Archive for the ‘While wandering . . .’ Category
It is the darkness of the night that makes the dawn precious. It is the torment of pain that makes relief so sweet. It is the misery of sickness that makes recovery so valued. It is the grief of lostness that makes being found so wonderful. It is the emptiness of self that makes the fullness of Christ so delightful. It is the horror of the curse that makes the blessing of salvation so great. It is the weight of sin’s burden that makes its removal so overwhelming. It is the pain of rebellion that makes peace so dear. It is the distance of being cast out that makes the nearness of being drawn in so enticing. It is the frailty of the creature that throws the might and mercy of the Creator and Redeemer into sharp relief.
Read more at Reformation21.
The turn of the year – like a birthday or other significant anniversary – can be an appropriate time for review and reflection, for the making or making fresh of a covenant with the Lord. Such times can be helpful waymarkers in our pilgrimage, and it is not wrong to harness the sense of significance that such occasions present.
But we ought to make sure that such occasions do not become for us excuses, a means of assuaging our consciences by the promise that we will reform another time. Extravagant promises for tomorrow are worth nothing compared with definite obedience today. If something ought to be done, then it ought to be done now, and not postponed until tomorrow.
Read the rest at Reformation21.
We need tools to help us, but we need the Holy Spirit to illumine, convict, and empower. And much of the Spirit’s work in us will be done in conjunction with prayer.
Joe Thorn presses it painfully home.
‘Twas the Sunday pre-Christmas, and all through the church,
On the laps of their parents the children did perch.
All sitting agog in great anticipation
Of the visiting preacher’s pre-sermon oration.
(For this was a place where the children receive
Their own little talk and then promptly they leave,
And the preacher is left with a half-congregation -
But that’s not my point in today’s proclamation.)
And so I began to compare and contrast
With an image I hoped would be sure to stick fast,
Between God and his goodness in giving his Son
And the myth of the Chubby and Red-Suited One.
Read the rest of this cautionary tale.
So which is yours to be, the ‘Calvinism’ of the 5 points, a ‘doctrinal Calvinism’, a ‘Calvinism’ which identifies it with Calvin’s children, who went their own way when the discussion went beyond Calvin himself, or the ‘full package Calvinism’, which is not a full package at all, since Calvin’s view of the magistrate’s role in upholding the Reformed faith has been excised from it? (And in this roll-call \’Neo-calvinism in its various guises has not even been mentioned. )
Whichever it is, no-one can stop you calling your choice ‘Calvinism’. You see, unlike ‘Cadbury’s’ or ‘Chevrolet’ or ‘Calvin Klein’ ’ there is no copyright or trademark that covers the use of the word ‘Calvinism’. Any more than with \’inerrancy\’ or \’justification\’ or any other central theological term.
Irritating, isn’t it?
via Helm’s Deep.
Following the recent, misguided and unhelpful Mortification of Spin episode in which Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt set up, threw down and stamped on something of a straw man, Tom Chantry became righteously indignant, then drew breath, and has now exhaled. I think Tom’s concerns, disappointments, encouragements and prescriptions have much to commend them, and hope that they are heeded.
For what it is worth, this article may still be of some assistance as well.
A warning about a preaching scam at Ref21:
I offer this as a warning to brothers in the US: I was impressed, for all the wrong reasons, with this set-up. There was a measure of development and coherence in the online presence and in the initial approach that suggested something legitimate and that chimed sufficiently with the attitude and actions of certain churches to seem genuine, but not far beneath the surface the cracks began to show. Should you find yourself approached in anything like this way, I suggest that (at the very least) you contact credible friends in the UK to help assess it, and that – though you may lose the opportunity to exercise your well-meaning desires to invest something in the work of the kingdom here – you look very carefully before you leap.
Read more at Reformation21.
From Main Things:
I have been involved in one form or another in the public ministry of God’s word for over 35 years. In those years I have taught or preached nearly 3,000 times. Over the past several years I have noticed a general sense of weariness or fatigue in the ministry. I now believe I have been battling discouragement. This discouragement, for me, has been rooted in what I will term a ‘theologically informed pessimism’. This reality was exposed recently in my own preaching on Paul’s defense before Agrippa and Festus as recorded in Acts 26. Paul had every reason to be discouraged and pessimistic in bringing the gospel to these men. He was seeking to present the truth to men whom he knew were dead int their sins and trespasses. They were furthermore from a group (the rich and powerful) where conversions are rare (see 1 Cor. 1:26-29). He also knew that the core message he brought (Christ and Him crucified) was offensive and foolish to the very men he sought to reach. What struck me and convicted me is not only that Paul preached the truth anyway (always the faithful plodder), but that he did so with such passion. When Festus tells him that his great learning has driven him mad, Paul pleads with him that his message is one rooted in truth and reality. When the King mocks Paul’s attempts to ‘convert’ him, Paul tells him that desires all men to have to what he has (with the exception of his chains). How often had Paul faced just this kind unbelief, skepticism, and rejection? And yet, he carried on. And he did so in hope.
In this light, I have been meditating upon Paul’s word to the Corinthians as found in chapter 9. He is dealing with subject of teachers and preachers receiving a financial reward for their labor. In that context he says, 1 Corinthians 9:10 ..[it] is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
Paul makes his argument based upon a certain ‘truism’. Those who plow and sow and thresh do so in hope. They do not do it merely to be faithful to their task. They are thinking of all the lunches and dinners down the road that make the labor and toil worth it all. I have labored all my ministerial life to be faithful. In the midst of this I have at times lost hope. I have taught with a desire to please God but, at times, with little hope that it would do anything. That it would change people or help people or convert people. Why? Because of what I so often seen and experienced. But God’s word is powerful. It does sanctify and it does save. It is a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces and a sword which cuts into the inner being of saints and sinners. I am repenting of my pessimism. I am taking up God’s Word with fresh hope. I do so as one who plows and one who sows anticipating the fruits of my labors.
In a recent article, Barnabas Piper criticizes Christians for the manner in which they confront the sin of homosexuality. The problem with these confrontations, argues Piper, is that they are not equally distributed over other sins. What about the sin of fornication? Or divorce? Why do these not get equal attention?
This is certainly one of the most common objections to Christians who confront homosexuality. But, I think there are a number of problems with it.
Read Michael’s response at Canon Fodder.
Joshua Reich offers a stimulating survey of what he calls the “skills of great preachers.” You may or may not agree with all of them, but they are certainly interesting observations.
The prodigal is at the swine-trough but finds that he cannot as a rational creature feed himself with the husks that non-rational creatures eat. It is in this situation that the present volume goes out, beseeching the prodigal to return to the father’s house. In the father’s house are many mansions. In it alone will the “son” find refuge and food. The presupposition of all intelligible meaning for man in the intellectual, the moral and the aesthetic spheres is the existence of the God of the Bible who, if he speaks at all in grace cannot, without denying himself, but speak in a self-contained infallible fashion. Only in a return to the Bible as infallibly inspired in its autography is there hope for science, for philosophy and for theology. Without returning to this Bible science and philosophy may flourish for a while with his father’s substance. But the prodigal had no self-sustaining principle. No man has till he accepts the Scripture that Warfield presents.
Cornelius Van Til in his foreword to Warfield’s Inspiration and Authority, via Heavenly Worldliness.
For Ridgley, economic relations between the Trinitarian persons, as in the Covenant of Redemption, are not necessary to establish the eternal divine relations, but economic relations are sufficient to discriminate these relations. They identify the parties as three distinct, divine persons. The Father sends the Son who becomes incarnate as the Mediator, and the Spirit undertakes the task of applying what the Son has achieved to those chosen in Christ before the world was. But these relations so displayed are not are eternal, ontological distinctions of the Trinity in se. What these economic relations show and even entail, are the operations ad extra of a tri-personal God. From the economic language regarding Sonship we can infer that there is an eternal Logos who in his economic role is also human through the overshadowing and power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul Helm walks us through Thomas Ridgley’s thinking on the Trinity. Fascinating.
I enjoyed this piece by Mez McConnell giving a firm affirmative to the question.
Reviews filled with venom have often been condemned socially for their bad manners, or ethically for their spite. I am not prepared to defend them from either charge; but I prefer to stress their inutility. . . . Automatically, without thinking about it one’s mind discounts everything [the venomous critic] says, as it does when we are listening to a drunk or delirious man. The critic rivets our attention on himself. When we get to the end we find that the critic has told us everything about himself and nothing about the book. Thus in criticism, as in vocabulary, hatred over-reaches itself. Willingness to wound, too intense and naked, becomes impotent to do the desired mischief.
Justin Taylor quotes Lewis on scathing reviews.
Over the past few years I’ve been bookmarking blog articles on subjects that interest me. When preparing a lecture on electronic resources for my Preaching Class students, I was surprised to discover that I had accumulated 200+ of these on the subject of preaching. So here you go, a Homiletics Course in one blog post!
David Murray gives us the benefit of his bookmarking.
. . . you could get the impression that the biggest stumbling block to the gospel is a tie, a piano, and hymnbook.
My friend Jim Savastio identifies the real problem and hope for a real solution.
Mike Kruger heads into a useful ten part series at Canon Fodder:
This new blog series is designed to help the lay believer learn some basic facts about the New Testament canon—the kind of facts that might be helpful in a conversation with a skeptic or inquisitive friend. The first of these facts is one that is so basic that it is often overlooked. It is simply that the New Testament books are the earliest Christian writings we possess.
This is interesting not just for students but for anyone involved in public discussion: Do You Really Want to Raise Your Hand?
We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.
Excellent stuff from Kevin DeYoung.