What’s So Important about the Local Church?

“The local church is the authority on earth that Jesus has instituted to officially affirm and give shape to my Christian life and yours…Just as Jesus instituted the state, so he instituted the local church. It is an institutional authority because Jesus instituted it with authority…Just as the Bible establishes the government of your nation as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your citizenship in that nation, so the Bible establishes the local church as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your discipleship to Christ and your citizenship in Christ’s present and promised nation.” – Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership (p. 24-25)

October 20 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on What’s So Important about the Local Church?

What Makes Suffering Truly Unbearable?

escape_to_sorrow_by_utopic_man-d36mwl5 “It is as we get larger in our own eyes less dependent on God’s grace and revelation, and surer that we understand how the universe works and how history should go that the problem of evil becomes so intolerable. And it is only as God becomes more remote – a God who is all loving only in the abstract, not in the sense of having suffered and died for us to rescue us from evil – that he seems unbearably callous in the face of pain. In short, theism without certainty of salvation or resurrection is far more disillusioning in the midst of pain than is atheism. When suffering, believing in God thinly or in the abstract is worse that not believing in God at all.” – Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain & Suffering

September 24 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on What Makes Suffering Truly Unbearable?

What Can We Bring to God?

In the midst of his discussion of “The Means of Grace” Calvin examines what allows the believer to come into the presence of God. Another way of saying it would be, “What makes me worthy of entering into God’s presence and asking anything of him?”. Here’s how Calvin responds:

This is the worthiness – the best and only kind we can bring to God – to offer our vileness and (so to speak) our unworthiness to him so that his mercy may make us worthy of him; to despair in ourselves so that we may be comforted in him; to abase ourselves so that we may be lifted up by him; to accuse ourselves so that we may be justified by him; moreover, to aspire to that unity which he commends to us in his Supper; and, as he makes all of us one in himself, to desire one soul, one heart, one tongue for us all. If we have weighed and considered these things well, these thoughts, though they may stagger us, will never lay us low. – The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter XVII, Section 42.

October 23 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on What Can We Bring to God?

What is the Purpose of Church Discipline?

In chapter 12 of the Institutes Calvin lays out three specific purposes for church discipline:

In such corrections and excommunication, the church has three ends in view. The first is that they who lead a filthy and infamous life may not be called Christians, to the dishonor of God, as if his holy church were a conspiracy of wicked and abandoned men.

The second purpose is that the good be not corrupted by the constant company of the wicked, as commonly happens. For there is nothing easier than for us to be led away by bad examples from right living.

The third purpose is that those overcome by shame for their baseness begin to repent. They who under gentler treatment would have become more stubborn so profit by the chastisement of their own evil as to be awakened when they feel the rod.

John Calvin, The Institutes (Chapter XII, Section 5)

September 25 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on What is the Purpose of Church Discipline?

Don’t Overlook the Gift Giver

Let us therefore remember, whenever each of us contemplates his own nature, that there is one God who so governs all natures that he would have us look unto him, direct our faith to him, and worship and call upon him. For nothing is more preposterous than to enjoy the very remarkable gifts that attest the divine nature within us, yet to overlook the Author who gives them to us at our asking.

~John Calvin~

July 17 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Don’t Overlook the Gift Giver

"Rest on the Open Sea”

In_the_Open_Sea_by_Virtuos0I have sometimes felt myself impelled to act by an influence which seemed above me—constrained to put to sea. The belief that I was constrained gave me confidence, and I was sure of a calm voyage. But the result was outward failure. The calm became a storm; the sea raged, the winds roared, the ship tossed in the midst of the waves, and my enterprise was wrecked ere it could reach the land.

Was, then, my divine command a delusion?

Nay; nor yet was my mission a failure. He did send me on that voyage, but He did not send me for my purpose. He had one end and I had another. My end was the outward calm; His was my meeting with the storm. My end was to gain the harbor of a material rest; His was to teach me there is a rest even on the open sea. – George Matheson

June 11 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on "Rest on the Open Sea”

Doing all Things by God’s Word

lightningboltHere, then, is the sovereign power with which the pastors of the church…ought to be endowed. That is that they may dare boldly to do all things by God’s Word; may compel all worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey his majesty; supported by his power, may command all from the highest even to the last; may build up Christ’s household and cast down Satan’s; may feed the sheep and drive away the wolves; may instruct and exhort the teachable; may accuse, rebuke, and subdue the rebellious and stubborn: may bind and loose; finally, if need be, may launch thunderbolts and lightnings; but do all things in God’s Word. – John Calvin, The Institutes

May 22 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Doing all Things by God’s Word

When Black Clouds Gather…

20070509175737_beach“When the black clouds gather most, the light is the more brightly revealed to us. When the night lowers and the tempest is coming on, the Heavenly Captain is always closes to his crew. It is a blessed thing, that when we are most cast down, then it is that we are most lifted up by the consolations of the Spirit…Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper, and makes more room for consolation…The humbler a man lies, the more comfort he will always have, because he will be more fitted to receive it. – Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening.

February 12 2013 | Blog | 1 Comment »

The Slow Descent into Self-Centeredness

down-down-down-the-stairsIn Western culture today, you decide to get married because you feel an attraction to the other person. You think he or she is wonderful. But a year or two later— or, just as often, a month or two— three things usually happen. First, you begin to find out how selfish this wonderful person is. Second, you discover that the wonderful person has been going through a similar experience and he or she begins to tell you how selfish you are. And third, though you acknowledge it in part, you conclude that your spouse’s selfishness is more problematic than your own. This is especially true if you feel that you’ve had a hard life and have experienced a lot of hurt. You say silently, “OK, I shouldn’t do that— but you don’t understand me.” The woundedness makes us minimize our own selfishness. And that’s the point at which many married couples arrive after a relatively brief period of time. – Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

January 21 2013 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Why Should a Pastor Spend Much Time on His Own Soul?

dc-bookThe private nurture of your own heart as a pastor is not only a humble confession of need and a confession of your love for your Savior; it is also a statement of your love for the people that God has placed in your care…

You see, there are very important moments in local-church ministry when the church is blessed and protected not because the person leading knows all the right things but because that person brings the right heart to the moment. So he is able to deal wisely with accusation, or patiently with those who want to control, or humbly with those who idolize him more than they should. He is not just prepared to teach but also to navigate the land mines of temptation that are at the feet of everyone who ministers to fallen people in this flawed world. If you daily work to guard your heart, you are at the same time making a daily commitment to pastor and protect your people. The two simply cannot be separated. [emphasis mine] – Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling

December 03 2012 | Blog | Comments Off on Why Should a Pastor Spend Much Time on His Own Soul?

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