Mining Grace

…the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified

Archive for November 2008

God’s Freedom – Dort 3.7

In the Old Testament, God revealed this secret of his will to a small number; in the New Testament (now without any distinction between peoples) he discloses it to a large number. The reason for this difference must not be ascribed to the greater worth of one nation over another, or to a better use of the light of nature, but to the free good pleasure and undeserved love of God. Therefore, those who receive so much grace, beyond and in spite of all they deserve, ought to acknowledge it with humble and thankful hearts; on the other hand, with the apostle they ought to adore (but certainly not inquisitively search into) the severity and justice of God’s judgments on the others, who do not receive this grace.

-Synod of Dort, 3/4.7

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Why did God choose Israel over all of the other — aparently more worthy — options?  Why did God choose me over all of the other — apparently more worthy — options?  Enquiring minds would like to know.  God’s people aren’t saved from their sins because they are smarter, prettier, better geographically situated, or upwardly mobile.  God saves sinner solely according to his “free good pleasure and udeserved love.”  But enquiring minds still want to know.  And to enquiring minds God has given no answer.  The only road of enquiry that he has opened up is into his sovereign grace.  Do not pry into God’s secret counsel rather learn from his revealed will.  He invites all to salvation.  The one who comes to him he will in no way cast out.  The smoking ember he will not put out and the bent stalk he will not break.  Come to God and find out the meaning of his “free good pleasure and undeserved love.”  Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as the God-man the only savior of sinners.

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Written by Joe Holland

November 30, 2008 at 5:23 am

Posted in haste

Praying Thanks – Part 3

An outline for a prayer of thanksgiving from Matthew Henry’s, Method for Prayer.

We have reason to thank God for the spiritual mercies he has shown to Christians,

  1. For the strivings of the Holy Spirit with us and the admonitions and checks of our own consciences.
  2. For the saving change brought about in us by his blessed Spirit.
  3. For the remission of our sins, and the peace of our consciences.
  4. For the influences of grace in sanctification and perseverance.
  5. For sweet communion with God in holy ordinances and the communications of his favor.
  6. For gracious answers to our prayers.
  7. For support under our afflictions, and spiritual benefit and advantage by them.
  8. For the performance of God’s promises.

Written by Joe Holland

November 29, 2008 at 5:06 am

Posted in haste

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Praying Thanks – Part 2

An outline for a prayer of thanksgiving from Matthew Henry’s, Method for Prayer.

We should thank God for the goodness of his grace relating to our souls, their future in heaven, and for God’s blessing on his church,

  1. For his gracious design and provision of man’s redemption adn salvation, when he was lost and undone by sin.
  2. For the eternal purpose and counsels of God concerning man’s redemption.
  3. For appointing a Redeemer, gracious condescension to fallen men, and provision for the broken Adamic covenant.
  4. For the early and ancient indication of the gracious design concerning fallen men.
  5. For the many glorious instances of God’s favor to the Old Testament church.
  6. For the wonderful and mysterious incarnation of the Son of God, and His coming into the world.
  7. For God’s gracious appointment of Christ, and his upholding of him in his great work of redemption.
  8. For his holy life, his excellent doctrine, and the glorious miracles he did to confirm his doctrine.
  9. For the great encouragement Christ gave to poor sinners to come to him.
  10. For the full satisfaction which he made to the justice of God for the sin of man, by the blood of his cross, for the purchases, victories, and triumphs of the cross, and for all the precious benefits which flow to us from the dying of our Lord Jesus.
  11. For his resurrection from the dead on the third day.
  12. For his ascension into heaven, and his sitting at God’s right hand.
  13. For the intercession which he ever lives to make for us.
  14. For the dominion and sovereignty to which the Redeemer is exalted.
  15. For the assurance we have of his second coming to judge the world.
  16. For the sending of the Holy Spirit to comfort and support us in the absence of Christ’s bodily presence, to carry on his undertaking, and to prepare things for his second coming.
  17. For the covenant of grace made with us in Christ, and all the privileges, signs and seals of it.
  18. For the writing of the Scriptures, and the preserving of them pure and entire to our day.
  19. For the institution of ordinances for the church, and particularly that of the gospel ministry.
  20. For the planting of Christianity  in the world, and the establishment of the church, despite the oppositions of hell.
  21. For the preservation of Christianity in the world to this day.
  22. For the martyrs, confessors, lights of the church, and good examples of those who are gone before us to heaven.
  23. For the communion of the saints, that spiritual fellowship which we have with all good Christians.
  24. For the prospect and hope of eternal life, when time and days shall be no more.

Written by Joe Holland

November 28, 2008 at 5:06 am

Posted in haste

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Praying Thanks – Part 1

An outline for a prayer of thanksgiving from Matthew Henry’s, Method for Prayer.

  1. Stir up yourself to praise God by considering both the reason and the encouragement we have to praise Him.
  2. Be particular with your thanksgiving to God.  You have reason to thank him,
    1. For how he has shown us his goodness in his Word, the Bible.
    2. For the many instances of his goodness.
      1. This includes the goodness of his sovereign care over our bodies and the life that we now live:
        1. With reference to all of creation, and mankind in general.
        2. With reference to us, his people in particular.
          1. He has given us reasoning minds and has made use capable of knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying him; unlike the animals.
          2. For our preservation; our lives are prolonged, and we have continuing use of our reason, body, and senses.
          3. For remarkable recoveries from danger by sickness or otherwise.
          4. For the supports and comforts of this life, which have made our earthly pilgrimage easy and pleasant.
          5. For success in our vocations and affairs, blessings in relationships, and comfortable places to live.
          6. For our freedoms as citizens of this country.

Written by Joe Holland

November 27, 2008 at 5:05 am

Posted in haste

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Being Thankful with Matthew Henry

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart

-King David, Psalm 138:1

__________

I’m sitting her in my study wishing that Thanksgiving were already here.  I can almost taste the food.  I can almost hear the laughter inducing fun.  I can almost feel the warmth of my house with my family all gathered in.  It is a wonderful time of year to take stock of God’s blessings and thank him.

Even a cursory study of the Bible on a Christian’s response to God for his goodness would overwhelm you with the word, “thanksgiving”.  A Christian — out of all people — is someone who should be profoundly thankful.  A Christian knows that his sins have been forgiven by God’s grace alone.  A Christian has been freed from trying to earn God’s pleasure having been given it freely instead.  A Christian even has his sorrows tailor made for him by God for spiritual growth.  A Christian truly knows where all his blessings in this life come from — God Almighty.

But even knowing these things doesn’t always lead the Christian to prayer.  There are times that we need the help of others to formulate our thoughts on Thanksgiving.  To help us in our prayers of thanksgiving I’m going to ask Matthew Henry to guest blog portions of his Method for Prayer over these next three days.  He’ll take three posts to provide you with an outline of how to be thankful in prayer. May it lead you thankfully to the Throne of Grace!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Joe Holland

November 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm

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Still Preaching Jesus

I have continued to preach through my series entitled, “Jesus, His Church, and His Mission.”  My goal has been to show the link between the person of Christ, the identity of his church, and the mission to which he has called every Christian.

I broke up the series into three sets of four sermons.  I’ve intentionally tried to hold off planning the rest of the series so that my weekly study might further my own throughts on these three crucial topics: Christology, Eccleisiology, and Missiology.

So far the series looks like:

  1. Jesus is the Revelation of God
  2. Jesus is Man and God
  3. Jesus is the Mediator
  4. Jesus is the King
  5. The Church is a Kingdom
  6. The Church is a Bride
  7. The Church is a Building
  8. The Church is a Body

Unfortunately there is no audio for my last two sermons — the church as Kingdom and Bride.  One week we had a bad CD in the recorder.  This past week we had a two second power outage in the middle of my sermon that shut down all our recording equipment.

I went into this series wanting to teach others the importance of being consciously focused on Jesus as they think about Church and mission.  I’ve found that I too need more work in this area.  Its easy to say you are Christ-centered.  It is something altogether different to labor to make it true in practice.  This is especially true when dealing with an intentity as large as “the church” and an endeavor as broad as “missions”.  The one and only anchor of both of these enormous things is Jesus Christ.  As soon as the anchor line to Jesus is severed, both church and missions become aimlessly adrift in a sea of pragmatism.  Jesus is absolutely essential — for salvation from sins and for growth in grace.

Written by Joe Holland

November 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Posted in haste

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If You’re Interested In that Kind of Thing

If you’re interested in theological reflection of the socio-cultural bent then you should check out this article by John Seel on James Davidson Hunter’s thesis of cultural change.  Then see the exchange between Ligon Duncan and Carl Trueman over at Ref21 on whether or not it hints at Marxist thinking.

Disclaimer: The only reason I continue to be fascinated by Hunter’s work is because I had him as a Sociology 101 professor at UVA.  Other than that affinity, most of his stuff is over my head.

Written by Joe Holland

November 24, 2008 at 4:06 pm

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