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What I Read Online – 05/31/2013 (p.m.)

01 Jun
    • Twenty-two years ago, an unmarried, young birth mother and birth father entered a community hospital. By then they had made two heroic decisions. First, they wanted their baby to have the gift of life regardless of the pain, sacrifice and inconvenience it caused them. Second, they believed that it would be best in their case to place their baby for adoption, because they were convinced they could not provide a stable home environment at that point in their lives.
    • Some progressives say that there are not enough people willing to adopt all the babies whose lives are currently ended in abortion. That is an outrageous lie. Everybody involved in the adoption process knows that the number of loving homes prepared to adopt a child today is immense.
    • One of the things I like most about the traditional wedding ceremony is that it includes an explanation as to why there is such a thing as marriage. We are told in that ceremony that marriage is ordained and instituted by God—that is to say, marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.

       

    • But while I like and appreciate the words of the traditional wedding ceremony, I believe the form of the ceremony is even more important. This is because the traditional ceremony involves the making of a covenant.
    • In grammatical terms, then, the words repent and believe both function as a synecdoche—the figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole. Thus, repentance implies faith and faith implies repentance. One cannot exist without the other.
    • Third, John Murray insisted that this issue raises

       

      an unnecessary question and the insistence that one is prior to the other is futile. There is no priority. The faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance … saving faith is permeated with repentance and repentance is permeated with saving faith. (Redemption—Accomplished and Applied, p. 113).

       

    • The psychological accompaniments of conversion thus vary, sometimes depending on the dominant gospel emphasis that is set before the sinner (the sinfulness of sin or the greatness of grace). This is quite consistent with the shrewd comment of the Westminster Divines to the effect that faith (that is, the trusting response of the individual to the word of the gospel) “acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof [of Scripture] containeth” (WCF 16.2).

       

    • In no case, however, can real conversion take place apart from the presence of both repentance and faith, and therefore both joy and sorrow
    • Christians may find themselves in a similar position with their Lord. As believers, we trust God and know He is trustworthy. But doubt, guilt, and fear can eat away at our assurance that we are His and always will be. We can sometimes fear that we might be forsaken.

       

    • The essence of assurance is knowing that I am saved—that my sins are forgiven and I belong to God—and therefore I know and experience communion with the triune God
    • The way to pursue assurance is, first, to strive to know God experientially through His great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:2–4)
    • Second, we should pursue spiritual growth by acting on the promises
    • Obedience increases assurance because it is evidence of a living faith and proves that we are not hypocrites (James 2:14).
    • Third, when we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to walk by faith in Christ, we will experience His witness as the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:14–16).
    • The vast majority of Christians throughout history, however, have not rejected the right use of reason. This stems from their attempt to be faithful to the teaching of Scripture, which itself provides reasons to believe
    • Augustine, John Calvin, and many others that all truth is God’s truth. That which is true is true because God revealed it, created it, or decreed it
    • HE REVEALED IT: All that God reveals, whether through general revelation in His creation or through special revelation in Scripture, is necessarily true. It is impossible for God to lie
    • HE CREATED IT: When we learn something about creation that corresponds with what God actually made, we have learned something true. God is the source of these truths by virtue of the fact that He is the Creator
    • HE DECREED IT: God is the one who has decreed whatsoever comes to pass. When we learn something about history that is in accordance with what actually happened, we have learned something true to the extent that our knowledge corresponds with what actually happened, and what actually happened only happened, ultimately, because God decreed it
    • If all truth has its source in God and if all truth is unified, then one thing we know to be certain is that if there is a contradiction between an interpretation of Scripture and an interpretation of what God has created, then one or both of those interpretations is incorrect. They cannot both be correct
    • God created us in His image as rational creatures. Our cognitive faculties were distorted by the fall, but they were not destroyed, and even unbelievers can use these faculties to discover truths about earthly things—as opposed to heavenly things, about which they are completely blind (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.2.12–21).
    • As long as I believed the lies the culture told me, I wasn’t living the good life. But when I began to live by faith in the good God, my good life began. The man who lives for himself gains nothing lasting in this life, and he will only experience devastating loss in the next. But the man who lives for Christ gets a taste of the good life now, and his death only brings him what he desires most.
    • Good commentaries, however, are not satisfied with explanations of the human dimension of Scripture. To be sure, many scholarly commentaries, some of them written by people who do fully appreciate the divine element of Scripture, can be gold mines of useful information. Ultimately, however, a commentary that fails fully to engage both the divine and the human side of Scripture cannot do justice to Scripture—simply because it is, indeed, a divine-human product
    • If the ministry of commentaries is important for the church, how can we best utilize this resource? A quick Google search on”commentaries on John” turns up a bewilderingly long list. Which commentaries should we use? First, use more than one. The very best commentator who has ever written made all kinds of mistakes. Comparing commentaries reveals these errors. Second, use commentaries from different times and cultures. John Chrysostom in the ancient church and John Calvin at the time of the Reformation still have a lot to teach us. And we are blessed to live in a time when more and more commentaries are being written by scholars from different parts of the world. Reading commentaries distant from us in time or culture can help reveal our own biases. Third, read commentaries from different theological traditions. We may not agree with everything such commentators say, but they help us think better about the text and why we believe what we do about it. Finally, use different levels of commentaries. Commentaries vary from massive scholarly tomes that require a lot of dedication to plow through to brief, often superficial reflections on the text. Our tendency is to be content to read the easy ones. But it is good to challenge ourselves sometimes with more detailed commentaries. It pays rich dividends in getting us to think more deeply about Scripture.
    • Abdul Saleeb: My first encounter with the gospel and the Christian faith was through the ministry of a group of American missionaries in Europe. When I discovered that Christians did not believe that Jesus was simply a prophet but God incarnate who had died on the cross for our sins, my first reactions were: 1. Christians are insane. 2. How can anyone believe such blasphemies? Through many months of attending church, reading the Bible and comparing it with the Qur’an, and debating with my Christian friends, the Spirit of God finally opened my eyes to see the truth and beauty of Christ. The two truths that touched me the most to convince me of the truth of the gospel were the Old Testament prophecies about Christ and especially His deity (for example, Isa 9:6), and the emphasis on grace and love in the New Testament. (See: http://www.answering-islam.org/Testimonies/abdul.html for a fuller version of my testimony.)
    • It is simply a fact that dreams are an important element in the testimonies of many Muslims who have come to faith in Christ. I believe dreams are an important part of many of the cultures around the world, and God is using dreams as a bridge to draw people to Christ. However, the impact of most dreams is to encourage the individual Muslim to become more open to hear about Jesus from Christians, visit a church, or read the Bible for the first time. Usually dreams in themselves do not have a full-fledged gospel presentation, and they do not replace the need for a human witness or the Scriptures
    • The deity of Christ and the cross of Christ are the two most fundamental truths of the Christian faith that the Qur’an denies.
    • Christians must never respond to Muslims out of fear, hatred, or anger. In fact, the church in the West should view the coming of Muslim immigrants as an opportunity for the spread of the gospel in communities that have never been exposed to the gospel before
    • Because,” he said, “every time they threw me in prison, the church grew.”
    • If one seeks to live a life pleasing to God, one will be persecuted, according to no less an authority than Jesus. It is not something to be avoided; it is something to be accepted if the persecution is for the right reason. It validates our life in Christ and His life in us.
    • Only Jesus could claim to have overcome the world, and because He did, we can accept persecution, suffering and criticism, knowing He will wipe away every tear and make all things new. Great will be the reward of those who think, believe and act this way, not in spite of persecution, but because of it.

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

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Posted by on 01/06/2013 in Current Issues

 

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