- Timothy KellerHat Tip: Of First Importance
Love me some Tim Keller! This is such good stuff, and I cannot wait for his new book.
- Timothy KellerHat Tip: Of First Importance
So J.I. Packer once noted that in I Corinthians (c. 54 AD), Paul calls himself the least of the apostles. In Ephesians (c. 61 AD) he calls himself the least of the saints. By I Timothy (c. 65 AD), he describes himself as the chief of all sinners.
Packer's conclusion: Holy people glory, not in their holiness, but in Christ's cross; for the holiest saint is never more than a justified sinner and never sees himself in any other way. (Keeping In Step With the Spirit, page 105)
“There were two exegetes who prayed as they entered the library to work on understanding a biblical text. One was a biblical scholar and the other a common lay preacher. The biblical scholar, on route to deep seclusion in the collection of recent monographs, prayed like this:Lord, help me to hear from You in Your Word, and not just from the scholarship of men. And thanks for the reminder that, as important as scholarship and exegetical principles are, humility and openness to the Spirit are even more important.
‘Lord, I thank you that I am not like other exegetes– the youth ministers, authors of popular devotional literature, mass production book publishers or even this lay preacher. I study the Scriptures for hours every day– in their original… and several other languages, not to mention my work in ancient history and historiography, literary theory, social-scientific research, the most important commentaries, the most recent monographs and dissertations, and the most scholarly periodicals!’
But the lay preacher, trying to remember how to use the complicated cataloging system to find an understandable commentary on a passage of Scripture, prayed thus,
‘God, please help me, a mere preacher, find something to help me understand Your word.’
I tell you, this person– who desperately needed it– received help from the Lord.”
–Craig G. Bartholomew and Robby Holt, “Prayer in/and the Drama of Redemption,” in Reading Luke: Interpretation, Reflection, Formation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 350.
The top three rules of Hermeneutics (the art and science of Biblical interpretation) are: 1) Context; 2) Context; 3) Context. Before we can tell 21st century Christians how the Bible applies to them, we must first come to the best possible understanding of what the Bible meant to its original audience. If we come up with an application that would have been foreign to the original audience, there is a very strong possibility that we did not interpret the passage correctly. Once we are confident that we have come to the best possible understanding of what the text meant to its original hearers, we then need to determine the width of the chasm between us and them. In other words, what are the differences in language, time, culture, geography, setting and situation, etc. All of these must be taken into account before application can be made. Once the width of the chasm has been measured, we can then attempt to build the bridge over the chasm; what commonalities can we find between the original audience and ourselves, between our situation and theirs? Finally we can then find application for us in our time and situation.
“As we come to Christ…empty-handed, claiming no merit of our own, but clinging by faith to His blood and righteousness, we are justified. We pass immediately from a state of condemnation and spiritual death to a state of pardon, acceptance, and the sure hope of eternal life. Our sins are blotted out, and we are “clothed” with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In our standing before God, we will never be more righteous, even in heaven, than we were the day we trusted Christ, or we are now. Obviously in our daily experience we fall far short of the perfect righteousness God requires. But because He has imputed to us the perfect righteousness of His Son, He now sees us as being just as righteous as Christ Himself.”Hat Tip" Already Not Yet (The italics are mine. )
Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life, p. 107.
“We do not have to make ourselves suffer in order to merit forgiveness. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. 1 John 1:8 says that God forgives us because He is ‘just.’ That is a remarkable statement. It would be unjust of God to ever deny us forgiveness, because Jesus earned our acceptance! In religion we earn our forgiveness with our repentance, but in the gospel we just receive it.”
- Timothy Keller
We should be constantly experiencing the great exchange - passing our guilt, shame, woundedness and hurt to Him and receiving back His grace , righteousness and healing. it’s the only place and the only way to live.What are the practical implications for daily life?
“In truth you cannot read too much in Scriptures;and what you read you cannot read too carefully,and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well,and what you understand well you cannot teach too well,and what you teach well you cannot live too well.”
–Martin Luther, WA 53, 218
Truth can be made an idol. Are you resting in the rightness of your doctrine rather than the work of Jesus? If so, the Bible calls you a fool. In Proverbs, "the scoffer" is a person like this. The scoffer is always sure he is right, and always disrespectful, disdainful, and mocking toward his opponents. The internet breeds scoffers, because if you're a scoffer you get more traffic to your blog.Keller points out that all forms of idolatry are really self-salvation projects, that Christians are certainly not immune to idolatry, and that the only alternative and antidote is constant return to and focus on the Gospel of Grace.
Gifts can be an idol. You can mistake spiritual gifts for spiritual fruit. Especially if you are successful in ministry, you can begin believing in justification by ministry: "I know I'm in God's will because my ministry is going well." Many of us in the Reformed world make an idol out of being a great preacher: "If I could just be a great preacher, then my life would have significance."
Morality can be a religious idol. Holiness is good, but Christians can feel like God loves them and will bless them because of their moral record.
“Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed Himself to be ‘just, and the justifer of him who hath faith in Jesus’.
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace.”
- J.I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 41.
“Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” -Martin Luther
The above quote is a good example. Luther recommending sin? Well…he doesn’t mean adultery or stealing. What Luther is talking about here is something C.S. Lewis talks about in Chapter 14 of The Screwtape Letters: the particular temptations that come to the person who is aware of his/her own righteousness. Even if it is an awareness of love, forgiveness or humility– all bring the possibility of self-centeredness and pride. But Lewis (and Luther) were especially aware of the spiritual dangers of trying to not sin. Yes…trying to not sin.
Since encouraging people to try and not sin is a major occupation of confused evangelicalism, Luther sounds strange. But it’s clear what he means: we can’t get caught in the trap of trying to generate our own righteousness, even in the name of obedience. Luther’s encouragement to sin just to spite the devil is his provocative way of suggesting a Christian TRUST CHRIST and have confidence in justification by faith. So much so, that instead of living in a state of perpetual self-examination, we live with the freedom to be less than perfect.
Once again "the IMonk" has written something really insightful. I recommend you read the whole thing.
We become what we behold. We are to become conformed to the image of Christ, being transformed from one degree of glory to the next as we behold the glory of the Lord (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We are to point the camera lens of our hearts toward Jesus as He is offered in the gospel, and let His glory shine in, burning His image on our souls and developing Christlikeness in our lives (Galatians 4:19; 1 John 3:2-3).
I agree with this in a sense, but "practical" often takes the form of a "to-do" list, a series of actions we must take to "apply" the text. The problem with this is that it seems to me to render the gospel null and void. Our response to the gospel is always that of repentance and faith, not action. We do not "do" something to apply the gospel, the gospel "does" something to us. Thus I have been very cautious in offering "to-do" lists from texts.I love (and agree with) that thought. We do not apply the Gospel so much as the Gospel does something to us! Something to meditate on - What is the Gospel doing to me and in me today?
--Martin Luther, WA 53, 218; emphasis mine.
"In a meditation on the cross this morning, my good friend, Pastor Roydon Hearne, shared a thought that blew me away. He remarked on the fact that the only man-made thing on Earth that can be seen from space is the great Wall of China. He then said, “and the only man-made thing that can be seen in heaven, are the wounds of Christ.” "
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
For a while now my wife, my kids, and some of my closest friends have been pushing me to change the character of my blog to include more original writing as opposed to just harvesting quotes and links to books and other blogs that I am reading. I have been trying to move in that direction, and will continue to do so.
You know something – it is hard to write something profound and worth reading on a consistent basis. My admiration for the bloggers who do so – as well as for preachers who do so every Sunday in their sermons – is increasing daily.
Here’s my profound thoughts for the day:
1. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. How awesome (in the full meaning of that overused word) is that!
2. BTW, He loves you too!
3. God is on His throne and He is not upset, worried or nervous about what is happening in the economy, the government, the war, or anything else. The end is known and the future is secure.
4. God is active all around us, and in us, all the time, if we will just open our eyes. God is speaking all the time, if we will just open and tune our ears to His voice.
How’s that for profound?
Psalm 141:3Words of wisdom from the Books of Wisdom.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my keyboard; keep watch over the door of my send button!
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to read, slow to reply all, slow to click send.
When blogging is abundant, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his keyboard is prudent.
There is one whose comments on blogs are like sword thrusts, but the comments of the wise brings healing.
Don't follow the Twitter feed of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the Twitter feed of fools proclaims folly.
Whoever "friends" the wise becomes wise, but the Facebook-friend of fools will suffer harm.
I want you to picture a couple of diagrams in your head. I know, it would better if you could see, but just imagine. This was the Jewish mindset. You have two ages: this age and the age to come. This age is present and evil; the age to come is the age in the future where the Messiah reigns and his enemies are destroyed and there is peace and righteousness. They saw this age going in a straight line, then the Messiah, then off into the age to come. But that’s not how Jesus explained things which is part of the reason why they didn’t like him as their Messiah. For the Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament, the two ages work like this. You have this age, then overlapping it is the age to come. When Messiah came he announced the in-breaking of the age to come which was realized in principle. This in-breaking is called the kingdom of God. With the coming of Christ and especially his death and resurrection, the present evil age has become in principle the age to come. But it’s not a clean break from one to the other. They overlap such that this age is growing into what it is in principle. And when the ideal announced by Christ which broke in during his life becomes the reality, then the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
Here’s an analogy. It’s not a perfect analogy. So don’t press it too far. But it’s kind of like election day and inauguration day. In this country the president is elected on the first Tuesday in November, but his presidency doesn’t officially begin until January 20. He’s won. His opponent has been defeated. It’s all in the papers and on the internet. The whole country preparing for the transition. The winner starts forming his cabinet and putting together his administration. The new era has begun, but on the other hand it hasn’t. See, in one sense, we live in the time between the election and inauguration. Christ has defeated sin and Satan and death. It is appropriate to talk about Christ as the King. The news is all over the place. And we are supposed to make sure everyone hears about this news. But opposition to King is still strong, and in some ways, growing stronger all time. He is the already, but not yet King. And it will be this way until his enemies are thoroughly defeated and his reign fully in place.
This already and not yet is really important. It’s how the kingdom works and how your salvation works. What’s true on a macro level is true on a micro level too. Your life is not a straight line with a clean break between old man and new man, or non-Christian and Christian. It doesn’t work like that–unconverted, selfish, prideful, boom, in Christ, now I’m completely holy. What happens is that you have your life outside of Christ then you are converted, regenerated, justified, adopted, all of that and now you are positionally in Christ. But who you in actuality is not yet that Christlike. Which is why New Testament ethics are based on who you are in Christ. Be who you are. Work out your salvation. Make your calling and election sure. In other words, grow into in reality who Christ has made you to be positionally.
I believe the preaching in many churches is so poorly done that it is not, effectively, preaching...If the patients of a given hospital's surgeons continue to die, we could, I suppose, abandon the scalpel. We might also consider employing it more skillfully.
My challenge...is this: Show me a church where the preaching is good, and the church is still moribund. I've never seen such a church. The moribund churches I've seen have been malpreached to death.
“The Christian life is a process of renewing every dimension of our lives —spiritual, psychological, corporate, social — by living out the ramifications of the gospel. The gospel is to be applied to every area of thinking, feeling, relating and behaving.”
- Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Gospel (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 53.
Hat Tip: Of First Importance