Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Nov 2010

Quotes for the day

“Both the Bible and church history show that God has always unleashed mass movements of his Spirit through people who are desperate for God.”

“The gospel isn’t just where we begin; it’s where we Christians live. We don't move beyond it we just move further into it.”

“The gospel tells us that no amount of good work on our part can force Gods favor and no amount of bad work on our part can forfeit Gods favor.”

“The gospel says that because Jesus was strong for me, I'm free to be weak; because Jesus has won for me, I'm free to lose”

“My struggle isn't believing my performance can earn God's favor; my struggle is believing my performance can keep God's favor”
- Tullian Tchividjian

Review for November 28

Nancy and I have been gone for two straight weeks so today was “Catch Up Sunday.” The catch up involved four specific areas:
1. Our trip to Los Angeles to visit Grace Community Church where Dr. John MacArthur is the pastor.
2. The Men’s Bible Study that meets on Tuesday night and the next three weeks, in which I cover “the sovereignty of God in our redemption.” We will be studying in Romans Chapter 9.
3. Retreat 2011 with Dr. Bruce Ware and why this is so important from Matthew 24. Also 5 essential doctrines in the American Evangelical Church and how they are getting twisted and distorted today This retreat could be a watershed weekend for many in our class. Therefore I am going to invest time encouraging those who attend our class to participate.
4. The transition from the incommunicable attributes to the communicable attributes. We started on the importance of the glory of God. And next week we are going to bring definition, Scriptural support and explanation to this important attribute.

SBS Class November 282010 Glory1

Video from Dr. John MacArthur’s Church we visited while in LA - click on this LINK

Students learn from repetition

If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.

If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.

Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow. - D.A. Carson

Be discerning of counterfeit gospels

I recently read this post by Tullian Tchividjian regarding the danger of counterfeit gospels. We are living in a dangerous time within evangelical church history. The truth of the gospel is being skewed and compromised. You may ask how does or how can that happen? I encourage you to read this article.

In his book How People Change (co-authored with Tim Lane), Paul Tripp identifies seven counterfeit gospels– ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from the gospel of grace. I found these unbelievably helpful. Which one (or two, or three) of these do you tend to gravitate towards?

Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.”

Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”

Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”

Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”

Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.” Read More...

What is happening in the evangelical church?

Evangelicals generally and the coming generation particularly have adopted to various degrees an ethical code of political civility. This compels them not only to be tolerant of others' beliefs, opinions, and lifestyles, but more importantly, to be tolerable to others. The critical dogma is not to offend but to be genteel and civil in social relations. . . [Such] a religious style . . . entails a deemphasis of Evangelicalism's more offensive aspects, such as accusations of heresy, sin, immorality, and paganism, and themes of judgment, divine wrath, damnation, and hell.
- James Davison Hunter, Evangelicalism.. The Coming Generation

The greatness of God

"The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him -- and of her."
- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

How to carve a turkey

Learning and Living is your one stop shop for all your needs! Of course this is primarily dedicated to Bible doctrine but ever now and then we venture into other arenas. Since we are celebrating Thanksgiving today I thought I would post how to carve the turkey. My gift is that of eating and though I am not allowed to touch knives or sharp instruments around the bird today, this is for those who will have the job of slicing and dicing. Simply click on the photo above.

Happy Thanksgiving

(From the Sacred Sandwich)

O give thanks to Him Who made
Morning light and evening shade;
Source and Giver of all good,
Nightly sleep and daily food;
Quickener of our wearied powers,
Guard of our unconscious hours.

O give thanks to nature’s King,
Who made every breathing thing;
His, our warm and sentient frame,
His, the mind’s immortal flame.
O how close the ties that bind
Spirits to the Eternal Mind!

O give thanks with heart and lip,
For we are His workmanship;
And all creatures are His care:
Not a bird that cleaves the air
Falls unnoticed; but who can
Speak the Father’s love to man?

O give thanks to Him Who came
In a mortal, suffering frame—
Temple of the Deity—
Came for rebel man to die;
In the path Himself hath trod
Leading back His saints to God.

Josiah Conder, 1836

Devotion in Luke 7:36-50

This section of Scripture is very precious and teaches much about activity in the kingdom, love for the King and forgiveness from the King. Notice in these verses that the Pharisee did invite the Lord Jesus to his home. There is outward sign of politeness of which many Pharisees would never consider in regard to Christ. It is immediately that we see a sinful woman who enters the home. Do you see the two people in this story that really represent the two kinds of people in this world who need the gospel. The first person is lost because they are the ones who break all the rules.(those in the world) The second person is lost because they are trying to follow all the rules. (those in the church) Both types of people are really trying to be their own savior.

Observation #1
People can do all the right things, can say all the right things and still have no love for Christ. Jesus would say to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8 "you honor Me with your lips but your heart is still from Me." We tend to look at the action or what is on the outside but God always looks on the inside. Whenever we have action for God that is motivated by our duty and not by desire then we dishonor Him.

Observation #2
The actions taken by the sinful woman in this story all stem from her love for Jesus. You can preach and teach men that they must fear God because He will punish their disobedience, you can tell them what they ought to do because of what He has done for them, and you can exhort them to keep God's word if they want to be saved. But unless there is a love for Christ that comes from a transformed heart, their hands and feet will remain idle. And if they do by chance get involved in kingdom work it will come from legalism and NOT love. Read More...

What could short circuit the gospel for the younger generation?

If God is only a means to your self-advancement and exaltation, rather than your seeing in him something infinitely glorious, as a God consumed with the manifestation of his glory, then you need to check your conversion. - John Piper

The satisfaction of God's wrath

This is the doctrine of propitiation. Here is a definition that you need to learn and think about on as daily basis as you preach the gospel to yourself.

Propitiation - Translated from the Greek word hilasterion, meaning “that which expiates or propitiates” or “the gift which procures propitiation”. It means “satisfaction” or “appeasement,” specifically towards God. In the New Testament, propitiation is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross by which He appeases the wrath of God who would otherwise be offended by our sin and demand that we pay the penalty for it. The concept of propitiation is often associated with the idea of a substitutionary atonement. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

When a church goes liberal

A church may be orthodox in it’s doctrinal statement but liberal in its practice. Today we are seeing a steady but alarming decline in the preaching and teaching of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. When we started the “Learning and Living” class in August of 2008 the curriculum was then and continues to be today Bible doctrine. In America there seems to be three primary camps within the evangelical church:
1. The orthodox camp which believes that the Bible is the word of God
2. The liberal camp which believes the Bible contains the word of God
3. The neo-orthodox camp which believes the Bible becomes the word of God

There are a number of reasons we see a popular movement away from camp #1 to camp #3 especially as it relates to young people. The following is an article by Carl Trueman which will help to explain how churches today get on the slippery slope that leads to liberalism and then into emergent heresy.

Not all historical phenomena that manifest themselves as doctrinal are necessarily immediately doctrinal in cause or origin.' That statement, made to me by a mentor in my field of historical theology, articulates a crucial principle, a principle that came to mind quite recently.

I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the general question as to why churches lose the plot and end up going liberal. Of course, the simple answer is, 'Because of human sinfulness,' but that is not particularly helpful as an explanation of why particular churches lose the plot at particular points in time. Thus, over the next few days I want to offer a series of posts, in no specific order of priority, about more particular, immediate causes for the phenomenon of theological decline within churches. I should add that my reflections are avowedly Presbyterian, and I make no apologies for that; but I do believe that the causes I outline have their parallels within other Christian ecclesiological traditions such as evangelicalism etc.

The first danger I want to highlight is that of the celebrity pastor who is ultimately so big as to be practically beyond criticism. Some pastors are just so successful as communicators that, frankly, they are placed on a pedestal and become, in both their precept and example, authoritative sources of wisdom to their followers. In part this is because many rightly think that thankfulness, not criticism, should be the appropriate response to seeing the Lord bless a ministry. Who really wants to criticise a man who brings so many the good news? Yet in an age where sheer numerical success and the ability to pull in the punters and keep them enthralled is often assumed to be a clear sign of faithfulness, there are dangers of which we must be aware. Read More...

Repenting from what?

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical
- Tim Keller (The Prodigal God)

Desire nothing but God

“No, Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. . . . Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”

- John Wesley, writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather, quoted in Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley (London, 1871), III:632.

What God can see

In all our duties, whether giving or praying, the great thing to be kept in mind is, that we have a heart-searching and all-knowing God. Everything like formality, being artificial, or mere bodily service, is abominable and worthless in God’s sight. He takes no account of the quantity of money we give, or the quantity of words we use. The one thing at which His all-seeing eye looks at is the nature of our motives, and the state of our hearts. Our Father sees in secret.

~ J.C. Ryle

May I have your attention please

We start back tonight with a 5 week study series on the sovereignty of God in the redemption of mankind.  As many of you know we are taking a close look at the plan of the Bible.  It is a wonderful story about God's rescue of man through Christ Jesus.  People in the orthodox evangelical church affirm that God is sovereign.  But do we know what that means?  How does the sovereignty of God extend unto the salvation of man?  What does the Bible say about God's sovereignty as it relates to election, predestination and foreknowledge?  Can we know the answers to these kinds of questions that have been asked over 2000 years of church history?  Will the way I answer this question impact the way I relate to and know God?  Can you define sovereignty and then support your definition from Scripture?  Could you explain it to a 10 year old?   

Join us and during the next 5 weeks for some intense study on this topic.  This is really a study within a study.  As we study the plan of the Bible I think it is very important you understand how God's sovereignty works within His overall plan.  If you have been away traveling and have not attended during the fall so far then please consider joining us for the next 5 weeks.  

How to understand the Bible

Scripture is of no use to us if we read it merely as a handbook for daily living without recognizing that its principle purpose is to reveal Jesus Christ and his gospel for the salvation of sinners. All Scripture coalesces in Christ, anticipated in the OT and appearing in the flesh in the NT. In Scripture, God issues commands and threatens judgment for transgressors as well as direction for the lives of his people.

Yet the greatest treasure buried in the Scriptures is the good news of the promised Messiah. Everything in the Bible that tells us what to do is “law”, and everything in the Bible that tells us what God has done in Christ to save us is “gospel.” Much like medieval piety, the emphasis in much Christian teaching today is on what we are to do without adequate grounding in the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. “What would Jesus do?” becomes more important than “What has Jesus done?”

The gospel, however, is not just something we needed at conversion so we can spend the rest of our Christian life obsessed with performance; it is something we need every day–the only source of our sanctification as well as our justification. The law guides, but only the gospel gives. We are declared righteous–justified–not by anything that happens within us or done by us, but solely by God’s act of crediting us with Christ’s perfect righteousness through faith alone.

- Michael Horton (Justified: Modern Reformation Essays on the Doctrine of Justification)

The key to our spiritual growth

The secret of the gospel is that we become more spiritually mature when we focus less on what we do for God and focus more on what God has already done for us. - Tullian Tchividjian

In Christ

I don't think it is appropriate to spend my life defending my life or my name. My name is nothing who cares about it. I am not called to spend precious hours fighting off every person that wants to have a pop at me. As a Christian I am not meant to engage in self justification any more than self promotion.

Rather I am called to defend the name of Christ. To be honest I have never seen a criticism of me true or untrue to which I could say it was Christ's honor and not my ego that was being damaged. God will look after my reputation if need be, He has given me other work to do. Be comforted not in what others think of you but what God thinks about you in Christ.

- Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia

Review for November 7

This past Sunday we completed our study on the immutability of God. In the notes you will find further verse and study references than I was not able to cover yesterday. However I ask that you keep in mind we are only scratching the surface as it relates to these doctrines of God. For this reason I am recommending that you consider buying as a resource tool, the book “Bible Doctrine” that is by Wayne Grudem. A number of people in our class have this book and I think you would find it helpful as we continue to study the doctrines of God.

The last incommunicable attribute to cover is on the eternality of God. After that we will then move into the communicable attributes which are those attributes that God shares with us in finite measure. May I continue to encourage you to read and review these notes during the week as we move forward in our learning and living the God-centered life.

SBS Class Nov72010

Here is the full audio interview this week with Dr. Bruce Ware - Click on this LINK

No Men's Bible study tonight

Our men’s Bible study will return on November 16 - 7 PM at the Ballantyne Country Club

This will be a special 5 weeks series that looks specifically at the sovereignty of God in relation to our redemption. Remember the theme of our study this year is “The Plan of the Bible.” This can be stated as the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind by God. In our time together last Tuesday night we talked a good bit about the sovereignty of God. Therefore starting on November 16 we will study sovereignty and how this relates to our salvation. If you have been unable to attend for whatever reason I hope you will put this on your calendar now.

Hope to see you on November 16

The nature of saving faith

“The nature of saving faith demands more than facts as a ground — not less, but more. . . . [S]aving faith is not mere receiving of facts. It is the receiving of Christ as the one who died for us and rose again, and is infinitely glorious, and wondrously beautiful, and supremely valuable. Therefore, the ground of such faith must be the spiritual sight of such glory and beauty and value.”

- John Piper, Think: The life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 73

Review for October 31

SBS class_10312010

Sunday’s audio on Almost Christian click on this LINK