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Small Changes With Big Results Next Year

Stephen Altrogge:

There is something about goal setting that gets me fired up and excited. Maybe it’s the prospect of doing something awesome in the upcoming year, like running a marathon, or reading through the entire Bible, or finally writing that book I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe it’s the prospect of finally kicking those bad habits I have, like getting up too late, or regularly eating things that will probably shorten my life in the long run. I like to set big goals that will challenge me.

But in the last couple of years I’ve started to notice something about myself: Small goals coupled with faithfulness produce the biggest results.

Read the rest.


“Sound theology has a way of doing that!”


Also Worth Reading

Preachers: Al Mohler on Mark Driscoll

Books: Christianity Today’s 2012 Book Awards

Ministry: Answering Questions People Actually Ask

Free Stuff: Christian Audio’s free book of the month is Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Get this!


In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book reviews:

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll

You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

Three Things I’d Like to See in the Christian Blogosphere in 2012

Joel Beeke: Were the Puritans Prudes?

The Top 10 Posts of 2011

12 Books I Want to Read in 2012 (and Think You Should, Too)

Three More Books I’ll Be Reading in 2012

Octavius Winslow: Christ, the Procurer and Giver of Peace

Christ, the Procurer and Giver of Peace

“…his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace” Isa. 9:6

But Christ, as the “Prince of Peace,” is not only the Procurer, He is also the giver of peace. Before He ascended into heaven, He bequeathed to His Church this sacred legacy of peace. How precious and significant the terms of this bequest! “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you.” And when He would forearm by forewarning His disciples of the trials and privations they should find in the world, with what exquisite tenderness and love He seeks to smooth and prepare their minds for the tribulations that awaited them: “These things have I spoken, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

And truly the saints of God do experience the world to be the scene of varied and great tribulations. It is the battle-field of the Church, the scene of many a hard-fought conflict with the ungodliness and the ungodly of this ungodly world. Beloved, bear in mind that your dear Lord has lovingly forewarned you that tribulation is your pathway through the world home to Himself. Do not be, therefore, surprised at the trials, and the conflicts, and the woundings of the way. “In the world you shall have tribulation.” It was the path your Lord and Leader traveled. And would you tread a smoother path than His? Do you desire an easier, nearer, shorter road to glory than that imprinted with His blessed feet, bedewed with His tears, and empurpled with His blood? Oh, no! But, behold your true peace- “In Me you shall have peace.”

Octavius Winslow, Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ, as published in The Works of Octavius Winslow (Monergism Books, Kindle Edition)

Three More Books I’ll Be Reading in 2012

A few weeks ago, I shared three reasons for diversifying our reading habits in 2012. Over the course of the ensuing conversation, a number of people asked if I’d share what books I’m going to be reading. Here are three I’ll be reading:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”

Check out the book trailer:

[tentblogger-youtube 2Z35cOTo2Ns]

Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker

Brands are dead. Advertising no longer works. Weaned on TiVo, the Internet, and other emerging technologies, the short-attention-span generation has become immune to marketing. Consumers are “in control.” Or so we’re told.

In Buying In, New York Times Magazine “Consumed” columnist Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important and lasting cultural shift. As technology has created avenues for advertising anywhere and everywhere, people are embracing brands more than ever before–creating brands of their own and participating in marketing campaigns for their favorite brands in unprecedented ways. Increasingly, motivated consumers are pitching in to spread the gospel virally, whether by creating Internet video ads for Converse All Stars or becoming word-of-mouth “agents” touting products to friends and family on behalf of huge corporations. In the process, they–we–have begun to funnel cultural, political, and community activities through connections with brands.

Walker explores this changing cultural landscape–including a practice he calls “murketing,” blending the terms murky and marketing–by introducing us to the creative marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers who have found a way to thrive within it. Using profiles of brands old and new, including Timberland, American Apparel, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Bull, iPod, and Livestrong, Walker demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products, not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities.

Part marketing primer, part work of cultural anthropology, Buying In reveals why now, more than ever, we are what we buy–and vice versa.

The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci MacDonald

In her new book, award-winning journalist Marci McDonald draws back the curtain on the mysterious world of the right-wing Christian nationalist movement in Canada and its many ties to the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

To most Canadians, the politics of the United States — where fundamentalist Christians wield tremendous power and culture wars split the country — seem too foreign to ever happen here. But The Armageddon Factor shows that the Canadian Christian right — infuriated by the legalization of same-sex marriage and the increasing secularization of society — has been steadily and stealthily building organizations, alliances and contacts that have put them close to the levers of power and put the government of Canada in their debt.

Determined to outlaw homosexuality and abortion, and to restore Canada to what they see as its divinely determined destiny to be a nation ruled by Christian laws and precepts, this group of true believers has moved the country far closer to the American mix of politics and religion than most Canadians would ever believe.

McDonald’s book explores how a web of evangelical far-right Christians have built think-tanks and foundations that play a prominent role in determining policy for the Conservative government of Canada. She shows how Biblical belief has allowed Christians to put dozens of MPs in office and to build a power base across the country, across cultures and even across religions.

“What drives that growing Christian nationalist movement is its adherents’ conviction that the end times foretold in the book of Revelation are at hand,” writes McDonald. “Braced for an impending apocalypse, they feel impelled to ensure that Canada assumes a unique, scripturally ordained role in the final days before the Second Coming — and little else.”

The Armageddon Factor shows how the religious right’s influence on the Harper government has led to hugely important but little-known changes in everything from foreign policy and the makeup of the courts to funding for scientific research and social welfare programs like daycare. And the book also shows that the religious influence is here to stay, regardless of which party ends up in government.

For those who thought the religious right in Canada was confined to rural areas and the west, this book is an eye-opener, outlining to what extent the corridors of power in Ottawa are now populated by true believers. For anyone who assumed that the American religious right stopped at the border, The Armageddon Factor explains how US money and evangelists have infiltrated Canadian politics.

This book should be essential reading for Canadians of every religious belief or political stripe. Indeed, The Armageddon Factor should persuade every Canadian that, with the growth of such a movement, the future direction of the country is at stake.

Looking forward to digging into these—I’m already a couple of pages into Buying In (which I purchased on recommendation of my wife) and it’s fascinating stuff.

The Top 10 Posts of 2011

Continuing the 2011 wrap-up, here are the top ten posts on bloggingtheologically.com for 2011. A couple of items to note:

  1. I have removed two pages (not posts) from the list. Had I left them in, they’d be in between numbers 5 and 6 on the list.
  2. This list is based on WordPress’ page view statistics (is the case with the regular monthly reports).

I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has engaged with the content on this site over the past year. Thanks for taking the time to read this site over the last year, everyone!

Now, to the top ten:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell (March 2011)
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  5. His Name was Smeagol (April 2010)
  6. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words (July 2009)
  7. Rob Bell + Universalism = Fireworks (February 2011)
  8. Everyday Theology: You Need To Feed Yourself (May 2011)
  9. Book Review: Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle (July 2011)
  10. Branch Out! Three Reasons to Diversify Your Reading in 2012 (December 2011)

Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, Rob Bell related content wasn’t the most frequented throughout the year, and for this I’m very grateful (I hope I managed keeping it to a minimum). I’m also grateful to see that half of this year’s top posts were actually from 2011, including one that’s less than a month old. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these, I hope you’ll check them out. Thanks again for reading!

Were the Puritans Prudes?

Whenever we hear the term “Puritan” we typically get images of cold, repressed, prudish people who didn’t know how to have a good time. In light of yesterday’s review of Real Marriage and what’s sure to be a common complaint that those who are concerned about some content are prudes should know that this is a fairly new phenomenon. Would that we regain the wisdom of the Puritans:

Marital love must be sexual, so that both marital partners can give themselves fully to each other with joy and exuberance in a healthy relationship marked by fidelity. . . . Puritan preachers taught that the Roman Catholic view was unbiblical, even satanic. They cited Paul, who said that the prohibition of marriage is a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Even the Puritan definitions of marriage implied the conjugal act. For example, Perkins defines marriage as “the lawful conjunction of the two married persons; that is, of one man and one woman into one flesh.” In contrast with Desiderius Erasmus, who taught that ideal marriage abstained from sexual intercourse, Cotton said in a wedding sermon that those who call for marital abstinence follow the dictates of a blind mind and not those of the Holy Spirit, who says that it is not good that man should be alone. The Puritans viewed sex within marriage as a gift of God and as an essential, enjoyable part of marriage. Gouge says that husbands and wives should cohabit “with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully.” “They do err,” adds Perkins, “who hold that the secret coming together of man and wife cannot be without sin unless it be done for the procreation of children.”

Perkins goes on to say that marital sex is a “due debt” or “due benevolence” (1 Cor. 7:3) that a couple owes to one another. That must be shown, he says, “with a singular and entire affection one towards another” in three ways: “First, by the right and lawful use of their bodies or of the marriage bed.” Such physical intimacy by “holy usage” should be “a holy and undefiled action (Heb. 13:4) … sanctified by the word and prayer (1 Tim. 4:3-4).” The fruits of God-honoring, enjoyable sex in marriage are the blessing of children, “the preservation of the body in cleanness,” and the reflection of marriage as a type of the Christ-church relationship. Second, married couples must “cherish one another” intimately (Eph. 5:29) rather than having sex in an impersonal way as an adulterer with a prostitute. Third, a couple should be intimate “by an holy kind of rejoicing and solacing themselves each with [the] other in a mutual declaration of the signs and tokens of love and kindness (Prov. 5:18-19; Songs 1:1; Gen. 26:8; Isa. 62:7).” In this context, Perkins particularly mentions kissing. . . .

The emphasis on romance within marriage (rather than in extramarital relations, as was common in the Middle Ages) has often been attributed to the Puritans. Herbert W. Richardson writes that “the rise of romantic marriage and its validation by the Puritans represents a major innovation within the Christian tradition.” And C. S. Lewis says, “The conversion of courtly love into romantic monogamous love was largely the work of… Puritan poets.”

The Puritans took the matrimonial duty of sex so seriously that failure to extend “due benevolence” by either partner could be grounds for church discipline. There is at least one case on record in which a husband was excommunicated for “neglecting his wife” by not having intercourse with her for a long period of time.

Adapted from Joel R. Beeke, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism (Kindle Edition)

Book Review: Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll

Whenever Mark Driscoll talks about sex and marriage, ears perk up. Some listen for ammo (and can usually find it). Others listen for something Tweetable. Still others search for something helpful. Is it any wonder, then, that when he first announced his new book would address marriage, many asked which line he would cross this time?

With Driscoll, readers have come to expect controversy. And Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together is sure to be his most controversial book yet—but not for the reasons you might think.

As you can imagine, the Driscolls do speak very frankly about the realities of sex in this book, but they are generally careful about avoiding unnecessarily sensational language. Instead, we find transparent confessions and honest answers to honest questions and concerns about sex, love, and marriage.

Risky Vulnerability

Starting with their own story, the Driscolls share how their marriage was nearly shipwrecked through years of difficulty, a lack of intimacy, poor communication and unresolved sin issues. “We were together, but both very lonely,” they explain.1

Eventually things came to a head after Mark Driscoll burned out his adrenal gland around 2006. “I needed a new life,” Mark writes. “I did not need a new job, but a new plan for that job. I also needed a new marriage, but wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse. “

The degree of openness they show might come as a surprise to many readers. It is risky to be this vulnerable, but also necessary. It’s risky because it gives critics an opportunity to cry foul (“What gives them the right to write a book on marriage if theirs has been so bad?”). But it’s absolutely necessary for readers whose marriages are in danger of falling apart (or perhaps already have) to know there is hope. A broken marriage can be repaired, by God’s grace.

Marriage, Friendship and Taking out the Trash

So what does it take to make a good marriage? At its most basic level, you can’t have a godly marriage if you don’t have friendship. They writes, “All the talk about spending time and doing life together, making memories, being a good listener, growing old and taking care of each other, being honest, having the long view of things, repenting and forgiving can be summed up in one word—friendship.” This might seem obvious—at least it should be. But, as the authors note, friendship is often ignored in literature on Christian marriage. If spouses can’t be friends, they’ll quickly become enemies.

This becomes most evident as they share the story of John Wesley’s marriage to Molly Vazeille—a loveless ordeal that, according to the authors, some biographers refer to as the “30 years war.” The bitterness felt by Wesley and his wife was so strong that “she was dead and buried a few days before her husband was even notified.”

“The painful story of the Wesleys reminds us that there are no loving marriages apart from repentance and forgiveness,” they write. “Marriage either gets bitter or gets better.”

On a personal level, chapter five, “Taking Out the Trash,” struck me as one of the most important of the book. In my own marriage, we’ve fought hard to keep bitterness out. It’s not always easy. There are times when, frankly, I just want to stew, because I want to be right. My wife’s personality is much the same. It’s what has made us realize that we must take Paul’s admonition to “not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26) very seriously. This chapter’s warning from the Wesleys, as well as the explanation of what repentance and forgiveness mean, are a source of encouragement for us to continue to pursue one another when we wrong the one we love.  [Read more...]

12 Books I Want to Read in 2012 (and Think You Should, Too)

A habit I’ve gotten into is looking ahead to certain books I want to read in the coming year. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus’ Life Mean for You by R.C. Sproul (David C. Cook, Summer 2012)

The Work of Christ, the first new book in many years from renowned scholar Dr. R.C. Sproul, gives readers a deeper understanding of God’s purpose in every event of Christ’s life.

Most Christians recognize the importance of Christ’s death and resurrection. But how many understand the theological significance of Jesus’ actions before and after the crucifixion-from even before creation?

With wisdom grounded in years of scholarship, Dr. Sproul looks at Christ’s actions and asks: What is the greater theological implication of this event? Why does this matter to us today? As readers delve into Christ’s life and ministry, they will find greater understanding of the person of Jesus and renewed wonder at the Savior who loved them before time began.

Godspeed: Making Christ’s Mission Your Own by Britt Merrick (David C. Cook, May 2012)

In his new book Godspeed, innovative young pastor Britt Merrick challenges readers to leave behind the mundane and the meaningless to join God’s grand purpose-His plan to restore, redeem, and renew the world.

God’s mission to save the world started with Jesus, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus, in turn, sends us. He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” God wants to continue His redemption story through each of us- as we live more like Jesus, right where we are.

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger (Crossway, April 2012)

Given the popular-level conversations on phenomena like the Gospel of Thomas and Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, as well as the current gap in evangelical scholarship on the origins of the New Testament, Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited meets a significant need for an up-to-date work on canon by addressing recent developments in the field. He presents an academically rigorous yet accessible study of the New Testament canon that looks deeper than the traditional surveys of councils and creeds, mining the text itself for direction in understanding what the original authors and audiences believed the canon to be.

Canon Revisited provides an evangelical introduction to the New Testament canon that can be used in seminary and college classrooms, and read by pastors and educated lay leaders alike. In contrast to the prior volumes on canon, this volume distinguishes itself by placing a substantial focus on the theology of canon as the context within which the historical evidence is evaluated and assessed. Rather than simply discussing the history of canon—rehashing the Patristic data yet again—Kruger develops a strong theological framework for affirming and authenticating the canon as authoritative. In effect, this work successfully unites both the theology and the historical development of the canon, ultimately serving as a practical defense for the authority of the New Testament books.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson (Crossway/Re:Lit, April 2012)

Too few people attending church today, even those in evangelical churches, are exposed to the gospel explicitly. Sure, many will hear about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness.

Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, Matt Chandler has written this punchy treatise. He begins with the specifics of the gospel—outlining what it is and what it is not—and then switches gears to focus on the fullness of the gospel and its massive implications on both personal and cosmic levels.

Recognizing our tendency to fixate on either the micro or macro aspects of the gospel, Chandler also warns us of the dangers on either side—of becoming overly individualistic or syncretistic. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus! [Read more...]

Book Review: You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

For quite a while now, people have been talking about the “dropout problem”—the grim reality that young professing Christians are leaving their faith behind in droves. Some catastrophize the issue and proclaim it the death of Christianity in America. Others minimize it, shrugging it off and retorting, “They’ll be back when they settle down and have kids.”

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Research Group and author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith, doesn’t believe the problem is so simple. Through his research and analysis of the Mosaic (or Millennial) generation,1 Kinnaman shows that the problem far more serious than some think—but far more hopeful than we might expect.

You Lost Me, like many books on the Mosaics, is quick to point out an important reality: every story matters. It is exceptionally easy to make sweeping judgments about this generation (even in acknowledging its peculiar “Let’s change the world—look at me!” ideology), so much so that it becomes easy to overlook the reality that these are the experiences of real people. And the experience they share, both in the testimonies peppered throughout the book as well as in the research itself, is troubling.

You Lost Me‘s greatest strength is Kinnaman’s assessment of the real reason behind the dropout problem—it’s a discipleship issue. “The church is not adequately preparing the next generation to follow Christ faithfully in a rapidly changing culture,” he explains (p. 21). This bears itself out as he details the frustrations of the Mosaics participating in the study, who find that the church is:

  1. Overprotective—they see the church “as a creativity killer where risk taking and being involved in culture are anathema” (p. 92).
  2. Shallow—having been fed a steady diet of “easy platitudes, proof texting and formulaic slogans,” they don’t see how their faith connects to every facet of life and how their passions, gifts and abilities can be used for God’s glory.
  3. Antiscience—they see faith and science are incompatible, even finding that “science appears to welcome questions and skepticism, while matters of faith seem impenetrable” (p. 93).
  4. Repressive—”Religious rules—particularly sexual mores—feel stifling to the individualist mindset of young adults,” Kinnaman writes. “Consequently they perceive the church as repressive.”
  5. Exclusive—Christianity’s claim to exclusivity is a hard sell, simply because of how this generation has been shaped by “a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance.”
  6. Doubtless—they don’t believe the church is a safe place to express doubts or admit that their faith doesn’t always make sense. “[M]any feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial and fact focused, as if people can be talked out of doubting.” [Read more...]

Three Things I’d Like to See in the Christian Blogosphere in 2012

With Christmas behind us and 2012 on the horizon (seriously, it’s next week—what happened?) many of us are in more of a contemplative mindset. Looking back on the year that was and wondering, what could be different about next year. Sadly, I have succumbed to this as well. But! I am trying to focus on a few key areas, and one in particular is what I’d like to see in the Christian blogosphere in 2012. Here are three things I’d like to see happen and/or change in the coming year:

1. More solid theology blogs written by women. Too often the stereotype is that women write Mommy blogs (and get book deals) and men write about theology (and ask why they don’t have a book deal). In the “YRR” crowd in particular, there are a LOT of male voices. This is by no means a bad thing, but we do have a tendency to be much more direct in a way that can be off-putting for female readers. It would be nice to have more women who have a more delicate approach to point readers to. My hope for 2012 is that a number of doctrinally sound ladies would begin to address pressing theological issues from a female perspective to help balance us out. Incidentally, here are a few really well done theology and/or Christian-life blogs written by women that you should check out:

2. The self-appointed satirists and “discernment” bloggers need to chill out and grow up. The “satire” blogs (the majority of which, interestingly, tend to lean left of center theologically) occasionally offer interesting insights in their critique of voices in the new Reformed movement. But more often than not, they wind up playing kissing cousins with the whacked-out online “discernment” ministries on the far right whose writers only have one person left to call a heretic—themselves. They’re rarely helpful, edifying or funny. Far too often they’re mean-spirited, divisive and kind of pathetic. My hope for 2012 is that “satirists” and “discernment” bloggers would chill out, grow up and shut down their blogs rather than continuing to malign the name of Christ.

3. Pay less attention to controversy and more attention to Jesus. Let’s be honest, 2011 was a great year for Rob Bell—and the “YRR” crowd played a huge part in that. Another dust up is surely on the horizon, though probably not to the scale of the Love Wins fiasco. So how about we try not to get played as badly as we did the last time? While obviously, I’m not suggesting that any Christian avoid rightly condemning heresy when it appears, I would strongly encourage that we all do so in a careful, Christ-exalting manner.

So those are three things I’d like to see in the Christian blogosphere in 2012. What would you add to the list?

Procuring Peace Between God and Man

“…his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace” Isa. 9:6

As the “Prince of Peace,” our Lord Jesus procures peace between God and man. The problem of effecting reconciliation could only be solved by the Prince of Peace. It had baffled the ingenuity of a synod of angels, composed of every celestial being in heaven. The thought of reconciling God and man, in a way that would uphold the rectitude and honor of the Divine government, would never have crossed a finite being’s mind. It was the conception of one mind alone- the mind of the Eternal Lord God- and was lodged, eternally lodged, in that Mind myriads of ages before an angel was created. There are no second, no after-thoughts, of the Divine mind. If, then, God is eternal, never having had a beginning, then the thought of saving man by the Incarnation of Deity was as eternal as the Mind that conceived it. Thus, our Lord Jesus was the Peace-procurer of His Church. He was the true Levi of whom Jehovah said, “My covenant was with Him of life and peace.” None but He could have effected it. There was disruption and separation, dissension and discord, a terrible schism between the Creator and His creatures. The Prince of Peace alone had dignity, authority, and power to effect peace. As none but the express Image of God could restore the divine image to man’s destroyed soul; as none but Essential Life could breathe life into man’s dead soul; as none but perfect Holiness could restore the reign of holiness in man’s sinful soul; as none but the Son of God could make us sons of God, and none but the Beloved of God could make us beloved to God, so none but the “Prince of Peace” could bring us into a covenant of peace with Jehovah. Thus the Lord Jesus became our Peace-procurer.

In love and mercy He undertook what He alone could undertake. Oh, it was a great, a marvellous work, the work of restoring unity and friendship between God and man! Hence the twofold nature of our Lord. Mediating between the two extremes of being, the Infinite and the finite, the Divine and the human, He must partake of the nature of both. Effecting peace on the part of God, He must be God; effecting reconciliation on the part of man, He must be man. Hence the glorious fact, which at this season of Advent we celebrate- “God manifest in the flesh.” Let your faith, my readers, embrace this truth afresh. It will strengthen your confidence in the reality of the peace the Prince of Peace has secured for you. It was no mere resemblance of peace He procured, no unauthorized compact into which He entered; no reconciliation which either party in the agreement could not honorably accept- Oh, no! Because He was God, He was essentially fitted to mediate for God; and because He was Man, He was in all respects fitted to negotiate for man; and thus God has accepted His mediation, and so “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”

Octavius Winslow, Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ, as published in The Works of Octavius Winslow (Monergism Books, Kindle Edition)

 

All Your Real Power is in Christ

“…his name shall be called . . . Mighty God” Isa. 9:6

There is one truth connected with our subject fraught with the richest encouragement to God’s people. It is this- Christ is so Almighty that He knows how to stoop to, and to sympathize with, the weakest strength of His saints. Listen to His recognition of this- “You have a little strength.” Who speaks thus? The almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. What! does the Almighty One, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, take cognizance of my little strength? Yes, beloved, He despises not the day of small things, and overlooks not the little strength of His saints, yes, even those who have no might. How should this encourage you to use the little that you have in working out your own salvation, in making your calling and your election sure, and in laborings to bring souls to Christ! Jesus regards with ineffable delight your little faith and love, your little knowledge and experience, your feeble endeavors to serve and honor Him, since that little is the divine fruit of His Spirit, and the free gift of His grace. But do not be content to remain where you are. “Let the weak say I am strong.” “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

All your real power is in Christ. In His strength you can do great things for God, and suffer great things for Jesus. Bring your strong corruptions to His grace, and your little strength to His omnipotence, and your very weakness shall turn to your account by drawing you into a closer alliance with the Lord in whom you have righteousness and strength. Thus you will be taught to understand the apostle’s sacred paradox- “When I am weak, then am I strong.”

Octavius Winslow, Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ, as published in The Works of Octavius Winslow (Monergism Books, Kindle Edition)