Sunday, October 31, 2010

Johnny Cash- I Won't Back Down

I think this song is a fine tribute to Martin Luther, someone who didn't back down

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

Luther's Stand - Happy Reformation Day!

Have you ever wondered what Luther’s stand looked like on the ground? Here is a glimpse, starting with the moment when Luther’s covered wagon rolled into town.
Mid morning of Tuesday April 16, while town residents were approaching lunch, a herald wearing an eagle upon his cloak trumpeted Luther’s imminent appearance. Within moments a flood of citizens and nobleman nearing 2000 persons crowded around the wagon, so much that the wheels could roll forward at only a snail’s pace. The long journey had finally concluded, but the turning of history was about to begin.
Luther understood what was at stake. He mentioned to a friend in advance, “Unless I am restrained by force or the emperor rescinds his invitation, I will enter Worms under the banner of Christ against the gates of hell….I have had my Palm Sunday. Is all this pomp merely a temptation or is it also a sign of the passion to come?” In just over 24 hours Luther would receive the answer to his question.
Shortly after arriving, Luther was informed that he would appear before the emperor at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17. At the appointed time he was personally escorted to the Bishop’s Court where he was required to wait for two hours before he was summoned into the emperor’s presence.
Two questions were directed at Luther. Since the Emperor didn’t speak German, they were first spoken in Latin. Pointing to about 20 volumes, Dr. Johann von der Ecken asked, “Do you acknowledge [having written] these books lying here?” and “Are you prepared to retract them as a whole or in part?” Before Luther could respond, his lawyer Hieronymus Schurff objected: “Let the titles of the books be read!” Luther was taken aback. He had come expecting a debate, but now realized that his judges had made their decision and were depriving him of the opportunity to make his case. Luther’s response was barely audible: “The books are all mine and I have written more.” All eyes of the grand assembly then fixed upon him in a moment of hushed silence to hear if he would go so far as to recant. It appeared that Luther’s confidence had wavered; he couldn’t offer a clear reply. In tones so subdued that they could hardly be heard, he asked for time to consider the matter. After a brief consultation the assembly reluctantly granted his request. He would have a day to consider the question with the provision that he give a direct answer.
That evening Luther remained in his quarters alone weighed down by anxiety and doubt. He wrote, “So long as Christ is merciful, I will not recant a single jot or tittle.” With nothing but the word of God to sustain him, the dark night of Luther’s soul was underway.
The next day Luther returned to a larger and more crowded hall. Civil business at the Diet pushed the timing back so that it was nightfall when Luther was eventually summoned. At such a late hour the auditorium was dark, illumined only by candles and smoking torches.
He was asked the same questions as the preceding day: did he acknowledge authorship of these books? And would he recant the errors which they contained?
Luther’s examiner began with a harsh rebuke:
His Imperial Majesty has assigned this time to you, Martin Luther, to answer for the books which you yesterday openly acknowledged to be yours. You asked time to deliberate on the question whether you would take back part of what you had said or would stand by all of it. You did not deserve this respite, which has now come to an end, for you knew long before why you were summoned. And every one – especially a professor of theology – ought to be so certain of his faith that whenever questioned about it he can give a sure and positive answer. Now at last reply to the demand of his Majesty, whose clemency you have experienced in obtaining time to deliberate. Do you wish to defend all of your books or to retract part of them?
Unlike the previous occasion, Luther’s response was clear and bold. He opened by apologizing in case he failed to address dignitaries by their proper titles, since his life had been spent in a monk’s residence and not in royal courts. He then offered a lengthy speech in which he separated his writings into different categories. When the examiner realized that Luther was trying to create a debate and was not answering the questions directly, he interjected with an aggravated demand:
Luther, you have not answered to the point. You ought not to call in question what has been decided and condemned by councils. Therefore I beg you to give a simple, unsophisticated answer without horns (that is, without deception). Will you recant or not?
Luther’s confidence did not fail him. To this direct command Luther offered his famous reply (in Latin):
Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scripture or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. [He then added in German] Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen.
Despite the clarity of Luther’s answer, Johann von der Ecken pressed further: “Abandon your conscience, Martin, for your conscience errs. You will never be able to prove that the councils have erred in questions of faith; at most they have erred in questions of discipline.” Luther rejoined, “I can prove it.” But before discussion went further the angered emperor gestured for Luther to be removed from the imperial court. Some thought that Luther was being arrested. Spanish soldiers shouted, “Al fuego, al fuego!” (Into the fire!) Upon exiting Luther was greeted by throngs of jubilant citizens celebrating much as they would the victory of a tournament. Their voices rang with cheer as Luther raised his hands and exclaimed. “I made it through! I made it through!”
Charles V was unimpressed with Luther (to put it mildly), and pronounced him an outlaw. About his infamous German renegade the Emperor said, “This devil in the habit of a monk…has brought together ancient errors into one stinking puddle, and has invented new ones.” Although Luther’s stand marked the climax of his defense before Charles V, it was by no means the end of the drama.
Not even Hollywood could produce a more colorful conclusion to Luther’s story. As he and two companions rolled along a wooded path, their wagon was ambushed. “Armed horsemen fell upon the party and with much cursing and show of violence dragged Luther to the ground. The one companion, privy to the ruse, played his part and roundly berated the abductors. They placed Luther upon a horse and led him for a whole day by circuitous roads through the woods until at dusk loomed up against the sky the massive contours of Wartburg Castle. At eleven o’clock in the night the party reined up before the gates.”
It was all a secret plot concocted by Fredrick III, Elector of Luther’s home, Saxony. As a supporter of Luther, Frederick decided to hide him away giving strict orders to those involved not to divulge the details. The plan was so strategically arranged and perfectly executed that many of Luther’s close friends thought that they’d heard the last of their old friend Martin. When the horses of Luther and his newfound abductor friends clattered across the drawbridge of Frederick’s castle, Luther entered the ancient fortress to find smiling faces and a warm welcome.
It was critical for Luther to remain incognito. He lodged in a room with a retractable ladder. The need to stay out of sight was especially urgent until his hair and beard grew long enough to disguise his face. In exchange for his monk’s habit, he dressed as a noble knight. In this environment he would remain for ten months. To everyone in the castle and around town he was known as “Sir George.”
Before being snatched from his wagon, Luther managed to grab his Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. Without the aid of a dictionary, he studied them carefully, and in a feat to flabbergast the most precocious Bible student, Luther translated the entire New Testament into German from the Greek text. In this act, Luther followed the footsteps of John Wycliffe who over a century before had promoted the translation of Scripture into English (even though Wycliffe operated from the Latin Vulgate and not the original languages of Hebrew and Greek). Luther’s translation of the New Testament highlights the fundamental issue with which both men wrestled—the need for God’s people to have God’s word. Oxford scholar Alister McGrath sheds light on this issue:
At its heart, the emergence and growth of Protestantism concerned one of the most fundamental questions that can confront any religion: Who has the authority to define its faith? Institutions or individuals? Who has the right to interpret its foundational document, the Bible?
Protestantism took its stand on the right of individuals to interpret the Bible for themselves rather than be forced to submit to ‘official’ interpretations handed down by popes or other centralized religious authorities. For Martin Luther, perhaps the most significant of the first generation of Protestant leaders, the traditional authority of clerical institutions had led to the degradation and distortion of the Christian faith. Renewal and reformation were urgently needed. And if the medieval church would not put its own house in order, reform would have to come from its grass roots – from the laity.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy (Live) - with Johnny Winter

From the CD Muddy Mississippi Waters Live

Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live

Nothing Puts Life Into Men Like A Dying Savior

Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon dated November 2, 1884:
The best preaching is, “We preach Christ crucified.”
The best living is, “We are crucified with Christ.”
The best man is a crucified man.
The more we live beholding our Lord’s unutterable griefs, and understanding how he has fully put away our sin, the more holiness shall we produce.
The more we dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard, where we can view heaven, and earth, and hell, all moved by his wondrous passion—the more noble will our lives become.
Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.
Get close to Christ, and carry the remembrance of him about you from day to day, and you will do right royal deeds.
Come, let us slay sin, for Christ was slain.
Come, let us bury all our pride, for Christ was buried.
Come, let us rise to newness of life, for Christ has risen.
Let us be united with our crucified Lord in his one great object—let us live and die with him, and then every action of our lives will be very beautiful.

Sin Neutralizers: things we do to neutralize our wrongs

Sin demands a response. And it will get one. The question is not, “Will I respond to sin?” You will. I will. The real question is, “How will I respond to sin?” Sin, like gravity, is one of those unalterable laws: it happens and, therefore, I must interact with it. It is not that we are helpless, or that we are victims of sin, at least not for the Christian. Similar to gravity, we can respond in wise and beneficial ways to our fallenness. God has given us the answer to our sin problem as well as the power to overcome sin’s realities. Because of Christ we do not have to be overcome by the vicissitudes of sin. We can become the Gospel-centered, Gospel-motivated, and Gospel-empowered aggressors and, most assuredly, it is up to us as to how we respond to the things we do wrong.

Man-Centered Sin Neutralizers

As I have reflected on the wrong ways in which I have responded to the things I have done wrong over the years, I have come up with at least four wrong responses to sin. Here they are:
Excuse – This is probably my most-oft-used tactic to neutralize my sin. My old friend Adam used this back in the Garden of Eden and I have found it to be a tempting response when I do something dumb. The downside, for those who have to live with me, is that it is frustrating to them because it is not really a solution at all. It does not get rid of my sin. It merely ignores or maybe, better said, turns my sin into some kind of ambiguous 18% gray gibberish that leaves everyone feeling a big awkward because they know that I have not sufficiently and biblically responded to what I have done wrong. Sin remains and my family and friends have to live with the big pink elephant in the room. When I resort to excuses rather than taking responsibility for my actions, life can only clunk along.
Justify – There are times when I will compare myself to others, which is part of the process that I use to talk myself into thinking that my sin is not as bad as some people’s. This, also, does not remove my sin, but only temporarily neutralizes it. Typically when I go into a self-justifying mode, it is because I think that I deserve better than what I have. Justification is a form of anger that comes from an angry heart that says, “I will get what I want regardless of what it costs or who I hurt in the process because I deserve to be happy.”
Usually the justifying persons have not been able to deal with their personal disappointments in life. They have talked themselves into being a victim of this or that and because of what has happened to them, they have reasoned that they deserve better. And when they sin, in the process of getting whatever they feel they deserve, they justify their sinful actions because they have convinced themselves that they have been unnecessarily hurt and should be rewarded. It is a cycle that leaves many casualties.
Alleviate – Typically people who seek to alleviate their sin have a different kind of sensitivity to their sin. Their sense of morality is more inward focused rather than the Justifier or the Excuser, who tend to point to externals as to why they do what they do. While the Excuser and the Justifier know the difference between right and wrong, they are not as introspective about their sin.
The way this practically works out for the Excuser and the Justifier is that their response to sin is to blame others while the Alleviator chooses to punish or blame himself/herself. This is their version of self-atonement, or how they seek to pay for their sin. Here is a short list of self-atoning, self-punishing responses to sin: drugs, sex, over-eating, excessive TV watching, spending money, vacations, clothes, medication, anger, cutting, woe is me and other self-loathing remarks.
These responses are intended to help the Alleviator in at least three ways: (1) There is a hope for comfort through these responses; (2) There is a feeling of “payment” for sin; (3) And there is a distraction from guilt. None of these responses accomplish the intended goal of removing the sin.
Blame – “If you lived with the woman that I live with, you would be doing what I am doing also.” “If you knew my dad, you would not be so self-righteous about what I am doing.” These are just two of the many variations that we use to neutralize our sin. Sadly, my list is quite long. Blaming becomes just another wrong reaction that never solves the real issues that need to be dealt with. The core issue with the blaming persons is self-righteousness. They find it very difficult to admit that they have done wrong. They are too in love with themselves to say that they made a mistake. Though they are aware of their sin, they choose to place their sin on someone or something else. A response to sin is required and they choose to respond by saying some version of, “It’s not really my fault.”

A Real Bad Side Effect

The problem with all four of these attempts to neutralize sin is that they harden the conscience. Conscience (co-knowledge) is that inner voice that acts as our moral thermostat. It tells us when we have done wrong. However, when we choose any of the responses that I have described above as a “solution” to sin, a layering-of-our-conscience-effect begins to take place, which in the long-run will de-sensitize us to God’s conviction in our lives. And once our conscience becomes so hardened (layered) we then become morally dysfunctional, not able to discern or respond to right and wrong.

God-Centered Sin Neutralizer

There is only one way to respond rightly to sin. That is the Gospel, the person and work of Jesus Christ. God gave us the one and only response to sin in His Son. Rather than us choosing to slave through various man-centered responses to sin, God judged His Son on the cross and only asks us to accept His judgement of His Son as the final right answer to the sin problem.

Application Question

  1. If you tend to choose any of the four wrong options above, what is it about the Gospel that is difficult for you to grasp and apply?
  2. Are you regularly accepting full responsibility for your sinful choices and appropriating God’s Gospel to your life on a daily basis? If not, why not?
  3. Do you need some help in practically applying the Gospel to your life? Will you talk to your pastor about your struggle?
Competent Counseling

    Revolution - The Beatles

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Plastic Water Bottles Won't Hurt You by John Stossel

    Canada has announced it will ban the chemical bisphenol A -- known as BPA -- which is used to make plastic water and baby bottles. The head of the Canadian environmental group Environmental Defence is thrilled: "Kudos to the federal government. ... We look forward to seeing BPA legally designated as 'toxic' as soon as possible."
    But the evidence doesn't actually show that BPA is toxic. Europe's equivalent of the FDA concluded: "(T)he data currently available do not provide convincing evidence of neurobehavioral toxicity." Richard Sharpe of the University of Edinburgh explained:
    "Some early animal studies produced results suggesting the possibility of adverse effects relevant to human health, but much larger, carefully designed studies in several laboratories have failed to confirm these initial studies."
    The initial studies injected BPA into animals, rather than giving it by mouth, which is how we humans are exposed. Since BPA degrades in the gut when we consume it, very little gets to our cells. Yet many people are sure BPA causes not only breast and prostate cancer but also obesity, diabetes, attention deficit hyperactivity, autism, liver disease, ovarian disease, disease of the uterus, low sperm count and heart disease. When a chemical is said to cause so many disorders, that's a sure sign of unscientific hysteria. But a documentary called "Tapped" says it's true. It quotes experts claiming "BPA may be one of the most potent toxic chemicals known to man."
    Nonsense. Not only is there no good evidence that BPA locked into plastic can hurt people, it actually saves lives by stopping botulism.
    "Since BPA became commonplace in the lining of canned goods, food-borne illness from canned foods -- including botulism -- has virtually disappeared," says the American Council of Science and Health. You never hear the good news about BPA in the mainstream media. Fear-mongering gets better ratings.
    "Tapped" also asserts that other dangerous chemicals poison bottled water. In the film, toxicologist Dr. Stephen King says that we should be "horrified" at all those chemicals. But when we called King, he sent us a study saying "testing" reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed -- at levels no different from those routinely found in tap water.
    "Tapped" claims cancer rates are up because of these chemicals, but that's another myth. Cancer incidence rates are flat. They would have declined if not for new screening methods. Life spans are up, too.
      Not every mom has fallen for the BPA scare. "Truth or Scare," the blog of a woman who calls herself "Junk Science Mom," recently called out one of the people behind the anti-BPA campaign: scaremonger/hustler David Fenton:
    "If you believe what you see and hear in the media, those fighting an unnecessary battle against bisphenol-A (BPA) are altruistic individuals concerned about health and safety. ... But there is an ugly truth behind the scenes that you will never hear about in the media. Greed, propaganda, political agendas, profits, lies and scams. And it all can be tied to one person and one powerful PR firm. David Fenton and Fenton Communications. ...
    "He is the puppet master, and we moms are his puppets. He orchestrates the scare, and we, being fearful for our children, unknowingly carry out his plan for him. He comes out a winner, and we are duped into wasting our time, money and energy fighting a battle that never needed to be fought."
    Good for you, Junk Science Mom, whoever you are. "Truth or Scare" is a wonderful addition to the debate.
    But if BPA isn't toxic, why will Canada ban it? And why have Connecticut and Minnesota already done so? Because scientifically illiterate legislators are quick to panic. When the media sensationalize, legislators respond. Two FDA scientists -- Ronald J. Lorentzen and David G. Hattan --[AZ1] note the bias toward sensationalism: "The disquieting public invocations made by some ... about the perils of exposure (to BPA) ... galvanize the public debate."
       When even notoriously risk-averse FDA scientists speak out against the BPA panic, the scaremongers must have gone absurdly far.
    Human Events

    Eric Clapton - Run Back to Your Side

    Rage Against the Beginning

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 (Augsburg, 1997), 28:
    Humankind no longer lives in the beginning; instead it has lost the beginning. Now it finds itself in the middle, knowing neither the end nor the beginning, and yet knowing that it is in the middle. It knows therefore that it comes from the beginning and must move on towards the end. It sees its life as determined by these two factors, concerning which it knows only that it does not know them. The animals know nothing about the beginning and the end; they therefore know no hatred and no pride. Humankind knows itself to be totally deprived of its own self-determination, because it comes from the beginning and is moving toward the end without knowing what that means. This makes it hate the beginning and rise up in pride against it.

    NPR - Politically Correct Speech Police

    What, Essentially, Is Reformed Theology?

    In a word, Reformed theology is fundamentally about grace. . . .

    At its heart, Calvinism is simply a lens that magnifies a persistent theme in the narrative of God's self-revelation: that everything depends on God. Everything is a gift.
    --James K. A. Smith, Letters to a Young Calvinist (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2010), 14


    This wonderful book is a short, accessible series of 23 letters, each a few pages long, written from the perspective of an older saint who is helping walk a younger man into the Reformed faith. The two consistent themes throughout the book are (1) Reformed theology is inherently self-contradictory if it breeds pride, and (2) there is much more to Reformed theology than the five points.

    Our brother Justin Taylor has another nice excerpt from the book here. Dr. Smith briefly introduces the book at his blog here. Tullian helpfully comments on one of the main themes of the book here.
    Dane Ortlund

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    "Top Ten Signs There's Trouble in the Democratic Party."- David Letterman

    The Blues Overtook Me - Charlie Musselwhite

    What's the Least I Can Do?

    That's the question we all tend to roll out of bed asking. What's the least I can do here? What's the minimum requirement? What bar do I have to meet, after which I can do what I want to do?

    It's the question Peter asked with respect to forgiveness--what's the least number of times I can forgive before finally having the right to stop forgiving? (Matthew 18:21-35)

    It's the question the Pharisees asked with respect to marriage--what's the least excuse I can have for divorcing my wife? (Matthew 19:1-12)

    It's the question the rich young man asked with respect to morality--what's the least I can do to have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16-22)

    C. S. Lewis insightfully writes:
    Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. ('A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory [Touchstone 1996], 140).
    The alternative?

    'But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.' --Matthew 6:33

    '. . . how shall he not also with him graciously give us all things?' --Romans 8:32

    Taxpaying obedience is miserable. Quit dividing your time between you and God. Kill your self-preservation instinct. Kill it. Galatians 2:20.

    Violent all-out surrender is our only rest; our only real, solid joy.
    Dane Ortlund

    The World According To Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco

    An Interview with Tim Keller on the Gospel and Justice

    Kevin DeYoung interviews Tim Keller about his new book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just [also coming as a Kindle eBook].
    I found Keller’s explanation of “asymmetrical balance” to be helpful:
    I believe that making disciples and doing justice relate (not exactly) but somewhat in the same way that faith and works relate to one another. We would say that faith alone is the basis for salvation, and yet true faith will always result in good works. We must not “load in” works as if they are an equal with faith as a salvation-base, but neither can we “detach” works and say that they are optional for a believer.
    Similarly, I would say that the first thing I need to tell people when they come to church is “believe in Jesus,” not “do justice.” Why? Because first, believing in Jesus meets a more radical need and second, because if they don’t believe in Jesus they won’t have that gospel-motivation to do justice that I talk about in the book. So there’s a priority there.
    On the other hand, for a church to not constantly disciple its people to “do justice” would be utterly wrong, because it is an important part of God’s will.
    I’m calling for an ‘asymmetrical balance’ here. It seems to me that some churches try to “load in” doing justice as if it is equally important as believing in Jesus, but others, in fear of falling into the social gospel, do not preach or disciple their people to do justice at all. Both are wrong. A biblical church should be highly evangelistic yet known for its commitment to the poor of the city.
    You can read the whole interview here.
    You can also read the first chapter of the book online.
    Justin Taylor

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Why God is gracious

    “For God is not gracious and merciful to sinners to the end that they might not keep his Law, nor that they should remain as they were before they received grace and mercy; but he condones and forgives both sin and death for the sake of Christ, who has fulfilled the whole Law in order thereby to make the heart sweet and through the Holy Spirit to kindle and move the heart to begin to love from day to day more and more.”
    - Martin Luther, Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 3, p. 188
    Of First Importance

    Charlie Musselwhite 2009 Chicago Blues Festival "River Hip Mama"

    We Praise What We Care About

    Worship of God is enjoyment of God. We have no problem laughing at something funny, smiling at something pretty, "mmmm"-ing something delicious, humming something catchy, or cheering something exciting in the stadium, but when we get into church on Sunday mornings, we have trouble worshiping because we don't know and enjoy God the same way we know and enjoy jokes, pictures, food, songs, or sports.

    In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis writes:
    But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: 'Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?' The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.
    We praise what we care about.
    Jared Wilson

    Divine Healing Has Not Passed Away

    James 5: 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
    I was just reading Tim Challies blog where he was quoting a commentary on the book of James by Daniel Dorian on the subject of Divine healing. As I understand it, there are extremes on both sides of the cessationist v. continuationist issue. There seems to be just as much error on the part of the extreme cessationist as there is in the extreme continualist camp. Whatever our stance, I trust we can all agree that it is entirely biblical to continue to expect great things from a great God. He still answers prayer. I could add to the testimony below having seen countless answers to prayer as God has graciously intervened to heal. - JS
    Here is the quote: During the autumn when I first studied James in earnest, a friend suffered a viral infection of the heart. While it was not a heart attack, it mimicked many of the symptoms of one. My friend felt listless; he looked gray and lifeless. One day at church, I told him that James 5 instructs elders to lay hands on the sick and to pray for their healing; I suggested that he call the elders for that very purpose. Two weeks later, he told me he wanted to proceed. No one in our church had done this before, so we did something very Presbyterian: we studied the matter another six weeks and hoped he didn’t die in the meantime.

    Continue reading "Divine Healing Has Not Passed Away" »  

    Jackass 3D Now Playing In Washington DC

    The Wonderful Monergism of Justification

    Yes, justification is received with genuine human faith. But listen to Bavinck, in a passage that sounds much like Calvin:
    If for insignificant, guilty, and impure persons there is to be a possibility of true religion, that is, of genuine fellowship with God, of salvation and eternal life, then God on his part must reestablish the broken bond, again take them into fellowship with him and share his grace with them, regardless of their guilt and corruption.

    He, then, must descend from the height of his majesty, seek us out and come to us, take away our guilt and again open the way to his fatherly heart. If God were to wait until we . . . had made ourselves worthy, in part or in whole, to receive his favor, the restoration of communion between him and ourselves would never happen, and salvation would forever be out of reach for us.
    --Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:204-5

    Bavinck is giving me a deeper sense of how helpless we really are, how completely lost, until grace reaches down and defiantly rescues us. Hallelujah; what a Savior.
    Dane Ortlund

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    John M. Frame on the Lordship Attributes

    I am reading John M. Frame’s “The doctrine of God” together with my ministry trainee, who happens to have completed a theology degree at Bangor this year.  Not all ministry trainees would be expected to read Frame, just in case you’re thinking of applying for next year.
    In this second of a series of four volumes, Frame develops the doctrine of the Lordship of God. In his introduction he writes:
    So the Lord is, first of all, a holy person, our covenant Lord. But further study reveals more specific connotations of the term Lord. As in DKG [The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God], I shall refer to these lordship attributes as control, authority, and presence, and I shall spend some time expounding them. As in DKG, the three lordship attributes will generate a number of triadic distinctions, preparing us for the discussion of the Trinity toward the end.
    The Lord in Scripture reveals himself in three ways: by a narrative of his acts, by authoritative descriptions of his nature, and by revealing something of his inner life through the Trinitarian persons. These correspond respectively to the lordship attributes of control, authority and presence.
    These three attributes fit nicely into a Venn diagram and so we can see what we lose if one attribute of God’s Lordship is absent in our theology:
    The categories are fairly self-evident:
    1. Distant ruler/absentee landlord: Control and authority without presence.
    This god is a distant ruler an absentee landlord, with no involvement with his world.
    2. Lame duck: Authority and presence without control.
    This god would have the authority to act and the presence to enact but without the power to do anything meaningful.
    3. Despotic puppeteer: Control and presence without authority.
    God must have the authority to act in his world, without it this god is a despot, ruling the world and its people like puppets as he pleases without commanding their respect for his rule by his authoritative word.


    "Mercy" includes these lyrics:

    Love has come again / I am gone again Love is the end of history / The enemy of misery
    Love has come again / I am gone again

    Love is justice, a charity / Love brings with it a clarity
    Love has come again / I'm alive again
    I am alive, baby I'm born again and again
    And again, and again and again and again

    Johnny Cash, DeGarmo & Key to Join Gospel Hall

    The Man in Black leads latest group to be inducted into Gospel Music Hall of Fame by Mark Moring

    Johnny Cash and DeGarmo & Key will be inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in January, the GMA Foundation announced today. "The impact this group of individuals has made on gospel music is immeasurable," said Ed Harper, chairman of the GMA Foundation.
    Cash, who died in 2003, was quite vocal about his faith in the final decades of his life, and recorded a number of gospel albums including Man in White, My Mother's Hymn Book, and Cash: Ultimate Gospel.
    The D&K induction will be bittersweet, since Key passed away in June.
    Other January inductees will include Golden Gate Quartet and Bill "Hoss" Allen, it was announced. For the full press release, click here.
     CT Entertainment

    If You Really Believed In Global Warming

    Are You Afraid Of Grace?

    I’ve written an article over at The Resurgence on the primary lie Satan wants us to believe about God’s grace:
    The biggest lie about grace that Satan wants the church to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be “kept it in check.” By believing this we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in our lives and in the church. A “yes, grace…but” disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in our hearts and in the church.
    Click here to read the whole thing and then come back here and comment.
    I think this is an extremely important subject for the 21st century church to wrestle with if we are going to experience real Gospel revival inside  the church.
    Tullian Tchividjian

    Resurrection, Justification, and Union

    A nice statement on the connection between Christ's resurrection and our justification from Cornelis Venema's The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ, which engages the New Perspective from the angle of historical and systematic theology. Venema is president of Mid-America Reformed Seminary and did his PhD on Calvin at Princeton. Commenting on Romans 4:25, Venema says:
    [T]he resurrection of Christ represents the justification and vindication of believers. Since Christ bore the consequences of sin on behalf of his people on the cross, his resurrection was God's declaration of both his and his people's righteousness. The great and complex event of Christ's death and resurrection constitutes the basis for the positive verdict of justification for all who are in union with him through faith. In the death of Christ, the trespasses of his people were punished; in the resurrection of Christ, the justification of his people was declared. The justification of believers occurs by virtue of their participation in the reality of Christ's death and resurrection on their behalf.
    --Cornelis Venema, The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ: An Assessment of the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul (Banner of Truth 2006), 44
    Dane Ortlund

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Call Me Senator - A Parody of Barbara Boxer From David Zucker - Director David Zucker writes and produces the hilarious but sad tale of Barbara Boxers disrespect of our Military. In the wonderful style of his great movies Airplane, Naked Gun, Naked Gun 2.5, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, An American Carol, David hits to the core of Senator Boxers famous hearing. Visit for more great videos.

    James Cotton - Sad Sad Day

    'Not That We Are Sufficient in Ourselves' (2 Cor 3:5)

    A picture of Christian leadership:
    Caspian knelt and kissed the Lion's paw.

    'Welcome, Prince,' said Aslan. 'Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?'

    'I--I don't think I do, Sir,' said Caspian. 'I'm only a kid.'

    'Good,' said Aslan. 'If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not.'
    --C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
    Dane Ortlund

    I Never Get Tired Of "What About Bob"

    Here is a collection of clips from What About Bob that 10 minutes will allow. What About Bob is arguably the greatest comedy ever made. Sit back and have a laugh.

    Hoping For Burnt Toast

    It’s Okay to Pass This Test

    You may have heard these words in a sermon. Maybe you’ve handed them off to others. Perhaps they’ve rung a spiritual alarm in your heart. They come from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5:  “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”
    This exhortation is often used to motivate careful self-examination–to see if we really believe in Christ, to see if we are actually walking with the Lord, to test if we are genuine disciples or phony hypocrites.
    And there is a time for this kind of self-examination. The Sermon on the Mount (the end of chapter 7 especially), the woes on the Pharisees (Matt. 23), and the seven letters of Revelation (Rev. 2-3) come to mind. But self-examination becomes a problem when we don’t believe were allowed to pass the exam. Some Christians turn introspection into annihilation. And some of our heroes don’t always help. There is a strand in some Puritan divines–and I love those dead guys as much as anyone –that so delineates all the sins on our sinny sin sins that we scarcely feel it possible to call ourselves Christian. Pound away with the law, but don’t hammer out the faith.
    The thing we often miss with 2 Corinthians 13:5 is that Paul expects the Corinthians to pass the test. He is writing to defend his apostleship, and the chief ground for his defense is the Corinthians themselves. They want proof that Christ is speaking through weak little Paul (v. 3). He offers their lives as proof. The Corinthians ought to test themselves to see whether they are in the faith because Paul knows Jesus Christ is them, so they will not fail the test (v. 5b). Consequently, Paul will not fail their test (v. 6).
    So go ahead and encourage one another to examine the heart. Let’s be honest and see if we are in the faith. Let’s test whether or not Christ is in us. But as we put our “in-Christness” to the test let’s not forget it’s okay to give ourselves a passing grade. To God be the glory.
    Kevin DeYoung

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Are Future Sins Forgiven in a Believer's Justification?

    I find this extremely liberating.
    The justification of a sinner is instantaneous and complete. . . . [It] is an all-comprehending act of God. All the sins of a believer, past, present, and future, are pardoned when he is justified. The sum-total of his sin, all of which is before the Divine eye at the instant when God pronounces him a justified person, is blotted out or covered over by one act of God. Consequently, there is no repetition in the Divine mind of the act of justification; as there is no repetition of the atoning death of Christ, upon which it rests.
    --William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2 (New York: Scribner's, 1891), 545
    Dane Ortlund

    Bob Dylan & Tom Petty "Knocking On Heavens Door" - Sydney Australia 25 February 1986

    Enjoy some Dylan and Petty on a Sunday, Great Song

    Now For The Bad News

    WOLF: Obamacare's Unkeepable Promises Utopian vision was a fraud from the beginning

    We are witnessing the unmistakable collapse of an American presidency. While this may not yet be irreversible, it certainly was predictable and preventable. Chief among its causes has been the unbridled hubris that prompted this president to force Obamacare, the government takeover of the finest health care system in the world, against the clear will of "we the people" while turning his back on the free-market principles that once made us the most prosperous nation on earth.
    A diminished president, even - or perhaps especially - if his fate is self-inflicted, is not good for America and should not be pleasing to any patriot regardless of his or her political leanings. It certainly is not pleasing to me, as this president is my cousin. But as a physician who took an inviolate oath to my patients, I am duty-bound to take this stand, particularly after watching Barack Obama make so many unkeepable Obamacare promises:
    c Obamacare would reduce our deficit. We were to believe that millions of Americans would be added to the insurance rolls, that medical care would not suffer, and somehow, almost magically, costs would go down. We might as well promise it will never rain on weekends. Gravity caught up to this wishful thinking, and even the president's own actuary now admits the overhaul will increase, not decrease, the deficit.
    c Obamacare would allow you to keep your doctor and your current insurance. How can you keep your doctor if your doctor can't keep his practice? nearly half of America's doctors are being forced to consider leaving their practice if Obamacare is implemented. 90 million Americans will lose their current insurance policies because of the takeover. Millions of them will be forced into Medicaid and government exchanges.
    c Obamacare would not jeopardize senior citizens' care. The continued viability of Medicare Advantage is in serious jeopardy because of Mr. Obama's Medicare cuts to pay for other parts of his health care overhaul. Already, 42 percent of doctors do not accept Medicare, and that number is increasing. Your shiny government-issued Medicare card is meaningless without doctors who will accept it.

    c Obamacare would not ration health care. The president promised time and time again that he would not ration health care, and then promptly, under the cloak of a recess appointment, installed as the head of Medicare a man who would do it for him.

    c Obamacare would not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year.I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." New excise taxes on pharmaceuticals and medical products will, of course, by necessity be passed on to the patients who depend on these lifesaving medicines, pacemakers, MRI machines or even tongue depressors. Even more flagrant, there are new Obamacare taxes on everything from tampons to tanning salons, from gold to the sale of your home.

    c Obamacare would create 4 million new jobs, 400,000 almost immediately. since the health care takeover was signed into law, no such jobs boom has occurred.

    Can we really repeal Obamacare? Let me be clear. Yes, we can.
    First, in 2010, elect candidates who understand that health care freedom - like our other freedoms - saves lives. Elect candidates who pledge to first defund Obamacare immediately and then will vote for its repeal. Second, let's convince this president that it's in the nation's best interest - and his own - to undo this unholy government takeover that bears his name. If we cannot, then in 2012, let's find a president who will.
    Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified, practicing diagnostic radiologist and cousin of President Obama's. He is also a member of Docs4PatientCare.

    Read the whole article here.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    How to Start A Fight

    My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.
    She said, "I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds."
    I bought her a chrome bathroom scale.
    And then the fight started......

    CREAM, Live 2005, Sunshine of your love.flv


    How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?

    How do Christians work for justice in the world and not undermine the centrality of evangelism? Mike Wittmer responds today.

    Everything hinges on how we answer the question, “Why justice?” or “Who is justice for?”
    We fight for justice in part because we want to stop the perpetrators of evil and violence. This is why the most satisfying part of a Chuck Norris movie is the last ten minutes, when the smirking gangster takes a boot to the face.
    A better answer, especially for pacifists, is that we seek justice to help the victims of oppression. We care about the widow being scammed by a conniving contractor and we grieve for children who are forced into prostitution or maimed to enhance their begging.
    But the best—and only Christian—answer is that we seek justice not only to pay back the perpetrators and to rescue the oppressed but because we love Jesus Christ. No one weeps over injustice like Jesus (nor has anyone been treated so unjustly), and he has been taking names for a very long time. Unlike Chuck Norris, who returned each week to battle new bad guys, Jesus will return to settle things once and for all. He will “set the world to rights” (see N.T. Wright), for his words will become swords that “strike down” evildoers and he “will wipe every tear” from the eyes of his suffering children (Rev. 19:15; 21:4).
    We are committed to justice because it matters to Jesus. But if we fight for justice for Jesus’ sake, we will never be satisfied with justice alone. We will not rest until every perpetrator and victim bows before his name, the returning King who gave his life so every unjust person who repents and believes in him may live forever.
    This requires evangelism, and it flows naturally from the Christian passion for justice. If justice is primarily about Jesus, we will eagerly tell others about their need for him. If we forget Jesus, it won’t be long until we also lose our passion for justice. For without the promise of his glorious return, really, what’s the point?
    Gospel Coalition


    “Dangers, of course, there must be; how else can you keep a story going?”
    C. S. Lewis, “On Stories,” in Essays Presented to Charles Williams (Grand Rapids, 1974), page 91.
    Let’s not be surprised or dismayed by dangers, setbacks, oppositions, hardships as we advance the gospel.  God is telling a story through us that requires — and imparts — courage.  In this world, as the poster says, truth needs a soldier.
    “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
    Ray Ortlund

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    How To Start A Fight

    When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. 

    But, somehow I always had something else to take
    care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer.. Always something more important to me. Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point.
    When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house.. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. I said, "When you finish
    cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway."
    The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.

    Little Walter - Blue Midnight

    Those Crazy French

    A Faithful Friend

    'There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.' --Proverbs 18:24

    Christ is 'a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.' And in order to prove this from facts, we appeal to such of you as have had him for a friend. Will you not, each of you, at once give your verdict, that this is neither more nor less than an unexaggerated truth?

    He loved you before all worlds; long ere the day star flung his ray across the darkness, before the wing of angel had flapped the unnavigated ether, before aught of creation had struggled from the womb of nothingness, God, even our God, had set his heart upon all his children.

    Since that time, has he once swerved, has he once turned aside, once changed? No; ye who have tasted of his love and know his grace, will bear me witness, that he has been a certain friend in uncertain circumstances. . . .

    You have often left him; has he ever left you? You have had many trials and troubles; has he ever deserted you? Has he ever turned away his heart, and shut up his bowels of compassion? No, children of God, it is your solemn duty to say 'No,' and bear witness to his faithfulness.
    --'A Faithful Friend,' in Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1857), 13-14
    Dane Ortlund

    The Human Conscience

    Before the fall, strictly speaking, there was no conscience in humans. There was no gap between what they were and what they knew they had to be. Being and self-consciousness were in harmony. But the fall produced separation. By the grace of God, humans still retain the consciousness that they ought to be different, that in all respects they must conform to God’s law. But reality witnesses otherwise; they are not who they ought to be. And this witness is the conscience. The conscience … is proof that communion with God has been broken, that there is a gap between God and us, between his law and our state. … The human conscience is the subjective proof of humanity’s fall, a witness to human guilt before the face of God.
    From Herman Bavinck in his Reformed Dogmatics, 3:173:

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Junior Wells - Cryin' Shame

    Junior Wells performing Cryin' Shame, with Buddy Guy, guitar, and David Myers, bass, from the movie Chicago Blues, in 1970.

    Peter Green Splinter Group - Steady Rollin' Man

    Fannie, Freddie bailout could double in cost - Thanks Barney Frank!

    Grab your wallet! Federal regulators warn that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-government (not Wall Street) mortgage entities are going to cost lots more taxpayer dollars to fix. Zachary A. Goldfarb of the WaPo reports:

    Fannie and Freddie, the federally-controlled mortgage finance giants, will likely need at least another $73 billion and perhaps as much $215 billion from taxpayers in the next three years to meet their financial obligations, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said.

    The growing taxpayer infusions will cover losses Fannie and Freddie suffer on home loans, as well as payments the companies must make to the U.S. Treasury in exchange for a federal guarantee to provide cash to keep the companies solvent.
    In fact, over time, the majority of funds flowing to Fannie and Freddie from taxpayers will go to pay that dividend.
    To date, the Treasury has already injected $148 billion into Fannie and Freddie. Under the worst-case scenario, in which the country enters a second recession, the total infusion would equal $363 billion in three years.
    American Thinker

    The Human Conscience

    From Herman Bavinck in his Reformed Dogmatics, 3:173:
    Before the fall, strictly speaking, there was no conscience in humans. There was no gap between what they were and what they knew they had to be. Being and self-consciousness were in harmony. But the fall produced separation. By the grace of God, humans still retain the consciousness that they ought to be different, that in all respects they must conform to God’s law. But reality witnesses otherwise; they are not who they ought to be. And this witness is the conscience. The conscience … is proof that communion with God has been broken, that there is a gap between God and us, between his law and our state. … The human conscience is the subjective proof of humanity’s fall, a witness to human guilt before the face of God.

    Toss, Throw, or Kick the Bums Out

    A Work Of Amazing Grace

    As understood by the Reformers and their followers, and by Paul as I read him, [justification] is theological, declaring a work of amazing grace; anthropological, demonstrating that we cannot save ourselves; Christological, resting on incarnation and atonement; pneumatological, rooted in Spirit-wrought faith-union with Jesus; ecclesiological, determining both the definition and the health of the church; eschatological, proclaiming God's truly final verdict on believers here and now; evangelistic, inviting troubled souls into everlasting peace; pastoral, making our identity as forgiven sinners basic to our fellowship; and liturgical, being decisive for interpreting the sacraments and shaping sacramental services.

    No other biblical doctrine holds together so much that is precious and enlivening.
    --J. I. Packer et al, Here We Stand: Justification by Faith Today (Hodder and Stoughton 1986), 5; quoted in Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace (Eerdmans 1994), 153
    Dane Ortlund

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Homer Simpson is a Catholic - Homer Say It ain't So

     He is an idle, pea-brained glutton with a permanent craving for doughnuts and Duff beer, but Homer Simpson has been declared a true Catholic by the Vatican's official newspaper.

    The long-running cartoon series explores issues such as family, community, education and religion in a way that few other popular television programmes can match, according to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily broadsheet. The newspaper acknowledged that Homer snores through the sermons of the Reverend Lovejoy and inflicts “never-ending humiliation” on his evangelical neighbour, Ned Flanders.
    But in an article headlined “Homer and Bart are Catholics”, the newspaper said: “The Simpsons are among the few TV programmes for children in which Christian faith, religion, and questions about God are recurrent themes.” The family “recites prayers before meals and, in their own peculiar way, believes in the life thereafter”.
    It quoted an analysis by a Jesuit priest, Father Francesco Occhetta, of a 2005 episode of The Simpsons, The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star, which revolved around Catholicism and was aired a few weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II.
    The episode starts with Bart being expelled from Springfield Elementary School and being enrolled in a Catholic school where he meets a sympathetic priest, voiced by the actor Liam Neeson, who draws him into Catholicism with his kindness.
    Homer then decides to convert to Catholicism, to the horror of his wife Marge, the Rev Lovejoy and Ned Flanders. The episode touches on issues such as religious conflict, interfaith dialogue, homosexuality and stem cell research.
    “Few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true: Homer J Simpson is a Catholic,” insists L’Osservatore Romano.
    It is not the first time that the Vatican newspaper has praised The Simpsons. Last December, as the television series celebrated its 20th anniversary, the paper said that “the relationship between man and God” is one of its most important themes and that it often mirrored the “religious and spiritual confusion of our times”.

    Homer Simpson ‘is a true Catholic’

    Bob Dylan & The Heartbreakers- Positively Fourth Street

    Keeping Choice Safe?

    Translating the Gospel into our lives

    “Receiving and resting in the truths of the gospel translates into a Christian life of joy, peace, freedom, and love. So the gospel also gives us a new way to live and relate to other people. It frees us from sin’s stranglehold on our lives, liberates our conscience, and releases us from living according to the principles of this world. Since our new identity and new way to live is based solely on faith, the gospel excludes all manner of boasting and arrogance. Everything that we have has been given to us — thus it is called the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24). Moreover, this gospel has continual and daily applicability. It is not only relevant to us when we first believe, but continues to work in us and through us as we continue to believe. This continual life of faith visibly expresses itself in love (Gal 5:6).”
    - Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, i-ii.
    (HT: Of First Importance)

    Because God is God

    “In the last resort forgiveness is always due to God’s being what he is, and not to anything that man may do.  Because God is God, he must react in the strongest manner to man’s sin, and thus we reach the concept of the divine wrath.  But because God is God, wrath cannot be the last word.  ‘The Lord is good; his mercy endureth forever’ (Ps. 100:5).”
    Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Grand Rapids, 1965), page 154.
    Ray Ortlund

    The Impossibility of Invisible Disciples

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, echoing Matthew 5:13-16:
    Discipleship is as visible as light in the night, as a mountain in the flatlands.
    To flee into invisibility is to deny the call.
    Any community of Jesus which wants to be invisible is no longer a community that follows him.
    —Discipleship, trans. B. Green and R. Krauss (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 113.
    HT: Grant Osborne, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, p. 176.
    Justin Taylor

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Junior Wells - Snatch It Back and Hold It

    This is from one of the greatest blues albums ever made, Hoodoo Man Blues with Buddy Guy on Guitar, Jack Myers on Bass, Billy Warren on Drums, and Junior Wells Harmonica/Vocals
    Hoodoo Man Blues

    New 8 Step Economic Recovery Plan

    The Power of a New Affection

    I don't know if you've ever read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection (pdf) by Thomas Chalmers, but you should.

    A taste:
    Salvation by grace - salvation by free grace - salvation not of works, but according to the mercy of God - salvation on such a footing is not more indispensable to the deliverance of our persons from the hand of justice, than it is to the deliverance of our hearts from the chill and the weight of ungodliness. Retain a single shred or fragment of legality with the Gospel, and we raise a topic of distrust between man and God. We take away from the power of the Gospel to melt and to conciliate. For this purpose, the freer it is, the better it is.
    That very peculiarity which so many dread as the germ of antinomianism, is, in fact, the germ of a new spirit, and a new inclination against it. Along with the light of a free Gospel, does there enter the love of the Gospel, which, in proportion as we impair the freeness, we are sure to chase away. And never does the sinner find within himself so mighty a moral transformation, as when under the belief that he is saved by grace, he feels constrained thereby to offer his heart a devoted thing, and to deny ungodliness. To do any work in the best manner, we should make use of the fittest tools for it.
    There are more gems on every page.
    Jared Wilson

    All Religions Except One Teach Salvation By Works

    In volume 3 of his Reformed Dogmatics Herman Bavinck discusses the doctrine of salvation and the gospel's subversive announcement of grace, which is in contradistinction to every other religion. Along the way Bavinck footnotes a fascinating excerpt from a speech given over 100 years ago by professor Max Muller  before the British and Foreign Bible Society:
    I may say that for 40 years, as at the university of Oxford I carried out my duties as professor of Sanskrit, I devoted as much time to the study of the holy books of the Easy as any other human being in the world. And I venture to tell this gathering what I have found to be the basic note, the one single chord, of all these holy books--be it the Veda of the Brahmans, the Purana of Siwa and Vishnu, the Qur'an of the Muslims, the Sendavesta of the Parsis, etc.--the one basic note or chord that runs through all of them is salvation by works.

    They all teach that salvation must be bought and that your own works and merits must be the purchase price. Our own Bible, our sacred book from the East, is from start to finish a protest against this doctrine.

    True, good works are also required in this holy book from the East, and that even more emphatically than in any other holy book from the East, but the works referred to are the outflow of a grateful heart. They are only the thank offerings, only the fruits of our faith. They are never the ransom of the true disciples of Christ.

    Let us not close our eyes to whatever is noble and true and pleasing in those holy books. But let us teach Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims that there is but one book from the East that can be their comfort in that solemn hour when they must pass, entirely alone, into the invisible world. It is that holy book which contains the message--a message which is surely true and worthy of full acceptance, and concerns all humans, men, women, and children--that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
    --Quoted in Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:491 n. 1
    Dane Ortlund

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Oscar Peterson Trio - Blues Etude (Berlin, 1985)

    A Former Slave-Trader’s Sanctified Self-Assesment

    John Newton: “I am not what I ought to be. . . . I am not what I wish to be. . . . I am not what I hope to be. . . . Yet . . . I am not what I once was . . . and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

    D. A. Carson: “That encapsulates Christian sanctification in pithy statements better than anything I know.”

    Andy Naselli

    Go Nancy Go!

    The Gospel is not a Second Chance

    No, the gospel is not primarily a second chance for you to get your life back on the right track.  Rather, it’s a decisive declaration that your life is utterly jacked up and hopeless, but that the King of the universe came to live the life you should have lived and he died for you. The gospel is the greatest news in the world that Jesus is your very life.  You don’t add an ounce of merit.
    I use the gospel all the time in a second chance kind of way.  I use Jesus to live a better life, hoping that the Father will be pleased.  Oh how I hope that I will do that less and less and see more and more that Jesus was, is and will be everything for me forever.  I add nothing to the equation, except for the fact that He chose to pour out his love on me!
      Its A Beautiful Gospel