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Showing posts from 2016

named in figures and images

"...that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.'" (Acts 17:27-28 ESV) "Because of this intimate relationship, God can be named in the terms of His creatures, and He can be spoken of anthropomorphically.  The same Scripture which speaks in the most exalted way of God's incomparable greatness and majesty, at the same time speaks of Him in figures and images which sparkle with life.  It speaks of His eyes and ears, His hands and feet, His mouth and lips, His heart and bowels.  It ascribes all kinds of attributes to Him -- of wisdom and knowledge, will and power, righteousness and mercy, and it ascribes to Him also such emotions as joy and grief, fear and vexation, zeal and envy, remorse and wrath, hatred and anger.  It speaks of Hi

beholding his glory

"One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ." "No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who does not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world." "Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight." "For nothing can perfectly comprehend that which is infinite, but what is itself infinite. Therefore the blessed and blessing sight which we shall have of God will be always 'in the face of Jesus Christ.'” ~ John Owen, from The Glory of Christ . 

kingdom prayer

" Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread ...'"   (Matthew 6:9-11a ESV) Many of us find that our our prayers often don't seem to rise above our own personal needs or immediate family concerns.  We see that we're called to pray for the honor of God's name, the coming of Christ's kingdom, and that God's will would be done on earth... but daily bread may seem more real and practical.   Besides, how does one measure the effectiveness of big prayers, like the advance of the gospel or the coming of his Kingdom? I've been helped recently in praying for bigger things, things that relate to progress of God's Big Story on earth, or what theologians call "the history of redemption."   Consider Revelation 8:3-4... " And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much in

placed within our reach

The Nativity Story (2008) "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known."  (John 1:14, 18 ESV) "Through revelation, the incomprehensible and utterly transcendent God places himself within our reach. The sovereign God, who eludes our attempts at mastery, by speculation, good works, or mystical experience, places himself in our hands as a free gift. Instead of being consumed, we are reconciled, redeemed, and made adopted heirs of his kingdom in the Son and by his Spirit, through his Word."   ~ Michael S. Horton, Pilgrim Theology .

a Trinitarian prayer

The Trinity Window at Holy Trinity Church, Hertford, UK.   "Good morning heavenly Father, good morning Lord Jesus, good morning Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship you as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Saviour and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, Sanctifier of the people of God. Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen." ~ The Morning Prayer of John Stott  (1921-2011) as found in The One True Light: Daily Advent Readings from the  Gospel of John , by Tim Chester.

the goodness of wisdom

Here are some recent highlights from reading  The Everlasting God , by Broughton Knox, on God's wisdom and goodness... God’s covenant relationship with creation, when expressed in personal terms, means that he is faithful; he fulfills that which he promises. He is the faithful God and we are to reflect his faithfulness in our relationships, not only with God, but with one another. The faithfulness of God is the most important aspect of his goodness. First, there is the relationship, then there is the responsibility of that relationship. From this flows the authority which God has over all, and which leads in turn to the obligation on all of obedience, thanksgiving and honor. Knowledge applied purposefully but not towards the good of others is not called wisdom but cunning. Wisdom must always be good. His infinite knowledge coupled with his infinite power and infinite goodness mean that he has infinite wisdom. God’s wisdom is marvelously displayed in the created world. A

abraham's faith

Sermon notes & quotes on Romans 4:13-25.  Download or stream "Abraham's Faith"   What is faith?  Is it...  -- a feeling of dependence or that everything is going to work out? -- sincerely believing in something but the something doesn’t really matter? -- believing in faith itself, as in “just have enough faith”?  -- believing a creed or set of doctrines? -- a leap in the dark, believing in something that is empirically unproven? -- wish fulfillment, or visualizing a future outcome that we desire? -- making a decision or "going forward" in a church service? Four key concepts from Romans 4:13-25, which are characteristics of Abraham's faith that apply also to believers today.  PROMISE / POWER / POSSESSION / PERSON 1) PROMISE. Faith looks to God’s gracious word of promise . (4:16-17, 20) It is not wishful thinking, projection, or a feeling, but is  based upon God's revelation, in words, focusing upon a promise given in grace. Unless sal

the God of the covenant

Among rational and moral creatures all higher life takes  the form of a covenant.  Generally, a covenant is an  agreement between persons who voluntarily obligate and  bind themselves to each other for the purpose of fending  off an evil or obtaining a good.  Such an agreement,  whether it is made tacitly or defined in explicit  detail, is the usual form in terms of which all humans  live and work together.  Love, friendship, marriage, as  well as all social cooperation in business, industry,  science, art, and so forth, is ultimately grounded in a  covenant, that is, in reciprocal fidelity and an  assortment of generally recognized moral obligations. It should not surprise us, therefore, that also the  highest and most richly textured life of human beings,  namely, religion bears this character.  In Scripture  "covenant" is the fixed form in which the relation of  God to his people is depicted and presented.  ..covenant is the essence of true religion. Why should this b

burdened or annoyed?

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:46-47 ESV) "Are you burdened about the state of your country?  Are you merely annoyed at the increase in sin, or is your heart full of sorrow for poor men and women who are its victims?  Are you merely annoyed with young people, or do you feel sorry for them because they do know any better, because they have never heard about God and Christ and the possibility of being children of God?  Are you just irritated by them, or does your heart bleed for them?  Do you want to show them this 'marvelous light'?  Do you want to hold before them 'the word of life'?  People come together in fellowship in order that they might shine more brightly and show this evil generation to which they belong that there is

the quotable parsons

Burk & Amber Parsons Twitter is my main social media venue because I can receive short (140 characters short) insights from a variety of people.  I have enjoyed reading the tweets of Burk Parsons, who is editor of Tabletalk magazine and serves as co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. He also has the distinction of being one of the founding members of the Backstreet Boys.  See Challies' interview with Parsons here .   Here are a few recent tweets from the quotable @BurkParsons...  "Theology is not simply the pursuit of knowledge about God, it's the pursuit of God himself."   "Beware of those who teach theology without using the Bible."   "W e can't do theology without doing careful exegesis."   "Pastors, if we focus on our sermon, our people get a sermon, but if we focus on Christ, our people get Christ."   "Seeking first God's kingdom is the antidote to worrying about tomorrow because i

articles by alistair roberts

Oxford (UK) city skyline I've recently enjoyed articles by Alistair Roberts in the U.K. and his insights into the state of evangelicalism in our country.  In the first article he describes the decline of the impact of evangelical scholarship, and in the second he describes the influence of what he calls " Manichaean social justice ideology." "Lessons From the Collapse of American Protestantism" "Currently we face another critical juncture in the development of the American public square and Christians’ place within it. An increasingly dominant secular liberalism antagonistic to orthodox Christian faith will only accelerate the process of squeezing evangelicals out of public life." "Further Thoughts on How Social Justice Ideology Fuels Racism and Sexism" "Rather than adopting a gentle approach to navigating the differences between groups, seeking for ways for people with different values and beliefs to live together i

we can know the incomprehensible God

"Mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics. To be sure, the term 'mystery' in Scripture does not mean an abstract supernatural  truth in the Roman Catholic sense. Yet Scripture is equally far removed from the idea that believers can grasp the revealed  mysteries in a scientific sense. In truth, the knowledge that God has revealed of himself in nature and Scripture far  surpasses human imagination and understanding. In that sense it is all mystery with which the science of dogmatics is  concerned, for it does not deal with finite creatures, but from beginning to end looks past all creatures and focuses on the  eternal and infinite One himself. From the very start of its labors, it faces the Incomprehensible One. "All things are considered in the light of God, subsumed under him, traced back to him as the starting point.  Dogmatics is  always called upon to ponder and describe God and God alone, whose glory is in creation and re-creation, in nature and grace,  in the wo

double imputation

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26 ESV) "At the heart of the gospel is a double imputation. My sin is imputed to Jesus. His righteousness is imputed to me. And in this two-fold transaction we see that God -- who does not negotiate sin, who doesn't compromise his own integrity with our salvation, but rather punishes sin fully and really, after it has been imputed to Jesus -- retains his own righteousness, and so he is both just and the justifier, as the Apostle tells us here. So, my sin goes to Jesus; his righteousness comes to me, in the sight of God... This is the article upon which the church stands or falls." ~ R. C. Sproul, "The Protestant View of Justification" in the series, "Luther and the Reformation" 

the responsibility of the church toward society

The following paragraphs are taken from the conclusion of an article by J. Gresham Machen, originally published in 1933 in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science .  Machen is addressing the relevance of the Christian message to American education early in the 20th century.  He answers the question of what responsibility the church has in working for the betterment of society...  "The message will not be enforced by human authority or the pomp of numbers.  Yet some of you may hear it.  If you do hear it and heed it, you will possess riches greater than the riches of all the world. "Do you think that if you heed the message you will be less successful students of political and social science; do you think that by becoming citizens of another world you will be come less fitted to solve this world's problems; do you think that acceptance of the Christian message will hinder political or social advance?  No, my friends, I will present to you a s

a place to stand

husband's duties

"In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body."  (Ephesians 5:28-30 ESV)  Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the duties of the husband toward his wife... First of all, the husband must realize that his wife is part of himself.  He may not feel this instinctively; he has to be taught it; and the Bible in all its parts teaches it.  In other words, the husband must understand that he and his wife are not two: they are one.     On the practical level, therefore, the whole of the husband's thinking must include his wife also.  He must never think of himself in isolation or in detachment...  His thinking, therefore, must never be personal in the sense of being individualistic, and what he does involves of necessity the other half.  [On Eph. 5:29] A man's attitude to his wife, says the

the problem of self

"The real cause of failure, ultimately, in marriage is always  self, and the various manifestations of self.  Of course,  that is the cause of trouble everywhere and in every realm.   Self and selfishness are the greatest disrupting forces in  the world.  All the major problems confronting the world,  whether you look at the matter from the standpoint of  nations and statesmen or from the standpoint of industry and  social conditions, or from any other standpoint -- all these  troubles ultimately come back to self, to 'my rights', to  'what I want', and to 'who is he'? or 'who is she'?   "Self, with its horrid manifestations, always leads to trouble,  because if two 'selfs' come into opposition there is bound  to be a clash.  Self always wants everything for it-self.  That is true of my self, but it is equally true of your  self.  You at once have two autonomous powers, each deriving  from self, and a clash is inevitable.  Such clashe

the importance of christian scholarship

In June of 1932, J. Gresham Machen gave three lectures at a meeting of the Bible League in Caxton Hall, Westminster, London. The titles were "The Importance of Christian Scholarship for Evangelism", " The Importance of Christian Scholarship  for Defense of the Faith", and " The Importance of Christian Scholarship   for Building Up the Church."  The PDF of this series, as well as MP3 readings of the messages are located on the Reformed Audio site .  It would be worth your while to listen to them! Here are just a few excerpts... Let us, therefore, pray that God will raise up for us today true defenders of the Christian faith. We are living in the midst of a mighty conflict against the Christian religion. The conflict is carried on with intellectual weapons. Whether we like it or not, there are millions upon millions of our fellowmen who reject Christianity for the simple reason that they do not believe Christianity to be true. What is to be done in suc

JE birthday quotes

In honor of Jonathan Edwards' birthday last week  (October 5), here are a few snippets from his writings, courtesy of  @SDG_67 : "Such is man's natural enmity against God, that he would rather trust  in anything in the world, than God." "The cross was the devil's own weapon and with this weapon he was  overthrown: as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword." "Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door  calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners." "Seeing the beauty of God's holiness will melt the hearts of men, wean  them from the world, draw them to God, and effectually change them." "The gospel seemed to me the richest treasure, the treasure I have  most desired; I longed that it might dwell in me richly." "The yoke of Christ is abundantly lighter than the iron yoke of Satan." "Make much use of prayer. You have a

the whole universe a language

"I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, and the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things, as full as a language is of words..."   ~ Jonathan Edwards, Typological Writings , Yale Vol. 11, p. 152.

consider the clouds

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;  I will sing praises to you among the nations.   For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;  your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.   Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!   (Psalm 108:3-5 ESV; see also Psalm 36:5; 57:10-11) I love stepping outside in the morning and looking up at the clouds in the sky. Or in the evening I'll take a walk and enjoy a beautiful sunset, with streaks and colors of light illuminating the clouds.   One thing clouds always remind me of is that God's steadfast love and faithfulness is gloriously high above me, infinitely surpassing any of my earthbound needs and concerns.  His love is greater than my sin and higher than any problem I face. His steadfast love and faithfulness is inexhaustible. We can never run out of his faithfulness nor reach the end of the love which he has toward all who are in Christ Jesus. (See Romans 8.)      Jo

on the Spirit and Word

the privilege of being the church

"To me the saddest and most grievous thing of all at the present time is the failure of Christian people to realize what the New Testament tells us about ourselves, and what it means to be members of the body of Christ.  In a world that attaches such significance to honors and glories and position, is it not amazing that we can regard our membership of the church as we do?  Many seem to regard it as almost a kind of dignity that they confer upon the church, instead of realizing that it is the highest and the most glorious privilege that anyone can ever have or know.  Others regard their membership of the church as a task and as a duty, and are rather pleased with themselves if they perform any function.  Now that betrays a complete failure to understand what it really means to be members of this body, which is the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself." ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work (Baker Books, 1973) p. 196. Here is the original

unraveling strands II

Over twenty-five years ago, Carl Henry gave a lecture, first to the Baptist Union of Romania (September, 1990), and later to the Tyndale Seminary faculty (the Netherlands) and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, entitled "Christianity and Resurgent Paganism".  As with all of his writings I am continually amazed at Henry's prescient insight into Western culture and its trajectory.  Where Henry refers to "modernism" we can easily substitute the term "post-modernism." This is the second post with a few quotes from this talk.   "Modernity, therefore, needs to be liberated not only from the shackles of unbelief, but also from its bondage to wrong beliefs.  Prominent among these beliefs is the notion that science, as mathematical physicists ideally pursue it, is the only reliable method of knowing.  Modern empiricists sponsor an ideological totalism of their own when they confer explanatory crown rights on a theory of truth that cannot decide the

the believer and good works

In Sunday's sermon we learned how we should reject moralism and embrace God's grace given to us in Jesus Christ  (Romans 2:1-11) .  In staff meeting this morning we discussed a related question -- how then do we do good works as Christians without lapsing  back into moralism? What exactly is a good work for the believer, the kind of good work God is looking for?  How do the good works  we attempt before salvation differ from the good works that God expects of the believer after salvation? I think there are at least four differences between a moralistic approach to life and the life of the Christian seeking to do  good .    1) There's a different standard .  For the believer God's word is the source book for what constitutes a good work.  Before, it  was what seemed right or good to us at the time, or what is popularly viewed as good in our culture.  Though there are many  good works from a humanitarian viewpoint, the believer increasingly views his works in t