the hope of glory, in suffering, even in God himself. This new affection seemed first to overtake our worldliness, then to master it. Spiritual realities—Christ, grace, Scripture, prayer, fellowship, service, living for the glory of God—filled our vision and seemed so large, so desirable that other things by comparison seemed to shrink in size and become bland to the taste.

"The way in which we maintain "the expulsive power of a new affection" is the same as the way we first discovered it. Only when grace is still "amazing" to us does it retain its power in us. Only as we retain a sense of our own profound sinfulness can we retain a sense of the graciousness of grace.

"Many of us share Cowper’s sad questions: 'Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and his word?' Let us remember the height from which we have fallen, repent and return to those first works. It would be sad if the deepest analysis of our Christianity was that it lacked a sense of sin and of grace. That would suggest that we knew little of the expulsive power of a new affection. But there is no right living that lasts without it."

-- Sinclair Ferguson

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Greg Wills' Address on the Lack of Transparency on the Part of Liberal Southern Baptist Theologians

Dr. Greg Wills presented this important Faculty Address at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Jim Hamilton gives this introduction: " was a fascinating analysis of the 'realist' policy pursued by liberals who knew they had to hide what they really thought from the people in the churches who funded their livelihoods.

"So, those liberals happily took money given to train pastors, knowing full well that they did not believe what they were being paid to teach. Rather than teach what the people funding them wanted taught–the faith once for all entrusted to the saints–the liberals tried to win converts to their enlightened revisionism.

"This is well worth a careful listen:

Dr. Gregory A. Wills, “Southern Seminary, Southern Baptists & the Two Religions,” Faculty Address, March 11, 2009.

Vocation: Serving God by Serving Others

An article on 'vocation' from Gene Edward Veith (from Ligonier Ministry's "Tabletalk" magazine).... Here are excerpts:

"The doctrine of vocation, a term that is just the Latin word for "calling," deals with how God works through human beings to bestow His gifts. God gives us this day our daily bread by means of the farmer, the baker, the cooks, and the lady at the check-out counter. He creates new life -- the most amazing miracle of all -- by means of mothers and fathers. He protects us by means of police officers, firemen, and our military. He creates beauty through artists. He heals by working through doctors, nurses, and others whom He has gifted, equipped, and called to the medical professions. He proclaims His Word, administers His sacraments, and cares for His sheep through the calling of pastors....

"The purpose of every vocation is to love and serve our neighbor. God does not need our good works, commented Luther, but our neighbor does. In our vocations we encounter specific neighbors whom we are to love and serve through the work of that calling. Husbands and wives are to love and serve each other; parents love and serve their kids; office and factory workers love and serve their customers; rulers love and serve their subjects; pastors and congregations are to love and serve each other. And God is in it all...."

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charles Colson in CT: "Doctrine Bears Repeating"

The sub-title for Colson's important article is "Evangelicals need to brush up on basic Christian teachings."

Here are some excerpts:

"'We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.' Written in 1939, George Orwell's words might well be addressed to the leaders of today's biblically illiterate church.

"The most obvious thing to be said about Christianity is that it rests on historic facts: the Creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection. Since our doctrines are truth claims, they cannot be mere symbolism. This is important to remember as we celebrate the Resurrection, which is often clouded by the pageantry of Easter....

"Last June, a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey found rampant doctrinal ignorance among American Christians. Fifty-seven percent of evangelicals believed people who follow religions other than their own can enjoy eternal life. The results were so unexpected that Pew repeated the survey, asking more specific questions. The answers were virtually unchanged. Astonishingly, about half believed that everyone, atheists included, was going to end up in heaven. Heaven for the godless? That's the old heresy of universalism.

"Indifference to the truths of the gospel is seen in many other spheres, such as among those who champion 'deeds, not creeds' (I do the deeds of prison ministry because I believe the creeds), and in endless discussions about new ways to 'understand' or 'do' theology. Some embrace another old heresy, that doctrines must be extracted from inward experience—that is, personal feelings. That's a version of Gnosticism.

"Still others want to make Christianity 'fit' the postmodern era or 'work out' their theology in public, with non-Christians helping to shape the outcome. Yes, we need to contextualize the message so that hearers in a given time and culture can grasp the truth we proclaim. But that is radically different from changing the definitive, concise summary of Christian truth the early church fathers accomplished in their councils.

"As one reporter noted, even when Christians know correct doctrine, they are afraid of speaking the truth for fear of offending others. What right have I to impose my beliefs on others? is a thought that shapes too many of us believers.

"This is why J. I. Packer, on his 80th birthday, said that the greatest challenge of evangelicalism is to re-catechize our churches. More than ever, Christians need to be able to speak intelligently and courageously about the hope that lies within...."

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Upcoming Events in Grand Rapids

Mike Wittmer posts about some worthwhile events coming up in Grand Rapids, focused on two very good books:

1. Mike's own most recent book, "Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough"


2. "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" by Michael Horton.

Also, on Monday Grand Rapids Theological Seminary will be presenting the symposium, "Who's Got Next?" with Dr. Wittmer, Dr. James Grier and Dr. Joseph Stowell, III.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Bible's Grand Story and the Gospel

D.A. Carson summarizes the relation of the overall story of the Bible with its central message: the Gospel....

"...the gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s story-line. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that story-line. God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

"But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

"In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

"The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17)."

(You can read Carson's entire essay here.)

~ D. A. Carson,“The Biblical Gospel.” Taken from For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, eds. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996).

HT: Justin Taylor

Experiences, Emotions and What We Really Believe About God

"Very few people wake up one morning and decide to change their theology. Changes in a person's belief system are seldom that self-conscious.... In ways we don't often recognize, [painful] experiences are hermeneutical; that is, they become lenses we use to interpret life. Unfortunately, we are seldom aware that this is happening.

"The emotions we feel as we first go through difficult experiences are not static. They morph into subtle but extremely influential conclusions about God, ourselves, others, and life. Yet these major changes in what we believe have not been well thought out. We have not put ourselves through a careful theological re-evaluation. Rather, our unresolved feelings become our interpretations of life. Emotions morph into conclusions, and we end up not believing the things we say we believe [e.g., about God, his goodness to us, his wise purpose in our lives, etc.]"

-- Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp "How People Change" pp.110-111 (New Growth Press)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"...Take Thy Crown..."

"Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy Kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures."

-- Jim Eliot (quoted in "Through Gates of Splendor")

"The Deep Meaning of Happiness"

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).

“If God is the proper reference point for all aspects and things in life, then God gives them their true meaning and puts them in the proper order in our lives. This grand union of God, ourselves, and the whole cosmos in a sacred synthesis of rightly ordered love constitutes the deep meaning of happiness.”

~ David K. Naugle, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 23.
HT: "The Big Picture"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"The Tree Command" (Tim Keller)

“What God wants is not just behavioral compliance but loving service. The tree-command [in the garden] means: ‘Please do this commandment just because of who I am, just for me, not because it looks profitable to you. Obey me out of love.’ But we failed to love him because we believe the Lie that he doesn’t care. Here ‘the Lie’ of the serpent is not just the fount of sadness but of disobedience. We lack self-control not just because we are ‘bad’ in some general way but because we disbelieve in the love and goodness of God.

"How can our hearts be changed? [Jesus] obeyed the tree-command [at the Cross] simply because of his love for his Father and for us. He obeyed not because it profited him but because it profited us. Now love God for his own sake, for the sake of his beauty and worth–because he loved you for your own sakes in Jesus.”

- Tim Keller, Preaching the Gospel in a Post-modern World (RTS Class Syllabus, Page 45)
HT: "Of First Importance"

The Disconcerting Honesty of Atheist Peter Singer

From "Christianity Today" online: "Staring into the Abyss: Why Peter Singer Makes the New Atheists Nervous"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looking and Living Along the Text

“There is no more vital task facing Christians today than responding faithfully to Scripture as God’s authoritative speech acts — not because the book is holy but because the Lord is, and because the Bible is his Word, the chief means we have of coming to know Jesus Christ. Those who interpret the Bible rightly — those who look and live along the text, following the written words to the living Word — will have rightly ordered loves and rightly ordered lives.”

~ Kevin J. Vanhoozer, First Theology (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 41.
HT: "The Big Picture"

Your Actual 'God'

That which you look to and reply upon for your 'salvation' [happiness, meaning, identity, purpose] and are controlled by, and devoted to -- whatever (or, whomever) that is, that is your true, actual 'god/God' (your savior and lord).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kevin DeYoung on the Importance of Good Preaching

Here is just an excerpt from Kevin's blogging about the importance of good preaching:

"My favorite chapter in T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach is Chapter 4: 'A Few Thoughts About Content.' After wrestling with the nature of preaching for 25 years, Gordon has concluded that the content of Christian preaching should be the person, character, and work of Christ. Kind of makes sense. Of course, preaching will included moral exhortation, but it is never appropriate, says Gordon, 'for one word of moral counsel ever to proceed from a Christian pulpit that is not clearly, in its context, redemptive. That is, even when the faithful exposition of particular texts require some explanation of aspects of our behavior, it is always to be done in a manner that the hearer perceives such commended behavior to be itself a matter of being rescued from the power of sin through the grace of Christ' (70-71).

"So much for all our “relevant” messages helping us live more fulfilled lives. So much for emergent kingdom rhetoric that fails to mention the mercy of the King. So much for more than a few of my sermons over the years."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Great Hymns...New Arrangements

From Justin Taylor:

Here's a cool project:

Page CXVI is a project started with the idea of making hymns accessible and known again.They are some of the richest, most meaningful, and moving pieces of music ever written.For a limited time you can download the album for free.

HT: Lukas Naugle

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Key Biblical Words for Worship

Here are excerpts from David Peterson's excellent book, "Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship":

“From one point of view, worship in the Old Testament is an attitude of homage [submission/allegiance] or adoration to God as a great king. It could be expressed in silence or by a simple gesture. It could be indicated by that gesture in association with praise or the offering of sacrifices.

“In the final analysis, it is the attitude of the heart that really matters. Such responses were made spontaneously, in recognition of some new disclosure of God’s character and will, or in the course of some regular pattern of ritual activity.

“Adoration was not a form of intimacy with God or an indication of special affection towards him, but rather an expression of awe or grateful submission – a recognition of his gracious character and rule…..

“From another point of view, acceptable worship in the Old Testament is service rendered to God. With the use of such terminology, the focus is again on the acknowledgment of his divine kingship in national and personal life.

“Moreover, Scripture indicates that it was possible to serve the Lord acceptably because of his gracious initiative, rescuing his people from bondage to other masters, and revealing his will to them. [cp. Ex.20:1-2, 3-17; cp. Deut.5]

“The service to God demanded obedience and faithfulness in every sphere of life, with cultic [religious/liturgical] activity being viewed as a particular expression of Israel’s dependence upon and submission to God. The service of priests and Levites within the prescribed cult [system of religious worship/ritual] was designed to facilitate the service of all Israel to God.”

Reverence or the fear of the Lord in the Old Testament means faithfulness to all the covenant demands of God. While this found expression in cultic [religious/liturgical] activity, the reference was normally to the honoring of God by total lifestyle. When Christians imply that reverence is essentially a matter of one’s demeanor in church services, they show little understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this subject!”

“Thus, acceptable worship in Old Testament terms involves 1) homage, 2) service and 3) reverence, demonstrated in the whole of life. A common factor in these three ways of describing Israel’s response to God is the assumption that he had already acted towards them in revelation and redemption, to make it possible for them to engage them with him acceptably. By contrast, the worship activities of the nations are considered to be offensive to God because they are human inventions, arising from misconceptions about God and ignorance about what pleases him.” (p. 74)

“The gospel is the key to the New Testament teaching about worship. The gospel declares to us the ultimate revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ and the ultimate redemption in his sacrificial death. He fulfils and replaces the whole method of approach to God associated with the Sinai covenant.

“The teaching and practice of the Old Testament is not discarded but is transformed in the New Testament. It becomes the means for understanding the work of the Messiah and how we can relate to God under the new covenant.

“Through the gospel message of God’s mercy in Christ, and through his Spirit, men and women from all nations are united in his praise and service.” (p. 288)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thinking Christianly About All of Life

“To talk about a Christian worldview is simply another way of saying that when we are redeemed, our entire outlook on life is re-centered on God and re-built on His revealed truth.”

~ Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 46.
posted at "The Big Picture"

Confidence Based on Whose Righteousness?

“If the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost. For there is no middle ground between Christian righteousness and works-righteousness. There is no alternative to Christian righteousness but works-righteousness; if you do not build your confidence on the work of Christ, you must build your confidence on your own work. On this truth and only on this truth the church is built and has its being.”

- Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 16.
posted at "Of First Importance"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lectures on Worship

Justin Taylor has done a characteristically good job of providing links to excellent resources; specifically, this time, related to worship.

See his blog post here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"The Cross of Christ"

Kevin DeYoung, quoting from John Stott, focuses on the crucial importance of the cross-work of Christ as a substitutionary atonement. You can read it here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Scripture reading in Gathered Worship

From Justin Taylor:

A good post here by Dan Phillips on why we should do it (hint: the Bible tells us so) and how we should do it.Paul commanded Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). And the early church took this seriously. In about A.D. 150–155 Justin Martyr, describing a typical church service, includes the importance of reading the Word aloud:

On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has finished, the president speaks, instructing and exhorting the people to imitate these good things (First Apology 67)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

David Powlison on the Place of Desiring in Sanctification

In a recent post, Justin Taylor refers to David Powlison's essay, "I Am Motivated When I Feel Desire," reprinted in his book, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture.

Powlison, like Lewis (and like Calvin, and like the apostle Paul), distinguishes between ordinate and inordinate desires. He does a sort of FAQ on the "lusts of the flesh" which is very insightful and helpful:

How does the New Testament commonly talk about what's wrong with people?

Why do people do specific ungodly things?

But what's wrong with wanting things that seem good?

Why don't people see this as the problem?

Is the phrase "lusts of the flesh" useful in practical life and counseling?

Does each person have one "root sin"?

How can you tell if a desire is inordinate rather than natural?

Is it even right to talk about the heart, since the Bible teaches that the heart is unknowable to anyone but God? (1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 17:9)

Doesn't the word lusts properly apply only to bodily appetites: the pleasures and comforts of sex, food, drink, rest, exercise, health?

Can desires be habitual?

What about fears? They seem as important in human motivation as cravings.

Do people ever have conflicting motives?

How does thinking about lusts relate to other ways of talking about sin, such as "sin nature," "self," "pride," "autonomy," "unbelief," and "self-centeredness"?

In counseling, do you just confront a person with his sinful cravings?

Can you change what you want?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Magnifying God" Conference Audio Available Online

You can listen online to sessions from the conference: "Magnifying God: the Legacy of John Calvin for the 21st Century." Collin Hansen, editor at large for "Christianity Today," was the keynote speaker. (I had the privilege of doing one of the seminars and taking part in the panel discussion).

Justin Taylor has also posted about the upcoming conference -- "Calvin for the 21st Century" -- at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Key Biblical Words for Worship

Today in our pastoral staff meeting we returned to the subject of authentic, God-pleasing worship. I think one thing that would go a long way in helping us understand this crucial topic (and practice) in the right way is if we think carefully about the three key biblical words translated 'worship'. Here's a quick outline:

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


Monday, March 2, 2009

Free Online Access to the ESV Study Bible

Crossway is pleased to make the ESV Online Study Bible available free—for anyone and everyone—for a limited time beginning today, March 2, 2009. Until now, the ESV Online Study Bible has been available exclusively to those who have purchased the print edition.

In addition to the features found in the print edition, the ESV Online Study Bible provides numerous interactive features enabling readers to:

• Record personal notes, reflections, and links
• Click hyperlinked cross references
• Search by verse, topic, or keyword
• Digitally highlight Bible passages with various colors
• Listen to audio of passages

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Irresistible (and Essential) Grace

“We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained toward Christ.”

- Charles Spurgeon (Sermons, Vol. 4, p.139)
posted at "Of First Importance"