‘Now, O Lord, thou hast revealed thyself and thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, clearly to the world again, by the true preaching of his blessed evangel, which also of thy mercy is offered unto us within this realm of Scotland…Give unto us, O Lord, that presently are assembled in thy Name, such abundance of thy Holy Spirit, that we may see those things that shall be expedient for the advancement of thy glory, in the midst of this perverse and stubborn generation. Give us grace, O Lord, that universally among ourselves, we may agree in the unity of true doctrine. Bless thou so our weak labours, that the fruits of the same may redound to the praise of thy holy Name, to the profit of this present generation, and to the posterity to come, through Jesus Christ; to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and praise, now and ever. So be it.’
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.
Just started reading The Mission of the Church by DeYoung and Gilbert. So far it is excellent. One of the strengths of the book is that these guys know the right questions to ask, thus starting on the right road to arrive at the right answers. I think this book will be a sensible, articulate, and insightful corrective to some of the confusion on why Jesus established the church. If the mission of the church is a bit blurred in your vision or understanding, reading this book will be like putting on a pair of glasses making your sight sharp and clear. I’d recommend this book for all involved in ministry, at any level.
Greetings from my blog sabbatical (though unintentional, I suppose that’s what it was). Here is an interesting article about adoptions plummeting in the UK. Many ‘Christian’ agencies have closed, and the red tape prevents many (Christian or not) from adopting. I believe a system has been created that will ensure this statistic continues to drop. A great chance for Christians be a a light to the nations, even if there is lots of red tape. Surely adoption is one of the richest biblical truths for the Christian. Perhaps we should more often illustrate that truth with our lives? If you haven’t read Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, start there.
It’s out on 12 July. Here is a preview about the album.
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
Biting off more than I could chew, last night we thought through how to describe the substitution of Jesus for his people (springboarding from John 11.45-57). This is surely one of the greatest and most wonderful themes of the bible. Used 4 words: personal (it’s for specific people), voluntary (Jesus did it of his own accord), hellish (he suffered what we deserve), and sufficient (it is complete and all we need). Great to be reminded of Christ for us.
John 11.49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Susan asks ‘But what does it all mean?’ Aslan answers, ‘It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.’
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
There are loads of bible reading plans out there. For many years I followed M’Cheyne’s bible reading plan. I almost felt like I was betraying him when I stopped it last year, but I don’t feel as bad after some months now. Having looked into Grant Horner’s system I was encourage to taylor make something for myself. I have’t done all the math as to how much you’d read in a year, but here is what I started last week.
List 1: OT (excluding Psalms and Proverbs) – 2-3 chapters a day
List 2: Psalms – 1 chapter a day
List 3: Proverbs – 1 chapter a day
List 4: Gospels/Acts (excluding John) – 1 chapter a day
List 5: John – 1 chapter a day
List 6: Romans – 1 chapter a day
List 7: Epistles (excluding Romans) – 1 chapter a day
For all my readers who will want to print out bookmarks to follow suit, you can get them here (biblereading).
This allows for extra time in the gospels and a focus on John’s gospel. If there are 2 books in the NT I want to have a handle on it is John and Romans. Hopefully this will help. Others may want more focus elsewhere, or to read more chapters, or to read less. So, as I said, I made this for myself and pray that it will be effective in knowing Christ more deeply and intimately.