Monday, February 28, 2011

God invites us to the dance of authentic human life...

God's invitation to us: "If you glorify me, if you center your life on me, if you find me beautiful for who I am in myself, then you will step into the dance, which is what you were made for. You are made not just to believe in me or to be spiritual in some general way, not just to pray and get a big of inspiration when things are tough.

"You are made to center everything in your life on me, to think of everything in terms of your relationship to me. To serve me unconditionally. That's where you'll find your joy. That's what the dance is about."

-- Tim Keller, "The King's Cross"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Catch the sunlight of God's grace

In the bond between faith and sanctification we perceive, no less than in the bond between faith and justification, the pulse-beat of the Gospel. If faith will lift its blossoms to catch the sunlight of God’s grace, the fruit will be a life imbued with holiness.

— G. C. Berkouwer
Faith and Sanctification
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 1952), 193

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unembarrassed Interchange

"[God] communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion."

-- A.W. Tozer, "The Pursuit of God"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are you a quarrelsome person?....

....That's not the kind of question anyone is prompt to answer 'yes' to, but Kevin DeYoung's post gives some of the distinguishing marks of a quarrelsome person for those who might really be concerned to examine themselves, or, maybe more effectively, ask a trusted friend to help them answer the question.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'You can't turn off worship...'

"You worship what you live for, whatever is most worthy of your attention and devotion. It is what drives you at the core, and it flows from the essence of who you are.

"You can't turn off worship. It's your basic human wiring. To not worship is to not live. It's like a garden hose stuck on full blast. You can aim it at the grass, the car, or the shrubs, but you cannot stop its flow."

-- Mike Wilkerson, "Redemption"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christianity means this....or nothing

"How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh, that life itself became life and walked in our midst? Christianity either means that or it means nothing. It is either the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality of the world, or it is a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful playacting.

"Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of these things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between."

-- N.T. Wright, "For All God's Worth...." (Eerdmans), p. 1

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why are you a Christian?

"If you're a Christian mainly because you want to be changed, that's a problem. If you've given your life to God mostly because you are tired of yourself and want to be a different person -- well, that may suggest you're using God to fix you. That's not faith. That not love of God. That's love of self."

-- Mark Galli

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"United to Christ"

What a wondrous thing it is that even though Jesus Christ has been exalted to the throne of God, absent from us in the flesh, we may nevertheless only now be united to him in a manner for more intimate than the fellowship enjoyed by the disciples with Jesus during his earthly ministry. Having united himself to us in our flesh, in our sins, in our suffering and death, he now unites us to himself in his new-creation life by his Spirit.

— Michael Horton
The Christian Faith
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 2011), 587

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Owen on 'entering into temptation'

"When we suffer [allow] a temptation to enter into us, then we 'enter into temptation.' While it knocks at the door we are liberty; but when any temptation comes in and parleys [discusses] with the heart, reasons with the mind, entices and allures the affections, be it a long or a short time, do it thus insensibly and imperceptibly, or do the soul take notice of it, we 'enter into temptation.'"

-- John Owen, "Overcoming Sin and Temptation"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why God's Love Is Better Than Unconditional

from Justin Taylor's blog:

In his essay-turned-booklet, God’s Love: Better Than Unconditional, David Powlison suggests that people who use the term often have good intentions, wanting to affirm four interrelated truths:

  1. “Conditional love” is bad—unconditional is shorthand for the opposite of manipulation, demand, judgmentalism.
  2. God’s love is patient—unconditional is shorthand for hanging on for the long haul, rather than bailing out when the going gets rough.
  3. True love is God’s gift—unconditional is shorthand for unearned blessings, rather than legalism.
  4. God receives you just as you are: sinful, suffering, confused—unconditional is shorthand for God’s invitation to rough, dirty, broken people.

These are true—and precious. But Powlison offers several responses. (I can only summarize and paraphrase here—buy the booklet to see the arguments in full.)...

See the rest of Justin's summary post here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wanting and Waiting

“God’s promises are so dated as to secure his glory in their fulfillment, and this must be enough for us when we can see no other reason for delay. It may be necessary for us to be made more fully aware of our need, and the great value of the blessings which we crave. That which too lightly comes may be too lightly prized. Perhaps our ungrateful spirits need tutoring to thankfulness by an education of waiting. We might not loudly sing if we did not deeply sigh. Wanting and waiting lead to panting and pleading; and these in due time lead to joying and rejoicing.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon, According to Promise

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Bible Is a Record of Redemptive Facts

"From the beginning Christianity was the religion of the broken heart; it is based upon the conviction that there is an awful gulf between man and God which none but God can bridge. The Bible tells us how this gulf was bridged; and that means the Bible is a record of facts.

"Of what avail, without the redeeming acts of God, are all the lofty ideals of Psalmists and Prophets, all the teaching and example of Jesus? In themselves they can bring us nothing but despair.

"We Christians are not interested merely in what God commands, but also in what God did; in a triumphant indicative; our salvation depends squarely upon history; the Bible contains that history, and unless that history is true the authority of the Bible is gone and we who have put our trust in the Bible are without hope."

— J. Gresham Machen
The Virgin Birth of Christ

HT: "Of First Importance"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

God's Providence.....

Heidelberg Catechism: Q 27
What do you understand by the providence of God?

Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty...- all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

William Carey's 11 Commandments of Mission

1. Set an infinite value on immortal souls.

2. Gain all the information you can about “the snares and delusions in which these heathens are held.”

3. Abstain from all English manners which might increase prejudice against the gospel.

4. Watch for all opportunities for doing good, even when you are tired and hot.

5. Make Christ crucified the great subject of your preaching.

6. Earn the people’s confidence by your friendship.

7. Build up the souls that are gathered.

8. Turn the work over to “the native brethren” as soon as possible.

9. Work with all your might to translate the Bible into their languages. Build schools to this end.

10. Stay alert in prayer, wrestling with God until he “famish these idols and cause the heathen to experience the blessedness that is in Christ.”

11. Give yourself totally to this glorious cause. Surrender your time, gifts, strength, families, the very clothes you wear.

Listed in Christian History, Issue 36, page 34

HT: Ray Ortlund

Friday, February 11, 2011

Zeal according to knowledge

“The more you have a rational knowledge of divine things, the more opportunity will there be, when the Spirit shall be breathed into your heart, to see the Excellency of these things, and to taste the sweetness of them…the more knowledge you have of divine things, the better you will know your duty; your knowledge will be of great use to direct you as to your duty in particular cases. You will also be better furnished against the temptations of the devil. For the devil often takes advantage of persons’ ignorance to ply them with temptations which otherwise would have no hold of them.

"By having much knowledge, you will be under greater advantages to conduct yourselves with prudence and discretion in your Christian course, and so to live much more to the honor of God and religion. Many who mean well and are full of good spirit, yet for want of prudence, conduct themselves so as to wound religion. Many have zeal for God, which doth more hurt than good, because it is not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).”

- Jonathan Edwards, Growing in God’s Spirit (Chapter 8, Christian Knowledge)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Your outlook?

A mind set on the things of the 'flesh' or the things of the Spirit?
"It is a question of our preoccupations, the ambitions which compel us and the interests which engross us; how we spend our time, money and energy; what we give ourselves up to."
-- John Stott (on Romans 8:5-8)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

True Conversion: a revolution

“It is not conversion to think that you will turn, or to promise that you will turn, or resolve that you will turn, but actually and in very deed to turn, because the word has had a true entrance into your heart. You must not be content with a reformation; there must be a revolution: old thrones must fall, and a new king must reign. Is it so with you?”
- Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Suppressing the Truth....

via Chris Castaldo:

Herman Bavinck’s nineteenth-century Reformed Dogmatics is lucidly written and solidly biblical. In this discussion of biblical authority, he takes a step back and reflects upon the reasons why people sometimes critique the Bible. In the following quote, Bavnick explores the moral reasons behind this resistance, what I am calling “theology of the glands.” Simply put, at the heart of every objection to the gospel is the sinful will.

Many and very serious objections are raised against this view of the inspiration of Scripture. They derive from the historical criticism that questions the authenticity and credibility of many biblical books. The challenge comes from the mutual contradictions that occur time after time in Scripture; from the manner in which OT texts are cited and interpreted in the NT; and it comes from the secular history with which the narratives of Scripture can often not be harmonized. . ..1

It is vain to ignore these objections and to act as if they don’t exist. Still, we must first of all call attention to the ethical battle, which at all times has been carried on against Scripture. If Scripture is the word of God, that battle is not accidental but necessary and completely understandable. If Scripture is the account of the revelation of God in Christ, it is bound to arouse the same opposition as Christ himself who came into the world for judgment (κρισις) and is “set for the falling and rising of many” [Luke 2:34]. He brings separation between light and darkness and reveals the thoughts of many hearts. . .

By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition. Christ bore a cross, and the servant [Scripture] is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity. . . The battle against the Bible is, in the first place, a revelation of the hostility of the human heart.2


1 Bavinck is not arguing that there are errors; rather, he is arguing that there are many apparent difficulties. For further explanation, see Herman Bavinck, Prolegomena, in Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 447-448.

2 Ibid., 439-440.

Monday, February 7, 2011

'You shall be holy, for I am holy...'

"Since God is the Holy One, incomparable in majesty, splendour and purity, he is the only source of true holiness for his people. He sanctifies his own name, displaying his holiness by acting in judgment and salvation and calling upon them to acknowledge him as the Holy One.

"Holiness cannot simply be acquired by human effort. It is a status or condition which God imparts to those whom he chooses to bring into a special relationship with himself through covenant and redemption. But it is a status that carries with it particular responsibilities."

-- David Peterson, "Possessed by God" (IVP/Apollos), p. 23

This is an excellent Biblical-theological study of sanctification and holiness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Waiting on God

..." waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts."
-- Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mis-representing the Gospel

via Chris Castaldo...

J. I. Packer (1926 – ) currently serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has written extensively on the topic of biblical authority, stressing the foundational importance of the Word of God in faith and practice. In a 1994 interview with the Founders Journal, he answered the question, Do you believe that modern evangelicals have lost their grip on the biblical gospel?

Well, in one particular respect we have got it all wrong. We are inclined to believe that God exists for us, God is waiting for us, God is there to make us happy. But in the gospel, God does not play the role of a butler. In the Gospel we are told that God, the Creator who made all things for his own praise and glory, has gone into action as mankind’s redeemer. We human individuals are impotent of spiritual response, that is, response to God in any shape or form; but God first of all sends us a Savior to make atonement for our sins, and then he sends the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and make us willing to see and respond to Christ.

Now, if we do not appreciate that our salvation is God’s work in that absolutely radical sense, that is, God sends the Saviour, God gives us the gift of faith to respond to the Saviour, then we will not even be able to tell people what the gospel means. You see, we ought to be telling people that they are helpless, that they need Christ, and that they must ask God for new hearts and for the ability to trust Christ. In other words, you have got to tell them of their own spiritual inability right from the start. If on the other hand we forget this and go around saying that God is just there to help you, and that you call on him whenever you need to, that he is a sort of cosmic bell-hop, well, then we are misrepresenting the gospel in an absolutely fundamental manner.

Until the gospel is understood as a message that obliges us to say that we are hopeless, helpless, lost, and ruined, requiring also that God does the work of salvation from start to finish, then we are not presenting the gospel as it is revealed in the New Testament.

-- J. I. Packer, “An Interview with Dr. J. I. Packer,” The Founders Journal, 16 (Spring 1994).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Rebuke a wise man, and he will be wiser still..."

C.J. Mahaney on the wisdom of accepting criticism.

'What kind of religion is this?'

“In a sermon Dick Lucas once preached, he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.

“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”

“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”

“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”

“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”

“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”

“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”

“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.

And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.”
—Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, p. 48.

HT: Justin Taylor

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Place for Being Lukewarm

"We are nothing if we are not in earnest about our faith, and if our wills and inclinations are not intensely exercised. The religious life contains things too great for us to be lukewarm. True religion is always a dynamic thing. Its power is in the inward exercises of the heart."

-- Jonathan Edwards