Sunday, November 30, 2008
(2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
(3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
(5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.
(7) Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
(8) Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
(9) Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
(10) Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
(2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
(3) He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Friday, November 28, 2008
(2) O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
(3) Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
(4) In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
(5) To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
(6) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
(7) All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
(8) "He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
(9) Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
(10) On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
(11) Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
(12) Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
(13) they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
(14) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
(15) my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
(16) For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet--
(17) I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me;
(18) they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
(19) But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
(20) Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
(21) Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
(22) I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
(23) You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
(24) For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
(25) From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
(26) The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!
(27) All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
(28) For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
(29) All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
(30) Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
(31) they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
| The Government on His Shoulders |
Politics and government. We seem to see them as necessary evils, bringing frustration in the present but still giving us hope for the future. Our contradictory attitudes about politics are revealing. We recognize the failure of human solutions, but at the same time we know something must be done to fix what's broken in the world. What man can't do, God has done; He's given the Messiah.
| Listening to the Master's Voice |
Dr. Stephen Davey
» More Articles
| How should we live in light of the fact that our country is a terrorist target? |
Listen to Greg Laurie's answer
» More Answers
| A Sure Foundation |
» More Ministries
| BreakPoint |
Chuck Colson and Mark Earley
» More Podcasts
|Faith Talk Radio Feature|
| Dr. James MacDonald |
Walk in the Word
» Listen Now
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Human language is precious. It sets us off from the animals. It makes our most sophisticated scientific discoveries and our deepest emotions sharable. Above all, God chose to reveal himself to us through human language in the Bible. At the fullness of time, he spoke to us by a Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). But that Son spoke human language, and he sent his Spirit to lead his apostles into all truth so that they could tell the story of the Son in human language. Without this story in human language, we would not know the Son. Therefore, human language is immeasurably precious.
But it is also imperfect for capturing the fullness of God. In 1 Corinthians 13, there are four comparisons between this present time and the age to come after Christ returns.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
Note the comparisons with this age (now) and the age to come (then):
Now: We know in part.
Then: When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away (vv. 9-10).
Now: I spoke and thought and reasoned like a child.
Then: When I became a man, I gave up childish ways (v. 11).
Now: We see in a mirror dimly.
Then: We will see face to face (v. 12).
Now: I know in part.
Then: I will know fully, even as I am fully known (v. 12).
In this context, we can see what Paul means by saying, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child." He is saying that in this age, our human language and thought and reasoning are like baby talk compared to how we will speak and think and reason in the age to come.
When Paul was caught up into heaven and given glimpses of heavenly realities, he said he "heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Our language is insufficient to carry the greatness of all that God is.
But what a blunder it would be to infer from this that we may despise language or treat it with contempt or carelessness. What a blunder, if we began to belittle true statements about God as cheap or unhelpful or false. What folly it would be if we scorned propositions and clauses and phrases and words, as though they were not inexpressibly precious and essential to life.
The main reason this would be folly is that God has chosen to send his Son into our nursery and speak baby talk with us. Jesus Christ became a child with us. There was a time when Jesus himself would have said, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child and thought like a child and reasoned like a child." That is what the incarnation means. He accommodated himself to our baby talk. He stammered with us in the nursery of human life in this age.
Jesus spoke baby talk. The Sermon on the Mount is our baby talk. His high priestly prayer in John 17 is baby talk. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" is baby talk. Infinitely precious, true, glorious baby talk.
More than that, God inspired an entire Bible of baby talk. True baby talk. Baby talk with absolute authority and power. Baby talk that is sweeter than honey and more to be desired than gold. John Calvin said that "God, in so speaking, lisps with us as nurses are wont to do with little children" (Institutes, 1.13.1). O how precious is the baby talk of God. It is not like grass that withers or flowers that fades. It abides forever (Isaiah 40:8).
There will be another language and thought and reasoning in the age to come. And we will see things that could not have been expressed in our present baby talk. But when God sent his Son into our human nursery, talking baby talk, and dying for the toddlers, he shut the mouths of those who ridicule the possibilities of truth and beauty in the mouth of babes.
And when God inspired a book with baby talk as the infallible interpretation of himself, what shall we say of the children who make light of the gift of human language as the medium of knowing God? Woe to those who despise or belittle or exploit or manipulate this gift to the children of man. It is not a toy in the nursery. It is the breath of life. "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).
Monday, November 24, 2008
|SPIRITUAL LIFE |
What to Say to the Depressed, Doubting, Skeptical, Confused & Angry
If you care about people and risk talking to the depressed, the doubting, the skeptical, the confused, and the angry, you will soon run into a person who will minimize your counsel and say it doesn't work.
Read the full article here
Two Tombstones: The Story of the Samaritan Woman
This excerpt from Max Lucado's newest book Cast of Characters compares the story of the Samaritan woman with one of her many modern day counterparts.
Read the full article here
| NEWS & CULTURE |
Can McCain-Palin Fend Off the Welfare State?
The Democrats can taste it. They believe they are just weeks away from an economic coup d'état that will allow them to restructure America's economy in ways that would make FDR blush...
Read the full article here
| FAMILY |
Rethinking Halloween through 7 Scary Stories of the Bible
A couple years ago my friend and co-worker Fred Alberti shared with me a lesson he prepared for the boys' class he was teaching. It was a big hit in that it didn't focus on the meaning of Halloween or whether we as Christians should celebrate it. Rather, it just provided another way to get the lads excited about the Scriptures...
Read the full article here
The Right (Best, Easiest) Way to Pay Off Your Mortgage
I get the same basic question a lot, and it comes in several versions: What's the best way to pay off my mortgage quickly?
Read the full article here
| ENTERTAINMENT |
Oliver Stone's "W." Neglects Key Elements of Bush Biography
Oliver Stone has now turned his attention to George W. Bush in W., written well before the completion of his second term and rushed into release before the end of his time in office. The perils of such an approach are evident in this entertaining but unresolved account of Bush's life and presidency.
Read the full article here
Q&A with The Annie Moses Band
On the heels of recording their first Christmas project, This Glorious Christmas (Reunion Records), The Annie Moses Band answers some holiday questions and shares its Christmas faves.
Read the full article here
Sunday, November 23, 2008
| The Problem of Sinful Compromise |
Dr. Adrian Rogers
If we become friends with the world, next we'll begin to love the world, and then we'll conform to the world. Finally, we'll end up being condemned with the world. Are there sins that you fear and think you cannot overcome? Are there sins that you fellowship with and have made peace with?
| I Choose to Trust |
Dr. James MacDonald
» More Articles
| Does the personal integrity of our leaders really matter? |
Listen to Chuck Betters' answer
» More Answers
| Living Waters |
Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron
» More Ministries
| Changing Worldviews |
» More Podcasts
|Faith Talk Radio Feature|
| Dr. R.C. Sproul |
Renewing Your Mind
» Listen Now
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Recently I spoke at Northwestern College as part of their year-long 100th anniversary celebration. The title of the message was "The Supremacy of God in the Life of the Mind." One capability of the mind that I focused on was the imagination. It applies to everybody who has a mind. Here's what I said:
One of the great duties of the Christian mind is imagination. It is not the only thing the mind does. The mind observes. The mind analyzes and organizes. The mind memorizes. But imagination is different. It does not observe or analyze what's there; it imagines what is not seen but might be there and might explain what is there (as in the case of most scientific discoveries). Or it imagines a new way of saying what is there that no one has said before (as in the case of creative writing and music and art).
I say that imagination is a Christian duty for two reasons. One is that you can't apply Jesus' golden rule without it. He said, "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12). We must imagine ourselves in their place and imagine what we would like done to us. Compassionate, sympathetic, helpful love hangs much on the imagination of the lover.
The other reason I say that imagination is a Christian duty is that when a person speaks or writes or sings or paints about breathtaking truth in a boring way, it is probably a sin. The supremacy of God in the life of the mind is not honored when God and his amazing world are observed truly, analyzed duly, and communicated boringly. Imagination is the key to killing boredom. We must imagine ways to say truth for what it really is. And it is not boring. God's world - all of it - rings with wonders. The imagination calls up new words, new images, new analogies, new metaphors, new illustrations, new connections to say old, glorious truth. Imagination is the faculty of the mind that God has given us to make the communication of his beauty beautiful.
Imagination may be the hardest work of the human mind. And perhaps the most God-like. It is the closest we get to creation out of nothing. When we speak of beautiful truth, we must think of a pattern of words, perhaps a poem. We must conceive something that has never existed before and does not now exist in any human mind. We must think of an analogy or metaphor or illustration which has no existence. The imagination must exert itself to see it in our mind, when it is not there. We must create word combinations and music that have never existed before. All of this we do, because we are like God and because he is infinitely worthy of ever-new words and songs.
A college - or a church - committed to the supremacy of God in the life of the mind will cultivate many fertile, and a few great, imaginations. And O how the world needs God-besotted minds that can say the great things of God and sing the great things of God and play the great things of God in ways that have never been said or sung or played before.
Imagination is like a muscle. It grows stronger when you flex it. And you must flex it. It does not usually put itself into action. It awaits the will. Imagination is also contagious. When you are around someone (alive or dead) who uses it a lot, you tend to catch it. So I suggest that you hang out with some people (mainly dead poets) who are full of imagination, and that you exert yourself to think up a new way to say an old truth. God is worthy. "Oh sing to the LORD a new song" - or picture, or poem, or figure of speech.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
There is a major myth perpetually perpetrated by papal pretenders and their apostate Roman Catholicism that when we read the “holy and catholic church” in the ancient creeds this is actually a reference to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). When the truth is the RCC itself is a false religious system, a pseudo-Christianity, which Dr. John MacArthur rightly calls the best front for the kingdom of Satan, as well as another religion entirely.
Men and women, as anyone familiar with the history of the ancient Christian Church knows the word “catholic” is actually derived from the Greek word katholikos, which is the one used in the early Creeds. In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology we read that katholikos means:
“‘throughout the whole’ [of a thing]… When the term begins to appear in the [Creeds]…‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ — it [means universal] and thus accents the unity of the church in spite of its wide diffusion.” (199)
In other words; these early Creeds refer to “all those called out to assemble”—or the “catholic”—as in universal and invisible Church all over the world. It’s not at all speaking of the Roman Catholic Church. Any Biblical scholar not blinded by his prejudices will tell you there simply was no recognized Pope in Rome until late into the sixth century as you are about to see.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
(2) You have given him his heart's desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.
(3) For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
(4) He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
(5) His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
(6) For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
(7) For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
(8) Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
(9) You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
(10) You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.
(11) Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
(12) For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
(13) Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
(2) May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!
(3) May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah.
(4) May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans!
(5) May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
(6) Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
(7) Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
(8) They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
(9) O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
Monday, November 17, 2008
(2) Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
(3) There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
(4) Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
(5) which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
(6) Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
(7) The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
(8) the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
(9) the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
(10) More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
(11) Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(12) Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
(13) Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
(14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I have asked the question in public, "When does God become 100% for us?" And I have given an answer that rightly troubles thoughtful, biblical people. So this article is an effort to answer their question.
In my message to the Desiring God National Conference on Sunday, September 30, I answered the question like this:
What the Bible teaches is that God becomes 100% irrevocably for us at the moment of justification, that is, the moment when we see Christ as a beautiful Savior and receive him as our substitute punishment and our substitute perfection. All of God's wrath, all of the condemnation we deserve, was poured out on Jesus. All of God's demands for perfect righteousness were fulfilled by Christ. The moment we see (by grace!) this Treasure and receive him in this way his death counts as our death and his condemnation as our condemnation and his righteousness as our righteousness, and God becomes 100% irrevocably for us forever in that instant.
The question this leaves unanswered is, "Doesn't the Bible teach that in eternity God set his favor on us in election?" In other words, thoughtful people ask, "Did God only become 100% for us in the moment of faith and union with Christ and justification? Did he not become 100% for us in the act of election before the foundation of the world?" For example, Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-5, "[God] chose us in [God] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ."
Is God then not 100% for the elect from eternity? The answer hangs on the meaning of "100%." With the term "100%" I am trying to preserve a biblical truth found in several passages of Scripture. For example, in Ephesians 2:3, Paul says that Christians were "children of wrath" before they were made alive in Christ Jesus. "We all once lived [among the sons of disobedience] in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
So Paul is saying that, before regeneration, God's wrath was on us. The elect were under wrath. This changed when God made us alive in Christ Jesus and awakened us to see the truth and beauty of Christ so that we received him as the one who died for us and as the one whose righteousness is counted as ours because of our union with Jesus. Before this happened to us, we were under God's wrath. Then, because of faith in Christ and union with him, all God's wrath was removed and he then became, in that sense, 100% for us.
Similarly in Romans 8:1, there is the crucial word "now." "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The implication of "now" is that there was once condemnation over us and now there is not. A real change in God's disposition toward us happened in the moment of our regeneration and faith and union with Christ and justification.
Notice the phrase "in Christ" at the end of Romans 8:1. This is why God's disposition toward us is different when we believe in Christ. When we believe in Christ, we are united to him--that is, we are "in Christ." This means that his death counts as our death and his righteousness counts as our righteousness. This is why there is now no condemnation, whereas before there was. Before Christ bore the curse of the law and we were united to him by faith, we were under the curse of the law. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).
When Paul uses the language of God being "for us," he speaks of it in the context of what Christ has done for us in history. For example, in Romans 8:31-32, he says, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Not sparing his Son is the act that secures God's being 100% for us forever.
So was God 100% for us from eternity because we were elect? In one sense, yes. It was 100% certain that he would bring us to faith and save us. But when I ask the question, "When did God become 100% for us?" I mean more than: "When did it become 100% certain that God would save us?" I mean: "When did it happen that God was for us and only for us? That is, when did it happen that the only disposition of God toward us was mercy? Or: When did God become for us so fully that there was not any wrath or curse or condemnation on us, but only mercy?
The answer, I still say, is at the point when, by grace, we saw Christ as a supremely valuable Savior and received him as our substitute sacrifice and substitute righteousness. In other words, it happened at the point of justification. The implication of this is that all our works, all our perseverance, all our continuing faith and obedience does not cause God to be 100% for us, but is the result of his being 100% for us.
Paul's logic in Romans 8:32 is that because God gave his Son to die for us therefore he will give us all things with him. That is, God will see to it that we persevere to the end not only because we are elect, but because Christ died for us and we are in Christ. That is the logic of 1 Corinthians 1:8-9: "[God] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." The call is mentioned as the ground of God's faithfulness to sustain us to the end.
Therefore, exult in the truth that God will keep you. He will get you to the end because in Christ he is 100% for you. And therefore, getting to the end does not make God to be 100% for you. It is the effect of the fact that he is already 100% for you.
Glorying in the gospel with you,
Saturday, November 15, 2008
| Truth Amidst Confusion |
Stuart, Jill & Pete Briscoe
| Know the Truth |
Dr. Michael Youssef
» More Articles
| What is Truth? |
Listen to Hank Hanegraaff's answer
» More Answers
| Truths That Transform |
Dr. D. James Kennedy
» More Ministries
| Truth Encounter |
» More Podcasts
|Faith Talk Radio Feature|
| Pastor Alistair Begg |
Truth For Life
» Listen Now
Friday, November 14, 2008
This is a message about God's sovereignty by Pastor Jim McClarty. Pastor McClarty runs the great website http://www.SalvationbyGrace.org . There he has a very thorough QandA section that deals with many questions that are brought against the Reformed faith. You can access that here: http://www.salvationbygrace.org/defau... I've learned a lot from his ministry and highly recommend it.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
| SPIRITUAL LIFE |
Dreading Monday? Take a Fresh Look at Sunday
That most people dread Monday is confirmation of the seculars' inability to do for the soul what the sacred does.
Read the full article here
Finding Life in a Death Sentence
I was struck with the tragic paradoxes that cancer fighters face: What is it like to see fear in your family's eyes face your own fears at the same time? What is it like to beg God for healing and not receive it?
Read the full article here
| NEWS & CULTURE |
Finding a Christian Perspective on the Economic Crisis
Christians should think seriously about this economic crisis and ponder what it would mean to come to a Christian understanding of what it means to be participants in this economy. As Adam Smith recognized, the economy is a moral reality.
Read the full article here
| FAMILY |
What a Woman Brings to Marriage
The Proverbs 31 woman is great and all. But the ultimate example who should inform what I bring to marriage is Christ. He modeled so well the type of intangibles that I hope to one day bring to a union with my future husband.
Read the full article here
The Challenge of Attention in the Digital Age
The ability to focus the mind is an intellectual skill absolutely necessary for a good education. A distracted mind is not a mind ready for the most demanding intellectual challenges and tasks...
Read the full article here
| ENTERTAINMENT |
"Eagle Eye" Needs Better Focus
Director D.J. Caruso and star Shia LeBeouf have paired up again for Eagle Eye, a techno thriller that tries to meld social critique with popcorn thrills. The result is an unsettled and unsatisfying mix that gets by on the energy of some breathless action sequences until it resolves the film's central mystery.
Read the full article here
Slow-Moving "Rodanthe" Doesn't Defy Expectations
Like 2004's The Notebook, an adaptation of author Nicholas Sparks' best-selling book, Nights in Rodanthe is a tearjerker. But unlike its predecessor, this film labors under a plodding pace and melodramatic, made-for-TV storyline.
Read the full article here
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The little letter of Jude teaches us something about the value of learning history. This is not the main point of the letter. But it is striking. In this next-to-last book of the Bible, Jude writes to encourage the saints to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (verse 3).
The letter is a call to vigilance in view of "certain persons [who] have crept in unnoticed... ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (verse 4). Jude describes these folks in vivid terms. They "revile the things which they do not understand" (verse 10). They "are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage" (verse 16). They "cause divisions, [and are] worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit" (verse 19).
This is a devastating assessment of people who are not outside the church but have "crept in unnoticed." Jude wants them be spotted for who they really are, so that the church is not deceived and ruined by their false teaching and immoral behavior.
One of his strategies is to compare them to other persons and events in history. For example, he says that "Sodom and Gomorrah . . . since they, in the same way as these, indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" (verse 7). So Jude compares these people to Sodom and Gomorrah. His point in doing this is to say that Sodom and Gomorrah are "an example" of what will happen when people live like these intruders are living. So, in Jude's mind, knowing the history of Sodom and Gomorrah is very useful in helping detect such error and deflect it from the saints.
Similarly in verse 11, Jude piles up three other references to historical events as comparisons with what is happening in his day among Christians. He says "Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah." This is remarkable. Why refer to three different historical incidents like this that happened thousands of years earlier - Genesis 19 (Sodom), Genesis 3 (Cain), Numbers 22-24 (Balaam), Numbers 16 (Korah)? What's the point?
Here are three points: 1) Jude assumes that the readers know these stories! Is that not amazing! This was the first century! No books in anyone's homes. No Bibles available. No story tapes. Just oral instruction. And he assumed that they would know: What is "the way of Cain" and "the error of Balaam" and "the rebellion of Korah"? Do you know? Isn't this astonishing! He expects them to know. It makes me think that our standards of Bible knowledge in the church today are too low.
2) Jude assumes that knowing this history will illumine the present situation. The Christians will handle the error better today, if they know similar situations from yesterday. In other words, history is valuable for Christian living. To know that Cain was jealous and hated his brother and resented his true spiritual communion with God will alert you to watch for such things even among brothers.
To know that Balaam finally caved in and made the Word of God a means of worldly gain makes you better able to spot that sort of thing. To know that Korah despised legitimate authority and resented Moses' leadership will protect you from factious folk who dislike anyone being seen as their leader.
3) Is it not clear, then, that God ordains that events happen and that they get recorded as history so that we will learn them and become wiser and more insightful about the present for the sake of Christ and his church. Never stop learning history. Gain some knowledge every day. And let us give our children one of the best protections against the folly of the future, namely, a knowledge of the past.
Learning with you, for Christ and his kingdom,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I *had* been struggling with pop-Christianity (as you correctly called it), and
Calvinism for quite a while. If you wouldn't mind taking the time to read this email,
I'd like to share my testimony with you. Since you're a Calvinist, I think you might be
interested in my testimony(though I'm sure you've heard many testimonies similar
to my own), and how one of your videos played a key part in where I am today.
I'm a former-atheist who found Christ, somehow, despite my protest and fear of
being a hypocrite or having been wrong, but I could no longer deny the real God,
our Creator, our Lord Jesus Christ. Not with a straight face, anyway.
I went through 8 years at a Baptist Christian school and graduated as an
unbeliever and proud of it! (you'd be surprised over how little I learned about the
Bible despite having Bible class every day and Chapel every Tuesday for 8 years) I
then spent nearly 10 years afterwards as a militant atheist, who was very
obnoxious when it came to the discussion of religion, and even more obnoxious
towards Christianity. I was in agreement with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and
others who believe it's perfectly justified to be intolerant of religion, the religious,
and especially Christians.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Last week I was asked a question by a friend whether I was really a Calvinist or not and, if so, if I was a five-point Calvinist. I usually avoid the term Calvinist for a different term that is almost synonymous with it and that is Reformed faith or Reformed theology. The reason is because people have a kind of knee-jerk reaction to the term Calvinism because they’ve encountered some extreme forms, and I think this is part of what was motivating her question. So I tried to clarify for her what I actually meant by the fact that I was a Calvinist.
When someone asks, “Are you a five-point Calvinist?”, my response is that there is no other kind. If you understand accurately the convictions of those who are reformed in their thinking about salvation, which these so-called five-points actually refer to, you realize that they are all held together by a common concept that J. I. Packer has put like this: God saves sinners. That’s the single point of Calvinism.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Tthe devotional is brought to you by Dr. R.C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind
What happens when the government replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends?
"A decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered...." In Luke 2, the well-known passage introducing the nativity story, the title accorded to the Roman emperor is Caesar Augustus. Had this census been mandated earlier under the monarchy of Julius Caesar, the Scripture would read: "A decree went out from Julius Caesar...." Had Octavian followed the model of Julius, he would have called himself Octavianus Caesar, and then the text would read: "A decree went out from Octavianus Caesar...." But we note Octavius' explicit change of his personal name to the title Caesar Augustus. This indicates the emerging dimension of the emperor cult in Rome, by which those who were elevated to the role of emperor were worshiped as deities. To be called "august" would mean to be clothed with supreme dignity, to which is owed the reverence given to the sacred. The elevation of the emperor in Rome to this kind of status was the ancient zenith of statism.
About thirty years ago, I shared a taxi cab in St. Louis with Francis Schaeffer. I had known Dr. Schaeffer for many years, and he had been instrumental in helping us begin our ministry in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1971. Since our time together in St. Louis was during the twilight of Schaeffer's career, I posed this question to him: "Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest concern for the future of the church in America?" Without hesitation, Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word: "Statism." Schaeffer's biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.
In statism, we see the suffix "ism," which indicates a philosophy or worldview. A decline from statehood to statism happens when the government is perceived as or claims to be the ultimate reality. This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends.
In the nineteenth century, Hegel argued in his extensive and complex study of Western history that progress represents the unfolding in time and space of the absolute Idea (Hegel's vague understanding of God), which would reach its apex in the creation of the Prussian state. The assumption that Hegel made in the nineteenth century was made before the advent of Hitler's Third Reich, Stalin's Russia, and Chairman Mao's communist China. These nations reached an elevation of statism never dreamed of by Hegel in his concept of the Prussian state.
In America, we have a long history of valuing the concept of the separation of church and state. This idea historically referred to a division of labors between the church and the civil magistrate. However, initially both the church and the state were seen as entities ordained by God and subject to His governance. In that sense, the state was considered to be an entity that was "under God." What has happened in the past few decades is the obfuscation of this original distinction between church and state, so that today the language we hear of separation of church and state, when carefully exegeted, communicates the idea of the separation of the state from God. In this sense, it's not merely that the state declares independence from the church, it also declares independence from God and presumes itself to rule with autonomy.Continue reading "Statism"
As we look around, we see God is a God of might and miracle and power. And in Genesis 1:1, we see He created it all. Why did God create the heavens and the earth? Well, based on Scripture, there are three reasons why God made it all. "God Made It All" Dr. Adrian Rogers, LOVE WORTH FINDING
Truly spiritual people will always recognize that there is so much more to learn and so much more in their lives that needs to change. In contrast, self-deceived people-people who think they are spiritual but really are not-think they know it all, which only shows how little they know. They are like those whom the Book of Revelation describes from the church of Laodicea, claiming to be rich and lacking nothing. But God's assessment was that they were "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." "Marks of Maturity" Greg Laurie, A NEW BEGINNING
Identifying and monitoring the eye, the command center, of a hurricane is the key to understanding the storm. Some life storms have an "eye" as identifiable as that of a hurricane and as dangerous. Only the eye is not spelled "e-y-e"-it's spelled "I." Some of you are going through a very destructive storm that has come your way through no fault of your own. But sometimes, you are the "I" of your own storm. "when You Are the "I" of Your Storm" Dr. David Jeremiah, TURNING POINT
In the church today, there is a growing reluctance to take a definitive stand on any issue. Discernment is frankly not very welcome in a culture like ours. In fact, the postmodern perspective is more than merely hostile to discernment; it is practically the polar opposite. Think about it: pronouncing anything "true" and calling its antithesis "error" is a breach of postmodernism's one last impregnable dogma. That is why to a postmodernist nothing is more uncouth than voicing strong opinions on spiritual, moral, or ethical matters."The Rise of Extreme Tolerance" John MacArthur, GRACE TO YOU
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Sunday Morning General Session
What I would like to do this final session is magnify Christ in his suffering. And in the process I would like to venture the ultimate biblical explanation for the existence of suffering. And I would like to do it in such a way that you and I would be freed from the paralyzing effects of discouragement and self-pity and fear and pride so that we would spend ourselves—able or disabled—to spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things (including suffering) for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.
The Ultimate Biblical Explanation for the Existence of Suffering
I believe the entire universe exists to display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. I might have said more simply that the entire universe exists to display the greatness of the glory of God. That would be true. But the Bible is more specific. The glory of God shines most brightly, most fully, most beautifully in the manifestation of the glory of his grace. Therefore, this is the ultimate aim and the final explanation of all things—including suffering.
God decreed from all eternity to display the greatness of the glory of his grace for the enjoyment of his creatures, and he revealed to us that this is the ultimate aim and explanation of why there is sin and why there is suffering, and why there is a great suffering Savior. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came in the flesh to suffer and die and by that suffering and death to save undeserving sinners like you and me. This coming to suffer and die is the supreme manifestation of the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. Or to say it a little differently, the death of Christ in supreme suffering is the highest, clearest, surest display of the glory of the grace of God. If that is true, then a stunning truth is revealed, namely, suffering is an essential part of the created universe in which the greatness of the glory of the grace of God can be most fully revealed. Suffering is an essential part of the tapestry of the universe so that the weaving of grace can be seen for what it really is.
Or to put it most simply and starkly: the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be.
In conceiving a universe in which to display the glory of his grace, God did not choose plan b. This was the moment—Good Friday—for which everything in the universe was planned. There could be no greater display of the glory of the grace of God than what happened at Calvary. Everything leading to it and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world.
The Biblical Pathway That Leads to This Truth
Walk with me now, if you would, on the biblical pathway that has led me to this truth. To this point it just looks like high-sounding theology or philosophy. But it is far more than that. It is what the very words of Scripture clearly teach.
Let’s begin with Revelation 13:8. John writes, “All who dwell on earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” That is a good, careful, literal translation. This means that before the world was created there was a book called the “book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” The Lamb is Jesus Christ crucified. The book is the book of Jesus Christ crucified. Therefore, before God made the world he had in view Jesus Christ slain, and he had in view a people purchased by his blood written in the book. Therefore, the suffering of Jesus was not an afterthought, as though the work of creation did not go the way God planned. Before the foundation of the world God had a book called “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” The slaying of the Lamb was in view before the work of creation began.
Then consider 2 Timothy 1:9. Paul looks back into eternity before the ages began and says, “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us [that is, he gave us this grace] in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” God gave us grace [undeserved favor—favor toward sinners, grace!] in Christ Jesus before the ages began. We had not yet been created. We had not yet existed so that we could sin. But God had already decreed that grace—an “in Christ” kind of grace, blood-bought grace, sin-overcoming grace—would come to us in Christ Jesus. All that before the creation of the world.
So there is a “book of life of the Lamb who was slain,” and there is “grace” flowing to undeserving sinners who are not yet created. And don’t miss the magnitude of that word “slain” (esphagmenou): “the Lamb who was slain.” It is used in the New Testament only by the apostle John, and means literally “slaughter.” So here we have suffering—the slaughter of the Son of God—in the mind and plan of God before the foundation of the world. The Lamb of God will suffer. He will be slaughtered. That’s the plan.
Why? I’ll give you the biblical text which tells the answer, but let me state it again: it’s because the aim of creation is the fullest, clearest, surest display of the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. And that display would be the slaughter of the best being in the universe for millions of undeserving sinners. The suffering and death of the Lamb of God in history is the best possible display of the glory of the grace of God. That is why God planned it before the foundation of the world.
Here’s the Biblical support, first from Ephesians 1 and then from Revelation 5. In Ephesians 1:4in him [that is, in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” The goal of the entire history of redemption is to bring about the praise of the glory of the grace of God. Paul says, “[God] chose us
But notice that twice in these verses Paul says that this plan happened “in Christ” or “through Christ” before the foundation of the world. He says in verse 4: God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world in order to bring about the praise of the glory of his grace. And he says in verse 5: God predestined our adoption through Christ before the foundation of the world to bring about the praise of the glory of his grace. What does it mean that “in Christ” we were chosen and that our adoption was to happen “through Christ”? We know that in Paul’s mind Christ suffered and died as a redeemer so that we might be adopted as children of God (Galatians 4:5). Our adoption could not happen apart from the death of Christ.
Therefore, what Paul means is that to choose us “in Christ” and to plan to adopt us “through Christ” was to plan the suffering and death of his Son before the foundation of the world. And verse 6 and 12 and 14 make plain that the goal of this plan was to bring about “the praise of the glory of the grace of God.” That is what God was aiming at. And that is why he planned the suffering and death of his Son for sinners before the creation of the world.
Now consider the second biblical support for this from Revelation 5:9-12. Here the hosts of heaven are worshiping the Lamb precisely because he was slain—killed, slaughtered.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” . . . Then I looked, and I heard around the throne . . . myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
The hosts of heaven focus their worship not simply on the Lamb, but on the “Lamb who was slain.” And they are still singing this song in Revelation 15:3. Therefore we can conclude that the centerpiece of worship in heaven for all eternity will be the display of the glory of the grace of God in the slaughtered Lamb. Angels and all the redeemed will sing of the suffering of the Lamb forever and ever. The suffering of the Son of God will never be forgotten. The greatest suffering that ever was will be at the center of our worship and our wonder forever and ever. This is not an afterthought of God. This is the plan from before the foundation of the world.
Everything else is subordinate to this plan. Everything else is put in place for the sake of this plan: the display of the greatness of the glory of the grace of God in the suffering of the Beloved is the goal of the creation and the continuing of the universe.
The Mystery of God Ordaining But Not Doing Sin
Do you see what this implies about sin and suffering in the universe? According to this divine plan, God permits sin to enter the world. God ordains that what he hates will come to pass. It is not sinful in God to will that there be sin. We do not need to fathom this mystery. We may content ourselves by saying over the sin of Adam and Eve what Joseph said over the sin of his brothers, when they sold him into slavery: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
As for you, Adam and Eve, you meant evil against God as you rejected him as your Father and Treasure, but Oh what an infinite good he planned through your fall! The Seed of the woman will one day bruise the head of the great Serpent, and by his suffering he will display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. You have not undone his plan. Just as Joseph was sold sinfully into slavery, you have sold yourselves for an apple. You have fallen, and now the stage is set for the perfect display of the greatness of the glory of the grace of God.
For not only did sin enter the world, but through sin came suffering and death. Paul tells us that God subjected the world to futility and corruption under his holy curse. He put it like this in Romans 8:20-23:
The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
When sin entered the world, horrible, horrible things followed. Diseases, defects, disabilities, natural catastrophes, human atrocities—from the youngest infant to the oldest codger, from the vilest scoundrel to the sweetest saint—suffering is no respecter of persons. That’s why Paul said in Romans 8:23, “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Ezekiel tells us that God does not delight in this suffering. “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11). But the plan remains, and Jeremiah gives us a glimpse into the mysterious complexity of the mind of God in Lamentations 3:32-33, “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” Literally: “He does not from his heart [millibbô] afflict or grieve the children of men.” He ordains that suffering come—“though he cause grief”—but his delight is not in the suffering, but in the great purpose of creation: the display of the glory of the grace of God in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of sinners.
The stage has been set. The drama of redemptive history begins to unfold. Sin is now in its full and deadly force. Suffering and death are present and ready to consume the Son of God when he comes. All things are now in place for the greatest possible display of the glory of the grace of God.
Therefore, in the fullness of time God sent his Son into the world to suffer in the place of sinners. Every dimension of his saving work was accomplished by suffering. In the life and death of Jesus Christ, suffering finds its ultimate purpose and ultimate explanation: suffering exists so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering.
Everything—everything—that Christ accomplished for us sinners he accomplished by suffering. Everything that we will ever enjoy will come to us because of suffering.
The Display of the Glory of the Grace of God in the Achievements of Christ by His Suffering
Consider the display of the glory of the grace of God in the achievements of Christ by his suffering.
1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf—and he did it by suffering.
Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” The wrath of God that should have caused our eternal suffering fell on Christ. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness—and he did it by suffering.
1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” Isaiah 53:5, “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” The sins that should have crushed us under the weight of guilt were transferred to Christ. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
3. Christ provided a perfect righteousness for us that becomes ours in him—and he did it by suffering.
Philippians 2:7-8, “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The obedience of Christ by which many are counted righteous (Romans 5:19) had to be an obedience unto death, even death on a cross. This is the glory of grace, and it would come only by suffering.
4. Christ defeated death—and he did it by suffering death.
Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55). This is the glory of grace and it would come only by suffering.
5. He disarmed Satan—and he did it by suffering.
Colossians 2:14-15, “[The record of debts against us] he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” With the record of all our lawbreaking nailed to the cross and cancelled, the power of Satan to destroy us is broken. Satan has only one weapon that can damn to hell. Unforgiven sin. This weapon Christ stripped from Satan’s hand on the cross. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
6. Christ purchased perfect final healing for all his people—and he did it by suffering.
Isaiah 53:4, “Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). The Lamb was slaughtered and the Lamb was raised from the dead, and the Lamb together with the Father will wipe every tear from our eyes. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
7. Christ will bring us finally to God—and he will do it by his suffering.
1 Peter 3:18, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. The ultimate achievement of the cross is not freedom from sickness but fellowship with God. This is what we were made for: seeing and savoring and showing the glory of God. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
The Ultimate Reason Why Suffering Exists
The ultimate purpose of the universe is to display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. The highest, clearest, surest display of that glory is in the suffering of the best Person in the universe for millions of undeserving sinners. Therefore, the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering and bring about the praise of the glory of the grace of God.
O Christian, remember what Carl Ellis and David Powlison and Mark Talbot and Steve Saint and Joni Eareckson Tada said: they all, in their own way, said that whether we are able or disabled, enduring loss or delighting in friends, suffering pain or savoring pleasure, all of us who believe in Christ are immeasurably rich in him and have so much to live for. Don’t waste your life. Savor the riches that you have in Christ and spend yourself no matter the cost to spread your riches to this desperate world.
© Desiring God
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