The month of January is named for the ancient mythical character named Janus, a figure drawn with two faces – one face looking back into the past, and the other looking forward into the future. I don’t know about you, but that is often how I feel during January: one eye looking backwards at the year of 2015 as it has come to an end, and one eye looking ahead, wondering and praying about what 2016 will bring. As you ponder and pray about God’s work in your life in the year ahead, and evidences of His grace from the close of 2015, do you tremble?
I know I do. The close of a year brings with it memories that leave me nearly speechless. There were uncounted blessings in 2015, each of which were undeserved gifts of grace. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of Lights, in Whom there is no shadow of change or turning” (James 1:17). Have you awakened to the sheer number of blessings of 2015? But I also tremble at the undeserved mercies that built up over a year of needing His forgiving love. Each year that passes marks 365 days of falling deeper into the debt of grace, having been desperate for the cleansing blood of Jesus. Without His majestic mercy, none of us could get through one day, let alone an entire year! “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3).
It helps us to look backwards into a year spent and look forward into the year ahead if we think about the Christian blessings of faith and hope. These twin virtues from God help us deal with the past (faith) as well as the future (hope). And God’s Word often puts them together, like in I Thessalonians 1:3, “your work of faith… and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” or even closer in I Peter 1:21, “your faith and hope are in God.”
We talk a lot about biblical faith, but what is the difference between faith and hope? And how does faith inform our past, and hope inform our future? Continue reading
Recently at 9Marks, Mark Dever interviewed Iain Murray regarding Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. If it was listed in the New Testament, I would say facilitating interviews or panel discussion is one of Dever’s spiritual gifts. This was an enjoyable discussion with Murray, especially on DMLJ, whose Trust you should make sure to visit so you can get all their terrific resources.
When I think about Lloyd-Jones, I think about preaching. But I don’t often think about the other ministerial necessities that go along with the sermon. And so it was with interest that I listened to Murray relay the details of an order of service during Lloyd-Jones’ ministry at Westminster Chapel.
“The Sunday morning service would always start with the unannouced Doxology… not, ‘let’s stand and sing the doxology,’ but the organ was playing, and then the people would stand and sing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.'” So the order, Murray related, went something like this:
Hymn of Praise
Reading of God’s Word
Brief Congregational Announcements
A few notes. Continue reading
You can find all these accounts under My Projects page. Thanks for reading!
Here’s Kostenberger on Trinity and missions:
Rather than being one of several aspects or implications of John’s trinitarian theology, mission was shown to be the nexus and focal point of his presentation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, individually and in relation to one another. Hence it can truly be said, not only that John’s mission theology is trinitarian (which in and of itself is a significant statement), but that his trinitarian teaching is part of his mission theology – a truly revolutionary insight.
The insight is revolutionary because, if heeded, it calls the church to focus its major energies on acting on and acting out her Lord’s commission, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21), in the power of the Spirit, rather than merely engaging in the study of God or cultivating personal holiness (as important as this may be within the larger framework presented here). The insight is revolutionary also because a proper understanding of John’s trinitarian mission theology ought to lead the church to understand its mission in trinitarian terms – that is, as originating in and initiated by the Father (the “one who sent” Jesus), as redemptively grounded and divinely mediated by Jesus the Son (the “Sent One” turned sender, 20:21), and as continued and empowered by the Spirit, the “other helping presence,” the Spirit of truth. Continue reading