Bought by the Blood

July 28, 2010

Anxiousness Vs. Restfulness

My next several tweets and facebook updates are from a Paul Tripp article called, “The Nowism of The Gospel,” which you can read for yourself here The Nowism of the Gospel :: Desiring God

The article is about being a grace amnesiac and not taking advantage today of the grace that God has available to believers.  Tripp wants us to live in the beauty of the gospel every day and for it to have vibrant and practical application.

Four ways which Tripp gives us that grace radically transforms we live are as follows:

  1. Grace will decimate what you think of you, while it gives you a security of identity you’ve never had.
  2. Grace will expose your deepest sins of heart, while it covers every failure with the blood of Jesus.
  3. Grace will make you face how weak you are, while it blesses you with power beyond you ability to calculate.
  4. Grace will take control out of your hands, while it blesses you with the care of One who plan is unshakable and perfect in every way.

The article was really helpful for me because I can easily view myself as similar to “Jason” in the article as someone who knows all the rights answers, but not taking full advantage of “life before death.”

Here is one of my favorite quotes that was too long to tweet and felt I wanted to capture in a blog instead of a facebook status

He (Jason) spent way too much time calculating the “what ifs” and regretting the “if onlys.” He seemed like he did not know that his security and rest were not to be found in his ability to predict the future and control the present, but in the faithful love and expansive wisdom of his sovereign Savior, Jesus, so his living always was more anxious than restful.

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May 10, 2010

God Saves Sinners

For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners.

God: the triune Jehovah – Father, Son, and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power, and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves: does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves, and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.

Sinners: men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, blind, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedaling the snner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Savior.  This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology that the ‘five points’ are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present, and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever, amen!

-J.I. Packer

February 22, 2010

Holiness Is The Means To Happiness

“Chosen – that we should be holy; not because he foresaw they would be holy, but because he determined to make them so.  All who are chosen to happines as the end are chose to holiness as the means.  Their sanctification, as well as their salvation, is the result of the counsels of divine love.” – Matthew Henry

November 1, 2009

Boice on God’s sovereignty in our failures

Filed under: Boice,God's providence,God's Sovereignty,Moses,Proverbs — cubsfan1980 @ 7:17 pm
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Image courtesy of Tenth Presbyterian Church

“We may not like to think so, but Christians do fail.  Through their failures they should learn to trust God in order that they might succeed in His service.  Another way of saying the same thing is that through failures they learn to follow God’s plans for their lives rather than their own…If a man can begin his career in such abject failure as Moses experienced and then rise to the heights he achieved, certainly we can rise from our early failures and ruined plans too.  If we do not – if we grieve over our plans that seemed good and even spiritual to us but which failed – then we do not understand God’s sovereignty.  We need to take our minds off our plans for a while and seek God…Only after we fail do we become aware that it is God and not ourselves who is working.  God’s plan will be accomplished. ‘There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand’ (Proverbs 19:21). This truth Moses came to know, and we must learn it also.  Someone has said, ‘Moses was 40 years in Egypt learning something; he was 40 years in the desert learning to be nothing; and he was 40 years in the wilderness proving God to be everything.'” James Montgomery Boice

October 8, 2009

When God Doesn’t Answer Prayer As We Desire

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26

Image courtesy of Reformation.org

Image courtesy of Reformation.org

Martin Luther on the above verse, taken from his commentary on Romans:

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. (Psalm 38:9)” It is not an evil sign, but indeed the very best, if upon our petitions the very opposite happens to us. Conversely, it is not a good sign if everything is granted to us for which we pray.

The reason for this is the following: God’s counsel and will tower high above our own counsel and will, as we read in Isaiah 55:8, 9:  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Hence when we ask anything of God and He begins to hear us, He so often goes counter to our petitions that we imagine He is more angry with us now than before we prayed, and that He intends not to grant us our requests at all.  All this God does, because it is His way first to destroy and annihilate what is in us (our own wisdom and will)  before He gives us His gifts; for so we read in 1 Samuel 2:6: “The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up..”  Through this most gracious counsel He makes us fit for us His gifts and works.  Only then are we qualified for His works and counsels when our own plans have been demolished and our own works are destroyed and we have become purely passive in our relation to Him.

The proud desire to be like God.  They want to place their thoughts not under God, but next to His, just as though they were perfect.  But that is much less possible than for the clay to tell the potter into what shape he should form it.  So we read in Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” But those who have the Holy Spirit do not despair but have faith when they see that the very opposite of what they asked for happens to them.  The work of God must remain hidden in any other form than that which contradicts our thinking and understanding.  Thus God permitted St. Augustine to fall deeper and deeper into error, despite the prayer of his mother, in order to grant her much more in the end than she had asked. This he does with all his saints.

August 12, 2009

How to walk through the valley of the shadow of death

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

Take a moment to consider what is your shadow of death.  Is it the potential of financial hardships? Does the prospect of gloom come from some relational unknown like your kids not walking with the Lord?  Have health concerns made you downcast and uncertain about God’s control of good and evil.  If we call God our shepherd we have no need to fear these things.  The essence of living by faith is knowing that even though we may walking in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death that God is with us, His Son has already gone before us, and we have no need to fear because He is faithful and trustworthy.

The reason we can fear no evil is because of the cross.  At the cross we see God providing for our greatest need by atoning for our sins and sending Christ to take the punishment that we deserved.  God could have kept His Son out of harm’s way, but instead made Him drink the cup of His wrath, so that we wouldn’t have to.  If God would do that for undeserving sinners like us, then we can be confident that He will protect us from all evil.  when the circumstances of life have us down we need to immediately run to the cross as our comfort and refuge.

Note that the Psalmist walks through the valley of the shadow of death, he walks calmly at an even pace and is not frantic or running because He can rest in God.  His rest in God is based on the fact that sin has been defeated through Christ victory on the cross.  The Psalmist does not state that there is no evil, but he knows that evil exists and is well aware of the force of evil against him.  Even more than evil, He is aware of the God who is sovereign over evil and will let any trial come to him that will not work for his good or God’s glory.  The Psalmist knows that God is wise and has a plan to bring him through this valley to the mountain where he will see more of God’s glory and love for him.

March 23, 2009

The Valleys of the Torah

I am doing a read through the Bible in a year plan.  One of the hardest parts of plans like this is the middle of the Torah with Numbers and Leviticus.  These are probably two of the hardest of the books of the Bible for my soul to be fed by.  I am about halfway through Numbers right now and recently came across Numbers 11 which has been one of the highlights of the book for me.  As I find more time to blog I definitely want to point our more highlights from these two books.  For now, here are some of my gleanings from Numbers 11.

Numbers 11
V. 1 Complaining is a serious sin that as it shows lack of gratitude for all that God has done in our live.  When we complain we state that God is not good.

V. 2 Prayer is effective.  The Lord’s angered was tempered by Moses prayer.  If we are confident in the sovereignty of God, then that fuels our ammunition for prayer that God hears and answers.

v. 6 The people looked to food for strength instead of God.  They had a small of view God and did not believe that He could strengthen them.  This is the opposite of Daniel and his friends when they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians and neglected the meat knowing that God would nourish them and give them what their bodies needed.  By trusting God they were able to be strengthened more than those who had the choicest diet.

v. 10 As God was angry about the people’s sin, Moses was displeased also.  That which makes God angry should make me angry.  I should NEVER try to justify sin.  It is compassionate thing to be angry about sin because it will make me speak out against sin so that people can see where they are displeasing God so that they can repent and come back to Him.  If I am ever doing something to anger I would pray that others would have God’s heart and gently restore me.

v.17 God does not want Moses to carry this burden alone, so God tells Moses to pick people who he wants to receive more of the Spirit so that they can encourage him through prophesy.  The people who receive the Spirit are not hand selected by a leader, but the Spirit has been poured out on all who believe.  Since I’ve been saved I should earnestly pursue prophecy so that I can encourage others.  I should also be praying for other believers so that they can be receiving an outpouring of the Spirit in greater and more powerful manifestations.

v.23 Although the people are ungrateful for all the Lord has done for them, He still decides them their request for meat.  Ironically, God promises to give them meat until they are sick of it.  Moses, being the leader that he is tries to calculate and figure out the logistics of God giving the people that much meat.  God tells Moses “Is the Lord‘s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” If He can bring all the plagues to pass and part the red sea, then he can surely give the Israelites an overabundance of meat.  I have no need to doubt God’s provision in my life.

How I am so quick to be like the Israelites.  My natural reaction to tough situations is to complain instead of being filled with gratefulness for all that God has done for me.  I can easily be proud and self-reliant and not be as quick to prayer as I should be.  If I am viewing God as I should then prayer will become more of a natural inclination of my heart.  God needs to be my strength and where I place my hope and trust.  I need to have the same mindset in regards to sin as God has and hate it with the same passion that he does.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for your grace and mercy that sent your Son to die on the cross for my sins.  Thank you that even though I did nothing to deserve this blessing you have shown my such amazing steadfast love.  You continue to shower me with blessings and give me more than I desire.  Help me never doubt your provision.  As I see your provision enable me to enourage other.  Fill me with your Spirit so that as I live in community with others I can tell of your wondrous deeds and who you are.  Mold my heart to be like yours, let me hate sin as you do so that I can grow in my love for others and guiding them in repentance.  Use prayer to draw me closer to see you and see you better.  Make my vision of you enlarge allow me to see all that I have in you so that I can grow in my trust and desire for you.  Let people see in a difference in me because of your Spirit that fills me.  As I walk in you let my heart overflow with gratitude.  You are my portion and lot, my heart will always be satisfied with you.  Amen!

March 17, 2009

Entering into worship

This morning as I was spending time with Jesus I was reading in Isaiah 45 and was brought before the throne of the Lord above with a clearer of who He is and His calling on my life.

5 I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

The Lord, who is thrice holy, that reigns and is enthroned with majesty and splendor in Heaven has equipped me to know Him.  He is truly self-sufficient and has no need for me.  I can add nothing to Him and he gains nothing from being in relationship with me.  I can not bring a sacrifice that will cause Him to gain anything new, but He has sacrificed His Son on the cross so that my sins may be paid for and I can be brought from death to life.   There is no one like Him with such fathomless grace and mercy.

He desires for all people to know Him.  In His patience, He has forebeared with the sins of the world so many may repent.  He has displayed His character in creation, so that many may see His glorious attributes.   There is not one inch of creation that is not His.  From the east to the west there is none that can compete with Him.  He is the only thing worth living for.  He has created a world with many mysteries and marvels to lead us outside of ourselves and see that one greater than us has created all of this.

Light and dark do not just exist, but those are created things.  The wealthy and the poor are not that way because of chance or pulling themselves up by their boot straps, but by God’s directing as He is sovereign over all things.  He does all things and we are called to come to be empty vessels to be used by Him.  If we see God as He is, then we should align our goals and visions to be the same as His.  To live a life of worship involves a continual dying  to self so that can live for the next world and the kingdom that is to come.

He will ask “who will go?”  I will say “send me” because He has equipped me to go.”

He will say “Who will go” and I will say “send me” because He has given me joy, life, health, hope and peace.

He will say “who will go” and I will say “send me” because someone else answered the call and they told me of His love for me, which led me to repent and believe.

He will say “who will go” and I will say “send me” because I would still be dead in my sins and if someone had not followed the call to bring the gospel to me.

He will say “who will go” and I will say “send me” because there is none like Him and no  higher calling that I can serve.

January 29, 2009

Tough Questions of Faith – Part Two

Tough Questions of Fath – Part Two consist of chapters four and five that I plan on summarizing in one post.  This part of the book probably deals with the one of the most controversial aspects of the Old Testament to wrestle with, the Israelites conquest of the land of Canaan.

Wright focuses chapter four on three wrong view points to take when dealing with this piece of Scripture.  The first false view point is that the it’s an Old Testament story that has no place in the context of the New Testament.  Wright dispels this because the characteristics of God’s love and wrath are the same in the New Testament as in the Old Testament.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His attributes do not change between testaments.  Wright also proves this view point wrong with pointing to how the New Testament validates the Old Testament and never critiques or attempts to show wrong in it.  Another view point that Wright disapproves of for dealing with the Canaanite conquest is that the Israelites were wrong in believing that God wanted them to drive out the Canaanites.  “The main problem with this view is that everywhere else in the Bible the conquest is never explained away as a colossal mistake; on the contrary, it is anticipated, commanded, achieved, and remembered as something that accomplished God’s will.”    The last view point that Wright tells us is unreliable is that of the conquest as being meant as allegory for spiritual warfare.  “We must remember that this kind of spiritual use (the use he is referring to is allegory) of the Old Testament narratives is secondary and derivative.  Their primary form is simply historical narrative.  In other words, we are not really dealing with allegory here at all.”

What then do we do with the conquest of Canaan?  Here is Wright’s conclusion:

I have wrestled with this problem for many years as a teacher of the Old Testament, and I am coming to the view that no such “solution” will be forthcoming.  There is something about this part of our Bible that I have to include in my basket of things I don’t understand about God and his ways…

What we really must do is what we should do with every part of the bible, namely, to put it in the wider framework of our whole Bible.  We must get into the habit of doing that when we read any Bible text, and never more so than here.

So we will look at three frameworks that help to put the conquest in perspective — not in such a way as to make it “nice” or to take away all the nasty questions it raises, but at least in such a way as to help us connect it to the rest of what we know about God and his ways.  We need to see the conquest narrative in the framework of the Old Testament story, in the framework of God’s sovereign justice, and in the framework of God’s whole plan of salvation.

Here are Wright’s three frameworks listed from above that we need to hold in our hands as deal with the conquest of Canaan

The Framework of The Old Testament Story:

There is a culture and a rhetoric of warfare for the Israelites that we are not famaliar with today.  The conquest of Canaan did not include a complete removal of them from the land, but only a subduing of them so that Israel can take the land.  Something else important to consider is that this is a unique and historical event, not something to be a model for a way of life.

The Framework of God’s Sovereign Justice

“The conquest was not human genocide.  It was divine judgment”  This is seen by the fact that it wasn’t an unconditional wiping out of all Canaanites.  For Canaanites who repented and followed Yahweh, like Rahab, they were spared.  This does not imply that Israel is more righteous, we even see God imposing the same judgment on them.

The Framework of God’s Whole Plan of Salvation:

The conquest of Canaan, is not the ultimate end, it is part of God’s plan of having Israel being His special and chosen people from which the Messiah will come.  The mission of Israel is to be a nation from which peace to God is made available and all nations comes to praise Him.  The conquest of Canaan might seem contradictory to this but, Wright states “The overall thrust of the Old Testament is not Israel against the nations, but Israel for the sake of the nations…What we need to see is that the Bible feels no contradiction between the ultimate goal of universal blessing and historical acts of particular judgment.”

In conclusion, this is an episode, like all others, which must be viewed through the eyes of the cross.

And when I do set it in the light of the cross, I see one more perspective.  For the cross too involved the most horrific and evil human violence, which, at the same time, also constitued the outpouring of God’s judgment on human sin.  The crucial difference of course, is that, whereas at the conquest, God poured out his judgment on a wicked society who deserved it, at the cross, God bore on himself the judgment of God on human wickedness, through the person of his own sinless Son – who deserved it not one bit.

January 24, 2009

Tough Question of Faith – Chapter 3

This chapter is entitled “The Defeat of Evil” and honestly, I believe that this chapter is worth the price of the book alone.  I love the quote that Wright uses to start this chapter.  As you will see from this quote, he does redemptive theology as well as anyone else out there today.  Picking up from where he left out in the previous chapter about lament he goes on to say:

But the Bible takes us further, much further, and calls us to rejoice at the prospect of the defeat and final destruction of evil.  Evil will be eradicated from God’s creation.  This is the hope and promise of the Bible.

The whole Bible, indeed, can be read as the epic account of God’s plan and purpose to defeat evil and rid his whole creation of it forever.  That, it can be argued, describes everything between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22.  We cannot here retell or even summarize that great narrative, but we can unequivocally say that the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth stand at the centre of it.  Here is the central and decisive moment of the victory of God over evil and the guarantee that it will ultimately be destroyed.

Wright goes onto state that when wrestling with the problem of evil there are three Biblical truths that we must hold in our ends.  Those truths are  1)the utter evilness of evil, 2)the utter goodness of God and 3)the utter sovereignty of God.   After explaining these three truths Wright proceeds to use two examples of these functioning in the Bible.  One from the Old Testament with the story of Joseph and the other from the New Testament with Christ being crucified.  Wright’s prose is prolific, so instead of summarizing, I will quote him extensively below:

Three truths applied to Joseph

There is no softening of the evil intent and action of the brothers or of their moral responsibility.  Their actions are inexcusably evil.  Yet the goodness and sovereignty of God not only overruled their intentions but used them for the ultimate good of saving life.

It is important to not suggest that God “turned evil into good”, or that because it all worked out in the end, it wasn’t really so bad after all.  The actions of the brothers were evil.  Period.  Evil in intent and evil in execution.  But God demonstrated his sovereignty by showing that he can take what is done as an existing evil in the world and use it to bring about h is own good purposes (emphasis mine). God remains good, and God remains sovereign.

On the cross:

The cross exposed the utter depths of human and satanic evil in hatred, injustice, cruelty, violence, and murder.  All of this was hurled at Jesus, with no justification or excuse.  Jesus died at the hands of  “wicked men.” At the cross, evil is seen at its worst for what it is and does.  

Second, the cross happened fully in accorandance with God’s sovereign will from eternity.  It is the supreme moment in history (which defines and enables all other such moments) in which God caused the wrath of human beings to praise him, somehow building the evil intent and actions of free creatures into his own sovereign purpose of loving redemption.

Third, the cross also expressed the utter goodness of God, pouring out his mercy and grace in self-giving love.  At the cross God drew the worst sting of human and satanic evil and concentrated it on himself in the person of His son, in order that it should be borne in the full depth of all its consequences and thereby release forgiveness.

Wright then goes onto to exposit Revelation 4-7.   Because Christ is the crucified one who is at the center of creaton and God’s saving plan He is worthy to open the scrolls.  When Christ opens the scroll he summons the four horsemen of apocalytpic terror.  The four hoursemen represent conquest, war, famine and disease.  Wright quotes George B. Caird on the horsemen in the following, “They are the result of human sin…The point is that, just where sin and its effects are most in evidence, the kingship of the crucified is to be seen, turing human wickedness to service of God’s purpose.”  Christ governs the universe and the evil of this present age cannot trump His sovereign and good purposes.

Revelation 5-7, then, affirms this awesome paradox that is crucial to the way we should think about evil.  All evil, disaster, and suffering stand under the sovereign control of God in Christ — and specifically under the authority of the crucified Christ (The lamb who was slain, who is in the centre of the throne, sharing in the government of God over all creation).

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