John Calvin: Without the Gospel Everything is Useless and Vain

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

John Calvin, from his preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament in 1534

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Book Review: A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper

Title: A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Crossway Books

With it’s themes of sex, romance, culture and the unseen hand of God, the Old Testament book of Ruth is perhaps one of the most gripping short stories ever written—one with a great deal to teach us.

That’s why I was so glad to read A Sweet & Bitter Providence by John Piper as he illustrates how the story of Naomi, Ruth & Boaz teaches us to suffer well for the glory of God, recognizing that all things occur according to His sovereign rule.

God Reigns—But Do We See It?

Piper begins with the “bitter” providence of God in Naomi’s life. Seeking to find respite from the famine that has struck Israel, Her husband, Elimelech, moves Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon & Chilion, to Moab. There, instead of finding relief, the family finds only despair. Elimelech dies, her sons marry two Moabite women and die as well, childless. Naomi sees that “the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). Of this, Piper writes,

I would take Naomi’s theology any day over the sentimental views of God that permeate so many churches today. Endless excuses are made for God’s sovereignty. Naomi is unshaken and sure about three things: God exists, God is sovereign, and God has afflicted her. (pp. 37-38)

Piper wants readers to catch a larger vision of God, one that the Bible itself displays. A God who is much bigger than He appears based on what we hear in many sermons and read in a lot of books. He is real. He is sovereign and, yes, He has afflicted her. But all of these things happen not because He is capricious and mean, but because He is using them to further His plans for the salvation of the world. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (03/21)

Christianity Changing China  

Read this very brief article in the China Daily (China’s official English language newspaper). It’s the testimony of a university student who converted to Christianity.  

Now if you’ve been following China for any length of time you might be picking your jaw up off the floor. Get this: 

  • The official and highly controlled newspaper of the Communist government is featuring a story of a religious conversion of an exceptionally bright university student who found meaninglessness in existence apart from God.
  • He was given a Bible by a colleague, and the reader is not led to believe this is a bad thing.
  • He converted to Christ after reading it and now is experiencing fulfillment.
  • And he’s now happily attending an unregistered church (i.e house church).

Whoa. 

We know the church is unregistered because yesterday the China Daily ran an article on house churches that are thriving in Beijing and featured that church. In fact, this particular unregistered church has actually been allowed to purchase property for a church building.  

This doesn’t discount the fact that persecution still occurs in China. But we need to let this news soak in. This little article is huge. God is doing something incredible in that great nation 

 Keep praying. 

HT: Desiring God (via Z)  


In Other News  

Tullian Tchividjian: Counterfeit Gospels  

The latest on Matt Chandler’s health & cancer treatment. Overall pretty encouraging. Keep praying.  

The latest on Michael Spencer’s health. The prognosis is grim. Pray hard.  


  

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Read a review of the book.  


In Case You Missed It  

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

Jude: Contending to Keep Us From Stumbling  

A review of Brian Tome’s latest, Free Book  

P.T. Forsyth on the orator and the preacher  

Introducing our new daughter, Hannah Grace

P.T. Forsyth – The Orator and the Preacher

The Christian preacher is not the successor of the Greek orator, but of the Hebrew prophet.

The orator comes with but an inspiration, the prophet comes with a revelation. In so far as the preacher and prophet had an analogue in Greece it was the dramatist, with his urgent sense of life’s guilty tragedy, its inevitable ethic, its unseen moral powers, and their atoning purifying note. Moreover, where you have the passion for oratory you are not unlikely to have an impaired style and standard of preaching.

Where your object is to secure your audience, rather than your Gospel, preaching is sure to suffer. . . . It is one thing  to have to rouse or persuade people to do something, to put themselves into something; it is another to have to induce them to trust somebody and renounce themselves for him. The one is the political region of work, the other is the religious region of faith. And wherever a people is swallowed up in politics, the preacher is apt to be neglected, unless he imperil his preaching by adjusting himself to political or social methods of address.

The orator, speaking generally, has for his business to make real and urgent the present world and its crises; the preacher a world unseen, and the whole crisis of the two worlds. The present world of the orator may be the world of action, or of art. He may speak of affairs, of nature, or of imagination. In the pulpit he may be what is called a practical preacher, or a poet-preacher.

But the only business of the apostolic preacher is to make men practically realize a world unseen and spiritual;  he has to rouse them not against a common enemy but against their common selves; not against natural obstacles but against spiritual foes; and he has to call out not natural resources but supernatural aids. Indeed, he has to tell men that their natural resources are so inadequate for the last purposes of life and its worst foes that they need from the supernatural much more than aid.

They need deliverance, not a helper merely, but a Saviour.

The orator stirs men to rally, the preacher invites them to be redeemed.

Demosthenes fires his audience to attack Philip straightaway; Paul stirs them to die and rise with Christ.

The orator, at most, may urge men to love their brother, the preacher beseeches them first to be reconciled to their Father.

With preaching Christianity stands or falls because it is the declaration of a Gospel. Nay more—far more—it is the Gospel prolonging and declaring itself.

P.T. Forsyth, from Positive Preaching and Modern Mind, pp. 3-5 (emphasis & paragraph breaks mine)

Jude: Contending To Keep Us From Stumbling


But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

—Jude 17-25—

Two weeks ago, I began a series here based on a small group study I wrote a year ago examining the epistle of Jude, by first examining “our common salvation” of which he was so eager to write, followed by an examination those of whom we contend against. This week concludes this look at Jude’s epistle with the call to persevere and how we should approach those that would cause division among us.

Do Not Be Surprised

We should not be surprised that there are a great many who would seek to lead God’s people astray. The serpent has been doing this since the beginning (see Genesis 3) and he is still hard at work today. Among those professing to be Christians today are fierce wolves who will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). We have been warned throughout Scripture that this would be the case. And although it can be discouraging, we must not despair because it is a sign that Christ’s return is closer: [Read more...]

Jude: Contending Against False Teachers

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

—Jude 5-16—

Last week, I began a series here based on a small group study I wrote a year ago examining the epistle of Jude, by first examining “our common salvation” of which he was so eager to write. It is critical for us to understand “the faith once for all delivered” for which we must contend—because knowing what is right is critical for us to distinguish what is wrong.

As Jude continues down this road, so do we, looking at what he (and the rest of Scripture) tell us about those who have “crept in unnoticed.”

Perverting the Grace of God

Jude verse 4 tells us that, “certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

This is a pretty serious charge, isn’t it? To say that some among us—leading, teaching, writing books, blogging, making videos—that some of these are not servants of Christ at all. They’re servants of Satan seeking to destroy God’s Church? Without question it is, but it’s one to which all believers must pay careful attention. [Read more...]

Book Review: Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock

“Christianity hinges not only on the empty cross but also on an empty tomb,” writes Adrian Warnock in Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything (p. 29). Warnock, a medical doctor, preacher and long-time staple of the Christian blogosphere, seeks to remind readers that the gospel isn’t just that Christ died, but He also rose again—and His resurrection changes everything.

Resurrection Assumed

For such an important doctrine, there are shockingly few books written about it. Warnock discovered this for himself when he was asked to preach on Easter Sunday at his church in 2007. His study revealed that of all the sermons recorded in Acts, only one doesn’t overtly focus on the resurrection of Christ (Acts 7)—but “the risen Jesus opened heaven and appeared to Stephen was preaching” (p. 21). His study of Scripture led him to realize that he’d not been giving the resurrection the attention it deserved.

He, like many of us, had assumed the resurrection. Because it’s not been at the center of a major controversy or heresy throughout the history of the church, so there’s never been a “need” to flesh out the doctrine and underline its importance in the same way that it’s been necessary to with the atonement, the Trinity and the nature of Christ.

But this should not be, according to Warnock.

[W]ithout the resurrection we would still be in our sins. Without the resurrection we are lost and there is no hope! There is no salvation without a living Jesus. We need the resurrection to have its power-generating effect inside of us if we are to be born again. We really are “saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). [p.67]

The Empty Tomb was Really Empty

As he builds his argument, Warnock takes us through a journey through history and the Scriptures seeking to answer the crucial question: Did the resurrection actually happen or is it a bit of mythologizing? And if so, does it matter?

“Any contrary theory needs to explain how a small group of Jews became passionately convinced of the truth of the resurrection and spread it rapidly across the Middle East and into Europe,” challenges Warnock (p. 47). And the reality is that no alternate explanation can adequately explain it.

History supports the validity of the resurrection. Roman Administrator Pliny describes Christians (who we was persecuting due to their growing number) as worshipping Christ “’a god,’ by people raised as Jews would only be possible if had risen from the dead” (p. 53). Justyn Martyr wrote to the Roman emperor c. AD 150 citing that the Christians’ claims about Jesus could be verified in the official reports of Pontius Pilate—something that could have been easily disproven had it actually been false. Celsus’ The True Word, written c. AD 175,“tried to discredit the resurrection as being witnessed by ‘a hysterical woman’” (p. 54). The examples are numerous and compelling.

It wasn’t a later addition to Christianity as “there are no traces of early Christians who denied the resurrection” (p.45). The disciples didn’t steal the body and lie about the resurrection. While people die for lies they genuinely believe to be true, it’s ludicrous to suggest that anyone would endure horrible persecution, boiling in oil, beheading and crucifixion if they were knowingly deceiving people.

The authorities didn’t steal the body; if they had, they would have produced the body at their earliest opportunity to refute the disciples’ claim.

Jesus didn’t have a near-death experience or faint on the cross, as some suggestion in a theory that lacks any degree of historical plausibility.

Mass hallucinations? Warnock, a psychiatrist, confirms that hallucinations tend to make one weak, rather than embolden. To suggest that hallucinations drove the disciples to boldly preach the gospel throughout the Roman Empire “is completely inconsistent with the results of hallucinations as described in any medical textbook” (p 51).

What it boils down to, as Warnock writes is that, “[t]he church did not create the resurrection stories; instead the resurrection stories created the church” (p.47).

Without the Resurrection, We Have Nothing

This is critical for Christians to remember, as it’s tempting to shuffle the resurrection off into a corner and ignore it, or suggest that if we learned that if Jesus didn’t rise physically, but only spiritually, we wouldn’t lose anything. But the fact is, if Christ didn’t rise, we have lost everything.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins,” wrote the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:17. There is no hope for us outside of the resurrection of Christ. If He did not rise, then no one else is going to, and we should be pitied above all others. Hope for this world alone is no hope at all.

But the resurrection gives us everything.

It is the practical application of Christ’s work of the cross.

Because Christ rose from death and ascended to the right hand of the Father, we have an advocate, a great High Priest who intercedes before the Father on our behalf. We can pray to Him and He hears us, and He speaks to us.

And He sent the Holy Spirit, who raised Him from the dead, to live inside us.

A dead man can’t do these things.

But the God-man can, because Christ rose—and He’s coming again. This is why we can have confidence in Christ. And that’s what Adrian Warnock seeks to remind us of in this book.

Raised with Christ is an important book. That’s not something I say that lightly. Warnock’s passion for the resurrection of Jesus saturates this book. It’s what makes the good news “good news.” And to neglect it would be to our folly. Read this book and be inspired to see how the resurrection changes everything.


Title: Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything
Author: Adrian Warnock
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Crossway Books

Around the Interweb (03/07)

Blaspheme Your Idols

Jared Wilson shares an excerpt from his next book, currently in progress:

A bride joined to her groom forsakes all others. She writes the spiritual equivalent of Dear John letters to her idols. When God’s love captivates you, you go around spurning all your other lovers. I call this “blaspheming” your idols.

Blaspheme them. Tell them they have no appeal to you any more. Tell them you don’t need their damage, their pain, their anti-glories. Tell them you have no desires to use and abuse them any more. Tell them your heart, mind, soul, and strength belong wholly to God now. And then don’t speak as a lover to them ever again. Sinful relationships must end.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth it.

In other news

TWO free audiobooks this month at ChristianAudio.comThe Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (code: MAR2010) and Fifty Reasons why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper (code: MAR2010B). Enjoy!

The New Possibilities in Book Publishing and the Implications of New Media

Would you “Friend” the Apostle Paul?

2010 Band of Bloggers: Internet Idolatry & Gospel Fidelity

Timmy Brister has announced the details of the 4th Band of Bloggers fellowship that will take place in conjunction with the 2010 Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

The theme for this year’s meeting is “Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity.” With the advent of new media and the increasing influence of technology on our lives, it is important to address the relationship of the gospel to technology, especially the areas where we are tempted with idolatrous desire (power, identity, influence, acceptance, control, etc.).  While the internet, with all of its platforms (such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be a powerful tool to leverage our lives for the gospel impact, we want to examine our hearts to bring to light the various ways in which the idol factory of our hearts challenges and subverts the very gospel which we long to embrace.

Go to the Band of Bloggers website for more info and to register.

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Tass Saada’s Once an Arafat Man

Jude: Contending for our Common Salvation

How to Build a God

Spurgeon on the fruit of humility

B.B. Warfield reminds us that we can’t move beyond the gospel

B.B. Warfield: Christian, You Can't Move "Beyond" the Gospel

The great theologian B. B. Warfield on why the gospel is needed for believers:

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God.We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.

This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live.

Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be.

It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Jude: Contending For Our Common Salvation

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

—Jude 1-4—

Jude, the brother of James, and half-brother of Jesus, wrote these opening words, eager to write about “our common salvation;” to share about the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus with the church. Instead, compelled by the Holy Spirit, he wrote the New Testament epistle that bears his name—an urgent appeal warning believers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered.”

About a year ago, I wrote a study for my small group on Jude’s epistle as we sought to build an understanding of the necessity of contending for the faith.

We began our study by looking at the common salvation Jude was so eager to write about. The following is adapted from this study.

The Gospel—Once for all Delivered

How would you articulate the gospel? Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, it’s described in a variety of ways, sometimes with subtlety, other times with great power.

Genesis 3:15 offers us our first hint at Christ’s victory over Satan, sin and death, while Isaiah 52:14-53:12 provides with one of the most powerful descriptions of the work of Christ, notably: [Read more...]

John Piper: Smiting Morality with Gospel Joy

A powerful excerpt from Piper’s lecture at the 2010 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, “Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul: Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. S. Lewis.”

The abbreviated transcript follows:

Until we are gripped with the joyful impulses of gospel grace from the inside, we will always be thinking in terms of doing external duties as pressures from outside. This is called morality. But here is what I discovered with Lewis’s help:

A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits etc.) can do the journey on their own.

The implications of this for my own pursuit of holiness and my teaching on sanctification have been pervasive. Lewis brings this insight to bear on the Puritans and William Tyndale in particular in a way this is profoundly illuminating:

In reality Tyndale is trying to express an obstinate fact which meets us long before we venture into the realm of theology; the fact that morality or duty (what he calls ‘the Law’) never yet made a man happy in himself or dear to others. It is shocking, but it is undeniable. We do not wish either to be, or to live among, people who are clean or honest or kind as a matter of duty: we want to be, and associate with, people who like being clean and honest and kind. The mere suspicion that what seemed an act of spontaneous friendliness or generosity was really done as a duty subtly poisons it. In philosophical language, the ethical category is self-destructive; morality is healthy only when it is trying to abolish itself. In theological language, no man can be saved by works. The whole purpose of the “Gospel,” for Tyndale, is to deliver us from morality. Thus, paradoxically, the “Puritan” of modern imagination—the cold, gloomy heart, doing as duty what happier and richer souls do without thinking of it—is precisely the enemy which historical Protestantism arose and smote.

This is what I want to keep smiting with Christian Hedonism: The gospel is designed to make forgiven sinners love righteousness, not do it against all their inclinations.

By John Piper. © Desiring God

Around the Interweb (01/24)

“It is Well with My Soul…”

Churches Helping Churches released a powerful video presentation of the devastation in Haiti on Friday, one that is tempered with incredible hope: 

 

At 4:57, Mark Driscoll interviews a pastor from Haiti who, despite everything, still has joy. When asked why he’s smiling, where is his joy, he answers, “It’s from the Lord.” 

God is good, folks. 


 

In other news

John Newton in a letter to Rev. Thomas Jones (October 20, 1767): “As to myself, if I were not a Calvinist, I think I should have no more hope of success in preaching to men, than to horses or cows.” (via Kevin DeYoung

“Tell Bud, ministry isn’t everything.  Jesus is.” (via Ray Ortlund

Ed Stetzer: “Be careful with your words. You only have so many to use in your upcoming sermon, so choose them wisely. Those words may comprise your very last sermon. Have you considered that?” 

More photos from Haiti (via Compassion’s Flickr page): 

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.4540560&w=425&h=350&fv=offsite%3Dtrue%26offsite%3Dtrue%26lang%3Den-us%26page_show_url%3D%252Fphotos%252Fcompassioninternational%252Fsets%252F72157623133539077%252Fshow%252Fwith%252F4293585965%252F%26page_show_back_url%3D%252Fphotos%252Fcompassioninternational%252Fsets%252F72157623133539077%252Fwith%252F4293585965%252F%26set_id%3D72157623133539077%26jump_to%3D4293585965]

more about “Haiti Earthquake“, posted with vodpod 


In case you missed it

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

My review of Joshua Harris’ new book, Dug Down Deep. Read the review then go buy the book. 

Airing my frustration with progressive sanctification

If the gospel is dull, then what is worth being called exciting

Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us that the gospel is the most exciting and astounding thing that has ever and will ever happen.

"Perhaps I'll be like Peter in his bravado…"

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 

Steve Timmis, co-author of Total Church and Acts 29′s Western Europe Director posted a series of profound comments on Twitter Monday morning that I wanted to share with you: 

How can I be sure I would lay down my life for sake of Jesus & the gospel?  

Perhaps I’ll be like Peter in his bravado and subsequent denial? 

Can’t ultimately be sure until I’m called on to do so. But there are indicators in what I am reluctant to give up… 

If I’m not prepared to give up my bed to go and serve someone, I can be fairly confident I won’t give up my life… 

If I refuse to give up a holiday abroad so I can support someone in gospel ministry, I can be fairly confident I won’t give up my life… 

If I’m not willing to pursue people who are different from me in order to bless them, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life… 

If I’m not prepared to miss out on promotion so I can stay & help plant churches, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life… 

If I’m not prepared to jeopardise a friendship so that I can tell others about Christ, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life. 

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Jesus Christ
 

Lots to think about here.

Jonathan Edwards: What Great Cause We Have to Be Ashamed


If true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may learn what great cause we have to be ashamed and confounded before God, that we are no more affected with the great things of religion.

God has given to mankind affections . . . that they might be subservient to man’s chief end, and the great business for which God has created him, that is, the business of religion.  And yet how common is it among mankind, that their affections are much more exercised and engaged in other matters than in religion!  In things which concern men’s worldly interest, their outward delights, their honour and reputation, and their natural relations, they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm and affectionate, their zeal ardent; in these things their hearts are tender and sensible, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned, very sensibly affected, and greatly engaged; much depressed with grief at losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and prosperity.

But how insensible and unmoved are most men about the great things of another world!  How dull are their affections!  How heavy and hard their hearts in these matters!  Here their love is cold, their desires languid, their zeal low, and their gratitude small.

How they can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of His giving His infinitely dear Son, to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men, and of the unparalleled love of the innocent, and holy, and tender Lamb of God, manifested in His dying agonies, His bloody sweat, His loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this for enemies, to redeem them from deserved, eternal burnings, and to bring to unspeakable and everlasting joy and glory–and yet be so cold and heavy, insensible and regardless!

Where are the exercises of our affections proper, if not here?. . . Is there anything which Christians can find in heaven or earth so worthy to be the objects of our admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

[ . . .] God has so disposed things in the affair of our redemption, and in His glorious dispensations, revealed to us in the gospel, as though every thing were purposely contrived in such a manner as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly.  How great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust that we are no more affected!

- Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, 51-53.

HT: Timmy Brister