Monday, September 19, 2016

George Whitefield on the meaning of "dead" in Ephesians 2

George Whitefield regarding our being "dead in trespasses and sins" (from Ephesians 2) before being made alive together with Christ. He uses the analogy of Lazarus-

"Come, you dead, Christless, unconverted sinners, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on the top of it.

View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him. Ah! How he stinks.

Stop there now, pause a while; and while you are gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell you with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound entombed, stinking carcass, is but a faint representation of your poor soul in its natural state: for, whether you believe or not, your spirit which you bear about with you, sepulchred in flesh and blood, is as literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave.

Was he bound hand and foot with grave-clothes? So are you bound hand and foot with your corruptions: and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so is there a stone of unbelief upon your stupid heart.

Perhaps you have laid in this state, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God's nostrils. And, what is still more effecting you is being unable to raise yourself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long.

You may try the power of your own boasted free-will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without all doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all your efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said 'Take away the stone'; and cried, 'Lazarus, come forth' also quicken you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Augustine on God liberating him

My sermon tomorrow on Isaiah 41 and 42 deals with a common subject in Scripture- our propensity to make and worship idols.

Augustine describes when God liberated him from idolatry to the saving of his soul-

Late have I loved you,
beauty so old and so new,
late have I loved you.

And see, you were within,
and I was in the external world and sought you there,
and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely things
which you made.

You were with me, and I was not with you.
The lovely things kept me far from you,
though if they did not have their existence in you
they had no existence at all.

You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness.
You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness.
You were fragrant, and I drew my breath and now pant after you.

I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you.
You touched me,and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.

Augustine (Confessions X.27)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Calvin's thoughts on "Fear not, for I am with thee"

A key passage in my sermon text Sunday:

Isaiah 41:[10] fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

About which, John Calvin masterfully writes-

"For I am with thee." This is a solid foundation of confidence, and if it be fixed in our minds, we shall be able to stand firm and unshaken against temptations of every kind. In like manner, when we think that God is absent, or doubt whether or not he will be willing to assist us, we are agitated by fear, and tossed about amidst many storms of distrust. But if we stand firm on this foundation, we shall not be overwhelmed by any assaults or tempests.

And yet the Prophet does not mean that believers stand so boldly as to be altogether free and void of fear; but though they are distressed in mind, and in various ways are tempted to distrust, they resist with such steadfastness as to secure the victory. By nature we are timid and full of distrust, but we must correct that vice by this reflection, "God is present with us, and takes care of our salvation."

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Thoughtful post..especially for Pro-Trump Evangelicals

Joseph Sunde wrote a tremendous piece over at First Things.  It's worth your time- read here.

The most impactful statement comes toward the end-

Our political witness does not rest on rationalizing a vote for choices we deem immoral. It begins in our personal spheres and local communities, in cultivating justice from the ground up and communicating a vision of rightly ordered human love and relationship. It begins in our churches, through prayer and prophetic witness and the promotion of a true anthropology and cultural imagination. It begins in our schools and businesses and civic institutions, where we have the opportunity to foster an ethic of liberty and life that permeates the culture through wisdom and wonder and creative service. From here, our witness connects to the outer reaches of politics, the cultivation of political candidates, the reformation of political institutions, and the rejection of the fear that pollutes our policies and steers our ideological whims.