Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Purpose

Being at college has been an eye-opening experience. I witness people, passionate and motivated, pursuing all sorts of careers, aggressively planning their futures. Passion, motivation, and aggressive planning...these are NOT my strong points, and if that's what determines the success of my future, I should worry! My musicality, friendliness, and intelligence--qualities I prided myself on in high school--are inevitably surpassed by some of the amazing people I meet here. And with regard to my role within the body of Christ, many people are more gifted pianists, singers, pastors, or teachers than I will ever be. Its easy to feel that God will use me if I see some profound way in which I am usable, but here at college, my outstanding talents have been shown in a diminishing light, and this has led to a cascade of thoughts about my purpose.

I've always assumed that God created my life for a purpose. As a child, its often tempting to think that this purpose can fit inside a nice box, with clearly defined boundaries drawn in heavenly Sharpie. Into this box I will go, and toward it all of the events of my life move in perfect harmony, until--POOF, I'm in the box! I am a missionary in the farthest reaches of Africa, perhaps, or a physicist, studying the wonders of space. Even cooler, maybe an astronaut. Coolest of all, perhaps I compose lovely songs. :) In any case, I've finally reached my life's purpose, using the special abilities that God has given me in a unique way to glorify him. The problem is that this statement has the underlying assumption that my life heads toward one big block of "purpose," and I've grown to see that this is not the case.

God will use me, and he does have it all planned out. In a thousand venues in a thousand (mostly unseen) ways, he will use in me. True, I may never perceive it all as a perfect shape drawn in divine marker--in fact, it may seem wandering and strange to me--but that does not mean God doesn't (Israel enslaved in Egypt, then wandering in the desert, David hiding in caves, Nehemiah, Paul being imprisoned, beaten, stoned). Everything works perfectly toward the culmination of all his ends. He has a role for me to fill in every area of my life, and especially within the church. I am not called to understand what that is right now, I don't believe, but I am called to be faithful with what he has given me. I am to grow spiritually both in knowledge of the Scriptures and my personal walk with Jesus, and develop those gifts that I have. He has given to each member of the body of Christ so that each might contribute (1 Corinthians 12), and no matter what the contribution, each person is essential to the life of the church, and I will grow into that position, even if I can't see it now.

Am I curious what I will be doing in twenty years? Yep. Do I wish at times that life would be as simple as it used to seem? You know it. But for now, I'll keep pressing along, growing in knowledge of and dependence on God. After all, the less I understand, the more I need to trust him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Our salvation and God's will

First off I want to appologize for not blogging and for waiting until Anthony, Chris, and Ryan were standing outside my door with torches and a nuise (they're actually out there right now lol).

I've been reading and memorizing out of Paul's letter to the saints in Ephesus and God has really showed me the length and depth of his love towards us. I want to discuss today the magnitude and power in the fact that we are regenerated in Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-13
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful
[1] in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us
[2] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known [3] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee
[4] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [5] to the praise of his glory.

We start out in verse 3 and the following where Paul describes the greatest of our spiritual gifts. I think we can all agree that our salvation truely is a gift from God but I really think i've failed to understand an even deeper rout to this powerful work. We were saved because of God's immeasurable love for his people, however, why does God love us? Why did God choose to have it happen like this and not another way? We see in verse 5 and 6 that this great work was done because of the purpose of his will. Paul affirms here that God has saved us not because he saw anything good in us, but because that pleased His good and perfect will. I have often found myself thinking that one day i'll step into heaven and walk up to God with a balloon and wrapped present and say "Surprise God!!", as if I was attending His big party unannounced. God won't see a single person there because of their awesomeness or righteousness, but only because of that displayed through his son. Which leads us to verse 9. God's purpose was set forth in Christ.
We have obtained our righteousness because of God's plan through his son. We have adoption through Christ (verse 5) and now we see that God's plan for the fullness of time, yes the completion of His plan is set forth through His one and only son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Friends we are saved to fullfill the will of the Creator of the Universe!
We have an inheritance in Christ (verse 11) because of the council of God's will. We have earned nothing, we have done nothing, we have only been blessed beyond measure. What does all this mean? Why is this important and what is its end? We are saved by God's grace through faith because that is His will, but we must know that our inheritance is sealed by the promised Holy Spirit for God's own glory.(verse 14) God is glorified in my salvation! It brings Him joy and glory to give me eternal life. Until we understand why we are saved, how can we possibly make an attempt at praising God for our salvation. We are part of a bigger plan. Our salvation hinges on the fact that this is what God would have come to pass. Not a single soul will slip away, God's will be done. Glory to God that He has saved me to fullfill his will and bring glory to Himself. Soli Deo Gloria!


Steven P. Royse

Steven is an awesome guy! He's a great Godly man in pursuit of God's glory. I learn lost of things from him on a regular basis! He is very easy to talk to, and asks very good, smart, well thought out questions, and always has good logical scriptural answers for my questions. but...........

*yes steven, this is just to make you feel guilty

( :


Friday, February 15, 2008


Those of you who have had the chance to read our blog over the past month have probably noticed my expositional journey through Ephesians 2. As every good sermon comes to a close with points of application, I am going to make an attempt to show you that one of Paul’s biggest themes in these epistles is in fact, Humility.

Even in the depths and wordiness of his explanations of Theology, Paul hammers this Idea in his words, and in his life; this selfless God-centered Theology that spill over in an abundance of humility. I will even argue that humility can only be understood within the context of this Theology/ Anthropology.

Let’s look at what is probably the most recognizable 2 verses in the Chapter.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

It is so crucial that we as Christians not just recognize, but truly understand the last phrase of this passage: “that no one may boast.”

Ok, here’s the logical and scriptural conclusion of the matter:
If we are radically corrupted (Rom 3: 9-20) and incapable of doing good on our own accord, (Rom 8: 7-8) then we must come to the realization that as non-Christians, we have nothing to boast in. No level of human goodness is sufficient grounds for any boasting or self glorification. Our good works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64: 6) before a holy God. We MUST understand this.

Secondly, we look at Ephesians 2 and see something else. Our salvation wasn’t us! It is by Grace! It’s not our doing! It is a gift! Not by works, so what? So no one may boast. Our salvation is a gift, from our loving adoptive Father. We owe a debt we cannot pay; we have a broken a holy Law put in place by the creator of the Universe and deserve immediate, complete and eternal destruction. Christ pays this debt on the cross for us; we do and have done nothing to deserve this free gift of salvation.

What grounds do we have for arrogance? We as Christians many times act like we have it all together. We act as if now that we have been saved, we can take upon ourselves the responsibility to daily pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and live the Christian life. This is utterly illogical and contrary to what the Bible teaches us about, ourselves, God, and his eternal Grace imparted to his children.

Until we are humble before God, confessing the reality of our depravity and the essential nature of our dependence on him, how can we expect lo live selfless lives? Look at Paul in 1 Timothy:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life”

This is humility! It starts here, with our most important relationship. Until we understand the magnitude of God’s grace and the extent of our unworthiness, we know nothing of Humility.

God has been hammering my heart in these areas recently.

James 1 is clear that all good things come from God. All righteousness, that we posses as Christians, is from above. God sanctifies us, shaping us, molding us, hammering at our hearts of stones, making us more and more like his perfect son.

Here comes my soapbox:
We must understand that knowledge and understanding of Scripture is one of those things.

How can we think that our excitement, or understanding of the Bible and of Theology is on our own accord? This is one of the biggest issues for many of seminary bound, theologically excited, intellectually active Christians whom I have known over the years…and this is very much a place where I have struggled.

We should NEVER view any understanding of the Bible as coming from us. If we truly understand this Theology, this Anthropology, this truth about who God is and who man is, why do we so often gloat and boast in our own self glory with regards to studying the Bible? We act as if we own accord have the ability to make complete sense of God, all his attributes, and all his dealings with man.

How Foolish!

First of all, do we really want to be serving a God that we can completely figure out? Put him in a box; confine him to what the human mind is capable of comprehending? NO! We need to let God be God! Let certain facets of his magnificence be…just magnificent! I am NOT AT ALL trying to condemn studying Theology or pursuing to know our Holy God. But do it to Know God! And Tell Others! Not just to know stuff.

This self centered pursuit of knowledge that I have been guilty of before, ultimately rests in a lack of humility; a misunderstanding of who God is, and who we are. This is a failure to acknowledge our utter dependence on Christ and to daily take up our cross and follow him. More often than not, this ultimately culminates into one of the most horrible, relationship destroying, prideful, arrogant acts that infests the church today; a complete void of grace towards other believers.

I have seen many Christians, including myself, fall prey to this. One can have a great heart for the lost, a love for God’s word, yet cannot find a sliver of grace in their hearts for fellow brothers in Christ who believe differently than themselves on minor, controversial issues. I can’t help but think of the Parable in Matthew 18:

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. “

What a terrible, illogical and selfish way to belittle the grace of God. I pray that while pursuing the absolute and immovable richness of Truth in the Gospel, we would abound in Grace and Humility towards one another, in Christ Jesus. How could we see and understand the magnitude of God’s grace towards us, yet be unwilling to show grace on issues that we ourselves are not 100% sure of. Be willing to die for the essential immovable truths of the Gospel, study and read on the finer points of Theology, and rather than letting that drive you into graceless arrogance and self-centered pursuit of knowledge, let it cause you to fall in love with God, and his Grace. And let that understanding of Grace overflow in Humility and grace towards other.

May we all be in humble pursuit of God, and may his Love overflow through us into the world.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

Worship: Looking Closer

Worship: the topic won't leave me alone. Neither will the concept. And most of all, neither will God's call - in His word, in His people, in my heart by the prompting of His spirit. The other day at an organizational meeting, the topic arose again - the distinction between worship and singing, in that case, and how worship is expansive and indeed all-encompassing in many ways.

John Piper once commented that "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't" (Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of Christ in Missions). I think he's precisely correct: if we truly were worshipers of God - as He calls us to worship Him, not as we have decided to - then "missions" per se would not exist: the outpouring of all that was in our hearts would be a natural response, and the gospel would advance mightily because that is who God is.

So I want to challenge you to examine the nature of worship with me. Let me first make clear my position (definitionally, which is to say, not comprehensively but nonetheless accurately):
Worship is the proper ascribing to God of His glory (that is, the fullness of His attributes and character) by the thoughts, words, and actions of created beings; inclusive of but not limited to specific acts and times of praise.
Breaking this down, there are a number of points to examine, each of which will be expanded upon at greater length over later posts. To begin, however, I'll take a look at them at a basic level.

Proper: worship is not something to be done haphazardly. It is to be reverent, filled with awe at who He is, and it is to conform to the patterns He has given us. It is not simply whatever we want it to be. Even the sub-aspects of it - praise, art, and so on - are not to be done out of our own understanding, but submitted to Him, in accordance with His character and His revealed will. Consider, for example, the incredibly detailed instructions He gave for the building of the tabernacle or the temple, and then remember Christ's words to the woman at the well, calling us to worship in spirit and in truth. Hebrews 12:28-29 sums up this point nicely, calling us to an acceptable worship, with reverence and awe - for our God is a God of fire. (For an interesting study, look at how many times people in the Scriptures bow when they worship. For another study, at least as important, look at how many times God is called a jealous God ["whose name is Jealous"].)

Ascribing to God: this is pretty straightforward. Worship is not about us. At all. It involves us, as we're the ones doing it. But it's not about us: it is entirely centered on and focused on Him. Our part in it, our role even in our thoughts and words is our response to Him. The Psalms are like this: they often begin with a statement of the psalmist's situation or complaints, and then turn to worship: reflecting on God and who He is, not on the psalmist or his status any longer.

His glory: several points are worth noting here. First and foremost, the glory we offer to Him is His already: we can in no way increase His glory. Our offering is but a reflection to Him of the glory that is inherently His: for He is the God of glory. We do not make Him more glorious by our worship, but it is a glorious thing that He allows us to be a reflection of His glory! Further points are related to the meaning of glory itself. Looking at the Hebrew idea of glory, we note first that it carries with it a notion of immense weight. Glory, especially that of God, is not a trifling matter: when the glory of God, the Shekinah, fell on the tabernacle or the temple, it came not merely as brightness but as fullness of presence that is unbearably intense and incredibly present. We must also understand that God's glory is not merely glory as we think of it, as beauty and radiance: it is the very fullness of His character. God's glory is the reflection of all that He is, every aspect of His incredible character on display.

This leads us directly into the next points: how we worship.

Thoughts, words, and actions: worship is not something we do on Sunday mornings. If you only worship when at church, there is a serious problem with your spiritual life and your walk with God. Worship is to be lived out, not "experienced" (some church advertisements for their Sunday service to the contrary). We are to offer our bodies to Christ as living sacrifices and holy temples: but sacrifices and temples are for worship. Ultimately, our every thought should be to the glory of God. That is not to say that every thought should be of Him, but over the course of our lives as we are sanctified, more and more of our thoughts should be in accord with His will and His ways. Words and actions that are glorifying to Him will follow naturally as well as we are sanctified - indeed, as our thoughts are brought in line with His. As we are conformed to the image of Christ by the renewing of our minds (note the reference is the same as that of our being living sacrifices!), our words will change as well, since the come from the overflow of the heart; and our actions are but the execution of our wills. All of this is to come together until, ultimately, our entire lives are one continuing act of worship - as they will be in Heaven when sin no longer keeps us from Him.

Not limited to specific acts of praise: as I mentioned last time, worship is not limited to praise, and it's certainly not limited to particular times and instances. It is, optimally, the defining characteristic of our lives. Every action, then would be worship, even those not specifically acts of praise: for if we were truly holy and sanctified, every piece of art, every hour of work, every diaper changed, every task accomplished would be done in such a way and with such a heart that God would be glorified - His character reflected rightly for all to see. Specific acts of praise would be a staple of our existence, too, for in a truly sanctified existence, our thoughts would ever turn to the goodness of God and His holiness and majesty. Song, picture, dance, carpentry - all would be glorious acts of praise; but our lives would be worship all in all, not just those specific acts.

So let us learn to practicing living out worship as it is meant to be: let us offer to God an acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire!

- Chris

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Recently, I have come into contact with some passages that illustrate God's absolute control over everything that happens to us. Now, I have a notion in my head that says, "God is in control of my life," but its so blasted hard to keep that in mind in my day-to-day life.

One passage that has recently illustrated this to me is in Genesis 37. Joseph, the favorite son and least favorite brother, has these dreams that he is ruling over his brothers. So they throw him in a pit, take his envy-inducing colored coat, and sell him into slavery. Now, this was an unexpected and saddening turn of events for him, and he probably was quite frustrated and angry with God. So much for that "your sheaf is bowing down to my sheaf" business. But wait! A few chapters and a few more divinely orchestrated events later, Joseph is running Egypt, and his brothers, driven by famine, do in fact bow down to him. God used an event that for Joseph must have been inexplicable and terrifying, but God was still completely in control of Joseph's life.

Another passage would be Judges 4, which we covered at RUF last night. Israel is being oppressed and so God raises up Deborah, who calls on a man named Barak to lead 10,000 Israelites. God routes the enemy and Israel wins. But early on in the passage, Barak asks Deborah to accompany him, and she says, "You're not going to kill the enemy general, a woman is." And sure enough, the enemy general is on the run and gets to a tent, is convinced to go inside, and a woman kills him. Doug Serven, RUF's leader, mentioned that God clearly knew what was going to happen in the smallest detail, including tent placement. And without telling anyone, he was setting it all up. That's neat.

There are more passages, clearly, but these are the ones that have stood out to me recently. They've stood out as a confirmation of God's control over everything that happens to us, when there have been some developments in my life that I simply don't understand. Its almost become a mantra to me..."God is sovereign. He knows his purposes and will accomplish them." And there is a great amount of not only comfort that comes with this, but also freedom. I am free to continue onward, not looking backward wishing and wondering. Now, of course this is hard to do. And in some ways, its more gratifying to say, "Let me lie and languish for a bit."

But this is not what we are to do. Whatever God throws our way, we ought to accept as divinely ordained. Because it is--nothing happens outside his governance. I think Paul is a good example. Beaten, imprisoned, the object of failed stoning attempts, and often unpopular, he pressed on. He knew God was in charge and that it was about more than his happiness, and here's the kicker...that's where he found contentment. Woo! We can find contentment even in the hard things in life if we understand the power and the goodness of God.

Over and out.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Unity in Christ

”14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

-Ephesians 2:14-22

I was planning on take two or three more posts to wrap up Ephesians 2, but the idea of these last several verses is so coherent, and has one central point, that I am going to finish with this post.

Let’s look at verse 14.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one…”

“He” is obviously Christ, and notice the language here. Paul could have very easily said “He has brought us peace.” But he doesn’t. Paul claims that Christ is our peace. Now what does this mean? As we read the previous verses, we see that Christ is in fact the bridge that has united both Jew and Gentile in him. He “has made us both one” by breaking down the “dividing wall of hostility, (verse 15) by abolishing the law of man in place of two, so making peace.” How? By “[reconciling] us both to God in one body through the cross.”

The power of the cross should amaze us as Christians. Though we were obviously not around in this time period, it is important (as I wrote last week) that we see the gap that was bridged by Christ. Salvation was no longer reserved to Israel, but Gentile could be included in God’s elect. God didn’t change, nor did his nature, or his plan. God didn’t change is mind; his sovereign plan from the beginning has been to redeem all nations through the finished work of Christ, in his death, and resurrection.

Paul expounds on the principles starting in verse 17-19

“17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

This is one access to the Father. Christ.

It is because of Christ that we are no longer strangers and aliens. It is because of Christ that we are fellow citizens with the saints. It is because of Christ that we are members of the Household of God! Do you see the gravity of this statement? We have gone from being utterly void of holiness and completely enthralled in our self-seeking nature, to being Adopted (Romans 8:15) in to the household of our new Heavenly Father. And what is the cornerstone of this foundation? Let’s finish the chapter

“20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Everything was done through the Cross! Christ is the cornerstone of the “holy temple in the Lord.”

We have Unity in Christ! We are one in the Spirit of God! We have just addressed what this means; now here is what it doesn’t mean.

So many teachers in this day sugar coat and water down the gospel. Church leaders dumb down and take the hard parts out of their teachings and their gospel presentation to make it easier to receive. Tell me where in the scriptures that it says the gospel is easy!?!? Brothers, we can’t let this creep into the church. Unity in Christ does not by any means justify the watering down of TRUTH. We as Christians have to believe that truth is Fundamental, absolute, and contained in scripture as a whole. R.C. Sproul says of the whole argument “You can’t slaughter TRUTH in the streets for the sake of peace. You just can’t do it.” Lets look at the Beginning of 2 Timothy 4

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”

In the NASB is says tickling instead of itching, but either way, Christians should be utterly apposed to “ear tickling” and live in joyous pursuit of proclaiming Truth!

Be excited about unity in Christ! But let that be centered around the immovable truth of the Gospel!

May God bless the reading and teaching of His inspired, infallible, inerrant, and. authoritative Word. Amen