Ian Stamps – (Re)Write: The Story of Gratitude
Michael Mize – Comparing Human and Chimp DNA
Paul Tripp – Parenting Is Gospel Ministry
THE SCRIPTURES AND GOOD WORKS
Dangers in the Perversion of Truth
The Truth of God may well be likened to a narrow path skirted on either side by a dangerous and destructive precipice: in other words, it lies between two gulfs of error. The aptness of this figure may be seen in our proneness to sway from one extreme to another. Only the Holy Spirit’s enabling can cause us to preserve the balance, failure to do which inevitably leads to a fall into error, for “error” is not so much the denial of Truth as the perversion of Truth, the pitting of one part of it against another. The history of theology forcibly and solemnly illustrates this fact. One generation of men have rightly and earnestly contended for that aspect of Truth which was most needed in their day. The next generation, instead of walking therein and moving forward, warred for it, intellectually, as the distinguishing mark of their party,1 and usually, in their defense of what was assaulted, have refused to listen to the balancing Truth which often their opponents were insisting upon; the result being that they lost their sense of perspective and emphasized what they believed out of its scriptural proportions. Consequently, in the next generation, the true servant of God is called on almost to ignore what was so valuable in their eyes, and emphasize that which they had, if not altogether denied, almost completely lost sight of.
It has been said: “Rays of light, whether they proceed from the sun, star, or candle, move in perfect straight lines; yet so inferior are our works to God’s that the steadiest hand cannot draw a perfectly straight line; nor, with all his skill, has man ever been able to invent an instrument capable of doing a thing apparently so simple” (T. Guthrie, 1867). Be this so or not, certain it is that men, left to themselves, have ever found it impossible to keep the even line of Truth between what appear to be conflicting doctrines: such as the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man; election by grace and the universal proclamation of the Gospel; the justifying faith of Paul and the justifying works of James. Only too often, where the absolute sovereignty of God has been insisted upon, it has been to the ignoring of man’s accountability; and where unconditional election has been held fast, the unfettered preaching of the Gospel to the unsaved has been let slip. So, on the other hand, where human accountability has been upheld and an evangelical ministry been sustained, the sovereignty of God and the truth of election have generally been whittled down or completely ignored.
We know that pornography is an ugly and harmful sin. We know that those who indulge in porn have committed the sin of lust, but there is so much more to it than that. When you open your browser and begin to look at those images and videos, you are sinning in ways that go far beyond lust. Here are 8 sins you commit when you look at porn.
You commit the sin of idolatry. All sin is idolatry, an attempt to find joy and satisfaction not in God himself but in what God forbids (Exodus 20:3-6). Matt Papa says it well: “An idol, simply put, is anything that is more important to you than God. It is anything that has outweighed God in your life—anything that you love, trust, or obey more than God—anything that has replaced God as essential to your happiness.” In the moment you begin to look at porn, you have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness. You’ve committed the sin of idolatry.
He that saith he abided in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6
The express and principal design of the apostle, in this chapter, is to propound marks and signs, both negative and positive, for the trial and examination of men’s claims to Christ; amongst which (not to spend time about the coherence) my text is a principal one; a trial of men’s interest in Christ, by their imitation of Christ. It is supposed by some expositors, that the apostle, in laying down this mark, had a special design to overthrow the wicked doctrine of the Carpocratians, who taught (as Epiphanius relates it) that men might have as much communion with God in sin as in duty. In full opposition to which the apostle lays down this proposition, wherein he asserts the necessity of a Christ-like conversation in all that claim union with him, or interest with him. The words resolve themselves into two parts, viz.
1. A claim to Christ supposed.
2. The only way to have our claim warranted.
First, We have here a claim to Christ supposed; “if any man say he abideth in him.” Abiding in Christ is an expression denoting proper and real interest in Christ, and communion with him; for it is put in opposition to those temporary, light, and transient effects of the gospel, which are called a morning dew, or an early cloud; such a receiving of Christ as that, Mat. 13: 21. which is but a present flash, sudden and vanishing; abiding in Christ notes a solid, durable, and effectual work of the Spirit, thoroughly and everlastingly joining the soul to Christ. Now, if any man, whosoever he be (for this indefinite is equivalent to an universal term) let him never think his claim to be good and valid, except he take this course to adjust it.
Of the Imitation of Christ in Holiness of Life, and the necessity of it in Believers.
“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 11:6
These words have been resolved into their parts, and their sense opened in the former sermon: The observation was this:
That every man is bound to the imitation of Christ, under penalty of forfeiting his claim to Christ.
In prosecution of this point, we have already shown what the imitation of Christ imports, and what the imitable excellencies in the life of Christ are: It now remains that I shew you in the next place, why all that profess Christ are bound to imitate his example and then apply the whole. Now the necessity of this imitation of Christ will convincingly appear divers ways.
First, From the established order of salvation, which is fixed and unalterable: God that has appointed the end, has also established the means and order by which men shall attain the ultimate end. Now conformity to Christ is the established method in which God will bring souls to glory, Rom. 8: 29. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the first born among many brethren.” The same God who has predestinated men to salvation, has in order thereunto, predestinated them unto conformity to Christ, and this order of heaven is never to be reversed; we may as well hope to be saved without Christ, as to be saved without conformity to Christ.
The first eight lines one did commend to me, the rest I thought good to commend to thee: Reader, in reading be thou rul’d by me, with rhimes nor lines, but truths, affected be. 8 April 1684
Sin will at first, just like a beggar, crave one penny or one half-penny to have; and if you grant its first suit, ‘twill aspire, from pence to pounds, and so will still mount higher to the whole soul: but if it makes its moan, then say, here is not for you, get you gone. For if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.
Sin, rather than ‘twill out of action be, will pray to stay, though but a while with thee; one night, one hour, one moment, will it cry, embrace me in thy bosom, else I die:
Time to repent [saith it] I will allow, and help, if to repent thou know’st not how. But if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.
What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? 2 Cor. 6:14
The friendship of the world is enmity with God. James 4:4
Worldly people seem to be well aware that it is only in this life that they will be able to get vent to their worldliness. They quite count upon death putting an end to it all; and this is one of the main reasons for their dread of death, and their dislike even of the thoughts of it.
They know that there will be no “worldliness” in “the world to come”; that there will be no money-making, nor pleasure-finding, nor feasting, nor reveling; no balls, nor races, nor theaters, in heaven or in hell. Hence their eagerness to taste “life’s glad moments,” to take their fill of mirth, to make the best of this life while it lasts; and hence the origin of their motto, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Such are the out-and-out “lovers of pleasure,” the worshipers of the god of this world, the admirers of vanity, and indulgers of the flesh. They do not profess to be “religious”; but rather take pains to show that they are not so, and boast that they are not hypocrites.
The Christian life is full of risk taking. Simply being a Christian has often been cause enough for the executioner. But even where the cost comes short of shedding our blood, our lives–lived faithfully–will at some point beg the question, “What is the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15)? Implicit in this question is a life lived counter to the path of least resistance; that kind of life requires risk and courage–sustained, plodding courage. I’m nearing the middle part of my race to glory, and finding here that the courage needed is not so much about jumping into new adventures, but actively waiting on the Lord for the fruition of risks already begun. Maybe you can relate. You’ve given the money, moved to a different continent, had the kids, or identified as a Christian in academia, like Peter you’ve already left the boat, and now you feel the wet waves pound on your courage as you wonder, “What have I done? Will this work out? Or will I be put to shame?”
Many saints of old have experienced the same, but often as we encounter the narrative portions of Scripture we find the conflict wrapped up in just a few short chapters or verses. It is easy to miss the fact that the person living out the story did not know the outcome. Take the familiar story of Esther for example. Mordecai, trusting God’s promises, knew his people could not be wiped out, but he and Esther did not have a personal promise that they would be the means. When Esther committed herself to intercede for her people with that famous line, ““I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish,” she did not know that 5 chapters later, 75,000 anti-Semitics would be dead instead of her.
“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)
This verse is often treated as if it were a proverb that means, “Life is short, so live wisely.” But in the context of the whole psalm, it means much more than that, as we will see. It is a key part of a meditation on God and on living as the people of God.
In Hebrew, verse 12 begins with the words “to number our days.” This phrase picks up the theme of time that is so pervasive in this psalm. A reflection on time leads us to see how weak we are and how short our lives are: “You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’ … You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers… The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away” (vv. 3, 5–6, 10). Here, Psalm 90 shows its connection to the concerns of Psalm 89 about man’s frailty: “Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” (Ps. 89:47–48). Such realism about our weakness is the necessary foundation of any true wisdom. “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am” (Ps. 39:4).
Critics of the slogan “faith alone” often point out that Scripture only speaks once about whether we are justified by faith alone—and that text denies it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, CSB).
What does James mean in saying we are justified by works?
I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, as Paul teaches in Romans 4:5, “God justifies the ungodly.” Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9).
Salvation, as Paul elsewhere demonstrates, is “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Works are excluded as the basis of salvation—otherwise people could boast about what they have done. Salvation by grace through faith highlights the amazing and comforting truth that salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours.
But does Paul contradict James?