Grace – Save Me From Me

Grace is about God’s unrelenting zeal to deliver me from me.
-Paul Tripp

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
-2 Cor 5:15

What is a Christian?

What is a Christian? Christians can be described from many angles, but from what we have said it is clear that we can cover everything by saying: True Christians are people who acknowledge and live under the word of God. They submit without reserve to the word of God written in “the Book of Truth” (Dan 10:21), believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. Their eyes are upon the God of the Bible as their Father and the Christ of the Bible as their Savior.
Christians will tell you, if you ask them, that the Word of God has both convinced them of sin and assured them of forgiveness. Their consciences, like Luther’s, are captive to the Word of God, and they aspire, like the psalmist, to have their whole lives brought into line with it. “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” “Do not let me stray from your commands.” “Teach my your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts.” “Turn my heart toward your statutes.” ” May my heart be blameless toward your decrees” (Ps 119:5, 10, 26-27, 36, 80). The promises are before them as they pray, and the precepts are before them as they go about their daily tasks.

-J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pg 116

True Purpose

God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable. Not even to Christians has he promised a trouble-free life; rather the reverse. He has other ends in view for life in this world than simply to make it easy for everyone.

What is he after, then? What is his goal? What does he aim at? When he made us, his purpose was that we should love and honor him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of his world, using it according to his will, and so enjoying both it and him. And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose. Still he plans that a great host of humankind should come to love and honor him. His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love–people rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of people, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel.

-J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pg 91-92

Prosperity: The Gospel of Enslavement

“Never appeal to that which enslaves the sinner in an effort to convince the sinner of his need to be rescued from the very enslavement you’re appealing to.
Don’t ever appeal to materialism, sex, pleasure, personal ambition, a better life, success…don’t ever appeal to that.
You’re appealing to what enslaves the sinner in the effort to convince him of his need to be rescued from that very enslavement.”
- John MacArthur, T4G08

John Wesley to a Younger Minister : Quit Starving Yourself

Here is John Wesley writing to John Trembath (August 17, 1760), a young minister who was a poor preacher:

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear, to this day, is lack of reading.

I scarce ever knew a preacher who read so little.

And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it.

Hence your talent in preaching does not increase.  It is just the same as it was seven years ago.  It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety; there is no compass of thought.

Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer.

You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this.

You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian.

Oh begin!  Fix some part of every day for private exercise.  You may acquire the taste which you have not; what is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant.

Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily.

It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a pretty, superficial preacher.

Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow.

Do not starve yourself any longer.

Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether.

Then will all the children of God rejoice (not grieve) over you, and in particular yours.

Quoted in D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, Letters Along the Way (Wheaton, 1993), p. 169. The original letter can be read here.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Thinking

“Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking. Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow.” – JC Ryle

Politically Incorrect or Gospel Betrayal?

We’re living in a time where theological conflict is considered politically incorrect, but to declare peace when there is no peace is to betray the heart and soul of the gospel. -R.C. Sproul

Romans 9

9Marks at Southeastern – Biblical Theology: Session 2 from Southeastern Seminary
Preaching from Romans 9, Thabiti Anyabwile reminds us how God’s sovereign election demonstrates His glory.

Quotes to ponder…

“He who talks upon plain gospel themes in a farmer’s kitchen, and is able to interest the carter’s boy and the dairymaid, has more of the minister in him than the prim little man who keeps prating about being cultured, and means by that – being taught to use words which nobody can understand.”
C.H. Spurgeon
 
“Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms… Confusion here is fatal.”
J.I. Packer
 
“Don’t go where it is all fine music and grand talk and beautiful architecture; those things will neither fill anybody’s stomach, nor feed his soul. Go where the gospel is preached, the gospel that really feeds your soul, and go often.”
C.H. Spurgeon

To preach, or not to preach?

Jesus preached:
Luk 4:43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
 
The apostles preached:
Mar 3:14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach
 
Jesus commanded them to preach:
Act 10:42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
 
Preaching is how people are saved:
1Co 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
 
Woe to those who don’t:
1Co 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
 
The charge!
2Ti 4:1-4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
 
Rom 10:15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
 
Tolerance avoids confrontation in order to maintain ‘peace.’ Love tells the truth boldly and graciously in order to bring about a deeper, more lasting peace.”
-Trevin Wax from Holy Subversion (pp 146)