What I Read Online – 12/16/2011 (a.m.)

    • Check out the Ultimate Questions app for Android. It’s completely free and looks useful.
      • A Tabular Comparison of the 1646 WCF and the 1689 LBCF

          


          

         

        • Major differences in wording (e.g., whole sentences or phrases not found in the other confession) are highlighted in red.
        • Minor differences in wording (e.g., additional words or alternative phrasings) are highlighted in blue.
        • Trivial differences (e.g., ‘to’ versus ‘unto’, capitalization, punctuation) are not highlighted.

         

          

          Note: The line between ‘major’ and ‘minor’ differences is a fine one and in some cases I’ve had to make a somewhat subjective judgement about the significance of certain points of divergence. If you think I’ve made a bad call at any point, drop me a note with a supporting argument. 

    • Pilgrim’s Progress
    • The Holy War
    • Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
    • Foundations is an international journal of evangelical theology published by Affinity.

       

      Its aim is to cover contemporary theological issues by articles and reviews, taking in exegesis, biblical theology, church history and apologetics, and to indicate their relevance to pastoral ministry. Its particular focus is the theology of evangelical churches which are committed to biblical truth and evangelical ecumenism. It has been published by Affinity (formerly The British Evangelical Council) from its inception as a print journal. It became a digital journal in May 2011.

    • The flesh not only ‘works’ obviously, it also ‘lusts’ inwardly. Sin’s operations include an inner psychological dimension that is relentlessly self-centering, self-exalting, self-willed… and self-deceiving. We believe lies, pursue lusts and flee fears. Ego usurps God, and ultimately self-destructs. We are tempted by our own desires, birthing sin, resulting in death (James 1:14–15).
    • True self-knowledge is a fine gift. It always leads us out of ourselves, and to our Father who, knowing us thoroughly, loves us utterly. True self-knowledge does not wallow around inside. God purposes to draw us out of self-preoccupation. Seeing the vertical dimension of the struggle with sin and death, reach out more boldly to the one who is life and light.
    • Christ. Seek him who is worthy. Trust him who gives freely. Love him who is lovely. Fear him whom we have to kneel before. ‘Idols of the heart’ is a great metaphor because it captures how we are always reaching out to worship something, anything—either God or the minigods. Sin causes the psyche to operate as if we were self-referential and encapsulated. But our souls are God-relational, and the self-encapsulation we experience simply describes our defection from reality.
    • There are several common ways. On the one hand, sometimes we as Christians reduce the gospel to a conversion experience, or to “justification alone” — such that the entirety of the gospel comes to be about the forgiveness of sins. Sanctification becomes “our own work,” an optional extra for super-Christians.
    • On the other hand, sometimes we downplay or ignore the forensic imagery of justification, and we think that the gospel is just about our own transformation.
    • The good news is nothing less than Jesus Christ, as the culmination of God’s purposes in creation and covenant, and our union with this same Christ by the Spirit. This means that we must say “both/and” to forensic (legal) and transformational images of salvation — because, in the words of Calvin, “free remission of sins cannot be separated from the Spirit of regeneration. This would be, as it were, to rend Christ asunder” (Institutes 3:16:1). The two gifts of the double-grace are distinct yet inseparable.
    • By the Spirit’s power, we are given justification and sanctification as gifts. Thus, even our new life in Christ is a gift, not an achievement.
    • Second, we don’t follow Christ at a distance, but by the Spirit’s power we are united to Christ in His death and resurrection – Christ isn’t just a distant model from history, Christ lives in us by the Spirit
    • Third, in light of union with Christ, we can go beyond the sermon punchline of “try harder to do good,” the moralistic preaching that is so common today.
    • The exhortation becomes: live into this new identity, which is your true identity. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ because you have been united to Him in His death and resurrection.
    • Finally, undergirding all of this, it’s important to recognize that affirming the effectual work of the Spirit in sanctification is not to say that we can be lazy in sanctification or that our identity is annihilated in sanctification. Rather, it is to affirm that the Spirit is the One who brings life to those who are dead in sin, thus activating believers to love God and to service in the world. When the Spirit effectually acts in sanctification, we (in our created goodness) are being restored, not annihilated. This short video about the book explores a bit more how union with Christ illuminates misunderstandings about “total depravity.”
    • First, we do good because the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us more like Jesus
    • Second, we do good out of gratitude
    • Third, we do good so that God might be praised by the works we display in his name
    • Fourth, we do good so that we can be assured of our right standing before God.  Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.  By bearing good fruit, we show that we are a good tree (Matt. 7:15-20) and make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
    • Fifth, we do good in order that we might adorn the gospel (Titus 2:10) and make it attractive to outsiders (1 Peter 2:12).
    • Clearly, the Bible is not indifferent to good works.  Christians who live in habitual, unrepentant sin show themselves not to be true Christians.  Of course, we all stumble (James 3:2; 1 John 1:8).  But there’s a difference between falling into sin and jumping in with both feet.  It doesn’t matter the sin—pride, slander, robbery, covetousness, or sexual immorality—if we give ourselves to it and live in it with joyful abandon, we will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Simply put, people walking day after day in the same sin without a fight or repentance go to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 3:14). And on the flip side, people walking day after day in the light of the gospel and in view of their union with Christ, will–imperfectly, but truly–learn to do good, be good, and get better.
    • There Christ lay a little infant, and there he eminently appeared as a lamb.
    • But yet this feeble infant, born thus in a stable, and laid in a manger, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring lion.
    • I am not at all convinced that every discussion needs to be had. Let me share how I’ve thought this through.
    • First, I see this explicitly in the Bible. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 that some things are so unfruitful and dark and perverse that even to speak of them is shameful (verses 11-14)
    • The Driscolls model their engagement with the issues on the book of 1 Corinthians, and 6:12 in particular. It strikes me that this letter to the Corinthians is frank at times, but nowhere near as frank as Real Marriage, even though Paul, too, sought to deal with difficult issues. It must be noted that the nature of the answers Paul gave to the church at Corinth is very different from the answers the Driscolls offer. Paul did not proceed through a list of specific acts and state which are acceptable and which are not.
    • ELDERS WHO AREN’T LEADING
    • In the first two scenarios, the elders need to grow into their role as shepherds (1 Pet. 5:2) and ministers of the Word (1 Tim. 3:2).
    • ELDERS ARE LEADERS AND OVERSEERS
    • Taken together, these New Testament passages clearly teach that the elders have a general responsibility to lead and oversee the affairs of the church. That’s a broad, all-embracing responsibility. Given their primary focus on teaching and attending to the spiritual needs of the flock, elders shouldn’t allow administration to swamp those priorities. Yet on the other hand, they shouldn’t abdicate leadership either.
    • The elders will likely do the majority of it, and they will exercise very close oversight over other teachers who contribute. The elders should also exercise oversight over the content that is taught in every area of the church’s life, from small groups to children’s ministry to evangelistic outreaches.
    • The elders are finally responsible for the contents, since corporate worship is a ministry of the Word. A non-elder should not have full and final authority over, for example, what songs the church sings.
    • The elders should have the say over what books are and aren’t included. After all, recommending books is an extension of the ministry of the Word. They may assign one elder or a theologically discerning deacon to manage the store, and perhaps do most of the legwork for selecting titles. But the elders should have veto power over what books are sold.
    • On the other hand, the elders should set the overall direction for the budget, since it reflects and embodies the church’s ministry priorities. So the elders should lead the church in considering how much money to give to missions, how much and what kind of staff should serve the church, what local evangelistic ministries to partner with and to what extent, and so on.
    • It’s not surprising that Scripture draws such a close analogy between marriage and the relation of Christ to his body. Simply on the practical level, I suspect that many twenty-somethings (and their Boomer parents) who want the rewards of close relationships without the institutional commitment may rethink things in the actual struggles of life. The prospect of death has a way of shaking us up on that front. At some point, hopefully, many will wonder why their ever-cycling social network of informal relationships leaves them bereft of physical and spiritual support when they’re out of the social loop. And they may wonder why they’re alone, even though they participated regularly in the latest equivalent of Twitter-church and were “followers” and “friends” on some self-ordained life coach’s Facebook page. Maybe then they will realize that they are embodied, historical, and finite creatures after all. Maybe then they will be ready for a visible church that, in spite of their Gnostic defiance, still delivers a risen Christ to sinners through words, water, bread, and wine.
    • Why are basic things difficult to define?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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