Thursday, January 25, 2018

Hodge Podge for Jan 2018

If God should have no more mercy on us than we have charity to one another, what would become of us? —Thomas Fuller

The Bible is authoritative in regard to everything it addresses, and it addresses everything. --Van Til

I have put my soul, as a blank, into the hands of Jesus Christ my Redeemer, and desired Him to write upon it what he pleases. I know it will be His own image. — George Whitefield

A culture that is “spiritual but not religious”–made up of people who have mystical impulses but reject the existing organized religions–is a fertile ground for the introduction of new religions. --gv

A commitment to holiness means having a life that is always ready for company and open for inspection. —Nancy Leigh DeMoss

If we, including our very Lord, are called to live "not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God's mouth," and if we must know that word in order to live by it, and if we cannot know it without reading it, we must read the word intensively and extensively to live as we should before God. --Andrew Sandlin
To say that some matter is too little to pray about is to say it's too little for God to care about. This is borderline blasphemy. The God who counts every human hair and sees every falling sparrow cares about every single detail of our lives. --Andrew Sandlin

those who claim the Lord's Supper is a simple memorial (a mental exercise recalling what Jesus did) would never say that a marriage is a simple memorial. A real transformation takes place in partaking.

“Gathered worship is our weekly celebration of victory that the war is won, that our enemy's head is crushed, and that our future is secure in our returning and conquering king.” —Burk Parsons

If we do not have the power of God in our lives, it may be because we are denying it; it may well be that we do not want God to interfere too much with our lifestyle.

You can have true Christian churches that don’t baptize the right way. You can have real Christian churches that sing the wrong kind of songs. You can have genuine Christian churches that have adopted unedifying forms of church government. But you can’t have Christian churches that have the wrong God. And biblical marriage is one of the creationally-established and central confessions of faith concerning the nature of God.--D Wilson
Male and female, man and woman—this is one of the central places we must look if we are to remember—as we must remember—that the triune God created the world. Not surprisingly, for those who would not have the triune God rule over them, this is the emblem that they must eradicate. The devil is playing the long game, and he is seeking to undo the great accomplishments of the early ecumenical councils, principally Nicea. He is attacking the symbol of our God as embodied in the Creed by attacking the image of our God as embodied in the marriage covenant.

To say that we are sorry for our sins is mere hypocrisy, unless we show that we are really sorry for them, by giving them up. —J. C. Ryle

Biblical change is not the absence of struggles but the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles. —Christopher Yuan

It is impossible to secure rights on the basis of an atheistic conception of man as a mere fact; yet human beings sense that they are something more. Science rejects those feelings of transcendence, even while politics places its whole trust in them. Atheistic anthropology is stuck in this dilemma, which it cannot solve. --Vladimir Solovyev

We cannot too much cultivate that spirit of love which disposes us to believe and hope the best we can of others. — John Newton

Remember, this is an inescapable concept. It is not whether but which. It is not whether a society will be theocratic, but rather which Theos (God, god) the theocratic society will have. It is not whether we will impose a morality, but rather which morality we will impose. It is not whether we will have blasphemy laws, but rather which blasphemy laws we will have. --dw

We must not allow our emotions to hold sway over our minds. Rather, we must seek to let the truth of God rule our minds. Our emotions must become subservient to the truth. —Jerry Bridges

Those who have been justified are now being sanctified; those who have no experience of present sanctification have no reason to suppose they have been justified. —F.F. Bruce

If whatever is not of faith is sin, if it is not possible to please God without faith, and if faith is nourished in expectation, not to live in expectation in all of life is sin. Simply put: The normal Christian life is one of unremitting expectation of God's working in our lives and in the world. --Andrew Sandlin

T. S. Eliot poem that says we travel, in part, to return home and “know the place for the first time.”

It grieves me to say this, but the primary reason people are in bondage to sin is because people are bored with God. One of Satan’s most effective tactics is to convince us that God is a drag. —Sam Storms

When you combine African-American and Hispanic women you have only about ¼ of the female population in our country. Yet these two groups account for 57% of the abortions performed. Every day in America 1,300 black babies and 700 Hispanic babies are killed in America. Every day in America nearly 3,300 babies of all races are killed in America. --SS

Gathered worship is our weekly celebration of victory that the war is won, that our enemy’s head is crushed, and that our future is secure in our returning and conquering king. —Burk Parsons

Christian giving is to be marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness, not by self-congratulation. —John Stott
the man who planted trees

The community of the saints is not an "ideal" community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God's forgiveness. Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of God. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A False Dichotomy of Love and Hate

Christians, it turns out, are given a choice. One option is to approve of people satisfying same-sex desires through sexual contact. If Christians do that, they are believed to love LGBT people. The other option is to affirm Jesus’ teaching that sexual activity is reserved for a married man and woman (Matt. 19:1–4). If they do that, then Christians are allegedly hateful towards LGBT people. It’s a tiresome, false dichotomy.

I read an article where the author suggests that kids will either grow up believing that LGBT people are “absolutely as worthwhile and worthy of love and respect as anyone” or believing their parent’s religious tenets that LGBT people are “awful.”

Really? Are those the only two options? I know that article is just one example, but I see this thinking a lot (both in person and in print). We either approve of what someone does (somehow signaling we love them) or we hate them and they’re awful.

But here’s what the Christian faith has taught for two millennia. All human beings—including those who identify as LGBT—are made in the image of God, and are the pinnacle of God’s creation (Gen. 1:27). Like every person on the planet, they are to be treated with love, dignity, and respect. Period.

Let me briefly unpack that. If LGBT people are made in God’s image, then they bear the hallmark trait that justifies their equality with every other human being. That’s incredibly amazing and good. If LGBT people are made in God’s image, then they are to be respected as such in and of themselves. There’s nothing they can say or do to eliminate that. That’s also amazing and good. If they are the pinnacle of God’s creation, then they are the highest form of creation. Again, good stuff!

That’s what my “religious tenets” (to use the author’s words) teach me to believe about LGBT people.

Notice, there’s no “LGBT people are awful” doctrine, teaching, or implication. If they are awful, they are awful in the same way that any person is awful. That is, they are people who have committed crimes against God and deserve to be punished. But the Bible teaches every person on the planet deserves to be punished (Rom. 3:9–10). They are guilty just like every other person.

Though that certainly sounds like bad news (for everyone), the good news is that God loves His creation and declares people (including LGBT) are redeemable. Because of His grace, He is willing to offer a pardon. That applies equally and in the same way to LGBT people and to every other person on the planet who receives that grace. There’s no distinction between people. It’s the same grace and the same amount of grace offered to all.

Do you see a pattern? LGBT people are equally His image, equally guilty, and are candidates for God’s grace as any other person on the planet who receives that grace.

When the author of the article says he wishes that children of religious parents would grow up believing that LGBT people are to be treated with love, dignity, and respect, that’s no problem. That’s what our religious convictions affirm (at least for Christians).

Where the author and many others seem to get confused is when they learn of an additional teaching conveyed by Christ: Sexual contact can only occur between a married man and woman. That, somehow, translates to “Christians believe LGBT people are awful.”

Yes, it’s true that people who have sex with others of the same sex are violating Jesus’ teaching. That does not mean we think people who do so are awful. It means their behavior is sin and they are guilty of sin, but it is not a statement about how LGBT people deserve to be hated by Christians. They are still to be treated with love, dignity, and respect as anyone else is. We’re still commanded to love them.

The same is true of boyfriends and girlfriends who have sex (fornication). They are also violating Jesus’ sexual ethic. They are also guilty of sin. They are also to be treated with love, dignity, and respect as anyone else is. We’re commanded to love them too. The same is true of any person who violates Jesus’ teaching on sex or any other moral principle found in Scripture.

Now, are there some people who believe LGBT people are awful, and not to be loved and respected? Yes. In fact, I’ve met a few. After speaking at a church on this subject, one man confided in me and told me about his genuine homophobia. That is wrong, and I told him. Most Christians I speak to, though, aren’t like him. They express their frustration to me that though they love their LGBT friend or family member and treat them with respect, they’re told they’re being hateful because of their adherence to Jesus’ teaching on sexuality.

That’s why the dichotomy presented so often in this discussion is a false dichotomy. There’s another option. We can recognize that people who violate Jesus’ sexual ethic in scripture are committing sin and are not awful. We can acknowledge that people sin and are still to be treated with love, dignity, and respect. What a concept! Most Christians I know personally do this every day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Greatness of Giving Thanks

There are 13 letters from Paul in the New Testament, and in 9 of them he explicitly gives thanks for the recipients of the letter (Rom. 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; Eph. 1:15-16; Phil. 1:3-5; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Thess. 1:2-3; 2 Thess. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:3-5; Phm. 4-5). The only exceptions are 2 Corinthians (where he jumps in with a word of comfort), 1 Timothy and Titus (for whom he implicitly gives thanks), and Galatians (who were in danger of apostasy). The mighty apostle Paul was a man marked by gratitude.

Paul did not have an easy life. He was beaten, slandered, misunderstood, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, and opposed by someone almost everywhere he went. Nevertheless, he was profoundly grateful. Being grateful has little to do with your circumstances. Sure, it’s easier to be happy when everything is coming up roses, but we’ve all known people who seem to have everything, and yet are terrifically unhappy. Conversely, we all know people who seem to find hidden blessings in every trial. Grumbler or thanks-giver: we really do have a choice.

Think of the godliest people you know, the saints you most respect, the ones you want to be like when you grow up, the believers you want to emulate and imitate. Almost certainly, the people you are thinking of are thankful people. Cynics and critics may be celebrated on social media and on late-night television, but they do not make great heroes of the faith.

Despite his many earthly reasons to complain, Paul was constantly giving thanks to God—and not mainly for food or health or safety (though all are worth remembering), but for triumphs of the gospel.
Look at the beginning of Paul’s letter and notice what he gives thanks for in the churches.
  1. Have gave thanks for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, 1, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon).
  2. He gave thanks for their love for all the saints (Ephesians, Colossians, 1, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon).
  3. He gave thanks for their steadfastness, especially in trials (1, 2 Thessalonians).
  4. He gave thanks for their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians).
  5. He gave thanks for their partnership in the gospel (Philippians).
  6. He gave thanks for their history and mutual affection (2 Timothy).
It’s quite a list, especially when I consider the things that I’m most naturally thankful for (my family, a house, a job, good health, safe travel, nice holidays). These are all gifts from God too. There is no shame in thanking God for a million different things. After all, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). But Paul’s list reminds us of the greatest gifts: gospel faith, gospel partnerships, and gospel victories.

As most Americans gather around the table this Thursday, take a moment to put on your apostle Paul hat and share what gospel graces you are thankful for. And while you’re at it, think about the friends and family you’d love to be like. Chances are they are overflowing with gratitude, even more than they are overflowing with turkey and stuffing.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Again, All Hallows Eve

Faith For ALL of Life

A Christian's worldly vocation is to be pursued with spiritual and moral fervor in order to realize the Kingdom of God on earth. The world is to be regarded not as the inevitable expression of God's will, to be passively accepted in pious submission, but rather as the arena in which man's urgent religious duty is to fulfill God's will through questioning, and changing every aspect of life, every social and cultural institution, in order to help bring about that realization of God's Kingdom and a Christian Commonwealth.
It is a serious mistake to see theology as an academic exercise. The word theology means God's word; it begins with the presupposition that Scripture is the word of God, and the duty of the theologian is to understand it and to apply it to every area of life and thought. Theology belongs in the pulpit, the school, the work-place, the family, and everywhere. Society as a whole is weakened when theology is neglected. Without a systematic application of theology, too often people approach the Bible with a smorgasbord mentality, picking and choosing that which pleases them. Theology means the total mandate of God through His word for every area of life. --Chris Ortiz

The Lord’s promises don’t excuse inaction. They motivate action. Rather: Because the Lord has spoken, “this is the thing which you shall do.” Trusting in his promise, doesn’t make for complacency and passivity. There's no room for, “Well, if God wants it done, He’ll do it.” -HT: Peter Leithart

One of the principle fruits of the Reformation was the restoration of dignity to the work of the ordinary man and woman. A waitress is just as called to her vocation as a minister is to his. We are not divided into a two-tier system—where the clerics are holy, and a grubby laity pay the bills. A gospel that reaches down to every person has the effect of lifting up every person. And this is why we are enabled to live out every aspect of our lives coram Deo, before God. --Doug Wilson

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How Should Christians Think About Halloween?

In all of this, of course, we should keep things in perspective. Don’t try to make any of it fanciful and sacred. It’s not. It’s just permissible fun and a good opportunity for teaching and edification. Make the most of the opportunity, and whatever you do, do it to the glory of God.