Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Source of Objections to Christianity

"People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt. That is a complete misunderstanding. The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against all authority. As a result people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion."

Søren Kierkegaard

(Compare Rom. 1:18ff.; Eph. 4:17ff.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Christianity or Liberalism

Richard Niebuhr's classic description of Protestant liberalism remains (sadly) relevant for sub-biblical 'christianities' today: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A candid admission....

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science is spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism [that is, the belief that ‘matter’ is the only reality, leaving no room for the supernatural].

“It is not that the methods of and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

– Richard Lewontin, (Harvard biologist) “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, Jan. 7, 1997, p. 31.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coming in a good deal further...

"Did you ever meet, or hear of, anyone who was converted from scepticism to a 'liberal' or 'de-mythologized' Christianity? I think that when unbelievers come in at all, they come in a good deal further." -- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Transforming Power of the Gospel of Free Grace

“The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil. . . .

"Thus it is, that the freer the Gospel, the more sanctifying is the Gospel; and the more it is received as a doctrine of grace, the more will it be felt as a doctrine according to godliness. This is one of the secrets of the Christian life . . . .

"Salvation by grace – salvation by free grace – salvation not of works, but according to the mercy of God – salvation on such a footing is not more indispensable to the deliverance of our persons from the hand of justice, than it is to the deliverance of our hearts from the chill and the weight of ungodliness.

"Retain a single shred or fragment of legality with the Gospel, and we raise a topic of distrust between man and God. We take away from the power of the Gospel to melt and to conciliate. For this purpose, the freer it is, the better it is. That very peculiarity which so many dread as the germ of antinomianism is, in fact, the germ of a new spirit and a new inclination against it.

"Along with the light of a free Gospel does there enter the love of the Gospel, which, in proportion as we impair the freeness, we are sure to chase away. And never does the sinner find within himself so mighty a moral transformation as when under the belief that he is saved by grace, he feels constrained thereby to offer his heart a devoted thing, and to deny ungodliness.”

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.”

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"I like to think of God as....."

In this brief essay, James K.A. Smith of Calvin College suggests that 'imagining' and 'hoping' are no the most reliable way to understand what Christianity teaches about the eternal destiny of unbelievers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Seven Stanzas at Easter" -- John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Is there historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?

From Justin Taylor's intro to this: "Historical evidence alone will convince no one, but Dr. William Lane Craig presents a number of facts that help to confirm the reality that Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago."

Here are two videos from Dr. William Craig.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Salvation through Substitution

"We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its center the principle of 'satisfaction through substitution,' indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution.... The theological words 'satisfaction' and 'substitution' need to be carefully defined and safeguarded, but they cannot in any circumstances be given up.

"The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us."

-- John Stott, "The Cross of Christ"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

"I am content to wait till the judgment day for the clearing up of my reputation; and after I am dead I desire no other epitaph than this, 'Here lies G.W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.'"

-George Whitefield

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Worship as 'outpouring'

"We were created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself. It might not even be safe to say that we were created for worship, because the inference can be drawn that worship is a capacity that can be separated out and eventually relegated to one of several categories of being. I believe it is strategically important, therefore, to say that we were created continuously outpouring—we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago Dei.

"Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god.”...

Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 23

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Misplaced tears...

Tears of sentimentality and pity are nowhere so much out of place as on Calvary. While resigning ourselves to such emotions, we mistake the Lord Jesus — nay, even degrade Him, and as regards ourselves, miss the way of salvation marked out for us by God. Hence the Savior exclaims, once for all, ‘Weep not for me!’ (Luke 23:28).

— F. W. Krummacher, quoted by Philip Graham Ryken in
Luke (Vol 2)
(Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009), 573

HT: Of First Importance

Monday, April 18, 2011

How a Heart Is Hardened

“…You that were tender, and used to melt under the word, under afflictions, will grow as some have profanely spoken, 'sermon-proof and sickness-proof.'

"…Your soul and your sin shall be spoken of and spoken to, and you shall not be at all concerned, but shall be able to pass over duties, praying, hearing, reading, and your heart not in the least affected. Sin will grow a light thing to you; you will pass it by as a thing of naught; this it will grow to…Is it not enough to make any heart to tremble, to think of being brought into that estate wherein he should have slight thoughts of sin?

"Slight thoughts of grace, of mercy, of the blood of Christ, of the law, heaven, and hell, come all in at the same season. Take heed, this is that [which] your lust is working toward – the hardening of the heart, searing of the conscience, blinding of the mind, stupefying of the affections, and deceiving the whole soul.”

– John Owen (The Nature of Mortification; Chapter 10)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Luther on a Faith that Works...

“Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, ‘Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven.’ The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, "I believe." This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement….

"Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God's grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God's grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire... Ask God to work faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate.”

- Martin Luther, Book of Romans Commentary

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We are only truly free when we submit to God

"In The Freedom of the Will [by Jonathan Edwards], the point is that humans are really only ever truly free when they submit to the will of God. This is a basic discipleship point, but it needs to be pressed in our current environment as a matter of first importance. "It is a lie that we are free without God. We are merely slaves to our whims, which are set by our genetic make-up, our evironment, even our parents. "Only God's will, and the personal assertion of faith in God's will, only his involvement and our trust in that, can transform our macabre 'matrix' into a masterful display of God's glory and genuine freedom." -- Josh Moody, "The God-centered Life"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How do we resist temptation?

"We resist temptation the way Jesus did, through the word of the kingdom. As we follow Jesus, we see the gospel reclaim our identity, reorder our desires, and reframe our future. We need to recognize that we are living in a war zone, a cosmos being ripped from the dominion of its demonic overlords. We are right now part of a counterinsurgency through the mission of Christ. It's only in this way that we see the power of temptation over us is broken, as the demonic powers flee from the presence of the only Man they fear." -- Russell Moore, "Tempted and Tried"

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Power of His Word....

"It's worth meditating for a moment on what actually happened when Jesus said to the winds and the waves, 'Peace! Be still!' (Mark 4:39). Particles of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen listened. Electrons and protons obeyed."

-- Jonathan Leeman, "Reverberation"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Redeemed, Adopted, Delighted in...

"God redeemed us in his Son so that he might love us and delight in us even as he loves and delights in his eternal Son. Adoption is God’s act of making room within his triune love for prodigals who are without hope, and providing them with homes in this world and the world to come."

— Dan Cruver
Reclaiming Adoption
(Adelphi, Md.: Cruciform Press, 2011), 14

Friday, April 8, 2011

A great way to live...

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." (John Wesley)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"The Problem with 'Christus Victor'"

Mark Galli's essay highlights how the understanding of Christus Victor' as an aspect of Christ's atoning work depends on the more fundamental aspect of 'penal substitution.'

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good stewards...

"Radical stewardship will look different from person to person, from church to church, – but we are all called to be good stewards, to prioritize rightly, to sacrifice for the King out of gospel-soaked generous hearts. Radical sacrifice must always overflow from a heart that is gripped by the gospel; otherwise, it becomes a joyless and fruitless effort of self-righteousness." ~ Trevin Wax

Monday, April 4, 2011

A striking summary of true Christianity

In Biblical, authentic Christianity, 'a two-thousand-year-old ex-corpse becomes our slave master for life.' -- Russell Moore

Come to Christ...then become the church

As you come to him, . . . . 1 Peter 2:4

Peter introduces his teaching about the church by saying, “As you come to him, . . . .” We don’t come to church, to be a church. We come to Christ, and then we are built up as a church.

If we come to church just to be with one another, one another is all we’ll get. And it isn’t enough. Inevitably, our hearts will grow empty, and then angry. If we put community first, we will destroy community. But if we come to Christ first and submit ourselves to him and draw life from him, community gets traction.

C. S. Lewis: “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”

-- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How we overcome temptation....

"The same Spirit who led Jesus through the wilderness and empowered him to overcome the Evil One now surges through all of us who are joined by faith to Jesus. We overcome temptation the same way he did, by trusting in our Father and hearing his voice." -- Russell Moore, "Tempted and Tried" (Crossway)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Some helps for reading the Bible better

from Justin Taylor...

Some free, concise essays online from the ESV Study Bible in a 10-page PDF.

  • J. I. Packer, “Reading the Bible Theologically”
  • Leland Ryken, “Reading the Bible as Literature”
  • John Piper, “Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God”
  • David Powlison, “Reading the Bible for Personal Application”
  • R. Kent Hughes, “Reading the Bible for Preaching and Public Worship”