Category Archives: perseverance
In recent weeks the evangelical world has found itself reeling from cultural setbacks it once took for granted. The re-election of President Obama, state passage of “gay marriage” initiatives, the uninviting of Louie Gigglio to the Inauguration, and even last night’s Super Bowl have signaled to some that Christians and Christianity have lost their welcome place in the public square. For the first time, some evangelical conservatives feel like an oppressed minority in the country.
As I’ve watched the chatter mixed with laments and jeremiads, I couldn’t help but think of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” founded in the late 70′s and defunct by the late 80′s. For nearly a decade, the Moral Majority exercised its political voice largely in southern states.
It seems to me that the very notion of a “moral majority” rested on two assumptions that some evangelicals no longer find tenable. First, it assumed the basic morality of most of the country. It assumed basic “Judeo-Christian principles” shaped and framed the moral reasoning of the average citizen, making your “average Joe” basically friendly to the aims and concerns of conservative Christians. Second, it assumed privilege. The very notion of “majority” suggests strength in numbers, a perch from which to rule for no other reason than outnumbering one’s opponents. The last couple months have upturned both of those long-standing assumptions and some evangelicals find themselves at a loss for how to handle it, claiming to be “persecuted,” “rejected,” and “shut out” from the public square. Many who …
The Bible frequently likens the Christian life to a race. The Christian is a runner in a test, not of speed, but of endurance or perseverance. It’s a helpful metaphor for understanding the life we’re called to live in Christ.
Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday’s The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance offers a good examination of perseverance and the race metaphor used in the Bible. The opening paragraph of chapter one succinctly outlines the race:
“God calls us to this race.”
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
“We train for this race.”
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
“Our training entails strict self-control.”
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Cor. 9:25).
“Anyone who runs this race must compete according to the rules.”
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules (2 Tim. 2:5).
“There is a prize to be won.”
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (1 Cor. 9:24).
“Anyone who seeks to win the prize must run with singular devotion, with one’s eyes set on the prize who is Jesus Christ.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by …
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go witht he multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:1-5)
The longing, thirsting, downcast, empty, ridiculed psalmist ranks among the most powerful men. In his brokenness, he poses more danger to the enemy’s kingdom than the joyful, full, praised, and satisfied saint ever did. The gates of hell shake in terror with every movement of this weak and broken man’s shuffling feet. He feels himself to be in an arid land, but rivers of living water lie just before him. How does one thirsting and panting for God effect so much trouble for Satan?
Chief demon Wormwood explains:
To decide what the best use of [the Christian's spiritual dryness and dullness] is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to …
God Does Not Justify Sinners by Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone to Make Salvation Easy for Us
It seems that’s how we preachers and Christians often think, talk, and feel about God’s grace in salvation.
We sometimes seem to be saying to sinners, “You see, God has made it easy for you. Just believe.”
Or, “It’s not what you do. Christ has done it for you. Just repent and accept Christ.”
Fair enough. True enough. But that’s not all. And when that sentiment sounds easy to us, we’re left befuddled and bedraggled by the many hard places and thorny challenges of following Jesus. When it gets hard, we ask, “What’s happening?” And what we’re really saying is “I thought grace made this Christian thing easy.”
We can intimate that salvation through Christ is easy. But it’s not. It was neither easily purchased for us, nor is it easily obtained, nor is it easily kept.
The Purchase. Christ purchased our salvation with His own blood. The agony of Gethsemane was eclipsed by great groanings of Golgotha. The pleadings in the garden gave way to the great cries of the cross. Our salvation comes at infinite cost to the Son of God. He suffered holy wrath against the sins of the entire world. It was not easily purchased.
Obtaining. Nor is it easily obtained. Does not the Lord himself say straight and narrow is the way and there are few who find it? Camels go through the eye of a needle more easily than rich men enter the kingdom of God. There is taking up …
Last Sunday, we began a new series called Shepherd’s Notes. In this series, I’m posting short videos from The Gospel Coalition featuring Coalition members answering a question of pastoral and theological importance. Last week, we posted a video from Lig’ Duncan discussing how a busy pastor celebrates the Lord’s Day.
This morning, Gary Inrig takes up the troublesome question, “What if I doubt my salvation?” Gary is a gentle soul and Senior Pastor of Trinity Church in Redlands, California.
David Murray over at TGC blog has a nice outline of John Owen’s thoughts on dealing with apostasy. Apostasy is always a painful and bewildering experience for believers. These several themes are a good spine for fleshing out the Bible’s teaching for our people.
Each of the four gospel writers record that faithful night when the apostle Peter denied our Lord with three statements of increasing rejection. They tell us of Peter’s bitter weeping when he realized that Jesus correctly predicted his denials before the rooster crowed. But Luke includes a profound little detail.
Luke 22:61 says that just as Peter was denying Jesus for the third time and the rooster crowed, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him….”
That look must have killed Peter a thousand ways! When the Lord looks at us in our sin and rejection we can’t help but be stricken with grief. And the truth is, the Lord sees us all the time in our various faults, sins, denials, and rejections.
But what was this look. What did Peter see in Jesus’ eyes? Did the look say, “I told you so”? I don’t think Jesus was gloating over Peter’s failure.
Did Jesus look at Peter with eyes of fire, angry. I don’t think so. Jesus will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoking candle.
Did the look say, “How could you?” I don’t think the look communicated personal hurt. Jesus did not come to burden us with guilt, but to take it away.
I think the look was pure and holy love… which we cannot bear to see in our sin. In our self-righteousness, we could understand—even want—anger or disappointment or hurt or even an “I told …
“But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.” (Matt. 26:35)
“Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:74-75)
It is far better to pray for our hearts than to boast or trust in our hearts.
Our hearts do not deserve our confidence, Jesus does.
Our hearts will not keep us from falling away. Only Jesus will.
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Heb. 3:12-14).
“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).
It is entirely possible to be among the brethren and have a sinful, unbelieving heart. Judas did. Judas’ hands mingled in the bowl with the hand of God the Son, but his heart belonged to the enemies of Christ who bought his betrayal for 30 pieces of silver. The fact that all the disciples asked in turn, “Surely, not I Lord?” reveals the uncertainty they had about their own hears. As the songwriter puts it: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
What a desperately wicked and deceitful and frail thing is the human heart. And by degrees, subtly and unnoticed, the heart may become unbelieving. It may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. So much so that some who seemed to begin with Christ may finish without Him.
The antidote: “continue in him,” that is, Christ.
The practical application: “Encourage one another daily.”
The encroachment and deceit of sin is so steady and unrelentless, we need …