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Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Reminder

I got a good reminder this morning of the glories of Jesus's birth. The incarnation of Christ brought the almighty God into this world in a humble human state. I couldn't even hope to try to explain or understand everything that entails. But this morning I got a text from a friend that sent me to a place that reminds me of some of it. It was a reference in The Valley of Vision. This is what is on page 28:

The Gift Of Gifts

O Source of all good,

What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose (rest).
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, donkey, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give me no more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gospel Grammar

I came across this article today on Tullian Tchividjian's blog: The Grammar of The Gospel.

Mark Baur had mentioned this idea to me after he got back from the Desiring God conference in October. The thing that stuck out to him from Tullian's message was that "Imperatives-Indicatives=Impossibilities." This basically means that giving commands to do things, without understanding the truths behind those commands, makes carrying them out impossible. This shows up in churches all over the place. People try to preach commands of morality, missions, and evangelism but never see any results. The main problem, as far as I can see it, is that people do not understand the truths of the Gospel so they do not really understand why they would want to do these things.

In this short article, Tullian quotes Sinclair Ferguson putting this is a positive light. "In the gospel, the structure of the grammar is always indicative gives rise to imperative..." This is very helpful to know.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Edwards Sermon

So I finished my first Jonathan Edwards sermon today. I'm hooked. It was fifteen pages long, and it just absolutely blew me away. I've listened to Piper, Driscoll, Chandler, and the rest of these guys for quite awhile now, and what I love about them is how God-glorifying they are. Now I see where they are fed. I don't really know how to put it into words but he understood things in scripture on a level that I can't even fathom. Anyway, there's no reason for me to keep going on about it. The point is that the sermon did four things for me:

1. It humbled me because of the amazing knowledge and understanding that this man had.
2. It humbled me because of the helpless, worthless, dependent picture of man that he draws out of God's Word.
3. It gave me a view of the Father, Son, and Spirit that is higher, fuller, and more magnificent than anything I've ever seen or felt before.
4. It gave me a deep love and joy found in God's sovereignty that I had not felt at this depth before.

But obviously the way that I feel about it can't really stir up your affections. So I found the sermon on the internet. And I'm going to post it on here just in case anyone wants to take the time to read it. The first section is a letter that preceded the sermon in my book. It was written as an advertisement for Edwards after these men heard this sermon in Boston. It's short so I figured I'd put it in here too. The next part is the sermon itself. I'm sure there will be some grammar errors in here just because it was on the internet. I tried to fix all the ones that I could see. Also, it was written in 1731 so the language is quite a bit different. I will try to define difficult words as they come up. Anyway, enjoy the sermon. I'd love to talk to you about it if you'd like. I hope it does for you what it has done for me.


It was with no small difficulty that the author's youth and modesty were prevailed on to let him appear a preacher in our public lecture, and afterwards to give us a copy of his discourse, at the desire of divers ministers and others who heard it. But as we quickly found him a workman that needs not to be ashamed before his brethren, our satisfaction was the greater to see him pitching upon so noble a subject, and treating it with so much strength and clearness, as the judicious reader will perceive in the following composure: a subject which secures to God his great design in the work of fallen man's redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, which is evidently so laid out, as that the glory of the whole should return to him, the blessed ordainer, purchaser, and applier; a subject which enters deep into practical religion; without the belief of which, that must soon die in the hearts and lives of men.

For in proportion to the sense we have of our dependence on the sovereign God for all the good we want, will be our value for him, our trust in him, our fear to offend him, and our care to please him; as likewise our gratitude and love, our delight and praise, upon our sensible experience of his free benefits.

In short, it is the very soul of piety, to apprehend and own that all our springs are in him; the springs of our present grace and comfort, and of our future glory and blessedness; and that they all entirely flow through Christ, by the efficacious influence of the Holy Spirit. By these things saints live, and in all these things is the life of our spirits.

Such doctrines as these, which, by humbling the minds of men, prepare them for the exaltations of God, he has signally owned and prospered in the reformed world, and in our land especially, in the days of our forefathers; and we hope they will never grow unfashionable among us; for, we are well assured, if those which we call the doctrines of grace ever come to be contemned or disrelished, vital piety will proportionably languish and wear away; as these doctrines always sink in the esteem of men upon the decay of serious religion.

We cannot therefore but express our joy and thankfulness, that the great Head of the church is pleased still to raise up from among the children of his people, for the supply of his churches, those who assert and maintain these evangelical principles; and that our churches (notwithstanding all their degeneracies) have still a high value for such principles, and for those who publicly own and teach them.

And as we cannot but wish and pray that the college in the neighbouring colony (as well as our own) may be a fruitful mother of many such sons as the author, by the blessing of Heaven on the care of their present worthy rector; so we heartily rejoice in the special favour of Providence in bestowing such a rich gift on the happy church of Northampton, which has for so many lustres of years flourished under the influence of such pious doctrines, taught them in the excellent ministry of their late venerable pastor, whose gift and spirit, we hope, will long live and shine in this his grandson, to the end that they may abound yet more in all the lovely fruits of evangelical humility and thankfulness, to the glory of God.

To his blessing we commit them all, with this discourse, and every one that reads it; and are Your servants in the gospel,



Boston, August 17, 1731.


A Sermon by Jonathan Edwards

[Preached on the Public Lecture in Boston, July 8, 1731; and published at the desire of several ministers and others in Boston who heard it. -- This was the first piece published by Mr. Edwards.]

1 Corinthians 1:29, 30, 31

“That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

Those Christians to whom the apostle directed this epistle, dwelt in a part of the world where human wisdom was in great repute; as the apostle observes in the 22nd verse of this chapter, "The Greeks seek after wisdom." Corinth was not far from Athens, that had been for many ages the most famous seat of philosophy and learning in the world. The apostle therefore observes to them, how God by the gospel destroyed, and brought to nought, their wisdom. The learned Grecians, and their great philosophers, by all their wisdom did not know God, they were not able to find out the truth in divine things. But, after they had done their utmost to no effect, it pleased God at length to reveal himself by the gospel, which they accounted foolishness. He:

"chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world, and things that are despised, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are."

And the apostle informs them in the text why he thus did, That no flesh should glory in his presence, etc.- In which words may be observed:

1. What God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of redemption, viz. that man should not glory in himself, but alone in God; That no flesh should glory in his presence, --that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
{"viz." means namely}

2. How this end is attained in the work of redemption, viz. by that absolute and immediate dependence which men have upon God in that work, for all their good. Inasmuch as,

First, All the good that they have is in and through Christ; He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. All the good of the fallen and redeemed creature is concerned in these four things, and cannot be better distributed than into them; but Christ is each of them to us, and we have none of them any otherwise than in him. He is made of God unto us wisdom: in him are all the proper good and true excellency of the understanding. Wisdom was a thing that the Greeks admired; but Christ is the true light of the world; it is through him alone that true wisdom is imparted to the mind. It is in and by Christ that we have righteousness: it is by being in him that we are justified, have our sins pardoned, and are received as righteous into God's favour. It is by Christ that we have sanctification: we have in him true excellency of heart as well as of understanding; and he is made unto us inherent as well as imputed righteousness. It is by Christ that we have redemption, or the actual deliverance from all misery, and the bestowment of all happiness and glory. Thus we have all our good by Christ, who is God.

Secondly, Another instance wherein our dependence on God for all our good appears, is this: That it is God that has given us Christ, that we might have these benefits through him; he of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, etc.

Thirdly, It is of him that we are in Christ Jesus, and come to have an interest in him, and so do receive those blessings which he is made unto us. It is God that gives us faith whereby we close with Christ.

So that in this verse is shown our dependence on each person in the Trinity for all our good. We are dependent on Christ the Son of God, as he is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. We are dependent on the Father, who has given us Christ, and made him to be these things to us. We are dependent on the Holy Ghost, for it is of him that we are in Christ Jesus; it is the Spirit of God that gives faith in him, whereby we receive him, and close with him.


"God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him." -- Here I propose to show, 1st, That there is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God for all their good. And, 2dly, That God hereby is exalted and glorified in the work of redemption.

I. There is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God.

The nature and contrivance of our redemption is such, that the redeemed are in every thing directly, immediately, and entirely dependent on God: they are dependent on him for all, and are dependent on him every way.
{"contrivance"- the use of skill to create something or bring something about}

The several ways wherein the dependence of one being may be upon another for its good, and wherein the redeemed of Jesus Christ depend on God for all their good, are these, viz. That they have all their good of him, and that they have all through him, and that they have all in him: That he is the cause and original whence all their good comes, therein it is of him; and that he is the medium by which it is obtained and conveyed, therein they have it through him; and that he is the good itself given and conveyed, therein it is in him. Now those that are redeemed by Jesus Christ do, in all these respects, very directly and entirely depend on God for their all.

First, The redeemed have all their good of God. God is the great author of it. He is the first cause of it; and not only so, but he is the only proper cause. It is of God that we have our Redeemer. It is God that has provided a Saviour for us. Jesus Christ is not only of God in his person, as he is the only-begotten Son of God, but he is from God, as we are concerned in him, and in his office of Mediator. He is the gift of God to us: God chose and anointed him, appointed him his work, and sent him into the world. And as it is God that gives, so it is God that accepts the Saviour. He gives the purchaser, and he affords the thing purchased.

It is of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him, and are united to him. It is of God that we receive faith to close with him, that we may have an interest in him. Eph. 2:8. "For by grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." It is of God that we actually receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased. It is God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going down to hell; and into his favour the redeemed are received, when they are justified. So it is God that delivers from the dominion of sin, cleanses us from our filthiness, and changes us from our deformity. It is of God that the redeemed receive all their true excellency, wisdom, and holiness; and that two ways, viz. as the Holy Ghost by whom these things are immediately wrought is from God, proceeds from him, and is sent by him; and also as the Holy Ghost himself is God, by whose operation and indwelling the knowledge of God and divine things, a holy disposition and all grace, are conferred and upheld. And though means are made use of in conferring grace on men's souls, yet it is of God that we have these means of grace, and it is he that makes them effectual. It is of God that we have the Holy Scriptures; they are his word. It is of God that we have ordinances, and their efficacy depends on the immediate influence of his Spirit. The ministers of the gospel are sent of God, and all their sufficiency is of him.-- 2 Cor. 4:7. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Their success depends entirely and absolutely on the immediate blessing and influence of God.
{"confer"- to grant or bestow; "effectual"- effective}

1. The redeemed have all from the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given. The gift was infinitely precious, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him. The benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal, misery, and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God's hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by which a way is made for our having the gift. He gave him to dwell amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; and in the like though sinless infirmities. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but as slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.

The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was under no obligation to bestow. He might have rejected fallen man, as he did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those that are called and sanctified are to attribute it alone to the good pleasure of God's goodness, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.

Man hath now a greater dependence on the grace of God than he had before the fall. He depends on the free goodness of God for much more than he did then. Then he depended on God's goodness for conferring the reward of perfect obedience; for God was not obliged to promise and bestow that reward. But now we are dependent on the grace of God for much more; we stand in need of grace, not only to bestow glory upon us, but to deliver us from hell and eternal wrath. Under the first covenant we depended on God's goodness to give us the reward of righteousness; and so we do now; but we stand in need of God's free and sovereign grace to give us that righteousness; to pardon our sin, and release us from the guilt and infinite demerit of it.

And as we are dependent on the goodness of God for more now than under the first covenant, so we are dependent on a much greater, more free and wonderful goodness. We are now more dependent on God's arbitrary and sovereign good pleasure. We were in our first estate dependent on God for holiness. We had our original righteousness from him; but then holiness was not bestowed in such a way of sovereign good pleasure as it is now. Man was created holy, for it became God to create holy all his reasonable creatures. It would have been a disparagement to the holiness of God's nature, if he had made an intelligent creature unholy. But now when fallen man is made holy, it is from mere and arbitrary grace; God may for ever deny holiness to the fallen creature if he pleases, without any disparagement to any of his perfections.
{"disparage"- to regard or represent as being of little worth}

And we are not only indeed more dependent on the grace of God, but our dependence is much more conspicuous, because our own insufficiency and helplessness in ourselves is much more apparent in our fallen and undone state, than it was before we were either sinful or miserable. We are more apparently dependent on God for holiness, because we are first sinful, and utterly polluted, and afterward holy. So the production of the effect is sensible, and its derivation from God more obvious. If man was ever holy and always was so,it would not be so apparent, that he had not holiness necessarily, as an inseparable qualification of human nature. So we are more apparently dependent on free grace for the favour of God, for we are first justly the objects of his displeasure, and afterwards are received into favour. We are more apparently dependent on God for happiness, being first miserable, and afterwards happy. It is more apparently free and without merit in us, because we are actually without any kind of excellency to merit, if there could be any such thing as merit in creature excellency. And we are not only without any true excellency, but are full of, and wholly defiled with, that which is infinitely odious. All our good is more apparently from God, because we are first naked and wholly with- out any good, and afterwards enriched with all good.
{"odious"- repulsive}

2. We receive all from the power of God. Man's redemption is often spoken of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace. The great power of God appears in bringing a sinner from his low state, from the depths of sin and misery, to such an exalted state of holiness and happiness. Eph. 1:19. "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us- ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."----

We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature.

It is a work of creation:

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," (2 Cor. 5:17). "We are created in Christ Jesus," (Eph. 2:10).

The fallen creature cannot attain to true holiness, but by being created again. Eph. 4:24:

"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

It is a raising from the dead. Colos. 2:12-13:

"Wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."

Yea, it is a more glorious work of power than mere creation, or raising a dead body to life, in that the effect attained is greater and more excellent. That holy and happy being, and spiritual life, which is produced in the work of conversion, is a far greater and more glorious effect, than mere being and life. And the state from whence the change is made -- a death in sin, a total corruption of nature, and depth of misery -- is far more remote from the state attained, than mere death or non-entity.

It is by God's power also that we are preserved in a state of grace. 1 Pet. 1:5. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or sun-rising. -- Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on that work in the heart, for subduing sin and corruption, increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works. Man is dependent on divine power in bringing grace to its perfection, m making the soul completely amiable in Christ's glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed. These are the most glorious effects of the power of God, that are seen in the series of God's acts with respect to the creatures.

Man was dependent on the power of God in his first estate, but he is more dependent on his power now; he needs God's power to do more things for him, and depends on a more wonderful exercise of his power. It was an effect of the power of God to make man holy at the first: but more remarkably so now, because there is a great deal of opposition and difficulty in the way. It is a more glorious effect of power to make that holy that was so depraved, and under the dominion of sin, than to confer holiness on that which before had nothing of the contrary. It is a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition. Luke 11:21-22:

"When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour, wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils."

So it is a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man.-- Thus we have shown how the redeemed are dependent on God for all their good, as they have all of him.

Secondly, They are also dependent on God for all, as they have all through him. God is the medium of it, as well as the author and fountain of it. All we have, wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, acceptance into God's favour, grace and holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, is from God by a Mediator; and this Mediator is God; which Mediator we have an absolute dependence upon, as he through whom we receive all. So that here is another way wherein we have our dependence on God for all good. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts his mediation, and of his power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator; but he the Mediator is God.

Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering up himself as the price of our salvation. He purchased eternal life by the sacrifice of himself. Heb. 7:27. "He offered up himself." And 9:26. "He hath appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Indeed it was the human nature that was offered; but it was the same person with the divine, and therefore was an infinite price.

As we thus have our good through God, we have a dependence on him in a respect that man in his first estate had not. Man was to have eternal life then through his own righteousness; so that he had partly a dependence upon what was in himself; for we have a dependence upon that through which we have our good, as well as that from which we have it; and though man's righteousness that he then depended on was indeed from God, yet it was his own, it was inherent in himself; so that his dependence was not so immediately on God. But now the righteousness that we are dependent on is not in ourselves, but in God. We are saved through the righteousness of Christ: He is made unto us righteousness; and therefore is prophesied of, Jer. 23:6, under that name, "the Lord our righteousness." In that the righteousness we are justified by is the righteousness of Christ, it is the righteousness of God. 2 Cor.5:21. "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him." --Thus in redemption we have not only all things of God, but by and through him, 1 Cor. 8:6. "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."

Thirdly, The redeemed have all their good in God. We not only have it of him, and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good.-- The good of the redeemed is either objective or inherent. By their objective good, I mean that extrinsic object, in the possession and enjoyment of which they are happy. Their inherent good is that excellency or pleasure which is in the soul itself. With respect to both of which the redeemed have all their good in God, or which is the same thing, God him- self is all their good.

1. The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the posses- sion and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their Life, their dwelling- place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the "river of the water of life " that runs, and "the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God." The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will for ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them.
{"diadem"- a jeweled crown or headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty}

2. The redeemed have all their inherent good in God. Inherent good is twofold; it is either excellency or pleasure. These the redeemed not only derive from God, as caused by him, but have them in him. They have spiritual excellency and joy by a kind of participation of God. They are made excellent by a communication of God's excellency. God puts his own beauty, i.e. his beautiful likeness, upon their souls. They are made partakers of the divine nature, or moral image of God, 2 Pet. 1:4. They are holy by being made partakers of God's holiness. Heb. 12:10. The saints are beautiful and blessed by a communication of God's holiness and joy, as the moon and planets are bright by the sun's light. The saint hath spiritual joy and pleasure by a kind of effusion of God on the soul. In these things the redeemed have communion with God; that is, they partake with him and of him.

The saints have both their spiritual excellency and blessedness by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and his dwelling in them. They are not only caused by the Holy Ghost, but are in him as their principle. The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant, is a vital principle in the soul. He, acting in, upon, and with the soul, becomes a fountain of true holiness and joy, as a spring is of water, by the exertion and diffusion of itself. John 4:14:

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

Compared with chap. 7:38-39:

"He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."

The sum of what Christ has purchased for us, is that spring of water spoken of in the former of those places, and those rivers of living water spoken of in the latter. And the sum of the blessings, which the redeemed shall receive in heaven, is that river of water of life that proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb, Rev. 22:1. Which doubtless signifies the same with those rivers of living water, explained, John 7:38-39, which is elsewhere called the "river of God's pleasures." Herein consists the fulness of good, which the saints receive of Christ. It is by partaking of the Holy Spirit, that they have communion with Christ in his fulness. God hath given the Spirit, not by measure unto him; and they do receive of his fulness, and grace for grace. This is the sum of the saints' inheritance; and there- fore that little of the Holy Ghost which believers have in this world, is said to be the earnest of their inheritance, 2 Cor. 1:22. "Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." And chap. 5:5. "Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing, is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." And Eph. 1:13-14. "Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession."

The Holy Spirit and good things are spoken of in Scripture as the same; as if the Spirit of God communicated to the soul, comprised all good things, Matt. 7:11. "How much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him?" In Luke it is, chap. 11:13. "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" This is the sum of the blessings that Christ died to procure, and the subject of gospel-promises. Gal. 3:13-14. "He was made a curse for us, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." The Spirit of God is the great promise of the Father, Luke 24:49. "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you." The Spirit of God therefore is called "the Spirit of promise," Eph. 1:33. This promised thing Christ received, and had given into his hand, as soon as he had finished the work of our redemption, to bestow on all that he had redeemed; Acts 2:13. "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye both see and hear." So that all the holiness and happiness of the redeemed is in God. It is in the communications, indwelling, and acting of the Spirit of God. Holiness and happiness is in the fruit, here and hereafter, because God dwells in them, and they in God.

Thus God has given us the Redeemer, and it is by him that our good is purchased. So God is the Redeemer and the price; and he also is the good purchased. So that all that we have is of God, and through him, and in him. Rom. 11:36. "For of him, and through him, and to him, or in him, are all things." The same in the Greek that is here rendered to him, is rendered in him, 1 Cor. 8:6.

II. God is glorified in the work of redemption by this means, viz. By there being so great and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him.

1. Man hath so much the greater occasion and obligation to notice and acknowledge God's perfections and all-sufficiency. The greater the creature's dependence is on God's perfections, and the greater concern he has with them, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice of them. So much the greater concern any one has with and dependence upon the power and grace of God, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice of that power and grace. So much the greater and more immediate dependence there is on the divine holiness, so much the greater occasion to take notice of and acknowledge that. So much the greater and more absolute dependence we have on the divine perfections, as belonging to the several persons of the Trinity, so much the greater occasion have we to observe and own the divine glory of each of them. That which we are most concerned with, is surely most in the way of our observation and notice; and this kind of concern with any thing, viz. dependence, does especially tend to command and oblige the attention and observation. Those things that we are not much dependent upon, it is easy to neglect; but we can scarce do any other than mind that which we have a great dependence on. By reason of our so great dependence on God, and his perfections, and in so many respects, he and his glory are the more directly set in our view, which way soever we turn our eyes.

We have the greater occasion to take notice of God's all-sufficiency, when all our sufficiency is thus every way of him. We have the more occasion to contemplate him as an infinite good, and as the fountain of all good. Such a dependence on God demonstrates his all-sufficiency. So much as the dependence of the creature is on God, so much the greater does the creature's emptiness in himself appear; and so much the greater the creature's emptiness, so much the greater must the fulness of the Being be who supplies him. Our having all of God, shows the fulness of his power and grace; our having all through him, shows the fulness of his merit and worthiness; and our having all in him, demonstrates his fulness of beauty, love, and happiness. And the redeemed, by reason of the greatness of their dependence on God, have not only so much the greater occasion, but obligation to contemplate and acknowledge the glory and fulness of God. How unreasonable and ungrateful should we be, if we did not acknowledge that sufficiency and glory which we absolutely, immediately, and universally depend upon!

2. Hereby is demonstrated how great God's glory is considered comparatively, or as compared with the creature's. By the creature being thus wholly and universally dependent on God, it appears that the creature is nothing, and that God is all. Hereby it appears that God is infinitely above us; that God's strength, and wisdom, and holiness, are infinitely greater than ours. However great and glorious the creature apprehends God to be, yet if he be not sensible of the difference between God and him, so as to see that God's glory is great, compared with his own, he will not be disposed to give God the glory due to his name. If the creature in any respects sets himself upon a level with God, or exalts himself to any competition with him, however he may apprehend that great honour and profound respect may belong to God from those that are at a greater distance, he will not be so sensible of its being due from him. So much the more men exalt themselves, so much the less will they surely be disposed to exalt God. It is certainly what God aims at in the disposition of things in redemption, (if we allow the Scriptures to be a revelation of God's mind,) that God should appear full, and man in himself empty, that God should appear all, and man nothing. It is God's declared design that others should not "glory in his presence;" which implies that it is his design to advance his own comparative glory. So much the more man "glories in God's presence," so much the less glory is ascribed to God.

3. By its being thus ordered, that the creature should have so absolute and universal a dependence on God, provision is made that God should have our whole souls, and should be the object of our undivided respect. If we had our dependence partly on God, and partly on something else, man's respect would be divided to those different things on which he had dependence. Thus it would be if we depended on God only for a part of our good, and on ourselves, or some other being, for another part: or if we had our good only from God, and through another that was not God, and in something else distinct from both, our hearts would be divided between the good itself, and him from whom, and him through whom, we received it. But now there is no occasion for this, God being not only he from or of whom we have all good, but also through whom, and is that good itself, that we have from him and through him. So that whatsoever there is to attract our respect, the tendency is still directly towards God; all unites in him as the centre.


1. We may here observe the marvellous wisdom of God, in the work of redemption. God hath made man's emptiness and misery, his low, lost, and ruined state, into which he sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of his own glory, as in other ways, so particularly in this, that there is now much more universal and apparent dependence of man on God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and woe into which he was fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency and honour, and to a high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs to God, all is in a mere, and most absolute, and divine dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And each person of the Trinity is equally glorified in this work: there is an absolute dependence of the creature on every one for all: all is of the Father, all through the Son, and all in the Holy Ghost. Thus God appears in the work of redemption as all in all. It is fit that he who is, and there is none else, should be the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the all and the only, in this work.

2. Hence those doctrines and schemes of divinity that are in any respect opposite to such an absolute and universal dependence on God, derogate from his glory, and thwart the design of our redemption. And such are those schemes that put the creature in God's stead, in any of the mentioned respects, that exalt man into the place of either Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, in any thing pertaining to our redemption. However they may allow of a dependence of the redeemed on God, yet they deny a dependence that is so absolute and universal. They own an entire dependence of God for some things, but not for others; they own that we depend on God for the gift and acceptance of a Redeemer, but deny so absolute a dependence on him for the obtaining of an interest in the Redeemer. They own an absolute dependence on the Father for giving his Son, and on the Son for working out redemption, but not so entire a dependence on the Holy Ghost for conversion, and a being in Christ, and so coming to a title to his benefits. They own a dependence on God for means of grace, but not absolutely for the benefit and success of those means; a partial dependence on the power of God, for obtaining and exercising holiness, but not a mere dependence on the arbitrary and sovereign grace of God. They own a dependence on the free grace of God for a reception into his favour, so far that it is without any proper merit, but not as it is without being attracted, or moved with any excellency. They own a partial dependence on Christ, as he through whom we have life, as having purchased new terms of life, but still hold that the righteousness through which we have life is inherent in ourselves, as it was under the first covenant. Now whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its lustre and glory.
{"stead"- place or role; "repugnant"- extremely distasteful, unacceptable; "tenor"- the general meaning, sense, or content of something}

3. Hence we may learn a reason why faith is that by which we come to have an interest in this redemption; for there is included in the nature of faith, a sensible acknowledgment of absolute dependence on God in this affair. It is very fit that it should be required of all, in order to their having the benefit of this redemption, that they should be sensible of, and acknowledge, their dependence on God for it. It is by this means that God hath contrived to glorify himself in redemption; and it is fit that he should at least have this glory of those that are the subjects of this redemption, and have the benefit of it.-- Faith is a sensibleness of what is real in the work of redemption; and the soul that believes doth entirely depend on God for all salvation, in its own sense and act. Faith abases men, and exalts God; it gives all the glory of redemption to him alone. It is necessary in order to saving faith, that man should be emptied of himself, be sensible that he is "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Humility is a great ingredient of true faith: he that truly receives redemption, receives it as a little child, Mark 10:15. "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall not enter therein." It is the delight of a believing soul to abase itself and exalt God alone: that is the language of it, Psalm 115:1. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory."
{"abase"- behave in a way so as to belittle or degrade (someone)}

4. Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavour to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power or goodness; as though from himself he must expect happiness. He is prone to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found. -- But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone; as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord. Hath any man hope that he is converted, and sanctified, and that his mind is endowed with true excellency and spiritual beauty? That his sins are forgiven, and he received into God's favour, and exalted to the honour and blessedness of being his child, and an heir of eternal life? Let him give God all the glory; who alone makes him to differ from the worst of men in this world, or the most miserable of the damned in hell. Hath any man much comfort and strong hope of eternal life, let not his hope lift him up, but dispose him the more to abase himself, to reflect on his own exceeding unworthiness of such a favour, and to exalt God alone. Is any man eminent in holiness, and abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to himself, but ascribe it to him whose "workmanship we are, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
{"eminent"- [attribute] used to emphasize the presence of a positive quality}

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jonathan Edwards

I was working desk today and decided I'd open up my Jonathan Edwards book just to get a look at it. I figured it couldn't take too long to read a sermon (the book is called Sermons of Jonathan Edwards) and it was easier to read a stand-alone sermon than start a book that I won't get back to for a few weeks. So I read the introduction and then started the first sermon. First of all, the sermons are a lot longer than I had anticipated. Secondly, they are also a lot better. I knew that Edwards was a brain, but I really had no idea it would be so packed. I can see why John Piper was so enthusiastic about his love for Edwards and the way he taught. It is amazingly God-glorifying. Anyway, here is a quote from his most famous book, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. I hope it is beneficial for you.

“I am bold in saying this, but I believe that no one is ever changed, either by doctrine, by hearing the Word, or by the preaching or teaching of another, unless the affections are moved by these things. No one ever seeks salvation, no one ever cries for wisdom, no one ever wrestles with God, no one ever kneels in prayer or flees from sin, with a heart that remains unaffected. In a word, there is never any great achievement by the things of religion without a heart deeply affected by those things.”
Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Learning on the Road

Okay I said that I would comment on the sermons that I listened to in the car over Thanksgiving break. So here they are. I'm sure that you can search the names of these on the internet. The first six are from various Desiring God conferences. I won't comment on all of them although all of them were very good.

Mark Driscoll "The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World"
Tim Keller "The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World"
D.A. Carson "The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World"
Francis Chan "Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride"
Micahel Oh "Missions as Fasting: The Forsaking of Things Present for the Global Exaltation of Christ"
Mark Dever "Sex and the Single Man"
Ravi Zacharias "The Loss of Truth (Parts 1 & 2)"
Micahel Horton "American Spirituality"
John Piper "Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters"

Several of these stuck with me. The first two (Driscoll and Keller) were fantastic. Both hit on a point that I have been thinking a lot about lately and that is contextualization of the gospel. I know that is a scary word for a lot of people just because of how often it is misused. Generally people think of changing the message of the gospel to make it sound relevant to someone. That is nothing short of heresy, and Paul says in Galatians 1 that people who do that will be accursed. I'm talking about two things. The first is the method in which you present the gospel. And the second is showing people their need for Christ and his gospel through the avenue of the culture that they are in. Keller's spoke very much to that second point and was extremely helpful. I would encourage any of you who have a couple hours to listen to both of these messages. Here is the link to the page from the 2006 conference.

Francis Chan and Michael Oh's messages were the first two that I listened to on the way back to school. Both men hit me very hard because of the love that they have for those without Christ. Michael Oh's parallel of fasting and missions was mind-blowing for me. Not just because of what I saw in missions but how I see that in so many other areas of life. The title presents it well. Chan is always someone that I have loved listening to because he appeals to so many people. He speaks very plainly and is very easy to understand. These are two that I will probably listen to many more times when I get the chance.

Ravi and Michael Horton had similar messages. I had forgotten how much I love Ravi Zacharias. His message went very well with the topic I've been hit with recently concerning the postmodern culture in which we live. His are both very short, but packed with things that will blow your mind. I catch myself laughing when I listen to him because he shows the ridiculousness of ridiculous things. Michael Horton was also very good, but after listening to Ravi's his was somewhat redundant.

Mark Dever and John Piper both had good talks that were relevant to me right now. Piper had an awesome exposition of Isaiah 56:3-5. It was about the joys of singleness that come from having spiritual children instead of fleshly children. It was very encouraging for me. Dever's was a tag-team thing with some other guys in his church. It was basically about dating and what they believe the Bible says about it. There was a lot that they covered and I am going to have to look into it with the extra resources they gave. It was ground-shaking for me. The way they presented dating/courtship was a way that I had never heard before and taken to an extent I had never heard anyone take it before. They had some great things to say about pre-marital physical intimacy though. It's worth listening to just for that.

So obviously there is still a lot for me to process. I thank God for the ability to learn from these great teachers though. And to learn as I drive no less. This is why I stopped praying for safety on the way to and from school. The deepest desire of my heart is not to get from one place to another without getting a scratch. The deepest desire of my heart is to know Christ more fully and experience the joy found in His presence. That's why I love road trips. Only three more weeks till the next one.


Tullian Tchividjian is a great preacher that I have just recently heard a lot about. He spoke at the Desiring God conference this year and is very much connected with The Gospel Coalition. I just read a blog post that he wrote about self-righteousness. It's a great article and made me realize that I am often self-righteous about not being self-righteous. Read the article to understand what I mean.

The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I listened to some Ravi Zacharias on the way back to school this morning. He was talking about postmodernism and how truth is no longer fixed, but relative. In the discussion he quoted an English journalist named Steve Turner. It is really making a joke about relativism. It is funny but at the same time heartbreaking and even disturbing when you see what it leads to. I'll probably post some stuff later about all the great messages that I got to listen to, but I'll leave you with this for now.

by Steve Turner

We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin
We believe everything is okay
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is okay.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes
UFO's and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher, though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it's
compulsory heaven for all,
except perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors.
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth,
except the truth that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If Chance be
the father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear:

State of Emergency!

Sniper Kills Ten!

Troops on Rampage!

Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Valley of Vision

I read this prayer in The Valley of Vision today and was just blown away by it. Since is was so good I figured I would relay it to anyone who wants to hear it. And it was too long for facebook, so this seemed to be the best place. This book is great by the way. It is a book of Puritan prayers from men like John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon. It has been a great encouragement and challenge to me. I hope it is to you as well.

The title of this prayer is Regeneration

O God of the highest heaven,

Occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power,
and make me thine for ever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favoured, clothed,
adorned me,
when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a
new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide,
solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Been Awhile

I realize that this is the least creative title you have seen. Just bear with me. I'm a bit rusty.

My good friend Joe encouraged me to write some things on here again. So I figured I would oblige him and give a quick update. There are many things that have been going on with me lately. Most relationship things are too personal to post all over the internet so I'll leave those out. Just know that God, in His grace, has given me many close friendships this semester that have served many purposes. I hope that have all served to exalt His name in some way. Other things that have been going on include my new church home, my reading of the Word, my reading of other books, and life experiences that always lead me to Christ and a realization of His greatness and exclusivity as the source of all good things.

My new church is great. It is called Fellowship Bible Church. I have not been able to be nearly as involved as I would have liked, although next semester looks like it's going to bring some good things. I plan on being involved with the youth and hopefully a community group in the spring. Those are still up in the air, but definitely on my mind. The preaching pastor, Doug Grimes, is great. He does a great job of preaching the truth and not avoiding things that are not very fun to talk about (like Hell when going through the sermon on the mount). More than anything though, I have loved being able to go there with many of my Harding friends. It has opened up a lot of good dialogue about things that matter.

My reading of the Word has been awesome (I think Mr. Webster would even approve of the use of that word here). Part of the reason that it has been so great is that most of what I am reading is new to me. I have not had a lot of experience reading the letters and honestly I believe that when I did before, I did not have ears to hear. I feel like my doctrine is shaped and new things are formed with every book that I read. It has become much more of a study than a read-through like it was in the Old Testament and the gospel accounts. I have been writing so much about what I am processing and I still feel like I am skimming. But the themes that I have heard people talk about have been so evident. Just one piece that I will share is the pre-eminence of the gospel in Paul's writings. He just keeps going back to it. My favorite examples are Ephesians 2 and Titus 3. Go read them if you get the chance and just bask in the grace that Christ has given us. (I am in Hebrews right now if you are wondering.)

When I say the other books I am reading, I am specifically talking about Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. I haven't spent very much time in there at all but the few hours I've gotten have been well worth it. Obviously something that I am very interested in is the sovereignty of God in the world. Chapter 16 of Grudem's book was extremely helpful in hashing out what Scripture had to say about that. It hit me at a time where that comfort was just like God wrapping me up in His arms and reminding me that His wants to do good for me. Much of that encouragement came through promises in Jeremiah 32 and the beginning of Matthew 7 as well. I look forward to the break when I might be able to get to the chapter on the doctrine of election and maybe the doctrine of sin.

The other book that I have been reading is The Valley of Vision. It is a book of Puritan prayers. It is absolutely ridiculous. The writers articulate so well and just have an amazingly high view of God and low (realistic) view of themselves. It is amazing to see and so necessary to be reminded of.

That is about all I have for now. I have to get back to the cookie making. Hopefully I will be updating this more often now. Definitely over Christmas break. Thank you to anyone reading this. I'll leave you with this as a charge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knowing Scripture

I just finished a book this morning so I figured I would tell you guys about it. The book was Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. The first thing that I would tell you is that I highly recommend the book. It's short (only 125 pages). It's an easy read. And it's extremely helpful.

Obviously the book is about the Bible. Sproul wrote it for laymen (people who aren't pastors) as an introduction to interpreting the Bible. The first two chapters are basically about why we should want to study the Bible. He quickly defends inerrancy and authority, shooting down common oppositions to them as he goes. He talks about Martin Luther and the fight to give the Bible to common people. But mostly he talks about the benefits (many of which are given in Scripture itself like, in 2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Those chapters were great for me to hear because they reminded me of the reason that I am engaged in studying my Bible. The next two chapters are the ones that blew my top off though. Chapter 3 was "Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpretation" and chapter 4 was "Practical Rules for Biblical Interpretation." Even in a short, introductory book these concepts hit me over the head. Even in chapter 3 he talked about things that I had heard and though of before, though I didn't fully understand. He gave the three basic rules of Hermeneutics: The analogy of faith, interpreting the Bible literally, and the Gramatico-Historical method. Short explanations. Analogy of faith is that Scripture interprets Scripture. Meaning that the Bible does not contradict itself and the best resource we have for understanding something we read is the rest of Scripture. Interpreting the Bible literally is not what it sounds like. It means that we interpret things based on their literary structure, meaning we would read and understand poetry much different than we would historical books. The Gramatico-Historical method focuses on what the text was originally supposed to mean, zeroing in on the history, culture, people, and grammar of the time and place that it was written.

So that was a helpful chapter, but chapter 4 was the meat of this book. Sproul laid out ten basic rules to remember while interpreting the Bible on my own. I'll list them and give short (hopefully) descriptions. But know that these are not enough. If you really want to understand them, which I think is a wise thing to do, just get the book. It's only like ten bucks.

Rule 1: The Bible is to be read like any other book
Now don't read too much into this one. He doesn't mean that it is like any other book. He is simply saying that we should treat it as magical. Meanings don't change with time. A verb is always a verb and a noun is always a noun, just like in a regular book.

Rule 2: Read the Bible existentially
Again, this one could be easily misinterpreted. He does not mean existentialism the way it is thought of today (taking words of the Bible out of context and giving them subjective meaning). What he means is that we have passion and personal interest as we read the Scriptures. He suggests "crawling into the skin" of the characters. Not reading as a textbook that is not applicable and only good for gaining intellect.

Rule 3: Historical narratives are to be interpreted by the didactic
Firstly, the term didactic means to teach. This is one that I grossly overlooked in my reading of the Bible this year. I drew way too many inferences from the records of what people did. They are obviously still Scripture and should be read that way, but the story of David is not a lesson on fleeing from sexual sin. It is simply the story of David. I should base what I am being taught on the books that are meant to teach me how to live, mainly the epistles. (I know this one is hard to understand. I am not explaining it well but I get it in my mind. It is a really important one. Basically the point is not to just take examples of how God deals with people and how people live and create a theology and way of living based off of that.)

Rule 4: The implicit is to be interpreted by the explicit
This one is pretty simple. I can't jump to conclusions just based off of inferences. The example he gave is when people always say that Jesus could walk through walls after the resurrection because it doesn't mention them unlocking and opening the door for him in the upper room. That would be inferring something without it being implicitly stated. Sproul is just saying to be careful with those, and most of all to realize that something that is stated explicitly (obviously, directly) somewhere always overrides something that I am basically just guessing on.

Rule 5: Determine carefully the meaning of words
This one is the one that blew me away. It sounds easy and obvious. But the examples he gave were so good. He talked both about recognizing what words mean when we read them instead of just assuming we know (like with the word glory) and also about words with multiple meanings. Most words have multiple meanings so I can't always assume that a word means one thing. He gave the example of how "justified" is used in Romans (right standing with God) as opposed to James (to demonstrate or vindicate). This is one that I truly cannot describe to you. I'm sure you get the gist of it but the examples are really what gave it weight for me.

Rule 6: Note the presence of parallelisms in the Bible
Parallelism is when two or more lines or clauses are set with each other and correspond in some way. There are synonymous, antithetic, and synthetic parallelisms. I can't get into all of that but basically recognize that it is the kind of thing that comes up in the Psalms and Proverbs all the time (not only there but those have many examples) where the writer says things in a similar way. I just suck at explaining this one, but I'm not going to keep trying. Just read the book.

Rule 7: Note the difference between proverb and law
This is something that may seem easy but people often confuse them. A proverb has to do with wisdom and is not a mandate. Distinguishing between that and commands is important. Otherwise I will become legalistic, imposing my preferences on other people.

Rule 8: Observe the difference between the spirit and the letter of the law
This is also good to remember. There are two ways to screw this up. One is that I obey the letter of the law without obeying the spirit (or intent) of it, and the other is that I think that I am getting the intent of the law while shunning the letter or explicit rule.

Rule 9: Be careful with parables
He gave some tips in here like not assuming that every parable is an analogy. The funny thing about this is that he says parables are really hard to understand, but people act all the time like they are simple. Going to parables before didactic (teaching) passages of Scripture is not a good idea even though it is done all the time. We should search for the meaning in the parables, but not put all are eggs in one basket, which is essentially our best guess.

Rule 10: Be careful with predictive prophecy
There two big errors on opposite ends here. One is acting like none of the predictive prophecy is literal. The other is acting like all of it is literal. Sproul's point is that we shouldn't be quick to jump to conclusions. Take your time and be careful.

These rules helped me a lot in realizing how much more I need to learn. The theme of all of them was care. You saw that word and the thought of noticing and distinguishing a lot. I think the biggest thing I took away is that while the Bible is readable and should be read, we shouldn't do it lightly and carelessly. We have a great responsibility in reading and interpreting God's words.

Again, really good book. Obviously this isn't the only book that outlines these ideas. I'm sure there are many more. This is just the first one that I heard about. The reason I would recommend it is because of the examples and application that R.C. Sproul uses. He's a very smart man that knows how to break things down to their core and that showed in the way he wrote this book.

Soli Deo gloria

Monday, August 9, 2010

Being a Man

Well it's been a while since I posted anything so I'll update you on some of what I am learning. I'm through 2 Corinthians now and all ready to start Galatians. I think that things will move pretty fast for awhile since each of the next eight books is only six chapters or less. There are a lot of things just popping up that I see and I'm like, "Hmm, I never knew that." But like I said I want to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture so I'll hold off any huge theological blanket statements until I get the whole of it.

I went to Michigan this weekend and decided that I didn't want to lug all my Bible study stuff since I would only be there for two nights. So I took the opportunity to start "Knowing Scripture" by R.C. Sproul. I got it to read next to my Principles of Biblical Interpretation class this Fall. I figured R.C. was a good resource to have going in to check things against. So far the book is great. I haven't gotten into the science of interpretation yet, but the first couple chapters are basically about why I should study the Bible. It was very convicting. The man loves the Bible and knows a ton about it. I wish everyone I know could read that first chapter because in it he basically smashes all excuses for not studying the Bible. Great stuff.

Also, I have gotten to listen to a bunch of sermons lately because of the rain (I don't work when it rains). I have been listening to Mark Driscoll's series "Religion Saves & 9 Other Misconceptions." That has been really good. He explained Predestination in one of them and I just listened to the one on grace. Really good stuff.

But more to my point is that I have been listening to a lot of Matt Chandler. Matt Chandler is the preaching pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. I know I have mentioned him on here before, but the reason I love listening to him is because of where he is. Dallas has been called the center of the Evangelical world, or in other terms, the buckle of the Bible Belt. Chandler is always distinguishing between the Gospel and religion. He's always knocking down ideas that come up in the church that are unbiblical. He's very heavy on doctrine and is not shy about how important a right view of God is. I listened to his series on the Church (1/10/09 - 2/21/09) and have been jumping in and out of his Bible Study class called Dwell Deep. But the one the that really hit me recently is the one I listened to in the car on my way home from Michigan. He did a three sermon series on The Role of Men (8/12/07 - 8/26/07). In it he did an amazing job of defining what God's intention was for men. He brought up a lot of things that I had never thought about. Super good stuff. I would beg any of the guys reading this to listen to these sermons. It's definitely worth the two hours or so of listening. But even more than that, I would beg the girls to listen to it. He does a great job of defining a Godly man. And a great job of what kind of man is fit to lead a woman of God. Anyway, I just thought I'd pass that along to you all. I hope you enjoy it.

Soli Deo gloria

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Together for the Gospel

I just kind of discovered the Together for the Gospel conferences. I was looking at something on David Platt and it lead me to their website. I think I had heard of it before from Childers or something but I had never really looked at it. It's a great resource of great men who speak the Word of God. I just watched the John MacArthur message and then started in on the R.C. Sproul one (have a dictionary close by if you are going to listen to him). Anyway I just figured I'd throw another resource your way. Many of us will be heading to school in the next couple weeks so this could just be some nice edification for the road.

Soli Deo gloria

P.S. I've also added The Resurgence blog and the 9 Marks blog on my blog list. Just a couple more resources for learning.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Taking a Break

Well obviously I don't have my notes on Romans up yet. I was talking to a friend on Thursday and I don't think that I am going to do them. Don't get me wrong. I loved Romans and gleaned some really good and important things from it. But there are some reasons that I am not going to put up notes on the epistles.

The big reason is that none of the epistles are stand-alone theology books. Paul, Peter, James, John, etc. are writing to specific people in specific times about specific topics. The danger is in taking a book like Romans and saying "There is Christian doctrine." It's not. And so there are some blanket statements that I read in Romans that I think should have the context of the rest of the New Testament before I consider them correct doctrine.

Concerning the specific topics, when these letters were written they were a lot of the time to correct false beliefs of the church that they were written to. For example in Romans the Jews were trying to put their Jewish laws and traditions on the new Gentile Christians. Therefore, Paul emphasizes our freedom from the law and the fact that the law is to show our sin. But I know that in James, he is dealing with people who are sluggards and are not obeying what Jesus commanded. So James emphasizes works that are brought about by the Spirit. My point is that it could be very dangerous for me to take one letter of the New Testament on it's own without the context of the others. So I'm not going to do that.

So I'm not sure how I am going to write notes on here. I may do something at the end where I write down really important things that I learned from the letters to the churches. We'll see. I'm going through them slowly and methodically so it may be awhile before I finish them. But I would encourage the people who read this to go back and read through these letters (basically Romans-Jude). Even if you have been a Christian for 40 years, there are so things in here that are really emphasized that I don't hear talked about too often. And I think it's important to understand them. But who cares what I think. God thinks it's important to understand them, otherwise why would he put them in the Bible.

That actually makes me think of a conversation I was having with my dad last night. I just got Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology book. It's basically a big book that has the basics of nearly every doctrine discussed and explained in it. So I was thumbing through it and talking about it with my dad. I found it interesting that the first section of the book is not the doctrine of God; it is the doctrine of God's Word. As we thought about it that made a lot of sense. If God's Word is not reliable, then the rest of it really doesn't matter. If you don't believe the Scripture, then there is really no reason to read it or try to come up with a belief about God from it. The reason for that is that the Bible believes itself to be true. From Genesis through the end (I've seen it even if I haven't read all of it through) the Bible is written as the Word of God and that is what everyone accepts it as. I've already talked about how Jesus believed that the Scriptures were historically accurate by His references back to Jonah and David and Noah. He talks about them like they were real historical figures. So if they aren't real, then I don't trust Jesus because He was wrong about them.

Here's my point. There are two things that the Bible can be. 1) It can be a book that is not true. 2) It can be a book that is true. If it is not true than it has no purpose besides reading for fun and maybe for some purpose of understanding ancient literature. It's basically of no importance. But if it is true, than it can be taken as nothing less than the words of the Creator of the Universe given to us. And it is of eternal and infinite importance. So the only thing that the Bible cannot be, is kind of important. It is either the most important tangible thing that we have because it reveals who God is or it is of no importance. But it cannot be kind of important.

Just a little rant that my dad and I were having last night. I think that is very important for me to remember though. Everything that I believe stands on the legitimacy of the Bible. If that falls, everything else falls with it.

Soli Deo gloria

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Okay first off, Acts is a narrative. It's very much like one of the historical books in the Old Testament. But it is a narrative dealing primarily with the Church and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. And that is where we'll start.

Acts is about God. Like every other book in this Bible (yes I'm including Leviticus), Acts is about God. Acts is particularly about the work of the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, after Jesus's ascension into heaven. Now I want to point something out. This is not new. The Holy Spirit didn't magically show up in Acts for the first time in history. We've talked about Him throughout the Bible so far, but more specifically, we talked about His presence in the book of Luke (if you didn't know, Luke and Acts were essentially written as a part 1 and part two of the same story, written by Luke). At the same time, this is an amazing fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus in John 14.

So here is the work of the Spirit in Acts. First, the Holy Spirit is the origin of Scripture (1:16; 3:18; 4:25; 28:25). This isn't a new thing when we read it in 2 Timothy 3:16 or in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Obviously they knew that the writings of the Old Testament writers (Acts mentions Isaiah, David, and "all the prophets"). Next, God's Spirit causes people to speak in tongues (2:4; 10:46; 19:6). The Spirit gives the apostles the power for many signs and wonders (2:43; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6,13b; 13:9-11; 14:3; 15:12; 16:18; 28:3-6), including healing people (3:7; 5:16b; 8:7; 9:40; 14:9-10; 19:11-12; 28:8-9). Also, the Holy Spirit gives boldness to preach the gospel (4:8,31,33; 6:10), speaks directly to people (8:29; 10:19-20; 11:12; 13:2; 15:28-29; 16:6-7; 20:23; 21:4), and prophesies (11:28; 21:9,11). There are a couple more things like comfort that are mentioned a few times. But for the most part, these are the works of the Holy Spirit in Acts. I'm not going to finish this with a disclaimer like: "but He doesn't work like this anymore" because it doesn't say anything like that. After I finish through the Bible I'm sure I will look at some commentaries on this, but until then, I am just relaying what is said. I know that I have never healed someone, spoken in tongues, cast out a demon, prophesied, or heard the Lord audibly talk to me, but I'm not going to say that it doesn't happen just because it hasn't happened to me. That would be ridiculous and nearsighted.

Now I want to talk about my favorite part in Acts, the way Paul preaches the gospel. Only a few times does it actually show him preaching. Much of the time, he is found reasoning with people and proving to them, through the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ (18:4,19; 19:8-9). I think that is so cool. He is sitting down there reasoning with these people and discussing things with them.

There are many other things in Acts concerning the church and what they looked like. Often the apostles are shown "preaching and teaching the word of God." Acts 20:17-38 is one of the most emotionally moving things that I have read in the Bible to this point. He is talking to the Ephesian elders and telling them that he probably won't ever see them again. He's giving them instruction about how to conduct themselves and the church. At the end of it they all knelt down to pray together and it says there was much weeping.

Anyway, there is a lot of good stuff in here but it is in little chunks since it is a narrative. I just wanted to give you the main point of what I thought Acts was giving and I believe that it is the work of the Spirit of the Lord. The rest of the things talked about in here (circumcision, salvation by grace alone, election, elders and deacons) will be discussed in the letters so I know I can discuss it in more detail with you there.

Soli Deo gloria

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


John is going to be very difficult to talk about. The reason is that John writes the reasons for Jesus doing almost every thing that He did. It's very theologically packed. I mean there are libraries full of books written on one or two sentences in John (I know I've used that one before, but it fits). So I could sit here and break down each section and talk about all these really important things that Jesus said and did and the reason that He said and did them. But I'm not going to do that. Firstly, because it would take really long. And secondly, because I really don't know what most of them mean. So you will get the large themes of John along with some things that I am working through and trying to iron out.

Disclaimer: I am talking about some things in here that are hotly debated topics. I am prayerfully talking about them in humility. I don't pretend to know everything that the Bible says. By God's grace (not of my own work) I am starting to understand some things by reading through them. But I am only trying to present to you what God says in His Word. So again, I pray that this can be done in humility.

The most important theme of John is that Jesus is the Son of God and the promised Messiah. John hits this point over and over and over again to the extent that he is hammering it into our heads. He uses Jesus's own claims (1:51; 3:31; 4:25-26; 5:18,27; 6:27,35,41,48,51; 8:12,18,28,58; 9:35-37; 10:11,14,24-25,30,36,38; 11:4,25; 12:23; 13:31; 14:8-11,20; 17:5) along with the claims of the people around Him (1:1,14,29,34,36,4145,49; 4:42; 6:14,69; 7:26,40-41; 10:33; 11:27; 12:13; 19:7; 20:31) to prove this. If you'll read these, you'll notice that a lot of them are Jesus referring to Himself as "the Son of Man." The reason that is a claim to be the Messiah is because He is reaching back to the prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14. Daniel says that the Messiah is "one like a son of man." So when Jesus calls Himself this, all of the Jews would know that He is claiming to be the Messiah. (I heard that first from Phill Knuth and checked it in my sister's ESV Study Bible in John 1:51 and it seems to be very reliable.) Also, a lot of them are "I am" statements (e.g. "I am the bread of life, I am the vine, I am the good shepherd," etc.). All of these are referring back to Exodus 3:13-14 when Yahweh tells Moses that His name is "I am." The people knew what He was saying when He said this. John 8:58 is the best example of this. As soon as He said "I am" they picked up rocks to stone Him. Also throughout the book, but especially in John 10:33 and 19:7, you will notice that Jesus was not arrested and killed because He was doing good things; It was for claiming deity. That is the point that John is hammering home in this entire book.

Next is what keeps coming up about believing and eternal life. Obviously John 3:16 is the well-know example, "that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That's not the only place that it is found (1:12; 3:36; 5:24; 6:40,47; 8:24; 12:36,46; 16:27; 20:31). So all over the place He is telling us that by believing in Him, we inherit eternal life. But we have to take a broader look at this. Because he says similar statements all throughout the book. In John 3:36, John equates "believing in the Son" to obeying the Son. ("Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.") This does not look at all like John is contrasting the two. He believes that they mean the same thing. In John 6, Jesus keeps saying that whoever believes has eternal life (40,47). Then He says, "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (6:54)." And in verse 57 and 58, "so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me... Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." (He says this right after He calls Himself the bread of life). Again in 8:51 Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." In 10:9 He says, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and go in and out and find pasture." In 14:15 Jesus says again, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." and then goes on to promise the Holy Spirit to those who love Him. Then just read John 14:21-24 because it describes who loves Jesus. Again in 15:10 He says, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." And in verse 14, "You are my friends if you do what I command." And then the last one is in 17:3 as He's praying to the Father, "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

These are the statements Jesus makes in John about eternal life. I'm not saying I know what these mean because I don't. All I am saying is that I grew up basically believing that John 3:16 was the only verse in the Bible that Jesus talked about eternal life. At the same time, I don't believe that Jesus contradicts Himself. So the only logical thing that I can come up with is that believing Jesus, obeying Jesus, abiding in Jesus, and loving Jesus are all the same thing. That's all I've got. I'm not trying to rock the boat. I just want to follow God's Word and not come up with things on my own.

The next large theme is the theme of the elect. It runs all the way through the book. In John 1:12-13 He says, "But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God." In 5:21 Jesus says, "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will." Just read John 6:22-71. It is worth the read and is very important to read it in that context. Notice especially verses 37, 44, 63, and 65 (notice that people are offended at this teaching [v 61] and after that "many of his disciples turned back and no longer waked with him [v 66]). In John 8:47 Jesus says this to the Pharisees right after He tells them the devil is their father, "Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." Chapter 10 talks all about Jesus being the good shepherd and keeps talking about His flock and that some are apart of His flock and some aren't. Just read the chapter. It's important to read it all in context. In 12:39-40 Jesus quotes Isaiah when he talks about God blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts lest they understand and turn and be healed. In 14:17, when Jesus is promising the Holy Spirit, He says, "... even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." In 15:15-16 Jesus says "... for all that I have heard from the Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you..." (Just a note: I see how that could be debated that He is only talking to the disciples. I'm not hanging my hat on that, I'm just trying to present everything in the book that has that kind of language. Again the same thing could be said in 15:19) In the High Priestly prayer in chapter 17, three times Jesus talks to the Father about those who the Father gave Him out of the world (verses 6,9,24). Verse 9 says, "I am praying for them (referring back to verse 6, whatever that may mean). I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." And that is the last that we hear from John on this topic.

Obviously I'm trying to be very careful with these Scriptures. The reason is that I realize it is very much against today's culture and against our instinct to believe these things (that the Father chooses who are His and who aren't). What I am trying to do is put all of the Scripture in front of you that talks about this and not just try to give my opinion. I have the advantage of being able to read all of this in context, so I would beg all of you to go back and read it in context. I am not trying to push my agenda. I am trying to be true to the words that God has given us about Himself. At the same time, I have no problem discussing it with anyone, so feel free to shoot me an email or something.

the next big thing is the promise of the Holy Spirit in chapters 14, 15, and 16. I want to point out two things. The first is that Jesus calls the Spirit, "the Helper." I don't know what exactly that means, I just find it interesting. The second thing is that in 16:7, Jesus says that it is to our advantage for Him to leave because that means the Spirit will come. That is amazing. Next is something that I know I have to mention because it jumped out at me. It is in John 14:12, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works that these will he do, because I am going to the Father." I just find that interesting because I don't know what He is talking about. I know that later in the New Testament Paul talks about healing and gifts like that, but we have pretty much done away with those. We say that they aren't for this culture or time or something. But when Jesus says "whoever believes in me" I assume that that means all times. Like I said, I don't know that this means. I'm just trying to put it all on the table.

Well that's it. Yes I realize that was a lot. John is a very full book. I hope that if nothing else this challenged you to look at the Word and see what it says instead of just assuming that we all know what it says. And I can honestly say that I don't know what most of this means. I'm praying for enlightenment from the Spirit and praying that He gives me understanding, but I don't understand it all. So I am praying that He continues to give me understanding and continues to sanctify me into Christ's image. Now onto the rest of the New Testament.

Soli Deo gloria