Category Archives: Identity in Christ

A Multi Part Series about Faith (and politics)

Due to many of the concerns  of mine and many human behaviors I have observed over the last 10 -15 years in the evangelical and political world I felt a multi-part, complex blog discussion was in order.   Yes you heard me right … this topic is going to be about both faith and politics.     Primarily I hope it is concerned with how faith and politics intersect and how the current  social landscape does not reflect the Jesus that I see in scripture.  My prayer and hope is that this topic speaks especially to evangelicals in the political world so that WE can be effective in His Kingdom to go out and make disciples of all nations.

And even though I do have my own biases, I want to keep those to a minimum in this discussion.  My hope is that like any good Gospel and Jesus centric sermon would do ….. that this discussion will convict both the perpetrator as much as the victim, the democrat as much as the republican, the liberal as much as the conservative, and the elder brother as much as the younger brother.  My prayer is that I can mostly put down my own biases and skews in life and talk to all sides and all people. In the end I hope you can hear the Good News about Jesus — that He died while we were still sinners so we can have TRUE FREEDOM!

This series starts with one basic premise I see that has reached an epidemic high in the current social and political landscape.    That our current culture embraces shame and criticism of others as a primary social tool to win.  Shame, I contend, since the fall in the garden is the primary tool that the serpent used to bend Adam and Eve toward sin.  And it is the primary tool that evil continues to use to keep entire cultures of people in isolation and propagating sin!  Todays social and political landscape continues to use shame as a tool to get on “top” of the other side. Also, this seems to be just as true in the Christian world as it is outside the Christian world.  It is just as true of democratic elites as is the republican elites, just as true of the political right as it is of the left.

Shame wants you to believe  it only shows up in big and grand ways.  However, it normally shows up in a persons face, subtle glances, and body language. It shows up in covert ways in our facebook posts and tweets.  Since we know as Christians it not right to be shameful people we submerge our shaming tactics into passive aggressive tendencies.  It shows up in a glance of disapproval and our  body language as much as our words when talking to a person we disagree with.  Shaming tactics are ubiquitous.  They are so engrained in our culture that we no longer see our tactics as shame.  We are not even aware of these shaming tactics.  We just see them as being right.  And in the Christian world many are in denial that our use of “truth”  often does not reflect both the position and posture of Jesus Christ toward a sinful world.  It does not reflect the Jesus that I see and read about in scripture!

This topic will have the following parts to it.  As I complete each part I will provide hypertext links to each part in this BLOG.

  1.  Truth — What is it?
  2. Genesis – Our Starting Point of Truth
  3. Gods Plan — Relationship and Community
  4. Establishing the moral vision of the New Testament and Jesus
  5. True Freedom — What does it look like?
  6. Application for Today

 

Truth: How do we use it?

As a Christian I strongly believe in Truth!  I believe Gods word is absolute truth.  At the same time I have observed what I see as an abuse of truth in many Christians. 

I believe this abuse of truth falls into one of 2 categories.  The first is when we use truth to gain power over another person or another group. Basically, we use truth see ourselves as better than another person or group. 

The other is when we use truth as a shield.  This kind of TRUTH abuse is when we like to talk about truth but we do not use it to get “wooden” with our own sins, thoughts, and feelings. We talk truth as a way of avoiding discussing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  We use truth as  a very clever way of changing the subject so we do not have to look at our own sin.

So what does this look like in reality.  Years ago, my wife and I sat down with a couple we were good friends with.  This couple was struggling with some issues the husband was struggling with.  One of the things we knew about this couple was that this couple had  very black and white, all or nothing, legalistic way of thinking. This was especially true of the wife…. but also true of him.  This couple was at their best when they could look out their windows and talk about how BAD other people were and how BAD other groups were.  Well , what do you think occurs when legalistic, black or white thinking finally meets the sin inside the walls of a marriage instead of outside the walls of the marriage,,,, well, you get FIREWORKS!  I vividly remember when we sat down with them and  her strong and incorrect use of  the word “TRUTH!” at her husband as a way of belittling her husband.  She was using TRUTH as a form of a power play.   Oddly, right before she did this she told us how she was calm she was because she had the “fruit of the spirit” working in her.  As she said this her body language was anything except full of the fruit of the spirit.  This was her way of using truth as a shield to deflect everything away from her.  In one conversation with this couple they had used TRUTH both as a shield and as a power play.

Well, anyhow, I believe the question that deserves some thought today is this:

How have we used our faith and religion as either a shield or as a power play?

 

 

 

 

Shame and Blame

Sue and I do marriage rebuilders.  We facilitate a small group, share our story of brokenness and reconciliation and pray that God works through us as we do our best to make the  group a safe place for others to tell their stories.  We hope that as we try to create an environment of grace and mercy that as others tell their stories and overcome the shame of their past that Gods truth is revealed in the process and that eventually people grow and change!  The ministry also gives couples communication tools that many people are often lacking relationally.

In this ministry, we have heard and seen phenomenal stories of change. We have also seen half-hearted attempts to change, grow and reconcile marriages.

What is the difference in the two groups of people?  One of the turning points in the reconciliation process is when both sides take responsibility for “their part” of what is broken in their relationship.  They have spent too much time shaming and blaming the other person or maybe more subtly minimize their part and maximize their spouses part of the problem in their marriage.  Like I said in the last post, we have seen many reconciled marriages when each partner has taken responsibility for their part.  The Gospel (The Good News of Jesus Christ) tells us that we (ALL humans, Christian and non Christian) are ALL broken and we ALL require a savior.   However, since the original sin of Adam and Eve we have all engaged in the shame and blame game.  The blame and shame game does 2 things: (1) it minimizes how greatly I need a savior, and (2) It prevents me from taking responsibility for what I did in the breakdown of a relationship.

I was reminded of this recently, as I shared some e-mails with a friend.  If we could ever break the shame and blame game, then we can go maybe  deeper and maybe root out the deeper issues and problems  of the heart.

Until then, the way I see it, we will just keep revisiting the same problems and hurt feelings of the past.

Thats my .02c worth on this topic!

Jon

God is Good: Good Year Going in 2012

Have not had a post for a while and that has been somewhat intentional as I have several things I am juggling all the time both professionally and personally.  Just wanted to post that so far its been a good year going in 2012. My wife and I are doing well. We are doing a book called Rescue Your Love Life that uses a slot of the same language as our Marriage Rebuilders groups.    I am also nearing the end of some long term planning for a new ministry called “True North”. It is basically a mens group that will also have a  link to Marriage Rebuilders at Hosanna Church that my wife and I do.   We plan to meet at Church called Evergreen Church on the South side of the twin cities, Mn.  The start of this ministry is a prayer answered for me and its been in the planning stages for almost a year.

God is good!

 

 

The cosmic dance of life

My wife and I are taking dance lessons again.  A couple of years back we learned west coast swing.  Now we are learning a slow dance called night club 2 step.  I really like it. Not only does it give the two of us something  to do during our long winters in Minnesota, but I also love the symbology of dancing and how it is a communication style of  non verbal cues  between 2 people.  The entire dance hinges on a “connection” between 2 people.  For the dance to succeed in looking like a dance it requires some very basic skills of highly subtle communication. Once those basic skills are mastered you can move on to more “styling” in your dance.

For the dancing to start being successful it requires 2 things. First, I need to communicate the dance moves to Sue in a way she understands.   In dancing a lot of these are subtle things you do to communicate your intent.  This connection between 2 people is what makes the dance work.  If the leader gives the wrong understanding to the follower it does not look like much of a dance. If the follower back leads the dance it is not very much fun for the leader and its definitely not how dancing was designed to be like.

Second, to move on to where the dance really looks good and start making progress Sue needs to feel safe in the dance communication going on between us.  If that safety is not there she is not willing to move on to learning the next thing to make dancing even more fun.  Furthermore, A lack of safety sucks the fun right of out dancing for me and her.

Those are the building blocks of dancing. Communicating  our intentions with understanding  and providing a safe environment where can grow and move on to more advanced and more fun dance moves!!  Growing with my wife is is much like dancing.   Intimacy and closeness with  my wife requires understanding and safety. Safety and understanding are the building blocks of intimacy and both, like dancing, require effort and intentionality as we take specific steps to grow together.  To communicate with understanding and safety requires some very deep roots in Gods love and mercy because, quite often it is NOT safe to communicate our shortcomings and vulnerabilitites to other sinners.  Also, we strive and work hard to protect our image of performance as a good performing employee, nice person, or moral achiever.   We communicate our strengths but.. gasp!…. never our weaknesses.   When we live up to our performance expectations we feel good about ourselves and when we don’t we feel like failures.

However, when we create an environment to safely share our weaknesses (James 5:16) and we live with the grace and mercy narrative of the cross  in how we behave toward other sinners we have the recipe for growth and change and finally have a chance at …. real intimacy.  This intimacy is not rooted in the performance and expectations of the other person but it finally has real understanding.  It loves progress but does not demand perfection.   We can put finally put down the performance achievement mask and be real with each other.

Finally, intimacy must be about something shared.  For years as Sue and I were raising the kids we seemed to be on separate missions.  Our shared lives were dismal as I became rooted in my job and she became more rooted in the children.  So what are you sharing? For Sue and I we now share workouts together, walks, devotions, a few games, some deep conversations and of course … we are trying something new …. dancing.

As we enjoy our new dancing skills I also have a vision I established about 5 years ago that I am temporarily calling for this blog topic  “the cosmic dance of life” . <—Link

Merry Christmas to you all!

Gospel Based Intimacy with God and Others

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweet spot of Gods word. The sweet  spot to me is the Gospel message. If we don’t keep that clearly in our sites we can eventually use scripture to damage relationships as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

I want to expand on some personal reasons why I believe we as Christians need to “Keep the main thing the main thing” and continually beat the gospel message about Christ into our heads. We need to re-remind each other of the Gospel message continuously. Martin Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f).  The gospel might be easy to understand but it is very difficult to apply in a persons life!!!!!

What I have seen [and participated in] is that as sinners we can twist anything and everything, including scripture, in idolotrous ways and suck life out of it for Continue reading

Christian attitude: Better in private than in public

One of the things I am trying to work hard toward is to make my life the same in private as in public.  Most people put on a good external face but when the doors are closed and the shades are pulled things become a different story.   When we shut the doors our selfish side is allowed to manifest itself.  Anyhow, I don’t always do this perfectly… but things are pretty good and a lot better than they used to be.

Wouldn’t it be great if our Christian attitude was better in private and in secret than it was in public as opposed to the other way around! Our private lives and what we do in secret reflects our real heart.  What we think about when our minds are at rest reflects what we worship so lets look to Jesus — the author and perfecter of our faith.

A good understanding of the Christian doctrine of sin should allow Christians to face sin head on in front of other Christian brothers and sisters. However, partially due to our own fears and also partially due to other peoples  incorrect understanding of the depth of mans sin … confession over deeper sins is driven into the corners of Churches; this type of confession and understanding of sin and grace may not exist in some Churches.

The basic question for the Christian as we look at our own heart is always “What desire (or idol of the heart)  is functionally in place of Jesus Christ” as we live our daily lives. For many it is sex, wealth, power, alcohol, drugs, or food.  Also the idols of  image (family, religious, and self image) , preeminence, wealth and self righteousness are also potent masters of the heart.

This year is the year of the diet for me…. and its a tough one.   So far I have lost 40 lbs but in reality I have never in my life not been overweight.   I am not looking at this so Continue reading

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability

John Newton(poet and Author of the hymn amazing grace) wrote the following. It can be found at: http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/newton/letter24.htm. I have some important things that speak to me underlined.

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability
by John Newton

October 21, 1775

My Dear Friend,

The calls and engagements which I told you engrossed and anticipated my time when I wrote last, have continued without any intermission hitherto, and I am still far behind-hand with my business. I am willing to hope, that the case has been much the same with you, and that want of leisure has been the only cause of my not having been pleasured with so much as a note from you since my return from London.

I am loath, for my own sake, to charge your silence to an unwillingness of continuing that intercourse which I have been, and still find myself, desirous to improve on my part. For though we are not agreed in our views, yet while our preliminary agreement, to allow mutual freedom, and to exercise mutual candour, in expressing our sentiments, subsists, we may, and I hope shall, be glad to hear from each other. It may seem to intimate I have a better opinion of myself than of you, that while I seem confident your freedom will not offend me, I feel now and then a fear, lest mine should prove displeasing to you. But friendship is a little suspicious when exercised with long silence, and a plain declaration of my sentiments has more than once put Continue reading

Tim Keller Quotes

Here are a number of quotes from the following link:

http://www.timkeller.info/comments/quotes

Quotes

This page captures Keller’s quotes that we’ve found from the web:

Pithy Quotables

“We do not have to make ourselves suffer in order to merit forgiveness. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. 1 John 1:9 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.” (ht: firstimportance.org )

“The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.”

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do.

Contextualization is not giving people what they want. It is giving God’s answers (which they probably do not want) to the questions they are asking and in forms they can comprehend. If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow – would anyone in the unbeleiving community around you notice you were gone.  And if they did even notice – would they say we are really glad they are gone or – gee we’re going to miss them. (ht: Shane Rogerson)

on Romans 1:16-17 – “Paul is not saying the gospel produces power. He says the gospel IS the power of God in verbal form. Do we believe that?” [or do I secretly believe that everything is up to me?] (ht: jayhardwick)

“My wife, Kathy, never gets footnoted, yet she is the main author of the faith and thought of this author. She put me on to Lewis, to Edwards and Reformed theology, and to the importance of prayer, social justice, and the city. When you are that foundational to someone’s world- and life- view, you get mentioned in the acknowledgments, but not in the footnotes. The main reason I’m putting this book into print is because she likes it.”
Tim Keller (via Monergism)

Quotes from Published Books & Resources

Ministries of Mercy

“Mercy is a command of God, yet it cannot simply be a response to a demand. It must arise out of heats made generous and gracious by an understanding and experience of God’s mercy. It is the hearts of the congregation that must be melted until they ask, “Where is my neighbor?” p 135 (ht: Toddbumgarner)

“Those of us without the spirit of a deacon are too proud to do little things and too lazy to do big things. Our service is mediocre; it transforms no one. But a deacon will do it all.”p 139 (ht: ToddMindBlogger)

“A frightening proportion of our churches are trapped by what Frank Tillapaugh calls the “fortress church” mentality. That mentality is made up of attitudes that may be conscious or unconscious: “Let them come to us! Our doors are open.” “We come to church to have our needs met, to escape the cold, cruel world.” But there are biblical truths that knock flat the walls of our fortress. Every member is a minister. Every member has kingdom power to destroy strongholds. Through us Jesus continues to immerses himself in the needs of the world.” p 172 (ht: ToddMindBlogger)

“The ministry of mercy, then, is the best advertising a church can have. It convinces a community that this church provides people with actions for their problems, not only talk. It shows the community that this church is compassionate.” p 212 (ht: ToddMindBlogger)

Church Planter Manual

“Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘this disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I’m continuing to stab him with it!’” – Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual

(net source)“The gospel creates the only kind of grief over sin which is clean and which does not crush. It says: ‘Look at Jesus dying for you! He won’t leave you or abandon you–how then can you respond as you are? He suffered so you wouldn’t do this thing! You are not living as though you are loved! As his child! It is not because he will abandon you that you should be holy, but because this is the one who at inestimable cost to himself has said he won’t ever abandon you! How can you live in the very sin that he was ripped to pieces to deliver you from?’ See the GRACE of God argument? It is the only argument which cannot be answered.” –

“There are three basic roles or functions that a Christian minister has: preaching, pastoring/counseling and leading.  No one is gifted or equally gifted in all three areas and yet we must do them all… [but] The greatest factor for long-term effectiveness of a Christian minister is… godliness.  A) You may not have a strong public speaking gift; but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that you will be interesting. B) You may not have strong pastoral or counseling gifts (e.g. you may be very shy or introverted, etc.); but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that you will comfort and guide people. C) You may not have very strong leadership gifts (e.g. you may be disorganized or very cautious by nature); but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that people will respect and follow you.– Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual p.63

The Reason for God

“Christianity not only leads its members to believe people of other faiths have goodness and wisdom to offer, it also leads them to expect that many will live lives morally superior to their own.  Most people in our culture in our culture believe that, if there is a God, we can relate to him and go to heaven through leading a good life.  Let’s call this the “moral improvement” view.  Christianity teaches the very opposite.  In the Christian understanding, Jesus does not tell us how to live so we can merit salvation.  Rather, he comes to forgive and save us through his life and death in our place.  God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.” – The Reason for God, 19
(ht: Stuart Williams’ “Christians Should Believe Others Are Morally Superior“)

‘Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.The Reason For God, 177 (ht: GaryMcMurray)

“The Cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable — it is wrong. Jesus’ death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us. And it was. Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid — God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born — God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 193 (ht: Scott Stewart)

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without antibodies in it.  People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God, xvi (via scotthodge)

The Prodigal God

The moral conformist say: “The immoral people- the people who ‘do their own thing’-are the problem with the world, and the moral people are the solution.” The advocates of self-discovery say: “The bigoted people-the people who say, ‘We have the Truth’-are the problem with the world, and progressive people are the solution. Each sides says: “Our way is the way our world will be put to rights, and if you’re not with us, you are against us. – Tim Keller, The Prodigal God (ht: JordanJustice)

“The story of Jesus tells us that our root problem is not just failing in our obediance to God [not being good enough…] but in RELYING  on our obedience [being really, really good] to save us.  Therefore, the gospel is a ‘third way’–  neither religion NOR irreligion. The religious person may say, “I am doing the right things that God commands” and the irreligious person may say, “I decide what is right and wrong for myself.”  But both ways reject Jesus as Savior (though they may revere Him as ‘Example’ or ‘Helper’).  Both ways are strategies for self-salvation–  both actually keep control of their own lives.”  – Tim Keller, [The Prodigal God?] (ht: restorationArlington)

“… those who understand the gospel cannot possibly look down on anyone, since they were saved by sheer grace, not by their perfect doctrine or strong moral character.
Another mark of the moral-performance narrative is a constant need to find fault, win arguments, and prove that all opponents are not just mistaken but dishonest sellouts. However, when the gospel is deeply grasped, our need to win arguments is removed, and our language becomes gracious. We don’t have to ridicule our opponents, but instead we can engage them respectfully.  People who live in the moral-performance narrative use sarcastic, self-righteous putdown humor, or have no sense of humor at all. Lewis speaks of “the unsmiling concentration upon Self, which is the mark of hell.” The gospel, however, creates a gentle sense of irony. We find a lot to laugh at, starting with our own weaknesses. They don’t threaten us anymore because our ultimate worth is not based on our record or performance.” – Tim Keller, [The Prodigal God?] (ht: pastorinbloggaus‘ The Gospel Creates a Gentle Sense of Irony)

“Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (ht: CoffeeRandom ‘The True Message of Jesus)

“[Jesus] is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of sheer service to the poor. Younger brothers are too selfish and elder brothers too self-righteous to care for the poor” (p.112). Earlier in the book, Keller elaborated on the sin of the older brother: “Elder brothers may do good to others, but not out of delight in the deeds themselves or for the love of people or the pleasure of God. They are not really feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, they are feeding and clothing themselves” (p.62, The Prodigal God).  (ht: wsvanderlugt “Why Don’t We Care for the Poor?”)

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 understanding the gospel and 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, your sins, your virtue.  It’s called the new birth because it’s so radical. (p. 78) Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world, saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us.  So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant.  He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and, at the cost of his life, paid the debt for our sins, purchasing us the only place our hearts can rest, in his Father’s house…  Knowing this will transform us from the inside out… Why wouldn’t you want to offer yourself to someone like this? Selfless love destroys the mistrust in our hearts toward God that makes us either younger brothers or elder brothers… We will never stop being younger brothers of elder brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ. (p. 87-89 The Prodigal God) (ht: RelentlessGrace, “Our hearts are transformed by service, not power”)

other publications

Today’s preacher must argue against the self-serving pragmatism of postmodernity. The gospel does say that through it you find your life, but that first you must lose your life. I must say to people, “Christ will ‘work’ for you only if you are true to him whether he works for you or not. You must not come to him because he is fulfilling (though he is) but because he is true. If you seek to meet him in order to get your needs met, you will not meet him or get your needs met. To become a Christian is not to get help for your agenda but to take on a whole new agenda — the will of God. You must obey him because you owe him your life, because he is your Creator and Redeemer. – Tim Keller, from a contributing chapter of The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching (ht: george24)

* speaking of the power of the Gospel: “… the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acecptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin. This also creates a new dynamic for discipline and obedience. First, the knowledge of our acceptance in Christ makes it easier to admit we are flawed because we know we won’t be cast off if we confess the true depths of our sinfulness. Second, it makes the law of God a thing of beauty instead of burden. We can use it to delight and imitate the one who has saved us rather than to get his attention or procure his favor. We now run the race ‘for the joy that is set before us’ rather than ‘for fear that comes behind us.’ ” Tim Keller in Introduction to Galatians (ht: TheSticklerFamily)

“At the root of all our disobedience are particular ways in which we continue to seek control of our lives through systems of works-righteousness. The way to progress as a Christian is to continually repent and uproot these systems the same way we become Christians, namely by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of Christ’s saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete ourselves. We must go back again and again to the gospel of Christ-crucified, so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what he did and who we are in him.” – Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), p.61 (ht: pjcockrell)

Quotes from Speaking Engagements

“Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony… sex between a husband and wife is the same role as the Lord’s Supper between God and the believer, cause the Lord’s supper is going back and renewing the original covenant. Jesus Christ dies, that’s the bridge between me and God. What’s the purpose of the Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Supper is to get the intimacy back by renewing the covenant, re-living the idea of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for me.” – (ht: pgjackson)

Five questions Keller suggested to ask as you read the Bible daily are:  (via cookiesday)

  1. How can I praise him?
  2. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
  3. If this is really true, what wrong behaviour, what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
  4. What should I be aspiring to on the basis of this text?
  5. Why are you telling me this today?

Jonathon Edwards: Sinners in the hands of an angry God

I believe the title “sinners in the hands of an angry God” has been abused by some people as I read around the internet. Let me explain why.

Here is  quote you get from Edwards towards the end of his famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God after he has discussed Gods wrath.

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield,7 where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Jonathon Edwards was discussing Gods wrath as a method of more fully showing the impact of a new covenant in Christ and Gods Grace.  It says in scripture where sin increases, Grace increases all the more. To deny our sinful nature is tantamount to stopping Christian growth. As Martin Luther once stated: “All of life is repentance”.

Hebrews 7 says the old covenant was weak and useless and now we live in the power of a new covenant “in Christ”. The law is a reminder of our sin and shows us a path but real change is only accomplished with a new covenant in Christ.