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He is risen, indeed!

Christ the Lord is Risen Today



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.


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:



The Puritan Conscience

The Puritan Conscience is the topic of the seventh chapter of Packer's A Quest for Godliness.  It would be the Puritan conscience, I think, that generates the most negative thought with regard to them, for their highly developed consciences were the target for a label such as "legalist."   It may have seemed like the case, but there is more to the story.

The conscience, to the Puritan, was a court.  It was there to present evidence, witness, judgment, and all that is associated with our understanding of a court.  The conscience was the court in which God's justifying sentence was spoken; it was a rational faculty, a power of self-knowledge and judgment.  Packer quotes three Puritans, Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, and William Fenner in support of this analogy.  Sibbes says:

God hath set and planted in man this court of conscience, and it is God's hall, as it were where he keeps his first judgment ... his assizes.  And conscience doth all the parts.  It registereth, it accuseth, it judgeth, it executes, it doth all.

Packer then goes on to show how the Puritan conscience relates to other crucial topics on which the Puritans dwelt: Scripture, personal religion, and preaching.  Scripture was to inform and instruct the conscience, and it was also to enlighten it.  The conscience was there to discern the Law of God.  Godliness was a matter of conscience, and in the personal life of the individual, the emphasis was on keeping a good conscience.   In the realm of preachng, the purpose was to "rip up" the conscience of men.  Preaching was meant to prod the individual to see himself as God saw him.  Packer says:

One mark of a 'spiritual,' 'powerful' preacher, in the Puritan estimation, was the closeness and faithfulness of application whereby he would 'rip up' men's consciences and make them face themselves as God saw them.  The Puritans knew that sinful men are slow to apply truth to themselves, quick though they may be to see how it bears on other.  Hence unapplied general statement of evangelical truth were unlikely to do much good.  Therefore (said the Puritans) the preacher must see it as an essential part of his job to work out applications in detail, leading the minds of his hearers step by step down those avenues of practical syllogisms which will bring the word right home to their hearts, to do its judging, wounding, healing, comforting, and guiding work.

I don't think it's popular today for preaching to "rip up" men's souls, at least not once the individual has become born again.  It's okay to "rip up" his soul to see him be regenerated, but once that occurs, it seems more of a popular thing to soothe his soul and tell him that he's "okay."  Applications abound, but often, they are applications of things we can "do" in order to feel better rather than applications which point out error.

Packer spends some time evaluating the belief that the Puritans were too introspective with regard to their consciences, that the were too concerned with the minutae of the Christian life, thus rendering themselves legalistic.  He does this by evaluting the situation where the Puritan pastors would not take the oath supporting The Act of Uniformity.  Packer points out that there are two fundamental principles with regard to the Puritan conscience, first that no known truth must be compromised, and second, that no avoidable sin must be committed no matter how great the good the result of the compromise.  This was the fiercely held belief of the Puritans, and if taking the oath and supporting th Act of Uniformity violated those principles, the Puritans would have not had a good conscience. Packer comments that finely tuned conciences are necessary in the days of compromise.  What may seem like nitpicking to us was a foundation that the Puritans lived and died with.


At the heart of murder

In Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, Lloyd-Jones begins a series of chapters that focus on material starting at Matthew 5:21.  Here, he comments on a number of  statements Jesus makes that begin with the phrase, "You have heard it said..."   Jesus then goes on to talk about how the Pharisees had taught the law as opposed to what the law ultimately meant.  Lloyd-Jones emphasizes that Jesus is not bringing in a new law; the Pharisees had taken the law and given it their own spin, suited to their own interpretation.   Jesus didn't come to bring in a new law; he came to fulfil what it ultimately meant.

The first of the commandments that Jesus discusses is the injunction not to kill.  Lloyd-Jones points out two important principles in what Jesus was teaching.  First,  what matters is not merely the letter of the law, but also the spirit.  Secondly, our attitude is to be not merely negative, but positive.  In this, he means that obedience to the law was not found in simply avoiding what is bad, but seeking the good.

Lloyd-Jones discusses the issue of having contempt for people.  We are not to murder, and neither are we to bear anger toward our brother.  Whoever is angry with his brother without cause is liable to judgment (5:22).  In this context, Lloyd-Jones says:

... we must never even be guilty of expressions of contempt ... we are remarkably like the Pharisees and scribes in the way we talk about murder, robbery, and drunkenness and certain particular sins.  But our Lord always includes evil thoughts with murders, and such things as strife, enmnity, deceit and many other things which we do not regard as being such terrible, foul sins.  And, obviously, the moment we stop to think about it, and to analyze the position, we see how perfectly true it is.  Contempt, a feeling of scorn and derision, is the very spirit that ultimately leads to murder.  We may have various reasons for not allowing it to be expressed in actual committal of murder.  But, alas, we have often murdered one another in mind and heart and thought, have we not ... Killing does not mean only destroying life physically, it means still more trying to destroy the spirit and the soul, destroying the person in any shape or form.

Quite convicting, no?  Even more convicting are Lloyd-Jones firm exhortations to put aside anger against our brother before we even think of approaching the Lord.