A True View of Sin

J.C. RyleFrom the J.C. Ryle Quotes page today:

The Christianity which is from the Holy Spirit will always have a very deep view of the sinfulness of sin. It will not merely regard sin as a blemish and misfortune, which makes men and women objects of pity, and compassion. It will see in sin the abominable thing which God hates, the thing which makes people guilty and lost in his Maker’s sight, the thing which deserves God’s wrath and condemnation. It will look on sin as the cause of all sorrow and unhappiness, of strife and wars, of quarrels and contentions, of sickness and death – the curse which cursed God’s beautiful creation, the cursed thing which makes the whole earth groan and struggle in pain. Above all, it will see in sin the thing which will ruin us eternally, unless we can find a ransom, – lead us captive, except we can get its chains broken, – and destroy our happiness, both here and hereafter, except we fight against it, even unto death.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Authentic Religion

Common Grace and Caine’s Arcade

How grateful I am for God’s common grace that He extends to men. Things like the kindness shown to this little boy and his own industry and ingenuity are so encouraging.

“The goal of common grace is not to perfect nature, but to restrain sin and animate civic virtues and arts, so that culture may fulfill its own important but limited, temporal, and secular ends, while God simultaneously pursues the redemptive aims of His everlasting city.” – Michael Horton

Caine's Arcade

Our Security – Octavius Winslow

Octavius_Winslow“These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: as you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.” John 17:1, 2

The certain glorification with Jesus of every believer is a truth as much involving the honor of God, as it does the present comfort and future happiness of the church. The opposite sentiment—the possibility of a child of God falling short of eternal glory (a doctrine, let it be observed, at total variance with the entire Scriptures of truth), by unhinging the soul from God, and throwing it back completely upon itself, must necessarily lead to low and dishonoring views of the Divine character; while it begets in the mind a spirit of bondage, and a sense of the most painful apprehension, both equally inimical to a healthy and fruitful Christianity.

But the most solemn, I may say awful, light in which the doctrine of the believer’s final insecurity presents itself is, that it casts a thick veil over the glory of Immanuel. It touches every perfection of his being. Oh could the dear saints of God, thus tossed in the troubled sea of doubt, and thus agitated with a “fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,” but be brought to see how the Jesus whom they love is wounded, dishonored, and shorn of His glory by this unscriptural tenet, would they not unhesitatingly renounce it as leading to a result so fearful? Can that, I earnestly ask, be a doctrine of Divine revelation, which tends in the slightest degree to shade the glory of Christ? If one of those given to Him of His Father—one whose sins He carried, whose curse He bore, whose soul He has renewed by the grace of His Spirit—were permitted finally and eternally to perish, where would be His glory? where the glory of His truth? where the glory of His power? where the glory of His love? where the glory of His work? Gone! Every perfection of His Divine being would be impeached, and every beam of His Divine glory would be tarnished.
But all shall be brought safely to heaven. Hark, how distinctly and authoritatively He pleads for this, their crowning blessing, when on the eve of His mysterious passion, and about to spring from His cross to His throne. “Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.” Sublime prayer!—comprehensive and tender petition! How did the Head long to have with Him, where He was, each member of His body! Having had fellowship with Him in His humiliation, it was His desire that they should have fellowship with Him in His glory.

And this He asks not as a gift, but claims as a right. In virtue of His covenant engagement with the Father, His full satisfaction to Divine justice, His perfect obedience to the Divine law, His finished redemption of His people, He reverently bows at the mercy-seat, and pours out His full soul, and unburdens His loving heart, in the most sublime petition that ever ascended from mortal lip: “Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am.”

And mark the reason why—”that they may behold my glory.” Consummation of glory!—overflowing cup of bliss!—height of perfect holiness! Was it the parting charge of Joseph to His brethren—”You shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall haste and bring down my father here”? Our Joseph, with love infinitely more intense, desires that all His brethren be brought to heaven, that they may behold His glory there—the glory of His unveiled Deity—the glory of His glorified humanity—and the glory to which, as Mediator, His Father has advanced Him.

The Heavens Declare His Glory!

Be sure to watch this full screen!

Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
(Psalm 19:1-6 ESV)

Google Music vs. Amazon Cloud – Streaming and Storing

The really great news here is that these services even exist. We all knew that, given the polifieration of smart phones, high speed internet and massive storage operations, that the cloud was going to be a reality and now it is in a big way. On the storage side of things you’ve had services like Carbonite but one of the major drawbacks of services like that is that they refuse to store anything on their servers that is not on your computer’s internal hard drive.  For those with significant collections of music this is entirely unrealistic. As for streaming, forget it.

Enter Google and Amazon. I’ve been using both and I’m excited about the possibilities these services offer. The jury is still out on who has the best service primarily because Google is still in beta stage. Uploads are currently limited although I’m sure that will change and a pricing package similar to Amazon’s will be offered. Both services do an adequate job of delivering your content to your desktop and have standard playlist and shuffle options. What sets them apart from each other? Here is my analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the these cloud storage and streaming sites:

google-music-beta Google Music (Beta)

Pro:

  • The Android app: I have found it to load faster than Amazon’s cloud storage which will be important for impatient listeners.
  • Free for now – although that will change soon.
  • Ability to edit album and song info after uploading. This is huge! Amazon does not offer this at the moment and it’s a serious omission. If things aren’t tagged correctly then you can edit the info on the spot rather than having to delete, retag and upload. Amazon does a particularly poor job of matching artwork with uploads so, unless you’ve got the right artwork already embedded you can get some really bizarre match-ups. With Google Music you can simply change the graphic inside the system. This feature is the single biggest thing Google Music has going for it. I’ve had to repair and replace too much on Amazon so if you’re going to use their service, get a good tagger program and do the prep work beforehand. Even then you’ll occasionally miss something and then will need to repair and reload.

Con:

  • Limited storage– but that will change. If the pricing plans are equivalent to Amazon then that’s a big mark in Google Music’s favor.
  • The interface – not as nice looking as Amazons and a tad awkward. Hopefully that’s being re-tooled.
  • Upload time– Your mileage may differ but I have found Amazon’s upload times to be much faster than Google’s. Not a real big deal long as you’re willing to start large uploads and walk away for awhile.
  • No social media sharing – Really? Surely they are going to fix that. How can I narcissistically inform the world of what I’m listening to?
Pro:
  • Upload time – Amazon is really fast on the upload/download side. You can upload a ton of music in a relatively short time.
  • Pricing and Storage– Amazon is bundling unlimited free music storage with a fee for storing files like pictures and documents. Kinda odd but who can complain about 20 bucks a year for 20 gigs of file storage and unlimited gigs for music storage? You can buy more file storage (up to 1000 gigs) if you need it but again – there is no limit on music regardless. If Google doesn’t match this or do better, then it’s no contest.
  • The interface – looks good and easy to get around.
  • Social Media Sharing – tell Facebook and Twitter what you’re listening to complete with a preview.
Con:
  • The Android app – my experience has been that it’s slow loading and gets hung up easily.
  •  No editing after uploading – like I said above, this is HUGE!  You’re limited to only moving files and renaming them. You can’t fix artist, genre, album name, etc.. and you can’t change the artwork. Why is this bad? Because Amazon has a blind monkey somewhere matching up album names with the correct artwork. So, if you don’t have it tagged right before uploading, you’re going to end up with some weird stuff.
For now I’m leaning heavily toward Google Music  because of the editing option. If Google gets the pricing right then its a done deal and hopefully they will get the social media links up and running. On the other hand – if Amazon will just add the editing feature then I think they leap into the lead even if Google matches the pricing. Good look, social media, fast uploads and editing – I’m there. Just fix that Android app.

Casting Shadows. What lingers when you are gone?

Explore the Book by J . Sidlow-Baxter

The shadow of your smile, when you are gone. Will color all my dreams and light the dawn…” (1)

Beautiful song. The image of a lingering shadow is the focus in the following paragraphs taken from J. Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book, on the best one volume devotional commentaries around. The section below comes from the third section of his material on 2 Kings, particularly regarding Jeroboam and his line as contrasted with David and his. Lengthy, but profoundly sobering to read.

 

“All of us are casting shadows as we go through this present life. Just as our bodies cast their shadows quite involuntarily, so are we continually and quite involuntarily casting the shadow of our moral and spiritual influence upon other lives. We can no more detach ourselves from this involuntary and often unconscious influence upon others than our bodies can rid themselves of their own shadows. What we can determine is the kind of shadow which we cast. Our influence, quite apart from any speech of the lips, may contribute either to the eternal salvation or the eternal damnation of other souls. God save us from casting a shadow like that of Jeroboam! Amid both the younger and the older everywhere around us there are always those who, from one cause or another, are in that sensitive poise of mind which makes them susceptible to the shadow of some influence falling upon them from another personality.

It is a solemn reflection that the shadow of our silent influence may have results reaching on even into eternity. It is well to remember, too, that our shadow often lingers here when we ourselves have passed beyond, as was the case with David and Jeroboam. Are Voltaire and Paine and Ingersol and Huxley dead, and other infidels who kept step to their music? Do not their shadows still stalk the earth, gibbering their old blasphemies in new phraseology within the walls of our schools and colleges? And, on the other hand, are Luther and Calvin, and Wesley and Whitefield and Moody and Spurgeon dead? Do not the Christ-filled shadows of these seraphic evangelists still fall with enduring benediction upon our national life ?

It is objected that these whom we have picked on are all outstanding men, and that the same does not apply to the inconspicuous? Well, if we are thinking that, we are wrong. Adolph Hitler’s vile shadow, remember, includes in itself all those other men whose names will never be published but who influenced Hitler in his earlier years, and made him what he afterwards became. We speak of Wesley and Whitefield, and the other sanctified geniuses of the Methodist revival but remember that the heavenly shadow of that glorious epoch is really the composite influence of those thousands of obscure but consecrated men and ·women who are simply an anonymous multitude to the historian.

Perhaps some who read these lines are even now thanking God for the still lingering shadow of a departed saintly father or mother, or of some other departed Christian loved-one. Or perhaps some who now read these lines suffer and weep because of a darksome shadow cast over their lives by departed predecessors of a different sort. What kind of shadows are we going to cast today and leave tomorrow? Our lingering influence will certainly out-stay us. God keep us near to Christ! God help us to cast the shadow of a sanctified influence which will linger on to heal and bless, as Peter’s shadow, long ago in Jerusalem, healed the sick ones on whom it fell!”



(1) The Shadow of Your Smile. Music by Johnny Mandel with the lyrics written by Paul Francis Webster.

 

Richard Lovelace on Softening the Character of God

Dynamics of spiritual life: an evangelical theology of renewal by Richard F. Lovelace“The cross is the perfect statement both of God’s wrath against sin and of the depth of his love and mercy in the recovery of the damaged creation and its damagers. God’s mercy, patience, and love must be fully preached in the church. But they are not credible unless they are presented in tension with God’s infinite power, complete and sovereign control of the universe, holiness, and righteousness. And where God’s righteousness is clearly presented, compassionate warnings of his holy anger against sin must be given, and warnings also of the certainty of divine judgment in endless alienation from God which will be unimaginably worse than the literal descriptions of hell. It is no wonder that the world and the church are not awakened when our leadership is either singing a lullaby concerning these matters or presenting them in a caricature which is so grotesque that it is unbelievable.

The tension between God’s holy righteousness and his compassionate mercy cannot be legitimately resolved by remolding his character into an image of pure benevolence as the church did in the nineteenth century. There is only one way that this contradiction can be removed: through the cross of Christ which reveals the severity of God’s anger against sin and the depth of his compassion in paying its penalty through the vicarious sacrifice of his Son. In systems which resolve this tension by softening the character of God, Christ and his work become an addendum, and spiritual darkness becomes complete because the true God has been abandoned for the worship of a magnified image of human tolerance.”

– Richard Lovelace, Dynamics for Spiritual Life, 84-85 (emphasis mine).

 

Saved To The Uttermost

Octavius Winslow“Wherefore he is able also to save to the uttermost, those who come unto God by him.” Hebrews 7:25

What a witness is this to the power and readiness of Christ to save! And this is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the blessed Son of God. But He does more than this. He brings home the record with power to the soul. He writes the testimony on the heart. He converts the believing soul itself into a witness that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

And what a gospel is this for a poor sinner! It speaks of pardon–of acceptance–of peace–of full redemption here, and unspeakable glory hereafter. It proclaims a Savior to the lost; a Redeemer to the captive; a Surety to the insolvent; a Physician to the sick; a Friend to the needy; an Advocate to the criminal;–all that a self-ruined, sin-accused, law-condemned, justice-threatened, broken-hearted sinner needs, this “glorious gospel of the blessed God” provides.

It reveals to the self-ruined sinner One in whom is his help, Hosea 13:9. To the sin-accused, One who can take away all sin, 1 John 1:7. To the law-condemned, One who saves from all condemnation, Romans 8:1. To the justice-threatened, One who is a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, Isaiah 32:2. To the broken-hearted, One who binds up and heals, Isaiah 61:1. That One is–Jesus. O name ever dear, ever sweet, ever precious, ever fragrant, ever healing to the “poor in spirit”!

What a witness, then, is this which the Eternal Spirit bears for Jesus! He assures the believer that all he can possibly need is treasured up in Christ–that he has no cross but Christ can bear it–no sorrow but Christ can alleviate it–no corruption but Christ can subdue it–no guilt but Christ can remove it–no sin but Christ can pardon it–no need but Christ can supply it. Lift up your heads, you poor, you needy, you disconsolate! Lift up your heads and rejoice that Christ is all to you–all you need in this valley of tears–all you need in the deepest sorrow–all you need under the heaviest affliction–all you need in sickness–all you will need in the hour of death and in the day of judgment.

Yes, and Christ is in all too. He is in all you salvation–He is in all your mercies–He is in all your trials–He is in all your consolations, and in all your afflictions. What more can you want? What more do you desire? A Father who loves you as the apple of His eye–a full Savior to whom to go, moment by moment–and a blessed indwelling, sanctifying, comforting Spirit, to reveal all to you, and to give you Himself, as the “pledge of your inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.” “Happy is that people that is in such a case: yes, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”