Saturday, October 26, 2013

Luther on Galatians 1.4

Great stuff from Luther on Galatians 1.4 "who gave himself for our sins"

The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul “who gave himself for our sins” as true and efficacious. We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained

Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair, particularly in the last hour, when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. Say with confidence: “Christ, the Son of God, was given not for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I should not need Christ. No, Satan, you cannot delude me into thinking I am holy. The truth is, I am all sin. My sins are not imaginary transgressions, but sins against the first table, unbelief, doubt, despair, contempt, hatred, ignorance of God, ingratitude towards Him, misuse of His name, neglect of His Word, etc.; and sins against the second table, dishonor of parents, disobedience of government, coveting of another’s possessions, etc. Granted that I have not committed murder, adultery, theft, and similar sins in deed, nevertheless I have committed them in the heart, and therefore I am a transgressor of all the commandments of God. “Because my transgressions are multiplied and my own efforts at self-justification rather a hindrance than a furtherance, therefore Christ the Son of God gave Himself into death for my sins.” To believe this is to have eternal life.

Let us equip ourselves against the accusations of Satan with this and similar passages of Holy Scripture. If he says, “Thou shalt be damned,” you tell him: “No, for I fly to Christ who gave Himself for my sins. In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God’s fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure.” With such heavenly cunning we are to meet the devil’s craft and put from us the memory of sin.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The necessity of prayer

This is great stuff from Calvin on the necessity of prayer. Really warm and instructive. 

...Therefore, even though, while we grow dull and stupid toward our miseries, he watches and keeps guard on our behalf, and sometimes even helps us unasked, still it is very important for us to call upon him:
First, that our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor.

Secondly, that there may enter our hearts no desire and no wish at all of which we should be ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts.
Thirdly, that we be prepared to receive his benefits with true gratitude of heart and thanksgiving, benefits that our prayer reminds us come from his hand [cf. Ps. 145.15-16]
Fourthly, moreover, that, having obtained what we were seeking, and being convinced that he has answered our prayers, we should be led to meditate upon his kindness more ardently.
And fifthly, that at the same time we embrace with greater delight those things which we acknowledge to have been obtained by prayers.
Finally, that use and experience may according to the measure of our feebleness, confirm his providence, while we understand not only that he promises never to fail us, and of his own will opens the way to call upon him at the very point of necessity, but also that he ever extends his hand to help his own, not wet-nursing them with words but defending them with present help.

From  Institutes, XX.3 (Battles ed. p.852)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When we feel stressed and battered

"Paul wrote in Philippians 1:29, 'It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.' When we feel stressed and battered by our service of God it does not feel like a privilege and we may not understand it to be so for many years. In the end, however, we see that carrying this suffering for a period of time has done something positive in God's kingdom.... So let us take heart, for 'we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned', the purpose being that Jesus' life may be revealed in our mortal bodies (2 Corinthians 4.8-9,11)"

Marjory Foyle, Honourably wounded: stress among Christian workers, p.27

Monday, February 11, 2013

Battling Fear by Learning the Fear of the Lord

Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.... Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (Psalm 34.9,11)
How is [the fear of the LORD] learned? By reading and meditating on the Word, and by praying that our God would teach us. 
Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God. (Deut. 31.13)
This is not easy.  Consistent Bible reading can be tough. The three adversaries [the world, our own flesh and the Devil] make sure it is a battle, and our worlds are already too busy. But if the fear of the Lord is as important as Scripture indicates, then we can be sure that God himself will give us the power to pursue it. 

Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, p.102

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Trust is not fatalism

Don Carson makes these interesting observations on 1 Kings 1 and David's response to the crisis with Adonijah.

"...the sovereignty of God works through the complicated efforts of his people. When David is informed of the problem, he does not throw his hands into the air and pray about the situation: he immediately orders that decisive, symbol-laden, and complex steps be taken to ensure that Solomon ascends the throne. Trust in God's sovereign goodness is never an excuse for inactivity or indolence. Long years of walking by faith have taught David that whatever else 'walking by faith' means, it does not warrant passivity. If we are to avoid acting in defiance of God, or in vain efforts to be independent of God, we must also avoid the pietism that is perenially in danger of collapsing trust into fatalism."

D.A.Carson For the Love of God vol.1, meditation on 1 Kings 1

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Planned, regular, generous giving

Don Carson on 2 Corinthians 8 (For the Love of God vol.1)

"There is considerable stress on perseverance and consistency in this matter of giving. Apparently the Corinthians had pledged the year before to give a certain amount. Now Paul sends Titus to encourage them to bring to completion what they began so well. So today: planned, regular, generous giving is better than the big binge that is wrung out of you by one emotional appeal, in part because the former is a better index of a heart consistently devoted to Christ and his work."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Leading with the towel

This is from an interesting little book I found called "Culture craft: leadership for organizational health" by Rick Sessoms and Colin Buckland.

They are discussing what some of the practical implications are of following Jesus' model of servant leadership as exemplified by John 13.

"Leading with the 'towel' means believing in people enough to empower them with the authority and the resources and the information as well as the accountability they need to be the best they can be. It means creating an environment safe enough for them to risk giving all... and sometimes fail in their giving... and encouraging them to risk again. Leading with the 'towel' implies that I don't have to be the source of every good idea, but we discover the vision together. It is about creating an atmosphere where everyone is free to tell the truth, especially to the leaders. Leading with the 'towel' means allowing people to express their passion and defending those privately and publicly who don't compromise principle for profit. It also means treating each person with the sacred understanding that they are uniquely crafted in the image of their Creator - not in mine. Leading with the 'towel' is enabling people to make decisions and to pursue God-given dreams, and celebrating their accomplishments.
Leading with the 'towel' means serving those I lead not so that they will serve me, but so that they will serve others.
[pp.40-41, emphasis in original]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Here is a man who thinks of himself as at the center of the universe;

"The heart of Saul's sin is [that]... he wants a domesticated god, a god like the genie in Aladdin's lamp, one pledged to do wonderful things for him as long as he holds the lamp. He somehow feels that David now holds the lamp and wishes he could get the power back, but does not perceive that the real God is to be worshiped, reverenced, obeyed, feared, and loved - unconditionally. Here is a man who thinks of himself as at the center of the universe; whatever gods exist must serve him. If the covenant God of Israel does not help him as he wishes, then Saul is prepared to find other gods. This is the black heart of idolatry."

Don Carson on 1 Samuel 28. For the Love of God, vol. 1, meditation for september 4.

Friday, October 05, 2012

John Owen on the comfort of the Holy Spirit

"Now there is no way of managing our souls in troubles and afflictions so that God is glorified and ourselves spiritually strengthened but by the comforts of the Holy Spirit...

"The Holy Spirit enables believers to obey cheerfully, willingly and patiently to the end.

"In a word, in all that concerns us in this life and in all our expectation of another life, we will always stand on need of the comfort and strength of the Holy Spirit.

"Without the comfort and strength of the Holy Spirit, we will either despise afflictions or collapse under them and God's purpose in sending them to us will be defeated."

Communion with God, pp.197-198

Friday, September 21, 2012

John Owen on the work of the Holy Spirit

"A believer may be in the saddest and darkest condition imaginable. Even so, the Holy Spirit is able to break through all this and bring to mind the promises of Christ. By this work, the Holy Spirit enables Christians to sit in dungeons, rejoice in flames and glory in troubles. If he brings to mind the promises of Christ for our comfort, neither Satan nor man, neither sin nor the world, nor even death itself shall take away our comfort. Saints who have communion with the Holy Spirit know this only too well. Sometimes the heavens are black over them, and the earth trembles under them. Disasters and distresses appear which are so full of horror and darkness that they are tempted to give up in despair. So how greatly are their spirits revived when the Holy Spirit brings the words of Christ to their minds for their comfort and joy. Thus, believers are not dependent on outward circumstances for their happiness, for they have the inward and powerfully effective work of the Holy Spirit, to whom they give themselves up by faith."

John Owen, Communion with God (banner of truth) p.179