Archive for November, 2009

A Counter-intuitive Move

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

As we stand on the threshold of Thanksgiving and look just around the corner to Christmas, our minds often turn to well-known Advent passages like Isaiah 9. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” These words of delight, however, occur in a context of judgment. God’s people will experience the light of joy through the gift of this child (cf. Isa. 9:1-3), but this does not mean that the Lord has ignored the sin of his people. God will shed his grace upon them, but Israel will experience that grace in redemption from captivity.

In arrogance, Israel thought she could avoid the consequences of judgment. Has God destroyed our bricks? Then we will build with stones! What? No sycamore lumber? No problem. We’ll use cedar instead (Isa. 9:10). It was that kind of pride, coupled with impenitence, that led to her downfall.

God struck Israel for her sin. But when God judges his people, he chastises with the rod of correction, not the rod of destruction. This is the truth that lies behind Isaiah 9:13. “The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the LORD of hosts.” It seems counter-intuitive to turn to the one who strikes us, but this is exactly what God would have us to do. Though we feel the sting of his chastisement, we receive it because we are his children (Heb. 12:3-11). As a loving Father, he wants us to learn from the rod and flee to his arms. The welcoming arms of the Father are stretched out to us in Jesus. There we will always find the warm embrace of forgiveness. The government rests upon his shoulders (Isa. 9:6), but we may rest upon his breast, near to the heart of God.

Grace, More Grace

Friday, November 6th, 2009

If you’re serious about living for Christ, then every day you realize your need for more and more grace from God. The Christian life begins with God’s grace and continues in that same stream of never-failing love that flows from the Father’s heart, through the Son’s cross, by the Spirit’s ministry.

If grace comes from God alone, how do we get more of it from him? What can channel his grace into our lives? Are there aqueducts of grace that feed its life-giving, soul-refreshing power to us? Yes! These channels are often called “the means of grace.”

Dr. Iain Campbell, pastor of Point Free Church of Scotland, has written a very helpful essay on the means of grace. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it.

When you feel the pressures of life weighing down upon you and you think you can’t take another step, remember the Lord’s promise: “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).

Happy Birthday, Dr. Warfield

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

B.B. Warfield, the famed Princeton theologian, was born on November 5, 1851. Today marks his 158th birthday.

I have fond memories of Warfield. They aren’t personal memories (I’m not 158 years old, I just feel like it!), but fond memories of Warfield’s books. As a high school student, my classmates and I visited a Christian college. Instead of eating in the campus snack shop, I took my lunch money and went to the bookstore to purchase Warfield’s The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. It was my first serious volume of theology, and I began to devour it. That volume provided me with a sound doctrine of Scripture that I still hold today. Warfield’s work proved to be the foundation of my library and a foundation for my thinking.

My other fond memory is connected with my set of The Complete Works of B.B. Warfield. Those volumes were a gift from Mrs. Alice English. Alice was the wife of a Presbyterian elder and one of the dearest Christian women I’ve ever met. She is now with the Lord, and I miss our verbal sparing matches. We used to try to see which of us could insult the other one the worst (!), and all in the best of fun.

On the web you’ll find several things about Warfield. My friend, Fred Zaspel, is a Warfield scholar and has written a post on Justin Taylor’s blog. Dr. Kim Riddlebarger has also posted his complete dissertation on Warfield. This is a tremendous resource. Be sure to check out both of these sites.

If you don’t own any of Warfield’s works, I recommend you begin as I did with The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. If that volume seems a little intimidating, then read Faith & Life, a collection of Warfield’s sermons. I also recommend his booklet The Religious Life of Theological Students. Though written specifically to students for the ministry, every Christian will benefit from reading Warfield’s challenge to balance a deep study of Scripture with a deep life of faith and a close walk with Christ.

By the way, November 5th is also Guy Fawkes Day. If you’d like to learn why this date is significant in church history, you can read more about it here.

AWOL

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

My absence from the blogosphere over the past few weeks has been due to a very hectic schedule. If you see me on the street, please stop me, point me in the right direction, and tell me what to do next. I will probably need that much help.

I hope to post more in the coming days and weeks, but for now let me just say “hello” and let you know that a new sermon has been posted on the site. The title is “When Will Christ Return?” It’s an exposition of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and was preached this past August at Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Chester, PA. I hope you’ll take the time to listen. We all need to think more about our blessed hope, and I hope this message will contribute at least a little toward your meditation on this wonderful theme.

Until next time (hopefully soon), grace to you all!