The Importance of Christian Thinking

7 quick points on Christian thinking…………

(1) Do you ever engage your brain to think, study your bible, or stop and have BIG thoughts about God, Jesus, the gospel, your salvation? You should…..: “The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is prerequisite to Christian ACTION.”- Harry Blamires

(2)Why?–> “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

(3)God’s opinion on learning in the school of Christ—> “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

(4)How? –> “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”-James 1:5 (NLT)

(5) Get This —-> “ We need to understand that Jesus is a thinker, this is not a dirty word but an essential act” Dallas Willard

(6) But! —-> “We need to ask ourselves “What do i intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I’ve got it? For the fact that we have to face is this: that if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians ‘knowledge puffs up…the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to. [Our] supreme desire should be to know God’s truth in order that [our] hearts might respond to it and [our] lives conformed to it. [To know God better is to enjoy God more- thats why so many Christians dont enjoy God…they haven’t yet begun to KNOW Him” J.I. Packer

(7) Recommended Reading:

1)The Christian Mind- Harry Blamires

2) The Gospel and the Mind- Bradley G Green

3)The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind- Alister McGrath

4) Think! The Life of the Mind and the Love of God- John Piper

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Bedtime Ponderings

 

Have you ever found yourself reading in bed at night when you suddenly come across a quote that makes it feel like the ground beneath you just shook? If so then you will be able to relate exactly to how I feel about the two excerpts below. The first is by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and co founder of Together For the Gospel alongside Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney and Ligon Duncan. Despite admitting to being the briefcase kid in high school, Al has proven himself to be no woose when it comes to taking a stand for the truth of the Bible. In the quote he touches on authentic christianity and what he says struck me because I have been thinking quite a bit recently about what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. To be honest I am often wearied by my own hypocrisy in this area because I know that all too often I pay lip service to things that I should be passionately living out. I think of some of the things that Jesus said like “sell all your possessions and give to the poor” (Luke 12:33), “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22), and “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Unquestionably, Jesus was 110% serious about the call to follow him. Yet my western, materialistic, selfish, sinful heart all too often tries to suppress the call of Christ to fully surrender my life for the glory of God. And it really gets to me, or as we say in Northern Ireland “It does my head in”. Too often I make excuses for myself because my indwelling sinful nature is so alluring at times. During these times I don’t want to be challenged with, or rebuked by the truth. I am very comfortable with where I am in my ‘Christian’ walk thank you very much. I’m not alone though am I? We have churches full of people who want nothing more than a superficial, almost superstitious faith. Worse yet we seem to have a growing number of churches who have pastors that seem happy to tickle their audiences ears with self-help, pop psychology and comedic sermons so long as the tithes keep coming in.

Truly though, if we were to stop and examine ourselves for just 1 minute out of the 1440 minutes that make up a day, we would soon see that we fall frighteningly short of the the biblical mandate for what a Jesus follower should be. In fact it probably wouldn’t be wrong to suggest we have more in common with the Pharisees. We possess a “form of godliness but [deny] its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). We love ourselves and our little ‘clubs’ more than we do God. We pat each other on the back and say well done when what we really need is a solid rebuke like Jesus gave to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mathhew 16:23). We hold on to our little unbiblical traditions and refuse to be open and listen to emerging generations. Or, if we are part of the emerging generation, we refuse to learn from the past because we are, as C.S. Lewis termed it, “Chronological snobs”. Who needs the past? They’ve had their say! Their message is outdated and irrelevant for our culture we say! En masse church, as Mohler puts it below, is becoming, or worse yet has already become, “the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth”.

God Deserves More

God deserves so much more than that does he not? The Bible calls us to live lives that magnify God not shrink Him. This is to be done in both word AND deed. Not one at the expense of the other. Jesus says in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” The Liberals and emergent church are big on these deeds but not on the preached word. They seem to follow St Francis of Assisi’s mantra to “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words”. However that stance ignores the clarion call of scripture to “Preach the Word [at all times]” (2 Tim 4:2) and only serves to undermine the fact that we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, apart from our works. I did a word search for preach in the New Testament and it pulled up 76 passages that talk about preaching the gospel and the good news of the kingdom; 76!! How can that be ignored? Note also that Jesus says in the passage above that we “BEAR FRUIT”. A tree cannot bear fruit if it is dead. Nor can a branch bear fruit unless it is attached to the tree. Likewise we cannot bear fruit, proper fruit, fruit that is more concerned with glorifying God than it is mere social change, if we are not first joined to the tree that is Jesus Christ. But how do we become joined to the tree?! Luke records in the book of Acts,

“….when they heard this [the gospel] they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38 ESV)

So by focusing on the fruit the Liberals forget the root!! They forget that the gospel is first and foremost a call to repentance and faith in the good news that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It is through believing the gospel that men and women become attached to the tree of life, Christ, which will then result in the fruit of good deeds. If the gospel is not first then what distinguishes the deeds of the Muslim from the deeds of the Christian?!

Equally as guilty though are we who deem ourselves to be evangelical conservatives. How often do we pass the homeless person on the street without even saying hello because “they are filthy and stink of piss”? We sing our lovely hymns about going and answering the call, proclaiming salvation in Jesus’ name, yet we can’t even pluck up the courage to share the gospel with our friends and neighbours because we are more concerned about offending them, than we are in glorifying God. So we leave them right there where they are; on the path to hell. We need to be careful that we do not become like the liberals and ignore the fact that we are to live it out as well as preach it (Matt 23:3, 1 John2:4-6).

How are we to live then? That brings me to my second quote. It comes from a sermon preached by John Piper. In the extract Piper asserts that it is the Christian’s duty to live a life that magnifies God. In typical Piperesque passion he says, “The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God…” I really can’t say anything more about this quote because it leaves me speechless and amazed at my total and utter dependance upon the grace of God and Jesus Christ. Read the whole quote and perhaps you will be left feeling the same.

 

Albert Mohler

“Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square. It is the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth. Spirituality affirms us in our self-centeredness and soothingly tells us all is well. Authentic faith in Christ calls us out of ourselves, points us to the Cross, and summons us to follow Christ.”- Albert Mohler

John Piper

“When David says, ‘I will magnify God with thanksgiving, he does not mean: ‘I will make a small God look bigger than he is. He means: ‘I will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is.’ We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes. Christians are not called to be con-men who magnify their product out of all proportion to reality, when they know the competitor’s product is far superior. There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as it really is. The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God…

We are called to be telescopes: people who make the greatness of God seem as great as it really is. This is what it means for a Christian to magnify God. But you can’t magnify what you haven’t seen or what you quickly forget. Therefore, our first task is to see and to remember the greatness and goodness of God. So we pray to God, “Open the eyes of my heart,” and we preach to our souls, ‘Soul, forget not all his benefits!’

…There are only two groups of people in the world whose differences from each other are of any eternal significance: those who love to magnify God and those who love to magnify themselves. At the root of all ingratitude is the love of one’s own greatness. For genuine gratitude admits that we are beneficiaries of an unearned bequest; we are cripples leaning on the cross shaped crutch of Jesus Christ; we are paralytics living minute by minute in the iron lung of God’s mercy; we are children asleep in heaven’s stroller. Natural man hates to think of himself in these images: unworthy beneficiary, cripple, paralytic, child. They rob him of all his glory by giving it all to God. Therefore, while a man loves his own glory, and prizes his self-sufficiency, and hates to think of himself as sin-sick and helpless, he will never feel any genuine gratitude to the true God and so will never magnify God, but only himself.”

The 10 Effects of Believing the Doctrines of Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“These ten points are my personal testimony to the effects of believing in the five points of Calvinism. I have just completed teaching a seminar on this topic and was asked by the class members to post these reflections so they could have access to them. I am happy to do so. They, of course, assume the content of the course, which is available online from Desiring God Ministries, but I will write them here in the hope that they might stir others to search, Berean-like, to see if the Bible teaches what I call “Calvinism.”

1. These truths make me stand in awe of God and lead me into the depth of true God-centered worship.

I recall the time I first saw, while teaching Ephesians at Bethel College in the late ’70′s, the threefold statement of the goal of all God’s work, namely, “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

It has led me to see that we cannot enrich God and that therefore his glory shines most brightly not when we try to meet his needs but when we are satisfied in him as the essence of our deeds. “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him the glory forever” (Romans 11:36). Worship becomes an end in itself.

It has made me feel how low and inadequate are my affections, so that the Psalms of longing come alive and make worship intense.

2. These truths help protect me from trifling with divine things.

One of the curses of our culture is banality, cuteness, cleverness. Television is the main sustainer of our addiction to superficiality and triviality.

God is swept into this. Hence the trifling with divine things.

Earnestness is not excessive in our day. It might have been once. And, yes, there are imbalances in certain people today who don’t seem to be able to relax and talk about the weather.

Robertson Nicole said of Spurgeon, “Evangelism of the humorous type [we might say, church growth of the marketing type] may attract multitudes, but it lays the soul in ashes and destroys the very germs of religion. Mr. Spurgeon is often thought by those who do not know his sermons to have been a humorous preacher. As a matter of fact there was no preacher whose tone was more uniformly earnest, reverent and solemn” (Quoted in The Supremacy of God in Preaching, p. 57).

3. These truths make me marvel at my own salvation.

After laying out the great, God-wrought salvation in Ephesians 1, Paul prays, in the last part of that chapter, that the effect of that theology will be the enlightenment of our hearts so that we marvel at our hope, and at the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and at the power of God at work in us – that is, the power to raise the dead.

Every ground of boasting is removed. Brokenhearted joy and gratitude abound.

The piety of Jonathan Edwards begins to grow. When God has given us a taste of his own majesty and our own wickedness, then the Christian life becomes a thing very different than conventional piety. Edwards describes it beautifully when he says,

The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope, and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior (Religious Affections, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 339f).

4. These truths make me alert to man-centered substitutes that pose as good news.

In my book, The Pleasures of God (2000), pp. 144-145, I show that in the 18th century in New England the slide from the sovereignty of God led to Arminianism and thence to universalism and thence to Unitarianism. The same thing happened in England in the 19thcentury after Spurgeon.

Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), p. 454, documents the same thing: “Calvinistic convictions waned in North America. In the progress of the decline which Edwards had rightly anticipated, those Congregational churches of New England which had embraced Arminianism after the Great Awakening gradually moved into Unitarianism and universalism, led by Charles Chauncy.”

You can also read in J. I. Packer’s Quest for Godliness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p. 160, how Richard Baxter forsook these teachings and how the following generations reaped a grim harvest in the Baxter church in Kidderminster.

These doctrines are a bulwark against man-centered teachings in many forms that gradually corrupt the church and make her weak from the inside, all the while looking strong or popular.

1 Timothy 3:15, “The church of the living God [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

5. These truths make me groan over the indescribable disease of our secular, God-belittling culture.

I can hardly read the newspaper or look at a TV ad or a billboard without feeling the burden that God is missing.

When God is the main reality in the universe and is treated as a non-reality, I tremble at the wrath that is being stored up. I am able to be shocked. So many Christians are sedated with the same drug as the world. But these teachings are a great antidote.

And I pray for awakening and revival.

And I try to preach to create a people that are so God-saturated that they will show and tell God everywhere and all the time.

We exist to reassert the reality of God and the supremacy of God in all of life.

6. These truths make me confident that the work which God planned and began, he will finish – both globally and personally.

This is the point of Romans 8:28-39.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7. These truths make me see everything in the light of God’s sovereign purposes – that from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be glory forever and ever.

All of life relates to God. There’s no compartment where he is not all-important and the one who gives meaning to everything. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Seeing God’s sovereign purpose worked out in Scripture, and hearing Paul say that “he accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) makes me see the world this way.

8. These truths make me hopeful that God has the will, the right, and the power to answer prayer that people be changed.

The warrant for prayer is that God may break in and change things – including the human heart. He can turn the will around. “Hallowed be thy name” means: cause people to hallow your name. “May your word run and be glorified” means: cause hearts to be opened to the gospel.

We should take the New Covenant promises and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and in our neighbors and among all the mission fields of the world.

“God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give him a new heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

“Lord, circumcise their hearts so that they love you” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

“Father, put your spirit within them and cause them to walk in Your statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27).

“Lord, grant them repentance and the knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

“Father, open their hearts so that they believe the gospel” (Acts 16:14).

9. These truths reminds me that evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved, and that there is great hope for success in leading people to faith, but that conversion is not finally dependent on me or limited by the hardness of the unbeliever.

So it gives hope to evangelism, especially in the hard places and among the hard peoples.

John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also. They will heed my voice.”

It is God’s work. Throw yourself into it with abandon.

10. These truths make me sure that God will triumph in the end.

Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand that I will accomplish all my purpose’”

Putting them altogether: God gets the glory and we get the joy.



Limited (Actual) Atonement- An Intro

What is Reformed Theology?- A summary by R.C. Sproul

Monergism.com’s monthly Focus- Evangelism

logo-mEvangelism

“Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action.”
J.I. Packer

Telling People the Truth in Love A Reformed Approach to Evangelism by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Puritan Evangelism bby J.I. Packer

Some “Dos and Dont’s” of Evangelism by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Reformed Evangelism by Morton Smith

God’s Way: Vision, Compassion and Prayer by Paul Bassett

Law and Gospel, an Important Distinction in Evangelism by Massimo Lorenzini

Hell’s Best Kept Secret…the Law by Ray Comfort (.pdf)

Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar

Present Day Evangelism by Arthur W. Pink

The Call to Witness by John Calvin

The Art Of Man-Fishing (.pdf) by Thomas Boston

The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon

Compel Them to Come In by Charles Spurgeon

Receiving Christ by Michael Horton

But Spiritual Discernment is Wholly Lost Until we are Regenerated by John Calvin

The Call that Brings a Response by Paul Helm

Reformed MP3s on Evangelism by Monergism.com

The Great Commission by Brian M. Schwertley

Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named by John Piper

What about the Innocent Native who’s never heard about Jesus? by Greg Johnson

The “Very Pernicious and Detestable” Doctrine of Inclusivism by Robert L. Reymond

Gospel-Centered Ministry (.pdf) by Dr. Tim Keller

The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses: A Modified Lutheran View (.pdf) by Douglas J. Moo

Human Inability by Charles Spurgeon

Is Jesus Really the Only Way? by John Hendryx

The External and Internal Call by Wilhelmus a Brakel

“… And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5:9-10

“Let us arouse ourselves to the sternest fidelity, laboring to win souls as much as if it all depended wholly upon ourselves, while we fall back in faith upon the glorious fact that everything rests with the eternal God. ” – C.H. Spurgeon

Thanks again to the guys at Monergism for providing us all with such a great resource.

John Piper said……….

“We must not water down the call to suffer. We must not domesticate all the New Testament teaching on affliction and persecution just because our lives are so smooth. It may be that we have not chosen to live in all the radical ways of love that God wants us to”  (Let The Nations Be Glad)

Monthly Focus- Doctrine of Election

Two weeks ago I returned to my old University in England to visit some of my friends who are still in attendance and to speak at the Christian Union I attended whilst I was there. It was great to receive this invite, and a real privilege to be able to spend a lot of time in God’s word in preparing my talk. The title of the Talk/Preach given me was “Seeing Christ Clearly” and it was a 20 minute exposition of Mark Chapter 8. An issue that came out in the talk was the doctrine of election and the sovereignty of God. In Mark Chapter 8 Peter confesses Christ as being Lord, however in the parallel account in Matthew we see that Peter only sees this because God has opened his eyes to it. Jesus says “Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

University CU’s are made up of Christians from differing backgrounds. Some are from Reformed Evangelical churches, some are from Arminian Free Churches and some are from downright zany and strange churches. Thus, this means that many have been brought up with good teaching and others, sadly, with bad. Needless to say after I spoke some of the students were inquisitive in seeking to understand this doctrine. Some found it difficult to understand why God would let anyone be born if he was just going to send them to hell. An apt question to ask would you not agree? I thus decided it would be a good idea to gather some resources regarding this doctrine. Thankfully my task has been made much easier by the old faithful over at Monergism.com. This month they are doing a focus on then Doctrine of Election. The wealth of material on this website is astounding and every believer should have it on their favourites list. Most of the information below is from Monergism, simply because it is the best material on the issue. Please do take the time to read some these articles as they will, God-willing, give you a better understanding of Scripture and of our God who is Sovereign in all things- even Salvation.

Union with Christ begins with God’s pretemporal decision to save his people in and through Jesus Christ. This union, further, is based on the redemptive work for his people which Christ did in history. Finally, this union is actually established with God’s people after they have been born, continues throughout their lives, and has as its goal their eternal glorification in the life to come. We go on, then, to see union with Christ as having its roots in divine election, its basis in the redemptive work of Christ, and its actual establishment with God’s people in time.
– Anthony Hoekema

“God elected believers; but He chose them that they might be so, not because they were already so…Neither are we called because we believed, but that we may believe; and by that calling which is without repentance it is effected and carried through that we should believe.”
– Augustine Treatise On The Predestination of the Saints Chap. 38

” …the conversion of a sinner being not owing to a man’s self determination, but to God’s determination, and eternal election, which is absolute, and depending on the sovereign Will of God, and not on the free will of man; as is evident from what has been said : and it being very evident from the Scriptures, that the eternal election of saints to the faith and holiness, is also an election of them to eternal salvation; hence their appointment to salvation must also be absolute, and not depending on their contingent, self-determining Will.”
– JONATHAN EDWARDS

Unconditional Election by Brian Schwertley

What is Election? by Dr. Sam Storms

Election – God Chooses His Own by J.I. Packer

Are There Two Wills in God? by John Piper

Misunderstandings of the Doctrine of Election by Wayne Grudem

Election by Charles Spurgeon

Unconditional Election by Loraine Boettner

The Doctrine of Election by A.W. Pink

God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men by Jonathan Edwards – The sovereignty of God is His absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to His own pleasure.

Election by J.C. Ryle

The Doctrine of Election by John Calvin

Corporate and Individual Election in Romans 9: A Response to Brian Abasciano ((.pdf) by Thomas R. Schreiner

Election: Individual vs. Corporate by Monergism.com

John MacArthur Answers Key Questions About Election (mp3) by Voice of the Sheep

Unconditional Election by Dr. Arturo Azurdia III

What is the doctrine of Election? (MP3) by Dr. Tim Keller

“Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress; Whoever, then, heaps odium upon the doctrine of predestination openly reproaches God, as if he had unadvisedly let slip something hurtful to the church”
John Calvin (III, XXI, 3-4, pp. 924, 926).