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Showing posts from February, 2013

the reformation in 7 minutes

"The Reformation, what's with that?"   Sometimes when people ask about this, I'll draw a little sketch on a piece of paper or napkin.  It's my seven-minute overview of what happened following Luther's posting of his 95 theses (points to debate) on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg on the eve of All Saints Day, 1517.  This is a very rough generalization indeed... First key issue: authority .  The foundation.  How do we know we are right about what we believe about being right with God?  The Roman Catholic church held that it was the Scriptures, but with a caveat:  specifically, the Scriptures as interpreted and applied by the authority of the Church.  So, to the authority base of the Bible was added the magisterium , that is, what the church, tradition, councils, and Popes officially ruled.  It was the "Bible-plus."  The Reformers said, no (or nay), the councils and traditions and church rulers are very important, but not infallibl

on sanctification

I appreciate this quote from Herman Bavinck on the subject of sanctification... “Christ is our holiness in the same sense in which he is our righteousness. He is a complete and all-sufficient Savior. He does not rest until, after pronouncing his acquittal in our conscience, he has also imparted full holiness and glory to us. By his righteousness, accordingly, he does not just restore us to the state of the just who will go scot-free in the judgment of God, in order then to leave us to ourselves to reform ourselves after God's image and to merit eternal life. But Christ has accomplished everything. He bore for us the guilt and punishment of sin, placed himself under the law to secure eternal life for us, and then arose from the grave to communicate himself to us in all his fullness for both our righteousness and sanctification.”   (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics , IV:248) And here's another... “Because sanctification, like the whole of salvation, is the work of God,

at journey's end

The following words were read recently at a student gathering, where teens had come together to pray for a family whose mother had recently died.  They are taken from the last section of The Pilgrim's Progress… I now see myself at my journey's end; my days of toil are over. I am going now to see that Head that was crowned with thorns, and that Face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearing and by faith; but now I am going to where I will live by sight and will be with Him in whose company I delight. I have always loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe on the earth, I have desired to set my foot, too. His name has been to me as a priceless treasure -- sweeter than all perfumes. His voice has been music to my ears, and I have more earnestly desired to see His face than those who would most desire to see the light of the sun.  I have gathered His Word which became my food, and used it as a remedy against fainti


adoption by God

A quote and two slides from Andy Ko's Sunday adult class presentation...  “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.  "For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. 'Father' is the Christian name for God. … Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption... “Justification is a forensic idea, conceived in terms of law, and viewing God as judge… Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into Hi

bringing forth life

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making  it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my  mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for  which I sent it."  (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

praying the gospel

This is taken from  Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith , by Scotty Smith: "Praying the gospel involves engaging with all three offices of Christ: Jesus as prophet, priest, and king. Engaging him as our prophet, we listen to Jesus and we look for him in every part of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Engaging him as our priest, we honor Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the righteousness we have by faith, and our loving Savior and High Priest who meets and greets us at the throne of his grace. Engaging him as our king, we submit to Jesus as the one who is making all things new—including us and the broken world all around us."

on justification

"Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5 ESV) What wonderful, freeing, life-giving words these are!  God does not justify the godly, or declare that the good are righteous, but rather, the ungodly.  Through faith we are not made good (though that happens over time, sure enough) but rather we are declared -- by virtue of Christ's precious blood -- to be righteous.  Now and always.  This I believe is an unchanging foundation for the believer to stand upon in his approach to God.  It is also an unending fountain of joy for the Christian. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this truth very practical... To make it quite practical I have a very simple test. After I have explained the way of Christ to somebody I say “Now, are you ready to say that you are a Christian?” And they hesitate. And then I say, “What’s th

On the reliability of the Bible

Speaking at Cru tonight on the reliability of the Bible.  Can we trust what it says?  Here are some follow-up resources for further study... Recommended (start here): MP3 message: "Literalism: Isn't the Bible historically unreliable and regressive?" by Tim Keller Article: "Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters, " by Craig L. Blomberg Two helpful websites :  The historicity and authority of the Bible   Carl F. H. Henry Center:  Christ On Campus Initiative . Suggested reading list (basic) :  Geisler, Norman, and Nix, William. From God To Us: How We Got Our Bible  Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism  Pink, A. W. The Divine Inspiration of the Bible Specific resources for NT integrity: Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony  Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels .  Bock, Darrell, and Wallace, Danie

compass of the pilgrim

Michael Horton writes the following in his chapter "Why Study Theology?" found in Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples (Zondervan, 2013)  I took the liberty to make a graphic to help me remember this. As we shall see, the theology of the Bible leads us away from the high places of the religious, the moral, and the spiritual specialists. It keeps our boots firmly on the ground. Instead of ascending to spiritual heights, we meet God in his gracious  descent to us.  Like the directions on a compass, there are four coordinates that guide us in our journey to know God:  Drama Doctrine Doxology Discipleship All of our faith and practice arise out of the drama of Scripture, the “big story” that traces the plot of history from creation to consummation, with Christ as its Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. And out of the throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama God reveals stable nouns — doctrines . From what God does in history we are taught certai

CSL on happiness

Working on a sermon for Philippians series.  Special focus on Phil. 1:21... "for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  In thinking about joy and happiness, I came upon a number of quotes by C. S. Lewis on the topic of happiness... “All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”  (From Mere Christianity ) “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”  (From Surprised by Joy ) “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”  (From Mere Christianity ) “Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose... only (upon) the Beloved who will never pass away.”  (Quoting Augustine in The Four Loves ) “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”  (From Mere Christianity

loving and hating in the right way

C. S. Lewis wrote,  "Until quite modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it—believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit, our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt...  "'Can you be righteous', asks Traherne, 'unless you be just in rendering to things their due esteem? All things were made to be yours and you were made to prize them according to their value.' "St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris , the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the

a soul happy in the Lord

Here's a very valuable insight from George Mueller, taken from The Autobiography Of George Muller... (Underlining is added by me.) May 7, 1841. It has recently pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know,  the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the fifth edition for the press, more than fourteen years  have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day  was, to have my soul happy in the Lord . The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I  might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.   For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the  distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in thi