One of the best things Christians can do to stir their affections for God is to read books focused on Jesus. These books help us follow Paul’s pattern of looking up to Jesus as the means by which we start looking like Jesus. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Nothing refreshes the heart like a few sips of Christ’s glory.
John’s purpose for writing the gospel: “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31).
John’s background for his book: “the framework for Jesus’ understanding of his own mission is shaped by the Scriptures mediated by the Jews” (D. A. Carson).
John’s 2 questions for the reader to wrestle with: 1) Who is Jesus? 2) What do I do with his words/teachings?
When we really think about the Incarnation (God taking on flesh), it should stir wonder in us. In The God Who Became Human, Graham Cole summarizes his hope for the reader.
The first words of Holy Scripture describe the story’s opening drama of creation, creation by God speaking forth light into the dark abyss. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and darkness was over the face of the deep…And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light’” (Gen 1:1, 3). Bruce Waltke recognizes the Bible’s theme here and expresses it as “God irrupting into chaos to establish his rule over everything.” The creation account emphasizes the God who speaks light into darkness and breaks the silence with the power of his voice.
Since my identity is found in Christ and sanctification is the process of the Spirit remolding me into his image, I find it to be of great help when I read the Bible to first focus on who Jesus is (worship) and then think about what is true of me because I’m in Him (identity) before tying it into how it applies to my thoughts, affections, and actions (ethics). This keeps my sanctification firmly rooted in a longing to see and become like Jesus as well as an awareness of what’s true about me (indicative) and available for me now that I’m in Christ.
“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” (I Peter 1:2)
Throughout his first letter, Peter regularly reminds his readers that their suffering, their rejection, and the way they stand out as exiles is normal. The kingdom of light is no more welcome to a kingdom of darkness than the bedroom light being turned on first thing in the morning is welcomed when I’ve been sleeping. And yet, as elect exiles they are God’s people. Though kicked to the curb by the world we are called into a new family and given a sense of belonging by our Triune God. We are now his people, and even as we struggle in a world that is not for us we are equipped and empowered by a God that is for us. Continue reading Fresh Air in the Atmosphere of Trinitarian Grace
Imputation. Not a word you use very often I would guess. Don’t give in to the temptation to skip over words you don’t know instead of learning words that open up new worlds. Imputation is one of those words. It’s important not just because it will impress everyone at the Scrabble table, but imputation is the only hope a Christian has for grace and salvation. Now, and when it’s our turn to be judged by the just and holy God, you better have a perfect, impeccable righteousness that will result in a verdict of “justified,” or “accepted.” God will welcome with a warm embrace all those with such a righteousness to live with him on a restored earth forever.
When I thought about happiness Phil Robertson came to mind. That might seem odd but I can see him with a thumbs up giving one of his famous lines in his steady voice: “Happay! Happay! Happay!” The second thing that came to mind are some recent Jonathan Edwards quotes I’ve come across. Now if only I could get a picture of Edwards overlaid by an audio-clip of Phil saying “happy, happy, happy” I’d be set.
John Owen penned maybe the most well-known working on fighting sin, On the Mortification of Sin, and also maybe the greatest work on spiritual communion or fellowship with God—On Communion with God. As his life came to a close he wrote The Glory of Christ. What’s interesting about that is in this final work he believed the most important thought (and practice) for the believer’s growth and transformation in Christ was provided. More than fighting sin, more than spiritual-mindedness, and more than all other things, beholding the glory of Jesus Christ was not only our greatest reward but our greatest need. Seeing the glory of Jesus infuses all other disciplines and practices and it is the greatest thing to bring backsliders back, to create worship, to promote holiness and mortification, and to lead to our joy in God. Here are a few thoughts from the last three pages of the final discourse he wrote on the glory of Christ.
Since tomorrow (Thursday 5/29) is Ascension Day on the church calendar–yeah, who knew?–I wanted to provide a few links to posts I’ve done at my church’s blog (College Park). More are needed on the life of Jesus and other significant events, but over the last couple of years I’ve had the chance to write blogs tied to some of the major Christian holidays we celebrate (Christmas, Easter, etc.). These holidays (holy-days) were first celebrated as means to keep our minds on the person and work of our Lord. We not only center our lives around following Christ but we leverage our calendars to build reminders of specific events in the life of Jesus into our own annual rhythms. I notice that on here too much is missing on the teachings and life of Jesus, but by at least remembering the major events in the life of Jesus we constantly keep before us who he was and why he came. Here are a few links tied to some of those events.
Christmas-the birth of Jesus
Christmas and Creation
Easter-the resurrection of Jesus
Why the Cross Is Not Enough
The Past, Present, and Future Realities of Resurrection