Saturday, September 20, 2008

Words that wound. The Word that heals.

As someone who knows all too well the destructive power of words, I was greatly encouraged by this short Paul Tripp video:


(HT: Abraham Piper)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Break....

I am going to be taking a break from blogging for an indefinite amount of time.

Thank you,

HS

Grudem Piracy Confirmed

I can now confirm that Grudem's Systematic Theology has been put on line illegally. I apologize for the initial link as I should have confirmed its internet release with Grudem before posting it online. Below is an update from the publisher:

"Stolen Property"

It has recently come to the attention of Wayne Grudem and myself that an illegal copy of his "Systematic Theology" has been posted on the Internet and that word of this, along with links to the site where the illegal copy is posted, has found its way to many Christian blog sites. I am working with Dr. Grudem to contact all sites that have links to this illegal copy of his book to ask them to remove the links immediately.

Dr. Grudem and I jointly hold the copyright to all electronic versions of his "Systematic Theology." My company, Bits & Bytes, Inc., is the publisher of the Libronix, PC Study Bible, Pradis, and Olive Tree versions of this book. Posting a complete copy of "Systematic Theology" online is intellectual property theft -- a federal crime. Posting a link to the illegal copy or a link to a link is at the very least directing people to stolen goods.

On behalf of Dr. Grudem and myself, we respectfully request that all links to, and all links to links to, the illegal copy of "Systematic Theology" that is on the Internet be removed from all Christian blog sites.

Thank you for honoring this request.

Sincerely,
John Hughes, President

www.bitsbytescomputer.com
johnhughes@centurytel.net


(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday with Calvin

"All the things that make for the enriching of this present life are sacred gifts of God, but we spoil them by our misuse of them. If we want to know the reason why, it is because we are always entertaining the delusion that we will go on forever in this world. The result is that the very things which ought to be of assistance to us in our pilgrimage through life, become the chains which bind us." -John Calvin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Disappointing Update on Grudem's Systematic Theology

It appears that the online version of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology may have been posted without the permission of the publisher. If you want more details on the story click here. Until it can be verified whether or not it has been put online legally I have disabled the link in my previous post and would ask you to consider not visiting the site. Thank you and sorry for the confusion.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday with Augustine

"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! ... You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure."
--Augustine

(HT: Monergism)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Misunderstanding Justification by Faith

There is an understanding of faith in our day that is so lifeless and devoid of any spiritual affection that it ceases to be real faith. It disheartens me that there are those who advocate a "gospel" that requires no level of delight in the person of Christ. A.W. Tozer saw this tragedy taking place in the church several decades ago and says it much better than I can:

"The doctrine of justification by faith--a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort--has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be `received' without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is `saved,' but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reflections on the Cross

“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is here, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
- John Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 179.

(HT: Of First Importance)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Early Church Father's Online for Free!

If you want to read some of the earliest post-biblical documents written by the early church leaders you can do so by clicking here.  Last summer I did an independent study where I translated through several of the writings of the early church fathers and it was extremely rewarding.  I walked away from the study thinking that many Christians would benefit a lot more from reading these documents than the latest Christian author.  In other words, these documents should not just be viewed as the scholar's treasure chest that cannot be unlocked and explored with profitability by normal believers.  Below are a couple of quotes from The Martyrdom of Polycarp (a document from the second century) to give you a bit of a flavor for some of the things you will find:

The first quote is taken from when Polycarp was about to be killed and all he had to do to save his life was to swear by Caeser and deny the Christ.  Rather than swearing by Caeser he is quoted as saying:
"Eighty and six yeas have I served him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?"
The second quote is from when Polycarp refused to deny Christ they wanted to burn him alive by nailing him to a stake. However, rather than allowing himself to be nailed to the stake he told his captors:
"Let me be as I am.  He that granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the fire unmoved, without beings secured with nails."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sinclair Ferguson on the Christian's Focus

"This first thing to remember, of course, is that we must never separate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The Christians who are most focused on their own spirituality may give the impression of being the most spiritual ... but from the New Testament's point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirtuality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about ourself and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ."--Sinclair Ferguson
(HT: Monergism)

Tim Keller on the Centrality of the Gospel

Tim Keller has a great article called  Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century.  The following paragraphs are particularly insightful:

The gospel produces a unique blend of humility and boldness/joy in the convert. If you preach just a demanding God, the listener will have "low self-esteem"; if you preach just an all-loving God, the listener will have higher self-esteem. But the gospel produces something beyond both of those. The gospel says: I am so lost Jesus had to die to save me. But I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die to save me. That changes the very basis of my identity- -it transforms me from the root.

I can't tell you how important this is in all mission and ministry. Unless you distinguish the gospel from both religion and irreligion–from both traditional moralism and liberal relativism–then newcomers in your services will automatically think you are simply calling them to be good and nice people. They will be bored. But when, as here in Acts 15, the gospel is communicated in its unique, counter-intuitive balance of truth and love, then listeners will be surprised. Most people today try to place the church somewhere along a spectrum from "liberal" to "conservative"–from the relativistic to the moralistic. But when they see a church filled with people who insist on the truth, but without a shred of superiority or self-righteousness–this simply explodes their categories. To them, people who have the truth are not gracious, people who are gracious and accepting say "who knows what is the truth?" Christians are enormously bold to tell the truth, but without a shred of superiority, because you are sinner saved by grace. This balance of boldness and utter humility, truth and love–is not somewhere in the middle between legalistic fundamentalism and relativistic liberalism. It is actually off the charts.

Paul knew that 'getting the gospel straight'–not falling off into either legalism on the one hand or license on the other–is absolutely critical to the mission of the church. The secret of ministry power is getting the gospel clear. To be even slightly off to one side or another, loses tons of spiritual power. And people don't get really converted. Legalistic churches reform people's behavior through social coercion, but the people stay radically insecure and hyper-critical. They don't achieve the new inner peace that the grace of God brings. The more relativistic churches give members some self-esteem and the veneer of peace but in the end that is superficial too. The result, Archibald Alexander said, is like trying to put a signet ring on the wax to seal a letter, but without any heat! Either the ring will affect the surface of the wax only or break it into pieces. You need heat to permanently change the wax into the likeness of the ring. So without the Holy Spirit working through the gospel, radically humbling and radically exalting us and changing them from the inside out, the religion either of the hard or soft variety will not avail.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

John Stott and Horatius Bonar on the Cross

For those readers who have commented and are waiting on my response to Elihu in the book of Job, I hope to address that question this weekend. Before I answer that question though I wanted to share the following quote that I came across. In John Stott's book The Cross of Christ he makes the following observation:

"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, 'only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross...may claim his share in its grace.' Horatius Bonar (1808-89), who has been called the 'prince of Scottish hymn-writers', expressed it well:

'Twas I that shed the sacred blood;
I nailed him to the tree;
I crucified the Christ of God;
I joined the mockery.

Of all that shouting multitude
I feel that I am one;
And in that din of voices rude
I recognize my own.

Around the cross the throng I see,
Mocking the Sufferer's groan;
Yet still my voice it seems to be,
As if I mocked alone
John R. W. Stott The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 59-60.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Elihu in the Book of Job

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching a seminary class on the book of Job. One of the more interesting interpretative decisions that the reader has to make is what to do with Elihu. Do you remember Elihu? He is the young guy who offers Job advice near the end of the book. I have my own opinion regarding what function Elihu's character serves in the overall narrative, but before I reveal my point of view on Elihu, I would like to hear from you. So the question on the table is:

What Role Does Elihu Play in the Book of Job? Is he just regurgitating the previous arguments or is he a wise counselor who speaks an appropriate rebuke?

Leave your opinion in the comments section.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Interesting New Website

Thinking about taking a seminary class, but find yourself intimidated by all the theological jargon? Or perhaps your looking for a way to build your understanding of theological terminology, so you can better understand what certain books are saying? Damian M. Ramano has an interesting new site that might be helpful in this regards. He is high-lighting a different theological word each day and providing a brief definition. Click Here to visit the site.

The Church Fathers on Justification

"In his (God's) mercy he took upon himself our sins; he himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us, the holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, 'the just for the unjust,' the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else but his righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified except in the Son of God alone? O the sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous man, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!" The Epistle to Diognetus 9:2-5
Taken from a recent translation by Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1999), 547.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

J.I. Packer on Christians and Doctrine

"Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology." --J.I. Packer

Monday, May 19, 2008

How About Some Calvin To Start the Work Week?

"Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty." --John Calvin
(HT: Monergism)