August 27, 2009


Dear Friends, I must take a hiatus from writing due to a family health situation. Lord willing, I will return but I do not know when.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
(2 Corinthians 4:6-11)

August 15, 2009

Not What My Hands Have Done

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

I praise the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
My Lord has saved my life and freely pardon gives;
I love because He first loved me, I live because He lives.

Horatius Bonar, 1861

Sola Scriptura: The Scottish Confession of Faith

The following section is excerpted from the confession drafted in 1560 by six Johns of Scotland, including Knox.

The Scots Confession

Chapter 19 - The Authority of the Scriptures

As we believe and confess the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make perfect the man of God, so do we affirm and avow their authority to be from God, and not to depend on men or angels. We affirm, therefore, that those who say the Scriptures have no other authority save that which they have received from the Kirk are blasphemous against God and injurious to the true Kirk, which always hears and obeys the voice of her own Spouse and Pastor, but takes not upon her to be mistress over the same.

Chapter 20 - General Councils, Their Power, Authority, and the Cause of Their Summoning

As we do not rashly condemn what good men, assembled together in general councils lawfully gathered, have set before us; so we do not receive uncritically whatever has been declared to men under the name of the general councils, for it is plain that, being human, some of them have manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So far then as the council confirms its decrees by the plain Word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace them. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge for us new articles of faith, or to make decisions contrary to the Word of God, then we must utterly deny them as the doctrine of devils, drawing our souls from the voice of the one God to follow the doctrines and teachings of men. The reason why the general councils met was not to make any permanent law which God had not made before, nor yet to form new articles for our belief, nor to give the Word of God authority; much less to make that to be his Word, or even the true interpretation of it, which was not expressed previously by his holy will in his Word; but the reason for councils, at least of those that deserve that name, was partly to refute heresies, and to give public confession of their faith to the generations following, which they did by the authority of God's written Word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they could not err by reason of their numbers. This, we judge, was the primary reason for general councils. The second was that good policy and order should be constitutes and observed in the Kirk where, as in the house of God, it becomes all things to be done decently and in order. Not that we think any policy of order of ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places; for as ceremonies which men have devised are but temporal, so they may, and ought to be, changed, when they foster superstition rather than edify the Kirk.

Putting Jesus In His Place

Jeff Miller gives a helpful review of Bowman's and Komoszewski's book Putting Jesus In His Place. Obviously, I think this is a book worth reading. I've read it through entirely once and have returned to it multiple times on specific questions. The HANDS acronym has stuck with me and serves to turn my mind towards contemplation of Jesus in worship and wonder.

The Curse Motif of the Atonement - R.C. Sproul

Here is a highlight clip of R.C. preaching on the atonement. Well worth the 10 minutes to watch it. (HT:Reepicheep)

August 12, 2009

A Walk Through Philippians - #5

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, ESV)

Paul loves the Philippians. He knows it. They know it. And we know it. We looked at that in the prior post of this series. Right on the heels of his profession of Christlike love for the Philippians - God as witness of Paul's heart - Paul explains the subject of his prayer for the Philippians. He prays for the Philippians frequently and with joy, but what does he pray for them? He approaches God out of the sincere desire of his heart for the benefit of his dear friends and the glory of his God. Paul wants the Philippians to grow and grow and grow and grow in their already abundant and overflowing love. It's something he requests of God on behalf of the Philippians, ultimately for the glory and praise of God.

Paul is looking to the Lord to show his might in the lives of the Philippians. It's not like they are starting at ground level and need to learn to love. They were no slouches in the love department, already displaying overflowing love repeatedly since their conversion to Christ. Here comes Paul, piling grace upon grace in his prayers for them. To paraphrase the missionary apostle, he is asking God to help them overflow deeper and deeper, again and again. Not simply to love. Not simply to reach a pinnacle of love and remain there. No, overflowing more and more. What a tremendous blessing he is seeking for the Philippians.

[Time for a praise break] If this is the case on this earthly plane, what does eternity with God hold in store for us who know Christ? Dare we hope for an eternity of abounding more and more in love, more in 10,000 years... more in 10,000,000 years... more in a trillion years! There is so much more to heaven than our puny, sin-soaked minds can even begin to grasp. Praise be to God who has shown us love in humility, in sin-bearing, in mercy and forgiveness.

In our current "it's all about me me me" culture, our first inclination on hearing what Paul was praying for is to turn it on its head and pray this blessing for ourselves and our own church. But that's not what's happening here. Paul is praying for others... one of the churches he helped establish and which has helped him in ministry and in trouble repeatedly.

Brother and Sister, this type of prayer can rightfully take its place in your worship vocabulary, following Paul's example in praying this blessing for others. How often we struggle with prayer, not knowing what to pray for on behalf of our missionaries and churches once we exhaust the short list of immediate concerns they give us. Here is biblical fuel for your prayer fire.

August 7, 2009

Just Read This

I just finished reading Kevin DeYoung's book on discerning God's will called Just Do Something. This is a delightful little book. Thank you Kevin for saying several things that needed to be said. Many people will be helped by your wise advice.

DeYoung takes on the over-spiritualized process of making decisions. In essence, God gave you a brain so use it. Don't be lazy and blame God for your inactivity as if it were deep spirituality.

The author insightfully diagnoses several contributing factors of our hesitancy to do things. He offers common-sense advice to move you to action. This is written so everyone can understand it. Once you read this, the excuses you're hiding behind will be vaporized.

It is primarily helpful for teens and young adults but also gave me some good insights into my mid-forties life that will impact what I do.

Just get it. Just read it. And for God's sake, just do something.

Trueman on Owen Redux

Here's a little more helpful info on Trueman's introduction to Owen. Trueman presses one specific work of Owen for your initial consideration. It is Communion with the Triune God. This is a light editing by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor of Owen's Of Communion with God.

In his video introduction, Trueman mentions the struggle many Christians have to understand the importance and impact of the doctrine of the Trinity on their everyday spiritual and devotional life. Owen's work explores the right relationship of the Christian to the one true God considered in the individual persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You can read Kevin Vanhoozer's Foreword, Justin Taylor's Note on This Edition, Preface, Chapter 1, and Glossary

Reality Check... this is not Owen lite. Reading him is hard work. Why bother? You will be better equipped to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

August 3, 2009

Bray: N. T. Wright's Inadequate Response to Piper

Gerald Bray offers an editorial summation of the interaction between N. T. Wright and John Piper. (HT:PJ)

Discern09 Apologetics Conference Coming in September

This year's conference at Calvary Santa Fe will be held September 12-13. The speakers at Discern09 will be Ron Rhodes, Bruce Ware, and James White.

You can listen to sessions from previous years here. Speakers include Rob Bowman, James White, Ron Rhodes, Mike Gendron, and many more.

August 1, 2009

Ferguson and Ligonier Panel on Calvin

Rev. John Samson has pointed out two very valuable sessions from the Ligonier National Conference that are currently available at no charge. The only cost is your time and attention.

(HT: Reformation Theology)

Wayne Grudem on Christian Essentials

Wayne Grudem is well known for his Systematic Theology. It's one of the best modern systematics that I am aware of. I've described it as a devotional systematic because I find myself worshipping by doxology while reading it. He has been teaching a series of Sunday School lessons on Christian Essentials that you can access here. He is an excellent teacher and well worth the space on your mp3 and the time on your calendar to listen and learn. (HT: JT)

Ed Komoszewski on Philippians 2

I'll try to claim this is a preview of the material in Philippians 2, but that's not the whole truth. I've known Ed for years and will never be able to communicate as clearly as he does. Watch this 5 minute clip to see how amazing Christ is.

Ed's website is

A Walk Through Philippians - #4

For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:8, ESV)

Paul commits himself to the Philippians with a most solemn vow. Words can be easy, but these are not easy words. These are words with a long history of action behind them. They are words carried along on the blood, tears, and suffering which Paul paid out in his care for the Philippians and others. Paul isn't handing them a bagful of good intentions as yet unfulfilled. No, those would be easy words.

In this brief little verse I come under conviction again and again. How often I find myself offering heaping portions of good intentions to those around me but never fulfilling them in action. The royal robes of Christian love must be fitted to the body of Christian servanthood, else they are empty and useless.

So often we have it backwards. We want to speak, then act. To say 'I love you' and then put it on display. Oh how different our testimony could be if we lived love first, rather than merely stating our as yet unfulfilled good intentions. Which are blessed, the feet of those who bring good news or the lips of those who talk about bringing good news someday?

The Philippians themselves have each witnessed Paul's love for and commitment to do good to them in the way he has lived. Their heartstrings, tuned by the gospel of Christ, ring in unison for their beloved apostle as they help him in chains, in beatings, in lack. In Christ, their love has extended beyond their means but they continue to give help to Paul again and again, as he has also helped them. Why? Because Paul has loved them with the love of Christ.

Even though Paul has proven his love in action many times, he calls upon God as his witness. The Philippians themselves are eyewitnesses of Paul's external acts of love but this is not enough. Paul seeks to assure them that his love for them lives in the heart, which they obviously cannot see or know. Think about it for a minute... calling God as his witness. The ultimate Witness from whom nothing is hidden, before whom the hearts of men are laid open. The Witness who sees all, including Paul's own heart. Paul calls on Him as witness of his genuine longing for the Philippians. And even here, normal patterns of speech fail Paul. He longs for the Philippians, not merely with his own affection, as deep as that is. Rather, he longs for the Philippians with the bottomless affection of Jesus.

Christ and His affection are what brought Paul to and through all he has experienced with the Philippians. It is not a mere abstract concept or even Paul's own affection. It is the sacrificial love of Jesus himself, moving within Paul and moving Paul to serve them. What a profound commitment Paul has made, calling God to witness his love, which wasn't even his. It was the supernatural love of Christ.

In all of this we have an example to follow. May we seek to act in Christ's love for others before saying it. What does this look like in your specific circumstance? I will not attempt to reduce this to some sort of rudimentary checklist. It is lived in your life, not merely or only in your thoughts and heart. It is Christ at work within you, dear Christian, to live love towards those around you. Then, when you finally say it, no one wonders what you mean. They already know.