Bridges: Only Preaching the Gospel Leads to Holiness

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The sovereignty and freeness of grace are the principles of laborious activity, not the allowance of Anitnomian ease. Thus the doctrines of the Gospel not only explain the nature and obligation, but are themselves the principles – nay the only principles – of holiness. We must live every moment by faith, and as we live, we shall love – overcome the world – crucify sin – delight in the service of God. No mere precepts will extirpate the natural love of sin, or infuse this new bias in the heart. The doctrine of faith alone effects this mighty change, by exhibiting Christ as the source of life, and detailing all the exercises of holy practice, flowing from that life…

It is the promise, and not the precept; it is encouragement, and exaction; it is grace, and not nature, which consecrates a course of moral beauty and blessing, and convinces the believer, that, whether grace is to be exercised or duty discharged, he is eminently ‘God’s workmanship,’ the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry (265-66) emphasis original

How Does Sarah, Submissive Obedience, and Fear Fit?

Have you ever done this? A wife wants counseling on dealing with a frustration she has with her husband. I Peter 3 brings God’s truth to godly wives (dealing with unbelieving husbands), encouraging them to trust God by submitting, adorning their hearts with righteous beauty, and to act as Sarah’s spiritual daughters. I’ve often thought of Sarah as a fantastic example of this, what with Abraham’s penchant for dropping her off in various royal harems (cf. Genesis 12 and 20). It turns out, most commentators see it this way too: Sarah shows remarkable faith and fearlessness in the face of Abraham’s abdicating husbandry.

But as we’re preaching through the Abraham toledot in our Lord’s Day sermons, I was struck by the fact that Genesis 18 is the only place Sarah refers to Abraham as her “lord” (Hebrew: adon, Greek: kurios). What is more, Peter exhorts godly wives to “not fear anything that is frightening” (I Peter 3:6). Sure enough, the only time we’re ever told Sarah feared something is also in Genesis 18. The links are striking, and even Proverbs 3 comes into play. The following chart helps to lay it out (ESV and LXX below):

Genesis 18:12, 15 I Peter 3:6 Proverbs 3:25
So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord (κύρίος μου) is old, shall I have pleasure?” as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (κύριον).  
But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid (ἐφοβἡθη). do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (μὴ φοβούμεναι μηδεμίαν πτόησιν). Do not be afraid of sudden terror (οὐ φοβἡθησῃ πτόησιν) or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes

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Art Can Glorify God Because of the Goodness of Creation

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Art can glorify God because of the intrinsic good of creation, not because it has some transformative, redemptive power to usher in spiritual redemption… Poorly written novels — no matter how pious and edifying the behavior of the characters — are not good in themselves and are therefore not really edifying.

@WhiteHorseInn
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Like Abraham, Drive Away the Buzzards

AbrahamDear Zion,

In our sermon series on “The Gospel According to Abraham,” we’ve been introduced to the Covenant of Grace.  We saw how God furthered His Covenant of Grace with Abraham in Genesis 15, cutting the animals in half and passing through that valley of death to ratify His promise to Abraham and his offspring.  But did you notice the seemingly insignificant detail in Genesis 15:11?  “And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”  Now why would God include this little tidbit of Abram trying to scare off some buzzards?  Is it just to fill in some of the details of the story?  Or, is God’s Word so rich and intricate, that even this easily overlooked verse can teach us more of God’s ways? Continue reading

Review: From the Resurrection to His Return

D.A. Carson From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days (Christian Focus, 2010)
Kindle publication at Amazon
Paperback at WTS Books

(this review looks at the unpaginated eBook version)

Christian Focus has published another brief but useful classic from Dr. Carson on II Timothy. The subject of “end times,” or even more dauntingly – eschatology, brings confusion for many, but Carson treats the heart of the matter: living faithfully for Christ in these last days. More information on the book can be found at The Gospel Coalition (though I myself did not have access to it at the time of the review). Carson’s book is an accessible guide for Christians unto faithful living packed with simple but gripping lessons, that is recommended for anyone.

Overview

Chapter 1, “Living in the Last Days,” is a smooth, concise, running commentary of prose on II Timothy 3:1 – 9. The entire text of 2 Timothy 3 – 4:6 appears just before, but without a note of explanation. Nowhere are you alerted to what this book is: a commentary? devotionals? summary? Despite a disorienting beginning, Carson’s insights into the text are engaging and helpful. Unlike the rocky beginning, the remaining chapters easily flow into one another. Continue reading

Reforming lectio divina

Spirituality is still a huge topic with evangelical Christians, and increasingly practices such as lectio divina are encouraged even for Reformed Christians. But is this practice helpful? And how can it be used by Christians in the Reformed tradition?

Lectio divina (or, divine reading) as described by Kenneth Boa in his book Conformed to His Image, (Zondervan, 2001), 96-97.

The ancient art of lectio divina, or sacred reading, was introduced to the West by the Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century.

It consists of four elements.

  1. Lectio (reading). Select a very short text and ingest it by reading it several times. Normally, one chooses a verse or a brief passage from the chapters read from the Old and New Testaments in morning Bible reading.
  2. Meditatio (meditation). Take a few minutes to reflect on the words and phrases in the text you have read. Ponder the passage by asking questions and using your imagination.
  3. Oratio (prayer). Having internalized the passage, offer it back to God in the form of personalized prayer.
  4. Contemplatio (contemplation). For the most of us, this will be the most difficult part, since it consists of silence and yieldedness in the presence of God. Contemplation is the fruit of the dialogue of the first three elements; it is the communion that is born out of our reception of divine truth in our hearts.

I think there is much to appreciate about lectio divina, especially its Agassiz-like focus on a text. Further, that Scripture ought to bid us pray and that our prayers ought to be filled with Scripture is an axiom of this discipline, so to the extent that the lectio divina encourages this is a boon. I would even go so far as to say – due to the importance of prayer in the Christian life – that anything that encourages prayer in the life of believers is a good thing. But having said all of this, let me turn to a few concerns. Continue reading

Tim Keller on How Satisfaction with Jesus Fuels Marriage

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“The simple fact is that only if I love Jesus more than my wife will I be able to serve her needs ahead of my own. Only if my emotional tank is filled with love from God will I be able to be patient, faithful, tender, and open with my wife when things are not going well in life or in the relationship. And the more joy I get from my relationship with Christ, the more I can share that joy with my wife and family.”

The Meaning of Marriage, p. 124
(HT: Alex Leung)

Edwards’ Resolutions

Of all things penned by the inestimable Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758), his “Resolutions” is one of the more widely known works alongside “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.” As we come into a new year (2012), it is helpful to revisit his ideas, his zeal, and his resolutions for considering how we will conduct our own lives in the time God grants to us.
Penned in a span of two years, when Edwards was himself barely out of the teenage years and just embarking on adulthood, these words stir our souls and challenge us to behold God’s grace work powerfully in our own lives.

Briefly, Desiring God lists the Resolutions according to topic and with subheadings. Steve Camp gives us a good perspective on how Edwards viewed these Resolutions as a mature man and seasoned Christian later in life.  Without any further ado, the Resolutions.

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Edwards’ Resolutions (1722 – 23)
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it. Continue reading

Leaving A Legacy: My Grandpa Dr. R. A. Lund

On Friday, my grandfather’s body will be placed in the ground. We do so because we believe we are planting a seed, and that the Lord Jesus Christ will be harvesting humanity and raising us to new life. I’ve been so blessed by my grandpa, and what follows is his obituary and funeral service order. The notice at the funeral home is here.

A celebration of life service for Dr. R. A. (Rod) Lund, 91, of Fairmont, MN, will be 11:00 a.m. Friday, December 9, at the Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Fairmont. Interment will be in Lakeside Cemetery in Fairmont with Military Honors by the Lee C. Prentice American Legion Post 36 and Martin County V.F.W. Post 1222. Visitation will be 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, December 8, at the Lakeview Funeral Home in Fairmont, MN, and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church. Dr. Lund passed away on Friday evening, December 2, 2011, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. Rodney Alton Lund was born on March 19, 1920, in Opheim, Montana, the son of Charles and Maia (Bollum) Lund. He grew up in South Dakota, primarily Watertown, and then moved to Detroit Lakes, MN, in 1934, where he graduated from Detroit Lakes High School. In April of 1942, he graduated from the Minneapolis Chiropractic School. That same year he was inducted into the U.S. Army and was united in marriage to Mildred Melberg on June 5, 1942, in Little Rock, AR. Continue reading