Union With Christ


In the words of Augustus Strong...

“Christianity is summed up in the two facts: Christ for us, and Christ in us—Christ for us upon the Cross, revealing the eternal opposition of holiness to sin, and yet, through God’s eternal suffering for sin making objective atonement for us; and Christ in us by his spirit, renewing in us the lost image of God, and abiding in us as the all-sufficient source of purity and power. Here are the two foci of the Christian ellipse: Christ for us, who redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us, and Christ in us, the hope of glory, whom the apostle calls the mystery of the gospel."

 “The union with Christ is mediated by his Spirit, whence we are both renewed and justified. The great fact of objective Christianity is incarnation in order to atonement; the great fact of subjective Christianity is union with Christ, whereby we receive the atonement. We may add that this union with Christ, in view of which God elects and to which God calls the sinner, is begun in regeneration, completed in conversion, declared in Justification, and proved in sanctification and perseverance."


Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery




Why Church Membership Matters



This is a bigger issue than most "members" would admit.  In his little book, Leeman summarizes his argument into 12 points...
  1. It’s biblical. Jesus established the local church and all the apostles did their ministry through it. The Christian life in the New Testament is church life. Christians today should expect and desire the same.
  2. The church is its members. To be a church in the New Testament is to be one of its members (read through Acts). And you want to be part of the church because that’s who Jesus came to rescue and reconcile to himself.
  3. It’s a prerequisite for the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a meal for the gathered church, that is, for members (see 1 Cor. 11:20-33). And you want to take the Lord’s Supper. It’s the team flag that makes the church team visible to the nations.
  4. It’s how you officially represent Jesus. Membership is the church’s affirmation that you are a citizen of Christ’s kingdom and therefore a pass-port carrying Jesus representative before the nations. And you want your representation to be authorized. Closely related to this…
  5. It’s how you declare your highest allegiance. Your membership on the team, which becomes visible when you wave the flag of the Lord’s Supper, is a public testimony belongs to Jesus. Trials and persecution may come, but your only words are, “I am a Christian.”
  6. It’s how you embody and experience biblical images. It’s within the accountability structures of the local church that Christians live and experience the interconnectivity of the body, the spiritual fullness of his temple, and the safety and intimacy and shared identity of his family.
  7. It’s how you serve other Christians. Membership helps you know which Christians on planet Earth you are specifically responsible to love, serve, warn, and encourage. It enables you to fulfill your biblical responsibilities to Christ’s body (for example, see Eph. 4:11-16; 25-32).
  8. It’s how you follow Christian leaders. Membership helps you know which Christian leaders on planet Earth you are called to obey and follow. Again, it allows you to fulfill your biblical responsibility to them (see Heb. 13:7, 17).
  9. It helps Christian leaders lead. Membership lets Christian leaders know which Christians on planet Earth they will “give an account” for (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2).
  10. It enables church discipline. It gives you the biblically prescribed place to participate in the work of church discipline responsibly, wisely, and lovingly (1 Cor. 5).
  11. It gives structure to your Christian life. It places an individual Christian’s claim to obey and follow Jesus into a real-life setting where authority is actually exercised over us (see John 14:15; 1 John 2:19; 4:20-21). It’s God’s discipling program. 
  12. It builds a witness and invites the nations. Membership puts the alternative rule of Christ on display for the watching universe (see Matt. 5:11; John 12:34-35; Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:9-12). The very boundaries, which are drawn around the membership of a church, yield a society of people that invites the nations to something better. It’s God’s evangelism program. 
I would recommend reading this and thinking deeply about partnering with your local church.  As Josh Harris would say, "Stop dating the church" and make a commitment.




The Glorious Gospel

You will hard pressed to hear the gospel any clearer than right here - repent and believe. Jesus is mighty to save - SDG!




10 Errors to Avoid When Talking about Sanctification and the Gospel


After having this discussion with a friend just yesterday, I came across these wise words from Kevin DeYoung...

Error #1: The good we do can in some small way make us right with God. This is a denial of the gospel. The good we do is of no use to us in our justification because “even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin” (HC Q/A 62). We “cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment” (BC Art. 24).
Error #2: We must be good Christians so that God will keep loving us. To the contrary, the good news of justification by faith alone means that we can now “do a thing out of love for God” instead of “only out of love for [ourselves] and fear of being condemned” (BC Art. 24). In the midst of daily sins and weakness the struggling Christian should “flee for refuge to Christ crucified” (CD 5.2), truths that “it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost” (CD 5.8).
Error #3: If sanctification is a work of divine grace in our lives, then it must not involve our effort. We are absolutely “indebted to God for the good works we do” (BC Art. 24). He is the one at work in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. At the same time, “faith working through love” leads “a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word” (BC. Art. 24). Our ability to do good works “is not at all” in ourselves, but we still “ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in [us]” (WCF 16.3).
Error #4: Warning people of judgment is law and has no part to play in preaching the gospel. Actually, “preaching the gospel” should both “open and close the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming to believers what God has done for us in Christ. The kingdom of heaven is closed by proclaiming “to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony” (HC Q/A 84).
Error #5: There is only one reason Christians should pursue sanctification and that’s because of our justification. The Heidelberg Catechism lists several reasons—motivations even—for doing good. “We do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ” (HC Q/A 86).
Error #6: Since we cannot obey God’s commandments perfectly, we should not insist on obedience from ourselves or from others. While it is true that “in this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience,” that’s not the whole story. “Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments” (HC Q/A 114). Because we belong to Christ and our good works are “sanctified by his grace” (BC Art. 24), God “is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections” (WCF 13.6).
Error #7: The Ten Commandments should be preached in order to remind us of our sin, but not so that believers may be stirred up to try to obey the commandments. The Heidelberg Catechism acknowledges that “no one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly,” but it still insists that “God wants them preached pointedly.” For two reason: “First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.” And “Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection” (HC Q/A 115).
Error #8: Being fully justified as Christians, we should never fear displeasing God or offending him. The promise of divine preservation does not mean that true believers will never fall into serious sin (CD 5.4). Even believers can commit “monstrous sins” that “greatly offend God.” When we sin in such egregious ways, we “sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time” until we repent and God’s fatherly face shines upon us again (5.5). God being for us in Christ in a legal and ultimate sense does not mean he will never frown upon our disobedience. But it does mean that God will always effectively renew us to repentance and bring us to “experience again the grace of reconciled God” (5.7).
Error #9: The only proper ground for assurance is in the promises of God found in the gospel. Assurance is not to be sought from private relation but from three sources: from faith in the promises of God, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying to our spirits that we are children of God, and from “a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works” (CD 5.10). Assurance is not inimical to the pursuit of holiness, but intimately bound up with it. We walk in God’s ways “in order that by walking them [we] may maintain the assurance of [our] perseverance” (5.13). Personal holiness is not only a ground for assurance; the desire for assurance is itself a motivation unto holiness.
Error #10: Threats and exhortations belong to the terrors of the law and are not to be used as a motivation unto holiness. This is not the view of the Canons of Dort: “And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments” (CD 5.14). Notice two things here. First, God causes us to persevere by several means. He makes promises to us, but he also threatens. He works by the hearing of the gospel and by the use of the sacraments. He has not bound himself to one method. Surely, this helps us make sense of the warnings in Hebrews and elsewhere in the New Testament. Threats and exhortations do not undermine perseverance; they help to complete it. Second, notice the broad way in which Dort understands the gospel (in this context). In being gospel-centered Christians, we meditate on the “exhortations, threats, and promises” of the gospel. In a strict sense we might say that the gospel is only the good news of how we can be saved. But in a wider sense, the gospel encompasses the whole story of salvation, which includes not only gospel promises but also the threats and exhortations inherent in the gospel.


Quotable: Growing Up


Loved this section from "Growing Up"....

 “Another reason for the lack of disciple-making is the influence of the secular world upon believers. As Christians, we can easily fall into the trap of gauging success in the church by our buildings, the number of bodies present, and the size of our budgets. However, this mentality presents a serious problem: Jesus never gauged effectiveness by these criteria. During His earthly ministry, He never owned anything. In fact, our Lord never had a place to lay His head, much less a regular meeting place for His “congregation” (Luke 9:58).”

“Additionally, Jesus never attempted to draw large crowds for the sake of counting heads. Although He spoke to the masses, He consistently departed to be with the twelve. Acts 1 records that, after He ascended into heaven, only 120 disciples gathered together to pray for God to empower them through the sending of His Spirit. This fact defies all modern church growth standards. Jesus spoke with unprecedented authority. He raised the dead. He gave sight to the blind. He healed the sick.
And at the end of His ministry, the church had grown to only 120 people. This is not to discount the miraculous work of our Lord, but to simply point out that Jesus was not interested in growing a mile wide and an inch deep. Rather, He focused on developing mature, faithful disciples who would go out and make more disciples.”

“Jesus, as demonstrated above, measured success by something other than buildings, bodies, and bucks. He taught us that disciple-making is what matters, and it is a process that takes time...”


Excerpt From: Robby Gallaty. “Growing Up.”

Looking forward to the rest!



20 Pictures of Jesus


  • Jesus is the Savior. His name means the one who will save us from our sins.
  • He is the Messiah. He’s Jesus Christ. Christ is not His last name. It means the Promised One. The One Promised through out the old testament has come.
  • He is the Son of David. He’s from the kingly line of David.
  • Son of Abraham.
  • Center of history.
  • Fully human.
  • Fully divine.
  • Sovereign over the wise.
  • Shepherd of the weak.
  • Jesus inaugurates a new exodus.
  • He’s ending
  • He loves his fiercest enemies
  • He’s the Savior King
  • He’s Righteous Judge
  • He’s filled with God the Spirit
  • He’s loved by God the Father
  • He’s the new Adam
  • He’s the true Israel
  • He’s the Light of the World
  • He’s the hope for all nations




HT / Verge

The Nature of True Discipleship



"In Jesus, these men found someone worth losing everything for. In Christ, they encountered a love that surpassed comprehension, a satisfaction that superseded circumstances, and a purpose that transcended every other possible pursuit in this world. They eagerly, willingly, and gladly lost their lives in order to know, follow, and proclaim him. In the footsteps of Jesus, these first disciples discovered a path worth giving their lives to tread.

Two thousand years later, I wonder how far we have wandered from this path. Somewhere along the way, amid varying cultural tides and popular church trends, it seems that we have minimized Jesus’ summons to total abandonment. Churches are filled with supposed Christians who seem content to have casual association with Christ while giving nominal adherence to Christianity. Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus involves acknowledging certain facts or saying certain words. But this is not true. Disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, John…show us that the call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it’s a summons to lose our lives."
-David Platt, Follow Me, p. 3,4





HT / Z

The Explicit Gospel ~ Free!

This months free audio book from Christian Audio is "The Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler (and Jared Wilson).  Do yourself a favour and grab this one up. You will never outgrow your need for the gospel. Check out this trailer for the book.  Crossway explains, "You know you know it... But then again, maybe you don't. Just because you go to church, used to go to church, or spend all your time at church, doesn't mean you really get the gospel—at least not in all its fullness and specificity. Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, popular pastor Matt Chandler shows that the gospel has implications for more than just conversion as it comes to bear on the cosmos, our every day lives, and the full scope of redemptive history. With wisdom and wit, Matt plumbs the depths of the gospel in his debut book so that we might see the staggering implications of the good news of grace."








Open Letter To All Who Call Me An Intolerant Bigot

I couldn't have said (wrote) it better.  Thanks to Stephan Altrogge who writes...


Dear Friends,
It’s been a pretty big brouhaha (I’ve always loved that word) lately, hasn’t it? First, NBA player Jason Collins openly admits that he is gay. Then, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard raises questions about the rightness/wrongness of being gay. Then all fury erupted. Now, Christians, and anyone else who questions the morality of homosexuality, are being accused of “intolerance”, “bigotry”, “closed-mindedness”, and other similar things.
And I get it, I really do. It takes a lot of courage for a professional athlete to admit that he is a homosexual. And then us hoity-toity Christians swoop in, raining on everyone’s parade. If I wasn’t a Christian, I’d probably be mad too. Christians are always ruining everyone’s party, or so it seems.
But see, here’s the thing: the reality is, you probably shouldn’t be calling me a bigot, you should be calling Jesus a bigot. Or I suppose you could call us both bigots. What I mean is, the only reason I oppose homosexuality is because of what Jesus says in the Bible. If it were up to me, I’d agree with the Beatles that all you need is love. Or, as Sheryl Crow put it, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. I want everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life.
But ultimately it’s not up to me. As a Christian, I have given my life completely over to Jesus, which means all my opinions, ideas, desires, and dreams are submitted to him. He is the king, I am not. His word is final, his rule is complete. I can’t make Jesus fit me, I must fit him. I can’t make Jesus fit my opinions, I must make my opinions fit Jesus. The reason I oppose homosexuality is rooted solely in what Jesus says in the Bible (I am counting all of the New Testament as being the words of Jesus). The New Testament makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin. It’s not worse than any other sin, but it is a sin nonetheless.
Therefore, please don’t interpret my opposition to homosexuality as personal opposition to you. I have no vendetta against you, and carry no grudge toward you. I love you, and want you to experience God’s absolute best. I want to be friends with you, hang out with you, barbecue together. My opinion about homosexuality springs out of my allegiance to Jesus. My allegiance to Jesus takes highest precedent in my life, and informs everything I think and do.
So am I an intolerant bigot? I guess that depends on what you mean by “bigot”. Do I think certain things are objectively right and wrong? Yes. Jesus defines what is right and wrong, and my opinion must line up with his. Does that mean I hate those who do wrong things? No, absolutely not. In fact, I actively “tolerate”  and respect those who hold different opinions than me, which is the true meaning of tolerance. When you call me a bigot you are implying that I actively hate you, which is far from the truth!
Ultimately, I want to be like Jesus. The Bible describes him as being full of grace and truth. On the one hand, he was gracious, loving, and respectful to those who did what was morally wrong. He spent many hours hanging around those who were despised by the religious leaders of the day. His love for people was not based on their righteousness. On the other hand, he lovingly spoke the truth to those who did what was wrong. He called people to submit their lives totally to him.
So if you’re going to call me a bigot, you must also call Jesus a bigot. But please don’t call Jesus a bigot. Bigotry implies venom and hatred, which is the opposite of Jesus. He loves you far more than you can possibly imagine.

Good Friday




5 Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear From Dad


Daniel Darling writes...


I love having daughters. There is something about having a daughter that softens a man, adds a certain tenderness to his soul. In that spirit, I’d like to share five things every daughter needs to hear from her father:
1) You are beautiful and you are loved. This is something you should tell your daughter at least once a day and probably more than that. Telling her once every so often doesn’t cut it. I’m no psychologist, but daughters who know their father loves them grow up with more confidence and tend to avoid looking for love in all the wrong places. Hearing she is beautiful is oxygen for your daughter’s soul. So do it often, in different and creative ways.
2) Your mother is beautiful and she is loved. The best gift you can give your daughter is to show her how a man treats a woman. Let her see modeled in you, however imperfectly, the God-given love between a man and a woman. Tell your wife daily that she is beautiful, that you love her, and that you are glad you married her. Tell her you are committed to her for life. And say these things, periodically, in front of your children.
3) You belong to God and were created for his glory. Girls frequently battles insecurity over a number of issues: their weight, their looks, their friends. Maybe sometimes they feel unimportant or unwanted, even in a home with love. This is why you, as a father, should remind them often that they are special creations formed lovingly by the Creator in His image. You should read with them the words of David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” from Psalm 139. That passage should be well-worn in your Bible and something internalized by your daughters for moments of doubt.
4) You are forgiven. Your girls will mess up. They will sin. They will disappoint you. And if you don’t have the good news of the gospel at the center of your family, she may grow up wondering how to measure up or what to do with her sins. Evangelize your daughter and then disciple her. Train in her in the vital Christian practice of repentance and forgiveness. Repentance for her sin and forgiveness of others’ sins. Let her know that Christ is always ready with fresh supplies of grace. Let her know that she must apply that grace not only to herself, but toward others who will wound her.
5) You are accepted. Whatever you do, don’t let your daughter consume the poison of the culture which measures a woman’s worth by her independence, by her ability to give away freely her purity. Don’t for a moment let her swallow the lie that sexual license is anything but a bondage of the worst kind, the enemy’s way of stealing the creativity and beauty and purpose for which she was created. Teach her what to look for in a man (hint: not the slackers you see on TV). Also: be that man so she knows what it looks like. Make her aware of the beautiful image of womanhood painted by the Creator. Her acceptance, her sense of self, her worth are bound up in her unique calling as God’s daughter.


Follow Me




Lance is just like everyone else...


Mockingbird...

The Wall Street Journal (online) has a piece in the January 15 issue called “Behind Lance Armstrong’s Decision to Talk” which attributes a quote to the athlete, and a response by a bureaucrat, that is decidedly not a snore. In a meeting with Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Armstrong pointed to himself and said,”You don’t hold the keys to my redemption. There’s one person who holds the keys to my redemption, and that’s me.” We’ve covered this human desire before (most specifically HERE), but the fascinating thing about this quote isn’t the brazenness; it’s the common nature of the refrain.
Everyone thinks that their redemption is up to them. Except, maybe, for Travis Tygart. Upon hearing Armstrong’s claim, Tygart allegedly responded, “That’s b-[expletive].” Now Tygart seems to have simply been calling bull-waste on Armstrong’s allusion to redemption in any form, claiming that the cyclist would do and say anything to be allowed to race again. But his initial reaction is accurate. The idea that we hold the keys to our own redemption is total b-[expletive].
That Armstrong might believe that baring his soul (or, at least, the contents of his medicine cabinet) to Oprah would lead to his redemption is, at worst, cynical in the extreme and at best, evidence of a woefully weak definition of redemption.
When Christians talk about redemption, we don’t refer to a return to a prior state of good standing.  Some do, actually, but such thinking, as Gerhard Forde points out in his seminal On Being a Theologian of the Cross, hinges on the un-Biblical notion of a “Fall.”   We imagine that we were once at a certain place in our relationship with God, we messed that up, and Jesus gives us the ability to get back. That is, according to Forde, “a tightly woven theology of glory.” The truth is so much better. In our redemption (in real redemption) we are saved to a state higher than we ever had before: we are regarded as one with Christ, as God’s own son.
If that is the gift, then we cannot hold the keys.  And thank goodness, too, because when another (a saving Christ) holds them, our gift is immeasurably more valuable.



HT / Z