Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Christian Freedom - Conclusion

It is the work of those whom Christ has brought into the enjoyment of this high and glorious privilege to maintain it: 'Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free' (Gal. 5.1). there are two chief things which Christ has entrusted to us, and we are to preserve them inviolate. The first is Christian faith: 'See that ye earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints' (Jude 3). The second is Christian liberty: 'Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free'. Every man should be faithful in those things which are entrusted to him, and God has entrusted the Christian man with precious things. Christian faith and Christian liberty are alike precious, and how careful we should be to maintain them! Civil liberties and liberty to go where we will are very precious. How much we engage ourselves just now in defense of our liberties and freedoms against those who would deprive us of them! And indeed they may justly be esteemed men of abject minds who would on any account at all forego their freedoms and liberties. (pg. 218)

...if civil freedom is so precious and is to be maintained, how much more is spiritual freedom, the freedom wherewith Christ makes a man free? A freedom dearly purchased by the blood of Christ! We esteem our civil freedom the better as we remember that it cost so much of the blood of our ancestors to obtain it. It would be baseness in us to be careless of that which cost them their blood. How much more then should we esteem our freedom which was purchased by the precious blood of Christ! You are redeemed, not by silver and gold, but by the blood of Christ, says the apostle. Our freedom is dearly bought, mercifully revealed, freely bestowed, and fully conveyed to us by the Spirit of Christ. We have many and great reasons therefore for maintaining it, and for keeping ourselves clear of the yoke of bondage. (pg. 219)

I am afraid today that there is too much of the baseness and lack of care that Bolton describes, and that men are willing to sell their freedom for a mess of pottage. It appears that neither civil freedom nor spiritual freedom are appreciated, and that the cost in blood, both of our ancestors and that of Christ, is forgotten in our obsession with our present material situation.

May God grant that our vision would be made clear, and that the sacrifices that have been made to make us free would once again be valued.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Christian Freedom - Keeping Eternity in Mind

Would you submit to all God's disposings of your affairs? The considerations of heaven and glory will make the believer submit to any thing here. He can be content to be poor, for he knows he shall be rich; to be reproached, for he knows he shall be honored; to be afflicted, for he knows he shall be comforted; to be imprisoned, for he knows he shall be brought to a large place; to sit at Dive's door, for he knows he shall rest in Abraham's bosom; to lose all, for he knows he shall find all hereafter. God will be all, and more than all, to him. He knows that the trialslast but for a little season, a day, an hour, a moment, a small moment. hereafter there are eternal embraces. He can submit to God to work His own work, and to work it in His own way, and after His own manner, if so be He will bring him to glory at last. And he can say, Wlecome that sorrow that presages joy, that trouble that ends in comfort, those crosses that prepare for crownings, and that death which ushers in eternal life. All all this he can do by the consideration of the great and glorious things which God has reserved for him. Hence we see the necessity of having a respect to heaven and glory in our obedience. - Sameuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, pg. 204-205)

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." - C.T. Studd

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to keep what he cannot lose" - Jim Elliot

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Don't Need a $ 700 Billion Bailout!

As Dave Ramsey says: "you can't cause ethics to happen", and we are reaping what was sowed when this principle was ignored.

Read more here, and then take action:

Call your Congressman. Call your Senator. Tell them to change the mark-to-market accounting law and to extend insurance but extend no loans. If they extend loans - if they borrow the money on the national debt in order for us to all go into the mortgage business a trillion dollars - you're going to fire their butts and send them home.

HT: The Lost Fart of Blogging

9/30/08: An update following yesterday's House of Representatives defeat of the bailout plan, followed by the subsequent 778 drop in the DJIA. I believe that this was due to the fact that the American people are smarter than the politicians, and have flooded their representatives with calls and emails. Continue to hold the line, keep the faith, and recognize that more government involvement of the wrong kind is no fix, but rather a recipe for continued failure.

Dave Ramsey continues to give good advice here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christian Freedom - Duty, or Delight?

Do I obey because I desire to be pleasing to the God who has made and redeemed me, or do I obey only because it is some onerous duty?

The freeness of the Christian consists in this, that he obeys the commands of God, not only because God has commanded them, but out of principle of love and delight, and because he has within his heart a nature agreeable to the things commanded. He prays because God commands prayer, but not only so. He prays because there is a suitableness between his heart and the work of prayer, between his soul and the duty. He has desires after God, and his soul delights in his approaches to, and his converse with, God. (pg. 147, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baptists and the "Palin Predicament"

Richard Land, in this Baptist Press article, ably demonstrates why David Gushee is wrong, and that there is no "Palin Predicament" for Biblically minded Christians.

Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President is not a challenge for the complementarian.

(An interesting paper by John Piper on the subject of complementarianism.)

Even during the brightest of days

Today's Grace Gem:

The path of each day

(J. R. Miller, "Finding the Way", 1904)

"Show me the way I should go." Psalm 143:8 We have a right to make this prayer. Our prayer will be answered, too. There will be a hand extended to guide us, to open the path for us, and to help us over the hard pinches of the road. God desires to lead us. His guidance includes not only our daily steps--but also the shaping of our circumstances and affairs. We cannot be thankful enough, that our lives are in God's hands, for we never could care for them ourselves.

To us the path of each day is always new--we have not passed this way before, and we cannot tell what any hour may bring to us. But Jesus knows all the way--for He went over every inch of it. There is no human experience which Christ does not understand. No suffering can be ours--which He did not feel. No wrong can hurt us--but He was hurt far more sorely. Is the burden heavy? His burden was infinitely heavier, for He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses, and bowed beneath the load of our sins! There is no phase of struggle, of suffering, of pain, of temptation--with which He is unfamiliar. And knowing thus the way, from having experienced it for Himself, He is able to guide us in it.

Do we really need God's guidance? Are we not wise enough to decide what course it is best for us to take? Can we not find our own path in this world? There is a story of a tourist in the Alps who refused a guide. He said he could find the way himself. So he went out alone in the morning--but he never came back. Life in this world is far more perilous than mountain climbing.

There are times when every star seems to have gone out, and when clouds and darkness appear to have gathered about us, hiding every way-mark, so that we cannot see any way out of the gloom and perplexity. We need then to have God's direction--or we shall perish. But while there are times when we need God's guidance in an unusual way--there is no day in all our brightest year, when we do not need it, when we dare to go forward one step without it. The day we do not seek and obtain God's leading, will be a day of disaster for us. The day we go forth without prayer for divine blessing, when we do not lay our hand in Christ's as we go out into the great world--is a day of peril for us. Indeed, we often need the divine guidance the most--when we think we do not need it at all.

God's way does not always lie in the sunshine; sometimes it runs into deep glooms. We are not always out of His way--when we find ourselves facing obstacles and difficulties. When we cannot see where we are going--we may be in the everlasting way, because God is guiding us. He leads us away many a time, away from the path which we would have taken.

The way on which God guides us--is a way of holiness. When we pray for guidance, we must surrender our will to God. If we ask Him to guide us--we must yield our own preference, and accept His. We are in this world--to grow into the likeness of Christ. If then, we have been growing a little more patient, gentle, thoughtful, humble--if the peace of our hearts has become a little deeper, quieter, sweeter--our "rough" path is God's way for us.

God's way is a way of holiness--a pure, clean way. It is the road to heaven.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Christian Freedom - The Law Cannot Condemn

Good words from this month's Puritan Reading:

Five reasons why the law cannot condemn the believer

(1) Because that court is itself condemned; its curses, judgments, and sentences are made invalid. As men that are condemned have a tongue but no voice, so the law in this case has still a tongue to accuse, but no power to condemn. It cannot fasten condemnation on the believer.

(2) Because he is not under it as a court. He is not under the law as a covenant of life and death. As he is in Christ, he is under the covenant of grace.

(3) Because he is not subject to its condemnation. He is under its guidance, but not under its curses, under its precepts (though not on the legal condition of 'Do this and live'), but not under its penalties.

(4) Because Christ, in his place and stead, was condemned by it that he might be freed: 'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us' (Gal 3:13). It may condemn sin in us, but cannot condemn us for sin.

(5) Because he has appealed from it. We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced, and condemned. But this has no force because he makes his appeal, 'God be merciful to me a sinner' (Luke 18:13). He flies to Christ, and says the text, 'he went down to his house justified'. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy. (pgs. 32-33)

Playing with Fire

In addition to this month's Puritan Reading, I am also presently engaged with David Wells' The Courage to Be Protestant.

In his chapter on truth we find these sobering words:

In the West we have not the slightest inkling that, in reveling in affluence as we do, we are playing with fire. This affluence so easily becomes an alternative Way, Truth, and Life, a counterfeit gospel in which to have is to be saved and to have not is to be damned. Unfortunately, la dolce vita is not itself satisfying, not in an enduring way. It tends to make us shallow, self-absorbed people who give ourselves to chasing what is superficial by way of styles, fads, and what is pleasurable provided there are no demands for commitments. The styles quickly become obsolete, the fads are forgotten, and the pleasures fade like the morning mist so that this kind of life constantly has to be reinventing itself. Those who fashion their lives around these things die of emptiness. The pains that linger in the soul like a bad headache stay a long, long time. (pg. 90)

Yes, we may be "playing with fire" to the point that all that will remain is ash.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

O Canada - Unbelievable

See what kind of doctors socialized medicine gets you?

As Paul Harvey has often said: "It's not one world". Yet, at the same time I imagine that there are more than a few doctors in this country who share the same view, even if they are less vocal.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some thoughts on Modesty

While I certainly have had some questions about Thomas Nelson publishers (why would they publish anything by Britney Spears' mom?) the CEO, Michael S. Hyatt, posts some good guidelines on modesty here.

From that post:

"Four Guidelines for Modesty":
  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.

  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.

  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.

  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Christian Freedom - Introductory Post

A new month, a new Puritan Classic.

This month's book, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, by Samuel Bolton (1606-1654). Two things stand out in the brief biographical information that I linked above:

"His desire to win souls to Christ by preaching was so great" and "He lived as he preached, taught, and wrote". I can think of no better epitaph for any one of us.

It didn't take many pages reading before I found a couple of items worthy of inclusion in this post.

From the Publisher's Introduction: An unbalanced emphasis on grace has led men to neglect certain of the law's various functions. In its accusing and convicting function, the law is a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ. The absence of this dimension in the preaching of today has resulted in a truncated Gospel, rushed conversion work and a shallow religious experience. the law prepares the way for the Gospel and 'a man can never preach the Gospel that makes not way for the Gospel'. (pg. 10. These words were penned, I assume, in 1964. If they were true then, they are doubly true today.)

Also, in the introduction, but from Bolton: 'The law sends us to the Gospel for our justification; the Gospel sends us to the law to frame our way of life.' (pg. 11.)

Chapter One opens (pg. 17) with John 8:36, 'If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed'. I will truly be surprised if we don't eventually get to "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13, ESV. Peeking ahead, I find that Bolton addresses this point on page 20!)