‘The Foundation of the Foundation’ [PDF] The Pastoral importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity in 2LCF 2:3
As we discussed on a previous podcast, the 2014 ARBCA C […]
As we discussed on a previous podcast, the 2014 ARBCA C […]
“Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.” —Psalm 6:4
Wanna see something crazy? Behold AC Milan’s Jérémy Ménez score the most impressive goal you’ll ever see from less than a yard out. Video below:
via Junior’s Notes
I love to find and share practical methods or techniques for living the Christian life—ways other Christians live out their Christian faith day-by-day. As I speak with people, as I read books, as I listen to sermons, I am always looking for these tips which I call “faith hacks.” I am going to share another one with you today. It comes from Jerry Bridges and deals with the important disciplines of preaching the gospel to yourself.
Bridges has written in several of his books about the importance of the daily practice of preaching the gospel to yourself. In The Discipline of Grace he writes, “When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.” He also gives an overview of the practice: “To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”
But it is in Respectable Sins that he gives the practical example from his own life. Here is how he preaches the gospel to himself every day:
Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.
I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.What Scriptures do I use to preach the gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.
Whatever Scriptures we use to assure us of God’s forgiveness, we must realize that whether the passage explicitly states it or not, the only basis for God’s forgiveness is the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us. As the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22), and the context makes it clear that it is Christ’s blood that provides the objective basis on which God forgives our sins.
That has been his daily practice for many years. Why don’t you make it part of your practice, and see the difference it makes to begin each day reminding yourself of who you were, and who you now are in Christ.
Do you make it your practice to preach the gospel to yourself? If so, what have you learned? How do you go about it?
The New York Times published an article yesterday saying that Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent. Contrary to what you might think, Jobs did not let his kids have unfettered access (or in some cases any access) to the devices he created at Apple. Nick Biltin reports, When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was […] via Denny Burk
Android: The day has finally arrived: Amazon Prime Instant Video customers can now watch their shows on Android phones and tablets. All within the official Amazon app.
The official release of iOS 8 isn’t until September 17th , but you can install the final version right now even if you’re not a developer. Here’s how.
I think it may be the Calvinist in me, or maybe it’s the inner bibliophile, but for some reason I’m quietly convinced there is no problem that can’t be solved with a few facts. If only you knew what I know, you’d change your behavior. If you would read what I’ve read, if you would listen to what I’ve listened to, you would see the impropriety of what you’re doing, and you’d stop doing it. Virtue is just a few simple facts away.
If only it were so simple.
I am a problem-solver, and my default means of solving problems is through information—I am quick to distribute books, and quick to recommend sermons or conference talks. Struggling? Read this. Looking for life-change? Try these conference talks. I apply the fix to myself, and I apply the fix to others.
None of those things are bad, and none of those things are wrong. Conferences and sermons and books can be life-changing. But they often represent the easy way out. And they often represent the less effective way.
I was thinking about these things already when I got punched in the head by words from Kent Dunnington, author of the wonderful book Addiction and Virtue. Dunnington provides a long, dense, philosophical, and powerful argument that addiction is really a kind of habit. He is convinced that the Bible and the Christian faith offer a robust understanding of this kind of habit, and that the gospel offers the best hope for overcoming it. But even as he argues this, he has to grapple with the reality that when it comes to addiction, 12-step programs are often far more effective than anything the church offers. And, of course, he has to ask why this is.
Much of his answer settles on the fellowship and community that comes with a 12-step program. These words, coming in his closing argument, hit hard:
The church fails to provide sustaining and transforming relationships for addicted persons in its midst wherever and whenever it buys into the modern assumption that growth in virtue is a product of learning abstract principles whereas friendship is a private endeavor that is based on “similar interests.” Such an assumption is in direct opposition to the biblical understanding of friendship. Although affection characterizes many of the friendships portrayed in the Bible, affection is ancillary to the animating center of friendship, which is nothing less than the willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s friend (Jn 15:13). Such friendships are not optional for Christians … For Paul, friendships of accountability and training are central to growth in holiness.
What is true of addicts is true of all of us, to some degree. We are all battling addiction to sin. What the church fails to provide addicts is what it fails to provide all those who are battling the deep-rooted habits of the flesh.
What makes 12-step programs so effective despite vague or even antagonistic notions of God? To large degree, it is the fellowship of addicts or alcoholics, who walk together, and battle together, against a common enemy. They develop transformative friendships based not on doing fun things together or sharing common amusements, but on the growth and development of virtue. They form and foster deep, meaningful, lasting friendships that pursue the good of others through the growth of good habits, patterns and behaviors.
Here’s the thing: Addicts are not transformed by learning facts. They do not find freedom by acquiring and applying abstract principles. Not only, at least. They find freedom by surrounding themselves with a community of people who are pursuing the same goal and who will pursue it with them arm-in-arm. They see the principles lived out in others, and learn to imitate them.
As Christians we form communities in which every individual is in need of transformation. We need facts and principles to guide and motivate us, and God provides those through his Word. We hear those principles from the pulpit and encounter them in our daily Bible reading. But we also need to see those principles, to surround ourselves with living examples of those principles. Otherwise church is simply a place we gather to hear preaching about Christ, rather than a fellowship of people displaying life in Christ.
Maybe what we need is need fewer books, and more friendships, fewer abstract principles and more applied principles. We need to be less willing to say, “Read this and call me in the morning” and more “Walk with me and I’ll show you. Come into my home and watch. Come into my life and see.” If it is true that in the Bible “friendships of accountability and training are central to growth in holiness,” There is a necessary application: “Mentoring programs in the church ought not to be something parishioners must seek out but rather something so prevalent that parishioners would have to intentionally avoid them.” Is this the case in your church? Is this the case in your life?
Every church is a community of recovering sin-addicts, fellow sufferers who are longing for freedom. Freedom comes through principle taught and principle displayed. Who needs to hear you say, “Walk with me. Let’s learn to be like Christ…”
(Note: I’m sure I will have more to say about Addiction and Virtue in the future, but for now, do consider reading it. It’s a difficult read, but the final chapter makes it all worthwhile.)
Fist-bump image credit: Shutterstock.
Last week in my post “Jesus Is The Feast” I made the point that discussions and arguments about music (especially in the church) go awry when we’re under the impression that music is the feast. It’s not. Jesus is the feast and music is a wonderful tool to help people encounter him, savor him, and […] via Worthily Magnify
Attention, readers and listeners of The Confessing Bapt […]
As with every iPhone release over the past four years, your average Android fan is probably summing up today’s announcement with a big “so what?” In truth, it’s an understandable, if predictable, reaction: Apple has quickly gained a reputation in the smartphone community for turning last year’s (or the year before that) features into this year’s thing you totally won’t believe.
As a lumbering multi-hundred-billion dollar consumer product giant, though, Apple has lost the luxury of disrupting a market it took into the mainstream, and has in recent years moved more and more to the conservative side of the smartphone market, calibrating and refining on a basic hardware premise we’ve all been familiar with since the iPhone 4: one phone, one size, three storage options, and a dogged refusal to give in to market “trends” it didn’t agree with.
iPhone 6 And 6 Plus: Apple Finally Admits It’s Playing Catch-Up, Does Mostly Right By Users was written by the awesome team at Android Police.
On episode 65 of our interview podcast, we have Pastor […]