Monday, October 31, 2011

How we share in His righteousness...

John Calvin:

"Therefore, that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short, that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.

"We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body—in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him."

-- Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 3.XI.10 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), p. 737).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"People do not drift toward holiness..."

‎"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated." - D.A. Carson

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sin Forgiven and Overcome

"A legal mode of thinking gives indwelling sin an advantage, because nothing so cuts the nerve of the desire to pursue holiness as much as a sense of guilt.  On the contrary, nothing so motivates us to deal with sin in our lives as does the understanding and the application of the two truths that our sins are forgiven and the dominion of sin is broken becuase of our union with Christ.

"Robert Haldane in his commentary of Romans...said, 'No sin can be crucified in  heart of life, unless it is first pardoned in conscience...  If it be not mortified [put to death] in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.'"

-- Jerry Bridges, "The Discipline of Grace"

Friday, October 28, 2011

The more we see of the love of God....

John Owen--

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more.

Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

--John Owen, Communion with the Triune God (ed. K. Kapic and J. Taylor; Crossway, 2007), 128

HT: Don Jones; Dane Ortlund

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ultimate Apologetic

from Ray Ortlund, Jr.
In the July 1954 issue of Reformation Review, Francis Schaeffer published “How Heresy Should Be Met.”  He proposed that, to neutralize the heresies defrauding people in our time, what is needed is a three-fold strategy:
“The final problem is not to prove men wrong, but to win them back to Christ.  Therefore, the only ultimately successful apologetic is, first, a clear, intellectual statement of what is wrong with the false doctrine, plus a clear, intellectual return to the proper scriptural emphasis, in all its vitality and in its relation to the total Christian faith, plus a demonstration in the life that this correct and vital scriptural emphasis meets the genuine needs and aspirations of men in a way that Satan’s counterfeit does not.”
The ultimate apologetic is churches where (1) falsehood is exposed, (2) the gospel is clarified, and (3) we together, though imperfect, become living proof that the gospel creates beautiful human beings in beautiful community.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Should you be a missionary?"

from Charles Spurgeon:
I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world.  Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations.  Who will do this?
Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen?  Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus.  Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?
Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned?  Are we clear of their blood?  Have they no claim on us?  We ought to put it on this footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else.  What answer do you give, my brethren?  I put it to you man by man. 
I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself.  I have felt that, if some of our leading ministers would go forth, it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go.  After balancing the whole thing, I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would confirm my decision; but I hope that I would readily, and willingly, and cheerfully go abroad if I did not feel that I ought to remain at home.
Brethren, put yourselves through the same process.  We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other.  Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is almost annihilated.  True, we have not the Pentecostal tongues; but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift.
The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum.  There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk.  Who will go?
… Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us who are willing to be exiled for Jesus.  The Mission languishes for want of men.  If the men were forthcoming, the liberality of the Church has provided the supply, and yet there are not men to go.  I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of the conflict.  I believe that, if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How the Psalms Both Express and Shape the Emotions of God’s People

From Jack Collins’s “Introduction to the Psalms” in the ESV Study Bible:
The Psalter is the songbook of the people of God in their gathered worship.
These songs cover a wide range of experiences and emotions, and give God’s people the words to express these emotions and to bring these experiences before God.
At the same time, the psalms do not simply express emotions: when sung in faith, they actually shape the emotions of the godly. The emotions are therefore not a problem to be solved but are part of the raw material of now-fallen humanity that can be shaped to good and noble ends. The psalms, as songs, act deeply on the emotions, for the good of God’s people. It is not “natural” to trust God in hardship, and yet the Psalms provide a way of doing just that, and enable the singers to trust better as a result of singing them. A person staring at the night sky might not know quite what to do with the mixed fear and wonder he finds in himself, and singing Psalm 8 will enrich his ability to respond.
The Psalms also provide guidance in the approach to worship: at times they offer content that is difficult to digest, calling on God’s people to use their minds as well as their hearts and voices.
They show profound respect for God as well as uninhibited delight in him.
They enable the whole congregation to take upon themselves, to own, the troubles and victories of the individual members, so that everyone can “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
They enable God’s people more fully to enjoy being under his care, and to want more keenly to be pure and holy, seeing purity and holiness as part of God’s fatherly gift rather than as a burden.

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The way to have true Christian unity

A. W. Tozer:
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.
So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
The Pursuit of God [1948] (Wilder Publications, 2009), p. 63.
& Justin Taylor

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Prayer of Aspiration

(author unknown)...

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When life punches you in the face....

The amount which you understand the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all circumstances. If you grasp what a treasure the presence and acceptance of God are, then even when life goes really wrong you will have a joy that sustains you, because you’ll recognize the value of what you have in Him. When life punches you in the face, you’ll say, ‘But I still have the love and acceptance of God, a treasure I don’t deserve.’ And the joy you find in that treasure can make you rejoice even when you have a bloody nose. You have a joy that death and depravation cannot touch. 
— J. D. GreearGospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary(Nashville, Tn.: B & H Publishing, 2011), 81

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Always begin again with the Gospel

“Martin Luther said this in his lectures on the Book of Romans, as he taught about believers growing spiritually

“He said that true spiritual progress was ‘always to begin again.’ In other words, he said we must daily “embrace the love and kindness of God . . . and daily exercise our faith therein; entertaining no doubt of God’s love and kindness.”    

“Always ‘begin again’ with the gospel. Abide in it; swim in it; make your home in it. See more and more of your life through it. Be absolutely convinced at every moment of every day of the goodness of God in your life. That’s the only way you’ll ever really grow.”

-- J.D. Greear, “Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary”

Friday, October 14, 2011

"First take the plank out of your own eye..." (Matthew 7:5)

“Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, whereas a humble saint is most jealous of himself.  He is so suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart.  The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints . . . and to be quick to discern and take note of their deficiencies.  But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with others’ hearts.” -- Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"The amount which you understand the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all circumstances. If you grasp what a treasure the presence and acceptance of God are, then even when life goes really wrong you will have a joy that sustains you, because you’ll recognize the value of what you have in Him."

-- J.D. Greear, "Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary" (p. 81). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

“To image God in the fullness of our humanity is our highest calling.” (

-- Arthur Holmes, "The Idea of a Christian College" p. 35

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deeper Grace from Before the Dawn of Time

"Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing ‘outside of’ God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity — it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison — and at infinitely great cost — this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation.

"This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it ‘so great a salvation’ (Heb. 2:3)."

— Sinclair B. Ferguson
In Christ Alone
(Orlando, Fl.: Reformation Trust, 2007), 136

Monday, October 10, 2011

"How to think on your feet..."

You will not be able to extemporize good thinking unless you have been in the habit of thinking and feeding your mind with abundant and nourishing food. Work hard at every available moment. Store your minds very richly, and then, like merchants with crowded warehouses, you will have goods ready for your customers, and having arranged your good things upon the shelves of your mind, you will be able to hand them down at any time without the laborious process of going to market, sorting, folding, and preparing. . . .  Take it as a rule without exception, that to be able to overflow spontaneously you must be full.
HT: Trevin Wax; Justin Taylor

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tolerating everything...caring for nothing

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair. . . . the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”
-- Dorothy Sayers, quoted in D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God (Grand Rapids, 1996), page 53.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Carrying out God's purpose

“You will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.” -- C. S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Experiencing the power of the Gospel

"It is one thing to understand the gospel but is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the gospel but quite another to think out its implications for all of life."

-- Timothy Keller, in the preface to  Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear;  B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feasting on the Father's Declaration

"Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he tried to redirect Jesus’ attention from the Father’s declaration on to other sources of validation (Matt. 4:1–7). '[Since] you are the Son of God . . .'   Embedded in that question is a doubt. The enemy was implying, “Well, since You are the ‘Son of God,’ Messiah boy. . . shouldn’t You be able to make things different? Why would the ‘Son of God’ be out here in the desert all alone? Shouldn’t You be able to make bread from the stones, or have the angels catch You when You fall?” What was significant about that was the Father had just declared over Jesus in the previous chapter: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Rather than feasting on the Father’s declaration, the enemy wanted Him to look to other forms of validation for His divine Sonship. Jesus told the enemy that He did not need bread or protection to prove He was the Father’s Son; the Father’s declaration was sufficient."

-- J.D. Greear; Keller, Timothy (2011-09-13). Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (p. 49). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Bible and the Puzzle of God's Providence

‎"...the Bible is not like a jigsaw puzzle that guarantees all the pieces have been provided. It is rather more like a jigsaw puzzle whose Maker has guaranteed that all the pieces he has provided belong to the same puzzle, even though for various good reasons he has not given us all of them (see Deut. 29:29).   ‎That means that we will always have gaps as we construct the puzzle; it means that clumsy players will try to force some pieces into slots where they do not belong and may be tempted to leave some pieces out because they cannot see where they fit in.”

-- D.A. Carson, "A Call to Spiritual Reformation"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Super Pastor?

More gracious, Bible-based wisdom from Ray Ortlund, Jr.:
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 11:3012:10
I am a pastor.  And I am weak.  I value strength, because God wired us men for strength.  And His grace imparts real strength (2 Timothy 2:1).  But for me, one of the surprises in Christ is strength-in-weakness.
In a way, I wish I could be a formidable, always successful, always smart, always witty, always energetic, always cool, always positive Super Pastor.  Then people would admire my astonishing wonderfulness, and then I could always feel good about myself.  I would love that.  It’s one thing Jesus is saving me from.
How does He save me?  He reduces me to weakness and need, and He allows me to see it for myself time after time.  Then, and only then, do I humble myself and ask Him for His grace.  Then, and only then, is He is exalted as my Super Savior.
I am weak.  I am boring.  I get cranky.  I fumble my words in interviews.  I get into ruts.  I forget people’s names.  I don’t have all the answers.  I could go on and on with my remarkable inadequacies.  But I have come to believe that the power of Christ resting on a weak man makes more impact for Him than my fantasy Self batting a thousand ever could.  In fact, I have come to like the current arrangement.  Yes, I want to be strong in the right ways.  No one has ever accused me of being a wimp.  But my own carnal strength need no longer apply.
When the power of Christ rests on me in all my weakness, everything gets better.