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Tuesday
Apr062010

Gathering courage for John Owen

I just finished reading a chapter in J.I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness entitled "Saved by His Precious Blood:  An Introduction to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ."

I was really excited to begin this chapter, because my friend gave me a copy of Owen's book for my birthday.  I have been advised by those more intelligent than I that it is difficult reading.  One friend even mentioned having to diagram some of Owen's sentences in order to understand him.  Packer, himself, mentions this difficulty:

The Death of Death is a solid book, made up of detailed exposition and close argument, and requires hard study, as Owen fully realised; a cursory glance will not yield much. ('Reader ... If thou are, as many in this pretending age, a sign or title gazer, and comest into books as Cato into the theatre, to go out again - thou has had thy entertainment; farewell!")  Owen felt, however that he had a right to ask for hard study, for his book was a product of hard work.

Packer starts out the chapter with indicating the purpose of the book:

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Owen, Works, X:139-148) is a polemical piece, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel

Packer believes that Owen's treatise is needed in this day and age (the book was written in 1990; I'm sure the urgency is the same, if not greater) there is a need to recover solid, evangelial preaching of the gospel:

There is no doubt that evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement.  In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building of up the local church, the pastor's dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widesprad uncertainty as to the road ahead.

Packer believes we have lost the grip on the gospel.  He believes that Owen had it right, which is why he encourages that we attempt to delve into the depths of Owen's daunting work.

I probably won't tackle this book until I'm finished with Packer and the current volume I'm reading by Lloyd-Jones.  Packer gives some suggestions for getting through the material, and one suggestion he makes, I've already thought of:  reading aloud.  I read a lot of Charnock's The Existence and Attributes of God aloud.  When my son was taking guitar lessons, I would wait in the van and read sections aloud.  It really does help.

I'm sure a lot of people wonder why returning to the writings of the Puritans is suggested by Packer.  One only has to do a cursory amount of reading to see that there is a great deal of man-centred theology out there.  It is so subtle, we often don't see it.  The Puritans, however, were solidly behind a Christ-centred salvation.  They had a proper understanding of themselves before God; of course their soteriology would be less man-centred.  Some people would consider the Puritans too hard on themselves and too negative.  I wonder if we haven't gone the other direction.

I'm daunted, yet challenged at the thought of reading it.

Monday
Apr052010

A quick snippet from Lloyd-Jones

Lots going on in the next two days:  bible study tonight (I haven't finished my homework!) and then teaching tomorrow night at youth group.  There is no food in my house right now, dust bunnies everywhere and dirty laundry piled up. 

Here is a quick bit from The Doctor with regard to the seriousness of sin.  This comes frm the chapter, "The Mortification of Sin," in his book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount:

Is it not our danger - I think we must all admit it - to think of sin merely in terms of ideas of morality, to catalogue sins and to divide them into great and small, and various other classifications? There is a sense, no doubt, in which there is some truth in these ideas:  but there is another sense in which such classifications are all wrong and indeed dangerous.  For sin is sin, and always sin; that is what our Lord id emphasizing.  It is not, for example, only the act of adultery; it is the thought, and the desire also which is sinful.

Sunday
Apr042010

He is risen, indeed!

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

 

Friday
Apr022010

Sin and understanding the holiness of God

Today, I have been thinking about 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.

And then I was thinking about something I read in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.  Earlier in this chapter, "The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin," Lloyd-Jones points out that without sin, the incarnation would not have been necessary.  It's true.  If there was no sin, there would be no need for a redeemer to be sent for us.  Understanding the seriousness of sin is crucial.  Lloyd-Jones says this:

... this doctrine of sin is also vital to a true conception of holiness ... Far too often there have been people who have been smug and glibly satisfied with themselves because they are not guilty of certain things - adultery, for example - and therefore think that they are all right.  But they have never examined their heart.  Self-satisfaction, smugness and glibness are the very antithesis of the New Testament doctrine of holiness.  Here we see holiness as a matter of the heart, and not merely a matter of conduct; it is not only man's deeds that count but his desires; not only must we not commit, we must not even covet.  It penetrades to the very depths, and thus this conception of holiness leads to constant watchfulness and self-examination.  'Watch ye,' says the apostle Paul to the Corinthians.  'Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.'  Search your own heart and discover whether there is any evil there.

Today, on Good Friday, we think of the crucifixion.  We think of the suffering.  We think of Him becoming sin for us that we might become righteous.  He did nothing to become sin; the fault is not his.  It is ours.  Do we take sin seriously?   I cannot understand holiness apart from understanding the seriousness of sin.  And it is not just those things that I don't do.  Self-examination is necessary; we need to do it often.  We often cannot see our own sin.  But we must; we must see that He became our sin.

Thursday
Apr012010

I must say ... 

... when I heard that Rick Warren had been invited to the Desiring God Conference, I was surprised.  I saw this video clip where John Piper explains his reasons for doing so.

The way Mr. Piper sees Mr. Warren seems to contradict what I have seen of Warren over the years.  But I don't know either of the men, so I can't be certain of much.

However, I would like to see Rick Warren sit on "Larry King Live" and share with King the things he shared with Piper.  Piper says that Warren admits that people are going to hell.  I want to see a video clip of Warren on Larry King Live where Warren admits to that.

Here is the video clip of Piper: