Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Persevering in Prayer

Let us not lose heart in doing good,
for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Galatians 6:9

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
II Thessalonians 3:13

These verses came to mind this morning as I saw a lady, for which the salvation of her and her family, I have been praying for almost two years; and it brought to mind the other people and families whose salvation I regularly lift up to the Lord.  I started thinking about the mystery of prayer, especially the prayer for salvation of those for whom we feel burdened to pray.  Some are saved, others not yet; and yet in the midst of praying for the salvation of some,we see others whom we have not prayed for come to saving faith.  A great mystery, yes, and sometimes a great frustration.  We know that it is not up to the person who wills or who runs, but up to God to show mercy; and that the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from  and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.  God saves whom He chooses, and chooses whom He saves. 

Additionally, we know that all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him; and surely prayer is one of the all things.  Will those whom we have been touched with the burden to pray for ever be saved?  If not, why pray, why the burden?  But then, we don't know if and when they will be saved.  But since all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him, we know that somehow there is a purpose and usefulness to our prayers, even if those whom we are burdened to pray for are never saved. 

These two verses are a great encouragement when we are faced with great frustration in continuing on with an activity that God has called us to.  Prayer in general, and praying for the lost specifically, are certainly those types of activities.  So let us be encouraged to keep engaging in doing good, for those whom we are burdened for their salvation.  Let us not grow weary in doing good for them, in taking them before the throne of God; for in due time, His time, we will reap (accomplish His work) if we do not grow weary. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What to Call N T Wright

For there are many rebellious men,
empty talkers and deceivers,
especially those of the circumcision,
who must be silenced because they
are upsetting whole families...
Titus 1:10-11a

I am amazed that you are so quickly
deserting Him who called you by the grace
of Christ, for a different gospel;
which is really not another; only there are some
who are disturbing you and want to distort
the gospel of Christ.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven,
should preach to you a gospel contrary
to what we have preached to you,
he is to be accursed!
As we have said before, so I say again now,
if any man is preaching to you a gospel
contrary to what you received,
he is to be accursed!
Galatians 1:6-9

For there must also be factions (hairesis)
among you, so that those who are approved
may become evident among you.
I Corinthians 11:19

I was reading through a recent periodical I suscribe to, and this edition was dealing with justification by faith, largely in response to N T Wright's position (the new perspective on Paul) that the church, especially the reformers, have for all these years had it all wrong on what Paul was teaching concerning the nature and basis of justification.  There were several contributors and they all did a great job presenting the case for justification by faith alone.  Additionally, John Piper and Cornelius Venema have written books thoroughly refuting Mr. Wright's position regarding justification.

However, my question is this.  Why are these people, whom I respect and admire, playing so nice with N T Wright? It seems that once you reach a certain level in academia all the other academians treat you with kid gloves.  They will disagree with you, but won't call you out for what you really are. It is almost a sick politeness.  Mr. Wright's position on saving faith, faith that justifies, would lead one down a path away from salvation, which all the men above would readily acknowledge.  If Mr. Wright believes what he is spouting, then his own salvation is in doubt, serious doubt, much as Arius and Socinius; and both of these men were not only refuted, but labeled, branded if you will, as heretics. But for some reason N T Wright seems to be getting a free pass.  Why?

I am certainly no academician, but here in Texas we do tend to call a spade, a spade.  If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck...well guess what?  Paul himself, in his letters quoted above, gives us some good guidelines in how to handle abberant teaching.  The Scriptures tell us in several ways that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  N T Wright's teaching on justification is a heavy dose of leaven as it strikes to the very heart of salvation.  So we must not let this cancer, and this cancer spreader, continue to sow such awful seeds in the bed of the church.  The cancer must not only be cut out, but the spreader of the cancer must be cut out as well, just as Arius and Socinius were cut out. Maybe if this had happened to Freidrich Schleiermacher, the church wouldn't have some of the issues it has now, especially in some academic circles. So let's call N T Wright what he really is, a HERETIC; and let's quit playing nice with him and treat him as one as well.  Let him be anathema to the church, for that is what he is to God.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Graciousness of Grace

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

The graciousness of grace...always sufficient, incredibly magnificent, totally beneficent. It enables us to be more than we are in ourselves by being all that we are in Him.  It enables us to be more like Him, for apart from Him we cannot be like Him.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Day of Love

Valentines Day is a coming.  What are you going to do to show your spouse, your significant other, your love for them?  What will be the token of your love?  Will it be jewelry, candy, flowers, a quiet dinner out, or some personal item?  Of course it will have to include the appropriate card.  But is any gift, token, or event really adequate to express love?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propiation for our sins.  (I John 4:10) Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:3) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

How has God expressed His love for us?  By giving us His Son, His beloved Son, as the sacrifice for our sins.  How has Christ expressed His love for us?  By the offering and sacrifice of Himself to God for our sins. 

Wives be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  (Ephesians 5:22,24)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  (Ephesians 5:25)

The context of this section of Scripture is walking in love as Paul is following up the command and example in Ephesians 5:1-2 with how walking in love looks in a Christian's life.  So the question is, "What are we sacrificing, what are we giving up of ourselves, for our spouses?"  Wives love their husbands by taking the initiative in submitting to them.  Husbands love their wives by giving up themselves for them (notice the phrase gave Himself up in vs 5:25 is the same as in vs 5:2) It is in the sacrifice of ourselves that love is most profoundly and most vividly expressed. And the good thing about this is we can do it every day without waiting for an appointed time.  And just as Christ's sacrifice was a fragrant aroma, so our sacrifice of ourselves becomes a fragrant aroma, not only to our Lord, but also to our spouse.  If we make this the habit of our life (walking in love), then we will create an aroma of love that will pervade our homes and our relationship with our spouse.  It will be a potpourri in our relationship that will never have to be replenished, and others will be able to smell its bouquet.

How do we do this?  Glad you asked.  We most effectively do this by being patient, kind, not being jealous, not bragging or being arrogant, not acting unbecomingly, not seeking our own (not being selfish or self-seeking), not being provoked, not taking into account a wrong suffered, not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but rejoicing with the truth; by bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and enduring all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)  Notice the giving of self, the self-sacrifice, that is involved in living out (walking in) love.  This is the best way to love your spouse; and when we walk in love, then every day is a day of love, and Valentines Day becomes the cherry on top.