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Merry Christmas!!!

“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits….This story is supreme and it is true.”

–JRRT, On Fairy Stories



 
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Posted by on December 24, 2010 in celebrate, Christmas, gospel, Jesus, quotes, Tolkien

 

Zion’s Pilgrim

“A captive here, and far from home,
For Zion’s sacred courts I sigh:
“There the ransomed nations come,
And see the Savior ‘eye to eye.’

“While here, I walk on hostile ground;
The few that I can call my friends
Are, like myself, with fetters bound,
And weariness my path attends.

“But we shall soon behold the day
When Zion’s children shall return;
Our sorrows then shall flee away,
And we shall never, never mourn.

“The hope that such a day will come
Makes e’en the captive’s portion sweet;
Though now we’re distant far from home
In Zion soon we all shall meet.”

Help Heavenward, by Octavius Winslow

HT Matthew Blair

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in faith, heaven, new creation, perseverance, quotes

 

Numbness will be the Exception, not the Norm

Some rich, gospel encouragement from an excerpt of Jared Wilson’s upcoming book.

But! Oh man. If we are regularly and excitedly engaging people in the good news of the finished saving work of the sacrificing, dying, rising, exalted, sovereign Jesus Christ who is the death-proof, fail-proof King of kings before all things and in all things and holding all things together as he sustains the world by the mere word of his power, the ones whose hearts are opened by the Spirit to be won to Christ will be irrevocably changed. Numbness will be the exception, rather than the norm. We will not have to lead them through hoops of creative entertainment, constantly hamstrung by the limits of our artistic brainstorming sessions, seeking to keep their attentions stirred by a well-composed aesthetic this or that.

 

What is Satan’s Strategy?

It is Satan’s great effort to keep you from Jesus. By holding up to your view a false picture of His character, from which everything loving, winning, inviting, and attractive is excluded, by suggesting wrong views of His work, in which everything gloomy, contracted, and repulsive is foisted upon the mind; by assailing the atonement, questioning the compassion, and limiting the grace of Christ, he would persuade you that in that heart which bled on Calvary there is no room for you, and that upon that work which received the Father’s seal there is not breadth sufficient for you to stand. All his endeavors are directed, and all his assaults are shaped, with a view to keep your soul back from Christ. It is thus he seeks to vent his wrath upon the Savior, and his malignity upon you.
–Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts, August 18

 
 

Admit it–You are a Glory Thief!

Lasting change takes place when people are not only shocked by the evil in their world, but by the degree to which they have lived as glory thieves, demanding for themselves what belongs only to the Lord.

–Paul Tripp, Instruments in theRedeemer’s Hands, p. 226.

 

He Who Does Not Read Books Proves He Has No Brain at All!

If ever there were an unassailable defense for building a library of great books (and READING them!), this is it. Listen to my hero, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, explain the great need for reading sound works of theology as he preaches about 2 Timothy 4:13 and Paul’s request for Timothy to bring his books.

We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. . . . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!

He is inspired, and yet he wants books!

He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!

He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!

He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!

He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!

He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!

The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.

HT: JT

 
 

Jesus Prayed for You Today

One of the most loving things we can do for each other is to pray for each other–to ask our Heavenly Father to act powerfully in the midst of our sorrows and tears, our pain and our fears. Oftentimes we mean well and end up saying something like, “I’ll be sure to pray for you.” And all too often..we simply forget to pray. Better yet is when we pray right then and there for our brother or sister!

Don’t you feel loved and cared for when you know that  your friends are praying for you?!

But there’s something even greater. SomeOne greater! Someone who never stops praying for  God’s children, for you, for me. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus prayed for you today, yesterday, and will pray for you tomorrow. Even when you and I forget to pray for each other, Jesus doesn’t forget. Even when you and I pray for each other once or twice or even for a few weeks, Jesus never stops praying for us! Let these words sink into your soul, let them be an anchor for your drifting heart:

Consequently, [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.–Hebrews 7:25

For the past year I’ve been regularly preaching this implication of the gospel to my heart–because Jesus died the death that I deserved I can draw near to God. Because on the cross Jesus was forsaken by God, I’ve been adopted by God and can talk to him like as my Father. As the final sacrifice, Jesus took God’s wrath and I got God’s mercy. As the Great, Resurrected and Exalted High Priest, Jesus stands between me and God and intercedes for me…when I sin, when I doubt God’s promises. Today! Yesterday! Tomorrow! Forever!

So when you tell someone you’ll be praying for them and even after you do pray for them, remind them “And don’t forget, Jesus has been praying for you, he is praying for you, and he will be praying for you!”

“Jesus is our master in prayer; he is also our companion in prayer. He says to us, ‘I’ll pray for you …’ — and does it. His promise to pray for us is not lost or overlooked in a vast heavenly clutter of petitions and intercessions, confessions and thanksgivings, ascending in a cloud of incense to his altar. It defeats our imagination to understand how this takes place, but we have it on good authority that it does.

Jesus prays. He is praying for us right now. He was praying for us yesterday. He will be praying for us tonight as we sleep and tomorrow morning as we wake up. Jesus praying for us is a current event.

You don’t think you know how to pray? Yes, there is much to learn; meanwhile Jesus is praying for you. You don’t feel like praying? Relax, feelings come and go; meanwhile Jesus is praying for you. You don’t have time to pray? Jesus doesn’t mind waiting; meanwhile he has plenty of time to pray for you.”

—Eugene Peterson, Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 163-64

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2009 in faith, gospel, prayer, quotes, suffering

 

Luther’s Advice on Bible Reading

“In truth you cannot read too much in Scriptures;
and what you read you cannot read too carefully,
and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well,
and what you understand well you cannot teach too well,
and what you teach well you cannot live too well.”

Martin Luther, WA 53, 218; emphasis mine.

HT: Joshua Harris

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2009 in bible, faith, preaching, quotes

 

We Become What We Worship, Chapter 5

Chapter 6 bridges the gap between idolatry in the Old and New Testaments. But the odd thing about the gospels is that they don’t talk about idolatry! At least not overtly. This lack of “idol talk” might lead one to believe that idolatry was no longer a problem. Perhaps the Babylonian Exile cured Israel of her idolatry?!

Beale doesn’t buy that argument. Israel was not cured of her idolatry. She simply exchanged her old idols for some new ones.

“Though words for idol or false god appear in the Gospels, this does not mean that there is no concept of idolatry there. Rather, though Israel’s reliance on idols in Jesus’ day did not take the form of bowing down to images, nevertheless, they did put their trust in something else besides  God, bringing judgment  on themselves, as it had come on earlier generations of Israel. Consequently, they were still idol worshipers in essence, though the outward form of it was expressed differently.” (p. 162)

Re-Formed Idolatry

Even though you never hear Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for bowing before a golden calf or for offering their children to Molech, he does in fact rebuke them for their re-formed idolatry. And as should be expected Beale connects the dots, showing how Jesus appeals to the foundational OT idolatry text of Isaiah 6 in nearly all of his rebukes against the religious leaders.

“There is reason to believe that Israel in Jesus’ time was, indeed, guilty of idol worship….Israel of Jesus’ day was idolatrous because it had worshiped tradition in place of God and his living Word, and this is why Jesus applies the idol text of Isaiah 6:9-10 in Matthew 13 to the Jews of his generation. New forms of idolatry were developing in Jesus’ time. Though Israel said, “We will never commit idolatry like our forefathers or like the nations,” they committed a differen and perhaps new form of idol worship….Israel’s predominant problem was replacing trust  in Jesus with worship of human-made tradition.” (p. 166)

Traditional Idolatry

In the OT Israel was described as “far from God” when they were worshiping idols and not God (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 2:5). Jesus says the same of the Israel of his day when he calls to task for their overvaluing of tradition and their undervaluing of God’s Word (Mark 7:6-13).

“Therefore, the words which Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 29 concern the sin of idol worship in their originial Isaianic context. Mark 7:8 affirms that to neglect the “commandment of God” and hold to “the tradition of men” is to revere tradition  over God’s Word and thus to commit idolatry.” (p. 168)

What was the result of their idolatry? Blindness. Spiritual blindness. Matthew 15:14 records Jesus’ pronouncement of God’s judgment on tradition-worshiping Pharisees: “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” The blindness of the Pharisees was a continuation of Jesus’ application of Isaiah’s prophecy in 6:9-10 and 29:13–idolaters  will be blinded, incapable of seeing God’s truth as trustworthy because they are trusting in their idol instead.

Reflect True Glory

“Israel of Jesus day was becoming spiritually dead as the human-made, stale, empty tradition to which they had committed themselves” (p. 176). This is why Jesus urged the crowds and taught the disciples to build their lives on his word, on God’s Word instead of man-made, idolatrous tradition (Matthew 7:24-27). To do this is to reflect true glory, God’s glory.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works [and how they reflect your Father’s light], and glorify your Father who is in heaven [whose image you reflect].” (Matthew 5:16)

 
 

The Gospel is the Point of the Bible

What parts of the Bible talk about the gospel?

The Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Portions of the letters of the apostles? Some of the sermons of the Prophets? A few of the “Messianic Psalms”? Unfortunately that’s the popular view. But it’s not the biblical view. The gospel of Jesus is not just part of the Bible, it is the point of the Bible. The Gospel is the overarching storyline of the entire Bible. Here’s a great summary by D.A. Carson.

The gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s story-line. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that story-line. God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath. But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

This story-line, and its connection with the gospel, could be fleshed out in a number of ways. But the point is simply this: the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ makes sense in the context of this story-line and in no other. If, instead of this world-view, this storyline, some other is adopted, the good news of Jesus Christ no longer makes sense or is so badly distorted it is no longer the same thing. For instance, if one adopts a pantheistic world-view, then ‘sin’ takes on an entirely different configuration and there is no transcendent God to whom to be reconciled. In that case, the ‘good news’ cannot be the announcement of God’s reconciling act in the death and resurrection of his Son, by which he bore his people’s penalty. If one adopts some naturalistic world-view, something similar could be said. If one holds that history is going nowhere or in circles determined by impersonal fate, then the notion of final judgement and ultimate division between bliss and the abyss is incoherent—and so too the good news that Christ reconciles rebels to their Maker, prepares them for glory, enabling them even now to enjoy foretastes of the kingdom still to be consummated.

~ D. A. Carson,“The Biblical Gospel.” Taken from For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, eds. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996).

HT: The Big Picture

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2009 in biblical theology, gospel, quotes, theology