Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Living and Dying

'Let me die- lest I die- only let me see Thy face'- Augustine

Tozer comments:

'To Augustine the sight of God inwardly enjoyed was life itself and anything less than that was death. To exist in total eclipse under the shadow of nature without the realized Presence was a condition not to be tolerated. Whatever hid God's face from him must be taken out of the way, even his own self-love, his dearest ego, his most cherished treasures. So he prayed, 'Let me die'...

Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God's face, that vision which has been the light of earth and will be the completeness of heaven.'

-The Root of the Righteous, pg 65-66

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Views of the Bible

'The point about the religious bible is that it purports to give us some direction. It contains the commands of a divinity wishing us to live a certain way.'

This is an interesting quote from Prof AC Grayling a popular humanist and editor of an Atheistic Bible called the 'Good Book'. I'm not sure why it's called that. Survival of the fittest doesn't seem like a good message in my eyes. Anyway, I reckon what Grayling has articulated is a very popular view of scripture. Most people that I speak to think the Bible is simply a book of rules and stories that were written to help us live morally. The Bible clearly contains lots of commands. But these rules weren't primarily written to change our behaviour.

The Bible was written firstly to show us how weak we are to keep God's commands. For example in Galatians 3:22 the Apostle Paul is teaching a church in modern day Turkey, he writes 'the scripture has confined all under sin'. His point is that after reading the old testament properly we will became more aware of our sin. The law confines us to sin because the more we look at God's law, the more we see his perfect standards, the more we become convinced the we are unable to obey Him perfectly. If we stop reading there the Christians message sounds quite depressing- full of guilt and despair...

The good news is the Bible also wants us to see that God has kept His own commandments on our behalf. See Galatians 3:19: 'the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith'. So the law brings us to Christ. In other words, the law (which reveals our sin) points us and connects us to the God-man, Jesus Christ, who died for our sin. Jesus also kept the law perfectly as if He were us. The result is 'justification by faith'. Imagine God in a crown court. He looks at you a disobedient sinner, one who has never honoured Him as He deserves. You think the verdict is going to be 'guilty'. But God pronounces you 'righteous'. Righteous is much much more than not guilty. Being declared 'not guilty' is brilliant because it means that you've never disobeyed. 'Righteous' on the other hand means constant perfect obedience. it speaks of someone who has never done anything wrong and always done what was right. It speaks of Jesus.

This justification is 'by faith', faith in Christ. What I'm saying is that the justification is not automatic. It's dependent on you trusting that God will freely give it to you. The declaration of 'righteous' is the declaration that Christ should have heard for His obedience. Instead of hearing 'righteous' on the cross He heard the word 'guilty'. With the guilt of my sin He was punished to liberate anyone who trusts.

Understanding the Bible properly brings transformation.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

New Blog: Girls Adorn

Check out this new blog from my friend Natalie. 'Girls Adorn' is about exploring what it means to be a female Christian in the 21st Century.

Natalie's got a PhD in Theology but more importantly wants to honour Jesus through 'adorning the doctrine of God' (Titus 2:10) with her lifestyle. Natalie and her husband are excellent friends and Christian examples.

Natalie writes about Girls Adorn:

'Many of us are trying to understand what being a woman of God looks like, after Christ, after feminism, after leaving home – in the wild WILD world of the 21st Century.

‘Girls Adorn’ is dedicated to honest, gritty articles on biblical womanhood, image, identity, relationships, sex, lust, purity, holiness, church life, theology, spirituality and female accountability.'

Read more about Girls Adorn here.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

All Grace, No Boasting

This is an amazing post from John Piper. It's titled 'My Happy Confession of Having No Merit'. I echo everything he writes.

This is my confession:

I was born into a believing family through no merit of my own at all.

I was given a mind to think and a heart to feel through no merit of my own at all.

I was brought into the hearing of the gospel through no merit of my own at all.

My rebellion was subdued, my hardness removed, my blindness overcome, and my deadness awakened through no merit of my own at all.

Thus I became a believer in Christ through no merit of my own at all.

And so I am an heir of God with Christ through no merit of my own at all.

Now when I put forward effort to please the Lord who bought me, this is to me no merit at all, because

...it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

...God is working in me that which is pleasing in his sight. (Hebrews 13:21)

...he fulfills every resolve for good by his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

And therefore there is no ground for boasting in myself, but only in God’s mighty grace.

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31)

(RT: Desiring God)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

All Things

Romans 8:30-32:

Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

'Paul is telling us that there is no ultimate loss or irreparable impoverishment to be feared; if God denies us something, it is only in order to make room for one or other of the things he has in mind...

Paul's 'all things' is not a plethora of material possessions, and the passion for possessions has to be cast out of us in order to let the 'all things' in. For this phrase has to do with knowing and enjoying God, and not with anything else. The meaning of 'he will give us all things' can be put thus: one day we shall see nothing- literally nothing- which could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us, and that nothing- literally nothing- that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us. What higher assurance do we want than that?'

- J. I. Packer, Knowing God, pg 307-308

Saturday, 21 August 2010

What is the only real comfort in life and death?

This answer from the Heidelburg Catechism is excellent:

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.'

Knowing that Jesus loves you enough to die for your sins should give real comfort everyday of life, and beyond.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Grace, Sin and Righteousness

Reading through Paul Tripp's twitter feed has been a massive blessing. Here are a few of what I think are his best tweets...

  • If the righteousness of Christ is my hope, then I am freed from any need to polish and display my own.
  • Christ fulfilled the law's requirement, not so you would be a law breaker, but one who celebrates the grace that enables you to keep it.
  • The greatest threat to the church isn't atheism or materialism, but moralism that celebrates a righteousness that doesn't come from Christ.
  • Admitting you are a sinner means running from your tendency to defend, excuse, or shift the blame for what God clearly says is wrong.
  • Why is legalism dangerous? It makes you think you're more righteous than you are and that you don't need grace as much as you do.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Bonhoffer on acting as the Church

Found a good quote on Tim Chester's blog about giving and receiving rebukes. Individualism can make the church become passive at this. The family of God need to be loving by taking responsibility for each other. This can include helping and supporting people as well as correcting and rebuking.

'The basis on which Christians can speak to one another is that each knows the other as a sinner who, even given all one’s human renown, is forlorn and lost if not given hep. This does not mean that the others are being disparaged or dishonoured. Rather, we are paying them the only real honour a human being has, namely, that as sinners they share in God’s grace and glory, that they are children of God. This realization gives our mutual speech the freedom and openness it needs. We talk to one another about the help we both need. We admonish one another to go the way Christ bids us to go. We warn one another against the disobedience that is our undoing. We are gentle and we are firm with one another, for we know both God’s kindness and God’s firmness. Why should we be afraid of one another since both of us have only God to fear?’

‘Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons other to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.’

More Bonheffer quotes here.

Real Christianity

There are loads of different ideas about what authentic Christianity is in our culture, and there always has been. Jesus made it one of His missions to correct the 'Bible-guys' of His day. The Pharisee's presumed they had arrived theologically and spiritually. Jesus said to them: 'You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.' (John 5:39-40)

Many people have misconceptions of real Christianity. Even though I was brought up in a Christian home I presumed that Christianity was a way to dodge God's anger, a bit like a 'get out of hell free' card. Recently I've been reading a book by Henry Scougal called 'The Life of God in the Soul of Man'. You can read it online here. In it Scougal defines real Christianity:

'...true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, it is 'Christ formed within us'... I know not how the nature of religion can be more fully expressed, than by calling it a divine life.' (Page 16, IVP)

Real Christianity is knowing Christ. It's the enjoyment of God's essence. It's knowing and loving God because He first loved us! Jesus said to His Father while on earth: 'this is eternal life that they may know you the only one true living God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent' (John 17:3)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

When Not to Preach

I admire John Piper becuase he preaches well and knows when not to preach.

Praise God for giving Piper the discernement to identify his own pride, and the courage to do all he can to crucify it.