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Showing posts from July, 2015

sojourners in the world

Here is a quote that was shared in our 1 & 2 Thessalonians class, regarding how the early church viewed themselves as sojourners (resident aliens) in the world... "They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; th

our whole being one vast need

"Every Christian would agree that a man's spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God. But man’s love for God, from the very nature of the case, must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love. This is obvious where we implore forgiveness for our sins or support in our tribulations. But in the long run it is perhaps even more apparent in our growing – for it ought to be growing – awareness that our whole being by its very nature is one vast need: incomplete,  preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things  that are still dangling loose." ~ C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves .                         Photo by Chloe, BCF Guatemala Mission Team. 

he delays, but comes

"When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified.  But he said to them, 'It is I; don't be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." (John 6:16-21 NIV) On this passage William Still writes... "Presumably the disciples assumed Jesus would return to  Capernaum on foot, walking around the shore of the lake.   Clearly the last thing they were expecting was the miracle  of his walking on the water.  Jesus had withdrawn to a  mountain by himself, leaving the disciples guessing as to  what he would do. We learn a few verses later that the  crowds that had been

without him we can do nothing

"The essential, vital, central element in the life of every congregation is the person and work of the Spirit of God as illuminated and structured and judged by the Spirit-breathed Word." "There is no good in any of us that is not a result of the Spirit’s work. Every virtue we possess, every victory we win, and every thought of holiness are due to the Spirit. Whatever God calls us to do in life can be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit. Without Him we can do nothing. We cannot do any spiritual good without the Spirit. Every new Christian becomes a believer through the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian who finishes the race of life and enters glory has been kept and prepared for heaven by the power of the Spirit. The only sin for which there is no forgiveness is one committed against the Spirit." [ On thinking of the Spirit as an impersonal force... ]  "We must be careful not to do that with the Holy Spirit. He is not merely a backgrou

not an abstraction

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."  (John 14:10-11 ESV) "You believe in Christ. You believe that his saying is true: “He that hath seen Me, has seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” On bended knee you confess him as your Lord and your God. But what is the incarnation of the word except that God became man? And what profit can this be to you, unless you realize that in Christ God has come close to you in a human way? Before the days of the Bethlehem birth God spoke to us in the human word, but in Christ God is manifest in human nature. He reveals himself to us as the son of Man. A human heart speaks here in human language and in human ways. As the Apostle John asserts: In Jesus they have n

the ethos of persuasion

Here are a few more highlights from Covenantal Apologetics, by Scott Oliphint.  "So mystery, for the Christian, is a confession that God, though knowable and known, is never in any way exhausted by our knowledge of him." "The Christian God, however, is truly great. He is and will eternally be one God—simple, transcendent, necessary, and eternal. But he is also able, freely, to choose to be in a relationship with his creation, for eternity, all the while remaining who he is and has always been." "If persuasion is the means by which we are to defend the Christian faith, then this requires, in the end, that we must be people who pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). It means, in the first place, that we cannot expect to imbibe the spirit of the age and at the same time to present a credible defense of Christianity. This is the ethos of persuasion..." "One of Van Til’s favorite phrases was that we are to be suavite

pluralism destroys itself

"This Enlightenment attitude of 'partisanship as pejorative' is based on a supposition of neutrality. It assumes that the very diversity of ideas is itself an end, rather than a means to an end. The problem that pluralism produces is that it destroys itself in the process. Contradictory and opposing ideas, by definition, cannot all be held and applied by one society. Some partisan notion will always dominate and, in so doing, will smother any notion of pluralism." - Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics

reasoning from reality not illusion

Here's an excellent revision (or update) and presentation of Van Til's presuppositional method of apologetics: Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith , by Scott Oliphint (Crossway, 2013). Here are some initial hightlights...  "... in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy , always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..." (1 Peter 3:15 ESV) "...unless one begins from God’s authority, revealed in the world and in the Scriptures, then we will always have an inadequate foundation for our views and our lives." "Christian apologetics is the application of biblical truth to unbelief." "...if one is to be adequately prepared to give an answer for one’s Christian faith, the lordship of Christ must be a solid and unwavering commitment of one’s heart." "The point for the Christian, however, and the p

know and do

"Throughout Jesus’ teaching these two words know and do occur constantly and always in that order. We cannot do until we know, but we can know without doing. The house built on the rock is the house of the man who knows and does. The house built on the sand is the house of the man who knows but does not do."   (Francis Schaeffer, No Little People )

lift up your eyes

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.  Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." (John 4:34-38 ESV) Painting above: "Wheatfield With Lark", by Vincent van Gogh.  

how (not) to be secular

I just finished a most enlightening and penetrating book on the nature of secularism -- what it is and how we got here.  It is James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Eerdmans, 2014).  Charles Taylor is author of the magisterial volume, A Secular Age , and Smith is making him accessible for folks like me, a sort of Cliff's Notes on Charles Taylor's book.   Very, very helpful!  Here are some highlights to whet your interest...  "Our age is haunted. On the one hand, we live under a brass heaven, ensconced in immanence. We live in the twilight of both  gods and idols. But their ghosts have refused to depart, and every once in a while we might be surprised to find ourselves  tempted by belief, by intimations of transcendence."  "Most of us live in this cross-pressured space, where both our  agnosticism and our devotion are mutually haunted and haunting..." "But although we are more informed [than our ancestors], we a

God saves sinners

"This Gospel itself can be summarized in three words : 'God Saves Sinners.' By this we mean that,  "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." -- J. I. Packer, “Saved by His Precious Blood,” in A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 130.

an open letter to family and friends

Why I Can’t Celebrate This Supreme Court Decision I am writing this as an open letter to my family and friends who are supporters of same-sex marriage.  I have seen so many harsh comments and posts on both sides of this debate, and I want no part of that.  However, I do want to share where I stand, for clarity’s sake.  First, I want to affirm my love to my family and friends, gay or not. (Yes, I have gay friends.) We don't have to agree. I believe you have immense worth, having been created in the image of God.  I see your identity as not being defined by gender, orientation, or behavior, but as a unique individual created by God.  I affirm your right to freedom of conscience.  I recognize your rights under the law of our land.  Our Supreme Court has ruled that the states may not enact laws prohibiting same-sex marriages. Many are celebrating this historic decision. Yet, in my opinion, the Supreme Court has acted rashly against a tradition that has been upheld by many religio