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?