Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Clean Sea Breeze

Been thinking alot about "gospel centrality" these days.  There's nothing my soul needs more on a daily basis, especially as I'm rolling out of bed, than to bathe in the truth that, before I have done or failed to do anything either good or bad, God's pronouncement over me in Christ on the basis of His life, death, and resurrection alone is, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased."  Good news.  Wonderful news.

But is that it?  Is the good news that "It is finished!" where I terminate in my pursuit of a life lived to the glory of God?  Or is it merely the beginning, apart from which there is nothing I can do that is pleasing to God?  And apart from which I can't make any progress in godliness?  Or does God not even care that I become more godly?

As I listen to several voices champion this message of "gospel centrality" terminating on the finished work of Christ, I can't escape the sense that there is an overemphasis on justification to the neglect of sanctification.  To put it another way, there's an overemphasis on indicative to the neglect of imperative.  As I listen to these voices, the silence on the latter is almost deafening in a way that doesn't seem to square with a straight reading of the New Testament.

Last night, for no reasons I'm aware of other than that I just flipped to it in my Kindle, I began to read J.C. Ryle's seminal work, Holiness.  I had planned to read just a page or two of the introduction but was so gripped by the first couple of pages that I couldn't stop reading until I had finished the introduction (and was tempted to go on to the next).  In it he gives seven reasons why he was compelled to write on this topic.  And as I read them, especially the first two, it was almost as if he were writing right now in the 21st century rather than the 19th.  Certainly C.S. Lewis was on to something when he said this:
The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.
Listen to these first two reasons Ryle gives for writing Holiness blow like a clean sea breeze into the year 2013:
I ask, in the first place, whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do now-a-days in handling the doctrine of sanctification?--Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified ways as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion?  Is it according to the proportion of God's Word?  I doubt it.

I ask, in the second place, whether it is wise to make so little as some appear to do comparatively, of the many practical exhortations to holiness in daily life which are to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the latter part of most of St. Paul's epistles?  Is it according to the proportion of God's Word?  I doubt it.
As The Preacher said, there is nothing new under the sun.

I'm eager to read more of this old book.  I know I need it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weakness Is the Way

If you know how mightily this weak vessel has been wielded by the hand of the Lord over the last half century, there's only one appropriate word to describe this video:


HT: Between Two Worlds