Dedicated to the Passionate Pursuit of the Glory of God.

Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Hectic schedule nears end

My extremely busy schedule over the past week draws towards an end. I should start having more time to blog again and will return to more substantive posts. Please pray for me as today alone I have two midterms and a paper due.

Thanks a lot.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Philippians 2

This passage has become one of my favorites. There is so much great stuff that could be brought out from this passage. I had several people either comment or email me when I suggested that they spend 10 minutes meditating on the Ephesians 2 passage. If you found benefit in that, then I think that you could get just as much out of this passage. Again, remember that you must spend some legitimate time *even if only 10 minutes* in sustained thought. Meditate on God's word and it will pay rich rewards. In fact, this passage is actually pretty easy to memorize. If you have not already, this might be a good passage (or maybe a few verses from it) to commit to memory.

Philippians 2

3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in (J)Christ Jesus,

6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Christ alone,

Monday, March 13, 2006

Piper Article

I ran across an interesting article today by John Piper. You can read the article here. I am mostly interested in your thoughts, responses, etc.

Do you agree with him? Disagree? Still aren't sure?

Let me know :) Thanks

In Christ alone,

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Justification: His Work or Ours?

The post from yesterday stated that Justification had been discussed previously but that the passage being discussed referenced sanctification. In light of this we considered how a Christian ought to relate to the law and the impact that this has on our living. On the heels of this discussion, I do want to look back into the text at one passage that does deal with Justification.

We will answer the question of, Why it is so important that we are not Justified by Works of the Law? The answer, in short, is that we are either Justified by our actions or by Jesus’. If we gain salvation through the following of the law, the works of the flesh, then Christ has died needlessly.

Consider the passage from Galatians 2:

16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
17"But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!
18"For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
19"For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.
20"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
21"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

I have altered the text to draw out important points. Emboldened text indicates that we are not Justified by the Law or Works of the flesh. Underlined text indicates what we are saved by, namely faith in Jesus. Italicized text gives the rational behind such statements.

This is such a crucial reality that must be grasped. We are all horrific sinners having transgressed the law which is a reflection of the Character of God. In other words, we have terribly offended an infinite God infinitely much. Just one sin, one transgression, is enough that we should face an eternity of His wrath. However, we do not sin only once. On the contrary, we sin repeatedly and suppress the truth. Instead of serving the one true God we created idols after ourselves.

So then, what is the only way that we must be sparred? Can we redeem ourselves? Will all of the tears in the world cleanse us? Will penance for an eternity lessen our guilt? Will enough good works absolve us of past sin?

May it never be.

As humans we have the peculiar tendency to believe that time cleanses us for past wrongs. This is not the case with an eternal God who has been eternally offended to the infinite degree.
We also may believe that our righteous deeds may merit us standing before God. Again, may it never be. Our Lord says that all of our righteousness is but dirty rags before Him. Furthermore, the Scriptures teach that done do good, none seek righteousness, none seek God, not even one.

What then is the only way to be saved? The redemptive work of Jesus on the cross is the only solution. Consider Paul’s answer to this very question in Romans 3:

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for (AJ)there is no distinction;
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27Where then is boasting? It is excluded By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

What a truth! May we cling to this truth with all of our being. To give up this truth is to give up the gospel. To do so is to render Christ’s work nullified.
Furthermore, the words of Paul in the first chapter of Galatians:

8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

If anyone, the Apostle himself, yea, even an angel, should preach a foreign gospel then he is to be accursed.

In Christ alone,

Friday, March 10, 2006

You are not under law...

This may seem like a strange post to have following Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Nevertheless, hopefully it makes sense by the time you finish reading.

Galatians 5 is a popular passage for many schools of thought. All Protestants must love the passage with the possible exclusion of some extreme fundamentals. Furthermore, Reformers who are still chanting "Justification by Faith alone" will refer heavily to the passage. On the other side of the paradigm are the antinomians who love the passage. Furthermore, there are also the so-called evangelical Roman Catholics who quote the passage heavily.

With such a broad field of people who refer to this passage, I thought I would address one thing a little more carefully. This occurs in the wake of our discussion regarding to two great Commandments.

First, the verse at hand:
Galatians 5:18

18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

A pretty straight forward conditional verse. IF you are led by the Spirit THEN you are not under law. One thing that is absolutely critical regarding Galatians is the distinction between Flesh and Spirit. Paul assumes here (very similar to Romans 8) that if one is in the Spirit then he is not of the flesh and vice versa.

So then, the passage continues:

19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So then, Paul is not saying "Thou shall not commit sorcery." Rather, he is simply saying that those who are still in the flesh, that is, not yet made alive in Christ, will be people characterized by this list. Now then, if you (or I) claim to be a Christian but our life is characterized by any of these things then we must carefully examine ourselves. As John says, if we know the Light then we will not continue to walk in darkness.

The passage continues:
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

And here, as shown by the emboldened text, we return to the matter of the law. Note well what Paul is referring to. "Against such things", he says, "there is no law." What then is he speaking about? That is, of course, the person walking in the light, according to the flesh.

This is the key teaching of the Liberation In Christ that is taught in the New Testament. We are not liberated to Sin (for this is what characterizes the heathens) but rather liberated unto producing the fruit of the Spirit. Why is there no Law? First, and most important, because we are in Christ who has already satisfied the law on our behalf. Secondly though, and not a minor point, because we "belong to Christ Jesus" and thus we have "crucified the flesh with its passions and desires".

This, brethren, is not a reference to Justification (although Justification is discussed previously). Paul has moved on to Santification. This, we should remember, is very similar to Romans 8. Paul first lays out the indicatives that we have been buried with Christ and now live with new life. He then proceeds to the Imperatives that we ought to walk according to the Spirit. In much the same way, Paul has moved beyond our Justified Standing before God, to our practical living out of the Christian life. This, so he says, is characterized by living according to the Spirit and thus walking according to the Spirit (which is to say the same thing as producing the fruit of the Spirit).

So then what must be concluded from this passage?

A) We are no longer under the law.
B) This is not a license to sin.
C) It is a license for living righteously.
D) Those who walk in sin are not true brethren.
E) Those who walk according to the Spirit are followers of Jesus.
F) After being Justified in Christ (Declared innocent in our Standing before God) we are to Live Righteously (Relational obedience to God).

N.B. Justified and Righteous look like utterly different words in English but the two come from the same root word in Greek. The ideas are inseperable.

I conclude where I began and believe I can do so without contradicting my last two posts:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

In Christ alone,

Thursday, March 09, 2006

And the Second is like it...

Yesterday we looked at the original verse for the greatest commandment. I made the statement that not many Evangelicals read Duteronomy despite it being Jesus' favorite source for quotations. If I was relatively confident about that statement, I am even more confident about the Second greatest commandment.
Here we read from Leviticus!

The paragraph that has this passage is Lev. 19:17-18

You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

This verse doesn't nearly have the drama attached to it as our Shema passage out of Dueteronomy 6. Nevertheless, our Lord says that this is the second greatest commandment and so we ought to have some familiarity with it.

So then, if you desire, you can memorize Deut. 6:5 and Lev 19:18 if you have not already. At least know the citation!

This passage does give us some valuable insight for our culture. First the statement is made that we may reprove our neighbor but that it should not lead us to sin. This is important as there are two opposite errors. In our society the error is going to be in saying that any reproving is "mean", "judgmental", even "hate words". This, of course, is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. Rather, we ought to lovingly and gently reprove our neighbors. The opposite error is to let this reproving lead to sin. This can come in a variety of ways. If it causes us to hate our neighbor, bear a grudge, seek vengeance, etc., then it is wrong.

The last clause of the verse is also important: "I am the Lord." Leviticus ends with this quite frequently and it shows the source of the law. The major importance is that if we are transgressing this law (namely, not loving our neighbors) then we are not merely violating them, but primarily we are violating God. In this sense, I think that I may confidently state that if we are not loving our neighbors then we are not loving God. John echoes this thought in his first epistle.

So brethren, how do you treat yourself? When you are hungry do you not feed yourself? When you are cold do you not get warmer clothes? When you are sick do you not A) seek the Lord in Prayer and B) seek medical help? When you are lonely do you not desire companionship? The list could go on indefinitely.
The only remaining question is if we love our neighbor in this same sense. As a final word of caution, let us never delude ourselves into thinking that we get to choose this "neighbor" category. This is not your circle of friends, nor the people who live on each side of your house. Jesus goes on at length rejecting the legalism and hypocritical nature of such thought.

So then, I used Romans 6 as our exhortation yesterday; I will now use Romans 8.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Let us live, in Christ, and put to death the deeds of the flesh, namely a self-centered prideful Spirit that looks out for Number1. Let us turn from this sin and truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Greatest Commandment

Jesus was once asked, What is the Greatest commandment? We probably all know the answer, but I wonder how well we know what Jesus was quoting. It is the greatest command, but it does not come from the famous 10 in Exodus. No, it actually comes from the book that Jesus quoted most often, and yet is rarely read by most Evangelicals. That book is Duteronomy - that is Second Law (Dutero = second and nomos = law).

Jesus quotes one verse as the answer, but this verse comes in a context. Let us pause for just a moment and look a little beyond what is normally quoted. No wonder Jesus says this is the greatest command! Look at what the Jews were supposed to do with this truth.

The verse comes in a portion of Scripture known by Jews as the Shema (meaning Hear). Here is the passage:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

What does this mean for us? Ought we to walk around with things tied to our head with passages of Scripture in them? Probably not. However, I think I can confidently state that this is probably a pretty important truth that we are supposed to keep with us continually and refer to frequently. As we go throughout our day, Is this truth constantly on our mind? If so - Fantastic. If, however, it is not, then let us repent and change this very day.

Let us come to life with this truth tied closely to our heart. Are our thoughts, actions, words, etc., reflecting a reality that we are loving our God with every fiber of our being? To answer honestly is to emphatically answer in the negative. What then? We cannot absolve ourselves for we are not able. We must turn to the command-giver who not only gave us this greatest command, but also died for us when we fail, and fail again, and again. We must confess our sin and know that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We must love this Grace and praise God unceasingly for it.

However, are we then to continue to sin that this grace may increase? May it never be! How can we who have died to sin continue to live in it? For if we have died with Christ we now have been raised with him. So then, consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. What then? We must present our bodies as slaves of righteousness, resulting in sanctification and ultimately eternal life.

We have fallen terribly short, and we have confessed Christ as Savior for our failings; let us now follow Christ as Lord and present our bodies as instruments as righteousness. Make a change, this very day to begin to see some realm of your life better reflect this greatest commandment by Jesus. What does this mean for you in particular? I do not know. What I do know is that in Christ we are now able to follow Him and we must do so.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

In Christ alone,

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Would you please...

I am going to make a request; you do not have to do so but I pray that you will.

Please read the following very slowly; think through each word and each phrase. Do not merely glance through it. Then, if you would, please commit to spend 10 minutes reflecting on the passage. Try to have ten solid minutes of sustained thought on the passage. Do whatever is necessary to create an environment where this can be done without interuption. See if God will not bless the time you have put in. See if God will not use these verses to richly bless you and abundantly magnify Himself. See if it is even possible to be a Christian and spend time (a mere 10 minutes!) meditating on this truth and not have a truly worshipful experience.

And you
were dead in your trespasses, and sins,
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air,
of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God...

In Christ alone,

Monday, March 06, 2006


Today's post is going to be more in the form of a question. I definitely have my thoughts on this issue but I will attempt to veil them as best as I can. I'd like to get your thoughts on this matter:

Images for the purpose of worship.

Are images okay to aid worship?
What constitutes an image?
What do we mean by the second commandment beyond idols of the mind (if anything) - (Do you have your catechism memorized!)?

For a communion service can we have a picture of Jesus on a cross?
Should we have a picture of God in some respects?

Are images only wrong when they are of other Gods? When them emulate other religions? etc.

I look forward to your thoughts.

It should be noted that we are not presently talking about images for the purpose of instruction (stain-glass windows for the illiterate, sunday-school class, etc.).

In Christ alone,

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Challies' Conference Summaries

I happen to know that the link that is most often clicked from my website goes to Tim Challies' blog. I also know that the majority of people who read this admire people like John MacArthur, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and R.C. Sproul. Putting 2 and 2 together, I have decided that most people are probably interested in reading Tim Challies' liveblogging of the Shepherd's Conference. So then, to make things easy, I will link individually to each session through Friday night. UPDATE: Now Includes all sessions.


Tim Challies' blog

Conference Kickoff
1st Session with John MacArthur
Seminar 1 with Phil Johnson - Is the Reformation over?
Seminar 2 - Nathan Busenitz - Evangelical Charismatics
2nd Session with John MacArthur
3rd Session with Mark Dever
4th Session - QnA with MacArthur
Seminar 3 with Phil Johnson - The Fad Driven Church
Seminar 4 with Phil Johnson - Dead Right II
Session 5 with Al Mohler
Steve Lawson
Seminar 5 - Carey Hardy - How To Raise a Pharisee
Session 6 - Questions and answer
Session 7 - R.C. Sproul
Session 8 - Al Mohler
Session 9 - Ligon Duncan

In Christ alone,

Friday, March 03, 2006

Who is Knowing Whom?

You may have noticed that I have recently posted quite a bit on studying, reading, and ultimately Knowing God. Most of this is for my own benefit to be encouraged by other saints (past and present). However, I do think that the concept of Knowing God is incredibly important and is possibly a little lost in a society that hates the concept of Theology and is considerably post-modern when dealing with Truth claims about God.

Some recent posts have been these:
Duncan quotes Spurgeon’s Give Thyself unto Reading
J.I. Packer’s Mediating on God
and also Packer’s Knowing God.

However, in the midst of all of this I want to take a step back and make one thing exceedingly clear. The text comes from the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians.

v.6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
v.7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

This is mostly background information for the point that I’d like to draw. Nevertheless, a lot of good theology can be drawn from these two verses. However, the main point is that we are dealing with believers here.

v.8 However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.

The purpose of this is also largely contextual but since it uses our phrase, “know God”, I thought I’d comment. Note that not knowing God is the equivalent of not being a Son of God and in turn not loving God. It is foolhardy to say that we want to “have a relationship with Jesus” without actually getting to Know this Jesus we are speaking of. However, that is a mere tangent and is simply a stepping stone to the main verse.

v. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God

In the midst of our desire to Know God we must never become prideful at all. First and foremost this is not about us getting to Know God. It is not about attending seminary; it is not about bible study, and it is not about hearing sermons (all of which can be very beneficial). First and foremost it is not anything of our doing. Paul purposefully corrects himself and states “or rather to be Known by God” and that is really at the heart of the entire discussion. If we ever begin to think that this is something that is primarily of our own doing then we have been consumed by Spiritual Pride and are worse off than when we started. Everything, our knowledge of God and our Conversion, hinges on God having made Himself known to us.

This passage deals primarily with the Knowing aspect of things. John states the same concept in different words, In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us … (1John 4:10)

I do hope and pray that we all become more diligent followers of God, studying to show ourselves approved workmen of God, rightly dividing the word of truth, but I also pray that as we do this we avoid the tragic mistake of thinking that it is Our doing. We must confess, with Paul, that yes “we have come to know God” but that this is best said “to be Known by God”. Anything and everything that we come to Know about God (and our intimate Knowledge of God himself) is made possible through Jesus who has made God manifest to us. In this, we can confess that Jesus has become the wisdom of God for us (1Cor 1:30) in order that whoever boasts will boast in the Lord (1Cor 1:31).

In Christ alone,

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I won't post anything substantive today because I want to leave those two powerful quoatations from Packer up for another day.
However, the Shepherd's Conference did start today so I though I would link to Tim Challies who is liveblogging the event. Enjoy and be edified.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

To Know God

I have another quotation from Packer for today. This one is really hard hitting and should serve as a possible warning to many of us. Let the full force of this quotation hit you and contemplate the implications of such a statement.

Knowing God:

"First, one can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of Him. I am sure that many of us have never really grasped this. We find in ourselves a deep interest in theology (which is, of course, a most fascinating and intriguing subject 0 in the seventeenth century it was every gentleman's hobby). We read books of theological exposition and apologetics. We dip into Christian history, and study the Christian creed. We learn to find our way around in the Scriptures. Others appreciate our interest in these things, and we find ourselves asked to give our opinion in public on this or that Christian question, to lead study groups, to give papers, to write articles, and generally to accept responsibility, informal if not formal, for acting as teachers and arbiters of orthodoxy in our own Christian circle. Our friends tell us how much they value our contribution, and this spurs us to further explorations of God's truth, so that we may be equal to the demands made upon us. All very fine - yet interest in theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing Him. We may know as much about God as Calvin knew - indeed, if we study his works diligently, sooner or later we shall - and yet all the time (unlike Calvin, may I say) we may hardly know God at all."

And also:

"Second, one can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God. It depends on the sermons one hears, the books one reads, and the company one keeps. In this analytical and technological age there is no shortage of books on the church bookstalls, or sermons from the pulpits, on how to pray, how to witness, how to read our Bibles, how to tithe our money, how to be a young Christian, how to be an old Christian, how to be a happy Christian, how to get consecrated, how to lead men to Christ, how to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (or, in some cases, how to avoid receiving it), how to speak with tongues (or, how to explain away Pentecostal manifestations), and generally how to go through all the various motions which the teachers in question associate with being a Christian believer. Nor is there any shortage of biographies delineating the experiences of Christians in past days for our interested perusal. Whatever else may be said about this state of affairs, it certainly makes it possible to learn a great deal at second-hand about the practice of Christianity. Moreover, if one has been given a good bump of common sense one may frequently be able to use this learning to help floundering Christians of less stable temperament to regain their footing and develop a sense of proportion about their troubles, and in this way one may gain for oneself a reputation for being quite a pastor. Yet one can have all this and hardly know God at all."

These remind me of Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections. He spends quite a bit of time breaking down every false foundation for being a Christian (or in this case Knowing God) before he proceeds to look at what it truly means to Know God.

I may leave this up for an extra day because I think they are so valuable; I have not yet decided.

In Christ alone,