Christianity is not for the self-sufficient

All the Poor and Powerless David Mathis: You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.—2 Corinthians 8:9 Christianity is not for the self-sufficient. It’s not a religion for the rich and the strong. Jesus didn’t come to comfort the well-to-do and rally those who have their lives all in order. He didn’t come to gather the good, but the bad. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17). This is one of the great paradoxes of the gospel. It is the poor he makes rich, the weak he makes strong, the foolish he makes wise, the guilty he makes righteous, the dirty he makes clean, the lonely he loves, the worthless he values, the lost he finds, the have-nots who stunningly become the haves — not mainly in this age, but in the new creation to

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The surpassing glory of the new covenant

“In a broad sense the Old Testament was the economy of conviction of sin. The law revealed the moral helplessness of man, placed him under a curse, worked death. There was, of course, gospel under and in the Old Covenant, but it was for its expression largely dependent on the silent symbolic language of alter and sacrifice and lustration. Under it the glory which speaks of righteousness was in hiding. In the New Covenant all this has been changed. The veil has been rent, and through it an unobstructed view is obtained of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And with this vision comes the assurance of atonement, satisfaction, acces to God, peace of conscience, liberty, eternal life.” — Geerhardus Vos Grace & Glory (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 96-97 (HT: Of First Importance)

Individual and Cosmic Redemption

Tullian Tchividjian writes in his book Unfashionable: Jesus is the divine curse-remover and creation-renewer. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross broke the curse of sin and death brought on by Adam’s cosmic rebellion. His bodily resurrection from the dead three days later dealt death its final blow, guaranteeing the eventual renewal of all things “in Christ.” Of course none of this is available for those who remain disconnected from Jesus. Sin’s acidic curse remains on everything that continues to be separated from Christ. We must be united to Christ by placing our trust in his finished work in order to receive and experience all the newness God has promised. For, as John Calvin said, “As long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us.” But for all that is united to Christ, everything false, bad,

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Discernment

…divine truth applied skillfully in all matters of life and godliness “The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered! A church, which does not honor the Bible, is as useless as a body without life, or a steam

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Grudem’s Advice on Interpreting the Word

Thanks to Justin Taylor for this: In a new book (Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes), Wayne Grudem has a helpful chapter offering some suggestions for pastors and Bible teachers on right and wrong interpretation of the Bible. One of Grudem’s observations is that seminarians can often begin to despair due to the amount of information available and the number of viewpoints on any one passage. Therefore Grudem’s chapter represents some of the principles he has sought to impart to students throughout the years. I thought it might be helpful to list Grudem’s principles. Of course you’ll have to read the chapter itself to see how he flesh them out. General Principles for Right Interpretation Spend your earliest and best time reading the text of the Bible itself. The interpretation of Scripture is not a magical or mysterious process, because Scripture was written in the ordinary language of the day. Every interpreter has

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2 Corinthians 4:6 – The Gospel of the Glory of Christ!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “Faith implies the enlightening of the understanding to discover the suitableness of Jesus Christ as a Saviour, and the excellency of the way of salvation through him. While the sinner lies undone and helpless in himself, and looking about in vain for some relief, it pleases a gracious God to shine into his heart, and enables him to see his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now this once neglected Saviour appears not only absolutely ncessary, but also all-glorious and lovely, and the sinner’s heart is wrapt away, and for ever captivated with his beauty: now the neglected gospel appears in a new light, as different from all his former apprehensions as if it were quite another thing.” Samuel Davies, Sermons of the Rev. Samuel Davies,

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Religion today!

“Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.”  – A. W. Tozer (HT: Symphony of Scripture)

David Wells’s Vision: For the Church to Be the Church

From Justin Taylor: In his book God in the Wasteland (pp. 214-215) David Wells writes: I want the evangelical church to be the church. I want it to embody a vibrant spirituality. I want the church to be an alternative to post-modern culture, not a mere echo of it. I want a church that is bold to be different and unafraid to be faithful . . . a church that reflects an integral and undiminished confidence in the power of God’s Word, a church that can find in the midst of our present cultural breakdown the opportunity to be God’s people in a world that has abandoned God. To be the church in this way, it is also going to have to find in the coming generation, leaders who exemplify this hope for its future and who will devote themselves to seeing it realized. To lead the church in the way that it needs to be led, they will have

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God’s Sovereignty over Sin

Justin Taylor alerts us to this series from David Mathis: For those who are interested in learning more about what the Bible teaches about God’s sovereignty over sin, David Mathis–at the Desiring God blog–has been posting excerpts from John Frame’s excellent book, The Doctrine of God: Part 1, Does God Author Sin? Part 2, Does God Cause Sin? Part 3, Does God Permit Sin? Part 4, The Author-Story Model I highly recommend these posts!

Challies on Whitefield on Sermon Listening

Tim Challies has a great post from one of George Whitefield’s sermons (text was Luke 8:18) where he provides some cautions and directions on hearing, profiting, and taking advantage of a sermon delivered. Here are the main summary points: 1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty. 2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God. 3. Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister. 4. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think. 5. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered. 6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put into practice what he shall show from the Book of God

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The Excellency of Christ

“The excellency of Christ, and the love of Christ, more appear in his yielding himself to be crucified for us, than in any other of his acts, so that these things, considered together, above all things tend to draw forth on our part the exercises of humble love.” – Jonathan Edwards, The Excellency of Christ (HT: Of First Importance)

The Cross and Entertainment!

Here’s a stimulating post from Tony Reinke. The whole article by Matthew John, Entertainment: The Gospel of Avoidance, is well worth a look. “… In our entertainment-saturated culture we find another kind of gospel, however — the gospel of avoidance. And this gospel is about putting our faith in distractions. We use entertainment to save ourselves from the pain of our lives. Unlike the real gospel, though, the ‘good news’ of entertainment doesn’t truly save us from our problems. It only masks them, helps us repress them. Keeps us from becoming the men God created us to be. Rather than going to the cross, many of us take our wounds to our computers, TVs or game consoles and say, ‘Here, you take them.’ And all these technologies oblige … for a time. At some point, though, we have to press the off button, go to class and face the challenges of the world outside our entertainment bubble. What do we

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Will I Make It Till The End? The Perseverance of the Saints

Lloyd-Jones on the perseverance of the saints:  “. . . the eternal God knows us and is interested in us and has a plan for us. If that is not enough for you, then I despair! The astounding thing I find here is that the eternal and absolute God knows me, that he thought of me before the foundation of the world, not only before I was born, but before he even made the world; that this eternal, absolute Being is interested in me, even me, as an individual and as a person, and that I was in his mind when he conceived this amazing plan that includes the incarnation and the cross, and the resurrection and the ascension, and the reign of his Son at his side that is going on now. What a staggering, yes, but what a glorious thought!. . . there is therefore nothing uncertain about my acceptance with God, nor about my forgiveness, nor about

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Trueman on CJ, Basketball, and Spurgeon!

CJ Mahaney is a pal, but I’ve always had two problems with his ministry: First, he thinks basketball players are the greatest athletes.  As I told him this morning, I won’t reply to that, for, as the Bible says, never answer a fool according to his folly. Second, he think Spurgeon’s sermons are great.  I debated this point with hime arly in the year.  Yes, CHS must have been a great preacher, but I find his written sermons hopeless — the right doctrine invariably injected into the wrong text.  But CJ’s response was that the move from Christ to pastoral application in CHS is well worth studying and second to none in Christian tradition.  Dare I say it, I have revised my opinion.  I still think CHS’s expositions are fanciful at best; but there is a raw pastoral power to what he does that serves at least as an example of something to emulate. I was reminded of this last night,

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Is the Reformation over?

Justin Taylor posts on a review by Scott Manetsch, associate professor of church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the associate general editor of IVP’s forthcoming Reformation Commentary Series. The review, originally published in the Trinity Journal, is of Noll and Nystrom’s much-discussed book, Is the Reformation Over? The following is a helpful summary of the irreconcilable differences between Reformational Protestantism and the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In summary, this reviewer believes it impossible to reconcile the classic Protestant solas with the teaching of the Catholic Catechism. For Roman Catholics, Scripture and Tradition are two distinct but equal modes of revealed authority which the magisterium of the Roman Church has sole responsibility to transmit and interpret. For the early Protestant reformers, the holy Scripture provides final normative authority for Christian doctrine and practice, standing as judge above all institutions and ecclesial traditions. For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness. For the mainstream Protestant reformers,

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Living in the Gospel in an age of self-help!

I love this post from Mark Lauterbach. I agree with every word! In the last year I have become increasingly convinced that the Gospel makes no sense to the natural man.  Not only is it counter-intuitive to the unbeliever but it requires constant reminders to the Christian.  I am so deeply self-help oriented that I quickly move on from the Gospel and God’s work to save me — to myself and my work to improve my life. I have wondered for a couple of years where the Gospel intersects modern American life — and I think it is here.  The Gospel calls us to stop trying to improve ourselves.  Americans are secular we do not think of God that much) and practical (we like things to do).  We tend to hide our self-reliance behind well intentioned self-improvement schemes.  What can be wrong with self-improvement?  The church, in parts, has adopted itself to this message — we have cultivated a practical

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Glorifying God with our Body: Storms on Tattoos etc.

Sam Storms adds some important considerations to Piper’s thoughts on the subject of Christians and tattoos and body piercing. (See below) On a recent broadcast at DesiringGod.org, John Piper briefly addressed the issue of tattoos and body piercing among Christians. I especially appreciated the spirit in which John took up this subject. He did not come down in a heavy-handed or judgmental fashion, insisting in some legalistic way that such actions are altogether and always a sin. He mentioned the prohibition on tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 and suggested that although there were probably unique historical and religious circumstances in the ancient near east that evoked this prohibition, we should still seek to learn from it. Whereas not everything in the Levitical code is binding on the believer today, we still must ask if there is some underlying principle in the OT prohibition that might find application to us in the present day. But Piper mentioned two additional factors to take into

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The Unstoppable Saviour – Irresistible Grace!

Lloyd Jones on irresistible grace: “. . . it is the internal operation of the Holy Spirit upon the soul and the heart of men and women that brings them into a condition in which the call can become effectual. And when the Spirit does it, of course, it is absolutely certain, and because of that some people have used the term—which I do not like myself—irresistible grace. I do not like the term because it seems to give the impression that something has happened which has been hammering at a person’s will and has knocked him down and bludgeoned him. But it is not that. It is that the Holy Spirit implants a principle within me which enables me, for the first time in my life, to discern and to apprehend something of this glorious, wondrous truth. He works upon my will. ‘It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do.’ He does not strike

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