What I Read Online – 11/23/2011 (a.m.)

23 Nov
    • You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage. On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you. It will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.
    • Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.
    • Vote as a Christian.
    • Vote with the sovereignty of God in mind.
    • Vote remembering that one vote distils a very complex process into an overly simple moment of decision.
    • So much of our political and economic system is built on self-interest. But one thing that should characterise our churches and our individual attitudes is rejecting the selfishness of the world and the society around us, and instead sacrificing ourselves to love and serve others. This will primarily be seen in our ministries of evangelism and discipleship, but it can also be seen in the way we approach politics
    • On the other hand, the church that, for one reason or another, seems to emphasize God’s holiness and yet fails to do so in service to love is a church that misunderstands God’s holiness. God’s holiness means to fill the earth with God’s glory, including the radically distinct way that God sent his Son to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.
    • A holy church is a church that abstains from sin and that dwells among sinners, both of these activities being a property of holiness.
    • None of this background should imply that slavery was desirable. This was still a corrupt system.
    • But these explanations, while helpful, don’t deal with what Paul actually says. Many pastors, apologists, and scholars only worry about defending Paul against endorsing slavery and miss his point.
    • Paul’s answer to slavery does not satisfy modern readers because he calls the church to slavery to Christ rather than autonomy. We have many obligations in this world as spouses, parents, children, employees, and more, but all these relationships fall behind our ultimate allegiance to Christ. Before God there is no slave or free, humanly speaking. All, whether slave or master, belong to Christ.
    • But everyone is enslaved to something to someone, whether we know it or not.
    • If God is not the center of your life, if he does not hold your ultimate allegiance, then you have been enslaved by something or someone less satisfying and loving than God. Every slave master except God will fail you.
    • But not so with God! He alone can satisfy. He alone has paid the ultimate price in his Son in order to forgive you of all your failings. The dominion of God is the dominion of rest, grace, mercy, and joy.
    • The phrase pulai hadou (gates of hell) is a Jewish expression meaning “realm of the dead.” The same two words appear in the Septuagint version of Job 38:17–”Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness [puloroi de hadou]?”). They appear again in Isaiah 38:10–”I said in the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol [pulais hadou] for the rest of my years”. In both passages, pulai hadou is a euphemism for death. Notice the parallelism in both passages. The first half of each verse clarifies that the second half of the verse is not about hell but about death. The gates of hell represent the passageway from this life to the grave
    • The promise in Matthew 16 is not about venturing out on some Dungeons and Dragons spiritual crusade, but about Christ’s guarantee that the church will not be vanquished by death.
    • A parishioner heard me preach on Ephesians 5, where Paul says that the purpose of marriage is to “sanctify” us. She said, “I thought the whole point of marriage was to be happy! You make it sound like a lot of work.” She was right—marriage is a lot of work—but she was wrong to pit that against happiness, and here is why. Paul is saying that one of the main purposes of marriage is to make us “holy . . . without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (verses 26–27). What does that mean? It means to have Jesus’s character reproduced in us, outlined as the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful integrity, gentle humility, and self-control—in Galatians 5:22–25.


      When Jesus’s love, wisdom, and greatness are formed in us, each with our own unique gifts and callings, we become our “true selves,” the persons we were created to be. Every page in the Bible cries that the journey to this horizon cannot be accomplished alone. We must face it and share it with brothers and sisters, friends of our heart. And the very best human friendship possible for that adventure is with the lover-friend who is your spouse.


      Is all this a lot of work?


      Indeed it is—but it is the work we were built to do. Does this mean “marriage is not about being happy; it’s about being holy”? Yes and no. As we have seen, that is too stark a contrast. If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not on the near side. Holiness gives us new desires and brings old desires into line with one another.


      So if we want to be happy in marriage, we will accept that marriage is designed to make us holy.

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

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Posted by on 23/11/2011 in Current Issues


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