Friday, July 23, 2010

The Gospel - know it well, teach it to others, & beat it into their heads continually

“The law is divine and holy. Let the law have his glory, but yet no law, be it never so divine and holy, ought to teach me that I am justified, and shall live through it. I grant it may teach me that I ought to love God and my neighbour; also to live in chastity, soberness, patience, etc., but it ought not to show me, how I should be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell.

Here I must take counsel of the gospel. I must hearken to the gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law,) but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me : to wit, that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth.

Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.” –Martin Luther, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co., 1860), 206.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blasted Gourds Towards Growth in Grace

Here's a hymn that resonates with experience. Sanctification is messy and uncomfortable. Making progress in grace towards formation increasingly into the image of Jesus involves suffering, joy, repentance and faith. Moreover, it is the gracious work of God that makes it so.

An excerpt from this John Newton hymn underscored a point in a recent message I heard on the subject of suffering and the goodness of God. Liking the excerpt, I found the whole text. It merits reading- even time to ponder and reflect.

Enjoy :)

Prayer Answered by Crosses

by John Newton

I ask'd the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and ev'ry grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

'Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust has answer'd pray'r;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hop'd that in some favour'd hour,
At once he'd answer my request:
And by his love's constraining pow'r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this. he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow'rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev'ry part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seem'd
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Cross'd all the fair designs I schem'd,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cry'd,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
"'Tis in this way," the Lord reply'd,
"I answer pray'r for grace and faith.

"These inward trials I employ,
"From self and pride to set thee free;
"And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
"That thou mayst seek thy all in me."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

...with Feeble Fingers Cling

The following clip is worth the look.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Intrusion of Discipleship

There are advantages to working across multiple time zones. Catching up on work and ministry back home whilst wrapping up a late dinner in the Ukraine is one of them. And, that's a good thing. It's nice to wrap up a fruitful day of work here and still have time to tend to things in ATL . Anyway, enough of that.

If you're reading this, you can likely tell I don't post much these days. In fact, I've not done so for quite a while. Yet, tonight I want to post an excerpt from a blog I read a bit earlier. Just because I don't post to the blog often doesn't mean the wrestling has quelled. In fact, it has increased as I long to see Christ formed in my church, gospel community, family, and me. To that end, the following excerpt resonates. Hence, the post. actually, a re-post of Bill Hull : exploring a faith that embraces discipleship.

Who could say no to the statement that we ought “to teach people to obey everything Christ commanded?” ... but many believe that we can’t really do that, we are not setup to do it. What it involves is apprenticeship and submission. Our church systems are built on profession of belief, but often we do not believe what we profess. The church systems we have set up protect those who profess from the intrusion of discipleship. We say it is ok to be a part of our churches without a requirement to follow Jesus. Again because our gospel requires nothing of its recipients. What can be done about three generations of Christians who have been trained to evaluate their spiritual lives by how much they enjoyed the worship service? When we lose discipleship we lose the permission to teach deeply, to teach them to obey what Christ commanded. And when that is lost, as it is in our churches, we get the American church. So what to do? I commend to you the simple plan of Philosopher Dallas Willard.

“ I recommend that we not announce that we are going to change things. Just start doing things differently including, of course, teaching people to do what Jesus said. Begin to teach what discipleship is and lay down a theology of discipleship on a scriptural basis. Begin to assume discipleship in church activities. Begin to teach in depth the things central to the NewTestament teachings: God [existence and nature] his kingdom, Jesus in that context, discipleship as a way of life, and how one becomes the kind of person who will, out of inner transformation of mind, will, body, soul and social relationships, do what he said. This is the tried a true method of “Church growth” through the ages: Bigger Christians. And it is precisely what Jesus told us to do.” Willard,Dallas - taken from notes of speech, March 24,2009

Grace & Peace


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