God Saves Sinners

God: the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.

Saves: does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.

Sinners: men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners, and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour.

J.I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen (London: Banner of Truth, 1959) 4-5.

The appointed time

James Dunn

The death of Christ is envisaged as forming a pivotal point in history with God’s righteousness demonstrated there having effect for both the past and the future. kairos here denotes not just a moment in time or the passage of time, but time pregnant with significance—the appointed time, the time of opportunity, whose decisions and actions will determine the future.

James D. G. Dunn on Romans 3:26, Romans 1, WBC (1988), p. 174

“To what end does he bother to speak to us?”

JI Packer

The truly staggering answer which the Bible gives to this question is that God’s purpose in revelation is to make friends with us. It was to this end that He created us rational beings, bearing his image, able to think and hear and speak and love; He wanted there to be genuine personal affection and friendship, two-sided, between himself and us—a relation, not like that between a man and his dog, but like that of a father to his son, or a husband to his wife. Loving friendship between two persons has no ulterior motive; it is an end in itself. And this is God’s end in revelation.  

— J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken, 50

The most significant means to the most significant end

Someone asked me recently, after learning I was a Bible teacher, if I was a God-worshiper or a Bible-worshipper. The question didn’t come as a complete surprise. When you spend as much time as I do asking people to care about knowing their Bibles, someone is bound to ask if you have lost sight of the forest for the trees. My answer was simple: I want to be conformed to the image of God. How can I become conformed to an image that I never behold? I am not a Bible-worshipper, but I cannot truly be a God-worshipper without loving the Bible deeply and reverently. Otherwise, I worship an unknown god.

Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word, p. 147

How Patience Promotes Learning

Jen Wilkin

We love “aha” moments—those moments when something that has confused us suddenly makes sense. What we sometimes overlook about “aha moments” is that they occur after a significant period of feeling lost. Could it be that those periods of feeling lost were actually preparing us for the understanding that was eventually going to come? Could it be that feeling lost is one way God humbles us when we come to his Word, knowing that in due time he will exalt our understanding?

—Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word, p. 78–79

What Science Can’t Do

A couple great testimonies by men at the top of their respective scientific fields who also happen to believe in things like bodily resurrection.

Ian Hutchinson, professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT:

“We really believe in the bodily resurrection of the first century Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth. My Christian colleagues at MIT – and millions of other scientists worldwide – somehow think that a literal miracle like the resurrection of Jesus is possible.”

Chris D’Souza, aerospace engineer at NASA:

“As a Christian, I know I’m a fallen human being but that there is grace in the midst of my sin. If I say something in a meeting I shouldn’t have said, I go to the person and ask for forgiveness, knowing that mercy is ultimately offered at the cross.”

To some, it may seem like a complete contradiction in terms to be both a Christian and a scientist, but these men seem to have no problem with it. Hutchinson points out one reason:

“Today’s widespread materialist view that events contrary to the laws of science just can’t happen is a metaphysical doctrine, not a scientific fact. What’s more, the doctrine that the laws of nature are “inviolable” is not necessary for science to function. Science offers natural explanations of natural events. It has no power or need to assert that only natural events happen.”

Can Christianity be reasonable? Can it be rational? If there’s a chance that a man really did defeat death, then it just might be worth checking out.

Stories are for putting darkness in its place

Overwhelmingly, in my own family and far beyond, the stories that land with the greatest impact are those where darkness, loss, and danger (emotional or physical) is a reality. But the goal isn’t to steer kids into stories of darkness and violence because those are the stories that grip readers. The goal is to put the darkness in its place.

— N.D. Wilson, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/04/why-i-write-scary-stories-for-children/478977

“The wages of smug is Trump.”

The smug style, at bottom, is a failure of empathy. Further: It is a failure to believe that empathy has any value at all. It is the notion that anybody worthy of liberal time and attention and respect must capitulate, immediately, to the Good Facts.

If they don’t (and they won’t, no matter how much of your Facts you make them consume), you’re free to write them off and mock them. When they suffer, it’s their just desserts.

Make no mistake: I am not suggesting that liberals adopt a fuzzy, gentler version of their politics. I am not suggesting they compromise their issues for the sake of playing nice. What I am suggesting is that they consider how the issues they actually fight for have drifted away from their egalitarian intentions.

I am suggesting that they notice how hating and ridiculing the people they say they want to help has led them to stop helping those people, too.

I am suggesting that in the case of a Kim Davis, liberalism resist the impulse to go beyond the necessary legal fight and explicitly delight in punishing an old foe.

I am suggesting that they instead wonder what it might be like to have little left but one’s values; to wake up one day to find your whole moral order destroyed; to look around and see the representatives of a new order call you a stupid, hypocritical hick without bothering, even, to wonder how your corner of your poor state found itself so alienated from them in the first place. To work with people who do not share their values or their tastes, who do not live where they live or like what they like or know their Good Facts or their jokes.

— Emmett Rensin, http://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism

This is what needs to change for there ever to be hope of slowing the perpetually widening chasm that exists between the two parties. The needless caricatures, regardless of how “plain the facts are”, drive people into the angry arms of revolution.

Yes, keep the parody. Keep the satire. But when your only “trusted” news sources are The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight, and Saturday Night Live, you’ve left no room for understanding real people’s anger, only the media’s mockery of an easy target.

It is maddening to be asked to choose a side that only seems to have the ability to show compassion to a select group of individuals.