Saturday, December 31, 2011

If we seek, there's but one place to look

If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him”.
If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.
If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion;
....if purity, in his conception;
....if gentleness, it appears in his birth.
(For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.)

If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion;
....if acquittal, in his condemnation;
....if remission of the curse, in his cross;
....if satisfaction, in his sacrifice;
....if purification, in his blood,
....if reconciliation, in his descent into hell;
....if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb;
....if newness of life, in his resurrection;
....if immortality, in the same;
....if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven;
....if protection,
....if security,
....if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom;
....if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of goods abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.

--John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.19

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Direction of Mankind's fall is UPWARD

Adam and Eve fell into sin. [But] the "fall" is really not what the word implies at all. It is not a downward plunge to some lower rung on the ladder of morality and freedom. Rather it is an upward rebellion, an invasion of the realm of things “above,” the usurping of divine prerogative. To retain traditional language, one would have to resort to an oxymoron and speak of an “upward fall.”

This, after all, is precisely what the temptation by the serpent in the garden implies: “You will not die… you will be like God, knowing good and evil”

A line had been drawn over which Adam and Eve were not to step. They were not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was a realm “above” which they were to leave to God; if they did not, their death would result.

--Gerhard Forde, "Theology is for Proclamation"

The first Adam ventured up into the “realm of things above” and brought death. The second Adam ventured down into the “realm of things below” and brought life.

--Tullian Tchividjian

The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.

--John Stott

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dependence is our blind spot

God's work begins when ours comes to its end.

Sometimes His presence is not felt with power through our methods however useful they may be, especially when we are confident we have the right approach and insights. God has a way of wanting to be God and refusing to get too involved where we have our own wisdom and strength. Then when we run out of wisdom and strength, He is suddenly present, a lesson I find myself relearning practically every day that I am in my right mind. (On my crazy days I am not ready to learn much!)

I think He wants our confidence to be exclusively in Him, and when we lose our self-confidence then He moves in to show what He can do. Perhaps self-dependence--and forgetting the strength to be found in Christ-dependence--is always our biggest blind spot. There is also presumption and pride that go with self-reliance.

So let's not lose our trust in God and the power of His gospel and the spirit of praise which goes with its proclamation (Rom 15:13; 1 Cor 1:18, 22-25; Gal 6:14).

--Jack Miller
(The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R, 2004), 200-201)


Jesus is quite aware of the Father’s personal presence and direction in his own life (John 5:19). From Jesus’s life we see a model of what it looks like to be God-centered. Jesus doesn’t pull out his platinum God card, borrowing power or strength to cope his way through temptations sinlessly; he lives within the limited equity of a human life bound by dependence upon God as his loving Father.

— Bill Clem
Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus, p 43