And You Thought You Were Feeling Bad About Yourself Today...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There are moments in the Christian life when we are acutely aware of the depth of our sinfulness. Perhaps you are at a place in your walk with God where you can relate to this man's feelings:

Often...I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together; so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion. It has often appeared to me, that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind; of all that have been, since the beginning of the world to this time; and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others [have said] that they were as bad as the devil himself, I thought their expressions seemed exceeding faint and feeble, to represent my wickedness. My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or mountain over my head. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often, for these many years, these expressions are in my mind, and in my mouth, "Infinite upon infinite...infinite upon infinite!" When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell....
Who was it that could have such a horribly negative view of himself? A murderer? An adulterer? A believer who did not understand the nature of justification and union with Christ? In fact, the author of these words was one of the greatest pastors and theologians in American church history: Jonathan Edwards.

Thankfully, his musings continued:
...And it appears to me, that were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fulness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth in all the majesty of his power, and in all the glory of his sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins below hell itself; far beyond the sight of every thing, but the eye of sovereign grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth.
Here's the reality: the closer a believer grows in his relationship with God, the more his own failings are exposed by the light of God's perfections. This keeps us humble and dependent on grace until the end of our lives, regardless of how much we grow in holiness. Reminds me of the words of another great pastor and theologian, the apostle Paul:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ... There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 7:24-8:1)


Harvest St. Vincent Launch Service

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pastor Dan and his wife Julie were privileged to be in St. Vincent September 5th for the launch service of a new Harvest Bible Chapel, pastored by our former assistant pastor Al Blake. The Lord worked mightily: 200 people were in attendance and 10 received Christ! Rejoice with us as you watch this video.

"For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. (Acts 13:47-49)


Pray Until You Pray

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I really need to do more of this:

"Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying. We are especially prone to such feelings when we pray for only a few minutes, rushing to be done with a mere duty. To enter the spirit of prayer, we must stick to it for a while. If we 'pray until we pray,' eventually we come to delight in God's presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. Even in dark or agonized praying, we somehow know we are doing business with God. In short, we discover a little of what Jude means when he exhorts his readers to 'pray in the Holy Spirit' (Jude 20) - which presumably means it is treacherously possible to pray not in the Spirit.

"The Puritans...exhorted one another to 'pray until you pray.' Such advice is not to become an excuse for a new legalism: there are startling examples of very short, rapid prayers in the Bible. But in the Western world we urgently need this advice, for many of us in our praying are like nasty little boys who ring front door bells and run away before anyone answers."

-D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, pp. 36-37


Physics, Metaphysics, and Stephen Hawking

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stephen's Hawking's new book The Grand Design has caused quite a stir, due to statements like this:

Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.

It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.

Of course, that statement begs the response, "so where did the law of gravity come from?" Hawking is doubtless a brilliant physicist, but his reach into the question of the universe's origin exceeds his grasp.

A couple of Christian writers who are much smarter than myself have offered interesting responses. James Anderson's response to Hawking is excellent:
If Hawking thinks there is some law or principle that explains the very existence of the universe, he must have in mind a metaphysical law rather than a physical law. Unless I’m much mistaken, the law of gravity is a physical law. It appears that Hawking intends to leave behind physics (a subject on which he is eminently qualified to speak) and enter the realm of metaphysics (a subject on which he has no particular expertise, so far as I know). It’s more than a little ironic therefore to find Hawking declaring on the very first page of his new book that “philosophy is dead.” If philosophy is dead, why is Hawking now turning his hand to philosophy? No, philosophy is in very good health, despite its frequent mistreatment at the hands of scientists....

Unfortunately even the best physicists aren’t immune to embarrassing themselves when they turn their hands to metaphysics—and they’re most at risk when it comes to religiously controversial topics.

Al Mohler's response includes an exhortation for Christian apologetics:

Hawking has acknowledged that his work “is on the borderline between science and religion, but I have tried to stay on the scientific side of the border.” That seems a strange comment, given the fact that he so routinely crosses that border.

On the other hand, that statement does betray another straightforward dimension of Hawking’s thought. He seems to imagine God only in terms of a deistic deity and a “God of the gaps” who serves as a causal explanation only when all naturalistic theories run out of steam. If nothing else, Hawking’s writings should warn Christians from taking refuge in any “God of the gaps” form of theological argument. If we invoke God only when we run out of other explanations, we will find God disappearing into a cloud of theory and endless theological surrender.

The God of the Bible is not merely a First Cause — He is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that is, who rules the universe by His Word. Christians must recognize the “God of the gaps” as a false idol of theological surrender. Furthermore, Christians must also understand that any scientific admission of God as a possible First Cause without continuing rule over creation is no cause for celebration. The triune God cannot be reduced to a First Cause among other causes.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."
(Romans 1:18-22)


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