True Courage

moses-michelangelo“Meekness is commonly despised by the great men of the age as cowardice and meanness, and the evidence of a little soul, and is posted accordingly. But the most furious and angry revenge is celebrated and applauded under the pompous names of valour, honour, and greatness of spirit.

This arises from a mistaken notion of courage… True courage is such a presence of mind as enables a man rather to suffer than to sin, to choose affliction rather than iniquity, to pass by an affront though he lose by it, and be hissed as a fool and coward, rather than engage in a sinful quarrel. He that can deny the brutal lust of anger and revenge, rather than violate the royal law of love and charity (however contrary the sentiments of the world may be), is truly resolute and courageous… Continue reading

Helpful Doesn’t Equal Biblical

600px-Traffic_Sign_GR_-_KOK_2009_-_R-45.svgBook clubs can be dangerous things, and this one blindsided me. I was new to the area, the youngest person there with the least life experience and education. Everyone was a professing Christian. The first book up was a novel I had never read: it was saturated with pornography. So I stopped reading around page 5.

During the discussion about the book, nobody brought up the point that it was garbage, so I ventured a comment: “Yeah, it was really well-written, but I guess the thing that bothered me was all the pornography, which is why I stopped reading it.” Everyone’s defenses went up. Continue reading

Proverbial Maturity

541px-Old_and_wise Personal maturity is something that we want to attain, but often we don’t know what it is. It’s easier to name a mature person than it is to explain what makes them mature. Part of the difficulty is that there are different aspects to maturity; social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional maturity can be expressed in different degrees in the same person. Someone can be socially mature and spiritually immature, or intellectually mature and emotionally immature. All maturity is connected, though; true social maturity only comes as spiritual maturity increases. Continue reading

Holiness and Advancing the Gospel

“I remember once in a church which I knew very well, I was being entertained by a lady who seemed to be one of the leading lights in the church, and to my astonishment I found that her husband never went near the place at all. I subsequently discovered that the probable reason was that the lady, while very active and busy in church work, was failing lamentably in certain practical aspects–she did not always pay her grocer’s bill, for example. Yes, she was a great church worker but she was negligent in matters like that. Subsequently this lady, who had only been a nominal Christian, really became a true Christian. And what happened next? Only six weeks after his wife’s conversion, and without anyone asking or pleading with him, the husband began to attend that place of worship. He now came because he saw that something had happened to his wife. There was no need for anyone to say anything: he saw the genuine thing, he saw the change in her, and then he began to wonder what happened and so he came to see it for himself. That is sanctification. If Christians are to evangelise the world, they themselves must be right… This is vital… Continue reading

The Hole in our Holiness

holeinholiness Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Hole in Our Holiness, came out last year. I read it a couple weeks ago, because I listened to a series of conference talks that DeYoung gave at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. The talks whetted my appetite for more of the same; I wasn’t disappointed by the book, which thoughtfully unpacks the topic of holiness, grounding the exposition in Scripture.

After discussing what holiness is and why we should pursue it, De Young tackles some of the apparent contradictions inherent in the topic: My heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9); how can I say that I am holy? If we believe that it’s grace alone through Christ alone and there’s nothing we can contribute to salvation, why is it biblical to pursue holiness? Continue reading

Taking Sin Seriously

Too often we think little of God, his perfect holiness, righteousness, and justice, and as a result little of what our sin really is and does. Reflecting on this perennial reality of the human heart, Thomas Boston (1676-1732) warned his congregation:

“Let no man think lightly of sin, which lays the sinner open to the wrath of God. Let not the sin of our nature seem a small thing in our eyes. Fear the Lord because of His dreadful wrath. Tremble at the thought of sin, against which God has such fiery indignation… Admire the matchless love which brought you out of the state of wrath… it was no easy work to purchase the life of the condemned sinner, but He gave His life for your life. He gave his precious blood to quench the flame of wrath, which otherwise would have consumed you.” Continue reading

Sanctification: Take it for Granted?

irisLast month, we had a couple over; she was American, but he had been born and raised in the middle east. He had a lot to say about his Muslim upbringing, his conversion, and his experience in the U. S.. But it was what he said about sanctification that really grabbed me.

As a Muslim, this man had always lived with a strict set of rules: things he must not do if he was to attain paradise. But even when he and Muslim friends were outwardly conforming to the law, they would still inwardly want the sin. Sometimes they didn’t keep the law because they couldn’t. Other times they did keep the law, but their hearts weren’t in it. They weren’t drinking, but they wanted to. They were praying, but they didn’t want to. This believing man described this as an inescapable bondage: you do (or don’t do) certain things with no heart, no love, and no power. Continue reading

Evidence of Regeneration

“The renewing, new-creation work of the Holy Spirit in our lives necessarily makes itself known. The Spirit leaves His ‘fingerprints’ unmistakeably on every life He indwells…There are, however, two evidences of the Spirit’s renewing presence in our lives that are not often considered.

First, the Spirit’s new life within leaves us looking forward to the final ‘regeneration’ at the end of the age (Matt. 19:28). By His resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ became the ‘firstborn among many brethren.’ In the new birth, we are born again into the family of God, and the new light of the world to come begins to irradiate our lives. We yet live in ‘this present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4), but we live the life of the world to come because it has already come in the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, the Spirit of God’s new and proper Man, Jesus Christ. The Spirit’s indwelling, renewing presence imparts a new direction, even trajectory, to our lives. Continue reading