In Him, Religion and Ethics Are Never Separated

machen

Jesus is an example not merely for the relations of man to man but also for the relation of man to God; imitation of Him may extend and must extend to the sphere of religion as well as to that of ethics. Indeed religion and ethics in Him were never separated; no single element in His life can be understood without reference to His heavenly Father. Jesus was the most religious man who ever lived; He did nothing and said nothing and thought nothing without the thought of God.

If His example means anything at all it means that a human life without the conscious presence of God–even though it be a life of humanitarian service outwardly like the ministry of Jesus–is a monstrous perversion. If we would follow truly in Jesus’ steps, we must obey the first commandment as well as the second that is like unto it; we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.

The difference between Jesus and ourselves serves only to enforce, certainly not to invalidate, the lesson. If the One to whom all power was given needed refreshment and strengthening in prayer, we more; if the One to whom the lilies of the field revealed the glory of God yet went into the sanctuary, surely we need such assistance even more than He; if the wise and holy One could say “Thy will be done,” surely submission is yet more in place for us whose wisdom is as the foolishness of children.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Kindle Edition)

Stop Worrying About What Others Are Doing—Follow Him!

Jesus-Reaching-Out

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20-22)

Have you ever had a moment, even a brief one, where you’re in the middle of a project at work and you start thinking about… someone else? One of your coworkers, maybe.

You and your coworker started around the same time, and he or she is experiencing great success and you’re… well, you’re not.

You’re slugging away at your job, just trying to make it through the day, and you can’t help but—just for a second—think, “Man, why does [insert name here] get all the breaks? I’m busting my tail and what do I have to show for it?”

I’ve certainly been guilty of this on more than one occasion. I have some very talented friends, who are very gifted in many areas—including areas of ministry that I gravitate to. And in the past, I’ve found myself feeling really insecure about at least one of these folks, who I really don’t need to feel insecure around.

So I read this passage, and Peter’s attitude wrecks me. He’s talking to the resurrected Jesus, and he’s told, essentially, that it’s his job to lead the fledgling church, and that he’ll be following Jesus into a life of terrible suffering. Afterward, Peter immediately turns to look at John (the disciple whom Jesus loved), and wanted to know what Jesus’ plans were for him.

So, Jesus looks him square in the eye and tells him the truth: It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t make one lick of a difference what Jesus’ plans are for John. Jesus’ plans for him don’t affect His plans for Peter.

What matters for Peter, ultimately, is what Jesus has planned for Peter.

Perhaps I’m overstating things, but think about it: How much time to we waste fretting about what other people are doing? Feeling insecure about other folks who might outshine us in our area of ministry or our jobs or wherever?

How much time do we spend thinking about things that actually don’t affect us in the least?

There’s only one thing for us to be concerned with, and that’s doing what Jesus has called each of us to do. And maybe for many of us, what He wants us to get through our thick skulls is to stop worrying about what so-and-so is doing. What does it matter if this person over there is doing something better than you or getting more accolades than you or whatever?

“You follow Me!” Jesus told Peter—and He tells us, too.

We are all only responsible for what God has charged each of us with, whether that’s something “glamorous” or “mundane.” Whether you’re leading doing set up and serving coffee on Sundays. There’s no varsity service in the eyes of God. There’s only the task He’s given to you and I.

I get really convicted when I see this crop up in my life, because I don’t want to compete with anyone. I recently let Emily know when we were talking about envy with the kids that sometimes I’ve felt that way when she’s received a lot of praise and attention for her artwork. And that’s just silly. I’ve had it happen when I’ve heard legitimately great news, like a blogger contact getting a deal with a big-name publisher, and had (just for an instance) a little pang of jealously (never mind that I’ve got two books with a great publisher already).

I could go on, but you get the idea.

The point is, these things shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter to me when someone else has great success aside from having an opportunity to rejoice with them. Their successes are not mine, nor are mine theirs.

“You follow me,” says Jesus. That’s got to be enough all of us.


An earlier version of this post was originally published in August 2009.

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God Hates and Loves Sinners

An older, but still great, video with David Platt:

[tentblogger-youtube mqTWLut6lcg]

$5 Friday at Ligonier

This week’s selections includes Dr. Sproul’s Church and State teaching series (download), The Prince’s Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul (animatic DVD), and The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon by Steven Lawson (hardcover), among many other items. Sale ends at midnight (Eastern Time).

Your Jehoida Moment

Dan Darling:

At some point you’ll have to dig deep and ask yourself, what is it that I actually believe? Not what you’re parents taught you to believe or what your pastor preached or what your campus leader encouraged you to know. You must have you’re own encounter with the risen Christ, appropriating the truth of Scripture to your heart.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Ray Ortlund:

Manliness has taken a beating in our modern world.  It is often either denied or distorted.  It’s difficult even mentioning manliness without turning it into a joke somehow.

A Summer of Fiction

narnia-map-small

Back in June, my friend (and coworker) Amber confronted me on my reading habits. Apparently, I read far too much non-fiction and therefore needed to shake things up a bit. So she challenged me to read some fiction during the summer.

A challenge I accepted. Over the summer I worked my way through a fairly significant number of fiction reads including:

…and even a couple of graphic novels to boot.

So what were my big takeaways? Here are a few:

Great writers create “real” worlds

In terms of sheer volume, the bulk of my fiction reading was CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, but this is true even of Suzanne Collins’ work in The Hunger Games. Lewis and Tolkien in particular developed these wonderfully detailed worlds, filled with a rich history even if their approaches were very different. Where Tolkien wrote volumes detailing the history of Middle Earth, Lewis seemed content to leave the blanks unfilled. This is a wonderful gift that God has given great fiction writers, and something that can help those of us who spend most of our time writing non-fiction need to appreciate.

Fiction is a lot of fun

Even the kind of dumb stuff, like Batman: Earth One or All-Star Superman. Because good fiction gets your imagination working, you get to have a lot of fun reading it. This is another lesson that those of us who spend our time in non-fiction can learn. It’s okay to be creative. It’s okay to have fun when you’re writing—especially if you’re writing about the Scriptures. The most devastating thing we can do to our readers it to make the Bible seem boring.

Fiction confronts our need for the transcendent

Whether explicitly or implicitly, our need for something beyond this world is revealed well in fiction. The Hunger Games shows the bleakness of a worldview absent of transcendence, where The Magician’s Nephew gives what might be the most beautifully imaginative pictures of how creation might have happened that one could ever read. But both show the incompleteness of the world without something beyond it. Narnia doesn’t exist in a void—it is called (or sang) into being; and it’s a world that’s really only working right when its Maker is present. Our world is spoken into being and depends on the One who spoke to sustain it. If nothing else, fiction can help us remember that there’s something beyond all that we can see at work and it’s a glorious thing, indeed.

Links I Like

Let Jesus Feel the Shame

Tim Challies:

So many Christians live their lives racked with guilt and shame. They think back to the things they did, the sins they committed, whether two days ago or two decades, and they live under a cloud of shame. This shame hurts, it burns, it incapacitates. It raises this question: What is the place of guilt, what is the place of shame, in the life of the Christian? I want to take a shot at answering that question today.

3 Media-Made Myths about Abortion

Trevin Wax:

It’s election season again, and our country’s ongoing debate over abortion is raging. In watching newscasters and reporters comment on the abortion debate, I’ve pinpointed three common myths about abortion perpetuated by people in the media.

Glory-Begetting Belief

Tim Brister:

Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is passionate about strengthening the faith of His disciples and producing saving faith in unbelievers through His many “signs” (miraculous acts unveiling His identity as the Messiah). As He prayed to the Father, Jesus said, “I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe you sent me” (v. 42). What happened as a result of Jesus bringing a dead man back to life after four days in the tomb? “Many of the Jews who had come with Mary and had seen what he did,believed in him” (v. 45). Seeing the glory of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ produced faith in the sinner’s heart.

So, Isn’t it Time You Start a Family?

Bev Hislop:

Not many people are aware how hurtful their innocent question “So, isn’t it time you start a family?” really is. Very few people know about the tears Kari sheds when she is alone. The longing to hold a child of her own causes her arms to ache and her heart to break. Only God hears the Why? of her questioning heart.

Success, Faithfulness, and Fruitfulness

old-church

One of the looming questions in Christian ministry is trying to figure out how to measure whether or not what you’re doing is “working” (I hope you’ll forgive the expression). Some look at it in terms of success, which really just means numbers.

  • How many people showed up?
  • How many baptisms were there?
  • How much are people giving?

And so on.

These aren’t bad metrics and can be an indicator of God’s working in a church’s ministry, but it’s not necessarily so as many critics of the church growth/seeker sensitive movement have made clear.

Others contrast this with the idea of faithfulness alone—that all you need is to be sound in your doctrine, godly in character and faithful in preaching and ministering to people. Again, good metrics, but as Tim Keller points out on the first page of his excellent new book, Center Church, a bit of an oversimplification as it risks ignoring the competency factor. Simply, you can be orthodox, godly, and faithful, but still not be good at what you do.

Keller offers a great third option: Fruitfulness. Here’s how he explains it:

As I read, reflected, and taught, I came to the conclusion that a more biblical theme for evaluation than either success or faithfulness is fruitfulness. Jesus, of course, told his disciples that they were to “bear much fruit” (John 15:8). Paul spoke even more specifically. He spoke of conversions as “fruit” when he desired to preach the gospel in Rome “that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles” (Rom 1:13 KJV). Paul also spoke of the “fruit” of godly character that a minister can see growing in Christians under his care. This included the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22). Good deeds, such as mercy to the poor, are called “fruit” as well (Rom 15:28).

Paul spoke of the pastoral nurture of congregations as a form of gardening. He told the Corinthian Christians they were God’s field” in which some ministers planted, some watered and some reaped (1 Cor 3:9). The gardening metaphor shows that . . . [g]ardeners must be faithful in their work, but they must also be skillful, or the garden will fail. Yet in the end, the degree of the success of the garden (or the ministry) is determined by factors beyond the control of the gardener. The level of fruitfulness varies due to “soil conditions” (that is, some groups o fpeople have a greater hardness of heart than others) and “weather conditions” (that is, the work of God’s sovereign Spirit) as well. (Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, pp. 13-14)

This is a tremendously helpful corrective and one that I trust will be an encouragement to many who struggle in this regard. It completely changes how we evaluate what we do. It’s not a matter of just how faithful or godly a minister is, anymore than it’s about how many people are showing up on a Sunday morning. And best of all, it takes the wrong pressures off of pastors and leaders who are competent and faithful. “When fruitfulness is our criterion for evaluation, we are held accountable but not crushed by the expectation that a certain number of lives will be changed dramatically under our ministry.”

That’s good news, isn’t it?

Links I Like

All Dressed Up with Nothing To Say

Eric Tonjes:

Christians have long believed and taught that we are “aliens” and “sojourners” in the sinful system of culture and power that Scripture calls “the world.” Following Christ, we are called to be a part of the world around us. Indeed, like Christ, we long for its resurrection. I will gladly oppose those who seek to partition off the Savior’s kingdom, to only give him hearts and souls and not also offer him bodies and communities and cultures.

Is the Bible Blind to Womanly Beauty?

Owen Strachan:

I love Edwards’s aesthetics. He has a major place for beauty in his theological-philosophical system, so much so that some view him as the theologian par excellence of beauty. By the way, this is part of why he is so relevant for today. We live in an image-obsessed culture . . . and we can use Edwards to point people to a better way, a far more fulsome and healthy vision of attractiveness than one can find in the ambient culture.

Christian Tribalism in the Era of Democratized Publishing

Thabiti Anyabwile:

Dare anyone deny that Christians are among the most tribal of peoples in the world? I’m not thinking of the way Christians may legitimately distinguish the church from the world, the saved from the lost, or the way lines must necessarily be drawn between orthodox and heretical views, or even about denominations (as Trueman likes to point out: “Denominations mean that somebody somewhere still believes something”). Rather, I’m thinking about the way Christians divide and gather, further divide and gather into value-based societies distinct from and uncooperative with one another.  Is it me, or is the problem pandemic?

Discipling: More than a Podcast Preacher

Jonathan Dodson:

Today, many Christians identify themselves with specific preachers through podcasts or online sermons. Listening to these sermons can be a tremendous benefit to Christian growth and spreading the gospel. However, in the hands of sinners, podcasting can also become a detriment to growth. Listeners can be so beholden to a preacher outside their church that they identify less with those inside their church. They possess a technologically mediated gospel, not a relationally mediated one.

Book Review: Why Holiness Matters by Tyler Braun

Why-Holiness-MattersHoliness. It’s a concept that’s really out of style in the larger culture (which is not surprising given the current cultural conditions). While it’s not surprising that the world has lost any notion of what holiness means, it’s quite troubling that there’s a whole generation of Christians who also have no clue what it means to be holy and why it matters.

Tyler Braun understands the problem well because he’s experienced it himself. He knows that holiness is not about a list of rules or some long-forgotten ideal, but the warp and woof of the Christian faith. In his new book, Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost our Way–But We Can Find it Again, Braun unpacks the call to holiness with the right balance of urgency and charity for the Millennial generation.

New Affections Leading to New Behavior

Perhaps most helpful is how Braun defines holiness from the outset. “Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior,” he writes (p. 12). Here Braun cuts right to the heart of the issue: behavior modification vs. heart transformation. Holiness is not about external righteousness seeking to earn salvation; nor is it having a “relationship” with Jesus that doesn’t lead to new actions. It’s a response to the Holy One who calls us to be holy as He is holy.

Yet, this is the problem we see over and over again in the church, a problem Braun illustrates to great effect using his own story and examples from others. We don’t take the call to holiness seriously because we don’t see sin as something that seriously needs to be dealt with. That’s why some can say, “Well, I don’t get drunk too often, just on weekends,” or “Yeaaaah, I guess I shouldn’t be watching stuff like that, but I don’t do it all the time.” We minimize sin and fool ourselves into believing it’s going to be okay. Here’s how Braun puts it:

The problem with justifying ourselves like this is we tend to look at sin as a neutral object, something ont for us or against us, just a reality of life. . . . Next Christians show their lack of holiness by accepting sin as a way of life instead of an evil to be overcome (p. 14, 15)

Braun’s argument takes readers through a basic (but helpful) examination of holiness and its relationship to innocence, wrath, shame, love, values, community, mission and artistry. Among the most challenging aspects is his take on how Christians value (or rather don’t) innocence:

In a Christian culture that does not value innocence, it is no wonder our generation is often indistinguishable from the culture around it. We’ve simply been taught bye our culture that life experience is the most valuable thing a person can have. (pp. 22-23)

There is so much that this speaks to—among them, the rampant sexual immorality and pluralistic and humanist thinking that’s seeped into the church. This is an extremely provocative assessment. And an accurate one. If we valued a holy innocence, what would our teaching on sexuality look like? Would it expand beyond “wait until you’re married” and begin to dig deeper into how to honor God in that aspect of our lives? Regardless of your generation, this is a point that needs to be stressed.

What is “Love”?

As much as I appreciated the book, there were a few places where Braun overstates his case just a bit. His chapter on mission contains arguably the most significant examples. He writes:

Jesus, in His obedience to the Father and His free gift given to us, did not offer Himself with strings attached. He simply asked us to follow Him. Jesus never told us to “love your neighbor as yourselves but make sure you convert them.” He just told us to love people. If the people we make intentional decisions to love and serve never come to faith in Christ, will we still make an effort to love them? Anything but an answer of yes becomes bait-and-switch evangelism where we use service, activism, and neighborly love to get people to faith. (p. 112)

I get (I think) what Braun’s trying to say, but there’s a significant issue here (and one I believe to be totally unintentional). Yes, we should be intentional about serving others regardless of whether or not they come to faith in Christ, absolutely. If we throw up our hands and say, “you’re not worth my time because you’re not responding the way I had expected,” that reveals something dark about our own hearts. But is it fair not to (apparently) suggest that the desire to evangelize somehow cheapens service? I’m not so sure.

I think the key issue is a distinction between “loving people” and “evangelism” that Jesus doesn’t make. He didn’t “just” tell us to love people; He told us to make disciples. A key aspect of that is serving those who are not believers, necessarily includes sharing with them the only news that can reconcile them with their Creator and allow them to escape His just wrath for their rebellion. If we don’t come in with that “agenda” then are we truly being loving?

Holiness matters. We are most certainly living in a time where we’ve lost our way, but it’s possible to find our way again. I love the desire that Braun expresses in Why Holiness Matters. It’s a challenging read in all the right ways and one that, whether you’re young or old, you’ll find much to benefit from.


Title: Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost our Way–But We Can Find it Again
Author: Tyler Braun
Publisher: Moody Publishers (2012)

Links I Like

Inconvenienced by Inconvenience

Tim Challies:

It is Labor Day today, and we anticipate spending the day with friends. We will be spending the day with these particular friends because a few weeks ago they emailed and said, “We want to do something on Labor Day. With you. At your house.” They just went ahead and invited themselves over and invited some mutual friends to come with them. I love it.

Many years ago I wrote about this subject of inviting yourself over and was rather surprised to hear how many Christians find this an objectionable practice.

Why Pushing Right is Harder than Pushing Left

Andrew Wilson:

When I’m trying to nudge people to their left on an issue – trying to persuade five point Calvinists to become four pointers or less, commending pacifism, defending theistic evolution, or championing charismatic gifts for today – I feel radical, creative, daring, exciting, and somewhat impish. But when I’m trying to nudge people to their right about something – inerrancy, hell, gender roles, sexual ethics, biblical authority, Reformed soteriology – I feel conservative, stern, unpopular, staid, and even somewhat apologetic. It’s a very nebulous contrast, and I’d forgive you for wondering what on earth I was talking about, but at the same time I suspect there may be others out there who have felt the same thing. But why?

 The Sin of Intemperance

Joe Thorn:

All good things can be abused and become that which entangles us. We tend to focus on those things which pose obvious dangers, like alcohol. But we must beware of those things which are likely to trip us up, not just those things we know cause others to fall. One of the great sins which goes unaddressed in Christian circles is intemperance. Intemperance is essentially overindulgence; the absence of self-control. We like to give ourselves, or even some others, a pass if the sin of intemperance doesn’t look so bad.

Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, Most Never Do

Infographic explaining the findings of a recent survey by Lifeway:

Kindles, iPads and the Digital Reading Experience

ipad-2

Late in 2011, I broke down and purchased my first Kindle, and at the beginning of 2012, wrote about what I loved so far and what I didn’t love so much. In March, while in Nashville, I upgraded my Kindle to the Touch (Emily is now enjoying my original Kindle) and that pretty much took care of most of my complaints about the Kindle experience. Then, a few months later, I did something crazy:

I bought an iPad.

(This is really only crazy from my perspective–I usually don’t go on a huge tech binge like I’ve done this year.)

This summer gave me the opportunity to try a lot of different kinds of digital reading experiences, from the Kindle for iPad app, the Kindle itself and a dipping a toe into iBooks as well. How’d I like them? Here’s my take:

Kindle Touch

I love touch-screen interfaces. This was, pretty much, the biggest frustration I had with my original Kindle (that and it being useless for note taking). The on-screen keyboard, while a little clunky, is super-easy to use and I’m so glad they upgraded the highlighting function to cross pages when necessary. Grabbing highlights from personal documents is easy (just connect to a computer and open the text file), sharing is no problem, text is sharp… all in all, the Kindle Touch offers a terrific reading experience. In fact, it’s my primary reading device when I’m at home. When I’m out, though, that’s another story.

Kindle for iPad

As much as I love the Kindle Touch reading experience, I don’t like always travelling with multiple devices. It’s a bit awkward to be carrying around the Kindle and a laptop and an iPad, y’know? So when I’m out and about during the day, I take my iPad with me. What I love about the Kindle for iPad app is it keeps track of progress across devices (when connected to WiFi), has decent highlighting and note taking tools, and sharing quotes is still a snap. Whenever I’m reading a book purchased from Amazon, my highlights are stored online at kindle.amazon.com, which is helpful.

The one thing I’ve not done (yet) is read a personal document on it. Honestly, I’m kind of afraid to. The concern I have there is that I won’t be able to access any highlights or notes I make (I’m not sure if they come across to the primary Kindle device or not—I know they’re not stored online, though). And because I do so much reading for review purposes, I really need those. (If a reader knows how to do this and can tell me, I will be in his or her debt.)

The one thing I really loved reading on the iPad was a graphic novel. This summer, I was challenged to read some “fun” books as I am a giant nerd. So, I bought a Superman graphic novel and read that, which was awesome. The colors were vibrant, the images were clear… It was definitely something I’d be happy to do again sometime.

But this year I didn’t limit myself to just the Kindle and the Kindle app. I tried one more, with less than favorable results.

iBooks

I’m an Apple geek. We have multiple iDevices kicking about our home and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon. However, iBooks is by far the worst reading app I’ve used so far. While, visually, it’s nice and clear, but that’s pretty much it if you’re not reading an ePub book. If you’re reading a PDF, you’ve got nothing but the little bookmark thing and that’s it. While I’ve not given up on the app entirely, it’s definitely not been a favorite of mine so far.

Although I’m not 100 percent sold on any one type of digital reading experience (I’ve not tried the Kobo app yet and haven’t really gotten into some of the others that are out there), the Kindle and Kindle app are definitely my favorites at this stage, if for no other reason than I have so many Kindle books. I suspect they’ll continue to be my top choices for the foreseeable future.

Are you a digital reader? What’s your preference for device/app?

Links I Like

22 Ways To Humble Ourselves

Mark Altrogge:

Christians should be the most humble people on earth.

We should be so because we have come to know something of God’s infinite greatness and our own unworthiness before him. Here are some reasons why we should humble ourselves before God and some suggestions on how to do it.

Cheap Books & eBooks

Leading One Another: Church Leadership (Healthy Church Study Guides) by Bobby Jamieson – 99¢

Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey – $3.99

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick – $3.99

Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft – $4.99

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. – $4.99

And a great deal from WTS Books:

Basic Christianity by John Stott – $5.40 (paperback)

Reclaiming the Priesthood of All Believers

Ed Stetzer:

In the Sunday program, normally you would print the name of the church, phone number, and the obligatory: “Ed Stetzer, Pastor.” Instead we listed everybody. I was listed as the pastor but we included the greeters, the children’s ministry coordinator, and a host of other ministers—since all God’s people are the ministers. What I learned was that was a nice thought, but it takes much more than an announcement.

Silencing the Devil

R.C. Sproul, Jr.:

How easily, because of his craftiness, we confuse Satan and Santa. Their names are indeed anagrams of each other, and they both were obviously told by someone, somewhere along the way that they look good in red. We tend to think, however, that just as Santa carries about a giant bag of goodies, so the devil carries around a giant bag of temptations, that his principle weapon is to tempt us toward illicit pleasures. Truth be told Satan’s name is derived from the word for Accuser. He is far more interested in pointing out our past failures than he is enticing us to new ones.

The Romance and the Resistance of Fasting

praying

Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. . . . Half of Christian fasting is that our physical appetite is lost because our homesickness for God is so intense. The other half is that our homesickness for God is threatened because our physical appetites are so intense. In the first half, appetite is lost. In the second half, appetite is resisted. In the first, we yield to the higher hunger that is. In the second, we fight for the higher hunger that isn’t. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.

John Piper, Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer, p. 14

Likeness is Not Always Necessary to Nearness

machen

If our zeal for the greatness and uniqueness of Jesus led us so to separate Him from us that He could no longer be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, the result would be disastrous; Jesus’ coming would lose much of its significance. But . . . likeness is not always necessary to nearness. The experience of a father in his personal relation to his son is quite different from that of the son in his relation to his father; but just that very difference binds father and son all the more closely together.

The father cannot share the specifically filial affection of the son, and the son cannot share the specifically paternal affection of the father: yet no mere relationship of brotherhood, perhaps, could be quite so close. Fatherhood and sonship are complementary to each other; hence the dissimilarity, but hence also the closeness of the bond. It may be somewhat the same in the case of our relationship to Jesus. If He were exactly the same as ourselves, if He were merely our Brother, we should not be nearly so close to Him as we are when He stands to us in the relationship of a Savior.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Kindle Edition)

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

top-ten

Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in August:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  3. I’m Giving Away a Personal Library (and some other keen stuff, too!) (August 2012)
  4. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  5. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  6. 11 Ways to Reignite Your Passion for the Bible (August 2012)
  7. Gutsy, Grace-Filled Boldness (August 2012)
  8. Truth and Lies: Kevin DeYoung on the Contemporary Church (June 2010)
  9. Don’t Just Say You Want to Read More: Plan! (July 2012)
  10. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words (July 2009)

And just for fun, here are the next ten:

  1. Life After Home Ownership (August 2012)
  2. Book Review: Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick (December 2010)
  3. Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (March 2012)
  4. Can Christians Practice Ramadan? (August 2012)
  5. Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell (March 2011)
  6. 12 Books I Want to Read in 2012 (and Think You Should, Too) (December 2011)
  7. Book Review: You Lost Me by David Kinnaman (December 2011)
  8. Book Review: Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll (December 2011)
  9. When God Wants a Man (July 2009)
  10. Backpedaling and Public Christianity (August 2012)

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these posts, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check them out.