The King Reigns After Death

“Their King … commences his reign by advancing to death.”

–John Calvin

What a great quote. It’s from his commentary, referring to John 12:12.

12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ” Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One–the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written:

15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion.
Look, your King is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt.

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
John 12:12-16 HCSB

HT: Pastor Tom Provost

Around the Web

Seven Sentimental Lies You Might Believe | Desiring God – This is my big pet peeve area. It also mentions the movie The Princess Bride.

Saint Augustine on Prayer | Monergism – Excellent–I love what he says about suffering.

Praying the Bible vs. Interpreting the Bible

God Actually Spoke To Me – This is a rehash of a Piper devotional, which I read originally, but it’s just as great the 2nd time around.

Humble and Careful Theology

In the Bible God uses ordinary human language rather than a technically precise jargon. He does not include all the technical, pedantic details that would interest a scholar. By doing so, he speaks clearly to ordinary people, not merely to scholars with advanced technical knowledge. What God says is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to save us and to provide a sure guide for our life.

Hence, the ordinary, humble readers of the Bible do all right. Paradoxically, scholars and would-be scholars can easily get into trouble by overestimating the degree of technical or pedantic precision in the Bible. They will then fall into mistakes that an ordinary reader of the Bible would not make. Therefore, if we are engaged in more scholarly theological reflection, we must become self-conscious about our language. Of course, most scholars do not explicitly do theology on the basis of some fully developed philosophy of language. Mistakes made without an explicit philosophy are nevertheless mistakes. And such mistakes do occur. In fact, mistakes, obscurities, inadequacies, and infelicities related to language occur with considerable frequency in our day, even in reputable, scholarly writings of theology.

Vern Poythress, Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology

Those of us who are going deeper into theology, which is a good thing. However I’ve read stories of elderly people who have suffered greatly and who love God, love reading their Bible, and have been sanctified over the course of their lives more than many who make a living as a theologian. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves for knowing more terms and doctrine than some others. There will be people in heaven receiving their praise from God who never knew the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Poythress is also saying that we shouldn’t make our theological terms too narrow (or too broad), along with concepts in Scripture. But that really needs the context of the book to be better understood.

We should also be aware that just because somebody is a famous scholar (if there is such a thing), that doesn’t automatically mean they’re right, whether it comes to theology, doctrine, exegesis, or original languages. (I’ve been reading more and more about the latter.) It seems that the less we know of a subject, the more we will trust others, especially if it seems to make sense at first (Proverbs 18:17).

For those of us who are more well versed, or becoming so, with theology:

“It is impossible, while Christ is in the eye of our faith as proposed in the gospel, but that we shall labor to be like Him and greatly love Him. Neither is there any way for us to attain to either of these, which are the great concerns of our souls (to be like to Christ and to love Him) but by a constant view of Him and His glory by faith; which powerfully and effectually works them in us. All the doctrinal knowledge which we have of Him is useless, all the view we have of His glory is but fancy, imagination, or superstition, which are not accompanied with this transforming power. And that which is wrought by it is the increase and vigor of all grace; for therein alone our conformity to Him consists. Growth in grace, holiness, and obedience is a growing like Christ; and nothing else is so.”

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

And this comes by God’s Word.


“If we satisfy ourselves in mere notions and speculations about the glory of Christ as doctrinally revealed unto us, we shall find no transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But when, under the conduct of that spiritual light, our affections do cleave unto him with full purpose of heart, our minds are filled with the thoughts of him and delight in him, and faith is kept up unto its constant exercise in trust and affiance on him, — virtue will proceed from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and to fill us sometimes ‘with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'”

Regarding the text that I made italic–I’ve been using an hourly chime on my phone–and changing it when I don’t hear it anymore–for memorizing Scripture. But I have slowed down with that or I won’t be able to keep up with it as far as reviewing. So I also use it to remind me to pray during downtime, meditate on Scripture and God, or simply be aware of His presence if I’m busy with something (1 Chronicles 16:11). As John Owen has written, what better way is there to spend our thinking time than thinking of Him?

Search for the LORD and his strength.
Always seek his presence.
1 Chronicles 16:11 GW

Quote of the Day: Godly Fear

This is from Crossway’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress by the Puritan John Bunyan. I recently learned that this is the second most read book other than the Bible.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Christian is the main character, a pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City (heaven), and Hopeful, a younger believer, who became his companion later in the journey. I really like this depiction of godly fear.

Christian said, “Without a doubt the right fear can be a good thing, for as the Word says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.'”1

“How would you describe right fear?” Hopeful inquired.

Christian explained, “True or right fear can be known by three things. First, by what causes it: the right kind of fear is caused by saving conviction of sin. Secondly, a good fear drives the soul to quickly lay hold of Christ for salvation. And thirdly, this fear begins and sustains in the soul a great reverence for God, His Word, and His ways. It keeps the soul tender, making it afraid to turn right or left from His Word and ways. It makes the soul sensitive to anything that might dishonor God, grieve the Spirit, or cause the enemy to speak against God.”

1 Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:28

Also see:
What Is Biblical Wisdom?
Fear of the Lord | Posts from Scripture Zealot blog

The NLT Changes John 3:16!

This is old news I’m sure, but I just happened to find out that the NLT now uses contemporary wording for John 3:16 in order to reflect the meaning to modern readers. I always wondered why they used the old rendering. I’m not sure which year this change was made. Let me know if you do. (They now make minor changes frequently instead of major revisions.)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

(The KJV is “For God so loved the world…”.)

Others before it that I know of are God’s Word, NET, HCSB, ISV, and Mounce (from the interlinear).

Here is a footnote from the HCSB:

16 “For God loved the world in this way:[a] He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 The Gk word houtos, commonly translated in Jn 3:16 as “so” or “so much” occurs over 200 times in the NT. Almost without exception it is an adverb of manner, not degree (for example, see Mt 1:18). It only means “so much” when modifying an adjective (see Gl 3:3; Rv 16:18). Manner seems primarily in view in Jn 3:16, which explains the HCSB’s rendering.

I’m not suggesting the traditional KJV rendering (John 3:16 KJV), which is what nearly every other translation has borrowed from, is/was wrong or even not optimal. I’m not a language expert, but I believe that the people living in that time, and probably for many, many years after, understood it in this way. As language changes, I believe it’s OK to make some minor changes in translation. I think a good idea for a Bible would be to have one in the King James Version which has footnotes that explain any English words or phrases that might not be well understood to modern readers because of the older English.

Some might ask why the difference is important. While someone reading the KJV will still understand what Jesus did for us on the cross, the word love has many definitions and connotations. If we want to know not just that God loves the world (sinners), but how he loved the world, we can look to what he sent his Son to do for us on the cross to display his amazing grace for us.

For a much better and well thought out explanation on that, please see:

Thoughts On Guidance and Being Led By The Spirit

A few rambling thoughts and some not rambling quotes. I’m in a bit of a funk and don’t feel up to putting together a well-written post–if I’ve ever done one. I put horizontal lines between sections that don’t flow. Such a cheater.

I remember being in group Bible studies and the group would pray. Whoever was leading would say, “Go ahead and pray if you feel led.” I always thought, What if I want to pray but don’t feel led? Do I have to feel led to do anything? We can do good things without being whispered to.

Here is a verse that many people pull out and make a whole doctrine out of:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:14

Tempted as we might be to consider the Spirit’s leading as referring to guidance for vocation (“Is the Spirit leading me to change jobs?”) or matrimony (“Is the Spirit leading me to many him/her?”), this is not what Paul has in view. Paul is justifying the conclusion he drew in verse 13, that putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit leads to life.


Instead of a preoccupation with issues of guidance (the preoccupation of our era), we should be concerned to ask the Lord:

“How can I live in a way that reflects the holiness of my Savior?”

“Will You show me how to deny myself?”

“Which sin, or part of a sin, am I to kill today?”

-Derek Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home

And he shows us these things largely though Scripture or something that’s a reminder from it.

Here it is again in context:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:12-15

We aren’t trusting God when we need to know what to do in every situation. We’re not trusting his guidance (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24) or his providence. God doesn’t always, or usually, tell us what to do outside of Scripture, or give us some sort of feeling when he wants us to do something. He also doesn’t turn his leading into a guessing game of “is this the Holy Spirit or…?”

We also have this need to want to know the future. Look at all of the ‘newspaper prophecy’ books. We have to trust that even if we make what looks like a good decision today, things may change tomorrow and it might not seem like such a good decision anymore. (Although we can only judge our decisions by the information and thought put into it at the time of the decision.) This is still within God’s providential plan. Just as God doesn’t tell us the future, other than what he clearly states in the Bible, he won’t always tell us what the best thing we can do for the future is. That doesn’t seem very helpful to us. Who are we to question God or make up our own doctrines that are more to our liking? His main concern is making us more like Christ. We know how God loves us by what he sent his Son to do on the cross for us, resulting in us being the children of a loving, merciful, kind, gentle Father. And yet like any child, we often like to do things our way, even if it has nothing to do with reality.

When Jesus says that His sheep “hear his voice,” He is not referring to an ongoing conversation like a telephone call. He was not saying that people would hear audible or inner voices from God. He was referring to His call to salvation. Jesus is calling His sheep to an endless life of fellowship with the living God. These believers follow Christ and show renewal in the new direction and commitment of their lives to Him.

–Tom Provost, Thus Saith The LORD Part 2 – Word of Life Wisconsin

I think it’s important that with terms like Biblical wisdom, we need to make sure we’re defining those terms according to what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to make assumptions based on our culture, whether that be at large or the Christian culture.

Here are some quotes about guidance from a previous post:

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Partial Puritan Prayer

I try to remember to read at least one Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision every Sunday. I’d rather not post a whole prayer, otherwise people could collect them from all over the internet. Here is yet another one that I really like.

Lord God Almighty,
I ask not to be enrolled amongst
the earthly great and rich,
but to be numbered with the spiritually blessed.

Make it my present, supreme, persevering concern to obtain those blessings which are spiritual in their nature,
eternal in their continuance,
satisfying in their possession.

Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to my principles
as well as my conduct,
my motives as well as my actions.

Help me never to mistake the excitement of my passions
for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
never to judge my religion
by occasional impressions and impulses,
but by my constant and prevailing disposition.

–From the first half of the prayer “True Religion”

I especially like the last part, which is a message that was important then, and I think even more so in our Christian culture today. I have a post coming up on God’s guidance which is a little along those lines.

God’s grace and peace be with you. Thanks for reading.

What Is Sola Scriptura?

I was doing some re-reading on sola Scriptura because it’s such an important doctrine, and one that I’ve always especially liked, even if I didn’t know what it was called. I remember being a rather young Christian and occasionally (meaning not nearly often enough) going to a Christian bookstore when I felt like getting a new book. When I paged through a book, if it didn’t have Scripture references sprinkled throughout it, I would immediately put it back on the shelf.

John MacArthur on the first of the five ‘solas’ of the Reformation:

The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that “scientific truth,” for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture—but Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our senses (2 Peter 1:19). Therefore, Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter on which it speaks.

What Does Sola Scriptura Mean? by John MacArthur | Ligonier Ministries Blog

I believe that everything that fits under what sola Scriptura encompasses should be held up by Scripture (Acts 17:11, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). We shouldn’t add or take away from Scripture, which is easier than we may think. If we say that the Holy Spirit told us something that can’t be confirmed in Scripture, we may be adding to it, even in a minor way.

Satan would love for us to come up with ideas that don’t conform to Scripture, often using others to influence us to believe teachings that aren’t biblical. Many times people aren’t malicious, just uninformed. Look at how many sayings there area that aren’t in line with what the Bible says. We need to check these things out for ourselves. It’s also easy for us to be disobedient in our own thinking and let ourselves get off of the right path. Sometimes this is due to laziness, where we just don’t feel like looking things up. We need to make every thought, idea put forth, argument, theory etc. captive to Christ, who is the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). I like what John Gill says about that:

And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; or “carrying captive the whole understanding”; that is, so illustrating it with divine light, that it clearly sees Christ to be the alone, able, willing, full, and suitable Saviour, and so becomes obedient to him, both as a Saviour and a King; such an enlightened soul looks to him alone for life and salvation, ventures on him, and relies upon him, and is desirous and willing to be saved by him in his own way; he receives and embraces all his truths and doctrines with faith and love, and obeys them from the heart, and cheerfully and willingly submits to all his commands and ordinances; for though he is taken by the grace of God, and all his strong holds, reasonings, and high thoughts are demolished by the power of God in the Gospel, and he himself is carried captive, yet not against, but with his will, to be a voluntary subject of Christ, and cheerfully to submit to the sceptre of his kingdom.

In addition, the Bible isn’t an ‘owner’s manual for living life’. (Although, just like how owner’s manuals get put to the side, many Christians don’t read the Bible either, and then wander around aimlessly, making up rules as they go along.) It’s a living Word given to us by God about himself (Jeremiah 23:29, 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12). We can’t always encounter a situation and ‘look it up in the manual’, although there are plenty of helpful rules that may directly apply to many situations. But we need to know it well enough so that we can acquire Biblical wisdom in order to live lives that are pleasing to God (Colossians 1:9-10).

I think the Five Solas are a great way to explain Reformed theology to someone new to it. TULIP is focused more on soteriology and can scare some people away if they are given that first thing.

This is why the internet needs self-appointed theology police, like me, to correct all the wrongs that are out there. (joke)

Wrong on the Internet

Wrong on the Internet

You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

Images via Photobucket

Around the Web

Luther on Book-Showers and Big, Long, Shaggy Donkey Ears – Reformation21 Blog – The first part of this is one of a few reasons that compelled me to use Professor Horner’s reading plan and spend more time reading the Bible.

[Carl Trueman] An Accidental Feminist? | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals – I’ve always felt similarly. It’s also strange when men get to determine what women should and shouldn’t be able to do outside of what the Bible clearly states for the church. That’s why the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood always kind of creeped me out.

How Reading Can Transform Your Health | HeadHeartHand Blog

Baker Book House Church Connection | Frustrated with the Times We’re Living In? Some Advice from Chuck Colson

When you think you know the Bible but you don’t… | Cryptotheology – Why Bible trivia might be an enlightening thing if done well

The Dread of God

Is the fear of God on the decline? Culture slips in, “God is love”–although completely true (1 John 4:8; 16)–becomes all he is. Jesus has become only meek, mild, and tame.

Though many read the Psalms for comfort, there we can see how dreadful God’s judgement is through how the Psalmists portray it. Does this apply to ‘New Testament Christians’?

If we pay attention to all of what Jesus says in both the Gospels and Revelation, we can see that he isn’t tame, that he can’t stand sin and he is ready to eradicate it in a very non-meek way in the end. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

Two benefits that I see to respecting God’s wrath is that: 1) We can better appreciate what Jesus did on the cross for us by receiving the wrath we deserve. 2) It compels us to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16)–wanting to please our Father by learning more about his holiness and imitating it, as feebly as we do. Thank God that he compels us, strengthens us, and shows us how to become more like him.

I like how the Revised English Bible translates Psalm 119:120:

The dread of you makes my flesh creep,
I stand in awe of your decrees.

In the verses before this, the Psalmist is recounting God’s judgement of sinners.

Here is what Spurgeon has to say in The Treasury of David:

“My flesh trembleth for fear of thee.” [KJV] Such was his awe in the presence of the Judge of all the earth, whose judgment he had just now been considering, that he did exceedingly fear and quake. Even the grosser part of his being, – his flesh felt a solemn dread at the thought of offending one so good and great, who would so effectually sever the wicked from among the just. Alas, poor flesh, this is the highest thing to which thou canst attain! “And I am afraid of thy judgments.” God’s words of judgment are solemn, and his deeds of judgment are terrible; they may well make us afraid. At the thought of the Judge of all, – his piercing eye, his books of record, his day of assize, and the operations of his justice, – we may well cry for cleansed thoughts, and hearts, and ways, lest his judgments should light on us. When we see the great Refiner separating the precious from the vile, we may well feel a godly fear, lest we should be put away by him, and left to be trodden under his feet.

Love in Psalm 119:119 is quite consistent with fear in this verse, the fear which hath torment is cast out, but not the filial fear which leads to reverence and obedience.

The Lord Watches Over Everyone

Unpopular Scripture of the Day:

I am going to watch over them. I am going to watch over them to bring disasters, not blessings. In Egypt the people from Judah will die in wars and famines until everyone is gone. 28 Those who escape the wars will return to Judah from Egypt. Then all the people of Judah who went to live in Egypt will know whose words have come true, mine or theirs. 29 I will give you this sign,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will punish you in this place so that you will know that my threats of disaster will happen to you. 30 This is what the Lord says: I’m going to hand Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those who want to kill him, just as I handed over King Zedekiah of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to those who wanted to kill him.’”
Jeremiah 44:27-29

John Calvin says,

I will watch over them, he says, for evil and not for good. This mode of speaking we have observed elsewhere, and explained why the Prophets spoke thus, even because hypocrites, though they think God cares not for human affairs, and imagine that he sleeps in heaven, and hence audaciously provoke him [see context before this passage], as though they were fugitives and their purpose hid from God, yet boast of God’s providence, and pretend that they acquiesce confidently in him. For this reason the Prophet answered, that God watched indeed, but not for good. We then perceive the object of the Prophet; he derided the presumption of the people, who thought that God had a care for their safety. He then says, that God indeed does not sleep, but that this would bring no benefit to hypocrites; for though God watches as a father to preserve his own people, he yet watches as a judge to destroy all the ungodly.

We can be sure that God is watching over the evil that is done and will punish now or certainly at the end. We need to remember how much more God hates sin than we do.

He is also always watching over his children, whether good or bad comes. I always cringe when somebody averts disaster and says, “God was really watching over us”, because as I see it, this implies that God wasn’t watching over them if bad would have happened. (I understand that most people say this sincerely.) We will have trouble in this world (John 16:33 as just one example of many) but God will work it for the good of those who love him–who have been called according to his purpose–namely, his children (Romans 8:28). This to make them more like Christ–infinitely more important that any temporal thing we can receive (we mustn’t leave out Romans 8:29).

Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

Affliction Is Essential to Spiritual Health

God ordains affliction and we don’t want to believe this.

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NRSV

It is of so much greater concern for us to get our spirits brought down than our outward condition raised. But who believes this? All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it. And what is that but to be concerned to minister drink to the thirsty sick, but never to mind to seek a cure for them, by which their thirst may be carried off.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

We think the cure is comfort. God thinks the cure is the eternal state and spiritual health of a person.

The man himself is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him. What therefore betters the man is preferable to what betters only his condition.


It is far more needful for us to have our spirits humbled under the cross than to have the cross removed. The removal of the cross is needful only for the ease of the flesh, the humbling for the profit of our souls, to purify them, and bring them into a state of health and cure.


But what God requires is, rather to labor to bring down the heart than to get up the head. Here lies the proof of one’s suitableness for heaven; and then is one in the way heavenward, when he is more concerned to get down his heart than to get up his head, to go calmly under his burden than to get it off, to bow under the mighty hand than to put it off him.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

Much more could be said about this, and how it affects prayer, but I will leave it here for now. This was the most significant book I’ve read in a long time.

we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

We Are Slaves of Christ

As opposed to servants, not that we don’t serve. We were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 5:9). A very great price. Most English translations avoid using the word slave when referring to believers, although that’s changing.

The underlying Greek word is doulos, which always means slave. I realize that the way languages work, there is often more than one definition for a word given its context. But I’m agreeing with those who say that doulos always means slave, as opposed to servant or bondservant (1 Corinthians 7:22 ESV). The word “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times” according to the entry on doulos in A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament by Bauer along with Gingrich and Danker, often referred to and known as BDAG by scholars. (If you like to read commentaries you will find that referenced a lot.) In other words, it’s always translated as ‘slaves’ in most literature, with English (I suppose) Bible translations being an exception, which is regrettable.

Here are some examples. The ESV uses the traditional KJV, ASV, RSV rendering and HCSB, NLT, NET, and parts of the NASB use ‘slave’ when describing our identity in Christ.

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news–
Rom 1:1 HCSB

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 NASB

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 ESV

And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 NLT

For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 ESV

Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!
Gal 1:10 NET

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10 ESV

You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Matt 6:24 HCSB

You cannot serve God and money.
Math 6:24 ESV

(The translation I read, God’s Word, uses ‘servant’ the majority of the time. Can’t have everything.)

John MacArthur wrote a book on this subject called Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. As he is wont to do, he goes a little bit far and calls using the word servant a conspiracy among translators. I’m not sure how translators get together to conspire about this, but it sounds like an otherwise good book. MacArthur was apparently unaware of the newer translations–that not being his forte. He has a sermon you can find online” Slaves for Christ. There is also a book called Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ by Murray J. Harris.

Why is this important? John MacArthur says in an interview:

I read the other day the No. 1 group in the world in drawing audiences is YouTube; No. 2 is Joel Osteen. How in the world did that happen? But what’s his message? This message is whatever you want, whatever you desire, whatever you dream, whatever your heart longs for, Jesus wants to come along and give it to you. So now you have an inverted Christianity in which you are Lord and he’s your slave. That doesn’t exist if you understand what it means to confess Jesus is Lord and you’re his slave. That has been allowed to flourish to such a massive degree along with the health, wealth prosperity message which basically says the same thing – you’re in charge and Jesus will give you what you want. This whole inversion is because of a skewed understanding of doulos.

Read the rest here:
Interview: John MacArthur on Being a 'Slave' for Christ
Even if you don’t like John MacArthur, I think you might like this. I certainly did.

I wish I would have known this a long time ago, although the concept of us not being our own has already made a significant impact in my life with God.

Although we are slaves of Christ, we are also heirs, and he even treats us as friends:

Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?
James 2:5 HCSB

I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
John 15:15 HCSB

Puritan Prayer – Living for Jesus

Many see the Puritans as dour people, concentrating on their sin. If you read their prayers and other writings, you can see that they have a very good balance of their sin and God’s grace, contrition and blessedness–which is reminiscent of the Psalms. Knowledge of our sin is good because:

  1. God is convicting us, which means he’s speaking to us.
  2. Our lives are bettered by becoming more like Christ as God sanctifies us while we strive to obey him out of love and not fear of judgement. (I really couldn’t find a good place to put a comma there.)
  3. We appreciate all the more what Jesus did for us on the cross.

They compare themselves to God as opposed to other people. That will lay any of us flat. And then to think that Jesus took on all of that for us, being completely innocent. We won’t know in this life the depth of our sin, or how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for us. But we can grow in the knowledge of both with healthy introspection and time spent with Scripture.

Below is part of a prayer from the Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan Prayers. Below it is a link to the whole prayer.

I bless thee for the discoveries, invitations,
promises of the gospel
for in them is pardon for rebels,
liberty for captives,
health for the sick,
salvation for the lost.
I come to thee in thy beloved name of Jesus;
re-impress thy image upon my soul;


In many things I have offended,
in all come short of thy glory;
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Living For Jesus – Banner of Truth USA