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Showing posts from March, 2015

without supernaturalism, feeble moralism

"The truth is that what remains in Christianity when the supernaturalism of the Bible is given up is not Christianity at all. Liberal Christianity and liberal Judaism, for example, turn out to be exactly alike. They have the same God, or rather the same fundamental skepticism about God, the same complacency about man, and the same mild admiration for the prophet of Nazareth. Tolerance has had its perfect work. The equilibrium has been restored. The consuming fire of Christianity has burned out, and we have merely the same feeble moralism that was in the world before Christianity took its rise. It is a drab, dreary world-this modern world of which men are so proud. I for my part feel oppressed when I look out upon it.' I admire, indeed, those who try to hold on with heart to what they have given up with the head; but as for me, any religion that is to claim my devotion must be founded squarely upon truth. Where shall such a religion he found? At this point, I have it truly r

calvin and deuteronomy 29:29

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."  (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV) John Calvin, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, says about this verse... To me there appears no doubt that, by antithesis, there is a comparison here made between the doctrine openly set forth in the Law, and the hidden and incomprehensible counsel of God, concerning which it is not lawful to inquire. In my opinion, therefore, the copula is used for the adversative particle; as though it were said, “God indeed retains to Himself secret things, which it neither concerns nor profits us to know, and which surpass our comprehension; but these things, which He has declared to us, belong to us and to our children.” It is a remarkable passage, and especially deserving of our observation, for by it audacity and excessive curiosity are condemned, whilst pious minds are aroused to be zea

change for the better?

God's control of the world

"God does not control the world merely by setting limits for the world’s free activity, as a teacher 'controlling' his classroom. Rather, like the author of a well-wrought novel, he conceives and brings about every event that happens, without compromising the integrity of his creaturely others."  - John Frame, Systematic Theology

experiencing the new birth

I have begun reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Experiencing the New Birth   (Crossway Books, 2015),  based upon a series of sermons on John chapter 3 that he preached at  Westminster Chapel (London) almost fifty years ago (in 1966). I'm so very thankful to see Lloyd-Jones' sermons are still being published, and that Crossway is offering these previously-unpublished messages in book form .   The subject -- experiencing the new birth -- is also a very timely and needed topic for study today.  Much has been written in recent years (it seems to me) on the nature of justification and sanctification, but not as much on regeneration, or the new birth.  Lloyd-Jones is always biblical, thoughtful, insightful, and practical. His pastoral heart is evident in these messages. MLJ was a Spirit-anointed preacher and has been for decades a kind of historical mentor to many ministers. I was first  introduced to his writings in 1997, when I read Knowing The Times , a series of his addresses

God's revelation is part of redemption

Came upon the following in B. B. Warfield's work, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible , pp 80-81... "...the series of redemptive acts of God has not been left to explain itself, but the explanatory word has been added to it.  Revelation thus appears, however, not as the mere reflection of the redeeming acts of God in the minds of men, but as a factor in the redeeming work of God, a component part of the series of His redeeming acts, without which that series would be incomplete and so far inoperative for its main end.  Thus the Scriptures represent it, not as confounding revelation with the series of the redemptive acts of God, but placing it among the redemptive acts of God and giving it a function as a substantive element in the operations by which the merciful God saves sinful men.  It is therefore not made even a mere constant accompaniment of the redemptive acts of God, giving their explanation that they may be understood.  It occupies a far more independent plac

biblical religion is authoritarian

But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5 ESV) I have begun working my way through Carl Henry's fourth volume in God, Revelation, and Authority . He begins on his eleventh thesis: "The Bible is the reservoir and conduit of divine truth, the authoritative written record and exposition of God's nature and will."   He opens chapter 1 with, "The problem of authority is one of the most deeply distressing concerns of contemporary civilization."   He notes that anti-authoritarianism -- or positively stated, self-autonomy -- is not something which faces religious institutions only, but also every area of modern life.  And it's not a new phenomenon. It's as old as the garden of Eden (Gen. 3) I was struck with the following summary of the nature of authority in the Bible... "Beyond all d

6 things to pray as we grow older

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were  brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:1-2  ESV) This Psalm is ascribed to Moses, and may have been written in context of the forty-year wandering of Israel in the wilderness. (Numbers 15-20)  In verses 1 through 11 Moses considers the eternal nature of God and the brevity of human life. (90:1-11)   Here are six petitions that Moses made in light of the brevity of life before the eternal God.  These are also six things I can pray as I am growing older... Wisdom. (90:12) "So teach us to number our days..."  Pray that the Lord would enable us to know the value of our remaining  time on earth, and that we would plan well to make the best use of it (Eph. 5:16). Mercy. (90:13) "Have pity on your servants..." Pray that we would continue to rely on

theology is living to God

For 150 years, both in England and in the American colonies, The Marrow of Theology , by William Ames, was the standard theological work for ministers. It is b iblical, succinct, and well-organized.  Increase Mather once said that, other than the Bible, this was the only book of theology a minister needed.  My first introduction to Puritan theology in seminary was through the reading of this book.  After reading the first chapter I was hooked on Ames. I was grabbed at the outset by his definition and nature of theology.   The following excerpts of that chapter are words I need to read and reread often.  My penchant for dwelling only in my thought life needs to be continually challenged with full-orbed "living to God."  Here is how Ames defines theology... "Theology is the doctrine or teaching of living to God.  John 6:68, The words of eternal life ; Acts 5:20, the words of this life ; Romans 6:11, Consider yourselves...alive to God ." "...[it is] a disc

to share in a spiritual sunrise

"We know that in His sovereign providence God can enable us to penetrate the world with a living witness to the truth and power of evangelical theism.  In that awesome task I wish you Godspeed.  May you share as we did in the splendor of a spiritual sunrise, and not only in the sad defection of a secular society."  -- Carl F. H. Henry In "Coming Home to Say Good-bye",  chapel address given at Wheaton College, April 30, 1990.  Published in gods of this age or... God of the Ages? (Broadman and Holman, 1994)

technology and glory

"I am no medievalist. I rejoice in the marvelous widening of our knowledge of this mysterious universe; I delight in the technical achievements of our day. This is God's world, and neither its good things nor its wonders should he despised by those upon whom they have been bestowed. Moreover, I cherish within my soul a vague yet glorious hope of a time when material achievements, instead of making man the victim of his machines, may be used for the expression of some wondrous thought. There may come a time when God will send to the world the fire of genius, which he has taken from it in our time; a time when he will send something far greater -- a humble heart finding in his worship the highest use of all knowledge and power. There will come a time when men will wonder at their obsession with these material things, when they will see that their inventions are in themselves as valueless as the ugly little bits of metal type in a printer's composing room, and that their true

just an old pear tree

"I have on my farm a magnificent old pear tree. This tree has grown from a small seed. First, the seed died. It found welcoming soil and morphed into a tiny shoot. In time, with nurture, it came to full growth, a thing of beauty at many levels; all on a scale out of proportion to the original seed, and full of generative potential in its turn. The tree provides shade and shelter, flowers and fruit. It might provide wood for warmth or walls or works of art. It might contribute to a landscape or resist erosion. It might inspire poems or plays, paintings or photographs, (such as my painting, "Ki-Seki"). It might spark a scientific discovery, host children at play, or lead a man or woman to reflect on the nature of life."  -- Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care See Mako's beautiful limited edition print of "Ki-Seki" here .  Engraving above is "THE ORIGINAL SECKEL PEAR TREE", photographed and engraved for The Gardener's Monthly.  Copyrighted 1

worth fighting for

an individuality that is irreducible

Forty-four years ago yesterday, as a college student, I called upon the Lord Jesus for salvation. I had bounced around various viewpoints... Marxism, eastern mysticism, and various combinations of popular views, only to discover the emptiness of my own making. I even had opinions about who Jesus was, or might have been.  Until... I began reading the Gospels of the New Testament. My speculative, two-dimensional portrait of Jesus (in my own image) was shattered by the Living three-dimensional Person presented in the Gospels.  No religious founder that I had read was at all like the One I read about on the pages of the Bible!    J. Gresham Machen, in his little book,  The Gospel And The Modern World: And Other Short Writings , writes about this... "Read the Gospels for yourselves, my friends. Do not study them this time. Just read them; just let the stupendous figure of Jesus stand before your eyes. Has not that figure the marks of truth? Could that figure ever have been produc

God always good in all ways and times

"When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you;  you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel,  and afterward you will receive me to glory.   Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:21-26 ESV) Martyn Lloyd-Jones comments on this Psalm... "There is only one way in which we can be quite sure that we have dealt with temptation in the right way, and that is that we arrive at the right ultimate conclusion. I started with that and I end with it. The great message of this Psalm is, that if you and I know what to do with temptation we can turn it into a great source of victory. We can end, when we have been through a process like this, in a stronger position than we were in at the beginning.