If you think God has promised this world will be a five-star hotel, you will be miserable as you live through the normal struggles of life. But if you remember that God promised we would be pilgrims and this world may feel more like a desert or even a prison, you might find your life surprisingly happy.
Legalism is a problem in the church, but so is anti-nomianism. Granted, I don't hear anyone saying, 'Let's continue in sin that grace may abound'. That's the worse form of antinomianism. But strictly speaking, antinomianism simply means no-law, and some Christians have very little place for the law in their pursuit of holiness.
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The Church acts as a sort of embassy for the government of the King. It is an outpost of the Kingdom of God surrounded by the kingdom of darkness. Just as an embassy is meant to showcase the life of a nation to the surrounding people, so the Church is meant to manifest the life of the Kingdom of God to the people around it.
I sometimes find, especially among my peers, that authenticity is not a... means of growing in holiness, but a convenient cover for endless introspection, doubt, uncertainty, anger, and worldliness. So that if other Christians seem pure, assured, and happy we despise them for being inauthentic. Granted, the church shouldn't be happy-clappy naive about life's struggles. Plenty of psalms show us godly ways to be real with our negative emotions. But the church should not apologize for preaching a confident Christ and exhorting us to trust Him in all things. Church is not meant to foster an existential crisis of faith every week
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I think the church is often a culprit in the busyness, especially in the evangelical church. Again, it's part of being Americans. Part of being evangelicals too is that we're highly activist. We are always diving in, willing to solve problems, and again there's a lot good there. But we also need the theological balance that the Kingdom is not ours to bring or ours to create.
I think most Christians hear these urgent calls to do more (or feel them internally already) and learn to live with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough. We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves.
My fear is that of all the choices people face today, the one they rarely consider is, "How can I serve most effectively and fruitfully in the local church?" I wonder if the abundance of opportunities to explore today is doing less to help make well-rounded disciples of Christ and more to help Christians avoid long term responsibility and have less long-term impact.
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Jesus didn't do it all. Jesus didn't meet every need. He left people waiting in line to be healed. He left one town to preach to another. He hid away to pray. He got tired. He never interacted with the vast majority of people on the planet. He spent thirty years in training and only three years in ministry. He did not try to do it all. And yet, he did everything God asked him to do.
So go marry someone, provided you're equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it's not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God's sake start making some decisions in your life. Don't wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God's will, so just go out and do something.
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You can think too highly of your interpretations of Scripture, but you cannot think too highly of Scriptures interpretation of itself. You can exaggerate your authority in handling the Scriptures, but you cannot exaggerate the Scriptures authority to handle you. You can use the word of God to come to wrong conclusions, but you cannot find any wrong conclusions in the word of God.
The only chains God wants us to wear are the chains of righteousness--not the chains of hopeless subjectivism, not the shackles of risk-free living, not the fetters of horoscope decision making--just the chains befitting a bond servant of Christ Jesus. Die to self. Live for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God's glory.
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Holiness is the sum of a million little things "" the avoidance of little evils and little foibles, the setting aside of little bits of worldliness and little acts of compromise, the putting to death of little inconsistencies and little indiscretions, the attention to little duties and little dealings, the hard work of little self-denials and little self-restraints, the cultivation of little benevolences and little forbearances.
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Christians often equate holiness with activism and spiritual disciplines. And while it's true that activism is often the outgrowth of holiness and spiritual disciplines are necessary for the cultivation of holiness, the pattern of piety in the Scripture is more explicitly about our character. We put off sin and put on righteousness. We put to death the deeds of the flesh and put on Christ. To use the older language, we pursue mortification of the old man and the vivification of the new.
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It's all too easy to turn the fight of faith into sanctification-by-checklist. Take care of a few bad habits, develop a couple good ones, and you're set. But a moral checklist doesn't take into consideration the idols of the hearts. It may not even have the gospel as part of the equation. And inevitably, checklist spirituality is highly selective. So you end up feeling successful at sanctification because you stayed away from drugs, lost weight, served at the soup kitchen, and renounced Styrofoam. But you've ignored gentleness, humility, joy, and sexual purity.
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We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that's all we need to know. Worry about the future is not simply a character tic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God.
The finality of Christs redemption for us is intimately tied to the finality of his revelation to us. . . . If we say revelation is not complete, we must admit that somehow the work of redemption also remains unfinished. . . . Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together.
All paths lead to God, but only one path will present you before God without fault and with great joy. Pick a path, any path""it will take you to God. Trust me: you will stand before Him one day. You will meet your Maker. You will see the face of Christ. There are many ways up the mountain, but only one will result in life instead of destruction.
I try to keep in my mind the simple question: Am I trying to do good or make myself look good? Too many of our responsibilities get added to our plate when we are trying to please people, impress people, prove ourselves, acquire power, increase our prestige. All those motivations are about looking good more than doing good.
As a pastor, I addressed the sorts of issues I see people struggling with most and the issues talked about most directly and most frequently in the New Testament. That leads us to recurring concerns with sexual immorality, relational sins, and vices associated with the breaking of the Ten Commandments.
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As a pastor in a Protestant church, my whole ministry centers on the conviction that by grace we are saved through faith. And it's not our faith that delivers us, as if believing something, anything at all were pleasing to God. It's the object of our faith - Christ's life, death, and resurrection - that saves us.
Many people suffer at the hands of others. The world can be unfair, at times mercilessly so. Millions of people in the world are genuine victims, right now. All of us will be at some point, whether it's for small matters or large, for a long duration or short. But we aren't all victims, not all the time anyway, not for everything.
A catechism is simply a tool for teaching the fundamentals of the faith. Unlike a creed or confession, a catechism uses questions and answers. Many Protestant confessional traditions, like Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Reformed, have used catechisms for centuries. Initially, most catechisms were intended for children.
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