Thursday, January 31, 2008

Salvation to Gentiles?!?!?!

How about a short little post before dinner eh?

"11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
-Ephesians 2:11-13

Alright, to use the words of my good friend Todd Blackhurst, "When you see a Therefore, we need to ask ourselves 'what's it there for' " haha
Remember what Paul has just told us; He has just made written one of the most clear, all-encompassing statements about salvation in the entire scriptures in Ephesians 2:8-10. Paul conveys to us our depravity, the richness of God's Grace, and closes the passage by giving all Glory of Salvation to God.

It's important when you read a passage, to consider bother the time period and to whom the author is writing. In this case, we must consider that the idea of Salvation to a Gentile is new. Could you imajine being in the church at Ephesus and reading the scriptures all about God's chosen people, "Israel" and thinking....woah, thats...not me! Paul is making the distinction here, about the new Covenant. The Covenant of Christ.
Look at Verse 13

-"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

Things are different! God hasn't changed, the means of salvation hasn't changed (by Grace, through Faith), but now, the Ephesians (who were at one time excluded from the saving Grace of God) may be drawn by God into Salvation. The Old Testiment reverence and importance of Circumsision has been chinged to one of the heart! Lets look at Romans 2:28-29

"28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."

and at Colossians 2:11

"11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,"

Christ, through his blood has drawn the nations to himself! Isn't redemptive history cool?
Calvin sums up verse 13 better than I could:

"But now in Christ Jesus. We must either supply the verb, now that ye have been received in Christ Jesus, or connect the word now with the conclusion of the verse, now through the blood of Christ, — which will be a still clearer exposition. In either case, the meaning is, that the Ephesians, who were far off from God and from salvation, had been reconciled to God through Christ, and made nigh by his blood; for the blood of Christ has taken away the enmity which existed between them and God, and from being enemies hath made them sons."

God has done an amazing thing by sending his son for us! He starts the chapeter by describing God's amazing Grace in our salvation, then demonstrates the power of Christs blood his calling of Gentiles! Praise be to him for his grace to the nations!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Worship and praise

Picking up on some thoughts from last time, I'd like to explore some of the developing situations I see in current "worship music" trends - both for good and for ill.

First and foremost, I think it's important to note that worship and praise are not synonymous in their usages in Scripture, however much they have become interchangeable in evangelical circles. Even in the dictionary, the definitions differ in important ways.
Worship: reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred. (

1. the act of expressing approval or admiration; commendation; laudation.
2. the offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship. (

Looking at the approach through Scripture, we note a distinction between praise and worship that complements these definitions. Worship is a heart attitude of reverence and awe directed toward God. It is frequently accompanied in Scripture by bowing of the head or body. Praise, by contrast, is verbal proclamation of the glorious attributes of God. What we frequently call "worship music" is more accurately called "praise music," and worship itself is a practice all too frequently neglected. (Remedying that is something I plan to address in a future post.)

Our praise music today is a subject of considerable controversy throughout evangelical circles (and the more so when one is on the edge of evangelicalism, as in the case of "low liturgical" churches). Older members of the congregation tend to prefer older styles of music, some even to the point of rejecting any that includes a guitar. On the other end of the spectrum are those - usually younger - who want little to do with hymns or organs and prefer their music louder and with a stronger rock sound. Some churches have dealt with the situation by splitting their services, others by attempting to incorporate both styles into the equation. Ultimately, both camps need to compromise and meet each other in the middle, realizing that God is far less concerned with style - which has varied drastically over the ages - than He is with our hearts: whether our praise is delivered with an attitude of worship.

Far more important than style is the content of our songs. If I have noticed one particular problem with the songs being written and sung in popular Christian praise music today, it is this: that there are far too many songs written about us and far too few written about God. Over and over again, I have seen songs that had immense potential to glorify God, and turned instead to focus on our feelings, our desires, even our response to God. But our feelings, desires, and even response to God are not the point of praise: exclaiming the greatness of God is. To be certain, there is a place for calling out our own feelings in song before God - the psalmists did so frequently. Ultimately, however, even those declamations must turn to true praise. Over and over in the psalms, an author will proclaim the injustices done to him, the travails of his heart, and so on: but always they conclude with the glories and greatness of God, not with their own feelings. Unfortunately, even songs that by and large are God-centric have a bad tendency to turn back to us at the end. This self-centeredness and egoism are immensely detrimental to our praise and inhibit us from truly worshiping even outside the context of praise. I sincerely hope (and I believe it is and will continue to happen) that songwriters will increasingly focus on God and not on man. Insofar as we are a partial focus of the songs, it ought to be such that our hearts in the end are turned back to God. Not all worship occurs in the context of praise, but all praise ought to be worshipful - and so we must be careful who we are worshiping: ourselves, or God.

Nonetheless, it is worth being attentive to style as well as content. Worship must be reverent, filled with awe of God. If we wish our praise to be worshipful - as it ought to be - then we must be careful in how we write the music with which we are praising Him. While I do not believe that the classic hymns are all perfect, they are often more reverent in lyrical content than our new praise music, and as such are worth preserving and relishing. There are several reasons for this: first, all hymns once had to be approved by a committee of theologians before inclusion in the hymnal, at least hypothetically assuring their theological conformity to Scripture; and second, the hymns we regularly sing today are those that have survived the test of time.

Stylistically, I think hymns may also more readily lend themselves to attitudes of reverence and awe in our times of praise. Note: I do not believe that the melodic and harmonic content is inherently more reverent (to the contrary, in some cases! - some of our greatest hymns were intentionally set to bar songs' melodies to catch people's ears). However, in our cultural context, they have a grander sound to them, and a sense of age and majesty associated with them that often helps our minds shift into a more reverential mode. I do not think that a rock band is by dint of character necessarily less reverent than a choir and organ: but the latter may have a power to suggest reverence in our minds more readily than the former, and that is no triviality.

(Tangentially related is another concern: that for many "worship bands," playing in front of the congregation can all too easily become just another gig. It is hard work to not merely play well but to worship well while bringing praise before God: and to lead others in truly worshiping is harder still. I pray often for the band at Paradigm and at the church God calls me to attend, that as well as working to achieve technical excellence, they would be attentive to the Holy Spirit and themselves worshiping in spirit and in truth. This is an area in which we all must strive to improve!)

Worship, beyond praise, ought to fill every moment of our lives. We ought to be living our lives in a worshipful way: that is, living in a way that is reverential and filled with awe of God and all He has done and all He is. On that theme I will be spending much time over the next weeks! I pray that we all seek to worship God with everything in us: that His glory will become our greatest desire and the praise of His name our great goal in life.

- Chris

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Glimpses of the church

I just had one of the coolest experiences of my life. "What's that?" you might ask. To which I would respond in an emphatic though probably anticlimactic way, "A church membership interview." And then I would proceed to tell you how AWESOME it was. And since, if you were to ask me, I would tell you, how about I assume you did? :)

So it was something like this. I didn't know what it was all going to be about, but I had checked the interested in becoming a member box in church, and they had contacted me, had me fill out a brief form online, and then invited me to come in for an interview with the session (the pastor and the three ruling elders of my church, though one was gone). I assumed this interview would be a sterile formality, perhaps then followed by a tepid welcome, but it turns out I was wrong!

When I arrived, they were discussing various matters, but when they finished I came in.They greeted me, I sat down, and we made small talk for little bit. All normal to this point. And then began the questions! (I should make it clear that this was friendly questioning--no pressure, awkwardness, intimidation, or anything. Encouraging.) First, I was asked how I would explain the gospel, in three sentences or less, to someone who had only cursory knowledge of Jesus. Then, I was asked about the specifics of what Jesus did. Why did he need to come? What did his dying accomplish? Why is it important he lived a perfect life? Then they asked me questions about my understanding of the church. Who are the people of God? What is their purpose? What does making disciples look like? What is the kingdom of God? How does God speak to and strengthen his people? And finally, they asked some questions about my personal walk with Jesus, both past and present.

Reading this, I realize you may wonder about me, being excited and all. But these questions were real and had a powerful motivation. They said that only one thing was Biblically required for acceptance into the Church, and that is a credible profession of faith. So, first, they were determining if I demonstrated a full knowledge of the Gospel (how can I believe it if I don't understand it?) and its outworkings, and then they set about finding out about me so that they might effectively shepherd me. And they weren't kidding. It wasn't a formality. Three godly men were sitting around the questions, sincerely asking me if I believed and understood the gospel and its relation to my life. Isn't that what church leadership should be?

And then, when it came time for the vows, they made it quite clear that if I hadn't considered the membership vows and their explanations, I should not take them, because vows are serious. So I went away for a bit and read through them. Considering them carefully, I had no issues, and I then took the vows, and they accepted me to the church, and laid hands on me and prayed over me.

Man, I came out of the interview praising God for my salvation, marveling at the wonder of the church, and feeling strengthened, accepted, and supported in my walk with Christ. It was awesome to see an interview that had the potential to be a dead formality so infused with purpose and life. I can't help but feel that that hour was a glimpse of how the church ought to function in everything it does. Can you catch a glimpse of it? Every Christian, aware of the amazing work that is God's church. Every member, working to support each other. The leaders, conscious of the gravity of their position. WOW!!! May that be what I always work towards.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Heart of the Reformation

The Protestant Reformation is one of the most interesting periods in history and most important times in Theology. Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and many others discovered scripture in a way that they had never understood before. Luther, for one, could not understand how the legalistic, works based theology of salvation taught by the Catholic Church could be in line with the Scriptural Doctrines of Grace. This passion for truth and pursuit of God, sparked one of the most chaotic and important periods in History.

In my study of Ephesians, I have come to a pair of verses that many of us that grew up in church have had memorized since age 8 or 9. Though we may know it well and be able to quote it from heart, lets take a few minutes, break it apart and see why these doctrines of Grace were so important to the Reformers.

"8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:8-10

Sola Scriptura
This is the Fundamental truth that is the backbone of our entire faith. If God's word his not inspired, inerrant, and completely authoritative, our Christian life has lost its purpose and we cannot be sure of anything. Scripture is the essence of Truth. It defines Truth and the Reformers understood and lived for this. Without this undeniable truth, we cannot look at anything in the Bible as anything but a good story and the lives of these great men were utterly wasted.

Now lets get into the text!

Sola Gratia
"For it is by grace you have been saved..."
I posted the other day on the first 7 verses of Ephesians 2 and they all clearly point to fact that God's Grace alone can bridge the depths of our depravity. The Roman Catholic Church in the day of Luther was completely void of grace. Salvation was not a gift but an earned merit. People like Martin Luther could not stand to see the most precious gift known to man ignored and forgotten. Look again at the beginning of Ephesians 2

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ"
Ephesians 2:1-5

How could you take grace out of the equation? It doesn't make sense anymore! God who owes us nothing, gives us everything, paying a debt of sin that we, in our radical corruption, heap upon ourselves! A Gospel not centered entirely around the Grace of God is Heresy.

Sola Fide
"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith"
Faith is the method by which man receives salvation. God by grace pays a Christian's debt of sin on the cross, and in return, they place saving faith in Christ Jesus, not as the helper of their Salvation, but as the complete and total propitiation of their sins.
Luther Described faith in this way: "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times. "

Daring Confidence! not a feeling, or hope, or guess. Faith in Christ means throwing yourself on God's Grace in complete realization of your own inadequacy. Only Faith! Faith in God's Grace.

Sola Christus
" is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Its not us! We have no grounds for boasting! It astounds and confuses me how so many large church pastors find themselves on national news denying "Sola Christus." When confronted with the question, " Is Christ in fact the only way to reach heaven? What about Jews? and Muslims? What about Mormons? They believe in Jesus don't they? They just added to it right?" These so-called leaders of the church fold under the burden of self security and weasel out of the question with responses such as "oh...well that's not for me to say." or "Only God can judge the heart!" Speak the Truth! How terrible is this?!?!?!

Brian McLaren, a rising leader in the Emergent Church, completely denies the truth of John 14:6, proclaiming gloriously that the person of Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation. He writes in his book "a Generous Orthodoxy":

"In this light, although I don’t hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don’t hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus. Ultimately, I hope Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam, and every other religion, including the Christian religion, which often seems to need saving about as much as any other religion does"

What a desecration of the truth! Any parents of teens that may end up reading this, I URGE you as strongly as I know how! Don't let your kids read these Emergent Church Authors. "Sola Christus" Is the Gospel! These Authors not only attack and desecrate the power of scripture, but they aim to disgrace the Glory of God. They belittle the importance of doctrine by neutralizing important truths of the gospel. There are so many great Authors that are ALL ABOUT GOD'S GRACE AND GLORY that are just as easy entertaining for teens to read. If a middle or high-schooler comes to you asking about "Blue like Jazz" or "Velvet Elvis" redirect them to a book by Brennen Manning called "The Ragamuffin Gospel" That book, I read as a freshmen in high-school and understood, is swimming with "Sola Christus" by magnifying his grace in light of our depravity. No man can boast, except in Christ. And Only in Christ.

Christ is the Gospel! This is a statement I would give my life for.

Soli Deo Gloria
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Isn't it beautiful that our salvation ultimately points back to him? God has planned this whole salvation thing out, and it works to His Glory! I only see it fit to end this discussion of our salvation by attributing all Glory to Him! I posted this earlier but feel compelled to share the point of our salvation much more with the Doxology from Jude.

"24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen"

Not to us, but to the NAME OF GOD be all Glory!


Genesis 18 thoughts

I've been reading through Genesis the last few weeks. To be honest, it started simply as a "Wow, I haven't read Genesis in a long time...LETS DO IT" sort of thing, but holy cow, there's a lot of powerful things in there. The short version of it is: God is awesome, God is faithful, and God is personable. How do all these three come together? I don't quite understand it all, but its pretty sweet. Right now I will briefly touch on Genesis 18.

Here's what happens: Abraham is sitting outside his tent--in the heat of the day by the oaks of Mamre--when the Lord appears to him, not in a vision, but in person. The Lord and two angels, standing near his tent. And lest one thinks that they are simply heavenly phantoms, Abraham runs inside, has Sarah make bread, has a servant kill a calf, and then he feeds them! Can you imagine? The God of the universe as a man, in front of your house, eating your bread, beef, curds, and milk! And Abraham stands to the side and talks with him! I can't fathom it. It would be like me, sitting out in the gazebo east of the Couch dorm, pondering how all my future can possibly work out, when POOF...there HE is. He and two arch-angel fellows, under one of the oaks nearby.

"Hey, buddy, just came by to tell you that you will have a son within a year. Its okay, I have it under control."

(And then He and his accompanying angels walk over the hill to Sodom to destroy the rampantly wicked city. That's a story for a different day, but one no less powerful. Besides, I can't quite fit that into my gazebo analogy.)

When I read this passage, it leapt out at me for two reasons. First, the fact that He, not his angels, would come down to talk with Abraham to tell him that he's watching over the future and remembers his promises, spoke with force to me about who He is. And second, it illustrated for me the wonder of God becoming man. Somehow, when the Lord takes a body to talk to Abraham, it strikes me as fantastical and unbelievable, like a wonderful myth.

I think that we often lose this sense when we think about Jesus. Jesus is, well, Jesus. We talk about him so often that it is easy to lose sight of the profoundness of who he was. Not only did the eternal Lord become man (CRAZY), live with, talk to, and care about people (He's so far beyond creation), he died so that we could live with him forever (he's all-powerful but let us kill him!).

And it gives me great comfort to know that the Lord is watching over my future. Not just that he generally guides it in a good direction. No, that he knows precisely who I will meet, when things will happen, and how events will shape me. Like Sarah in the tent, he knows my thoughts and my inmost doubts, and assures me that he is more than able complete his work. Unbelievably, and beyond hope, he looks down from the heights of heaven and cares about me. And loved me so much that he died for me. And he guides my life as it should be.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Law

What is the Law? I really think this is something the Romans wondered too when Paul was writing to them. If the Law is good, why are we condemned? Without the Law wouldn't we be free? These are difficult questions that God breathes out through the Apostle Paul. He first starts in Chapter 7 explaining how, because we were living in sin and still alive in that old way, the law was binding, we could not and would not free ourselves. Just as a wife is freed from the law of marriage when her husband dies, so we were free from the condemnation of the Law when Christ died for us.

7:1 Or do you not know, brothers [1]—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. [2] 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

So, is the law bad or sinnful? Of Course not! Paul points out starting in verse 7 that we would be blind of our sin had it not been for the Law. He explains that we would have been mindless of sin before the law, and only after the law came were we condemned. In verse 13 he emphasizes the righteousness of the Law and the evilness of sin, thus leading to our condemnation.

So, how is it that we are freed from condemnation. We know from verses 24-25 that the Law which is righteous has become in us the law of sin and death. However in verse one Paul declares what he will later emphasize in 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. " God traded us. He took our sin and became sin, paying the punishment therefore completing the Law. The perfect sacrifice. What was once a Stumbling Block (1 Peter 2:7-8) for us Is now our means of fulfilling the Law (Romans 8:4). The law once condemned us, but in Christ's sacrifice it was finished, setting us free in Him.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Glory to God that we who were condemned under the Law are now set free!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Immeasurable riches of his Grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:1-7

Of all the "But God"s in the bible this one might be my favorite! I love this passage because it gives us a stark comparison of pre vs. post justification. We see a few things in verses 1-3. First of all, we see that we, apart from Christ, were were totally immersed and overwhelmed by the world. We chased after ever fleeting worldly passion, and it was our nature to. According to Romans 8:7-8, we were incapable of pleasing God. Paul is trying to show us the immense depths of our awful depravity.

The Part of these first few verses that should be the most humbling to us, is verse 3. What right do we as Christians have to boast in our salvation, if apart from Christ, we are no different from the world? This is one of Paul's main themes in the book of Ephesians. Our nature is incapable of Righteousness! Apart from Christ, we have no righteousness!

Here's where the "But God" comes in!

John Calvin writes in his commentary of Ephesians
"there is no other life than that which is breathed into us by Christ: so that we begin to live only when we are ingrafted into him, and enjoy the same life with himself. This enables us to see what the apostle formerly meant by death, for that death and this resurrection are brought into contrast. To be made partakers of the life of the Son of God, — to be quickened by one Spirit, is an inestimable privilege."

Haha, I need to start using words like "inestimable", but that is what it is! God's grace is impossible to calculate! God's grace reaches from his perfect holiness to our radically corrupt nature to save us! Don't you see why Paul calls God rich in mercy? This is one of Ephesians most powerful passages, because Paul uses our depravity to give light to the magnificence of God's grace.

How Humbling! We deserve nothing. We rejected God every moment from birth until his grace broke our stubborn hearts and we were adopted as sons into the "immeasurable riches of his grace."

To God be the Glory. He saves wreched sinners.

- Ryan

Friday, January 25, 2008

True Worship

God challenged me this week - again - to consider the notion of true worship. I was reading in Isaiah and Hebrews, finishing the study I began over Christmas break on Christ, and He forced me to grapple once more with His holiness and His glory, and the corresponding demands on our worship.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

This is part of an incredible passage I strongly encourage you to read through in its entirety: calling us to remember and be thankful for the glorious reality of Christ's kingdom: a kingdom with foundations, one that cannot be shaken, will never be removed, and is far greater than the covenant that was given to Moses.

The author of Hebrews contrasts this new covenant with the Mosaic covenant repeatedly, both with direct comparisons and with literary references. In these final two verses of the chapter, he makes a reference back to Deuteronomy:
Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)

The entire passage is a call by Moses for the people of Israel, about to enter the land of Canaan, to remember God, His law, and His works - to remain true to Him and not to turn to other gods. Both Deuteronomy and Hebrews are making reference to Exodus 24, where Moses ascends the mountain to have the law given to him, when "the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel" (see Exodus 24:16-19). The Hebrews knew exactly what was being referenced in this letter: the glory of God - the Shekinah - that was a destroying fire to all that was impure.

We read in Isaiah, in the context of God's vengeance on those who have turned to idolatry:
"For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many." (Isaiah 66:15-16)

These verses in Hebrews are not just a "cool passage" about God's glory being like fire - though certainly the picture of God's glory as an incomparably brilliant fire is one that should awe us and draw us to a place of worship. Rather, the passage is one of warning: that our worship, as we thank God for all He has done for us in the new covenant, must be reverent and filled with awe. Why? Because our God is a consuming fire: the Holy One who destroys false worshippers.

One could spend much time discussing our modern practices of worship, and in particular on "worship music" (a misnomer that is a discussion all its own), but there is an issue raised by these passages that is of utmost importance in our daily walk with God. It is that appropriate sense of awe which we are missing: the reality of our great need and the depth of God's greatness, mingling and conjoining to humble us - deeply and truly filling us with reverence. I'm not sure we even know what reverence is anymore, though.

When we come to our "worship services" and sing songs that are largely centered on us, we are in a very dangerous position... indeed, one might argue we are in a position drawing very near to idolatry. When we look at the earlier sections of Isaiah 66, we see a God who takes no delight in the sacrifices of man divorced from a heart that truly worships Him. He loves those who are contrite and humble, who tremble at His word (see Isaiah 66:2).

We are called to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), but we must also approach reverently, awefully (if you will).

There is a place for a holy fear of God, and I wonder if in our emphasis of God's love we have not under-esteemed His wrath against those who bring a false worship before Him. We must come before Him with love, adoration, and holy fear. This is not a fear of His hellish wrath, for we are saved, but rather of bringing Him a praise which is no sacrifice to us, which is costless, easy, or - worst of all - designed more to benefit us than to glorify Him.

We must be careful in the songs we sing. Some may sound very good, but when we examine their words, we find them empty of anything that glorifies God and filled instead with much that emphasizes ourselves. Even in those songs that do point more toward God, I believe we must exercise caution in the extent to which we exult in our salvation and freedom (as opposed to thanks to Him for that salvation and the work He has done). If our God is a consuming fire to those who bring Him a worship that is not reverent and awe-filled.

I challenge you to worship Him as He has called us to worship - not as is comfortable, emotionally attractive, or easy - but in a true exaltation of God and a worship holy and right.

- Chris

How Much Grace?

Starting in my next posts, I will be addressing what I am studying in my quiet times, and what God is showing through other books I am reading, but before that, I thought that it would be good for you to know what I consider to be the most magnificent and eye-opening thing God has shown me over the past few years. I am going to ask a question, not as an accusation, but just an objective question that we all know the answer to with regards to our lives.

How seriously broken and devastated are we by our sin?

How often are we as Christians just utterly destroyed by our knowledge of our flesh? Every day? Every once and a while when we make a big mistake? During the lessons at Paradigm or Pursuit?

Lets look at the Scriptures in Isaiah chapter 6.

"1In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
2Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
3And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."
4And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
5Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
7He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."

Isaiah got it. The very first thing that he noticed in the presence of the lord was his own inadequacy! Couldn't you here him say, "WHOA this is Amazing! I can't believe I am getting to see this!" but instead, he looks within himself and is ruined. another translation says undone. Isaiah was completely and utterly broken by his own sin.

So why is it so important to realize our own sin, because it magnifies God's Grace! We can't truly understand the love and grace of our father until we truly understand the depths of our depravity! When you read the Scriptures, you see so many people that get it. Take Paul for example; pretty good guy huh? Spent his life on missionary journeys, obsessed with the teaching of God's Grace through his son, and consumed with passion for glorifying God. Look at what he writes in 1 Timothy

"15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Did you catch it? Paul calls himself the chief of sinners! the worst! It is no question that Paul's ministry was driven by his passion for pursuing God's Glory and understanding the infinite grace that is brought about by realizing God's infinite holiness, against our radical corruption.

We need to be broken. The parts of scripture that tear me apart, I came upon while I was beginning to see the importance of all this. Whenever God compares us to an unfaithful bride, Hosea, Ezekiel 16, Judges 2, I am so undone, ruined, broken. It shows me the magnificence of God's grace; that In my flagrant infidelity, God would still choose to seek out and save me. When I wilfully choose sin, which is nothing less than what Isreal is doing when God rebukes them in Judges 2: "you whored after other God's, bowing yourselves down to them." Praise God that his Mercy is greater far than my radically corrupted unfaithful nature.

We have to humble ourselves before God, We have no righteousness of our own to stand on, scripture is clear that our good works are but filthy rags before a Holy God. Throw yourself completely on him, indulge yourself in his grace. It is enough. Be broken! like peter when the cock crows, and like the tax collector in the temple begging God for mercy. He gives it, and it is enough. God's grace is enough.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Some of you may not know me. Some of you may. Some of you probably got here from my blog recommendation; most of you didn't. Some of you have never heard of me before. So, time for an introduction.

I'm Chris. My interests are fairly varied, from physics (my major) to music composition (my minor), with everything from philosophy to international politics tossed in on the side. My passion, though, is seeing God's glory made known to the nations - and particularly in seeing the church be the Church: all that it can, should, and is called to be as a light in this dark world, as the true representation of Christ to the lost and the dying.

I exist to help people know the glory of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ in a way that transforms their lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it's my hope and prayer that this blog is a part of that work. We're excited about the possibilities... we hope you're blessed by the journey, as we are.

- Chris

Monday, January 21, 2008

Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be Glory! We are not here to make ourselves feel smart or give some false sense of glory to ourselves, but to post and share with eachother (and others) what God is revealing to us through his word. Everyone is welcome to write comments on our posts, and ask questions. Remember that all glory goes to God. We are not the true authors of anthing that we are writing on here. God is the author of his Glory, his grace to us, and Praise be to Him for designing us to seek out his Glory.

To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 25