Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten  a man with the help of theLord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for  you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother.  And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to theLord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.  14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then theLord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod,  east of Eden.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.
Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.
Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.
Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
- William Tyndale, Puritan
Following is a link to a five minute sermon (video) by John Piper on Morality and Sanctification
Friday, November 12, 2010
"Grace overwhelms us with God's love, and as a result our heart resonates with the desires of God. His purposes become our own. Our soul delights in his service as love for him and thanksgiving for his mercy make us long to honor him. True grace produces joy and promotes godliness."
In short, it's not about doing stuff that makes us more holy. The wonderful gospel story of our justification in essence should fuel our sanctification. It is out of complete thankfulness and joy due to grace of Christ's finished work that we should move one ounce of flesh to godliness. It is still the working of the spirit that leads us to these actions. As we are now in Christ, if we truly are, our actions, our labor, our fruit, should point to the root of what Christ has done. It will always be about that, and never about our what we are doing.
One more thing, is that I do believe sanctification is cooperative. You have all know these verse, but as Paul writes in Philippians 2: 12-13...
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
...As it states, Paul commands us to work it out. It's not easy, and it does take something on our part. But I don't believe goal #1 is eliminating sin, as I know I often think. It's impossible, and discouraging to have it that way. That cannot be the standard by which we measure our sanctification, because it is an inconceivable scale. It is dealing with sin that is on the scale of infinity, and playing a game of balance in our minds and functionally in our actions only promotes pervasive, but well hidden pride. I believe our goal in pursuing holiness should be to align our affections with those of Christ Jesus. Eliminating sin is an obvious result of becoming more holy, but it can't be the focus. Practically, we should be moved to dive into scripture to learn it, as we are now in Christ, we are one of his people, and should know what our King commands. If we are going to identify with him in our rescue, we should also identify with him in everything else...we should come eager to the Lord in prayer and ask for his grace and forgiveness and strength...we should seek actively to serve our brothers. However, I know this stuff is not easy to want to do. Many times I don't want to do it and choose not to. I think as we go through those periods in our lives, probably daily, we should constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves and asking God to reveal to us more fully the beauty of his grace and the power of his work on the cross. I truly believe it is through hearing the word of God, the gospel more, we will become so much more moved to action.
As we seek to grow in our faith, may we not look inwardly to ourselves, but outwardly to Jesus, and what he has done for us all by grace. May we refocus our vision from trying to improve our faith, to the object of our faith itself, Jesus Christ.
These are jumbled thoughts I wanted to get down before going back to class. I love you guys all so much, and am so thankful I have friends who want to talk about these things. I look up to you all (not just in the physical dimension..pun) and need your prayers. Can not wait to see you all next week, and to hear more about your thoughts on this topic. It is multifaceted, but I'm sure scripture is deep with wisdom.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
An amazing article written by my friend Dane Ortlund on the Resurgence blog. I admire the way Dane gets grace.
In the upside-down Gospel of Grace, the one thing that qualifies us before God is knowing we don't qualify, and the one thing that disqualifies us is thinking we do.
Four consecutive accounts in Matthew 19 and 20 drive home this counterintuitive truth.
Addicted to Self-Qualification
First, some little kids run up to Jesus but are restrained by the Secret Security-like disciples (Matt. 19:13–15). Next, the rich young man approaches Jesus, trumpeting his moral resume (“All these I have kept”) but refusing to leave his riches behind (Matt. 19:16–22). Then Peter, reminding Jesus that he has lived out the very sacrifice the rich young man refused, wonders what his reward will be (Matt. 19:23–30). Finally, Jesus tells a parable in which workers are hired at different points throughout the day but all paid the same wage, to the dismay of the early-hired workers who have “borne the burden of the day” (Matt. 20:1–16).
In each passage we can detect the assumption that we have to “qualify” to gain corresponding approval.
- The disciples thought little children needed to qualify with age in order to receive Jesus’ attention.
- The rich young man thought he needed to qualify with obedience in order to receive eternal life.
- Peter thought he had to qualify with sacrifice in order to receive a reward.
- The early hired workers thought all employees had to qualify with sufficient work in order to receive a day’s wage.
Things haven’t changed much.
We roll out of bed every day with a bent to strengthen our qualification before God with some kind of self-generated contribution. Like those in Matthew 19 and 20, we deeply resist free grace.
After all, free grace is perplexing. Dangerous, even. How do we retain any moral compass at all if the only requirement is to stop trying to meet the requirement? Doesn’t this destroy the moral fabric of the universe? Isn’t this a moral free-for-all?
No. The reason why is the very next paragraph in Matthew after the parable of the workers:
- And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’ (Matt. 20:17–19)
You Don’t Qualify. Jesus Does.
On the cross, the one person who ever truly qualified allowed himself to be disqualified, so that you and I, naturally disqualified, can qualify. For free. All it takes to qualify is to acknowledge we don’t, and look to Christ.
To use the categories of Matthew 19–20:
- We can have God’s undivided attention without qualifying with age or other social prerequisites, because on the cross Jesus was rejected not ultimately by his disciples or even the religious authorities but by his own Father.
- We can have eternal life without qualifying with a moral resume, because on the cross Jesus experienced hell despite living the only life that deserved heaven, being the only person who can truly say “All these have I kept.”
- We can have a reward without qualifying with sacrifice, because on the cross Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice that means we freely receive the ultimate reward.
- We can have a full day’s wage without qualifying with comparatively more work than others, because Jesus worked the whole day, “bearing the burden of the day,” and then went to the cross, waiving the wage he deserved.
That’s why qualifying before God is so scandalously free.
In the gospel, the one thing that qualifies you is knowing you don’t, looking instead to Christ, and the one thing that disqualifies you is thinking you do. As Dad put it in a recent sermon, “Hell is full of people who believe they deserve to be in heaven. Heaven is full of people who believe they deserve to be in hell.”
Receive it. Humble yourself. Be free.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The following idea was highlighted in a DVD series by Rev. Paul Zahl:
It is a pervasive idea in Christianity that once someone is saved, they are then able to master life (with the Spirit’s help). Put more bluntly, Christians often think they have control.
This is why Christians need to continually die to self. God is in control.
Thanks Rev. Zahl for the reminder, and Dan for posting this.
Monday, November 8, 2010
"All the love and the acceptance which a perfectly obedient Being could have obtained from God, belong to you, because Christ was perfectly obedient on your behalf"
Monday, November 1, 2010
One place that has been opening up to me in recent weeks is Revelation 21-22, John's vision of the new heavens and new earth. In particular I'm seeing how the last two chapters of the Bible envision a recapitulating (summing up) restoration of the world created and diseased in the first three chapters of the Bible.
Gen 1:1 speaks of heaven and earth, Rev 21:1 of a new heaven and a new earth.What a hope. The world will one day be what it was meant to be.
In Gen 3:8 God walks in the garden, in Rev 21:3 speaks of God once again dwelling with man.
In Gen 2:18 the Lord sees that man has no helper suitable for him, and gives him a bride; in Rev 21:9 we hear of 'the Bride, the wife of the Lamb,' culminating a recurring theme throughout the Bible of the people of God as God's wife.
In Gen 1:16 God makes the greater light and the lesser light; in Rev 21:23 'the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it . . .'
In Gen 2:10 a river flows out of Eden; in Rev 22:1 the angel shows John 'the river of the water of life . . .'
In Gen 2:9 we hear of a tree of life--so also in Rev 22:2, 14, 19.
In Gen 3:14, 17 the serpent and the ground beneath man is cursed; in Rev 22:3 we hear that nothing will be cursed any longer.
In Gen 1:28 God told mankind to rule and exercise dominion over the earth; in Rev 22:5 we learn that the saints will indeed reign forever and ever in the new earth.
And it is through Jesus, is it not, that each of these categories of Genesis winds its way to Revelation?
Through Jesus the heavens and earth were made, and through him they are being remade (Col 1:16, 20).
In Jesus God dwells with man (John 14:23).
Jesus is the true Bridegroom (Mark 2:19).
Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12).
Jesus is the source of true living water (John 4:10).
Jesus is the real, life-giving tree (John 15:1).
Jesus is the source of all blessing, because he submitted to the greatest curse (Matt. 27:46).
Jesus is the King, the permanently-reigning Son of David (Luke 18:38).