Tuesday, February 26, 2013

our own righteousness

Ralph Erskine in Law-Death, Gospel-Life:

Legal obedience hath the evil of blasphemy in it. It reproaches the righteousness of Christ, as if it were not sufficient, as if his atonement were not perfect, as if his satisfaction were not full, as if his obedience were not perfect, unless it be patched up with the rags of man’s own righteousness. Is not Christ’s righteousness perfect without their addition?

lacrae on manhood

Some thoughts by Lecrae on true manhood ...

Lecrae Explains True Manhood.

i dare you to pray this

"I dare you to pray this" from Francis Chan ... just a thought ...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

the tongue

Make the mule of your tongue serve the mercy of your heart. ~ John Piper on James 1.26

the p-word

John Piper in Bloodlines on perseverance:

Perseverance simply means that those whom God calls, he keeps. If you are a true believer, you will persevere in faith and (imperfect) obedience to the end and be saved. God will see to it. “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Between justification and glorification, no one drops out. All persevere from justification to glorification.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–29). Paul said, “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” (Phil. 1:6; see 1 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thess. 5:23). If someone leaves the faith, it was because they never truly belonged to Christ. This is the way the apostle John described that situation in his day: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

knowledge of god

Heman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics:

The knowledge of God is the central, core dogma, the exclusive content of theology. From the start of its labors dogmatic theology is shrouded in mystery; it stands before God the incomprehensible One. This knowledge leads to adoration and worship; to know God is to live. Knowing God is possible for us because God is personal, exalted above the earth and yet in fellowship with human beings on earth.

subversion of evil

Thanks to the cross, evil is now utterly subverted in the cause of good. If the cross of Christ, the most evil act in human history, can be in line with God’s will and be the source of the decisive defeat of the very evil that caused it, then any other evil can also be subverted to the cause of good.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

faith alone

John Piper in Bloodlines:


Of course, that is a huge problem for us, because none of us is righteous—no, not one (Rom. 3:10). We have all sinned. We are guilty as charged. We deserve God’s full sentence of condemnation. Works of the law cannot save us. We have broken God’s law. Now the law condemns us. So how can we be justified? How can God, the judge, declare us righteous and innocent?

The answer is that Jesus Christ lived and died to provide our righteousness and bear our punishment. That’s the point the following texts show. The first group shows that Christ provided our righteousness, and the second shows that he bore our punishment.

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us . . . righteousness . . . ” (1 Cor. 1:30). “[I am] found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9).

“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Gal. 3:13). “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

It is by trusting Christ that his righteousness is imputed to us and his death is counted as ours. Faith alone, not works, unites us to Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

the science of porn


the l-word again

The Arminians say, ‘Christ died for all men.’ Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, ‘No, certainly not.’ We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer ‘No.’ They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, ‘No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?’ and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, ‘No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.’ We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

bass school

Victor Wooten - wow!!! Very long but it just keeps getting gooder.

word-less church

Robert Godfrey posts The Word-less "Church" (see also 2 Kings 22):

Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?

What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.

What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.

Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)

First, he calls us to be educated by the Word, which will lead us on to ever-richer wisdom by “teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul is reminding us that the Word must be taught and applied to us as a part of it dwelling richly in us. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must be growing in the Word.

It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from the Word. We must be growing in a knowledge of the will of God for us: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). Knowing the will of God will make us wise and in that wisdom we will be renewed in the image of our Creator, an image so damaged by sin: “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10).

This wisdom will also reorder our priorities and purposes, from that which is worldly to that which is heavenly: “The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5). When that Word dwells in us richly we can be confident that we know the full will of God: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (1:25). From the Bible we know all that we need for salvation and godliness.

Second, Paul calls us to expressing the Word from ever-renewed hearts in our “singing.” Interestingly, Paul connects the Word dwelling in us richly with singing. He reminds us that singing is an invaluable means of placing the truth of God deep in our minds and hearts. I have known of elderly Christians far gone with Alzheimer’s disease who can still sing songs of praise to God. Singing also helps connect truth to our emotions. It helps us experience the encouragement and assurance of our faith: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2–3).

The importance of singing, of course, makes the content of our songs vital. If we sing shallow, repetitive songs, we will not be hiding much of the Word in our hearts. But if we sing the Word itself in its fullness and richness, we will be making ourselves rich indeed. We need to remember that God has given us a book of songs, the Psalter, to help us in our singing.

Third, Paul calls us to remember the effect of the Word to make us a people with ever-ready “thanksgiving.” Three times in Colossians 3:15–17 Paul calls us to thankfulness. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly, we will be led on to lives of gratitude. As we learn and contemplate all that God has done for us in creation, providence, and redemption, we will be filled with thanksgiving. As we recall His promises of forgiveness, renewal, preservation, and glory, we will live as a truly thankful people.

We need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly today more than ever. Then churches may escape being a mess and become the radiant body of Christ as God intended.

so you wanna be the pope

A step-by-step guide to becoming Pope ... just six easy steps ...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

homosexuals and goldfish

Another well thought out post by Doug Wilson on the changing of the definition of marriage. Believer - do not be deceived - read this more than once if you need to.

Homosexual radicals want to say that what they are about is simply trying to expand the size of the civil rights direct object in our sentences, when what they really want to do is completely alter the meaning of the verb. Before examining what this means for the future of marriage, allow me to illustrate my point with a few overdone cut-out samples glued to popsicle sticks.

Say we are talking about swanky condominiums, and the debate before the house is whether or not we should sell any of them to people with skin that is darker than mine. This is a genuine debate about the direct object -- shall owners of condominiums be allowed to be a different average hue than they used to be? But suppose the group in question is not characterized by their skin color, but rather by the fact that they are deadbeats, flakes, penniless, broke, and on top of everything else, feeling pretty entitled. Suppose somebody insists on selling a condominium to their chief spokesman, an out-at-elbows gent named Chicago Jake. If we do this, we are not expanding the pool of potential condominium owners. We are completely altering what it means to "sell" something. By expanding the pool of buyers to include those who have no money, we have destroyed the meaning of the verb to buy, and hence we have not really expanded anything.

If you print a trillion dollar coin for every American, that behavior could be described any number of ways, but expanding everybody's purchasing power would not be one of them. But I was talking about sex and marriage, not leftist economics, but to him who has wisdom, let him understand. It is all the same hooey, anywhere you look.

So with marriage. In previous eras, there have been times when particular classes of people (like slaves, for example) were not permitted to marry. They could cohabit, they could have sex, and they could have children, but could not marry. To expand the boundaries of marriage for them would be the right thing to do, and to expand the rights of marriage in this way would be a genuine civil rights issue. Marriage would be growing, and with no redefinition of marriage involved. We would have more marriages, but no increase of confusion about what constitutes a marriage.

The same with the Supreme Court decision in 1967(!) in Loving v. Virginia. When the Court (rightly) decided against laws prohibiting miscegenation, they were expanding marital options in a way that was defended a right understanding of civil rights. It is none of the government's business if a black man and a white woman decide to marry, and it is a violation of their civil rights to prohibit it. And when all is said and done, the resultant marriages were recognizable marriages. Access to the ordinance of marriage was expanded, not redefined.

Now let us jump way on the other side of what homosexual radicals are currently demanding, and let us do this, not to irritate them, but to make an important point. As we make this jump, let us make sure to diligently use the traditional marital terminology -- and we are doing this to make it plain that if we travel a certain distance from one man/one woman marriage, at a particular tipping point, we have changed the meaning of the verb to marry.

There are many options along the way, some of them marital, some sub-marital, and eventually, some contra-marital. How much sand can you put in the sugar bowl before it isn't sugar any more?

Bear with me. Suppose a man wants to marry his goldfish, his BMW, or himself, and he insists on using the word "marry." If we let him do it, something has to give, and it will be the definition of that verb.

If you have been following me, then somewhere between a one man/one woman covenanted union, which absolutely everyone recognizes as marriage, and the goldfish debacle, we have abandoned our verb. That being the case, it would be worthwhile discussing just exactly where that point of abandonment was. If we drive north from Nebraska, at some point we will cross the border into Canada. Some of us in the back seat want to know where that will be exactly. All we want to do is find our passports, which will provide us with an excuse to get out of the car. Does that make us haters?

Those pressing for marriage equality are a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them. I would submit that this line of thought I am suggesting is not new to them, and I would suggest further that this is actually the whole point. The point is not to give marriage, old definition, to homosexuals, at which point the revolution goes mysteriously into hibernation, but rather to take the old definition away from absolutely everyone.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that if a mind has grown to accommodate a new thought, it can never after that point resume it's original shape. The same thing can be said, but to a less flattering purpose, about words that have been stretched out of all recognition.

But the man asking for marriage equality says that he is not a radical. What if he simply wants to include homosexuals in the bond that two share for life? But certain questions spring immediately to mind. Two? Where did we get that sick and puritanical limitation? And what do you mean "for life?" What a bunch of Pharisees. That noted sexual bigot, Jeffery John, has maintained that marriage has to be "a covenant of total sexual fidelity and indissoluble union." I guess it is not just heterosexuals who get stuck in the fifties.

Is adultery even a legal category anymore? Does marriage mark out an exclusive sexual relationship? Why should it? Who says?

And returning to those truncated and tiny souls who would restrict the polyamorous man, differently-gifted as a hunka hunka burning love, to just one partner . . . words fail me. Does not the Koran say that each man gets four? And no less a luminary and Islamic scholar than Gloria Steinem has gone on record as supporting marriages that would require a couple of California king-sized beds pushed together.

So the issue is not what the first or second guy in line is asking for. A longer line than that has already formed -- and the first radicals left their arguments on the counter here, and they are of a sort that will enable anybody to make their case for ruining an already ruined word still further. Do we really think the first radicals in line will become the last conservatives?

Just as an Idaho environmentalist is a Californian who bought his lake cabin here last year, will homosexuals gain the right to marry, and then man the ramparts to repeal no-fault divorce laws, impose strict penalties for adultery, fight the good fight against polygamy, and so on? If you want someone to applaud their future efforts, you will have to find someone less cynical than I to do it.

We have been caught in the machinations of our own tricksiness. We cannot extricate ourselves, except by repentance, and such repentance would require us to accept the set boundaries of marriage on the word and authority of the one who made us. And He has set apart marriage, as the memorable words of the prayer book have it, "to joyne together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is an honorable state, instytuted of God in Paradise, in the time of manes innocencie."

The time of man's innocency was a long time ago, but the point remains.

pleased to meet you

The Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Devil:

But what's the real deal with Satan. Michael Patton does his usual stellar job dealing with a few Questions About Satan. Turns out we don't know a lot but most of what we think we know, we don't really know ... just myths. Here's Patton's post:

What is his real name?

We don’t really know of any formal name. He is called many informal names, which are derived from his character (Satan, “the evil one,” the devil, etc.). Some believe his name is “Lucifer.” This name is unfortunate. It comes from the Latin translation of “morning star” found in Isaiah 14:12-15. Some believe this passage describes the fall of Satan; however, this is hotly debated, as the context does not really suggest as much. The association seems to have been popularized in the intertestamental period through the books of Enoch. Unfortunately, the King James Version, following this popularization, actually uses the term “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12-15. Most modern translations have corrected that. So we don’t really know any formal name for Satan.

Can he read minds?

There is no reason to believe that Satan has the power to read minds. He is not omniscient (he does not know everything). While his power is greater than ours (relatively speaking), his power is very limited.

Where is he?

We don’t know. I imagine that he has never been in your room, seen your house, or taken a ride with you in your car. He probably does not even know your name. Remember, he is not omnipresent (everywhere) or transcendent (above time and space). Being a created being existing in our universe, he is spatially limited just like us. Therefore, he is only in one place at time. I don’t know how fast he travels or his mode of transporation. I don’t know if he walks, runs, flies, or hitches a ride on a car. I just know that he is not everywhere.

Where does he live?

I doubt he has a “home” or a regular habitation. One thing we can say for sure is that he does not live in hell. Popular thought frequently holds that he lives in hell or is the ruler of hell. This is simply false. Hell is not his. In fact, he has never been there and does not want to go there any more than you or I do. Hell, as we often think of it, has not even been created yet. It is a post-judgment habitation. However, hell will one day be his eternal dwelling, as it will all other demons and unbelievers (Rev. 20:14).

Was he an angel?

This is what I was taught and I suppose I believe it. But I don’t know for certain if it is true. I don’t even know what angels are, since the term “angel” does not really refer to a particular species. Remember, angels do not procreate, so they have no physical relationships the way humans do (at least I think). The reason we sometimes call Satan a “fallen angel” is due to a supposed double-referent interpretation of Isaiah 14:1-14. But, again, there is no definitive reason why we must believe this passage refers to anyone other than the king of Babylon. Revelation 12:3-4 may be of some support here. It speaks of the Dragon who swept a third of the “stars” of heaven to the earth. Could this be Satan and other angels who “fell” in a great rebellion? Maybe, but again, it is hard to be sure. God was just not too interested in letting us know so many of the details we want to know about angels, demons, and Satan.

Can he take human or animal form?

It seems that Satan took the form of a serpent in Genesis 3. Therefore, he may be able to take the form of other animals. However, it is greatly debated whether Genesis 3 is to be taken literally. He may be able to take on the form of a man as it seems happened with other angels in Genesis 6. However, again, it is greatly debated who the “sons of God” were in this chapter so we cannot be definitive.

What does he look like?

We don’t know. One thing we do know is that he does not have horns or a tail and he is not red. However he looks, he is probably not the monstrous looking figure that popular culture has made him out to be. I imagine that he, in his natural form, is or was very beautiful. However, this we know: if he ever presents himself to a human, he will be in his best form. After all, he presents himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), not an angel of darkness.

Does he think he will win?

This is a question that has perplexed me all my life. Why does he do what he does? After all, he has read the Bible! He knows the end! Does he think he’ll find a loophole? Why did he try to stop Christ? Did he really think it was possible for Christ to worship him? (Matt. 4:9). Crazy questions that I don’t have the answer to. Maybe the noetic effects of sin have just really messed up his mind to such a degree that he does think his rebellion could eventually pay off.

Why did he tempt Christ to turn stone into bread?

This is an interesting question. In Matthew 4:3, Satan tempts Christ to turn a stone into bread. Why? It does seem odd. Here we have the cosmic evil meeting his arch-enemy, and what is his first stab at temptation? To turn a stone into bread to satisfy his hunger. Some will say that he was trying to make Jesus break his fast. Big deal. Like breaking a fast is a cosmic sin. I think it was more than this. I think Satan was trying to get Christ to give in to his base instincts to break the rules of the incarnation. You see, Christ had to be like us in every way. And since we cannot turn stones into bread when we get hungry, neither could Christ. Satan was trying to get Christ to draw upon his omnipotence (power) to satisfy his human need to eat. Had Christ done it, we would not have had a representative on that cross. Satan was trying to get Christ to forfeit the incarnation.

When was he created?

We don’t know. It could have been before the creation of this universe, at the same time, or sometime after. It would seem to me, however, that Satan and all the angels were created in and with this universe. If so, God is no longer creating these angels, as he has rested from all creation. If not, then there is no reason to think that angels are not still being created (albeit, not indirectly through procreation like we are).

When did he fall?

This we don’t know either. But it was sometime before Genesis 3.

Is he God’s evil equal?

Not even close. Satan is a creation of God. He is not God’s cosmic equal. God has complete power over Satan just as he does over us. As the book of Job illustrates, Satan can only do what God allows him to do.

christ more powerful

John Calvin in Commentary on Romans (Rom 5.15):

Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to destroy.

free will

Augustine in Historical Theology.

The human will is so divinely helped in the pursuit of righteousness, that he [the believer] receives the Holy Spirit, by whom there is formed in his mind a delight in, and a love of, that supreme and unchangeable good, which is God. By this gift to him of the down payment, as it were, of the free gift, he [the believer] conceives a burning desire to cleave to his Maker. A mans free will, indeed, does not help at all except to sin, if he does not know the way of truth. And even after he begins to know his duty and proper aim, unless he also takes delight in and feels a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, God's love is shed abroad in our hearts, not through the free will which arises from ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us [Rom 5: 5].

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

not of the cross

To use the magnificent words of B.B. Warfield, ‘Jesus dies on the cross, but not of the cross.’ The cross was the means by which He died, but not the reason why He died. He died through being crucified, but not because He was crucified. He was nailed to the tree, but that wasn’t the cause of His dying.

The cause of His dying is precisely because He is there as the substitutionary atonement for the sins of His people. He dies bearing my sins in His body to that tree, so that I might live; so that through His condemnation at Calvary, the Judge in heaven will say to the sword of justice as it hangs over my head for my sins, ‘Do not slay my son. Jesus has been crucified. He has been put to death’; and I am now pardoned through His dying, justified by His blood, saved from the wrath to come.

dead works

Anthony Carter takes a stab at explaining what are dead works.

Dead works are the works of our hands. These are works of selfrighteousness, and they are appropriately called “dead” works because they lead to death. Twice the book of Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (14:12; 16:25). We rely on work. We get significance from our work. We like a job that is well done. And well we should, because God created us to work. Yet all of our labors are useless, and thus dead, if they do not point to the worship of God. Any significance and esteem we attain from our labor apart from the end of bringing God glory and establishing His rule upon the earth is misplaced. Such godless labor may appear good to us and even receive the applause of others, but heaven finds it repulsive and defiled by sin. In other words, unless we have been washed in the blood of Christ, all our good deeds are worthless, useless, vain, and dead.

These works are lethal because the thing that most keeps people from Christ is the belief that they can be good without Him. Their lives may be filled with good deeds in the eyes of men, but such works are not necessarily good in the eyes of God. Unfortunately, many have been led astray by the church, as preachers and teachers have told them that the gospel is what they do. Live right. Eat right. Give right. Die right. The truth, however, is that only faith in Christ matters—everything else is sin (Rom. 14:23). You can sing like Mahalia Jackson or Whitney Houston. You can play like Mozart or Yo-Yo Ma. Without Christ, these works are dead. The French philosopher Blaise Pascal is believed to have said, “There are only two kinds of people in the world: the righteous who understand themselves to be sinners, and the sinners who believe themselves to be righteous.” The Bible says that, apart from God in Christ, all my righteousness is but filthy rags—defiled and unclean (Isa. 64:6). Apart from the blood of Christ, my conscience and my hands are unclean, and my worship and works are dead. But in Christ, not only am I made alive, so are my works.

Why don’t dead works cut it? Simply put, our God is a living God. God is not into dead things. Death and Christ are not friends. Whenever Jesus came upon a death, He reversed it. When Jesus went to a funeral, it did not stay a funeral. The Bible records three instances during the life of Jesus when He came in contact with the dead. Each time, the dead were brought back to life. He raised the son of a widow (Luke 7:11–17). He raised Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41–42; 49–56). He raised His friend Lazarus (John 11:1–44). When Jesus touches the dead, He makes them alive. Why? Because He is alive! Consequently, to serve and worship God is to serve and worship the living God. Dead people do not worship a living God. This is why the Bible says we have been made alive in Christ (Eph. 2:5). We do not glory in our dead deeds. We glory in the living Christ! Only Jesus provides the clean consciences, hands, and hearts we need to glory in Him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

it's a verdict

Michael Horton in For Calvinism:

Justification is a verdict, a declaration, that one who is actually unrighteous in oneself is righteous before God solely on the basis of Christ's righteousness being credited through faith alone. Therefore, justifying righteousness is not infused into us but imputed to us. It is not enabling but saving. It is not partial but complete. It is not the goal of the Christian life but the source.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Ordinary people used in ordinary ways to do the unordinary, i.e., naturally supernatural.

not what i once was

One of Satan's great lies and one that is embraced by liberalism in all its forms, is that I am what I am and I cannot change.

John Newton wrote in Grace for Today:
Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say that I am not what I once was, a slave to sin and Satan. And I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am. (ht)
That is, I am a new I am in the grace of the great I am. Praise God for regeneration, i.e., I am absolutely complete in Christ (2 Cor 5.17).

prayer requests

The only thing worse than prayer requests for "traveling mercies" are those "unspoken requests". I really don't get what is going through the minds of those that make and take those requests. These things frustrate me a lot. But just a notch below them are the generic prayer. See below for the flow.

the simple truth about abortion

Thanks John Piper! The below is a wonderful post showing the beauty of life and the conflicting values of those supporting abortion.

Facts help us grasp abortion in our communities. With the internet no one is innocently ignorant. Here are some facts from the Twin Cities to San Antonio. There are no grizzly pictures here. But there are some miracles. I won't show you what the babies look like after they are killed, but before.
Start with the on-the-ground facts. There are five places to get elective abortions in the Twin Cities, Planned Parenthood (671 Vandalia St.,
 St. Paul), Robbinsdale Clinic (3819 West Broadway, Minneapolis), Mildred Hanson (710 East 24th St., Minneapolis) and two locations of the Whole Woman's Health (33 South 5th St, Minneapolis, and 825 S. 8th St. #1018 Minneapolis). I encourage you to visit them and pray, or perhaps see if any of the workers will talk with you.
All of them do abortions up to 13 weeks gestation. Here is what the baby looks like at 13 weeks.
Mildred Hanson advertises that she does abortions to twenty weeks. Two pictures show the babies she is willing to dismember.
Whole Woman’s Health advertises that they do abortions to 22 weeks. This little fellow, at 22 weeks, is ready to fight for his life.
In addition, Whole Woman's Health advertises that their San Antonio facility will do surgical abortions through 24 weeks.
But at 24 weeks babies are being born and thriving. Here are a few examples. (If you want to see the 23 week babies when born and then years later go here.) If you want names and ages check out the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation.
These pictures are of babies born at the age when they are being legally killed. The irrationality of our legal system is that we are expected to believe that a seven inch movement down the birth canal transforms a child from one with no right to life into a person under law with full rights of protection. This is the kind of reasoning that creates Gulags and death camps. Whatever else may be said of these children, if they had been dismembered and evacuated one hour before they were born at 24 weeks, it would not have been tissue that was lost.
I encourage you to do your part by putting the facts before as many people as you can. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

pope march madness

Popapalooza - yep, if you want to track what's happening with the Pope's replacement in the spirit of March Madness, this is the chart for you.

(click to enlarge)


wayward son

And they say trombone players aren't cool ...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

irresistible grace

John Piper in Bloodlines:

We have seen this in regard to our humanity-wide depravity (point one of Calvinism), and in regard to Christ’s atonement of a people from every race and tribe (point three of Calvinism), and in regard to God’s gracious, unconditional election of a people out of this depravity and through this atonement (point two of Calvinism). And we have seen that the way we participate in that salvation is through justification by faith alone. This faith comes into being through conversion—that is, through being united with Jesus by faith so that we die with him and rise with him to a new life of faith and love.

... God overcomes our depravity and our rebellion and grants us the gift of faith and repentance. This is often called irresistible grace. We believe that when Christ died to obtain his church (Eph. 5:25), he obtained for her not only the grace that results from faith (like forgiveness and justification and sanctification and eternal life), but also the grace that produced the faith in the first place.

This grace is called “irresistible” not because we can’t resist it, but because God overcomes this resistance at the point of our conversion. He overcomes our unbelief and grants that we see Christ for the irresistibly glorious Savior that he is. He makes Christ look compelling—as he really is—so that we follow him. In the moment of our coming to Christ we are decisively drawn by God and more free than we have ever been (John 6:44; 8:32).

God may allow resistance for a long time (Acts 7:51). For example, even though Paul said that God set him apart before he was born (Gal. 1:15), nevertheless, between Paul’s birth and conversion he was in total rebellion against God. He was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). All this God tolerated in Paul before the appointed time came for God to take Paul captive on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1–20).

Irresistible grace means that since no human being can submit to God because of our hardness of heart and rebellion and spiritual deadness (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14), the only way any of us is saved is by sovereign, irresistible grace. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father . . . draws him” (John 6:44). “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (v. 65). We are saved by grace through faith, Paul said, and that is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9; cf. Phil. 1:29). Our faith is a gift from God. And so is repentance, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:25: “God may perhaps grant them repentance.”


Ok ... since everyone else is posting it ...

interviewing paul

The following is a fun (and helpful) post by Justin Taylor.

How to Interview the Apostle Paul Today

Paul, thanks for taking a few minutes to walk me through Romans 7:1-13. (It’s a great letter, by the way.)

Let’s start with your intended audience here. Who are you talking to?

Those who know the law.

Is the law still binding on them?

The law is binding on a person only as long as he lives.

Can you give an example of this principle from everyday life?

Sure. A married woman is bound to her husband while he lives.

You gave the initial principle as “the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives,” which had one person and a law. But now you’ve introduced two persons, bound to each other by a common law. I think I’m tracking with you. So when does that “binding” cease to exist?

If her husband dies, then she is released from the law of marriage.

And what happens if she is unfaithful while she is bound to her husband and under the law of marriage?

If she lives with another man while her husband is still alive, she will be called an adulteress.

But she’s not bound if she becomes a widow?

If her husband dies, then she is free from the law of marriage.

And if she is free from the marriage law, then she is free to join to a new man?

If her husband is dead and she remarries, then she is not an adulteress.

This marriage-law-divorce-remarriage stuff is helpful in illustrating your point: “The law is binding on a person only as long as he lives.” So what’s the upshot with regard to Christians and the law?

We have died to the law.

By what means did we die to the law?

We died to the law through the body of Christ.

For what purpose did we die to the law?

We died to the law so that we would belong to another—to him who has been raised from the dead.

Why did God join us to Christ?
So that we could bear fruit for God.
What kind of fruit will we bear if we are under the law and not united to Christ?

While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

So we’re not under law?
We are released from the law.
You’re saying we’re dead to the law?

We died to that which held us captive.

What are the results of our death to law?

We now serve in the new way of the Spirit . . .

As opposed to?
. . . the old way of the letter.
I’m tracking with you now. The old way of the letter—the Mosaic law-covenant before Christ—held us captive, aroused our sinful passions, and produced deadly fruit. So we have to die to it and in a sense get remarried to a new person, the resurrected Christ. So the law is now sinful?

The law is sin?! By no means!

Ok, sorry. (You don’t have to yell.) Does the law do anything good with regard to sin?

If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin!

Can you give an example?

I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

So the law gives knowledge of sin, in this case coveting. But what led to the actual act of coveting?
How so?
Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.
But wouldn’t I still sin even if there were no commandments in the written code?

Apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Another death metaphor! Let me try to restate: Sin was dead, then the law came and sin came to life. Sin killed me through the law. But Christ’s death made me die to the law. So before the law came, were you dead or alive?
I was once alive apart from the law.
But then God revealed his law-covenant and what happened?
When the commandment came, (a) sin came alive and (b) I died.
So something that promised you spiritual life led to your spiritual death?
The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me!
And you said it wasn’t that commandment that killed you but sin using the commandment?
Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
Let me try to put all this in chart form. (I work better when I doodle sometimes.)
No LawLaw ArrivesChrist Dies
Sin is deadSin is aliveSin is dead
I am aliveI am deadI am alive

Let’s go back to the law again. To reiterate: you think the law itself is a good thing?
The law is holy.
The commandment is holy, too?
The commandment is holy and righteous and good.
But this good law-covenant—the commandment—it killed you?
By no means!
Argh. Sorry! So what killed you spiritually?
It was sin, producing death in me through what is good.
Why would God do this?
In order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment sin might become sinful beyond measure.

a sad reflection

Our culture is fallen. Abortion is both a sin and a judgement. The following from Live Action News is a reflection of our sad current state:
An unidentified woman was hospitalized due to major hemorrhaging following what was revealed to be a self-induced abortion. First she told authorities that her baby was wrapped in a blanket in the dumpster, prompting a massive search of her apartment complex. The woman later admitted that the child was in a different location, where it was subsequently recovered by police.

The double-standard in this unbelievably sad story is that it is only an autopsy of the child’s body that will indicate whether or not this mother can be charged with a crime. Paraphrasing a Houston Police Dpt sergeant, the Houstoaborn Chronicle said, “no charges have been filed in the case because it is unknown whether the fetus was alive or viable at the time of birth.”

That means, if the child was born dead (following a ‘successful’ abortion), then the mother cannot be charged with a crime, since abortion (which, by definition, means that a dead baby was delivered after being killed in utero) is legal. If, however, it was born alive (the approximate age of the child, between 20-25 weeks, suggests that viability was a definite possibility), then the mother could be charged with a crime.

The takeaway: Either way, the baby was murdered by its mother; her intention was the same all along, but the question of where the child died—in utero or out—will determine whether or not a crime was committed.

It’s time to hold the pro-abortion community accountable for the convenient lapses in logic that propagate laws based on shoddy reasoning.
It boggles the mind that professing Christians can support this.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

church history

I've posted a couple of times (here, here) on why one should study Church history. Zach Nielsen references Don Sweeting on the matter:

I sometimes hear people talk about history as if it is the most impractical subject in the world. But that’s simply not true. On the contrary, church history is one of the most helpful studies in the preparation of Christian ministers. It gets us beyond our natural short sightedness, faddishness and pride. It becomes a source of warning, wisdom and encouragement. It provides spiritual sparks to awaken us and lift our eyes so that we might have renewed hope. And it gets us beyond our own American evangelical amnesia. This is all extremely useful. It is a study filled with blessing. Here are his reasons why:
  • It reaffirms a Biblical value of looking to the past
  • It tells us the rest of the story
  • It frees us from faddishness
  • It is an antidote to arrogance
  • It exposes us to some of the issues faced by the church in every age
  • It helps us see further than we naturally can on our own
  • It gives us insight into our own culture
  • It provides warnings about what to look out for and what not to do
  • It can be used to spark a longing for awakening and revival
  • It Implants hope in dark times
  • It offers company and help in difficult seasons of ministry
Click over to read his explanations.

real christian

An interesting post by Doug Wilson:

The words of grace that surround this Table of grace are glorious words. The great Augustine once said that if God gave what He commanded, He could command whatever He wanted.

This Table has conditions—the unholy are not welcome. This Table contains a promise—the unholy are most welcome. Scripture frequently assigns conditions to us. If we will do this, He will do that. But Scripture in other places frequently teaches us that our fulfillment of such a condition is the very thing promised.

In one place we are told that true repentance is the condition of the promise (2 Chron. 6: 36-39; Joel 2:15-19). In another place we are told that our true repentance is the very thing promised (Eze. 36:26). What are we to make of this?

What this means is that if you come to God in true evangelical faith, if you come to Him with humility of heart, you are invited to apprehend every conditional promise in the Bible, though you have met none of those conditions, because you have come in the name of the one who met all of them, the Lord Jesus Himself. Now I just used the phrase true evangelical faith. What about that condition? That condition also is a gift from God, lest any should boast. Jesus was the only one with true evangelical faith. Jesus was the only Christian who ever lived—and so it is that the only true taunt of the unbelievers is the only true hope of believers. This is why we must take refuge in Him.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.