Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year Resolutions: How Do Yours Compare?

Sick and tired of making those annual resolutions that never succeed - that never live beyond January 31 (if they makes it that far)? I know I am!

The Great Awakening's Jonathan Edwards, at the age 17 (that's right, 17!!) sat down and wrote 21 resolutions by which he desired to live his life. Until his death he continued to add to his list, ultimately penning 70 life resolutions. At the top of his list:

"Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions . . . for Christ's sake."

How do our (your, my?) resolutions for this year, and years past, compare to Jonathan Edwards'? Were/are they for God's glory/sake, or ours? Humbling, isn't it? Perhaps we would be wise to take this list as a model/example to encourage and motivate us to not so casually make New Year's resolutions with an expectation that we will ultimately break them!

May we all be encouraged - challenged - to make a LIFE resolution to which we keep, by which we live, to God's glory.

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. (Resolutions 1 through 21 written in one setting in New Haven in 1722)
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God' s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Proverbs 20:6, A faithful man who can find? may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself; also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord' s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Resolved, never to do any thing of which I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's; agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.
44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. January 12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving and sincere temper; and to do at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning, May 5, 1723.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as providence orders it. I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty, and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty, and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, to do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man: knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord. June 25 and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. January 14 and July 13, 1723.
64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness, of which I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton' s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what am I the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. August 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. August 17, 1723.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh, The Wonder: God, In Christ, Has Come! Rejoice!

Ya know, when looking at so many of the blogs out there talking about the wonder of Christmas, it's quite easy (or at least I've seen it in myself) to be tempted to come up with my own blog entry that is more insightful, more profound, just as cleaver, or even more "spiritual" than the next guy (and gal). But that is far from being Christ-honoring, and Christmas is all about Christ!

So, may I wish you, your family, church fellowship, and community a blessed and Christ-filled, Christ-honoring, Christ-infused and permeated Merry Christmas! May Christ be the center and focus of your attention, and may Christ be magnified and glorified and lifted high! And may we all glory in Him, and marvel at the wonder and mystery of His love and grace - that He would come to us, mortal man, humbling Himself to take on our mortal flesh, being born in order that He may die - for us!! Just think about it! Wow!

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!

So, Merry CHRISTmas!! And I'll leave you with some of the lyrics of Mark Lowry's song, Mary Did You Know.

Mary, did you know:
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
That the child that you've delivered will soon deliver you?
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
That when you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God?!

Mary, did you know:
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
That this sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM?!

I'd venture a guess that little did Mark Lowry know when writing the lyrics to his song, that he was echoing what Augustine of Hippo had said some 1600 year ago:

He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time, although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute.
--St. Augustine, Sermon 188, 2

(Gloria artwork: Friedrich Peter, Vancouver, BC)

Friday, December 15, 2006

For Whom Did Jesus Die?

Great piece from Erik in Omaha (Go Big Red!):

This post is not concerned with the nature of the atonement, but rather the nature of the recipients of the atonement. There are various and often times divergent voices in the contemporary religious grandstands chanting for their team’s supremacy, in terms of who is the recipient of divine benevolence in Christ. However, God narrows the focus for those who are the object of the Son’s atonement to four very specific characteristics. And may I boldly, and I believe biblically, say if you are not finding yourself in each of these four spiritual character descriptions then you are not finding yourself in Christ Jesus. These are the types of people that Jesus died for.

The Helpless
Romans 5 characterizes the sinner saved by grace as having a characteristic of helplessness. Verse 6 says, “while we were still helpless”. This indicates that as rebels outside of Christ we as unbelievers stand in a constant posture of helplessness. We willfully marched into the parade of sin and are unable to remove our self from the procession. Our heart is the drumbeat that produces our sinful cadence. We indeed are helplessly enslaved to ourselves and our sin. If one contends that he can help himself then Christ will be of now help to him. For Christ died for the helpless.

The Ungodly
Romans 5 goes on to say, in the same context, that the object of Christ’s substitutionary death are the “ungodly”. He died specifically for those who were “alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds” as Colossians 1 says. Even as Jesus would announce, he did not come “to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

If you do not see yourself as one who is ungodly then you do not see yourself as one who is need of salvation from ungodliness. Jesus Christ died for those who’s life may be defined by ungodliness. Someone may rightly answer the question posed, “Why are you Christ’s?” with the biblical answer, “Because he is gracious and I am one who was ungodly.” It is those who agree with God and see their lives as flowing streams of ungodliness from that great ocean of filth known as the human heart that find themselves, by divine grace, able to claim Jesus as their substitute.

The Sinners
This goes along with the second but with specific and dramatic amplification. Romans 5:8 says that “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the pattern of the life of all sons of Adam. We are known by our sin. Earlier in Romans we read that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23). The idea in the original is that we have all sinned and keep falling short of the divine standard.

How does this amplify the divine love? Well for starters we are not lovely! We see in the context that people are not apt to sacrifice for others, even if they are good upstanding people, unless there is a chance that it might give them some type of personal advantage, praise, or renown. However, God demonstrates his love not in sacrificing for good, righteous or upstanding men, but for filthy, stinking, persistent rebels. If you do not see yourself as a sinner than you do not see Jesus as a Savior; for he may be an example to you if you think that you are moral, but he is no Savior to you if you think that you persist in denying your utter sinfulness.

The Enemies
Romans 5:10
says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son..” Many people do not like this phrase. Being an enemy means that you are engaged in a battle, attempting a victory, and cognizant of retaliation. One may wrongly conclude that they should be pitied for their helplessness, sinful condition, or ungodliness, as if they came from some outside forces. However, being an enemy is all you. You are in the army and at war. Further, God has recognized you as a vassal. It is not just some hypothetical position of opposition, but rather an intense and venomous Jihad against the glory and honor of the King of heaven. Our posture of being an enemy is characterized by our desire to charge the King with our swords of rebellion, aiming at the assassination of God and the deification of self. Indeed we are enemies. If you do not find yourself as an enemy of God then you do not find Jesus as the one who has reconciled you to God through his blood (Rom. 5:10).

If your praise is flat perhaps it is because you have forgotten who you were and who Jesus is. This truth will ignite praise like no other. And if you do not agree with the divine perspective of the former lifestyle of the unregenerate then you are not in Christ at all. Jesus Christ is nothing to you but an example and a historical figure if you do not see him as mighty to save you from your helplessness, ungodliness, sinfulness and rebellion.

(HT: IrishCalvinist)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Who's Truly Sovereign? Man? Or God!

Not too long ago a friend of mine forwarded me an article by Andrew Wommack, titled “The Sovereignty Of God.” It should have been titled, "The Sovereignty of Man!" Soon after, I obtained a CD of Mr. Wommack's "sovereignty" teaching and barely made it half way through before I had to turn it off! From reading his article, and listening to his (more in depth) audio teaching, these questions struck me -
  • Who's the center of attention? According to Mr. Wommack, Man Is. His theology is man-centered.
  • Who's calling the shots? Who's in charge? According to Mr. Wommack, Man Is.
  • Who is ultimately sovereign? Mr. Wommack teaches that Man Is Sovereign. It's like God is just sitting around waiting for us to tell him what he can and cannot do!
I don't think Mr. Wommack is espousing biblically sound doctrine.

And I'm not the only one. For a very good, biblical analysis of Mr. Wommack’s "sovereignty" doctrine, read Paul R. Vaughn's (of the Josiah Project) 4-part series, The Sovereignty of Man. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Paul deals most directly with Mr. Wommack in Part 2.

And for even further, more biblically sound treatments addressing and extolling the complete and total sovereignty of the God of the universe, see the following:

John Piper -
The Supremacy of Christ in an Age of Terror

Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?

Why I Do Not Say, "God Did Not Cause the Calamity, but He Can Use It for Good"

A.W. Pink -
Objections to God's Sovereignty Answered

Book: The Sovereignty of God (see in particular chapters 7 & 8)
(Audio reading)

R.C. Sproul -
How do we reconcile the fact that God is sovereign with the fact that he has given us free will as persons?

How would you define the sovereignty of God?

And then the mother lode!

What say you?!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wayne Grudem - Reading List!

Please note that I've added to my Reading List on the right sidebar, Dr. Wayne Grudem's book list of over 115 volumes for a seminary or pastor’s library. You may also find it here, in MSWord format.

Dr. Grudem calls this list "a first attempt at listing books for a beginning seminary in countries where English is spoken at least as a second language, or as a basic library for someone in Christian ministry." He says, "a library with these books will enable students to do a significant amount of detailed study of the Bible and theology."

I love book/reading lists, and I'm happy to include Dr. Grudem's as a recommended, theologically sound list of biblical resources.

You may also find various articles written by Dr. Grudem, here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Take A Look Around & Stay Awhile!

Ya know, if you've come to my most humble blog but don't see anything on the main page that interests you - PLEASE, look around! Peruse the archives and the rest of the blog as you never know what gems, what nuggets of pure gold (wink) you'll find!

Here are a couple of my favorites:

God: "This is What I Want . . . " (February 18, 2006)

Boundless Love; Boundless Sin (February 27, 2006)

The Church's Paradox - Are We Paradoxing? (March 15, 2006)

Bonhoeffer: You’re on the Wrong Train (March 21, 2006)

Amazing Fountain of Sovereign Grace (April 1, 2006)

Glory in the Cross: What's Keeping You? (June 7, 2006)

Jonathan Edwards: The American St. Augustine (July 12, 2006)

Tender Calvinist: An Oxymoron? It Need Not Be! (July 26, 2006)

How Clearly Is Your Contrast Tuned? (August 10, 2006)

The Recognition of Footsteps: How do Yours Sound? (September 26, 2006)

When Will I; When Will We . . . ? (October 3, 2006)

Wise Up? Or Wise Down!? (Nov. 19, 2006)

So, look around, and make yourself at home! And feel free to invite your family, friends and neighbors as well.