Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preaching on Satan ... on Halloween!

I'll be at High Park Baptist Church in Toronto this morning filling the pulpit while a good friend who pastors there is taking a break. They are working through their statement of faith and have thus entitled a 12 week sermon series Sacred Seeds. I was invited to help out and was able to preach last week on the Holy Spirit and will preach on Satan today.

How does one preach about Satan. Following a tip from C. J. Mahaney I heard in a sermon of his, you can handle this "hot" topic properly by teaching about Satan from the Bible and while you do that contrast the devil with our Champion; Jesus Christ.

One resource I appreciated in preparing for this sermon was a sermon by Mark Driscoll. Though I never actually listened to the sermon, I read the transcript. Perhaps it would be good listening for a Halloween day: Jesus Casts Out Demons

Friday, October 29, 2010

The stupor of unbelief

But when God takes in hand the reliability of the witnesses, the courage of their preaching, the futility of the opposition, the effects of the Gospel, the coherence of the message, the all-embracing sufficiency of the Christian worldview, and the spiritual glory of Jesus Christ—when God takes all this and more in hand, he is able to open the mind of the most resistant skeptic. When God wakens us from the stupor of unbelief and shines into our mind with “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6), what we see, along with the terrible splendor of his suffering, is the grandeur of his resurrection. (Piper, John. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. Print. 108)

It is all there; historical proof, logical deductions, coherence, intelligibility, an encompassing worldview, even the glory. But we still need the wakening power of God to remove "the stupor of unbelief." Thank God for his powerful, regenerating work in our lives!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soulja boy?

In my class yesterday, the students and I somehow got on the topic of music and through some twists and turns in the discussion I heard what I thought was a reference to "Soldier Boy". I had no idea who this was or what they were talking about. They found this amusing. I fired up the class computer and at the prompting of the students loaded up a "Soulja Boy" video. We watched two videos; one was something like "Crank That" and the other was "Pretty Boy Swag". I now, having watched those videos, consider myself significantly dumber than I was before I watched them. Wow! I strongly suggest you don't watch them and protect the brain cells you currently have.

Moving on.

I came across a song and explanation of the song on Justin Taylor's blog at The Gospel Coalition. I enjoyed the song as I listened and read along as the lyrics are presented along with the recording. Here is the post as Justin Taylor presented it:


Curtis Allen (“Voice”) takes up a challenge from C.J. Mahaney to rap about Kevin DeYoung’s book The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism.

Heidelberg Catechism by avoice

Lyrics below:

Verse 1

Yeah I’m on a mission like a couple spies, and that guys is the reason why I catechize. The good news we almost forgot I recognize, Heidelberg rediscovering the gospel prize. It’s not scripture but the truth in it will mention he, introduction hide and seek the 16th century. Written in a time when your mind was the weaponry, this document is back into the populace shouts to Kevin D. Better than you think not as bad as you remember, purpose driven truth, from Frederick the elector. He would initiate, the 129 questions to illustrate truths like Christ propitiates. All in a document, whose purpose was to teach children, a guide for preachers, and confessions in a church building. And this is all fact The Heidelberg Cat has been around but now it’s seem like it is coming back.


We believe in the cross, believe in his life,
We believe in his death, believe he’s the Christ.
We believe that he rose from grave yes it is him
And we read the Heidelberg Catechism

We believe in the after life and we believe nothing’s after Christ, so we stand our ground, cuz the truth’s been around from the word to Heidelberg.

Verse 2

Year of the Heidelberg resulting in renewed passion, and we could see it in our lives lights camera action. Let’s take a gander and address a few questions from Heidelberg document then look at the answers. But before that make sure that, you know how it’s broken down, in a Q & A format, a few sections. Suggestions how to read this not to sound promotional, but Kevin put it in his book to make it a devotional. Each question each answer has a bit of commentary, so the application of it is not some involuntary. Mystery, the history screams through rings true but I’ll just leave that up to God, cuz that’s between you. to believe, but to believe you gotta read you and then you meditate on all the truths that the Heidelberg will illustrate. What’s that the catechism homey where you been the good news we almost forgot let’s get it in!

Verse 3

From the word to the Heidelberg, we see that what’s the comfort of life should come first. And in death that I with, body and soul but belong to the savior, commentary from me man, tell this to your neighbor. Moving on, how many things are necessary for thee, enjoying this comfort, to live and die happily? Three, my sin’s misery, deliverance from sin, and gratitude for God is how the answer ends. Let’s stretch it out the Lord’s day 23 the grandaddy of them all, questions 59 and 60. What good does it do to believe in all this? In Christ I am right heir to the promise. Paraphrase, anyways I’m kinda limited I’m just trying to say a couple things my man Kevin did. On the Heidelberg, go and get you one, and by the way CJ homey this was fun.

Curtis’s latest album is Christ the King if you want to check it out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who would ...

"Oh who, once having experienced the truth, would wish to escape this painful and humiliating process? who would refuse to drink the wormwood and the gall, if only along this path he could reach the sunlight spot where the smiles of a sin-pardoning God fill the heart with joy and gladness? Who would not bare his bosom to the stroke, when the hand that plucks the dart and heals the wound is the hand through whose palm the rough nail was driven—when "wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities"? Who would not endure the uneasiness of sin, but to feel the rest that Jesus gives to the weary? and who would not experience the mourning for transgression, but to know the comfort which flows from the loving heart of Christ? Again the question is put—has the Spirit of God revealed to you the inward plague, has He brought you just as you are to Jesus, to take your stand upon the doctrine of His unmerited, unpurchased mercy—asking for pardon as a beggar, praying for your discharge as a bankrupt, and beseeching Him to take you as a homeless wanderer into the asylum of His loving and parental heart?" - Octavius Winslow, emphasis mine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eternally inexhaustible love

Below, John Murray's commentary on Romans 8:32 which reads: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (ESV)

If restraint had been placed upon the power of the enemy, he would not have despoiled the forces of darkness and made a show openly of the principalities and powers. He would not have triumphed over them and bound the effectively to the triumphal chariot of his cross. Is this not further proof of the Father's grace, that he should have given over his Son to the malignity and hate, the ingenuity and power of the prince of darkness and his hosts? It was the Father who delivered him up, not the host of darkness. "Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; nor Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy;-but the Father, for love!"

It is only as the ordeal of Gethsemane and Calvary is viewed in the perspective of damnation vicariously borne, damnation executed with the sanctions of unrelenting justice, and damnation endured when the hosts of darkness were released to wreak the utmost of their vengeance that we shall be able to apprehend the wonder and taste the sweetness of love that passes knowledge, love eternally to be explored but eternally inexhaustible. (Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes -Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968. Print. 324-325)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nothing looks the same again!

"Tepid acknowledgment is not an optional response to Jonathan Edwards' perspective on motivation. His teaching must be either rejected outright or embraced as the all-transforming foundation for one's life. We cannot half-heartedly accept the truth of the need for an inner relish.

If heartfelt gladness in God is definitive of authentic Christianity, every sphere of human existence becomes increasingly colored with the 'delight to draw near to God' (Isa. 58:2) in a way never before feasible. Reading the Bible, for example, is done neither to appease some demand from God or even primarily to gather new doctrinal data, but to cultivate enjoyment of Him. Prayer is not undertaken mainly to prevent illness and ensure safe travel-legitimate and necessary as these requests are!-but to indulge the insatiable universal human impulse to worship something beyond ourselves. Attending church is not a three-hour interruption into an otherwise relaxing weekend; it is an opportunity to taste the sweetness of Christ together in the nurturing fellowship without which even the most earnest believer will sputter along and eventually languish. And what about the more mundane daily activities in which we are all engaged - driving to work in thick traffic, taking a coffee break, doing a load of laundry, devouring a good burger, changing a diaper ... These too are opportunities not for Christians to have a break from bothering with God, but to see and rejoice in Him, the God who 'satisfies your hearts with food and gladness' (Acts 14:17) ... A Christian is one who has been given a new set of glasses. Nothing looks the same again." (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. 147-8)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tolstoy and futility

From Leo Tolstoy's short story The Death of Ivan Ilyich:

It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilych's physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture.

His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at Gerasim's sleepy, good-natured face with it prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?"

It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend.

I'm grateful this morning that God the Father, through God the Son and by God the Holy Spirit, has not only saved me from sin, death, and Satan, but He has also saved me from a futile life. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:20-21 ESV) And, "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." (Ephesians 4:17 ESV) Though my life has been far from perfect and my living of it has been equally marred by my own sin, at the end I am confident I will not wonder if my life has 'all been wrong'. The potential for that thought was removed when a gracious God regenerated this dead man and justified and adopted me. Futility has been defeated.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Human Responsibility

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday concerning the sovereignty of God and how it plays out concerning the responsibility of humans. I find that whenever I get into conversations like these, the hunger to learn more about God overwhelms me. I often wish that learning about God and his character could be as simple as plugging into the Matrix and downloading all of the necessary information!

However, seeing as how I haven't invented the Matrix........yet.........I'll leave you with a few passing quotes that grabbed me when studying from Pink's work from The Sovereignty of God.

How can it remain consistent with His mercy that God should require the debt of obedience from him that is not able to pay? In addition to what has been said above, it should be pointed out that God has not lost His right, even though man has lost his power. The creature’s impotence does not cancel his obligation. A drunken servant is a servant still, and it is contrary to all sound reasoning to argue that his master loses his rights through his servant’s default. Moreover, it is of first importance that we should ever bear in mind that God contracted with us in Adam, who was our federal head and representative, and in him, God gave us a power which we lost through our first parent’s fall; but though our power be gone, nevertheless, God may justly demand His due of obedience and of service.

God's decrees are not the necessitating cause of the sins of men, but the fore-determined and prescribed boundings and directings of men's sinful acts.

In connection with the betrayal of Christ, God did not decree that He should be sold by one of His creatures and then take up a good man, instill an evil desire into his heart and thus force him to perform the terrible deed in order to execute His decree. No; not so do the Scriptures represent it. Instead, God decreed the act and selected the one who was to perform the act, but He did not make him evil in order that he should perform the deed; on the contrary, the betrayer was a "devil" at the time the Lord Jesus chose him as one of the twelve (John 6:70), and in the exercise and manifestation of his own devilry God simply directed his actions, actions which were perfectly agreeable to his own vile heart, and performed with the most wicked intentions. Thus it was with the Crucifixion.

Friday, October 22, 2010

More from Ortlund

Why do we still struggle with sin after having been born again?
... the mere (though glorious) fact of regeneration does not suddenly cause all temptations and struggles with sin to vanish away. Christ's work on the cross completely eliminates the penalty of sin, progressively eliminates the power of sin, and does not eliminate the presence of sin. Sin continues to dwell in believers just as good continues to be done by unbelievers. We will avoid much confusion and simplistic overstatement if we remember both the remaining presence of sin in the regenerate and the remaining presence of the image of God in the unregenerate. (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. 122)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Merely speculative knowledge

So we can know God in a 'merely speculative' way or we can know Him with 'the will, or inclination, or heart.' In the first we consent to the fact that something is beautiful. In the second, we feel its beauty. This is central to Edwards' understanding of human experience, and we as the Church today do well to hear him lest we mistake the former kind of knowing for the latter and rest content with a faith in which truths about Christ replace love for Christ. (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. 59)

As Ortlund discusses, in the excerpt above, Edwards' concept of two kinds of knowledge, a few things come to mind. First, Edwards, and Ortlund would agree, is not against speculative, intellectual knowledge. Edwards' legacy is one of world-class scholarship leading to a profoundly intelligent mind that has few peers. And Ortlund has his PhD. What Ortlund is suggesting, by way of an analysis of Edwards' thinking on this matter, is that
merely intellectual, speculative knowledge falls short of what we are called to and what is available to us in Christ. We need to have an inner sense of the beauty of God in Christ; we need to taste God's goodness, we need to delight in Christ's compassion, we need to enjoy the delicacies of the Divine. Secondly, what comes to mind is that "I want this!" I want a deep, accurate, and thoroughly biblical knowledge of God; I also want to taste His wonder and sense His awesomeness in my inner man. I want to know Him with my head and know Him with my heart.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some helpful info

A few interesting resources/information from the blogosphere:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Suffering and Relationship

Jesus is calling for a radical orientation on God himself. He is pushing us to have a real, utterly authentic, personal relationship with God. If God is not real to us—personally, vitally real to us—it will be miserable to endure something difficult with God alone as the one who knows. It will all seem very pointless, because the whole range of horizontal possibilities will be nullified since no one knows what we are going through. All that matters is God, and who he is, and what he thinks, and what he will do. (Piper, John. A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997. Print. 75)

I found this quote by Piper eye-opening; suffering in a godly manner necessitates we have an authentic relationship with God. Falling back on 'the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away' offers us nothing if we do not have a real-a really real-relationship with our Sovereign. All things working together for good is promised to those who love God. I want to press into to God, to know Him and be known by Him, so that when suffering comes, and come it will, there will be a truly authentic relationship between me and the One who died for me and the One whom I love who will cause all things to work for good for me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ortlund on A Divine and Supernatural Light

A Divine and Supernatural Light is a famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards. Dane Ortlund, in his book entitled A New Inner Relish (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. Print.), discusses the main focus of this sermon:
The central idea of the sermon is that conversion is not primarily an intellectual assent to a new set of beliefs regarding God. Conversion is rather the event in which this Being who created the universe causes His light to shine into a human heart. God gives a glorious and utterly new perspective on life in which the individual sees the excellency and glory of God in Christ and is brought to gladly love and cherish Him. (59-60)
This is not the way I used to view salvation. I used to see salvation exactly the way Ortlund describes Edwards as not seeing it; I believed salvation was my intellectual assent to God. How much has changed? I now agree with Edwards in that my salvation was a solo work by God in my heart where, by grace, he brought me to life. His light shone in my heart; this new perspective was given to me and it was not one I assented to on my own.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Prosperity I'm Looking For

From A Hunger For God by John Piper:
The assistance we need, above all physical healing and all financial security and all employment successes and all career guidance and all relational harmony, is the divine assistance to see and to savor the glory of God in Christ. Beholding the glory of God in the gospel, we were saved (2 Corinthians 4:4,6). (63)
The kind of prosperity that I am looking for is one that gives me an abundant view of, and voracious feeding upon, the glorious Christ Jesus.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Interest In Obeying

In his excellent book on Jonathan Edwards' ideas about Christian motivation, Dane Ortlund discusses the legitimacy of being motivated by the end result of obedience. However, he also cites Edwards' position that this is not a stand alone type of motivation.
This is a key theme in Edwards to which we will return. Edwards has said that it is perfectly legitimate - because it is for perfectly biblical - to allow oneself (and even to seek) to be motivated because of one's vested interest inextricably linked to the obedience commanded. Our existence will be a happier one if we obey. At the same time, and very importantly, Edwards says this cannot stand alone; these kinds of reasons to obey 'be not the only thing intended'. As we will continue to see, Edwards believes that on the subject of Christian motivation the gain experienced in obedience is incomplete apart from something more, something that resides not essentially in the results of the commands but in the one who commands; there is a motivation that comes simply by virtue of the worthiness of the one calling for the obedience. The reality of God and the weight of His glory beckon a certain response, quite independent of the truth that there is also good incentive for doing so. (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. Print.50-51)
Of interest, here is Dane's bio from his blog:
I live with my wonderful wife and two boys in Wheaton, Illinois, where I serve as Senior Editor in the Bible division at Crossway Books. This site exists (1) to encourage gospel-rootedness and (2) to remind those of us in theological training and church leadership that our doctrinal knowledge of God is meant to fuel, not outgrow, our doxological knowledge of him. I call my brothers to join me in living (2 Cor 5:15) to delight in (Ps 37:4) and display (1 Tim 1:15) the glory (Rom 15:8-9) of the grace (Eph 1:6) of God in Christ (Col 1:15-20).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winslow on spiritual declension

In his devotional, Morning Thoughts, in the writing for October 15th Octavius Winslow describes what spiritual declension looks like:
The loss of spiritual enjoyment, not of a spiritual perception, of the loveliness and harmony of the truth shall be the symptom that betrays the true condition of the soul. The judgment shall lose none of its light, but the heart much of its fervor; the truths of revelation, especially the doctrines of grace, shall occupy the same prominent position as to their value and beauty, and yet the influence of these truths may be scarcely felt. The Word of God shall be assented to; but as the instrument of sanctification, of abasement, of nourishment, the believer may be an almost utter stranger to it; yes, he must necessarily be so, while this process of secret declension is going forward in his soul.

This incipient state of declension may not involve any lowering of the standard of holiness, and yet there shall be no ascending of the heart, no reaching forth of the mind, towards a practical conformity to that standard.

Winslow points out that one may perceive proper doctrine, even the doctrines of grace, and assent to every word of the Word, and yet may be declining in his spiritual enjoyment of God. One may maintain a holy life with no affection for our Saviour. Hence, the common call for us to have both light and heat in our Christianity is one to be considered again today; it calls for a Christ-like mind and corresponding spiritual affections.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scientism - from J. P. Moreland

J. P. Moreland is a philospher of some repute and an author whom I really appreciate. Moreland was one of the apologists that I read when I first became interested and aware of their work. Here is a recent blog post by him from his blog:

Scientism Makes Scientists Laughable

September 22, 2010

In their recent book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow claim that the laws of nature are consistent with the universe popping into existence from nothing, and in fact, they affirm that this is exactly what happened. (A helpful rebuttal to this claim can be found here). Apparently, this desperate move results from the fact that they recognize that the universe had a beginning and they want to deflect the need for a transcendent Cause to explain the universe’s origin. To my knowledge, they do not argue that the laws of nature themselves created the universe, and that’s a good thing. Why? Because the laws of nature are formal causes that direct the “flow” of causation, but they are not efficient causes that produce anything whatsoever. Thus, this claim, if made, would be a simple category fallacy. However, their actual claim is just as egregious, and that for two reasons.

First, the laws of nature do not apply unless there already is a universe. Those laws govern transitions of state of entities that exist ontologically prior to the laws themselves. Thus, an appeal to the laws of nature to explain how the universe could come from nothing is otiose; those laws presuppose a universe for their applicability and cannot in any sense be employed to explain what they presuppose. And coming-into-existence is not a process that could be governed by laws; it is, rather, an instantaneous occurrence. In general, “e comes-to-be at time t” is to be analyzed as “there is some property P such that e has P at t, and there are no times t’ earlier than t or properties Q such that e had Q at t’.”

Second, the principle “something cannot come from nothing without a cause” is a metaphysically necessary philosophical principle that is known a priori from an analysis of “nothing” which, as it turns out, is the complete absence of anything whatever, including properties, relations, causal powers, and so forth. Thus, “nothing” is not some sort of shadowy thing that could serve as a material or efficient cause. Note carefully, that this principle is not a scientific one; it is not an empirical generalization, but a necessary truth of philosophy.

The fact that many people have been influenced by the claims of Hawking and Mlodinow is sad to me. Here’s why. In previous times when average people knew more philosophy, these claims would simply be laughable because they are philosophical assertions being made by scientists who have little or no philosophical training. Thus, however brilliant they are in their own field, Hawking and Mlodinow are laypersons when it comes to the relevant issue at hand. But we live in a scientistic culture. When a scientist speaks, he is taken to be an authority irrespective of what the topic is. And that attitude reflects poorly on the educational level of the public. Thus, the deeper issue for me in all this is not whether or not the universe could come into existence from nothing without a cause. It is, rather, the scientism that lies at the heart of Western culture. I have long believed that philosophical naturalism, with its unjustified scientism, has helped to create an intellectually unsophisticated culture, and this is one reason why I think this way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Full yet? Satisified?

Piper on the satisfaction that can only be found in God, from A Hunger for God:

If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. (23)

Are there too many insignificant episodes of Seinfeld smothering and sating your searching for God? Does the desire for the delicacies of every new dining establishment deaden your desire for God? Will the longing for the latest laptop lessen your longing for the Lord? Is the pull and pleasantness of popularity preempting your pursuit of Christ? If so, you may think you're satisfied, but it is only a temporary satisfaction due to the smallness of those things that stuff you. Look for something eternally satisfying found in Christ alone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Christian motivation

A New Inner Relish by Dane Ortlund is a book that investigates Christian motivation in the thought of Puritan Jonathan Edwards.

From A New Inner Relish by Dane Ortlund:
We will look at Christian motivation from the three perspectives of past, present and future. Simply put, the past motivation is that of gratitude, the present is that of identity, the future is that of benefit. (23)

Ortlund recognizes and explores 3 perspectives on motivation. The motivation relating to the past considers what God has done and is motivated through gratefulness. The motivation corresponding with the present is one based on our identity; we are motivated because we realize we are children of God. Thirdly, the future benefit of the glorification of our bodies and eternal life also motivate us. However, despite these perspectives legitimacy, Ortlund declares them as secondary motivations that are subject to the primary motivation in the Christian life: a divinely-bestowed inner relish.

Each of these motivations, then – past, present and future – provides spiritual potency in daily Christian living. Yet my aim in this book is to hear with you Jonathan Edwards' supremely relevant message that while all three are legitimate and even crucial encouragements towards obedience, Christian motivation is fundamentally achieved by a divinely-bestowed taste ... the believer is moved to obey God not essentially by any logical reasoning (such as the three mentioned thus far) but by an immediate sense of and inclination toward God. While the motivations mentioned above may be used as kindling for obedience, they cannot in themselves provide the spark. Christian motivation is, at the bottom, the granting of a new inner relish. (34-35)

Monday, October 11, 2010


I hope everyone, in Canada, had a great thanksgiving weekend. We enjoyed time spent with family and the bounty that goes along with the holiday; turkey and all the trimmings.

I'm thankful for the beautifully coloured trees that are not burning with unending flames. I'm thankful for the turkey and dressing that didn't taste like ashes. I'm thankful for the loving embrace of my wife that didn't cause blistering and third degree burns (though she is really hot). I'm grateful for the smell of fresh cut grass and wet leaves after the rain went through; it was nothing like burning sulfur. I listen to gratitude to my children prepare for bed because it sounds so much better than what I imagine wailing and gnashing of teeth sounds like.

I'm thankful for the grace of God extended to me in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I'm grateful that He has NOT given me what I deserve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Winslow on the blood!

Even with the current surge in cross-centered, gospel-centered, and Christ-centered teaching, it still seems to me that we don't hear about "the blood" with the same frequency or fervor with which they used to talk about it. Here is part of a devotional that I read this morning.

From Morning Thoughts by Octavius Winslow:

"Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things,as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition fromyour father; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb withoutblemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:18, 19
WHAT a powerful motive does this truth supply to a daily and unreserved consecration of ourselves to the Lord! If, under the old economy, the utensil or the garment touched with blood was sacred and solemn, how much more the soul washed in the heart's blood of Christ! When the king of Israel, in the heat of battle, and in the agony of thirst, cried for water, and some of his attendants procured it for him at the hazard of their lives, the God-fearing and magnanimous monarch refused to taste it, because it was the price of blood! but "poured it out before the Lord." Christian soldier! it was not at the risk of His life, but more—it was by the sacrifice of His life that your Lord and Savior procured your redemption, and brought the waters of salvation, all living and sparkling from the throne of God, to your lips. You are the price of blood! "bought with a price." Will you not, then, glorify God in our soul, body, and substance, which are His? will you not pour it all out before the Lord—presenting it as a living sacrifice upon the altar flowing with the lifeblood of God's own Son?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #10

Finally, grace is certainly free, but it isn't always unconditional. The grace of election is unconditional (Rom9:11). But many of God's acts and blessings are conditional. For example,

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible
(Eph. 6:24).

But he [God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but
gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6; cf. 1 Pet. 5:5).

"For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find
compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is
gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to
him" (2 Chron. 30:0).

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He
will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it,
he answers you (Isa. 30:19).

Let your steadfast love [i.e., grace], O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in
you (Ps. 33:22).

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on
those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who
keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments (Ps. 103:17-18).

But conditional grace is not earned grace. Why? Because "when God's grace is promised based on a condition, that condition is also a work of God's grace. . . . God's freedom is not reduced when he makes some of his graces depend on conditions that he himself freely supplies." Or again, "conditional grace is free and unmerited because ultimately the condition of faith is a gift of grace. God graciously enables the conditions that he requires." Or again, "this covenant-keeping condition of future grace does not mean we lose security or assurance, for God has pledged himself to complete the work he began in the elect (Phil. 1:6). He is at work within us to will and to do his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). He works in us what is pleasing in his sight (Heb. 13:21). He fulfills the conditions of the covenant through us (Eze. 36:27). Our security is as secure as God is faithful."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ten Chracteristics of Grace

Characteristic #9

Grace is described in Scripture as the foundation or the means of, amoung other things, our election (Rom. 11:5), our regeneration (Eph. 2:5; Titus 3:5-7), our redemption (2 Cor. 8:9; Eph.1:7), our justification (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:5-7), indeed, the whole of our salvation (Eph. 2:8).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #8

Grace is sovereign. That is to say, it is optional in its exercise and extent. Although God is gracious in his eternal being, he need not be gracious toward or shower his grace upon anyone. If grace were at any time an obligation of God, it would cease to be grace. God's grace, therefore, is distinguishing. He graciously saves some but not all, not based on anything present in the creature either possible or actual, foreseen or foreordained, but wholly according to his sovereign good pleasure.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #7

This grace is free! Just think of it—free grace! But, of course, if grace were not free it would not be grace. True indeed, but what a glorious tautology it is: we "are justified but his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #6

Grace that saves is eternal but is manifested in the historical appearance of Christ. Paul speaks of the power of God by which we have been saved and called to holiness, "not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:9-10).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ten Chracteristics of Grace

Characteristic #5

With respect to justification, grace stands opposed to works (Rom. 4:4-5; 11:6); however, with respect to sanctification, grace is the source of the works, we are saved by grace unto good works. Good works are the fruit, not the root, of God's grace (see especially Eph. 2:8-10). It thus comes as no surprise that in Scripture grace and salvation stand together as cause is related to effect. It is the grace of God that "brings" salvation (Titus 2:11). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #4

Grace cannot incur a debt, which is to say that it is unrecompensed. Since grace is a gift, no work is to be performed, no offering made, with a view to repaying God for his favor. The biblical response is faith to receive yet more.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #3

Grace is not to be thought of as in any sense dependant upon the merit or demerit of its objects. This may be expressed in two ways. In the first place, grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit. According to Lewis Chafer:

If God should discover the least degree of merit in the sinner, this, in strict
righteousness, He must recognize and duly acknowledge. By such a recognition of
human merit, He would be discharging an obligation toward the sinner and the
discharge of that obligation toward the sinner would be the payment, or
recognition, of a debt.

Furthermore, grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit. Indeed, grace is seen to be infinitely glorious only when it operates, as Packer says, "in defiance of" human demerit. Therefore, grace is not treating a person less than, as, or greater than he deserves. It is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purpose of God.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ten Characteristics of Grace

Characteristic #2

Grace does not contemplate sinners merely as undeserving, but as ill-deserving. So often we are inclined to think of ourselves prior to our salvation as in some sense "neutral" in the sight of God. We are willing to admit that we have done nothing to deserve his favor. Our works, regardless of their character, are unacceptable in his glorious presence. But this is entirely insufficient as a background to the understanding of divine grace. It is not simply that we do not deserve grace; we do deserve hell! Fallen and unredeemed humanity is not to be conceived of as merely helpless but as openly and vehemently hostile towards God. It is one thing to be without a God-approved righteousness. It is altogether another thing to be wholly unrighteous and thus the object of divine wrath. It is, then, against the background of having been at one time the enemies of God that divine grace is to be portrayed (Rom. 5:10).