A Weak Christian

“The weak Christian also, hath a faith that is divine, as caused by God, and resting on his word and truth. And he so far liveth by this faith, as that it commandeth and guideth the scope and drift of his heart and life. But he believeth with a great deal of staggering and unbelief; and therefore his hopes are interrupted by his troublesome doubts and fears; and the dimness and languor of his faith is seen in the faintness of his desires, and the many blemishes of his heart and life. And sight and sensual objects are so much the more powerful with him, by how much the light and life of faith is dark and weak.”

Richard Baxter and William Orme, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 8 (London: James Duncan, 1830), 384.

A Religion of Redemption

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Bavinck quote

 

“The revelation that comes to us in Christ through Scripture in fact takes that position toward us. It does not put itself on a level below us to ask for our approving or disapproving judgment on it but takes a position high above us and insists that we shall believe and obey. Scripture even expressly states that the unspiritual cannot understand the things of the Spirit, that they are folly to them, that they reject and deny them in a spirit of hostility [1 Cor. 2:14]. The revelation of God in Christ does not ask for the support or approval of human beings. It posits and maintains itself in sublime majesty. Its authority is normative as well as causative. It fights for its own victory. It itself conquers human hearts and makes itself irresistible.”

Herman Bavinck, John Bolt, and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 505.

A Warning to Intellectuals

Real Christianity is intellectually vigorous. But in the end, one is saved not by their intellectual gifts, but by the grace of God, and oftentimes in spite of them.

The Text: Ephesians 3:2–7 (ESV)

assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

The Comment

“Likewise I trust that we have seen again something of the nature of Christian truth. It is not ordinary knowledge. It is not something that the unaided human intellect can understand and receive. Without the enlightenment which the Holy Spirit alone can give, gospel truths remain as dark and as hidden to us as they did to ‘the princes of this world’ when the Lord of glory was actually amongst men. ‘But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit’. ‘We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God’ (1 Cor 2:12). This is not ordinary truth. Whatever the power of our intellect, whatever our brilliance, it will never be enough. We must all become ‘as little children’. We need the inspiration and the anointing and the unction of the Holy Ghost before we can receive and understand divine truth.”

Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn. The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972.

 

 

The Good Shepherd

John 10:11 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

“The words ‘for (hyper ὑπὲρ) the sheep’ suggest sacrifice. The preposition, itself ambiguous, in John always occurs in a sacrificial context, whether referring to the death of Jesus (6:51; 10:11, 15; 11:50ff.; 17:19; 18:14), of Peter (13:37–38), or of a man prepared to die for his friend (15:13). In no case does this suggest a death with merely exemplary significance; in each case the death envisaged is on behalf of someone else. The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display while bellowing, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defence the shepherd loses his life; that by his death they are saved. That, and that alone, is what makes him the good shepherd. He carries a cross, not plastic explosives or an Uzi sub-machine-gun. Moreover, Jesus’ death is here presented as a sacrifice peculiarly directed to the redemption of his sheep, whether of this (Jewish) sheep pen or of others (v. 16). This emphasis on the intentionality of Jesus’ sacrifice is itself grounded on Jesus’ peculiar intimacy with his sheep, an intimacy whose proper analogy is the mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son (vv. 14–15 and notes there).

D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991).
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For those who strongly dislike Calvin

People tend to either vilify Calvin or hold him up as the standard by which all of Christian thought must be measured. For either, I found this helpful. A Respost by Justin Taylor.

Calvin on the Good News in Christ

From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the Bible.

“To all those who love Christ and his gospel,” Calvin writes:

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom, folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God,

brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ,

by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinners justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

The gospel is the Word of life.

In Institutes 2.16.19 he explains that “We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:12]. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.”

If we seek salvation

we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.”

If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit,

they will be found in his anointing.

If we seek strength,

it lies in his dominion;

if purity,

in his conception;

if gentleness,

it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.

If we seek redemption,

it lies in his passion;

if acquittal,

in his condemnation;

if remission of the curse,

in his cross;

if satisfaction,

in his sacrifice;

if purification,

in his blood;

if reconciliation,

in his descent into hell;

if mortification of the flesh,

in his tomb;

in newness of life,

in his resurrection;

if immortality,

in the same;

if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom,

in his entrance into heaven;

if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings,

in his Kingdom;

if untroubled expectation of judgment,

in the power given to him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain and from no other.

Church Signs I Couldn't Make Up | The United Church of Canada is the CBC of Religion

Today I saw two church signs, and while I know that the United (untied?) Church of Canada is not the only liberal church gasping for air, these signs are indicative of the problem. Far and away, bizarre.

Number 1: “God Called Us to Play the Game, Not Keep the Score.”

Really, “play the game?” is this supposed to be about unfair comparison? Judgment? Self-criticism? This sign is on the busiest street in town–what are they announcing, and to whom?

Number 2 (I had to snap a photo of this one, because it was so odd I wasn’t sure I’d remember it correctly):

“We’re not here to tell you what to believe . . . We’re here to try to believe what you tell us!”

I don’t even know what they’re trying to say; about anything.