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What I Read Online – 05/24/2011 (a.m.)

24 May
    • David Instone Brewer demonstrates how to quickly accesses the best Bible resources on the web using the free Tyndale Toolbar which now works with most browsers. The Toolbar makes it easy to study ancient words, hunt down online books & articles, or simply read and study the Bible.
    • On the basis of over 40 years of full time college teaching of almost 20,000 students at 20 different schools, I am convinced that one of the reasons for the steep decline in students’ reading abilities is the decline in the teaching of traditional logic.
    • Publicly, as Tim Keller has encouraged us, preach as if there are non-Christians present, and there will be. Are we expecting non-Christians to come, because of relationships that we and our members are building? If we are not expecting them to come, and we are not preaching as if they are listening, then we shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t. Here again the pastor is setting a model for the people.
    • The old models of knocking on a door or leaving the sawdust trail became popular, in part, because they didn’t require much time. For Americans in particular, as far as I can observe, this is the biggest struggle. But if you are going to show people that you care about relationships, not just responses, and that you are there to listen, not lecture—all of that requires time.
    • The false teaching is rarely what people say; it’s in what they won’t say. They won’t call people to repentance, they won’t talk about the reality of judgment, they won’t talk about the necessity of regeneration, and they won’t talk about the real costs of following Jesus.
    • It has become fashionable in evangelical circles to speak somewhat glibly of the unconditional love of God. It is certainly a pleasing message for people to hear and conforms to a certain kind of political correctness. In our desire to communicate the sweetness of the gospel to people and the readiness of God to cover our sins with forgiveness and the incredible depth of His love that is displayed in the cross, we indulge in a hyperbolic expression of the scope and extent of His love. Where in Scripture do we find this notion of the unconditional love of God? If God’s love is absolutely unconditional, why do we tell people that they have to repent and have faith in order to be saved? God sets forth clear conditions for a person to be saved. Now it may be true that in some sense God loves even those who fail to meet the conditions of salvation, but that subtlety is often missed by the hearer when the preacher declares the unconditional love of God.
    • Edwards warned his people that they were more repugnant to God in their sin than rebellious subjects were to their princes. This was part and parcel of proclaiming the gospel of reconciliation. There can be no talk of reconciliation without first assuming there is some prior alienation or estrangement. Parties who are not estranged don’t need reconciliation.
    • His sacrifice was not designed to satisfy our unjust enmity toward God but to satisfy God’s just wrath toward us. It is the Father who is the object of the Son’s act of propitiation. The effect of the cross is to remove the divine estrangement from us, not our estrangement from Him. If we deny God’s estrangement from us, the cross is reduced to a pathetic and anemic moral influence with no substitutionary satisfaction of God.
      • There is no such thing as so-called “gay marriage.”
      • Same-sex sexual relations are sin.
      • Not all sins should be proscribed by human law, but some should be.
      • The legal significance of marriage makes a statutory definition necessary.
      • It is wise that our laws define marriage as between a man and a woman.
    • However dark these episodes in Judges and Samuel are (and they are), they pale in comparison to the darkness of Calvary. And as the light fades on the crucified Jesus, we hear a voice that says, “it is for me.”
    • Whether I succeeded in answering any of these questions is not for me to judge;.  One clue as to Question 4 – Ephesians 5 is the key.  The Levite, by calling, was meant to represent the character of God to the people. Yet he was capable both of sacrificing his wife for himself and presumably sitting indoors as he heard her screams for help on that long, dark night, without ever moving to the door to help her.  His callous `Get up, we need to be going’ to her as she lay blood stained and broken in the morning light, is merely the icing on the nauseating cake.  So very different to the God who sacrificed himself for his bride and whose marriage is the archetype  of all other marriages.
    • In other words, given certain assumptions, we can conclude from what the Bible says that the universe is roughly 6,000 years old. However, the Bible doesn’t say that. Now don’t think I am splitting hairs here. There is a huge distinction between what the Bible says and what I conclude from what the Bible says.
    • If we respect Scripture, we should make a strong distinction between what the Bible actually says and what we conclude from it. If we don’t, we make one of the same mistakes Harold Camping made.
    • The problem, I think, has been that in my preparation I have looked up (to God in prayerful dependence on the Spirit), I’ve looked down (at the text, with a sincere desire to be faithful to the passage). But I haven’t often looked back (to preceding chapters in the biblical story) and forwards (to subsequent chapters). Yes, I’ve tried to locate my text in its literary and historical context. But I haven’t been as intent on locating each passage in its broader theological context – understanding where it fits in the larger flow of the biblical storyline.
    • It’s so important to me and all the pastors that this open dialogue continues. This can’t be a limited season; it must be an ongoing way of life at Covenant Life. It’s essential for the health of our church that you know you can talk to your pastors and share questions and concerns at any time. For many of you, coming to us with questions or concerns has been your consistent practice. And for years our Care Group leaders have helped to facilitate an awareness among the pastors of the needs, strengths, and weaknesses they or other members have perceived. I’m grateful for the way they’ve served. But we’ve never wanted any member to hesitate to approach us. Sadly, several people have told me that they haven’t felt like they could do this. It grieves me that anyone has felt this way. We want that to change. Please don’t hesitate to bring any concern or question. Please don’t wait for an invitation or a special occasion.
    • Having said this, a strength in application can also be a weakness if we’re not careful. Here’s what I mean: if we elevate a single practice and invest it with the authority of biblical principle, we can place a rule or burden on people that isn’t actually commanded in God’s Word. For example, it wouldn’t be helpful if we said that the Bible teaches that couples need to go on a date every Wednesday. It’s a fine idea, but it’s not a scriptural command.
      • Here are a few categories that members of the church have shared with us where they felt a single practice was over-emphasized in an unhelpful way:

        • Dating and courtship
        • Going away to college
        • Girls and college
        • Women’s Bible studies
        • Women working outside the home

        In each of these areas Christians can have differing practices and yet honor biblical principles. But in various ways I think we “reduced to only one practice,” and at times that brought the unintended consequence of people feeling the pressure that there was only one truly godly way to do things.

    • All this is a disservice to you for several reasons. First, because it doesn’t teach you to grapple with God’s Word for yourself. We want you to study God’s Word yourself, see the biblical principles clearly, and put them into practice based on a clear conviction, not the conviction of someone else.

      This is also a problem because it can lead to a legalistic environment where some people are more concerned with what other people practice than with the sufficiency of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    • We can do a better job of teaching that one person’s or one pastor’s practice of wisdom is not God’s law and shouldn’t bind another person’s conscience.
    • But we need to do this trusting in the Lord and recognizing that we cannot control our children’s hearts or save them. We can do our best and be faithful, and our children can still choose to sin and rebel against God.
    • Download the full text of the classic “All of Grace” by C. H. Spurgeon here in Kindle (.mobi) or ePub formats. 

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

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Posted by on 24/05/2011 in Current Issues

 

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