Theology: Anthropology

Living Stones

Peter having spoken of Christ as a living, precious stone, adds, “You also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

WHAT ARE BELIEVERS? “Stones,” for every Christian has that in him which is solid, durable, and ornamental.

The grace of God gives a man solidity–he cannot be as light, trifling, and vain as he used to be. He has solid and settled thoughts upon high and holy subjects; he has solid hopes and joys. He is not carried about with every wind of doctrine–but becomes established and settled in the faith.

He is durable too. Others fall away–but he endures to the end. Once fixed on the foundation, once really united to Christ, he remains built on Christ forever.

He is ornamental too. Some stones are capable of taking a very high polish, and so is the Christian. The polished stones in God’s temple will catch the rays of His glory and reflect them; and in every stone, the great Builder will see His own lovely likeness reflected.

They are living stones. They are living, each one being quickened by divine grace, and made new creatures. They are lively, made so by divine communications, and kept so by fellowship with Jesus, the life-giving stone.

These living stones are not thrown together in confusion–but each one is fitted for his place before he is put into it. Every separate stone is laid on the foundation, which bears the entire weighs of the whole building. All the stones are united to the foundation, by a cement so strong, that nothing can ever separate them. The Holy Spirit acts as the cement in this spiritual building. He . . .
brings us to Christ,
lays us on Christ,
unites us to Christ, and
keeps us in eternal union with Christ!

These living stones are a holy priesthood.
Being stripped of their natural and carnal coverings,
being washed in the laver of regeneration,
being clothed with the garments of salvation,
and covered with the robe of righteousness,
and being consecrated by the application of the blood of atonement, and the holy anointing oil, the unction from the Holy One–they are prepared and qualified to officiate in this living temple.

These living stones are to offer up spiritual sacrifices. This they are to do continually, the sacrifices of prayer and praise, which like holy incense, ascends as a precious perfume to God.

 

James Smith, “Gleams of Grace” 1860

This is copied straight from a recent Grace Gem. In case you are unaware, Grace Gems are emailed daily and for free from gracegems.org. They are short quotes from past Godly men, mainly puritans, and I highly commend them to your attention and recommend you sign up.

The Greatest Unkindness They Could Possibly Do To The Child

One of the websites that has helped me very much is gracegems.org. They send out a free daily email with a quote, usually of a Puritan. Each quote is an excellent little gem of truth and well worth signing up for. I have collected a large number of these emails and thought I would promote them by posting one each week. Again sign up today at gracegems.org.

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod–he will not die. Punish him with the rod–and save his soul from death!” Proverbs 23:13-14

Some parents have such weak hearts, that they cannot bear to correct a child lest they cause it pain.

They forget that to leave an uncorrected fault in a child, or to allow any wrong habit to grow up in its life unchecked–is the greatest unkindness they could possibly do to the child! To leave the roots of weeds growing in the garden among the flowers–is to insure the springing up of those weeds by and by, to mar the beauty of the garden.

No tender feeling should ever prevent a parent from correcting a fault in a child. Love must always seek the best.

“Chasten your son while there is hope–and do not set your heart on his destruction!” Proverbs 19:18
J.R. Miller, “Morning Thoughts” 1906

Especially Beautified

One of the websites that has helped me very much is gracegems.org. They send out a free daily email with a quote, usually of a Puritan. Each quote is an excellent little gem of truth and well worth signing up for. I have collected a large number of these emails and thought I would promote them by posting one each week. Again sign up today at gracegems.org.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility.” 1 Peter 5:5

Humility is lowliness of mind–the opposite of pride and arrogance. It belongs to the essence of experimental religion. A humble spirit is the opposite of a lofty one.
True humility is an inward grace based on a view of our own guilt, weakness, vileness, and ignorance–as compared with the infinite excellence and glory of God.

Humility is one of the most lovely of all the traits of a child of God. It is opposed to all ostentation. It hides the other graces of the Christian from the gaze of self-admiration. Its aim is not to be thought humble, but to be humble. The godly man loves to lie low–and cares not to have it known.

Humility will not disfigure, but adorn you. As Rebecca was not the less lovely, but the more so, when she took a veil and covered her beauty and all her jewels; so the child of God is especially beautified when arrayed in humbleness of mind.

(William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864)

An Emblem Of The Aged Believer

One of the websites that has helped me very much is gracegems.org. They send out a free daily email with a quote, usually of a Puritan. Each quote is an excellent little gem of truth and well worth signing up for. I have collected a large number of these emails and thought I would promote them by posting one each week. Again sign up today at gracegems.org.

 

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!” Psalm 92:12-14

The palm tree, to which God’s people are compared in this Psalm, is remarkable for its lengthened and increasing fruitfulness. The best dates are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years of age. How beautiful an emblem of the aged believer, growing in grace and maturing in holiness to the close of his earthly existence! Each day, each year, added to his life–adds to the loveliness and perfection of his Christian virtues. His character has a mellowness and sweetness, which it lacked in earlier seasons.

He is ripening for Heaven!
In knowledge, in wisdom, in love, in humility, in gentleness, in patience, in peace, in usefulness, in happiness–he is steadily and constantly advancing. He is filled with the Spirit, and therefore brings forth the fruits of the Spirit.
Is this portraiture of an aged Christian yours, reader? Alas, it does not belong to all who profess and call themselves by the Saviour’s name.

(William Schenck, “Nearing Home; Comforts and Counsels for the Aged” 1868)

The Human Heart

One of the websites that has helped me very much is gracegems.org. They send out a free daily email with a quote, usually of a Puritan. Each quote is an excellent little gem of truth and well worth signing up for. I have collected a large number of these emails and thought I would promote them by posting one each week. Again sign up today at gracegems.org.

 

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked! Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
The human heart is full of hostility against God.

The human heart is the very nursery of sin.

The human heart is the storehouse where all the weapons of unrighteousness lie.

The human heart is a lesser Hell.

“For from within, out of a person’s heart–come  evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful  desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
All these vile things come from within; they  are what defile you.” Mark 7:21-23

Thomas Watson

Two Lessons Learned From Running A Crèche

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of participating with another church in their family camp, in the role of baby sitter. Myself and 3 friends took the reigns of a number of kids while the teaching sessions were on and kept them amused and safe. It was a particular joy for us to do this, and I learned two particular lessons which I’d like to share.

Group Shot with Children

First, there is the lesson that being a Godly father, raising a Godly family, as part of being in a Godly Marriage is a very desirable, joyful thing. I speak here as a bachelor, that the joy of parenthood, particularly fatherhood is a very good good and desirably thing, something to be perused. The bible presents both singleness and marriage as perfectly acceptable states of being, however there are a few points to be noted. First that marriage (which is designed and created by God in Genesis 1 & 2) is considered normal, the default way of being, and that when Paul talks about singleness (in 1 Corinthians 7 for example) he uses language that described singleness as the exceptional, especially called for ministry state of being.

But one of the blessings of however of being marriage is children. And children really are a blessing. As a bachelor, I have had but a foretaste of this, especially this last weekend. Something for me to pursue earnestly.

Group Playing Simon SaysThe second lesson learned however is that even small children are sinners. I’m sure every parent knows that look, when the kid has received an instruction, and the kid goes through the following thoughts:
1. “I’ve been told to do something;”
2. “I don’t want to;”
3. “I’m not going to;”
4. “There may be consequences;”
5. “I don’t care, I don’t want to;
6. I’m not going to;”

All of that sums up a single expression that the kid flashes when given an instruction. I’ve seen it before, I saw it a lot this weekend. I’m sure parents see it everyday. Surely when the bible talks how all have sinned in Romans 3:23 he wasn’t exaggerating.

Children are also sinners, needing the gospel. Yet we love them unconditionally anyway. This is another picture of the gospel

Some Thoughts On Abortion

I’ve posted very little on this subject up to date, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to show, briefly, the bible’s position on abortion. Abortion is very mainstream these days and it tends to be one of the subjects that most often causes division among people. But what exactly does the bible say?

First, as is so often the case, there is not command worded something like: “You shall not have an abortion”, however we do have a large number of other verses from which we can very clearly tell us just how God feels about this issue.

First, we have the command “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Murdering a human being is always wrong. But is a preborn baby a human being? Lets look at two more verses: Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Now the verse itself applies to the prophet, however we can see that it is God who forms and creates a tiny human being, in his or her mother’s womb, forming and knitting the little creature together. Also we have in the law of Moses an injunction about pregnancy:

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.
But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. Exodus 21:22-25

Do you see, that the famous Old Testament idea of eye for and eye and tooth for tooth is very specifically attached to harm that happens to a pregnant woman. So that if (in the biblical scenario) the fighting men cause harm, the law calls for equal punishment, death, or maiming depending on the scenario. That child is a precious thing in the sight of God, and injuring it, would be cause for equal punishment.

On top of all this science has continuously confirmed that life begins at conception. This is a non-issue in science. Yet let me remind you that we get our Orthodoxy from the bible. And the three verses above are just a few from which we can form our opinion although they are sufficient.

Let me come out and put it most clearly: Abortion is always wrong, a sin, it is, very simply, the murder of an preborn infant, a human being just like you. Yet, like every other sin, it can be forgiven by Jesus Christ, who’s atoning death paid for all the sins of those who believe on Him, as His resurrection sealed us in His promise that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

 

Thank you for reading. Agree? Disagree? either way let me encourage you to click on the word ‘abortion‘ in this article. It links to the website 180movie.com where you can watch the 180 movie, a short film on this subject which will rock your world.

The Valley Of Vision: Self Deprecation

This is from The Valley Of Vision, A Collection Of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. Basically a Puritan prayer book. I pray this with the author:

 

 

 

 

Self-Deprecation

O Lord, My every sense, member, faculty, affection, is a snare to me,

I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me, or despise those below me.

I covet honour and riches of the mighty, and am proud and unmerciful to the rags of others;

If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust, or see deformity, it stirs up loathing and disdain;

How soon do slanders, vain jests, and wanton speeches creep into my heart!

Am I comely? what fuel for pride!

Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining!

Am I gifted? I lust after applause!

Am I unlearned? how I despise what I have not!

Am in authority? how prone to abuse my trust, make will my law, exclude others’ enjyments, serve my own interests and policy!

Am I inferior? how much I grudge others’ pre-eminence!

Am I rich? how exalted I become!

Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself.

I bewail that my apprehensions are dull, my thoughts mean, my affections stupid, my expressions low, my life unbeseeming;

Yet what canst thou expect of dust but levity, of corruption but defilement?

Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, but let me not forget my heavenly title, or the grace that can deal with every sin.

A Personal Manifesto

mirror_by_Harp-02At what point, do I decide to stop being an idiot, and start acting more like a man

A man provides for his wife, family and those around him. I need to be in a financial position to do this 
– Plan on earning more, working harder and work efficiently
– Plan on saving more and spending less
– Plan on giving more to the work of the ministry

A man needs to protect his wife, family and those around him
– get reasonably fit
– cultivate greater discernment skills
– be alert for situations where protection needs to be given, then give it.

A man needs to teach his wife and family
– finish the degree 
– teach as often as I can
– get into the habit of preaching the gospel more regularly
– get into the habit of using language less theological people can understand
– get into the habit of asking counsel when I don’t understand something myself.
– read more helpful books

A man needs to lead his wife and family in sanctification and righteousness.
– repent of all known sins, heat up the war on any sin not yet dead
– look to Jesus Christ and His gospel for comfort more than at my sinfulness and unworthiness.
– pray daily for my wife and family, even though I have neither yet.
– pray much more and be even more diligent in the study of scripture.
-  remember it’s the gospel, it’s the gospel, IT’S THE GOSPEL

Finally, to redeem my time better, pour myself into ministry and take courage with all my heart, to swallow my pride, it’s the only way. I pray God gives me strength

Playing the Blame Game

Blame Game[10]One of the sins I noticed in myself in the last couple of months, and that I needed to repent of, is that I tend always to blame others. Then I started noticing in conversations, both with unbelievers and with believers, that people are often quick to blame somebody else for some consequence. Often the event is quite insubstantial or trivial, but often it is not. For example, a man is a few minutes late for a meeting. So often he will walk in and say “Sorry I’m late, the traffic was bad” or words to that effect. Did you see what happened, the person in my example shifted the blame for being late to someone, or in this case, something else. Now he might be telling the truth in that there was a problem with traffic, he took his responsibility to be on time, and made the fault of failing that responsibility belong to somebody else.
God holds us responsible for ourselves. That is my premise and I will begin by showing you this from the bible:
We are going to look at a number of texts starting with Leviticus 5:

1"If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity; 2or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt; 4or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these;

In this text, God is outlining a case where a person has done something in ignorance, and suddenly he comes to an understanding of his situation. Now read verse 5 and 6

5when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, 6he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin

Do you see that God holds the person responsible for his actions and expects him to make an atonement for his sin when he repents. Now for the Christian, that atonement is already made for us in Jesus Christ, for both sins we know about, and those we don’t know about. Even so, it remains the same, when we realise something sinful about ourselves, we know that we are responsible for it, even in ignorance. Lets look at another text.

Galatians 6:1 – 2: 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I give these verses for context, namely that if a believer is caught in sin, they should be restored by the church, then God commands believers specifically to bear up one another’s burdens in the context of a sinning brother. Now read verse 5:

5For each will have to bear his own load.

Paul is clearly saying that each person, will bear responsibility for their own actions, specifically their sins. One final verse.

Revelation 21:8 – But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

Ultimate responsibility. John lists a number of ways a person who has committed a sin is described. Those who have lied, worshiped idols, been involved in witchcraft and immoral sexual behaviour are all condemned to hell. Not a nice thought but the ultimate end of any person who has been responsible for committing a sin. Thanks be to God, that there is forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, that we might not go to the “lake that burns with fire and sulfure”.

Observation:
With this in mind, let us consider the human condition. We are in denial. We either deny that we are responsible for our sins, saying for example “I’m not as bad as so and so” (usually Hitler) or “the devil made me do it”; or we deny that we are accountable for our sins, denying God as judge. In the first case. We also deny that we are responsible for ourselves, even in a none sinful context. Think of the child who breaks something, and then immediately says, “It wasn’t me it was…” or the person, as I cited earlier, who blamed traffic for being late. It is also said, that if you are in a car accident, you never admit responsibility even if you are clearly at fault.
This problem started early in human history. When we read Genesis 3, that when God questions Adam and Eve they both push responsibility onto someone else. Adam for example says "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." (Gen 3:12) In other words, “its her fault, and ultimately Yours God, for giving her to me, that I ate the fruit.” He pushes the blame on her. She then pushes the blame on the snake. (Gen 3:13) Notice that God holds each of the three parties responsible for their own actions and gives each a punishment, a curse. But because of His grace He gives the man and woman a promise for future redemption (Gen 3:15) and none for the snake.
So ever since the first day of sin in the world, men and women have been blaming others for their problems. And so do we. Listen out for it, people will very often shift the blame onto someone or thing else, even if the action is perfectly innocent. Often the problem is pride, we don’t want to look bad in front of anybody, we’d rather have someone else do that. Pride is a sin we need to repent of.
dilbert_blame_game[4]
Application:
How then should we respond with knowledge? first off, our response should be to remember the gospel, and that Jesus Christ saved us despite our pride and our many other sins. When we realise that we are blaming other people for our problems think on this verse:

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

Or one of the many other verses in the bible that calls us to remember.
Next we should repent of our sins. Confess and forsake then, put them to death, and in this case, begin owning responsibility for what we are responsible for. Take note in your conversation when you do this, and at that moment, stop, and accept responsibility.
Finally grow in grace, sanctification as in all areas is almost never instantaneous, but persevere until that day when we see Christ.

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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