God Magnifying God: The Debate

See the summary here:

The author concludes as follows:

Like cutting open the chest and uncovering a beating heart, to understand that our sovereign God acts in all things, and at all times, for His own glory gets at the very heart of God’s motivation. I simply cannot think of a truth more clearly presented throughout Scripture, nor can I think of a more radical worldview-changing truth.

God always acts for His own glory.

If we take our eyes off God’s magnifying of Himself in all things, we will be tempted. We’ll be tempted to downplay the demands of the Law (because we will no longer view the Law as God’s preservation of His glory). We will misunderstand the work of Christ on the Cross (that Christ met the high standards of the Father’s glory). We will misunderstand our life purpose (we do all things to bring glory to God as an act of union with God Himself). And we will misunderstand Scripture’s picture of eternal worship (we will find it odd that we circle around the throne of the Father, the throne of the Son, the river of the Spirit and sing worship forever).

Here’s the irony. To view God’s motives of grace and salvation as ends terminating in our good is to reinterpret the biblical God by our own narcissistic hermeneutics. Our greatest good and eternal joy both stand squarely on God’s motive of magnifying Himself.

In summary, if we take our eyes off God in his magnifying of Himself, we will fail to understand everything else. But most sadly, we will miss our greatest pleasure – to glorify God by enjoying Him forever!

Here is the center of Calvinism, what we call Reformed theology.

Church Planting and the Poor

From John Piper:

Today we focus on church planting and concern for the poor—eight observations on each subject. Let’s begin with observations that relate to church planting.1 Remember, by church planting, we mean starting new churches that are not part of Bethlehem. They share the same Elder Affirmation of Faith for the leaders, but organizationally, they are separate churches, not campuses.

Observations on Church Planting

1. There are 195 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the top four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.

2. In spite of the rise of mega-churches, no county in America has a greater church population than it did ten years ago.

3. During the last ten years, combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242), while the national population increased by 11.4 percent (24,153,000).

4. Each year 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors forever; yet only as many as 1,500 new churches are started.

5. There are now nearly 60 percent fewer churches per 10,000 persons than in 1920.

  • In 1920 27 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
  • In 1950 17 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
  • In 1996 11 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.

6. “Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.”

7. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.

8. Hence the claim of many leaders: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (Peter Wagner).

Observations on World Poverty

Then consider eight observations about world poverty.2

1. More than 1.5 billion people around the world live on less than a $1 a day.

2. More than one billion people do not have access to clean water.

3. Every year six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday.

4. More than 50 percent of Africans suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.

5. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, 300 million are children.

6. Of these 300 million children, only eight percent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 percent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency.

7. Declining soil fertility, land degradation, and the AIDS pandemic have led to a 23 percent decrease in food production per capita in the last 25 years even though population has increased dramatically.

8. A woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy. This compares with a 1 in 3,700 risk for a woman from North America.

These are issues—church planting and concern for the poor—that those who follow Jesus should not ignore. Yet they are amazingly easy to ignore in America.

To The Atheist and Bishop

John Piper responds to Christopher Hitchens and John Shelby Spong in his Thanksgiving meditation.


Preach Like A Gentleman

From Dever and Alexander's The Deliberate Church.
Instead of using all our powers to convict and change the sinner, while God stands back as a gentleman quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, His declared spiritual enemy, to invite Him into his heart, let's preach the Gospel like gentlemen, trying to persuade but knowing we can't convert. Then let's stand back while God uses all of His powers to convict and convert and change the sinner. Then we'll see clearly just who has the power to call the dead to life.


Bono's Wave of Sorrow

Go here for a fun view into U2's upcoming release of a song from the Joshua Tree days.

I've always enjoyed Bono's perspective...and music of course.


"Is Tithing Biblical?"

The question:
The tithe is clearly taught in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament it seems to be downplayed. Are those of us who give 10 percent of our income doing something not required?
D. A. Carson answers here.


"God's Quarterback"

Jemele Hill writes of John Kitna who "[every Monday] hosts a Bible study at his home that draws at least 30 teammates."


"Weaker Partner"

Heather Koerner tells her story:
Many modern day feminists have tried to argue that they offer me honor while Christianity offers me chattel. But they've got it backwards. I only have to look around to see it. The hook-up culture, the abortion culture, the depiction of women in media — they're all proof. It wouldn't take me 10 seconds flipping the television to see that — though Ali is gracious enough to see the positives in our culture — there is plenty of chattel-like behavior towards women.

As a seventh-grade girl, I was incensed that someone would treat me differently because I was a female. Now, though, I take comfort in the fact that God commands my Christian brothers to treat me differently. God's balance, of course, is perfect. He commands that I be respected, but also that I respect. He commands that I be honored, but also that I honor. He commands that I submit to authority, but also commands that authority to submit to Him.

He understands my heart. After all, He created it. He knows that it may be difficult for me to accept my husband's authority, so he reminds me in 1 Peter to do what is right and not to give way to fear.

In seventh grade, and probably for years later, I would have told you that all patriarchal societies were the same — their only goal to puff men up in their own power. But not anymore.

Yes, some societies live that way, and it's a shame. But that is not God's way. God has given my husband the right, and the responsibility, to lead our family. But simply because I submit to an authority — as, in fact, all of us have to do — God doesn't see me as inferior, as inadequate or unworthy. The true message of Christ is quite the opposite and it's a beautiful thing.

News of Persecution

Visit Compass Direct News for the latest on Christian persecution around the world.

Unreached Peoples

Consider again the mandate of Romans 15:
Romans 15.18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21but as it is written,

"Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand."
And Matthew 28:
Matthew 28.18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Now have a look at the Joshua Project and their information on unreached people groups. Christians, the mandate is ours!


"Cultural Cowardice"

Consider Piper's thoughts on women in combat.


Elder Governance

Driscoll's lecture notes:

"The key to ecclesiology is proper theology."

Christians and Halloween

Consider Tim Challies' (thanks to Justin Taylor) and Al Mohler's thoughts on Halloween.

Tim encourages us to "leave the light on" while Mohler gives a great education.

In the same vein, Mohler also writes of how our culture can no longer speak honestly about evil. He says,
...postmoderns are more like Neville Chamberlain, trying to negotiate with evil, than like Winston Churchill, determined to oppose it by force when necessary.