Friday, July 30, 2010

The logic of particular atonement

John Owen helps us understand that it would have been positively unjust for Christ's death on the cross to be for all people. How? By pointing out the following: It is only just for God to demand one death for a person's sins. Therefore, for the unbelievers who one day will die for their sins at the Judgment, Christ could not also have died for their sins. So, for whom did Jesus die? The elect - only those whom God causes to believe in Christ.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Power to say 'no' to self

Those of us who are Christians, it seems, are frequently looking for help in our fight against sin - and not just sin, but the sin of self-centeredness in particular. How transformed my relationships with my wife, my sons and my neighbors would be if I were less self-centered! Can you relate?

In the opening verses of Colossians, Paul gives us a powerful weapon in our fight against the sin of selfishness. Consider his logic in 1:3-5, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints -"

Stop right there. Paul is testifying to the supernatural and self-denying love the Colossian Christians had for each other. That's what you want. It's what I want. How do we get it? What was the Colossian's secret? Let's keep reading: "...because of the hope laid up for you in heaven." There it is. The key to the Colossian's selfless love for each other was a regular remembrance that soon they would be in heaven where all joy would be theirs for eternity. In heaven they knew they would have Christ in His fullness, THEREFORE they could afford to serve others rather than themselves, they could afford to spend their money on others rather than themselves, they could afford to help others pursue their dreams rather than use others to pursue their own dreams here and now because of the certain and eternal joy which waited for them in heaven. Their future impacted their present and robust relational sanctification was the result.

Do you want the power to say 'no' to yourself to the glory of God today? Remember the future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Save the date!

For a few months now we've been mentioning a church-wide retreat happening in the autumn. We want everyone at Trinity to attend, so here are the retreat's vital stats:

When: October 1-3 (Friday evening through Sunday morning)

Where: Camp of the Cross near Garrison

Prices will vary depending on your lodging choice. To get a feel for the choices, check out the camp website here. More details about cost for the camp, as well as scholarships available depending on need, will be forthcoming. Stay posted!

Why: Seasonally we all need a time away from our normal routine and activities in order to listen to God's Word, talk with other believers and think and pray deeply about what God is teaching us and how He's transforming us. A church-wide retreat can provide just such an opportunity to apply God's truth at a relationally deeper level. Specifically, I'll be leading us through Ed Welch's book Running Scared, helping us face our fears and discover how the gospel has the power to set us free from their tyranny. On top of that, the retreat will be just plain fun with games, hiking, camp-fires, great food and more.

Mark it down and make it a priority. Bring your family and bring a friend. You'll be glad you did!

For more information, contact Melody Baker, Sherry Ritchie or Renee Olson.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The cost of following Christ

How much does your Christianity cost you on a given day? If we're honest, most of us don't pay a lot for following Jesus because we're risking little for His name and glory. Those who best know the cost of following are those who face the greatest opposition from others. Consider the cost paid by one French Protestant as recounted by Eustache Knobelsdorf, a German student in Paris, who witnessed the following in 1542:

"I saw two [Protestants] burned [in Paris]. Their death inspired me in differing sentiments. If you had been there, you would have hoped for a less severe punishment for these poor unfortunates....The first was a very young man, not yet with a beard...he was the son of a cobbler. He was brought in front of the judges and condemned to have his tongue cut out and burned straight afterward. Without changing the expression of his face, the young man presented his tongue to the executioner's knife, sticking it out as far as he could. The executioner pulled it out even further with pincers, cut it off and hit the sufferer several times on the tongue and threw it in the young man's face. Then he was put into a tipcart, which was driven to the place of execution, but, to see him, one would think he was going to a feast....When the chain had been placed around his body, I could not describe to you with what equanamity of soul and with what expression in his features he endured the cries...and insults of the crowd that were directed toward him. He did not make a sound, but from time to time he spat out blood that was filling his mouth, and he lifted his eyes to heaven, as if he was waiting for some miraculous rescue. When his head was covered in sulphur, the executioner showed him the fire with a menacing air; but the young man, without being scared, let it be known, by a movement of his body, that he was giving himself up willingly to be burned."

- Calvin, Bruce Gordon, p. 192

Thankfully, we're not being led off by an executioner for our Christianity today. Still, following Jesus will cost if we're taking His commission to make war against our sin and bring in His Kingdom. What price are you paying for His glory today?