Thursday, May 25, 2006

Life is War

Life is war. The casualties are millions, and the stakes are eternal. What we need today is not a call to simplicity, but a call to war. We need to think in terms of a "wartime lifestyle" rather than a "simple lifestyle."
-- John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight

Do you live a wartime lifestyle? Do you focus all your efforts and energies on accomplishing the mission given to all believers? All believers are not called to go to the mission field, just like every American was not called to fight on D-Day. But every American was called on to support the war against Nazi Germany during WWII. So are all believers called to support the mission of the gospel. God gives us talents and resources that we must employ to accomplish the mission! God gives to some believers wealth, to some courage, to some time, to some jungle huts, but to all believers God gives the very same mission! What are you living for?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Modern Pharisees

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
In Mark 7, Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 to rebuke the Pharisees' practice of ceremonial hand-washing. He applies the same principle to the other traditions that the Pharisees maintained.

Are we modern Pharisees? Do we hold so tightly to our traditions that we worship in vain? Do we teach as doctrines the commandments of men? What are some convictions we hold to that do not have biblical basis? What do we base the following convictions on?
  • Christians should not dance
  • Christians should not play cards
  • Christians must abstain from alcoholic beverages
  • The King James Version of the Bible is the only legitimate version
  • The church sanctuary is a holy place; we must not _________ in the sanctuary
  • __________ style of music is evil
  • __________ type of instrument is evil
This is a short list of the things I could think of quickly, but I am sure there are hundreds of convictions people hold that have questionable biblical support at best. It may be possible to show that some of these convictions are biblical, but how often do we simply accept the commandments of men as doctrines? How can we determine what is biblical? We must search the Scriptures and hold the Bible alone as our sole authority for faith and practice.

May our hearts draw close to God, and may we worship in Spirit and in truth.

An Exercise in Logic: Romans

The book of Romans is an intense exercise in logic. Most of us know Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death..." What about those who die without blatantly and willingly sinning against God? Who fits that category? Everyone chooses to sin, right? Everyone except infants. So, if death is earned by sinning, how can death claim infants?

Enter Romans 5:12-14 -
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
This passage helps us understand the extent of Adam's sin. Verse 13 tells us that before the law was given to man, people could not blatantly and willfully sin like Adam did. For example, I cannot break the speed limit if no law governing the speed limit has been given. So, how did death reign "from Adam to Moses"? Verse 12 tells us that death entered the world via Adam's sin, and even for those among us who have no sin (infants), we cannot escape the consequences of our fallen state. Adam plunged the whole of humanity into unrighteousness when he chose to eat the forbidden fruit.

But wait! This seems terribly unfair! Why are we judged for Adam's sin?

Before we rule our condition under Adam as unfair, we need to realize that a parallel relationship exists for those who believe in Christ. Romans 5 equates the unbeliever's relationship in Adam with the believer's relationship in Christ. If we reject the truth of our condition in Adam, we have no right to embrace the truth of the believer's condition in Christ.

Romans 5:17 is great news;
"If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
Corruption is in our blood by nature of our physical birth. We must be "born again" to truly live.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quotes of Note continued...

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.
-- John Piper's slight modification of the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.
-- Jonathan Edwards

Quotes of Note

The doctrines of grace humble a man without degrading him, and exalt a man without inflating him.
-- Charles Hodge

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised us in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
-- C. S. Lewis

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attending with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this objective. This is the motive of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
-- Blaise Pascal

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Piper on Corporate Worship

People ought to come to corporate worship services ... starved for God. They ought to come saying, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God" (Psalm 42:1). God is profoundly honored when people know that they will die of hunger and thirst unless they have God. And it is my job as a preacher to spread a banquet for them. I must show them from Scripture what they are really starving for--God--and then feed them well until they say, "Ahhh." That is worship.

-- John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, p. 56.

This should be the attitude of anyone who leads any portion of corporate worship; the preacher, the worship leader, someone who prays, someone who reads Scripture, etc. Our goal is to present Christ to our congregation so they may be satisfied in the only one who satisfies!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Where can we find true spiritual power to transform our communities?

Here is a brief outline of Vaughan Roberts' message from Monday on 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5:

Q: Where can we find true spiritual power to transform our communities?

A: Divine Power (in the:)

1. Weakness of the Cross - 1:18-25
___A. The cross is foolishness to the world
___B. The world hates the conviction of the gospel
___C. God has made human wisdom foolish (v. 20-21)
___D. The cross is not what the world wants - they want a sign (v. 22)
2. Weakness of the Church - 1:26-31
3. Weakness of Preaching - 2:1-5

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Judgment Day

"For all its apparent doom and gloom, the biblical teaching about the Day of Judgement is not a mere theological scare tactic designed to make us more religious. It is, in fact, God's pledge to wounded humanity that he hears their cries for justice, and will one day console them by bringing his justice to bear on every evil act. Thus, in a strange sort of way, God's judgement is a consequence of his love. It is precisely because God loved the victims of the Jewish holocaust that he pledges to punish the perpetrators of this great evil; it is precisely because he loved the massacred Aboriginal communities of 19th century Australia that he will vent his anger against those who took part in it. . . . As odd as it sounds, the Bible's teaching about divine judgement brings profound comfort. It reminds us that the Creator hears our cries for justice, and will one day console us with a display of loving justice the world has never witnessed."
-- John Dickson, If I Were God, I'd End All the Pain

All accounts will be settled on Judgment Day. Either we pay for the sins we committed while on earth, or Christ paid for them at the cross. You really do want him to cover that bill; if you reject his offer, you will spend eternity paying it, and you will always be upside down on that debt.


Well, I am home again, after my recent visit to Cleveland. What an incredible three days of worship and fellowship! I attended the Basics 2006 Conference at Parkside Church (as I mentioned in the last post). This conference is focused, obviously, on the "basics"; this year the subject was evangelism in and through the local church. Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside, invited two speakers to the conference; Vaughan Roberts, rector (pastor) of St. Ebbe's Church in Oxford, England, and John Dickson, evangelist and writer from Sydney, Australia. I am still processing and contemplating the sessions, and I hope to share some of the insights I gained from the conference. I plan to type up notes that I took, books that I want, great quotes, and personal meditations.

Here is a list of the books that I purchased while at the conference:
  • On Being a Pastor, Derek Prime and Alistair Begg
  • Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure, Alistair Begg
  • If I Were God, I'd End All the Pain, John Dickson
  • Simply Christianity: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Faith, John Dickson
  • Life's Big Questions: Six Major Themes Traced Through the Bible, Vaughan Roberts
  • Reforming Marriage, Douglas Wilson
I have already started reading If I Were God, I'd End All the Pain, and it is a helpful treatment of the place of suffering in this life. Well, that's all for now...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Basics '06 Conference

I wanted to share with you a quote from John Dickson, a speaker at the Basics '06 Conference at Alistair Begg's Parkside Church:
"Anyone who claims that all religions are the same has an aversion to studying one of them."
What an awesome exposition against pluralism. I will try to update more as the conference continues!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I have decided to begin using my blog as a quote repository. I have been reading The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper, and he quotes several great men including C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards. Once I heard Piper say that books don't change people; sentences change people. I think this is why quotes are so powerful.

I am planning to post these and many other great quotes, and I will begin my list with a quote from C. H. Spurgeon concerning the doctrine of election:
I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find and reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine.
-- C. H. Spurgeon in Lectures to My Students