Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Real Samaritan

"You see, Jesus is the Good Samaritan. He didn’t pass us by. He couldn’t pass us by. He looked upon a dying world and not only did he stop to help us as he was passing through, he passed through for the very reason of saving us. He came looking for us! Without his passage there is no hope. Without the blessed Savior bending down and pouring oil and wine on us, putting us upon his back, carrying us to an inn where we are provided for and paying the full cost of our healing, we are left for dead in the ditch and no one else is coming by. He’s the Great Helper. He’s the Great Compassionate One. He’s the Great Binder of Wounds. He’s the Great Healer. He’s the Great Provider. He’s our Great God. He’s everything we needed when we were wounded by our own sin, lying in a pool of our own blood completely unconscious of what our true state was. He came. He helped. He lifted us up and placed us in the Great Inn of his Father because he is the Great Neighbor. And when he got to the cross he paid the ultimate penalty to bring us ultimate mercy and salvation. He traded places with us so that we wouldn’t die. He put himself in harm’s way so that we could escape the ultimate penalty of the wrath of God. Without putting our faith in this saving grace we are lost! We are just another victim in a hopeless world with nothing to cling to. And when he rose from the grave he showed us that we would never have to face death. He defeated death forever for those who trust in him. Now because of this mercy and grace we can go and do likewise. He has put us in right standing with God by his death and resurrection so that we can now go. Without this, there is no hope. Without this, we cannot go and we will not go and we will not do likewise. We must have this and he must provide it."
- David McLemore, from a sermon on the Gospel Call to Mercy Ministry

Monday, February 13, 2012

Drink From This Fountain

"We see that our salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ (Acts 4:12). We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is 'of him' (1 Cor. 1:30). If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth ... If we seek redemption, it lies in his ipassion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross (Gal. 3:13); if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection ... In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other." - John Calvin, Institutes, II.16.9.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Safe King

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” 
(Luke 7:36-40)

This is Jesus. He is not ashamed to know the real you and the closer you get to him the safer you are. No prerequisite education, nor wealth, nor reputation, gets you into his inner circle. Only a bankrupt soul and a yearning to be saved.

This precious woman is weeping, because she has found a Friend. She is worshiping Jesus because he has come down from heaven, sent by God the Father. Her soul sees God and sinner reconciled, because grace and truth from God are full in the flesh of Jesus (Jn 1:14). This love is from God. This love is for you.

Nashville needs more friends and less critics, experts, bloggers, and commentators. We need more soul care. Jesus cares for Nashville by forgiving sins, "...go in peace." 
(Luke 7:50).

Our church is cultivating a culture of "gospel, safety and time" in Nashville. Please come and meet Jesus.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chandler: God is for God

I am reading more than I can handle right now, but I did get side-tracked watching this. Matt Chandler at Elevation church. It's good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

We are Serious about the Gospel

 "Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable."
(Psalm 145:2-3)

I praise God for Southern Seminary, and their extension campus. Today was the beginning of a new semester in our backyard of Nashville.
If you are looking for theological training where God is big, the Bible is final and Christ is everything, Southern is an excellent school.
Last semester was the start of a push to plant a full time extension campus in Cool Springs, TN. The new classrooms are way too nice and the faculty lined up is top notch.
Mondays I have the joy of 6 hours of systematic theology with Dr. Stephen Wellum. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Life of God [IN] the Soul of Man

Henry Scougal's book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man has been helpful and formative as I study the Christian's union with Christ. It is available for free as a Google ebook.

Scougal expresses the essence of the gospel-centered life.
"They know that by experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, it is Christ formed within us. Briefly, I know not how the nature of religion can be more fully expressed, than by calling it a divine life."
The Christian life is not merely right doctrine, it is not simply passion for God, it is not only missionary service to the world, but rather it is "the life of God in the soul of man." All three of these (head, heart, hand) are "emanations of the divine life." Pastor Scotty Smith has said that the gospel leads us to cultivate informed minds, enflamed hearts and engaged hands, where neither is neglected to the seclusion of one. This flows from vital union with Christ rather than cold, metallic obedience to the law.
"The love which a pious man bears to God and goodness, is not so much by virtue of a command enjoying him so to do, as by a new nature instructing and prompting him to it; nor doth he pay his devotions as an unavoidable tribute only to appease the divine justice, or quiet his clamorous conscience; but those religious exercises are the proper emanations of the divine life, the natural employments of the new-born soul. He prays, and gives thanks, and repents, not only because these things are commanded, but rather because he is sensible of his wants and of the divine goodness and of the folly and misery of sinful life." 
How does anyone find their way into union with Christ? Faith.
"The root of divine life is faith; the chief branches are love to God, charity to men, purity, and humility... "
What exactly is faith again?
"Faith hath the same place in the divine life, which sense hath in the natural, being indeed nothing else but a kind of sense, or feeling persuasion of spiritual things; it extends itself unto all divine truths, but in our lapsed estate, it hath a peculiar relation to the declaration of God's mercy and reconcilableness to sinners through a Mediator, and therefore, receiving its denomination from that principal object, is ordinarily termed faith in Jesus Christ."
Henry Scougal, Life of God in the Soul of Man

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Piper on Union with Christ

Pastor John Piper posted today on The Stupendous Reality of Being "in Christ Jesus" Check out the full article, but here is the crux.
  1. In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Timothy 1:9, “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” 
  2. In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” 
  3. In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 
  4. In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Ephesians 1:7, “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” 
  5. In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 
  6. In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
  7. In Christ Jesus you have been seated in the heavenly places even while he lived on earth. Ephesians 2:6, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” 
  8. In Christ Jesus all the promises of God are Yes for you. 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All the promises of God find their Yes in Christ.” 
  9. In Christ Jesus you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.” 
  10. In Christ Jesus everything you really needed will be supplied. Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 
  11. In Christ Jesus the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
  12. In Christ Jesus you have eternal life. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 
  13. And in Christ Jesus you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.
Also, I ran across an old post by Justin Taylor, Union with Christ: A Crash Course, which has been so helpful.

(HT: Jacob Riggs for the heads up)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Luther on Union with Christ

Through Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians I realized that the Law was one of his mortal enemies. I could feel Luther's pulse rising as he unpacked the undoing of the Law with Christ's death. Luther taught me today that Paul cries, "I have nothing to do with the Law! I don't care for it at all, in fact I am dead to the Law." In Christ, the Law has no place as a barometer of our "okayness." Once we are united with Christ through faith, his unflinching perfection becomes the decisive indicator of our "okayness."

"[Jesus] permitted the Law to accuse Him, sin to condemn Him, and death to take Him, to abolish the Law, to condemn sin, and to destroy death for me." - Martin Luther, on Galatians 2:19

Luther says we live in Christ as we look at Christ, it has its effect.

"When we look at ourselves we find plenty of sin. But when we look at Christ, we have no sin. Whenever we separate the person of Christ from our own person, we live under the Law and not in Christ; we are condemned by the Law, dead before God." - Lutheron Galatians 2:20

Works are necessary, but no more necessary as being united to Christ is to receive all the good of the gospel.

"Good works are not the cause, but the fruit of righteousness. When we have become righteous, then first are we able and willing to do good. The tree makes the apple; the apple does not make the tree." - Luther, on Galatians 2:20

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Core

What is the essence of Christianity? Personal union with Jesus Christ. Paul uses the picture of being united with Jesus (in Christ, with Christ, united to, one with Christ) 163 times in the New Testament. Pastor Ray Ortlund infers that an idea so frequented would be assumed to be the point of the book. 

"We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless." John Calvin, Institutes 3.1.1 

Union with Jesus is the essence because from this vital connection flows the very life of God into mortal men. Union with Christ takes the objective gospel and makes it subjectively alive. 

This life from God brings about noticeable distinctions in the world of our experience. It goes from Jesus' words on a page to exclaiming with the disciples, "you have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).

Within the mystical realm of our union with the risen Lord we change. We bear fruit. We sin. We repent. We mature. Jesus takes us from dirty to clean, from alienation from God to reconciled, from orphan to child of God, from blind to seeing, from prisoner to free man, from debtor to heir of the world, from dead to alive. All through an irreversible, instantaneous and actual union of the soul with Jesus. This comes about through faith alone by grace alone. 

We can't lose sight that the purpose of Christianity is not understanding the gospel. The purpose is not exhibiting a passion for the gospel. And lastly the purpose is not doing deeds in the name of the gospel. The purpose is union with Christ, which is the core producing minds, hearts and hands aflame with the gospel for the glory of God.

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ," (Romans 10:17).

(HT: Dane Ortlund for pointing us to the marvel of this mystery in ITG)

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Bloody Good Book

Dr. Moore has written my favorite book of the past year. Inhale these words.

"Part of the curse Jesus would bear for us on Golgotha was the taunting and testing by God's enemies. As he drowned in his own blood, the spectators yelled words quite similar to those of Satan in the desert: 'Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe' (Mark 15:32). But he didn't jump down. He didn't ascend to the skies. He just writhed there. And, after it all, the bloated corpse of Jesus hit the ground as he was pulled off the stake, spattering warm blood and water on the faces of the crowd.

That night the religious leaders probably read Deuteronomy 21 to their families, warning them about the curse of God on those who are 'hanged on a tree.' Fathers probably told their sons, 'Watch out that you don't ever wind up like him." Those Roman soldiers probably went home and washed the blood of Jesus from under their fingernails and played with their children in front of the fire before dozing off. This was just one more insurrectionist they had pulled off a cross, one in a line of them dotting the roadside. And this one (what was his name? Joshua?) was just decaying meat now, no threat to the empire at all.
That corpse of Jesus just lay there in the silence of that cave. By all appearances it had been tested and tried, and found wanting. If you'd been there to pull open his bruised eyelids, matted together with mottled blood, you would have looked into blank holes. If you'd lifted his arm, you would have felt no resistance. You would have heard only the thud as it hit the table when you let it go. You might have walked away from that morbid scene muttering to yourself, "The wages of sin is death."

But sometime before dawn on a Sunday morning, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened. The breath of God came blowing into that cave, and a new creation flashed into reality. God was not simply delivering Jesus—and with him all of us—from death, he was also vindicating him—and with him all of us. By resurrecting Jesus from the death, God was reaffirming what he had said over the Jordan waters. He was declaring Jesus 'to be the Son of God in power' (Rom. 1:4). This was done, that Scripture says, by 'the Spirit of holiness.' This is the same Spirit who rested on Jesus at his baptism 'like a dove' (Matt. 3:16). As this dovish Spirit alighted on him in the water and in the tomb, could Jesus have thought of the words of the Psalm the Devil would quote in the wilderness: 'He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will fine refuge' (Ps. 91:4)? With that kind of rescue, who needs to be proven right in any other way?"
- p. 124-125 Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Captain

"And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men." (1 Samuel 22:2) 

Men are significant, they are God's strategic plan for the advance of gospel in our city. The gospel is God's means for redeeming broken men into an army of mighty men for his cause of grace. Ray Ortlund has said, "God has given every man a mountain to climb and the question in every man's heart is, do I have what it takes?" Men of distress, debt, and bitterness of the soul are convinced they are useless, but the Lord is gathering these men and breathing life into them with a new captain and king leading the way. 

Discouraged men looked king David in the eye and began to change. They were drawn into an atmosphere of grace and redemption. They met a king safe for sinful men to gather around. There was no fear of belittlement or shame. He exhaled encouragement into their brokenness. Men accustomed to hearing you're not strong enough, you're not significant, you're not whole enough to belong became David's mighty men. Four hundred discouraged men in the hands of a redeemer king became a dangerous army. King Jesus is the true and better David. 

"And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah." (1 Samuel 23:5)

Friday, January 16, 2009

They See Their Glorious Redeemer

Jonathan Edwards can make any extrovert into an introvert. This comes from his Sermon "True Saints, When Absent From The Body, Are Present With The LORD." I was brought to tears at the thought of seeing the glory of Christ.

"And in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect behold his glory. They see the glory of his divine nature, consisting in all the glory of the Godhead, the beauty of all his perfections; his great majesty, almighty power, his infinite wisdom, holiness, and grace, and they see the beauty of his glorified human nature, and the glory which the Father hath given him, as God-man and Mediator. For this end, Christ desired that his saints might, "be with him, that they might behold his glory," (John 17;24) And when the souls of the saints leave their bodies to go to be with Christ, they behold the marvelous glory of that great work of redemption, and of the glorious way of salvation by him; which the angels desire to look into. They have a most clear view of the unfathomable depths of the manifold wisdom and knowledge of God; and the most bright dislays of the infinite purity and holiness of God which appear in that way and work: and see in another manner than the saints do here, what is the breadth and length and depth and height, of the grace and love of Christ, appearing in his redemption. And as they see the unspeakable riches and glory of the attribute of God's grace, so they most clearly behold and understand Christ's eternal and unmeasurable dying love to them in particular. And in short, they see every thing in Christ that tends to kindle, enflame, and gratify love, and every thing that tends to satisfy them: and that in the most clear and glorious manner, without any darkness or delusion, without any impediment or interruption. Now the saints, while in the body, see something of Christ's glory and love as, in the dawning of the morning, we see something of the reflected light of the sun mingled with darkness: but when separated from the body, they see their glorious and loving Redeemer, as we see the sun when risen, and showing his whole disk above the horizon, by his direct beams in a clear hemisphere and with perfect day."

- The Works of Jonathan Edwards Volume 2, page 28

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spurgeon's Spirtual Birth

Spurgeon retells his conversion.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning: snowed up, I suppose. A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had nothing else to say. The text was, ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’ He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter.

There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in the text. He began thus: ‘My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, “Look.” Now that does not take a deal of effort. It ain’t lifting your foot or your finger; it is just “look.” Well, a man need not go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man need not be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; a child can look. But this is what the text says. Then it says, “Look unto Me.” ‘Ay,’ said he, in broad Essex, ‘many of ye are looking to yourselves. No use looking there. You’ll never find comfort in yourselves.’ Then the good man followed up his text in this way: ‘Look unto Me: I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hanging on the Cross. Look: I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O, look to Me! Look to Me!’ When he had got about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes, he was at the length of his tether.

Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. He then said, ‘Young man, you look very miserable.’ Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit before. However, it was a good blow struck. He continued: ‘And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.’

Then he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Young man, look to Jesus Christ.’ There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the Precious Blood of Christ.”

HT: Fred Sanders

Friday, January 2, 2009

The God Who Smokes

I'm going to hunt down this book, and read it. I love this paragraph.

“God really believes that he is the most worthy, most majestic, magnificent, glorious, stunningly beautiful being in the universe. And he is fixated on the certainty that only he deserves worship - that to him alone belong honor, glory, and praise forever and forever. With red-rimmed, stinging eyes and burning hair, all we can say is - he is right. He is astonishingly beautiful, utterly majestic and perfect in the symmetries of justice and righteousness, knowledge, and wisdom. He is as hypnotically compelling as a surging forest fire and ten times as dangerous. He is out of control - ours, not his.” (83) - The God Who Smokes by Timothy J. Stoner


Monday, December 29, 2008

Christ-Saturated Hip Hop

I have stumbled upon a jewel. Shai Linne's latest album Atonement, stirs my affections for Christ. What a joy to feast on the gospel through all sorts of mediums. Check out his stuff.

"My third and final verse- here’s the situation
Just a couple more things for your consideration
If saving everybody was why Christ came in history
With so many in hell, we’d have to say He failed miserably
So many think He only came to make it possible
Let’s follow this solution to a conclusion that’s logical
What about those who were already in the grave?
The Old Testament wicked- condemned as depraved
Did He die for them? C’mon, behave
But worst of all, you’re saying the cross by itself doesn’t save
That we must do something to give the cross its power
That means, at the end of the day, the glory’s ours
That man-centered thinking is not recommended
The cross will save all for whom it was intended
Because for the elect, God’s wrath was satisfied"
- Mission Accomplished by Shai Linne

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does God Have Two Wills?

Please stop what you are doing and listen to Matt Chandler preach on the two wills of God.
Download: Does God Have Two Wills? By Matt Chandler

Friday, December 12, 2008

Psalm 119

" heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil." (Psalm 119:161-162)

I'm finding language to pray all over Psalm 119, these verses will become a daily plead.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Time Is God's Time

C.J. Mahaney excerpts some helpful tips from R.C. Sproul on time management:
Given my propensity to waste time, I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to some of you.

First, I realize that all of my time is God’s time and all of my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc. But it is time for which I must give an account.

Second, time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, day-dreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.

Third, the mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.

Fourth, use your leisure time for pursuits that are life enriching. Leisure time is often spent on avocations. Reading is a valuable use of time. It enriches life to read outside of your major field or area of expertise. Augustine once advised believers to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching include the arts. I like to study the piano and I dabble in painting. No one will ever mistake me for a serious musician or an accomplished artist. But these avocations open up the world of beauty to me that enhances my view of God and His manifold perfections. I also enjoy working cross-word puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and to expand my vista of verbal expression.

Fifth, find ways to cheat the “Sand Man.” Several years ago I had an epiphany about time management. Though my life-long pattern had been to stay up late at night I realized that for me, the hours between 9–12 p.m. were not very productive. I reasoned that if I used those hours to sleep I might secure more time for more productive things. Since then my habit has been to retire between 8–9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has effected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are a time free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer….

Sixth, use drive-time for learning. Driving a car is another mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of audio tape can be put to great use during these times. I can listen to lectures and instructional tapes while driving, thereby redeeming the time.

Finally, in most cases a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. I find it freeing in that the schedule can include time for leisure, recreation, and avocation. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying productive life.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Remember God

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 8:11-20)

God has given us redemptive history for a reason, and Deuteronomy 8 constantly calls God's people to remember what He has done. A few of us have been going through The Truth Project and this clip below was shown to reinforce the truth that what we believe about the past dictates our current beliefs in the present.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Crucified King

"The shattered relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the cross provides the basis for our reconciliation. No other relationship ever suffered more than what Father, Son, and Holy Spirit endured when Jesus hung on the cross and cried, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Jesus was willing to be the rejected Son so that our families would know reconciliation. Jesus was willing to become the forsaken friend so that we could have loving friendships. Jesus was willing to be the rejected Lord so that we could live in loving submission to one another. Jesus was willing to be the forsaken brother so that we could have godly relationships. Jesus was willing to be the crucified King so that our communities would experience peace." - Paul David Tripp

(HT: Michael Spare)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is The Bible About You?

Thank God for Tim Keller. Here is a quote from a talk he's given numerous times, about preaching Christ from all of Scripture.

"The more fundamental issue is this question: What is the Bible really about? Is the Bible basically about me and what I must do or is it about Jesus and what He has done? Is the Bible about the objective and indicative? Here’s an example. Hermeneutics is important. You can’t just find Jesus in every little twig. And there needs to be a way where you are following the trajectory of the text no matter what that text is to Jesus. You have to show how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that particular trajectory of the text. You’ve got to be responsible. And yet, like Sinclair said, it’s more like an instinct. It’s not so much just the right hermeneutical principles; it’s an instinct.

Do you believe the Bible is basically about you or basically about Him? Is David and Goliath basically about you and how you can be like David and Goliath or about Him, the One that took on the only giants in life who can kill us? You see. And His victory is imputed on us. Who is this all about? That’s the fundamental question. And when that happens, you start to read the bible anew. Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden. His garden is a much tougher garden and his obedience is imputed on us. Jesus is the true and better Abel, who though innocently slain has blood that cries out: not for our condemnation but for our acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answers the call of God, who leaves all the familiar comforts of the world into the void, not knowing where He went. Jesus is the true and better Isaac who is not only offered by his father on the mount but who was truly sacrificed for us all. While God said to Abraham: “Now I know you truly love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.” Now we, at the foot of the cross, can say to God: “Now we know you love us because you did not withhold your Son, your only Son, whom you love, from us.” Jesus is the true and better Jacob, who wrestled and took the blows of justice that we deserved so we like Jacob only receive the wounds of grace that wake us up and disciple us. Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who is at the right hand of the king, and forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the LORD and mediates the new covenant. Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses who struck with the rod of God’s justice now gives us water in the desert. Jesus is the true and better Job, He is the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves His stupid friends. Is that a type? That’s not typology. That’s an instinct.

Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes the people’s victory even though they didn’t lift a stone to accomplish it themselves. Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost ultimately the heavenly one, who didn’t just risk His life but gave His life, who didn’t say if I perish I perish but when I perish, I perish for them . . . to save my people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so we can be brought in. He’s the real Passover Lamb; He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true life, the true bread. The Bible is not about you. And that’s an instinct." - Tim Keller (The Spurgeon Fellowship Journal Excerpts From A Sermon – Spring 2008)

HT: Brett Boyle for his mad ability to remember where everything is on the Internet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jesus: The True & Better David

"He bowed the heavens and came down." (Psalm 18:9)

I'm spending time searching for Christ through David's voice in the Psalms. This morning I was in Psalm 18, which is an eruption of praise for salvation.

"I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help.." (Psalm 18:3-6)

God saved David. The hand of Saul did not crush him and he was spared from his enemies. David trusted and sought refuge in the LORD, and his Lord responded with victory. God was making David into the King of Israel, however his journey to the throne was filled with the threat of defeat at the hand of his enemies.

We need to be like David, we need to trust God with a David-like trust. Our enemies are pursuing us, tempting us and threatening us with comfort and security apart from God. As Tim Keller says, "The only way we'll ever be like David, is to see the One to whom David points to. The real and better David, Jesus."

Jesus took the words of David as his own in the New Testament. Throughout Psalm 18, we hear a calling out to God in distress, crying for help, and then an answer from the LORD.

"From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears ... He bowed the heavens and came down." (Psalm 18:6,9)

We can see Jesus, the real and better David. God made David the King of Israel by rescuing him from his enemies. God enthroned Jesus forever by delivering Him over to the enemy. Just think about how the mocking declaration above the cross "This is the King of the Jews" (Luke 23:38) revealed the reality as Christ sits on David's throne forever.

Jesus trusted his Father completely through death at the hands of his enemies, so that He could rescue his enemies from their sins.

"For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:10)

In the eyes of God, I am the enemy who wanted to kill David. I need a God who saves the enemy at the expense of the innocent. The gospel of God's grace gives us just that. David's enemies were defeated while David was spared, Christ was slain while His enemies were spared.

"And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Face of God

"Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure, they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." (Psalm 17:13b-15)

The face of God is what we were created to peer into and be full of satisfying pleasure and un-yielding yearning for more of God. We are creatures specifically for God. We are not His pets. The paradise of Eden and the final consummation of all creation, the new heavens and new earth, will feature a mind-blowing promise fulfilled:

"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man." (Revelation 21:3)

Arndt, and other German mystics referred this paradise as, Unio Mystica the Mystical Union. God and Man united forevermore during, "the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Revelation 19:9). Here God himself, in all the fullness of Holy-trinitarian-community, will in some mysterious measure dwell with the Church forever. (The Father - The Son - The Holy Spirit) (Jesus Christ - His little shepherds - the flock of saved Christians) God has designed the relationship between Christ and the church to reflect the relationship among God in the trinity. Unio Mystica indeed!

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

What a marvelous mystery that is being revealed through the history of redemption. This thread ties everything together. God has given us this marvelous news, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God," (1 Peter 3:18) This is the source of true delight, that in Christ we are being brought back to the paradise of "the face of God." We are returning to the garden where we graciously are able to see God, to know God and righteously reflect God to all of His creation.

Our destination is good, because it is with God. Today, do not miss your opportunity to meet with the "face of God" through His Word. Today by faith, one day "face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God Saves Sinners

I've come across J.I. Packer quotes in a few different blogs, and he is so helpful in clarifying the ultimate point that is the common thread throughout all five points of Calvinism.

Packer said, "The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points (a number due, as we saw, merely to the fact that there were five Arminian points for the Synod of Dort to answer) tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners.

"God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.

"Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.

"Sinners – men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen."

HT: Acts 29 Blog

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Paradise of God

"I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary ... To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:3,7)

I exist for the sake of God. He has formed me with His own image, given me the gift of existence for His own benefit. As a Christian, there is something profoundly deeper I must know, that I have been re-created for the sake of His name. How deep is this glory, I must grow in the knowledge, experience and taste of this Name that conquered sin and death in my place. Now, I must conquer in response with the strength and hope that only comes from the true Conqueror - Jesus Christ.

What must we conquer? The "god of this world" and all of his temptations to love anything God has created more than our precious Lord Jesus.

To what extent must we conquer?

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life ... The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death." (Revelation 2:10)

We must conquer through the first death, "as it is appointed for man to die once, then comes judgement." (Hebrews 9:26) This momentary life is not the end. There is a second death, which is the wrath of God. The only escape from this judgement is to trust in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. Which means that the cross was sufficient to absorb all of the wrath of God against my sin.

I trust Him because He ransomed me. He paid my debt. Oh how I long to eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God forever!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jonathan Edwards

Happy birthday Jonathan Edwards. By far his writing has shocked me with a God-centered-ness that is completely uncomfortable to the natural mind.

Here is a quote Pastor John posted from Edwards about the danger of the thought that you have a self-determining will.

"By what I have heard, some...think, that if it be really true, that there is no self-determining power in the is of a mischievous tendency to say any thing of it; and that it is best that the truth in this matter should not be known by any means....

I cannot but be of an extremely different mind. On the contrary, I think that the notion of liberty, consisting in a contingent self-determination of the will, as necessary to the morality of men’s dispositions and actions, is almost inconceivably pernicious....

The longer I live, and the more I have to do with the souls of men, in the work of the ministry, the more I see of this. Notions of this sort are one of the main hindrances of the success of the preaching of the word, and other means of grace, in the conversion of sinners....

And with respect to self-flattery and presumption, as to what is future, nothing can possibly be conceived more directly tending to it, than a notion of liberty, at all times possessed, consisting in a power to determine one’s own will to good or evil; which implies a power men have, at all times, to determine them to repent and turn to God.

And what can more effectually encourage the sinner, in present delays and neglects, and embolden him to go on in sin, in a presumption of having his own salvation at all times at his command? And this notion of self-determination and self-dependence, tends to prevent, or enervate, all prayer to God for converting grace; for why should men earnestly cry to God for his grace, to determine their hearts to that which they must be determined to of themselves.

And indeed it destroys the very notion of conversion itself. There can properly be no such thing, or any thing akin to what the Scripture speaks of conversion, renovation of the heart, regeneration, &c. if growing good, by a number of self-determined acts, are all that is required, or to be expected.

Excuse me, Sir, for troubling you with so much on this head. I speak from the fullness of my heart. What I have long seen of the dreadful consequences of these prevalent notions every where, and what I am convinced will still be their consequences so long as they continue to prevail, fills me with concern" - Jonathan Edwards - Letters and Personal Writings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Uncomfortable Grace

"God's grace will take you where you do not want to go, to produce in you what you could not on your own." - Paul David Tripp

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How To Waste Your Bible

Fail to see the gospel.

I listened to the sermon, Paradise Lost, by Tim Keller this morning. It was good, then like rays shooting through morning clouds the gospel shone brightly in his message, and it became great. My soul filled with life, because I was staring at the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6). In the spirit of our current sermon series, I think THE Elephant in the church, is gospel-oblivion, gospel-neglect and gospel ignorance. Just try asking someone what the gospel is, and you will see them squirm like a duck.

Reasons for our neglect of the gospel perhaps are many. Too much theology is required, and a practical mindset is pervasive. (Just tell me what to do) Another reason could be is that the gospel has become the door we enter through to receive salvation, and then it is on to practical discipleship.

All I know is that my soul is dead without the gospel. From every verse of the Holy Scriptures, I must arrive at the gospel. Without the gospel I have no life. I have religion or irreligion, and both are void of God.

What does the gospel bring us? The gospel brings us God. It affirms that He is good. That God is trustworthy. That He alone will resurrect the chaos of my soul, by pointing me to the soul-completing promises of God.

So when I say that Keller brought the gospel this morning in his sermon, what do I mean? He unpacked from Genesis 3 the reality that the text pointed to. That Jesus Christ has done everything, and we have failed at everything. He brought me to the point of remembering how the cross became a tree of life for me, because it became a tree of death for Him.

Keller brought the gospel to bear very practically in our daily lives by asking the question, “What do you need to get over the suffering, the pain, the disappointment and dissatisfaction of life?”

You need to know He loves you, you can go to him and he will not cast you out, you need to know he delights in you. How do you know this is true? Look at the cross. You need a God who had to pay to come looking for us in the garden after we ate from the tree. The journey to the cross began in Genesis 3:9 when the LORD called to man, “Where are you?” This is when the grace filled pursuit of God began, and we can follow the thread of salvation by grace all throughout scripture, until we arrive at the cross where Christ died for sins.

If you believe Jesus Christ died for you, and you are saved by grace, you know you are flawed, and yet utterly accepted, we stole the fruit, yet Christ climbed the tree. The tree of death for him became our re-entrance to the tree of life. For us the cost is nothing but gain, yet it cost God his Son. The gospel tells us that we are so flawed and messed up that Christ had to die for us, but that we are so loved and valued that He was glad to die for us. (Keller)

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Morning God Spoke...

This morning, I heard God speak. It has been months, since it was so crisp and strong, sovereign and frightening. As soon as I awoke this morning an unusual sense flooded my soul. It was the reality that I was a creature, that someone created me and that I resemble Him. I sat down on my couch and heard these words.

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.”

Oh my, I have been refusing Him who is speaking. My eyes opened at that moment to the Him who has been speaking. When this One speaks the universe flies into existence, light shines out of darkness, and His voice is like thunder “whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them … Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’”

Then God gave me a reason to receive Him who is speaking, “For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth…”

This voice I hear as I read from Hebrews 12 this morning shook me. This voice warns us from heaven. If it shakes the earth, likewise it will quake the human soul if we have ears to hear. No, I did nothing special to hear God this morning. I simply opened my bible to Hebrews 12 and asked the LORD to give me ears to hear, eyes to see and taste buds to taste the God who is speaking.

This God speaks to us in the bible, and nowhere else. This God affirms everything He has written in the Word through His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” (Psalm 19:1) The universe will never declare anything outside of the Holy Scriptures.

If we neglect the bible, we are not being ‘bad christians’; we are refusing Him who is speaking. We are ignoring the one true God. This is no good. We cease to remain connected to the Vine as soon as the bible is ignored.

I simply leave us all with an exhortation and a dream. What would happen if we devoted ourselves to the Word of God? If we gave ourselves to understanding the Word of God rightly? If we laid our lives down daily to see, smell and taste the God who is speaking?

Then and only then will the Holy Spirit awaken a revival of radical discipleship, fervent worship, and the obedience of faith that makes Christ look like the treasure He is.

I am hungry to be known by God, to know God and to make this God known. Who will join me?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Christ the Cornerstone

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." (Luke 20:17)

-> Christ the stone that was rejected
-> Christ the cornerstone

Two houses are being constructed. One by men, one by God. One will grow into an indestructible structure, whose foundation will withhold the fiercest storm of God's wrath. Fire will only refine the bricks of gold. The other will be swept away with the flood, because its foundation is sand, and when the fire tests this structure the hollow echoes of the praise of men will crumble, the straw walls will disintegrate amidst the flame of the wrath of the Lamb.

What caused the builders to reject the stone?
Their religion was seeking to accomplish the opposite of what God sent Christ to perform. Their religion consisted of Self-salvation, self-exaltation, and inward-corruption. Jesus came with a gospel, not religion. This gospel proclaimed God-wrought salvation by grace, Christ-exaltation through repentance & humility. This gospel enacts inward-renewal through the forgiveness of sins. Christ's gospel brings acceptance from from God at Christ's expense, rather than striving to appease God through keeping the law.

Jewish sin looked different that Gentile sin. Religious sin looks much different than rebellious agnostic sin, yet both alienate and distance us from the Holy God.

Lay yourself upon the rejected One, for He is the cornerstone of God's house. Where do we see & know the rejected stone most fully? Through the cross of Christ. We learn that the stone was rejected for a reason. Christ was not rejected because his message was off target. Christ was rejected for us, instead of us; so that Christ could become the cornerstone of the church.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Adorn the Docrine of God

“so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:10)

I was reading Titus this morning and this verse has stuck to the roof of my mouth. The Truth of God is not merely something we know, but more gloriously it is something that adorns us as we love and pursue this doctrine. May we put on the truth of God like an extravagant outfit. May the knowledge of Him clothe us with confidence and boldness, strength and humility, love and hope, joy and patience, faithfulness and self control.

The way in which we work, study, play, serve, and engage people says a lot of things to our culture, so are we communicating the knowledge of God in all these areas? Let’s work heartily for the Lord today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Grace of Our Lord

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

The King of kings, Lord of lords became a homeless guy. God became a man. So that by his poverty he might make us rich. This is the grace of our King, the great substitution of God for man. This is the apex of the glory of God, his grace. This is the fullest revelation of his beauty, let’s keep this in our sight, fresh in our minds, constant in our teaching and telling of the gospel.

What compels the King of glory to set it aside to actively save sinners by taking their place?

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:2)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.(John 6:38)

The joy of doing the will of God the father was the spring from which our Salvation overflowed into an abundance of grace for us.

The abundance of joy from doing God’s will was set before the Son of God, and mixed with the perfect obedience and poverty of Jesus Christ a wealth of generosity overflowed with grace for every sinner to be saved. Christ purchased us with his poverty, he rescued us with his weakness, he attracts us with his humiliation, he wins us with his grace.

“to the praise of the glory of his grace…” (Ephesians 1:6)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grace Given To Zacchaeus

"And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. ... 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'" (Luke 19:5,9)

Salvation came to the house of Zacchaeus; Christ came to the house of a lost sinner. Zacchaeus has a name, he is known by God, recognized by the Son of God, elected to taste the grace of God. The Messiah invited himself to the least deserving.

God is saving us from Himself (the wrath of God), and God is simultaneously saving us to Himself (the joy of true life in God). So the trajectory of salvation is away from the consequence of our sin, and towards the reward of true righteousness, the fellowship of God. This salvation came at the expense of Christ's substitution on the cross.

The grace of God makes sinners repent & rejoice, while causing the self-righteous to grumble and sneer. God seeks out the lost sons of Abraham and gives them grace. God's role in all of this is so active. He seeks, He saves, He invites himself in, He gives his presence to Zacchaeus.

What does Zacchaeus do? He seeks to see who Jesus is. " one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65) He obeys Jesus' command and receives the grace of Jesus' company. "So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully." (Luke 19:6) Zacchaeus humbles himself by climbing a sycamore tree to see Jesus. "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)

Jesus' interaction with Zacchaeus was nothing but sheer grace. Abraham-promised, Cross-purchased, blood-bought, Christ-merited, joy-producing, worship-inducing grace flowing freely to Zacchaeus. When grace floods his soul, Zacchaeus responds. "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything. I restore it fourfold." (Luke 19:8)

Christ is teaching us that "Salvations belongs to the LORD!" (Jonah 2:9), and it is "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

Kept in God's Name

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11b)

Jesus asks our “Holy Father” to keep us, to preserve and protect our faith in Him. If Jesus prays for us to be kept, this must mean that we are in some sense in danger and have a need to be protected. The place we are kept is in his name. This is a place, a domain, a refuge where our souls rest, find protection and peace from the world. “In your name” has to do with who God is, His being, His essence.

There are so many things to think about the name of God, Almighty, Healer, Comforter, our Righteousness. Ah, yes, The LORD our provider, he keeps us by drawing us to run into His Name for everything, and then remain in His Name forever.

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

We are protected only when our hearts are trusting and seeking refuge in God through Jesus Christ. May our God keep us abiding in His Name.

-thoughts from Bill Vogler's sermon unpacking John 17:11

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Worship The God Who Is Able

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith- to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)

Oh, there is so much to love about the last paragraphs of most the letters in the new testament. It is sort of like a glorious sign off, full of incredible worship language. When I read this earlier this morning, it made me want to run and fight for the glory of God.

Our God is able to strengthen us, especially the weakest and downcast souls among us. Those who are tired of running and ready to quit, remember He is able to strengthen us. How does he strengthen us? With the gospel. God gives us strength by reminding us daily the good news that he has saved us from the wrath of God.

The second way that God strengthens us is through the preaching of Jesus Christ. What does this mean? This means unpacking from the old testament the prophesies that point to the promised savior and what he would bring and tying that together with how Christ has fulfilled those promises bringing their precious benefits to us who trust Him.

All that has been unveiled about the glory of God through Jesus has been, "..., according to the command of the eternal God,..." (16:26) God commands that we be strengthened towards the obedience of faith through the news of His Son. When the LORD speaks galaxies come into being, mountains are moved and we are strengthened by the gospel.

To God be the glory!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Oh, The Depths of God

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33)

Riches - Wisdom - Knowledge - > (God) (!)

These three aspects of God lead Paul to exclaim “Oh, the depth…” of these three, the surface of what we can call to mind of the Riches of God, the Wisdom of God and the Knowledge of God, is but the beginning of an infinite depth below this monumental iceberg of treasure and glory. God’s depth is unsearchable, inexhaustible, never ending, time has not enough capacity to hold this depth. Only eternity can hold such a wondrous God of beauty, mystery and majesty.

Just when we think we’ve begun to see and know the beauty of the riches of God in Christ, let’s remind ourselves of the depth below that we have yet to uncover. When we have begun to wrap our mind around the Wisdom of God in all that he has created, in the ways he has sovereignly worked redemption of His people throughout history, let us humble ourselves at the depth of His wisdom that still lies beneath. When we stand exhausted at the reality that “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Mat.10:30), may our minds explode with wonder at the limitless Knowledge of God that lies beneath the revealed surface within the depths of the mind of God.

We will live eternally in the new heavens and earth. Our life that will never end will consist of exploring these unsearchable depths of God. Every day we will discover something new. This will be our joy to plumb the depths of God, He is ever infinite and the newest revelations of His heaven-like grandeur will explode the senses of our new bodies with pleasure and delight at God’s glory.

Don’t waste this life, start the pilgrimage today, read God’s word and erupt like Paul did with worship at what you find.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Our Heavenly Matchmaker

“The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together.

As the second Paraclete, the Spirit leads us constantly to the original Paraclete, who himself draws near through the second Paraclete’s coming to us (John 14:8). Thus, by enabling us to discern the first Paraclete, and by moving us to stretch out our hands to him as he comes from his throne to meet us, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, according to Christ’s own word.”

- J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 57 - 58.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Spiritual Cancer - Pride

"There is no fault which we are more unconscious of ourselves. And the more we have it, the more we dislike it in others. I am talking of Pride or Self-conceit… It is because I want to be the big noise at the party that I am annoyed that someone else is being the big noise… Pride leads to every other vice. It is the complete anti-God state of mind. What you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others… The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition for the same girl. But a proud man will take your girl from you not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you.

Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride… It is far more subtle and deadly. Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy’s pride, or as they call it, self-respect, to make him behave decently. Many have overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath their dignity. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride — just as he would be quite content to see [the corns on your foot] cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or common sense.

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that — and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison — you do not know God at all. He wants you to be delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you unhappy and restless all your life. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel we are good — above all, that we are better than someone else — I think we may be sure that we are being acted on not by God but by the devil… If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."

– C.S.Lewis

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prayers of Lamentation

How do we approach reading Lamentations? Do we see it as a book about the somber worship of God during the darkest and heaviest hours of our lives? It is full of prayers of lament, which give us words of honesty to bring faithfully to our God.

Lamentations addresses three causes of lament:
  • God (the warrior)
  • Self (my sin)
  • Enemies

All throughout the book are images of raw life; honest descriptions of human experience. These images primarily express pain, and more importantly express pain to God (prayer). What is the point? Lament prayers bring us an encounter with God, they are the means of encounter between God and broken humanity.

Lamentations is intriguing because it is not expressing images and feelings of our pain to God in the absence of him, but rather the expressions of pain and suffering in his very presence and even more startling as a direct result of his presence.

"Look, O LORD, and see! With whom have you dealt thus! Should women eat the fruit of their womb, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?" (Lamentations 2:20)

As we cry out to God, we carry to him words that know his hand is against us, and we want him to know how it feels. This a gracious gift from our God, to give us words to experience his face, when, "he has made my teeth grind on gravel..." (Lam. 3:16)

Our God comes against us, because He is in covenant with us. When we transgress the covenant he strikes. Let us not forget the ultimate One, who was struck with the LORD's deadly blow, to purchase for us the gift of the new covenant. This covenant has loving blows from the LORD intended to keep us and sustain us from falling away from his precious grace. Praise be to Christ, our Redeemer.

Let us be faithful to lament our sin, and the brokenness of humanity eagerly awaiting a response from the one who subjected the creation to futility in hope that it would be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom. 8:20-21)

"It is immensely easier to suffer with others than to suffer alone. It is immensely easier to suffer openly and honorably than apart and in shame." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I Loved This People

(Based on notes from MIQRA Seminar, Lectures on Lamentations by Dr. Heath Thomas)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Drop of Christ's Blood

John Bunyan when thinking on the distinctions of one who is coming to Christ...

1. Are you burdened with your sin, recognizing it as an exceedingly bitter thing?
2. Do you run from your sin as you would a deadly serpent?
3. Do you recognize and flee from the insufficiency of your own righteousness in the sight of God.
4. Do you cry to the Lord Jesus to save you?
5. Do you see more worth and merit in one drop of Christ's blood to save you, than in all the sins of the world to condemn you?
6. Are you tender of sinning against Jesus?
7. Is Jesus' name, person, and undertakings more precious to you than the glory of the world?
8. Is faith in Christ precious to you (as a means to connect you to Christ)?
9. Do you savor Christ in his Word, and do you leave all the world for his sake?
10. Are you willing (with God's help) to run in harm's way for his name?
11. Are his saints precious to you?

(HT: Justin Childers)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Repentance Makes Much of Christ

"No, but I tell you; unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3,5)

Throughout Luke 13 we see a running theme of the necessity of repentance in the gospel Jesus preached. So why was repentance so central to His message?

At the center of the gospel, we have Christ crucified for our sin. At the center of the greatest display of love, we have Christ risen for our justification. At the center of human history we have a man born miraculously of a virgin, who came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. At the center of our planet we have a poor carpenter from the small town of Nazareth, whose message is pervasive and is infiltrating every tribe and language and people and nation with the news of His salvation. At the center of all creation, we have Jesus crowned with glory and honor and seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, who is actively upholding the universe by the word of His power. This Christ named Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God Himself, and He is the center of all these things: human history, our planet, the universe, and the gospel. Repentance is mandatory and the door is narrow, because the glory of Christ is the reason why God saves anyone from His wrath. When a sinner repents, he turns away from and let's go of everything and turns to the one supremely satisfying and all sufficient treasure of the universe - Jesus Christ. And this magnifies the worth of Christ in all His fullness and plenty to save. This is how God ordains that man be rescued from Himself.

We were created to display Christ.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

May Christ Have Our Hearts

I will be returning to the feasting blog regularly in July. Here are some great thoughts from a blog I read daily.
Jeremiah Burroughs, a Puritan, wrote a wonderful book called A Treatise of Earthly-Mindedness. He defines "earthly-mindedness" as when a person puts his/her mind and heart primarily on the things and cares of the world. It is as if the things of the world are the most excellent things; as if they are the real treasures of life and so should be sought with all out fervor and energy.

Christians can be earthly-minded; they can be pilgrims without the pilgrim spirit. They can be like Lot who gripped the world and was hesitant to let go. Burroughs provides one way for us to guage our hearts in this matter, and it is quite insightful. He says we need to ask ourselves the following question: what is your heart upon in times of solitude? When you are alone and need not impress anyone, what is it that you place your heart upon? It is at these times that the true nature of our wants and desires are easily discovered.

(HT: Dr. John Currid)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Glory of the Cross

"Our deepest need of salvation met, but it has been done in such a way as to bring the most glory to God Himself. It is at the cross where God's law & God's grace are both most brilliantly displayed, where His justice & His mercy are both glorified. But it is also at the cross where we are most humbled. 'We bring nothing to our salvation except our sin that made it necessary.'" - Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life

"Sin is substituting yourself where only God is supposed to be
Salvation is God substituting Himself for you, where only you deserve to be." - Tim Keller

The Gospel assaults the vanity of idolatry within our hearts, and the Gospel brings grace upon grace to complete us within with the fullness of God to worship in its stead. We are sinners who need grace, to be forgiven. When the gospel hits me inside it makes its way to the outside.

"I am accepted by this grace, therefore I obey. Rather than, I obey and therefore God accepts me." - Tim Keller

You shall have no other god's before me (Ex. 20:3), is like saying, You shall have no other justifications before me. Which is another way of commanding us, You must believe the gospel.

Monday, June 2, 2008

O God - Your Name and Your Word

"I give thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word." (Psalm 138:1-2)

The Name of the LORD. "What is his name? what shall I say to them? God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM" (Ex. 3:13-14), and it is exalted above all things. There is 'some things', there is 'few things', there is 'most things' and then there is 'all things'. This Name and this Word that comes from GOD is exalted, magnified, esteemed, valued, and treasured by GOD above all things. God has exalted Himself above everything. He is higher, He is greater, He is superior, He is it.

David is thankful with his whole heart that God values God above everything, and as a result David is no longer worshiping idols, "before the gods I sing your praise", David exults in the God that exalts Himself, because God Himself is the only being worthy of God's supreme worship. Therefore God is the only object worthy of our whole-hearted affection.

Let's give thanks for the infinite riches of God Himself.

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
(Luke 23:43)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

God Is The Center

"Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness ... Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power." (Psalm 106:6,8)

Let's be God-centered lovers of God for His sake and no other.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fear God

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:4-7)

There is something we should fear more than being murdered. We have been given something we can lose besides this life, our souls forever in hell. God alone has authority to sentence to hell. Jesus teaches us countless, priceless realities whenever He speaks directly to us from the bible. Jesus teaches us with these words surprisingly that when God is feared for His awesome authority, every worldly fear dissolves beneath His frightening, and awful goodness. This same God who has the authority to sentence every one of us to hell for the sins we have committed today has purchased us with the infinite cost of the blood of His Son Jesus. The God who cares for sparrows, and numbers the hairs on our head, is the only power keeping us from eternal destruction. In light of the mercy of God, we have no one to fear but Him. We are saved from God, by God.

Fearing God and loving His largeness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Faith That Finds Jesus

"And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, 'Man, your sins are forgiven you.'" (Luke 5:18-20)

This is immaculate portrait of the gospel. Jesus is in the house. The good news is Jesus. He is here in the flesh, the very fountain of life, the creator of you and me. The house He is in is so crowded these men driven by a faith drawing them near to Christ, climb the roof and lower their friend in through the tiles. What do they find? The grace of God speaking truth to them, forgiving their sins with the authority of God the Father who sent Jesus Christ. This is the faith that saves us, the faith that fights to be united with Jesus for life, it thrives through all costs even unto death because the eyes of this faith are fixed upon Jesus as the reward (Heb. 11:6).

I am so helpless before the gospel of God's grace, and I am fearful because His grace is not an item of consumption but an agent of the power of God to save us from our sin. Keller is making me think about God's grace from a spectators role. When I begin to comprehend the gospel as a reality that is objective, free, beautiful, and completed; this news begins to transform my insides. I must view God's grace like an admirer views a serene display of glory from all angles within God's Word, which is practically an unpacking of Jesus from every angle of every narrative, history, poem or letter in the bible. Christ has worked salvation for all who will look upon Him and believe.

"For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40)

Jesus cried out 'it is finished' as He died on the cross, and now He is seated at the right hand of majesty having made purification for our sins (Heb. 1:3b), He has in a single act perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Heb. 10:14), and consequently now He is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25). The grace of God, believe it, come to Christ in need and desperation like men who carry their friends through rooftops, whatever it takes, then you will find our mighty savior ready to forgive our sins. That is the faith that saves us. Let's draw near to Christ.

"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)