Monthly Archives: November 2012

 

Nov

29

2012

Jared C. Wilson|10:01 am CT

Because None of God’s Doctrines Are At Odds with God’s Purposes

“There can be nothing in the Bible adverse to the salvation of a sinner. The doctrine of predestination is a revealed doctrine of the  Bible; therefore predestination cannot be opposed to the salvation of the sinner.”

– Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts

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Nov

28

2012

Jared C. Wilson|12:00 pm CT

At Last

These are real photos of grooms seeing their brides for the first time on their wedding day:

I officiated my brother Jeremy’s wedding to his darling Danielle earlier this year, and I got choked up standing there as I watched him get choked up taking in the beatific vision of his bride appearing at the end of the aisle, her father at her side, about to take the steps to give her away. It immediately took me back to that June day sixteen years ago when I saw Becky appear in her bridal gown. Seeing her again in that moment was seeing her for the first time.

You can’t recapture that moment, of course, but you can. The dad’s advice to his son in Proverbs 5:18-19 seems to assume so. Sometimes I look at my wife all these years later — quite often, actually, and I promise I’m not trying to brag, because it honestly says more about her than about me — and think “Good Lord, how did this beautiful person get made? And how did she wind up in the closest proximity to me possible?” Right before I got married, as I talked to my own dad about marriage, I made a joke, saying, “Well, what if I fall out of love?” And my dad quipped right back, “Then you fall right back in.” Falling out of love with my wife has not been easy, by God’s grace and her loveliness, and being intoxicated with her love has. But it was still good advice.

And there is an echo here and also a foretaste. I see these photos, think of my wedding day, the wedding days of others, the desire and imperative to be intoxicated for all time (for better or worse, in richness and in poorness, in sickness and in health, til death do us part) and I see an echo of Adam laying eyes on Eve for the first time:

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
(Genesis 2:23)

The first song ever sung (by man, anyway) is a love song. Smitten by the vision of his bride for the first time, music erupts from his mouth. And there is the foretaste in this moment and every groom spotting his bride in her virginal white, as the bridal march whips up, all the stops out, of Christ the Bridegroom presenting we his Bride to himself at the end of days. Dazzling in the reflection of his own glory, cloaked in the virgin white of his own righteousness given freely to us, the culmination of the lavishing of the riches of his own grace draws near. At last. And forever. For Christ and his Bride will have this moment of rapturous wedding joy for all eternity. The Lamb will receive the reward of his suffering, and of his love — the infinite worshipful devotion of his spotless bride.

[A]s the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
– Isaiah 62:5b

Sources for photos, in order: andrialindquistblog.com, sabado.pt, featherandstone.com.au, denisebovee.net, blog.thebecker.com, jpweddingphoto.com, greenweddingshoes.com, msbridalguru.com, michellenewellphotography.com, stylemepretty.com, greenweddingshoes.com, joielala.com

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Nov

28

2012

Jared C. Wilson|10:09 am CT

Come and Rest — It is Finished

This is a photo of Shiite Muslims in New Delhi, India flagellating themselves in honor of the grandson of Mohammad. As I study this image, I experience a mixture of feelings and convictions.

Resonance — I understand deep in my bones the essence of this impulse. The inclination to self-abasement as justification is embedded in each one of us. These men have the courage to indulge it, to take it seriously enough to harm themselves as some form of propitiation. They know a gap between themselves and holiness must be bridged.

Fear — Because of the resonance, I am fearful. For them and of myself. It is not really humility that drives self-justification but pride, and pride is not something to be indulged, even if on the surface it appears to be assaulted.

Pity — I feel sorry for them for not knowing the gospel, or for having rejected it. I pity them for believing the bridge can be built by their own blood. I pity them for thinking they must beat themselves up to be righteous.

Gratitude — I am so very thankful for Christ and his gospel. Christ is my righteousness because he — the sinless Man — took the stripes I deserve. Which means I don’t have to take them any more. I don’t have to beat myself up to honor him. By self-flagellation, literal or metaphorical, will no man be justified. I am thankful that Christ bore my sins to kill them and leave them dead, and therefore the burden he holds out is easy, the yoke he fits to my neck is light. He bids me come and rest because the bloody work of justification is finished.

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Nov

28

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:51 am CT

The Apostles’ Creed as Doxology

I’ve begun a new series through the Apostles’ Creed for Christianity.com. You can read the first entry here.
A taste:

It’s possible that we have become so familiar with the creed that we’ve become blind to some of its unique qualities. First, notice that the creed is not merely a catalog of doctrines but is phrased as a confession. “We believe” it urges us to say. Sincere recitation of the creed requires faith in the God who has accomplished these great things and belief that these great things were accomplished. In this way, the Apostles’ Creed is not just theology, but doxology, and as it is so often included in the liturgy of Christian worship services, it is meant to be recited together, as a body of believers, as an act of worship.

The Apostles’ Creed is not simply textbook theology; it is hymnbook theology! It is the song of a liberated heart, similar to the biblical confessions and doxologies, the eruption of personal confession that is faithful profession. The creed is a confession in the truest sense of the word: Christians confess with the creed that these are things they must believe to be saved.

Read the whole thing.

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Nov

27

2012

Jared C. Wilson|1:58 pm CT

6 Questions Worship Service Planners Should Ask

I think some of the silliness passing for “worship service” in many evangelical churches could be solved by those in the planning stages asking better questions, which is to say, more first principle, self-reflective questions. I have some suggestions, naturally. Of course, these aren’t the only questions worth asking, but I think they provide some good guardrails for those involved in the entire liturgy of a worship gathering, from sermon prep to music selection to sacrament to announcements and all the other nuts and bolts of a service.

1. Is there support for this service element in the Scriptures?
Even if you’re not a regulative principle church, this is a non-negotiable.

2. Is this element comprehensible to outsiders?
Total understanding of every element is not possible, of course, and spiritual acceptance isn’t possible for those outside the faith, but unbelievers and other visitors should be able to discern what you’re doing, even if they don’t know why you’re doing it.

3. Is this element edifying to believers?
Not simply: Is this entertaining or amusing, or will this attract attention or provoke? But: Is this edifying? Is it conducive to the building up of the saints in Christ and God’s love?

4. Is this element offensive, alienating, or marginalizing to any section or subsection of the church body?
People scoff about music being too loud, but so often this is a legitimate concern for older folks. People may disregard music or sermons that are boring or boringly presented, but so often this is a legitimate concern for younger folks. You obviously can’t please everybody as it pertains to preferences, but our service elements should not be approached insensitively or with disregard for the reality of the body. In other words, we do not challenge the stylistic idolatries of one demographic by satisfying the stylistic idolatries of another. What serves? What ministers? What appropriately allows for participation in the service across the body of Christ? On that note:

5. Does this element exalt God or man?
Apply as needed to everything from sermon points to special music. It’s not about denigrating man, or not recognizing people for various achievements and the like. It is just a good question to ask as it pertains to the focus of a worship service. It could have come in handy in the planning stages of a worship service I once attended where a song about our being able to change the world with our own two hands was part of the worship set. It occurred to me then: “Wait– who am I worshiping right now?” And on that note:

6. Does this element adorn the gospel?
Is this element in service of the gospel or some other message or focus? Or, alternately, Does this element in the worship service make Jesus look big?

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Nov

26

2012

Jared C. Wilson|10:11 am CT

Pastoral Opening in New England

Southside Bible Fellowship, a church desiring greater gospel-centrality in Manchester, New Hampshire, is looking for a lead pastor. Check out the church blog for profiles of the ideal candidate and the church, as well as a downloadable application packet (upper right menu).

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Nov

07

2012

Jared C. Wilson|2:00 pm CT

What We Need Now (and Evermore)

If you, like me, believe last night’s election results constitute the sovereign chastening of God’s people in this nation for employing idolatry in opposition to the calling of evil good, you are, like me, poking under the hood this morning to diagnose “the problem.” I have already succumbed to the temptation to Wednesday morning quarterbacking. But it is both too soon and too late for that. If, like me, you are a pastor or otherwise a leader of God’s people in a church, we have an opportunity now to steel ourselves and renew our zeal to our primary responsibility.

Brothers, repent with me of the impulse to propagandize and prognosticate. Let’s feed the sheep. Let’s not go about our weekly sermon preparation and personal discipleship in sackcloth and ashes. Let’s get into the vineyard of God’s word, get some holy sweat worked up, whistling while we work, lifting our hearts in worship. Let’s get into the kitchen of study and prep and start putting together the banquet. And come Sunday let’s spread the feast out rich and sumptuous, beckoning our people to taste and see that the Lord is good. They don’t need our doomsdaying or dimbulbing. Still less do they need our shallow pick-me-ups and spitpolished legalism. Like our brother Wesley, let us set ourselves on fire with gospel truth that our church families might come watch us burn.

And when we gather Sunday with the saints, let us shepherd them to repentance and sincerity, reminding them of the holy God who welcomes them with sin-forgetting forgiveness. When we enter the worship gathering, let us not look back to the ruins lest we all become the wrong kind of salt. Let us look forward to the new Jerusalem, where our citizenship is secured even today and evermore. Let’s get our wits about us and take heart together, for our Lord has overcome the world. Yesterday, today, Sunday, and forever. Let us frighten the kings of the world and shake the kingdom of the devil with how resolute we are in abandoning ourselves to the mighty God.

Our churches don’t need our political laments. They need our deep, abiding, all-conquering, sin-despairing gospel joy. This and this alone is the hope of the world.

(This video version of Gungor’s “The Earth is Yours” is not the best quality in lead audio but I thought it was the best quality of the available versions in congregational singing audio and felt joy.)

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Nov

06

2012

Jared C. Wilson|12:00 pm CT

A Gospeled Man

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
– 1 Timothy 6:11-12

As I view what it means to be a man through the lens of this instruction from Paul to Timothy, I am reminded again of the holy activity of true masculinity (and true personhood, generally). Flee, pursue, fight, take hold. Paul is nothing if not verby. I am struck, though, by how often I fail at these things. I am busy about things that so often don’t matter and passive about things that do. I am lazy. I can’t be bothered. And when I look for where I ought to get the oomph of holy pursuit from, I see Paul couching the masculine imperatives in the masculine indicative: “O man of God.” If this is what I am, this is what I can do. Furthermore, I see the importance of “taking hold of the eternal life to which I was called” for the other actions.

The godly man is a gospeled man. He has seen who he is in Christ, he is moved by what God has done for him in Christ. If I don’t get this part, all the rest will just be a self-salvation project, an exercise in self-righteousness.

I need a better vision. I need a better vision than simply that of myself as a “manly man” going about some religious busywork. I need a vision of the conquering, saving, loving Savior who has done all these things for me and covers my failures at doing them myself.

If biblical manhood is about denying excuses and taking responsibility — and I think it is — I begin to think of all the excuses the God-Man could have made when it came to loving and saving me. He could have shaken his head and cataloged my list of deep unworthinesses:

Father, he’s so sinful. He’s always struggling with lust and he looks at pornography.
Father, he’s so lazy. He doesn’t deserve all this effort.
Father, he’s so unspiritual. He won’t even pick up the Word to read a few lines.
Father, he doesn’t treat his wife the way she ought to be treated.
Father, he’s not the kind of guy who could set the world on fire, is he?
Father, he’s so passive. He’s so timid. He’s such a coward
Father, he’s so prideful. He enjoys praise too much and he’s selfish.
Father, he’s short-tempered. He leaps to defend himself too much.
Father, he’s such a failure, a nobody, a loser. He’s a stuttering wimp, just like that girl in the 5th grade said he was. He is what he always feared his family thought he was. He doesn’t deserve a second glance like those bosses at his first job proved. He is what his critics say he is, worthy of scorn and derision and unworthy of forgiveness. He is what the Accuser says he is, only as good as what he has failed to do and deserving of eternal condemnation.

But with his atoning sacrifice Jesus doesn’t say any of those things about me. He says “Father, this man is your son and you’ve set your affections on him. So I am pleased to die for him.”

So I write this today not as a perfect man, but as a gospeled man, because I have taken hold of Christ having taken hold of me (Phil. 3:12). I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and now by God’s grace I am empowered to love well and serve well and husband well and daddy well and pastor well. And so can you, men of God, if you will but lay hold of it.

Take hold of this precious truth. The Son of God has set aside all the charges against you, all your sins and failings, and has taken them to the cross, killing them by dying with them, leaving them dead as he himself raises to new life — your new life, which is eternal and into which he is calling you.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
– Romans 8:1

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Nov

06

2012

Jared C. Wilson|8:52 am CT

An Election Day Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray for these things foremost:

That your kingdom will come, that your will be done in the United States as it is in heaven.

That you will in no ways remove blessings from our country but rather pour more out according to your will and in keeping with your mercy and holiness. We pray for justice for the indigent poor, the marginalized, the sick, the dispossessed, the oppressed, the unborn killed by abortions past, and the unborn endangered by the threat of abortions to come.

That you will keep your church unified in the gospel of your Son Jesus Christ and in the harmony of love and humility.

That you will keep us from idols, political or religious or otherwise, knowing that our permanent residency is the kingdom of heaven.

And that you will send your Spirit on a mission of Christian revival in this land, which is our only hope of salvation from sin and shame, and from leaders and lawgivers who cannot escape sin and shame nor deliver us from them.

In the authoritative name of Jesus I pray,
Amen

Elsewhere:
(Scotty’s prayer today is better.)

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Nov

06

2012

Jared C. Wilson|8:37 am CT

By Faith, By Faith, By Faith

The just shall live by faith.
– Hebrews 10:38

The experience of every believer is, in a limited degree, the experience of the great apostle of the Gentiles, the tip of whose soaring pinion we, who so much skim the earth’s surface, can scarcely touch — “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” “Like precious faith” with his dwells in the hearts of all the regenerate. Along this royal highway it is ordained of God that all His people should travel. It is the way their Lord traveled before them; it is the way they are to follow after Him. The first step they take out of the path of sense is into the path of faith.

And what a mighty grace do they find it, as they journey on! Do they live? it is by faith. Hebrews 10:38. Do they stand? it is by faith. Romans 11:20. Do they walk? it is by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7. Do they fight? it is by faith. 1 Timothy 6:12. Do they overcome? it is by faith. 1 John 5:4. Do they see what is invisible? it is by faith. Hebrews 6:27. Do they receive what is incredible? it is by faith. Romans 4:20. Do they achieve what is impossible? it is by faith. Mark 9:23.

Glorious achievements of faith! And, oh, how eminently is Jesus thus glorified in His saints!

– Octavius Winslow, taken from his Morning Thoughts, or Daily Walking With God

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