Wednesday, July 31, 2013

defining god

The error of the post-modern innovator is they have (1) distilled all that God is down to one attribute, i.e., love, and (2) defined love based on their worldview rather than a Biblical one. Here is an interview by Randy Alcorn and Julia Stager on Is love God's defining attribute?

In this video interview with EPM staff member Julia Stager, we discuss the question:Would you say love is God’s defining attribute?

Randy: Certainly love is a very important attribute of God. God is love, we’re told in 1 John 4:16, so in some senses it is a defining quality of God. However, this does not minimize His other qualities, and that’s the problem: when you start saying (as I’ve heard people say) we must interpret all of God’s attributes in light of His love.
In Isaiah 6:3 what are the angels of God who are in His presence calling out day and night? They are not saying, “Love, love, love is the Lord God Almighty,” but “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
Is God's love His defining attribute? // heart in sand
Now they could cry out, “love.” I’m not minimizing love at all. I’m all for love. I’m all for God’s love! It’s obviously very important. But that’s not His only attribute.

We must understand that we can’t and shouldn’t define God’s other attributes in such a way as to fit our definition of love. For instance, often we think, “Love means that you approve of people and you’re never unhappy or dissatisfied with them. That’s what it means to love someone. Therefore we must make God into that, because He says He is love.”
God has His definition of love, which is shown in the whole Bible, and it’s in all of His attributes.
Julia: I think it’s dangerous to take just one attribute, like you were saying, and use that to define God. It’s clear throughout Scripture that there are so many attributes. There’s His love and His holiness, and what those attributes have compelled Him to do, such as sacrifice His own Son. A lot of times love can cause pain.
Randy: Exactly. If you truly love someone, you’re looking out for their best interests. However, as you do that, you may be required to do what parents are often required to do: the thing which makes their child unhappy. In other words, the child wants to eat whatever the child wants to eat. He wants to run out on the freeway if he wants to run out on the freeway. He wants to jump into the water, even though he doesn’t know how to swim.
There are many things that children may want their parents to let them do, like watch movie after movie, play game after game, not do their homework, and not got to sleep at a certain time. But part of the parents’ job of lovingly caring for their children is to do things their children do not like. This is totally opposite of the modern definition of love, which says, if you do something to me or say something to me that I don’t like, then I can conclude you’re not being loving.
Well, no. Actually Scripture says we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Love is not always comfortable, but love is always right. That’s true for us, and obviously most fundamentally it’s true for God.

faithful to preserve

Richard Phillips posts God is Faithful to Preserve His Own:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Philippians 1:6 develops the theme of God’s preserving grace—which ensures the perseverance of His own—in three points.

First, Paul reminds us that since God has begun our salvation, we can rely on Him to complete it: “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” God always finishes what He starts, especially the salvation of His people.

It is in this way that God’s preserving grace fits with the other doctrines of grace. God the Father chose us in eternity past, and the Bible says that God’s purpose in election must prevail (Rom. 9:11). God the Son offered an atoning sacrifice for these same elect people. Should they fall into condemnation, then His blood would have been shed for them in vain. But He insists that not one of them shall perish and none shall be plucked from His hand (John 10:28). Likewise, the Holy Spirit brought these same elect sheep to eternal life by the irresistible working of His grace. Should eternal life be lost, the Spirit’s work would prove ineffective. Therefore, as faith is the gift of God’s grace, the Christian’s perseverance is the work of God’s continuing grace.

Second, Paul says that God, having begun His work in our lives, “will bring it” to completion. This indicates that God not only guarantees the completion of our salvation, but is actively involved in the believer’s life to bring this to pass. God works in our lives in the way a craftsman works to finish a product he has created. He smooths out the lines, sands the rough places, and puts its pieces together in proper proportion. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
God does not merely initiate the work and then leave it, he continues with it; he leads us on, directing and manipulating our circumstances, restraining us at one time and urging us on at another. Paul’s whole conception of the Church is that it is a place where God is working in the hearts of men and women.
God’s work is manifested in His will playing out in our lives. This is what Paul says a bit later in Philippians: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:1–213). Being a Christian is not easy. Persevering in faith requires warfare with sin, labor in prayer, plowing in God’s Word, and performing His will in the world. We are God’s workmanship, Paul says, and this means we are called to “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). God will see to it that His work for each of us is carried to completion. By His preserving grace, He will carry us to our destination in heaven. We are called to work this out, but, Paul insists, God is all the while working it in us (Phil. 2:13).

Third, we can see in Philippians 1:6 our certainty of successful “completion” if God’s saving work truly has begun in us. Far from dreading the future, as we must if we look for signs of hope within ourselves, every believer possesses a hope that is certain for the most joyful, glorious, and holy destiny through faith in Jesus.

One of the reasons I love Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is the portrait he paints of the eternity God has secured for every believer. Speaking of the believer’s entry into heaven, he writes:
I saw in my dream the two men enter the gate. As they did, they were transfigured. They had garments that shined like gold. Harps and crowns were given them. The harps for praise and the crowns for honor. Then I heard in my dream all the bells in the city rang again for joy. It was said to them, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
This may be a fanciful rendering from the Bible’s promises, but still it is our future history and not fantasy. For as Paul insists, God brings us to completion. One of the meanings of the Greek word translated as “bring to completion” is “bring to perfection.” That is what God has promised to do for every sheep who hears Christ’s voice and who shows the reality of his or her faith by following after Him through life. Whatever hardships, disappointments, or failures await us in this world, a Christian can anticipate the certain fulfillment of David’s exultant words in Psalm 16:11: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Terribly flawed though we all are now, God will bring our journey to completion and us to perfection, so that arrayed in perfect holiness we will live forever in His love.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

hate that sin

Have I a man here who declares that he is pardoned, and yet indulges in the sins which he pretends are forgiven? Sir, you have either deceived yourself, or else you are uttering what you know is untrue. He who is forgiven hates sin. We cannot be washed clean if we still persist in living up to our neck in filth. It cannot be possible that a man is pardoned while he still continues to wallow in abominable sin.

‘O yes,’ but he says, ‘I am no legalist; I believe the grace of God has made me clean, though I do go on in sin.’ Sir, it is clear you are no legalist, but I will tell you what else you are: you are no child of God, you are no Christian; for the Christian is a man who uniformly hates sin. There never was a believer who loved iniquity, such a strange thing as a pardoned sinner who still loved to be in rebellion against his God. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

slavery and sexism

Interesting teaser by Jim Hamilton - Does the Bible Condone Slavery and Sexism?

Slavery and sexism are hot topics in the blogosphere. [My add - and sadly, those pretending to combat both of these issues are more often than not ensnared in the role of oppressor themselves.]

Rachel Held Evans has made a name for herself by provoking complementarians and multiplying confusions about the Bible. She spent a year misinterpreting the Bible, then misrepresented what the Bible teaches in a book, and went on all the talk shows. The world loved it that this woman confessing to be a Christian told them all their prejudices about the Bible were justified. Now she’s famous, but what has she done to the Bible’s reputation? What has she done to the Lord’s reputation?

Earlier this year Thabiti Anyabwile and Douglas Wilson had a long, redemptive, exemplarydiscussion about slavery.

What if we examined these two issues, slavery and sexism, from the perspective of biblical theology? Does the Bible condone either?

Here are the opening paragraphs of my essay, “Does the Bible Condone Slavery and Sexism?“:
Does the Bible condone slavery and sexism? Of course not! The suggestion is ridiculous, but we live in a world where absurd conclusions seem as rational as the truth is preposterous. All sorts of wicked ideas advance on the power of subtle insinuation and grow strong by the sneaking suggestion. 
If there is a surface level appearance that an allegation is true, the suggestions and insinuations appear plausible, perhaps even obviously correct. When we look beyond the surface, however, to what is really the case, suggestive insinuations are obliterated by reality. But how many people have the logical, theological, or biblical backbone to push past a veneer, to look past the surface, to think their way through the fog of falsehood to solid truth? This essay aims to get past surface level indications of sexism and slavery to what the Bible really teaches about human beings of all genders and races. 
On the surface, the Bible appears to endorse sexism. Women are told to keep quiet in church (1 Cor 14:33–34), to submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22–24), and they are not permitted to teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim 2:12). Viewed from a certain perspective, this looks like sexism. One of my tasks in this essay is to show how it’s not, but before we get to that we need to make the other task of this essay just as hard. 
The other task of this essay is to show how the Bible neither endorses nor condones slavery, and here again we have a set of statements that make it look like the Bible does just that. On the surface, Israel was given laws that regulated the treatment of slaves (e.g., Exod 21; Lev 25:6, 47–55; Deut 15:12–18), and both Paul and Peter told slaves to obey their masters (Eph 6:5–8; Col 3:22; 1 Tim 6:1–2; 1 Pet 2:18). How can it be denied that the Bible condones slavery? 
This essay is not a sophisticated denial of reality. I hope to do more than acknowledge the evidence and say, “nuh-uh.” I don’t want anyone to go away from this essay thinking that Hamilton has done nothing but insist that the Bible does not say what it obviously says. 
With the Bible making these statements about women and slaves, how can anyone maintain that it doesn’t condone sexism and slavery? Because it can be shown that the Bible does not present the world as a place in which God intended people to be owned by other people or abused because of their sex. God did not make the world for slavers and sexists. This essay seeks to go beyond the surface level of what the Bible says about these matters into the “deep structure” of the Bible’s teaching about male and female, slave and free.
The essay appears in a new book edited by Steven B. Cowan and Terry L. Wilder, In Defense of the Bible, and B&H has kindly granted me permission to post it here. Thanks to the publisher’s generosity, you can download my attempt at a biblical-theological answer to the question, “Does the Bible Condone Slavery and Sexism?” right here for free.


I find it interesting today that many fight for the right to ask questions. They perceive those like me are "down on them" for asking questions; that somehow it's wrong to ask questions. To me, questions are good - more, they are necessary. But the nature of the question reveals volumes on the nature of the the questioner and one ought to be thoughtful in choosing the proper questions.

Here's an excerpt from Choosing My Religion by R.C. Sproul.

Sometimes it is less important to have the right answers than to have the right questions. A man named Saul thought he did not need to ask any questions. He had all the answers. The most important question, according to Saul, was “How can I be good enough for God?” He thought he had that answer down cold.

The only problem was, he was wrong. American humorist Will Rogers could have told Saul, “It’s not what you don’t know that will get you in trouble, but what you know for certain that just ain’t so.” Saul’s problem lay in the question “How can I be good enough?”

The answer, of course, is that he couldn’t. But he didn’t understand the holiness of God. No one who is separated from God understands his holiness. To tell you the truth, not many Christians do either.

Saul had never asked the right questions. I think non-Christians often don’t ask religious questions because down deep inside they have a sneaking suspicion of what the answers might be, and they don’t like them. But Christians also are afraid of questions for the same reason, so they get into trouble. Or they are afraid other Christians will call them “doubters” if they are overhead asking the wrong question. They don’t want to seem unspiritual or stupid. They also may be afraid God will lose patience with them.

But God loves to answer questions—the “stupider” the better—because he loves for us to have the ultimate truth we need to complete the sentence “I believe …” He never loses patience with a question, and neither do people who are serving him. If you take a question to more mature Christians, those who really are men or women of God, you likely will find they don’t think it is so dumb. Maybe they used to struggle with the same thing. Maybe they still do.

God tells us in James 1:5-8 that if anyone lacks wisdom “he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” James adds that what God doesn’t want is for someone to ask with a wavering heart. The purpose of God’s answer is to build a faith that is strong, single-minded, and founded on truth.

Saul’s faith was strong and single-minded, but it was not founded on truth. He believed that he would please God most by persecuting the followers of that trouble-making rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. It never occurred to him to ask a rather obvious question: “Who are you, Lord, and who is Jesus of Nazareth?”

So God had a question to ask this pompous religious leader. In order to ask Saul, God had to get the man’s attention, so he tapped him on the shoulder (see Acts 9:1-9).

What he did was strike him blind. God knows how to get a person’s undivided attention. Then he asked the question:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul, with all the answers, didn’t have a clue as to what God was talking about. Persecuting God? Wasn’t he doing his best to serve God by ridding the world of the followers of a crucified criminal?

But now Saul did know what question to ask. He asked the most important of all questions: “Lord, who are you?”

That is when Saul started to become Paul the apostle—when he was confronted head-on by the holy God. When it comes to evaluating a religion and choosing ultimate truth, “Who are you?” is the question God most wants to answer. Only after you see him for who he is can you have an intelligent belief.

grieving twice

I enjoyed reading Rosaria Butterfield's post DOMA and the Rock ... I hope you will ...

In 1996, when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I grieved with my people. I was an atheist then, and lived in a monogamous lesbian relationship, working as a tenure-track professor specializing in English literature and Queer Theory.

Now, some 17 years later, in the summer of 2013, the Supreme Court has delivered its historic DOMA decision. I am now a Christian, married to a man who serves God as a pastor, and I homeschool in the Classical Christian tradition the two youngest of my four children. And again, I grieve with my people.

Standing with the Disempowered

Perhaps you think that I have a knack — call it a spiritual “gift” if you like — of affiliating with the losing team?

One of my enduring life values, which carried me through the Feminist and Gay Rights movements of the 1990s, and continues to motivate me today as one of Christ’s own, is the desire to stand with the disempowered. So here I am. Standing in a familiar place, bearing a new heart supplied by the Holy Spirit, a renewed mind, transformed by Christ’s atoning love, a new mission, created from before the foundation of the world by God’s sovereignty, and a new identity as a daughter of the King. But here I stand, still sporting my comfortable shoes.

An Electric Few Weeks for a Former Lesbian

This has been an electric few weeks for a former atheist, now Christian disciple. First, Exodus International closes down. Truth be told, this is fine by me. Reparative therapy was never part of God’s method, and Jesus Christ did not die to make any para-church his bride. But Exodus detonated with a colossal bang, and took with it gospel integrity, leaving even more theological turbulence in its wake.

Now the Supreme Court, using strong, cosmological, moral language defending the human dignity of same-sex unions, overturns DOMA and Proposition 8, sending a resounding rebuke to the Christian ideal of creation ordinance, and with it, the normative (albeit not always redeemed) heterosexuality that undergirds it.

Gathering the Children in Close

So I did what parents across the country did — believing parents and unbelieving parents, gay parents and heterosexual ones. I gathered my children in close, and I talked with them. You probably did this, too. No big surprises in my talk.

No new news. No identity bombs were dropped. My children have always known that their mother used to be an atheist and a lesbian. They cut their teeth on this vocabulary, and could say the words before they knew what they meant. Saved by grace. Closets are for clothes, after all.

Here is what I know: God is bigger than my sin. And God is sovereign over Supreme Court decisions and shifting worldviews. He has had the first and he will have the last word on all matters of sin and grace.

The Church, Christ’s bride, is a God-made institution and will sustain herself in majesty in times of persecution or revival. Context matters not. Providence will paint the walls of this worldview.

Who Owns Your Heart

But Jesus, the Word made flesh, will not be drawn and quartered. He came to fulfill the whole law, every jot and tittle. And he wants your whole life relinquished to him. Any theology that denies God’s moral law, and then domesticates sin by its absence, does not have Christ’s atoning love, God’s justifying pardon, or the Holy Spirit’s kind company. The Red Letters of the New Testament, unmoored from the moral law of the whole Bible, offer only half the God-man, mangling the gospel by wrenching salvation from sin and belief from repentance. Even the demons believed in Jesus — and it only sent them straight to hell. All dangerous lies pack a dollop of truth. That was true when Jesus walked the earth, and it is true today. That we are saved from our sin simply reveals the obvious: God was right all along. No shame in truth that loves like this.

The Bible is not some pragmatist’s paradigm. It is the double-edged sword that chiseled truth into my stony heart, rendering it new and with it, recreating me as a new creature in Christ, a daughter of the King. I have no personal sexual orientation to call my own after Christ chisels my heart anew — and neither do you. We have Christ orientation, an alien identity to which we claim no rights. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. Is temptation a sin? No. What distinguishes temptation from sin? Temptation clobbers you from the outside and lures you to do its bidding. Sin makes temptation a house pet, gets it a collar and leash, and is deceived to believe that it can be restrained by impositions of civility. What you do with temptation reveals Who owns your heart. How you talk about other people’s sin patterns reveals Who owns your heart.

Lessons in Losing

So, here is what I have learned from being on the losing team of both historic, public, and political renderings of homosexuality.

Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia. Homophobia is irrational fear of a whole people group, failing to see in that group God’s image diminished but not extinguished by sin, and that God’s elect people linger there, snared by their own design and awaiting gospel grace. Biding time. Think about that. Waiting like the caterpillar that spawned today’s butterfly. God has set apart a people from before the foundation of the world to receive his grace, and they are waiting for you in every nation and people group. It is an act of homophobia to believe that people in the LGBT community are either too sinful to respond to God’s call on their life, or to believe that people in the LGBT community have a fixed nature that will never, by the blustering, unfounded, and uncharitable declarations of secular psychology, change by the power of the gospel.

The only fixed feature of the human constitution or badge of personal identity is the soul; imprint of God to us, it will journey from life to death to life and will last forever, permanently, for eternity in heaven or hell.

Hopes, Dreams, Redemption

The gospel reorders and remakes people, and its metamorphosis manifests in a life that loves God more than itself. God doesn’t zap us. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, promising that as we “proclaim and initiate an irreconcilable war against our choice sins,” as Puritan William Gurnell states, God will be there. The Rock. Never leaving nor forsaking. Never failing the soul who puts trust in Him (Psalm 9:10). No matter what.

God promises that he will make meaning, purpose, and grace out of your redeemed life. God provides the church to be family, from cradle to grave, where single Christians are cherished saints in Christ’s Kingdom, not people waiting to be fixed. And God provides Christ-redeemed heterosexual marriage so that his creation ordinance is fulfilled and so that his Bride, the church, has imaginative authority over hopes and dreams.

the new birth scandal

JC Ryle in Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 1.1-10.9 ...

It is a noteworthy and striking fact that no doctrine has excited such surprise in every age of the Church and has called forth so much opposition from the great and learned as this very doctrine of the new birth. The men of the present day who sneer at conversions and revivals as fanaticism are no better than Nicodemus. Like him, they expose their own entire ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

fathering intentionally

I love this post by Brett & Kate McKay:

Have you ever met one of those families that just seem to have it all together? Maybe you knew such a family growing up and loved hanging out over at their house – there was such a great atmosphere there that you kind of felt like you were coming home whenever you stopped over. The parents were happy. The kids were all well-adjusted and generally did the right thing. Everyone in the family seemed to genuinely love, respect, and care about each other. They all truly enjoyed each other’s company and had a blast doing things together. Sure, they had problems and struggles like any other family, but they supported each other and rallied together to take care of whatever they were going through. Maybe you joked about them being so good it was creepy – perhaps they were perfect aliens from another planet — but you envied them nonetheless.
These days you’re the dad, and you’re heading a household of your own. Things in your home might be a bit chaotic. Perhaps your kids don’t get along, maybe there’s tension in your marriage, or maybe you just feel like your home life isn’t quite in the shape you want it to be. You think of that fun, warm family of your youth and want what they had, but you don’t know how to go about it. In twenty-two years of school, no one ever offered you a single course in parenting. Maybe you hope it will just happen as the years go by.
As a young dad, I find myself in this position. I want to create a close-knit, fun-loving family and raise children with upstanding character. So I’ve asked the parents of the families I admire what their “secret” is to creating such a tight family bond. They all pretty much say the same thing:
They’re intentional about creating and fostering a positive family culture. 
We typically don’t think of families as having a culture. Countries and communities have cultures, but not families. Right?
Well, in recent decades, organizational experts have argued that cultures not only develop in large societies like countries and cities, but also smaller ones, like corporations and non-profits. Sociologists and family experts say that even individual families have their own cultures.
What’s more, research has found that family culture plays a more important role in shaping a child than parenting styles, and the type of culture a family develops strongly predicts their happiness.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, we need to take a look at what exactly we mean by “family culture.”

the law and sin

Great post below by Tullian Tchividjian. His story illustrates how the law cannot redeem, only the the gospel. Unfortunately many will read this without acknowledging that the gospel includes the law. There can be no redemption if there is no understanding of the need for it. As noted in this video, "Jesus loves me" in and of itself is not the gospel.

I was sixteen when my parents kicked me out of the house. What started out as run-of-the-mill adolescent rebellion in my early teens had, over the course of a few short years, blossomed into a black hole of disrespect and self-centeredness that was consuming the entire family. I would lie when I didn’t have to, push every envelope, pick fights with my siblings, carry on, and sneak around—at first in innocent ways; later in not-so-innocent ways. If someone said “black,” I would say “white.” Nothing all that terrible by the world’s standards, but given my Christian context and upbringing, it was pretty egregious. Eventually, everyone involved reached the end of their patience, and looking back, I can’t blame them. It’s not as though my parents hadn’t tried every other option. Private school, public school, homeschool, counseling, interventions—you name it.

Anything they did just made me want to rebel more. Eventually, my lifestyle became so disruptive, the fights so brutal, that my parents were forced to say, “We love you, son, but if you’re going to continue living this way, you can’t do so under our roof.”

My parents were well loved in our community, and their friends could see the heartache they were going through with me. I remember two separate instances of people caring enough to ask them for permission to talk with me one-on-one to see if maybe they could get through to me.

The first time was early on, when I was still living at home. Their friend picked me up after school, brought me to Burger King, and read me the riot act. “Look at all that God’s given you. You’re squandering everything. You’re making your parents’ life a living hell, acting so selfishly, not considering your siblings. You go to a private school. You have this remarkable heritage. Shape up, man! Snap out of it.” Of course, he was 100 percent right. In fact, if he had known the full truth of what I was up to (and what was in my heart), he would have had every reason to be even harsher. But in the first five minutes of this guy talking to me, I could tell where it was going, and I just tuned out. As far as I was concerned, it was white noise. I could not wait for it to be over and for him to drop me back off at home.

This first friend was the voice of the law. He was articulating the standard that I was falling short of—what I should have been doing and who I should have been being—and he couldn’t have been more correct. The condemnation was entirely justified. His words gave an accurate description of who I was at that moment. But that’s the curious thing about the law and judgment in general: it can tell us who we are, it can tell us the right thing to do, but it cannot inspire us to do that thing or be that person. In fact, it often creates the opposite reaction than the one that is intended. It certainly did for me! I don’t blame the man in question—he was trying to do the right thing. It’s just that his methods completely backfired.

The second experience happened about a year and a half later, and by this time I was out of the house. This man called me and said, “I’d love to meet with you.” And I thought, Oh no, another one of my parents’ friends trying to set me straight. But I didn’t want to make things any worse between my parents and me, and the free meal didn’t sound too bad either, so I agreed to get together with him.

Once we were at the restaurant, he just looked at me and said, “Listen, I know you’re going through a tough time, and I know life must seem very confusing right now. And I just want to tell you that I love you, I’m here for you, and I think God’s going to do great things with you. Here’s my phone number. If you ever need anything, call me. If you want to tell me something you don’t feel comfortable telling anybody else, call me. I just want you to know that I’m here for you.” And then he switched the subject and started talking about sports. That guy—the second guy—is still a friend of mine to this day. He will forever be marked in my personal history as an example of amazing grace.

Most parents and spouses, siblings and friends—even preachers—fall prey to the illusion that real change happens when we lay down the law, exercise control, demand good performance, or offer “constructive” criticism. We wonder why our husbands grow increasingly withdrawn over the years, why our children don’t call as much as we would like them to, why our colleagues don’t confide in us, why our congregants become relationally and emotionally detached from us.

In more cases than not, it happens because we are feeding their deep fear of judgment—by playing the judge. Our lips may be moving, but the voice they hear is that of the law. The law may have the power to instruct and expose, but it does not have the power to inspire or create. That job is reserved for grace–grace alone.

In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the law illuminates sin but is powerless to eliminate sin. That’s not part of its job description. It points to righteousness but can’t produce it. It shows us what godliness is, but it cannot make us godly. The law can inform us of our sin but it cannot transform the sinner. Only the gospel can do that. As Martin Luther said, “Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.”

same sex mirage

I'm not sure if Doug Wilson coined the phrase but I'm using it and crediting him - same-sex mirage! Below is his post on the topic ...

A number of writers, me included, have been warning that the slopes really are slippery, and that the admission of something as radical as same sex mirage into any part of our political life is to introduce it everywhere. And yet, it has been surprising to see how fast the whole thing is moving. It appears that the incline of the slippery slopes has steepened, and we are now picking up a goodish bit of speed. Within weeks of the Supreme Court debacle on SSM, a federal judge has now ordered Ohio to recognize a homosexual mirage contracted in Maryland.

This shows that the federalist “live and let live” approach is a tactical sham. It is clearly all or nothing — all states recognizing same sex mirage as a basic civil rights issue, or none of them doing so. All right then, none it is.

What homosexual activists have been doing is insist that we redefine marriage, while pretending that all they are doing is expanding the opportunities for marriage to additional others. The problem is that as soon as they abandon the understanding of marriage as a covenanted conjugal relationship of a man and a woman, they have no consistent stopping point. Some of them don’t want a consistent stopping point, and others of them do — but they still can’t have one.

The biological act that consummates a marriage is the only act capable of reproducing our race. When a traditional marriage is infertile, this is an act of providence (or disobedience). When a homosexual union is infertile, this is something that is true by definition. And this means that the possibility of fruitfulness is removed (of necessity) from the definition of marriage.

But once you have done that, how are we to define it? Largely on the basis of inertia, some homosexuals (like Andrew Sullivan) want their (redefining) expansion of “marriage” to be limited to two people, to be romantic, to be sexual, etc. But why? They want to redefine, but not “too much.” But who is in charge of how much is too much? We may ask why two and only two. Lots of people in history (and in the present) have been polygamous. Why should it be romantic? Why can’t marriage be like the sale of a mule? And why sexual? Who says that orgasm is an essential part of this?

Liberals like uppity women in theory, on their bumper stickers, but detest them in real life. So here is a proposal for a couple of genuinely uppity women (who need to be sisters) living in a state that allows for same sex mirage. They need to get themselves down to the county courthouse and apply for a marriage license, letting the fact that they are sisters be known to the clerk. When they are denied, as they will be, they need to ask why. Because that would be incest, the reply will come. Their response should be two-fold.

First, they should say, if we were going to be incestuous, why would that be any business of the state? Since we as a culture have abandoned the moral arguments, the reply would have to be pragmatic — because of the possibility of birth defects. To which, the sisters should raise their eyebrows and inquire into how it is that a lesbian relationship could result in birth defects.

After they have flummoxed the clerk in this way, the second part of their response should be to reassure that longsuffering personage, to make up for their first line of argument. They should go on to assure the clerk that they are not lesbians at all, there is absolutely nothing sexual or romantic about their relationship at all. There would be no incest. “We are just sisters. And we want to be married.”
But marriage has to be sexual, the clerk would reply.
Does it? they would answer.
Well, yes, traditionally . . .
Traditionally? Like we care about that anymore?
In other words, once we have reduced the act of marriage to the act of choosing, and we have cast off all natural boundaries that would limit or constrict the content of such an act of choosing, we cannot rush in after the fact to constrict such acts of choosing. Two sisters can be married and their point of unity (as they have chosen it) will be their common love of knitting. Two fishing buddies can get married, and their point of contact is their common love for brown trout. But I am using that word “common” too much. Too restrictive. Under the new tyranny of the raw act of choosing, nothing would prevent two people from marrying, one in Massachusetts and one in Washington, whose one thing they share “in common” is the fact that they have never met each other, never want to, and are resolved to never exchange any email whatsoever.

One of Saul Alinsky’s great principles for radicals was that of making the enemy live up to his own rules. This really works when it is impossible to do so — as it is in this case. So I think that somebody’s Jane Austen reading group needs to get down to the courthouse and apply for a group license. Make them say no. Make them purvey some more of their hate.

errands with my mom

Hollar at your moms ...

Friday, July 26, 2013

truth and precision

From Justin Taylor - What Does "Inerrancy" Mean?

The word inerrant means that something, usually a text, is “without error.” The wordinfallible—in its lexical meaning, though not necessarily in theological discussions due to Rogers and McKim—is technically a stronger word, meaning that the text is not only “without error” but “incapable of error.” The historic Christian teaching is that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible. It is without error (inerrant) because it is impossible for it to have errors (infallible).
In his chapter on “The Inerrancy of Scripture” in The Doctrine of the Word of God(Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2010), John Frame offers some important distinctions and clarifications on the doctrine. He points out that inerrancy suggests to many the idea ofprecision, rather than its lexical meaning of mere truth.
Frame points out that “precision” and “truth” overlap in meaning but are not synonymous:
A certain amount of precision is often required for truth, but that amount varies from one context to another. In mathematics and science, truth often requires considerable precision. If a student says that 6+5=10, he has not told the truth. He has committed an error. If a scientist makes a measurement varying by .0004 cm of an actual length, he may describe that as an “error,” as in the phrase “margin of error.”
Frame then reminds us that truth and precision are usually more distinct when we move outside the fields of mathematics and science:
If you ask someone’s age, the person’s conventional response (at least if the questioner is entitled to such information!) is to tell how old he was on his most recent birthday. But this is, of course, imprecise. It would be more precise to tell one’s age down to the day, hour, minute, and second. However, would that convey more truth? And, if one fails to give that much precision, has he made an error? I think not, as we use the terms truth and error in ordinary language. If someone seeks to tell his age down to the second, we usually say that he has told us more than we want to know. The question, “What is your age?” does not demand that level of precision. Indeed, when someone gives excess information in an attempt to be more precise, he actually frustrates the process of communication, hindering rather than communicating truth. He buries his real age under a torrent of irrelevant words.
Similarly, when I stand before a class and a student asks me how large the textbook is. Say that I reply “400 pages,” but the actual length is 398. Have I committed an error, or told the truth? I think the latter, for the following reasons: (a) In context, nobody expects more precision than I gave in my answer. I met all the legitimate demands of the questioner. (b) “400,” in this example, actually conveyed more truth than “398″ would have. “398″ most likely would have left the student with the impression of some number around 300, but “400″ presented the size of the book more accurately.
The relationship between “precision” and “error,” Frame says, is actually more complicated than many recognize. “What is an error?” sounds like a simple question with an easy-to-find answer. But “identifying an error requires some understanding of the linguistic context, and that in turn requires an understanding of the cultural context.”
A child who says in his math class that 6+5=10 may not expect the same tolerance as a person who gives a rough estimate of his age or a professor who exaggerates the size of a book by two pages.
We should always remember that Scripture is, for the most part, ordinary language rather than technical language. Certainly, it is not of the modern scientific genre. In Scripture, God intends to speak to everybody. To do that most efficiently, he (through the human writers) engages in all the shortcuts that we commonly use among ourselves to facilitate conversation: imprecisions, metaphors, hyperbole, parables, etc. Not all of these convey literal truth, or truth with a precision expected in specialized contexts; but they all convey truth, and in the Bible there is no reason to charge them with error.
How then does inerrancy relate to precision? Frame suggests “sufficient precision” as opposed to “maximal precision.”
Inerrancy, therefore, means that the Bible is true, not that it is maximally precise. To the extent that precision is necessary for truth, the Bible is sufficiently precise. But it does not always have the amount of precision that some readers demand of it. It has a level of precision sufficient for its own purposes, not for the purposes for which some readers might employ it.
Frame then introduces an important aspect of propositional language: it “makes claims on its hearers”:
When I say that the book is on the table, I am claiming that in fact the book is there. If you look, you will find it, precisely there. But if I say that I am age 24 (do I wish!), I am not claiming that I am precisely 24. I am claiming, rather, that I became 24 on my last birthday. Moreover, if I say, as in the previous example, that there are 400 pages in a textbook, I am not claiming that there is precisely that number of pages, only that the number 400 gives a pretty reliable estimate of the size of the book. Of course, if I worked for a publisher, and gave him an estimate of the size of the book that was two pages off, I could cost him a lot of money and myself a job. In that context, my imprecision would certainly be called an error. However, in the illustration of the professor making an estimate before his class, it would have been inappropriate to say that he was in error. Even though I use the same language in the two situations, I am making a different claim in the first situation from the claim I make in the second. Therefore, the amount of precision demanded and expected in one case is different from what is demanded and expected in the other. In the one case, I have made an error; in the other case not.
Frame points out that a “claim” in this sense can be explicit or implicit.
If someone asks me to quote a Bible passage, and I say “this is inexact,” I am making an explicit claim, namely, “I will give you the gist of it, but not the exact words.” Nevertheless, it is rare in language for someone to make his claims explicit in that way. When a person gives his age, he rarely says, “I am giving you an approximate figure.” Rather, he simply accepts the custom of approximating one’s age by the last birthday, assuming that people will understand that custom and will not be misled into thinking that his answer is absolutely precise. In following this custom, people understand that he is making an implicit claim.
Frame applies this principle to the biblical language and world:
So, in reading the Bible, it is important to know enough about the language and culture of the people to know what claims the original characters and writers were likely making. When Jesus tells parables, he does not always say explicitly that his words are parabolic. But his audience understood what he was doing, and we should as well. A parable does not claim historical accuracy, but it claims to set forth a significant truth by means of a likely nonhistorical narrative.
This leads to Frame’s definition of inerrancy:
So, I think it is helpful to define inerrancy more precisely (!) by saying that inerrant language makes good on its claims. When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we mean that the Bible makes good on its claims.
Now many writers have enumerated what are sometimes called qualifications to inerrancy: inerrancy is compatible with unrefined grammar, non-chronological narrative, round numbers, imprecise quotations, pre-scientific phenomenalistic description (e.g., “the sun rose”), use of figures and symbols, imprecise descriptions (as Mark 1:5, which says that everyone from Judea and Jerusalem went to hear John the Baptist). I agree with these points, but I do not describe them as “qualifications” of inerrancy. These are merely applications of the basic meaning of inerrancy: that it asserts truth, not precision. Inerrant language is language that makes good on its own claims, not on claims that are made for it by thoughtless readers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

disagree well

Matt Dabbs on disagreeing well (written from an on-line perspective but applies to all communication forms):

  1. Make sure you really are disagreeing. A small percentage of disagreements are people who agree but just aren’t communicating well. Sometimes people talk past each other. Other times people are emphasizing different aspects of the same point and are really just wanting the person on the other end to say, “Ok, I see what you are saying too” when the honest truth is they don’t disagree at all.
  2. Be a learner. If you think you have all the answers, expect many disagreements and expect them to go poorly. There is little more frustrating than discussing things with someone who can never say they are wrong or that they have learned something from the other person. Be the person who can admit when they missed it.
  3. Start with a healthy goal. That goal is not to prove your own right-ness, as tempting as that is. In my opinion, the real goal of engaging in difficult topics is to come to a better understanding of reality. If someone can help you do that, even through disagreement, be appreciative. If both parties are seeking to come to a better understanding of something it sets a positive and healthy tone of mutual respect and mutual purpose that is missing when our purposes are self-serving.
  4. Exhibit humility. That means admit when you are wrong and don’t let pride get in the way. Pride is a roadblock to progress.
  5. Point out what the other person is getting right. That advances the conversation and lets the other person know you really are listening. It will often make them more willing to point out the strengths of your side of the discussion.
  6. Deal with one thing at a time. It is hard to have a conversation when each new point comes along with 15 other points and 7 new questions. Deal with one thing until you settle it as best you can and then move on to the next piece.
  7. Know when to “cut bait”. There are times when the conversation just cannot advance in a productive way. That can be frustrating. It is better to end the conversation in a respectful manner than to continue on and air your aggravation and make a fool out of yourself in the process.
  8. Read and re-read your comments before you post them. It is hard to hear “tone” in text. So make sure your words are unmistakably respectful.
  9. Avoid personal attacks and stick to the issues. Personal attacks may give you the leverage to shut the other person down but that is cheap.
  10. Get clarification. Ask questions rather than jump to conclusions. It is amazing how much people can interpret into what you say. Before you make a million assumptions, just ask if that is what they are saying. People will argue against points that aren’t even being made.
  11. Assume the best of someone until they prove otherwise.
  12. Keep your integrity. Remember, what is said online is typically public and will be seen by others.
  13. Know when the online/public medium is not the place to have the discussion. Often email, facebook private message or the phone works so much better. There are some things that don’t need to be plastered all over the internet…a lesson many have yet to learn!

live where you preach

For the salt of the earth to work, it must be in contact with that which it is to affect.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

men without chests

Great post by Chris Brauns:

Our culture clamors for honor – - while making character impossible. It is hypocritical to say that nothing defines what is true and noble – - and then ask young people to act in ways that are decent and good.

C.S. Lewis:
Such is the tragi-comedy of our situation – - we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ in a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Monday, July 22, 2013

the whole object

. . . and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Ephesians 3:19

“In one sense the whole object of being a Christian is that you may know the love of Jesus Christ, his personal love to you; that he may tell you in unmistakable language that he loves you, that he has given himself for you, that he has loved you with ‘an everlasting love.’ He does this through the Holy Spirit; he ‘seals’ all his statements to you through the Spirit. . . . You believe it because it is in the Word; but there is more than that; he will tell you this directly as a great secret. The Spirit gives manifestations of the Son of God to his own, to his beloved, to those for whom he has gladly died and given himself.”

D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Romans: An Exposition of Chapters 7.1-8.4 (Edinburgh, 1973), page 61.

Real Christianity is, by nature, a supernatural experience. It comes from beyond all this world and is dependent upon nothing in this world. We believe it and know it and sink our teeth into it not primarily through our own brilliant lines of reasoning but primarily through illumination given by God himself. This is humbling, but also reassuring. Our ways of knowing can be invalidated. But the love of Christ is self-authenticating. It is a discussable experience. But it surpasses our knowledge as ultimately unexplainable. The living Christ comes to us and speaks to our deepest beings of his love. He creates an undeniable awareness within us that we are not alone, we are not accused, but he is with us and for us and always will be. This is the good news of the gospel internalized with divine power. And, as Lloyd-Jones proposed, it is the whole object of being a Christian.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

nothing to lose

Why should you fear to be stripped of that which you have resigned already to Christ? It is the first lesson you learn, if a Christian: to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow your Master, so that the enemy comes too late. You have no life to lose because you have given it already to Christ, nor can man take away that without God’s leave. All you have is insured, and though God has not promised you immunity from suffering in this kind, yet he has undertaken to bear the loss, indeed, to pay you a hundredfold, and you will not stay for it till another world.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


My small group recently discussed Mt 6.18 ... many Christians are squeamish when thinking of reward being a motivation. Here's a helpful post by Tim Challies on the topic.

The Bible tells me I am to store up treasures in heaven. It tells me there are eternal rewards for decisions I make in this life and it tells me I should desire these rewards and act accordingly. And yet sometimes I feel the desire for reward is a sign of spiritual weakness rather than strength, like that is for lesser Christians and that I should grow beyond it. I struggle with the idea that I am to be motivated to obey God in this world by the promise of reward in the next. It has always struck me as wrong, as something a little bit less than noble, that I would obey God not purely and solely out of a desire to obey him, but out of a desire to increase my eternal reward. Have you ever wondered about that?

Is it wrong to be motivated by rewards? Somehow in my mind it seems like the reward must negate the joy or the purity of obedience, and especially when it comes to the way I handle money. Shouldn’t I want to give out of the joy of obedience? Shouldn’t I want to give simply because I love the God who commands me to give generously?

Randy Alcorn has helped me as I’ve pondered this. In his book Managing God's Money, he refers to God granting eternal rewards for faithful obedience “the neglected key to unlocking our motivation” and digs up plenty of biblical proof that our Bible heroes were motivated by this kind of reward. He offers Hebrews 11:26 as a simple example: “He [Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” And, of course, we know that the Apostle Paul was also running with his eye on the prize—the crown that would last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). Both men were doing the obedient thing on earth with a view to eternal reward.

Even Christ endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). He humbled himself knowing that he would soon be exalted. He, too, found his motivation in the eternal reward that would await him—in this case the glory of his Father as he is worshiped by a church washed and redeemed. This challenged me. If I maintain that it is wrong to be motivated by rewards, I am bringing an accusation against Christ, suggesting that he was wrongly motivated. And I bring that same accusation against Paul and Moses and others.

Having made the argument from Scripture, Alcorn makes the argument from human experience, pointing out that in other areas of life we are routinely motivated by reward. This is true in home, school and business. “Every effective manager and every wise leader knows the importance of incentives. These are motivators that may be personal, social, spiritual, physical, or financial. Unfortunately, countless Christians consider incentives to be ‘secular,’ ‘carnal,’ or ‘unspiritual.’” We even use rewards to motivate our own children; so why should we be surprised that God uses rewards to motivate his children? Says Alcorn,
To say “I don’t do anything for the reward—I do it only because it’s right,” may appear to take the spiritual high ground. But, in fact, it’s pseudospiritual. Saying that there’s only one good reason to do something denies the other ways God himself uses to motivate us. It contradicts all the passages of Scripture that unmistakably attempt to motivate us by our desire for rewards.
This is convicting! I may feel like I am taking the moral high ground when I say, “I do it only it because it’s right,” but that is actually pride talking. It is pride telling me that I know better than God.

Whose idea is it to grant rewards to faithful stewards? Alcorn offers a metaphor. Suppose that I offer my son a reward if he spends his whole Saturday working outside with me. “Put in a day’s work and I'll pay you $50 and take you out for dinner.” Is it wrong for my son to now desire the reward I have offered him? Of course not! That’s one side of the metaphor. Here is the other: As a father, I want my son to desire this reward. I want him to want it, and I want him to have it. It will be my joy to give it to him. I even want it to motivate him to joyful work based on joyful expectation. It would be wrong of my son to demand a reward for obedience, but it is not wrong for him to desire one if I have offered it.

In the same way, it is God’s idea that there should be this close relationship between obedience and reward. God designed me and all of us in such a way that we are motivated by incentive. It’s who we are. This gives me the joy and freedom of doing the right thing because it is the right thing and because I will receive God’s reward. The two are complementary, not in conflict.

The fact is, God does not have to reward me for what I do. Instead, he chooses to and delights to. At the end of the long day’s work, it is my joy to hand my son his reward and to take him out to dinner. At the end of the long day's work, he honors me by accepting the reward I offer him. Why should I grant God any less?

sexual compatibility

Hafeez Booku on True Sexual Compatibility:
From the many conversations I've had with those who are happily married with healthy, God-honoring sex lives, I've learned that true sexual compatibility, if we must call it that, happens when two people commit themselves first to God, and then to each other. This covenant commitment affords an opportunity for a husband and wife to unconditionally serve and love the way Jesus loves his bride, the church (Eph. 5:22-33). Marriage is a journey in which two incompatible, selfish sinners learn to become one. There will thus be multiple things—including sex—that both parties will have to figure out together along the way.

Desiring a healthy and vibrant sex life in marriage is a good and even wise thing. But for the Christian it's not ultimate. As a single Christian man, I desire a spiritually healthy marriage before a sexually healthy one, though I trust the former encourages the latter. Therefore, I'm willing to trust God and wait, not because I want to have the most euphoric wedding night with someone I'm perfectly sexually compatible with, but because I want a healthy, God-honoring marriage after the wedding night with the person to whom I've just committed my life.
Read the rest here.

marriage reflecting christ

I had to reread his post a couple of times to really get the point but as I got it ... wow! Here's Doug Wilson's post on Brian and Rachel.

Whenever we consider the subject of marriage, we naturally turn to the first marriage, the first union of man and woman. The Lord Jesus tells that the union of Adam and Eve was archetypical, which means that there should be many things we can glean by considering what happened in that first marriage.

There are two factors to consider and weigh—one is the creation design, and the other is how much that creation design was altered or affected by how the story unfolded. In other words, we need to consider what sin did to us all.

And we really need to look first at what sin did. If we carelessly skip over that part, in order to imagine what an unfallen marriage was like, we might easily slip into some kind of Victorian sentimentalism, or marriage as exemplified by the average Disney princess. In other words, our notions of paradise turn out to be a modified and cleaned up version of what we have now, with lots of sugar added.

After Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, one of the very first manifestations of their new sinful condition was conflict between husband and wife. The Lord came down and asked what had happened, and the man blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the serpent. Nobody took responsibility for their own actions. The juice of the fruit was still wet on their fingers when those fingers starting pointing somewhere else, anywhere else. Not me.

Because of their disobedience vertically, the first thing that happened horizontally was that crackle and tension was introduced into their relationship. Tempted by the devil, who is fundamentally an accuser, the husband became a devil, an accuser, himself. When his wife was assaulted, although he was appointed to be her defender, he became instead a second dragon.

When the Lord pronounced the consequences of their sin upon them a short time later, one of the things He noted is that this tension between them would continue. There has been – ever since – something fundamentally dislocated in every marriage relationship. There is no marriage unaffected by it. There are some that have been carried away by the problem, into a condition we call “having marriage problems,” and others which have resorted to the grace of God in dealing with it, with a result that we call “having a good marriage.” But no one is in a position where they do not need to deal with it. Good marriages are not those where husband and wife and oblivious to their temptations. No, quite the reverse.

Now this is the backdrop, the context, when the apostle Paul tells husbands in the book of Ephesians to love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her.

Conflict between people, including conflict between husband and wife, is a function of striving, envy, grasping, struggling for mastery. That is the very nature of the problem, and it is at the very nature of this problem that the solution aims. The cross is not aimed at an abstract checklist of bad deeds done. The cross is aimed at conflict, the kind of conflict that disrupts and destroys relationships—first with God, and then with our neighbor.

When Jesus died on the cross, He was dying in such a way that all envious accusations were put to death with Him there on the cross. Pilate saw that He was delivered up because of envy. The people who killed Jesus wanted to be like Him. And the law, which was against us, and which was the basis of accusation, was crucified there with Him. When Jesus died, recrimination died. The serpent, represented by the bronze serpent in the wilderness, was impaled on a pole so that anybody who looked at it could be healed. The venom of envious malice was in them, and looking at the cross dealt with it. So when we look at the cross of Jesus rightly, what we should see is impaled reptilian envy, writhing in the death throes of all accusation. Behold, the death of bitterness. Look at the death of malice. Gaze upon the death of snark.

That is what husbands are commanded to imitate. We cannot duplicate it, of course, because only Jesus was capable of bearing the sins of all His people. But we are capable of imitating the one who bore the sins of all His people.

And this means dying. But it doesn’t mean dying in the way a junior high boy in a day-dream might, or dying in some highly artificial and contrived situation. It means dying every day, each day, to that little crackle in the relationship, dying when there is tension, dying when there is a little mutual blaming going on. If your finger is pointing, look down to see if the juice from the forbidden fruit is there.

Brian, the world needs Jesus, and because you are this day becoming a Christian husband, one of your fundamental duties –from this day forward – is that of representing Jesus to a watching world. The first person who needs to see this will be Rachel, and then your kids, and outward. This is not done by means of a smarmy piety. It is not done by means of doctrinal clich├ęs. It is not done by any of our clever workarounds. It is done by imitating Jesus, who laid down His life for His bride, and by not imitating Adam, who didn’t.

Rachel, you are called to reciprocate. The Bible teaches that the woman is the glory of the man, and a related truth is that she is the glorifier of what he brings to her. He doesn’t bring home the bacon. He brings home a paycheck, and you transform it into bacon. You are the one who glorifies his life, his home, his identity. And the crown of it is that you the one who has been given the privilege of glorifying his death. As he imitates the Lord Jesus in laying himself out for you, you imitate the Lord Jesus in what happens after that. You are to imitate the glory of the resurrection. Now, of course, what I said earlier applies to your as well. Brian cannot duplicate the death of Jesus, and you cannot duplicate the resurrection. But you must certainly can imitate it.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Evangelism - it doesn't have to be complex. Five tips by Jake Chambers:
  1. PRAYER IS EVANGELISM I cannot save anyone’s soul. God’s word says my role is to sow seeds and that only God can grow this seed. This means my role is to share the gospel and pray. Pray to the one who can actually save souls. We are learning to devote ourselves to prayer.
  2. SOW SEEDS LIBERALLY If my role is to sow seeds by sharing the gospel than I should be sowing seeds as often as possible. We can often cling to gospel seeds as if we only have one per year and try waiting for the perfect moment, with the perfect person, at the perfect time to share the gospel. However, we are free to plant hundreds of seeds. We can share the gospel as often as possible, with as many people as possible—coworkers, classmates, strangers, friends, neighbors, family, etc. This is seed sowing, so sow aggressively!
  3. INVITE PEOPLE TO GATHERINGS God is present amongst his people and the preaching of the word. Let’s invite people to gather with us. It is a great space for people to see the love of God and see people responding to the love of God. It is a great place to hear the word of God proclaimed as well. Let’s invite people!
  4. IF YOU KNOW JESUS, YOU KNOW ENOUGH We can be frozen by thinking we don’t know enough to be an evangelist. We might think we need a better apologetic strategy or need to go to seminary. The truth is, if we know Jesus, we have our story and our relationship with Jesus to point people to. Share your story and you can be an evangelist!
  5. LOVE GOD AND LOVE OTHERS Rest in this simple and great commandment. We love God so we want others to know the God we love. We love others, so we want them to be saved and to know the God we love!