Wednesday, July 30, 2014

life in community

"The Christian life is meant to be lived in community... the important thing is to get involved in some small group of Christians so that you can be 'one-anothered' by them. 

"I came across a great illustration of the need for Christians to be in community with each other. A grove of sequoia trees is a wonderful sight; majestic trees reaching up to 300 feet into the sky. But did you know that the sequoia tree has its roots just barely below the surface, and in some cases on the surface?  How is it possible that such a tall tree can have such shallow roots and not blow over in a high wind? The answer is that they grow only in groves and their roots intertwine under the surface of the earth, making one huge mass of intertwined roots extending throughout the grove. So, when the strong winds come, they hold each other up; they are supporting and upholding one another. A single tall sequoia tree could never stand up to the wind; it would just blow over. 

"And this is just what Christians should be doing. An isolated Christian, no matter how tall and strong he or she looks, can be blown over by the wiles of the devil and the winds of our godless culture. But a group of loving and supportive Christians, with roots in Christ and intertwined with each other, will stand even under strong winds. 

"So the Christian life is meant to be lived in community." (David Kingston)

Hear his message on SermonAudio

what is a cult?

Good podcast on the characteristics of a cult. Bob Pardon being interviewed by Neil Damgaard:    

"The member confuses their commitment to God with their commitment to the institution.  The two become synonymous.  So, to leave one is to leave the other."  (Bob Pardon) 

Other characteristics... 

  • Is there use of "undue influence"?
  • Is it enslaving or freeing? 
  • Is there a leader with a pipeline to God but without any accountability?
  • Does it take biblical principles beyond their proper use?

Monday, July 28, 2014

a proper defense

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

"Defense is proper and necessary because in every age historic Christianity will be under attack. Defense does not mean being on the defensive. One must not be embarrassed about the use of the word defense. The proponents of any position who are alive to their own generation must give a sufficient answer for it when questions are raised about it. Thus, the word defense is not used here in a negative sense, because in any conversation, in any communication which is really dialogue, answers must be given to objections raised. Such answers are necessary in the first place for myself as a Christian if I am going to maintain my intellectual integrity, and if I am to keep united my personal, devotional and intellectual life."  (Francis Schaeffer)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

a kingdom of sacrifice

"For all of its joy and celebration and for all of its gifts of life and grace, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of sacrifice. The central event in the history of this kingdom is a shocking and unthinkable sacrifice. This moment of sacrifice confounded the followers who were there to see it and has interested theologians ever since. It is at once the most terrible and most beautiful event in the kingdom. It is a sacrifice that makes perfect sense and no sense at all. And this sacrifice forms the operating agenda of the kingdom from that time on.

"Jesus, by his bleeding and broken body on the cross, not only gave the kingdom of God its life and hope, but its paradigm for living as well. That history-changing death on the cross is also the life-changing call of Christ to everyone who would follow him. And as it did on the cross, that willingness to die will always result in life. This kingdom is a kingdom of the cross, and everyone who celebrates that sacrifice is called to drag a cross along with them every day.”

(Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More, p. 178)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

go immediately to Jesus

This quote was sent out recently by Of First Importance

"I feel when I have sinned an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would not do to go, as if it were making Christ the minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe, and a thousand other excuses. But I am persuaded they are all lies direct from hell.  

"[In 1 John 2:1] John argues the opposite way—‘If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father.’  The holy sensitiveness of the soul that shrinks from the touch of sin, the acute susceptibility of the conscience at the slightest shade of guilt, will of necessity draw the spiritual mind frequently to the blood of Jesus. And herein lies the secret of a heavenly walk. Acquaint yourself with it, my reader, as the most precious secret of your life. He who lives in the habit of a prompt and minute acknowledgement of sin, with his eye reposing calmly, believingly, upon the crucified Redeemer, soars in spirit where the eagle’s wings range not.”

— Robert Murray M’Cheyne, quoted by Andrew Bonar in Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1960), p. 176.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

word-saturated ministry

I need to continually remind myself that my life and ministry needs to be saturated with God's Word. God alone knows his thoughts and He alone is qualified to reveal this to us.  His revealed truth is the basis of our confidence and competence in Christian ministry... 

"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."  (Acts 6:4 ESV)

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."  (Acts 20:32)

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Colossians 3:16) 

"Now the church has not received this Scripture from God in order to simply rest on it, and still less in order to bury this treasure in earth.  On the contrary the church is called to preserve this Word of God, to explain it, to preach it, to apply it, translate it, spread it abroad, recommend it, and defend it -- in a word, to cause the thoughts of God, laid down in Scripture, to triumph everywhere and at all times over the thoughts of man.  All of the work to which the church is called is the effort at, and the ministration of, the Word of God.  It is a service of this Word of God, when it is preached in the assembly of believers, is interpreted, and applied, when it is shared in the signs of the covenant, and is maintained in discipline.  And in a larger sense much more is part and parcel of this service of the Word: this, for example, that in our own hearts and lives, in our profession and business, in house and field and office, in science and art, in state and community, in works of mercy and missions, and in all spheres and ways of life, this Word be applied, worked out , and made to rule.  The church must be the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15): that is to say, a pedestal and foundation bearing up the truth and maintaining and establishing it over against the world.  When the church neglects and forgets this, the church is remiss in its duty and undermines its own existence."    

(Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 118)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

all inquiry rests on some authority

"All religion rests on authority. In fact, every academic discipline and every sphere of human inquiry rests on authority. Whether we realize it or not, we all give someone or something the last word—our parents, our culture, our community, our feelings, the government, peer-reviewed journals, opinion polls, impressions, or a holy book. We all have someone or something that we turn to as the final arbiter of truth claims. For Christians, this authority is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

(Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me) 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

on the origin of marriage

Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck on the institution of marriage (Gen 2)...

"A third particular of this second chapter of Genesis is the gift of the woman to the man and the institution of marriage. Adam had received much. Though formed out of the dust of the earth, he was nevertheless a bearer of the image of God. He was placed in a garden which was a place of loveliness and was richly supplied with everything good to behold and to eat. He received the pleasant task of dressing the garden and subduing the earth, and in this he had to walk in accordance with the commandment of God, to eat freely of every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But no matter how richly favored and how grateful, that first man was not satisfied, not fulfilled. The cause is indicated to him by God Himself. It lies in his solitude. It is not good for the man that he should be alone. He is not so constituted, he was not created that way. His nature inclines to the social — he wants company. He must be able to express himself, reveal himself, and give himself. He must be able to pour out his heart, to give form to his feelings. He must share his awarenesses with a being who can understand him and can feel and live along with him. Solitude is poverty, forsakenness, gradual pining and wasting away. How lonesome it is to be alone!

"And He who created man thus, with this kind of need for expression and extension can in the greatness and grace of His power only choose to supply the need. He can only create for him a helpmeet who goes along with him, is related to him, and suits him as counterpart. The account tells us in verses 19 to 21 that God made all the beasts of the field and all the fowls of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see whether among all those creatures there was not a being who could serve Adam as a companion and a helper. The purpose of these verses is not to indicate the chronological order in which animals and man were made, but rather to indicate the material order, the rank, the grades of relationship in which the two sorts of creatures stand over against each other. This relationship of rank is first indicated in the fact that Adam named the animals.

"Adam therefore understood all the creatures, he penetrated their natures, he could classify and subdivide them, and assign to each of them the place in the whole of things which was their due. If, accordingly, he discovered no being among all those creatures who was related to himself, this was not the consequence of ignorance nor of foolhardy arrogance or pride; rather, it stemmed from the fact that there existed a difference in kind between him and all other creatures, a difference not of degree merely but of essence. True, there are all kinds of correspondences between animal and man: both are physical beings, both have all kinds of need and desire for food and drink, both propagate offspring, both possess the five senses of smell, taste, feeling, sight, and hearing, and both share the lower activities of cognition, awareness, and perception. Nonetheless, man is different from the animal. He has reason, and understanding, and will and in consequence of these he has religion, morality, language, law, science, and art. True, he was formed from the dust of the earth, but he received the breath of life from above. He is a physical, but also a spiritual, rational, and moral being. And that is why Adam could not find a single creature among them all that was related to him and could be his helper. He gave them all names, but not one of them deserved the exalted, royal name of man.

"Then, when man could not find the thing he sought, then, quite apart from man's own witting and willing, and without contributive effort on his own part, God gave man the thing he himself could not supply. The best things come to us as gifts; they fall into our laps without labor and without price. We do not earn them nor achieve them: we get them for nothing. The richest and most precious gift which can be given to man on earth is woman. And this gift he gets in a deep sleep, when he is unconscious, and without any effort of will or fatigue of the hand. True, the seeking, the looking about, the inquiring, the sense of the need precedes it. So does the prayer. But then God grants the gift sovereignly, alone, without our help. It is as though He conducts the woman to the man by His own hand.

"Thereupon the first emotion to master Adam, when he wakes up and sees the woman before him, is that of marveling and gratitude. He does not feel a stranger to her, but recognizes her immediately as sharing his own nature with him. His recognition was literally a recognition of that which he had felt he missed and needed, but which he could not himself supply. And his marveling expresses itself in the first marriage hymn or epithalamium ever to be sounded on the face of the earth: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.” Adam therefore remains the source and head of the human race. The woman is not merely created alongside of him but out of him (1 Cor. 11:8). Just as the stuff for making Adam's body was taken from the earth, so the side of Adam is the basis of the life of Eve. But just as out of the dust of the earth the first man became a living being through the breath of life which came from above, so out of Adam's side the first woman first became a human being by the creative omnipotence of God. She is out of Adam and yet is another than Adam. She is related to him and yet is different from him. She belongs to the same kind and yet in that kind she occupies her own unique position. She is dependent and yet she is free. She is after Adam and out of Adam, but owes her existence to God alone. And so she serves to help the man, to make his vocation of subduing the earth possible. She is his helper, not as mistress and much less as slave, but as an individual, independent, and free being, who received her existence not from the man but from God, who is responsible to God, and who was added to man as a free and unearned gift."

--Herman Bavinck, from “Origin and Purpose of Man”, a chapter in Our Reasonable Faith (originally published The Great Works of God [Magnalia Dei], 1909)