Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Aliens or not? Agent Mulder and Agent Owen

Agent Mulder: "I'm the key figure in an ongoing government charade, the plot to conceal the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials. It's a global conspiracy, actually, with key players in the highest levels of power, that reaches down into the lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet, so, of course, no one believes me. I'm an annoyance to my superiors, a joke to my peers. They call me Spooky. Spooky Mulder, whose sister was abducted by aliens when he was just a kid and who now chases after little green men with a badge and a gun, shouting to the heavens or to anyone who will listen that the fix is in ..."

John Owen: "Scripture does not support the idea that there are other intelligent creatures besides angels and men. That idea disturbs the whole representation of the glory of God and the whole purpose of his wisdom and grace declared is Scripture. The existence of other intellectual creatures besides angels and men is the creation of the fanciful imaginations of sinful men who have lost all semblance of wisdom."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Faith pt.2

2 Corinthians 12:9 —He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you.'

He knows what you are made of and measures out exactly every cross unto us as a chemist measures grams of medicine.

The devils could not go one inch beyond the herd of swine. God knows your strength and will not permit them to lay on you more then you are able to bear. His wisdom and grace shall be sufficient for you. Faith further assures you that God not only restrains your crosses, he has determined that they will bring the greatest benefit possible to you. Being administered by a Father who knows your frame, it will work for your very best.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Letter to a wife

Miscellanies blog posted the following today:

Because of travel John Newton and his beloved wife Mary were often separated for several weeks and even for months at a time. On April 17, 1774 John Newton wrote the following letter to Mary [as it appears in the published collection Letters to a Wife (London, 1793; now long op)]:

Though I miss you continually, I am neither lonely nor dull. I hope the Lord will give me a heart to wait upon Him, and then I shall do well enough till you are restored to me. I need not wish the time away. It flies amazingly fast, and alas too poorly improved. These little separations should engage us to seek his blessing that we may be prepared for the hour (which must come) when one of us must have the trial of living awhile without the other. The Lord, who appoints and times all things wisely and well. He only knows which of us will be reserved for this painful exercise. But I rely on his all-sufficiency and faithfulness to make our strength equal to our day. It will require a power above our own, to support us under either party of the alternative, whether we are called to leave, or to resign. But He who so wonderfully brought us together, and has so mercifully spared us hitherto, can sweeten what would otherwise be most bitter to the flesh. If he is pleased to shine upon us all will be well. His presence can supply the loss of the most endeared creature comforts as a candle may be easily spared when the sun is seen.

John Newton’s beloved wife Mary died on December 15, 1790 after a long battle with cancer. John Newton was by her side when she died. He later wrote: “When I was sure she was gone, I took off her ring, according to her repeated injunction, and put it upon my own finger. I then kneeled down, with the servants who were in the room, and returned the Lord my unfeigned thanks for her deliverance, and her peaceful dismission.”

Upheld by God’s sustaining grace, John Newton lived under the trial of living without his bride for 17 years.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Faith and works in Romans 3

Romans 3:327-31
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

John Murray, in his commentary on Romans (Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968.) discusses the relationship between faith and works of the law:
We are required to ask how the principle of faith is so rigidly exclusive of and antithetical to works of law in the matter of justification. The only answer is the specific quality of faith as opposed to that of works. Justification of works always finds its ground in that which the person is and does; it is always oriented to that consideration of virtue attaching to the person justified. The specific quality of faith is trust and commitment to another; it is essentially extraspective and in that respect is the diametric opposite of works. Faith is self-renouncing; works are self-congratulatory. Faith looks to what God does; works have respect to what we are. It is this antithesis of principle that enables the apostle to base the complete exclusion of works upon the principle of faith ... It follows therefore that "by faith alone" is implicit in the apostle's argument. Luther added nothing to the sense of the passage when he said "by faith alone". (123)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Glory of Christ by John Owen - Chapter 9 - The Glory of Christ's Union with the Church

From The Glory of Christ (Law, R. J. K. The Glory of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994.) by John Owen:

"There is an intimate union between Christ and His church. This makes it right and just in the sight of God that what Christ did and suffered should be reckoned and imputed to us as if we had done and suffered the same things ourselves." (74)

"So it was necessary since God had purposed to save His church, to transfer the punishment from those who deserved it but could not bear it, to one who had not deserved it but could bear it. This transfer of punishment by divine dispensation is the foundation of the Christian faith, indeed of all the supernatural revelation contained in Scripture." (74)

"There is no injustice in God, so the transfer of the sins of some to others who are punished for them must be just and fair." (76)

Divine justice does not arbitrarily punish someone for the sins of others. There is always a special reason why the sins of some are transferred to others: there must be a special union or relationship between those who sin and those who are punished for their sins. Before the punishment of sin can be transferred to another there must be a special relationship or union between the two persons. We can take as examples, the relationship between parents and children, and also a king and his subjects, as in the case of David. The persons sinning and those suffering for their sins are treated as one body, in which when one member sins another member of the same body may justly suffer for that sin. The backside may be punished for what the hand has stolen or the mouth has spoken." (76)

"The union between Christ and his church did not arise by necessity of nature, but from a voluntary act of his will." (77)

"Although this mystical union does not actually take place until believers are united to Christ, yet the church of the elect was chosen to be Christ's spouse before his sufferings, in order that he might love her and suffer for her." (79)

"So by reason of this union it was just and right for God to impute our sins to Christ and his obedience and death to us, treating us as if we had obeyed and died for our own sins." (80)

" virtue of his mystical union with the church, the law was perfectly obeyed in us by being obeyed for us." (81)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Old Man? The Sinful nature?

Here is a question from an interview that I came across on Alex Chediak's blog: when discussing the believer's ongoing struggle, should we use the word "flesh" or "old man" to refer to what John Owen called our "remaining corruptions"? Is there a difference? The question was directed towards Dr. Andy Naselli and I found his answer, below, helpful.

The best article I've read on this is William W. Combs, “Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two?” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103.

Those who affirm the Reformed view of sanctification use different terminology to describe the same phenomenon. Some describe Christians as having only one nature, and others as having two. The one-nature and two-nature views are practically identical because both acknowledge a conflict between what Combs calls “two opposing somethings—principles, desires, urgings, etc.” in the believer.

* Two-nature advocates call them natures: (1) the old/sinful/ depraved nature of a regenerate person, i.e., "the flesh" and (2) the new nature of a regenerate person.

* One-nature advocates describe these two aspects of the believer’s one nature as “two struggling principles” (Gerster), “two opposed sorts of desire” (Packer), or “contrary urgings” (Packer).

The "old man" or "old self," on the other hand, refers to the whole unregenerate person:

* Sin reigns as his master (Rom. 6).

* He is totally depraved.

* He is characterized by sin.

* At conversion a Christian puts off "the old man" (Col 3:9; Eph 4:22), who was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6).

A Christian, thus, is a "new man" or "new self." This refers to the whole regenerate person:

* Though he still struggles with sin (Gal 5:16–26; 1 Pet 2:11), Jesus the Messiah (not sin) reigns as his Master (Rom. 6).

* He is still depraved but not totally depraved; he is genuinely new but not totally new.

* He is characterized by righteousness.

* A Christian puts on the "new man" at conversion (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Faith pt.1

Isaiah 40:31— They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.

Just as often as you refresh your body with rest and recreation, so cheer up your soul. Let your soul have two or three walks each day up Mount Tabor, that is, in some retired place of meditation of prayer.

Stir up your soul to talk with Christ. Consider the promises and privileges you enjoy. Think of them, roll them under your tongue, chew on them until you feel their sweetness in your soul. View them together and individually. Sometimes contemplate one in particular, or another more deeply. Consider how wonderful that your debts are cancelled, and how wonderful that God's wrath is satisfied. Consider how happy and safe a condition you are in as a son of God, and how pleasant a state not to fear death and hell.

This is using your faith. You will find your soul saying 'It is good to be here.' It is good to daily be here and often. Unstirred coals do not glow or give heat. The beauty of faith is its use. Don't just have muscles, use them. Let man diligently and thoroughly improve his faith and the joy it will bring him will be great.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Murray on religious institutions

Romans 3:1-2

3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

In his commentary on Romans(Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968.), John Murray makes an application to modern thinking on religious institutions that is based on Paul's comments on an ancient institution; namely, circumcision.

The direction of the apostle's thought here is relevant as rebuke to much that is current in the attitude of the present day, namely, neglect of, if not contempt for, institutions which God has established in the church, on the plausible plea that in many cases those who observe these institutions do not prove faithful to their intent and purpose and that many who are indifferent and perhaps hostile to these institutions exhibit more of the evangelical faith and fervor which ought to commend these institutions. The same answer must be given and given with even greater emphasis. For if Paul could say with reference to the advantage and profit of an institution that had been discontinued as to its observance "Much every way", how much more may we esteem the institutions that are permanent in the church of Christ and which regulate its life and devotion until Christ will come again. (92)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two great quotes from The Puritan's Woodshop

From The Puritan's Woodshop:

In one of his letters on the importance of Systematic Divinity, Andrew Fuller deals with the seeming inconsistency between Divine predestination and human responsibility. He points out the difference between the reasoning of the fleshly mind versus the Christian.

A fleshly mind may ask, “How can these things be?” How can Divine predestination accord with human agency and accountableness? But a truly humble Christian, finding both in his Bible, will believe both, though he may be unable fully to understand their consistency; and he will find in the one a motive to depend entirely on God, and in the other a caution against slothfulness and presumptuous neglect of duty. And thus a Christian minister, if he view the doctrine in its proper connexions, will find nothing in it to hinder the free use of warnings, invitations, and persuasions, either to the converted or the unconverted. Yet he will not ground his hopes of success on the pliability of the human mind, but on the promised grace of God, who (while he prophesies to the dry bones, as he is commanded) is known to inspire them with the breath of life. - Andrew Fuller

Charles H. Spurgeon understood that just because our minds cannot get a grip on the harmony of truth it does not mean that they are simply contradictory. He sees God predestinating and the responsibility of man as harmonious. He writes in his autobiography:

“That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and I find that in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.” (C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: Volume 1: The Early Years; Banner of Truth; page 174)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Criticism and worship

Worship is the refuge that allows us to respond to criticism well rather than defensively. Worship is the means by which God is allowed to be bigger in our perspective than our critics. Worship allows us to not be precious about us and our reputations because we are absorbed not with ourselves but with him. Criticism isn’t nice, but criticism that gets out of perspective is debilitating. Worship puts our perspective right, bastions our hearts, makes us rejoice in God and find our happiness (that criticism would wish to destroy) in him. - Peter Cockrell

This quote is from a post by Peter Cockrell at his blog, Already Not Yet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Next conference messages

I spoke at a Father's Day event located 2.5 hours from home so, as is my habit, I downloaded a few messages to listen to as I drove. I decided to listen to a few messages from the NEXT conference from a few weeks ago. The messages I heard from Dever, Carson, and DeYoung were outstanding.

Here is a link to the page at Monergism where you can listen to or download all of the messages: NEXT messages. Though I have not listened to them all, I feel that I can recommend them based on the speakers and the sermons I have heard.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ortlund quotes Owen

From Dane Ortlund's blog:

Owen: The Ignorance of a Christless Intellect
He that has attained to the greatest height of literature, yet if he has nothing else--if he have not Christ--is as much under the curse of blindness, ignorance, stupidity, dullness, as the poorest, silliest soul in the world. . . . The more abilities the mind is furnished with, the more it . . . strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. All that it receives does but help it to set up high thoughts and imaginations against the Lord Christ.

. . . I hope I shall not need to add anything to clear myself for not giving a due esteem and respect to literature, my intention being only to cast it down at the feet of Jesus Christ, and to set the crown upon his head.
--John Owen, Communion with God (Christian Focus 2007), 185-86

Friday, June 18, 2010

Murray on justification and works

In his commentary on Romans, John Murray addresses justification and works, not for the first time nor the last I'm sure, when considering Romans 2:12-16 which reads as follows;
12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Murray writes, "Believers are justified by faith alone and they are saved by grace alone. But two qualifications need to be added to these propositions. (a) They are never justified by faith that is alone. (b) In salvation we must not so emphasize grace that we overlook the salvation itself. The concept of salvation involves what we are saved to as well as what we are saved from. We are saved to holiness and good works (cf. Eph. 2:10). And holiness manifests itself in good works." (79)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Owen on reigning now and Job on suffering now

From The Glory of Christ (Law, R. J. K. The Glory of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994.) by John Owen:
Some would reign now on this earth, and we may say with Paul, 'Would you did reign, that we might reign with you.' But the members of the mystical body must be conformed to the Head. In Christ, sufferings went before glory. And so it must be with us. Satan and the world both offer immediate glory, but this glory will be followed by eternal suffering. First, the good things of this life, and then eternal misery is the way of this world and its god (Luke 16:25). (63, emphasis mine)

One of my daughters was feeling under it this afternoon; she was suffering. She was feeling unloved, unnoticed, and unappreciated. And this was leading into a pity party. My wife, with grace and wisdom, took her to the Bible.

This daughter 'gets' the Bible; it speaks to her clearly. My wife was about to read to her from the Psalms, a wise choice. But she opted to go in another direction. "You think you've got it bad? Let me read you about a guy in the Bible named Job."

And my daughter got it. She giggled as she considered her own suffering in light of Job's. Some might think this would invalidate her own suffering. This would be problematic; her suffering is significant and real. Yet, Job's story, holy Scripture mind you, did the opposite. It gave her a godly perspective on her suffering.

She realized if Job could rely on God's goodness in his circumstances, so could she. Great work mom; you were a little more effective than my 'Suck it up' would have been.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


From Already Not Yet, a blog by Peter Cockrell, I bring you the following post which can also be viewed here:

Randy Alcorn provides a nice summary of Protestant distinctives …

1. Sola Scriptura – “The Bible alone.” Scripture alone speaks authoritatively, and it speaks to all believers, independently of church leaders and councils, human interpreters and so-called spokesmen for God.

2. Sola Gratia – “Grace alone.” It is only by the unmerited favor of God that Christ went to the cross and paid the price for man’s salvation. Man is by nature depraved—he has no virtue that commends him to God. Therefore God’s grace to him is truly undeserved and amazing, and God’s grace alone has the power to draw people to himself.

3. Sola Fide – “Faith alone.” Only total righteousness is acceptable to God, and that is found in Christ, not us. Man can only accept Christ’s work by placing his trust in him. Man is justified by faith alone in the finished work of Christ, not by any works of his own.

4. Sola Christus – “Christ alone.” Salvation is accomplished by Christ alone, and mediated by Christ alone—not by angels, saints, relics, sacraments, priests, teachers, churches, or anyone or anything else. Christ alone was the perfect Savior, and he alone is the perfect prophet, priest and king.

5. Soli Deo Gloria – “To God alone be glory.” God should be thanked, praised and given full credit for his sovereign grace and spiritual and physical provision. Theology should be God-centered, not man-centered. God should be put in his place and humans in theirs. Our efforts should not elevate and celebrate men but God. We should bring him glory in our work, in our homes and at play. He, not we, should be the center of all things.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Grudems

I came across this interview at Justin Taylor's blog. It is an interview with Wayne Grudem and his wife Margaret. Wayne, a theologian, has had a great impact on my doctrinal beliefs. I enjoyed this video of him and his wife.

Pastor Mark Interviews Wayne and Margaret Grudem


Pastor Mark sits down with Wayne and Margaret Grudem to ask them about their marriage and family in this video interview.

Monday, June 14, 2010

God's Sovereignty Over Evil

Here are some quotes from a sermon I preached this morning:

And what I mean in this message when I say that God is sovereign is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that he does govern all things, for his own wise and holy purposes. John Piper

The sovereignty of God I take to be the absolute authority, rule, and government of God in the whole of that reality that exists distinct from Himself in the realms of nature and of grace. It is a concept that respects His relation to other beings and to all other being and existence. John Murray

To say that God's controlling power is efficacious is simply to say that it always accomplishes its purpose. God never fails to accomplish what he sets out to do. John Frame

4.God's exercise of power over His creation ... His exercise of rule over creation ... God has a purpose in all that He does in the world and He providentially governs or directs all things in order that they accomplish his purposes. Wayne Grudem

5.We believe that God upholds and governs all things—from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons—all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image. Desiring God - Rebuilding Some Basics of Bethlehem: 10 Reasons Why Believing in the Sovereignty of God Matters

We must remember that we are all born sinful. Because of Adam's sin, we all come into the world with sinful hearts. Thus, God doesn't cause sin by taking righteous people and making them do what they don't want to. He does not inject sinful desires into people. Rather, we are already sinful. God simply leaves us to our own natures and makes use of the evil that is already there. Thus, we are responsible for our sinful actions because they proceed from our own heart. The source of sin is in the human heart, not God. What God does is divide, arrange, and direct the sin in the human heart, so that it manifests itself according to His purposes ...
The sin in the human heart is not produced by God. Rather, He is the negative cause of it because He is permitting it to exist when He could change it. Further, it seems that God uses negative causation and secondary causation to specifically direct the course of human sin. But God does this in such a way that He is never the positive cause of sin--that is, he is never the producer of evil in a person's heart ... John Frame

Sunday, June 13, 2010

God's Sovereignty

Speaking of how one articulates the truths associated with God's sovereignty in general, and His sovereignty over evil in particular, John Frame wrote this in His excellent work The Doctrine of God: "Our language must not compromise either God's full sovereignty or His holiness and goodness."

With that in mind, I will once again post on this blog the best example that I have come across of someone articulating this truth in a manner that meets the criteria that Frame introduces above.

"To put it bluntly, God stands behind evil in such a way that not even evil takes place outside the bounds of his sovereignty, yet the evil is not morally chargeable to him: it is always chargeable to the secondary agents, to secondary causes [i.e., those who actually do it]. On the other hand, God stands behind good in such a way that it not only takes place within the bounds of his sovereignty, but it is always chargeable to him, and only derivatively to secondary agents...If this sound just a bit too convenient for God, my initial response (though there is more to be said) is that according to the Bible this is the only God there is."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Provision for escape

Romans 1:17, 18
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith." For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

"The wrath of God" stands in obvious antithesis to the "righteousness of God" in verse 17. This fact of antithesis shoes unmistakeably, if any confirmation were needed, that "the righteousness of God" (vs. 17) is not the attribute of justice but the righteousness provided in the gospel to meet the need of which that wrath of God is the manifestation. The justice of God being retributive in reference to sin would not be the provision for escape from wrath. (Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968. Print. 35)

Friday, June 11, 2010

From Weak to Godly

7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

After going through 1 Timothy and reading this particular verse, I couldn't help but think of the comparison between bodily training and training for godliness. I'm not sure exactly what Paul is referring to when he says "bodily training" but nevertheless I thought about the effort I put into the gym compared to that of living a godly life.

I can think of many times when Nate and I have been working out together and have pushed one another to reach that next level, to get that extra rep., or to go that extra couple of minutes on the treadmill. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, mental focus, and persistence to achieve your set goals at the gym. I've never thought of seeking after godliness in this manner. If I work as hard as I do at the gym in order to take care of my finite body, then shouldn't the effort that I put into to taking care of my infinite spirit be so much greater!?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reading the Classics with Challies - The Bruised Reed - Final Post

Well, we have finished another book in Tim Challies online-book-reading-program I call Reading the Classics with Challies. The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes now gets filed under "Books We've Read in 2010".

For the final post, I'm simply going to share a paragraph from the last chapter that I have been creative with; I've added my own line breaks and emphasis. Enjoy!

Thus the desperate madness of men is laid open,
that they would rather be under the guidance of their own lusts,
and in consequence of Satan himself,
to their endless destruction,
than put their feet into Christ's fetters and their necks under his yoke;
though, indeed, Christ's service is the only true liberty.

His yoke is an easy yoke,
his burden but as the burden of wings to a bird which make her fly the higher.

Satan's government is rather a bondage than a government, to which Christ gives up those that shake off his own, for then he gives Satan and his agents power over them.

Those that take the most liberty to sin
the greatest slaves,
the most voluntary slaves.

The will is either the best or the worst part in anything.

The further men go on in a willful course,
the deeper they sink in rebellion;
and the more they oppose Christ,
doing what they will,
the more they shall one day suffer what they would not.

In the meantime, they are prisoners in their own souls, bound over in their consciences to the judgment after death of him whose judgment they would not accept in their lives.

And is it not just that they should find him a severe judge to condemn them when they would not have him as a mild judge to rule them?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One liners from Chapter 5

From chapter 5 of The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit (Burroughs, Jeremiah. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit: Delivered in a Treatise on Numbers 14:24. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. Print.):

He is worthy to receive the highest honor that any of His creatures can by any means give unto Him.

If we had a thousand souls, and they were all of ten thousand times larger extent than they are, yet there would be infinite reason that they should all, in their full latitude, extent, and strength, follow after our God, to honor, magnify and worship this God forever.

Consider that God might have had full glory in your destruction.

How much better is it for you that He should have the fullness of glory in His mercy to you than the fullness of it in His judgments on you?

There is a blessed connection between mercy and truth in the good that God's people enjoy.

God has a greater propriety in, and right to, whatever you are and have than you do; but God is pleased to let it be called yours that you may freely give it to Him.

The more increase there is of Christ's government in the soul, the more full it is and the more peace will be there.

The sweet and blessed comfort that fully following the Lord brings at death is enough to recompense all the trouble and hardship that we meet with in our way while we are following Him.

The grace of God's spirit oftentimes appears most, in the glory of it, when death approaches, because grace and glory are then about to meet.

The soul that followed God fully here, when it comes to depart out of the body only changes the place, not the company.

How full is the work of many men's spirits in their seeking after some poor, little, scant good in this world?

It was once a speech of Anslem: "If a man should serve God zealously here a thousand years, yet he would not thereby deservedly merit one half-day in heaven."

The knowledge of all truths concerning heaven and hell, or any other thing that can be known, can never raise, can never enlarge the hearts of men so after the Lord as the knowledge of God Himself.

Christians should, at the first entrance into God's ways, expect the utmost difficulties.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fair flowers and stinking root!

Thus we see that men may have excellent gifts of morality, and yet all these are but flowers that grow on brambles, far different from those graces of this other spirit that we speak of which only grows upon the tree of life. As many a fair flower may grow out of a stinking root, so many sweet dispositions and fair actions may be where there is only the corrupt root of nature. It is true, learning and morality are lovely; they are great blessings of God. But there is a pearl of price which is beyond them all which the true wise merchant will labor to get and will be content to sell all to obtain, as in Matthew 13:45-46. And this pearl of great price comes to be so excellent above all that learning and morality or any common gifts can make it. (Burroughs, Jeremiah. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit: Delivered in a Treatise on Numbers 14:24. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. Print. 120)

Monday, June 7, 2010


In my daily Bible reading this year, I have opted to read commentaries along with the particular portion of Scripture I am reading. Having picked up John Murray's commentary on Romans (Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968. Print.), I have decided to take the plunge into Romans. This will be a long endeavour; the commentary is over 600 pages. But, it will clearly be a valuable journey.

I have enjoyed reading articles by John Murray and recently I was edified by reading his classic book on the order of salvation; Redemption Accomplished and Applied. His introduction in this commentary on Romans suggests I will thoroughly enjoy and profit from his writing again.

From the Introduction:

"Where faith is it seeks the fellowship of the saints." (xvii)

"The gospel as the power of God unto salvation is meaningless apart from sin, condemnation, misery, and death." (xxiii)

"It is upon that degradation [sin and depravity of humans] that the righteousness of God supervenes, and the glory of the gospel is that in the gospel is made manifest a righteousness of God which meets all the exigencies of our sin at the lowest depths of iniquity and misery." (xxiii)

"To be subject to the wrath of God is the epitome of human misery." (xxiii)

"To question the reality of wrath as an "attitude of God towards us" and construe it merely as "some process or effect in the realm of objective facts" is to miss the meaning of God's holiness as he reacts against that which is the contradiction of himself. God's righteousness revealed in the gospel is the provision of his grace to meet the exigency of his wrath. And nothing discloses its glory and efficacy more than this." (xxiii-xxiv)

" And human righteousness is the essence of the religion of this world in contradiction to the gospel of God." (xxiv)

"Only a God-righteousness can measure up to the desperateness of our need and make the power of the gospel the power of God unto salvation." (xxiv)

"Here [3:21-26] it is made clear that this righteousness [God-righteousness] comes through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus and the propitiation which is in his blood. Justification with God is that which is that which this righteousness secures and propitiation is God's own provision to show forth his justice that he may be just and the justifier of the ungodly." (xxiv)

"Furthermore, by union with Christ we have come under the reign of grace and sin can no longer exercise the dominion." (xxv)

This [the reign of grace] is the basis and assurance of sanctification. Christ died for us-this is our justification. But if he died for us, we also died with him-this is the guarantee of sanctification." (xxv)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nearer the truth

Humbling Orthodoxy

The doctrine of God’s divine election of unworthy sinners is a humbling truth. Or to use Spurgeon’s words, “a sense of election causes a low opinion of self.” That is the bullet point under which the following quote from Spurgeon comes to us, as recorded in a sermon delivered on July 1, 1888:

Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

From Tony Reinke!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To follow God fully!

Part II of The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit (Burroughs, Jeremiah. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit: Delivered in a Treatise on Numbers 14:24. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. Print.) is entitled A Gracious Spirit Follows God Fully. The first chapter of Part II carries the titles "What Is It For a Man to Follow God Fully". This was an excellent chapter, probably the chapter I enjoyed the most. There are numerous great quotes and excerpts throughout. The majority of the chapter focuses on the following statement: "What the soul that is willing to follow the Lord fully will do".

To examine just what it is that the fully-following soul will do, Burroughs gives us 10 descriptions:
  1. It is willing to follow the Lord in difficult duties, when it must put the flesh to it, in duties that require pains and much labor, that cannot be done without some hard things attending on them.
  2. Again, one who follows God fully will follow Him in discountenanced duty.
  3. Yet further, one who is willing to follow God fully in all duties will follow Him in those where he sees no reason but the bare command of God.
  4. Yet further, the soul that is willing to follow God in all duties will follow Him in commandments that are accounted little commandments.
  5. Last, not to instance in any more particulars, the soul that follows God in all duties is willing to follow Him in duties wherein it must go alone.
  6. To follow Christ is to go to Mount Calvary where He is to suffer as well as to that mount we read about in Isaiah 25:6 where the Lord makes His people "a feast of fat things, a feast of wines, a feast of fat things full of marrow."
  7. To follow God is to follow Him only, so as to be willing to dedicate and devote whatever God lets us still enjoy to God alone.
  8. The soul then follows God fully when it carries through the work it undertakes against all discouragements and hindrances.
  9. One who follows God fully is willing to engage and bind himself to God by the most full and strong bonds and engagements that can be.
  10. To follow God fully is t abide in all these constantly to the ends of our days.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mood changing truth!

From Peter Cockrell:

“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we’ve never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. “God loves you” doesn’t stir the world’s opposition. However, start talking about God’s absolute authority, holiness, … Christ’s substitutionary atonement, justification apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.”

Michael S. Horton

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reading the Classics with Challies - The Bruised Reed - Post 8

This week we read chapters 14 & 15 of Richard Sibbes' classic The Bruised Reed as part of the Reading the Classics with Challies program at Tim's website.

I really enjoyed this excerpt from the reading:

And because knowledge and affection mutually help one another, it is good to keep up our affections of love and delight by all sweet inducements and divine encouragements; for what the heart likes best, the mind studies most. Those that can bring their hearts to delight in Christ know most of his ways ... But in heavenly things, where there has been a right informing of the judgment before, the more our affections grow, the better and clearer our judgments will be, because our affections, though strong, can never rise high enough to reach the excellency of the things.

This touches upon one of the great truths I have begun to learn over the last 2 years. The way in which our affections are raised is not by trying to get more emotional or hyped-up about things. Our affections, those 'informed emotions', are raised through the faculty of our intellect.

It is through the mind that the affections should be properly raised; first with the head, then with the heart.

I first came across this in a succinct and very understandable fashion when listening to a sermon by Bruce Ware. Bruce Ware had delivered this sermon is conjunction with his book Big Truths for Young Hearts.

Here is the outline for the sermon as found here which is also where the sermon can be downloaded:

I. Introduction - Background to Big Truths for Young Hearts

II. Teaching Children to Know and Love God by Knowing and Loving Theology

A. The Progression of Truth - Head, Heart, Hands, Habitat

* The mind's understanding (knowing the truth) is necessary for the heart's engagement with that truth (loving the truth). Knowing the truth provides the possibility and basis for loving the truth. E.g., Edwards's illustration of fire

* The heart's engagement with truth (loving the truth) is necessary for the hand's activity in applying that truth (living the truth). Loving the truth provides the possibility and basis for living the truth.

* The hand's applying the truth (living the truth) is what makes possible the transformation of others and our cultural environment (transformed by the truth)

* The order is crucial: Head → Heart → Hands → Habitat

Knowing → Loving → Living → Transforming

B. The Possession of Truth - Head, Heart, Hands, Habitat

1. Head - Start with the priority of learning well the truth of God's word

* With children, the first priority in what we can assist them with is the "head" - knowing the truth. Since most younger children are not saved, the "heart" is not ready to be touched fully. And even when saved, some maturity and reflection is needed to begin to sense the weightiness of truth. Knowing the truth as fully and accurately is crucial all else.

* Children are curious, by nature, and have many questions. Resist the urge to squelch this curiosity and questioning due to not knowing how to answer them.

* Take them to the Bible, so they learn that the authority you have and they also should have is God's word. Resist the urge to apply your parental authority in making them believe the truth. Help them, even as young children, to be like the Bereans who search the Scriptures to see if this is so.

2. Heart - Move eventually to the level of heart embrace of the truth

* But in time, the "heart" becomes the key issue. Not only do they know the truth, but do they feel the weight and sense the personal significance of the truth

* Pray fervently that God would work in their hearts and help them see not only the truthfulness of the truth but also the glory and wonder and beauty of the truth

* Help them learn, at a young age, Thomas Chalmers's principle of the "Expulsive Power of a New Affection"

3. Move to the level of truth's affect on their hands, the application of God's word

* Help them with "hand"-s on application of the truth they learn and love. Help them think through various areas of their lives to see what these truths mean to how they live and relate to others. Don't assume they'll just "get it." Get them started in thinking about how the truth of God's word needs to be lived out.

* Here, avoid legalism and moralism by helping them see the gospel at work in how they live

4. Then help them in seeing ways they can be used by God in transformation of their habitat, through their friendships and relationships, as well as service they can render

* Do acts of service together, but help them see how these are outworkings of the truths of God's word and empowered by the gospel

* Give them freedom to dream and envision how they can be used by God in service to his kingdom

III. Concluding Thoughts on Teaching by what is "Caught" as much or more than what is "Taught"

* The principles of the "progression" and "possession" of truth we've considered are just as relevant for us as for our children. Do we seek to know, and love, and live, and transform?

* Do our children see in us a fervency and passion and love for truth they will want to emulate?

I highly recommend this sermon. It is great to hear these truths alongside what Sibbes has discussed in this passage.As Sibbes writes, "But in heavenly things, where there has been a right informing of the judgment before, the more our affections grow..."

If we want to have strong, biblically-informed affections in a Christian walk, they must be grown and developed through thinking, studying, and meditating on the Christ, the cross, the gospel, the Word, and on God himself. The growth of the affections will follow!

No matter is private

Philemon 1-3

1:1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Douglas Moo on the significance of Paul addressing the letter concerning Philemon and his slave Onesimus:

"By making the issue of Onesimus a public one, Paul increases the pressure on Philemon to respond as he wishes. But we should not view the public nature of the letter as simply a lawyer's tactic to win his case; it rather reflects the corporate nature of early Christianity, in which no matter was "private" but inevitably affected, and was affected by, one's brothers and sisters in the new family of God."(Moo, Douglas J. The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2008. Print.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Does Doctrine Really Matter?

Kevin DeYoung thinks it does...

The Glory of Christ by John Owen

Well, the bloggers of this blog have begun another communal reading project. Having finished Altogether Lovely (Jonathan, Edwards. Altogether Lovely Jonathan Edwards on the glory and excellency of Jesus Christ. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997), we now haved moved on to a classic by John Owen; The Glory of Christ (Law, R. J. K. The Glory of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994. Print.).

Joining us on this venture will be long-time friend Jim Sutherland who may even contribute a guest blog or two.

I'll kick things off by sharing some quotes from Chapter 1: Seeing Christ's Glory and Chapter 2: Christ's Glory as God's Representative.

By the same eternal fire wherewith He offered Himself a bloody sacrifice to make atonement for sin, He kindled in His most holy soul those desires for the application of all its benefits to His Church which are here expressed and wherein His intercession consists. (1)

No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter who does not in some measure behold it here by faith. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight. Where the subject (the soul) is not previously seasoned with grace and faith, it is not capable of glory or vision. Nay, persons not disposed to it cannot desire it, whatever they pretend; they only deceive their own souls in supposing that they do so. (4)

All men, indeed, think themselves fit enough for glory (what should hinder them?) if they could attain it; but it is because they know not what it is. Men shall not be clothed with glory whether they will or no. It is to be received in that exercise of the faculties of their souls which such persons have no ability for. Music has no pleasure in it to them who cannot hear; nor the most beautiful colors, to those who cannot see. It would be no benefit to a fish to take him from the bottom of the ocean, filled with cold and darkness, and place him under the beams of the sun; for he is no way meet to receive any refreshment from it. Heaven itself would not be more advantageous to persons not renewed by the Spirit of grace in this life. (9)

He is glorious in that He is the great representative of the nature of God and His will to us; which without Him would have been eternally hid from us, or been invisible to us; we should never have seen God at any time, here nor hereafter (John 1:18). (11)

This is the foundation of our religion, the Rock whereon the Church is built, the ground of all our hopes of salvation, of life and immortality: all is resolved into this, the representation that is made of the nature and will of God in the person and office of Christ. If this fail us, we are lost forever; if this Rock stand firm, the Church is safe here and shall be triumphant hereafter. (12)

Men may say what they please of a light within them, or of the power of reason to conduct them to that knowledge of God whereby they may live unto Him; but if they had nothing else, if they did not boast themselves of that light which had its foundation and original in divine revelation alone, they would not excel them who, in the best management of their own reasonings, "knew not God" but waxed vain in their imaginations. (14)

In brief, all the rage, blood, confusion, desolations, cruelties, oppressions, and villainies, which the world has been and is filled with, by which the souls of men have been and are flooded into eternal destruction, have all arisen from this corrupt fountain of the ignorance of God. (15)

Now this is all that may be known of God in a saving manner— especially His wisdom, His love, His goodness, grace, and mercy, in which the life of our souls depends—and the Lord Christ being appointed the only way and means hereof, how exceeding glorious must He be in the eyes of them that believe! (20)

If we abounded in this duty, in this exercise of faith, our life in walking before God would be more sweet and pleasant to us, and our spiritual light and strength would have a daily increase; we should more represent the glory of Christ in our ways and walking than usually we do, and death itself would be most welcome to us. (21)

In Him we behold the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy, and power of God acting themselves in the contrivance, constitution, and efficacious accomplishment of the great work of our redemption. This gives an unutterable luster to the native amiableness of the divine excellencies. The wisdom and love of God are in themselves infinitely glorious, infinitely amiable; nothing can be added to them; there can be no increase of their essential glory. (25)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vile Conceits!

" ... what is more ordinary than to cast aspersions upon godliness, that it makes men to be dull, heavy, stupid fools, not fit for the great and high things of the world.

And therefore they labor to

stifle any beginnings of godliness in their children,

or anyone near them,

for fear it should hinder their parts and take away the quickness of their wits and bravery of their spirits. Unless you think that to be the only bravery of spirit;

to venture upon anything that may further your own ends;

not to fear sin,

nor the displeasure of an infinite God;

to let out your hearts to the utmost in satisfying your own desires;

to examine nothing by rule

but to do whatever is good in your own eyes;

to rejoice in the ways of sin and

to deceive yourself in the proud swellings of your own heart;

to be able to scorn at conscience, humiliation for sin, and strictness in God's ways as too mean a thing for men of such quality,

of such birth as you are,
of such estates,
and designs as you have ...

if this is the excellency of your spirits, then godliness refutes them indeed. Yea, it debases them as low as hell itself. It casts shame in the faces of, and breaks in pieces, such haughty, swollen spirits as these are. It brings them down to lie at God's feet as poor, contemptible creatures in their own eyes, loathing and abhorring themselves, as their is infinite cause they should ... " (Burroughs, Jeremiah. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit: Delivered in a Treatise on Numbers 14:24. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. Print. 70-71, emphasis and line breaks mine)