Archive for the ‘spiritual growth’ Category

Elisha notes spring is inevitable

“This has been the week when the color of life has changed. We have been watching closely, knowing it was coming. A few days ago buds were forming on the trees, and branches, though still brown, had subtly changed shape as bud concealed blossom. Every spring, though expectant, there is always the delight of one day waking up, looking out, and life has changed color.

What yesterday was barren is today fresh, green, flowering, altogether new.

I was commenting to a neighborhood friend that even though I always know spring is coming and the process has begun, it always seems so sudden when the landscape changes and, one day, the trees are adorned in flowering buds. “Well,” my friend mused, “it was never a question of if, it was always a question of when.

My mind replayed her words. It was never a question of if, it was always a question of when.

And this is, according to Elisha, an analogy about “The Inevitability of Sanctification

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“To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir anymore, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Its not-being is the thing aimed at. Now, though doubtless there may, by the Spirit and grace of Christ, a wonderful success and eminence of victory against any sin be attained, so that a man may have almost constant triumph over it, yet an utter killing and destruction of it, that it should not be, is not in this life to be expected.”

~ John Owen

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“If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here. Or as Spurgeon put it, “Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise.”

~Kevin DeYoung~The Hole in Our Holiness (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 15

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“I ask. . .whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do now-a-days in handling the doctrine of sanctification?—Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it. . . .Surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith.”

–J. C. Ryle, Holiness, p. xi

Will you personally exert yourself today to fight against sin?

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What if every day, we just started off praying like this, “Lord, make me a little more like your Son today!”?  Wouldn’t that be a great request?  I was challenged to do so after reading Jonathan Parnell’s article on sanctification which ends like this:

Christian, you will be like Jesus one day (1 John 3:2). The perishable will be overcome by the imperishable and you will bear his image with untarnished glory (1 Corinthians 15:53). He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6). As sure as God is God, he will finish his work. And until that day comes we don’t twiddle our thumbs and opt out of the journey. “Look,” Calvin tells us, “toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal.”

Every day the Father gives us another opportunity to make a little progress here, to have a little more of Jesus here. It is another day that he has created — and in which he has made us to exist — so that we will know what one more degree of glory is like in this world. He has reconciled us to himself in Christ and “in him has stamped for us the likeness to which we would have us conform” (686). Though he’ll consummate this conformity in the future, we live now to this end — a little more Jesus today than yesterday. Then more tomorrow. And then more.

O God, give me a little more of your Son today.

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Do you pray for your straying soul?

I do. Daily.

The soul is always in motion. If you think yours is motionless, you are probably floating downstream.

Daily the soul is lured to other treasures, other satisfactions, other rewards besides Jesus and his way. Jesus taught us to pray daily, “forgive us for these wanderings and lead us not into, but out of, them.”

So, how do you pray for your straying soul if you believe in God’s sovereign will to bring back his wayward ones? For many years I have taken my cue from Jeremiah 31:18.

You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; cause me to return and I will return, for you are the Lord, my God.

Similarly, Lamentations 5:21.

Cause us to return to yourself, O Lord, and we will return! Renew our days as of old.

These are my translations to make clear that the same Hebrew word is behind both verbs: “Cause me to return.” And “I will return.” The first one is the causal form of the verb, while the second one is the declarative form. If God causes me to return, I will return.

That is the way I believe. And that is the way I pray. I invite you to join me. This is how perseverance happens.

–John Piper

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“I need to grow in holiness not just for my own sake but out of love and concern for those around me. If I love the people in my church, I will grow in holiness for their sake. I am prone to think that holiness is an individual pursuit, but when I see sanctification as a community project, now it is more of a team pursuit. I am growing in holiness so that I can help others grow in holiness, I am putting sin to death so I can help others put sin to death. My church needs me and I need my church, and this is exactly how God has designed it.”–Tim Challies

Read more in this short article “Sanctification is a Community Project”

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