Blessed Are the Meek – Rev. C. Haak

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This week’s message on the Reformed Witness Hour radio/Internet program (Sunday, June 17, 2018) was “Blessed Are the Meek” by Rev. C. Haak, pastor of Georgetown PRC.  Radio pastor Haak is currently doing a series on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12, and this past Sunday he spoke on the third one as recorded in Matt.5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

The audio file of the message is linked above on the PRC website and it may also be found on the RWH’s website and on her Sermonaudio channel.

Tonight I post a portion of the transcription of the message, finding it fitting for our reflection today.

 Meekness is the result, it is the fruit, of being poor in spirit and of knowing what it is to mourn before God.  It makes one receptive in his heart before God.  In one word:  meekness is the absence of pride.  A meek heart is the antithesis, the opposite of pride.  It is the opposite of stubbornness and fierceness and vengefulness.  Meekness is the dethroning of sinful pride and making us now teachable of God, gentle toward one another, submissive to God, confident and strong in God and in His faithful love to me.

Not only does one not assert himself, but he also sees the sin of that.  A meek person does not glory in himself.  He is not always interested in himself.  He is not watching always after his own interest.  He is not always on the defensive.  He is not always saying, “What about me?”

Beloved, by nature, we spend our whole life watching out for ourselves.  We worry about ourselves and what others are going to say about us.  We talk to ourselves.  We say, “You’re having a hard time.  Too bad people don’t understand you.  How wonderful I am and if only people would give me a chance.”  That is pride.  The meek are self-emptied people.  They are not defending the citadel of me.  They are lowly before God.  They are ready to leave everything in the hands of God, to leave themselves, their rights, their cause, their whole life, in the hand of God.  Meek.

This meekness will be seen in the attitude that we carry.  The fruit of meekness is, first of all, seen in an attitude toward God, an attitude of submission and quietness.  How often do we not struggle with the sovereign ways and the sovereign will of God?  I am not talking, now, of accepting our sinful ways or being indifferent.  But I am referring to the fact that God sovereignly appoints my portion in this life.  He arranges my life, personally and in my family, and economically, in all the details of my life.  Very often we struggle with that.  We find it very hard to be submissive to the way and to the will of God.  That is our pride.

Meekness, now, is submission, submission to the great God of heaven.  And, thus, meekness is strength!  The meek person is strong because he knows that God is holding him up.  We read in Psalm 147, “The LORD lifteth up the meek:  he casteth the wicked down to the ground.”  In meekness we are able to bear God’s chastenings in quietness and hope.  We are able to do that with a meek and a quiet spirit.  There is an example of this in the Bible.  I bring to your memory the high priest called Aaron.  Aaron’s two sons had been killed by God for offering strange incense in the tabernacle.  They had worshiped God in a manner that He had not prescribed.  And God consumed them in fire.  God, then, told Moses to tell Aaron that Aaron could not mourn over his sons.  He had to submit, in his grief, to the hand of God.  And Aaron did.  Now Aaron was far from perfect.  The Bible makes that plain.  The Scriptures tell us of all of his faults.  Yet God gave to Aaron a meekness.  He suffered quietly before God.

…The second fruit of meekness is our attitude toward others.  Meekness makes us the most approachable persons on earth.  Not bristling in pride, not sharp, cruel, spiteful.  It is the meek in Christ with whom you feel a great kinship.  Meekness attracts others.  Meekness is mildness of manner, gentleness, harmlessness.  Remember what we read in Matthew 11:28.   The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”  Why?  “For I am meek and lowly in heart.  You are safe with Me,” said Jesus.  “Because I am meek, you may come to Me.  I’m not dangerous.  You may set your heart upon Me.”

Still more.  In meekness, we will bear patiently the insults and the injuries that we receive at the hands of others.  In meekness we will not become inflamed, vindictive.  In meekness we will not assume a demeaning attitude toward those who differ with us.  We will not show ourselves to have a harsh, censorious temperament.  We will not enjoy finding fault in others.  Meekness will be seen in gentleness, humility, and patience.  It is the absence of retaliation.  It is the absence of paying back.  It is the absence of saying, “They’re gonna get theirs.”  No, it is longsuffering and patient, especially when we suffer wrongfully.  Then we will be meek.  Listen to Galatians 6:1.   “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  The Word of God is saying that only a spirit of meekness qualifies you to deal with another who may be embittered and resentful, to deal with someone who has fallen away.  You can deal with such a person only in the spirit of meekness.  Meekness means that you are emptied of yourself.  You are dependent upon and submissive to God.  You are gentle and you are teachable.  Blessed are the meek, said Jesus, for they shall inherit the earth.

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Go and Disciple – June 2018 Tabletalk

The June issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional, centers around the theme of “Discipleship.”

This is another issue that features a larger number of articles, but considerably shorter. Eighteen writers draw our attention to various aspects of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, from the “mandate of discipleship” to the “rewards of discipleship.” I am again finding the articles instructive and inspirational.

Editor Burk Parsons sets the course of the issue with his introduction “Christians are Disciples.” In he makes this important point:

…Although many people don’t want to hear it, and while many pastors fail to preach it, there is no distinction between a Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Christians are disciples. A disciple is someone who trusts Christ and who lives his life according to that trust, following Christ and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). His call is clear: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). If we are genuinely trusting Christ, we will follow Him, but if we’re not following Him, it means that we don’t trust Him. Similarly, if we know the gospel, we will strive to walk in a way that is worthy of the gospel (Phil 1:27); if the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we will walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25); if we are united to Christ, we will bear fruit in Christ (John 15:1–11); if we love Christ, we will obey Christ (John 14:15); if we are justified by faith, and faith alone, our faith will not remain alone but will result in a life of faith, repentance, and good works, which Christ prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8–10; James 2:14–26).

One of the other articles I reference tonight is by Rev. Anthony Carter, who penned a short piece titled “What is a Disciple?” We quote a portion of his article too:

In short, a disciple is a student. A disciple is one who disciplines himself in the teachings and practices of another. The word disciple, like discipline, comes from the Latin word discipulus, meaning “pupil” or “learner.” Consequently, to learn is to discipline oneself. For example, if one is to advance in the arts or the sciences or athletics, one has to discipline himself and to learn and follow the principles and fundamentals of the best teachers in that area of study. So it was and is with the disciples of Christ. A disciple follows Jesus.

When Jesus called His first disciples, He spoke the simple words, “Follow me” (Mark 1:17; 2:14; John 1:43). A disciple is a follower, one who trusts and believes in a teacher and follows that teacher’s words and example. Therefore, to be a disciple is to be in a relationship. It is having an intimate, instructive, and imitative relationship with the teacher. Consequently, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is being in relationship with Jesus—it is seeking to be like Jesus. In other words, we follow Christ to be like Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) because as His disciples, we belong to Christ. The disciple of Jesus has certain traits that are commensurate with a relationship with Jesus. What are the qualities of a disciple of Christ? What are the traits of those who follow and are called disciples of Christ?

To find out the answers to those questions, follow the link below and finish reading. For the other articles, visit the Tabletalk link above.

Source: What Is a Disciple?

What Justification Does the Christian Have for Reading Secular Literature? A PR Perspective

litclassicsYou may recall that a few weeks ago we examined another section of Dr. Leland Ryken’s valuable book on the Christian’s reading of literature, A Christian Guide to the Classics (Crossway, 2015). That particular section dealt with the Christian justification for reading secular literature (classics), and you will remember that Ryken grounded this first of all in the doctrine of “common grace.”

We took issue with this position, even though Ryken appealed to Scripture (without any specific texts) and to Calvin (with a couple of quotes that only proved that God also gives unbelievers “excellent gifts,” which may be of use to the believer – something with which we agree; we just don’t call it “grace”, not even if you call it “common” and not “saving.”). But it is not enough to say we do not ground the Christian’s right to read secular literature in common grace; we must state the justification positively, with Reformed and biblical grounds.

And we Protestant Reformed people do, even though many think we do not. To be sure, we do unashamedly affirm the antithesis, that spiritual “line in the sand” (separation) God by His sovereign, saving grace makes between the Christian and the ungodly world, between our renewed thinking and their perverse thinking, between our good works and their evil works (of literature too), between our Christ-directed purpose for living and their self(-ish)-focused purpose for living. That means that there is filth that the world produces that the Christian has no use for and may not use, including in the realm of literature (cf. 2 Cor.6:14-18; the first part of Eph.5; I Jn.2:15-17, e.g.).

But we also believe that God puts us in this world to live out our faith fully, to use this world and its things, including the works of fallen, unconverted sinners, to the glory of God and for our development in grace as His people. That includes their works of literature – with limitations and discernment, of course – but also with a free and good conscience governed and informed by the Word of God. That’s the key to the Christian’s use of this world – we view it and employ it through the “lens” of God’s Word (Calvin referred to this as living and learning through the “spectacles of Scripture.”).

What I want especially to point out to you tonight is that the Federation of PR Christian School Societies has produced various guides for the teachers to use in the areas of instruction that they teach. And one of these is a “Literature Studies Guide,” available on the page linked above. Part of that guide specifically addresses the Christian’s reading of secular literature, and from that part I would like to quote. These are the thoughts of Mr. Fred Hanko, a now-retired but long-tenured Christian school teacher. Let them be a guide to you as you make use of the classics of unbelievers:

In exploring the problem of what the Christian can do with the literary works of the unbeliever, there are a few basic ideas with which I would like to begin.
First it must be understood that there is an objective reality which includes God Himself, all things in the universe which He has created, and all the works that God has done in history.
Second, the Christian is called upon to know and understand this reality as far as his limitations and capacities allow. Third, the Christian is required to respond to this reality. The response must be of acceptance of the good and rejection of the evil, as well as belief and worship. Further, the response must include behavior toward God, toward men, and toward the earth.
Now the business of literature is communication. The objective reality is the material with which the author works. He explores this reality, he responds to it, he interprets it, and he uses the written word to communicate the results to the reader.
Note that the special feature of literature that makes it differ from other writings is that literature bears the imprint of the writer. The author himself appears in all works of literature. It may appear in his selection of materials, his interpretation of reality, in his response to reality, in any or all of these. The job of the author is to explore reality and to communicate the results to us. The author says to us, this is what I see. Do not you see it too? This is what I feel. Don’t you feel as I do? This is what we ought to do. Go forth now and do it.
When the author is a Christian, we have no problem in dealing with his works. We see reality as he sees it and we respond as he does. From his work we gain knowledge, insight we have never had before, feelings that are new to us or deeper than we have ever had before. We become better Christians than we have ever been.
Our problem, however, lies with the work of the unbeliever. Can he know reality? Can he interpret it correctly? Can he respond to it as he should? And if he can do none of these things, why should we study his work?
The answer to the first of these questions seems to be the most difficult. It seems clear that just as the scientist can observe a flower and report accurately its structure, and function, so the poet can observe the flower and say accurately, This is what I see, and this is how I feel about it. Does either the scientist or the poet speak the truth? Or both? Or possibly neither?
Since we are dealing here with the work of man, it seems proper before we try to answer that we say a few things about the nature of man. We are agreed, I think, that with the fall of Adam man lost the image of God. The loss of the image of God means that man lost the true knowledge of God, righteousness, and holiness. From that time forward his knowledge was only that of evil, his works were all unrighteousness. Man is opposed to God and in league with Satan. “All the thoughts of man’s heart were only evil continually.” Without the grace of God which restores the image of God man remains only the creature created to be an image-bearer of God but now bearing the image of Satan.
There is in man and in the works of man no neutrality of thought or actions. He is for God or he is against Him. As one created to be an image-bearer, however, he has the faculties of intellect and reason which make it possible for him to know what is true, but this truth he will not acknowledge. (Cf. Romans 1)
The unbelieving author, then, can observe reality correctly and can report it accurately even while his purpose may be to serve his idol gods. He may even be more shrewd in his analysis than the God-fearing man is. The unbelieving poet may see something in the flower that we would never see of ourselves. By reading the work of the poet, we also may see, and by our special knowledge we may gain a better understanding of God. Although the writer may have done his work in sin, we may use His work to the greater glory of God. Even the Apostle Paul used the learning of the Greeks quoting from one of their own poets in his speech at Athens.

There are more to these thoughts, and you may find them at the link above. By all means read the entire guide. You will profit immensely. And then go read, with your spiritual “eyeglasses” on.

The Law’s Function in the Covenant – Rev. R. Hanko

We have shown from Galatians 3:17-21 that the law was given as part of the covenant of God and that it still remains part of the covenant. This is to say, of course, that the law and grace are not against each other. The law is not against the covenant or its promises (v.21). We have also shown that in the covenant the law has the function, first, of discovering sin (vv.19,24). With this few would disagree.

But that is not the only function of the law as ‘the book of the covenant’ (Ex.24:7). In the covenant the law also functions as a guide for the thankful obedience that Christians are called to live as God’s covenant people.

Because of this function of the law, the believer calls the law ‘a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalm 119:105; Prov.6:23). It is a sure and safe guide along life’s pathway.

For this reason the law is also called ‘the perfect law of liberty’ and ‘the royal law’ (James 1:25; James 2:8,12). This royal law is not a new law but the ten commandments, as we see from James 2:8,11. As the royal law of liberty, given by the King of kings, it defines and sets boundaries to our liberty, thus keeping our liberty in Christ from becoming licentiousness (Gal.5:13,14).

…It is the law, therefore, that gives structure and order to the life of God’s covenant people. It defines their relationship to him so that he is glorified by their life. The law is able to do this because it reveals the nature and attributes of God and so shows us the nature of a God-glorifying life.

The law does not bring men into a covenant relationship with God, nor does it give the necessary grace to live a God-glorifying life. This they have from Christ (Gal.3:24). Nevertheless, it is still the book of the covenant, revealing how God’s covenant people may please him and be thankful to him, in word as well as in deed.

This is not to deny, however, that the believer’s relationship to the law has been changed by the coming of Christ. He is no longer under the law but under grace.

doctrine-godliness-rhanko-2004Quoted from Doctrine according to Godliness: A Primer of Reformed Doctrine by Rev. Ronald Hanko (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2004), pp.177-78. This is a section of “Part 4: The Covenant and Salvation”, where Hanko treats the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), doing so in connection with the covenant of grace.

The Law in the Psalms: “It is grace to know God’s commands.” ~ D. Bonhoeffer

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The three Psalms (1, 19, 119), which in a special way make the law of God the object of thanks, praise, and petition seek to show us, above all, the blessing of the law. Under ‘law,’ then, is to be understood usually the entire salvation act of God and the direction for a new life in obedience. Joy in the law and in the commands of God comes to us if God has given the great new direction to our life through Jesus Christ.

…It is grace to know God’s commands. They release us from self-made plans and conflicts. They make our steps certain and our way joyful. God gives his commands in order that we may fulfill them, and ‘his commandments are not burdensome’ (1 John 5:3) for him who has found all salvation in Jesus Christ.

Jesus has himself been under the law and has fulfilled it in total obedience to the Father. God’s will becomes his joy, his nourishment. So he gives thanks in us for the grace of the law and grants to us joy in its fulfillment. Now we confess our love for the law, we affirm that we gladly keep it, and we ask that we may continue to be kept blameless in it. We do that not in our own power, but we pray it in the name of Jesus Christ who is for us and in us.

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferQuoted from Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the eighth section, “The Law” (pp.31-33), where the author continues to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.

Revival Meetings in Benzonia

waiting-train-catton-1987For our Thursday history post today we return to Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train (Wayne State University Press, 1987), the multifaceted story of his life growing up in northern Michigan, specifically, Benzonia and the Crystal Lake area.

Chapter 10 is our next chapter to reference, and in “At Halfway House” he describes his final year at the Benzonia Academy and his family’s life in the halfway house there (You may remember that his father was the headmaster).

There is a lot going on in this chapter (as is true in all of Catton’s essays) – from his strenuous education to the fun he had with family and friends. But the chapter also includes his portrayal of a deep spiritual struggle going on in his soul. As a sixteen year old he wrestled with the fundamentalism of his strict Protestant upbringing while his world and worldview were also expanding through his education and exposure to significant histories and works of literature. He was trying to find his “faith,” holding on to the core doctrines of the Christian faith (he mentions specifically the Incarnation and resurrection of Jesus) while also starting to question and even doubt many of the Bible’s teachings and history. It is in many ways a revealing chapter, a glimpse into the soul of this man who was raised in such a strong Christian environment.

One of the more interesting (and revealing!) parts of this chapter to me had to do with his description and evaluation of a week of revival meetings that came to town one year. He saw right through the Arminian and charlatan tactics of the evangelist. Here’s a part of that story:

…I had an especially hard time when I was sixteen and our church put on a solid week of revival services, complete with an imported evangelist, magic lantern, colorful slides to illustrate the more imposing parables, and passionate appeals to sinners to repent and come to the mercy seat. Why our town had such services I have never been able to understand, because there cannot have been a village in all the middle west that needed them less than we did. I know Father did not altogether approve, and the word was passed that academy students were not expected to attend.

…However, I went to all the services, (I think this worried my parents a little, because they did not care much for the way this evangelist whipped up youthful emotions, but they they did not say anything to me about it.) I had been worrying about my soul just then, and this seemed a good time to expose myself to the eternal verities. The result was not good. The speaker had the evangelist’s trick of frightening people so that they would give up their sins, and inasmuch as he was an eloquent man he frightened me and made me eager to repent. Unfortunately, I had no impressive sins to repent. Benzonia just was not the place to lay in a stock of them and I had never enlarged on the few opportunities that seemed open. However, I had had doubts – still had them, and nursed them along with some pride, and to have doubts was to sin. The evangelist said so, unmistakably.

At this point Catton relates the powerful story the evangelist told at one of the meetings –  “part of the standard equipment carried by any proper evangelist” – about a young girl who was told by the minister that she ought not risk delaying for one day a profession of faith. But she chose to “take the chance,” and that very night she was killed on a sleigh ride with some friends. “The evangelist did not need to add that she had certainly gone to hell.” To this, he adds this scathing critique:

Tough, beyond question; and, equally beyond question, contrived and phony. I was just bright enough to see that, and it made me furious with this glib, shallow man who demanded that I accept something monstrous. I had never felt that the faith in which I grew up was oppressive and crippling, but suddenly he made it seem so. For the moment I wanted no more of it.

Rather telling, is it not? Catton is quite perceptive about the false methods of such evangelists and how they preyed on people’s emotions, including his own. He felt betrayed by his own faith, and well he should have when it is represented in this way.

 

Hope in the Midst of Disappointment

The May 2018 issue of Tabletalk treats the practical theme of “Hope Amid Disappointment.”

Editor Burk Parsons points us to the idea of this them in his introduction “When Hope is no More.” This is part of what he says:

Those who think life is all about being happy in themselves by finding happiness within themselves will always be disappointed. That’s precisely how God designed us. For it is only when we become utterly hopeless about ourselves that we really hope in God, and God does not disappoint, because He cannot disappoint. Becoming hopeless about ourselves takes a sovereign act of God, who alone enables us to turn from hoping in ourselves to hoping in Him alone. Hope is a gift from God. Out of the good pleasure of His will, before the foundation of the earth, He has chosen to give eternal hope to those whom He elected from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Hope is given to us by God’s grace, and it is sustained in us by God’s Spirit for our earthly and eternal good and all for God’s glory.

There are four main articles that center on this theme of hope:

Today we take some thoughts from the article by Dr. D. Murray (professor at Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI). As you will note from the title of his article, he looks at “failure and disappointment” as they are found in the Word of God. Murray shows us that the Bible never hides these two realities of life from us. Concrete examples are found in the lives of the greatest saints – from Moses and David to Peter and Thomas.

But Murray also shows us why these failures and disappointments are recorded for us: they are gospel lessons and moral lessons for us. Here are a few applications he makes on this point:

Failure Should Be Shared

One of the problems with the constant success narratives that we are fed today is the message that success is for everyone and everyone will be a success. The result is that no one is prepared when success never visits and when failure knocks at their door repeatedly. Conscious of this imbalance, Johannes Haushofer of Princeton University published a résumé listing his career failures on Twitter. He did this “in an attempt to balance the record and encourage others to keep trying in the face of disappointment.” “Most of what I try fails,” he said, “but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me.”

The Bible publishes résumés of failure for just about all the characters in it. Some of them even publish their own. The psalmists, for example, not only confess their failures but sing about them—not to celebrate them, of course, but to grieve over them and to seek God’s help with them. They are brutally honest about their lives and about how so much of life just doesn’t work out well. In Psalms 73 and 78, for example, Asaph confesses how he fails while the wicked succeed, resulting in a failure in his faith. He puts it all on the table and says, in effect, “I’m not handling this well.” God then steps in to remind him of His promises and purposes, and Asaph begins to recover his spiritual poise and equilibrium. How thankful we should be for these songs of failure that we can identify with, reminding us that we are not alone, helping us to accept that the abnormal is normal, and guiding us to bring our failures before God as well as share them with others.

And here is another good one:

Failure Does Not Define Us

The result of this is not that we never fail again. No, the result is that failure no longer defines us. Our God and Savior does not define His people by their failures but by their faith. Look at all the failures of the Old Testament saints, and yet look at how God defines them in Hebrews 11. It’s not the hall of failures but the hall of faith. He doesn’t recall their stumbles but celebrates their successes through their faith in Christ alone. Failure is still part of our identity, but it’s no longer the major part. It’s still part of our lives but it’s not definitive, it’s not the last word, and it’s certainly not the first word. Failure is not what God sees first when He looks at His people, and it shouldn’t be what we see first when we look at ourselves or other Christians either. We are righteous in Christ. That’s our primary identity. That’s what God sees first, and that’s what we should see first, too.

You will plenty of profitable reading in this issue of Tabletalk. Follow the links above and below the read more on this important subject.

Source: Failure and Disappointment in Scripture

Three New Titles in the “Theologians on the Christian Life” Series | Crossway

Crossway Publishers has recently released three more titles in its popular “Theologians on the Christian Life” series. They are:

Charles Spurgeon, widely hailed as the “Prince of Preachers,” is well known for his powerful preaching, gifted mind, and compelling personality. Over the course of nearly four decades at London’s famous New Park Street Chapel and Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon preached and penned words that continue to resonate with God’s people today.

Organized around the main beliefs that undergirded his ministry—the centrality of Christ, the importance of the new birth, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the necessity of the Bible—this introduction to Spurgeon’s life and thought will challenge readers to live their lives for the glory of God.

Table of Contents:

Series Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction
Part 1: Charles Spurgeon
1. A Man Full of Life
Part 2: Christ the Center
2. Christ and the Bible
3. Puritanism, Calvinism, and Christ
4. Christ and Preaching
Part 3: The New Birth
5. New Birth and Baptism
6. Human Sin and God’s Grace
7. The Cross and New Birth
Part 4: The New Life
8. The Holy Spirit and Sanctification
9. Prayer
10. The Pilgrim Army
11. Suffering and Depression
12. Final Glory

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commonly referred to as “the Doctor,” had a successful career in medicine before abandoning it all to become a preacher in London. His sermons—displaying the life-changing power of biblical truth—diagnosed the spiritual condition of his congregation and prescribed the gospel remedy.

This study of Lloyd-Jones’s life will encourage and exhort readers to consider the role of the knowledge of God, the power of the Spirit, and the fullness of Christ in their daily lives, allowing them to discover the inseparable union of doctrine and the Christian life.

Table of Contents:

Series Preface
Foreword by Sinclair B. Ferguson
Introduction: The Thesis
Part 1 “The Doctor”

  1. The Life and Times of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Part 2 The Doctor’s Doctrine

  1. God the Father Almighty: The Person and Work of the Father
  2. Christ and Him Crucified: The Person and Work of Christ
  3. Power from on High: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
  4. Redemption Applied: Justification and Sanctification
  5. The Church: The Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ
  6. The Last Things: Death and “the Glory”

Part 3 The Christian Life

  1. The Word
  2. Prayer
  3. Faith Working through Love
  4. Life in the Spirit at Home and Work
  5. Why Are You So Downcast? Spiritual Depression
  6. The Acid Test: The Hope of Glory

Part 4 The Doctor’s Legacy

  1. The Legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Appendix 1: The Charismatic Controversy
Appendix 2: The Secession Controversy

C. S. Lewis excelled at plumbing the depths of the human heart, both the good and the bad, the beautiful and the corrupt. From science fiction and fantasy to essays, letters, and works of apologetics, Lewis has offered a wealth of insight into how to live the Christian life.

In this book, Rigney explores the center of Lewis’s vision for the Christian life—the personal encounter between the human self and the living God. In prayer, in the church, in the imagination, in our natural loves, in our pleasures and our sorrows, God brings us into his presence so that we can become fully human: alive, free, and whole, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

Table of Contents:

Series Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction

  1. The Choice: The Unavoidable Either–Or
  2. The Gospel: God Came Down
  3. Theology: A Map to Ultimate Reality
  4. The Gospel Applied: Good Infection and Good Pretending
  5. The Devil: The Proud and Bent Spirit
  6. The Church: Worshiping with Christ’s Body
  7. Prayer: Practicing the Presence of God
  8. A Grand Mystery: Divine Providence and Human Freedom
  9. Pride and Humility: Enjoying and Contemplating Ourselves
  10. Christian Hedonics: Beams of Glory and the Quest for Joy
  11. Reason and Imagination: Truth, Meaning, and the Life of Faith
  12. Healthy Introspection: The Precarious Path to Self-Knowledge
  13. The Natural Loves: Affection, Friendship, and Eros
  14. Divine Love: Putting the Natural Loves in Their Place
  15. Hell: The Outer Darkness
  16. Heaven: Further Up and Further In
  17. Orual’s Choice: Discovering Her True Face

Conclusion
Lewis Works Cited

While some of the books in this series are better than others (Don’t forget there are titles on Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Bavinck too.), all are thought-provoking glimpses of the way in which a variety of Christian theologians have viewed the life of the child of God in this world. They make for stimulating and profitable reading.

Source: Books | Crossway.org

Justifying Faith: “We bank our present and our eternity on Jesus Christ alone, with no backup plan, no “Plan B.” He is it.”

​In our case, what justifying faith specifically means is that we abandon hope of finding meaning or purpose or God apart from Jesus as our Lord. We get out of our boat, whatever it is. We bail out on any fantasies that we are good enough, deserving enough, worthy enough. We stretch police tape across any notion of being self-sufficient, or of finding hope and life and a relationship with God anywhere but through Jesus Christ the crucified and risen master. We cling to Jesus alone, on the strength of His word alone, for hope of eternal life.

So we must know truths about Jesus’ person and work, and recognize them for what they are. We must also know that the truths are true that we know about Him, realizing that they correspond to reality, and that this has a potential impact on us. But beyond that, we must abandon ourselves to Him, we must lean on and trust in Him alone for all that He claims to offer [do not stumble over this word here; in the context he simply means “present, show forth, or hold forth]: the way, the truth, the life, forgiveness, and God. We must rest all our hopes on Jesus.

We bank our present and our eternity on Jesus Christ alone, with no backup plan, no “Plan B.” He is it.

We must not look to ourselves. We must look away to Christ, to the One who bore our sins and crimes and rebellion, on whom the holy God poured out His wrath. We look to Christ and see the perfect justice of God. We also look to Christ and see our own righteousness, the seamless and flawless purity that God demands. It is that vast, immeasurable, flawless righteousness that clothes us before God.

That’s living faith, repentant faith, which God enables in us by grace alone, and through which alone He pronounces us 100 percent righteous because of the infinite righteous perfections of Jesus Christ alone.

Though it has been some time since I posted on this book, one of the Kindle books I continue to make my way through is Dan Phillips’ The World-Tilting Gospel; Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight (Kregel, 2011). I had again put it aside for a few months to read some other things, but returned to it today to read a couple more chapters from Section 3 on God’s way of salvation.

Phillips has back-to-back chapters on justification and regeneration as the ways in which God deals with our sin problem – the guilt of it and the corruption of it, respectively. Both are good chapters, laying out the Scripture’s teaching on these two aspects of God’s saving work. I posted earlier on regeneration, so tonight I focus on his thoughts on God’s work of justification (pp.168-69). In this section Phillips is using the example of Peter walking on the water as an illustration of true, saving faith. In that light some of the language here makes more sense.

Next time we will start to look at his section on sanctification and growth in Christ – also a profitable section!

Easter Sunday: The Glorious, Gracious Good News of Christ’s Resurrection

john_20_29What a wonderful day Easter Sunday is for Christians in all ages and in every land and place! While every Sunday is truly also a remembrance and celebration of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, Easter is the special time to remember the truth of it and reflect on the wonder of it – for Jesus Christ and for us.

Today in my church we heard two wonderful gospel messages on this core truth of Christianity. Rev. C. Spronk’s two Easter sermons may be heard on Faith PRC’s Sermonaudio channel.

In this post I also want to call attention to the Resurrection Day message broadcast on the Reformed Witness Hour today. Rev. R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC, Spokane, WA) delivered a message titled “Not Faithless But Believing,” based on John 20:24-29. This is the familiar story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples, and especially to Thomas after His resurrection. Thomas needed special confirmation of his faith in the crucified and risen Savior, and Jesus led him to that through this gracious visit and conversation.

Here is part of Rev. Kleyn’s wonderful message on this pastoral work of Jesus toward one of His beloved disciples:

There are two things we should notice. First, what Jesus says to Thomas. And then second, the manner in which He says it.

In what He says, Jesus is direct and forthright. He says in verse 27: “Be not faithless, but believing.” He is saying to Thomas, “Don’t be unbelieving, but have faith.” He is telling Thomas, “This is your problem: you don’t believe, you don’t have faith when you should.” Now, that does not mean that Thomas was an unbeliever, but rather that, as a believer, he was not trusting and believing the promises and the Word of God as he should. He was refusing to accept them as true and reliable. And for the believer, that is sin, very serious sin. All our other sins get at the things of God that He has given to us and created. This sin, the sin of doubt, gets at the character of God. When we do not believe the Word and the promises of God, we are questioning His truth and His dependability.

And that is what Thomas is doing here. He did not believe what the other disciples told him. But, worse, he did not believe what Jesus had told him. Before His death, Jesus had told the disciples very plainly and repeatedly that He would rise again from the dead on the third day. He had demonstrated His power over death in raising several people from the dead. He had told His disciples, in connection with the resurrection of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life.” But they did not believe. And now, Jesus is reminding Thomas of what He had said and done and He is telling him, “You should have believed. I told you these things before. And I proved it. Be not faithless, but believing.”

We need to hear the same words of the risen Savior. Jesus is to be believed. He is to be taken at His word. Everything that He says, everything that God says in the Scriptures, is trustworthy and true. And, too often, we are faithless when we ought to be believing. Just think of the promises, all the promises of God in Scripture. And then think of your life and the times of doubt and the times that you wrestle with sin. God has promised that all our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ blood. Yet, all the weight of the guilt of sin makes us wonder sometimes about the power of the cross and the strength of God’s love. The power of sin has been overcome. It has been defeated. God has promised us His Holy Spirit. And yet, too often, in unbelief, we just give in to sin. You believe that all things work together for good to them that love God. You believe that the God who loves you and gave His Son for you is the sovereign over all things. And yet, you are troubled and anxious and faithless when trials come into your life. You believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Yet, at the grave of a loved one, fear wells up in our souls. You believe the promise of Jesus that He is going to come again and that we will be taken to heaven and glory, yet we forget that so often and we do not live in the light of that coming. And then you, then we, need to hear Jesus rebuke: “Be not faithless, but believing.” Believe the word and the promises of the risen Lord.

You may find the full transcript of this message on the RWH website here.