Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Captivating Truth of Creation

Wednesday's sermon is now available online. Colossians 1:15-17 is an absolutely stunning text in all that it asserts. Jesus is God made flesh. Jesus is the Lord over all of creation. Jesus is the Pre-existent I AM. Jesus holds all things together. That is enough to blow our minds. Yet, as Paul expounds on Jesus being the Lord over all creation in verse 16, the scope absolutely is astounding. Everything was created by the means of, through, and for Jesus Christ.

Why is Mercury closer to the sun than Jupiter? Because Jesus thought that was a good idea? Why was I created? Because Jesus thought it was a good idea. He created me because He wanted to, and he did so for His glory. If that does not give us significance I am not sure what does. EVERYTHING was created by, through, and for Jesus. Truly astounding.

One final thing, did you realize that Jesus was actively involved in knitting Judas together in his mother's womb? In one sense Jesus planted the tree that became the Cross he hung on. He wrote the Passion story. From the rocks under his feet, to the spit that wet his brow, to the blood which dripped from his veins. He poetically wrote the whole thing. Why? Because he wanted to and for His glory. What a mighty God we serve!

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 12)

The Canvas:

The fourteenth characteristic of the godly man is that he is a heavenly man; that is "heaven is in him before he is in heaven." How is a godly man heavenly? Watson gives us six ways:
  1. In his election (He chooses the heavenly over the earthly)
  2. In his disposition (His affections are set above)
  3. In his communication (His speech is heavenly--not mute nor defiled)
  4. In his actions (He is sublime and sacred in his motions)
  5. In his expectation (He is hopeful--even in affliction and death)
  6. In his conduct (He imitates Christ)

We are then exhorted by two principles. The first is that "to be godly and earthly is a contradiction". If we are "eaten up by the world" then how can we be godly? This, says Watson is Satan's ploy, "to keep [men] from heaven by making them seek a heaven here" (107).

The second principle is that we ought to be raised in our affections. To assist in this endeavor Watson gives four considerations. If we are to raise our affections then we must first consider that God himself sounds a retreat to us to call us off the world. This ought to be enough to encourage us to cast off all worldly restraint, yet Watson will continue. Not only does God command us to cast off the world, but to not do so is quite foolish: consider how much below a Christian it is to be earthly-minded. We see this by the contrast Watson makes in points 3 and 4: consider what a poor, contemptible thing the world is and consider what a glorious place heaven is. Watson then closes the chapter by expounding on the ways that heaven is a better place. Example: In that country there are better delights.


On page 107 Watson says this, "We shall never go to heaven when we die unless we are in heaven while we live." Do you agree?

Does Watson's maxim--to be godly and earthly is a contradiction--apply to the recent discussions on contextualization? When Watson speaks of men being buried twice because "the earth swallows up their time, thoughts, and discourse, could this be a danger to those overly concerned with being "relevant" and "contextualizing the gospel"?

Strokes of Genius:

"...hope lightens and sweetens the most severe dispensations." (106)

"...the earth swallows up their time, thoughts, and discourse. They are buried twice; their hearts are buried in the earth before their bodies." (107)

"Surely dying times are to make men die to the world." (108)

175th Anniversary Notes

As part of our ongoing celebration of the 175th anniversary celebration as a church body, we have been delving into the historical records. The church minutes have noted the coming and going of pastors, the disciplinary actions taken within the body, and ongoing business of keeping a church organization functional. Some of the most revealing parts of our records comes from the occasional updating & adoption of Constitutions, Rules of Decorum, and Church Covenants.

Below I've copied what our church adopted in 1869. Read through it. Take note of how the church saw its duty to be responsible to & for one another before her Lord. In our age of individualism and corporate distrust, we would do well to look to the past to see if perhaps our forefathers better understood what it means for the church to be one body of one Spirit serving together in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look also at "Article II. Powers" noting the restrictions the body places upon herself in acknowledging the church's rightful submission to the authority of Christ as Lawgiver. Even in her judicial responsibilities, she is submissive solely to the Word of God.

Saturday, January 9, 1869

The church met at 4 o’clock p.m. Reading, singing and prayer by the moderator.
1st The minutes of the last regular and subsequent called meetings read and on motion adopted.

2nd The report of the committee on Constitutions, Articles of Faith, and Rules of Decorum was called for, submitted, received, (Committee discharged), amended and adopted as follows:

Constitution & Rules of Decorum
of the First
Baptist Church
Palmyra, MO

I Constitution

Article I. Name
This church shall be known as the First Baptist Church of Christ, Palmyra, MO

Article II. Powers
This church in her ecclesiastical capacity has no legislative power, only Executive and Judicial. Christ is her Lawgiver and the New Testament her Rule of faith and practice; and the enactments of this Constitution and these rules of decorum are founded upon the upon the New Testament, or pertain only to the church in her business capacity.

Article III. Articles of Faith
1. We believe in one only true and living God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and there three are one.

2. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and the only Rule of Faith and Practice.

3. That by nature we are fallen and depraved creatures.

4. That regneration, justification, sanctification, and salvation are only by the life, death , resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit.

5. That all the saints will finally persevere from grace to glory.

6. That believers baptism is only immersion, and is necessary to the receiving of the Lord’s Supper.

7. That the salvation of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.

8. That no minister has the right to administer the ordinances, until he legally comes under the imposition of hands.
9. That it is our duty to be tender one toward another, and study generally the happiness of God’s people at large, and endeavor to promote the honor and glory of God.

10. We believe in election by grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

11. That it is our duty to commune with orderly Baptists only.

12. That each church has a right to keep up its own government as it may seem best.

Article IV. Covenant
As we trust we have been brought by divine grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of his Spirit to give ourselves up to him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other, that God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully warn, rebuke, and admonish one another, as the care shall require.

That we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor omit the great duty of prayer,
both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each other’s joys, and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that we will seek divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectly and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust; that we will strive together for the support of faithful evangelical ministry among us; that we will endeavor by example and effort to win souls to Christ; and through life amidst evil report and good report, seek to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quotes from T4G

On his blog, Matt Schmucker gave his three favorite quotes from John MacArthur at Together For The Gospel

"1. "Soft preaching makes for hard people."
2. "Preachers are the only ones in the world who can take no credit for everything we do (except the mistakes)."
3. "It's not about how cool you are, but how clear you are."

If I remember correctly, MacArthur also pointed out that "Hard preaching makes for soft hearts/people."

Friday, April 18, 2008

T4G '08

I had privilege of attending Together For The Gospel again this year. Its hard to put into words all the Lord said/did in my heart. Of course others have blogged much and since one can download the sessions, I'd suggest you do that. Do not forget to download the panel discussions when they become available. Much of value is found there.

It was refreshing to hear these Evangelical heavy-weights in their group discussion, especially when they opened up to admit they too struggle with issues such as having to work oneself up to witness to a lost person. (John Piper)

Thabiti Anyawabile's sermon was powerful and opened our eyes to the necessity of seeing those people who look/act/talk/dress/etc differently as fundamentally being just like us.....sinners in the need of God's grace.

While the messages and flow of things at T4G '06 was wonderful and meaningful, there was something of a different spiritual plane in '08. I know that topics were assigned and arranged. But the hand of God was powerfully moving as these men went through their sermon preparation. It was as if all eight got together, looked over one another's sermons, made some adjustments, and then preached one deep, powerful, connected, inspiring, convicting 8 hour sermon. It was clear from some of the comments made during panel discussions that they were taken aback at how God fine tuned this one.

I do have one, personal observation to make regarding this or any other conference of this nature one might attend. I went to T4G a bit tired, worn-out, and physically unprepared. It's always good to get away to refresh. I certainly was moved by the Spirit throughout. However, I know I did not get all I could from T4G this year because of my worn-out condition leading up to the conference. From time to time, my attention lagged and I had to work to keep up. I look back realizing that had I made sure that I was well rested before my arrival, the blessings would have been all the more.

So, what did I learn from this?
Don't just show up with packed bags, money to buy books, and a hotel reservation.
Prepare for the conference itself.
Pray. Meditate. Get plenty of sleep BEFORE you go.
(Hmmmmm, perhaps Sundays would be all the more if I made sure that my Saturday schedule was conducive to rest and preparation for His Day.)

I Need Your Help

To my fellow gospel ministers:

If you had 13 weeks to train a young man for ministry (knowing he will get more training later) what things would you be sure to cover? And what resources would you use?

It is all in my head and heart somewhere...I am having difficulty mapping it out and making it organized. I would hate the first 3 weeks being spent on me trying to figure out where we are going.

Here is what I have so far. I am wanting to sum it up as best I can. I have found five broad categories of ministry. Lead. Plead. Read. Bleed. And for lack of a better rhyming term...Breed. I want to teach a few principles of leadership--mostly that we are called to be a servant (Mt. 20:20-28). Here is a list so far:

Lead with gentleness (1 Pet. 3:16)
Lead with courage (Joshua 1)
Lead with humility (Phil. 2:3, 1 Pet. 5:5)
Lead with your life, authenticity (1 Thess. 2:8, 2 Tim. 3:10-11)
Lead with holiness, example (2 Tim. 2:22-26)
Lead with labor, suffering (2 Tim. 2:3)
Lead with passion, fervency (1 Pet. 5:1-5)
Lead with appropriate patience (1 Thess. 5:14)

There needs to be some teaching about where leadership comes from; this will probably be covered in our discussion of Matthew 20.

What would you add? What resources would you use? How would you teach these things? Obviously modeling them in my own life. How would you put this young man in situations where these graces would be brought out and cultivated?

Later I will discuss--Plead, Read, Bleed, and....Oh, I really need another name for this...Breed.

UPDATE: I think I have figured out how to avoid the word "breed" as a category. The concept of reproducing can fall under a category in leadership. One of the categories will now be "lead to be replaced".

Content by grace or disposition?

In contentment "there is a compound of all graces". It is not merely an exercise of a natural quietness, nor a sturdy resolution. Neither is it from natural (unsanctified) reason. This grace is truly spiritual. It is a grace. Burroughs will expound more on this grace when dealing with the Mystery of Contentment. For now, he only wants to show the difference. He explains it thus:

"Those who are content in a natural way overcome themselves when outward afflictions befall them and are content. They are just as content when they commit sin against God. When they have outward crosses or when God is dishonoured, it is all one to them; whether they themselves are crossed or whether God is crossed."

Admonishment: Be broken for sin, joyous for trials.

For Your Consideration: Does your emotion and "contentment" match the situation. Are you always joyful, even in the midst of sin--or does it cause you to mourn? Are you mourning under affliction and refusing to look to Christ? We must pursue brokenness for sin and joy in the midst of trials.

True contentment is more like natural heat than warming your pants by a fire

True Christian contentment is an inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit. Burroughs expounds upon what he means by "frame of spirit". Firstly, he means that it is a grace that spreads throughout the whole body. It begins in the judgment and spreads to the thoughts, the will, and the affections. The contentment that Burroughs speaks of reaches all the way to the affections. He cites David in Psalm 42 as an example of one that "could not get this grace of contentment to go through the whole frame of his soul." He later says, "there is such unruliness in our thoughts and affections that our judgments are not always able to rule our thoughts and affections". Yet, if we are to have that which Burroughs is referencing it must reach our thoughts and affections.

Secondly, this contentment comes from the frame of the soul. "It does not come from outward arguments or from any outward help, as from the disposition of their own hearts". This section is where Burroughs graces us with the "warming your pants" metaphor. It may seem a little silly but it is brilliantly accurate. Those without this grace of Christian contentment may be like the man who warms his pants by the fire. It is heated from the outside and will provide him warmth. However, if his body is not working properly and supplying him natural heat then the warm pants will eventually cool. If he has natural heat then it is warming from the inside out. It will then stay warm; with or without the fire from the outside. So it is with Christian contentment.

Thirdly, it is a "frame of spirit that shows the habitual character of this grace of contentment". Rather than having a day with a "good mood" and then another day of a "bad mood", the truly content Christian will have a "good mood" as the "constant tenor and temper of his heart". Burroughs closes out this section with a rather strong statement: "A Christian who, in the constant tenor and temper of his heart, can carry himself quietly with constancy has learned this lesson of contentment. Otherwise his Christianity is worth nothing, for no one, however furious in his discontent, will not be quiet when he is in a good mood".

It should be noted that Burroughs is not saying that if a man does not have contentment then his "Christianity is worth nothing". I believe what Burroughs is saying here is that if the contentment is not constant, and comes from this inward frame, and is only temporary then your Christianity is not doing anything any more than a good mood could do. So, in this very situation, your Christianity is not profiting you any more than a day of sunshine might. (I think my interpretation would be confirmed by Burroughs typical soft and irenic speech--interpreting it too strongly would go against typical Burroughs).

Admonishment: Be certain that your contentment is not merely a "good mood".

For Your Consideration: Burroughs wants us to feel a little discouraged at this point. He is desiring to pitch the matter a little high. His desire is to help us see that this is not something we can attain on our own. After letting your defenses down, sincerely ask yourself this question: Is my contentment truly a "constant tenor and temper" of my heart?

The Jewel:

"That which comes from the gracious temper of one's spirit will last." (p28)

Continue on to our discussion of section 4, Chapter 1 The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.

Borrowed Light: This Week in Blogworld

Perhaps you've noticed the change in title. Instead of doing a "Today in Blogworld" we will now be moving to a "This Week". If something is pressing then I will provide a link throughout the week. As of now, we will be posting all of our links on Friday or Saturday of every week.

Michael Patton charts four views of God's sovereignty? Where are you on the chart? I am in between meticulous sovereignty and providential sovereignty. I'm probably a little to the right of John Piper.

Pulpit Magazine offers us a series on ministry to children. They consider When to Baptize Your Children, Proverbs and Parenting, Evangelizing Your Children Part 1 and 2.

Jared hits the nail on the head with his post on The New Legalism

Erin Sutherland continues the New Attitude series on applying the gospel to every day life. She discusses The Gospel and Relationships (for Girls)

Phil Johnson's final entry on Acts 17: Paul and Charitableness

Many bloggers went to the Together 4 the Gospel Conference (Hence, the small number of links). I was not one of them. I could link to all of their notes, but instead I will only point you to the audio for all the sermons. This should keep you busy.

This is also from T4G:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 11)

The Canvas:

The thirteenth characteristic of a godly man is that he is sincere. By "sincere" Watson means that the godly man is "what he seems to be...he strives to approve himself to God in ingenuous in laying open his sins...has blessed designs in all that he does...and he abhors dissimulation with men". Sincerity, says Watson, "is not strictly a grace but rather the ingredient in every grace". If we do not have sincerity then we do not rightly have grace. To stir us in striving for this characteristic Watson gives us 9 things to consider:
  1. Sincerity renders us lovely to God
  2. Sincerity makes our services find acceptance with God
  3. Sincerity is our safety
  4. Sincerity is gospel perfection
  5. Sincerity is what the devil attacks most
  6. Sincerity is the beauty of a Christian
  7. Consider the vileness of hypocrisy
  8. If the heart is sincere, God will wink at many failings
  9. Nothing but sincerity will give us comfort in an hour of trouble


I suppose I should clarify what Watson means by "sincerity is gospel perfection". This is what Watson said under this point: "Though a Christian is full of infirmities and, like a child that is put out to nurse, weak and feeble, God still looks on him as if he were completely righteous."

Watson has an excellent point that sincerity is what the devil attacks most. "Let men go to church and make glorious pretences of holiness. Satan does not oppose this; this does him no hurt and them no good; but if men want to be sincerely pious, then Satan musters up all his forces against them."

One point that Watson makes is that the godly man is ingenuous (free, open) in laying open his sins. He says that the "hypocrites veils and smothers his sin. He does not cut off his sin but conceals it." This reminds me of Derek Webb's introduction to his song "I Repent" on his House Show album. We in American Christendom are very good about hiding and clothing our sin. In fact that is often what we make our spiritual pursuit about. Webb then went on to say that the best thing that could happen to us would be for our most vile sins to be exposed on the 6:00 news. Watson seems to agree. We ought to be specific and open about our sinfulness. For some reason we have bought the lie that our most faithful witness is mock purity.

Strokes of Genius:

"There is a time coming shortly, when a smile from God's face will be infinitely better than all the applause of men". (97)

"Satan does not oppose profession, but sincerity." (100-101)

"...what the devil most assaults, we must strive most to maintain" (101)

On to Part 12...

Who Said It?

"...the saving acceptance of Christ is not forced, but voluntary. None are forced to come to Christ; it is a 'free choice'." And then in closing the preacher proclaims: "God has sent me to you to make you the offer. Christ has sent me to give you an invitation".

Who said it? Do you agree?

This man's doctrine could be summed up this way:

"So, then, the invitation is given to all, and no one who gets Christ gets him any other way than by a 'free choice'".

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 10)

Today we will be looking at Watson's twelth characteristic of a godly man; prayer. "A godly man cannot live without prayer", says Watson. But do not hypocrites prayer? How is the prayer of a godly man different than that of a hypocrite? His answer is that the prayer of a godly man is spiritual. But how do we know if a prayer is spiritual or not? We are given 12 marks of a spiritual prayer:

  1. A spiritual prayer is with knowledge
  2. A spiritual prayer is when the heart and spirit pray
  3. A spiritual prayer is a fervent prayer
  4. A spiritual prayer comes from a broken heart
  5. A spiritual prayer is a believing prayer
  6. A spiritual prayer is a holy prayer
  7. A spiritual prayer is a humble prayer
  8. A spiritual prayer is when we pray in the name of Christ
  9. A spiritual prayer is when we pray out of love to prayer
  10. A spiritual prayer is when we have spiritual goals in prayer
  11. A spiritual prayer is accompanied by the use of means
  12. A spiritual prayer is that which leaves a spiritual mood behind upon the heart

Therefore, if one does not pray in this manner then he cannot be said to be praying spiritually. And if he is not praying spiritually then he is not godly. Nor are those that do not pray at all, nor those that pray seldom, nor those that do not pray "in the Holy Ghost". (By "praying in the Holy Ghost", Watson does not mean praying with tongues. Praying in the Holy Ghost, to Watson is praying a spiritual prayer).

We are urged by Watson to pray. Be as Daniel that prayed three times a day. Or a Martin Luther that prayed three hours every day. Some may ask, why bother praying when God has made so many promises of blessings? Because prayer is "the condition annexed to the promise". To further encourage us in prayer Watson says that "prayer is a seed sown in God's ear", it is also powerful, and it is accompanied by the promises of God. Furthermore, we must consider that the Holy One, Jesus Christ, is our Mediator and makes our prayers holy. Therefore, we must prayer aright. To do so is to pray in the ways mentioned, in the power of the Holy Spirit.


If sin, "poisons and infests prayer", how are we to ever pray as we ought? Perhaps this is the importance of "praying in the name of Christ". Whenever we pray "in the hope and confidence of Christ's mediation" we are hoping that he may purify our prayers with His righteousness.

I absolutely love Watson's eleventh mark of a spiritual prayer. So often we pray for things and then do not accompnay those prayers with the use of means. It is like the proverbial idiot that is stranded in a flood, refuses the help of a friendly boat and the rescue team, "because God is going to save him". God has given us the use of means. If we a praying for spiritual fruit and not using these means, then our failure is due to our ignorance, not God's inability to answer prayer.

What do you think Watson means when he says of those that do not "pray in the Holy Ghost" that "they exercise their inventiveness more than their affection"?

If prayer weeds out sin and waters grace, is it still grace? Must grace be watered?

Do you agree that prayer, "finds God free, but leaves him bound"?

Strokes of genius:

"If the heart does not accompany duty, it is speaking, not praying. (89)

"Praying without faith is shooting without bullets." (90)

"[The godly man] is not forced [to pray] with fear but fired with love" (92)

"To pray for holiness and neglect the means is like winding up the clock and taking off the weights." (93)

"Prayer is a bomb which will make heaven's gates fly open." (96)

On to Part 11...

2008 NFL Schedule Released

The 2008 NFL Schedule was released a few minutes ago. The Browns have a very tough schedule this year, playing against their own division, the AFC South and the NFC East. That means Colts, Jags, Titans, Cowboys, Eagles, Skins, Giants. The Brownies have 3 Monday Night games, 1 Thursday night, and 1 Sunday Night. I am excited about that, but a little disappointed in all of the 3:00 starts. Here is the complete Browns schedule:

Sept 7 Dallas @ Cleveland 3:15
Sept 14 Pittsburgh @ Cleveland 7:15
Sept 21 Cleveland @ Baltimore 3:15
Sept 28 Cleveland @ Cincinnati Noon
Oct 5 Bye Week
Oct 13 NY Giants @ Cleveland 7:30
Oct 19 Cleveland @ Washington 3:15
Oct 26 Cleveland @ Jacksonville 3:05
Nov 2 Baltimore @ Cleveland Noon
Nov 6 Denver @ Cleveland 7:15
Nov 17 Cleveland @ Buffalo 7:30
Nov 23 Houston @ Cleveland Noon
Nov 30 Indianappolis @ Cleveland Noon
Dec 7 Cleveland @ Tennessee Noon
Dec 15 Cleveland @ Philadelphia 7:30
Dec 21 Cincinnati @ Cleveland Noon
Dec 28 Cleveland @ Pittsburgh Noon

I will optimistically give the Browns 9 wins. I am predicting beating Baltimore, Cincy, and Pittsburgh at least once. Houston, Buffalo, and Denver. Probably split with the NFC East, beating Washington and the Giants. And beating either Jacksonville, Indy, or Tennessee. Tennessee might be weaker this year, and they always play Jacksonville well. It is possible that they could sweep both Baltimore and Cincy. A twelve win season is not out of the realm of possibility. But as all Browns fans neither is a five win season. Go Brownies!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Review of Jerry Bridges--The Gospel for Real Life

Author: Jerry Bridges

Pages: 208

Publisher: NavPress

Price: 8.99

Genre: Christian Living

Quick Summary:

All believers in Jesus Christ understand the importance of the gospel; at least its importance for the beginning stages of our relationship with Jesus. Yet, many believers live “lives of quiet desperation”. Jerry Bridges believes the reason is that we “have a truncated view of the gospel, tending to see it only as a door we walk through to become a Christian.” (14) To combat this “truncated view of the gospel” Bridges proposes that we preach the gospel to ourselves daily. This book is the unfolding of that gospel.

We begin the unfolding of the gospel where it ought to begin, at the Cross. And there, our author expounds its meaning and drives its implications into the core of our lives. Bridges teaches weighty doctrine; and he does so simply. He teaches on propitiation as if it is an every day word, and fleshes out its implications into our every day lives. We learn about justification. We learn about reconciliation. We learn about adoption. We learn about sanctification. All of this is written in an easy to read manner. Bridges is also careful to remind us that we are “not to be a terminus point for the gospel, but rather the way station in its progress to the ends of the earth.” Not only are we to enjoy the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, we are also to spread that joy to the nations.

What I Liked:

Churches need this book. Bridges writes about very weighty theological topics in a very succinct and simple manner. It has been said that to really grasp something is to be able to communicate it simply. Bridges must really understand the gospel. Through beautiful story-telling, pointed analogies, and soul-stirring metaphors Bridges makes deep truths easily understood.

The principle behind this book and its Christ-centered, gospel-loving nature will make this a timeless classic. It causes the reader to want more. More of the gospel and more of our Savior. It reminds us that the gospel is meant for every day. To truly apply the principles in this book would revolutionize our individual lives and our churches.

What I Disliked:

“Dislike” is probably too strong of a word. One of the greatest qualities in this book is also one of its most distracting. The simplicity of this book can cause the deeper reader to get a tad bored. The material is wonderful and Bridges writes in such a way to combat that. It is probably more a reflection of my own heart and not being in awe of the great work of Christ as I ought to be as it is Bridges writing. Nonetheless, the reader does have to stay focused. This book is better read reflecting on a chapter at a time. Unless of course it is new material, then soak it up and read it three times over.

Should You Buy This Book?

Yes. Pastor’s buy a few for your congregation. Lead a study on this. It does have a study guide in the back. This would be very fitting for a small group. Buy one and live by it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What quietness of heart is, and is not, opposed to

Simply saying that a contented soul is "quiet of the heart" might cause confusion. Some may actually attain this but because of confusion may think they do not. Others, perhaps by their naturally quiet disposition, may think this is their lot but indeed it is not. Therefore Burroughs gives three things that a quiet of the heart is not opposed to:
  1. To a due sense of affliction. Simply ignoring problems and dusting them under a rug as if they do not exist, is not true contentment. Burroughs is saying that we ought to "be sensible of what we suffer". In fact if we are to truly be content we must know what it is we suffer. "Indeed, there would be no true contentment if you were not apprehensive and sensible of your afflictions, when God is angry".
  2. To making in an orderly manner our moan and complaint to God, and to our friends. Some believe that in order to be content we must constantly shut our mouths to our affliction. Burroughs encourages us to take our complaint to God and to discuss matters with our friends.
  3. To all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances, nor to endeavoring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means. Some believe that seeking a way out of suffering and affliction is in itself unholy. Burroughs would disagree. As he would later say, "God is thus far mercifully indulgent to our weakness, and he will not take it ill at our hands if by earnest and importunate prayer we seek him for deliverance until we know his good pleasure in the matter. His advice is simple, seek the will of God and be melted up into that.

Our author then gives eight things that the quiet of the heart is opposed to:

  1. Murmuring and repining at the hand of God
  2. Vexing and fretting
  3. Tumultuousness of spirit (confused and distracted thoughts)
  4. An unsettled and unstable spirit, distracted from our duty
  5. Distracting, heart-consuming cares
  6. Sinking discouragements
  7. Sinful shiftings and shirkings to get relief and help
  8. Desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion

Admonishment: Cast all your cares upon God, doing so in faith.

For Your Consideration: I love Burroughs honesty here. He realizes that we have struggles and even gives sympathy to those that are predisposed to "melancholy". He seems to understand that suffering is going to happen and we are foolish to pretend that it is not happening when we find ourselves in its grips. Yet, Burroughs does not sway to the other extreme of giving too much undue focus on the problem itself. He seems to say acknowledge the suffering, take it to God, but do so with a heart of faith. Do not get distracted or start repining and rebelling against God. Take your troubles to him in faith.

The Jewel:

"Indeed, if his people stand in need of miracles to bring about their deliverance, miracles fall as easily from God's hands as to give his people daily bread...God would have us to depend on him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise we do not show a quiet spirit." (p24)

Continue on to our discussion of section 3, Chapter 1 in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 9)

The Canvas:

All I can really say after reading this section is wow, ouch, and Lord, break me! In this section Watson discusses the eleventh characteristic of a godly man: humility. This is not a section on being humbled, nor of a mere outward humility. The type of humility that Watson is talking about is an inward, true, soul humility. We are given ten marks of a humble soul:
  1. A humble soul is emptied of all swelling thoughts of himself
  2. A humble soul thinks better of others than of himself
  3. A humble soul has a low esteem of his duties
  4. A humble soul is always preferring bills of indictment against himself ("He complains, not of his condition, but of his heart")
  5. A humble soul justifies God in an afflicted condition
  6. A humble soul is a Christ-magnifier
  7. A humble soul is willing to take a reproof for sin
  8. A humble soul is willing to have his name and gifts eclipsed, so that God's glory may be increased
  9. A humble soul likes that condition which God sees best for him.
  10. A humble Christian will stoop to the meanest person and the lowest office

Even after reading these there will be some that are prideful. As Watson says, "this bastard of pride is born but none are willing to father it." He then determines to ask a few probing questions to try to drive pride out of the heart: Are not those who are given to boasting proud? Are not those who have a high opinion of their own excellencies proud? Are not those who despise others proud? Are not those who trumpet their own praise proud? Are not those who take the glory due to God to themselves proud? Are not those who are never pleased with their condition proud?

We must strive to be humble, says Watson. And there are many reasons for us to be humble. Humility is very valuable. It is valuable because God loves a humble soul. The times in which we live (true in our day as it was in Watson's) are times of humbling. Consider what a horrid sin pride is. Those that love Christ cannot be comfortable with the idolatry of pride. We must flee from it because it is the "breakneck of souls". If this is not enough motivation Watson appeals (it seems) to our innate sense of pride; humility raises one's esteem in the eyes of others. At this point I was pleading with advice on pursuing humility. Watson delivers.

  • Look at Christ
  • Study God's immensity and purity; a sight of glory humbles
  • Study thyself (our dark side, and our light side)

When we are doing these things we must consider the means of grace we have received and how disproportionate that is to our level of godliness. Consider that even the grace we have is not of our own growth. Look at how far short we come of others (could a prideful man even see this). Remember that even our beauty is spotted. And lastly, as we look at ourselves remember that we are but dust. Ought dust to be proud? A reality of death ought to humble.


How do you battle pride and cultivate humility in your life?

Do you think Watson should have appealed to the prideful man's hope of being esteemed in the eyes of others?

In a discussion on prideful attire Watson mentions, "black spots, gaudy attire, and naked breasts". Does anyone have any clue what the "black spots" are?

Strokes of Genius:

"A humble man has lower thoughts of himself than others can have of him." (p78)

"A humble man values others at a higher rate than himself, and the reason is because he can see his own heart better than he can another's." (p79)

"The more knowledge a humble Christian has, the more he complains of ignorance; the more faith, the more he bewails his unbelief."

"A humble content to be outshone by others in gifts and esteem, so that the crown of Christ may shine the brighter." (p81)

"A proud man complains that he has no more; a humble man wonders that he has so much..." (p81)

"An angel is a knowledgeable creature, but take away humility from an angel, and he is a devil." (p82)

"A sight of glory humbles." (p86)

(Concerning graces received) "Do not be proud of what you have, but be humble for what you lack". (p86)

"The thoughts of the grave should bury our pride." (p87)

On to Part 10...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Borrowed Light: Today in Blogworld 04/08-04/12

Timmy Brister has a short and succinct post on how to be a missionary at work.

I am pleased to inform you that the Reformed Mafia is back up and running. Not only that, but they have recruited a new writer: The Highland Host. Check out his first post on Monkeying with the Bible.

Last week Challies encouraged us to be accountable. Today he is encourging against being anonymous.

Phil Johnson continues discussing Acts 17 and contextualization.

John MacArthur lists eight ways that parents can provoke their children.

Carolyn and CJ Mahaney give practical advices to pastor's wives on how to deal with criticism of your husband.

On the heels of Together for the Gospel, Josh Harris, writing for New Attitude, delivers a great article on Unity in the Cross.

I have to get this CD:

(HT: Thinklings)

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 8)

The Canvas:

Today we will discuss the tenth characteristic of a godly man: he has the Spirit of God residing in him. Watson starts this section by dismissing the heresy of Montanus and instead proposing that rather than taking upon His essence he flow to us in measure. He reveals himself in us, Watson says by his motions and by his virtues. We are then given seven virtues of the Spirit of God:
  1. Teaching
  2. Sanctifying
  3. Vivifying (giving of life)
  4. Jurisdictive (ruling and governing)
  5. Mollifying (softening)
  6. Corroborating (confirming, making certain)
  7. Comforting

Watson then discusses how the Spirit comforts. The Spirit comforts, says Watson, by showing us that we are in a state of grace, by helping us apprehend the love of God, by take us to the blood of Christ, by enabling our conscience to comfort, and through the divine ordinances.

Our author then considers whether or not the wicked may partake of the Holy Spirit. His argument is simple. The wicked only partake, the godly are indwelt. The unregenerate merely taste, the godly feast.

What are the uses of these doctrines? For one, it marks those that do and do not have the Spirit. If a man does not have the Spirit then we know he is not a godly man. Furthermore it marks off those that not only do not possess the Spirit but also deride Him. It admonishes those that do have the Spirit to acknowledge God's distinguishing love and not to grieve the Spirit.

The second use is for those that are godly to strive for the blessed indwelling of the Spirit. We ought to consider how necessary the Spirit is. We cannot pray without Him. We cannot resist temptation without him. We cannot be fruitful without Him. The ordinances will not be effectual without him. Therefore, we must strive to attain more of the Spirit.


Do you agree with Watson's counsel concerning whether or not we are laboring in our strength or God's? Would you add anything, or do you find his three answers sufficient? (His answers are that when we minister humbly, when our aims are pure, and when we glorify God in everything we can know it is through His power and not ours).

As a Southern Baptist I have noticed that the Puritans put more stock in the ordinances than we typically do. Perhaps we labor with such fervor to make certain that people understand them as "only symbols" that we forget they are symbols that display grace. In as much as they preach the Word they can be effectual as conduits of grace. Thoughts?

Do you agree with this quote: "The Spirit is the soul of the Word without which it is but a dead letter"?

What about this one? "The blood of God is not enough without the breath of God."

On page 75 Watson urges those that are godly to "strive for the blessed indwelling of the Spirit". I do not understand his view of the indwelling of the Spirit. Is he simply saying we ought to strive for more of the Spirit (as in "be filled with the Spirit"). If so, then I agree. Does he believe that a believer is saved and then indwelt later? Does anyone have any insight into this?

Strokes of Genius:

"The motions of the Spirit are always consonant with the Word." (p68)

"The Spirit gives not only a sufficiency of strength, but a redundance" (p70)

"The Spirit applies whatever Christ has purchased; he shows us that our sins are done away in Christ, and though we are spotted in ourselves, we are undefiled in our Head." (p72)

"Ordinances are the conduit pipes of grace, but the Spirit is the spring." (p76)

"The blood of God is not enough without the breath of God." (p76)

"If we check the motions of the Spirit, we shall lose the comforts of the Spirit." (p77)

On to Part 9...

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 7)

The Canvas:

Today we consider the ninth characteristic of a godly man: a godly man is a lover of the Word. A godly man loves the Word written, and he loves it because of the efficacy that it has had upon him. He loves all of the Word, not merely a part. He loves the counseling parts, the threatening parts, and the consolatory parts. All of it. But how, you ask, does one know whether he loves the word or not? Watson gives eight ways a godly man shows his love to the Word:
  1. By diligently reading it
  2. By frequently meditating on it
  3. By delighting in it
  4. By hiding it
  5. By defending it
  6. By preferring it above things most precious
  7. By talking about it
  8. By conforming to it

The godly man does these things because of the excellence of the Word. He understands that it is the pillar of fire to guide us and a spiritual mirror to display our hearts, he embraces the word as a sovereign comfort in distress. He loves it because of its efficacy upon his heart. He not only loves the Word written, but also the Word preached.

Let us then, test whether or not we are godly by this characteristic: are we lovers of the Word? Do we love the Word written? Do we love the Word preached? We will know that we love the Word written and preached when we desire to sit under its heart-searching ministry, when we pray it may meet with our sins, and when we are thankful for this reproof. Do we love the Word?


Do you agree with Watson that many "hide the Word in their memory, but not in their heart"?

Keeping in mind that Watson is not saying this is the purpose of you agree with his assessment that "the Word is preached to beat down sin and advance holiness"?

Since Watson says that a "godly man does not choose to sit under a ministry that will not work upon his conscience", do you think he is saying he ought to leave? What if the problem is with the person and not the preacher? Or does Watson have a belief in the efficacy of the Word that perhaps we do not in our day? Is Watson saying, if your conscience is not pierced then the Word is not preached?

Strokes of Genius:

"Those who will not be taught by the Word shall be judged by the Word". (p61)

"How can those who are seldom conversant with the Scriptures say they love them?" (p65)

"The two testaments are hung up like rusty armor which is seldom or never made use of." (p65)

On to Part 8...

How Does a Beggar Glorify a Rich Man

In the sermon from Wednesday night I gave this analogy:

Imagine a beggar. He has no cash. His clothes are tattered and torn. His breath is smelly. His hair is unkempt. His biggest hope is to get a few coins to get a coffee or a beer to drown out his pain. Every afternoon around 3:00 he waits outside a successful law firm, hoping to get a few coins from the wealthy employees.

One day a young businessman exits the law firm. It has been a relatively tough day and his mind is wandering and his heart is betting a little excited about his plans for the evening. Suddenly, he is awakened from his day-slumber. He notices the man. The beggar. The tattered clothes. He reaches in his pocket for a few quarters, but something hits him. Perhaps it was a Sunday school lesson from his childhood, maybe it was the Mexican food he had for lunch. He decides to really bless this beggar. Rather than giving this man a few dollars to get him through the night. The man decides to lavish riches upon the beggar. He stoops down to the old man, and asks him if he would like to go for a ride. Of course, the beggar is a little reluctant, but with a little pleading he follows the man. What happens next is almost unbelievable. The rich lawyer goes to the closest 5th Avenue store and buys the beggar an expensive suit. They get a haircut. He takes the man to get a shower. He takes him out for a really nice dinner. Then at the end of the night he gives the beggar a key chain. On the key chain is a key to his new car, his new house, and to the building of his new office. He has taken the beggar off the street and set him in the lap of luxury.

Now, how does the beggar give gratitude to the rich man? If we can speak this away, how would
the beggar glorify the rich man? How would he magnify the works of the rich man? What could the beggar do to make the rich man shine the brightest? As I stated in the sermon Wednesday night, our answer to that question, will dictate whether or not we understand thanksgiving and gratitude towards God. We are the beggar, God is the "rich man". How are we to give Him thanks for what He has done?

Contentment--The Spirit Working Indoors

The first point that Burroughs draws out of his definition of contentment is that it is an "inward heart thing." It is not a mere outward conformity but a quiet of the soul. As Burroughs says, "many may sit silently, refraining from discontened expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontent". If we are to truly have contentment then it must be inward and not merely outward. To drive home this point we are given a fitting analogy: "A shoe may be smooth and neat outside, while inside it pinches the flesh".

Some are unable to hide the raging sea within. Others are able to hide it. Both are in the same state--discontentment. Therefore, the goal of contentment is not to merely clothe the outward turbulences, but to calm the war within. This will require a work of God. As Burroughs says, "If the attainment of true contentment were as easy as keeping quiet outwardly, it would not need much learning...It is a business of the heart".

Admonishment: Worry about the inside of your shoe as much as the polish on the outside.

For Your Consideration: Only through a firm grip on the gospel will we be bold enough to display (as well as deal with) that which is on the inside. May the gospel have roots deep enough in our lives to cause us to be bold sinners and not polished hypocrites.

Continue to our discussion of section 2, Chapter 1 of The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment Chap. 1

Can you say with the Apostle Paul, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content'? It is the hope of Jeremiah Burroughs that through expositing this text, that we may, along with Paul, learn the mystery of Christian contentment. The doctrine which comes from this text, and that which will guide this work, is that "to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory, and excellence of a Christian".

Burroughs goes on to further define what he means by Christian contentment: "Christian contentment is that sweet inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition." The entire first chapter is given to its description. "Nine distinct things are opened up" in accordance with this definition:
  1. Contentment is a sweet, inward heart-thing
  2. It is the quiet of the heart
  3. It is an inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit
  4. Contentment is the gracious frame of the heart
  5. It freely submits to and takes pleasure in God's disposal
  6. Contentment is freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God's disposal
  7. Contentment is taking pleasure in God's disposal
  8. Submitting, and taking pleasure in God's disposal
  9. True contentment is in every condition

Hopefully, after the first chapter you feel a little overwhelmed. Take heart, this is our author's goal. He hopes to show that this is, indeed, a great mystery. This mystery is where Burroughs will spend his time in the second chapter.

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 6)

The Canvas:

Today we will consider the eight characteristic of a godly man: that he is an evangelical weeper. This may seem like a strange characteristic. After all, aren't believers supposed to be joyous? Why is weeping a grace? Watson will give us six reasons why a godly man weeps:
  1. He weeps for indwelling sin
  2. A godly man weeps for clinging corruption
  3. A child of God weeps that he is sometimes overcome by the prevalence of corruption
  4. A godly heart grieves that he can be no more holy
  5. A godly man sometimes weeps out of the sense of God's love
  6. A godly person weeps because the sins he commits are in some sense worse than the sins of other men

This godly sorrow also has three qualifications: it is inward, it is ingenuous, and it is influential. (By the way, what Watson means here by ingenuous is that the godly man weeps for the evil that is in sin more than the consequences of sin). How then are we to use this doctrine?

One use is to ask yourself, if you be one that never sheds a tear, whether or not you are actually godly. Can a man really be in love with Christ and not shed a tear for his adulteries with sin? Therefore, our second use is that we ought to pursue this characteristic. As Watson closes, "let us give Christ the water of our tears and he will give us the wine of his blood."


Do you agree that the sins of a believer are in some sense worse than the sins of other men? Remember Watson's reasoning: because the believer acts contrary to himself, because it is a sin of unkindness, because it causes reproach upon the name of God.

How would one go about pursuing the discipline of being an evangelical weeper?

Strokes of Genius:

"The sins of the wicked pierce Christ's sides, the sins of the godly wound his heart." (p.58)

"Divine tears not only wet but wash; they purge out the love of sin." (p.59)

"It was a greater plague for Pharaoh to have his heart turned into stone than to have his rivers turned into blood." (p.59)

On to Part 7...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Arrogance of Speaching

Phil Johnson has another excellent post on Acts 17. Here are his concluding statements:

But there's no give-and-take exchange of opinions. Paul does not act deferential in the presence of these great minds. He does not assume a false humility and pretend he's just a truth seeker on his own spiritual journey looking for companions along the way. He declares the truth of God to them with authority and conviction. He does not use the conversational style and subdued demeanor most people today think we need to use so that we're not thought arrogant. Paul wasn't arrogant, because he was declaring infallible truth God had revealed. He was not merely floating an opinion of his own for the philosophers to kick around. And he used an appropriate method: a sermon, not a conversation.(emphasis mine)

Here is a thought. Maybe it is actually more arrogant to NOT preach. I ask you what reeks of arrogance? Humbly attempting to unveil and make clear the very revealed words of God to a people, and standing behind his authority, all the while knowing that where you err at precisely that point you have no authority. Or is it more arrogant to sit in a roundtable and "discuss" your ideas about who God is and what He has revealed? Is it more arrogant to stand before God's people and converse without much conviction? Or is it more arrogant to stand before God's people and proclaim with conviction? I personally think the former is the most arrogant. It is rooted in self-confidence and a lack of trusting in the power of God. Brothers let us preach the word with authority and not timidity!

Borrowed Light: Today in Blogworld 04/02-07

With the infrequency that I have been able to blog, perhaps I should change the title to "This Week" in Blogworld instead of "Today".

Josh Harris has an excellent article on mentoring. He has experienced first hand the impact of mentoring. (CJ Mahaney mentored Josh). It would be my prayer that young men might be humble enough to pursue older men, and that older men might be confident enough in the gospel to mentor them.

Tim Challies urges us to Draw Out the Infection of sin through accountability partners. It is always difficult for younger pastors in smaller settings to find accountability partners, but this has motivated me to pursue it even further.

Dr. Galyon gives us Packer's 4th and 5th points on Calvinism.

Last week I linked to several articles on Mahaney interviewing Sinclair Ferguson. Go here and see it all.

Which one of these seven counterfeit gospels have you bit into?

Great question, great advice. Piper considers whether a pastor can preach what he does not feel.

One of my favorite sites the Reformed Mafia appears to be shutting down. Apparently the name "Mafia" has gotten a few people in trouble. This is no joke. I thought it was at first, until I tried accessing the site. I will let you know when something similar is up and running.

I almost made it without linking to a C. Michael Patton article. But this one, on Grace-Centered-Theology and Rewards, can not be passed up.

This is why I do not drink beer:
(HT: The Thinklings)

The Godly Man's Picture Chapter 4 (Part 5)

The Canvas:

The seventh aspect of the picture that Watson (or rather Scripture) paints of the godly man is a prizing of Jesus Christ. Watson will illustrate this by showing that Christ himself is precious, and the godly man esteems him as so. He does this first by showing that Christ is compared to a "bundle of myrrh" and to a "pearl". The myrrh shows that Christ "perfumes" us as well as "comforts and refreshes" us. Jesus Christ is the pearl of great price. We see his preciousness not only in his person, but also in his offices. We see that Christ is precious in his prophetic office, his priestly office, and his kingly office. But he is also precious in his benefits. As Watson says, "by Christ all dangers are removed; through Christ all mercies are conveyed". Christ is indeed precious. Yet, do we esteem him as such?

If you are a godly man then as Watson says that you cannot "choose but set a high valuation upon Christ". The godly man sees the fulness of Christ in regards to his variety (Colossians 2:3), in regards to degree (Colossians 2:9) and in regards to duration (he is inexhuastible).

There are three uses of this doctrine. The first is to consider those that do not prize Christ. Can they be godly? [Under this point we notice a few of the debates raging in Watson's day]. The first group of people that do not prize Christ, Watson says, are the Jews. Therefore, without prizing Christ the Jew cannot be godly. Also, the Socinians, who acknowledge only Christ's humanity, are rejecters of Christ. The third group of people, that Watson labels proud nominal Christians, are probably better termed legalist. They "mingle their dross with his gold, their duties with his merits". Thus, they despise him as a perfect Savior. Watson's fourth labeling reveals the battle with Humanism in his day. He refers us to the "Airy theorists" that study the arts and sciences above Christ. Our author is not dismissing other studies, but is rejecting a study of things to the neglect of studying Christ.

The second use of this doctrine, and more practical, is to consider our level of godliness based upon our estimation of Christ. How do you know if you esteem Him highly or not? We are given eight answers:
  1. Prizers of Christ, prefer Him in our judgments before other things
  2. Prizers of Christ, cannot live without Him
  3. Prizers of Christ, do not complain of the pains it takes to get Him
  4. Prizers of Christ, take great pleasure in Christ
  5. Prizers of Christ, part with our dearest pleasures for Him
  6. Prizers of Christ, cannot have him at too dear a rate
  7. Prizers of Christ, will help other to get a part in him
  8. Prizers of Christ, prize Him in health as well as in sickness

For our third use, Watson will urge us to have "Christ-admiring thoughts". We must consider the fact that we cannot consider Christ at too high of a rate. Prizing other things too highly is sin. We can never prize Christ too highly. We also ought to consider the fact that Christ has highly prized us. Shall we not in return prize Him? In fact to not do so is extremely unwise. To not prize Christ is the same as slighting a guide in a foreign land, or rejecting the counsel of our physician. Nonetheless, some do just that, they consider Christ as not precious. Watson closes this section with a powerful warning: "Christ will slight at the day of judgment those who have slighted him in the day of grace."


Why is Watson upset about the Jews "despising the virgin Mary"? Has he not thrown off all the surplus of Romanism? Or is it possible that we have thrown off too much? Should we be offended at those that "despise the virgin Mary"?

Do you believe that one can be a Christian without prizing Christ? Can one be a godly person without prizing Christ? Can one be a Christian without being a godly person?

Isn't it strange hearing men like Watson refer to "pains to get [Christ]"? In our day we believe that become a Christian is "simple". Simply pray a prayer, walk an aisle, believe the right things, study this, go through this class, etc. There is very little laboring with God and crying out to Him for salvation. No wonder our roots often do not run deep enough.

Strokes of Genius:

He has a treasure adequate for all our wants. (p48)

[Mingling dross] with his gold, [our] duties with his to steal a jewel from Christ's crown and implicitly to deny him to be a perfect Savior. (p49)

He in whose eye Christ is precious never rests till he has gained him. (p.51)

Godless persons never look for Christ except at death, when they are in danger of hell. (p.53)

On to Part 6...

Enjoying What Christ Purchased

One of the most difficult things for me to preach are Paul's prayers. For one the actual text is usually packed and lengthy; typically being one long sentence in the Greek for our 8 or 9 verses. It is also difficult to apply. Do we discuss what Paul prayed for? Do we discuss prayer? In this particular sermon on Colossians 1:9-14 (primarily focusing on v.9-10) we discuss the importance of having a knowledge of God's Will. If we desire to fully enjoy that which Christ has already purchased then one way of doing that is to be filled with a knowledge of God's Will. You can now view Wednesday's sermon online.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Review of John Stott--The Cross of Christ

Author: John Stott

Pages: 384 pages

Publisher: IVP

Price: 17.50

Genre: Theology/Christian Living

Quick Summary:

From the beginning John Stott recognizes the impossibility of exhausting that which will take an eternity to unfold. He also acknowledges that the cross is not something that we can distantly analyze and discuss. As Stott says, “we can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit”. Throughout this work our author appears to be a man that is bowed and broken himself. Stott, on the topic of the Cross of Christ is a sure guide.

He begins by approaching the cross (his introduction) and then moves us to the “heart of the cross”. This is the meat of Stott’s book. It is his argument for substitutionary atonement. After attempting to convince the reader of the substitutionary core of the cross our author discusses the benefits that this sacrifice has produced. Many authors prior have stopped at this point in their discussion of the cross, not Stott. He introduces a much needed fourth section; what it means to “live under the cross”. Perhaps the many books that have hit our shelves since 1986 owe a debt of gratitude to Stott’s premise that, “the cross transforms everything”.

What I Enjoyed:

Perhaps the best section is Stott’s fourth. The entire book is worthy of our read, yet the practical application of “living under the cross” is priceless. In fact, Stott does a wonderful job of keeping the entire book “out of the clouds” and into the life of the every day believer. It will speak to those in the ivory tower but also will touch the lives of those in the marketplace.

The book may be a little difficult for the typical lay person, but by no means unreadable. The learned scholar will not be in the least bored by this work, nor would a newer believer be completely lost. Stott teaches on the Cross in a clear and concise manner.

What I Disliked:

Something about Stott’s writing style (which I typically enjoy) caused me to get distracted occasionally. It seemed as if at times Stott would walk us up to the foot of the cross, and then point across the street at something else. By no means would this have ever been his intent, yet the book is wrought with some arguments that took place 20 years ago and are less relevant today. In the 20th anniversary edition perhaps this should have been edited.

There are also a few things with which I disagree with Stott on. Occasionally it appears that his desire to be ecumenical makes the truth seem more fluid than it needs to be.

Should You Buy It?:

How can you not by a book that CJ Mahaney recommends as the elite book on the cross? In all actuality if I were to recommend a book on the cross to a typical believer it would not be Stott’s it would be Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life. Yet, Stott’s is an essential companion. To the pastor/theologian this work is a must have. To the everyday reader it is not a “must-have” but one that would be very beneficial to own.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Additional Note to the Reader:

I am fully aware that Stott believes in Annihilationism. I consider this as I recommend this book. The truth is his Annihilationism, from what I could tell, did not affect this book. I am certain that he might have taken a few different roads had he held to an eternal conscious torment in hell. Nevertheless, Stott does acknowledge the punishment and wrath of God, as well as the idea of separation from the Godhead. Therefore, Stott’s view on Annihilationism does not cause me to refrain from recommending this work.

Urgent Prayer Request

As much as I wish this were a sick April Fools joke, it is not. I just received word from my wife that her grandfather has been taken to the Emergency Room with what they believe might have been a heart attack. Yes, this is the same grandfather that saw his wife buried yesterday. Be praying for Nikki, myself, and her family. As with her grandmother we are not certain where her grandfather is with Jesus. He is Catholic (as was she). The question is always, how much is she trusting in Christ and how much is she trusting in Jesus plus.


While working on my Wednesday survey over the Book of Psalms, I ran across this sentence in Mark Dever's "The Message of the Old Testament".

Right belief or words, without right behavior has a simple name in the Bible: hypocrisy. Anyone who presents himself as a spiritual or good person and yet lives contrary to God's revealed Word is deluded and deluding. OUCH! That hurts because it hits too close to home. I study hard and deep to make sure I'm presenting the right doctrine in my sermons. Am I equally concerned with the hard, deep discipline to make sure that I am truly practicing what I preach?

May God forgive me when I think I've grown in the faith merely because I have learned more or understand better, but knowledge is all I've gained. Give me the Love which compels me to live what I know.

Borrowed Light: Today in Blogworld 3/27-04/01

Ligonier Ministries celebrates April Fools Day with an interesting topic: Did Jesus Ever Laugh?

Absolutely brilliant post from Brent at Colossians 3:16. As one that is attempting to change an anti-intellectual culture, this article really hits home. Why It's Arrogant to Say, "Just give me the Bible..."

One of the most oft questions asked of me, is how were the people in the OT saved. Terry Rayburn discusses this question today, find his answer here.

Abraham Piper gives us 6 reasons that pastors should blog. He also desires for your thoughts and suggestions.

C.J. Mahaney has interviewed Sinclair Ferguson. Last week I linked to the first two parts, now parts 3, 4, and 5 are available.

Challies reviews Young, Restless, and Reformed. I have to get this book, as well as the Harris' brothers' Do Hard Things.

Why is asking of the Bible, "what does this mean to me", dangerous? C. Michael Patton tells us, and I agree.

One of the most often cited passages in support of contextualization is Acts 17. Phil Johnson discusses Paul at Mars Hill.

This is a wonderful quote on worry from Ed Welch's book Running Scared: "Worriers are visionaries minus the optimism." (HT: Josh Harris)

Last week I linked to Dr. Galyon's series on Packer's points of Calvinism. Today we are treated Packer's Third Point.

It seems like whatever Michael Patton posts I link to. Nonetheless, you also need to check out this series on The Problem Passages of Scripture, Part 1.

Nathan Finn gives a Baptist Look at the Lord's Supper.

(HT: Purgatorio)


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