Whereas God tests our faith, he never tempts it (James 1:13). The purpose of divine testing is to sanctify and strengthen. The purpose of satanic tempting is to deceive and destroy. Evil neither exists in the heart of God nor is He its author. It most assuredly exists in our hearts and we are its author.
In Romans 10:9 Paul identifies the confession of Jesus as Lord to be an essential element in the gospel message.
A hypocrite wants to impress others with an external façade of religious piety that he knows is devoid of internal spiritual substance.
A contemplative focus on the beauty of heaven:
1. Frees us from excessive dependence upon earthly wealth and comfort.
2. Enables us to respond appropriately to the injustices of this life.
3. Produces the fruit of endurance and perseverance now.
4. Exerts…purifying power on the heart.
5. Teaches us about the essence of true religion.
If I did not believe in the absolute sovereignty of God:
1. I would despair of my eternal destiny. I would have no assurance of salvation. Knowing the depravity of my soul, I would most certainly apostatize were it not for God’s sovereign preservation of me (cf. Rom. 8).
2. I would be terrified of all suffering, with no confidence that God can turn evil for good and bring me safely through (cf. Rom. 8:28 and relation to vv. 29-30).
3. I would become manipulative and pragmatic in evangelism, believing that conversion is altogether a matter of my will/skill vs. will/skill of unbeliever.
4. I would cease praying for God to convert and save the lost. If the ultimate causal factor in human conversion is the self-determined human will, not the divine will, it is futile and useless to ask God to work or touch or move upon the human will so as to assuredly bring them to faith.
5. I would despair of the political process and live in fear/anxiety/resentment of those elected officials who oppose the kingdom of God. See Daniel 2:21; 4:17,25,32; 5:18-31.
6. I would live in fear of nature: tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wind and hail and rain (cf. Psm. 147-148).
7. I would despair of ever doing anything of a spiritual nature that God requires and commands of me. Phil. 2:12-13.
The bread and wine exist not simply to stir cognitive remembrance but to light a fire of unquenchable longing for the Savior whose body and blood they symbolize. These visible signs are also a means of grace by which the Spirit excites and intensifies our thirst for what Jesus alone can offer. So come to the eucharist hungry and feast on the Son of God.
The second aspect of common grace is more positive in thrust. God not only restrains the sinful operations and effects of the human heart, He also bestows upon both nature and humanity manifold blessings both physical and spiritual. These blessings, however, fall short of redemption itself. The grace of God displayed throughout the created order is marvelous indeed (Psm. 65:9-13; 104:10-30; 130:25; 145:1-16).
God created you for the first and greatest commandment, to be a lover of God.
According to this doctrine [of total depravity], man in his present condition since the fall is so polluted with a principle of evil that every aspect of his being and personality is affected by it. The term depravity refers to the moral disposition or inclination of fallen man’s nature toward evil and against good. This principle of sin and moral pollution is such that man is by nature opposed to what is true and righteous. The inclination of his heart, the delight of his soul, the orientation of his will is toward wickedness. Nothing compels him to sin. He sins because he loves it. He revels in it. He has no taste for God, but relishes evil and pursues it with voluntary zeal.
Satan will always claim to know more about God than God Himself has revealed. He will claim to have special insight into God’s motives for a command or a prohibition that God Himself has kept secret. In other words, he will sow seeds of doubt in your mind concerning God’s goodness; he will lead you to believe that God has ulterior motives in what He does designed to deprive you of blessings you might otherwise experience. “God is not telling you the whole truth. He can’t afford to.”
God limits the happiness and pleasure we have now precisely so we might not become attached to this world or dependent upon it or fearful of leaving it (dying), as well as to stir in our hearts a longing and yearning and holy anticipation for what is yet to come.
Is there anyone among you who truly thinks their salvation hangs suspended on the thin thread of your own will-power and commitment to righteousness? I know my own soul all too well. Were it not for God’s preserving grace I would have lost my salvation the day after I was born again. “If ever it should come to pass, that sheep of Christ might fall away, my fickle, feeble soul, alas! would fall a thousand times a day!” If you do not believe in the security of your soul in Christ, tomorrow should hold little but fear and misery and perhaps despair for you. For it may well be the day you commit that sin that will forever sever you from the Savior’s love. I can face tomorrow and the day after and the day after that with confidence, because I know that He “will never leave me nor forsake me” (Heb. 13:5).
Three texts in Revelation tell us who and what will be absent in heaven. In 21:4 we see that no tears of grief, no death or sorrow or pain will be present. In 21:8 we are assured that no one who is cowardly, lying, or unbelieving will be present, or murderers, or anything abominable, immoral, or idolatrous. And, as if to sum up, we are told in 21:27 that nothing unclean will be allowed to enter.
If God has called someone to ministry He will provide the grace to meet the qualifications for it. The biblical criteria for those in church leadership pertain not only to intellectual and theological skills but also to character, with an emphasis on moral and spiritual maturity. Any effort aimed at identifying those called to church leadership and providing encouragement to them must entail appropriate steps at character development [according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1].
The aesthetic experience of God, the encounter of the human soul with divine beauty, is more than merely enjoyable, it is profoundly transforming. There is within it the power to persuade and to convince the inquiring mind of truth. This may well be the Spirit’s greatest catalyst for change. Paul alluded to this in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when he said, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.” The point is that what we see is what we be! We do not simply behold beauty: beauty takes hold of us and challenges the allegiance of our hearts. Beauty calls us to reshape our lives and exposes the shabbiness of our conduct. It awakens us to the reality of a transcendent Being to whose likeness of beauty we are being called and conformed by His gracious initiative. Beauty has the power to dislodge from our hearts the grip of moral and spiritual ugliness. The soul’s engagement with beauty elicits love and forges in us a new affection that no earthly power can overcome.
The original law of the universe is that “the soul that sins, it shall die.” Life is a divine gift, not a debt. Sin brings the loss of the gift of life. Once a person sins he forfeits any claim on God to human existence. The fact that we continue to exist after sinning is owing wholly to divine mercy and gracious longsuffering.
In what instances or for what sins should [church discipline] be exercised? 1. Unrepentant moral evil (1 Cor. 5). 2. Divisiveness and serious doctrinal error (Rom. 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-10). 3. General offenses (such that are not included under the above two categories; see Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:6-15).
Confront and conquer temptation at the beginning, not at the end. In other words, the best and most effective tactic against temptation is to deal with it from a position of strength, before it has an opportunity to weaken you. Better to take steps up front to eliminate temptation altogether (if possible), than to deal with it later when your defenses are down.
Many think of religion in general and Christianity in particular as a sour and depressing attempt to suppress human desire and deprive us of the delights of life. Nothing could be further from the truth! Christianity forbids us no pleasures, save those that lead to temporal misery and eternal woe. God has forbidden you nothing that is conducive to your ultimate satisfaction and delight. Nothing!
There are people, professing Christian people, who are determined to bring you under their religious thumb. They are bent on making you a slave of their conscience. They have built a tidy religious box, without biblical justification, and strive to stuff you inside and make you conform to its dimensions. They are legalists, and their tools are guilt, fear, intimidation, and self-righteousness. They proclaim God’s unconditional love for you, but insist on certain conditions before including you among the accepted, among the approved elite, among God’s favored few… They threaten to rob you of joy and to squeeze the intimacy out of your relationship with Jesus. They may even lead you to doubt your salvation. They heap condemnation and contempt on your head so that your life is controlled and energized by fear rather than freedom and joy and delight in God.
Not everyone thinks it helpful to focus on the future. They’ve bought into the old adage that people who do are “so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good.” On the contrary, I’m persuaded that we will never be of much use in this life until we’ve developed a healthy obsession with the next. Our only hope for satisfaction of soul and joy of heart in this life comes from looking intently at what we can’t see (see 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Col. 3:1-4). Therefore, we must take steps to cultivate and intensify in our souls an ache for the beauty of the age to come.
We must be careful that our trust in God is not simply [an excuse for] irresponsible behavior.
There is a difference in Scripture between what is the prerogative of the individual in interpersonal relationships and what is the prerogative of the state in the administration of public justice. Whereas Christians are not permitted to seek personal vengeance, the state is allowed to seek public justice. The prohibition of personal revenge in Romans 12 is followed immediately by the endorsement of public retribution in Romans 13.
The canon is closed, not because God has stopped speaking, nor because there are no more apostles, but because God sovereignly closed it. God simply ceased inspiring and preserving canonical revelation. Basing the finality of the canon on the cessation of apostleship is disastrous. How can the absence of apostles guarantee the closing of the canon when non-apostles wrote Scripture? Such a view would require us to assert, absurdly, that as long as there are non-apostolic Christians the canon is open!
God created us so that the joy He has in Himself might be ours. God doesn’t simply think about Himself or talk to Himself. He enjoys Himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who He is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we’ve been created to join the party!
When I speak of total depravity I do not mean that all men are as depraved as they possibly can be, nor that the depravity of their heart will always manifest itself equally in all respects at all times. Total depravity simply means that the whole of the individual, his heart, soul, spirit, and will, is affected by and enslaved to sin, thereby rendering him odious in the sight of God. What this means in terms of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that if left to himself a person will invariably, inevitably, and without pause reject the truth. Total depravity means that no matter how “civil” or “compassionate” or “industrious” or “law-abiding” he might otherwise be in his dealings with other people, he is utterly and willfully indisposed to all that Christ is and says. Merely preaching to that person will profit nothing.
Rarely, if ever, will Satan confront you as Satan. He will almost always approach you indirectly, disguised as someone or something who/that is more likely to win your trust (e.g., when Peter opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem in Mt. 16). He will come to you through something you hear or see, perhaps a movie, a lecture by a brilliant, articulate, but pagan professor, through a well-meaning friend, or as an angel of light. After all, if you knew it was Satan, you’d be less inclined to listen or say yes.
The Bible teaches that all sin, past, present, and future, is forgiven through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eternal destiny is sealed and set at the moment of justifying faith. Our depth of intimacy, fellowship and joy is certainly affected adversely when we fail to confess and repent of daily sin. But our eternal destiny has already and forever been determined. We must recognize the distinction between the eternal forgiveness of the guilt of sin that is ours the moment we embrace Jesus in faith, and that temporal forgiveness of sin we receive on a daily basis that enables us to experience the happiness of intimacy with the Father.
“And they shall never perish” (Jn. 10:28). Literally [we can translate this] they shall not, by no means ever, perish. This is an absolute, unequivocal, unassailable negative. Would Jesus have said this if in fact many of his sheep shall perish? If so much as one true child of God can ever perish, Jesus has deceived us.
You need never live in fear that any heavenly joy will ever be lost or taken away! We struggle to enjoy life now from fear that it will soon end. We hesitate to savor what little happiness we have for fear that it may be taken away. We hold back and hedge our bets and restrain our souls, knowing that disaster may soon come, economic recession may begin, physical health may deteriorate, someone may die, or something unforeseen may surprise us and take it all away. But not in heaven! Never! The beauty and joy and glory and delight and satisfaction and purity will never ever end, but only increase and grow and expand and multiply!
There is a primary sense in which all Christians are “called”, for Jesus Christ is Lord over all of life, over every task, over every endeavor. But there is another sense in which only some are “called” to fulfill those special responsibilities and ministries set forth in Scripture on which the life and order of the church directly depend.
Beauty also rebukes by revealing to us the moral deformity of those things we’ve embraced above Jesus and by exposing the hideous reality beyond the deceptively attractive façade of worldly amusements. We are deceived by the ugliness of sin because we haven’t gazed at the beauty of Christ. Distortion and perversion and futility are fully seen only in the perfect light of integrity and harmony and purpose which are revealed in Jesus.
Not all doctrines are equally important. They are equally true, but not all truth is equally important. It isn’t a matter of some doctrines being “more true” than others, as if some doctrines are partially false. It is rather that some doctrines bear less impact than others on our capacity to know, love, and obey God.
What procedural steps are to be taken? Matthew 18:15-17 recommends the following steps: First, private rebuke (Mt. 18:15) – do it gently, in love, out of compassion, seeking to encourage; the purpose for private rebuke is to resolve the problem without fueling unnecessary gossip. Second, if private rebuke is unsuccessful, plural rebuke (Mt. 18:16; see also Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Num. 35:30) – who are these others? church leaders? people who know the person? people who know of the sin? Third, if plural rebuke is unsuccessful, public rebuke (Mt. 18:17). Fourth, if public rebuke is unsuccessful, “excommunication” (Mt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:11; Titus 3:10; possibly 2 Thes. 3:14). Fifth, if repentance occurs, restoration to fellowship and reaffirmation of love (2 Cor. 2:6-8; 2 Thes. 3:14-15; Gal. 6:1). Sixth, verses 18-20 affirm that whatever decision is made in the matter, whether the offending person is “bound” or “loosed”, reflects the will of God in heaven. The promise “is that God will provide wisdom, guidance, and power for decision-making to the church that is united in its powers regarding the matters of church discipline” (Laney, A Guide to Church Discipline, 76). Thus, the verdict of heaven, so to speak, is consonant with that of the church, before whom the matter was adjudicated.
The strength of all sin, whether simple or scandalous, is the lie that God can’t do what it can.
There is no reference anywhere in the New Testament to a female elder. You may wish to object by pointing out that this is an argument from silence… The bottom line is that we simply have no biblical precedent for female elders nor anything in the text that describes their nature, function, and qualifications that would lead us to believe that this could ever be a possibility.
Waiting on God entails three elements:
1. Complete dependence on Him (embracing the truth of what He has just said and actively entrusting one’s soul and circumstances to the God who does what He says He does).
2. Yielding to His schedule, i.e., patiently acquiescing to the wisdom of His timing, not ours.
3. Seeking God’s face, pressing in to know Him better and to love Him more.
Does the Bible explicitly condemn or forbid gambling? No. However, I do believe there are certain principles that militate against it.
1. Gambling is poor stewardship. The believer’s responsibility is to use wealth to promote the kingdom of God. The emphasis in Scripture is never on the use of money with a view to increasing one’s personal fortune but on putting our money to use in the service of those who are in need. It simply is not wise and responsible behavior to take what God has graciously bestowed and entrust it to circumstances over which we have no control (Pr. 12:11).
2. The biblical command is that the believer should obtain money by faithful and diligent exercise of God-given talents in work. Gambling is an attempt to obtain money that promotes sloth and is often an excuse for not working.
3. Gambling promotes covetousness and greed, whereas the Word of God encourages contentment (Phil. 4:11-12; Heb. 13:5). If one is seven times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win a million dollars in a state lottery, why do people continue to buy tickets? Greed!
4. Gambling appears to create a condition in which one person’s gain is necessarily another person’s loss. In other words, in gambling, someone always loses. If so, it would seem to violate brotherly love and justice.
5. There is a fundamental flaw in the character of any government that seeks to capitalize financially on the moral weakness of its members.
6. Gambling appears to violate our belief in the sovereignty of God.
7. Gambling has such a powerful potential for enslaving those who participate that it may well violate the admonition of Scripture that we not be mastered by anything or anyone other than the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:12).
Worship is first and foremost a feasting on all that God is for us in Jesus… [One] in which God is the host, the cook, the waiter, and the meal itself.
Can a Christian consistently oppose abortion and euthanasia while endorsing Capital Punishment (CP)? Yes. We must remember that “the unborn, the aged, and the infirm have done nothing deserving of death. The convicted murderer has” (Feinbergs, 147). CP is not, as critics suggest, a disregard for the sanctity of life. It is, in point of fact, based on belief in the sanctity of life: the life of the murdered victim. Also, whereas life is indeed sacred, it can still be forfeited. Finally, the Bible opposes abortion and endorses CP. Therefore, if there is an inconsistency, the problem is God’s.
If we do not know who God is and how He thinks and what He does, we have no grounds for joy, no reason to celebrate, no basis for finding satisfaction in God. Delight in God cannot occur in an intellectual vacuum. Our joy is the fruit of what we know and believe to be true of God. Emotional heat (i.e., joy, delight, gladness of heart) apart from intellectual light (knowledge of God) is useless. Worse still, it is dangerous, for it inevitably leads to fanaticism and idolatry.
The purpose of existence is the pursuit of enjoyment…in God! Our desires, affections, pursuits, all that we say and do, all that we love or hate, are to be measured by this single criterion and subordinated to this one end: happiness in God.
Adultery is an obvious violation of the rights of another. You are stealing what doesn’t belong to you.
1. A person of integrity fulfills his or her promises. Being true to one’s word, especially when doing so is costly (in terms of money, convenience, physical welfare, and so on), is a core characteristic of integrity.
2. A person of integrity speaks the truth, is honest, and does not lie.
3. A person of integrity is a person of sincerity. That is to say, a person of integrity hates hypocrisy.
4. A person of integrity manifests a wholeness of character, including kindness, compassion, mercy, and gentleness.
5. A person of integrity is committed to the pursuit and maintenance of justice and fairness.
6. A person of integrity loves as, when, and what God loves.
7. A person of integrity is humble. He or she shuns pride and haughtiness.
8. A person of integrity is law-abiding. He or she plays by the rules, both in the Bible and the law of the land.
9. A person of integrity is fundamentally altruistic. That is to say, he is committed not simply to laws and rules but to people. Could a selfish person have much integrity? What about someone who is honest, law-abiding, and fulfills his or her promises but is self-absorbed and egocentric? Does the latter eliminate the possibility of integrity?
10. A person of integrity manifests a high degree of consistency. That is to say, he or she is not always changing the principles on the basis of which they live, unless compelled to do so by the Bible or rational persuasion.
Human genius cannot account for the knowledge of God. Neither native abilities, education, nor human will power can attain insight into the character and heart of God. God is known by “a divine and supernatural light” (Jonathan Edwards). The youngest and lowliest of children can exceed the oldest and most elevated of scientists when it comes to the knowledge of God!
If the Father was pleased to make a gift of certain sinners to His most blessed Son, you may rest assured that the Son will neither despise nor deny His Father’s gracious generosity. [There is] the certainty of ultimate and absolute salvation for those who come to the Son… Their life in Christ is eternal and irrevocable because that is the will of the Father; a will or a purpose that the whole of Christ’s person and work was designed to secure, a will or purpose that shall ultimately be (Psm. 115:3; 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35; Eph. 1:11; Ac. 4:28). What did Jesus come to do? He came to do the Father’s will (Jn. 6:38). What is the Father’s will? The Father’s will is that all those He has given to the Son be fully and finally saved (Jn. 6:39). Oh, what a glorious thought it is!
Heaven is not one grand, momentary flash of excitement followed by an eternity of boredom. Heaven is not going to be an endless series of earthly re-runs! There will be a new episode of divine grace every day! A new revelation every moment of some heretofore unseen aspect of the unfathomable complexity of divine compassion. A new and fresh disclosure of an implication or consequence of God’s mercy, every day. A novel and stunning explanation of the meaning of what God has done for us, without end.
We must leave room for mystery in God’s ways. Some things will always remain unexplained. Why God does or does not choose to heal is ultimately subject to his wisdom and sovereign purposes. Why God chooses to heal in part or in whole, now or later, this person but not that one, is often beyond our capacity to understand. Resist the tendency to replace divine mystery with human formulas.
We encounter the beauty of the Lord when we spiritually ingest the statements of Scripture concerning the wonders of who God is and all He does. When we take the scintillating truths of God and hide them in our hearts, meditate on them, muse on them, soak our souls in them, so to speak, we become infatuated with the exquisite personality of God.
God is most glorified in us when our knowledge and experience of Him ignite a forest fire of joy that consumes all competing pleasures and He alone becomes the treasure that we prize.
By whom is discipline to be administered? The elders of the church (Acts 20:28ff.; 1 Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:17)and…the congregation (Gal. 6:1; 2 Cor. 2:6).
All people freely and voluntarily and willingly reject the gospel because it is their heart’s desire to do so. A person’s freedom consists in the ability to act according to one’s desires and inclinations without being compelled to do otherwise by something or someone external to himself. So long as one’s choice is the voluntary fruit of one’s desire, the will is free. This is what I mean when I say, “Yes, all people are free moral agents.” On the other hand, to say that a person has free will is to say that he has equal ability or power to accept or reject the gospel. It is to say that he is as able to believe as to disbelieve, and that this ability springs from his own making and is native to him notwithstanding his fallen and sinful state. If this is what you mean when you ask me, “Is man free?” my answer, or rather, the answer of the Bible, is “No.” A man’s will is the extension and invariable expression of his nature. As he is, so he wills. A man is no more free to act or to will or to choose contrary to his nature than an apple tree is free to produce acorns.
I caution against referring to “carnal” and “spiritual” as rigid categories or classes of Christians. The idea of a distinctive class or category implies a strict line of demarcation between one group of believers and another. It suggests there are readily identifiable stages in the Christian life into which one may enter if certain things are done or out of which one may fall if other things are done. Sanctification, however, is far too fluid for such strict categorization. In other words, sanctification is a process which, because of its constantly dynamic and progressive nature, defies rigid classifications.
Spirit-filling is…a metaphor describing our continuous, on-going experience and appropriation of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to come under progressively more intense and intimate influence of the Spirit. [The] results [are]: power, purity, proclamation [and] praise. Spirit-filling can be forfeited and subsequently experienced yet again, on multiple occasions, throughout the course of the Christian life.
But didn’t the OT endorse the casting of “lots”? Yes, but casting of lots “is a biblical illustration not of gambling (for no money or other value was placed at risk in hopes of greater gain) but of individuals trusting a sovereign God to direct the ‘chance’ disposition or direction of the lay of the lots. People used ‘chance’ to understand God’s will. Their faith was not in chance but in God” (Rogers, CRJ, p. 21-22). Be it noted, also, that subsequent to the casting of lots in Acts 1 the practice is nowhere mentioned (or endorsed) in Scripture. It would appear that, with Pentecost and the coming of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, God has dispensed with all such forms of ascertaining His will.
Holiness and a progressively changed life are not optional. “By this we know that we have come to know him,” says John, “if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). Mere profession of faith, unattended by good works, does not guarantee the reality of faith. We would do well to remember the rebuke of Jesus to those who professed their loyalty and cited their miraculous deeds: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt. 7:23).
Moral guidelines are oppressive and legalistic only to those who still love their sin. For example, the only reason integrity should be a burden to you is if you enjoy being dishonest. Righteous deeds will be bothersome only because you prefer unrighteous ones. Speaking the truth will hurt only because it feels good to lie. Obedience to the righteous commands of God is easy for those whose hearts have been gripped by grace and whose lives are empowered by grace (Dt. 30:11; Mt. 11:29-30; 1 Jn. 5:3).
Arguments in Favor of Euthanasia:
1. Personhood – The argument is simple: someone in an irreversible coma is no longer a person but only a biological organism. The distinction is often made between a person’s biological life, or physical existence, and one’s biographical life, or the aspects of one’s life that make it meaningful. One’s biographical life is the sum total of one’s goals, desires, dreams, plans, accomplishments and relationships. Medical science has made it possible to retain one’s biological life after having lost one’s biographical life. Thus the individual exists only as a body, having lost the essence of what it is that makes him/her a person. Hence it is not murder to terminate what remains of one’s mere biological existence.
2. Quality of Life – In cases of unrelenting and unrelievable suffering where there is no reasonable hope of improvement, life ceases to be worth living. In such cases, an individual or his/her family ought to be free to say “enough is enough” and put an end to such incessant misery. No one should be compelled to live a life that they no longer regard as life worth living.
3. Mercy – We extend mercy to animals when we put them out of their misery. Why should we be less merciful to humans?
4. Utilitarian concerns – Most people cannot afford to underwrite the expense of keeping a terminally ill or comatose person alive. To do so places an unfair burden on other members of the family. Why should tax dollars and precious hospital space and technology be expended to perpetuate the life of someone who will never function in society again when there are other, potentially productive people, who cannot receive proper care?
Why did God choose to create? Certainly not from the anguish born of need, as if creation might supply God what He lacked. God didn’t take inventory and suddenly realize there was a shortage that only you and I could fill up. So what prompted God to act? The source of God’s creative energy was the joy of infinite and eternal abundance! God chose to create from the endless and self-replenishing overflow of delight in Himself… God created us so that the joy He has in Himself might be ours. God doesn’t simply think about Himself or talk to Himself. He enjoys Himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who He is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we’ve been created to join the party!
Worship is eminently practical because adoring and affectionate praise is what restores our sense of ultimate value. It exposes the worthless and temporary and tawdry stuff of this world. Worship energizes the heart to seek satisfaction in Jesus alone. In worship we are reminded that this world is fleeting and unworthy of our heart’s devotion. Worship connects our souls with the transcendent power of God and awakens in us appreciation for true beauty. It pulls back the veil of deception and exposes the ugliness of sin and Satan. Worship is a joyful rebuke of the world. When our hearts are riveted on Jesus everything else in life becomes so utterly unnecessary and we become far less demanding.
Often, if there is no risk of loss or painful consequences, one will never know if one has integrity. One will never know if what motivates you is moral conviction or moral convenience until you are forced to suffer loss for standing your ground or keeping your word.
[Jonathan] Edwards bases this distinction on the difference between two ways of knowing. On the one hand, there is knowledge that is merely speculative, notional, a mere cognitive awareness of some truth. On the other hand, there is what Edwards calls “the sense of the heart” in which one recognizes the beauty or amiableness or sweetness of that truth and feels pleasure and delight in it. It is the difference between knowing or believing that God is holy and having a “sense” of or enjoying His holiness. “There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness.” Thus “when the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension.”
If a true believer could fully and finally fall away, what it would mean for God the Holy Spirit?
1. The Holy Spirit will have failed in his work of sealing (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30).
2. The Holy Spirit will have failed in his ministry as a pledge of the future consummation of our redemption (2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5).
3. The Spirit will have failed in his ministry as firstfruits (Rom. 8:23).
Our experience of God will never reach its consummation. We will never finally arrive, as if upon reaching a peak we discover there is nothing beyond. Our experience of God will never become stale. It will deepen and develop, intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and balloon. Our relishing and rejoicing in God will sharpen and spread and extend and progress and mature and flower and blossom and widen and stretch and swell and snowball and inflate and lengthen and augment and advance and proliferate and accumulate and accelerate and multiply and heighten and reach a crescendo that will even then be only the beginning of an eternity of new and fresh insights into the majesty of who God is!
The invisible is made visible via creation or nature. Divine wisdom, power, eternity and goodness, for example, are not in themselves visible, but their reality is undeniably affirmed and apprehended by the effects they produce in nature. That there is a God, supreme, eternal, infinite in power, personal, wise, independent, worthy of glory and gratitude, is clearly evident in the creation.
Although God always thinks and acts in perfect harmony with His nature, His nature is infinitely complex. His personality is deep and rich and diverse and ultimately inexhaustible. Just when you’ve got Him figured out, He’ll surprise you (but always in a good way).
We do not have any honor and glory in our possession that He supposedly lacks, thinking that somehow we are able to give Him what He does not already have inherently and eternally. Our role, our joy, is to ascribe and declare and proclaim to and of Him what He is and always will be.
Who is subject to church discipline? Any member of the body of Christ [and] even elders, but with special requirements (1 Tim. 5:19-20).
We are not kept from believing against our wills. “The one who comes to Me,” declares Jesus, “I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37b). The problem, however, as Jesus goes on to say, is that “no one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44a; italics added).
Notwithstanding what has been said, many Christians remain functional deists. They don’t deny that God exists or that there is a spiritual realm in which angels and demons are active. They simply live as if neither God nor spiritual beings of either sort have any genuine, influential, interaction with them. God isn’t dead, but He might as well be. Angels and demons might exist, but what does that have to do with my life?
1. To be filled with the Spirit is different from being baptized in the Spirit. There is one baptism, but multiple fillings.
2. In no New Testament text are we commanded to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. There is no appeal to do something in order to be baptized; no exhortation, no imperative.
3. On the other hand, we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
4. It is possible to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, to experience the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and yet not be filled with the Holy Spirit (e.g. the Corinthian believers).
5. To be “full of the Holy Spirit” is to reflect a maturity of character; it is the ideal condition of every believer [see Acts 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24]. To be “filled with the Holy Spirit” is to experience an anointing for power, purity, proclamation, and praise.
Enjoyment empowers effort. Doing is the fruit of delighting. Performance is energized by pleasure.
The holiness of God only secondarily refers to His moral purity, His righteousness of character. It primarily points to His infinite otherness. To say that God is holy is to say that He is transcendentally separate. Holiness is not one attribute among many. It is not like grace or power or knowledge or wrath. Everything about God is holy. Each attribute partakes of divine holiness.
Revelation is the activity of God by which He unveils or discloses or makes known what is, to humanity, otherwise unknowable. It is God making Himself known to those shaped in His image. Revelation is what God does, not what mankind achieves. It is a divinely initiated disclosure, not an effort or endeavor or achievement on the part of mankind.
Arguments Opposing Euthanasia:
1. The Sanctity of Life – Human life, because created in the image of God, is sacred. No measure is too extreme, no cost too high, to preserve what God has made.
2. Biblical prohibition vs. life-taking – Killing the innocent is condemned in both the OT and NT.
3. Hope – Medical history is filled with examples of people thought to have incurable/terminal diseases who were later healed when medical knowledge increased.
4. The value of suffering – The Bible says that people grow and mature and deepen in their understanding of and trust in God when they endure suffering. In other words, there is a sanctifying effect in physical suffering.
5. The biblical perspective on death – Death is the final indignity, no matter what form it takes. Death is the last enemy, to be resisted, not embraced.
6. Divine healing
7. The Slippery Slope – “Euthanasia will not be restricted to the terminally ill. Rather, it will be extended to people with varying quality of life circumstances. Opponents [of active euthanasia] fear that candidates for euthanasia will include the nonterminally ill, such as people with Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative brain diseases, the severely mentally retarded, and handicapped newborns” (Rae, 173).
Creation in its totality exists as a means to the fulfillment of some specific purpose that terminates on and for the sake of Jesus Christ (see Col. 1:16; 2 Tim. 2:19).
[A believer’s judgment is] not penal, but retributive, not a declaration of doom, but an assessment of worth; eternal destiny not at issue; eternal reward is; an evaluation of faithfulness and service within God’s family; this judgment does not determine entrance into the kingdom, but rather the status of those already admitted.
The external call may therefore be defined as the presentation of the gospel and offer of salvation to all sinners. This call or invitation to come to Christ to receive the forgiveness of sins is indiscriminate, which is to say it is not restricted to any one group, age, class, or nation. [It] is simply the command of God that all men everywhere should repent and believe in order that they might be saved (see Matt. 11:28; 28:19; Luke 24:47; John 16:7-8; Acts 17:30; Rev. 22:17). This call, because it is external only, may be resisted and refused (see especially Acts 7:51; John 16:7-11).
So here’s how to avoid hypocrisy in fasting. If at any point, while fasting, you find yourself thinking, “God will love me more…God will surely be impressed with me now!” get in your car and go eat a McDonald’s Quarterpounder! If you are the least way tempted to believe, “God will bless me more…He will have no choice but to regard my righteousness!” go eat the biggest greasiest pizza you can find! If it crosses your mind, “I’m better than others who don’t fast, and I sure hope they recognize it as clearly as I do!” go to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord!
One of the greatest mistakes made by those who deny the perseverance of the saints is in focusing on the strength of our will to rebel rather than the strength of God’s commitment to preserve us in faith. Do you actually believe that in His infinite wisdom and love and kindness and grace that He cannot figure out a way to overcome whatever rebellious tendencies you might have and keep you safe in His arms? Do you actually believe that you are able to outsmart Divine Omniscience?