-- Tim Keller, "Generous Justice...."
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Paul began these specific exhortations with the key ingredient for success: Love must be sincere. This is God’s love, which has been ministered to believers by the Holy Spirit (5:5) and must be ministered by them to others in the Holy Spirit’s power. “Sincere” translates anypokritos (lit., “without hypocrisy”), also used of love (2 Cor. 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22), of faith (1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5), and of wisdom (James 3:17).Interestingly today and throughout history there are those who redefine love as something that does not address sin and there are those working overtime to fight against the visible church - leaving her rather than following Paul's admonition in the context of community.
This first command is followed by a pair of related basic commands—Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Many Bible students consider these two clauses as explanatory of the sincerity of love, translating the verse, “Let love be unfeigned, abhorring the evil and cleaving to the good.” Hating various forms of sin is frequently mentioned in Scripture (Pss. 97:10; 119:104, 128, 163; Prov. 8:13; 13:5; 28:16; Heb. 1:9; Rev. 2:6). Turning from evil is to accompany adhering to the good (cf. 1 Peter 3:11).
Divine love is to be exercised with other believers. The Greek adjective philostorgoi, translated devoted, suggests family affection. As in Romans 12:9, the second clause in verse 10 can be understood as explaining the first command. Verse 10 may be translated, “With brotherly love have family affection for one another, in honor giving place to one another” (cf. Phil. 2:3, “consider others better than yourselves”).
I agree that the final judgment is according to works. We are justified—made right with God and given a title to heaven—by faith alone apart from works. This faith, though, always and necessarily leads to good works, such that at the final judgment works can be necessary as evidence that we have already been accepted by God. So works are necessary as evidence, not basis.Read on here for an interesting analogy and a thought on the justifying of our works as well as our persons.
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How tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see! Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me. The mid-summer sun shines but dim; the fields strive in vain to look gay; but when I am happy with Him, December’s as pleasant as May.For Today: Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 9:2; 70:4; Romans 14:17, 18
Content with beholding His face, my all to His pleasure resigned, no changes of season or place would make any change in my mind: While blest with a sense of His love, a palace a toy would appear; and prisons would palaces prove, if Jesus would dwell with me there.
Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine, if Thou art my sun and my song, say, why do I languish and pine, and why are my winters so long? Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky; Thy soul-cheering presence restore; or take me unto Thee on high, where winter and clouds are no more.
If God had not put Christ forward to bear his own wrath, if Christ had not become a curse for us, as Galatians 3:13 says, then all the nations and all Jews would have perished under God’s wrath and entered into everlasting suffering in hell, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:46.
The reason I draw out this implication of the cross is to hold together in this congress and in the church of Christ two truths that are often felt to be at odds with each other, but don’t have to be.
One truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it impels us out toward the alleviation of all unjust suffering in this age. That’s what love does!
The other truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it awakens us to the horrible reality of eternal suffering in hell, under the wrath of a just and omnipotent God. And it impels us to rescue the perishing, and to warn people to flee from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
I plead with you. Don’t choose between those two truths. Embrace them both. It doesn’t mean we all spend our time in the same way. God forbid. But it means we let the Bible define reality and define love.
Could Lausanne say—could the evangelical church say—we Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering? I hope we can say that. But if we feel resistant to saying “especially eternal suffering,” or if we feel resistant to saying “we care about all suffering in this age,” then either we have a defective view of hell or a defective heart.
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The Body of Christ takes up space on earth. The Body of Christ can only be a visible Body, or else it is not a Body at all. ... The Body of Christ becomes visible to the world in congregation gathered around the Word and Sacrament.
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First, I am assuming that we are all committed to the church. We are not only Christian people; we are also church people. We are not only committed to Christ, we are also committed to the body of Christ. At least I hope so. I trust that none of my readers is that grotesque anomaly, an unchurched Christian. The New Testament knows nothing of such a person. For the church lies at the very centre of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community. For his purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory. … So then, the reason we are committed to the church is that God is so committed.And later, based on Acts 2:47:
The Lord did two things together. He ‘added to their number… those who were being saved.’ He didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church. Salvation and church membership went together; they still do.
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Consistency is not a postmodern virtue. And nowhere is this more aptly displayed than in the barrage of criticisms leveled against the church.
- The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love.
- They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex resource-hungry things the church should be doing.
- They don’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, , but then hate it when it has poor leadership.
- They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee ship with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets.
- They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is “inbred.”
- They want the church to know that its reputation with the outsiders is terrible, but then are critical they the church is too concerned with appearances.
- They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political.
- They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them.
- They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences.
- They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think.
- They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members.
- They want to be connected with history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week.
- They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.”
In telling the story of Mack’s (the book’s main character) encounter with the Trinity in an old shack in the woods, Young introduces us to God the Father as a big, black woman named Papa, God the Son as a Jewish man with a big nose, and God the Spirit as a woman of Asian extraction named Sarayu. Young’s God is a God who is especially fond of everyone everywhere and loves everyone in the same way, a God who doesn’t punish people for sin (because sin is its own punishment). There is not order or authority in God. The Father submits to Jesus just as Jesus submits to the Father. In fact, God even submits to us. In Young’s theology, evil and darkness do not really exist, but are just the absence of goodness and light. I could keep going with the theological problems in The Shack… God’s sovereignty over suffering is rejected, and all human beings are already reconciled to God (we just need to choose to live in the relationship)… But the depiction of the Christan faith in The Shack is not simply a little off here or there. It is a deviation from the historic faith in many, and important, places.
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Q: What ways do you council a young pastor to overcome their fear of man?Note here that he fails to explore Scripture regarding the fear of the Lord and ignores the logic that the fear of the Lord must somehow be different than the fear that perfect love must cast out. But his error gets worse ...
Piper: Grow like crazy in your fear of God. Be terrified of about God and his disapproval. Or to put it positively, fall in love with the supremacy of God and the sovereignty of God.
I get the idea that “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” (Prov 1:7) Fear is the starting point. It’s an orientation that aligns us to reality. God is the beginning point for reality. But we often miss that it’s the beginning…not the end. How can you love something you fear? The Gospel is the recognition of God’s love that draws us towards relationship, not something that keeps us growing in fear. Perfect love, or the awareness of God’s true response, cast out fear.
What [sic] sad to me is that Piper’s idea creates and perpetuates wrath. It keeps people in a state of fear. Wrath is our manufactured and projected understanding of God’s response to something we’ve done. But it fails to see God’s response through the cross. This is largely what I was trying to get at but failed to do so adequately in this post. It’s this idea that we have to approach God from this stance that we are disapproved (unworthy). It’s this idea that God is never really approving of us. And I get why some hold onto this idea. Fear is an extremely powerful motivating force. But is it restorative in a continual state. I don’t think so. Largely because fear is a stress process on the body and cannot produce Shalom in its continued state.In contrast, and rightly, Easton's Bible Dictionary offers the following:
What is interesting is that Piper seems to contradict himself (and I could be wrong about that) as he elaborates. He suggests we see ourselves as “with God”. The problem is that with God doesn’t grow your fear of God. It enhances your understanding of God’s love.
... in the Old Testament used as a designation of true piety (Prov. 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9). It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence. (Comp. Deut. 32:6; Hos. 11:1; Isa. 1:2; 63:16; 64:8.) God is called “the Fear of Isaac” (Gen. 31:42, 53), i.e., the God whom Isaac feared.And Harper's Bible Dictionary:
A holy fear is enjoined also in the New Testament as a preventive of carelessness in religion, and as an incentive to penitence (Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1; Phil. 2:12; Eph. 5:21; Heb. 12:28, 29).
... the awe that a person ought to have before God (Prov. 5:7; Eccles. 12:13). As such it can be said to constitute ‘true religion’ (Ps. 34:11). This ‘fear of the Lord’ is represented by the ‘fear and trembling’ with which Paul exhorts the Philippians to work out their salvation (Phil. 2:12). It describes the piety of the growing church in Acts 9:31. However, it may also carry overtones of judgment (2 Cor. 5:11; 1 Pet. 1:17).The blog author's confusion and false assumptions are based on his inability to grasp the Biblical beauty of God. Throughout his writings he recreates god and redefines love in an effort to deal with his own life's pains rather than to rely on the revealed Truth found in Scripture. Which moves me to the second thing I read and reposted. In this, Michael Patton I think successfully tries to paint an objective picture outlining the various views on election. Only one with a unregenerate heart seated in bias can read the Calvinist position and conclude fear and ugliness rather than freedom and beauty. That isn't to say I cannot allow for those that conclude other than Calvinism but to jump to the position of my fellow blogger above only reflects his failure to "have ears that hear".
Dumping the term while upholding the content may appear sophisticated and nuanced, but I believe it breeds more confusion than clarity. So, I’ll continue to affirm inerrancy. I”ll continue to teach it, to properly qualify it, and to reclaim it. To my friends who still don’t like the label, your baggage looks heavier to me.I agree with him. While some do seem to be proponents of errancy, I think most are not. They simply don't like the baggage that has been attached to inerrancy. I get that. But in an effort to deal with it in what I've read, they have done damage to the truth of Scripture. I think we can hold to inerrancy and deal better with the baggage.
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Let me say something at this point about the relatively new term “missional.” I do not have a problem with people putting “al” at the end of “mission.” More and more the word simply means “being involved in mission.” Or it is shorthand for “get out of your holy huddle and go engage your community with the gospel.” And I’m all for that. Every Christian should be. So I am not on a crusade to make people stop using the word missional, nor do I want you to be suspicious of everyone who does.Amen! And then he outlines some more specifics:
(1) I am concerned that good behaviors are sometimes commended using the wrong categories. For example, many good deeds are promoted under the term “social justice” when I think “love your neighbor” is often a better category. Or, folks will talk about transforming the world, when I think being “a faithful presence in the world” is a better way to describe what we are trying to do and actually can do. Or, sometimes well meaning Christians talk about “building the kingdom” when actually the verbs associated with the kingdom are almost always passive (enter, receive, inherit). We’d do better to speak of living as citizens of the kingdom, rather than telling our people they build the kingdom.Then, as if that isn't enough, DeYoung closes with these powerful points.
(2) I am concerned that in our new found missional zeal we sometimes put hard “oughts” on Christians where there should be inviting “cans.” You ought to do something about human trafficking. You ought to do something about AIDS. You ought to do something about lack of good public education. When you say “ought” you imply that if the church does not tackle these problems we are being disobedient. It would be better to invite individual Christians in keeping with their gifts and calling to try to solve these problems rather than indicting the church for “not caring.”
(3) I am concerned that in all our passion for renewing the city or tackling social problems we run the risk of marginalizing the one thing that makes Christian mission Christian: namely, making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Now, having raised those concerns, I need to make sure you know what I am not saying. I do not want:
- Christians to be indifferent toward the suffering around them and around the world.
- Christians to think evangelism is the only thing in life that really counts or that helping the poor really only matters if it results in conversions.
- Christians to stop dreaming of creative, courageous ways to love their neighbors and impact their cities.
But here’s some of what I do want:
- I want the gospel—the good news of Christ’s death for sin and subsequent resurrection—to be of first importance in our churches.
- I want Christians freed from false guilt, freed from thinking the church is either responsible for most of problems in the world or responsible to fix all of these problems.
- I want the utterly unique task of the church—making disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father—put front and center, not lost in a flurry of humanitarian good deeds or environmental concerns.
I affirm that faith without works is dead. I agree that the gospel should be adorned with good works. I agree that those saved by the gospel will live lives of compassion, justice, and love. I applaud and pray for more churches that do orphan care, address hunger issues, and tackle community problems with the aim of meeting human need and “putting in a good word for Jesus.”
So what is the mission of the church? The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father. In other words, the mission of the church is not equal to everything God is doing in the world, nor is it everything we do in obedience to Christ. The mission of the church is the Great Commission. As Kostenberger says, “the church ought to be focused in the understanding of its mission. Its activities should be constrained by what helps others to come to believe that the Messiah, the Son of God, is Jesus.”
But to say disciple-making is the “central” aim or our “priority,” or our “focus” is not to say that everything else is suspect. Galatians 6:10 says, “Do good to all people, especially to the household of faith.” I should also add that the language of “priority” does not mean evangelism or discipleship must happen temporally prior to any other kind of ministry. “Priority” doesn’t mean you do items 1-10 on your list and then you can tackle 11-15.
It does mean, however, that priorities ought to take, well, priority. We live in a world of finite time, finite people, and finite resources. Therefore, the church cannot do everything noble there is to do. If our mission is discipleship this will mean something for the church’s allocation of time, talents, and treasure. What that something looks like depends on the wisdom of the leadership of the local church. I don’t have a formula for what keeps disciple-making properly in the focus. Except to say this: if the church as a body tackles few community problems, but it is making disciples, and those disciples are individually living as disciples, the church is being faithful. Conversely, if we do everything else—serve, bless, renew the city, create culture, transform our schools—but do not make disciples, we are failing in our mission.
Of course, Christians committed to biblical truth will recognize this as a demand to lie to sinners about their sin. The church cannot change its understanding of the sinfulness of homosexual acts unless it willfully disobeys the Scripture and rejects the authority of the Bible to reveal the truth about sin and sinfulness.
In other words, the believing church cannot surrender to the demand that we disobey and reject biblical truth. That much is clear. We cannot lie to persons about the sinfulness of their sin, nor comfort them with falsehood about their moral accountability before God. The rush of the liberal churches and denominations to normalize homosexuality is now a hallmark of their disobedience to the Bible.
But this is not the end of the matter, and we know it. When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are wrong. Our concern about the sinfulness of homosexuality is not rooted in fear, but in faithfulness to the Bible — and faithfulness means telling the truth.
Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own.
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I read this, "Jesus [came] to show the Father accepts you!" Yet I don't find it in Scripture in the context that it is meant. Can anyone offer support for this? Right now, it seems to be a popular liberal/postmodern/emerg* error. But I'd be interested in texts that state otherwise.There are two common false notions; that God accepts us as we are and that Jesus came to demonstrate that acceptance. Neither could be further from the truth. God loves us and hates our rebellion. He wants us to repent. Jesus came to provide a way for us to die to ourselves and live through Him by paying the penalty of our rebellion. We are accepted only "in" Him.
Evangelical Christians love America. Some see in her the last hope of creating a Christian nation. But it is not a Christian nation. It is pagan to the core. It is in danger of becoming, if it is not already, the new “Evil Empire.” The Mayflower Compact is a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten era. “In God We Trust” is now a lie.
Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.
America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.
Coram Deo: Are you looking to your King and to your eternal destiny, despite the circumstances around you? Keep your focus on the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.
1 Corinthians 15:50: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”
John 3:5: “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’”
2 Peter 1:11: “An entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
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The answer, in a word, is yes. For Calvin, we “will be safe from the danger of erring” so long as we “inquire from the Scriptures what is right and true” (Calvin’s Comm., Matthew 22:29). Indeed, it is our wisdom to embrace “without finding fault, whatever is taught in Sacred Scripture” (Inst. I.xviii.4). The biblical writers were, according to Calvin, “organs of the Holy Spirit” uttering only what they were commissioned to declare (Calvin’s Comm., 2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit is “the Author of Scriptures” (Inst. I.ix.2). Consequently, “we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it” (Calvin’s Comm., 2 Tim. 3:16). For Calvin, Scripture is so well-ordered, so unified, so beautiful and perfect that it “savor[s] of nothing earthly” (Inst. I.viii.1).
It is not hard to find quotations like these throughout Calvin’s writings. For example, according to the Genevan reformer, the apostles were “sure and genuine scribes of the Holy Spirit” (Inst. IV.viii.9). God so controlled the process of inspiration that Calvin can speak of the Spirit “in a certain measure dictating the words” of Scripture (Inst. IV.viii.8). By this Calvin does not mean the human authors were passive copyists who simply wrote down what they heard from heaven. He means that the process of inspiration was so complete and total as to yield the same result as if the Bible were nothing but dictation. God put into the minds of the men who wrote Scripture what should be written (Inst. I.vi.2) and even directed their pens (Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Argument).
Calvin was not naive about the apparent discrepancies in Scripture, nor did he expect biblical numbers to be exact. He accepted that Scripture uses phenomenological language and figures of speech. He often probed the difficult issues stemming from mistakes in translation and transmission. All that to say, he made the same sort of distinctions careful modern-day inerrantists make.
More to the point, however, he held to the same view of verbal, plenary inspiration. Calvin never rejected the truthfulness of any Scriptural affirmation. He believed the Bible to be the Word of God and without error. He argued on many occasions that to disagree with the Bible was to disagree with God himself. Conversely, those submissive to God, he maintained, would submit themselves to the Scriptures. They would never be led by the Spirit away from the Bible, for the Bible is the Spirit’s book.
In conclusion, let me humbly and confidently suggest that those wishing to stand downstream from Calvin ought to be standing in the tradition of Hodge, Machen, and Boice . Like those inerrantists, not to mention the vast majority of Christians throughout history traveling down the wide river of mere Christianity, Calvin understood that “we owe to Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God.”
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When sex takes the form of a search for something, “are you the one? Will you give me what I need?” the search for love and unconditional acceptance, or even just the search for release, it breaks us even further. But when sex comes as an expression of something that’s been found, as a living expression of the unconditional, never-ending acceptance that a husband and wife have promised one another, then it can become very much a part of putting us back together again…
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