How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude? Here is how. You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home. The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father. — Tim Keller The Prodigal God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 86 (HT: Of First Importance)
God the Father
Fully pleasing to him
Ray Ortlund: “. . . so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him.” Colossians 1:10 We should not be afraid of this clear biblical teaching. It does not counteract the gospel in our lives; it is the sweet fruit of the gospel in our lives. The good news of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from all our works, is thrilling. The message of forgiveness, acceptance, adoption, all by radical divine grace — I never get tired of hearing it and preaching it. It is oxygen to me. Every day. I hope it means that to you too. But this grace is also a power that transforms. It both reassures us and changes us. Both/and. How else can we account for the New Testament? “Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10 “We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how
Why Adoption Is a Higher Blessing than Justification
J. I. Packer: Paul teaches that the gift of justification (i.e., present acceptance by God as the world’s Judge) brings with it the status of sonship by adoption (i.e., permanent intimacy with God as one’s heavenly Father, Gal. 3:26; 4:4-7). In Paul’s world, adoption was ordinarily of young adult males of good character to become heirs and maintain the family name of the childless rich. Paul, however, proclaims God’s gracious adoption of persons of bad character to become “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ (John 1:12). The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s now (Rom. 8:17, 38-39). Here and now, believers are under God’s fatherly care and
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The Spirit’s mission
“The Holy Spirit glorifies Father and Son together. He is procured for the world by the blood of the Son, and sent into the world by the authority of the Father, so that both are alike represented in His mission, and equally glorified in His office. The gracious things which the Father gave into the hands of the Son when He descended from heaven, the Son gave into the hands of the Spirit when He returned to heaven ‘All things that the Father hath are mine, and He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.’ This is the object of the Spirit’s advent: the communication of the things of Christ to men. What are the things of Christ? His merit, His mercy, His image, His Gospel, His promises, all the gifts of His grace, all the treasures of His love, and all the immunities of eternal redemption. These the Father hath given to the Son, as the great
Created to share joy
Historian George Marsden makes a summary of what Jonathan Edwards thinks of why God created: “Why would such an infinitely good, perfect and eternal Being create?… Here Edwards drew on the Christian Trinitarian conception of God as essentially interpersonal… The ultimate reason that God creates, said Edwards, is not to remedy some lack in God, but to extend that perfect internal communication of the triune God’s goodness and love… God’s joy and happiness and delight in divine perfections is expressed externally by communicating that happiness and delight to created beings… The universe is an explosion of God’s glory. Perfect goodness, beauty, and love radiate from God and draw creatures to ever increasingly share in the Godhead’s joy and delight… The ultimate of creation, then, is union in love between God and loving creatures.” ~ The Reason for God, Belief in an age of Skepticism. Timothy Keller (Dutton, New York, 2008) P218 (HT: Rick Ianniello)
Free Sons & Daughters
“The Christian life is the life of sons and daughters; it is not the life of slaves. It is freedom, not bondage. Of course, we are slaves of God, of Christ, and of one another. We belong to God, to Christ, to one another, and we love to serve those to whom we belong. But this kind of service is freedom. What the Christian life is not, is a bondage to the law, as if our salvation hung in the balance and depended on our meticulous and slavish obedience to the letter of the law. As it is, our salvation rests upon the finished work of Christ, on His sin-bearing, curse-bearing death, embraced by faith.” – John Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 108-109. (HT: Of First Importance)
This Infinite Fountain of Love
There, even in heaven, dwells the God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is, or ever was, proceeds. There dwells God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, united as one, in infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual, and eternal love. There dwells God the Father, who is the father of mercies, and so the father of love, who so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son to die for it. There dwells Christ, the Lamb of God, the prince of peace and of love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for men. There dwells the great Mediator, through whom all the divine love is expressed toward men, and by whom the fruits of that love have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all God’s people. There dwells
The Father’s two greatest gifts
“When God planned the great work of saving sinners, he provided two gifts. He gave his Son and he gave his Spirit. In fact each person of the Trinity was involved in the great work of salvation. The love, grace and wisdom of the Father planned it; the love, grace and humility of the Son purchased it; and the love, grace and power of the Holy Spirit enabled sinners to believe and receive it. “The first great truth in this work of salvation is that God sent his Son to take our nature on him and to suffer for us in it. The second great truth is that God gave his Spirit to bring sinners to faith in Christ and so be saved.” —John Owen, The Holy Spirit, ed. RJK Law (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), 1 (HT: Of First Importance)
The Holy Trinity
Here are some helpful thoughts from Bavinck on the Trinity: For a true understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity three questions must be answered: What is the meaning of the word “essence”? What is meant by the word “person”? And what is the relation between “essence” and “person” and between the persons among themselves? The divine nature cannot be conceived as an abstract generic concept, nor does it exist as a substance outside of, above, and behind the divine persons. It exists in the divine persons and it totally and quantitatively the same in each person. The persons, though distinct, are not separate. They are the same in essence, one in essence, and the same being. They are not separated by time or space or anything else. They all share in the same divine nature and perfections. It is one and the same divine nature that exists in each person individually and in all of them collectively. Consequently, there is in
“…when the devil comes and says, ‘You have no standing, you are condemned, you are finished’, you must say, ‘No! my position did not depend upon what I was doing, or not doing; it is always dependant upon the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Turn to the devil and tell him, ‘My relationship to God is not a variable one. The case is not that I am a child of God, and then again not a child of God. That is not the basis of my standing, that is not the position. When God had mercy upon me, He made me His child, and I remain his child. A very sinful, and a very unworthy one, perhaps, but still his child! And now, when I fall into sin, I have not sinned against the law, I have sinned against love. Like the prodigal, I will go back to my Father and I will tell Him, “Father, I am not
Justified or Adopted? Which Is Greater?
CJ Mahaney has some helpful posts on the believer’s adoption. Here’s a great quote from J.I. Packer he includes: That justification—by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future—is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment; his law condemns us; guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable, and in our lucid moments afraid; we have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need the forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world; and this the gospel offers us before it offers us anything else… But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into
Action Steps For Anxiety
Paul Tripp’s six action steps for anxiety: Remind Yourself That God Is In Control: When you convince yourself that your world is out of control, you are on the verge of paralysis. Watch your self-talk. Are you saying to yourself: “God is in control of this circumstance, He is my Father, and He is ruling this for my benefit”? Accept Confusion: Believing in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean life will make sense. Believing in God’s sovereignty is needed because life doesn’t make sense. Your rest is not in figuring out your circumstances–your rest is in the God behind the circumstances. Don’t Allow Emotions To Rule: As much as the emotions you experience will be right, good, and appropriate, don’t let them set the agenda. There is a temptation to do that, but allowing yourself to be pulled away by the emotions of the moment could cause you to regret your decisions later. Distinguish Needs From Wants: Be very careful what you put
Why does God focus so much attention on Himself?
Oh to love, to believe, to hope, to delight in God!
“Oh to love the Saviour with a passion that can never cool; Oh to believe in God with a confidence that can never stagger! Oh, to hope with an expectation that can never be dim! Oh, to delight in God with a holy over-flowing rejoicing that can never be stopped, so that we might live to glorify God at the highest bent of our powers, living with enthusiasm, burning, blazing, being consumed with the indwelling God who worketh all things in us according to His will! Thus, Lord, would we praise and pray at the same time, confess and acknowledge our responsibilities, but also bless the free, the sovereign grace that makes us what we are. Oh God of the eternal choice, O God of the ransom purchased on the tree, O God of the effectual call, Father, Son and Spirit, our adoration rises to heaven like the smoke from the altar of incense. Glory and honour and majesty and power and dominion and
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Primal Scream Theology
Russell Moore on Primal Scream Theology: The Call & Response of the Abba Cry (Rom 8:14-17) (HT: Justin Taylor)
Getting Substitutionary Atonement Right
“The penal substitution model has been criticized for depicting a kind Son placating a fierce Father in order to make him love man, which he did not do before. The criticism is, however, inept, for penal substitution is a Trinitarian model, for which the motivational unity of Father and Son is axiomatic. The New Testament presents God’s gift of his Son to die as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son’ (John 3:16). ‘God is love, . . . Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (I John 4:8-10). ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). Similarly, the New Testament presents the Son’s voluntary acceptance of death as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘He loved me,
Your Father Knows What You Need
Time for one last post before I leave. I love this from John Piper. I needed this today! Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25-34 he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:32). Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (vv. 31-32). Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than an earthly father. I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s in at least three ways. Right now I
Revisiting The Shack
John Fonville posts this excellent review. I am amazed at how many Christians are singing the praises of ‘The Shack’. A sign of our biblically-ignorant, and doctrine-depreciating times? For further important critiques of this misleading book, check out articles by Paul Grimmond and Tim Challies. This is an abreviated version of a longer review (9 pages) by Dr. DeYoung. For those who would like to read the longer review, click here: Revisiting The Shack and Universal Reconciliation. Revisiting The Shack and Universal Reconciliation James B. De Young October, 2008 Seldom does one have the opportunity to review a work of fiction written by a friend that has risen to the top of best seller lists. Recently The Shack has been approaching sales of three million or more. There is talk about making a movie of the book. What is so unusual about this success is not only that the novel is ostensibly a Christian work of fiction but that it also
From In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson: “Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing “outside of” God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity — it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison — and at infinitely great cost — this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation. This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it “so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3). Early in your Christian life, you thought salvation was
Boss or Father?
“How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude? Here is how. You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home. The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 86. (HT: Of First Importance)