Thoughts on the Way Home

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Resolution

He set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 ESV)

I was reminded again this morning that nothing makes a trial more miserable than lack of resolution to follow through with God's direction. One brother put it this way: "The trial is usually never as bad as the unbelief during the trial."

Of Paramount Concern for the Christian - John Murray

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“It is of paramount concern for the Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory. “

—John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 145-46

HT: Of First Importance

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Horatius Bonar on The Men God Uses

It should be noted that when men of such character are found, the revival has already begun (1 Corinthians 15:10). Yet this in no way destroys the need to earnestly strive toward these characteristics (2 Corinthians 6:1)- mv

Horatius Bonar, writing the preface to John Gillies' Accounts of Revival, proposes that men useful to the Holy Spirit for revival have been marked in these nine ways:

1. They were in earnest about the great work on which they had entered: "They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung."

2. They were bent on success: "As warriors, they set their hearts on victory and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head."

3. They were men of faith: "They knew that in due season they should reap, if they fainted not."

4. They were men of labor: "Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul; time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing."

5. They were men of patience: "Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil."

6. They were men of boldness and determination: "Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens every enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, nor gained by fear."

7. They were men of prayer: "They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain, that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water."

8. They were men whose doctrines were of the most decided kind: "Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword."

9. They were men of solemn deportment and deep spirituality of soul: "No frivolity, no flippancy . . . . The world could not point to them as being but slightly dissimilar from itself."

HT: Ray Ortlund

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are Single Women Useful on the Mission Field?

Apparently during the 1860's some were questioning whether or not single women missionaries were that valuable, especially in the deep interior of unreached China. One group had said it was a "waste of life and energy" and that there were "no openings for their labors."

Mrs. Maria Taylor responded this way -

"Oh, how can any one who knows the love of Christ look round upon these groping, perishing heathen and call any expenditure "a waste" which brings about their conversion! Had we the right people and suitable accommodation, I believe that twenty sisters could easily find work in Hangchow tomorrow. I feel pretty sure I could find work for ten Miss Fauldings and ten Miss Bowyers. The Lord ever keep them as simple and true-hearted as they are!"

And Mr. Taylor said this regarding the single women's labors of kindness, love and visiting house to house -

"No mightier power has been entrusted to us than the true sympathy that identified itself with those it seeks to benefit. It carried the heart captive; and to get close to the hearts of the people is our great aim, to win their confidence and love our daily object. ... In its actual influence on the people at large, I am strongly inclined to consider it the most powerful agency at our disposal."

How's that!

And on a personal note, I just heard two days ago from a missionary to Panama that said two single women served in Ecuador for forty years without seeing any converts. Sometime after the first woman died, a massive awakening spread through the Indian people to which they had ministered the good news. Single women... 40 faithful years walking with Christ... no converts... breakthrough! Praise the Lord.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Like Love - Tim Challies

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Tim Challies:

Maybe we can be so careful in (rightly) understanding God’s hatred for sin and his desire for holiness that we forget about his great love for us despite the sin that still pollutes us. Maybe we forget that God truly does regard as children—children he not only loves but children he also genuinely likes. And there’s a difference between the two, isn’t there?

Read the rest HERE.

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Coram Deo - R.C. Sproul

I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, "Just what is the big idea, young man?"

Instinctively I knew my mother was not asking me an abstract question about theory. Her question was not a question at all--it was a thinly veiled accusation. Her words were easily translated to mean, "Why are you doing what you are doing?" She was challenging me to justify my behavior with a valid idea. I had none.

Recently a friend asked me in all earnestness the same question. He asked, "What's the big idea of the Christian life?" He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.

To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian's prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, "The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life."

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one's entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, "Who is it, Lord?" He wasn't sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.

To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.

This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God's call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father's carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

Coram Deo . . . before the face of God. That's the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.

Article found here.

HT: Challies

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Can A Man Be Born When He Is Old?

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An encouraging post here from Joe Thorn about the conversion of his father, for whom he prayed for 19 years:

My Dad, The Christian

HT: Challies

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People, Not Arguments

I do not seek what is yours, but you...All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. - 2 Cor 12:14, 19

You have to read the preceding chapters to appreciate these verses. We are to seek to win people, not arguments. Sometimes this will mean covering an offense (1 Peter 4:8). Other times it will mean wielding the scalpel (2 Corinthians 10-12). But in both instances winning people is the goal. Many heated debates are ended with one side winning the argument, but both parties being lost. That is a tragedy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Under the Sun

Eccl. 4:1-3:

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun and behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.


Is the world a good place? Not from the above point of view. Have you ever heard unbelievers complain about all the suffering in the world? They're right. If the only thing you can see is what is "under the sun" this world is a damnable place. The problem is that they stop short. Scripture acknowledges how bad and fallen this world is, but it goes farther. There is a God who is good that man has kicked against in rebellion (Eccl. 7:29). The world is fallen and broken because of our sin (Rom. 5:12).

If there were no God and no salvation to be found, indeed it would be better to have never been born than to come into this hellish world. But those that adopt this despair show that they haven't found Christ yet. There is a spiritual realm not mentioned in these verses that changes everything. One wonders how much of it Solomon saw. Did he really get it? Do you get it? Or are you just drifting through life as a comfortable American, trying hard to be prosperous and afluent when the world around you is sinking in sea of tears and sin and misery. Don't live off in some "la-la land" playing with your toys and trying to drown out the fact that men superficially say "Peace, peace" when there is no peace. Your world, and your life is fallen.

If you see that and admit that you may have a better chance of finding what life is really about: redemption and reconciliation to God through his Son.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Bewitching of the Galatians - Terry Rayburn

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But after Paul had preached the gospel to these folks and, you might say, founded these churches, along came some alien false teachers who sort of went behind Paul's back and told the people that Paul was not really the Apostle he claimed to be.

They said that he was leaving part of the gospel out. They said things that the people began to believe. Things that were so outrageous that Paul was not only a good bit peeved with the Galatians, calling them foolish, but he even went so far as to ask them, “Who has bewitched you?”

But you know what's alarming? The errors that the Galatians fell into are still alive and well in churches today. The evil false teachings that the Galatians were lured by are still luring unsuspecting believers today.

Well, what are these false teachings?

I want to talk about nine of them, which are distinct, yet related to each other.


Read the rest HERE.

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A Sermon Which Peter Never Forgot - J. C. Ryle

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A sermon which Peter never forgot

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

See the infinite mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"At that moment the Lord turned and
looked straight at Peter." Luke 22:61

There was a deep meaning in that look.

It was a sermon which Peter never forgot.

The love of Christ toward His people,
is a deep
well which has no bottom! Let us never measure
it by comparison with any kind of love of man or
woman. It exceeds all other love--as far as the
sun exceeds the candle light. There is about it
a mine of compassion, and patience, and readiness
to forgive sin--of whose riches we have but a faint
conception.

Let us not be afraid to trust that love--when we
first feel our sins. No man need despair, however
far he may have fallen, if he will only repent and
turn to Christ. If the heart of Jesus was so gracious
when He was a prisoner in the judgment hall--we
surely need not think it is less gracious, when He
sits in glory at the right hand of the Father!

HT: Grace Gems

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Communion With Christ - Hudson Taylor

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Communion With Christ

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest we drift away from them." (Hebrews. 2:1).

The experience of most of us shows how easily communion with Christ may be broken, and how needful are the exhortations of our Lord to those who are indeed branches of the true Vine, and cleansed by the Word which He has spoken, to abide in Him. The failure is never on His side. "Lo, I am with you always."

But, alas, the bride often forgets the exhortation addressed to her in Psalms 45: "Hearken, 0 daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; So shall the KING greatly desire thy beauty: For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him."

In this section, the bride has drifted back from her position of blessing into a state of worldliness. Perhaps the very restfulness of her new-found joy made her feet too secure; perhaps she thought that, so far as she was concerned, there was no need for the exhortation, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Or she may have thought that the love of the world was so thoroughly taken away that she might safely go back, and, by a little compromise on her part, she might win her friends to follow her Lord too. Perhaps she scarcely thought at all, glad that she was saved and free, but she forgot that the current - the course of this world - was against her; and insensibly glided, drifted back to that position out of which she was called, unaware all the time of backsliding. It is not necessary; when the current is against us, to turn the boat's head down the stream in order to drift; or for a runner in a race to turn back in order to miss the prize.

Ah, how often the enemy succeeds, by one device or another, in tempting the believer away from that position of entire consecration to Christ in which alone the fullness of His power and of His love can be experienced.

-- Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

HT: Mack T

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conrad Murrell on Acts 26

Conrad Murrell's sermon on The Testimony of Paul is finally available via download! When you listen to this sermon you will understand why Bro. Murrell has been so important in the lives of many of the men which the Lord is using these days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Same Truth In Verse

I change, He changes not;
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.

Horatius Bonar, I Hear the Words of Love

This is the same truth Piper said here, and Lloyd-Jones said here. Horatius Bonar simply put it in verse. This truth is critically important for every Christian to understand and believe. It will never do any good as a theory.

They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)

No Longer Looking At Yourself - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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“The man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself, and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not [even] look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and he rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, ‘Ah yes, I have committed terrible sins but I have done this and that…’ He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith… Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes, I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin… yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ, and God has put that to my account.’”

- D. M. Lloyd-Jones, quoted by Timothy Keller in The Message of Romans (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 59.

HT: Of First Importance

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The Bottom Line: Mk. 5:25-28 - Mark LaCour

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THE BOTTOM LINE

Mark LaCour



"A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse — after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well."" (Mk. 5:25-28)


Here is a woman who took a rumor, made an assumption, calculated a conclusion, and received a blessing -- something Christ called faith. Notice what this faith had to overcome: First, she possessed no health -- a worsened condition that surely would have affected her strength to press through the crowd. Second, she had no income. This isn't someone who has an HMO having a hard time paying their deductible. She was destitute. Third, she had no society. Being in a hemorrhaged condition she was a defilement to anyone she touched in the crowd (Lev. 15:19ff.). Her prospects for marriage or having children were nil. Fourth, she had no worship. Being unclean she could never travel with her family to worship in Jerusalem -- continuously barred from God’s activities. Fifth, she had no promise. Christ didn't say to the crowd, "Come unto me all you who hemorrhage." There was no guarantee that Christ would grant her what she sought. Sixth, she had little or no courage, as she secretly sought to only touch the hem of His garment. For her to stand up and say, "Have mercy on me, Jesus, for I bleed" would have exposed her illness to a potentially angry, ceremonially defiled crowd. And lastly, she had no time, as Jesus had already set out to heal Jairus' daughter (Mk. 5:21ff.).

But reach she did -- even with Jesus' back turned and His attention away. She never thought that her touch would defile Him, nor if His cloak possessed some magical powers -- both religious detriments to true faith. Christ was her only hope -- a hope that became an affirmation through her verbal confession.

Now contrast what this woman did with what Uzzah did when he reached out and steadied the ark (2 Sam. 6:6-7). Both touched the tabernacle of God (Jn. 1:14) -- and both underscore the great difference between the Old Covenant and the New. One died on the spot, the other received life. The Old says stay away; the New says, come, and I'll give you rest. The Old says, do this and live; the New says, live, now do this.

Oh, saint, why do you draw back in your weakness? You have precious and magnificent promises, you have invitation, you have access -- and now you have no excuse. So reach! You’ll find more than a handful of hem when you do.

-Mark LaCour

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Piper on Assurance

If you've ever went through a miserable season of "how do I know that I know that I am actually a Christian?" then John Piper's recent article will be a tremendous help.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Thoughts From Some Hymns

The following are some sections from hymns which have encouraged me recently.

"I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free."
Havergal, I Love My Master

Taken from Exodus 21:5-6. Satan keeps his subjects through tyranny and burden (Exodus 1:10-11). Christ keeps his subjects through bringing them to their senses (2 Timothy 2:25-26). He doesn't fear their "going in and out" (John 10:9) - no servant of His would ever leave such a good Master.


"Yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
Elliott, Just as I Am

The great indictment nailed to the door of Laodicea was their richness of spirit (Revelation 3:17). They weren't seeing reality. Christ bids them to have Him as their only Vendor (Revelation 3:18). Moment by moment the Spirit will lead us in holiness (Romans 8:13-14). The essence of poverty of spirit means I draw my life from these promptings. To be rich in spirit means I draw from life from the promptings of the flesh.


"Come and see, look on this mystery,
The Lord of the Universe, nailed to a tree.
Christ our God, spilling His Holy blood,
Bowing in anguish, His sacred head.
Sing to Jesus..."
Ortega, Sing to Jesus

I received a fresh glimpse of the wonder of what the dear Lord Jesus has done for us. So yes! - sing to Jesus!

God Says That Believing Man is Justified - H. Bonar

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“Faith, in all its degrees, still reads the inscription, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin;’ and if at times the eye is so dim that it cannot read these words, through blinding tears or bewildering mist, faith rests itself on the certain knowledge of the fact that the inscription is still there, or at least that the blood itself (of which these words remind us) remains, in all its power and suitableness, upon the altar unchanged and uneffaced.

God says that the believing man is justified: who are we, then, that we should say, ‘We believe, but we do not know whether we are justified?’ What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

– Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness; or, How Shall a Man be Just with God? (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1874/1993), 23-4.

HT: Of First Importance

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God's Sovereign Election - A. W. Pink

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God's sovereign election

(Arthur Pink, "The God of Jacob")

"Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works, but by Him who calls--she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved--but Esau I hated.'" Romans 9:10-13

Jacob supplies us with the clearest and most unmistakable illustration of God's sovereign election to be met with in all the Bible. The case of Jacob gives the most emphatic refutation to the theory that God's choice is dependent upon something in the creature--something either actual or foreseen--and shows that the eternal election of certain individuals unto salvation--is due to no worthiness in the subjects--but results solely from God's sovereign grace. The case of Jacob proves conclusively, that God's choice is . . .

entirely sovereign,
wholly gratuitous, and
based upon nothing but His own good pleasure.

The God of Scripture then, is the God who chooses one--and passes by another. He is the One who exercises and exhibits His own sovereign will. He is one who shows Himself to be the Most High God, ruling in heaven and earth and disposing of His creatures according to His own eternal purpose. He is the One who singles out the most unlikely and unworthy objects--to be fashioned into vessels of glory. Yet, He is the One who necessarily always acts in harmony with His own divine perfections.

Election is not as some have supposed--harsh and unjust--but is a most merciful provision on the part of God. Had He not from the beginning, chosen SOME to salvation--ALL would have perished! Had he not before the foundation of the world chosen certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son--the death of Christ would have been in vain, so far as the human race is concerned!

Reduced to its simplest terms, ELECTION means that God chose me--before I chose Him. Our Lord said, "You have not chosen Me--but I have chosen you." (John 15:16) We love Him--because He first loved us. Election means that before I was born, yes, before the foundation of the world--I was chosen in Christ and predestined unto a place in God's family! Election means that we believed--because He made us willing in the day of His power. Election then,

strips the creature of all merit,
removes all ground of boasting,
strikes us helpless in the dust,
and ascribes all the glory to God!

-A. W Pink

HT: Grace Gems

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Uncertainty and Frailty - Mack Tomlinson

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Jonathan and Sarah Edwards: A Testimony to The Uncertainty of Life and the Frailty of Man


In one sense, the modern philosophy which was voiced in a famous movie in the last ten years is partially true: "Life is like a box of chocolates--you never know what you're gonna get."

It was certainly true in the family of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. Theirs was and is a testimony to the uncertainty of life and the frailty of all men.

It is peoples' lives that become their legacy--not as much what they said or produced, as much as what they were and what they had to go through in life and death, which God's grace turns into a legacy long after they are gone. The Edwards would never know in this life what legacy they would leave to millions of future believers. But what they did come to know by experience during the last year of their life was primarily one thing--life is uncertain, man is frail, and the grace of God is sufficient.

It was on March 22, 1758 that Jonathan Edwards died of complications from a smallpox vaccination at the age of 56. Just two months prior, on February 16, he had been officially installed as the president of the College of New Jersey in Princeton, which would later become Princeton University. He was entering what would have become the third major division in his life of ministry--teaching and training men for the gospel ministry. This was after his 23 year pastorate in Northamption, Mass., and his period of serving as the missionary pastor to the Indians at Stockbridge.

Surely it seemed like a bright future was before them, with promising days, especially with the hardships, isolation, and discouragements of Northampton and Stockbridge behind them. With Edwards being only 56 years old, providence seemed to be directing him into what would be the most fruitful period of his influence for the kingdom of God. At Princeton, he would have much more time for writing, as well as teaching ministers. Indeed, the future seemed bright and hopefully, a long life lay before them.

Instead, dark clouds began to gather over the Edwards' family, clouds which continued for a full year.
In January of the year, Jonathan's father, Timothy, had died at the age of 89. It was the next month, a week after becoming Princeton's president, that Edwards took the vaccination for smallpox. At first all seemed fine, but within days, he had the disease and soon it was killing him. The disease settled in his mouth and throat, and before long, he could not swallow. After several weeks of fever and starvation, he died in Christ on the afternoon of March 22, just five weeks after coming to Princeton.

It was twelve days later that Sarah wrote to their daughter, Esther: "O, what a legacy my husband and your father has left us!" Sarah wrote this letter, not from Princeton, but from Stockbridge, as she had remained behind to move the family to join him, since Edwards was already at the college.

But Esther never got to read what her mother had written, as Esther died from a fever in April before ever receiving the letter, leaving two young children as orphans because their father, Edwards' son-in-law, Aaron Burr, had died the previous September at the age of 41.

Suddenly,
with the freshest and deepest sorrow, having lost both her husband and her daughter in the space of three weeks, Sarah suddenly faced the responsibility of going to Philadelphia to take responsibility of the 2 grandchildren. One of those grandchildren, Aaron Burr, Jr., would become the Vice-President of the United States.

But she never made it to Philadelphia. Sarah contracted dysentery and died on October 2 while on the trip. She was 48 years old. She was buried next to her husband in the small cemetery at Princeton.

So the Edwards' family lost 5 family members within thirteen months' time. One short year earlier, they were all healthy, happy, going about life, business, school, and ministry, yet knowing that such things could happen anytime. They knew it because Edwards had preached faithfully over a 35 year period that life is very uncertain and that all men are very frail. Now that message rang loud and true throughout their experience to their own generation and to future generations as well. And it still rings true today.

It is an absolute that life is very uncertain. It is an absolute that man, at his best state, is altogether vanity, and is fragile and frail. So a large part of the Edwards' lasting legacy and testimony is just that--life is uncertain and man is frail. And that is what Edwards had been preaching for so long.

If it was true for the Edwards, is it not true for us? The Edwards left a legacy because they lived in such a way that when their lives were cut off in the midst of their years, they had a legacy to leave behind. Do we? I wonder; I hope so; I desire to.

I do feel at times, very deeply, the reality of life's uncertainties and my own frailty. And when I do, it casts me upon the sheer grace and mercy of a loving and sovereign Saviour, who takes His children in death when we would not do it that way, when we would judge it premature or somehow wrong.

I don't know why a Jim Elliot dies so young when he's so promising, a David Brainerd dies at 28, a Heny Martyn at 28, a Keith Green at 28, an Edwards, a Spurgeon, a Whitefield all at 56--I don't know why, except that it please a good and wise God to purpose it; but I don't have to know why; God hasn't told me, nor has he asked my permission, nor has he ever explained himself about such uncertainties, which are not uncertainties to him.

But one thing I do know with certainty is this--I don't want to waste any of my remaining years, or months, or days; Our times are in His hands. And I am very glad for that fact.

"Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom."

-- Mack T.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Blog Update - Comments Disabled

After thought and discussion Garrett, Mason, and I have decided to turn off comments on our blog. Please don't take it as a sign that we don't value your input. We do. Please email us directly from this point on.

A little mail icon is now on the left hand menu which will display an image of our personal email addresses. We want to hear from you. Please use it. Email us. I know for myself personally, the encouragements I've received in the form of comments (and in person) have brought much happiness to my soul.

Love in Christ,
John

Close Contact With the Cross - Octavius Winslow

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“One moment’s believing, close contact with the cross will do more to break the heart for sin, deepen the conviction of its exceeding sinfulness, and disenthrall the soul from all its bondage and its fears, bringing it into a sense of pardon and acceptance and assured hope, than a lifetime of the most rigid legal duties that ever riveted their iron chain upon the soul.”

—Octavius Winslow, The Foot of the Cross

HT: Of First Importance

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Final Justification - Thomas Oden

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“Justification is a presently experienced reality, assuming union with Christ by faith, which anticipates the final day of judgment.

The verdict of this final-day court has already been announced, although ensuing history continues. Justification is an end-time event in which the believer stands already, as if in an anticipative sense. Those united to Christ are justified from all guilt — past, present, and future. God’s final justifying action awaits the end of history, though the verdict is already known, and celebrated daily in Christian preaching and worship.

Justification on the last day consists of a declaration of righteousness, and an actual admission into glory. There are not two justifications, one by God and another confirmed by our obedience, nor one that occurs with faith, and a final justification that occurs at the end time dependent on our works. There is only one justification, and that is the one that occurs on the cross.”

—Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader (Grand Rapids: Eeerdmans, 2002), 68-69

HT: Of First Importance

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Conviction of Fleshly Man - Daryl Wingerd

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Charles brought to my attention this evening an excellent article dealing with Romans 7:14-25. Even if your mind is already made up regarding "the man of Romans 7," it would still be well worth your time to read this:

The Conviction of Fleshly Man: Why Romans 7:14-25 Cannot Describe the Christian Life by Daryl Wingerd

I'm calling this a must-read!

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Some Current Thoughts

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I want to be careful, but I see a concern on the horizon (if not already standing on our door step). Roughly 600 commentaries are due out sometime in the near future. D. A. Carson in the introduction of his commentary on John states, "Anyone who dares to write yet another commentary on the Gospel of John must give ample reason for doing so." Apparently 17 more scholars have found that justification. But there is no reason to pick on these commentators; most of the New Testament books have around 15 commentaries in the works. And if we don't have it figured out by the time the 21 forthcoming commentaries are printed on Isaiah, we should probably call it quits on hoping to get some light on that area of the Bible.

With all of this fury of words, we must ask if have we seen any more power (1 Corinthians 4:20)? Who among us can say with an honest heart we know what it is to "strive according to His power which mightily works within us?" Have we seen more power in preaching such as was found in Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, or Rowlands? Have we seen more power for Christlike living such as was found in Hudson Taylor, George Muller, Pastor Hsi, or Samuel Rutherford? Are we learning about Christ or learning from Christ (Matthew 11:29)? Is our passion to know about Him or to know Him (Philippians 3:10)? Are we courting knowledge or chasing a Person?

We had better beware - The seeker sensitive movement is not the only group that stands in imminent danger of amusing themselves to death. We can be just as amused by intellectual rigor, logical precision, and argumentation. Nothing is more fascinating than seeing the structure of Genesis unfold before your eyes. And may it unfold to us all! But at the unfolding of this glorious book, may we tear off running to the nearest secluded place to seek "Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1:45).

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Power of God's Acts - Mack T

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A Meditation on the Power of God's Acts

It was a small, simple rain fall--no down pour, no deluge--just a simple rain this past Monday and Tuesday in Paducah, Kentucky. I wasn't there, but was given two first-hand accounts from close friends of mine who live there. A small gentle rain that brought the town and the entire area, including across the state line north in Illinois, to a complete standstill. Thousands lost electrical power and many still do not have it. Because of a simple rain--combined with one other factor--the temperature.

When God combines those two simple, yet very big factors, His amazing power is quickly seen in nature. Seen in such a way that it brings the earth, its inhabitants, and all activities to a stand still. Men quickly see that they are limited, frail, completely dependent, and very vulnerable.

This is what happened in Paducah and the surrounding area, as virtually every tree in the area was damaged; some areas there look like a war zone. Approximately 1-2 inches of ice covered everything, followed by 2-3 inches of snow. The weight of the ice was such that, at least in one instance, a telephone pole snapped and fell, pulling down the lines, simply because of the sheer weight of the ice.

Ice falling from the sky snaps a telephone pole. Only God can do that.

Single blades of grass were surrounded by 2 inches of ice encircling them. Only God can do that.

But do we notice God in it? Does it cause our hearts to immediately gravitate to Him? Do we see it as the amazing and immediate power of God or only as nature, or worst, as mother nature?

The power of God coming through a gentle rain and some freezing temps. It is often the case that we see the glory and the power of God, not just in the huge events of nature, such as hurricane Katrina, a tornado, or a powerful lightning storm. The "smaller" acts of God in nature are just as powerful and amazing-- an ice storm that comes with a whisper, that comes calling softly, all the time saying, "Look and behold the power of God." Let him who has eyes to see, see the power of God in the soft coming of ice that brings man's ways to a stop and brings God's power to the fore front. Jesus commands the rain to come and then He turns His thermostat down, and look what happens.

Tonight, I looked up at a half moon, blazing in the north Texas sky, shining in its glory; Jesus is upholding that moon tonight by the very word of His power; does it amaze me still? When I see it, do I stop and talk to the One who is holding it up at that moment? His name is Jesus and He is my Saviour, the One who loves me and keeps me by the same mighty power--its He who is daily revealing His power in all kinds of ways, and it is there for us to see and stand amazed.

We can behold the power of God daily--if we will; if we will open our eyes and see God in it all. What have you seen this past week, even today, that put you in awe and made you say, "Behold, the power of God!"

-- Mack T.

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Sermons Without Words - J. R. Miller

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Sermons without words

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

When you are tempted to chafe and repine at
the narrowness of your circumstances, and the
limitations of your sphere--remember that for
thirty years, Jesus found room in a humble
peasant home for worthy living and for service,
not unfitted to His exalted character.

If you can do nothing but live a true Christian
life--patient, gentle, kindly, pure--in your home,
in society, at your daily duty--you will perform
a service of great value, and leave many blessings
in the world. Such a life is a little gospel, telling
in sermons without words--the wonderful story
of the cross of Christ.

"Let your light shine before men--that they
may see your good deeds and praise your
Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

HT: Grace Gems

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