Ask J.I. Packer: What is Your Hope for the Church?

Adapted from “Interview with J.I. Packer,” Modern Reformation July/Aug 1993. I see evangelical strength in America needing desperately to be undergirded by Reformation convictions, otherwise, the numeric growth of evangelicals, which has been such a striking thing in our time, is likely never to become a real power, morally and spiritually, in the community that it ought to be. I mean by Reformation truth, a God-centered way of thinking, an appreciation of his sovereignty, an appreciation of how radical the damage of sin is to the human condition and community, and with that, an appreciation of just how radical and transforming is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in his saving grace. If you don’t see deep into the problem, you don’t see deep into the solution. My fear is that a lot of evangelicals today are just not seeing deep enough in both the problem and the need. But Reformation theology takes you down to the very depth

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Does Augustine Still Matter?

By Gerald Bray, author of Augustine on the Christian Life: Transformed by the Power of God. Does Augustine Still Matter? What does Augustine mean to us now? What is there about his life and work that still speaks to the Christian life today, and to what extent are his thoughts original to him? Was he merely repeating what had gone before, or did he strike out on new pathways that have remained serviceable for the modern church? 1. The Importance of Real Relationship with God The first thing we notice about him is the emphasis he placed on the relationship of the individual to God. He lived in a world that was rapidly becoming Christian, at least in a formal and public sense. It would have been very easy for him to have gone with the flow, as many of his contemporaries did. But Augustine confessed that he became a Christian only when the Holy Spirit of God moved in

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God, our Real and All-Surpassing Sweetness!

Sam Storms: Augustine’s own portrayal of his conversion is one that every Christian should ponder. It cuts through the maze of altar calls, decision cards, raised hands, and insipid prayers to “ask Jesus into one’s heart.” My journey through his Confessions has once again brought me to Book IX where he describes how his resistance to the gospel was overcome by sovereign joy, the name he gave to divine grace. The precise phrasing depends on which of the many translations of the Confessions one is reading. An abbreviated paraphrase of his words is the one we most often encounter: “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose . . . ! You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure. . . . O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.” But a more accurate

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Augustine says it best

The following is a collection of insightful statements from The Confessions. “You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you” (3). “Out of love for loving you I do this, recalling my most wicked ways and thinking over the past with bitterness so that you may grow ever sweeter to me; for you are a sweetness that deceives not, a sweetness blissful and serene” (25). “If sensuous beauty delights you, praise God for the beauty of corporeal things, and channel the love you feel for them onto their Maker, lest the things that please you lead you to displease him” (65). “For great are you, Lord, and you look kindly on what is humble, but the lofty-minded you regard from afar. Only to those whose hearts are crushed do you draw close. You will not let yourself be

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Real Religion

“In the fourth century Augustine advocated using the Latin word religioby highlighting its etymology re-ligare, which means ‘to join together’ or ‘to bind together’ as in a covenant bond between man and God. The wordreligion, rightly understood, joins together everything we believe as we live it out in all of life. Furthermore, if we consider the lexical definitions of the word religion, we observe that religion describes not only a person’s system of belief but also what a person practices, observes, and devotes himself to. As Herman Bavinck writes, ‘Religion must not just besomething in one’s life, but everything. Jesus demands that we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength’.” – Burk Parsons, Why Do We Have Creeds? (Basics of the Faith Series: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2012), 10-11. (HT: Jared Wilson)