Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apart from Him...

The Christian’s life in all its aspects - intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness - is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from Him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers, and no congregation at all.

J.I. Packer, quoted by Francis Chan, Forgotten God, David C. Cook Publishers, 2009, pg. 83

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How does God reveal Himself?

...When it comes to the great, defining events of the economy of salvation, it has been God’s direct intention to do these things in order to make Himself known to us.
In the old covenant, the central events were the choosing of Abraham, the Exodus from Egypt, and the gift of the Promised Land. In these events God was doing something in history that brought about knowledge of Him. “I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God,” He declares in Exodus 6:7, with the result that “you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the Egyptians.” At the other end of Old Testament history, the Lord promises that He will bring His people back from exile and that this mighty act will result in sure knowledge of His identity and character: “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD (Ezek 37:14). Over and over, God links accurate knowledge of His character to recognition of a definite constellation of His mighty acts on behalf of His people.
But those old-covenant events all cry out for their divinely ordained fulfillment in the new covenant, where God completes His intention to make Himself known.  The book of Hebrews begins by announcing this breakthrough to a new level of God’s self expression toward us: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He spoke to us by His Son” (Heb 1:1-2). This Son is not simply a messenger who carries God’s words, or an interpreter who explains God’s ways. He is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (v.3), and His being sent into the world is itself a mighty act of God to simultaneously save us and reveal Himself. 

-Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Crossway Publishers, 2010, pg. 131

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How has God spoken to us through His Son?

The revelation from Jesus Himself was unique, because not only was it purely God's message (as was the case with every other inspired writer) but it was also God's personality through which the message came. the personality of Paul, Peter, John and the other Biblical writers is clear in their writings. yet in the revelation from Jesus we see the personality of God.

David Guzik commenting on Hebrews 1:2 "In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son" 
Hebrews, Enduring Word Commentary Series, pg 12, 2004

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Trees

For, as death came upon the human race by the disobedience of one man, it was fitting that by another man’s obedience life should be restored. And, as sin, the cause of our condemnation, had its origin from a woman, so ought the author of our righteousness and salvation to be born of a woman. And so also it was proper that the devil, who, being man’s tempter, had conquered him in eating of the tree, should be vanquished by man in the suffering of the tree which man bore. Many other things also, if we carefully explain them, give a certain indescribable beauty to our redemption as thus procured.

Anslem of Canterbury
Cur Deus Homo

Where does the bride of Christ come from?

 Because of the sin of the first Adam, society sinks deeper into the mire of sin and guilt. But thank God, there’s another Adam - a Second Adam - God’s Son. God provided a bride for that first Adam - Eve was created from a rib that God took out of Adam’s side when he was in a deep sleep.
 Likewise God also has provided a bride for the second Adam. We are that bride. And in order to get His bride, Christ’s side was also pierced - it was pierced as He hung there upon the cross at Golgotha. But there was no deep sleep for Him. There was no anesthesia. Even a mild form of vinegar and gall was refused by Christ, that He might experience the pain that sin properly deserves. This pain is something we must endure forever if He does not endure it for us.

-D. James Kennedy, 
Cross Purposes, 
Multnomah Publishers, 2007, pg. 62.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is the goal of the church?

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. 

Worship is. 

Missions exists because worship doesn't. 

Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. 

John Piper, 
Let the Nations be Glad; the Supremacy of God in Missions, Baker Academic, 2003,  Page 17 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God's grace in salvation

Last Sunday morning at church we had a visiting couple from America show up. We had a great time chatting and getting to know each other after service and that evening we decided to meet up again for fish & chips. As we were sitting in my front room talking about the grace of God and how He had individually called each of us to believe in Him and follow him, something that Tom said sounded familiar. 
I thought I had heard it before, so I asked him, "Sorry, but did you ever give your testimony on video? I think I saw it online a couple months ago!" He laughed and confirmed that it had been posted on a few blogs recently! 
Tom has an incredible account of how God pursued him and brought him to Himself. I'd love for you to take 6 minutes and listen to his story!
Tom Martin Testimony from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A conversation about the grace of God (pt 2)

How did a band of fishermen change the world?

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fisherman all-wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them, drawing all the world into Your net. O Loving One, glory be to You.
(Apolytikion for Pentecost)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What is the church?

The church, as initiated by the Spirit, is a medley of people, who are privileged to stand with each other, to relate to each other, to minister together on behalf of the Spirit and thus to reflect God and His purposes.
Keith Warrington
The Message of the Holy Spirit, IVP, 2009
Pg. 141

Friday, June 10, 2011

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. - Galatians 3:13

“The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around His own brow…
“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has the power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The Victim wills that the soldier live on – He grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.
As the man swings, the Son recalls how He and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon His spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of His Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face His Father like this!
From Heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seem the Father look at Him so, never felt even the least of His hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.
“Son of Man! Why have You behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties You have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – You, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock Your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe this things in you! Disgust for everything about You consumes me! Can You not feel my wrath?”
Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of Himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind for every century explodes in a single direction.
" Father! Father! Why have You forsaken me?!”
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.”

When God Weeps, Joni Eareckson Tada & Steve Estes, Zondervan 1997

Monday, June 6, 2011

...And all of them good...

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. 
 John 21:25

Saturday, June 4, 2011

once was, but now is

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty victor’s brow.

The highest place that Heav’n affords
Belongs to Him by right;
The King of kings and Lord of lords,
And Heaven’s eternal Light.

Thomas Kelly; 
Hymns on Var­i­ous Pass­ag­es of Scrip­ture, fifth edi­tion 
(Dub­lin, Ire­land: 1820).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What are the benefits of Jesus ascending to heaven?

One day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, "Thy righteousness is in heaven"; and me thought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, is my righteousness, so that whatever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, he lacks My righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

John Bunyan
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 1666

But You raised Him

You fixed the world in place
and rule over all from Your sacred throne.
You formed a people for Yourself
and through Moses and the prophets You spoke to them
of the Christ who fills all in all.

As it was written, He suffered and was killed,

but You raised Him from the dead
and He walked again with His chosen ones,
speaking to them of Your glorious kingdom.
You carried Him into heaven on the clouds
and made Him head over all things for the church,
seating Him at Your right hand
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion,
and above every name that is named,
not only in this age but also in the age to come.

Not to abandon us, but to be our hope

 Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks.

Today the Lord Jesus, the King of glory,
the Conqueror of sin and death,
ascended to heaven while the angels sang His praises.

Christ, the Mediator between God and man,
Judge of the world, and Lord of all,
has passed beyond our sight,
not to abandon us but to be our hope.
Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church;
Where He has gone, we hope to follow.

The joy of the resurrection and ascension renews the whole world,
while the choirs of heaven sing for ever to your glory:

  Holy, holy, holy Lord...