Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Intentionality and Growth

The impetus for this post came with a picture that Crossway Books posted on their Twitter account (@CrosswayBooks). Here it is:

God is gracious and may cause us to grow in spite of ourselves. He is loving and kind and understands our frailty. But generally speaking, I do not think we are supposed to stand idly by and wait for God to do something in terms of our spiritual development unbeknownst to us. We should not anticipate growth in godliness to be a matter of happenstance.

Rather, as the picture above suggests, Christlikeness does not happen by accident. There is no accidentally getting closer to God. There is rarely unintentional and inadvertent sanctification. Christian maturity is not a function of passivity. If we are not intentional about discipleship in our own lives, it is either not going to happen at all or it will happen to such a minute degree that it will be hardy noticeable.

This picture also reminded of a quote from a book I am currently reading called God in the Whirlwind. The author, David Wells, suggest "we need to carve out space for ourselves in which we can daily attend to God’s Word, to study it, mark it, learn it, and inwardly digest its truth." The key word in this quotation is "carve." Carving suggest intentionality. It's cutting, but it's purposeful cutting. And it also indicates pain. It might hurt a little to carve out time for God.

But the pain is worth it. And it won't happen by accident.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Gospel as the foundation for family religion - Whitefield

George Whitefield preached a sermon from the text in Joshua-Joshua 24:15-where we get the familiar saying "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The sermon's title is The Great Duty of Family Religion and Whitefield's three main points are as follows:
I. First, That it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, “serve the Lord.”
II. Secondly, I shall endeavor to show after what manner a governor and his household ought to serve the Lord. And,
III. Thirdly, I shall offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the manner that shall be recommended.
At the sermon's conclusion,Whitfield makes it clear that it is the gospel, the cross, the person and work of Jesus Christ that is the foundation for all his exhortation to the heads of families concerning their leadership in having their families "serve the Lord." He writes,
And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
In encouraging his listeners to reflect on the gospel, finding power and desire to obey, Whitfield writes further,
Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more neglect your family's spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God's free grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own household.
For Whitfield, the power and motivation for leading families in their relationship with God is closely, inextricably, connected to the glorious gospel.

God the All

From The Valley of Vision:

I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,
that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,
that every good work or thought found in me is the effect of thy power and grace,
that thy sole motive in working in me to

will and to do is for thy good pleasure.
O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.
This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Worship Wednesday

Sorry it's been a while. Liquid+computer+puppy=no blogging!

From the Valley of Vision.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Beale and the beast - 666

Though G. K. Beale's book, We Become What We Worship, is not a commentary of Revelation, as a biblical theology focusing on idol worship it does, of necessity, deal with the apocalyptic writing of John. Beale deals with the mark of the beast-the number 666-over a few pages. As Beale is a writer of a commentary on Revelation, I was interested to hear his take on this issue.

Beale writes, "[r]egardless of whatever precise historical identifications could be given of the unbeliever's mark, the primary focus is on spiritual identification with the satanic beast" (261). Beale insists that the number 666 is not "some literal number of someone's name" (261) due to the fact that the saints have Christ's and God's name written on their foreheads. The saints' forehead identification is, according to Beale, clearly a spiritual reality and therefore the beastly mark must be as well.

Beale clarifies, " the triple six is intended as a contrast with the divine sevens throughout the book and signifies incompleteness and imperfection" (261). Those who are marked with the number of the beast are those who have identified themselves with the beast; they have aligned their thoughts and desires with the sinful, beast-like, epitome of incompleteness and imperfection.

Beale concludes:
Thus the number in revelation 13:18 is that of incomplete humanity apart from Christ. The beast is the supreme representative of unregenerate humanity, separated from God and unable to achieve divine likeness but always trying ... The triple sixes emphasize that the beast and his followers fall short of God's creative purposes for humanity." (261)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Merciful and gracious - God and Rahab

As I work through some final edits of the sermon I, God willing, will preach this Sunday I am arrested by some of the details. I'll be preaching from the second chapter on Joshua which, if you remember, is primarily about the Canaanite harlot Rahab.

Rahab helps two spies that Joshua had sent into Jericho as the Israelites prepared to begin the conquest of Canaan. In light of her help in their mission-in fact, she saved their lives as well as their mission-Rahab requests that her and her family be shown mercy. Mercy is sympathy or compassion that motivates into helpful action. Rahab is looking for some sympathy and some saving.

Since chapter one of Joshua makes it clear that the conquest of the Promised Land was ultimately God's battle, her petition is ultimately directed to Yahweh; will God be merciful to Rahab and not destroy her.

Not killing Rahab would be merciful. But God, as is His practice with His enemies, goes beyond being merciful to Rahab and is utterly gracious to her. God's grace is His sovereign and unmerited favour. God, through the Israelites, goes beyond just not killing Rahab and her family; he adopts them into his own covenant people. In the sixth chapter of Joshua we learn that Rahab and her kin are incorporated into God's family. Stunning!

And sobering.

This is how God has acted towards us. He has shown us mercy which motivated his gracious action in saving us from destruction and adopting us into His family. And He did this in the work of Jesus Christ.

Praise the merciful and gracious Sovereign God!

Friday, May 30, 2014

A looming question from Joshua

One of the questions that needs to be answered from the book of Joshua, and I believe can be answered satisfactorily, is the question that seeks to understand and explain why God ordered the destruction of the seven tribes of Canaan.

This post will not attempt a complete answer, but will give a partial explanation.

One of the reasons this wiping out of the inhabitants of Canaan by the Promised Land bound Israelites is delivered in this quote from Alan Redpath's book on Joshua called Victorious Christian Living:
But I would have you observe that they faced not only con´Čéict but victory. God had a purpose for that land. What was it? This-a little babe in a manger at Bethlehem, Christ the Son of God "on a cross at Calvary, one hundred and twenty people in an upper room and the Holy Ghost falling on them. Bethlehem, Calvary, Pentecost: the incamation of the Son of God, the judgment of the sin of humanity heaped on Him, the life of the Son of God incarnate in the the believer; all thin was God's master plan for the salvation of a fallen race. And nothing, I say nothing, on earth or in hell should ever stand in the way of the plan of God. The iniquity of the people was full. Now God begins to act.
Certainly, this is not a complete answer, but it is part of the answer.

God was preparing the redemption of mankind in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. And this was going to take place in Canaan. And though there are many more facets to the explanation, God's plan of redemption is definitely an important one.

Redpath goes on to say, "The purpose of God for every man and woman is Bethlehem, Calvary, Pentecost, and everything that stands in the way of God's fulfillment of His plan must be conquered."