Deepening


“To grow in your passion for what Jesus has done, increase your understanding of what He has done.

Never be content with your grasp of the gospel. The gospel is life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing truth. It has more facets than any diamond. Its depths man will never exhaust.”

– C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life

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Wordle

This is the entire ESV text copied and pasted into an online program called Wordle to create a word cloud. A word cloud takes words that occur and, depending on the frequency of the appearance of the word, enlarges the size of the word to show how often it appears.

I find it significant that Lord, God, said, Israel, and people are the most used words in Scripture. Certainly the idea that God is master as the Lord is prominent, and the truth that God said shows the importance of his revelation. The frequency of Israel interests my dispensational thoughts, and the mention of people infers the redemptive plan of God to call out from every kindred tongue and nation a people He can call His own.

A side note on this program’s usefulness would be to gather a quick sense of a passage that would be exposited to draw the main themes out.

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Sacrifice That Destroys Credibility


When keeping in step becomes the tail that wags the dog for the sake of relevancy, truth is sacrificed on the altar of people-pleasing. Paul makes it very clear in many of his epistles and apologetic occasions in Acts that truth did not have to be veiled to make his audience connect with him and not be offended. In fact, this very thing happened to be the impetus for his imprisonment and persecution and an example for believers today. The church deteriorates the demands of Christ when it maintains a man-centered focus. As John Piper has observed,

“. . . softening hard truth for evangelism in public undermines truth for the waffling believer in private.

I think in general this is what cultural adapters fail to realize: making the truth more palatable for unbelievers to help them make a step toward orthodoxy serves even more (it seems historically) to help loosely orthodox people feel how unpalatable orthodoxy is and move away from it.”

God of All Grace

“Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favour by his own religious performances; his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the man’s (sinner’s) opinion of himself and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he should think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by any excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.”

Horatius Bonar

The Danger of "Be Good" Sermons


From Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching p. 282-283:

“When the focus of a sermon becomes moralistic–Don’t smoke, or chew, or go with the girls (or guys) who do–then listeners will most likely assume that they can secure their relationship with God through proper behaviors. Even when the behaviors advocated are reasonable, biblical, and correct, a sermon that never moves from expounding standards of obedience to explaining the source, the motives, and the results of obedience, places people’s hopes in their own actions. In such a situation each succeeding Sunday sermon carries the implicit message, “Since you weren’t good enough for God last week, hunker down and try harder this week.”

Preaching of this sort sounds biblical because the Bible can be quoted at length to support the exhortations. As it runs its course, however, such preaching destroys all Christian distinctives. Preachers caught in a purely moralistic mode of instruction end up speaking in tautologies:”Be good because it’s good to be good, and it’s bad to be bad. Boy Scouts are good, Girl Scouts are good, and Christians are good. So be good!”

Ringing clearly through such preaching is the implied promise, “Obey God because He will love you if you do, and get you if you don’t.” A following week’s sermon may b an evangelistic appeal to come to the cross for grace freely offered, but what grace means in this context probably has little to do with biblical teaching. Evangelical preaching that implies we are saved by grace but held by our obedience not only undermines the work of God in sanctification but it ultimately casts doubt on the nature of God, making salvation itself suspect.”

Josh Larsen, a student at Northland while I was there, has also written an article at SharperIron about this very topic: A Moratorium on Moralism, Part 1 and Part 2.

Losing Your Appetite



“Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.”

John Piper

No Reason

(Thomas Boston, “Human Nature in its Fourfold State”)

“Why does a living man complain?” Lamentations 3:39

“You have no reason to complain, as long as you are
out of hell. Do you murmur, because you are under pain
and sickness? Nay, bless God, you are not there where
the worm never dies! Do you grudge, that you are not in
so good a condition in the world as some of your neighbors
are? Be thankful, rather, that you are not in the condition
of the damned! Is your money gone from you? Thank God
that the fire of His wrath has not consumed you! Kiss the
rod, O sinner! and acknowledge mercy!”