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Showing posts from October, 2013

Why Those in the World Cannot Love God

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The Expulsive Power paraphrase Part 3
The command to withdraw one’s affections from earthly things is, to the worldly man, the same as a call for his self-extinction, since his affections are set on nowhere but the world and cannot be transferred elsewhere. He may have a strong sense of the futility of life, but he will resist any attempt to shift his heart’s tendencies away from this life. To him, all such attempts are impractical.
Based on the wisdom of this world, he considers himself beyond such ideas as setting our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2), or walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), or having no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3), or having our citizenship in Heaven instead of on earth (Philippians 3:20). When he observes these “overly spiritual” principles, the worldly person decides that Christianity is impossible to carry out.
He does not see the love of God in sending His Son into the world. He does not see the tenderness of God toward man in not sparing H…

“Just Say No” Doesn’t Work

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The Expulsive Power paraphrase
Part 2
In a sense, those of us in wealthy societies are especially familiar with the futility of worldly pursuits. Boredom is more prevalent in a first world country, where amusements are in abundance, than it is in a third world country, where entertainment is scarce. In the climate of our modern Western culture, the very multitude of our enjoyments has extinguished our power of enjoyment. Due to the sheer number and variety of distractions available, we reach a point of fatigue, unable to find any lasting satisfaction. With amusements and technology always at our fingertips, we eventually grow to see our colorful surroundings in black and white. Like King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, we discover that all our pleasures leave an aftertaste of futility and frustration.
It isn’t necessary for a man to experience pain in order to be miserable. All he needs is to look on everything with indifference. His unhappiness comes from his numbness: He is dead to all around…

When You Can’t Give Up the Sins You Love

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Pornography and illicit sex. Drug addiction. Life-consuming video games. The world is a smorgasbord of tantalizing pursuits. And when it comes to forbidden pleasures (or good pleasures gone awry), our solution is usually something along the lines of, “Just say no.” Abstinence—from whatever we’ve become addicted to—is the key to victory.
This “solution” is filled with good intentions, but is it the right solution? Put another way, is the seduction of sin destroyed by mere avoidance of sin? I believe the answer to that question is no. Abstinence only works when a superior solution is established. What is that superior solution? For the answer, I want to look at one of the most paradigm-shattering sermons I have ever been exposed to. You may have heard of it: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, by Thomas Chalmers. Yes, Thomas Chalmers has been dead for over 150 years. Yes, his sermon’s old-fashioned language is hard to slog through. But it contains a foundational truth that will rock yo…

Predestination: Yes, God Does Keep Some Secrets from Us

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Let’s continue our blog series on Paradise Lost by looking at Books 7 and 8.

Summary Book 7: Raphael recounts how God created the world, in what amounts to Genesis 1 in poetry form.
Book 8: Adam shares the story of his first few moments of life.
Meditation On a couple occasions, Adam asks Raphael for more information about creation. His curiosity is completely innocent, and Raphael answers willingly enough, but with the caveat that some of God’s ways are beyond human comprehension. God will never withhold knowledge that will make us happier (7, line 117), but because God alone is omniscient, some of His truths are “suppressed in night” (line 123).
…heaven is for thee too high To know what passes there; be lowly wise (8, lines 172-173)
We may not like to hear it, but God does keep some cards close to His chest. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:…

The 3 Habits of Highly Effective Heretics

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These days, it’s popular to crack down on things like hate, hypocrisy, and heresy. Well, okay, the first two vices aren’t cool—and rightfully so. Depending on your definition of those words, it can be wise and good to oppose them. But heresy has put on lipstick and a short skirt, and many in the church have responded by trading in their spectacles of discernment for hairspray and cologne.

Yes, we should be opposed to hate (Jas. 2:1-9) and hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-13), but members of the early church had a healthy concern for what is arguably our greatest danger: heresy. Impure doctrine can often be a cause of hatred, hypocrisy, and a host of other problems. In the end, all wrong behaviors stem from wrong beliefs.
One place where Paul warns against heresy is Philippians 3:17-19.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross o…