We know we all have to go through trials of some kind as we live our lives in this world; these trials are assuredly used by God in His maturing of our souls, our being formed more and more into the image of Christ. I wanted to share these thoughts from J.C. Ryle on trials, from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John. This comes from what he writes about John 15:
Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces, and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He “prunes” them, and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age, are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find an eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering, and, like His Master, a “man of sorrows.”
Let us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us, and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Heb. 12:10.) Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.
From commentator Bill Whittle comes this reflection on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo flight where man first walked on the moon. The notes say: “Its been 45 years since man walked on the moon for the first time. Have we been challenged since? Or are we a windless sail, full of potential without a direct challenge? We tamed a continent, we conquered the skies, and we did fly to the moon–don’t let us, as a people, only have political discussion as our challenge.” I agree with this for the most part but I do fear we have to resolve our besetting political (and economic) issues before we can do this.
From the Rev. Vaughan Roberts of St. Ebbe’s Church in the United Kingdom, here is an audio sermon titled The call to change the world that is based on Matthew 5:13-16. In this message, one in a series on the Sermon on the Mount at St. Ebbe’s, Vaughan Roberts talks about one question we should ask ourselves: do we spend as much time seeking to serve the Lord in the world as we do in the Church? Are we being salt and light to the world as our Lord says?
Here is another presentation by Dr. William Lane Craig, noted scholar and apologist for the Christian faith, on “The Doctrine of Man.” In this one he talks about the body and even gets into the Apostle Paul’s use of the term “body” – soma in Greek. As he points out, there are different and serious theological implications – including for our someday resurrection -from the position that would equate the soma not with the body but with the self or the self with the body. The transcript for this can be found here and I found it quite helpful again.
Here is another in the series of audio lectures by Dr. John Woodhouse of Moore Theological College in Australia, this series being on the Book of Amos. In this one, Dr. Woodhouse’s talk is titled No More Mercy, and the Scripture passage being exegeted is Amos 7:1-9. Dr. Woodhouse talks about quite a few things, including this question: does modern man take God seriously?
If you have not seen it yet, Dr. Al Mohler has written quite a post on ‘Get with the Program’ — The Church of England votes to ordain Women Bishops. He has an excellent point about the consequences of this “great adventure” as it is labeled by the Archbishop of Canterbury:
That “adventure” will leave conservative evangelicals in the Church of England increasingly out in the cold, despite all the talk of “mutual flourishing.” The measure approved by the synod means that women bishops will be bishops in full, with mandatory recognition of their episcopal status by all within the Church of England. This will leave conservative ministers under the authority of bishops they do not actually believe to be bishops in fact. It is hard to imagine “mutual flourishing” in that circumstance. The measure also called for the appointment of one conservative evangelical male bishop in coming months — which means that the church has just committed itself to appoint a bishop who does not believe that at least some of his colleague bishops will meet the biblical requirements.
It certainly does not make sense, does it? Dr. Mohler closes with a quote from the Very Rev. William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in the early 20th century, that absolutely fits our situation today: “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”
Hat tip: Anglican Church League
As I mentioned yesterday, I was sent an excerpt from a text from the 1800’s called The New Whole Duty of Man, which seems to be a book of devotions and catechism for families. The same friend has kindly sent me another excerpt from that book, which is equally as profound. I post it because it has as clear a definition of “holy fear” as I have seen:
To fear God, is to have such a due sense of his majesty, and holiness, and justice, and goodness, as shall make us not dare to offend him; for each of these attributes is proper to raise a suitable fear in every considering mind: his majesty, a fear, lest we affront it by being irreverent; his holiness, a fear, lest we offend it by being carnal; his justice, a fear, lest we provoke it by being presumptuous; and his goodness, a fear, lest we forfeit it by being unthankful. So that this fear of God is not the superstitious dread of an arbitrary or cruel being but that awe and regard which necessarily arises in the mind of every man who believes and habitually considers himself as living and acting in the sight of an omnipresent Governor, of perfect justice, holiness, and purity; who sees every thought, as well as every action; who cannot be imposed upon by any hypocrisy; who as certainly as there is any difference between good and evil, cannot but approve the one and detest the other; and whose government consists in rewarding what he approves, and punishing what he hates. This fear of God is the foundation of religion; for the great support of virtue among men, is the sense upon their minds of a supreme Governor and Judge of the universe, who will finally and effectually reward what is in itself essentially worthy of reward, and punish what is worthy of punishment. And consequently fear brings us into subjection to God’s authority, and enforces the practice of our duty: for, the fear of the Lord is to depart from evil.
I learned recently about a text from the 1800’s called The New Whole Duty of Man, which seems to be a book of devotions and catechism for families. From what I gather it is quite sound doctrinally, and this excerpt, sent to me by the friend who told me about the book, makes a point that is equally valid today:
Therefore, though there be some things in the scriptures, which our reason and understanding cannot fathom; yet, because we are satisfied they are revealed by God, who cannot lie, whose knowledge is infallible, and whose word is true, we ought, upon this higher and superior reason, to yield a firm assent to the truth of them. And I add, that though some complain the Bible is not clear and determinate enough as to certain points; yet, if I mistake not, the main quarrel against it will prove to be, that it is too clear and determinate in enjoining certain duties, and forbidding certain vices. And though we meet therein with many precepts of life, which corrupt nature may be unwilling to put in practice; yet we must remember it is the Lord who commands them, and we must, obey with the resignation becoming a child of God; Lord, not my will but thine be done; who by the mouth of his apostle has expressly commanded us to live SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, and GODLY in this present world: where, by the word soberly, we are to understand our duty to OURSELVES; by the word righteously, our duty to our NEIGHBOUR; and by the word godly, our duty to GOD. And as religion itself is that purity, or that virtuous temper and disposition of mind, which exerts itself in a constant endeavour of being like unto God, and of obeying his commands; which is the principal distinction of men from the inferior orders of creatures, and upon which alone are grounded all hopes of life and happiness hereafter; so the great end and design of religion is, by the trial of men’s virtue and integrity in the present world, to qualify them for the happiness of that which is to come; that they, who have been faithful in a small and temporary trust committed to them here, may hereafter be put in possession of a never-fading inheritance which shall be their own forever.
This is something of a “blast from the past”: Neil Diamond singing his song “Shilo” in 1967. What a career he has had.