Friday, March 02, 2007

How are you dealing with “Seminary Hangover”? « Expository Thoughts

How are you dealing with “Seminary Hangover”? « Expository Thoughts

My friend Paul Lamey has some good observations...

"Doesn’t anyone care that there is an “attributive” genitive and a “attributed” genitive and that they’re considered opposites and that there’s thirteen more where they came from?"

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John Murray on the Necessity of Unconditional Election

I came across this quote today in reading Iain Murray’s biography of John Murray. It is taken from Murray’s “The Reformed Faith and Modern Substitutes” series which was originally published in 1935. Murray was writing for The Presbyterian Guardian, published by his friend and co-professor, J. Gresham Machen as preparations were underway for the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

“The denial of unconditional election strikes at the heart of the doctrine of the grace of God. The grace of God is absolutely sovereign, and every failure to recognize and appreciate the absolute sovereignty of God in His saving grace is an expression of the pride of the human heart. It rests upon the demand that God can deal differently with men in the matter of salvation only because they have made themselves to differ. In its ultimate elements it means that the determining factor in salvation is what man himself does, and that is just tantamount to saying that it is not God who determines the salvation of men, but men determine their own salvation; it is not God who saves, but man saves himself. This is precisely the issue.”

Collected Writings of John Murray, Volume III, p.58. Banner of Truth, 1982.

Listen to Your Lord

Not long ago a friend pointed out to me how God’s most consistent reason for rejecting or disciplining Israel was their rejection of His Word.

This morning I was reading in Jeremiah 6 where the same reasoning is evident.

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I set watchmen over you, saying,
‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
18 Therefore hear, O nations,
and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
19 Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,
the fruit of their devices,
because they have not paid attention to my words;
and as for my law, they have rejected it

As a pastor, I find one of my severest temptations in the realm of personal devotions. We have all said it before, “So busy with ‘ministry’ that we neglect our own soul.” I am not so foolish to miss the idea that this might very well be the Enemy’s front line of attack against me.

What is true for me personally, I believe is true for the church at large.

Some congregations go months without the Bible being read, let alone preached.

And most emergent (so-called) groups and ones like them give lip service to the Word of the Lord, but esteem their self-stimulating “ideas” over propositional reality. No wonder there is no life there.

The Lord will be listened to! And when He is not, He will create circumstances that will draw His children back to the Book.

Only a fool would resist.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why Should We Talk to Each Other About How God Saved Us? (Part Two)

At GFC, we are on the front end of a series of studies on Sunday nights considering what God did in saving us. We have taken as our “motivating verse” the words of 1 Chronicles 16:23 – “Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.”

The first study in this series aimed at explaining two things. 1. The Bible is full of commands telling Christians to talk to each other about how the Lord saved them. 2. I then listed out 8 (out of many) reasons why this is so.

This post is part two of two and includes the last 4 of these 8 reaons. The first four reasons are listed below, you can check out this post for fuller explanation of each one.

1. To think right thoughts about God and His character.

2. To promote His Gospel (evangelism).

3. To aid in our worship.

4. To encourage our own souls.

Now, these are the final four reasons we need to “tell of His salvation from day to day.”

5. To have something to say to our Accuser!

John Newton said: “Be thou my shield and hiding-place! That, sheltered near thy side, I may my fierce accuser face, And tell him, "Thou hast died." Or consider the words of Charitee Bancroft’s wonderful hymn: “When Satan tempts me to despair / And tells me of the guilt within / Upward I look and see Him there / Who made an end of all my sin / Because the sinless Savior died / My sinful soul is counted free / For God the Just is satisfied / To look on Him and pardon me”

Or consider the words of Psalm 70:3 Let them turn back because of their shame / who say, “Aha, Aha!” / 4 May all who seek you / rejoice and be glad in you! / May those who love your salvation / say evermore, ‘God is great!’”

When confronted with his sin by Apollyon, Christian had an answer. It was not to point to all the so-called “good” things he had done, but to admit the guilt fully – and point to Christ his Saviour! Once accused, he replied: “All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to forgive. But besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.”

6. To Prepare us for Heaven

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever; / and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, / and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, / for the Lord has spoken. / 9 It will be said on that day, / ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. / This is the Lord; we have waited for him; / let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’”

Thinking on salvation is one of our primary heavenly activities. Pondering His saving work will never grow redundant or tiresome! So, we do good heaven prep work by telling each other now all that we can discover of His saving grace!

7. To Encourage Each Other

Romans 1: 11 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

Paul writes to Christians, but tells them he wants to preach the Gospel to them – the Good News of Jesus and His atoning death! Why? Because it will be a source of profound mutual encouragement to speak to each other about what Jesus did on their behalf (“that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith”).

8. To Strengthen Our Cross-Centered Authenticity

Hear the sermon preached on this topic.

A growing grasp of justification by grace through faith alone allows men and women to stand without fear of condemnation before God and each other. One of the great aids in our personal sanctification is this very thing – the ability to treat our sin as sin. This kind of authenticity is increased as Believers find their understanding of Jesus’ cross-work expanded.