Archive for November 2006
We ought to cultivate an understanding of God’s goodness in all things. Gideon Strauss recommends this:
I post a list of things I love every now and then, every time with a few tiny updates. Making lists of things we love is an important practice, I believe, because we learn more about ourselves from thinking about what we love than from any other kind of reflection on ourselves. Our deepest loves, our strongest commitments, our most intense concerns and cares — these are the most basic forces shaping who we are and how we live.
Gideon sees this as a way of understanding ourselves better, and a way of identifying our vocations. In another post he quotes Augustine, saying that “when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves.” But this is also a rich way to practice seeing the sovereign hand of God — and the goodness of God — in all things. In my experience this fuels both gratitude and joy.
What do you love, from great to small? Don’t feel compelled to over-spiritualize — we know that lightning, chocolate, traffic jams, Bach, the musty smell of wet fall leaves, the quiet beauty of a lit Christmas tree in a dark room, and orthodontic retainers are all gifts from God. My wife and I have found this to be one of our favorite date-night questions; you can easily fill an entire evening answering it.
This I give you to share, and to defend all your life, the one Godhead and power, found in the three in unity, and comprising the three separately; not unequal, in substances or natures, neither increased nor diminished by superiorities or inferiorities; in every respect equal, in every respect the same; just as the beauty and the greatness of the heavens is one; the infinite conjunction of three infinite ones, each God when considered in himself; as the Father, so the Son; as the Son, so the Holy Spirit; the three one God when contemplated together; each God because consubstantial; one God because of the monarchia. No sooner do I conceive of the one than I am illumined by the splendour of the three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the one. When I think of any one of the three I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that one so as to attribute a greater greatness to the rest. When I contemplate the three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light. — Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism
As quoted by Robert Letham in The Holy Trinity.
“And the bitter man is angry; angry man just thinks he’s right — too right to see mercy when he’s standing in its light! We can shed tears over dying, we can rage and we can fight, but we cannot forget that we were loved before we opened up our eyes — such foolish pride!” — Andrew Osenga, “The Story,” performed by Caedmon’s Call, In the Company of Angels II: The World Will Sing.
In his book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, the late John Murray presents an excellent summary of what it means that believers live in union with Christ. He writes that “if we did not take account of [union with Christ], not only would our presentation of the application of redemption be defective but our view of the Christian life would be gravely distorted. Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ” (p. 161). On the following pages he goes on to enumerate what it means to be united with Christ:
The fountain of salvation itself in the eternal election of the Father is “in Christ.” . . . The Father elected from eternity, but he elected in Christ. . . .
It is also because the people of God were in Christ when he gave his life a ransom and redeemed by his blood that salvation has been secured for them; they are represented as united to Christ in his death, resurrection, and exaltation to heaven. . . .
It is in Christ that the people of God are created anew. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10). . . .
But not only does the new life have its inception in Christ; it is also continued by virtue of the same relationship to him. It is in Christ that Christian life and behavior are conducted. . . .
It is in Christ that believers die. They have fallen asleep in Christ or through Christ and they are dead in Christ (1 Thess. 4:14, 16). . . .
Finally, it is in Christ that the people of God will be resurrected and glorified. It is in Christ they will be made alive when the last trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:22). It is with Christ they will be glorified (Rom. 8:17).
[Peter] wants them to live by faith in the finished work of Christ. He knows that mere commands do not give hope. He is not opposed to specific obedience. He is opposed to self-sufficient obedience.
This takes me back to this point in Gospel-centrality. The Gospel is not the entry to the Christian life — it is all of the Christian life. It is not the ABC’s but the A to Z (to quote Keller). I can find no other NT method or model for ministry. I find myself asking this — do I lead my people and my family and myself FIRST in fresh faith toward the Savior and all that he has won; and only SECOND to the specifics of application?
— Mark Lauterbach
Read the whole thing. Then bookmark Mark’s blog.
John Stott quotes Archbishop Michael Ramsey in his lecture “Reflections of an Octogenarian.” Ramsey gave a series of lectures entitled “Sermons addressed to young men on the eve of their ordination,” and which are collected in the book The Christian Priest Today. Stott quotes Ramsey’s main points on humility as follows:
- Always be expressing gratitude to God: “thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.”
- Always be aware of our sin: “take care about the confession of your sins.”
- Whether they are trivial or big, “be ready to accept humiliations, they can hurt terribly but they help you to be humble . . . these are opportunities to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord.”
- “Do not worry about status; there is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to himself.”
- “Use your sense of humor; laugh about things. Laugh at the absurdities of life; laugh about yourself and about your own absurdity . . . You have to be serious of course, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything, there is a danger of your becoming solemn about yourself.”
- Lastly, “it is at the foot of the cross that humility finally grows.” Consider Galatians 6:14, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”