Archive for the ‘christian life’ Category

How to waste 2012

3 January 2012

Here are 4 easy ways to waste 2012:

1. Refuse Jesus

2. Forget Jesus

3. Ignore Jesus

4. Isolate Jesus

To refuse Jesus is to think that you don’t need him at all. To think that life makes sense and has meaning without him. To think that you can manage life, and death, on your own.

To forget Jesus is to think that you only need him at the start of the christian life rather than the whole way through. To fail to preach the gospel to yourself each day looking to Christ in faith to meet all of your needs.

To ignore Jesus is to starve yourself and hold your breath. To neglect meeting and communion with Jesus in the word (food) and prayer (breathing).

To isolate Jesus is to not make the local church a priority. To amputate, as it were, parts of Christ’s body by not being a part of, accountable to, and involved in the local church.

So…don’t waste 2012. Look to Christ in faith, daily find all your needs met in him in the gospel, commune with him in the word and prayer each day, and crack on in your local church.

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Union with Christ

2 December 2011

An historically underemphasised, yet crucial, topic is union with Christ. Just try to explain any aspect of the christian life (conversion through to glory) apart from union. So, it is with great enthusiasm that over the last week I received two books, both titled ‘Union with Christ’. The first is by Robert Letham and the second by Todd Billings. Now it is time to dig in. I’d also recommend Edward Donnelly’s Life in Christ, which is probably more accessible if someone is looking for a place to start.

While you are waiting for yours to arrive, read and meditate on Colossians 2 and 3. Paul grounds the whole of the christian life in union as well. Enjoy!

What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?

17 October 2011

I’m sure this has been helpfully explained before, but a light came on a couple weeks back in understanding what Paul is getting at in Col 1.24 where he writes, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’.

The question is, is something about Christ’s work on the cross insufficient? The answer, of course, is ‘no’. But what does Paul mean here?

I think the easiest and most helpful way to understand this is to think about the one inflicting the suffering. On the cross it was the wrath of God against the sin of his people that Jesus suffered. The suffering Paul experiences (and is lacking in Christ) does not come from the Father to top-up what was insufficient in the cross, but comes from the enemy.

You might say it this way, in Christ’s death on the cross the wrath of God was satisfied, but not the wrath of Satan (not that Satan was pouring wrath on Jesus on the cross, he wasn’t; but even in his observance of these sufferings of Christ, he wants to see more).

So, the enemy is not done inflicting sufferings upon Christ’s body, and Paul was filling up what was lacking and now the church continues to fill up what is lacking.

Jesus’ way is not our way

22 April 2011

I am the way to God: I did not come
To light a path, to blaze a trail, that you
May simply follow in my tracks, pursue
My shadow like a prize that’s cheaply won.
My life reveals the life of God, the sum
Of all he is and does. So how can you,
The sons of night, look on me and construe
My way as just the road for you to run?
My path takes in Gethsemane, the Cross,
And stark rejection draped in agony.
My way to God embraces utmost loss:
Your way to God is not my way, but me.
Each other path is dismal swamp, or fraud.
I stand alone: I am the way to God.

~ D A Carson on John 14.6

Common invitations

8 April 2011

The invitation of God and Satan sound quite similar (Pro 9.4-5, 16-17):

Wisdom: Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.’

Folly: Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’

Same audience offered food and drink, though one leads to life and one to death. Going all the way back to Eden, the question comes, ‘Who will you listen to, and who will you obey?’ That’s to say, who is your God? To make a promise is one thing, to keep it, well, only the Living God does that.

Guilt, Grace & Gratitude…to music

7 April 2011

Many will know that the format of the Heidelberg Catechism falls into the categories of guilt, grace, and gratitude. Or, how great my sins and misery are, how I may be delivered from them, and how I should respond for such deliverance. It seems quite a helpful paradigm to think in. You can see it very clearly with Isaiah (ch 6), the shepherds (Lk 2) and Peter (Lk 5.1-11).

I don’t know if this paradigm was in the author’s mind, but the song All I Have is Christ from Sovereign Grace follows this pattern. Here is a live version of the song with the lyrics following:

GUILT

Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

GRACE

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

GRATITUDE

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

The law: legalism or antinomianism

31 January 2011

There seems to be confusion surrounding the matter of the use of the law. This is a critical issue and one worth some serious thought and study. You can see some of the to and fro around the web last week. Frank Turk wrote a letter to Michael Horton about a perceived imbalance. Horton responded, as did Scott Clark (to which Turk then replied). And quite apart from these interactions CT had an article about antinomianism.

There is not time or space to interact here with all that has been said, but in reading Matthew 11 this morning something stood out to me.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:18-19 ESV)

So John was branded a legalist, and Jesus was branded an antinomian. My guess is that they both got things right and the response probably had more to do with those making it than with the accused. The fountainhead of both legalism and antinomianism is the same, void of the gospel of grace.

Now back to The Marrow of Modern Divinity.

British Evangelicalism

24 January 2011

The Evangelical Alliance has recently released a new report about evangelicalism in Britain. I point you HERE and HERE to see some response to it. It is actually useful reading the comments on these posts as well.

You can see the report HERE, and you can read about the methodology behind it HERE.

HT: Justin Taylor

What is worship?

10 January 2011

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His Holiness.
The nourishment of the mind with His Truth.
The purifying of the imagination by His Beauty.
The opening of the heart to His Love.
The surrender of the Will to His Purpose.

Archbishop William Temple of Canterbury

Why read the marrow?

10 January 2011

The Marrow of Modern Divinity. It’s been in my ‘to read’ pile for a few years now. This seems a good  time to work through it, with some thoughts and musings of others.

It’s had a remarkable place in the history of the Scottish Church. And a year or so ago Christian Focus brought out a wonderfully re-typeset edition, which makes it even more valuable as it is now able to be navigated by any reader.

Why read it, you ask? This is from Fisher’s forward:

O sir, if the truths contained in this dialogue were but as much in my heart, as they are in my head, I were a happy man; for then should I be more free from pride, vain glory, wrath, anger, self-love, and love of the world, than I am; and then should I have more humility, meekness, and love, both to God and man, than I have. Oh! then should I be content with Christ alone, and live above all things in the world.

If you want a head start and an historical context to set it in, I can do no better than recommend Sinclair Ferguson’s essential lectures on the marrow. Worth listening to each year. (It is in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3 – unfortunately the audio is poor. You can also purchase them from Westminster Seminary – not sure the audio quality of these)