Here is the next in a series of audio sermons on the Epistle of James by Phillip Jensen. This message is titled “Materialism” and covers James 4:13-5:11. It can be heard at this link, or you can use the player below.
Reproduced with permission from
Again from Faith and Life – since this is Sexagesima Sunday – here is an excerpt from the writings of John Chrysostom on the life of St. Paul:
PAUL had a strength far greater than that of words, and able to accomplish far more. By his mere presence, without speaking, he was terrible to demons; and all the men of this age, if assembled in one place, could not do so much by infinite prayers and tears as Paul’s aprons did of old. And Paul by prayer raised the dead, and wrought other like wonders, so that he was even deemed a god by the Heathen; and before his removal from this life he was thought worthy to be caught up to the third heaven, and to hear words which it was not lawful for humanity to utter. If, laying aside his miracles, we come to his blessed life, and examine his angelical conduct, then in this rather than in wondrous deeds will you see Christ’s athlete triumphing. For why should one speak of his zeal, his forbearance, his ceaseless dangers, his continued anxieties, his uninterrupted sorrows for the Churches, his sympathy with the weak, his many afflictions, his everfresh persecutions, his daily deaths? For he endured every form of hostile plotting, and gained every kind of victory ; and never once did he cease to wrestle or to win crowns. And in what did this blessed one surpass even the other Apostles, and how comes his name to be frequent in men’s mouths throughout the civilized world? Is it not from the excellence of his Epistles, whereby he benefits, and will benefit, not only the faithful of that age, but those who have lived from his time to this day, and those too who are yet to live, even until Christ’s coming? For even like a wall of adamant, his letters fortify the Churches throughout the world; and like a noble prince of combatants he stands even now in the midst of us, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God’.” And all this he does by those Epistles, so wonderful, so filled with Divine wisdom, which he has left to us. But his writings are not only useful to us in order to the overthrow of spurious doctrines and the establishment of genuine ones; they also furnish us with no small aid towards a good life. For by the employment of them, even at this day, the rulers of the Churches fashion, and mould, and bring to spiritual beauty, the “chaste virgin” whom he prepared for Christ. By these they repel the diseases which assail her, and preserve the health which she has gained.
–St. Chrysostom on the Priesthood, b. iv.
Let John Chrysostom be our role model in appreciating and learning from the writings of St. Paul!
Again quoting John Chrysostom from Faith and Life, here is an excerpt on the Parable of the Sower:
Whence was it, tell me, that the greater part of the seed was lost? Not on account of the Sower, but of the soil which received it, that is, of the soul which did not hear. This happened not only to the seed, but to the draw-net, which also brought in much that was unprofitable. Now He utters this parable by way of training and instructing His disciples not to despair, although those that perish should be the majority of those that receive their word. For this befell the Master also; and He, while He thoroughly foresaw that it would happen, desisted not from sowing. But how, it will be asked, was it reasonable to sow on thorns, on the rock, on the way-side? A husbandman would be rightly blamed for doing so; for it is impossible that the rock should become soil, or the way-side and thorns be other than they are; but in the case of reasonable beings this is not so, for it is possible for the rock to be changed and become rich soil, and the way-side to be no longer trodden down nor left open to all passers-by, but to be a fruitful field, and the thorns to disappear, and the seed to enjoy full security. For had this not been possible, He would not have sown thus. But if this change did not take place in all cases, this was not by reason of the Sower, but of those who did not wish to be changed. For He has done His part; and if they cast away what came from Him, that is no fault of His who exhibited such great benignity.
St. Chrysostom, Hom. xliv. on St. Matthew.
Certainly, let us not despair if we do not see an immediate harvest, for it is indeed possible that the Spirit will reap a harvest using our labors later – for He is able to make rich soil out of the stoniest of hearts.
Justin Taylor writes that
Thanks to the generosity and permission of Carl Trueman—Paul Woolley Chair of Church History and professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, as well as the author of Luther on the Christian Life—and The Master’s Seminary, you can basically take Professor Trueman’s course online for free. (You just don’t have to take any tests, write any papers, or get any credit!)
You can access all nineteen of the lectures on Justin Taylor’s blog along with a link to the bibliography for the course. If you are interested in learning more about the Reformation, this is something you may want to check out.
Crossway Books is releasing a new book titled Reformation Anglicanism: A Vision for Today’s Global Communion. (It is edited by Ashley Null and John W. Yates III, with contributions from Michael Jensen, Ben Kwashi, Michael Nazir-Ali, Ashley Null, and John W. Yates III.) Associated with this release, they have posted the essay Why We Need Reformation Anglicanism, by Dr. Null, and it is very much worth reading. Here is an excerpt:
Why Should We Care about the English Reformation?
The two greatest issues facing Christianity in the West are (1) the Bible’s growing lack of authority in the Church, and (2) the lack of transformed lives among those who attend. The same two issues confronted English Christians in the early sixteenth century. The medieval catholic church had rejected the Gospel’s offer of free pardon, teaching instead its own system of rules so that a person, in effect, had to earn forgiveness, even if a person very much needed God’s help to accomplish that task. Yet, at the same time, so many people were failing to lead the holy lives necessary for salvation, especially the clergy and those in religious orders, that the Christian faith itself was being brought into disrepute daily.
The English Reformers confronted both issues head-on, because they realized that that both were intrinsically linked. The unbiblical teaching of the medieval church had led Christians to lead inauthentic human lives. Only loving God more would give people the power to say no to sin, but only the preaching of God’s unconditional love made known in salvation could birth in people that kind of transforming love. By teaching people that they had to earn God’s love by first being good enough, the medieval catholic church had actually cut people off from the only source that could change them from the inside out. The Reformers, however, recovered Paul’s teaching on justification, that God justified the wicked (Rom. 4:5) through faith in the promise of unconditional pardon because of the cross of Christ. The English reformers taught justification by faith because only gratitude for the free gift of salvation would birth in Christians a love for God and a godly life.
This should make you want to read the whole post!
This is something of a timely interview, because in this session, Eric Metaxas is interviewing Ashley McGuire about her new book: Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female. I will note that Michelle Malkin wrote this about the book:
Human biology is under siege—at the workplace, on the playing field, in classrooms and bathrooms, and even in our dictionaries! In this ground-breaking and meticulously researched book, Ashley McGuire plunges into every front of the progressives’ war on the sexes. She rips the lid off the Left’s obliteration of the fundamental differences between men and women. She exposes the profound havoc militant feminists and gender-bending crusaders are causing in our schools and culture. Sex Scandal searingly documents how the radical pursuit of ‘gender neutrality’ threatens true equality for all. McGuire’s work is both an invaluable resource and a brave public service.
From the good people of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom, here is a sermon by the Rev. Jon Teasdale – the fourth in a series on 1 Timothy, and titled “Living Holy Lives.” Here, Rev. Teasdale preaches on 1 Timothy 2:8-15, opening up one of the most controversial passages in the Bible, and men and women’s differences within a church context.
I thought I would post this photograph of a rather amazing sunrise, taken in a suburb of Birmingham on January 19th. The camera used is a not-so-good one on a cell phone, but somehow the sunrise did show up quite well.
Again from Faith and Life, here is an excerpt from Augustine of Hippo on the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20).
We may apply the parable to this life of ours. For they are, as it were, called at the first hour, who, when fresh from their mother’s womb, begin to be Christians; those, as it were, at the third hour, who begin as boys; those, as it were, at the sixth, who begin as young men; those, as it were, at the ninth, who begin when verging towards old age; those, as it were, at the eleventh, who begin when actually in the decay of life; but all, with the prospect of receiving the one denarius of life eternal. But attend and understand, my brethren; let no one delay to come to the vineyard, on the ground that he is confident of receiving the denarius whenever he does come. He has reason to be confident that the denarius is promised to him; but he is not told to delay. Did those who were hired for the vineyard, when the householder went out to them to hire those whom he found at the third hour, say to him, “Wait, we are not going thither until the sixth?” Do thou come when thou art called. For to all an equal pay is promised; but as to the actual hour of working there is great uncertainty. If young men, when called, were to say, “Wait, for we have heard in the Gospel that all will receive one reward; when we are old, we will come at the eleventh hour; as we shall receive just as much, why should we work so much more!” the answer would be, “Do not you choose to work, you who know not whether you will live to the seventh hour? You are called at the sixth hour; come. The householder has indeed promised you a denarius if you come even at the eleventh hour; but no one has promised that you shall live even to the seventh. Why then do you put off Him who calls you, when you are certain of the pay, uncertain of a day? Take heed lest, when He will give you the pay by promise, you rob yourself of it by putting off.”
–St. Augustine, Sermon lxxxvii.
Indeed, we should come to the Lord when the Holy Spirit prompts us – else we may not come at all.
Again from Faith and Life, here is an excerpt from John Chrysostom on the dangers of reprobation, where he is quoting the Epistle for the day – 1 Corinthians 9:24ff – and addresses the fact that the Apostle Paul himself thought about this:
IF one so great as Paul, who traversed the whole world as it were on wings, and became superior to corporeal needs, and was thought worthy to hear those “unspeakable words” which no other man has heard up to this day, could write, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway;” if, I say, he, who was deemed worthy of so much grace, after so many and such eminent good works needed to keep under and subjugate the unruliness of the body, and subject it to the authority of the soul, and to the excellence thereof (for a man keeps under what rises up against him, and brings into subjection what is restive), what must we say, who are devoid of all virtues, who are burdened with a load of sins, and, in addition, exhibit a great degree of indolence? For does this war admit of any truce? has it any fixed time for joining battle? We must be always wakeful and on the look-out, and never deem ourselves secure; for there is no set time for the onset of him who is at war with us and is ready to attack us. Let us therefore be always thoughtful, always anxious about our salvation; that so we too ourselves may be able to remain unconquered, and, having escaped the devices framed by the enemy, be counted worthy of the loving-kindness coming from God, through the grace and compassions of His Only-begotten Son.
–St. Chrysostom,Homily xa. on Genesis.
Let us never forget that the Christian life is a fight.