Pursuing Humility

This from Justin Taylor:
I found this counsel by John Piper to be very helpful.  This line in particular stands out: "be more amazed that you're saved than that they're lost."  Read the whole thing.

No Limbs But More Glory

...and we rejoice in our sufferings...

HT: Nicole Whitacre

Our Mexico Service Project

For the Church to Be Shy About Saying "We Know" Is An Act of Self-Betrayal

With the "emerging/ postmodern" mindset there is a tendency to be "unsure", "delicate", and undefined in communicating the faith. There is a mistrust and disregard for those who claim to know and proclaim what they know.  The desire is for conversation, not proclamation.  I certainly do not desire a domineering communication, but the blurred insecurity of a faith with no spine or clarity masquerading as humility is not the same thing as Christian proclamation.  Dr. Wells reminds, 
[The apostle's] proclamation was not simply a telling of their private experience, nor just their own personal opinion.  It was not what had become truth for them.  It was a proclamation about truth for all.  The gospel, which is the same gospel for all people, in all ages, and at all times, is "the word of truth" (Eph. 1.13; Col. 1.5; 2 Thess. 2.13; Heb. 10.26).  Faith is about "obeying the truth" (Gal. 5.7; 1 Pet. 1.22).   Those who are condemned are condemned because they do not believe "the truth" (2 Thess. 2.12).  Those who are depraved in mind are depraved because they are "deprived of the truth" (1 Tim. 6.5).  This faith, which is all about the truth that God has given us, is delivered through his truth (2 Cor. 4.2) and is made effective by the Spirit who is the Spirit of truth ( 1 John 5.6).  Christianity, in short, is from first to last all about truth!  It is about he who is the Way, the Truth, and the life. {76}

In the biblical view, we know the truth and not just arbitrary rules and approximations.  This knowledge of what is "there" includes the truth about Christ ( 1 John 5.20), about God (2.13-14), his character (3.16), his redemptive purposes (3.5), our own nature (1.6, 8-11), and the... "world" we inhabit that is filled with "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions" and is also "passing away along with its desires" (2.16-17).  

On all these matters we have God's truth, and for the church to be shy about saying, "We know...We know...We know" is an act of self-betrayal. {80}

It is through Christ and by his Word that we once again begin to enter the paradise we lost and that has left us adrift in a sea of endless meaninglessness.  It is by this truth , as it were, that we enter a port.  To change the image, it is by this truth that we enter a realm where everything is real and nothing is fake.  Should this not be the church's message? {88}


Need A New Bible?

Wait...just a little longer...for the ESV Study Bible.

It will be worth it.

Sex Conference

This conference brought amazing wisdom to this subject of paramount importance.  Here's the online book for free and links to all the content (from Desiring God).

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Part 2
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 26, 2004
John Piper
Read  |   Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Christian Hedonists or Religious Prudes? The Puritans on Sex
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Mark Dever
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Speaker Interviews with Mark Dever (Saturday)
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
C.J. Mahaney
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Wife Needs to Know
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Carolyn Mahaney
 Listen   |    Download

Sex and the Single Man
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Mark Dever
 Listen   |    Download

Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
David Powlison
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

We're Not on Hold: Biblical Femininity for Single Women
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Carolyn McCulley
 Listen   |    Download

Homosexual "Marriage": A Tragic Oxymoron--Biblical and Cultural Reflections
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Al Mohler
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

The Goodness of Sex and the Glory of God
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 25, 2004
Ben Patterson
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Part 1
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 24, 2004
John Piper
Read  |   Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Speaker Interviews with Mark Dever (Friday)
2004 Desiring God National Conference
September 24, 2004
 Listen   |    Watch   |    Download

Gender on Capitol Hill

Here are links to Mark Dever's sermon series, "Male and Female He Created Them":

Gender Identity in Creation - Genesis 1:27


How Do You Help Your Prodigal Child?

Abraham Piper (who once was wayward) has an excellent article on the subject.

I found it on his blog.

The Marketing Model Empties the Truth of the Gospel

I am loving my former professor's book, The Courage to Be Protestant.  If you want to understand today's "evangelical" landscape, Dr. Wells is a trusty tour guide.  Here are some of his thoughts as to the fraud and failure of the "marketing" - "seeker" philosophy of the church:
First, the needs consumers have are needs they identify for themselves.  The needs sinners have are needs God identifies for us, and the way we see our needs is rather different from the way he sees them.  We suppress the truth about God, holding it down in "unrighteousness" (Rom. 1.18).  We are not subject to his moral law and in our fallenness are incapable of being obedient to it (Rom. 8.7), so how likely is it, outside of the intervention of God through the Holy Sprit, that we will identifiy our needs as those arising from our rebellion against God? No, the product we will seek naturally will not be the gospel.  It will be a therapy of some kind, a technique for life, perhaps a way of connecting more deeply with our own spiritual selves on our own terms, terms that require no repentance and no redemption.  It will not be the gospel.  The gospel cannot be a product that the church sells because there are no consumers for it. When we find consumers, we will find that what they are interested in buying, on their own terms, is not the gospel.

Furthermore, when we buy a product, we buy it for our use.  When we accept Christ, he is not there for our use but we are there for his service.   We commit ourselves to him in a way that we do not commit ourselves to any product.  There is a world of difference between the Lord of Glory, the incarnate second person of the Godhead, and a Lexus, a vacation home, or a trip to the Bahamas.  The marketing analogy blurs all of this, reducing Christ simply to a product we buy to satisfy all our needs.


Worship For Real Life

From Sovereign Grace:

Come Weary Saints is an invitation to redirect your focus to the God whose love has been forever demonstrated at the cross of Calvary. As you listen to these songs, may your faith and joy in the Savior be strengthened for the challenges you face, now or in the future.

Here's the link to listen.

Bored With Preaching?

John Newton has a poem for you:
A Famine of the Word

Gladness was spread through Israel’s host
When first they Manna viewed;
They labored who should gather most,
And thought it pleasant food.
But when they had it long enjoyed
From day to day, the same;
Their hearts were by the plenty cloyed,
Although from heav’n it came.

Thus gospel bread at first is prized,
And makes a people glad;
But afterwards too much despised,
When easy to be had.
But should the Lord, displeased, withhold
The bread his mercy sends;
To have our houses filled with gold
Would make but poor amends.

How tedious would the week appear,
How dull the Sabbath prove?
Could we no longer meet to bear
The precious truths we love!
How would believing parents bear
To leave their heedless youth,
Exposed to every fatal snare,
Without the light of truth?

The gospel, and a praying few
Our bulwark long have proved;
But Olney sure the day will rue
When these shall be removed.
Then sin, in this once favored town,
Will triumph unrestrained;
And wrath and vengeance hasten down,
No more by prayer detained.

Preserve us from this judgment, Lord
For JESUS’ sake we plead;
A famine of the gospel word
Would be a stroke indeed!
Hymn 49 in Olney Hymns
John Newton

HT: Paul Martin via Tim Challies

Undermine Both Swaggering and Sniveling

I couldn't resist. Here's another gospel nugget from Of First Importance:

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to died for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”

- Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 181.

The Gospel Everyday

Visit Of First Importance, where you'll get wisdom from wise men of old every day on the matter of first importance: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here's one my dear wife sent me from a few days ago:

That Christian who has free grace, who has free justification, who has the mediatorial righteousness of Christ, who has the satisfaction of Christ, who has the covenant of grace most constantly in his sight, and most frequently warm upon his heart—that Christian, of all Christians in the world, is most free from a world of fears, and doubts, and scruples which do sadden, sink, perplex, and press down a world of other Christians, who daily eye more what Christ is a-doing in them, and what they are a-doing for Christ, than they do eye either his active or passive obedience.

Christ has done great things for his people, and he has suffered great things for his people, and he has purchased great things for his people, and he has prepared great things for his people; yet many of his own dear people are so taken up with their own hearts, and with their own duties and graces, that Christ is little eyed by them or minded by them!

This is the great reason why so many Christians, who will certainly go to heaven—do walk in darkness, and lie down in sorrow.”

- Thomas Brooks, A Cabinet of Choice Jewels

Look at Jesus!


Modesty and the Heart

Here's important direction from C. J. Mahaney on the importance of modesty.

"Brevity Helps If You're Not A Genius"

A lesson I probably should but may never learn. But enough about me.

I want to introduce you to the blog 22 Words. Abraham's description:
Exercises in getting to the point (or avoiding it) by saying what I have to say in twenty-two words, not counting titles.
Not only is every post 22 words, the titles are all interesting (like the one above; I stole it from him.) Check it out.

Streamlining Your Run

Finished today with the chapter, "Jesus' Endurance and Ours". Considering Hebrews 12.1-2, Beeke had this to say about the casting off of our sin:
Sin takes our eyes off of our Savior; it interrupts our relationship with God. Sin is anti-God...

To run the Christian race with endurance means doing continual battle against every weight and every sin. We must become increasingly conscious of them; every day, we must decide against them, say no to them, put them to death. We cannot trivialize sin, dumb it down, desensitize our consciences, or let down our guard. We cannot just let sin happen; we cannot let it penetrate our souls and our lives.
Look at Jesus today in Hebrews 12.1-2. And by His grace, cast off your sin.


What Does God Desire In Salvation?

Read these...

Deuteronomy 28.63:
And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. (ESV)

Ezekiel 18.30-32:
"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live." (ESV)

Then read John Piper's article, "Are There Two Wills In God?"

A judge may not want to sentence someone to death because he cares for that person, while doing it all the same because he cares for justice all the more. God does not seem to delight in the death of the wicked, though He does not save everyone because He delights in His glory all the more. (See Romans 9.14-24)

T4G Response

Carolyn McCulley has a video with responses from those who attended T4G.

HT: Abraham Piper

Inerrancy Resources

One more on the subject. Look here for lots of inerrancy resources.

Interview With Craig Blomberg (on the inerrancy of Scripture)

Justin Taylor interviewed Craig Blomberg - Distinguished Prof. of the NT at Denver Seminary and author of The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.

Both the interview and the book are worth the read.

"The Rationality of Innerancy"

Here's a philosopher's (J. P. Moreland) defense of the very important doctrine of Scripture's inerrancy.

For further clarity, Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, defines inerrancy like this:
The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.
Grudem also, after describing challenges to inerrancy, provides four problems of denying the doctrine. I find the 3rd to be the strongest.
1. If we deny inerrancy, a serious moral problem confronts us: may we imitate God and intentionally lie in small matters?
2. If inerrancy is denied, we being to wonder if we can really trust God in anything he says.
3. If we deny inerrancy, we essentially make our own human minds a higher standard of truth than God's Word itself.
4. If we deny inerrancy, then we must also say that the Bible is wrong not only in minor details but in some of its doctrines as well.


Jesus Meeting Needs

I'm reading Joel Beeke's Walking As He Walked. This stood out to me this morning:
A young wife once said to me in counseling, "My husband doesn't meet all my needs." When I explained that only Jesus Christ can meet all our needs, she was genuinely puzzled while her husband was genuinely relieved. Too often we Christians expect too little of Jesus and too much of each other. (emphasis mine)


T4G Audio

Go here to hear.

T4G; Day Two

What a day we have had. MacArthur. Dever. Sproul. Mohler. The worship was moving. Christ was exalted.

As Scott summarizes, "This was a powerful reminder of where we stand in our sin and the power of the cross...words don't do justice."

It would be far too much to chronicle the day. It will all be online and I'll tag it then. But here's a few highlights:

O, John MacArthur, thank you for the blessing you gave us in describing human depravity and inability. What a gift.

"[Depravity] is the most despised...and the most distinct of Christian doctrine."

"The best prayer I ever prayed had enough sin in it to damn the whole world." - Bunyan

"False belief systems all affirm human goodness."

"Never appeal to that which enslaves the sinner in order to rescue the sinner."

"Soft preaching makes hard people. Hard truth will break hard hearts."

"All hearts have the same problem. All need the same message."

"Be meek. Be humble. No one should be so humble as those who preach the gospel...We're just clay pots: replaceable, breakable, ugly."

Mark Dever:

His message was far-reaching and deep...deserving of more synthesis. Dever explained many ways we are tempted to tweak (and taint) the gospel. He said,

"God is not about the most sinners saved, but most glory gained."

"To add to the gospel is to detract from it...Keep the gospel clear. Don't try to improve it."

R.C. Sproul's exposition on the curse motif of the cross provided one of the holiest moments of my life. Since I'm in need of some brevity, I'll give you Todd's response:

We enjoyed some kickin' BBQ at the fine establishment shown below.

An excellent lecture by Al Mohler finished the day. We left we a deeper allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ: to live for it , proclaim it, protect it, and die for it if need be.

We prayed for our church tonight, and we miss our families.

Tomorrow finishes it off with Piper and Mahaney. Can't wait.


Anyabwile and Race

For more info: here's Tim Challies' summary of Anyabwile's thoughts on race, ethnicity, and our identity in Christ.

And here's an article by Thabiti on the subject.

T4G; Day One

Here's the venue:

We enjoyed Ligon Duncan, a panel discussion, a phat dinner at the Ford's and then a paradigm-shifting message from Thabiti ]Anyabwile.

Some of Ligon's best quotes:

On John 17: "Truth is for joy. Doctrine is for delight. You're a killjoy if you're against doctrine."

On 1 Timothy 1.6-11: "Immorality finds itself in the rejection of true teaching."

From William Perkins: "Theology is the science of living blessedly ever after."

"If someone tells you they don't believe in systematic theology, watch out; they're about to slide it under the door."

From Thabiti:

"Race posits that there is an essential biological difference between the ethnicities...believing in race is a little like believing in unicorns. Like unicorns, race doesn't exist."

Thabiti certainly wasn't denying or devaluing ethnicity, but rather debunking the idea that an essential biological difference separates, divides, and differentiates humanity. He had several reasons:

1. "Race" (as he describes it) leads to the abuse of people and Scripture.
2. The trajectory of "race" is racism.
3. "Race" prevents or hinders meaningful engagement with others.
"'Race makes slaves; it binds."
4. "Race" underminds the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
(See Gen. 1.26-28, 2.22-24, 3.20, 5.1-5, 9.5-6, 10.1, Acts 17.26)
5. "Race" undermines the gospel. (He then considered Paul's argument in Romans 5. We're either all in Adam - sharing God's image and our fallenness - and saved by Christ or we're not.)

When we see groups of different folks, do we think, "different, dangerous, no benefit, no joy?" or "like me, safe, benefits, joy". He said we should think the second because we are in Adam as God's image bearers, sinners, and in need of salvation.

Some final thoughts - "Christ's blood creates the deeper ethnicity", and "Cling to Christ and find yourself clinging to others who cling to Christ."

His message was powerful and deserves more thought. It was evident that other members of the panel were moved and influenced.

Now we're in the hot tub and soon to bed. 'Night!

Good Morning!

Our conference begins this afternoon with two sessions:

First, Ligon Duncan's title is "Sound Doctrine: Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry"

The second session has Thabiti Anyabwile: "Bearing the Image: Identity, the Church of Christ, and the Church"

Look here for speaker information.


T4G 2008

It's April 14th and our motley crew is off on our adventure. Together for the Gospel is top-notch pastor's conference and we are excited to see what God will do in our lives.

I'll be blogging our experience.

Aside from Joel getting tied up in security (oh yeah, the cell phone), everything has gone very smoothly. We arrived in Louisville, Kentucky around 3.45 p.m., immediately enjoying the fabulous hospitality of Tony and Karen Ford.

We miss our families but are happy to be here. Pray for us!