Bought by the Blood

July 16, 2011

The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders: A Review

In today’s evangelical culture where phrases like “Christ-Centered” are in vogue and topics of the Gospel and Christ finished work are common place, I found reading “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything,” by Fred Sanders quite refreshing. Many of the books that I’ve read lately have been more on the topic of practical application, parenting and other assorted topics.  This was my first time reading a theology book in ages, and being a parent of a toddler my brain has limited bandwidth and I definitely noticed this book stretching my brain in ways that it hasn’t in a while.  With all of that said, I would not recommend this book if you are looking for a light read.

Starting the book, the first chapter was definitely intimidating.  Sanders lays out a philosophical argument for why the trinity should be important for Christians today. To be honest, this chapter was hard to read and my fear was that if the rest of the book was like that then it would be hard to finish.  I did finish the book and after the first chapter, the information became easier to process.  Sanders uses the first chapter to lay a foundation for the rest of the book, from there he spends the bulk of book talking about how the gospel finds its root in the trinity.  The book concludes with reflections on how the trinity relates to Bible reading and prayer.

Theology for theology sake is useless.  What Sanders excels in with this book is taking the reader past a knowledge of God and to the worship of God.  In chapter two I found myself worshipping God for who He is, particularly His self-sufficiency within the trinity and how He doesn’t need anyone or anything else to complete or satisfy Himself.  In chapter three I found myself worshipping God for all of His acts, particularly that of saving me.  In chapter four I found myself worshipping God for the access He has provided by adopting me through the work of the trinity.  In chapter five I found myself worshipping God for the specific roles He fulfills in the trinity and how He welcomes me to commune with each specific role.  In chapter six I found myself worshipping God for allowing me to encounter Him through His Word which is the breath of His Spirit.  In chapter seven I found myself worshipping God for how as His adopted child I get to each experience person of the trinity in prayer.

If you are wondering why you should buy this book, I will let  the author tell you why from a chapter called, “Into The Saving Life Christ,”

When evangelical Christians come to understand the trinitarian soteriology we have been describing in this book, they tend to describe it as a moment of insight that changes everything about their life and faith. At the very least, they see it as a breakthrough to a new level of depth in the things they had known before.

There is nothing wrong with being  Christ-centered, problems arise when this causes us to becomes Father-forgetting and/or Spirit-ignoring.  When we are Spirit-ignoring and Father-forgetting we shrink the size of the gospel.  The trinity is important because it expands our size the gospel.

A gospel which is only about the moment of conversion but does not extend to every moment of life in Christ is too small. A gospel that gets your sins forgiven but offers no power for transformation is too small. A gospel that isolates one of the benefits of union with Christ and ignores all the others is too small. A gospel that must be measured by your own moral conduct, social conscience, or religious experience is too small. A gospel that rearranges the components of your life but not put you personally in the presence of God is too small.


January 27, 2011

Spurgeon On The Word Of God

Filed under: Charles Spurgeon,Psalms,Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 9:58 am
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[1:1] Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
[2] but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-2 ESV)

And now mark his positive character. “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. “The law of the Lord” is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! – Charles Spurgeon

December 30, 2009

What All Parents Should Resolve To Do

“The goal of parenting is to teach your kids to be independently dependent on God.  Their relationship with God isn’t all about us, but somehow we release them and tell them “You know you need to depend on God.  You understand you don’t need me anymore. You’ve got His Word, you’ve got His Spirit, now go!”

-Francis Chan

December 3, 2009

Why and How To Read The Bible

“We talk about the problems of ‘applying the Bible to our lives,’ which often means modifying the Bible somewhat adjectivally to fit the assumed ‘reality’ of the life we live ‘in the real world.’ What would it mean to apply our lives to the Bible instead, assuming the Bible to be the reality – the real story – to which we are called to conform ourselves?” – Chris Wright

July 22, 2009

Only with the cross can we esteem God’s Word rightly

As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. – Jeremiah 36:23-24

King Jehoiakim had no regard for God’s Word.  For those who live in reverence to God’s Word it is more delightful than all riches (Psalm 119:14).  To king Jehoiakim the Word of God was worthless and he used it to cut it up and as fuel for a fire.  In cutting up the Word of God he was cutting up his own soul and committing suicide of the soul.  He could have used God’s word to burn away the sin in his life, but instead by  neglecting it he made the wrath of God burn hotter towards him.

The proper response to God’s Word would have been one of fear.  Through God’s Word we see ourselves more clearly and also see God more clearly.  By the Word of God we are able to see more clearly His holiness and glory.  Scripture is also a mirror and we see ourselves in light of who God is we are made aware of our sin and our separation from God.  This is a very fearful thing as it shows that no one has lived up to God’s standard and all are worthy of punishment (Romans 3:23 and 6:23).  When we see the debt that we owe God, as it is one that we could never repay, we should have the opposite reaction of Jehoiakim and be humbled.

To be honest, I don’t always prize God’s word as I should approach it with humble gratitude.  It is a fight to esteem God’s Word rightly.  Thankfully this is not a battle that I fight on my own.  I have the Holy Spirit to empower me to deny my self so that I can seek God through His Word.  This is not something that I do to earn God’s favor, but it is because I have God’s favor through Christ death on the cross for my sins that my response is to commune with Him through His Word.  The cross isn’t just the means by which I am saved, but it also is the process of my sanctification.  If the cross is not at the center of my sanctification then I am not seeking to exalt Christ, but to exalt myself.  Not only can I not save myself, but I can’t continue to make progress in my relationship with God unless He is working in me and carrying me along the process.  Therefore, I do not feel condemned when I fail to have the right attitude towards God’s Word, but instead remember it is all of grace and seek Him to pour out more grace because without His undeserved favor I am in the same boat as Jehoiakim.

Josh Harris gave a great message at Covenant Life Church on this passage which you can listen to here.

June 18, 2009

Thank your pastor

Filed under: Jeremiah,John Calvin,Pastors,Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 10:17 am
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“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. – Jeremiah 3:15

There are three great gifts that God has given to His church.  The first and obvious one is the cross, without which, there is no church.  The second and third are closely related, Godly men who are led by the Holy Spirit to to shepherd the flock.  The Holy Spirit is essential to every pastor as it brings them to close to God’s heart.  John Calvin says on this verse, “We learn from this that the church cannot continue without having faithful pastors to show the way of salvation.”  Let us never take for granted the Godly men that God has given to care for His people and guide them into greater spiritual maturity.

There are two attributes of a pastor that God mentions in this verse that are key for shepherds.  First, the shepherd must have a heart for others, he can’t be self serving, but must give of himself to feed his flock.  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, so to a pastor must give his life away to serve his people by feeding them through practical acts and preaching the word.  The second characteristic of a pastor is to seek to grow in his knowledge and understanding of God’s word to pass onto others.  The church cannot be the blind leading the blind.  It is clear from the verse that a pastor is supposed to be one with wisdom.  This isn’t just head knowledge, but also works itself out in his lifestyle that is informed by God’s Word.

The godly men that God has placed in the church need to know the appreciation of those that are under them.  Charles Spurgeon once said, the greatest kindndess any man can do is to pray for me.  The same is true for your pastor, be vigilant to pray for him.  Your pastor has a very serious role of taking care of your spiritual life, so seek to take care of his wife and kids.  Volunteering to babysit can mean a ton to a pastor with young kids.  Speaking of your spiritual life, take your spiritual growth seriously, nothing encourages a pastor more than seeing fruit in his peple.  Lastly, encourage him when he does a good message, does a great job of leading or counseling.  Encourage him when he doesn’t do these things well and let him know things that you observed.  It is very important that your pastor knows your thankfulness for him.  For a more exhaustive list on how to show care for your pastor, please visit the website of Jollyblogger who gives an excellent treatment of this topic.

May 29, 2009

The Spiritual Sluggard

Filed under: James,Proverbs,Thomas Manton,Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 11:10 am
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The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.-Proverbs 19:24

This verse is speaking about lazy people. The sluggard take laziness to a new degree. He will do a job halfway, this isn’t just the uninteresting monotonous jobs, but even the interesting ones likes eating. As I was reading this passage lately, a new type of sluggard came to mind, the spiritual sluggard. James speaks of the spiritual sluggard when he says:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. – James 1:22-24

The spiritual sluggard hears the word preached, but does not apply it. They hold the jewel of the gospel, but does not marvel it or prize it for its infinite worth. They are in the midst of a great church, but do not become fully engaged to reap the benefits. Just like there is no value in having your hand in a dish and not bring it up to eat; the same is true if we are in God’s Word, but don’t bring it to bear on our lives.

Thomas Manton gives these tips to avoid being a spiritual sluggard with the Word of God
1)Perform deep mediation into God’s Word. Do not glance, but look intently at it.
2)Give diligent inquiry to God’s Word. Do not be content your first thought, but pry into God’s mind revealed through His Word.
3)Be open to the spirit revealed through God’s word. Look to it to find virtue for your heart. (2 Corinthians 3:18).
4)Treat the Word of God with great affection. You will always remember that which you care for.

The Word of God is perfect and nourishes our souls more than the choicest food nourish our bodies. In James 1:25 the Word of God is referred to it as perfect. We should be the anti-sluggard when it comes to God’s Word. Manton goes on to give us the following reasons for prizing God’s Word so highly:
1)It makes us perfect. “The nearer we come to the Word, the greater is the perfect of our spirits. The goodness and excellency of the creature lies in conforming to God’s will.”
2)It directs us to God who is the greatest perfect, to Chris righteousness, in it we have perfect communion with God in glory.
3)It concerns our whole being and brings about true heart change.
4)God’s word is eternal and never changes. There will never be any revisions or improvements made to it because it is already perfect.
5)”It is pure and free from error.”
6)”It is a comprehensive rule. Whatever is necessary for knowledge, for regulating life and worship, for confirmation of true teaching, for refuting false teaching, it is all in the Word (2 Timothy 3:17).

February 15, 2009

Fruit of the Word

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
-2 Corinthians 7:1

As Christian we are called to cleanse ourselves of every defilement of body and Spirit.  We have been washed by the blood of lamb, so sin’s mark is gone and we are now identified with the lamb of God, pure and holy and for Him.  The cleansing of self is something that we do as part of sanctification, the continual process of putting off sinful thoughts and actions and replacing them with that which pleases God.  This is only possible through washing with the water of the word.  Through God’s Word we are renewed and able to view all of life through the lens of the Gospel.  God’s Word allows us to see who God is and how to reflect His image.  By daily being in His Word we know what God’s revealed will is and how to live in obedience to Him.  Without His Word and applying it to life then we cannot free the body and spirit from that which so easily defiles it.

Application of God’s Word is what brings holiness to completion.  If we read God’s Word and do not apply it, then we are like a man who looks in the mirror and walks away and has forgotten what he saw.  Without application of God’s Word we deceive ourselves and do not receive the full benefits of what God intends for us through His Word.  We are called to act on God’s Word and if we do this we will find blessing.  God’s word is like a seed and by applying it, it is able to take root in our hearts and bear fruit.  If we truly fear God, we will hide His word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him.  (James 1:22-25, Psalm 1:2-3, Psalm 119:11).  God intends for His word to change us, but it cannot do that if we are not investing in it.  He doesn’t want His word to just to hit the surface level, but to penetrate deep down into our hearts.

It is because of the promises of God that we seek holiness through applying God’s Word to our lives.  He lives in our hearts and has promised to dwell among us.  We do not deserve this nearness to Him and it is a privilege to live for Him.  He is committed to being our God and this is not based on any good in us, therefore we should commit ourselves to Him and living to please Him.  On the basis of Christ sacrifice He has welcomed us into His blessing, so with our lives we should seek to give Him blessing, honor, praise and glory.  Since we have redemption purchased on Calvary by Christ blood we are now sons and daughters of the most high king.  Like all children, our goal should be to grow and mature and be like our Father.  Because of this great adoption our primary calling is to reflect the image of God by fearing Him and walking in holiness (2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

January 6, 2009

ESV Study Bible

Filed under: Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 3:34 pm

Since we’ve been married, my wife and I have been studying different books of the Bible.  So far we have gone through 2 Corinthians, Colossians, all of John’s epistles and next up is the book of Revelation.  To aid us we will be using the Bible Speaks Today commentary by John Wilcock on Revelation as well as Matthew Henry.  Recently, I just obtained another tool, the ESV Study BibleBob Kauflin had a recent giveaway on his blog and I sent in my application seriously doubting that I would win.  By God’s providential blessing I was chosen as one of the ten winners.

I love my ESV Literary Study Bible and plan to continue to use it for regular devotional reading.  What excites me the most about the ESV Study Bible is being able to use it for family devotionals.  This will be the all-in-one reference tool, so when questions come up that I’m not prepared for I won’t have to look to a commentary.  From what I’ve heard and seen this looks to be an excellent tool for discipling and training my growing family in the Word of God.  It’s also neat to think that this is the Bible that I will one day give to my children when they are older and they will pass on to their kids and so forth.

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