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Heart Aflame - May 16, 2010

Psalm 53

Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who doe good, not even one.  David declares that all men are so carried away by their capricious lusts, that nothing is to be found either of purity or integrity in thir whole life.  He not only censures a portion of the peole, but pronounces them all to be equally involved in the same condition.  But it might be asked, how David makes no exception, not even one, when, nevertheless, he informs us a little after, that the poor and afflicted put their trust in God?  Again, it might be asked, if all were wicked, who was that Israel whose future redemption he celebrates in the end of the psalm?  No, as he himself was one of the body of that people why does he not at least except himself?  The answer is:  It is against the carnal and degenerate body of the Israelitish nation that he here inveighs, and the small number constituting the seed which God had set apart for himself is not included among them.  This is the reason why Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, 3:10, extends this sentence to all mankind ("There is no one righteous, not even one.")  David, it is true, deplores the disordered and desolate state of matters under the regin of Saul.  At the same time, however, he doubtless makes a comparison between the children of God and all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit, but are carried away according to the inclinations of their flesh.  The subject which Paul reasons upon is not, what is the character of the greater part of men, but what is the character of all who are led and governed by their own corrupt nature.  It is, therefore, to be observed, that when Daid places himself and the small remnant of the godly on one side, and puts on hte other side of the body of the people, in general, this implies that there is a manifest difference between the children of God who are created anew by his Spirit, and all the posterity of Adam, in whom corruption and depravity exercise dominion.  Only God can make us new creatues by his mysterious grace.


The "special" Christian 

My friend and I are reading together through Lloyd-Jones's Studies on the Sermon on the Mount.  We have finished the first of the two volume work.  We just finished reading about Matthew 5:43-48, and specifically about v. 47.

Lloyd-Jones talks about what makes the Christian "special."  My friend and I talked about that word, and how it has become abused.  To Lloyd-Jones, that word may not have carried the same kind of baggage as it does today.  Today, everyone is special.   Recently, there was a community-wide day of service for the less fortunate conducted by one of the local evangelical churches in my town.  Other churches, including mine, were involved.  There was a "Princess Tea" for about 200 mothers and their daughters.  Each little girl who attended was given a tiara.  There was a brief address to the crowd there, where the little girls were told that they were all "special."  In the words of Inigo Montoya, I don't think that word means what you think it means.

If everyone is special, then, that word doesn't apply any longer.  I think when Lloyd-Jones used that word, he used it as it was meant to be used, unlike the rather easy way we throw it around today.  Anyway, I know what he's getting at, and as my friend and I read, we benefitted greatly from this chapter where Lloyd-Jones compares the natural man and the Christian man.   I liked this:

What is it that makes the Christian a special person?  What is it that accounts for this uniqueness?  What makes him do more than others?  It is his whole outlook on sin.  The Christian man has seen himself as utterly hopeless and condemned; he has seen himself as a man who is utterly guilty before God and who has no claim whatsoever on His love.  He has seen himself as an enemy of God and an outsider.  And then he has seen and understood something about the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.  He has seen God sending His only bogotten Son into the World, and not only that, sending Him even to the death of the cross for him, the rebel, the vile and guilty sinner.  God did not turn His back on him, He went beyond that.  The Christian knows that all this happened for him, and it has changed his whole attitude towards God and to his fellowmen.  He has been forgiven when he did not deserve it.  What right then has he, not to forgive his enemy?

What makes a Christian different from anyone else is this realization of sin and forgiveness.  The more we see the gravity of our sin, the more thankful for His grace we will be.


Thankful Thursday

Aren't babies wonderful?

I am thankful today for the arrival of a wee little boy who came into the world yesterday morning.  As my friend and I were having our regular Wednesday bible study, the pastoral intern from my church called with the news that his son had been born that morning.  I had seen the couple only the previous night at youth group.  Who knew that the next time I would see them, they would be new parents?

Hubby and I were blessed with an invitation to go to the hospital last night, and we got to hold the little bundle and visit with the happy parents.

What a joyful thing!


Dying to sin

I'm buried underneath the printed word. I have a lot of reading I would like to get done today.  I am behind in my reading from A Quest for Godliness, mostly because I'm in the home stretch of Kevin DeYoung's The Good News We Almost Forgot.  Tomorrow, I'm giving it back to its owner, so I'm going to be a little tardy with my usual Tuesday church history post.

I did find this bit from DeYoung quite good.  This is from the chapter "Dying Away and Coming to Life," which addresses Lord's Day 33 from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Dying to our old self entails three things.  First, we are sorry for our sins.  We see the foolishness of our ways and regret our choices.  Second, we hate our sins more and more.  It is one thing to feel bad following the repercussions for some action.  It is another thing to actually hate our sin and hate it more each day - not just because of the bad consequences it brings but because of its offensiveness before God (Ps. 51:4).  It's not enough to grit our teeth and do "the right thing" because we fear the repercussions of doing otherwise.  We must see the vileness of sin and detest it. Third we run away from our sin.  Too often, we think that regretting a past mistake or saying we're sorry for some offense is all that repentance requires.  But true repentance involves a change, putting our old ways behind us and walking in a ifferent direction (2 Cor. 7:10).  We are frequently content with mere talk - talk about how sory we are, talk about how rotten we are, talk about how bad our sins are.  This is all well and good, but the last time I checked we are cale to "put to death the deeds of the body," not merely complain about them (Rom. 8:12-13).  We have not really repented if we are only stirred but not changed.

I like how DeYoung points out the distinction between feeling bad because of the consequences of our sin as opposed to regretting the offense it gives to God.  I look back to the days of parenting young children and I really see that I missed the boat on that one, because I did not point that out enough.  I don't think I even realized that most of the time, my kids were really sorry because of the consequences.  Then, I realized that I am probably just like that myself.  I think the key to hating our sin is to see it more for the offense it is to God than it is something that makes people unhappy with us.


Should that "L" be a "P?"

I'm almost done Kevin DeYoung's new book The Good News We Almost Forgot.  I hope to finish today.  In the chapter called "A Suffering Servant for the Sheep," DeYoung reflects on what most Calvinistic people understand as the "L" in the TULIP acronym.  DeYoung suggests that "partictular redemption" as opposed to "limited atonement" might be more helpful:

Particular redemption is actually a more helpful term than limited atonement, because the point of the doctrine is not to limit the mercy of God, but to make clear that Jesus did not die in the place of every sinner on the earth, but for His particular people.  The Good Shepherd lays His life down for the sheep (John 10:11)...

If the atonement is not particularly and only for the sheep, then either we have universalism - Christ died in everyone's place and therefore everyone is saved - or we have something less than full substitution.  If Jesus died for every person on the planet, then we no longer mean that He died in the place of sinners, taking upon Himself our shame, our sins, and our rebellion so that we have the death of death in the death of Christ.  Rather, we mean that when Jesus died He made it possible to come to Him if we will do our part and come to Him.  But this is only half a gospel.

What I really like about DeYoung is that he is not afraid to use technical terms, and when he does, he explains them in a very understandable way.  I like technical terms; I think pastors should not be afraid to use them and teach them to others.  I am acquainted with pastors who will not use technical terms, and may even apologize when they are necessary.  They do this because they think it will scare people away.  I think that really doesn't give the individual the benefit of the doubt.  People have brains, after all, and can use them even in church.