The Day Luther Died

Desiring God is offering a free copy of John Piper’s biographical message on Martin Luther in commemoration of the anniversary of Luther’s death.

In Germany 467 years ago, in a small, backwater town called Eisleben, the shaking hand of a dying man scribbled this simple line: We are beggars. This is true.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546. These last words of weakness echoed the life-changing truth he’d unearthed in the Scriptures: we don’t bring anything to the table of our justification. Jesus truly died for the ungodly.

Luther came to understand that if we are to be accepted by God, we need a perfect righteousness we can’t produce — we need an alien righteousness given to us by Another.

But this discovery didn’t just happen. It came after hours of the painstaking study of Scripture. Luther gave himself to the Book, which he later explained as the primary actor in the Protestant Reformation. And a great movement of God in our day won’t happen apart from that same ingredient. Pastors and Christian leaders must be devoted to God’s word.

So we have much to learn from Luther, says John Piper.

Luther was the subject of Piper’s biographical message at the 1995 Conference for Pastors. We’ve since reformatted that message into a five-chapter ebook, which presents a sketch of Luther’s life and distills relevant lessons for not only pastors and leaders, but all Christians.

—Jonathan Parnell

Get a free download of Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor (available in PDF, MOBI, or EPUB) from Desiring God.

Via: Desiring God Blog

Don’t Leave Your Mind in the Parking Lot

We are living in a period of church history that may be classified as mindless. It is an anti-intellectual period of Christian history – not anti-scientific, or anti-technological, or even anti-educational, but anti-mind. While teaching in a seminary classroom I would sometimes ask a student what he thought about a particular proposition. The student would sometimes respond, “I feel that the statement is incorrect.” I would stop him and say, “I didn’t ask you how you felt. I wasn’t inquiring into your emotional response. I was asking you what you think about it.”

Thinking is done by the mind, and Christians are called repeatedly in sacred Scripture not to leave their minds in the parking lot when they enter into church but to awaken their minds so that they may think clearly and deeply about the things of God. Some people say that God does not care about the mind but only the heart and that an emphasis on the mind leads to rationalism, and from there to modernism, postmodernism, and all else that stands in antithesis to biblical Christianity. It is true that what you think in your mind will never get you into the kingdom of God until it reaches your heart, but we have been created by God in such a way that the pathway to the heart is through the mind. We cannot love with passion that which we know nothing about. The book that contains the sacred revelation of Almighty God, His Word, is addressed in the first instance to our minds. Therefore, the more we understand the truth of God, the more we will be gripped by it in our hearts and changed by it.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
1 & 2 Peter: St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary

Via: Aaron Armstrong

We Must Come on Bended Knee

The preacher who smiles benignly from his pulpit assuring us that “God accepts you just the way you are” tells a monstrous lie. He sugarcoats the gospel of love with saccharine grace. God does not accept the arrogant; He turns His back to the impenitent. He maintains love toward His fallen creatures, inviting them back to restored fellowship, but strings are securely attached for we must come on bended knee.

God creates men and moves heaven and earth to redeem them when they fall. Our origin is in creation and our destiny is for redemption. Between these points every human heartbeat has value. The future of our race is not grim as long as a Creator-Redeemer runs the universe. We are not a lost planet wandering aimlessly in space; we are a visited planet with a glorious destiny.

—R.C. Sproul
The Hunger for Significance

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

The Mark and Empty Trace

There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

—Blaise Pascal
Pascal’s Pensees
Quoted in the Introduction to Desiring God by John Piper

Monday Meals

Finally, a word to my father. The dedicatory words I wrote in 1986 are still true seventeen years later. I look back through forty-five years and see mother at the dinner table, laughing so hard that the tears run down her face. She was a very happy woman. But especially when you came home on Monday. You had been gone two weeks. Or sometimes three or four. She would glow on Monday mornings when you were coming home.

At the dinner table that night (these were the happiest of times in my memory) we would hear about the victories of the gospel. Surely it is more exciting to be the son of an evangelist than to sit with knights and warriors. As I grew older, I saw more of the wounds. But you spared me most of that until I was mature enough to “count it all joy.” Holy and happy were those Monday meals. Oh, how good it was to have you home!

—John Piper
Preface to Desiring God (2003 Edition)

Reluctant to Pray?

One of the first ways you can tell that you are moving beyond temptation into a pattern of sin is if you find yourself in a time of prayerlessness.

That isn’t just a “spiritual maturity issue” – it’s a gospel issue.

You are recreated through the gospel with a nature that longs for communion with God. The Spirit within you cries out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Prayer is exactly how you experience the sympathy of your high priest who has triumphed over your temptation. After all, you are not the only one praying when you pray. The Spirit himself prays through you, and as he does so, he works to align your will and desires with those of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:26–27).

If you are reluctant to pray, it just might be that you, like Adam and Israel before you, are hiding in the vegetation, ashamed to hear the rustling of the leaves that signals he is here.

—Russell Moore
Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

Via: Justin Taylor

The Four Holy Gospels

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Crossway Books, working in collaboration with Makoto Fujimura, one of the century’s most highly regarded artists, has produced an illuminated version of the Four Holy Gospels. Fujimura is known for his use of traditional Japanese Nihonga techniques and his passion for reconnecting Christian faith with fine art. This will mark the first time in nearly 400 years that an illuminated book of the four Gospels has been undertaken by a single artist.

The Four Holy Gospels is based on the ESV translation of the Bible and also coincides with the 400th anniversary of the King James Version Bible, published in 1611. The ESV, which is a direct descendant of the KJV Bible, was first published in 2001, and carries forward this classic Bible translation legacy.

Makoto Fujimura explains, “By using the ESV translation, we honor the King James Version by allowing contemporary vernacular to reflect the timeless truth of the Bible. This project brings a reconciled whole of the Gospels to a new century and a global audience.”

Via: Crossway Books

A Taste of Heaven

To be sure, the Spirit of God quickens within the souls of the redeemed a new desire for worship. But that desire is not something that can be left to the natural course of experience. It must be cultivated. It must be learned in accordance with the directives of sacred Scripture. The worship to which we are called in our renewed state is far too important to be left to personal preferences, to whims, or to marketing strategies. It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship. Therefore, our worship must be informed at every point by the Word of God as we seek God’s own instructions for worship that is pleasing to Him.

In our time, we have experienced a radical eclipse of God. The shadow that has fallen across the face of God cannot destroy His existence any more than a passing cloud can destroy the sun or the moon. But the eclipse hides the real character of God from His people. It has brought a profound loss of the sense of the holy, and with that, any sense of the gravity and seriousness of godly worship.

—R.C. Sproul
A Taste of Heaven