Friday, February 26, 2010

As I re-experience the surprise

Justification by grace empowers and spreads sanctification by grace.

I think of my inner self as a globe, a world, with many dark continents still unexplored, uncivilized, vast jungles of primitive impulses. But Jesus the Liberator steps ashore on the coast of one of those continents, plants the flag of his kingdom in my consciousness and declares peace. That is justification.

Then sanctification begins. For example, it doesn’t take long for a half-naked savage to run out onto the beach with spear in hand to attack Jesus. This is some selfish desire in me rising up against the King. But he declares peace all over again and subdues that aspect of me by the force of his grace.

The King starts moving steadily inland, planting his flag in ever new regions of my being. He brings one dark thing after another into my awareness, declares peace again and again and again, and thereby establishes civilization.

Sanctification works as I re-experience the surprise of justification, applied to new points of need.

--Ray Ortlund
Source: here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An appeal to desire

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened?

A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.

The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

... Indeed, if we consider ...the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.

-- C.S. Lewis
from "The Weight of Glory"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thy Kingdom come

Could it be that you have shrunk the kingdom of God down to the size of your little kingdom treasures? Could it be that your excitement with the things of the Lord is not really about the Lord at all?

Could it be that the transcendent glory of God and His kingdom has become for you more of a means to an end rather than the end itself?

The scary thing about the kingdom of self is that it is a costume kingdom. It very quickly takes on the shape and appearance of the kingdom of God.

It is very easy to think that we are living for God, while our personal agenda still rules our hearts and shapes our decisions, words, and actions.

It is very easy to think that we are living for the transcendent joys of intimate communion with God, fueled by a personal enthusiasm for His glory, when in fact we have placed our hope in the shadow glories of this created world.

It is very easy to think that we have exited the narrow confines of our little cubicle kingdoms to breathe the spiritually invigorating air of the kingdom of God, when really we are more entrapped in our cubicles than ever before.

It is very easy for our earth-bound treasures and anxiety-bound needs to masquerade as love for Christ and enthusiasm for His work on earth.


You are not alone in this battle to unmask and dismantle the little kingdom in your life. Be excited! Your Messiah gives you just what you need for this battle.

--Paul David Tripp,
A Quest For More: Living For Something Bigger Than You, pp. 81-82.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A love disorder

Augustine considered sin a matter of "disordered love" -- all sin (a manifestation of) the love that isn't rightly ordered, the love gone wrong, turned wrong, become wrong.

And this house may look disordered and upended, but you beautiful children are teaching me how to order the love right, to love the things unseen more than the things seen.

Absolutely everything in the world is love, even the most vile of sins, but it is a love disorder, the passions upset, disordered, twisted.

And the work of a life is to reorder the love, right the love again, turn all things towards the True Lover.

-Ann Voskamp
(from her blog post, "Fixing the One Disorder that We all Have")

Friday, February 12, 2010

A promise to be kept

The Christian has the assurance which no heir in temporal things can ever have. He knows with absolute certainty that the inheritance will not merely be kept for him, but that he will be kept for it.

- Geerhardus Vos, Grace & Glory, pg 143

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who does God save?

God saves sinners. We don't believe that. We bank our happiness on other things. But God says to us, "I'm better than you think. You're worse than you think. Let's get together."

- Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
"ISAIAH: God Saves Sinners", pg 13