CENTER: On self?

Unfortunately, the Liberal worldview is just one manifestation of our not being ‘grown-up’ about things (i.e., family, friends, foes, work, play, rest, etc.).  In other words, what’s wrong with Liberalism is wrong with all of us!  We need to grow-up and be comfortable doing so, especially when those around us act/think like children.

Let’s remember that all our efforts are in vain, unless Christ builds himself (likeness) in us, otherwise we’ll be found pretending to be grown-up.

REALITY: Grasping it with both Faith and Reason

The following are notes based upon a Ken Samples lecture, which can be listened to here:  Dangerous Ideas (part 4)

NOTES on Making Sense of Reality from a Christian Perspective – Compatibility of Faith and Reason

1)      Ultimate Metaphysical Question:

  1. Why is there “something” instead of nothing?
    1. Why does anything exist?

2)      The existence of God is the best explanation of reality.

  1. A cumulative argument is sufficient
    1. Being more plausible, credible, and reasonable
    2. Having ‘explanatory power’
    3. Not arguing for certainty, but plausibility
  2. We believe that to make sense of the world “faith” is essential
    1. Denial is a willful choice
      1. Fool: suppresses the truth
    2. Atheism requires a great faith
      1. They too have to bear the burden of proof, in explaining God’s alleged nonexistence in light of reality

3)      Reason does not cause faith, but reason supports faith

  1. Reason = general revelation
  2. Faith = special revelation
    1. The latter is in itself reasoning, but more particularly on the basis of special revelation and divine intervention
    2. The former reveals that it is epistemologically and morally inexcusable to reject a biblical faith; particularly that it would be irresponsible to do so without giving due consideration to the true nature of reality and how well a Christian faith coincides with it.

4)      C.L.E.A.R.

Cosmos: cosmological argument

Life: meaning realities

Ethics: objective, prescriptive realities

Abstractions: ultimate source of conceptions

Religion: sense of the divine

  1. COSMOS
    1. Cosmological Argument
      1. Singular beginning (origin)
      2. Order and elegance
      3. Fine tuning
    2. “Almost everyone believes there was a beginning of the Universe and Time.” Steven Hawking
      1. Matter, Energy, Space, and Time
        1. All have a mysterious origin
    3. Big Bang
      1. Bible: only holy book to address the particular dynamics of this
      2. Universe: 13 Billion years old
      3. Earth: 4 Billion years old
    4. A look into outer space displays an undeniable order
      1. The universe is just the right place for life
      2. Laws of physics do not demand a universe as such as we have.
        1. It doesn’t have to be the way it is to exist
        2. It does have to be the way it is for us to exist
        3. Extremely complex design requires an explanation that is not bound by the laws of physics
  2. LIFE
    1. Meaningful Realities
      1. Human consciousness; free-agency; and meaning
        1. Materialism, etc. cannot give us a plausible explanation for their existence.
  3. ETHICS
    1. Objective, prescriptive ethics
      1. Duties and Human Values
        1. Universally objective law
        2. Murder is always wrong
        3. Moral values are built into reality, our existence
        4. Why is there not absolute moral chaos?
          1. Atheism: Morality is invented, descriptive, and subjective
          2. Nazism could have been considered right, if they won the war!
    2. Problem of Good
      1. Why is there good?
      2. This is equally as important to answer as is the question of ‘why there is evil?’.
  4. ABSTRACTIONS
    1. Numbers; Logic; Propositions
      1. Conceptual realities
        1. Never in your life have you seen a number
          1. “9” is a symbol that represents a notion of nineness
          2. These make life meaningful and intelligible
            1. These come from the mind of God
            2. They are unexplainable on the basis of matter alone
              1. Physicalism; Materialism
  5. RELIGION
    1. Sense of the divine
      1. Awareness of God
      2. Universal religiosity of humanity
        1. Inherent in man
        2. Intuitive awareness
    2. Jesus Christ
      1. Called himself “God”
        1. “I am.”  (Jn.8)
        2. Matchless moral character
          1. In three years…turned the world upside-down
          2. Prolific miracle work
            1. His enemies never denied that He did them!
            2. Messianic prophecies
              1. Fulfilled
            3. Empty tomb
              1. Post-mortem appearances
              2. 500+ witnesses
            4. Paul’s conversion
              1. From Judaism to Christianity
                1. The equivalent of Hitler becoming a Jew!

The Christian faith, based upon the Holy Bible, makes the most sense of life, of reality.

NEW SELF: New Creation in Christ

“Old self” is dead, having been crucified once-for-all with Christ.

“New self” is the new life we now have in Christ: new heart, new mind, new spirit, and the Holy Spirit.

Forever forgiven.

Saved (made a new creation, through new birth in Christ) once-for-all in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice and eternal priesthood.

All sin(s) forgiven; full fellowship now; no longer slaves to the reign of Sin (original Sin, Adam’s); now held captive by the reigning Lord of Life.

Forever are we reconciled…this is something we will reckon with daily.

As a people with new hearts/minds under a New Cov’t, we are therefore now bearing a new image (identity) that actually shapes our self awareness as Saints (no longer Sinners, in the NC sense).

YOU (4): As Lord or Savior?

MORE OF MY CONVERSATION OVER ON FACEBOOK:

Hello, XXXXX!  Honestly, at some level, I appreciate all three things you mention, knowing that on a *superficial level* they might be the only options in our making some kind of *temporary fix.* But, they would be just that, temporary at best, leaving the ‘heart’ of the problem untouched.

With any good treatment of standard physical ailments there needs to be a good ‘diagnosis’ first before a sound ‘prognosis’ can be had.  Without identifying THE root cause…we just end up tracking down dead-end streets, only to find ourselves in an ongoing search for better answers, or just giving up in frustration.  Nor will things get any better by our being ‘led’ by *emotions* (how we “feel” about this or that), for oftentimes they actually impair our understanding of what’s really going on.  We depend then on the facts, moving hopefully from thinking well about the symptoms to grasping well a corresponding course of action.

Therefore, it is imperative that we get to *heart* of the problem!  Anything less won’t due.  Anything other is superficial.

In the course of our looking at this scenario (drunk-of-a-husband/nag-of-a-wife), I’ve made the observation that the *heart* of the problem is…one’s first-birth problem…an inborn-identity-crisis.  To attempt to “fix” this *heart* problem by placing band-aids (i.e., tough-love, “self-love”, boundaries, etc.) on the outside is nothing short of bad medicine.

Again, I agree, there comes times when one has to “step back” (a.k.a, tough-love/boundaries), but these are mere external measures.   What remains untouched is the *heart* problem; the root problem that bore all the bad fruit.  No medicine, no talk-therapy, no manipulation will make the internal fix.  Regardless of whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, money, work, leisure, etc. that is in the picture, all of it remains very much external.  All the so-called “abuse” is a mere symptom.

And, I agree, there is something to be said about so-called “self-destructing” or “self-loathing.”  They are real, yes.  However, I don’t believe they in themselves are the *heart* problem, but again, only another way of speaking of the symptoms.

It might help if we ask questions like: Why is this person in an apparent state of self-loathing?  Could it be that they are merely feeling “sorry” for themselves?  Could it be that they are so disappointed in themselves and others for this reason or that?  Could it be that they began with too high of an opinion (expectation) of themselves, that they deserve this or that, but things didn’t turn out the way they thought they must?!  Could it be that they simply can’t bear with reality (things not going “our” way)?  Couldn’t it be they want control (of themselves, others, circumstances, etc.), but sulk (seek to suppress reality) when they realize it just ain’t so?   Could it be they are fearful and/or prideful when faced with the “control” question…they aren’t ultimately in control?  Could it be they can’t live sober (face-to-face with reality) so they mask (protect!) who they really are?

Granted, all of our inner-trouble speaks of a need for a proper self-image, but our wrongly *identifying* THE problem only creates more problems; all of which are a response that DEMANDS that others see us as we want to see ourselves.  And yet, we are afraid to face the harsh reality that we ALL are but human, not all that different, and have a BIG problem.  Nothing is ultimately fixed; the game goes on and on.

In sum, it’s always an *identity-problem.*  We’re born with it.  We struggle with it.  We mask it.  We dress it up.  We dress it down.  But, it always remains the same inside, an *identity-crisis.*  Our jobs, our cars/houses, our marriages, our children, our bank accounts, our 401K’s, our parents, our friends, our hopes, our dreams, our talk-talk-talk, our experience(s), our education, our mere-religion, our country, our name, our so-called goodness, our looks, our stuff! are never THE  solution, nor are they THE problem.  Our-selves!  Ourselves, our inner-self, our soul, this is where the problem lies and where the solution must be applied.  Anything less is artificial, a mere masking of that inner reality of soul.

So as for this notion of “self-love”…I find it never to be a remedy but always a reality (natural), regardless of how distorted it becomes, we have by birth a distorted preoccupation with ourselves.

What’s ultimately needed then?  Love from Above (vertical)!  Not from within (internal) or without (horizontal).  This is the source of everyone’s identity-crisis.  We are born with broken hearts, suffering from a distorted self-love.  We need a transplant!  Not a pace-maker.  We can’t perform it, nor can our friends and family, but only One.

NOW: Believing before Be-living

[CONVERSATION HAD WITH FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK]

Right on, XXXXX.  The Gospel about Jesus Christ (i.e., born to die, perfect living, willful dying, triumph over death, raised to the Seat of Glory) is the sole truth that sets people free.

Of course, this truth also says something about the condition of people (whose sin(s) He must bear, once-for-all!).  He did for sinners (those born in a state of sin) what they couldn’t do for themselves due to their captivity/incapacity in this State.

The question remains: What does the Gospel-truth (about Christ) free us unto, here and now?  Is it just a “get-out-of-Jail-free card?”  Or does the ‘once-for-all forgiveness’ and ‘eternal-life-given’ — that Christ accomplished and applies — actually change the lives (mind and actions) of believers/be-livers ?  Or again, does their existence (being) continue to conform to their environment (earth)?

An answer: We definitely have reason to rejoice, in the Truth about Christ ‘for us’ (Bethlehem, Palestine, Calvary, MT-Tomb, Zion) and ‘in us’ (born-again, new creation, new heart, mind of Christ, etc).

And no doubt, there’s a calling upon us to wisely communicate these truths, in the milieu of everyday life (as we walk and talk).  We don’t need a special invitation (or meeting) in order to do this.  There are, of course, times when a door of opportunity is wide-open, providing a time and place for us to speak directly to Gospel-truths.  However, more often than not, we bear witness to Christ crucified and risen in our everyday lives.  Most of the circumstances (environment) of our lives will be like that of those who have YET to genuinely believe (trust and rejoice) in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.  And yet, there is truly something different at the core (heart) of one who is genuinely a disciple, of which outsiders ought to be able to catch a glimpse.

As people get to know us, existentially, they will be faced with ‘something-of-the-reality’ of what is the engine (Christ crucified and risen) that drives our lives, regardless of things being similar circumstantially on the outside.  There typically is a problem in the “thinking” of believers though, which results in their “living” stunted lives.

Why are we “living” stunted lives?  I believe it begins with our having stunted “minds”.  We possess too small of an understanding of the nature of being a Christian.  In other words, we are having an identity-crisis, in failing to grasp the realities of what it means that “Christ is in us” and how this can genuinely impact our lives, to His glory and our neighbors good.

Problem is…most “believers” wrestle more with their “environment” (where in the world they are; what in the world is the world doing) and miss the need to begin and continue with a sound understanding of our “existence” in Christ and He in us.  Meaning, most “believers” are distracted by “environment” and fail to comprehend “existence” (their new identity in Christ/Christ living in them).  Thus, we can go on living out this identity-crisis and in so doing mis-communicate the truth regarding Christ ‘for us’ and ‘in us’.

So then, we are first and above all “accountable” to believe rightly, and then we can hope to live rightly, before God and toward our neighbor.

YOU (3): As Lord or Savior?

ONCE AGAIN, FURTHER THOUGHTS SHARED WITH A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK:

Hello again, XXXXXX.  Appreciate your input here.

You’re right, the choices are tough.  When things unravel we’re left with options that aren’t all that pleasant, unfortunately.  Too often in comes down to making moves that just minimize the fallout.  And as you say…some of this ends up in the hands of the one (husband or wife) that is probably least able to see some of the more obvious things for what they are, which has to do with how things got all out of whack to begin with.

One of the dangers in the scenario that we’ve been discussing is that the one who seeks to “protect” the children, etc. may well be missing their own inner-brokenness; the very brokenness that led them to embrace such a relationship at the beginning.  In cases like this, it would be all too easy to place all blame upon the “other” and miss (or be unwilling to accept) one’s own faults.  Again, we are talking here about a particular situation—a typical one—where both spouses are living out an “identity crisis.”  Of course there are exceptions to the ‘shoe fitting’ well upon the foot of either spouse.

Further, I am trying to keep in mind, as I think through all this, that, these are not troubles found in marriages only.  As we can see, a scenario like this one has a way of readily spilling over into the lives of the children.  They (like their parents) are struggling with a ‘first birth’ condition (identity crisis), on top of which the parents (perhaps one or both) have piled further trouble in the way they nurture the child.  All of which, tends to result in the child-now-adult perpetuating many of the same responses they saw demonstrated by their parents.

So, now the child-now-adult ends up re-enacting the foolish ways of their parents, not realizing the root cause is not ultimately their parents but their very own ‘first birth’ condition (identity crisis).

Everyone involved in this scenario has missed this basic problem…identity problem.  Everyone in this scenario ends up perpetuating this one problem, fleshing it out in this way or that.

We could go on and on here observing how THE problem applies to EVERY single relationship, not just marriage, and not just the parent-child one.  Suffice to say, all too often we would rather hide our troubles than face them squarely, and then perhaps find ourselves in a position to really help whomever, without treating them like they were beneath us somehow, without acting like their Lord (master) or Savior (martyr).

YOU (2): As Lord or Savior?

FURTHER THOUGHTS SHARED WITH A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK:

I hear you, XXXXXX, and understand the commonly held belief that we are to begin with “loving oneself.”  The challenge is that, in reality, it doesn’t bear out.  Let’s take the drunk-of-a-husband for instance; his problem is that he BEGINS & ENDS with himself, clearly loving himself and his own ways, over his wife, children, etc.

The drunk-of-a-husband demonstrates the destructiveness of “self-love” and its inability to reach the pinnacle of genuinely “loving-others.”  He is trapped in his self-love.  He continues to put hope in himself and/or his using the bottle, which gives a temporal sense of relief that eventually gives way to the harsh reality of how problematic it is to “love-himself-as-is.”

Meanwhile, his nag-of-a-wife continues to grow bitter and more self-righteous, all of which demonstrates the problem of her ongoing “self-love.”  She loves the idea of having to be the one to “fix everything,” as if she is the savior of her husband.  And watch her closely, because she doesn’t stop with him…she ends up doing the same thing to her children, which leads them to run off; and she also does it to her closest friends who either learn how to maintain a safe distance or hide.

“Self-love” is the broken-condition with which we are born.  Self-love = holding as a standard our own interests, at the expense of others.  In the scenario before us, the husband and wife are both selfish, self-RIGHT-eo-US!   The selfish disposition and response of both spouses merely perpetuates the problem.  Unwittingly, they continue to feed off one another, which leads toward devouring one another.  And all the while…they assume it is the other spouse who’s doing them wrong.

All the while, a solution is in the opposite direction from loving oneself!  It’s found in one or both spouses having a self-LESS disposition.  A NEW disposition of self-less-ness is impossible to come by when we consider that this is not how we are first born.  And to make matters worse, we’re instructed from our earliest days that self-love (our first born state) is the way to go.  Thus, the problem–our nature (first born state)–is compounded by the nurture (earliest instructions) we receive.

***Please note: I understand the wife here could (should!) be genuinely concerned for her drunk-of-a-husband (or substitute any other vise he’s gripped by…porn, drugs, illicit sex, money, authority, entertainment, etc).  Her problem, in this case-study, is that she sees herself as better (morally or otherwise) and wiser than him, and that his ultimate hope is in HER or at least doing things HER way.  When, in fact, the problem lies much deeper within his soul, just as it does in hers.  Until she can be released from the bondage of her own self-righteousness, etc, she’s of little or no help to him, but is only apt to make things worse.  Once she is released from her first born state, she might then at some point be able to come in humility and patience to his side, helping him as a friend (neighbor) and not as lord and savior.  For the latter is never the place of anyone of us, but One.

YOU: As Lord or Savior?

A FEW OF MY THOUGHTS, FROM A CONVERSATION OVER ON FACEBOOK:

“It seems to be the case though, that, what we have here is a classic alcoholic husband and rescuing wife, both who are enslaved within a system (mindset/heart-disposition) whose components complement each other all too well.

One typical configuration, of enslavement, is seen in the husband’s combined mis-use of alcohol mixed with a ruling and enslaving love of pleasure.   An escapist pursuit of:

1) a false hope from the pains and frustrations of life;

2) playing the angry and self-righteous judge of his wife’s clinging and dependent ways;

3) the self-crucifying of his periodic remorse;

4) a trust in man which seeks personal validation through acceptance by his bar companions; etc.

Then we have the reciprocal pattern in the wife’s rescuing behavior, a combination of:

1) playing the martyred savior of her husband and family;

2) playing the proud and self-righteous judge of her husband’s iniquity;

3) a trust in man which overvalues the opinions of her friends;

4) a fear of man which generates an inordinate desire for a male’s love and affection as crucial to her survival; etc.

The internal enslavement of both (and consequent behavior, thoughts, and emotions) makes sense within their system of identity. The enslavement of soul is sometimes modeled, taught, and encouraged by the other person(s) involved:

1) her nagging and his anger mirror and magnify each other;

2) his bar buddies and her girl friends reinforce their respective self-righteousness and self-pity.

The outworking of enslavement is sometimes reactive and sometimes compensatory to the other person:

1) he reacts to her nagging with drinking, and

2) she reacts to his drinking by trying to rescue and to change him.

Sadly, the children are swept up in this, later playing either the master (like the husband) and/or the messiah/martyr (like the wife). It gets real ugly when a person grows up playing out both roles! Either way, the ‘once-child-now-adult’ is having to face the crisis they were born with:

1) who they ultimately are; and

2) who they were nurtured by (who their parents, etc. were).

Yet, even those with the best of parents can/do readily find themselves caught up in the same mess, and in this case the parents aren’t even part of the blame, nor is anyone else with whom they interact, necessarily. Why? Because they (like all people!) are born (nature) with an identity crisis. Left to themselves, each and every person has the same fundamental problem: an inherent identity crisis (= alienation from One greater then themselves).

Too often what we receive from others, particularly as adults, is nothing more than a “negative-feedback loop.” Meaning, we are likely seeing a reflection of our own folly even if it comes back at us as an opposite behavior/disposition.

As we push they pull, and vice versa.

[Note: the core principles here are gleaned from an article about idolatry by David Powlison.]

DOGMATISM: Flesh-beat-en(-ing)

A thought or two regarding Fundamentalism.

A leading characteristic of Fundamentalism would be Dogmatism.  This is really nothing more than a Letter-driven (as opposed to Spirit-driven (Gospel-based and -contextualized)) approach.  Instead of a ‘faith’ in Christ orientation, the Dogmatist’s way is generally one rooted in ‘fear’ – though lip service is paid to the Gospel.  The latter has a way of *driving* sheep (the believer, the local church) this-way-and-that, whereas the former sees the Gospel ministry as one of *guiding* the sheep in the Way (in faith toward Christ…for all of salvation…sanctification included). 

Here’s what I’m getting at… anything that is said/done in the name of Christ that isn’t consciously and intentionally – rooted and grounded in the Gospel – is something other than a Gospel ministry, no matter how “moral”/”biblical” it sounds.  Ours is not to be “biblical” but “Christian” and I think we can be found standing in the former without possessing the latter necessarily.  We are not then to be found in Moses seat (Mt.23.2).  Subscription to “biblical norms” does not mean one is clinging in faith to Christ for each and every aspect of salvation…including His growing us up grace and knowledge of Him (i.e., sanctification, godliness). 

Paul puts it this way…there are those of us who “have the form (appearance) of godliness, but essentially deny its power” (2Tim.3.5).  For godliness is not ours to strive after as some commodity on the shelf that is just there for our taking, but the very working of God in us a faith and love, that, consistently beholds Christ’s righteousness/godliness (1Tim.1.4), and are thereby sovereignly and progressively brought into the likeness of His Image (2Cor.3.18).  In this way, Paul thought of Christ as our sanctification (1Cor.1.30).  The Gospel itself (the truth about Christ’s incarnation, righteousness, death, resurrection, and ascension…His doing not ours) is the only thing whereby God brings about the peaceable fruits of righteousness among His people (Phil.1.11; Col.1.6).

In other words, the Flesh can strive in form and yet never connect to the Source…Christ crucified and risen (Rom.8.3-15).  How we answer the following betrays our actual stance toward God and our brother:  “Are disciples of Christ made by 1) inputting the right commands, or are they 2) fashioned by beholding (Christ’s glory in the scandal of the Cross) and thereby found living in the Way?”

As I’ve said before…fundamentalism is readily found wherever people are finding their hope to be in their law-keeping and not Christ’s (even where we don’t do this in regards to justification, but more so sanctification). This is true of even we who claim to embrace the doctrines of grace.  A sounder grasp of the relationship of the Law/Gospel (particularly what the two have to do with Christ himself) genuinely and lastingly keeps things in a Christian perspective.

Just two cents worth.

SELF: Disguising It As Spiritual

In reading Greg Beale’s book (We Become What We Worship), I came across this quote by Eugene Peterson, which I find helpful in describing the nature of the Selfishness that flies under the colors of our “loving the Lord.” :

“Do we realize how almost exactly the Baal culture of Canaan is reproduced in American church culture? Baal religion is about what makes you feel good. Baal worship is a total immersion in what I can get out of it. And of course, it was incredibly successful. The Baal priests could gather crowds that outnumbered followers of Yahweh 20 to 1. There was sex, there was excitement, there was music, there was ecstasy, there was dance. “We got girls over here, friends. We got statues, girls, and festivals.” This was great stuff. And what did the Hebrews have to offer in response? The Word. What’s the Word? Well, Hebrews had festivals, at least!…

“It’s the biggest word we have—salvation, being saved. We are saved from a way of life in which there was no resurrection. And we’re being saved from ourselves. One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus.

“But the minute we start advertising the faith in terms of benefits, we’re just exacerbating the self problem. “With Christ, you’re better, stronger, more likeable, you enjoy some ecstasy.” But it’s just more self. Instead, we want to get people bored with themselves so they can start looking at Jesus.

“We’ve all met a certain type of spiritual person. She’s a wonderful person. She loves the Lord. She prays and reads the Bible all the time. But all she thinks about is herself. She’s not a selfish person. But she’s always at the center of everything she’s doing. “How can I witness better? How can I do this better? How can I take care of this person’s problem better?” It’s me, me, me disguised in a way that is difficult to see because her spiritual talk disarms us.

ME!: Narcissism

The folks over at the White Horse Inn have produced another worthwhile program: White Horse Inn : Narcissism Epidemic

Narcissism (self-focus) is discussed as being a root cause, psychologically speaking, of many troubles that our society faces, even those economical. 

Mike Horton converses with author and professor Jean Twenge about her latest book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.  Jean has some interesting insights, such as the principle of “inflation” and how it bears upon ‘self-image’ at both an individual and societal level (and everywhere in between). 

The conversation helps to bring into focus the role that Narcissism plays in things such as parenting, the media, Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, etc), and easy credit. 

Though I disagree with some of the discussion about the “Greatest Generation” (that is, the Depression/WW2 generation), viewing it as something of a Golden Age (the Greater America), there’s no doubt that our day (generation) is faced with some very sobering consequences of our buying into the psychobabble of yesteryear. 

For another interesting and related WHI program, see: Boredom and Entertainment  with author Richard Winter, Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment.

COUNSEL: Stop it!

Now here is some of the best the world has to offer in the way of COUNSEL…in a comedic way, of course.  Sadly, this is much of what so-called “Christian” counsel gravitates toward, in assuming that the believing-sinner (each of us) has only to appropriate the counsel (precept of God) in order to ‘make-it-all-happen’.  Sounds like something out of Palestine, oh, about 3400 years ago:

Newhartian Counsel

Centered: On Christ or Christian?

Here is what I suspect would be a discussion with a little bite (in a good way!).  Most churches that you either attend, or minister at, are very likely to be found having succumbed to this Gospel-less, Cross-less, Christ-less blight that I have mentioned here before and Miles McKee (in the following sermon) addresses at ‘point-blank-range.’

If you have the stomach (a Spirit wrought fortitude rooted in the Gospel) for it, PLEASE, take some time to listen to and/or read the following:

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

My next post will consist of a handful of notes that capture highlights from Miles’ comments.

Depths: Of Sorrow and Joy

Octavius Winslow once wrote:

 “As our deepest sorrow flows from a sense of sin, so our deepest joy springs from a sense of its forgiveness…This comfort have all the saints. Your sins, O believer, are forgiven. ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,’ says God (Isa. 44:22). You are not called upon to believe that God will pardon, but that He has pardoned you. Forgiveness is a past act; the sense of it written upon the conscience is a present one. ‘For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified’ (Heb. 10:14), has forever put away their sins…

“Thus, beloved, God comforts His conscience-troubled people. He loves so to speak to their hearts! Is it any delight to Him to see you carrying your burden of conscious sin day after day and week after week? Ah, no! He has procured the means of your pardon at a great price-nothing less than the sacrifice of His beloved Son- and will not the same love which procured your forgiveness, speak it to your heart?…Is sin your trouble? Does conscious guilt cast you down? Look up, disconsolate soul! There is forgiveness with God. It is in His heart to pardon you.”

Assurance: Christ Centered (not yoU-turned)

John Piper once said:

“Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed from one degree of glory to the next,” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18. And we see the glory of the Lord, as he says five verses later, in the knowledge of the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

“So fixing our minds and our hearts mainly on the center of the Bible—which is Christ crucified, risen, reigning, and providing an alien righteousness that we have by faith alone—this glorious center of the gospel is where hope is awakened, preserved, kindled, and assurance is maintained.

Seeing It Right

John Stott once wrote:

“We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it.”

Get over it…NOT!

Gerhard Forde wisely stated:

“In this life, we never quite get over grace, we never entirely grasp it, we never really learn it. It always takes us by surprise. Again and again we have to be conquered and captivated by its totality. The transition will never be completed this side of the grave. The Christian can never presume to be on the glory road, nor to reach a stage, which now forms the basis for the next stage, which can be left behind. The Christian who is grasped by the totality of grace always discovers the miracle anew. One is always at a new beginning. Grace is new everyday. Like the manna in the wilderness, it can never be bottled or stored. Yesterday’s grace turns to poison. By the same token, however, the Christian never has an endless process of sanctification to traverse. Since the totality is given, one knows that one has arrived. Christ carries the Christian totally.”

Checkmate & the Cross

David Wells has written:

“Inasmuch as the Cross is eschatological, the world of evil forces is also judged.

It is as if two people were playing chess. At a certain point, one of the players rises from the table, leaving his opponent to ponder his next move. The opponent struggles with all the possibilities because he is determined to win. What he has not realized is that there are only a limited number of moves that he can make, and not one of them can change the outcome of the game. No matter what he does, he will lose.

Just so at the Cross, the outcome of the chess game between God and Satan was decided. God will certainly win. Satan, however, is presently playing out every conceivable option, imagining that somehow his rebellion will triumph. It will not.”

Natural Revelation and the Gospel

Here’s one reason from ‘natural revelation’ that makes me rejoice in the greatness of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Go here to view: Privileged Planet

 

Ps 103.11

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…

 

Rom 5:8

…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

1Jn 4:9-10

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.