Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christ Our Substitute

'According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.'

— John Stott
'The Message of Romans'

Monday, January 28, 2013

Do you want to have more faith?

"Reader, would you have more faith? Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ. Study your blessed Savior more and more, and strive to know more of the length and breadth and height of His love. Study Him in all His offices, as the Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Friend, the Teacher, the Shepherd of His believing people.

"Study Him as one who not only died for you—but is also living for you at the right hand of God; as one who not only shed His blood for you—but daily intercedes for you at the right hand of God; as one who is soon coming again for you, and will stand once more on this earth.

"The miner who is fully persuaded that the rope which draws him up from the pit will not break, is drawn up without anxiety and alarm. The believer who is thoroughly acquainted with the fullness of Jesus Christ, is the believer who travels from grace to glory with the greatest comfort and peace."

— J. C. Ryle
Faith in Christ

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All of Us Are Always Worshiping

"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. Or you might imagine yourself as a sort of human billboard, always advertising what you find to be important, valuable, worthy. What you pay attention to, how you spend your time, the way you work, how you relate to others in your life—all these things broadcast your heart’s worship, making visible and advertising what is most important to you…."

-- Mike Wilkerson, "Redemption" (p. 29). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Centering Your Life on God and His Love...

...the alternative is idolatry...

"You shall have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:3)
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 Jn. 5:21)

'Most people think of sin primarily as breaking divine commandments, but the very first commandment is to “have no other gods before me.”

'So, according to the Bible, the primary way to understand sin is not just the doing of bad things, the making of even good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose and happiness than your relationship to God.

'Only if your identity is built on God and his love and grace can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything.' (Tim Keller)

The Alternative?: Living in Idolatry (‘God-substitutes’)

Here is a list of various ‘god-substitutes’ and the particular kinds of brokenness and damage that each one brings into a life:

• If you center your life and identity on your spouse, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems and flaws will be overwhelming to you.

• If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.

• If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

• If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

• If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the ‘escape strategies’ by which you try to avoid the hardness of life.

• If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

• If you center your life and identity on a ‘noble cause,’ you will divide the world into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

• If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards, you guilt will be devastating.

In pride we become obsessed with whatever interferes with people making much of us.

Our besetting sins are warning signs that our characteristic idolatry is at work.

‘Only if your identity is built on God and his love and grace can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything.’

-- based on chapter 10 (“The Problem of Sin”) of Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God” (Dutton)

Friday, January 25, 2013

What will save you?

"If you are... not reminding yourself again and again of the... right-here, right-now benefits of the grace of Christ, you will be looking elsewhere to get what can be found only in Jesus. If you are not feeding your soul on the realities of the presence, promises, and provisions of Christ, you will ask the people, situations, and things around you to be the messiah that they can never be. If you are not attaching your identity to the unshakable love of your Savior, you will ask the things in your life to be your Savior, and it will never happen. If you are not requiring yourself to get your deepest sense of well-being vertically, you will shop for it horizontally, and you will always come up empty. If you are not resting in the one true gospel, preaching it to yourself over and over again, you will look to another gospel to meet the needs of your unsettled heart." -- Paul David Tripp, "Dangerous Calling" (p. 36).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Secret to Ministry

'I am more and more convinced that what gives a ministry its motivations, perseverance, humility, joy, tenderness, passion, and grace is the devotional life of the one doing ministry. When I daily admit how needy I am, daily meditate on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and daily feed on the restorative wisdom of his Word, I am propelled to share with others the grace that I am daily receiving at the hands of my Savior. There simply is no set of exegetical, homiletical, or leadership skills that can compensate for the absence of this in the life of a pastor. It is my worship that enables me to lead others to worship. It is my sense of need that leads me to tenderly pastor those in need of grace. It is my joy in my identity in Christ that leads me to want to help others live in the middle of what it means to be “in Christ.” In fact, one of the things that makes a sermon compelling is that the preacher is worshiping his way through his own sermon.'

-- Paul Tripp, "Dangerous Calling,"p. 35

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rustling with the Rumor....

"At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in." — C. S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Prayer on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

from Pastor Scotty Smith:

    " I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 21:1-3

Most loving Lord Jesus, your loud voice and tear wiping hand, together, give us the courage and compassion we need to live as faithful advocates for human life—in all its expressions. How we long for the Day when “death shall be no more”—when life will flourish in the new heaven and new earth.

Today we especially think about the lives of unborn children and the constant threat to those lives—even as we cry out to you on behalf of all kinds of women in all kinds of situations who are carrying those children in their wombs.

All of your promises are “trustworthy and true,” so we will neither despair nor retreat in the face of unconscionable evil and overwhelming need. Jesus, give us gospel courage to contend against the dark oxymoron called “legal abortion.” Those two words simply do not belong together. Because you are making “all things new,” we will continue to fight the good fight of faith for children who are still being knit together in their mother’s womb.

There is a Day coming when abortion will be no more. In light of that Day, give us wisdom. Give us strength. Give us fire. Give us perseverance. Give us the sufficient grace we need to advocate for unborn children in this day—in our communities and among the nations of the world.

We also cry out for gospel compassion. Jesus, show us how to love and care for women and men whose stories are marked by abortion—either as victims or agents. Only the gospel is sufficient for the guilt. Only the gospel can bring healing. Only the gospel can transform an agent of wrong into a warrior for justice and mercy.

Jesus, we don’t just long for the Day of no more abortions. We also long for the Day of no more miscarriages. Sin and death have violated every domain of shalom, including the realm of birthing. Our hearts break for those families who would love a child to your glory, but must endure the pain of giving up their children before birth. Show us how to love and serve them well. Extend your tear-wiping hand through us.

How long, Jesus, before the last abortion and the last miscarriage? How long, O Lord? Until that Day, we also ask for courage and compassion to adopt the millions of orphaned children who have safely made it into this world. May our zeal against abortion be matched by a zeal for walking with women in crisis pregnancies and zeal for adopting the millions of orphans in the world. Surely there is room in our hearts and homes for these precious image bearers of yours. Surely the gospel is big enough for this calling too. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

-- Pastor Scotty Smith

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Luther found comfort

Years after Luther stayed at the Castle Coburg during the Diet of Augsburg, a friend visited the room he had used as a study and found that Luther had written on the walls the thoughts that stabilized him day by day.  They included:

“There are times when, for the sake of God’s word, we must endure the hardship, anguish and persecution which the holy cross brings upon us.  In such times we can rightfully bestir and strengthen ourselves with God’s help in such a way that we can be bold, alert and cheerful, committing our cause to God’s gracious and fatherly will.”

“It would neither be good nor prudent to take matters into our own hands, because we could and would easily be defeated.”

“If we perish, then Christ the Almighty Ruler of the world himself must suffer with us.  Even if this cause [the Reformation] were to collapse, I would much rather be ruined with Christ than rule with Caesar.”

“If this cause, this doctrine, be a mistaken one, why do we not recant?  But if it be a righteous cause – and as true as God lives and will remain in eternity, it is such – why do we make lies out of God’s many comforting, unchanging and eternal promises?”

“Even though we worry and fret so much, such needless anxiety will avail us nothing.  We only plague and trouble ourselves and make matters all the worse.  God wants us to look on him as our God and Father in Christ, to call upon him in every time of need and to be confident that he will provide for us.”

“Though, if God so ordains, we ourselves might be destroyed for the sake of his word, the Almighty and Merciful God who in Christ has become our Father, will then be a kind and gracious father and guardian, defender and protector for our wives and children, our widows and orphans, and he will manage matters a thousand times better than we could if we were living.”

“Thus we are ever firmly assured by God’s word that after this wretched and fleeting existence, in which we are never safe for even one moment, there shall be an eternal and blessed life and kingdom.”

“Let us be calmly confident in this cause which has to do with God’s word.  Christ, whose cause it is, will staunchly defend and uphold it against the cunning of the vile devil and the tyranny of the wicked and deceitful world.  For those who confess him before this evil and adulterous generation and must suffer much thereby, Christ in turn will confess them before his heavenly Father and requite them for their suffering with the delights of eternity.”

Gustav K. Wiencke, editor, Luther’s Works, Volume 43: Devotional Writings II (Philadelphia, 1968), pages 171-177.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Friday, January 18, 2013

At the renewal of all things....

"The fact that Jesus was raised in the middle of human history, and not at the very end of it, means that God has not abandoned this world. He intends to overhaul it; His purpose is to make all things new.

"The resurrection of the dead does not mean that this world will be burnt to a cinder, and then God will create another one to replace it. No, God will restore this created order. This world is groaning, longing for the day of our resurrection. Just as the Lord’s body glorified was the same body that was crucified, so your body will one day be laid to rest in the ground and will be the same body that rises. In the same way, this world, these oceans, the starry host above us, will all be made over, glorified, and we will dwell here forever.

"The intermediate state, the place where believers will go if they die before the general resurrection, will be Christ. It will be blessed. It will be glorious. But it is still just a way station. It is rest before the final consummation. And the final consummation will be here, and you will be here, and all your loved ones in Christ will be here, and we cannot begin to comprehend how glorious it will be."

— Douglas Wilson
"Restoring from Within"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Idolatry Intensifies Anxiety

“When I view a particular possibility as threatening, it imperils some value important to me.  That is what I mean by threat.  But suppose this threat is directed not to some modest finite value I love but to the very center of my value system, that focal value by which all my other values are viewed as valuable.  Suppose my god is sex or my own physical health or the Democratic Party.  If I experience one of these as under genuine threat, then I feel myself shake to the depths.  In this way, idolatry intensifies anxiety.”

-- Thomas C. Oden, Two Worlds: Notes on the Death of Modernity in America & Russia (Downers Grove, 1992), page 97.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Choose your identity carefully

"Most of our life is spent creating & defending an identity that will ultimately fail. Beauty will fade, wealth will disappear, relationships will crumble, health will decline. If your identity is anything other than 'God made me' and 'Jesus saved me,' you are in for disappointment, despair, and destruction. Your identity shapes your entire life, so choose carefully." -- Mark Driscoll

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tribute to James M. Grier

(This tribute was originally posted on Dr. Grier's website, which is maintained by Peter Osborn, but I wanted it to be a part of my own blog as well...)

Tribute to James M. Grier (January 2013)

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” – Jer. 9:23-24

Servant of God, Minister of the Word

These words from the prophet Jeremiah are the verses that Dr. James M. Grier customarily attached to his correspondence and they are an apt summary of what he aspired to and experienced in his own  life, and what he so passionately sought to cultivate in the lives of others.  Dr. Grier faithfully and fruitfully served the church of Jesus Christ by being a  servant of the Gospel of Christ.  With a deep and enduring  confidence in Scripture as God’s self-authenticating Word he was exceptionally equipped for a lifetime of ministry as pastor, professor, seminary leader, mentor and friend.  And in all of this he was lovingly supported by his wife, Shirley, whose partnership in life and ministry he so deeply cherished.

In the tributes that he himself has posted on [his] website, Dr. Grier wrote very personally about his relationships with two people who had a very special place in his life.   In that same spirit, what I  write here is shaped by my own 33 year relationship with him as professor, pastor, mentor and friend. The ‘Brief Bio’ on this website provides a summary of the details of his ministry; I hope to provide a portrait with broader strokes of the ways that God’s grace and truth were manifested in and through him.

I first met Dr. Grier when I was a student at Cedarville, taking one of his philosophy courses.  Such classes sometimes have the reputation for insinuating doubt when it comes to Scripture or Christian doctrine, but in Dr. Grier’s case just the opposite was true.  While he clearly and honestly asked the hard questions that arise in philosophy, ethics and apologetics (“can you think that thought?”), at the end of the day students came away with a deeper and riper confidence that all truth is God’s truth and that Scripture is the unerring guide to finding true wisdom for this life and the life to come.

But as much as I appreciated and profited from his teaching, it was his preaching of God’s Word (in chapel services and when he served in one of his interim pastorates) that would mark me most profoundly for life and pastoral ministry.  Dr. Grier was a servant of the Word and an instrument of the Spirit when he preached – in hearing him again and again I knew it was God’s own message to me through his messenger.  On one Lord’s Day he preached powerfully from Philippians 1 about how the apostle Paul had made the advance of the Gospel the central focus of his life, and it struck me then (and has proved true ever since) that this was Dr. Grier’s compelling, controlling ambition as well.

In this central focus he embodied the best of the Christian traditions that had shaped him through educational experiences at Baptist Bible College and Westminster and Grace theological seminaries.  He himself had been powerfully impacted by godly scholars like Cornelius Van Til and John Murray (a fellow Scotsman), but in many ways it was probably Charles Spurgeon who best exemplified the kind of personal piety, pastoral impact and transformational preaching that Dr. Grier embraced as a model for authentic ministry.  (He often told me how privileged he felt to have been able to preach at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.)  And so the commitment to faithful pastoral ministry, passed down from his father, was enriched by these and many other forebears in the faith.

Such a devotion to the Gospel and the pastoral ministry of God’s Word is also what led him, in his ‘retirement years,’ to travel to places like Southeast Asia to seek to provide theological education and enrichment to pastors and church leaders there.  (But even in this he told me more than once that he
always felt like he had received from these brothers in Christ much more than he had shared.)
But his primary educational impact was made in his years of teaching at Cedarville College (now University) and his strategic leadership at Grand Rapids Baptist (Theological) Seminary (and then later also at Puritan Reformed Theol. Sem.).   In all these places, it was not only the students who were impacted by him, but also fellow faculty, administrators and staff who were enriched by his counsel, example and friendship (which included his inimitable sense of humor!).

Pastoral care, counsel & friendship

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  (1 Cor. 11:1)    While Dr. Grier would have been reticent to apply these words to himself, it is unmistakably true that one of his most lasting legacies will come from the enduring impact of his mentoring and advising and encouraging countless pastors, ministry leaders and devoted laypeople as they sought to live faithful, kingdom-centered lives.  He was exemplary in friendship -- on the one hand his own commitment urged you on to deeper consecration, but at the same time his gracious, Christ-like spirit was a source of forgiveness and restoration for prodigals who had strayed.Even in some of the most difficult of situations, Dr. Grier would be a pastor to pastors, drawing alongside to walk with them through some of the worst of relational, pastoral or medical trials. Time and again Dr. Grier was a source of fine-tuned, wisely-nuanced, eminently practical counsel for addressing difficult situations effectively without, as he would say, “driving a thumbtack with a sledge hammer.”  His judicious temperament, along with specific areas of expertise in theology, philosophy and medical ethics led to his being asked to serve on committees and boards that included a hospital, hospice and mission institute.  In all these relationships his counsel and presence served to “adorn the Gospel” and Dr. Grier was continuously burdened to evangelize those whom Providence had brought into his life.

“The Olde Pilgrim”

In his final years, Dr. Grier referred to himself (first rather whimsically but then with increasing significance) as ‘the olde pilgrim.’  Of course even in this he echoed the Scriptures via especially the Puritans.  He knew his life in Christ was a journey to the Celestial City and that along the way he would be called to endure many dangers, toils and snares.  Enabled by God’s grace, directed by God’s Word, led by God’s Spirit, and encouraged by God’s people he faithfully pursued his progress along the narrow way, a long obedience in the same direction.

But in the last several months, he would face his greatest trial, as cancer struck and continued to spread.  There is always the possibility, with a ‘public person’ like a pastor, professor or Christian leader, that once you get past the public persona you will be disappointed to find that in reality there is much less substance and solidity to their faith and devotion.  But with Dr. Grier it was, again, just the opposite.  The more personally I knew him throughout the years of our growing friendship, the more I was struck by the depth and reality of his interior life and character, so that what he was in public was the overflow of what he was ‘in secret’ where only the Father sees and knows.  This became even more clear as he knew that his fight with cancer would end in death, a difficult death.  And so, with even greater focus and purpose, he turned to the Scriptures, and through them to the Lord Jesus himself, to find in him that sympathizing Savior and strengthening High Priest who had walked the paths of suffering before Him.  In my last conversation with him, I read from Hebrews 2 and 4 and – always the teacher – through tears he commented on the key words and ideas, the solid realities that now were the source of his hope.

When I asked him, in one of our last visits, what was really on his mind, he spoke immediately of his concern for Shirley and for Kevin.  His voice trembled with words of deep affection and appreciation.  He cherished his loving wife and the beauty and creativity that she had brought to their marriage, life and ministry together.  And he spoke again of his love for his son, Kevin, and his admiration for his accomplishments, and for those of  his wife, Dr. Robin Grier.  It was clear that she is loved by Jim and Shirley as well.

But finally his thoughts turned again to the Savior and to arrival in that Celestial City, the departure to be with Christ, which is “better by far” (Phil. 1:23).  And that reminded me of Bunyan’s classic, as he pictures the scene for those who die in faith, looking to their Savior:

“…'I see myself now at the end of my journey; my toilsome days are ended. I am going to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face which was spit upon for me. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name has been to me as a  civet[perfume]-box; yea, sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet, and his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun.  'I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself….”  “The Pilgrim’s Progress”

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”    -- Revelation 21:1-5

With sincerest love, respect and gratitude to God,
Doug Phillips
Pastor for Ministries, South Church – Lansing, MI

Monday, January 14, 2013

"...Seek first the kingdom of God...."

"...the kingdom is best defined as the program of God for man.  As a gift of grace, God asks redeemed man to adopt this program as his own and to put all of his energy into doing the will of God.  When man does this he seeks that which is intrinsically good, that which is in his own best interest, that which is in the best interest of society and that which [is truly helpful] for all men."

-- James M. Grier

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Gospels and the Epistles

"Gospel study enables us both to keep our Lord in clear view and to hold before our minds the relational frame of discipleship to him. The doctrines on which our discipleship rests are clearest in the epistles, but the nature of discipleship itself is most vividly portrayed in the Gospels….  We should think of the theology of the epistles as preparing us to understand better the disciple relationship with Christ that is set forth in the Gospels."

-- J.I. Packer

Saturday, January 12, 2013

God's Living and Active Word

"...In his natural state the unregenerate man suppresses every aspect of God's natural and special revelation.  The evidence in him, around him, and in Scripture is sufficient and final.  There is no weakness in the evidence.  The problem is that man cannot see.  He doesn't need more evidence; he needs new birth.  The living, abiding Word of God as self-attestingly sure, blessed by the regenerating activity of the Holy Spirit, is his only hope."

-- James M. Grier, "Essays on the Christian Worldview"

Friday, January 11, 2013

What is Faith?

"Belief in God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ is the very essence of faith.  To believe in God implies trusting Him, being loyal to Him, obeying Him and loving Him.  Faith is the cardinal allegiance in life.  It is the response to the first commandment in the Ten Words, 'Thou shalt have no other god before Me...'  It is the answer to the initial petitions of the Lord's Prayer, 'Hallowed be Thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.'

"Faith is the central allegiance that gives meaning and significance to all of life.  Loss of faith implies movement to meaninglessness, the loss of the point of all things, the loss of the significance of one's actions.  This loyalty to God as revealed in Christ is not one among many loyalties in life.  It is the loyalty, the ultimate trust in God that gives meaning to all of life."

-- James M. Grier, "Loving the God of Truth" p. 143

Thursday, January 10, 2013

James M. Grier: Pastor, Professor, Leader, Mentor, Friend

Printed below is the obituary for my spiritual father in the faith, Dr. James M. Grier.  And at this link on his website, I've been privilege to post this tribute to his life and ministry.

Pilgrim James arrived at The Celestial City on January 9, 2013. He was born in Staten Island, NY to James Murray and Mary Helen (Hannah) Grier. While Jim was growing up, his father pastored at South Baptist Church of Tottenville/Staten Island, NY. He earned his B.Th. from Baptist Bible College, M.Div. from Grace Theological Seminary, Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Th.D. from Grace Theological Seminary. Dr. Grier taught and preached extensively across the United States, in Canada, Hungary, the United Kingdom, and Zambia, pastored two congregations, served for 16 years as Executive Vice President and Academic Dean at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary of Cornerstone University, was Chairman of the Evangelical Seminary Dean’s Council (ESDC) 1993–1998, consulted pastors for more than 50 years while advising numerous hospital boards on medical ethics, was a highly sought after conference speaker on philosophical theology and Christian worldview across the globe, and was the distinguished Professor of Philosophical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (GRTS) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

His publications include: The Relation of the Law to Christ, Demonstrating Truth in Our Lives, Doing Theology in the Context of Church Ministry, and Calvinistic Philosophy. Before coming to Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 1982, he taught at Cedarville College (now Cedarville University) as a Professor of Philosophy (1969–1982) and served administratively in various roles. Beyond GRTS and Cedarville College, Dr. Grier had been a visiting or adjunct professor at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and London Reformed Baptist Seminary. Since 1978, he had been an Adjunct Professor at Grace Theological Seminary while holding a similar position since 1984 at Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec. He also served two years as the Acting Academic Dean of Grand Rapids Baptist College (Cornerstone University) from 1985–1986.

His very first and final sermons were in the church that his father served for 47 years in Tottenville/Staten Island, NY. His various professional memberships were The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. His philanthropic endeavors included work at Home of Hope and Blodgett Hospital. Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Shirley (Stewart) Grier whom he married on July 30, 1954, his son and his son’s wife, Dr. Kevin Blaine Grier and Dr. Robin Grier; and his sister, Joyce Elizabeth Grier, as well as several cousins, nieces and nephews. Memorial service will be at Grace Community Church, 3500 New Holland, Hudsonville, MI on Monday at 7:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the “James Murray Grier Scholarship Fund” at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


from Ray Ortlund, Jr.:

“And I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.”  Ezekiel 34:26

Jonathan Edwards proposed that God’s work of redemption has always been carried on most effectively “by remarkable communications of the Spirit of God.”  That is, seasons of unusual power and progress.  Christians have often used the word “revival” to describe such an experience.

Edwards did not disparage the more ordinary seasons of gospel ministry.  He affirmed that there is “a more constant influence of God’s Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances.”  In other words, when a church honors Jesus as the Savior of sinners according to the gospel, the Holy Spirit will be there in power, to some degree.  We can always expect God to be with us, if we are in close alignment with his gospel, for his glory alone.  We are never forsaken, never left to ourselves.  But Edwards also affirmed that “the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work always has been by remarkable effusions [outpourings] at special seasons of mercy.”

If Edwards is right, and I believe he is, then we can think of our ministries at two levels, both wonderful.  At one level, God blesses the normal ministry of the gospel.  At another level, God empowers the normal ministry of the gospel with extraordinary blessing.  There is nothing unworthy in our usual patterns of gospel ministry.  The Holy Spirit is there.  If he is there, so should we be, and gratefully.  But God is able to take us to another level of impact, such that his cause accelerates remarkably:

Slow and steady ministry now gushes with power (Psalm 126:4).

Explainable human efforts now become mystifying divine acts (Acts 2:12).

An anointed pastor now sees before him an anointed congregation (Acts 2:17-18).

Embarrassing weakness now becomes a joyful boast (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

A growing church now becomes an exploding church (Acts 9:31).

It’s the difference between God blessing what we can do and God doing for us what only he can do, even as we continue faithfully doing our small part.

-- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Say 'yes' to the call of your King

"Transcendent living is Christ-centered living. Living for Christ is the only way you will ever be liberated from your bondage to the overwhelming tendency to shrink the size of your life to the size of your life. The only way to spin free of the narrow confines of your little cubicle kingdom is to live in the big sky country of Christ-centered living. You will never win the battle with yourself simply by saying ‘no’ to yourself. The battle only begins to be won when you say ‘yes’ to the call of your King, the Lord Jesus Christ."

— Paul David Tripp
A Quest for More
(Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 99

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Moderately Important?

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.
The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” -- C.S. Lewis

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christ, Still Our Prophet, Priest and King

Christ’s offices render Him glorious in the believer’s eye, and dear to the believer’s heart. He is in office for us, for our salvation, peace, and satisfaction.

He is a Prophet, who, possessing all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, condescends to instruct the ignorant sons of men. He opens to our view, the mysteries of redeeming mercy, and reveals the glorious designs of sovereign grace. He teaches man his true condition, and discovers to him how God can be just, and the justifier of such a sinner as he feels himself to be.

He is a Priest, who has made an atonement for the guilty, by offering one sacrifice to God, and has entered to the holy place, ever living to make intercession for us. He reconciled us to God, by His expiating death, and saves us by His life of intercession. He presents our prayers, persons, and sacrifices to God; making them acceptable by the incense of His merits.

He is a King, who receives the returning rebel, and grants a pardon. He rules over His people by His love and His laws; and defends all who trust Him, from danger and death. He rules over mankind, and in the believer; and is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

As a Prophet He saves from ignorance and error; as a Priest He saves from guilt and condemnation; and as a King He saves from dangers and foes.

— James Smith
"The Glories of Christ"

Friday, January 4, 2013

An Explosion of Joy

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’ This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.”

– Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (p. 116)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Shake the World Again"

To eat, to breathe
to beget
Is this all there is
Chance configuration of atom against atom
of god against god
I cannot believe it.
Come, Christian Triune God who lives,
Here am I
Shake the world again.

-- Francis Schaeffer, Christianity Today, 20 June 1960, page 6.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Belief and the Bible

"Belief is confidence placed in the truth of what God has revealed to us in Scripture about who He is and our relationship to Him through Jesus. Belief does not hover aimlessly in mid-air, but plants itself in the firm foundation of inspired, revelatory words inscripturated for us in the Bible." -- Sam Storms