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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)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Reformation 21 Gets a Facelift | Main | Christian Preaching »

    A Personal Manifesto

    Part One: Principles by Which to Order My Life

    1.Life is short, and comprises the only time I have to labor for eternal results. Psalm 90:10; Ecclesiastes 9:10

    2.After the brief duration of my life, I must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account of how I used my time. Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10

    3.If I have failed to put my time to eternally profitable ends, but live instead for the present, I will receive punishment and shame. Matthew 25:24-30; Luke 16:25

    4.The only way in which I can certainly devise which ends are eternally profitable is by taking heed according to God's Word. Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:14-17

    5.The ultimate end of my existence, and the end to which I should direct all my labors, is the glory of God. Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11;1 Corinthians 10:31

    6.The glory of God is best displayed by its being seen and delighted in. John 17:1-7; Ezekiel 28:22; Psalm 32:11; 34:8

    7.The glory of God is best seen through the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. John 1:14, 18; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

    8.The person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Word of God. John 5:39-40; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47

    9.Therefore, my time will best be spent in laboring to see Christ from the scriptures, and thus glorifying God and securing my own eternal joy. John 17:24

    10.The glory of God is more greatly displayed by many more persons than myself seeing and delighting in it. Isaiah 53:10-12; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:10-13; Revelation 5:9-12

    11.And so the last commission with which Jesus charged his Church is to labor for the abounding glory of God by bringing the joyful news of the gospel to all the peoples of the world. Matthew 28:18-20; 24:14

    12.My own joy, as well, is more greatly enhanced by many more persons than myself seeing and delighting in the glory of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; Philippians 2:17-18; 2 Corinthians 7:4-7

    13.Therefore, my life will best be spent not only in seeking to delight in the glory of God by apprehending Christ through the scriptures, but also in seeking to point others to that same inexhaustible treasure.

    14.I will be able to pursue this goal more profitably by taking into account my own talents and gifts, and capitalizing on them, rather than by attempting to do all sorts of other things for which I am not fitted. Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Ephesians 4:7

    15.I am most naturally inclined to study, arrange various and diverse truths systematically, so as to show their relationships to one central theme, and to explain my findings in simple and non-convoluted terms. I may therefore most profitably capitalize my talents by directing my energies to my studies and to teaching, more than to any other good and useful pursuit.

    16.The written word has more inherent potential to impact a greater number of persons than the spoken word, by virtue of its durability throughout generations and its reproducibility throughout nations; therefore, I shall devote special attention to recording in writing my pursuit of Christ from the scriptures, and to disseminating as widely as possible what I have written.

    17.The success of any endeavor is in the hands of the Lord; therefore, I shall not make myself frantic with the endless courting of publishing companies, promoting of my own writings, and so on, but shall endeavor to make them as widely available as possible in the venues with which I have been provided, in electronic and print media, for the good of others and not my own personal gain, and leave in God's hands whether or not he will cause their influence to spread. Ecclesiastes 11:5-6; James 4:13-15; 1 Corinthians 9:18

    18.Although I might with propriety endeavor to influence all persons everywhere with the truth of the gospel, it is more especially my duty to influence some than others. Acts 16:6-10

    19.Foremost among these is my own family. 1 Timothy 5:8

    20.Next, is my responsibility to those believers concerning whom I have opportunities for service by reason of proximity. Galatians 6:10

    21.Finally, persons from those people groups which are still unreached by the gospel must have a distinct priority for me in my pursuance of God's revealed plans. Matthew 24:14; Romans 15:20-21

    Part Two: Derived Goals Towards Which to Direct My Life

    A. Goals Related to Myself

    1.I shall endeavor at all times to be affected with the diverse loveliness of Jesus Christ.

    2.To this end, I shall search the scriptures night and day, seeking from the Father the gift of his Holy Spirit to testify of him. Psalm 119:97-99; Luke 11:13; John 15:26; 1 John 2:20

    3.I shall also work quietly and diligently with my own hands, so that I might feed myself and my family, and have some substance to give to others who are in need. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-8; Ephesians 4:28; Acts 20:33-35

    4.In my workplace, I shall endeavor to give no occasion for blasphemy, but live a life that should silence the accusations of evildoers; and I shall always be ready to give an answer to them of the hope that lies within me. 1 Peter 2:15; 3:15-16

    5.I shall not seek my own advancement, but take the lower place, and continue on in a mean and humble line of work, unless God should be pleased to call me certainly into a different ministry. Luke 14:8-11

    6.I shall be always resting and always hasting: resting in God's grace and the worthiness of Christ my Savior, and hasting to redeem the time that I have on this earth to an eternally profitable use. Ephesians 5:15-16; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Hebrews 4:11

    7.I shall enjoy in moderation all of God's good gifts, seeking to glorify the Source of every pleasure by acknowledging the goodness of him from whom it came; and I shall thereby avoid both the error of the ascetics, who hope to please God though the harsh treatment of their body and will-motivated religion, and the error of the libertines, who gratify the lusts of their flesh with revelings and immoderation. Ecclesiastes 9:7-9; 1 Timothy 4:3-5; Colossians 2:16-23, 2 Peter 4:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

    8.I shall seek my enjoyment more from those occupations in which God's creation is central, such as the pleasures of walking alone in places of pristine and natural beauty, and tasting the rich and varied fruits with which God has filled the earth; and less from those occupations in which man's own handiwork is prominent, such as the pleasures of watching movies and reading novels. Psalm 19:1; 104:14-24

    9.I shall seek in times of refreshment and solitude always to be affected by and meditating upon Christ, and fellowshiping with him in spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Colossians 3:16

    10.I shall strive to fit myself for my heavenly occupation of worshiping Christ by doing so as fervently, intentionally, and knowledgeably as I am able here below. Colossians 3:1-3; Matthew 6:19-21

    B. Goals Related To Others

    11.I shall endeavor to nurture and care for my wife, Nicole, instructing her in the things of Christ, and living with her in understanding. Ephesians 5:25-28; 1 Peter 3:7

    12.I shall endeavor to bring up our son, Mishael, our unborn child, and any other children that God might give us, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, teaching them of him at all times and in all contexts. Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:6-7

    13.I shall always be ready to counsel, instruct, help, and pray for those believers with whom I am acquainted, and who come to me in any need.

    14.I shall never refuse an opportunity granted me to teach of Christ in my local church, or anywhere else, unless good and necessary reasons for doing so are present.

    15.I shall endeavor most especially to teach, instruct, or help those churches which are strategically located to reach out to unreached people groups, or missionaries who are striving to go to unreached places.

    16.I shall always be ready to leave my house and native land to go to unreached places, if I should ever feel God so leading me, whether through dreams or visions, the counsel of other believers, the decision of my local church, the personal pleas of persecuted believers, or any other cause that with prayer and discernment I find to be ordained by the Holy Spirit.

    17.I shall devote as much time as I can find, after the holy occupations of working for the support of my family, devoting time to prayer and personal and family devotions, and attending the gatherings of my local church for corporate worship and instruction, to writing and disseminating materials which are Christ-centered, grounded in the truth, affective, and applicational.

    18.In order to do so systematically and effectively, I shall take stock of my current state of affairs in this matter, and devise a plan to build upon that foundation carefully and intentionally.

    19.I shall be careful to write both with a didactic and a polemic intent, tearing down strongholds of false philosophies and distracting fads, and building up storehouses of edifying and Christ-centered instructional materials. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Ephesians 4:13-14

    20.I shall endeavor to focus on that which is central and eternally profitable, and to narrow the scope of my studies and writing according to my natural inclinations and the themes for which my history has prepared me.

    21.I shall therefore endeavor to write polemically against the hermeneutic of Dispensationalism and any other hermeneutic which fails to account for the centrality of Christ and the unity of his redemptive work in all the bible; and didactically, I shall endeavor to show forth Christ in my writings through the typology of the Old Testament and the redemptive-historical storyline of the scriptures as a whole.

    22.In pursuance of these goals, I shall employ several various strains of writing:

    First, my categorized scripture lists, of which I have already composed one pertaining to the “Doctrines of Grace”; one pertaining to the “People of God”; one pertaining to “Knowing our God”; and one pertaining to “Knowing Ourselves”; I shall endeavor to add to these existing lists one pertaining to “Knowing God's Plan,” and to give any them out freely as discussions on these various themes arise, and likewise to make them readily available online and elsewhere.

    Second, my various articles, sermons, and so on, which have been written primarily on the topics of hermeneutics, the centrality of Christ, Christian unity and worship, against dispensational theology, and on a variety of other doctrinal and practical issues. I shall endeavor to keep these articles helpfully categorized, make them readily available, add to them occasionally, as circumstances which arise would so warrant, but avoid spending an inordinate amount of time on them, so as to distract from more pressing goals.

    Third, my books of notes and teaching outlines, intended for use in educational classes within the church, such as my fifteen-week series of lectures on hermeneutics, “The Living Word”; my series on “Understanding Isaiah”; and my series of “Studies in John”. I shall make these all freely and readily available, and add to them only as opportunities arise to teach other such classes, but not so extensively as to distract from more pressing goals.

    Fourth, my other books, such as “The Hidden Treasure,” which is a treatise designed to encourage and equip believers to seek Christ diligently and ardently from all the scriptures, for their everlasting joy. To this central and foundational little volume, I hope in God's will to add another like it, called “The Eternal Reward,” which should motivate believers to live their lives in a meaningful way, with eternity ever before them, and always in pursuit of Christ; but only after I have finished a lifetime of thoroughly searching through the entire bible for its rich and various images of the Savior, about which I shall speak presently.

    Fifth, my poems, of which I have already compiled four slender volumes. I shall endeavor to make these readily available, and also, as circumstances warrant, to add to them poems which should serve in a manner which it is impossible that prose should do, by pouring forth in empathetic and honest tones the deepest woes of the people, which are otherwise altogether inexpressible, and then by healing those wounds, not lightly, but through the deep and altogether satisfying cure of Jesus Christ and him crucified, and his manifold works and wonders. I shall be always willing to permit my poems and hymns to be used freely, reproduced, put to music, and so on, if they should at all benefit others.

    Sixth, and most pressingly, I shall endeavor to pursue my “Images of the Savior” series, which I have now completed through the four gospels and part of the way through the Pentateuch, throughout the rest of the scriptures, seeking to dig up, polish, and display those precious and soul-satisfying truths of Christ which are to be had everywhere in the bible, and which want only an energetic hand and a diligent pursuit to be gathered up into great heaps of treasure. I shall labor to be rich in the gospel currency, and to share my riches with other beggars who would likewise gather up the hidden treasure of Jesus Christ.

    23.I shall likewise use other resources which are Christ-centered and helpful to the same ends, including Jonathan Edwards' “A History of the Work of Redemption,” John Owen's “The Glory of Christ,” the various poems and hymns of George Herbert and William Cowper, and other such resources, which I will disseminate as widely and freely as possible.

    24.If God should grant me the completion of these goals, I shall then be content to lay down my pen, and spend the remainder of my life in the sober instruction of younger men, diligent prayer for believers, churches, and unreached people groups across the world, or else going to these people groups myself, ready to embrace suffering and persecution, or even the death of a martyr.

    25.In my pursuance of these goals, I shall constantly endeavor to remember that my plans are not God's plans, and that if he should lead, I ought to be ready to give up and exchange any of my own goals for any other purpose he might have for me. Isaiah 55:8-9

    26.In all that I do, I shall strive to fit myself for my heavenly occupation by delighting ever more fervently in the Lamb whose praise I shall sing forever, in unity with all that blood-bought throng of believers from every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation; and to gather up an eternal reward which no one can take away from me, by laboring faithfully for the Lord, and so finally to hear from his blessed lips that most longed-for phrase of all, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Revelation 14:13; 19:6-9; Matthew 25:21

    Posted by Nathan on April 22, 2008 02:28 PM

    Comments

    What a wonderful example! After reading your Personal Manifesto I discovered Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions and Matthew McMahon Maxims and the pieces started to fall in place. Thank you for caring enough to share this and for lighting the spark which has stirred up my thoughts to search the Scriptures from which I may also be able to mine such guidelines by which the consistency and devotion of my motives and actions may be measured. I confess that, although this is one of those things that is a no brainer and the benefits so self evident, this is not a course of action I could have thought of on my own...maybe I should start with 2 Corinthians 13:5.

    Again, thank you for setting the example.

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