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Saturday, February 18, 2012

My First Allegiance Still--But By God's Grace

Another start after a loooong break is probably as good a time as any to reflect on why I started this blog.
As I reviewed my blog post of May 7, 2007, I was reminded that I was challenged with not accepting the culturally-bound version of Christianity that I had so comfortably embraced.

Also, I was challenged to seek higher spiritual aspirations for myself and my family. God has been gracious to me in these years; even so, I have not reached the places that I sought.  I still need a better prayer life. I still need to exercise better manly leadership in my family. God has put me in the place of being a deacon, but I find that I am in greater need of faith in Christ to serve Christ Jesus than ever before.

So I ask myself again,  what am I really doing for Christ. What talents, what training, what skills can I use for God's glory? God willing, I still hope to make service to Christ as my "first allegiance,"  and I still hope to write for the people of God in God's kingdom.  May God grant me more grace to write for God's people and for the sake of the Kingdom .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is Salvation by Faith or by Works?

Recently on the White Horse Inn, Mike Horton told the story of a priest who was asked this question.  His answer, “Neither. Salvation is by the Grace of God.”

This gives us the correct perspective upon the Christian message.  We are born in Sin under the condemnation of God.  There is no hope, no purpose, no meaning, until we center upon the message that Christ died for our Sin.  Francis Schaeffer said about the Christian message, “Its center is not Christ’s life, nor His miracles, but His death.”

We live in “a world,” as Schaeffer says, “that does not want to say ‘no’ to self—not just for a minor reason, but out of principle, because people are determined to be the enter of the universe.”

“When we step out of the very black perspective,” says Schaeffer, “and into the perspective of the kingdom of God, then these negatives [of sin, a fallen world, and our own fallen nature] which are laid upon us take on an entirely different aspect.”

“This is the subject of thousands of years of prophecy. The center of the Christian message is the redemptive death of Jesus Christ.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

The 11th Commandment

I recently read a story from Spurgeon in which a preacher dressed as a poor person seeking lodging at the home of a man who had a reputation for holiness and godliness in order to test this man’s integrity.  In the process of this masquerade, his wife, in her husbands absence, had devotions from the catechism with the family, servants and guests.  She asked the masquerader how many commandments there were, and he answered 11!  She lamented that a “man of his age” did not know the number of commandments.

The preacher found that all that was said of this man was true, and later during a worship service where this family was attending, he preached on the 11th Commandment from the text of John 13:30, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”

The humbled woman remarked that from then on when they were asked how many commandments there were the answer would now be 11!

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), co-founder of L’Abri Fellowship, with his wife, sees this commandment to love as a summation of the commandments.  In the first chapter of his book, True Spirituality, Schaeffer lays out the fundamental principle that if we break the command to love, we break the first commandment to love God, and we show that we do not love our neighbor as our self.

He gives us two practical tests to help us measure our inward spirituality: one, do we covet?  Two, do we envy? If we seek contentment, says Schaeffer, then we will be putting covetousness and envy out of our practice.  “When we. . .understand that failure in these areas is really coveting, a lack of love, every one of us must be upon his knees as Paul was upon his knees when he saw the commandment not to covet; it destroys any superficial view of the Christian life.”

I hope that your appetite for this book is wetted to read more about the “positive inward reality” of the walk with Christ should be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creature vs. Creator: The Essential Difference Between Philosophy and Theology

Justin Taylor posted a comment entitled, “Getting the Creator-Creature Order Right” quoting from the author Ardel Caneday.

Justin begins by saying, “Many missteps in theology are on account of the implicit idea that God must be like us in some way.”

Our friends at ReformedForum discussed this creature-creator distinction as the essential difference between Philosophy and Theology in their podcast Philosophy for Theologians.  The program title is “The Relationship of Philosophy to Theology

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Presbyterian Recommends of a (Gasp) Baptist Theologian

In Christ the Center’s podcast, “The Role of Seminary in Today’s World,”  (beginning about 38:40) President of Westminster Seminary, Peter Lillback, recommends Augustus Strong’s, Systematic Theology, to readers as a book the expounds classic Baptist theology and ranks among his recommendations of Calvin, Hodge and Warfield.     He also recommends Spurgeon, not so much for his exegisis sometimes, but “his homiletic skill is unparalleled.”

For Baptists Mohler says, “Start with Calvin.  Hodge, Warfield, Samuel Miller, James Montgomery Boice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Theological Darwinism and the Survival of the Fittest: Confessional Protestantism

“A lot of Baptists have not been confessional in nature,” says Dr. Peter Lillback, President  of Westminster Theological Seminary—Philadelphia, “and a lot of the excitement we see going on at Southern [Seminary] is a rediscovery of confessional Baptist theology, and that theological underpinning brings a lot of unity.”

Dr. Lillback made these comments in the Christ the Center podcast at the ReformedForum website in the program entitled “The Role of the Seminary in Today’s World.” (beginning at about 11 min, 59 secs)

Even more insightful were the comments by Dr. Al Mohler.  Responding to Dr. Lillback’s assertion of theological unity, Dr. Mohler said, “It really does, but it’s sort of like theological Darwinism—survival of the fittest.  Confessional Protestantism is going to be all that remains because everything else is going to melt away with the disappearance of Cultural Christianity. The reality is that only those churches that hold themselves accountable to a confession of faith, and do so not out of obligation, but out of joy, are going to be left standing in terms of what we would recognize as the visible church.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We’re Not Just Passing a Mid-term With God

One of my friends made this comment as we were discussing the chapter, “What God Understands: His presence in our suffering,” from C. J. Mahaney’s book, Living the Cross-Centered Life.
When we live in the reality of life in Christ, we will be engaged in a moment-by-moment reality of the sufficiency of Christ to strengthen us in our sufferings, temptations, sins, joys, and intellectual and spiritual explorations.
Our union with Christ radically changes our view and approach to living; we are not merely in a test with God, but we are smack in the middle of His purposeful working in our world.