Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Cross and Spiritual Warfare

I took these notes from Peter Jensen's talk just under a week ago, at the Cathedral Easter Convention.

The Cross and Spiritual Warfare
Talk by PFJ
April 22 2011
Reading Col 2:13-23

The name of Christ is not so much written into history as ploughed into history.

Why was PFJ’s dad so quick and confident to assure him that there was no such thing as ghosts? Anyway, it was reassuring to a young boy with nightmares.

PFJ met Nigerian bishop Josiah Fearon who didn’t hesitate to ascribe certain sounds to spirits—though more so in Nigeria than in Sydney! What’s going on?

1. The Spiritual enemies of Man
a. The world
b. The devil
c. The flesh

2. The profile of personal evil
a. The miasma of personal evil
b. The operation of personal evil
c. The grip of personal evil

3. Our champion in the conflict against personal evil
a. In life
b. In death
c. Through forgiveness
d. Through adoption

4. Sharing in his victory
a. After the decisive moment
b. Between the ages
c. Clothed in the gospel
d. Faith and love
e. Trust the Lord; turn from evil

1. The Spiritual enemies of Man

The world, the flesh and the devil are the enemies.

a. The world

The World’s culture and philosophy can convince us of our own and humanity’s unqualified greatness.
Or the World and its culture can convince us of the ultimate value of sensual pleasure, even creating a culture of licentiousness.
Or the World can convince us to fear human power.
So the World and its culture is one of the enemies of man.

b. The devil

There is a spiritual world and it is dangerous. Defection into matters occult is a risk for those who accept the reality of Satan and demons.

c. The flesh

We sin, and become more aware of our personal sin as we grow in our Christian life.

Ephesians 2:1-3 brings these together.

Eph. 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
In the face of this, the cross is the centrepoint of Christ's work in reconciling the world to himself.

Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Not suggesting that all things will acknowledge him willingly or be saved. His enemies will be pacified.

It was the evil powers that conspired to bring about the death of Jesus.

1Cor. 2:6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
What does the cross do for us now? How does it apply in this context?

2. The profile of personal evil

a. The miasma of personal evil

The world, most cultures would agree, is not merely the material things that we can see or touch, but is populated by spirits as well; and the spirit world intersects with the human world. Those spirits are seen by some as ‘gods’—beings a step or three higher than humans who from time to time interfere with human life. Therefore superstition is rampant. Events, particularly bad events, are seen as the operation of an evil spirit, or an evil person (such as a magician or a wizard) controlling the spirits.

The New Testament also gives this sense of a world populated by evil spirits, organized against God—Satan the chief of them.

Gal. 4:3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
Gal. 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have laboured over you in vain.
‘elementary principles’ (=Gk ta stoicheia); spiritual forces of some sort that Paul here speaks out against.

b. The operation of personal evil

These forces are characterized by deception.

A classic verse about the devil:

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The devil is the father of lies. When people are deceived then Satan has worked. Satan loves to foster lies, because lies break relationship, in particular, relationship with God. Hence in Mark’s gospel:

Mark 4:15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

2Cor. 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Fear of death:

Heb. 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.


1Pet. 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.


Rev. 12:7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

c. The grip of personal evil

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

In these verses Jesus has acknowledged that the world belongs to Satan (but note too that his death breaks Satan’s power). See also:

1John 5:19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

We ought not to be surprised by the existence or power of unbelief.

3. Our champion in the conflict against personal evil

a. In life

In Matthew 4, three times Satan aims darts at the head of Jesus, and he uses shield of faith and sword of the word of God to defeat him. This is not primarily a model for us to follow in our war against Satan, but an encouragement that our champion has not failed. He has beaten the devil on his behalf—like PFJ’s older (by 6 years) brother Ralph coming to help against playground bullies.

In many ways Jesus was tested.

He was tested by attack eg Mark 5 Legion. Jesus takes charge. This, again, is not a model for us in dealing with demons. It is the Lord Jesus who takes charge, not us.

He was tested by slander—people claimed that this was the devil at work through Jesus.

He was tested by temptation to deviate from his God-given mission eg Peter’s denial that Jesus would suffer and die.

b. In death

John 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Col. 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Through Jesus’ death he brings about forgiveness and adoption

c. Through forgiveness

Col. 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

d. Through adoption

We have been brought, together with the Jews, into a triumphant fellowship in Christ.

Eph. 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

We have been set free from slavery to religion and rules because we are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God

Gal. 4:1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Col. 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Col. 2:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 ( referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Thus our relationship with the world is changed. We are in Christ, set free, we don’t fear the evil spirits, the ancestors, the ghosts. Because Christ has broken the power of these things, we are free.

We can’t bless ‘things’ (like wedding rings, or food), for example. We have no warrant to be superstitious in this way.

5. Sharing in his victory

a. After the decisive moment

We live after the decisive moment, the moment when Satan has been defeated. The victory has been won in the cross.

b. Between the ages

We live between the ages. The victory has been won but Christ has not returned yet to judge the world. However, we have the power of the Holy Spirit now, an assurance to us that the victory will be completed.

c. Clothed in the gospel

Ephesians 6.

Eph. 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

We don’t have to buckle the armour on a piece at a time. We are now armoured. We have all these things, and we have them from the moment we became Christians.

Now trust what God has given you in the Scriptures, in the gospel, as you battle against the evil one and the spiritual forces of wickedness. We have prayer and trust in the word of God as our resource, in other words we have the resources of the gospel.

We mustn’t fall back into superstition and magic, eg fear of Freemasonry. Just having a father or grandfather who was a Mason, or happening to own some of the articles associated with freemasonry; is of no spiritual danger to us. Though Freemasonry is wrong, there is no spiritual danger or threat from the ‘objects’ of Freemasonry, or having a family ancestry that includes freemasons. There is nothing in the Bible to support such an idea.

d. Faith and love

We walk instead by faith operating in love. We shouldn’t scorn the superstitious (see the example of freemasonry just above) but lovingly bring them to truth. 1 Cor 8 gives an example of Paul doing and exhorting this in the matter of food offered to idols.

e. Trust the Lord; turn from evil

The real power isn’t occult power like ouija boards. Don’t dabble, but trust the Lord who has broken these things through the blood of Christ.

Rev. 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

PFJ’s dad was right, in a sense. He was expressing a Christian insight, that Satan is nothing to worry about but has been defeated. This was rediscovered at the time of the Reformation, when magic ceased to have the hold that it did in peoples’ minds. Do not fear!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Cross and Human Suffering

I took these notes at the Cathedral 2 days ago, from Phillip Jensen's talk at the Cathedral Easter Convention.

The formatting is all over the place, but what you have here is what was typed on the afternoon. It's the outline, followed by the notes.

The Cross and Human Suffering

April 22, 2011

3 points.

1. Human suffering

a. Normal abnormal
b. Creation and fall
c. Pain
d. General fall
e. Particular and specific suffering

2. Christ and Christian suffering

a. Christ’s suffering
b. Christian suffering
i. Increases our suffering
ii. Reduces the pain
iii. Enabling us to endure with patience and joy.

3. 1 Peter

[Outline ends]

1. Human suffering
a. Normal abnormal

Sickness is quantitatively normal but feels abnormal.

Sickness is abnormal, in that it is a sign of the curse of death given by God.

b. Creation and fall

Gen. 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Gen. 3:16 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
Gen. 3:17 And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

c. Pain

Rom. 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? General fall
This pain will come to an end.

Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

But for the moment, there is suffering, which is felt as pain. We can medicate it eg strong drink for those who are poor (Prov 31), but even the medicating can cause problems and suffering.

d. General fall

It is the human condition to suffer. Eg John 9. Eg Job’s friends were wrong to suggest a specific sin as the cause of his suffering. Satan is unjust. We are unjust. God is just and fair, but at the moment has given us over to our own foolishness. Rom 1.

e. Particular and specific suffering

God does bring particular suffering upon us.

Is. 45:7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Amos 3:6 Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?
The Bible is not dualist. It has a limited dualism. God is sovereign and Satan is his messenger.

Sometimes suffering comes as a judgement.
Sometimes it comes as a warning.
Sometimes it comes as a judgement and a warning.

1Cor. 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
Jas 1, Rom 5, Heb 12, a discipline.

There is so much more that could be said because it is on every page of the Bible.

Nearly every page of the Bible deals with the problem of evil and suffering—contra Phillip’s atheist philosophy tutor at UNSW in 1975.

2. Christ and Christian suffering

See Stott, Cross of Christ on this topic.

a. Christ’s suffering

Christ as a human being shared in our suffering. Knew that humans suffer, knew that the Messiah must suffer and repeatedly predicted his suffering and persecution and death, and yet set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem. Great courage and resolution—not that he thought like Socrates that death would be a release. But rather cried out against it in Gethsemane, yet willingly laid down his life under his father’s will.

Phil. 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

His resurrection the final seal of his approval, the sign that his suffering fulfilled its intention. His death was a death for us. Matt 8, he fulfilled Isa 53.

Matt. 8:16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Sickness is a result of sin. His atoning death deals with the sin, and so we await

b. Christian suffering

i. Increases our suffering
“All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
We take up our cross and follow Christ. Mk 9
Col. 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…

“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” says Paul.

The exact opposite of the prosperity gospel.

ii. reduces the pain

Suffering increases but pain reduces. For our pain is not random meaninglessness, such as atheists believe. Nor is it karma, an endless cycle. In cross we see the personal love of God expressed in Christ, and we see him sharing in our suffering and taking what we deserved.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Rom. 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Eph. 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Eph. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Heb. 2:16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hos. 11:7 My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.
Hos. 11:8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
9 I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
Hos. 11:10 They shall go after the LORD;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD.

We are not in the hands of an irrational, impersonal force.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Just as we volunteer for pain at the hand of the dentist, so we volunteer to be crucified with Christ—because we trust the one who is at work on us, knowing that the suffering has a good end. God is better than the best of dentists.

iii. enabling us to endure with patience and joy.

Knowing all this enables us to endure with patience and joy.

Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name.

These people can’t be persecuted out of existence. They can’t be imprisoned out of their faith.

Rom. 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Our Lord’s crucifixion paved the way for our suffering

3. 1 Peter
1 Peter is written to suffering people.

Pet. 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
Pressure to turn away from the sufferings of the cross; external and internal.

Internal struggle.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

We must focus on cross and resist internal pressure to sin.

We are called to unjust suffering:

1Pet. 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
We must follow Christ’s example in going through unjust suffering.

Christ bore not his own sins but ours. Resentment, victimology is no part of the Christian psychology.

That is why we suffer as we do, because we are followers of him.

1Pet. 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
1Pet. 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

1Pet. 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Rom. 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Rom. 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Blog quietness

Not really as quiet as it appears, but you need to click through to the actual blog and see that just at the moment, most of my thinking is being done in the right hand column. Lots of updates, regularly.

If you haven't already, you can also befriend me on facebook and see lots of links appear to the Beatles, Andrew Klavan, and other odd things.

Good Friday sadness

The Lord of life and glory was nailed to the accursed tree. He died by the act of guilty men. We, by our sins, crucified the Son of God.

We might have expected that, in remembrance of his death, we should have been called to a long, sad, rigorous fast. Do not many men think so even today? See how they observe Good Friday, a sad, sad day to many; yet our Lord has never enjoined our keeping such a day, or bidden us to look back upon his death under such a melancholy aspect.

Instead of that, having passed out from under the old covenant into the new, and resting in our risen Lord, who once was slain, we commemorate his death by a festival most joyous. It came over the Passover, which was a feast of the Jews; but unlike that feast, which was kept by unleavened bread, this feast is brimful of joy and gladness. It is composed of bread and of wine, without a trace of bitter herbs, or anything that suggests sorrow and grief.

The memorial of Christ’s death is a festival, not a funeral; and we are to come to the table with gladsome hearts and go away from it with praises, for “after supper they sang a hymn”. Do not many men think so even today? See how they observe Good Friday, a sad, sad day to many; yet our Lord has never enjoined our keeping such a day, or bidden us to look back upon his death under such a melancholy aspect.

Instead of that, having passed out from under the old covenant into the new, and resting in our risen Lord, who once was slain, we commemorate his death by a festival most joyous. It came over the Passover, which was a feast of the Jews; but unlike that feast, which was kept by unleavened bread, this feast is brimful of joy and gladness. It is composed of bread and of wine, without a trace of bitter herbs, or anything that suggests sorrow and grief. …

The memorial of Christ’s death is a festival, not a funeral; and we are to come to the table with gladsome hearts and go away from it with praises, for “after supper they sang a hymn”

That's Charles Spurgeon, from here. Thanks to my friend David McKay for pointing it out.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Calvin on the gospel

Alistair Begg tonight closed his address with a quote from John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the Bible. “To all those who love Christ and his gospel,” Calvin writes:

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom, folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God,

brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ,

by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinners justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

The gospel is the Word of life.

(Just a straight copy from Justin Taylor. It's that good.)

Friday, 8 April 2011

I think that God is proud

I think that God is proud of those who bear

A sorrow bravely -- proud indeed of them

Who walk straight through the dark to find Him there

And kneel in faith to touch His garment's hem.

Oh, proud of them who lift their heads to shake

Away the tears from eyes that have grown dim,

Who tighten quivering lips and turn to take

The only road they know that leads to Him.

How proud He must be of them -- He who knows

All sorrow, and how hard grief is to bear!

I think He sees them coming, and He goes

With outstretched arms and hands to meet them there,

And with a look, a touch on hand or head,

Each finds his hurt heart strangely comforted.

-Grace Noll Crowell