Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sanctification Mortifies the Ninny Whiner in Us

“Of one thing I feel very sure — it is nonsense to pretend to sanctification unless we follow after the meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness of which the Bible makes so much. People who are habitually giving way to peevish and cross tempers in daily life, and are constantly sharp with their tongues, and disagreeable to all around them — spiteful people, vindictive people, revengeful people, malicious people — of whom, alas, the world is only too full! — all such know little, as they should know, about sanctification” (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 29).

C. H. Spurgeon: A Parson Killer?

Charles Spurgeon gives this anecdote regarding the Pastor’s College, which was started in 1856, and by which hundreds of men were trained for the pastoral ministry.

Certain of our charitable neighbors accuse us of having “a parson manufactory” here, but the charge is not true at all. We never tried to make a minister, and should fail if we did; we receive none into the College but those who profess to be ministers already. It would be nearer the truth if they called me a parson killer, for a goodly number of beginners have received their quietus from me; and I have the fullest ease of conscience in reflecting upon what I have done so. It has always been a hard task for me to discourage a hopeful young brother who has applied for admission to the College. . . . when I have felt convinced that the Lord had not called him, I have been obliged to tell him so (Lectures to My Students, 33).

God’s Goodness: Story of My Life

Everyone has a story. If someone were to ask me to summarize the story of my life, which would entail narrating the key moments of that story, moments like when there was a change in the plot, or when something important was foreshadowed, then I think I would tell the story of my life like this.
Lord, You Are More Precious Than Silver

This memory is from when I was very, very young, so young that I wasn’t old enough yet to associate memories with age. Also, I know I was very young because I was still at that age when it was allowable to rest my head on my mother’s opened Bible laid upon her lap when the sermon started for church. In any case, I remember sitting in the pew with my parents in our rural United Methodist Church, and we were singing the hymn Lord, You Are More Precious Than Silver, and I remember the absolute electric charge that shot through my puny mind when I actually thought through the contrast depicted in the lyrics of the hymn: I thought about the words Lord, you are more precious than silver . . . more costly than gold . . . more beautiful than diamonds and I was electrified by 1) what it meant — the inexplicable value of God, and 2) the beauty of words. I can honestly say that in that moment I matured in my love and appreciation of God, and that I also fell in love with words (e.g. the word ‘diamonds’ sounds beautiful).
How Do You Like It?

I’m older now . . . either seven or eight years old. My dad is in the driveway washing our family car (I think it was an Oldsmobile 88 Station Wagon). I’m pretending to “help” dad, but what I was really doing was being a little brat — I kept spraying the dog with the hose, despite my father’s instructions not to. Then the unexpected happened: I was blindsided!!!! “Spritzs–Splashssss–Drip-Drip!!!” . . . O, the Carnage! I thought I had been hit with a fireman’s hose, but it was just my dad spraying me with our puny garden hose. And I will never forget what he said: “How do you like it? I told you to stop spraying the dog.”
I cried like a baby. Wait. Let’s qualify that. I cried like a brat. I was now a soaking wet kid, and a kid never wants to be soaking wet unless it is the precise moment that he has orchestrated it to be such, which for me was not that moment. However, I was also sad because I disobeyed my dad, and I knew that disobedience was a sin. I remember feeling so dejected because I was both soaking wet and a sinner.
Why Are You So Introverted?

Fast-forward to sixth grade. I’m with my mother in our white Aerostar van, parked in the gravel drive that ran alongside our Associate Pastor’s parsonage. He’s talking with my mother. I’m a shy kid just trying to become invisible because the pastor keeps asking me questions and the last thing any shy kid wants is to be asked a question, and then he drops a bomb on me and asks, “Why are you so introverted?”
Kaboom!!! I was shy and I loved to read and I loved words, but I didn’t know what the word introverted meant, so I asked him “What’s introverted mean?” He told me, and then he told me that I didn’t need to be “so” introverted . . . I don’t remember what he said verbatim, but the lasting impression was I realized that my introversion, to a certain degree, was antithetical to being an evangelical Christian, and that meant I needed to change. Like I said, it made a lasting impression, and I remember even going home and writing a poem about it. I don’t remember the entire poem, but I do remember the first line: Why are you so introverted? Always keeping to your self.

Give Me Jesus

Now I am a freshman in high-school. I’m in gym class, it’s a sunny and breezy afternoon, and we’re playing capture the flag dodge-ball on the practice football fields. The balls are lined up on the 50 yard line, teams are lined up on the opposite endzones, and the gym teacher whistled or said go and we all break into full-all-out sprints to the 50 yard line. When I was about 5 yards out I leap through the air for ball, but a peer from the opposite team baseball dives foot-and-knee first, and two of us collide. I’m instantly in pain. I stand up. I fall down and pass out. When I come to, the whole gym class is around me and I’ve started to go  into shock. The school calls an ambulance, they load me up on the gurney and shuttle me to the Emergency Room in Kokomo.
I had been hurt a lot in the past, I was somewhat use to pain. I played sports and grew up on a farm and wrecked bikes and jumped out of trees, and my older brother even shot me in the head once with a wooden dowel rod he was using as an arrow with our neighbors bow (I remember that really hurt), but pain came with that territory and I had a pretty high threshold . . . but this experience broke my pain paradigm. I distinctly remember sitting in the back of the ambulance thinking to myself, I’ve never felt pain like this before. Something is seriously wrong. This is so bad that whatever is causing it may kill me. So, I did what every young Christian teenager ought to do if they think they’re going to die: I sang to myself. I sang the hymn “Give Me Jesus” — When I come to die, give me Jesus.
At the Emergency Room I found out just how bad the accident had been: the Cat-Scan showed that I had lacerated my liver, so the doctors life-lined me to the hospital in Indianapolis. Obviously, I did not die.
Redemption: Accomplished and Applied
It was the Spring Semester of my senior year of college at Indiana Wesleyan University. That prior Fall I had become engaged, and now Julie and I were attending pre-marital counseling with her pastor. He had assigned mounds of books to read for pre-marital counseling, but in addition he also threw two books my way: John Murray’s Redemption: Accomplished and Applied and John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Both books shook me up. Both books were like dogs that grabbed me by the nape of my neck and rattled my brain until everything crooked in my brain was broken so that it might be rebuilt level and sound. Murray’s book, however, cast the first blow, and it was by far the most severe.
In the opening of the third chapter I read, “If we once allow the notion of human sanctification to intrude itself in our construction of justification or sanctification then we have polluted the river the streams whereof make glad the city of God. And the gravest perversion that it entails is that it robs the Redeemer of the glory of his once-for-all accomplishment” (51). If my conscious was a mirror, then inside my head it must of sounded like something had shattered and a river of glass was falling down. I was convicted to the core. That academic year I had been wrestling with predestination passages in the Gospel of John, so the Holy Spirit had been spending a couple months cultivating my heart with the words of John the Evangelist, but when I read those words by a different John that was when, as the saying goes, the scales fell off my eyes.
I was mortified and convicted by the realization that I by thinking I could contribute to my own salvation through my freedom of choice was in fact robbing my Redeemer Jesus Christ, as John Murray put it, “of the glory of his once-for-all accomplishment” of Atonement. Needless to say, I repented. I was terrified with the thought of not attributing all the glory to Jesus for my salvation. I have no idea why that didn’t occur to me earlier in life while I tried to ride the catamaran of Semi-Augustinianism. Needless to say, I signed on to the doctrine of Monergism.
May 27, 2006
Woot. Woot. I graduated from college and married my best friend, Julie Lynn. Julie was so beautiful. I cried like a baby when she walked down the aisle. We said our vows, kiss-kissed, and then at the reception we danced like Irish mad men to jigs and reels. We were so happy. I was so happy; I was finally the person God had created me to be — Julie’s husband.
Afterwards, we jumped into our black puddle-jumping Chevy Cavalier and headed south to our new home in Marion, Indiana. We then went and honeymooned in Nashville, where we slept in a lot, laughed a lot, ate a lot; we went to the Grand Ole Opry and Dukes of Hazard Museum, and I also accidentally bought an $80 surf-and-turf entrĂ©e at the local steakhouse — Ouch! But you know what took the edge off of that sting? The Resort we were staying at brought in entertainers, and I was lucky enough to be asked to sing part of a chorus along with Joanne Cash (Johnny Cash’s sister): We had popcorn and peanuts, Cotton and Jesus!
And Now You Know the Rest of the Story
And the past seven years have been a whirlwind experience of God’s goodness: falling in love more and more and more and more with my bride, sensing the call to pastoral ministry, blessed with two children while preparing for the call to ministry, accepting the call to ministry, packing everything into boxes and moving to the land of the Big Sky . . . a summary of the story of my life.

Conformity to the Image of Jesus

“The selfish Christian professor, who wraps himself up in his own conceit of superior knowledge, and seems to care nothing whether others sink or swim, go to heaven or hell, so long as he walks to church or chapel in his Sunday best, and is called a “sound member” — such a man knows nothing of sanctification. He may think himself a saint on earth, but he will not be a saint in heaven. Christ will never be found the Saviour of those who know nothing of following His example. Saving faith and real converting grace will always produce some conformity to the image of Jesus (Coloss. iii. 10.)” (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 28).

“Shaping the Cadences of Your Mind”

“Anyone who wants to write in the English language needs to focus on the canon of Scripture Read, reread, and reread again. This is of course something that all Christians should do, but it is also something every writer should do. For shaping the cadences of your mind, there is nothing like the Authorized Version [KJV]” (Douglas Wilson, Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life, 43).

The Capacity for Dissent

“What we need in this day is precisely what God has supplied his church in every age, what Stanley Hauerwas has called “the capacity for dissent.” It’s the capacity to resist the attractive but destructive narratives at hand because “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God ” (Col. 3:3). We know the great periods in which the Holy Spirit empowered a fresh proclamation of Christ by the people’s marked capacity for dissent. At the heart of that capacity is the overwhelming power of the Christian story to transform the story of our life [emphasis CCS]. This alone renders the dominant alternatives not simply wrong but uncompelling by comparison” (Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, 51).

Free PDF: Counted Righteous in Christ by John Piper

The following testimonial can be found on the back jacket of John Piper’s Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness? (Crossway Books, 2002).

This is certainly the most solid defense of the imputed righteousness of Christ since the work of John Murray fifty years ago. I’m delighted that Dr. Piper has established that important doctrine, not as a mere article from the confessional tradition, but on the solid foundation of God’s Word. — John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

Quite the endorsement, that. Know what’s even better? John Piper’s book is available for free in PDF form through Desiring God Ministries. Enjoy!

“I defy anyone to read St. Paul’s writings carefully . . .”

“The common idea of many persons that St. Paul’s writings are full of nothing but doctrinal statements and controversial subjects — justification, election, predestination, prophecy, and the like — is an entire delusion, and a melancholy proof of the ignorance of Scripture which prevails in these latter days. I defy anyone to read St. Paul’s writings carefully without finding in them a large quantity of plain, practical directions about the Christian’s duty in every relation of life, and about our daily habits, temper, and behavior to one another. These directions were written down by the inspiration of God for the perpetual guidance of professing Christians. He who does not attend to them may possibly pass muster as a member of a church or a chapel, but he certainly is not what the Bible calls a ‘sanctified’ man” (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 28).