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Jesu, Juva

Archive for November 2006

Things we love

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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.

Gregory Nazianzen on the Trinity

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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.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 25, 2006 at 5:25 am

Andrew Osenga on humility and gratitude

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“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.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 20, 2006 at 11:59 am

Murray on our union with Christ

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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).

Lauterbach on gospel-driven living

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[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.

Watson on humility, gratitude, and deserving

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Thomas Watson draws out the connection between humility, gratitude, and a right awareness of our sins and our deserving: “A proud man complains that he has no more; a humble man wonders that he has so much: ‘I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies’ (Genesis 32:10).”

Written by Scott Moonen

November 12, 2006 at 4:54 pm

Ramsey on Humility

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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.”

Written by Scott Moonen

November 8, 2006 at 12:21 pm

Reflections Of An Octogenarian

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Notes on John Stott’s lecture Reflections of an Octogenarian, q.v..

A conviction about priorities

Stott recommends one day a month of solitude.

A conviction about people

  • How can you continue to love people who do not immediately appear to be lovable? Stott recommends Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.
  • Acts 20:28 — “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” He purchased these people with his own blood.
  • The only way to persevere in care is to “remember who they are, and how precious they are in the sight of God.” All three persons of the Trinity are dedicated to their welfare.
  • How small is our labor in comparison with Christ’s labor for his church?

A conviction about relevance

  • “the task of christian communicator, which is not to make Jesus Christ relevant but to demonstrate his relevance to the modern world.”
  • “in this simple, maybe rather elementary . . . diagram, evangelicals are biblical but not contemporary, liberals are contemporary but not biblical, and almost nobody is building bridges.”
  • “we have to struggle to be as relevant as we are biblical”

A conviction about study

  • “In our busy lives, study is usually the first thing to be dropped.”
  • Lloyd-Jones: “you will always find that the men whom God has used signally have been those who have studied most, known their scriptures best, and given time to preparation.”
  • Stott recommends one hour of study per day, one 4-hour session every week, one day every month, and one reading week every year.
  • We have to study on both sides of the divide… students of scripture, but we need also to be students of the modern world.

A conviction about obedience

  • John 14:21 — Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
  • Jesus will reveal himself to his lovers; his lovers are proved not by their words but by their obedience.
  • “The test of love is obedience, and the reward of love is the self-manifestation of Christ.”

A conviction about humility

  • “insidious temptation to pride”
  • “humility is not a synonym for hypocrisy; humility is a synonym for honesty”
  • Michael Ramsey, ”Sermons addressed to young men on the eve of their ordination”
    • “thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow”
    • “take care about the confession of your sins”
    • “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”
    • “it is at the foot of the cross that humility finally grows”

      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.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 8, 2006 at 10:34 am

Adoption

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You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993; p. 201.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 7, 2006 at 5:14 am

The Apostles' Creed

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I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen.

See other forms at CRTA, CCEL, Wikipedia.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 5, 2006 at 1:51 pm