The Weaker The Better

We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
—2 Corinthians 4:7

God is glorified amid human frailty.  When Christ was crucified in weakness, God unleashed redemption on multitudes.  The weaker you are, the better for God to display the gospel’s power through you.

Via: The Blazing Center

As Far As East Is From West

…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
—Psalm 103:12

God removes our sins an infinite distance. Forgotten by God. Expelled by blood. Our guilt followed our sins and no longer follows us. The chasm that was once between us and God, now between us and sin. Yesterday’s sin of anger? Totally gone. Nothing left to keep me from God.

Via: The Blazing Center

Reversing Curses

We’re used to living with pain. Isn’t that true? Injuries linger to the point where we forget what it was like to be pain free. A twisted knee in college results in twenty years of limping, or a neck injury in high-school condemns you to a life of chronic back ache. I honestly can’t imagine what life would be like without pain.

But things weren’t always this way. There once was a time when perfection, rather than sin, ruled the earth. Adam and Eve lived in perfect union with God, perfect intimacy with one another, and perfect harmony with creation. Can you imagine what that would be like?

When sin entered the world everything and everyone became an anarchist. Men and women shake their fists at God. Husband and wife duke it out verbally and physically. Man wrestles with nature to wring a few measly ounces of food from the ground. When God cursed the earth in Genesis 3, he meant every word.

The truth is, we live in a cursed world. Ponder that truth for a moment. That beautiful sunset you saw last night? Under the curse. Your most intimate relationships? Under the curse. Your work? Cursed. Having children. Marred by the curse. Every facet of our lives has been dramatically altered by sin.

Don’t get me wrong. In his kindness God still allows us to experience joy in this cursed world. The heavens proclaim the glory of God, a man who finds a wife finds a good thing, and children are a gift from God. But our enjoyment is always hindered by sin. And the sad thing is, I think we often become comfortable in our fallen world. It’s all we know. Can you relate?

But here’s the glory of gospel: in Christ God is reversing the curse. This is the storyline of the Bible. God is slowly but surely restoring his good, perfect, kingdom. The gospel is the power of God for salvation – the recreation of all that was lost. Sinners are restored to God, to one another, and even to creation. It’s incredible and beautiful.

I hope to post more about this in the days to come, but for now let me encourage you to do one thing. Today, ponder how the gospel is restoring what has been lost. Meditate on how the gospel has invaded your relationship with God, and others, and the world. Direct your heart up to God and praise him for what he’s accomplishing through the gospel. Curses reversed.

Via: The Blazing Center

The Gospel Is Not…

Timely, relevant, profound and brilliantly simple words from one of my favorite weblogs. If you have not bookmarked The Blazing Center please do so now.

We get pretty easily fired up about things, don’t we? In the midst of our fury, it’s so easy to fumble the beauty and simplicity of the gospel. The gospel isn’t:

  • Jesus + Homeschooling
  • Jesus + Social Justice
  • Jesus + Regular Devotional Times
  • Jesus + Republicans / Democrats
  • Jesus + My Style of Worship
  • Jesus + ESV Study Bible
  • Jesus + Calvinism
  • Jesus + Going Green
  • Jesus + Faith and Repentance

What is the gospel?

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Cor 15:3-4)

Isn’t it beautiful?

Via: The Blazing Center

John 3:16

From Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, pg 73-75

It is ironic that in the same chapter, indeed in the same context, in which our Lord teaches the utter necessity of rebirth to even see the kingdom, let alone choose it, non-Reformed views find one of their main proof texts to argue that fallen man retains a small island of ability to choose Christ. It is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

What does this famous verse teach about fallen man’s ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing. The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ. A careful look at the text reveals, however, that it teaches nothing of the kind. What the text teaches is that everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. Whoever does A (believes) will receive B (everlasting life). The text says nothing, absolutely nothing, about who will ever believe. It says nothing about fallen man’s natural moral ability. Reformed people and non-Reformed people both heartily agree that all who believe will be saved. They heartily disagree about who has the ability to believe.

Some may reply, “All right. The text does not explicitly teach that fallen men have the ability to choose Christ without being reborn first, but it certainly implies that.” I am not willing to grant that the text even implies such a thing. However, even if it did it would make no difference in the debate. Why not? Our rule of interpreting Scripture is that implications drawn from the Scripture must always be subordinate to the explicit teaching of Scripture. We must never, never, never reverse this to subordinate the explicit teaching of Scripture to possible implications drawn from Scripture. This rule is shared by both Reformed and non-Reformed thinkers.

If John 3:16 implied a universal natural human ability of fallen men to choose Christ, then that implication would be wiped out by Jesus’ explicit teaching to the contrary. We have already shown that Jesus explicitly and unambiguously taught that no man has the ability to come to him without God doing something to give him that ability, namely drawing him.

Fallen man is flesh. In the flesh he can do nothing to please God. Paul declares, “The fleshly mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7, 8).

We ask, then, “Who are those who are ‘in the flesh’?” Paul goes on to declare: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9). The crucial word here is if. What distinguishes those who are in the flesh from those who are not is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No one who is not reborn is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. People who are in the flesh have not been reborn. Unless they are first reborn, born of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be subject to the law of God. They cannot please God.

God commands us to believe in Christ. He is pleased by those who choose Christ. If unregenerate people could choose Christ, then they could be subject to at least one of God’s commands and they could at least do something that is pleasing to God. If that is so, then the apostle has erred here in insisting that those who are in the flesh can neither be subject to God nor please him.

We conclude that fallen man is still free to choose what he desires, but because his desires are only wicked he lacks the moral ability to come to Christ. As long as he remains in the flesh, unregenerate, he will never choose Christ. He cannot choose Christ precisely because he cannot act against his own will. He has no desire for Christ. He cannot choose what he does not desire. His fall is great. It is so great that only the effectual grace of God working in his heart can bring him to faith.

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

Related: Click here to find out how you can get a free pocketsize copy of Dr. Sproul’s popular book, Chosen By God.

America Has Chosen a President

The election of Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States came as a bang, not a whimper.  The tremors had been perceptible for days, maybe even weeks.  On Tuesday, America experienced nothing less than a political and cultural earthquake.

America has chosen a President. President-Elect Barack Obama is that choice, and he faces a breathtaking array of challenges and choices in days ahead. This is the time for Christians to begin praying in earnest for our new President. There is no time to lose.

—Dr. Albert Mohler

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Voices

As I listened to John McCain giving his gracious concession speech last night I realized that, from here on in, his voice will fade, fade, fade away into the ether (where is Geraldine Ferraro?), and Barack Obama’s voice will wax.

But eventually Obama’s own voice will disappear into the slipstream of history, like a ship’s wake that rushes away from us even as we watch from the stern. We are but froth on the sea. (Psalm 39:11).

Policies will come and policies will go, some making things better, some worse. “The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full” (Ecclesiastes 1:6,7).

Those who hoped for a messiah will be disappointed: “That which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The consolation of God’s people will be, as always, that God’s will is somehow done, no matter who is the titular head. Though we don’t know the short run we know the long run — “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginnings of the sorrows. … But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:7,8,13).

Last night, through the night, the radio replayed artful soundscapes of the voices of Obama and McCain, but in that Day there will be One voice: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13). For “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls away. But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

—Andrée Seu

Via: World Magazine Blog

A Prayer for America on Election Day

Americans head for the voting precincts today as the 2008 election is now at hand. Already, some 20 million citizens have voted through early voting options. Some expect a record turn-out for today’s election. In any event, millions of citizens will participate in the first duty of freedom — the freedom to vote.

There is so much at stake. We hear every election cycle that the stakes have never been higher. In one sense, this is usually also true. There is always the sense that there is more at stake this year than last, and, given the way issues unfold, that perception often seems validated by the times.

Christians face the responsibility to vote, not only as citizens, but as Christians who seek to honor and follow Christ in all things. But, beyond the vote, we also bear responsibility to pray for our nation.

First, we should pray that God will bless America with leaders better than we deserve. Democratic systems inevitably reflect the electorate’s decisions, and these decisions reveal underlying worldviews. And, truth be told, all we can expect from democracy is the government we deserve. We must pray for a government and for leaders better than we deserve. May God grant us mercy as he reigns and rules over all things, including this election.

Second, we should pray that Americans will be motivated to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship, yet also that we will be stripped of an unhealthy and idolatrous confidence in the power of government to save us. God has given us the gift of rulers and governments in order to restrain evil, uphold righteousness, and provide for civil order. No human ruler can save. No government official or office holder can heal the human heart, solve the sin problem, or accomplish final justice. These powers belong to God and God alone.

Third, we must pray that Americans will vote by conscience, not merely on the basis of celebrity or emotion. Christian citizens must vote to uphold righteousness and contend for righteous and just laws. But, at the same time, we must repent of moralism and the tacit assumption that better laws would produce better people.

Fourth, we must pray that Americans will vote to defend the least among us — and especially those who have no vote. This starts, but does not end, with concern for the unborn and for the recovery of respect for the dignity and sanctity of every single human life at every stage of development, from conception until natural death.

Fifth, we should pray that God will prick the conscience of the nation on issues of morality, righteousness, and respect for marriage as the central institution of human civilization. So much ground appears to have been lost on these issues. We need to pray that much ground can be regained.

Sixth, we should pray that God will protect these candidates and their families. They have been through an arduous ordeal and now face the deadline of the vote. They are physically exhausted and now face the judgment of the people. They are public figures, but they are also flesh and blood human beings, who are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. Their families have withstood much. We should pray for their marriages and their children. May God protect them.

Seventh, we should pray that the election is conducted with honor, civility, respect, and justice. We must pray that we do not face another round of litigation after an election. This brings democracy into disrepute. May there be a clear winner, not a contested result.

Eighth, we must pray that Americans will be prepared to accept the results of the election with respect and kindness. This will be no time for rancor, condemnations, and conspiracy theories. Instead, we must pray that God will settle the hearts of the people. May Christians be ready to respond with prayer, respect for office, and a gentle spirit. Others will be watching.

Ninth, we should pray that this election would lead to even greater opportunities to preach the Gospel, and that the freedom of the church will be respected, honored, and protected.

Tenth, we must pray for the church, praying that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be strengthened in the truth, grounded in the faith, and empowered for witness and ministry. May the church, the sign of the coming kingdom, be faithful to declare the Gospel — knowing that this is the only message that will save.

May God grant us mercy and grace as we seek to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens — and our responsibilities as Christians. This world is not our home, but we do bear responsibilities as followers of Christ as we are living here.

May God bless America, not because this nation deserves to be blessed, but because He is a God of grace and mercy. Oh God . . . save us from ourselves.

—Dr. Albert Mohler

Via: Dr. Mohler’s Blog