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

Tim Keller on How Satisfaction with Jesus Fuels Marriage

Quote

“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

Owen’s Two Definitions of Sanctification

Compare these two definitions of sanctification. The first comes from John Owen’s Works, the second from the Savoy Declaration of Faith, a document Owen, Goodwin,and many other influential congregationalist ministers had a large role in forming.

Owen’s Works, 3:386

Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing of their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God, and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience unto God, according unto the tenor and terms of the new covenant, by virtue of the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Savoy Declaration of Faith

Chapter XIII: Of Sanctification
They that are united to Christ, effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also further sanctified really and personally through the same virtue, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened, and mortified, and they more and more quickened, and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

What strikes you from these two definitions? The first seems to emphasize the Spirit while the second emphasizes (union with) Christ. The first mentions the imago Dei while the second mentions other facets of the ordo salutis. The first treats sin in its staining effects, whereas the latter looks at sin in its power. The first thinks of vivification in terms of “obedience” while the latter speaks of “holiness.” Only the first mentions covenant (“new covenant”), while only the latter mentions mortification. Both are clear that it is by “virtue” of Christ’s death and life/resurrection. Both are speaking of progressive, not definitive, sanctification.

So why the difference(s)? Can any Owen scholars weigh in and touch on the various emphases? Clearly, Savoy 13 is not very original to Owen or the congregationalist ministers, as it reads very similar to the WCF (click here for a comparison and scroll down). Is that the only difference here, or are there other factors at play behind these two very similar yet different definitions of sanctification?

Calvin: Benefits from Justification for Children

Calvin wanted Christ’s little lambs to know the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and he wanted them to know that justification also provided:

  1. Sanctification – as distinguished from, but – inseparable with it

    Master.But can this [imputed] righteousness be separated from good works, so that he who has it may be void of them?

    Scholar. That cannot be. For when by faith we receive Christ as he is offered to us, he not only promises us deliverance from death and reconciliation with God [i.e., justification], but also the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are regenerated to newness of life [i.e., sanctification]; these things must necessarily be conjoined so as not to divide Christ from himself.

  2. Assurance of salvation

    M. What advantage accrues to us from this forgiveness [which is, of course, included in justification]? Continue reading

Sanctification: Ryle vs. Pink?

What role does sanctification play in the Christian life? And specifically, is sanctification necessary for a Christian to ultimately be saved? Sometimes this issue can be confusing for Reformed Protestants who wish to maintain salvation by God’s saving grace from first to last, and yet also trumpet the need for holiness and good works. Even reading erstwhile helpful pastors and expositors can be confusing, as J.C. Ryle and Arthur W. Pink demonstrate. Consider their separate comments:

From bottom left going clockwise: Ryle, Pink, Owen, Calvin


J.C. Ryle- “Holiness” pg.28-29

Sanctification, in the last place, is absolutely necessary, in order to train and prepare us for heaven Continue reading