Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Is Jesus Crazy About Me?

OK, okay, I know it's been ~ 3 yrs since I last posted to this blog. No excuses offered. None needed.

But just this morning I saw a post on Facebook that, for some reason, just really got to me and made me think, "I should post this on my blog and see what others have to say."

So here it is - the post read,

"In 2013 I want to live in the revelation that Jesus truly, genuinely, and passionately delights in me. Basically, He's crazy about me!"
I understand the heart behind this, and the sentiment expressed, but is this Scriptural?  (If so, chapter and verse, please.)

Yes, Jesus loves me, came to die a substitutiary death in my place, but, is He "crazy about me?"  And what appears to be the focus of this statement?  "I want... delights in me... about me."

So, am I wrong?  Too sensitive?  Reading too much into this?  

What might be a more Scripturally-informed way of speaking of, and taking joy in, the Father's love for his people - for you, for me?  

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Sermon on the Mount: A Christian Counter-Culture

Matthew 6:8a - Do not be like them.

"The Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5-7] is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered. To my mind no two words sum up its intention better, or indicate more clearly its challenge to the modern world, than the expression 'Christian counter-culture.' ... For insofar as the church is conformed to the world, and the two communities appear to the onlooker to be merely two versions of the same thing, the church is contradicting its true identity. No comment could be more hurtful to the Christian than the words, 'But you are no different from anybody else.' ... Thus the followers of Jesus are to be different - different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious. The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture. Here is a Christian value-system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships - all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule." (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, IVP 1978)

So, what evidence of this Christian counter-culture is there in your life?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Exclusivity of the Gospel: In Christ Alone

Mark 16:15-16
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes [the gospel] and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe [the gospel] will be condemned."

I Cor. 16:22

If anyone has no love for the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.

Rom. 10:14-17

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:12

And there is a salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

I Tim. 2:5

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

How do we (can we?) line up the following quote with Scripture?
"Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there's the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the body of Christ. . . . What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven. [Question: So, it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into a human heart and soul and life even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?] Yes, it is because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, have never heard of Jesus but they've believed in their hearts that there is a God and they tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived."
(May 31, 1997, interview with world-famous evangelist)
I don't know that we can.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here vs. There: Oh, Happy Day!

C.H. Spurgeon on how different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here on earth.

"Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go. . . . Here, my best joys bear “mortal” on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin."

(C.H. Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, Morning January 18)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Eye of Faith's Grand Object - The Future With Christ!

A reflection on this New Year's Day, January 1, 2010 -

"In the Christian pilgrimage it is well for the most part to be looking forward. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future after all must be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

And looking further yet, the believer's soul can see Death's river passed, the gloomy steam forded; he can behold the hills of light on which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than a conqueror - crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with him, made to sit together with him on his throne, even as he has overcome and has sat down with the Father upon his throne."
(Sermon, CH Spurgeon, Lords Day, Feb. 27, 1859, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens, London)

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (I Peter 5:10 ESV)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christ Incarnate: Carol Theology

As we celebrate the Godhead come to earth, taking on the flesh of men - the Incarnation - let us consider the rich theology found in Charles Wesley's great work, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
(Charles Wesley, 1739)

Hark! The herald angels sing, (Luke 2:10)
"Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, (Luke 2:14; 1:78)
God and sinners reconciled!" (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Col. 1:20-22)

Joyful, all ye nations rise, (Rev. 21:24; Haggai 2:6-7)
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!" (Luke 2:10-11; Matt. 1:4-6; Micah 5:2)
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!" (Matt. 2:2)

Christ, by highest Heaven adored; (Luke 2:9-14; Rev. 5:13; Heb.1:6)
Christ the everlasting Lord; (Rev. 22:12-13)
Late in time, behold Him come, (Gal. 4:4)
Offspring of a virgin’s womb. (Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-38)

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; (Heb. 10:20)
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, (John 1:14; Rom. 1:3, 8:3; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:7-8; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; Heb. 2:9-11; 1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 1:7; Rev. 22:16)
Jesus our Emmanuel. (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23)

Hail the heav'n born Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6)
Hail the Sun of Righteousness! (Malachi 4:2)
Light and life to all He brings, (John 1:4, 10; John 8:12; 2 Tim. 1:10)
Ris’n with healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:2)

Mild He lays His glory by, (Phil. 2:6-8; John 17:5, 24)
Born that man no more may die. (John 11:25-26)
Born to raise the sons of earth, (1 Cor. 15:35-57)
Born to give them second birth. (John 1:13; 3:3-6; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; Titus 3:5)

Come, Desire of nations, come, (Haggai 2:6-7)
Fix in us Thy humble home; (Eph. 3:17; Rom. 8:9)
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed, (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20)
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display Thy saving power, (Heb. 7:25)
Ruined nature now restore; (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10; Rom. 12:2)
Now in mystic union join, (Eph. 5:31-32; 1 Cor. 6:17; Rom. 6:5)
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine. (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 2:14-16)

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22)
Stamp Thine image in its place: (Gen. 1:26-27; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:23-24)
Second Adam from above, (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:47)
Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain (Phil. 3:8-11; Luke 19:10)
Thee, the Life, the inner man: (John 14:6; 1 John 5:11-12; Eph. 3:16; 2 Cor. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:4)
O, to all Thyself impart, (Jer. 31:34; Habakkuk 2:14; Phil. 3:8-11)
Formed in each believing heart. (Gal. 4:19; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:24; Col. 1:27; 3:10)

(HT: Joyful Heart)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Having Taken, He Gave

- Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God.
- By his own descent to the earth, he has prepared our ascent to heaven.
- Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality.
- Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength.
- Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches.
- Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness.
John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving: Free, Sovereign Grace of God

“Christian! The only thing that makes you differ from the vilest being that pollutes the earth, or from the darkest fiend that gnaws his chains in hell, is the free grace of God!” (Octavius Winslow, Jesus, Full of Grace)

As we gather with friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday, may each of us who have been called by His name, be ever so thankful for the richly undeserved, sovereign grace of God!

Amen? Amen!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Increasing In God's Favor: What's the Bible Say?

Well, it appears that good ol' Joel is out with yet another uplifting, encouraging book to scratch the itching ear (2 Timothy 4:3). Its title - It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Accomplish Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor.

Now, without even having to crack open the book, the front cover alone should bring a moment's (or two) pause.

Here's my questions - focusing on the line, "and increase in God's favor," what is the scriptural answer, response to this assertion? What does the Bible say about God's favor and our ability to "increase" His favor toward us (Christians and/or non-Christians)?

And if you've read the book, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on it (doctrinally/theologically grounded, preferably).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blessed Assurance: How to Know?

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13 ESV)

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.
(Heb. 6:11 ESV)

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(II Cor. 13:5 ESV)

You're giving a talk to the youth of your church (6th - 12th grade) and their parents. Your topic - The Assurance of Salvation: Ya Got It?

OK, so now what? What resources would you reference in your preparation? What references might you suggest and recommend to the parents to go through with their youth?

And what would you say to these kids about assurance? Can you have it? Keep it? How to fight against the doubt of one's salvation? How can you be sure that you're even saved in the first place?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

False Prophets: Who, What are They?

I've heard it said that the Bible's only reference to "false prophets" is of those who know the truth, and know that what they're saying is not true, or is false; and that it's not correct to use that title for someone who is not knowingly teaching a falsehood - like someone who's just ignorant, immature, impulsive or unwise in their speech or teaching. Do you agree?

So, who's a real "false prophet?" Benny Hinn? Tim LaHaye? Paula White? Robert Tilton? Any one of many on TBN?

What's the Biblical definition of a false prophet? What your definition? Are they the same or different?

Friday, October 02, 2009

God's Sovereignty: Over All (or Not at All)

God has nothing to do with your sickness. That's the work of the devil, and you need to take authority over him, exercise your faith and claim your victory.

Sickness and disease does not come from God. It never has come from God. It always has originated from Satan.

Oh, really?

Here's what R.C. Sproul, in his work The Invisible Hand, has to say to such statements:

"Such sentiments do violence, not only to our understanding of the providence of God, but to our understanding of the whole character of God. Christianity is not a religion of dualism by which God and Satan are equal and opposite opposing forces destined to fight an eternal struggle that must result in a tie. God is sovereign over His entire creation, including the subordinate domain of Satan. God is Lord of death as well as life. He rules over pain and disease as sovereignly as He rules over prosperity.

If God had nothing to do with sickness or death, Christians, of all people, would be the most to be pitied. It would mean living in a universe ruled by chaos where our Father's hand was tied by fate and bound by the fickleness of chance. His arm would not be mighty to save; it would be impotent. But, the preachers to the contrary, God has everything to do with sickness and death. God majors in suffering. The way of redemption is the Via Dolorosa, the road to the cross. Our Lord was Himself a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. No, God is not removed from or aloof from human suffering; it is contained within the scope of His providence."

So, where do you fall on this? What's your response to the italicized quotes above? To Sproul's responsive argument?

Other resources:
2005 Desiring God National Conference, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
Ligonier Ministries' Fall 2007 Conference, The Sovereignty of God

Friday, September 25, 2009

Count It All Joy: But What Does That Mean?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

In a recent Care Group a few weeks ago we spent close to 2 hours fleshing out these versus and their application to our lives and continued work of sanctification. And believe me, we only barely scratched the surface with these verses.

But the question was asked, "What is the Biblical definition of 'joy'?" What does it mean in this verse, and elsewhere in the Scripture? We know it's a fruit of the spirit, but what is it? What's it look like (or should look like) in our daily lives as we face a trial?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Self Help: Without Christ It's All Ya Got

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8 ESV)

And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (I Cor. 1:30-31 ESV)

Without Christ all one has for help is him/herself. For them, it's self-help or nothing. How sad; how empty.

But with God, in Christ, He, Jesus, is our help, our wisdom. He is Wisdom! Oh, what hope! What joy! What a Savior!

Here's a great sermon from our pastor, Craig Cabaniss, on James 1:5-8.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What Turned You On?

I've often been asked what "turned me on" to the Doctrines of Grace, i.e. Reformed Theology or Calvinism?

I was raised a typical Arminian. Not purposefully, mind you, but the theology under which I was raised was very strong "free will," with a heavy dose of what's commonly called, "the Faith Movement." And at any mention of "predestination" or "election" I would know to run away and consider the speaker almost akin to a heretic.

But for me, it was our family's move to Arizona and the exposure to co-workers who were former OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) guys who talked all crazy-like with their "sovereignty," "providence," "reformed," and "election" talk. They asked questions I couldn't answer and challenged the very basics of my thoughts and beliefs about God - who He is and who I am to Him. And I got a hold of books that did the same!

And that's my question to you. If you were like me, and like me were "converted" to the truths of sovereign grace and of Reformed Theology, what did it for you? In particular, if you had to name one or two (or more if you'd like) books that just "did you in" with regard to your prior theology, what were those books?

For me, it was the initial combination of R.C. Sproul's Chosen by God, and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Those two ruined me. They rocked my world and from there it's been so many more books and teachers (Piper, Mahaney, Boice, MacArthur, Bridges, Packer, Murray, Pink, etc.) that have brought me deeper into the fold.

What about you? What books turned you on and rocked your world?

Friday, September 04, 2009

One God. Many Paths. Relationship-Dependent.

Stay with me on this, and hold on the stone hurling `til the end.

The following is from Dan Phillips on Pyromaniacs -

Up to a few weeks ago, I would have emphatically answered "No." But now I've changed my mind.

The light flicked on as I listened to a really fine sermon preached by theologian Robert Reymond, titled "God's Immeasurable Love." Reymond made the shocking statement that all religions really do lead to God.

In this sermon, Reymond revisited the verse that featured very conspicuously in how the Lord saved me: John 14:6.

Reymond stressed Jesus' exact words: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Other religions will bring you to God. Shintoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam — they'll all eventually bring you to God. Mormonism, Christian Science, paganism, animism, and Roman Catholicism will bring you to God. Every practitioner of every religion created by man and/or demon will, by that religion, be brought to God.

But none of those religions will bring us to God as "Father"!

They will bring us to God as Judge. They would bring you and me, clothed in the unspeakably filthy rags of our human works (Isaiah 64:6), without excuse, hopeless, guilty and doomed (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36; Acts 17:31; Romans 1:20, 32; 2:16; Revelation 20:11-15), falling continually and infinitely short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The only way to God as Father is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Born again by the sovereign grace of God (John 1:12-13), adopted as sons of God through Christ (Ephesians 1:7), blessed with the spirit of adoption whereby we can cry out "Abba! Father" (Romans 8:15), which is the Spirit of God's own Son sent into our hearts (Galatians 4:6).

All religions lead to God — for damning judgment.

Only through Jesus Christ can we approach God as Father.

So. What path are you on?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Holy Scripture: It's Not All About Jesus?

Pastor Gary E. Gilley, author of This Little Church Went to Market and This Little Church Stayed Home, and Senior Pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL, recently reviewed Michael Horton's (Whitehorse Inn) book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church.

Speaking of Michael Horton's study of sermons on the Prodigal Son in which he found them presenting a therapeutic message rather than a Christ-centered one, Pastor Gilley made this statement:

This is a good point, but Horton himself is in danger of importing the gospel message of reconciliation through the cross into the Prodigal Son account, even though it is not there (Christless Christianity, p. 56). This is no doubt due to Horton’s view, commonly held, that the whole Bible is about Jesus (CC, p. 143). With this approach to Scripture the meaning of the biblical texts cannot stand on their own - they must somehow always directly point to Christ. This leads to allegorizing and excessive typology (CC, pp. 148-152). I am not disagreeing that in the big picture all of Scripture is framed by Christ and the gospel, but we must be careful not to press each detail so hard that we distort the authorial meaning of individual texts. (review)

This statement didn't (and still doesn't) sit well with me. How about you? Do you agree with Pastor Gilley's assertion that the whole of the Bible is not about Jesus? That's what he's saying, right?! What say you?

For more on the Prodigal Son, read John MacArthur's book, A Tale of Two Sons.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bible Commentaries: 5 Best, Per Book

Dr. Keith A. Mathison with Ligonier Ministries has recently completed his survey of what he believes to be the top 5 commentaries for each book of the Bible - Old and New Testament.

What an invaluable resource that deserves our attention and utilization!

Link: Top Commentaries on Every Book of the Bible

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Called. Sent. What Do You Say?

The Islamic Society of North America will be holding its annual convention this 4th of July weekend, and they've asked Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to address their gathering.

While I have no idea what he's going to say, my question to you is this -

What would you say to this group if you were given a chance to speak before them?

Ingrid Schlueter, on her blog Slice of Laodicea, rhetorically asked whether Pastor Warren will "feel impelled as a follower of the one true God to let the Muslims know that true happiness is only found through the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son? Or [will he] talk about finding a 'higher purpose,' 'living for others,' and all the ways we can feel better by finding something 'bigger than ourselves” to live for?'"

That's a good question.

So, what's your answer? What would you, if you're a blood-bought follower of Jesus Christ, say to the ISNA?

But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Pet. 3:14-15 ESV)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Tim. 1:8-12 ESV)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:1-5 ESV)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guilty World Kissed In Love

I love coming across new (or long forgotten) hymns with such rich theology. Here's a recent one:

Here is Love
(William Rees, 1802-1883)

[First two verses]

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.


For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)