5.31.2011

The Desire to Evangelize

Here's a few words from Donald Whitney writing in the May 2011 edition of TableTalk magazine:
One effect of the gospel upon the believer's heart is the creation of a new "gospeler", that is, a person who wants to tell others about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Notice that I said the person wants to evangelize. For various reasons, he may often fail to do so, bu the desire is present. And the desire isn't based upon merely wanting to live up to others' expectation, but is rather a genuine longing to see people become followers of Jesus.

Daily Gospel: Kiss My Backside, Devil

It is the supreme art of the devil that he can make the law out of the gospel. If I can hold on to the distinction between law and gospel, I can say to him any and every time that he should kiss my backside. Even if I sinned I would say, ‘Should I deny the gospel on this account?’ … Once I debate about what I have done and left undone, I am finished. But if I reply on the basis of the gospel, ‘The forgiveness of sins covers it all,’ I have won.
 - Martin Luther, via OFI

This was too good to pass up. "Kiss my backside" + "if I reply on the basis of the gospel" = Martin Luther gold.

5.30.2011

Daily Gospel: The One Whose Opinion Most Matters

Sin itself turns you in on yourself, blinding you to God. Guilt also tends to turn you in on yourself. Self-laceration exalts your opinion of yourself as supremely important; shame exalts the opinion of other people. But living repentance and living faith turn outward to the one whose opinion most matters. What God chooses to “remember” about you will prove decisive. Your conscience, if well-tuned, is secondary and dependent on the stance He takes. If the Lord is merciful, then mercy has final say. It is beyond our comprehension that God acts mercifully for His sake, because of what He is like. Wrap your heart around this, and the typical aftermath of sin will never be the same. You will stand in joy and gratitude, not grovel in shame. You’ll be able to get back about the business of life with fresh resolve, not just with good intentions and some flimsy New Year’s resolutions to do better next time. This is our hope. This is our deepest need. This is our Lord’s essential, foundational gift. You know people who need to know this. They typically mishandle the aftermath of sin with further forms of the God-lessness that also manufactured sin. You, too, need to know how faith in Christ’s mercy decenters you off of yourself and recenters you onto the living God’s promise and character. The one with whom we have to do freely offers mercy and grace to help us by the lovingkindness of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:13-16).
 - David Powlison, "Making All Things New: Restoring Purity to the Sexually Broken"

Via CCEF

5.28.2011

Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken

Here are a few excerpts from an excellent article from David Powlison:

We often underestimate just how radically biblical faith relies on grace. Grace means that what makes things right comes to you from the outside. It’s the sheer gift that someone else gives to you. You don’t get it by jumping through certain religious hoops. You are forgiven, accepted, saved from death outside of yourself and because of Another. Listen to how a man of faith dealt forthrightly with his former sins. The italics highlight how much your hope amid real guilt lies outside of you:
Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions.
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
for Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.…
For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity for it is great.
– Psalm 25:6f, 11

The romantic novel genre has even made a crossover to evangelical Christian publishing houses. The sex is cleaned up; the knight in shining armor is also a deep spiritual leader who marries you before sleeping with you. But the fantasy appeal to intimacy and romance lusts remains as the inner engine that allures readers.


We must have a vision for a long process (life-long), with a glorious end (the Day), that is actually going somewhere (today). Put those three together in the right way, and you have a practical theology that’s good to go and good for the going.


No one ever says, “I’ve made it. No more forks in the road. No more places I might stumble and fall flat. No more hard, daily choices to make.” Look at yourself. Life never operates on cruise control. The living God seems content to work in His church and in people groups on a scale of generations and centuries. The living God seems content to work in individuals (you, me, the person you are trying to help) on a scale of decades, throughout a whole lifetime.


The key to getting a long view of sanctification is to understand direction. What matters most is not the distance you’ve covered. It’s not the speed you’re going. It’s not how long you’ve been a Christian. It’s the direction you’re heading.

5.27.2011

Daily Gospel: Satisfactory Blood

The Israelites at the time of the exodus knew they had escaped the night of God’s judgement through trusting in the blood of the Passover lambs on their doorposts.

Notice that the blood was to be placed on the outside of their houses. The blood was for God to see, not for their benefit. The blood was not to make them feel good or feel safe. The blood was not for their feelings at all. The blood was to satisfy God. It was for his eyes alone. God said, ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you’ (Exodus 12:13).

We have peace, not because we feel good, but because God is satisfied with the blood. Only he can evaluate the worth of the lamb. Because he is satisfied, we have peace.
Terry Virgo, God's Lavish Grace, (Oxford, UK: Monarch Books, 2003), 45

Borrowed shamelessly from OFI

5.26.2011

Light and Salt

John Piper, writing in TableTalk Magazine this month on the topic of being a Christian exile:

The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. Where it can't, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying "good riddance" to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.
This is a helpful reminder and rebuke to those such as myself who can quickly become so disgusted and angry with the people around us. Am I not the light of the world and the salt of the earth? May I never lose my saltiness, for then I will be only useful for being trampled underfoot.

Daily Gospel: The Water and The Blood

Lord we confess our many faults And how great our guilt has been
Foolish and vain were all of our thoughts
No good could come from within

But by the mercy of our God
All our hopes begin
And by the water and the blood
Our souls are washed from sin

Itʼs not by the works of righteousness
Which our own hands have done
But we are saved by our Fatherʼs grace
Abounding through His Son
 - Isaac Watts

Sojourn Community Church has recently put out an album titled "The Water and The Blood" based off this hymn. Go get it.

5.25.2011

Daily Gospel: Hearts and Hopes in Heaven

In the strength of Divine grace their souls shall ascend above the world. They shall run the way of God's commandments cheerfully. Let us watch against unbelief, pride, and self-confidence. If we go forth in our own strength, we shall faint, and utterly fall; but having our hearts and our hopes in heaven, we shall be carried above all difficulties, and be enabled to lay hold of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus.
 - Matthew Henry, Commenting on Isaiah 40:27-31

5.24.2011

Daily Gospel: "But"

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved
Ephesians 2:4-5

TableTalk Magazine notes: "Mercy - unexpected love and generosity - cannot be showered upon us as something owed, because mercy that is owed is not mercy but obligation."

5.23.2011

Daily Gospel: Washed Robes

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 - Revelation 7:13-14, Emphasis added.

What robes are washed? Only dirty ones. But how are robes made clean by washing them in blood? How can something so red make something so white?

5.21.2011

Daily Gospel: No Other Blood or Name

Who but the soul that’s led to know
How just and holy is the law,
Will to the cross of Christ repair,
And seek salvation only there?

[Jesus, my soul’s compelled to flee
From all its wrath and curse to thee;
Though oft, through pride, my stubborn will
To Sinai feels a cleaving still.]

Sinner, if thou art taught to see
How great thy guilt and misery,
In every thought and act impure,
The blood of Christ thy soul can cure.

Daily to feel thyself undone,
Will make thee haste to kiss the Son,
And on thy knees for pardon sue,
And praise, and bless, and love him too.

[To feel thy shame and nakedness,
Will make thee love that glorious dress
That sets from condemnation free,
And from the curse delivers thee.

Without a seam this garment’s wove,
Bequeathed in everlasting love;
Ere time began, designed to be
A royal robe to cover thee.]

We seek no other blood or name,
To cleanse our guilt and hide our shame,
But that wrought out by Christ the Son,
Which God imputes, and faith puts on.
J. Kent, Gadsby's Hymns, #113

5.20.2011

Daily Gospel: Wise, Kind, Tender

Let me not be at my own disposal,
  but rejoice that I am under the care of one
  who is too wise to err,
    too kind to injure,
    too tender to crush.
  - The Valley of Vision, "Jesus My Glory", p. 43

5.19.2011

Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword?

Dane Ortlund comments on a common interpretation of Hebrews 4:12 and its shortcomings. Here's a quote:
I think Hebrews 4:12 is really getting at the same core idea expressed in Jesus' quote of Isaiah 6 in Matthew 13 to the effect that God's revealed truth does not leave people where they were: it either further hardens them or opens their eyes. To some the gospel is the aroma of life, to others the aroma of death (2 Cor. 2:15-17; again the logos of God, v. 17). Which is precisely what is meant in the context of Hebrews 4--the good news of promised rest for God's people landed on some to their hardening and on others to their rejoicing

Daily Gospel: Blest Be The Lamb

When I can read my title clear
To mansions beyond this life,
I'll bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes.

Then I will bathe my weary soul
In seas of heav'nly rest,
And not a wave of trouble will roll
Across my peaceful breast.

Blest be the Lamb, my dearest Lord,
Who bought me with his blood,
And quenched his Father's flaming sword
In his own vital flood

Should earth a war against me wage,
And hellish darts be hurled,
Then I can laugh at Satan's rage,
And face a frowning world

The Lamb, He freed my captive soul
From Satan's heavy chains,
And sent the lion down to howl
Where hell and horror reign.

Let cares like a deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
May I but safely reach my home,
My God, my heav'n, my all!
 - Sojourn, "Blest Be The Lamb" (Link to PDF)

5.18.2011

All My Delight

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose
There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will
All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore
 - Hillsong United, "None But Jesus"

May this be the song of my heart and lips: All my delight is in You Lord.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
 - Psalm 73:25

Daily Gospel: 5/18/11 - Psalm 18 & Jesus' Reign

As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
 - Psalm 18:44-45

This post is going to be a little strange. How in the world does one see gospel truth in the verses above?

When I was reading Psalm 18 last night and came to these verses, I immediately focused on the words "obeyed" and "foreigners". Before David describes the response of the foreign nations around Israel to his deliverance from Saul and all his enemies (see the title of the Psalm), he speaks of how he has brought destruction to his enemies. He "pursued [his] enemies and overtook them" and "beat them like fine dust" and "cast them out like the mire of the streets". Those are powerful words describing David's actions towards his enemies. Naturally, David did not literally pulverize his opponents to dust physically or throw them into the street like sewage in a bucket, but we can get a poetic sense of the severity with which David's enemies were dealt.

How does this relate to the gospel?

Jesus triumphed over death, sin, and Satan, as many have preached. Indeed, these are all true. Additionally, if all the words of the scriptures testify of Jesus, and they do according to Jesus who said so on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), then this psalm must somehow point to Christ.

I am far from an expert on prophecy, OT/NT connections, and writing exegetically in general, but let me offer some thoughts.
  • Jesus was a descendant of David and ultimately the climatic figure in that royal line. Jesus is the recipient of God's steadfast love because he is the anointed one - the Messiah (Ps. 18:50).
  • If foreign nations came to David with trembling fear after hearing of his conquests, how much more should we revere and fear Jesus, who had a far greater conquest than David, a conquest over death itself?
  • Just as foreigners came to David in trembling fear, so will people from every nation come to Jesus because of his blood by which they are ransomed (Rev. 5:9).
  • David tells of how he will sing praises to the LORD "among the nations" (Ps. 18:49). Jesus is the divine King who calls people from every tribe to himself in joyful worship (Rev. 7:9).

5.17.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/17/11

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
 - Psalm 17:15

From my interpretation of Psalm 17, David is contrasting beholding God's face in righteousness and being satisfied with the earthly abundance and happiness that the wicked enjoy (17:4). The one who finds his satisfaction in God is directly contrasted with those "whose portion is in this life" (17:4).

I'm writing to myself here - let's not find our portion in this world for "the world is passing away along with desires". All Christian hope (in the biblical meaning, not the anxious 21st-century "hope") is to be directed heavenward. All future longings and fuel for present living is to come from seeking "the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1).

Those are just some things I am learning, the application is yours to discern.

5.14.2011

Public Schools: Fields of Harvest

Drue Warner, director of Live, Work and Play Ministries at Atlanta’s Perimeter Church (PCA):
"We may have cared about our communities evangelistically, but we haven’t cared holistically about the needs of our communities. If we want to see God do a work of transformation in our communities, it really starts by building relationships with families, because there’s a lot of breakdown in families. And one of the best places to build a relationship with families is in our public schools. They’re the hubs of our communities."
HT: byFaith

I tutored children at a local middle school once a week for a semester a few years back as part of required service for an organization I was in. I did not get to know the children from that school closely but I can clearly see that messengers of the gospel are needed to minister to these children and by connection, their families. The brokenness of families in this world is certainly far worse than I realize and likely a problem (perhaps one of the most significant problems in this world) that has few people working to solve it.

Will we go to these fields of harvest or let them languish and die?

Go to a local school. Discover the places to serve. Bring the gospel on ready feet. Ask around in your local church to find connections to the schools. Connect with people!

Here's one more quote from the article:
"We can preach the gospel in the public schools, and the way we’re going to do that is through our lives, by allowing teachers, students, families, and administrators to experience the love of Christ through our actions, with a goal of provoking them to ask questions, provoking them to curiosity.’ Once that happens, you can talk about whatever you want."
(One of the main reasons I share this is because I travel past two schools on my way to work every day. I need to get connected!)

5.11.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/12/11

Give praise to King Jesus, the blessed Son
Victorious, glorious resurrected One
To Him belongs the power, glory and honor
Ascended where He sits at the right hand of the Father
At the cross He made atonement- His people He saved
After three days He was raised in defeat of the grave
By faith the elect behold Him, His scepter is golden
He must have been hot or slippery because death couldn’t hold Him
The spotlight is on today’s icons
In a thousand years, nobody will care- their light’s gone
But at that time, Christ will still shine bright
He’s not in the limelight- He IS the limelight
Criminal minded, you’ve been blinded
Looking for the body of Jesus? You won’t find it
We never lack spirit, letting you cats hear it
Because His tomb is empty like most secular rap lyrics
 - Shai Linne, "Jesus Is Alive (House of Tea Remix)", The Atonement

I love me some good gospel-centered rap. The Atonement is one of the finest examples of such art. I commend it to you.

Daily Gospel: 5/11/11

Lord, how secure my conscious was
And felt no inward dread
I was alive without the Law
And thought my sins were dead.

My hopes of heaven were firm and bright
But then Your standard came
With a convincing power and light
To show how vile I am

Chorus
Let Your blood plead for me
Let Your blood wash me clean
I believe, Lord I believe
Your blood has covered me.

My guilt appeared so small before,
Till terribly I saw
How perfect, holy, just and pure
Was Your eternal Law

My soul was in the bonds of sin,
The cold and jagged chain.
I had provoked a dreadful God
All my hopes were slain
 
Let Your blood plead for me
Let Your blood wash me clean
I believe, Lord I believe
Your blood has covered me.
 - Sojourn, "Let Your Blood Plead For Me", Text by Isaac Watts Arranged by Jeremy Quillo & Bobby Gilles

I love hymns that tell the spiritual story of progression from death and hopelessness to hope in Christ, even if only the last word of the last line points to Christ.

5.10.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/10/11

It’s where we see Your holiness- at the cross
We see that You’re controlling this- at the cross
We see how You feel about sin- at the cross
Your unfathomable love for men- at the cross
It’s where we see Your sovereignty- at the cross
We see our idolatry- at the cross
We know that there’s a judgment day- from the cross
May we never take our eyes away- from the cross
 - Shai Linne, "The Cross (3 Hours)", from the album The Atonement

5.09.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/9/11

My grand objection to the religious system still held by many who declare themselves orthodox Churchmen…is, that it tends to render Christianity so much a system of prohibitions rather than of privilege and hopes, and thus the injunction to rejoice, so strongly enforced in the NT, is practically neglected, and Religion is made to wear a forbidding and gloomy air and not one of peace and hope and joy.

 - William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity

Via What's Best Next

5.08.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/8/11

It is astonishing that he gave the Beloved for those who hated him...If even we hated him and were enemies he gave the Beloved, what will he not do for us now?
 - John Crysostom commenting on Ephesians 1:7, via TableTalk Magazine, May 2011, p.34

5.07.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/7/11

We often want to change to prove ourselves to God or to other people or to ourselves. But this puts our glory at the centre of change and that is pretty much a definition of sin. Plus Jesus has proved us right or justified us through his death. Instead, we change to enjoy the freedom from sin and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus.
 - Tim Chester, Commenting on his book, "You Can Change" at the Desiring God blog

5.06.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/6/11

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
 - Ephesians 1:11-14

Do some cross-referencing on "inheritance" in verse four and you will find some glorious promises and amazing connections between Paul's letters (Hint: And Peter!).

5.05.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/5/11

I am ashamed conceived in sin I’ve always been
Born in a world where Adam’s fall corrupts us
Rooted is the seed of death in life’s first breath
The law demands a perfect heart but I’m defiled in every part

For only your blood is enough to cover my sin
For only your blood is enough to cover me

All this guilt disturbs my peace I find no release
Who will save me from my crime I’m helpless
Behold I fall before your face in need of grace
So speak to me in a gentle voice for in your mercies I rejoice

Lord create my heart anew ( Father come and make us wise )
Only you are pure and true ( Lead us away from our demise )
Lord you are the remedy ( For only your blood can set us free )

For only your blood can set us free
For only your blood can set us free
No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast
No hyssop branch no priest
No running brook no flood no sea
Can wash away this stain from me
 - "Only Your Blood", Sojourn, Adapted from Isaac Watts' "Psalm 51 Part II"

5.04.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/4/11

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
 - "O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing", Charles Wesley

Via CyberHymnal

Did you know that according to CyberHymnal this hymn had nineteen stanzas?

5.03.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/3/11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 - Ephesians 1:3-10

5.02.2011

Daily Gospel: 5/2/11

If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.
 - John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 20

Via OFI

Apologies for the blog laziness recently. I moved into a new apartment this weekend, so that is taking up a lot of time. Last week of MBA classes though! Woot!