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Showing posts from February, 2016

hidden gospels

he is and he is not silent

"Refuse to capitulate to the Kantian philosophy that says that ultimate truth about God is not accessible. He has been revealed. God is speaking and is not silent. He became flesh. He is risen. He has shown Himself. That not all see it is because the god of this age has blinded their minds, but as we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, God ‘has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:4-6)." ~ From Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections, by Josh Moody, Robin Weekes.

obsessing about the future

"We obsess about the future and we get anxious, because anxiety, after all, is simply living out the future before it gets here. We must renounce our sinful desire to know the future and to be in control. We are not gods. We walk by faith, not by sight. We risk because God does not risk. We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that’s all we need to know. Worry about the future is not simply a characteristic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God." ~ Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something , (Chicago: Moody, 2009) p. 48.  Quoted in  Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections by Josh Moody, Robin Weekes. 

my candidate

This being an election year in the U.S., much of our attention is turned to the various candidates, the debates, the claims and promises, the sound bites, and the endless drama of self-promotion.   I recently read a communion sermon by Jonathan Edwards, "Glorying in the Savior" , preached in November, 1729, in Northampton.   I was arrested by the beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ and his reign, and the great blessing upon his people.  How wonderful to be under his spiritual reign now, and one day we shall see his Kingdom come in power and glory! ... He is a "King of righteousness" (Hebrews 7:2) who is perfectly just in his government. He is the "Prince of Peace" [Isaiah 9:6], a king of the most unparalleled clemency and grace. Never was any kingdom ruled by a government so mild and gentle and gracious. He is exceeding gracious in the manner of his ruling his people by sweetly and powerfully influencing their hearts by his grace: not gove

some things haven't changed

C. S. Lewis wrote, "All that is not eternal is eternally out of date" ( The Four Loves ). J osh Moody and Robin Weekes, authors of Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections , would agree, and maintain that -- despite all our scientific and technological advances -- this age is pretty much like the ages before.  Therefore, "relevant" preaching will preach to those unchanging issues of greatest importance...   "What is the same about our age? Everything of greatest importance. People are still made in the image of God. People are still fallen and depraved. The world and the whole universe is still created by God and sustained by the word of His power. All of reality still throbs to the beating heart of the living God. Jesus is still Lord. The cross is the centre of the universe and of all time and space. The Holy Spirit is the power for ministry, life, change and Christlikeness... Ecclesiastes is right when it says that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (E

so much cause to glory

"What reason have we to praise God, who has given us so much cause to glory in Christ Jesus, that we that deserve so much shame should have so much cause to glory. We were in a forlorn condition: we were depressed to the lowest depths of misery and wretchedness; we were filthy and abominable, had made ourselves viler than the earth, and deserved nothing but shame and everlasting contempt; we had nothing to glory in, but all the circumstances of our case were such as administered to us just cause of shame and confusion of face. "But God has been pleased to provide one for us to take away our guilt and disgrace, and to be the glory in the midst of us; to put great honor upon us, to be as a covering to hide our nakedness, and not only so, but to adorn us and make us glorious; to be to us wisdom, to bring us from our shameful ignorance and darkness; to be our righteousness for the removal of our guilt and to procure acceptance with God for us; to be our sanctification, to chang

no mere mortals

Here's a quote from Sunday's sermon ... “Remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”   ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

pursuing holiness

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.   (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)  While going over 1 Corinthians 6 in my daily Bible reading, I was impressed with the reasons the Apostle Paul gives for the pursuit of holiness. He points  out two big problems in the church at Corinth: legal conflicts among the people (1 Cor 6:1-8), and sexual immorality (6:12-18)  The Corinthian believers needed to pursue meekness, forgiveness, and reconciliation with one another, and in the second case, sexual purity.   Here are 8 reasons to pursue holy character : We should so live as to be good examples before unbelievers (6:6) We belong to a kingdom where unrighteousness does not belong, and such character will be judged (6:9-10) We have a new identity in Christ -- cleansed, sanctified, justified (6:11) We are to pursue things which are helpful and freein

not your little goodness and mine

"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)   This is a summary statement of the principle of justification by faith in Christ.  God does not wait for someone to become morally righteous before he declares him or her justified, that is, righteous in his sight.  He justifies the ungodly -- while still ungodly -- by their trust in him. They are united by faith to the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, who covers them with his righteousness  (Jer. 23:6; 33:16; 2 Cor. 5:21). T his means we may come freely to the One offering himself freely to us. If we try to earn this gift, it is proof that we do not think we are as hopeless as we are, nor do we think he is as gracious as he is.   Two quotes from Martyn Lloyd-Jones are helpful here...     To make it quite practical I have a very simple test. After I have expla

the power of new affection

“It is seldom that any of our bad habits or flaws disappear by a mere nature process of natural  extinction. At least it is very seldom it is done by the instrumentality of reasoning or by the force  of mental determination. What can not be destroyed however may be dispossessed. One case  may be made to give away to another and to lose its power entirely has the reigning affect of the mind. Here’s an example: A youth may cease to idolize sensual pleasure but it is because of the  idol of wealth. The desire to make money has gotten ascendancy, so he becomes disciplined.   But the love of money might have ceased to be in his heart if he was draw to ideology and politics.   Now he is lorded over by the love of power and moral superiority instead of wealth. But there is  not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. The human heart’s  desire for one particular object is conquered. But its desire to have some object of adoration is  unconquerable. The o

ten evidences

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"  (Galatians 3:1-3 ESV) In studying this passage in Galatians, I was thinking, what are some of the evidences that the Holy Spirit is at work in lives of believers?  This is not exhaustive, I'm sure, but here are ten... When we experience conviction of sin, not mere guilt and desire to escape punishment, but an awareness of sin against God which draws us to Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (John 16:8-11) When Jesus Christ becomes attractive to us, and we begin to see him as impressive, powerful, beautiful, and glorious (John 16:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24) – this is the work of the Spirit.  When God’s love is so

good prayers unanswered

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,  for he will speak peace to his people,  to his saints;  but let them not turn back to folly."   (Psalm 85:8 ESV) One of the more difficult things to face in the Christian life is when good prayers are seemingly unanswered.  We can understand why the Lord would not answer prayers that request harmful things, but what about prayers for those things that God seems to approve?   Puritan Thomas Goodwin, in his work, The Return of Prayers , notes... "God approves many things he decrees not."  That is, t hough he may not give us what we are asking, the things we have asked for are good and he is pleased that we have asked him for them.  It is important, Goodwin notes, to see that God does respond in answer by revealing himself, his peace, or with a sustaining promise... "That God reveals himself is the answer he intends to some prayers, and it is answer enough." "For God to quiet, an

election, and elections

"...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."    (Ephesians 1:4 ESV) We are in the midst of a national campaign to determine candidates for our upcoming presidential election.  I've been reflecting -- in light of Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 -- on the differences between the "election" of God and the "elections" of people.  As difficult as this truth of election may be to understand fully, there are a few things that are clear from the Scriptures:  People elect people they deem worthy; God elects the unworthy. People elect people based upon merit; God elects people based upon mercy.  People make choices based on limited knowledge;   God chooses in accordance with infinite wisdom. Sometimes people choose others in an arbitrary way;   God elects in accordance with his divine purpose and plan.   People elect people to positions of power and license; God elects people to be

one theme

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV) "That is the characteristic of this age. We have a tabloid mentality. We want to know a little bit of information about everything. But that is the exact opposite of what we have here. Take this book the Bible, the great old book of sixty-six books, written at different times by different people in different circumstances. In this book there is a great variety of subjects. There is much about creation and history; there is much about births and marriages and deaths and wars. And yet this book is not an encyclopedia. It is a very specialized book. It is the manual of the soul. This book has only one theme from beginning to end, and that one theme is God and man, or man in his relationship to the eternal God. It is not a book t

brief and eternally relevant words

I have been reading in the Gospel of Mark recently.  I've been impressed how eternally relevant and fresh his Word is.  And in Mark, Jesus utters some very brief statements that bring amazing comfort, or questions that bring sharp conviction.  The Holy Spirit applies them as powerfully now as he did then.  I need to hear these brief -- but eternally relevant -- words often: For comfort and courage:  "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:5 ESV) "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." (5:34) "Do not fear, only believe." (5:36) "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." (6:50) “All things are possible for one who believes.”  (9:23) "Go your way; your faith has made you well." (10:52) For conviction and searching the heart:  "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" (4:40) "Why are you making a commotion and weeping?"  ("The child is not d

on the two natures of Christ

"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."   (John 1:14 ESV)  Here are some highlights from Herman Bavinck on the two natures of Christ... At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 it stated that the one person of Christ consisted of two natures, unchanged and unmingled  (against Eutyches), and not separated nor divided (against Nestorius), and that these natures existed alongside of each other,  having their unity in the one person. What difference does it really make, they begin by saying, whether we agree with this doctrine or not? What matters is that we  ourselves possess the person of Christ, He who stands high and exalted above this awkward confession. But before long these  same persons begin introducing words and terms themselves in order to describe the person of Christ whom they accept. Nobody  can escape from this situation, for what we do not know we cannot claim

what is revival?

And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name."    Moses said, "Please show me your glory."    And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live."   And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."  (Exodus 33:17-23 ESV) "What is revival? It is just a glimpse of God’s 'back parts.' It is just a sight of the glory of the eternal God. It is a g

greatest issue facing American church?

Dr. John Frame was recently asked, "What is the greatest issue facing the American church?" His reply:  "The greatest issue facing the American church is its fidelity to Scripture, its fidelity to its foundation.  It seems every time there's some social movement that comes along, churches cave.  They go along with cultural change rather than holding fast to Scripture.  I think we need to have a rebirth of conviction that the Scripture is the Word of God, that God won't be trifled with.  If it's not God's Word, it's not good news.  If it's not God's Word, there's no point in paying any attention to it.  But if it is God's word then that has to be more important than any cultural expression that there is."  ~ Dr. John Frame, January 27, 2016.   See video here .  Btw, check out John Frame's reading shelf here .