“The most significant thing that the disciple community could do to begin to recover a robust and maturing doctrine of creation is to recover the practice of worship that praises the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and participates in the dialectic of the kingdom. To bring these two together— worship and the doctrine of creation— would be a quest with little expectation of success, except that it is always by grace that God judges and renews God’s people. When we have ‘services of celebration’ and Sunday morning gatherings that are largely evangelistically focused, to recover the practice of worship requires a change of mind (repentance) in many parts of the church.

Often our ‘worship’ has no clear Trinitarian grammar and thus fails to bring us into the presence of the one God— Father, Son, and Spirit. Likewise, our worship receives little guidance from theological convictions and thus is shaped not by the praise of God but by congregational politics and preferences. Along with these failings, we often think of ‘worship’ as a means of getting us through the next week in this fallen world rather than as participation in the redemption of creation and anticipation of the telos of the new creation. Too often we simply accept the way things are and look to ‘worship’ to help us manage with the way things are.

Worship of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit should bring us into that most real world of God’s redemption of creation so that our lives are continually transformed. This aspiration may be realized only by the gracious work of God. To know God and to be known by God in transformative ways are what gathers us to be the disciple community from first to last.”

Wilson, Jonathan R.. God’s Good World : Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation. Grand Rapids, US: Baker Academic, 2014.

“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him… There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed”

– C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity p. 131

David VanDrunen on Soli Deo Gloria

God’s glory alone, and that of no creature, is the supreme end of all things.

God's Glory Alone - Vandrunen soli deo gloria

The following is from David Vandrunen’s  God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters, part of Zondervan’s Five Solas series.

Protestants commonly speak of the “five solas of the Reformation,” but we often forget that the Reformers themselves never sat down and adopted these five slogans— sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria— as the official mottos of the Reformation movement. At first, this sounds a little disappointing. We like to think we’re adopting the very same set of phrases that Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their colleagues bequeathed to their spiritual posterity.

It really shouldn’t disappoint us at all. People may have begun speaking of the “five solas of the Reformation” only long after the Reformation itself, but each of these five themes does in fact probe the heart of Reformation faith and life in its own way. The Reformers may not have spoken explicitly of “the five solas,” but the magnification of Christ, grace, faith, Scripture, and God’s glory— and these alone— suffused their theology and ethics, their worship and piety. Christ alone, and no other redeemer, is the mediator of our salvation. Grace alone, and not any human contribution, saves us. Faith alone, and no other human action, is the instrument by which we’re saved. Scripture, and no merely human word, is our ultimate standard of authority. God’s glory alone, and that of no creature, is the supreme end of all things.

How we like to think that there’s something for us to add to the satisfaction and obedience of Christ or to the inspired word of the prophets and apostles, and even that God is wonderfully honored by our contribution. But the Reformers perceived that the perfect word and work of Christ— precisely because they are perfect— need nothing to supplement them. Anything that tries to supplement them, in fact, challenges their perfection and thus dishonors God’s word and work in Christ. If the Roman Catholic doctrine of authority and doctrine of salvation are true, all glory thus does not belong to God alone. And God, Scripture tells us, will share his glory with no other (Isa 42: 8).

We might think of it in another way. By holding forth soli Deo gloria as the lifeblood of the solas, we remind ourselves that the biblical religion recaptured by the Reformation is not ultimately about ourselves, but about God. Our focus so easily becomes self-centered, even when we ask the same important questions that occupied the Reformers: Where can I find God’s authoritative revelation? How can I escape the wrath of God? What must I do to be saved? The other four solas provide necessary and life-changing answers to such questions, but soli Deo gloria puts them in proper perspective: the highest purpose of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, made known in Scripture, is not our own beatitude, wonderful as that is. The highest purpose is God’s own glory. God glorifies himself through the abundant blessings he bestows upon us.

VanDrunen, David (2015-12-01). God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series) (p.13-16). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

Delay and Disappointment, Counsel from John Newton

wisecounsel

Wise Counsel, published by Banner of Truth, is a collection of letters written by John Newton to John Ryland Jr. Ryland met Newton when he was 15 and Newton was 43. It was a mentoring relationship that would enrich Ryland’s own pastoral ministry in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. On this occasion, Ryland was disappointed in the delay of finding a wife and establishing a family. He was on his third prospect and things were moving slowly. Newton responds here to his complaint.

 
Poor dear Lad,

I must refer the long delay, and every other possible grievance, to the scriptures of truth. If we were not creatures we might have a right to choose, if we were not sinners we might perhaps venture to complain of sufferings. If the Lord were not wise he might mistake our case; if He were not good he might deal hardly with us. If this life were our all, delays and crossings for one, two or three years would be of great importance. But reverse all these suppositions, say that we are creatures, sinful pardoned creatures, bought with the blood of Jesus, that our Saviour is our shepherd, that He is infinitely wise and good in himself, and has engaged his wisdom and goodness in our behalf; that He suffered for us, and calls us by grace that we may sufler for him (Acts 9:16); say further that every event we are concerned in is under his immediate direction, and all to work for good, that what we call heavy is light and the long and tedious but momentary, as to our true existence and when compared with the weight of glory, and the length of eternity to which they lead. Let all these truths be planted like so many cannon in your defence and see whether self will and unbelief will dare to look them in the face.

John Newton Delay and Disappoinment

John Newton

When Demosthenes’ was asked, ‘What is the first, second, and third qualification of an Orator?’, he is reported to have given the same answer to each, ‘Action’. I may say the same of submission to the will of God in a Christian; it is the chief ornament of his profession, and it includes the whole of it. It is the fairest fruit, and the surest criterion of true faith. In how many books and sermons is faith so confined to the business of acceptance with God, as if it had little else to do. But surely faith owns his hand, trusts his management, and yields to his . disposal.

If the Lord had called us to dungeons or flames for his sake, we know we ought not to refuse, and we hope his grace would have been with us according to our day. But we are not appointed to these hard services. He gives us health, liberty and many comforts, especially the comfort and honour of preaching his gospel. But in a few things he crosses or delays our inclinations, telling us at the same time that it is for our benefit, that we shall find his season the best, and that he will withhold nothing that is truly good. He gives us so to speak 96 or 97 blessings in hand, 3 or 4 he bids us wait for, but because we have not the whole hundred and all at once, we forget the value of the rest, we grieve and despond; the sun shines upon us in vain. Alas, what wayward, perverse, unreasonable children are we.

John Ryland Jr. Delay and Disappoinment

John Ryland Jr.

We talk of a cross but we would have a cross of our own choosing. So a child would consent to take physic* that is if he might choose something not disagreeable to his palate, and be allowed to call it physic, he would take it and say, ‘Now am not I a good boy to take physic so readily?’ But it happens that most of the medicines both for bodily and spiritual maladies are bitter.

After all I trust the Lord will support and carry you through all. These things will humble your spirit, and give a mellowness to your preaching. It is in this way of service, that the Lord bestows the tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to weary souls. The Lord be with you. Cheer up, and all shall be well.

(*Physic – Medicine)

 

 

Andrew Murray on Prayer

In true worship the Father must be first, must be all.

andrew.murray“While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and his interests, the Master reverses the order. First Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will; then give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us… In true worship the Father must be first, must be all.”

~ Andrew Murray

 

John Stott on Propitiation

There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only the profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.

johnstott“It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us. There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only the profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.”

~ John Stott
The Cross of Christ, pg. 175

 


imageIt is of interest to note that at the inauguration of the Old (Exod. 24:1-11) and New Covenants (Matt. 26:26-29) God was with his people, and eating occurred. There is also a prospect held out for us, an eschatological feast in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Matt. 26:29; Luke 14:15; Rev. 19:9). There will be eating and feasting at the consummation. All of this is due to the blood of the Lamb, slain for sinners, in order to bring us to God. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the past, blesses us in the present, and looks to future eating, future feasting with the Lamb in all his glory.

~ Richard Barcellos

The Lord's Supper As A Means of Grace: More Than a Memory (Christian Focus Publications , 2013), 457

It is highly significant that the only regular ritual act instituted and commanded by Jesus sets forth supremely his death. It is his death, his body given and blood shed, which the bread and wine were intended to signify. In issuing the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ of him, he intended that his atoning death should be kept before every generation, indeed ‘placarded’ before their very eyes. This according to Paul is the function of preaching. It is one of the functions of communion also.

The ministry of both Word and sacrament makes Christ’s death contemporary, presenting it anew not to God (for the sacrifice itself was offered on the cross once for all) but to men (for its benefits are always freshly available).

John Stott

Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), 119

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard
yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in
an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs
which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

Martin Luther

Happy New Year…the holiest and most beautiful year we have ever lived.

“The new year on which we are about to enter is unopened, and we know not what shall befall us; but if we follow Christ we need have no fear. So let us leave the old year with gratitude to God for its mercies, and with penitence for its failures and sins; and let us enter the new year with earnest resolve in Christ’s name to make it the holiest and most beautiful year we have ever lived.”

~ J.R. Miller (From Grace Gems)