Enduring Agnosticism

“They never rest, for they will having nothing to do with with an infallible revelation; and hence they are doomed to wander throughout time and eternity, and find no abiding city. For the moment they glory as if they were satisfied with their last new toy; but in a few months it is sport to them to break in pieces all the notions which they formerly prepared with care, and paraded with delight They go up a hill only to come down again. Indeed, they say that the pursuit of truth is better than truth itself. They like fishing better than the fish; which may well be true, since their fish are very small, and very full of bones. These men are as great at destroying their own theories as certain paupers are at tearing up their clothes. They be again de novo, times without number: their house is always having its foundation digged out. . . . These men are not even seeking certainty; their heaven lies in shunning all fixed truth, and following every will-0′-the-wisp of speculation: they are ever learning, but they never come to the truth.”

–Charles Spurgeon, The Greatest Fight in the World

The Emotions of Jesus


Jesus of Nazareth was true and fully man on earth, and thus he experienced the full range of human emotions, yet without sin. He showed us how to be human, and if we are going to grow up into His image, to be like Jesus, we have to look at Him completely.

Jesus was full of pity (Mk. 1:41). He healed sickness and disease, He saw multitudes of people weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, and was moved with compassion (Matt. 9:36). He prayed to the Lord to send out laborers into the harvest, people who knew the gospel and were motivated by the fact that many are ready to come to faith. He said blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Continue reading

Someone to Thank

This week most people in our country will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that has been with us in some shape or form for almost 400 years.

Some people will note that we don’t have a lot of information about the first American Thanksgiving in 1621, just a brief account from Edward Winslow, the assistant of William Bradford who founded Plymouth Colony: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors…many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest of their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained with a feast.”

They had birds, but we’re not sure about the turkeys. They had a party, but no official holiday. They certainly had no parade. And all of this makes no difference. The point of Thanksgiving should not be lost on us. We’re not primarily celebrating the fact that they had a feast, nor are we celebrating thanksgiving or gratitude itself. We are in fact saying thank you, that is, giving thanks to God for all of His gifts, and the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving is holiday named after a verb, and that verb has an object.

You can’t say thank you to no one. If there is no one above us, there is no one to thank. If harvest is the random product of time and chance, if our bodies and families and friends and jobs and freedoms and fridges full of food are nothing more than happen-stance pleasant circumstances, then someone might throw a party, but it wouldn’t be called Thanksgiving.

But there is Someone above us, and thanking Him turns out to be another one of His gifts to us. The Bible describes the condition of the human race this way, in Romans 1:20-21: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

We see God revealed in the world He made and sustains. This is His artistry. Rather than refusing to glorify Him and thank Him, we are invited to turn and give thanks, to seek forgiveness for our darkened hearts and the sins we commit, and trust in Jesus who came to put everything right.

Because God is the object of our gratitude, and because we deserve nothing from Him, we can be grateful for everything. This is why you should love Thanksgiving. You get to go be with family who would otherwise drive you crazy, and might still a little anyway, and be thankful for them. You have another reason for gratitude. You see what God has given you in Christ and everything that flows from that, and you get to party because of it and invite people to join in. This holiday was established when enough people knew this. As a culture, we don’t anymore, which is another reason for us to get on it.

Pick Your Battles

In Matthew 17 the disciples came into Capernaum and the tax collectors asked Peter, “Does you Teacher not pay the tax?” Peter said “Yes.” And then we they were in the house Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

The kings of earth ought to take customs and taxes from strangers rather than squeezing their own people, thereby treating sons like strangers. The first century tax code was unjust, but what was Jesus’ point? Why are we told this?

“Nevertheless, lest we offend them…go pay the tax.” Jesus taught his disciples to know that there are some injustices worth fighting for, and some not. And there are some central injustices that when they are defeated, the lesser ones will be worked out. Jesus took this conversation indoors to his apostles, those who would listen, and taught them. He said pay the tax, it’s not worth offending them.

There are many applications from this story, but here are two.

Speaking of injustices, the political presidential season is upon on us and we must remember there are some issues that are bigger than others. There are many injustices but which ones are important, worth praying about, worth talking about? The right to life is important because human beings bear the image of God. This issue is front and center and should stay there. As you think about issues and candidates, let God’s Word inform your priorities.

And a second application on more personal level, there are many sins in the lives of those around us, and God tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. Most things are not worth bringing up, but worth covering in love just like God does for us. Where would we be if He didn’t? So let go of what isn’t important, challenge graciously what is important for the other person’s sake, and forgive as you have been forgiven.

No Chance

Christians “are never in the grip of blind force (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice.”

–J.I. Packer

New Identity

On front page of one of our nation’s leading newspapers this past week were two articles, one praising someone for being transgender, and another scolding someone else for being transracial.

For some reason right now it’s okay to pretend you are someone of a different gender, but not okay to pretend that you are someone of a different race. It’s okay to artificially make yourself look like a woman, but not okay to artificially make yourself look like an African American.

These identify crises are bizarre in one sense, but at the same time we shouldn’t be surprised. Everyone needs an identity, and everyone has to face their flawed identity and the desire to be remade. In his letter to church in Ephesus, Paul says we are all by nature children of wrath. Every individual in the human race is born fallen, sinful, sinning, and under the judgment of God. This is not an identity of confidence and security.

We all need to be transformed, to be remade and renewed in every way, to take part of what Jesus calls the regeneration. He told one teacher in Israel, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). Regeneration is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Bruce Jenner and Rachel Dolezal are not wrong to seek a new identity, but they’re not going to find it with surgery and skin color.

God the Father offers us a new birth, a new heart, a new hope through a new and living way directly into the His presence through the blood of Christ. Without this renewal we are stuck with our own manufactured ones that only make us more broken and confused.

But the way out is simple. The good news that Jesus died for our sin, rose from the dead on the third day according the Scriptures in order to give us new life and transform the world is plain. Christ died and rose. That offer was made with power 2000 years ago and continues today as you are invited to repent of your sin and believe in Jesus, that times of refreshing—fulfillment, peace, joy, acceptance, confidence, love—would come to you from your Lord and God.

The Gospel is simple good news, and it is the power unto salvation. Receive and rest in it, and take it out in humble confidence to a world in need of a new identity.

The Conquered Dragon

The victory over the Dragon, according to St. John, does not take place by means of a cataclysmic event at the end of history, but by means of the cataclysmic event that took place in the middle of history: the sacrifice of the Lamb. The language used to describe the basis of Michael’s conquest has nothing to do with the Second Coming, but it has everything to do with the First Coming… When, therefore, did Satan fall from heaven? He fell, definitively, during the ministry of Christ, culminating in the atonement, the resurrection, and the ascension of the Lord to His heavenly throne.”  –David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance, pp. 315-16, on Revelation 12:10-11


Thrice Justified

“Every man that is saved is justified three ways: First, meritoriously, by the death of Jesus Christ: “It is the blood of Jesus Christ alone that cleanses us from all sin.” Second, instrumentally, by faith; faith is the means or instrument whereby the merits of Jesus Christ are applied to the sinner’s heart: “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Third, we are justified declaratively; name, by good works.; good works declare and prove to the world that our faith is a true saving faith. “Was not Abraaham jusiefed by works And again, “Show me thy faith by thy works.”

–George Whitefield

Joy in Others

“But few are arrived to such a  degree of charity or love, as to rejoice with those that do rejoice, and to be as thankful for other mercies as their own. This part of Christian perfection, though begun on earth, will be consummated only in heaven, where our hearts will glow with such fervent love toward God and one another, that every fresh degree of glory communicated to our neighbor will also communicate to us a fresh topic of thankfulness and joy.”

–George Whitefield

Christian Nurture by Horace Bushnell

20816513I read this on Kindle and enjoyed it so much I ordered one with poundage.

This book was so good because Bushnell takes the opposite tack to the vast majority of Christian parenting books. Rather than highlight all the hardships, heavy lifting, uncertainties, and qualifications that make parents feel like raising their kids to love God and walk with him is an exploding minefield, Bushnell takes the Bible’s promises, lobs them up off the glass, catches and slams them home. It’s fun to watch.

The book could be summarized as “I will be your God, and you will be my people” applied to the family. Like he did with Abraham, God calls men and women and their households into covenant with him. Bushnell is not sentimental about kids or about how hard parenting can be, so he avoids presumption. The only way kids follow the Lord is by faith, but faith works by love in raising them. He addresses baptism and church membership, the problem of denying children the Lord’s Supper, Christian education, holidays, hypocrisy, the Sabbath (“a day of humanity”), family prayer and all sort of possible objections.

In such a thorough and serious book, one of the best thing is the impression Bushnell gives of the light, joyful, and gracious environment of the Christian home. You wouldn’t know it by looking at picture to your upper left, but if he put into practice what he wrote, this is a happy man whose house you’d be glad to visit. Christians who are serious about discipleship often create a laborious and fussy atmosphere–let’s make the kids memorize the Catechism all day on Sunday! Bushnell reveals this for what it is: disobedient and counterproductive.

The only regret about this book is that it’s 300 pages long with 130-year-old 19th century prose. That will scare many off who would benefit enormously from it. Take up and read.