Thursday, February 26, 2009
Horatius Bonar, writing the preface to John Gillies' Accounts of Revival, proposes that men useful to the Holy Spirit for revival have been marked in these nine ways:
1. They were in earnest about the great work on which they had entered: "They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung."
2. They were bent on success: "As warriors, they set their hearts on victory and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head."
3. They were men of faith: "They knew that in due season they should reap, if they fainted not."
4. They were men of labor: "Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul; time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing."
5. They were men of patience: "Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil."
6. They were men of boldness and determination: "Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens every enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, nor gained by fear."
7. They were men of prayer: "They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain, that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water."
8. They were men whose doctrines were of the most decided kind: "Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword."
9. They were men of solemn deportment and deep spirituality of soul: "No frivolity, no flippancy . . . . The world could not point to them as being but slightly dissimilar from itself."
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I first came across Greg Koukl while looking for material to download of the internet. For half of the year I have a commute of just over 3 hours total and I was looking for mp3s to help pass the time. I found the website Stand To Reason which had archives of Koukl's radio program available for download.
I quickly became an avid listener of Stand To Reason and became acquainted with Koukl's strengths as an apologist for the Christian faith. I was impressed with Koukl's commentary on the most controversial topics in our culture as well as his ability to discuss, argue, and defend his position with live callers and program quests.
I had the opportunity to participate in a small group which was using Stand To Reason's Ambassador's Basic Curriculum material as its content. I was exposed to many of Koukl's conversational techniques that he lays out in Tactics for the first time in that small group setting. Koukl is at his finest when dealing with controversial or sensitive cultural issues and his teachings on these issues and how to deal with them are excellent.
Tactics is an in-depth look at these techniques for 'discussing your Christian convictions'. The book describes how one can purposeful engage others in conversation so as they think about the Christian perspective in general and about Jesus in particular. His goal is both attainable and beneficial to those he speaks with; he wants to 'put a stone in their shoe'. He teaches how you can leave someone thinking and contemplating about Christ and Christianity. This goal is attainable to all of us.
Tactics also discusses different types of attacks that Christianity regularly faces and how a believer can recognize and respond to those challenges. Koukl describes very practical steps one can take to competently communicate the Christian faith.
Books on apologetics have two benefits which I think are excellent reasons to read them: first, they explain and teach how one might defend their beliefs against competing ideologies; second, they affirm the soundness and intellectual legitimacy of Christianity to the Christian. Because Tactics faithfully accomplishes both of these ends, along with others, I recommend this book.
“Now here, I say, is the direct and immediate pressure and control of the Holy Spirit upon the spirit of man, and, as I understand this whole doctrine of guidance, there is really nothing that is more important than this. I would not hesitate to say that this is the final sanction and authority in the matter of guidance.” (p200)
With this quote it must be noted that Lloyd-Jones mentions in this book that God's Word is the final authority in all things. He clarifies below that he is comparing the witness of the Holy Spirit to other methods of guidance.
“Yet I am asserting strongly that over and above both of these tests (reason and circumstances), the most important and crucial of all is this witness of the Holy Spirit’ in our spirit.” (p200)
Because he feels this inner guidance of the Holy Spirit is the final authority he does not suggest it is the ultimate authority. He clearly attributes that position to the Bible. Never-the-less, I continue to be surprised by this "Calvinistic-Methodist" preacher and these two quotes are an example of what he writes that surprises me.
Monday, February 23, 2009
It seems to me, we do best when we call sin what it is and we confess our part in it.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I have done it. I have discovered what Paul's thorn in the flesh must have been.
I did not garner this wisdom through biblical exegesis, nor through archaeological exploration, nor through divine revelation.
Nope. I discovered it through personal experience.
It must have been a kidney stone. :)
Friday, February 20, 2009
If an expert is informing you, he/she is simply giving you their opinion. That in itself should not carry much weight. However, if he/she is giving you reasons for holding that opinion than an attempt to educate you has been made. An expert or authority who is giving you reasons for an opinion has earned your consideration of his/her argument. It doesn't follow that the expert must be right, only that it is reasonable for one to consider the ideas.
That being said, experts are often in a position to know facts about an issue that are not available to most others and they also may be in a better position to render a judgment than most others. Again, though their superior position should be noted, it does not mean the expert is necessarily right.
An authority could be wrong for many reasons; speaking on a topic outside of their expertise, making errors about the facts they purport to know, or perhaps having a bias that distorts their judgments.
In Koukl's words, "What an expert believes is not as important as why he believes it." (p175)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You see, a sharp blow to my hands in the first couple of plays would bring all my faculties into focus; I was in a battle. Pain has a way of doing that. The sudden pain would shock me and would result in me tuning into what was going on around me in a significant manner.
I relay that strategy of mine because the book Living The Cross Centered Life affected me in a manner similar to that first painful jolt in a football game. It caused me to engage the gospel of God in a purposeful and profound way.
Mahaney suggest that there should be nothing more captivating or overpowering to our soul than a climb up Calvary's Hill. He has written a book that not only educates one about the cross but also propels one to a serious consideration of its implications to our Christian life.
Any book that causes us to focus on the work of Christ on the cross will inevitably be of huge benefit to us. Mahaney helps us to see the cross with new clarity when he retells the story of those hours in the Garden of Gethsemane or on Golgotha's summit. He brings home the reality of Christ's work with poignant stories from his own life.
Mahaney states clearly that he hopes to, like that first hit of a football game, cause us to engage with the cross both in the reading of his book and in every day after we read it. This book will help one do that. It helped me.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Reading my bible this morning, I started to think about how the superlative adjectives keep adding up when one thinks about God.
God is eternal, both in the past and in the future; even before time began. But He is also loving. As a matter of fact He is eternally loving. And He is transcendent too!
God is eternally and transcendentally loving. Oh yeah, He doesn't change either.
God is immutably, eternally, and transcendentally loving. But He is also just and holy and immanent...
And they just keep adding up...I guess we could just say He's perfect.
Perfectly perfect that is!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Living The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing
By C. J. Mahaney
Introduction – At The Core
- The cross is of primary importance and is the “one transcendent truth that should define our lives” (p14)
- “For not only does this good news come first chronologically in our Christian experience, but it stays foremost in critical for creating and sustaining our joy and our fruitfulness…” (p15)
- Three tendencies takes draw us away: 1) subjectivism 2) legalism 3) condemnation
- We don’t move away from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross
- There is nothing more captivating or overpowering to the soul than climbing
Chapter One – The Climax and the Key
- Paul to Timothy: you don’t need a new truth, you need to guard the one truth
- The cross and the resurrection are of first importance…but once the resurrection has occurred the cross remains central
- “Some might find it surprising that I would teach a young boy about God’s wrath towards sin. But I find it surprising that any loving person would withhold this truth from another person they love. Because only when we understand God’s wrath towards sin can we realize we need to be saved from it.” (p29)
Chapter Two – The Divine Order
- If we want the gospel to move our hearts and engage our emotions we must put our feelings in the proper place
- “We let our feelings tell us what’s true, instead of letting the truth transform our feelings.” (p33)
- We invest our feeling with final authority over truth: this is arrogance
- If we will focus on truth our feeling will follow and they will be reliable feelings
- We don’t ignore evaluating our feelings, we just don’t start there
- Quoting Lloyd-Jones: “Have you realized that mot of the unhappiness in your life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” (p37)
- Talking to ourselves has an outward objective focus whereas listening to ourselves has a inward subjective focus
- “The cross centered life starts with biblical thinking.” (p41)
Chapter Three – Searching The Mystery
- God only promises to accompany the preaching of the gospel with saving effect, not the depiction of it (The Passion)
- The only part we play in the divine drama on
Calvaryis contributing to the sin that makes the suffering of Christ necessary
- Any illustration of heroic sacrifice falls short of being adequate because there is no adequate illustration of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ
- “Who killed Jesus? God did.” (p56)
Chapter Four – The Divine Dilemma
- A great answer to the question ‘How are you?’… Better than I deserve.
- "R. C. Sproul wrote that the most perplexing question is not why there's suffering in the world, but why God tolerates us in our sinfulness." (p61)
- In the conflict between God and man only one person has been offended; God is profoundly aggrieved by us and yet He is fully innocent
Chapter Five – The Divine Rescue
- “Our Mediator’s work would be a labor of blood.” (69)
- “John Stott expressed it this way: ‘Divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice.’” (p71)
- We have no way to atone for our sin and no way to free our selves from sin’s enslavement
- Christ’s mediation brought peace with God and release from condemnation
- We must deeply understand Christ’s work and take it to heart so we can share it accurately and passionately
Chapter Six – Staring Into The Cup
- Christ’s sorrow is so profound He comes close to death
- Christ was not surprised by death’s approach and yet he was horrified and distressed…why?
- It is because of unprecedented and incomparable suffering of wrath and abandonment
- The cup Jesus asked be removed? The cup of God’s wrath
- Needing God’s comfort and support more than ever…in history…separation from God was put before Him
Chapter Seven - Your Face In The Crowd
Gethsemane, Christ is no longer troubled…what is the difference? His obedience.
- In the
Calvaryscene the only ones with which we should identify are thos in the mob screaming ‘crucify Him’
- Only those truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace
Chapter Eight – The Scream Of The Damned
- What keeps Christ on the cross? His passion to do the will of the Father and His love for us
- Jesus could not save himself and save you and me…He refused to save himself so He was able to save others
- Jesus experienced what no human ever has or will have to experience – the full and furious wrath of the Father
- Christ’s loneliness was an desolating abandonment that none shall ever fully experience
Chapter Nine – What God Understands
- “But I do know in our time of deepest affliction, none of us find comfort by endlessly focusing on that suffering. There’s am element of mystery in all our suffering, and in this life we can’t fully understand it, yet we face a subtle temptation to relive and review our suffering. That’s an exercise which will never bring rest and release.” (p98)
- The ideal time to prepare for suffering is never in the midst of it
Chapter Ten – Assurance And Joy
- Quoting Thomas Watson: “Your sufferings are not so great as your sins: Put these two in the balance, and see which is heaviest.” (p105)
- Never let there be a lengthy time where we are not receiving inspiration and direction directly from the cross
Chapter Eleven – Breaking The Rule Of Legalism
- Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God
- “Legalism is essentially self-atonement for the purpose of self-glorification and ultimately for self-worship.” (p113)
- We change what God intends as a means of experiencing grace into a means of earning grace
- Justification is not progressive and admits no degrees
- One is either wholly justified or wholly condemned in God’s sight
Chapter Twelve – Unloading Condemnation
- “Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.” (p126)
- To live a cross centered life one must face their own depravity without flinching
- You are the worst sinner you know!
Chapter Thirteen – The Cross Centered Day
- “A cross centered life is made up of cross centered days.” (p132)
- The most important daily habit: reminding ourselves of the gospel
- How do we do it:
- Memorize the gospel
- Pray the gospel
- Sing the gospel
- Review how the gospel has changed you
- Study the gospel
Chapter Fourteen – Never Move On
- The gospel isn’t one class of many, it is the whole building you take classes in
- To understand the Old Testament you must grasp that the cross is the center of all human history
Monday, February 16, 2009
Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 1- The Gospel of God
By D. M. Lloyd-Jones
- “I am one of those who do not recognize any consideration of the Word of God which is not accompanied by worship”
- Those greatly affected by Romans: Augustine who used Romans to counter Pelagius, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Wesley
- There is nothing wrong with natural gifts; they are bestowed by God
- Natural gifts should not be relied upon or gloried in
- Paul was uniquely naturally gifted to fulfill all that God had ordained for him to do
Two: Romans 1:1, 7
- The church is a gathering of believers in a place though they are not of the place; thus, the believers in
- The reason for Paul’s letter: that they be established
- “...but today, the tendency is to say that doctrine does not matter at all – that as long as a man has had some sort of an experience, it does not matter.” (p21)
- Roman Christians would be persecuted but they knew in whom they believed and what they believed
- Romans 1-11 are doctrinal, 12-16 are practical
- The theme is The Gospel of God
- Paul explains what this great Gospel is through the end of Romans 4
- Romans 5-8 are Paul demonstrating the certainty, fullness, and finality of this great salvation
Three: Romans 1:1
- Many blessings are found in the study of the preliminary and introductory section of the epistles
- “I have no hesitation in asserting that as we grow in grace, we talk much less about ourselves and our experiences, and much more about Him.” (p33)
- “This idea that you can believe in Christ first as your Saviour only, and the perhaps, years later, go on to take Him as your Lord, is a denial of Scripture. From the moment He sets you free He is your Lord.”
- Definition of an apostle – one chosen and sent with a special mission as the fully authorized representative of the sender
Four: Romans 1:1
- “You see, I cannot expound the Epistle to the Romans without expounding all of the other Epistles at the same time…All Paul’s writings have to be taken together.” (p51)
- “Many things are permitted which seem to be the exact opposite of what might be expected, but the end is always certain.” (p53)
- The fact that our salvation is determined before the foundation of the world is most glorious and most humbling
Saturday, February 14, 2009
"Just make sure it's your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior." (p31)
"I focus on being faithful, but I trust God to be effective. Some will respond, and some will not." (p37)
" 'I understand that many of you think Christians are stupid,' I said to the audience. 'Well many of them are,' I admitted. 'But many non-Christians are stupid, too, so I don't know how that helps you. What I want to do this evening is show you that Christianity is not stupid.' " (p40)
From Living The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney:
"R. C. Sproul wrote that the most perplexing question is not why there's suffering in the world, but why God tolerates us in our sinfulness." (p61)
" 'Hey, how are you?' For a number of years I've been giving a particular response to that frequent question...'Better than I deserve,' I answered." (p59)
"Our Mediator's work would be a labor of blood." (p69)
Friday, February 13, 2009
It seems to me one could look at the first verse of Psalm 44 and take away from it an encouragement to read some biographies of Christian men and women from our past:
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
I am having trouble sleeping tonight. I am starting to understand many of my father's sleepless nights when i was a kid. Pastoring can be tough. This Wednesday was a tough one... one of those nights you throw up your hands and ask "why am I doing any of this? Is any of it getting through?" It's not always this way... and I know I have fantastic teenagers.
Anyway, I came across this prayer by a Danish martyr named Kaj Munk. I think his words are very relevant to the church today. Munk was an outspoken priest and playwright who uttered these prophetic words before he was killed, with his bible next to him, by the Gestapo in January 1944 :
"What is, therefore, our task today? Shall I answer: “Faith, hope, and love”? for that sounds beautiful. But instead I would say - courage. No, even that may not be challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature… we lack a holy rage - the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity.
The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth … a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world.
To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth, and the destruction of God’s world.
To rage when little children must die of hunger, when the tables of the rich are sagging with food.
To rage at the senseless killing of so many, and against the madness of militaries.
To rage at the lie that calls the treat of death and the strategy of destruction peace.
To rage against complacency.
To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God.
And remember the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish … but never the chameleon. Never the chameleon..."
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Let me clarify the terms:
- the advantage - one of intelligence and planning
- the enemy - boys
- the anticipated strike - wanting to date my daughters
I have 4 daughters. My oldest is 10. It won't be long before 'the enemy' comes knocking on my door. So I decided to take preemptive action and bought a few books for strategic planning. The 2 books I bought are both authored by Josh Harris: I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl. The rest of my plans are classified.
Sovereign Grace Ministries is having a great sale at their bookstore. They are selling all their books for $7 and all their CDs for $6 and they give a great discount on international shipping. This is where I picked up these 2 books as well as Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin, When Sinners Say "I Do" by Dave Harvey and Living The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This is a textbook. It is straightforward in its approach with little flourish or fanfare. It lays out the facts and gives proofs for what it proposes.
That being said, it is a book that everyone could make use of. Particularly those with children who face years of skepticism and polemics in their school systems concerning Christianity in general and the Bible in particular.
This book covers a wide range of bible-related topics; from the inspiration of scripture to the writing materials used in transmission.
Although it is a textbook (why does that sound pejorative), I don't mean to suggest it was boring. It was very interesting and helpful and it will be a reference I'm sure I will use in the future.
I have been greatly affected by the work of others that hold to a reformed-charismatic theology such as Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, and those affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Though I would not label Lloyd-Jones 'charismatic', the fact that he held view points similar to mine concerning the Holy Spirit and yet was a Calvinistic-Methodist, I looked forward to reading some of his works.
In Joy Unspeakable, Lloyd-Jones espouses a view of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that is very close to what I grew up with. He holds some subtle, yet very important, differences compared to the ideas that were presented to me in my youth. In fact, I would argue that in this book I have read a champion of the view that sees the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a distinct and separate work from regeneration. Though I lean to a more nuanced view of the differences between being 'filled' with the Spirit and being 'baptized' with the Spirit, I believe Lloyd-Jones provides a solid argument for his point of view.
Lloyd-Jones has a straightforward approach to proving his points: present relevant Scriptures with exposition, give biblical examples of pertinent events, give similar examples from church history, reflect on personal experiences pertaining to the topic.
Lloyd-Jones is touted as a solid expositor and, though I'm no expert, I would agree. His knowledge of church history seems to have great breadth and depth. And his willingness to share personal experiences is encouraging, refreshing, and applicable to life.
Encompassing all of his explaining and defending is an ever-apparent passion for the church and the welfare of Christ's body. He clearly wants to see the bride of Christ live to her full potential. That over-riding sentiment is not and end to itself in the author's eyes, but rather is a means to see God glorified; he makes that very clear.
I found this book to be encouraging in its admonishments to be a vessel for the witness and testimony of Christ. I found it educational in the exposition of Scripture and in its formulation of arguments. Joy Unspeakable is a book I will surely speak about with joy! I recommend it!
The following is an overview of Joy Unspeakable by D. M. Lloyd-Jones:
Foreword and Introduction
- “For him, everything was to be rooted in Scripture, but nothing was to be left from Scripture.” (p9)
- Pentecost was an experience available to us all
- Apostolic history is the typical experience of the church in revival
- “…and he himself has been called ‘the last of the Calvinistic Methodists’, those people who combine the love of sound doctrine of Calvin with the fire of the Methodist Revival.” (p12)
Chapter 1 – Baptism with the Spirit and Regeneration
Summary: you can be regenerate without being baptized in the Holy Spirit
- We should not be content with less than what Scripture intends for us
- There are 2 ways we can go wrong with the relationship between experience and scripture
- Claiming what goes beyond Scripture or what is contrary to Scripture
- Being satisfied with something less than what Scripture offers
- “You can be so afraid of disorder, so concerned about discipline and decorum and control, that you become guilty of what the Scripture calls ‘quenching the Spirit’” (p18)
- “Look at the New Testament Christian, look at the New Testament church and you see it vibrant with spiritual life, and, of course, it is always life that tends to lead to excess.” (p19)
- Of necessity, the Holy Spirit is a resident in every believer
Chapter 2 – Blessed Assurance
Summary: there are even more proofs for maintaining a distinction between the Spirit’s regenerating us and being baptized in the Spirit
- The New Testament depicts what the Christian should be and understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is of utmost importance
- Though there are exceptional times in the church, it is wrong to say that any teaching in Scripture has nothing to do with us
- Differentiating between the teaching in Acts and the teaching in the epistles is false
- The epistles can only be understood in light of the the history of the Acts
- Not distinguishing between regeneration and Spirit baptism causes one to hold that there is no difference between saving faith and assurance of faith
- Not distinguishing between the aforementioned to also causes one to hold that the apostles could regenerate people
- Though clearly regenerate, Christ needed to be filled with the Spirit
Chapter 3 – Something that Happens To Us
Summary: baptism with the Holy Spirit is something that happens to us in a significant and experiential way
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit does not happen automatically and it does not happen based on something we do
- Holy Spirit baptism is given by Christ and its giving is His prerogative to give
- Revival is defined as a large number of people being filled with the Holy Spirit
- The Baptism is clear and unmistakable
- The Baptism is essentially experimental and involves a mystical experience
Chapter 4 – Filled with the Spirit
Summary: the work of the Spirit in Baptism is different than the work of the Spirit in sanctification: Baptism is an exceptional and direct working whereas sanctification is regular and indirect
- The Holy Spirit’s regular work is done through the Scriptures
- Generally speaking, the Holy Spirit does not use means in Baptism but works directly
- Baptism is an exceptional experience brought about directly, with immediacy and an overwhelming character
- “This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained, but to be aroused, to be awakened, to be filled with the spirit of glory, for she is failing in the modern world.” (p75)
- The first result of Baptism in the Spirit is not fruit of the Spirit but experimental evidence of His direct work
Chapter 5 – The Sense of His Presence
Summary: the primary purpose and function of the Baptism is to enable us to witness to Christ and his salvation
- An obvious external demonstration of the Spirit is proof of Baptism
- The effect of the Baptism can be divided into 2 groups:
- Subjective experiences
- Objective demonstrations
- Subjective experiences usually fall into several broad categories:
- A sense of God’s glory, an unusual sense of God’s presence
- A sense of awe of God
- An assurance of the love of God
- It is assurance that has the greatest effect on our witness
- There are 3 types of assurance:
- Assurance deduced from Scripture
- Assurance through the tests of life: loving the brethren, His commandments no longer grievous, an unction of the Spirit
- The highest form of assurance is God’s Spirit bearing witness with our spirit; it is direct and immediate and not a deduction that we make
Chapter 6 – Joy, Love and Understanding
Summary: Spirit Baptism is not limited to certain peoples and it comes with exceptional joy, a desire to glorify Christ, as well as understanding
- There are manifestations of the Baptism:
- Joy and gladness – this will be a strong witness to those in the world, miserable as they are
- There is a great desire to glorify God, especially Jesus Christ
- There is great knowledge and light and understanding
- These manifestations do not need to be ‘worked up’
Chapter 7 – Bold to Speak
Summary: Spirit Baptism brings with it external evidences; visible glory in peoples countenances and power and efficacy is speech
- Fuller knowledge of God comes from Baptism in the Spirit as opposed to learning
- There are other physical evidences apart from tongues
- We should not put all the emphasis on learning when it comes to preaching
Chapter 8 – Baptism with the Spirit and Sanctification
Summary: the relationship between the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and sanctification is not direct; rather it is indirect in that the baptism is the greatest stimulus to Sanctification
- The Spirit convicts of sin, gives unction, enlightens, anoints, and seals
- There are 2 wrong tendencies when considering the relationship between Baptism and Sanctification
- Regarding the Baptism of the Spirit as entire sanctification
- Ignoring sanctification altogether and focusing on the gifts
- Disrepute has been brought by people claiming great gifts but failing in their Christian life, particularly with ordinary morality
- There is no direct connection between the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and sanctification; the direct effect of the Baptism has to do with power in witness and testimony
- Sanctification is something we are always exhorted to do whereas the Baptism is not our doing
- Sanctification is ultimately the work of the Spirit
- Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the greatest possible encouragement to sanctification
- Spectacular signs can be tested by the fruits of those involved and they can be thus corrected and warned
Chapter 9 - The Sealing of the Spirit
Summary: the sealing of the Spirit is synonymous with Baptism in the Spirit and is an authenticating and confirming experience
- We should not reduce New Testament terminology to the level of our experience or interpret New Testament teaching in terms of the modern day church
- ’sealing’ follows faith and is not true of all Christians
- ‘sealing’ leads to certainty of the individual and power
Chapter 10 – Something Worth Striving For
Summary: the church desperately needs a visitation of the Spirit; Spirit Baptism requires effort and is worth striving for
- We need the Spirit to understand the Gospel and to preach it effectively
- True biblical asking requires seeking
- “You will never know the heights of the Christian life without effort. You have to strive for these things…” (p167)
- “They do not realize that all the promises of God are always conditional – invariably.” (p171)
- some things, such a Spirit Baptism, are possibilities that are open to us in Christ but they are not received automatically
Chapter 11 – Receive the Spirit
Summary: though we should seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we can not get it whenever we want; It’s giving is the Lord’s prerogative and we receive it passively
- The New Testament church is a norm or standard which we must try and attain
- Most members of the early church had received the Baptism of the Spirit
- “It is our business to desire to attain always to the New Testament norm; we have no right to do anything else.” (p184)
- We must seek the Baptism
- The New Testament focuses on the control of the manifestations of the Spirit already received
- Delivering the Baptism by the laying on of hands is a recent Pentecostal practice
- The Baptism happens to people; it is received passively not ‘taken by faith’
Chapter 12 – Seeking the Baptism with the Spirit
Summary: we seek the Spirit Baptism by; realizing the possibility, watching our motives, remaining obedient, and praying for it
- We should not seek His gifts but rather the Gift Giver
- “New Testament Christianity is not just a formal, polite, correct, and orthodox kind of faith and belief. No! What characterizes it is this element of love and passion, the pneumatic element, this life, this vigor, this abandon, this exuberance – and as I say, it has ever characterized the life of the church in all periods of revival and reawakening.” (p203)
- “The moment a man is born again the Spirit begins to work in Him. He works in Him to produce his sanctification. And he will stimulate him and cause him to feel certain impulses…” (p206)
- Grieving the Spirit has special reference to disobedience
- Quenching the Spirit has special reference to resisting His general move on your spirit; hesitation or fear
- ‘Pleading the promises’ – a term used by the Fathers; taking God’s promises and pleading for them
Chapter 13 – When Discouragement Comes
Summary: there are tangible things we can do to prevent becoming discouraged in the sought after Baptism
- Be ready to be surprised, it can come at any moment
- Keep the state of your heart in mind, we are all sinful
- “Anybody who comes to you with a formula or a cut and dried method is already on the side of the psychologists and the cults.” (p215)
- Aggravations can increase when seeking the baptism with the Spirit
- Let God lead you in the seeking
- “We all have our ideas, and they are all short and glib and easy: short cuts always.” (p221)
- Keep on; don’t give up
- Remain patient
- Consider those who have gone on before us
Chapter 14 – Blessed Are They That Mourn
Summary: there is no formula for experiencing the Baptism with the Holy Spirit but there are circumstances that history has shown are favored
- It often happens when:
- One is in prayer
- When one is reading Scripture
- When the Word is preached
- When one is meditating
- Be ready if you:
- Have truly mourned
- Have been led into some special act of self-denial
- After a season of conflict
- Have been through a great trial
- Are being prepared for a task
- Are on your deathbed
Chapter 15 – The Church and Pentecost
Summary: the church was constituted not at Pentecost but on the evening of the day of the Resurrection
- Nowhere in Acts 2 is there they suggestion of the constitution of the church, either explicitly or implicitly
- The disciples received the Holy Spirit the night of the Resurrection when Christ said ‘receive the Holy Spirit’
- Pentecost, like the baptism of the Holy spirit, was about power and not constituting the church
Chapter 16 – The Way to Revival
Summary: God’s plan has been to revive the church throughout the ages and revival is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit happening to a group of believers
- “This needs to be emphasized more than ever today – our gospel and our salvation is not a mere teaching or philosophy, but primarily a series of acts, with meaning and purpose. We should never lose sight of the historicity of what we are considering here.” (p266)
- There is agreement on almost all doctrine of the Holy Spirit with the exception of the Baptism
- Men can ‘do’ all they like, but in the end revival is God’s ‘doing’
- Every revival is a repetition of Pentecost, and we need it more than ever
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
“It is our business to desire to attain always to the New Testament norm; we have no right to do anything else.” (p184)
“New Testament Christianity is not just a formal, polite, correct, and orthodox kind of faith and belief. No! What characterizes it is this element of love and passion, the pneumatic element, this life, this vigor, this abandon, this exuberance – and as I say, it has ever characterized the life of the church in all periods of revival and reawakening.” (p203)
Lloyd-Jones was quite passionate about the church. It would have been fascinating to hear him preach in Westminster Chapel. I'm almost done the book
Monday, February 9, 2009
In this book, Marsden covers Edwards through the many roles he lived out: child, husband, friend, mentor, father, student, theologian, pastor, preacher, author, philosopher, teacher, administrator, and believer. In doing so we get more than a glimpse of Edward's family and friends, his upbringing, his education, his lifestyle, his ministry, his leisure pursuits, and his personal life. This was a fascinating individual whose life both intrigues and illuminates many Christians. Marsden covers so many facets of Edward's life that one really gets a well-rounded sense about the man.
Marsden does not look at Edwards in isolation but considers him in the context of his surroundings; 18th century New England. We follow Edwards and his family through their social spheres, through political intrigue, in church controversies and awakenings, around science and philosophy debates, through world affairs, and every other aspect of 1700s society. It is a biography to be sure but it is also a history lesson.
Most importantly for me, Marsden considers Edwards' theology, preaching, pastoring, beliefs, writings, and philosophies. Marsden does not focus on these, but he certainly gives you enough of a taste to begin to understand why Christianity has held Edwards in such high regard.
If you want only a taste of Edwards, perhaps a less thorough rendering of his life would be in order. But if one wanted a feast of Edwards, with appetizers, many courses, and dessert then Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life should be chosen from the menu. Definitely recommended.
- assurance from deductions from Scripture. We believe Scripture to be God's word and Scripture assures us we are God's children.
- assurance from the 'tests of life'. These tests are from Scripture and they demonstrate we are God's children. One such test is "Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ?" If yes, this demonstrates your adoption and you can take assurance from that fact.
- assurance from God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirit.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
"All the controversial doctrines that he defended were teachings he held simply because he was sure they were taught in Scripture. God's sovereignty in choosing those whom to save, the imputation of Adam's sin to the whole race, the unacceptability in God's eyes of even the best natural virtue, the chasm between the regenerate and the unregenerate, the eternity of punishment for sin, and much else were biblical teaching one might not dare ignore, however mysterious or unreasonable they might seem. Edwards spent much intellectual energy arguing that these revealed doctrines were reasonable, or at least not necessarily unreasonable, and that therefore they could be consistent with the moral government of a benevolent deity.
In that concern - to justify the ways of God to man - Edwards was akin to the philosopher-theologians of his age, yet he radically differed from most of his contemporaries in that he was not willing to judge God by eighteenth-century standards of moral law. God, for Edwards, was not to be understood something like the most virtuous of all humans. Rather, because Edwards took so seriously the immensity of gap between the ways of the infinite and eternal God and the limits of human understanding, he was willing to make the best of the biblical accounts, as counterintuitive as they might sometimes seem. Upon rigorous examinition, he consistently claimed, those accounts could be proved more consistent with reason and experience than any alternatives, even if deep mysteries remained." (Jonathan Edwards: A Life, p478)
I'm afraid I often judge God by my own standards while forgetting the immense gap between His ways and my ways.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), a British evangelical born and brought up within Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, he is most noted for his pastorate and expository preaching career at Westminster Chapel in London.
In addition to his work at Westminster, he published books and spoke at conferences and, at one point, presided over the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Students (now known as UCCF). Lloyd-Jones was strongly opposed to the liberal theology that had become a part of many Christian denominations in Wales and England.
Born in Wales, Lloyd-Jones was schooled in London. He then entered medical training at Saint Batholomew's Hospital, better known simply as Bart's. Bart's carried the same prestige in the medical community that Oxford did in the intellectual community. Martyn's career was medicine. He succeeded in his exams so young that he had to wait to take his MD, by which time he was already chief clinical assistant to Sir Thomas Horder, one of the best and most famous doctors of the day. By the age of 26 he also had his MRCP (Member of the Royal College of Physicians).
Although he had considered himself a Christian, the young doctor was soundly converted in 1926. He gave up his medical career in 1927 and returned to Wales to preach and pastor his first church in Sandfields, Aberavon.
In 1935, Loyd-Jones preached to an assembly at Albert Hall. One of the listeners was 72 year old Dr. Campbell Morgan, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. When he heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he wanted to have him as his colleague and successor in 1938. But it was not so easy, for there was also a proposal that he be appointed Principal of the Theological College at Bala; and the call of Wales and of training a new generation of ministers for Wales was strong. In the end, however, the call from Westminster Chapel prevailed and the Lloyd-Jones family finally committed to London in April 1939.
After the war, under Lloyd-Jones preaching, the congregation at Westminster Chapel grew quickly. In 1947 the balconies were opened and from 1948 until 1968 when he retired, the congregation averaged perhaps 1500 on Sunday mornings and 2000 on Sunday nights.
In his 68th year, he underwent a major medical operation. Although he fully recovered, he decided to retire from Westminster Chapel. Even in retirement, however, Lloyd-Jones worked as a pastor of pastors and itinerant speaker and evangelist. "The Doctor", as he became known, was one of the major figureheads of British evangelicalism and his books and published sermons continue to be appreciated by many within the United Kingdom and beyond.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Our church has initiated a program to help organically pair up men in the congregation in mentoring, accountable relationships. I was lucky enough to be invited in with the other two gentlemen who post on this blog, Jude and Rich and have really enjoyed spending the time with mature (most of the time) men of God.
As I've looked at the model of mentoring in the New testament I was able to sort of follow the very intentional mentoring ministry that Jesus had with Peter (it's true he mentored all his disciples, but there are very specific moments we see Jesus mentoring Peter). After Christ ascended Peter stood out among the other believers and sort of led the upper room community of apostles. Interestingly we see in the early chapters of Acts Barnabas being raised up along side Peter. We don't see specific moments of teaching, but it seems Barnabas was intentionally mentored by Peter simply by how much time we see Petey spending with him and bringing him along on his various missionary trips.
After Saul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus and Ananias is able to share the gospel with him, he begins to preach the name of Jesus and yet the apostles don't trust him. You can't really blame them, this was a man who mere weeks earlier ordered the stoning of Stephen and was strategically tearing apart the early church by putting believers to death.
Yet it was Barnabas who sought Saul and began to mentor him. After going to Antioch and spending time with the apostle recognized for his encouragement, Saul was mentored from a Christian-killing religious leader into the Apostle Paul we now know and love (as in... know his teachings and love them).
The mentoring of Timothy by Paul after this is very apparent and we're lucky enough to see this more intimately as we have access to Paul's letters to Timothy as a part of the New testament canonical Scripture.
So I am enjoying the mentoring.
I am also building relationship with a friend of mine who has recently come on in a leadership role to assist me in the youth ministry.
Relationships are difficult and time consuming, but I'm starting to see how important Christian accountability is. Not only do you have someone to discuss your struggles with, but you have someone to discuss where your Christian life is at. What you're learning in your studies and devotions. Where you feel God tugging your heart. And of course, once you share those things, you have someone who will challenge you to carry them out.
More specifically however, I am starting to see why the biblical model of mentoring AND being mentored is so vital. I think one thing I can often struggle with is pride, and there is something quite humbling in being mentored.
Humility is one of those things that as soon as you think you have it, you lost it, (Well, unless of course you're Moses: "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Numbers 12:3 <-- who wrote the book of Numbers? Moses!) and yet it is so vital. Jesus showed us a King who chose to be born a refugee in the midst of a genocide in a situation where he could be viewed as illegitimate. His ministry was one of service. He washed his disciples feet. He died for his enemies. We are called to be his followers. We are called to have his humility. It is the meek that will inherit the earth.
I think mentoring someone younger (spiritually or in years) is vital as well. It allows us to recognize the gifts we have and the things we have to share. It forces us to grow spiritually and to keep our relationship with God in priority so that we have something to give.
Yet in doing so it is easy to get prideful. It's easy for us to sort of view ourselves like the Donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Jesus chose that Donkey specifically (don't worry, I'm not implying the Donkey was aware of this), the Donkey could have easily heard the praises of the people, the branches lining it's way into the city etc. and thought it was praising him. But of course it wasn't for him. We're the donkey. We're the asses that get to bring Jesus in. But it's so easy for us to forget this.
I think while mentoring someone, if you don't allow yourself to be prideful and think your talents or personality are enough to teach someone how to be a disciple, it can be very refreshing to know it's still God's job to turn us into who he means us to be. The job of a mentor is just to point someone to Jesus. That's what he came to earth for. To model a Godly life.
So there you have it. The benefits that come with both mentoring AND being mentored while trying to maintain Jesus-like humility. The bible is so cool.
I found the following at 9Marks:
Seminaries don’t make pastors, churches do.
You’ll hear someone at 9Marks say that if you hang around us long enough. In this issue of the eJournal, we try to put some flesh on this basic idea.
Mark Dever considers why the local church is uniquely equipped and commissioned to the work of raising up future pastors. Then he offers some practical advice for every pastor and church for doing this work, whether or not they have the resources for an internship program. Both seminary presidents and pastors offer their sentiments in a couple of 9Marks forums. And one of John MacArthur’s associate pastors, Nathan Busenitz, tells the story of how Grace Community Church decided to plant a seminary within the church.
Next, we asked three different churches how they formally mentor future pastors. We hope this might give our pastor readers a few ideas they can adopt, as God provides the opportunity. And our goal is the same for the last section where we feature a number of church-affiliated programs. Maybe a church will start its own program; maybe it will sponsor a student though one of the programs listed here.
This issue does not contain the longer, more theological articles that we often include (we will in the future!), but here’s the very simple point we hope you catch: God primarily calls and equips men for the pastorate as pastors faithfully shepherd and disciple their own congregations. If you don’t read anything else, catch this point in the first three paragraphs of Dever’s second interview below
You can find the links to the interview here.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Befits suggests appropriate and pleasingly suitable. Nothing surprising there. Except, I would expect the verse to indicate that praise is appropriate and suitable for God. And yet, even as praise in becoming and befitting for God, it is similarly, but to a lesser degree, proper and becoming for the righteous(as they praise God) as well. And isn't that what God is like? Despite the fact that it is good and right to praise the all-powerful, all-loving, and most-glorious being in the universe, He turns it around and says "It looks good on you when you praise Me, too!" He takes His sinful creatures and morphs us into the "aroma of Christ"(2 Corinthians 2:15). Amazing!
Monday, February 2, 2009
The subtitle of Horton's book is An Introduction to Reformed Theology. Thus, he covers the doctrines of grace (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints) as well as touching upon covenant theology, the priesthood of all believers, and the sacraments. For the most part however, the book concerns itself with the 5 points of Calvinism.
For someone born in the 70's, and having grown up in 80's, how could I not appreciate a book on theology that uses Loverboy's music and the movie Flatliners in several analogies? I was hooked with the references from the 80's. Along with those teaching devices, I enjoyed Horton's style and found he was very clear and concise in explaining, defending, and promoting the reformed perspectives on the aforementioned theological subjects.
Horton, at appropriate times, compares the Reformed approach to other approaches to theology in the Christian church whether they be evangelical, Catholic, or other. The author did this in a fair and courteous manner which was refreshing and enlightening. Balance was seen in critiques of some practices in Reformed circles.
In an effort to "own" this book, taking tips from How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren, I compiled a fairly thorough overview of the book. At most points I believe I understood the author and hope the following is an indication of that.
Chapter 1 - Jumping Through Hoops Is for Circus Animals
Summary: the doctrines of grace are integral for us
Chapter 2 - Created with Class
Summary: a proper doctrine of creation is important to understanding the doctrines of grace
- we need to see the majesty of humanity to comprehend the horror of the fall
- we need to understand ourselves to fully understand God
- benefits of the doctrine of creation: 1) We have a 'weighty' existence. 2) We are free to enjoy work. 3) Nothing is 'secular' or 'spiritual'. 4) God is in control. 5) There is evidence of an Intelligent Designer. 6) We are without excuse.
Summary: a proper doctrine of the fall (total depravity) is crucial for understanding and appreciating grace
- our fall is complete
- sin is our fault, but part of God's plan
- our attempts to earn grace are futile
- we can make no positive, Godward movement
- benefits of the doctrine of the fall/original sin/total depravity: 1) Nobody is exempt from the fall and we should take this into consideration in our relationships. 2) Nobody is good from God's perspective and thus self-righteousness is dealt a death blow. 3) God's grace is magnified.
Summary: despite some objections, the doctrine of unconditional election is necessary because of the human condition: dead in sin
- Election denies free will - our will is a product of our character and we would always freely not choose God
- Election makes salvation deterministic - election s not arbitrary but rather is caused by the love and mercy of a kind Creator thus God's determining defeats fatalism
- Election is unfair for passing over some - election does not exclude anyone who wants to come to God because our sin is so grave that none want to come
- Election must be conditional - God does not need a worthy object to love and our foreknown response would always be "no"
Summary: the doctrine of election revolutionizes our relationship with God in a practical way
- election helps us to be humble; we are loved though not lovely, chosen though not choice
- election encourages gratitude; he wanted me
- election aids worship; the better we understand God the more properly we worship
- election strengthens our pursuit of holiness and service; we have a higher motivation than reward/punshment
- election alters our evangelism; it effects our message, methods, and motivation
- election enlivens prayer; we can pray with hope and expectancy
- we should believe election because it is biblical, not because it is pratical
Summary: the doctrine of the incarnation is Christ coming to secure the salvation of God's elect
- every step of salvation is God moving closer to us
- God is transcendent yet immanent
- Jesus bridged the infinite to the finite
Summary: the grace and love of God was manifested in the sacrifice of Christ
- Christ accomplished the taking away the sins of the world
- the atoning work of God knows no boundaries
- salvation is universal in that it crosses all barriers, but not in the sense that it includes everyone
- because of the international elect remnant, the world is saved
- "For whom did Christ die?" is a question of paramount importance
Summary: in god's mind Christ was slain when God chose the elect before the foundation of the world
- the sacrificial system was not designed to remit the sin of those outside of the covenant community
- the scope, intent, and purpose of the Father, Son, and Spirit are identical
- if Christ atoned for everyone's sin then either all are saved or the sin of unbelief was not atoned for
- God loves all people but He does not love all people the same
Summary: at the cross, Jesus accomplished our reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption as well as being our substitute and sacrifice, thus God was satisfied
- Christ accomplished salvation for the elect as opposed to securing the potential for all to be saved
- redemption means "to buy back"
- propitiation means "to remove God's wrath"
- reconciliation means "to render no longer opposed"
- substitution means "to suffer on someone else's behalf"
- God has been satisfied
- salvation is God's gift, we look in vain to find a hook to hang our hats on
Summary: grace imputes righteousness before it imparts righteousness
- the guilt imputed by Adam was charged to Christ, and Christ's righteousness was imputed to us
- it is our union with Christ which both credits us with righteousness and imparts the fruit of righteousness
- faith alone in Christ alone is the only condition for both justification and sanctification
- faith is: 1) knowledge of the facts, 2) assent to thos facts, and 3) trust based on that knowledge and assent
- we do not cooperate with our regeneration but we do cooperate with our growth
Summary: God will preserve His elect and they will persevere
- salvation is an event and process that will include calling, justification, sanctification, and glorification among other things
- all of God's trees bear fruit
- if we are created then we cannot separate ourselves from the love of God
- if adopted, we are members of God's eternal covenant family
- 1 John 2:19 - if they were of us, they would have continued with us
Summary: the neglected sacraments of the Lord's Supper are means of grace
- we must strip our faith of traditions that are without Biblical warrant
- sacraments are channels of God's grace
- it is up to opponents of infant baptism to give reason for departing from it
- communion is a reminder we are a forgiven people
- the sacraments are necessary for spiritual growth
Summary:though end times speculation is fruitless, end times truth concerning the return of Christ and the resurrection is profitable for our lives as priests
- New Testament believers constitute the New Israel
- the Bible is a story of 5 theocracies/covenants: 1) Eden/Adam, 2) Ark/Noah, 3) Promised Land/Abraham, 4) Israel/David, and 5) Earth/Jesus Christ
- we are a kingdom of priests responsible for displaying the fruits of faith
- our priesthood makes all we do a calling
- Jesus IS coming and we WILL be resurrected