Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Bible commands us to feel

Moderns tend to view emotions as inevitable. We cannot help what we feel. Paul says, “Not so fast.” Throughout Paul’s epistles he encourages us to feel certain things and to not feel other things.  One of the best examples is Romans 12:15 where Paul encourages us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  Here are two expressions of emotion that Paul commands us to feel. Come on Paul, you know I cannot just conjure up weeping! There are numerous other examples as well. Our emotions are not a runaway semi careening towards the bottom of the hill. We are to corral our emotions, to discipline them, so that we feel what is appropriate to each circumstance. There are times we are supposed to feel anger, joy, love, etc. Christians often speak of training our minds to think righteous thoughts (Romans 12:2), but we do not speak of training our emotions to feel righteous feelings (Romans 12:10-12).  Our whole life is to be brought into conformity to God’s Word, including our emotions.

Via Liturgy as emotional discipline - a helpful article talking about the benefits of a good liturgy/order of service

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Prostitutes, Sex offenders, Murderers and Homosexuals welcome

This from a beautiful and moving exposition of God's grace. First a bit of the intro:
One of the greatest scandals of the gospel is the free grace of forgiveness. But we say this, and I do not think we often let it sink in. The scandal of free grace is God’s love of sinners, God’s love of His enemies, His love of the worst kinds of evil people...
Then some applications:
This means that God receives prostitutes who sleep with married men, helping them break their marriage vows, helping them betray their wives at home. God receives those prostitutes. 
This means that God receives sex offenders, men who prey on little children, rapists, abusers, stalkers, molesters, and creeps of all of shapes and sizes. God receives filthy sex offenders. 
This means that God receives murderers, haters, backbiters, gossips, and liars. He receives those who have planned the execution of the innocent. He forgives abortionists and the women who order the murder of their own babies. He forgives the military officers who order unjust attacks, and He forgives the soldiers who carry them out. God receives bloody murderers. 
This means that God receives homosexuals and transexuals and bisexuals and transgendered and porn addicts and adulterers and fornicators of every stripe. God cleanses. God forgives. God extends mercy. God receives the sexually immoral and confused.
The challenge:

And someone will say, but don’t they have to change? Don’t they have to repent? Don’t they have to stop sinning? Don’t they have to understand something about the grace of God? Otherwise, why wouldn’t God save everyone? We’re not universalists are we? Yes, good questions. But first let’s fix the pronoun problems in the previous sentences.

Why do you say they…? Why do you speak as though they are out there, they are behind bars, they are extreme cases? Don’t you know that they are you? Don’t pretend that these sins are so far removed from you. Don’t pretend that you are all holy, chaste, and pure. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you (1 Jn. 1:8). But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9).

From most unrighteousness? From the milder forms of unrighteousness? From the socially acceptable forms of unrighteousness? No, from all unrighteousness. Yes, when God’s grace comes, it accomplishes miracles, it transforms, it breaks through, it heals, it changes. Absolutely. This is no inert grace. This is reactive, explosive, living grace.

Moving stuff indeed. Read the full thing here

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Old Testament is the Gospel in bud

...let us beware of under-valuing the Old Testament. There has arisen of late years a most unhappy tendency to slight and despise any religious argument which is drawn from an Old Testament source, and to regard the man who uses it as a dark, benighted, and old-fashioned person. We shall do well to remember that the Old Testament is just as much inspired as the New, and that the religion of both Testaments is in the main, and at the root, one and the same. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade: the New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. The Old Testament saints saw many things through a glass darkly: but they looked to the same Christ by faith and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. Let us, therefore, never listen to those who sneer at Old Testament arguments. Much infidelity begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament.

— J. C. Ryle, Sabbath: A Day to Keep