Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On The Humility of Tomorrow

For a practical application of James 4:13-17 note Luke's record of Paul's words:
"But taking leave of them and saying, 'I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus."
- Acts 18:21

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Humble Orthodoxy And True Orthopraxy

St. Augustine notes:

"That the Platonists, though knowing something of the Creator of the universe, have misunderstood the true worship of God, by giving divine honor to angels, good or bad: this being so, if the Platonists, or those who think with them, knowing God, glorified Him as God and gave thanks, if they did not become vain in their own thoughts, if they did not originate or yield to the popular errors, they would certainly acknowledge that neither could the blessed immortals retain, nor we miserable mortals reach, a happy condition without worshipping the one God of gods, who is both theirs and ours.

To Him we owe the service which is called in Greek Latreia (adoration), whether we render it outwardly or inwardly; for we are all His temple, each of us severally and all of us together, because He condescends to inhabit each individually and the whole harmonious body, being no greater in all than in each, since He is neither expanded nor divided.

Our heart when it rises to Him is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His Only-begotten; we sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend for His truth even unto blood; to Him we offer the sweetest incense when we come before Him burning with holy and pious love; to Him we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning love.

It is that we may see Him, so far as He can be seen; it is that we may cleave to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of sins and evil passions, and are consecrated in His name. For He is the fountain of our happiness, He the end of all our desires. Being attached to Him, or rather let me say, re-attached for we had detached ourselves and lost hold of Him; Being, I say, re-attached to Him, we tend towards Him by love, that we may rest in Him, and find our blessedness by attaining that end.

For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God. It is, if I may say as, by spiritually embracing Him that the intellectual soul is filled and impregnated with true virtues. We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. To this good we ought to be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love.

Thus are fulfilled those two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul;' and 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Matt. 28:37-40). For, that man might be intelligent in his self-love, there was appointed for him an end to which he might refer all his actions, that he might be blessed. For who loves himself wishes nothing else than this. And the end set before him is 'to draw near to God' (Ps. 123:28). And so, when one who has this intelligent self-love is commanded to love his neighbor as himself, what else is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him the love of God?

This is the worship of God, this is true religion, this is right piety, this the service due to God only. If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness. If he does not worship God, he is wretched, because deprived of God; if he worships God, he cannot wish to be worshipped in God's stead. On the contrary, these higher powers acquiesce heartily in the divine sentence in which it is written, 'He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed' (Ex. 22:20)."

- St. Augustin, The City of God, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. II ed. Philip Shaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), X: 3.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On Responsibility

In a word:
"Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"
 - Genesis 3:9

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Others' Opinions of Christians

Piper argues in light of the tension between Galatians 1:10 (cf., 1Thessalonians 2:4) and 2Corinthians 8:20f (cf., 1Timothy 3:7, 1Peter 2:12) that:
"with Paul, we do care -really care- about what others think of Christ. Their salvation hangs on what they think of Christ. And our lives are to display His truth and beauty. So we must care about what others think of us as representatives of Christ. Love demands it. But we ought not to care much what others think of us for our own sake. But] notice a crucial distinction: the litmus test of our faith displaying the truth and beauty of Christ in our lives is not in the opinion of others. We want them to see Christ in us and love Him (and thus, very incidentally, approve of us). When John the Baptist said, 'He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), he spoke for every true Christian. We must insist on being less than Christ. I am vigilant, as far as it depends on me, to be less than Christ to others."

- John Piper, Life As A Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations For Your Faith (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2004).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On God's Sovereignty Over Moral Evil

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to held in its power."
- Acts 2:22ff

Monday, May 4, 2009

On Returning to Ministry

Aside from speaking engagements and an interim for a few months, it's been two years since I have done official ministry in the church; is it time to return to ministry? This is my prayer:
"God help me."