Archive for February, 2010

Cafeteria Christians

Romans 12:1-2 call us to be consecrated Christians–ones who offer our bodies as living sacrifices–holy, acceptable to God which is our spiritual worship!

Sadly, many Christians are cafeteria Christians, who pick and choose what they like from the Bible.

Consecrated Christians desire to hear and seek to follow the whole counsel of God.  Let’s strive to be devoted and surrendered to the will of God–Consecrated to God’s service! Draw us nearer, Lord, to you!

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Slave-fear vs. son-fear

The book of Proverbs speaks of salvation often in terms of the fear of the Lord.  The fear of God is a broad concept that refers to a wide spectrum of fear, depending on if you have fled to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins or not.  If you haven’t then you have the fear of God akin to that of a slave toward His master.  We will call this dread-fear. This is the fear that all sinner apart from God should have—a fear I once had.  As a preacher of the gospel, my great task is to convince unrepentant sinners that God is angry with us.  Indeed, he is. “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” (Psalm 7:11). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31).

On the other hand, repentant sinners also fear God. But we have the fear such as a son has toward his earthly father who is kind and loving, yet exercises gracious and God-given authority over his son.  Such fear that children have motivates them to obey their father.  Such fear of a son of God motivates one toward obedience toward their heavenly Father. Slave-fear makes us run from God, but son-fear makes us run to God!  Proverbs says of this second kind of fear the following:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7).

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.” (Proverbs 8:13).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.  (Proverbs 9:10).

“Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Proverbs 28:14).

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25).

The fear of the Lord culminates in the gospel.  As William Farley notes, “ The cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest reason to fear God in the Bible.  At the foot of the cross, we learn what son-fear looks like—the fear that motivates God to bless His children.”

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Some good questions to ask before making your next decision.

• What are the facts about the situation? Be as thorough as necessary (Proverbs 18:13; 16:2; 18:17; 20:25; 2 Timothy 1:7)

• What alternative courses of actions could I take?  What would be the possible results of each alternative? What are the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses of all the available options?  (Consider spiritual,  social, physical, financial, and educational advantages and disadvantages among other things)

• Evaluate all the pluses and minuses

• Ask yourself the following questions

◦ Am I running from a situation rather than patiently trusting God to work it out (Psalm 11:1)

◦ Will my decision bring increased opportunities for Christian service (1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:2)

◦ Have I really prayed about the matter, and have I really desired to know and do God’s will, no matter how much personal sacrifice is involved?

◦ Have I seriously considered the outcome of my decisions?

◦ Will my decision bring reproach upon God in any way?

◦ Will my decision be for the good of others?

(Some of these have been adapted in part from Wayne Mack’s material on decision-making)

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What do we mean by fiat creationsism (in Genesis 1)?

“This is the idea that God, by a direct act, brought into being virtually instantaneously everything that is.  Note two features of this view. One is the brevity of time involved, and hence the relative recency of what occurred at creation. . . . Another tenet of this view is the idea of direct divine working. God produced the world and everything in it, not by the use of any indirect means or biological mechanisms, but by direct action and contact” Millard Erickson)

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Last week I finished a short biography of Winston Churchill by Paul Johnson.  In the epilogue, Johnson shares some life lessons from Churchill’s life–a man whom some think was the most valuable man to humanity in the 20th century as well as the most likeable of all the towering figures of the past century. Here are the lessons briefly stated:

  • Aim high
  • There is no substitute for hard work
  • Never allow mistakes, disasters, accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism get you down
  • Expend very little time and emotional energy on the “meanness” of life:  recrimination, malice, revenge, blameshifting, bitterness, etc.
  • Be joyful (and Winston wasn’t even a confessing Christian)

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“In a world broken with people flawed, in the middle of daily mystery where questions multiply and answers flee, it is a constant battle to accept your limits.

You can only be in one place at a time. You can only be in one time at a time: You cannot propel yourself back into the past of launch yourself into the future; your existence is permanently anchored in the here and now.

You cannot think things into existence or alter what has already happened. You cannot remove a conversation from history or redo a disappointing day. You cannot know the details of tomorrow, let alone know exactly where you will be in five years!

You cannot decide you are bored with gravity and want to be free of it. You cannot make a personal commitment to do without oxygen and remain alive. You cannot read or reliably predict the thoughts of another. You cannot control the thoughts, desires, words, or actions of another human being. You cannot keep yourself from aging, as hard as some of us will try.

You cannot release yourself or your surroundings from the affects of the Fall. You cannot assure that your body will be free of disease and sickness. You cannot independently free yourself or another from sin. You cannot reach in and alter the content of your own heart, let alone the heart of another. You cannot plant faith, courage, and hope into the soul of another person. You cannot assure that your government have integrity or your community will be safe. You cannot make your acquaintances respect you, and you cannot assure that your family members will treat you with love. You cannot keep yourself free from natural and environmental disaster. You cannot control the economic environment, making sure that it does not alter your financial health. You cannot lay out a personal life plan and know it will unfold without interruption. You cannot assure that your life will be easy and satisfying.

–Paul David Tripp, Broken Down House

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Sinclair Ferguson reminds us,

“The union with Christ we have is not that we somehow share His grace. Because–follow me carefully–there actually is no ‘thing’ as grace. That actually is a Medieval Roman Catholic teaching, that there is a ‘thing’ called grace that can be separated from the person of Jesus Christ, something Jesus Christ won on the Cross, something He can bestow on you, and there are at least seven ways it can be bestowed on you and they all, as it happens, turn out to be in the hands of the church. And you can have this kind of grace, and this kind of grace, and this kind of grace …

There is no such ‘thing’ as grace! Grace is not some appendage to His being. Nor is it some substance that flows from us: ‘Let me give you grace.’ All there is is the Lord Jesus Himself. And so when Jesus speaks about us abiding in Him and He abiding in us–however mysterious it may be, mystical in that sense–it is a personal union. Do not let us fail to understand that, at the end of the day, actually Christianity is Christ because there isn’t anything else; there is no atonement that somehow can be detached from who the Lord Jesus is; there is no grace that can be attached to you transferred from Him. All there is is Christ and your soul.”

This quote was shared by Tony who reminds us that Ferguson has a new book coming out called By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me.

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The test of your character

“The test of a man’s religious life and character is not what he does in the exceptional moments of life, but what he does in the ordinary times, where there is nothing tremendous or exciting going on.”–John Calvin

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Why we need gospel fathers

“You cannot feminize the church and kee men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men. . . . When the father is absent or passive, the family withers, and the ability to pass the baton of faith to the next generation is greatly weakened.  This doe not mean that parenting is hopeless for single parents.  god is a father to the fatherless. . . .Rather, it means that father-centered families are the norm. It means that winning and keeping men is essential to the local Christian church.  It means that fatherhood is vital to parenting, and therefore to the salvation of our children.”–William P. Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting.

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“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of Christ without a Cross.”–H. Richard Neibuhr

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