On The Other Side Of Repentence Is Joy

I have been obsessed with Psalm 74 for the last month or so.  I literally cannot get it off of my mind.  In a good way the Holy Spirit is haunting my soul with attempting to deeply live out and grasp what it is trying to say.  Let me share two verses with you and plead with you to linger, the way you would over a new dress, or iphone.  Take time to absorb it.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire but you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 74:25-26).

For my last post was about repentance and constantly proclaiming that Jesus is our God but we do this so that we may have the joy of our Lord.

Repent but do so with the joy that God is your only desire.  That nothing in this earth holds any weight in comparison to the richness and pleasure of God.

I imagine that when we stand on the other side of this life we will be bewildered at what we loved, thought about, served and focused on.  As we spending eternity enjoying God forever.

ryan

Grace And Other Religions

This photo is on Justin Taylor’s blog and ties in with a conversation I had tonight with a friend about God’s grace.  Grace is fundemental to the entire message of the Bible.

Rather than walk away when rejected, betrayed, and offended as many of us do in when sinned against; God at great expense continued to love us.  His grace is unimaginable to any of us and what we are all saved by.  We do nothing, God’s grace does everything.

Tonight a friend suggested to me that if God’s grace was so pervasive it would certainly have to be in other religions.  That God would make allowance for followers of other religions…right?

Yet as I was thinking about it I wonder if in our emotive pluralist upbrings we desire to infuse grace to where it is not naturally found. Shintoism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, do not place much if any emphasis on grace, in fact to most it is quite foreign. Most world religions primary emphasize self-denial, good works, and personal effort.

The central emphasis on grace is unique to Christianity.  No way any human comes up with such a radical idea that we are helpless and at God’s mercy, in fact no other religion even comes close.

ryan

The Culture Wars And Why They Will Continue

Here is something I wrote during seminary and am becoming more convinced that it might be correct.

It has become common for young Christian leaders to have apathy towards a right-wing Christianity that is constantly at odds with the culture around them.  Younger Christians are standing up and saying they want to move past the tired culture war debates that have persisted over the last 30 years.  But I have begun to wonder if this is really possible or just a naive idea.

Don’t get me wrong I think that some Christians, past and present, have too tightly tied together biblical principles and political values.  And the result has been that for many of the unchurched in our nation Christianity is a group of hypocritical bigots who are just trying to establish a puritanical theocracy.

But is it possible for biblical faithful Christians to move past the culture wars?  As much as I would like to say yes the sad truth is no, in fact I think the culture wars will only escalate in the coming decades.  And while they may go dormant with one side winning more than the other they will only boil more intensely as time goes on.

My point of this post is not to rally the troops or to prepare you to pick sides but more of to explain why I think this is the case.

Up until the Enlightenment humanity had a shared theistic/deism/Christian worldview.  This worldview grounded morality and explained how people ought to act and behave.  It was the grounding, to use the proper philosophical term, of why people acted with virtue.  We had a shared civil morality that grounded how we governed and interacted with each other.  With the Enlightenment this all changed.

Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead and with the rise of Darwinian evolution we were freed from the need to believe that God created the cosmos, therefore if God was not needed for creation he was not needed to ground our morality either.  Such statements that we find in our Declaration of Independence that ground the worth and value of humans not in what they can do or achieve but rather in their orgins/ontology no longer made any sense.  It became impossible to tell anyone why they should not steal, or harm others, other than to make secular arguments from utilitarianism about working for the greatest good for the greatest number.  But even with utilitarianism there is no grounding for the “ought” why ought one comply with what is good for the greatest number and for that matter what is good and who gets to define it?

With this moral confusion fascism, communism and uber-nationalism took root.  The history of the twentieth century bore the fruit of these new human ambitions with events such as WWI, WWII, and the atrocities of Pol-Pot in China. Secular intellectuals who put such hope in these ideologies did not return to faith for the grounding of human morality and meaning rather they reached into despair that any truth about the world was possible, thus the rise of postmodernism.

Truth became subjective (true for you but not for me), minimalistic (as long as I don’t hurt anyone) and ever changing depending on one’s culture.  Morality was turned into a hodgepodge of sentimental consensus and preference.  Which effectively stripped it of a sturdy basis to speak out against moral evils.

Without a grounding for morality no moral consensus can be reached, which is why we are in an ongoing culture war.  Human rights, and morality once grounded in Creator God are now subjective instead of objective.

Without God and grounding our morality in him we are left with no real resource to say what is good or evil, right or wrong, or how humans ought to live. And these are really the root issues and matters that undergird all of the culture wars, and why they will only intensify over time.  For the Christian, human rights, morality, and truth are knowable and rooted in God.  For many secular liberals nothing could be more absurd and disdainful.  As time wears on this cultural divide will only make itself more apparent in our elections, educational systems, entertainment, and laws.

Of course I am not advocating a “us vs. them” posture.  I am simply attempting to explain the culture wars and why they will continue.  It will be the responsibility of every mature follower of Jesus to deftly navigate these perilous culture waters and love both the truth God has objectively given to us and our neighbor.

ryan

The Doctrine of Union With Christ

Had a great conversation with a friend tonight and he was telling me about how he did not understand what it means to be “in Christ.”  Paul uses this phrase constantly in his writing and for many of us we just kind of gloss right over it.  Yet there might not be anymore precious, practical doctrine that a Christian can live in than that of our Union with Christ through the reconciliation that took place on the Cross.

It reminded me of how much I have profited from learning about what our Union in Christ means.  If you are looking to really delve into it listen to Phil Ryken’s talk from the Gospel Coalition on the topic.

First let me say that this doctrine is somewhat mysterious, just like the teaching of a husband and wife becoming one (Eph. 5:32) so to is the union between us and Jesus.  We must be humble in speaking about our union with Christ as it does have a mystical component that we must leave open to the will of the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean we can not say anything in fact there are some glorious truths we can state confidently.

1. First our union with Jesus is legal.  When we our viewed by God the Father it is through Christ and his righteousness that he sees us.  This does not mean he does not see us and only Jesus, but that when he sees us it is in union with Christ and therefore Creator God views us as justified.

2. Our union with Christ is spiritual.  The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is the bond that holds us in Christ.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit we die with Christ, are reborn with Christ, and live new life with Christ.  The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ in a supernatural way in that as we grow over time to imitate Jesus and look more like him, it is done by the work of the Holy Spirit.

3. Our union with Christ is powerful.  Because of our union with Christ Jesus’ life flows through us renewing our minds, hearts, and desires (Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 4).  We are transformed to be like Jesus, not through our own power (which we could never have) but because of our union with Christ.

4. Our union with Christ sustains us.  In John 15 Jesus unpacks how he is the vine and we are the branches.  Jesus tells us we can do nothing.  Grasp that you can do nothing outside of your union with Christ.  As a branch Jesus will prune you so that you can bear fruit which is our last one.

5.  Our union with Christ allows us to bear spiritual fruit.  Jesus allows intended to reconcile all things to himself through us and his Great Commission.  Your relationship with Jesus is incomplete and not meant to be just you and him.  Jesus was clear that as his branches he always intended that we bear fruit, that is spiritual fruit.

Our union with Christ is the Christian life, it is our salvation.

ryan

Doug Groothuis: MeWorld

My former Professor at Denver Seminary has a fun blog that I like to read on occasion called The Constructive Curmudgeon.  His posts are often thought provoking and convicting for me.  Here is a post he wrote a few days ago about the implicit self-absorption that makes up much of our current culture.  He entitled he parody post “MeWorld” which I think says it all.

Hi, this is Me.

You need to know everything about Me. Here are hundreds of photos of Me. I am cool, cute, in the know, have photogenic friends, and those who aren’t make Me look better. I can strike a pose, even hundreds of them: Me on display for you.

You need to know all My likes and dislikes, too: My favorite TV shows, movies, video games, foods, celebrities, clothes, tweets, and more. My trivia is your treasure–because it’s Mine.

It’s MeWorld: just Me for everyone out there, because you need to know Me. I need more friends on Facebook, more twitter partners, more posts on My blog, more cell calls, more links to Me, more emails to Me, more YouTube videos featuring Me.
You need to know everything about Me.

Don’t you? Hello…

You Need The Gospel Everyday

I have begun in recent months to preach, or hear the gospel every morning to start my day.  I read it, listen to it, and watch it.  I want the gospel to permeate all of my life all of the time and be ready to share it with others in a clear compelling manner.

Here is Mark Driscoll doing an amazing job of preaching the gospel.  Start your day off with hearing it and think about it through the day.

Summer Reading List

My brother in-law and I recently had an email exchange in which I listed out some books I would recommend for summer reading.  Thought I would post my recommendations here for others in case your looking for some good books to read this summer.

1.  Displines of Grace by Jerry Bridges.  This is the best book I have read this year.  In fact it is so good that I never had to mark my page because I just had to find the last page that was highlighted.  I am planning to start reading again in the next month.


2. Prodigal God by Keller.  Not sure if you have read this but it has made the second read list for me.  It might be very helpful given your traditional culture you find yourself in as it has great insight into how to love the “older brother.”

3. Kingdom Triangle by JP Moreland.  Another great book about the culture we live in and the spirit-filled life God is calling us to.

4.  Finally Alive by John Piper.  This is the second best book I have read this year as it takes on the doctrine of Regeneration at a practical and biblical level like I have never encountered.  Sadly, many of us Christians understand how we are saved (the doctrine of Justification) but not what we are saved into (A new creation in Christ).  Read this book slowly and follow along with all the biblical references to see how regeneration is all over the Bible.

The Institutes by John Calvin.  The edition I am reading can be found here. I was told by some profs at seminary that it is the best one. and I have been deeply edified by reading The Institutes as I am now at the half point of my year long read through of the Institutes.

Enjoy,

ryan