Remember the Gospel

I heard a wonderful sermon on 2 Timothy by Voddie Baucham. It’s entitled “Remember the Gospel”.

Here’s how he summarizes Paul’s letter to Timothy:

“They are about to kill me for preaching the gospel. When they do take my place until they kill you.”

Click here to listen.


What is Sin?

Don Carson on sin:

What is sin?

Sin is not some socially disapproved activity or refusing to engage in what is socially sanctioned. From the Bible’s point of view sin is simply doing what God prohibits or not doing what God commands. The ultimate odium in sin is bound up with the fact that it is always rebellion against God. That is what gives sin transcendentally ugly value.

That’s why in Psalm 51 David says:

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

John Bunyan’s Conversion

Seen on CTT

John Bunyan’s conversion:

“As I was passing in the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience . . . suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in heaven; and, methought withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand, there, I say, is my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, He wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, the same yesterday and today for ever (Heb. 13:8).”

“Now did my chains fall from my legs indeed, I was loosed from my affliction and irons, my temptations also fled away, so that from that time, those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now also went I home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”

Hold or be held?

”The man who is trying to be a Christian is trying to hold on to something. The man who is a Christian feels that he is being held by something. It has been put to him, it is there; it may even seem to be in spite of him, but it is there. It is not what he is doing that matters to him; it is what has been done to him…” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

From Christ the Truth

In Jesus’ Name

A tasty gospel morsel from Christ the Truth blog:

What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? …

Jesus Himself asks you to pray to the Father ‘in His name’ (John 14:13,14; 15:16; 16:23).  So when you come to the Father, come as Jesus.  Come as son, come as christ (anointed one).  Call on God Most High with Jesus’ own cry – ‘Abba, Father’ (Mark 14:36 <=> Gal 4:6).  By the Spirit, you are so identified with the Son in prayer that you pray as Jesus.  And the Father hears you as His very own Beloved.

Jesus does not point the way to prayer, nor simply blaze a trail and ask you to follow along.  He incorporates you into Himself in His own self-offering to the Father.  As you pray you are not outside the Trinity.  But neither are you a fourth member of the Trinity.  You are in Christ, filled with the Spirit of adoption, calling on your Abba, Father.

That’s prayer “in Jesus’ name.”

Read the full post here.

The True Vine

The Christian life is not simply to try to stop doing bad things that anger God and to try to start doing good things that please him. I easily slip back into thinking this way but the gospel is something different — the gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

My goal then is to hear and believe the gospel — to receive Christ — to be united with Him, and to glory in his righteousness. My goal is to fix my eyes on the One who has been lifted up like the bronze serpent. As I look to him the poison in my veins is remedied.

My goal is to abide in him, to feed on him and rejoice in him.

My goal is never to look inward at myself (my failures, my good works) but always outward to Jesus. (In other words I am to be other-centred as he is other-centred. Never self-centred.)

Once the branch has been grafted onto the True Vine the branch can, and will, bear fruit, but not before. Independent of the Vine the branch has no life. None whatsoever.

So to be a Christian — to live the Christian life — is first and foremost to be found in Christ.

How do we guard our own hearts against ungodly desires?

Solomon’s fall and what it teaches us about our own walk with Christ… (excerpts are from Ron Frost’s post “Guarding Against Heart Attacks“.)

In reading 1 Kings I’m appalled by Solomon’s fall. In chapter 8 we find Solomon’s epic recital of God’s greatness at the dedication of the new temple. Again, in chapter 9, God appeared to him a second time and promised: “I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” But by chapter 11 we find a grim new report: “and the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” What happened?

There are times when failure comes. When we do not walk in the light. When we turn our backs on our Lord and our God. When we sin “through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault” (Book of Common Prayer).

Though deep down it repulses us, it is a fact that before our flesh has been perfectly restored so that we are like Christ, we will sin. But how do we guard our hearts against moral “heart attacks” — the ungodly desires and distractions encountered by Solomon?

The traditional answer offered by the stoic strain of Christianity relies on the mind and the will: first we learn which choices are proper, then we make those choices. And, at some level, it seems like a sound response. A child, for instance, is told to stop doing something they “want” to do—speaking of that behavior as an expressed desire—or else they will face some consequence. The question, of course, is whether the consequences are great enough to make them “want” to change.

We need to notice … that “desires” and “wants” are one and the same: the affective orientation of the heart. We always do what we “want” to do, and only when a competing desire overcomes a lesser desire does our “want” change. So a person may choose to take a painful course in college that seems like a stoic decision because they “know” it’s the right choice. But in reality they do it because they “want” the degree that the course will help bring about.

Our naïve failure to grasp that connection—that our desires shape everything we do—is what makes us vulnerable to moral heart attacks. The traditional troika of evil—the world, the flesh, and the devil—are only as effective as their affective powers are in drawing us away from God. Solomon certainly loved God at some level, but God was no match for the attractive women offered to him as “treaty brides” by the regional kings who wanted to shape what Solomon wanted. He might have asked God for advice about what would please him, as his father David normally did. But even David failed to ask God what would most please him in the case of Bathsheba. There David wanted another man’s wife more than he wanted God’s delight. Like father, like son.

How, then, do we guard our own hearts against ungodly desires—including the socially acceptable desires for self-advancing wisdom, power, wealth (in Jeremiah 9) and glory (John 5)? The only answer is for us to set the eyes of our hearts towards Christ as the one who is ultimately attractive once we truly see him. For us to remain secure we should desire more of Christ; to set our minds on him by responding to his Spirit’s captivating presence as he discloses Christ’s own heart to us.

Read Ron Frost’s full post here…

Less grace and more law?

Is a grace, grace, grace approach to preaching ineffective in our cultural environment? Perhaps what we need as an antidote to sin/immorality is more preaching of law?

Some thoughts from Tim Keller (seen here):

(A quick note about a metaphor he uses below: Newcastle is a city in the UK historically known to contain huge natural reserves of coal — so to “carry coal to Newcastle” is to bring the city more of what it already has).

Some claim that to constantly be striking a ‘note of grace, grace, grace’ in our sermons is not helpful in our culture today. The objection goes like this: “Surely Phariseeism and moralism is not a problem in our culture today. Rather, our problem is license and antinomianism. People lack a sense of right or wrong. It is ‘carrying coal to Newcastle’ to talk about grace all the time to postmodern people.” But I don’t believe that’s the case. Unless you point to the ‘good news’ of grace, people won’t even be able to bear the ‘bad news’ of God’s judgment. Also, unless you critique moralism, many irreligious people won’t know the difference between moralism and what you’re offering. The way to get antinomians to move away from lawlessness is to distinguish the gospel from legalism. Why? Because modern and post-modern people have been rejecting Christianity for years thinking that it was indistinguishable from moralism. Non-Christians will always automatically hear gospel presentations as appeals to become moral and religious, unless in your preaching you use the good news of grace to deconstruct legalism. Only if you show them there’s a difference–that what they really rejected wasn’t real Christianity at all–will they even begin to consider Christianity.