Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

God The All

Posted: 4 September, 2011 in Literature, Prayers, Theology, True worship, Worldview

O God whose will conquers all,

There is no comfort in anything

apart from enjoying thee

and being engaged in thy service;

Thou art All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me

thou makes them, and no more.

I am well pleased with thy will, whatever it is,

or should be in all respects,

And if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair

I would choose to refer all to thee,

for thou art infinitely wise and connote do amiss,

as I am in danger of doing.

I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal,

and it delights me to leave them there.

Then prayer turns wholly into praise,

and all I can do is to adore and bless thee.

What shall I give thee for all thy benefits?

I am in a strait betwixt two, knowing not what to do;

I long to make some return, but have nothing to offer,

and can only rejoice that thou doest all,

that none in heaven or on earth shares thy honour;

I can of myself do nothing to glorify thy blessed name,

but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to thee,

I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,

that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,

that every good work or thought found in me

is the effect of thy power and grace,

that thy sole motive in working in me to will and to do

is for thy good pleasure.

O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much

about man’s creaturely power and goodness,

when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,

we should be devils incarnate.

This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

THE VALLEY OF VISION

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Whatever it takes

Posted: 3 October, 2010 in Theology, True worship

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deut 6:5)

All Christians want to be more like their Lord Jesus Christ.

We want to be like him because He was the epitome of what it means to love the Father. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15) He loved God by keeping the law perfectly, and now that He has loved us, we desire to love Him.

We want it, but the question I ask myself over and over again is, “How badly do I want it? How much do I want to be like Jesus?”

All too often I find that my heart is drawn after a thousand diverse things – I want Christ in me, but I also want my friends, my career, my comfort.

In my own heart I have found a fear of losing what I hold dear because it becomes too important in my life. I know that God is a jealous God and that he demands the whole of my heart. I want to be more like Christ, while still holding on to all the things that draw my affections away from Him at the same time.

A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of Godliness retells the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. How great was Abraham’s love for Isaac, the Son of Promise, his only real son. Yet Abraham’s love began to border on the perilous, and God cut right to the heart of the matter by commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Not because Isaac was a bad thing, but the gift had become elevated above the Giver. Abraham was finally able to enjoy God’s gifts in their proper place once he had surrendered everything to God, even his son Isaac.

As Tozer points out in the story of Abraham and Isaac – very often we only truly have once we are willing to lose for the sake of our Lord, because in Him we are rich. Instead of fearing to lose what I love, I ought to make God my all – with everything else paling into hate compared to the fervent love I have for God. And very often, once we have done that, God in his grace, “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17)

Think of the man who sold all he had for the field with buried treasure (Matt 13:44) or the man who found the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45) Whoever had God has everything, and whoever does not have God has nothing. Its that simple.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39)

The crux of the matter is lies in that verse quoted at the start of this post – do I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and might? Will I lose all for Him? Will I love Him, whatever it takes?

Listen to Whatever It Takes performed by Steve Green.

Whatever It Takes

Whatever it takes
To keep me tender toward You
Whatever it takes, Lord
I beg You to do
Whatever You must lead me through
Whatever it takes, Lord … do

At times I hear your voice and try to hide
But patiently you draw me to your side
I may not always see
That Your words are life to me
So many times I’ve missed You
Help me, Lord, to not resist You

Sometimes my heart gets hard and I can’t see
That Your correction is protecting me
But as I look within
The darkness of my sin
Breaks my heart and leaves me tender
Gratefully I then surrender

Written by Jon Mohr
©2002 Blue Saguaro / BMI

http://www.opinion-maker.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Christianity-and-Islam.jpg

I recently received an email from a good friend of mine alerting me to an article written by a Rev. Wayne Lavender.

Rev. Lavender opposed the proposed Qu’ran burning day by Pastor Terry Jones and his church, calling it a hate-crime, and now feels compelled to undo the damage done by sending copies of the Qu’ran (presumably English translations) to churches to be included in their libraries. This, he hopes will promote interfaith peace and understanding. He ends the article by asking, “What will you do?”

And here is my answer to Rev. Lavender: (more…)

Experimental Christianity

Posted: 6 February, 2010 in Literature, Theology

The degree to which experience plays a role in Christianity has been a dividing point between churches for centuries. And sadly, when parties are divided, “Satan leads both far out of the right way, driving each to great extremes, one on the right hand, and the other on the left, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected.” Jonathan Edwards

Edwards had observed something that many of us often miss when we are trying to avoid a particular error. He observed that when Satan cannot hold us back, he often gets behind us and pushes the proverbial pendulum far beyond the biblical median until we have swung out to an extreme, which may be just as erroneous as the error we were trying to avoid!

For example, Roman Catholics have deified Mary, so protestants, in their quest to avoid idolatry, have denigrated her to the ranks of any ordinary girl, focussing on her sin and humanity, forgetting that she was indeed chosen to bear the Messiah and was one favoured by the Lord!

The tongue-in-cheek jokes about Baptists never showing any emotion in worship are often sadly an acurate description of many churches today. I fear I have been guilty of ‘over correcting’ when it comes to things like the gifts of the Spirit and so the chapter in Iain Murray’s biography of Jonathan Edwards, A Defence of Experimental Religion came as a timely wake-up call to my own soul.

Jonathan Edwards lived through America’s Great Awakening amongst other revivals and was faced with the major challenge of how to deal with over-enthusiasm.

In an excerpt from the chapter Murray writes:

“When Christians have a ‘strong and lively sense of divine things’, all their faculties are invigorated – the mind is more intense, the ‘affections’ are heightened, and the imagination, also, may be more active. It is easy, in this condition, argued Edwards, to regard a strong impression made upon the imagination, and explainable by natural causes, as a direct leading of the Spirit.”

Edwards also pointed out that Scriptural texts which accompany these ‘impulses’ are no safe guide if they have been wrenched from their orginal and only true meaning.

This was illustrated clearly in the life of George Whitefield, who, prior to the birth of his only child in 1743 said that he believed that his child would be a son and that he was to be ‘great in the sight of the Lord.’ His child died four months later and only then did he realise his mistake of misapplying several verses of Scripture to his own life, leading him to believe that “I should have a son, and that his name was to be John.”

Jonathan Edwards pointed out that these messages from heaven required the gifts of the Spirit which were ‘unique to the infancy of the apostolic church.’

“Why cannot we be contented with the divine oracles, that holy, pure word of God, which we have in such abundance and clearness, now since the canon of Scripture is completed? Why should we desire to have any thing added to them by impulses from above? Why should we not rest in that standing rule that God has given to his church, which the apostle teaches us, is surer than a voice from heaven?

And yet, Edwards seems to have been able to attain a healthy, biblical balance.

“What shall we find to answer those expressions in Scripture – ‘The peace of God that passeth all understanding; rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory, in believing in and loving an unseen Saviour; – All joy and peace in believing; God’s shining into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and being changed int o the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord; – Having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given to us; – Having the Spirit of God and of glory rest upon us; – A being called out of darkness into marvellous light; and having the day-star arise in our hearts:’ – I say, if those things which have been mentioned do not answer these expressions, what else can we find out that does answer them? Those that do not think such things as these to be the fruits of the true Spirit, would do well to consider what kind of spirit they are waiting and praying for, and what sort of fruits they expect he should produce when he comes.”

“What a poor, blind, weak and miserable creature is man, at his best estate! We are like poor helpless sheep; the devil is too subtle for us. What is our strength! What is our wisdom! How ready are we to go astray! And how much do we stand in need of the wisdom, the power, the condescension, patience, forgiveness, and gentleness of our good Shepherd.”

So then, how can we possibly decide what is from truly from the Spirit of God and what is simply our own excited imagination?

George Whitefield, who had undoubtedly gained a better appreciation of Edwards’ insight in 1745 preached a sermon entitled ‘Walking with God’ in which he warns against the extremes of the pendulum so-to-speak:

“Though it is the quintessence of Enthusiasm to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written Word, yet it is every Christian’s bounden duty to be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written Word of God. Watch, therefore, I pray you, O believers, the motions of God’s blessed Spirit in your soul, and always try the suggestions or impressions that you may at any time feel, by the unerring rule of God’s most Holy Word. And if they are not found to be agreeable to that, reject them as diabolical and delusive! By observing this caution, you will steer a middle course between the two dangerous extremes many of this generation are in danger of running into; I mean, enthusiasm, on the one hand, and Deism, and downright infidelity on the other.”

tree

The doctrine of Original Sin has been one I’ve often struggled to understand. The fact that we are born with sin has always been as plain as daylight to me from the Scriptures, yet there exist so many diverse interpretations of Original Sin, that one is often left confused into mystified acceptance – resigning one’s self to remaining semi-ignorant until we meet Christ. The problem I have found with that attitude becomes plain when you ask the question of yourself, “Would I be confident to die for my beliefs about this particular doctrine?” (more…)

Let There Be Light

Posted: 23 October, 2008 in Science, Theology

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. ~ Psalm 36:9

How incredibly profound! This verse, from Brackenhurst Baptist’s prayer Psalm of the week speaks volumes about true knowledge, wisdom and even the meaning of life!

This is because it suggests a very specific worldview ¹. A worldview, simply stated is any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relations to God and the world

Caleb once told me a joke about logic – its very applicable to this thought:

There was a guy who wanted to know what logic is so he asked his friend. His friend asked, “Do you have a dog?”
“Yes,” he replied.

“So then I assume you have a doghouse which the dog stays in?”
“Yes.””The you must have a yard which the doghouse is in.”
“Yes!”
“So If you have a yard you must have a house as well.”
“Yes, yes!”
“So then I also assume you have a wife who lives in the house.”
“Yes, I do!”
“That’s what logic is.”
Fascinated with this new knowledge the guy went to test this on one of his friends:
“Do you have a dog?” he asked.
“No.”
Quite astonished he said, “Are you a homosexual?!”

Jokes aside, the point is – in order to arrive at true conclusions, one MUST begin with a truthful premise. In order for one to have a truthful premise, one must know what truth looks like to begin with. In this world, all “truth” is relative and therefore “unknowable” or “unidentifiable” unless it is rooted in the source of all truth, namely God. Only by His revealing of truth to our hearts can we begin to see what truth really looks like, and start to identify it around us. It is a great sadness to me that some of the greatest minds of the world have been limited terribly by an inability to recognise truth and work with it. I am willing to hazard the opinion that no one can realise their full academic potential apart from God.

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¹ I am hoping to do a series of posts on defending the Christian Worldview – inspired by the book mentioned  below

² A quotation from The Battle For Truth by David A. Noebel

Simple Dichotomy of Election

Posted: 28 July, 2008 in Theology