Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by not interceeding for you.  (Samuel to King Saul)

The Lord's ear is not too deaf to hear, nor his arm to short to save.  (Isaiah 59:1).

Thoughts: Called to the Pediatric ICU waiting room today to talk to a concerned grandparent whose 4.5month old grand daughter was undergoing open heart surgery and still hoping for a heart transplant.  Do pray for Kathryn Ann.
She said, "It is amazing that I can hear you so clearly in Scotland."
That reminded me of how God hears us.  His ear hears clearer than the best cell network.  He hears close by and far away.  There is no request too big for Him to handle or to small for Him to care about.  He cares to answer them according to what is best for the overall purpose- and when we are included in that- we are part of the purpose.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you are always near me.  You never leave me- and you didn't even leave Christ on the cross, but you were ever watching and raised Him from the dead.  So raise me when I cannot raise myself- and my energy and hopes are ebbing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

5/29/12- Pleasing God

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20)


(Epps- 19th century- John Knox confronting Mary Queen of Scots)


Thoughts: Today went to John Knox's house.  John was known for his many confrontations with Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.  But when Mary first arrived in the country, John Knox fled towards England to escape her wrath.  But he turned around.  Doubtless he had received advice to flee for his own good and the good of his cause.  But Knox not only turned around but he went to Holyrood to meet the queen in an effort to convert her to Reformed thinking (she was a devout catholic).  Mary, on the other hand, made every effort to try to please people, and it often led to disastrous results.  She married her first cousin- in an effort to have a Stuart heir - but he ended up being murdered.  Her third marriage was to Lord Boswell who assisted in her husband's marriage and was still married in catholic eyes- so she married him in a Protestant service.  But she made the catholics mad by not getting permission from the pope for the marriage and having a Protestant service.  The Protestants had been given some power by Mary, but they were not happy either.  Lincoln said you can't please all the people all the time.  The apostles said they must please God rather than man.  It was the regent of Scotland who said at Knox's funeral, "Here lies a man who fears no man."  May that be true of us. 


Prayer: Give me grace and strength and insight to please you, Lord, above all others.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

5/28/12- Knox and the sufficiency of scripture

15 and how from infancyyou have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:15-17)

(Ben Sloan with Statue of John Knox in St. Gile's Cathedral in Edinburgh- part of the Presbyterian church of Scotland)

Thoughts: The statue of John Knox above is pointing to the Bible.  That is what Knox did- and it changed the world.  In many ways the Scottish Enlightenment owes its emphasis on education to Knox who, within a generation, accounts for doubling the literacy rate in Scotland to 97% so that the people could read scripture.
   The dispute with the Catholics was that they believed that their expert- the Pope- had the ability to discern God's will apart from scripture.  Knox, Calvin, Luther and the like said that the scriptures were sufficient to give us all we need to know to find God's will.  The "thoroughly equipped" of 3:17 points to this.  Karl Barth said that this is not just a matter of dogma- but a matter of practice- lived out by looking to the scripture to find God's will- and obeying the scripture when we would rather not. The scriptures are the witness to Jesus Christ- the embodied Word of God.  If we do not listen to them- and wrestle with them- struggling to submit our desires to the simple meaning of scripture- then we deceive ourselves.  In fact, one might say, if we do not believe that the scriptures are sufficient for finding God's will, then we can choose what we do not want to do in them with the illusion that we do not have to heed or listen to them.  The scriptures are not authoritative if they only have an advisory capacity.  As someone said, "The Ten Commandments are not Ten suggestions."  But they are only suggestions if we may get others to tell us that such things as lying or adultery or taking a day of rest are not helpful or necessary for obtaining the blessing of God. 

Prayer: Help me to rest and count on the sufficiency of the Bible for understanding your will for me, O Lord. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

5/26/12 Knox's three tests

The Lord disciplines those He loves.  (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6)


These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:8b-10- Christ's words to the church in Pergammum). 




 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:2-6- Christ's words to the church in Ephesus).



(Jan Steen- 1675 "A School for Boys and Girls")


Thoughts: Knox said in the Scots Confession that there is a false church (a synagogue of Satan as above- with false apostles 2:2) and a true church.  It is not that the true church is a perfect church- far from it.  But the difference is that the true church repents. If the church stops repenting, its love dies (as happened in Ephesus).
   Knox (Scots Confession chapter 18)and Calvin agree that there are signs that show us where a true church is:
1) Right Preaching of the Word of God- always seeking to reform to God's Word not our own thoughts- which can be and often are self-deceived.

2) Right Administration of the sacraments- The sacraments are not secondary to the Christian life.  In America's love with individualism, we need to hear the need for common baptism and communion.  We can't do communion over the internet, and baptism takes more than one.  We also, however, do not need to elevate the sacraments to the basis for salvation.  Salvation comes by grace through faith- not by grace through sacrament. The outward act is not enough- it is a visible symbol of God's invisible grace.  If we only emphasize the outside we become like the Pharisees.
3) Right discipline- "where vice is repressed and virtue is nourished."  That is, the church must encourage each other not only by inspiring, but also by pointing out in frank love, where we fail.  America desperately needs a church that is not overly harsh- but is full of grace and love but also points out wrong.  We know a school without discipline may teach reading, writing, and arithmetic but it will not teach it well.  A school is also to teach kids how to listen, how to follow instructions, how to respect others.  The picture above by Jan Steen (which I saw in the National Gallery in Scotland) is a picture of a school gone wild- which is useless- even as a babysitter.  A church that is unable to say anyone or anything is wrong is headed in the same direction. It is important to be able to speak the truth in love- in love- but not muting the truth.  



Prayer: Help me Lord.  Help me by loving me, and love me by disciplining me- even if it hurts.  



5/27/12- Knox on Reforming the Church

Sanctify them by the truth- your word is truth. (John 17:17- a verse that influenced Knox's conversion to Christianity).

(John Knox pointing to the Bible)


Thoughts:
  John Knox was one of the great Reformers, and his statue is in Geneva next     to Calvin's as a person who stood up for truth in a day of immorality and the decadence of the church.  Knox was born in Haddington, Scotland.  He was ordained a catholic priest, but studied under George Wishart who had accepted the doctrines of Tyndale and Luther that no human being had the right or power to determine what was moral or blessed by God apart from or contrary to God's written Word in scripture.  In the name of the "experts" of their day, the people were discouraged from reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves.  The experts of the day were keeping the people biblically illiterate saying it was impossible to rightly understand scripture if we didn't know all the nuances- and we should not take what the scripture says at face value.
    Wishart was burned at the stake for standing up for sola scriptura.  Knox was put in a French Galley ship as a slave-rower for three years.  Knox later fled to Geneva and studied under John Calvin.  Knox spoke of Geneva as "the most perfect school of Christ that was ever on earth since the days of the apostles."  Knox became Chaplain to the young king of England.  Knox was invited back to Scotland in 1555, and in 1560 at the Treaty of Berwick, Scotland officially became Protestant and catholic France was forced off Scottish lands and the English influence prevailed.
    Knox was fiery for his time, but without his zeal the church would not have been reformed.  It could be argued that Knox did not seek to leave the catholic church, the catholic church tried to imprison or kill him and those who followed in his ways.  He was part of a remnant of believers, persecuted for their faith- who stood up for what they believed.  He did not seek to simply change the church according to some ideal.  He sought to enable the church to reform to be more like the church of scripture.  The motto of the Reformation was not simply semper reformanda (ever reforming), but ever reforming according to the Word of God.
    Today, there is vast skepticism; attacks on the scripture in pseudo-scholarship; and a vast illiteracy of what the Bible says.  No one needs to defend God or the Bible- but we also do not need to shrink into the shadows before the skeptics whose faith is but a shadow.  The church in America is at a crossroads.  It could shrink to be like the church in Europe who has bought into biblical skepticism and unbelief in the power of God.  Or we could explode like a live shoot from a stump and once again be light and salt in a dark, tasteless world.  The power is not found in an idea but in God- and God's power is not found apart from obedience, repentance, and reforming to His Word. 



Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to be true to you.  Let me not waver- despite the criticism and skepticism of many- against you or your Word. 
     

Thursday, May 24, 2012

5/25/12- Going Home

How lovely is your dwelling place, 
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God. 
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, 
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you. (Psalm 84)

 (Galloway Tartan)

    Today I am travelling with some folks from my church to another spiritual homeland.  I have been to Israel and to some of the places Paul visited in Greece, Turkey, and Italy.  But today I will be traveling to the home of my ancestors- and home of the origins of American Presbyterianism- Scotland.
     242 times the word "Home" is used in scripture.  It is a powerful word with powerful emotions attached to it.   In the pilgrim's Psalm it says, "Even the sparrow has found a home."  God has a place for us.  Our real spiritual home is found not in some physical country- but in God.  Yet the physical can point to the spiritual.  When we worship God- when we pray and sing to Him- it is like being where we were meant to be- the place of acceptance and love- home.  Jesus said, "
In my Father's house are many rooms- if it were not so I would have told you. 
I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you may be also."  So today, seek to be home with God. 

Prayer: May I find my rest, my peace, my strength, my home in you, O Lord. 

Song: Going Home. (click)


5/24/12- Perseverance in Love

 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12-14)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:2-4) 



Thoughts: Today is my 32nd wedding anniversary.  Looking back, I can see God's hand leading us through thick and thin- keeping us together.  It is a combination of love and perseverance that has brought us contentment and joy.  We've been through three seminaries, seven moves, three children, eleven hospital stays, detached retina, cancer, some really lean times when we wondered what we would eat- and some really fat times when we were sitting on top of the world.  Kay has put up with a ton and has partnered with me the whole way. There were tremendous romantic times and other times when we had to swallow our pride just to stay together. But we called on God in both, and He has sustained us.
     Perhaps this is how it should be with God and His bride- and our relationship to both.  There are times when God and the church inspire, encourage, uphold, help, strengthen, and infuse grace into us. But there are other times when we may feel abandoned, alone, far away.  But a relationship with God and His Church- like any relationship requires a growing love and perseverance.  If we persevere through the trials- we will find maturity and contentment at the end- and joy in the journey.  Pilgrim's Progress is a great book that reminds us that our pilgrimage here will have ups and downs- but faithfulness in love and perseverance are a key.
    Looking back over the years- I am so glad that Kay and I are together.  There is a deep joy and contentment in our relationship.  It is the same with our relationship with God.  


Prayer: God grant me a growing love for your and a perseverance that enables me to find contentment through the trials- being well fed or hungry; plenty or went; sickness or health.  

Q. 36. What benefits in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits that in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification are: the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, and growing and persevering in grace to the end of our lives. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5/23/12 Graduation and sanctification

(NIV)Ephesians 4:14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. [15] Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. [16] From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Thoughts: If the doctor told you that your child should have some elective surgery to make them feel better- but they could live without it- but there was a 50% chance your child wouldn't make it, would you give them the surgery anyway?  I doubt it.  Yet at tonight's Bacclaureate service the speaker quoted a study that said of regular church going students with a 3/5 highschool gpa- 50% quit going to church within 18 months.  Perhaps they are tossed about by every wind of doctrine they hear and by the schemers who would love for these young people to join them in alcohol and drub abuse.  Yet we pay tens of thousands of dollars to put our children in harms way.  The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but so is the soul.  All of us need to seek to grow our faith- and we do that in part by connecting with the body- the church.

Prayer: Help our graduates and me to grow more in grace and less in selfishness.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5/22/12- The Benefits of Growth

The path of the just is a is as the shining light, that shines more and more into the perfect day.  (Prov. 4:18)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5,6)






Q. 36. What benefits in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits that in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification are: the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, and growing and persevering in grace to the end of our lives.


Thoughts: One of the benefits of justification, adoption and sanctification is growing.  Growth or progress for its own sake is not necessarily good. Yet, it is a benefit to be able to grow- for growing is living.  If we stop growing in life, we are either stumping our growth, or we are beginning to die. Part of the benefits of being a believer is growing in grace.  Part of the good news is we can grow in grace all the way to the end of our lives.  The Christian life, contrary to popular opinion, is not a static/boring life, but an ever-growing, ever-changing life.  The illusion is that real life is golf, or real life is sports, or real life is a house on the beach.  But all the riches of the world cannot compare to real love.  The poorest person can live an enriched life- full, growing, purpose-filled, loving til the end. 


Prayer: Let me love growing in you and your grace, Lord.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

5/21/12- Peace and Reconciliation Now


Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 14:17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.



Q. 36. What benefits in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits that in this life accompany or derive from justification, adoption, and sanctification are: the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, and growing and persevering in grace to the end of our lives.

Thoughts: There are benefits that come from salvation- not just in the life to come, but also in this life.  There are two kinds of benefits- one kind are fruits of the Spirit- joy, peace, and hope/assurance.  The other kind is the fruit of living a purposeful life.
     When we know we are God's and He is ours, there is assurance of that love and that relationship. There is peace with God where once there was struggle and rebellion.  There is joy because of that peace and love that no one an take away.  Reconciliation with God does not begin after we die, but now.
     When the Father was reconciled with the Prodigal Son there was assurance, peace, and joy.  When a couple reconciles with each other there is assurance, peace, and joy between each other.  So with God, when we are saved and know it, we are reconciled to Him and experience assurance, peace, and joy as a foretaste of what is to come.
     Christians are not just Christians for what is to come.  Eternal life and its benefits begin now.

Prayer: May I find my hopes fulfilled in you- not only in the life to come, but in this life you have given me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

5/20/12- Images of Sanctification

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, Be holy for I am holy.  (Lev. 11:45)

For we are co-workers in God’s service;you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:9-16) 


Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a free gift of God by which our whole person is made new in the
image of God, and we are made more and more able to become dead to sin and alive to
righteousness. 
(Picture of LMPC Men making a new sidewalk at church office)

  • We are building the church. Brick by brick. Every time we attend worship. Every time we pray. Every time we do something for God instead of for ourselves. And we will also find we are building ourselves up- living for a purpose in the process.  Sanctification is the process of building.  It is described in the Bible as a process- like a plant growing (so abide in the vine); like a building being built (so rely on the cornerstone); like a runner running a race (so keep your eye on the prize); like a fighter fighting the good fight (working for the crown to come).  Sanctification is just a word to describe what happens after we get into the ring, into the race, start the building, start living as a Christian.  It is a mysterious, wonderous, and glorious pilgrimage through this life God has given us.  Sometimes God surprises us by causing us to grow through hardship and suffering.  Sometimes there is joy in the journey.  
    Prayer: Help me, Lord, to answer your call to grow, bear fruit, to love you in response to your love for me, to reach out to my neighbor for you have reached out to me.  Keep me from being complacent or growing cold in my love for you. 



Friday, May 18, 2012

5/19/12- Sanctification means growing

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6,7)


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15)


Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a free gift of God  by which our whole person is made new in the
image of God, and we are made more and more able to become dead to sin and alive to
righteousness.




Thoughts: As a tree grows, we are called to grow in Christ.  We are to sink down our roots into Him, living in Him, growing/built up in Him, strengthened in Him, and then bearing the fruit of thankfulness.  If we are not growing, then we are dying.  Part of growing is remaining in Him.  If we drift off on our own, we cut ourselves off from Him.  We remain in Christ as we worship, have communion with each other, read-study-hear the Word, pray, serve and witness.  As we remain in Him, we start bearing fruit in Him.  The fruit of sanctification- remaining in Him are the fruits of the Spirit, the fruit of reproducing our faith in another. 

Prayer: Help me to abide, stay, remain in you, O Lord.  May my life bear fruit for you. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5/18/12- The Point of Sanctification

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life...11 Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:1-4, 11-14) 

WLC Q. 77: How do Justification and Sanctification Differ?  Although sanctification is eternally tied to justification, they are different in the following ways:
1) God clothes us in Christ's righteousness in justification; in sanctification God seeps grace into us and enables us to use His grace. 

2) In justification sin is pardoned; in sanctification it is subdued. 
3) Justification perfectly frees us from God's wrath so we are not condemned; sanctification is not equally distributed in all, nor perfect in this life, but ever-growing toward the goal of perfect holiness. 



Thoughts: The great thing about justification is that it is given to all who ask- whether they are believers for a long time or a short time.  Thus the thief on the cross is justified though he was a believer at the last minute, while a long-time believer is give the same grace.  Sanctification is at different levels for different people.  Some may wonder- if we are all justified alike, what is the point of sanctification?
    Sanctification is joy in the journey, it is growing to be more like Christ.  Sanctification is becoming more and more what we were designed and directed to be.  The point of sanctification is pleasing God, glorifying Him, pointing toward Him. Luther spoke of wanting to honor God because we are grateful for what He has done for us.  Sanctification, is not for what we get out of it only- it is primarily to do what we are supposed to do- to fulfill our purpose to glorify and enjoy God.  


Prayer: Help me to grow in my love for pleasing you- so that pleasing you, O Lord, is my first love.  Help me to love pleasing you more than pleasing others or pleasing myself.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5/17/12- Difference Between Justification and Sanctification

11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)


12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)


(Measuring growth)


WLC: How do Justification and Sanctification Differ?  Although sanctification is eternally tied to justification, they are different in the following ways:
1) God clothes us in Christ's righteousness in justification; in sanctification God seeps grace into us and enables us to use His grace. 

2) In justification sin is pardoned; in sanctification it is subdued. 
3) Justification perfectly frees us from God's wrath so we are not condemned; sanctification is not equally distributed in all, nor perfect in this life, but ever-growing toward the goal of perfect holiness. 


Thoughts: Justification and sanctification are two different things in scripture.  Justification is an instantaneous acceptance and pardon.  Sanctification is a gradual process of growing in holiness.  If we see them as the same thing- then we confuse getting in the race with running the race; or getting in the car with riding in the car.  Both are parts of salvation.  Paul says he presses on toward the goal- this pressing on toward the goal is sanctification.  Some emphasize justification to the neglect of sanctification- as if we start but the Christian life and growth is meaningless; while others emphasize sanctification to the neglect of justification- as if the Christian life's start is not significant. Justification is almost a judicial declaration of non-guilt, but sanctification is growing in grace by dying to self and living to God. 


Prayer: Lord, help me to press on toward the goal, growing in my sanctification. 



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5/16/12- Inclusiveness and Sanctification

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)


(The Balance in Sanctification)


WSCQ. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace by which our whole person is made new in the
image of God, and we are made more and more able to become dead to sin and alive to
righteousness.


Thoughts: What does holiness mean?  "Holy" means "other" or "separate."  We are told in the passage today to separate ourselves from love of the world.  In our day, many want to say that the only thing that matters is inclusiveness and tolerance.  If getting along is our only goal in life, what happens to holiness?  Biblical holiness is balanced by Biblical love.  Truth and love balance each other out.  But if inclusiveness is our main value, truth becomes secondary to including others.  If inclusiveness is the only value, is there any reason to stand up to a Hitler?  If inclusiveness is our only value, how do we include the intolerant?  Certainly prejudice is a sin.  It is an important sin we are called to avoid.  Jesus spoke of the Samaritan loving the wounded Jew.  He healed both the sinner and the saint- the Gentile and the Jew.  Jesus saw the self-righteous Pharisee and Sadducee as wrong, but also the sexually indulgent and decadent Herodian.  Jesus had a balance that we need to get back.  He balanced holding the truth in humility, with a willingness to reach out.  Those who value inclusiveness to the neglect of other values need to ask, what do I value as truth- and how do I know truth?    When we begin to call what God has said is "evil"- "good"- is not that a sign that we have somehow gone astray?  Calvinism reminds us to doubt our self-knowledge our self-righteous thinking.  Inclusiveness taken to its ultimate end becomes a runaway self-righteousness in and of itself.  Sanctification includes inclusiveness, but it is far more than that.  Sanctification is also "holiness" being "other" than the world.  Sanctification is defined not by ourselves, but by God.  God is inclusive, but He is also "holy other." The definition of sanctification really depends on your definition of God.  If God is seen most clearly even defined by Jesus Christ-the Word made flesh- then we should be able to see he calls us to repent into an "other" way of life, but He also reaches out in love.  For Him love and holiness balance out. 


Prayer: Help me to find your balance, your balance of inclusiveness, unity, and holiness.  Keep me from having an ideal that stops my ears to your Word.