Friday, September 30, 2011

The Basis for our Faith

"God is not a prisoner of our faith, but of his own perfection. Faith obligates God to act not because it is a magical incantation that can be used to control God but because faith in God’s promises calls attention to God’s own faithfulness. The assurance upon which faith is based is the glory of God’s character, not the power of our believing."

 — Scott J. Hafemann
The God of Promise and the Life of Faith(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 93

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The highest missionary motive...

The highest of missionary motive is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal — burning and passionate zeal — for the glory of Jesus Christ. . . . Only one imperialism is Christian . . . and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire.
John Stott, Romans: God's Good News for the World (Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 53.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He includes us in His Story...

"If we miss Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic expectations and the foundation of New Testament kingdom proclamation, we unwittingly distance ourselves from the contemporary relevance of the Bible. He, through the Spirit, is the link between the story of Scripture and the stories of our lives.

"By the mercy of God, this story, this Word, became ours when we were united by faith to our crucified and risen Savior. It’s his story and it’s our story by virtue of being his! So, then. the Bible is a book primed for application. While Scripture passages may not be ‘timeless texts,’ they are certainly ‘timely texts’ for the people of God."

— Michael R. Emlet
CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet
(Greensboro, NC.: New Growth Press, 2009), 52

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saved by grace (from first to last)

"We could not take one step in the pursuit of holiness if God in His grace had not first delivered us from the dominion of sin and brought us into union with His risen Son. Salvation is by grace and sanctification is by grace."

— Jerry Bridgesthe Disciple of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness(Colorado Springs, Co.: NavPress, 1994), 73

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our faith is a Person

“Our faith is a person; the gospel that we have to preach is a person; and go wherever we may, we have something solid and tangible to preach, for our gospel is a person. If you had asked the twelve Apostles in their day, ‘What do you believe in?’ they would not have stopped to go round about with a long sermon, but they would have pointed to their Master and they would have said, ‘We believe him.’ ‘But what are your doctrines?’ ‘There they stand incarnate.’ ‘But what is your practice?’ ‘There stands our practice. He is our example.’ ‘What then do you believe?’ Hear the glorious answer of the Apostle Paul, ‘We preach Christ crucified.’ Our creed, our body of divinity, our whole theology is summed up in the person of Christ Jesus.”
-- C. H. Spurgeon, in Lectures Delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Association in Exeter Hall 1858-1859 (London, 1859), pages 159-160.
HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Aristotle on Friendship

"For, as is so clear in the Nicomachean Ethics, friendship was for Aristotle a basically moral undertaking, with the relationship of true friendship defined primarily in terms of common goals and a shared pursuit of certain specified goods.

"For Aristotle, the primary benefit of friendship is not affection but growth in virtue. But this Aristotelian view of friendship has diminished along with the disappearance of a common good. It no longer seems appropriate to expect that friends will agree with one another about the more substantive matters of life. Now friendship is viewed primarily as an expression of affection (what Aristotle would have called a friendship of pleasure) or an exercise of career positioning and "networking" (what Aristotle would have called a friendship of utility) (1157b37-1158a3). For Aristotle, neither of these forms of friendship are true friendship because they lack any necessary connection to a person's growth in virtue and attainment of a life worthy of human beings."

-- Kent Dunnington. Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice (Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology) (Kindle Locations 1211-1215). Kindle Edition.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"...and He took it lovingly."

"...the legendary ‘Rabbi’ Duncan concentrated it all into a single unforgettable sentence, in a famous outburst to one of his classes: ‘D’ye know what Calvary was? what? what? what?’  Then, with tears on his face — ‘It was damnation; and he took it lovingly.’”
J. I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, 2007), page 95.  Italics original.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Monday, September 19, 2011

We go...because He reigns

'God does not send out his church to conquer. He sends us out in the name of the One who has already conquered. We go only because he reigns.'

— Kevin Deyoung and Greg GilbertWhat is the Mission of the Church?(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 46

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Our lack of moral vocabulary..."

Peter Wehner on understanding our culture's ongoing ethical decline:

"...You can’t promote ethical agnosticism and embrace nonjudgmentalism without there being moral ramifications. Because at some point, we all have to take a moral stand and embrace a moral cause. We have to believe in, and abide by, rules and precepts. We don’t have the luxury of living a life of perpetual moral confusion. C.S. Lewis put it as well as anyone when he wrote in The Abolition of Man, “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

You can read the entire essay here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Sunday is not a second Saturday"

solid pastoral wisdom from Ray Ortlund, Jr....
If we would stop treating Sunday as a second Saturday, one more day to run to Home Depot, one more day for the kids’ soccer games, another day for getting ready for Monday, if we would rediscover Sunday as The Lord’s Day, focusing on him for just one day each week, what would be the immediate impact between today and one year from today?
By one year from today, we will have spent 52 whole days given over to Jesus.  Seven and a half weeks of paid vacation with Jesus.
He’s a good King.  Maybe we should put him first in our weekly schedules.  Not fit him into the margins of our busy weekends, but build our whole weekly routine around him.
Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Carl Henry on the Infallible Authority of Scripture

"From the outset of my Christian walk I have treasured the Book that speaks of the God of ultimate beginnings and ends, and illumines all that falls between. . . . An evangelical Christian believes incomparable good news: that Christ died in the stead of sinners and arose the third day as living head of the church of the twice-born, the people of God, whose mission is mandated by the scripturally given Word of God. The term evangelical—whose core is the “evangel”—therefore embraces the best of all good tidings, that on the ground of the substitutionary death of Christ Jesus, God forgives penitent sinners and he shelters their eternal destiny by the Risen Lord who triumphed over death and over all that would have destroyed him and his cause. That good news as the Apostle Paul makes clear, is validated and verified by the sacred Scriptures. Those who contrast the authority of Christ with the authority of Scripture do so at high risk. Scripture gives us the authentic teaching of Jesus and Jesus exhorted his apostles to approach Scripture as divinely authoritative. There is no confident road into the future for any theological cause that provides a fragmented Scriptural authority and—in consequence—an unstable Christology. Founded by the true and living Lord, and armed with the truthfulness of Scripture, the church of God is invincible. Whatever I might want to change in this pilgrim life, it would surely not be any of these high and holy commitments." 

-- Carl F.H. Henry

D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, eds., God and Culture: Essays in Honor of Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 392–93.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"What is the mission of the church?"

"In short, we will argue that the mission of the church is summarized in the Great Commission passages14—the climactic marching orders Jesus issues at the ends of the Gospels and at the beginning of Acts. We believe the church is sent into the world to witness to Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations. This is our task. This is our unique and central calling."

-- Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (2011-09-06). What Is the Mission of the Church? (p. 26). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where true, saving religion begins...

‎"To know our own sinfulness and weakness, and to feel our need of Christ, is the very beginning of saving religion." -- J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

...When the Lord's mercy strikes

via Ray Ortlund, Jr....
“Ignore the Lord Jesus as long as you can!  Spit out the bread of life and sicken on honey.  Whom work beckons, to work!  Whom blood to blood!  Whom lust to lust!  Make haste, make haste.  Fly faster and faster.  Spin yourselves in a frenzy, the time is short.  The Lord is preparing a prophet.  The Lord is preparing a prophet with fire in his hand and eye and the prophet is moving toward the city with his warning.  The prophet is coming with the Lord’s message.  ‘Go warn the children of God,’ saith the Lord, ‘of the terrible speed of justice.’  Who will be left?  Who will be left when the Lord’s mercy strikes?”

-- Flannery O’Connor, quoted in Ralph C. Wood, Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South (Grand Rapids, 2004), page 191.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You are your secrets

from Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Dane Ortlund’s cautions about self-promotion here prompt me to re-post the following from last year:
O. Hobart Mowrer, the psychologist, set himself to understand more deeply our hollowed-out emotional lives. He noted that, commonly, when we perform a good deed, we advertise it, display it, draw attention to it, at least hint at it, hoping to collect on the emotional credit of it. But when we do something cheap, evil or stupid, we hide it, deny it, minimize it. But the emotional discredit from that stays with us and even accumulates with each further hypocrisy.  This is how we make ourselves chronically empty in conscience and heart. Our lives are required of us, and we are found wanting. No felt “net worth.”  Lost confidence, pizzazz. Our positive energies are depleted by fugitive concealing.
Then Mowrer wondered, what if we reversed our strategy?  What if we admitted our weaknesses, owned up to our failures, named our idiot-moments, confessed our follies, errors and debts, and also hid away from everyone’s view our smart ideas, heroic sacrifices, kind deeds, charities and virtues? What if, instead of throwing back at the other guy his worst failure while trotting out our own best moment, we put up our worst against his best?  What then? Our hearts might start filling up.
He entitled his essay “You are your secrets.” It is in his book The New Group Therapy(New York, 1964), pages 65-71.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. . . . Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:14).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Rightful King

‎"Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage." C S Lewis