Saturday, August 29, 2015

No Pain, No Gain

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained [Greek = gymnazo --> gymnasium] by it.
Hebrews 12:11
God, says this man, by doing the things that He is doing to you, is as it were putting you
into that spiritual gymnasium. He has you stripped, He is examining you, He knows exactly what you need. Now all you have to do is to submit to Him and do exactly what He tells you. Listen to the Instructor, go through the exercises, and if you do so it will give you 'the peaceable fruit of righteousness'. What does all this mean? Being interpreted it means this. The first thing we have to do is to examine ourselves and submit ourselves to the examination of God's Word. The moment any untoward [= unfavorable] event happens to us we must say: 'I am in the gymnasium. Something must be the matter. What has been going wrong? Where is my trouble?' That is the way the Christian should always react to any one of these things that happen. Is it illness, is it accident, is it a failure, is it a disappointment, is it someone's death? I do not care what it is, but on the basis of this teaching, the first thing I should say to myself is: 'Why has this happened to me, have I been going astray somewhere?' Read Psalm 119 and you will find the Psalmist says: 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted...' (Psalm 119:71) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word' (Psalm 119:67). He had not realized that he had been slipping away but his affliction makes him think, and he says: 'I thank God for this, it is a good thing for me, I am a better man for it: I was going astray'. Therefore you and I should always in the first instance examine ourselves, and ask: 'Have I been negligent in my spiritual life, have I been forgetting God, have I become somewhat elated and self-satisfied, have I sinned, have I done any wrong?' We must examine ourselves, we try to discover the cause, we do it thoroughly. None of this as this man tells us is 'joyous', but we must search our life and examine ourselves to the very depths, however painful it may be, to see if there is some respect in which we have been going astray without our knowing it. We must face it honestly.

--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, p. 255-256

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Good Life

In the West we have not the slightest inkling that, in reveling in affluence as we do, we are playing with fire.  This affluence so easily becomes an alternative Way, Truth, and Life, a counterfeit gospel in which to have is to be saved and to have not is to be damned.  Unfortunately, la dolce vita [= the sweet life, the good life] is not itself satisfying, not in an enduring way.  It tends to make us shallow, self-absorbed people who give ourselves to chasing what is superficial by way of styles, fads, and what is pleasurable provided there are no demands for commitments.  The styles quickly become obsolete, the fads are forgotten, and the pleasures fade like the morning mist so that this kind of life constantly has to be reinventing itself.  Those who fashion their lives around these things die of emptiness.  The pains that linger in the soul like a bad headache stay a long, long time.

It is hard to know exactly how those who have received the Word stand in relation to Christ, but they show nothing of spiritual merit in their lives despite their hearing of the Word, their born-again profession, and maybe their churchgoing.  They may show up in the born-again category in Barna's polls, but they are not in the right category in life.

--David Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lover, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World, p.90
On the contrary:
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Absolute Certainty

If I crave happiness, I will receive misery. If I crave to be loved, I will receive rejection. If I crave significance, I will receive futility. If I crave control, I will receive chaos. If I crave reputation, I will receive humiliation. But if I long for God and his wisdom and mercy, I will receive God and wisdom and mercy. Along the way, sooner or later, I will also receive happiness, love, meaning, order, and glory.
--David Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture, p. 161
In other words, the good news:
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
Psalm 16:2
And the bad news:
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
Psalm 16:4

Monday, August 10, 2015

That Ugly Beast and Enemy of God

...just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?
Galatians 3:6
Let your faith supplant reason. Abraham mastered reason by faith in the Word of God. Not as though reason ever yields meekly. It put up a fight against the faith of Abraham. Reason protested that it was absurd to think that Sarah who was ninety years old and barren by nature, should give birth to a son. But faith won the victory and routed reason, that ugly beast and enemy of God. Everyone who by faith slays reason, the world's biggest monster, renders God a real service, a better service than the religions of all races and all the drudgery of meritorious monks can render.
--Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 73