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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

The Divine Intention of the Cross by Pastor John Samson

What was God's intention in sending His Son to die on the cross? What did Jesus actually accomplish on the cross? Who did He accomplish it for? Updated article here.

May 31, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (25 – His Sending Out the Twelve)

Then he says to his disciples, “The harvest is much, but the workers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send out workers into his harvest”. – Matthew 9:37-38

Immediately before Jesus sends his disciples to go throughout Israel from city to city, healing, casting out demons, and preaching the good news of the Kingdom, we are given a glimpse of his deep compassion for the scattered and wayward crowds, a compassion which works mightily in his tireless ministry of healing and evangelizing. This precious glimpse is the foundation and fountainhead for the mission of the twelve, which follows. It is likewise the foundation for our own mission, which trades the cities of the world for the villages of Israel, and substitutes the innumerable band of faithful witnesses for those first twelve disciples. If we would learn anything from this account, let us assure ourselves, above all else, that Jesus' compassionate person, which manifested itself in his mighty works, done according to the will of the Father, is the sole and illimitable source from which the ever-widening streams of gospel-mercies flow, and shall continue to flow through the Church, until the whole world is full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).

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May 30, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading....": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue II


Image and Reality

What is real? What is image? Many people today spend much of their time in 'virtual reality'. It is axiomatic that 'virtual' reality is not true reality. In fact, my dictionary defines 'virtual' (as in virtual reality) as that which is "practically a reality, but not a reality in actuality, only in name." Christians must be discerning of the difference between image and reality. Image is what we seem to be. Reality or our character is who we truly are.

It would be simple to say that image is concerned with the external person, what ideas about oneself one wishes to convey to another. In contrast, character is something developed internally over time (by God's grace) and manifests externally (quite naturally) in our character ("You will know the tree by the fruit it bears" suggests that there is a difference between real fruit and 'virtual fruit').

Here are three quotations submitted to you today that hopefully will help you to reflect on your image and your reality. Our hope in Christ is that our image and our reality will be harmonious. In other words, what we seem to be and who we are will not be in tension. First a quotation from social historian Daniel Boorstin, from his great book 'The Image' (1963) where he defines the expectations of modern man in the real world and how this reality tends toward making images more attractive to us.

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May 29, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Saint's Call to Arms by William Gurnall

William Gurnall's The Christian in Complete Armour is on our top 10 list of books on the Christian life and spirituality. IMHO, It is a book that belongs on the bookshelf of every disciple of Christ. Here is an excerpt:

"...not only the Christian's first strength to close with Christ is from God, but he is beholden still to God for the exercise of that strength, in every ac­tion of his Christian course. As a child that travels in his father's company, all is paid for, but his father carries the purse, not himself, so the Christian's shot is discharged in every condition; but he cannot say this I did, or that I suffered, but God wrought all in me and for me. The very comb of pride is cut here; no room [is left] for any self-exalting thoughts. The Christian cannot say, that I am a saint is mercy; but being a saint, that my faith is strong, this is the child of my own care and watchfulness. Alas, poor Christian! who kept thine eye waking, and stirred up thy care? Was not this the offspring of God as well as thy faith at first?

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May 29, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Secularism, Religion and Morality Vs. The Gospel

Secularism tends to make people selfish and individualistic. Religion and morality in general tend to make people tribal and self-righteous toward other groups (since their salvation has, they think, been earned by their achievement). But the gospel of grace, centered on a man dying for us while we were his enemies, removes self-righteousness and selfishness and turns its members to serve others both for the temporal flourishing of all people, especially the poor, and for their salvation. It moves us to serve others irrespective of their merits, just as Christ served us (Mark 10:45). - Gospel Coalition

May 29, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Doctrines of Grace – Categorized Scripture List

God has recently given us the opportunity to discuss some theological issues with other Christians who believe differently than we do on a number of points, most notably the doctrines of grace. In such a circumstance, given the overwhelming supply of scriptural evidence that comes to bear on the topic, it seemed to me that the best approach would be a simple categorized scripture list: the fact that the entire paper would be scriptures, with the exception of a few brief explanatory notes, would underscore the truth that this is God's own word and teaching; and the fact that it would be categorized would facilitate the ready comparison of scripture with scripture so as to lead one to a full-orbed understanding of the biblical teaching. Although I found a few good scripture lists of that nature available online, none of them was laid out in quite the progression that I was looking for, and so I developed my own. I'm posting it here with just the scripture references, but if anyone should find the list with the full text already printed out useful for a similar study, I would be glad to e-mail the file. Just leave a comment or contact me by e-mail.

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May 27, 2007  |  Comments (46)   |  Permalink

Calvin's Pastoral Prayers from the Book of Hosea

John Calvin had a pastoral heart for his readers and for those in his congregation. This is most evident as seen in his prayers which can be found at the end of each lesson in his commentaries. I have selected a number of his prayers from his commentary on the Book of Hosea. They exhibit the depth of his relationship to Christ and are a great meditation and help for our own prayers. Hope you are edified as much as I am by them.

Prayer

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast once adopted us, and continues to confirm this thy favour by calling us unceasingly to thyself, and dost not only severely chastise us, but also gently and paternally invite us to thyself, and exhort us at the same time to repentance, -- O grant that we may not be so hardened as to resist thy goodness, nor abuse this thine incredible forbearance, but submit ourselves in obedience to thee; that whenever thou mayest severely chastise us, we may bear thy corrections with genuine submission of faith, and not continue untameable and obstinate to the last, but return to thee the only fountain of life and salvation, that as thou has once begun in us a good work, so thou mayest perfect it to the day of our Lord. Amen.


Prayer

Grant, Almighty God, that as we were from our beginning lost, when thou wert pleased to extend to us thy hand, and to restore us to salvation for the sake of thy Son; and that as we continue even daily to run headlong to our own ruin, -- O grant that we may not, by sinning so often, so provoke at length thy displeasure as to cause thee to take away from us the mercy which thou hast hitherto exercised towards us, and through which thou hast adopted us: but by thy Spirit destroy the wickedness of our heart, and restore us to a sound mind, that we may ever cleave to thee with a true and sincere heart, that being fortified by thy defence, we may continue safe even amidst all kinds of danger, until at length thou gatherest us into that blessed rest, which has been prepared for us in heaven by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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May 25, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Pacific Northwest L’Abri Conference 2007


http://www.labri-nw.org/
See you there.

May 24, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (24 – His Raising of Jairus's Daughter)

While he was still speaking, some of the rulers of the synagogue came, saying, “Your daughter has died; why do you still trouble the Teacher?”. But Jesus, having heard the word which was spoken, says to the ruler of the synagogue [i.e. Jairus], “Do not fear, only believe”. – Mark 5:35-36

Within the account of Jesus' marvelous resurrection of the only daughter of Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, we find another marvelous miracle-account embedded, in which he frees a woman from a twelve year discharge of blood, from which she had been able to find relief in no other way. The conjunction of these two accounts teach us of Jesus' great mercy and compassion for all sorts of believers – the greatest as well as the weakest. He responds to great faith by causing it to grow and become greater yet; and he responds to weak faith in the same way, causing it to grow up until it is healthy and flourishing. Let us take heart at this truth! No matter how smoldering the wick of our faith may be, Jesus will not quench it, but will gently blow upon it with the soft breath of his mighty words and works, until it bursts once more into a flame of passionate devotion and steadfast trust in him alone (see Isaiah 42:3). But ah, let us examine ourselves, to see whether we have any faith at all: for the thronging crowds, who followed Jesus out of impure motives, not because they loved him or supposed that they could obtain their spiritual good from him, received no good thing from the Lord. Are we blindly following along with the crowd of professing believers, walking where they walk because they are many? Or is our one desire to reach Jesus, whether the crowds be with us or against us? If our heart truly yearns to touch him in whom is our healing and hope, then no matter how timid our faith may be, he will see us and strengthen us to come to him. But if we have no true longing to receive from him our every good, then throng about him as we may, he will give us no heed. Let us learn this lesson well: there will always be crowds thronging about Jesus, whether to mock or to offer insincere flattery; but few there be whose yearnings reach out to him alone.

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May 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue I

"I've Been Reading..." - Rev. C. R. Biggs, Issue I

For the next few weeks, I would like to post brief quotes I have collected from excellent books that I have read and books that I am presently reading for study as a pastor. These quotations are offered as reflections on the Church and our present culture primarily with hopes that it will stimulate our thought and perhaps even suggest some good books (old and new) that you would like to read.

My first quote is from Alexis de Tocqueville:

In the early 1840s, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote on his observations of American culture, from politics to religion. In the book 'Democracy in America' he claims in the preface that he writes as a "friend" to Americans, from one who has objectively observed the culture as an outsider from France.

He claimed that his main purpose in writing the book was to warn Americans of one issue that he believed would be destructive to a society and culture. The issue was INDIVIDUALISM>. We should reflect on how individualism also negatively can affect Christ's Church in the way we think of our identity as Christ's people, our fellowship together, our corporate worship (especially the hearing of the Word and participation in the Sacraments), and our call to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:1-2, 8-10):

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May 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Who is Israel?

Interesting article by Michael Horton found here.

May 22, 2007  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

The Sufficiency of Christ's Obedience in His Life and Death by John Piper

When we teach that our right standing with God is attained through the imputation of Christ’s obedience to our account (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:6, 11; 10:3), does this imply that the work of Christ on the cross—his final suffering and death—is insufficient for our justification?

Romans 3:24-25: “[They] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood.”

Romans 4:25: “[He] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Galatians 2:21: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

To see the answer, we might ask a similar question concerning the forgiveness of sins. In other words, let us ask: Does the insistence upon Jesus’ sinless life imply that the work of Christ as the spotless Lamb of God on the cross is insufficient for the canceling of the debt of our sins? Our sins being cancelled and forgiven is connected most directly to the death of Christ. For example:

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May 22, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Musings On "The Distinctive Church"

"This church is different!" Fine, but why? Because everyone there is young and hip? Because everyone is Reformed? Because all the parents keep their kids out of public schools? Because the music is good and loud and original? Because there are icons and candles and an ancient liturgy to connect us to the historical church? Because you'll never see a jumbo-tron or overhead projector in the sanctuary? Because good coffee is available before, during, and after the service? Because the pastor isn't afraid to use coarse language? Because the church office refrigerator is full of microbrews? (I could go on…)

Hopefully your local church won't want to be defined or distinguished by anything except the Gospel. If the Word of Christ is central to your identity and mission, good. By definition, then, your church would seek to remove all other hurdles than the Gospel between people and God. The attitude of, "If you're not different like us, we don't like you," is a major blockade to be removed. Once these barriers are gone, and all you have left is the grace of God through Jesus Christ, then you have a distinctive church… only, it's what the church has always been, and what it should be. What does that do for your distinctiveness?

May 20, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Musings On Endurance

One could think of "suffering" as the experience of pain without hope. Such pain is hard (impossible?) to bear. However, with hope, the experience of pain becomes endurance—waiting it out, holding fast. If one has a reason to endure the pain (whatever it is), then perhaps the pain itself becomes more bearable.

Lack of control seems essential to pain, which is unendurable if one has no hope of Another in control, a light at the end of the tunnel. Prayer is a giving up of the need for control, which is not to make the pain go away, but to acknowledge it more truly. Prayer made in light of sure hope is the best way to endure pain. Such hopeful prayer is the vehicle of trust in, intimacy with, and gratitude toward the One who gently superintends all our pain.

May 19, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (23 – His Calming of a Storm)

And they feared greatly, and were saying to one another, “Who then is this man, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”. – Mark 4:41

From the account of this notable miracle of the Savior, in which he commanded the winds and the waves to cease with calm authority, and immediately they obeyed him, we may learn much of what manner of man he truly is; in the surrounding circumstances, we may observe many ways in which we are similar to the disciples, loved by Jesus, striving to follow his will, but ah, so weak and filled with doubts, which ever rise to the surface when the storms of life stir the waters of our soul; and finally, in Jesus' reactions and words of response to the disciples, we may be instructed even as they – for he has not changed, and his words still resound with the same authority and wisdom that they possessed some two thousand years ago, when first he uttered them. Let us, then, be diligent to examine in what ways we resemble those first disciples, and then to discern what we may of the fearful and wonderful person, deeds, and words of our Savior; for in so doing, we will find that whatever our needs are, their solution is found in Christ. This the first disciples learned long ago, and this the disciples throughout the world are still learning today.

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May 19, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Theology is a Holy Work, a Service of Worship

Religion, the fear of God, must therefore be the element which inspires and animates all theological investigation. That must be the pulsebeat of the science. A theologian is a person who makes bold to speak about God because he speaks out of God and through God. To profess theology is to do holy work. It is a priestly ministration in the house of the Lord. It is itself a service of worship, a consecration of mind and heart to the honour of His name.

- Herman Bavinck. Quoted from The Good Confression: An Exploration of the Christian Faith by Daniel R. Hyde

May 17, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Impact of New Testament Mystery Revelation on Old Testament Hermeneutics

When Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31, and expounded upon it thus: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the Church”; he was engaging in a hermeneutical process that had definite roots in Old Testament revelatory processes, as exemplified most notably in Daniel chapter two; and also, in the exegetical methods of the Qumran community. In the Danielic passage, King Nebuchadnezzar receives divine revelation in the form of a dream, which lacks the information necessary to arrive at a thorough understanding of all the implications which inhered in the revelation from the beginning. At this stage it is called a “mystery” (Aramaic, razah, translated musterion in the ancient Greek versions), until Daniel receives from God the vital information that was lacking, by means of which he is enabled to give to the King the full significance of the revelation. Similarly, the Qumran expositors regarded the texts of scripture as so many “mysteries” which lack one vital element, namely, the person or time ultimately referred to, without which the full meaning inherent in the text could not be apprehended. Of course, this missing element could only be received by divine revelation (see F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians [NICNT], pp. 394-395, together with his footnotes).

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May 15, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (22 – His Speaking in Parables)

And his disciples approached and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”. And he answered and said, “Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.” – Matthew 12:27-28

Many generations before our Savior walked on the earth, it was prophesied of him, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old” (Psalm 78:2); and when he finally arrived upon this earth, we may see how thoroughly he fulfilled this prophecy, uttering parables and sayings which contained all the truth and wisdom of heaven, but which hid their rich wisdom from the understanding of the learned and respected men of Israel, and opened them up to the wondering faith of the simplest child. How true is the praise of the psalmist, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise” (Matthew 21:16; Psalm 8:2)! And nowhere do we see more clearly the wisdom of Christ in his utterance of parables than when he “sat beside the sea; and there gathered together unto him many crowds, so that he entered a boat and sat down, and all the crowd stood upon the shore; and he spoke to them many things in parables” (Matthew 13:2-3). To this account, what Jesus spoke to the people in parables and mysteries, and the reason for his enigmatic method of instruction, we will now turn our attention, as the Spirit of God permits.

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May 12, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A clearer understanding of Grace (Testimony)

This testimony comes from a lady called Analee:

I will start at the beginning. Before Jeremy and I got married we had a few discussions on what church we would attend. In my heart I new I wanted to stay at my home church, but I was going to submit and go where Jeremy felt God would have us be. I knew this meant that we would being going to CLCC. I loved everyone there, but there were just a few things I did not like about it. I disagreed with their theology and I wished that it had more for the older kids (thinking ahead of when, Lord willing, we had kids). I also just liked going to church with my family.

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May 09, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

John Calvin Goes to the Hawaiian Islands

Patrick, a regular visitor of Monergism.com, recently purchased one of our T-Shirts and sent us a picture of Calvin looking out at Opaeka Falls in the island of Kauai, Hawaii. He said, "I really dig the shirt.. Truly creation is the theatre of God's glory! God bless your ministry ...!"

May 09, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The facts of history and the "secret place"

Interesting interchange between a man called Keith Moore and Dr. James White (taken from the www.aomin.org website)

Dr. White, if you understood how much you are loved by Roman Catholics in spite of your misled ramblings regarding our beliefs, you would go into your secret place and ask Jesus what He would have you do and say instead of assuming what He would have you do and say. I say this from experience and from a very serious concern for your eternal soul. In His Mercy, Keith Moore

Mr. Moore:

Yes, I've truly been feeling the love from Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong and the rest of those who have been sending me their "love." But, like those folks, Mr. Moore, you speak of "misled ramblings." Now, I find it odd, and maybe you should as well, that the folks who continually say this are the same ones who will never, ever expose themselves to the tough task of proving their accusations. I mean, it is so easy to accuse me of ignorance and the like, but, I've done nearly three dozen live, moderated, public debates with leading Roman Catholic apologists. Wouldn't it be rather obvious that I've missed the boat in those contexts? Couldn't these well trained, knowledgable men demonstrate my many errors?

So I have to ask, what is it about a "secret place" that can change the facts of history and the truths of the Bible into their opposites? If I go into my "secret place," will the fact that there was no single bishop in Rome until the middle of the second century go away? Will the fact that Ignatius, when writing to the church at Rome at the beginning of the second century, did not make any reference to the bishop of Rome, disappear? Will evidence that someone, anyone, in the first five centuries of the church, believed what Rome teaches today about Mary, suddenly appear there in my secret place? Will the Pornocracy and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church disappear? Will the text of the Bible change in my secret place, so that I no longer possess, already, peace, having been justified by faith (Romans 5:1)?

Will the statement that Jesus' death perfects those for whom it was made be altered, in my secret place, to where Jesus' repetitive, non-perfecting, non-saving sacrifice, represented repeatedly upon Roman altars, will always leave me uncertain, imperfect, liable to suffering in purgatory, and even to eternal death should I die in mortal sin? And what really frightens me, Keith, is if I go to this secret place of which you speak, will Christ lose His ability to save, perfectly, without fail, every single one given to Him by the Father (John 6:38-39)? If so, to be honest, Keith---I will stick with the revealed Word of God. I invite you to flee any place, secret or otherwise, that keeps you from knowing the truth.

May 08, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Expository Genius of John Calvin. By Dr. Steven Lawson

Reviewed by Pastor David Thommen

When we think or talk of John Calvin it may be safe to assume that we often think of the theologian of the Reformation that wrote the Institutes, which continues to be a mainstay of Reformed theology. It is not often, however, that we think of John Calvin the preacher. I am not saying that we don’t know of Calvin’s preaching, but it is not often we look at Calvin’s method of preaching. This is exactly what Dr. Steven Lawson has given us a look at in his new book The Expository Genius of John Calvin.

The first chapter of this marvelous little book deals with an overview of the life of John Calvin. Lawson gives a brief synopsis of Calvin’s life from birth to death. In the course of this synopsis he marks the high spots of the life of John Calvin such as his conversion, his arrival, dismissal, and re-entry into Geneva, and his continued faithfulness to the Scriptures in the midst of adversity over the Lord’s Table with the Libertines. Calvin’s life was marked by one of continued influence in the life of people. And his life continues to make and impact and have influence on the lives of people, especially those who desire to be faithful teachers of the Word of God.

Lawson has broken down the preaching style of Calvin into seven broad categories. These categories include: 1) Approaching the Pulpit. 2) Preparing the Preacher. 3) Launching the Sermon. 4) Expounding the Text. 5) Crafting the Delivery. 6) Applying the Truth. 7) Concluding the Exposition. These seven categories form the chapters of the book following chapter 1 that gives the brief overview of Calvin’s life. Within the chapters, Lawson articulates with brevity and yet clarity thirty-one distinctives of Calvin’s preaching.

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May 08, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (21 – The Accusation of Partnership with Beelzebub)

And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. – Matthew 12:27-28

It is an immutable principle of justice that, the devastation attendant upon the folly of rejecting an offered gift or mercy must be in proportion to the freeness with which it is offered, and the greatness of its substance; and likewise, the guilt which inheres in slanderously accusing any man is in exact proportion to that man's greatness and righteousness. Let us lay this principle to heart – for if we have been offered the freest gift of mercy, a gift so vast that all the heavens raining down blessings for all eternity could never exhaust its riches, then woe, woe, woe to us if we should refuse it! The greatness of our folly would then be unequaled by all the dark and superstitious abominations wrought by all the heathen tribes of the world, throughout all of time – and the destruction which should come upon us in result of our immense folly would be too great and terrible to express. And ah, if we should be confronted with the person of Jesus, who alone possesses all the greatness of God wrapped up in all the meekness of a spotless Lamb – who has all the treasures of the boundless Godhead to give to us, and all the demeanor which should encourage us to come and take them up freely, however unworthy we may be – then what shall our fate be, if we have despised such a One? If he who at all offended that earthly king Ahasuerus found himself trembling in fear of his life (Esther 7:5-6), then how should we fear who have spit in the face of the King of kings? “If he who rejects the Law of Moses dies without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses, of how much worse punishment do you suppose he will be considered worthy, who has trampled upon the Son of God, and considered the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified unclean, and reviled the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:28-29)? In the account at hand, we see an unequaled gift of mercy offered by an incomparably great man – and we see the fearful result of despising so great a gift. Let us be careful that we are not among the ranks of those who blaspheme the Spirit of grace, or all the terrors of divine judgment will rain down upon our heads with immense and eternal fury!

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May 08, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Not Pursuing Justice

Matthew 26:59-63

Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

We have a tendency to rabidly pursue justice for ourselves, and to ignore when others are wronged or oppressed. That's why we look at Jesus' silence in the face of death-by-false-witness, and wish we could yell at him to defend himself. It just isn't right that a man who has done nothing wrong wouldn't stand up for himself, especially when he's facing certain death because of his silence. So Jesus is weird. We knew that.

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May 04, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (20 – His Forgiving of a Sinful Woman)

And having turned to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet; but she has washed my feet with her tears, and with her hair has dried them. You gave me no kiss; but she has not ceased kissing my feet from the time I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed my feet with myrrh. Therefore, I say unto you, her many sins are forgiven, because she loved much; but the one who has been forgiven little loves little. Luke 7:44-47

Among men, it is universally acknowledged that, in proportion as one has something valuable to offer another, he is likely to be well-received by him; and according to his ability to give more to any person than he must take from him, he is apt to be commended and praised. A rich man who lavishly bestows his goods upon his friends is well-thought of; but a beggar is despised, or at best, pitied with a condescending demeanor. But let us learn well, from this account, that it is not so with our Savior. All those who suppose that they are doing something valuable and praiseworthy for his sake, by means of their sacrificial and generous acts of religion, would do well to consider what the apostle Paul has said, that “God, who made the world and all the things which are in it, being himself Lord over heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands, neither is worshiped by the hands of men, as if he were needing something, when he himself gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).

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May 04, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Thoughts on Thinking

1. Thinking is much like traveling: for just as when a man travels he moves from scene to scene, and is ever confronted with new sights, so a thinking man moves from thought to thought, and is ever confronted with new vistas and different perspectives and vantage points.
2. And just as a traveler may only find himself in new locations by moving there one step at a time, so a thinker may only find new territory by proceeding from his starting point, one connection at a time, until he finds himself someplace that he has not seen before.
3. Many people believe that they are not able to think well, and that thinking is solely the occupation of a select few. They feel themselves inadequate because they have an insufficient view of what thinking is, imagining it to be an unconnected conjuring up of abstract ideas. They are like children who think that they cannot see their friends because they are in a different place, and who believe that only their parents or some other trusted adult can enable them to visit those whom they desire to see. They do not realize that their parents can only bring them towards the desired goal one step at a time, and that they could just as well take each one of the necessary steps, if they could only see how each one is necessary to bring them to the wished-for place. In the same way, many people imagine that philosophers and other notable thinkers are able to dream up inaccessible ideas, when they really only walked there one step at a time, and with such faltering progress that each individual step could be traversed by the weakest of men.

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May 02, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Never Tire of the Gospel by Martin Luther

People don’t earn God’s approval or receive life and salvation because of anything they’ve done. Rather, the only reason they receive life and salvation is because of God’s kindness through Christ. There is no other way.

Many Christians are tired of hearing this teaching over and over. They think that they learned it all long ago. However, they barely understand how important it really is. If it continues to be taught as truth, the Christian church will remain united and pure – free from decay. This truth alone makes and sustains Christianity. You might hear an immature Christian brag about how well he knows that we receive God’s approval through God’s kindness and not because of anything we do to earn it. But if he goes on to say that this is easy to put into practice, then have no doubt he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he probably never will. We can never learn this truth completely or brag that we understand it fully. Learning this truth is an art. We will always remain students of it, and it will always be our teacher.

The people who truly understand that they receive God’s approval by faith and put this into practice don’t brag that they have fully mastered it. Rather, they think of it as a pleasant taste or aroma that they are always pursuing. These people are astonished that they can’t comprehend it as fully as they would like. They hunger and thirst for it. They yearn for it more and more. They never get tired of hearing about this truth.

-Martin Luther, Quoted in Faith Alone, James C. Galvin

May 02, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink