Wednesday, June 25, 2008

john piper on temptation and the new creation

I have mixed feelings about this posting from John Piper. On the one hand, it's encouraging to hear this personal story, where the normal temptations of the flesh had no hold on him, due to his contemplation of the things of God, specifically the anticipation of the new creation.

However, the danger in listening to this audio out of context might lead people to believe that all you have to do is find the right thing to meditate on, and all your temptations will go away. The reality is that while God may grant us temporary abatement from the wiles of our flesh, it's never permanent. Our focus should not be on our victories, but on Christ's victory. This life if fraught with sin, temptation, failure, pain, etc. The list goes on. But our hope is that ONE DAY, all that will be taken away permanently by God at the consumation. Does sanctification occur in us? Yes, but it's imperfect and very slow. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.


Friday, June 13, 2008

growth together by edmund clowney

The life of holiness is the life of faith in which the believer, with a deepening knowledge of his own sin and helpless apart from Christ, increasingly casts himself upon the Lord, and seeks the power of the Spirit and the wisdom and comfort of the Bible to battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. It is not a lonely or cheerless struggle, for Christ gives the Spirit to the members of his body to help one another. Even suffering can be borne with joy, for the Christian walks in the steps of Jesus Christ who takes us by the hand. Maturing in holiness means maturing in love, love that knows God’s love poured out in our hearts, and answers with love that tastes the goodness of the Lord.

Growth in true holiness is always growth together; it takes place through the nurture, the work and worship of the church. - Edmund Clowney, The Church, pg. 89.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

by, from, for

A quote sent to me by my friend got me to thinking. Here's the quote:

"All happy people are grateful. Ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that being unhappy leads people to complain, but it s truer to say that complaining leads to people becoming unhappy." - Dennis Prager

I responded, "That is a good quote... We as Christians ought to be the most grateful people on earth!"

Why? Because we've been saved by God, from God, for God:

BY God - "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" - Eph 2:8

FROM God - "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" - Rom 5:9

FOR God - "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" - 2 Cor 5:18

*photo by Harold Davis

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the promise-driven life

by Michael Horton

"Christ lived the purpose-driven life so that we would inherit his righteousness through faith and be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world. What are you driven by? The last time I was sick, it was a Saturday and I flipped on the TV for an extraordinary long time. The whole day was exercise equipment, how to become real-estate rich with no money down, and Suze Orman gave me her steps to financial security. As much as we all make sport of this sort of thing, it attracts us. That's because we are "wired" for law: tell me what to do and I'll get it done. That is not just the American spirit, but it is human nature..."


Monday, June 09, 2008

What is the significance of baptism?

by R.C. Sproul

Just as an aside, the word significance has as its root the word sign. A sign is something that points to something beyond itself. We all recognize that whatever baptism signifies, Jesus obviously thought it was very important because he gives a command to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whatever else it is, baptism is the sign of the new covenant that God makes with his people. We do have the clear mandate in the New Testament that Christians are to be baptized.

I personally do not believe that baptism is essential for salvation. If I believed that, I would think that the thief on the cross who was promised paradise with Jesus would have been disqualified because he obviously didn’t have an opportunity to get baptized. But I do believe that baptism is essential for obedience because Christ commands it. It’s just the same thing as when people say, “Do you have to go to church to go to heaven?” I would say, “Obviously not.” But do you have to go to church to obey Christ? Yes, you do. And if you are not inclined to obey Christ and have no inclination to follow his mandates, that may be a sign that you are not headed for heaven. So church involvement becomes a very serious matter of obedience.

I would say the same about the sacrament of baptism. It’s a sign of the new covenant. It’s a sign of our participation in Jesus, of being partakers in his death and resurrection, which are at the heart of the gospel. It’s also a sign of our cleansing from sin and guilt by the work of Jesus and the washing of regeneration. What we do outwardly with water, the Spirit does inwardly with his grace. So it’s a sign of our cleansing. It’s also a sign of our sanctification. It’s a sign of our baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a sign of our being set apart from the world and given the holy task to fulfill the commission that Christ gives to his church.

So there are several things that baptism signifies. I think one of our tendencies is to reduce those to one—making it merely a cleansing rite or merely a sign of empowering by the Holy Spirit—when in fact it is a sacrament that is rich and complex with meaning and significance.

Friday, June 06, 2008

a necessary distinction

A Christian is not someone who slowly "gets the victory" and sins less and less in their life, but rather, one who regularly acknowledges that they are guilty before a holy God; resting solely on His mercy.

"For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." - Psalm 51:3

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Mat 11:28