Sunday, August 29, 2010

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

- William Cowper, 1731-1800


This is probably one of my favorite musical melodies. Better yet, the
words to this hymn are incredibly encouraging as I struggle with guilt
of past and present sin every day. Praise God, It was atoned for and
Finished on the Cross! I know what I further appreciate about the lyrics
in a weird nerdy way is the anatomical illustration of a vein. Mike,
if you care to know,the vein you normally have blood drawn from is
the median cubital vein, haha, was just tested on it this past week.
It thrills me when medicine and theology coincide!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I've recently thought about how much of life is about conditions. Our daily decisions are often based on conditions of that day, which always vary. Certain biological properties of cells are different based on the conditions of their surrounding environment. The most evident manifestation of this in my life is with earning or achievement. The way our world runs is that...You reap what you sow. You get what you worked for. If you do this, then you will receive this. As a new graduate student, I feel the pressures of this daily. We are so trained to think of things as conditional, rather than absolute, and many times rightly so.

However, I have come to understand my standing before God is completely unconditional. I am learning that my relationship with Jesus Christ is entirely dependent on Him, and what He has done. He only asks me to believe. Anyone can believe. As scripture says, we are to believe like little children. It does not require a certain intellectual capacity, moral resume or work ethic. Believing is not something we stir up within ourselves. I've tried to believe harder, and it only shows me how I am a failure at something else. Believing requires trust, which is simply relying on another. That other is Jesus Christ.

The beauty of the grace of Jesus Christ is that it was already paid for. It required no 'if, then' statement. The rest is history. It miraculously transformed my heart to see Jesus on the cross and to believe in Him; to realize I couldn't get it done myself; to be forever grateful for rescuing me from the hell I deserve. The unconditional aspect of God's grace towards me now is what I know will sustain me. This is an absolute that cannot be touched.

Christian Insecurity

Per my friend Dane Ortlund: If you haven't checked out his blog, please do so, it is incredible encouragement in the Gospel
Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology: Why Believers Are More Insecure than Unbelievers:

"Much that we have interpreted as a defect of sanctification in churchpeople is really an outgrowth of their loss of bearing with respect to justification.

Christians who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons--much less secure than non-Christians, because they have too much light to rest easily under the constant bulletins they receive from their Christian environment about the holiness of God and the righteousness they are supposed to have."
--Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal(InterVarsity 1979), 211-212


The Divine Bridegroom

“Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, ‘If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.’”

– Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dependent on Grace Alone

My greatest sin is unbelief. It is unbelief that Jesus Christ actually accomplished everything for me on the cross, and that I can have hope and rest in that alone.

Charles Spurgeon writes in one of my favorite chapters of any book ever called 'Salvation Altogether by Grace' (Grace: God's Unmerited Favor)...

"The purpose of God is not founded on any foreseen merit of ours, but upon His grace alone. It is grace, all grace and nothing but grace from first to last. Man stands shivering outside, a condemned criminal, and God, sitting upon the throne, sends the herald to tell him that He is willing to receive sinners and to pardon them. The sinner replies, 'Well, I am willing to be pardoned if I am permitted to do something in order to earn pardon. If I can stand before the King and claim that I have done something to win His favor, I am quite willing to come.'

However, the herald replies, 'No, if you are pardoned, you must understand that it is entirely and wholly as an act of grace on God's part. He sees absolutely nothing good in you. He knows that there is nothing good in you. He is willing to take you as you are - black, bad, wicked and undeserving. He is willing to give you graciously what He would not sell you for any price (Isaiah 55:1) and what He knows you cannot earn from Him. Will you receive it?'

In the natural state, every man says, 'No, the very idea is abhorrent to me. I will not be saved in that style.' Well then, misguided soul, remember that you will never be saved at all, for God's way is salvation by grace. If you ever are saved, my dear one, you will have to confess that you never deserved or merited one single blessing from the God of grace."


The temptation to want to earn our salvation is the cancer within every one of us. It points to self, and completely goes against the purpose of salvation in the first place: the Glory of God. My tendency to neglect God's gift, more bluntly to not accept it for what it is, eats away at me. It tells me I haven't done enough today to be favorable for the King. It demands me to try harder, when really I have nothing to offer. However, Jesus demands nothing of me, but to receive Himself. And it doesn't even depend on the 'excellency in my reception' or how well I trust, but rather in who I am simply trusting in. Jesus. Period. May we all further know the fullness of His grace.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blessing for Obedience

"If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect."

Leviticus 26: 3-13

The Bible, specifically the Old Testament is filled with countless promises similar to the one above. God promises blessing if Israel is obedient to Him. If they will follow His commands, He will bless them. Moreover, the Old Testament is filled with instances where Israel is in fact disobedient to His commands, and in turn, God punishes them. This is a reoccurring pattern. God acts graciously to Israel and calls them to obedience, for a little while they are obedient and experience God's blessing, but then turn away from God and His immediate favor is removed, and repeat. So how does the story end.....

In God's steadfast love, God provides a way for Israel. Jesus comes to earth and lives the perfect life of obedience that Israel never could. He completely fulfills the law, and in doing so possesses perfect 'spiritual blessing'. Furthermore, God no longer gives his blessing through obedience. Rather, His people are blessed through faith Christ. We receive the blessings based on what Christ accomplished. Our perfect spiritual blessing hinges on the perfect obedience of another. This passage in Ephesians exults in a few of the blessings we have in Christ, mainly, adoption, being predestined, being lavished with grace, redemption from our temptations and an inheritance.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

Ephesians 1: 3-10

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grace--> Discipleship

"Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship. Happy are they who have become Christians in this sense of the word. For them the word of grace has proved a fount of mercy"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship pg. 56)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God Our Help in Ages Past

A Hymn by Isaac Watts "Our God Our Help in Ages Past"

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
Return, ye sons of men:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our God while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

Jesus: Clean + Unclean=clean

The following post comes from Dane Ortlund's blog. I highly recommend checking it out.

Then Haggai said, 'If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?' The priests answered and said, 'It does become unclean.' Then Haggai answered and said, 'So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.'
--Haggai 2:13
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
--Mark 1:40-42

In the OT, clean + unclean = unclean. In the NT, clean + unclean = clean. In the OT, defilement is contagious. In the NT, holiness is contagious. Good
title, Blomberg.

Jesus brought in his train a whole new way of thinking, a new mental universe in which we do not see ourselves as basically clean in danger of defilement, but basically defiled in need of cleansing.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, he brought a new world of grace, the grace of God that was always there and fully accessible but muted, fuzzy, hazy, opaque. Calvin rightly speaks of the OT as the 'shadows' and the NT as the 'substance.'

Jesus Christ brought concrete, sharply defined, clearly contoured lines to that real but foggy OT grace. There he stood, right there before us, a flesh-and-blood man, Emmanuel. The Word became flesh. Full of grace and truth. Solid, substantive. The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus.

The ultimate point?

The only clean man who ever lived became unclean on the cross so that you and I, unclean, can be freely cleansed by simply asking for it.

Hope for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spurgeon: An Unconditional Grant

"This is the covenant of grace. I call your attention to the fact that there is no IF in it; there is no BUT in it; there is no requirement of man made by it. It is all "I WILL" and "they SHALL."

"[I] will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)

This gracious character is written in a royal tone, and the majestic strain is not marred by a perhaps or a maybe, but dwells always on SHALL and WILL. These are two prerogative words of the Divine Majesty. In this wondrous deed to the gift, not only does the Lord bestow a heaven of grace upon guilty sinners, but He also presents it according to the sovereignty of His own will, without anything to put the gift in jeopardy or to make the promise unsure."

- Charles Spurgeon, GRACE: God's Unmerited Favor

Belonging to Him

The Following comes from John Piper's book, 'Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die'

"The ultimate question is not who you are, but whose you are. Of course, many people think they are nobody's slave. They dream of total independence. Like a jellyfish carried by the tide feels free because it isn't fastened down with the bondage of barnacles.

But Jesus had a word for people who thought that way. He said, 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' But they responded, 'We....have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" So Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin' (John 8:32-34). "

There is no autonomy in the fallen world. We are governed by sin or governed by God. We are slaves to whom we obey. When we are apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin, and therefore we live in sin and can do nothing but sin. When we are united to Christ through faith in the Gospel, we are set free from sin, and are now slaves to Christ. We are now able to obey Christ.

Moreover, it is only possible to belong to God through the Gospel. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price." The purchase that unleashes this power is the death of Christ. The price that was paid was Christ's own blood. Jesus Christ's death on the cross not only frees us from the bondage of sin, but it enables us to belong to God. It matters not who we are, but rather, whose we are.

Monday, August 16, 2010


"The repentance that really changes your heart and your relationship with God begins when you recognize that your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins, is your self-salvation project...We try to prove ourselves by our moral goodness and through achievement or family or career. Even diligent involvement in the church and religion may need to be repented of once we understand that it was all a way to put God and others in our debt. Repentance, then, is confessing the things beside God himself that you have been relying on for your hope, significance and security. That means we should repent not only for things we have done wrong (like cheating or lying), but also for the motivations beneath our good works."

- Tim Keller, The Reason for God

Illustration: The Saving Object of our faith

The following text is found in The Reason for God by Timothy Keller...

"The faith that changes the life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word "trust." Imagine you are on a high cliff and lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don't actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. This means you don't have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you have to banish all misgivings in order to meet God. That would turn your faith into one more way to be your own Savior. Working on the quality and purity of your commitment would become a way to merit salvation and put God in your debt. It is not the depth and purity of your heart but the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf that saves us."


This illustration is gold. Christ is the actor. He is doing the action, the saving itself. I confess how much I treat my faith as a spiritual resume I add to every day. I realize this in how much I think about my faith throughout the day, and not the author of my faith, Jesus. Keller's words resonate so powerfully to me because of how much I think about what I should do, rather than what Christ has done. My desire to want to essentially save myself is only evidence of my unbelief that my Savior will actually save me. May we rest in the security we have in Christ alone, who is certain to save those whom he has called. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, who has given us faith as a gift, and promises to carry us in it for all eternity.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Culprit vs. Child

“There is a difference between confessing sin as a culprit and confessing sin as a Child”

–C.H. Spurgeon

What a great reminder of our standing with God. A culprit confesses in fear. Fear of the consequences of his sins, fear of what the Judge’s sentence will be. As children we know that the court is adjourned. The sentence is in; because of Jesus, we are fully accepted by the Father and are fully approved. We are loved unconditionally as children. Therefore, we are able to freely confess, laying all our sins before our Father. We have been washed with His precious blood and are accepted once and for all. There is no fear in the confession of a child.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Keller: The Difference of Grace

The following text is classic Tim Keller in The Reason for God in an analysis of religion and the gospel. I need to hear this daily as I am consistently finding myself trying to justify my existence. Let this remind us that for those who are in Christ, we are completely justified by the blood of Jesus...

"There is, then, a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle 'I obey - therefore, I am accepted by God.' But the operating principle of the gospel is 'I am accepted by God through what Christ has done - therefore I obey.' Two people living their lives on the basis of these two different principles may sit next to each other in the church pew. They both pray, give money generously, and are loyal and faithful to their family and church, trying to live decent lives. However, they do so out of two radically different motivations, in two radically different spiritual identities, and the result is two radically different kinds of lives.
The primary difference is that of motivation. In religion, we try to obey the divine standards out of fear. We believe that if we don't obey we are going to lose God's blessing in this world and the next. In the gospel, the motivation is one of gratitude for the blessing we have already received because of Christ. While the moralist is forced into obedience, motivated by fear of rejection, a Christian rushes into obedience, motivated by a desire to please and resemble the one who gave his life for us...
...The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued and that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Psalm 23 (part 2)

Psalm 23:2

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters"

In this verse, David begins to elaborate on the provision that the Shepherd gives to his sheep. The word that first comes to mind when I read this verse is peace. David illustrates the scene of a mid-day oasis. A lush green pasture, perfect for sheep to graze in and a cool body of water to quench their thirst. God cares for his sheep by providing nourishment and giving them peace and rest.

In a spiritual sense, God nourishes his sheep with the feeding of His Word. He provides us with the food that our soul needs. He provides us with the only food that is truly satisfying. Furthermore, it is important to notice the verb usage in the first half of verse 2. God 'makes' us lie down in green pastures. Why would God need to 'make' us lie down. Well, as stated earlier, sheep are quite incompetent. Perhaps God needs to 'make' us lie down because we won't lie down on our own. This is probably because we can't always recognize green pastures. Isn't it funny how much time we spend planning our own lives, as if we know what is best for us. God will bring us to the places that are ultimately for our good. We might not think they are. We might be uncomfortable. Our circumstances may not be according to our plan, but they are according to His. We can trust that where he 'makes us lie down' is in the green pastures. It may not seem like it, but God will always give us necessary nourishment. Even more, we know that God is working all things for the good of those who love him. We know that God did not spare his own Son, but gave him to us. If this is true, how much more should we trust that God is making us like down in green pastures, even when it doesn't appear so.

Moreover, this verse sheds light on our greatest need for peace. Our greatest need for peace, is peace with God. The Bible says that we are by nature enemies of God. There is enmity between us and God. There is wrath. Our greatest and most basic need for peace is with God. We are unable to be His sheep unless we have peace with him. God 'making us lie down in green pastures' tells us that we have peace with God. Specifically, we have peace with God through the death of Christ. At the cross, all of God's wrath, all the enmity that prevented peace, was placed on the Son of God, so that we may have peace. We can have peace, we can lie down in green pastures, because Christ has made it possible.

Therefore, this verse ultimately points us to the peace we have with God through the death of Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins. The peace we have is that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We rest in that.

What Did the Cross Achieve?

The following excerpt is from J.I. Packer's tremendous essay What Did the Cross Achieve: The Logic of Penal Substitution.

Packer highlights the ingredients in the evangelical model of penal substitution to be...

"1. God, in Denney's phrase, 'condones nothing,' but judges all sin as it deserves: which Scripture affirms, and my conscience confirms, to be right.

2. My sins merit ultimate penal suffering and rejection from God's presence (conscience also confirms this), and nothing I do can blot them out.

3. The penalty due to me for my sins, whatever it was, was paid for me by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his death on the cross.

4. Because this is so, I through faith in him am made "the righteousness of God in him", i.e., I am justified; pardon, acceptance, and sonship become mine.

5. Christ's death for me is my sole ground of hope before God. 'If he fulfilled not justice, I must; if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity.' (John Owen)

6. My faith is Christ is God's own gift to me, given in virtue of Christ's death for me; i.e., the cross procured it.

7. Christ's death for me guarantees my preservation to glory.

8. Christ's death for me is the measure and pledge of the love of the Father and the Son to me.

9. Christ's death for me calls and constrains me to trust, to worship, to love, and to serve."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Psalm 23 (part 1)

Perhaps one of the most well-known passages in Scripture, Psalm 23 contains some of the most assuring and brilliant truths in all the Bible. As C.H. Spurgeon says, Psalm 23 is the 'pearl of all the Psalms'. In this passage, King David proclaims the confidence and comfort he has in the LORD. Having tasted the reality of the Gospel, and experienced God's wondrous grace as manifested in His shepherd like provision and care, it seems that David cannot help but exclaim the confidence and trust he has in his Savior.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters,
He restores my soul,
He leads my in paths of righteousness
for His names sake,
Even though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me,
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me
You prepare a table before me,
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil,
my cup overflows,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever"

In the first half of verse 1, David lays out the premise for the entire Psalm. The LORD is his shepherd. In this verse, David identifies both himself and God. God is his shepherd, he is the sheep; God is his master, he is the servant; God is his Lord, he is the subject; God is his Savior, he is a sinner. This statement seems to be quiet strange. At this time, David was the King of Israel. Often times, kings were referred to as the shepherds of the nation. It is strange that the King of the nation would choose to call himself a sheep. Generally speaking, sheep do not have a lot of desirable traits. For example, sheep are extremely dumb. They are vulnerable. They are helpless against attackers. They are completely dependent and are incompetent on their own. They are susceptible and they are weak. So here is King David, choosing to identify himself with these characteristics. However, therein lies the beauty of the passage. David is proclaiming that his entire identity is in the LORD. He is staking his life on this one premise, that he is God's. He belongs to his fold. His security, peace, comfort and joy is found in this one truth. He may be a dumb sheep, but David is His sheep. David (like us) may be weak and incompetent, but God is his shepherd. God is his guide. In stating that "the LORD is my shepherd", David is making the personal statement that his significance, purpose and identity are found only in the LORD. His trust is in the LORD. His only hope is that the LORD will provide and care for him.

The second half of verse one, "I shall not want" is a result of the first statement. In other words, since the LORD is David's shepherd, I shall not want. What wonderful contentment is there for Christians! What comfort there is in knowing God is our shepherd! Like David, we should be content with the work and provision of our shepherd. David does not want because David has everything he needs. He lacks nothing. Everything that is necessary for him, he has in God. Likewise, everything we need, in Christ we already have. We don't need to go out into the world looking for approval and acceptance, because in Christ, we already have all the approval and acceptance we need. In Christ, we possess everything (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Now, this statement of 'not wanting' only comes through a deep belief in the Gospel. It only comes with a deep sense of trust in our Shepherd. The more we believe the fullness of the Gospel, the more we believe that Christ has fully atoned for our sins, that he has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation, that he is 100% for us, and that he will also provide for our daily needs, that he is pleased to lead and guide us everyday, only then, can we begin to 'not want'. The picture I think of with this passage is Philippians 4, when the Apostle Paul speaks about being content in both times of need and abundance, and then ends by saying 'I can do all things through Him who gives me strength'. What trust the Apostle Paul had in the Gospel! Jesus is enough. End of story. He is enough. He is our comfort in all times. We should be content because the Gospel is everything we need. I pray we would increasingly be satisfied in Christ, and that we would continue to find our purpose, significance and identity in the Gospel. More to come on Psalm 23....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

He First Loved Us

Because of His miraculous grace...

My wickedness has been made known to me,
My heart has been under deep conviction,
My soul has been awakened from death to life,
My moral standard is substituted with His perfect record,
My chains of bondage from idols are torn off,
My need for success is made insignificant,
My desire for love is fulfilled,
My significance has already been accomplished and given to me,
My sins are wiped clean forever,
My God smiles upon me and delights in me,
My Father adopts me as His beloved Son,
The wrongs of this world will be made right,
Perfect justice will set injustice straight by love,
I will be conformed into the image of Christ,
I may freely work to the best of my ability with pure motivation,
I may forgive my enemy,
I may love those who are not lovely,
I am truly accepted, and may joyfully obey,
I am given assurance of salvation and eternal life with my Savior,
I may only boast in Christ Jesus my Lord because it is All of Grace.

...I pray these truths will become ingrained on our hearts deeper still.

Nice People or New Men

Reading C.S. Lewis's 'Mere Christianity' over the last couple weeks has been a refreshing experience. Here is a quote from one of his last chapters 'Nice People or New Men'.

"For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons; not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so; and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders, no one could tell by looking at them, that they are going to be wings, may even give it an awkward appearance."

God's love: Cultural perception vs. Biblical Truth

This is an excerpt from D.A. Carson's 'The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God'

"So now God comes to us and says, 'I love you.' What does he mean?"

"Does he mean something like this, 'you mean everything to me. I can't live without you. Your personality, your witty conversation, your beauty, your smile. Everything about you transfixes me. Heaven would be boring without you.' That, after all, is pretty close to what some therapeutic approaches to the love of GOd spell out."

"When he says he loves us, does not God rather mean something like the following? 'Morally speaking, you are the people of the halitosis, the bulbous nose, the greasy hair, the disjointed knees, the abominable personality. Your sins have made you disgustingly ugly. But I love you anyway, not because you are attractive, but because it is my nature to love.' And in the case of the elect, God adds, 'I have set my affection on you from the foundation of the universe, not because you are wiser or better or stronger than others, but because in grace I chose to love you. You are mine, and you will be transformed. Nothing in all creation can separate you from my love mediated through Jesus Christ."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Robe of Christ's Righteousness

I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,
every evening let me return in it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

- Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why Johnny Can't Preach

I just finished reading "Why Johnny Can't Preach" by T. David Gordon. In short, Gordon writes about the current lack of sound preaching and proposes several reasons for this crucial inadequacy. Gordon proposes that the overuse of image based media has caused a sharp decline in the quality of preaching. Furthermore, people have lost the ability to read texts and rhetorically communicate thoughts because of how the media has shaped us. This has inevitably lapsed over into our preaching. Below is a paragraph regarding the content of preaching. I found it to be a good reminder to preach Christ-o-centrically.

"From about twenty-five years of wrestling with the question, I have come to concur with those who believe that the content of Christian preaching should be the person, character and work of Christ. What we declare, with Paul, is not ourselves, but Christ crucified. Our message, like Paul's, is 'the message of the cross'. The substance of our proclamation is the soteric fitness of the person and character of Christ, and the soteric competence of his work. With the old Puritan John Flavel, we wish to open up that 'Fountain of Life' which consists of Christ's person and work. What is offered to the congregation, in rightly ordered Christian worship, is nothing less that Christ himself."

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is Our Only Hope?

From the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1

Question: What is your only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; indeed all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.