I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Posts Tagged ‘sanctification

Better

with one comment

“God has better plans for you than an easy life and victories to follow victories.” — Daniel Baker

Sanctification's dying

with one comment

Everything worth keeping, it comes through dying.

— Caedmon’s Call, “Ten Thousand Angels,” Overdressed (Limited Edition)

The one thing that is “not good” in the original creation is Adam’s loneliness. And how does God go about addressing that imperfection? He puts Adam into deep sleep, tears out a rib from his side, closes up the flesh, and builds a woman from the rib. The solution to what is “not good” is something like death, and something like resurrection.

That’s always the solution. When God sees that something is “not good” in us, in our life situation, He tends not to ease us into a new stage. He kills us, in order to raise us up again. That has to happen, because it is a universal truth that “unless the seed go into the ground and die, it cannot bear fruit.”

— Peter Leithart, “Radical Solution”

Written by Scott Moonen

October 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Conviction and the cure

leave a comment »

My pastors have been preaching through Exodus, and just finished ten weeks in the ten commandments. They have done an incredible job of helping us to feel the weight and glory of God’s holiness; but without letting us forget that the law sits on the bedrock foundation of the gospel (“I am the Lord your God, who brought you . . . out of the house of slavery”), and that our reading of the law absolutely must be infused with gospel hope.

Yet it is still so tempting for me to hear such a message and nurse my conviction, without really going any farther. Perhaps I resolve to change some things, but in reality my ears are tuning out the very gospel hope and power that are the only way I can possibly move beyond conviction. Mark Lauterbach critiques his sermons on this point, but we should also critique our listening — are our ears tuned in to savor conviction, or savor the gospel:

Is conviction of sin the measure of a sermon? … I used to notice that people would give me the most response to a sermon that was the most demanding. “Oh Pastor, that was such a wonderful sermon, I was so very convicted.” Should I have found this encouraging?

[But] while conviction is a gift to us, it is always conviction to lead people to the cross. I know the arguments about people needing to be slain by the law — and agree that awareness of need of forgiveness is crucial. But if I leave them there, I have not been faithful to the Savior. Conviction should drive people to the cross — and they should leave with hope toward the Savior.

We want to welcome the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and repent, but we shouldn’t get off the bus there. Our conviction should drive us to look upward to our Savior rather than inward on our sin; the gospel is our only hope and power for forgiveness and for real change.

How do we make that something more than a mantra? How can we practically seize this gospel power to change? Here are some regular practices that can strengthen our faith and empower our obedience; please comment to add more:

  1. Regularly recount the gospel to ourselves, thanking God that our sins are completely forgiven and that we approach him clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
  2. Regularly acknowledge that whatever success we have in obedience is a gift from God.
  3. Regularly pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to change, knowing that this grace and help will surely be given to us because of the cross.
  4. Remind ourselves of the reasons that we should obey. Regularly feed our souls with these truths as a way of provoking joyful, grateful, faith-filled obedience:
    1. God is my creator, and he is good; he knows what is best for me.
    2. True and lasting joy are only found in God and in pleasing him; these idols that I cling to cannot compare to God’s glory and beauty and goodness and joy.
    3. God has saved me from condemnation and wrath, and my gratitude at this precious gift should overflow in obedience.
    4. God is my loving father and I should reflect his character.
    5. Christ has purchased my very life with his blood and I should reflect his character.
    6. The Holy Spirit indwells me and empowers me to reflect Christ’s character.
  5. Read books that fuel our appreciation for the gospel and our love for God, such as Jerry Bridges’ The Gospel For Real Life, C. J. Mahaney’s Living the Cross Centered Life, and John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God (download, purchase).

Crossposted to Reflections on Upchurch

Piper on justification and sanctification

leave a comment »

“The only sin we can fight against successfully is a forgiven sin”:

All the sins of God’s people, past, present and future, are forgiven because of the death of Christ once for all. . . . This justification on the basis of Christ’s death for us is the foundation of sanctification — not the other way around. I put it like this: the only sin we can fight against successfully is a forgiven sin. Without a once-for-all justification through Christ, the only thing that our striving for holiness produces is despair or self-righteousness.

But I did not say that the work of God in justification makes the work of God in sanctification optional. I didn’t say (the Bible doesn’t say) that forgiveness makes holiness optional. It doesn’t make it optional, it makes it possible. What we will see today is that the God who justifies also sanctifies. The faith that justifies also satisfies — it satisfies the human heart and frees it from the deceptive satisfactions of sin. Faith is the expulsive power of a new affection (Thomas Chalmers). That is why justification and the process of sanctification always go together. They both come from the same faith. Perfection comes at the end of life when we die or when Christ returns, but the pursuit of holy living begins with the first mustard seed of faith. That’s the nature of saving faith. It finds satisfaction in Christ and so is weaned away from the satisfactions of sin.

— John Piper, God Sanctifies His People

Don Whitney's questions for Christmas

leave a comment »

Don Whitney has collected a number of helpful questions for Christmas and New Year’s gatherings. Consider discussing these questions together as a family over the holidays!

HT: Justin Taylor

Written by Scott Moonen

December 22, 2006 at 6:54 am

Bavinck on Christian warfare

leave a comment »

We may not be a sect. We may not want to be one, and we cannot be one, except by a denial of the absolute character of the truth. Indeed, the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. But it does demand that everything in this world serve it. It is exclusive and jealous, and it will indulge no independent or neutral kingdom of the world alongside of itself. Naturally, it would be much easier to leave this age to its own ways, and to seek our strength in a quiet withdrawal. No such rest, however, is permitted to us here. Because every creature is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, since all things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, therefore the rejection of any creature were ingratitude to God, a misjudgment or under-evaluation of His goodness and His gifts. Our warfare may be conducted against sin alone. No matter how complicated the relationships may be, therefore, in which the confessors of Christ are placed in this time, no matter how serious, difficult, and virtually insurmountable the social, political, and especially the scientific problems may be, it were faithlessness and weakness in us proudly to withdraw from the struggle, perhaps even under the guise of Christian motivation, and to reject the culture of the age as demonic.

— Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 10.

HT: Nathan

Hosea

leave a comment »

Discussion questions on Hosea. This material owes much to Phil Sasser, Mark Dever, and John Piper.

Summary

  1. Hosea and Gomer as a type for God and Israel. Israel’s odious sin, God’s judgment, and God’s loving restoration.
  2. God’s restraining love shown in pleading for Israel’s repentance, and prophesying and bringing judgment.
  3. God’s redeeming love shown in his promise to buy Israel back for himself.
  4. God’s restoring love shown in his promise to bring healing to Israel.

Our sin

  1. Phil talked about how the imagery of adultery reminds us how shocking sin is. Does this come as a surprise? Do you easily forget how personally our sins are taken by God?
  2. Phil. 3:13-14 cautions us to “[forget] what lies behind”. When we contemplate our sin we should not let ourselves become burdened by condemnation; Romans 8:1 comforts the Christian that there is no condemnation thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice.

    At the same time, Eph. 2:11-13 calls us to “remember that [we] were separate from Christ” so that we may rejoice at having been brought near. And Paul recalls that he is “the worst of sinners” for the purpose of exulting in the grace and mercy he found in Christ (1 Tim. 1:12-17); he is moved by this consideration to proclaim that “to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

  3. What good can we gain from considering our sin?
    • A right notion of our humble position before God, “evangelical humiliation.”
    • A right notion of our position relative to others (we have no advantage or merit, and cause only for compassion and not pride).
    • A better understanding of the greatness of God’s love and mercy to us.
  4. What should a right understanding of the weight of our sin provoke in us?
    • Humility.
    • Contrition and repentance.
      • Dever reminds us that Christians must be always confessing sin and repenting of it. Not that God’s mercy is unsure — but our hearts are wandering and need continuous examining.
      • Phil reminds us to bring words of repentance, as in Hos. 14:2-3. Do you urgently confess to God your need for his mercy?
    • Gratitude and joy.
  5. Are there any practical ways that you find helpful in cultivating a heart of humility and contrition before God?

God’s mercy and holy love

  1. God’s holy displeasure with sin is on display in Hosea, but so is his great redeeming love. What great hope and comfort can we take from Hosea?
    • God’s love is jealous and holy; he desires to restrain his people from sin.
    • We stand in the shadow of the cross; we have received this great promised redemption.
    • What of the “healing” promised in 14:4? Sanctification; God has delivered us from bondage to sin! Phil reminded us that sin is no longer our master.
    • We have no hope apart from God. But he is a sure hope.
  2. What should an understanding of God’s great mercy and love provoke in us?
    • Phil reminded us that our love and devotion toward God must be pure and not mixed or half-hearted.
    • The great price at which we were bought (1 Peter 1:17-19) should inspire much gratefulness and affection.
    • We ought to be provoked to a similar self-giving love (1 John 4:10).

Closing

Possibly close with a quotation from Charles Simeon biography, on humility and enjoyment of God’s glory and love. Simeon says:

With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually.

Piper writes:

the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.

For the Christian, contemplation of our sin brings not condemnation but tearful joy at the greatness of the mercy shown to us, and the awesome greatness of the holy giver of mercy!

Written by Scott Moonen

June 8, 2004 at 7:33 pm