FOUR REASONS TO REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR IN YOUR YOUTH by David Murray

Four Reasons to Remember Your Creator in Youth

It’s not too late to remember Him, before these evil days come even nearer.

Why do far more of us become Christians in our youth than in our middle or old age? It’s because youthful years are sensitive years. Without giving up our belief in “Total Depravity” we can say that it’s “easier” to believe and repent when we are younger. It’s never easy, but it’s easier. And it’s easier because as we get older our heart is hardened thicker, our conscience is seared number, our sins root deeper, our deadness becomes deader.

 

Our enemy says, “Youth for pleasure, middle age for business, old age for religion.” The Bible says, “Youth, middle age, and old age for your Creator.”

But as it’s especially in our youth that we are most inclined (determined?) to forget our Creator, it’s especially in these years that we must work to remember our Creator (Ecc.12:1). Remember that he made you, that he provides for you, that he cares for you, that he watches you, that he controls you; and remember that he can save you too. That’s a lot to remember, but it’s much easier to start memorizing when we are young!

1. Energetic Years
However, that’s not the only reason why God commands us to remember our Creator in our young years. It’s also because these are our most energetic years.

Why wait until we are pegging out, until we are running down, until our gas is almost empty, before serving our Creator? The God who made us deserves our most active and healthy years: our bodies are strong and muscular (well kind of), our minds are sharp and clear, our senses are receptive and keen and sensitive, our enthusiasm is bright and bushy, our wills are steely and determined. Remember him in your energetic years.

2. Sensitive Years
Why do far more of us become Christians in our youth than in our middle or old age? It’s because youthful years are sensitive years. Without giving up our belief in “Total Depravity” we can say that it’s “easier” to believe and repent when we are younger. It’s never easy, but it’s easier. And it’s easier because as we get older our heart is hardened thicker, our conscience is seared number, our sins root deeper, our deadness becomes deader.

Use youthful sensitivity and receptivity to remember your Creator before the evil days of callous indifference set in.

3. Teachable Years
We learn more in our youth than in any other period of life. That’s true in all subjects, but especially true in religious instruction. All the Christians I’ve met who were converted to Christ late in life have expressed huge regrets about how little they know and how little they can now learn. I encourage them to value and use whatever time the Lord gives them, but they often feel they have to study twice as hard to learn half as well.

4. Dangerous Years
Young years are minefield years: hormones, peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, pornography, immorality, testosterone, etc. Few navigate these years without blowing up here and there. Dangers abound on every side – and on the inside. How many “first” temptations become “last” temptations! How much we need our Creator to keep us and carry us through this battlefield.

Remember to Remember
Let me then give you some helps to remember your Creator during these best of years (and “worst” of years):

  • Be persuaded that you have a Creator: Get well grounded in a literal understanding of Genesis 1-2 and shun all evolutionary influences.
  • Get to know your Creator: Study his Word using sermons, commentaries, and good books. But also study his World using microscopes and telescopes and any other instruments he gives.
  • Join with your Creator’s friends: Build friendships with other creatures that love to remember and respect their Creator.
  • Follow your Creator’s order: He set and gave the pattern of six days work followed by one day of rest for contemplation of His Works.
  • Ask for your Creator’s salvation: Even if your rejection of your Creator has broken you in pieces, he’s willing to re-create you in his image.

And while we’re on the subject of salvation, I don’t want older readers to be discouraged. Compared to the aeons of eternity, you are still in your “youth.” It’s not too late to remember Him, before these evil days come even nearer.

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David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand

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THE SLOW MIRACLE OF THE LORD’S DAY by Greg Wilbur

THE SLOW MIRACLE OF THE LORD’S DAY

Whenever I get the opportunity to speak about worship in either a Sunday School series or an Inquirers class, I try to work in the following thought from Hart and Muether’s With Reverence and Awe:

“God’s intention was to bless his people through the constant and conscientious observation of the [Sabbath], week after week and year after year. Believers are sanctified through a lifetime of Sabbath observance. In other words, the Sabbath is designed to work slowly, quietly, seemingly imperceptively in reorienting believers’ appetites heavenward. It is not a quick fix, nor is it necessarily a spiritual high. It is an ‘outward and ordinary’ ordinance, part of the steady and healthy diet of the means of grace.”

In a world of quick fixes, easy steps, emotionalism, and intellectualism, Hart and Muether remind us of the slow and quiet work of the Spirit in congregational worship.

As the Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches in Q. 88:

Q. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?


A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

This reorienting perspective becomes an antidote for spiritual thrill-seeking and an assurance that the tried and true ways are still the best. Instead of looking for spiritual highs, we can rest in the surety of God’s promises—even when we do not feel like it. In addition, we are also kept from over intellectualizing worship as we recognize that worship is a spiritually formative process that reaches beyond our head and engages our heart and affections—especially over time.

As we consider corporate, congregational worship and its elements, can we approach it from the standpoint of submission because we know it is good for us rather than from the position of what we personally like? We submit to that type of discipline in exercise, eating, and learning new skills. The same applies to the on-going discipling (discipline) of Lord’s Day worship. It takes time to see results of an exercise regimen, and there are various times of success and plateaus but by looking back from where we have come, we see the trajectory of better fitness and health. The same is true with the discipline of worship and the trajectory of spiritual fitness and health.

Lord’s Day worship imperceptively reorients our affections towards heaven and away from earthly concerns, towards the eternal rather than those things that are passing away, to the way of the cross instead of our own comfort. To paraphrase my pastor, God did not redeem us by the blood of His Son in order for us to sit comfortably in our pew every week. The on-going shaping of the Sabbath equips, prepares, challenges, and changes us.

Have patience in the work of Sabbath observance—in your own heart and in the response of the congregation. The Spirit is at work in these outward and ordinary means.

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This article appeared on THE CHRISTWARD COLLECTIVE, part of THE ALLIANCE OF CONFESSING EVANGELICALS.

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT B. B. WARFIELD

10 Things You Should Know about B. B. Warfield

February 16, 2018

by: Fred G. Zaspel

 

 

This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.

 

  1. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) is best known as the theologian of the doctrine of inspiration.

 

This does not mean that he “invented” the doctrine or even that he was the first to expound it. In fact he enjoyed pointing out that his doctrine of inspiration was the one that is held in common by the entire church throughout its history. But he is the leading exponent of the doctrine.

 

He more than anyone else gave the doctrine of inspiration its deepest analysis and most extensive exposition and defense. He would summarize the doctrine of inspiration very simply as the teaching that Scripture is “God’s word written,” that “what Scripture says, God says.” Warfield was committed to the doctrine of inerrancy—the “trustworthiness” of Scripture was his preferred term—but not as merely a separate doctrine but as a necessary “implicate” of the very idea of inspiration. He insisted that if Scripture is “God’s word written,” inerrancy is a given.

 

  1. Inspiration was not B. B. Warfield’s central and most basic area of concern and interest.

 

It very much was an area of interest and concern, as is evident from what we have just said. But of still more central and basic concern was his commitment to the gospel of Christ. He loved to portray Christianity as “the redemptive religion.” Indeed, he insisted that Christianity means redemption and that redemption is its very reason for being.

 

Christ, the Lord of Glory and redeemer from heaven, is the central message of the Bible and the message that makes the doctrine of inspiration so very important. Long before Don Carson and Tim Keller made it cool, Warfield was self-consciously “gospel-centered” and gospel-driven in the very best sense of the terms.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield was a distinctly Reformed theologian.

He was deeply committed to the historic faith of the Christian church and specifically so in its Protestant and still more specifically, its Reformed expression. He treasured the Westminster Confession of Faith as “the ripened fruit of Reformed confession making,” and he exulted in the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and saving grace.

 

He understood Calvinism as the purest expression of religion generally, understood as man’s sense of dependence upon God, and as the only theological system consistent with biblical theism. He gloried in “Christian Supernaturalism” as not just an abstract theological commitment but the living experience of every believer rescued by the powerful, “irresistible” workings of divine grace.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield was one of the greatest theologians America has ever produced.

 

We don’t need to argue whether he was America’s greatest theologian ever—opinions here vary. God has given America some theological giants both before and after Warfield. But he is certainly in the contending, and all sides acknowledge him as the towering theological figure at the turn of the twentieth century.

 

It is aptly said that his grasp was as great in breadth as it was in depth. He was thoroughly versed in every department of biblical and theological studies, from the tools of the modern criticism to historical theology to New Testament or Old Testament studies to his own department of systematic theology, and he consequently owned virtually every discussion and debate he entered. His vast learning and penetrating insight were acknowledged even in his own day. There is enough evidence to say that theologians of his day published with a keen awareness that Warfield was keeping watch!

 

  1. B. B. Warfield has been called “the spoiler of liberalism.”

 

Warfield taught in the department of systematic theology, but in those days the position was called Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology. Warfield took it all very seriously, but the “polemic” part of his title became closely associated with his name because of his relentless assault on theological liberalism.

 

His massive learning and his heart that was so deeply committed to the gospel made him eager not just to defend Christianity but to answer and challenge all opposition to it. Assaults against the inspiration of Scripture, creation, the incarnation and two natures of Christ, and all things supernatural in Christian theology were mounting from every quarter with increasing vigor. This was the heyday of theological liberalism, and it was Warfield who above all others not only stood against it but answered it, and who turned the tables of evidence against it. Confident always that divinely revealed truth could never be anything but true, he relished every opportunity to demonstrate that it was so.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield was not a cold, “ivory tower” kind of theologian.

 

His deeply thought-out and carefully articulated theology was very tightly connected to Christian life and devotion. His concern for the doctrine of inspiration, for example, was not an isolated one. It was tied immediately to his concern for the advance of divinely revealed truth and to Christian confidence in both faith and life. His concern to counter unbelief regarding the person of Christ was likewise a concern for gospel truth that sinners desperately need. His opposition to theological liberalism was born in a heart beating hot for Christ as presented in the gospel. And everywhere his writings reflect a passionate heart of humble adoring trust.

 

In this sense Warfield was a model theologian. He was faithfully and diligently exegetical in his theology, widely and deeply informed, and always driven by a heart of worship. He was very much “a theologian of the head and of the heart,” and his sermons all reflect a heart of tender devotion. Read him, and you’ll find him absolutely contagious on this score.

Warfield on the Christian Life

Fred G. Zaspel

 

This volume accessibly outlines B. B. Warfield’s teaching on a variety of topics concerning the Christian life, including prayer, Bible reading, and work.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield was not a theistic evolutionist.

 

You may have heard that he was, but this common assumption cannot be sustained. He did indeed express openness to the possibility of evolutionary theories, and he believed that if (and this if was always prominent) evolution were to be proven, the Bible could accommodate it. But he never did allow that any evolutionary theory had, in fact, been proven, and he regularly mocked its lack of evidence.

 

Moreover, he often expressed his commitment to related biblical teachings that are incompatible with any known evolutionary theory. And in fact only a few years before he died he wrote that he had abandoned believe in evolution by the time he was thirty years old. Some have argued that Warfield’s theoretical openness to evolution, often expressed, only aided the advancing acceptance of evolution among professing Christians. I rather think, instead, that his influence helped to hold it back, at least in his own denomination. But in either case, in the years following his death the evolutionary viewpoint did eventually win out in the Presbyterian Church.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield’s understanding of the cessation of the miraculous gifts won wide influence for the next century.

 

In his book, Counterfeit Miracles, he argued that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were given as signs of apostleship and limited to that foundational time period and then ceased. This was the accepted Reformed understanding. Many Reformed types today are stepping away from that position, but Warfield’s influence in this discussion has been obvious and widely acknowledged, and in discussion his arguments still command a hearing.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield’s wife, Annie (1852-1915), was not an invalid throughout their married life.

 

The legends on this score are rooted in a modicum of truth but largely overstated. Annie did suffer from ill-health from early in their marriage, her condition worsened over the years, and toward the end she was largely home bound and eventually bedridden. But her correspondence reveals that she was active for years, entertaining guests in the home, playing the piano for them, riding daily in Princeton in her carriage (I have one of her calling cards that she would leave at places where she visited), serving as hostess at a high-profile civic event, and so on.

 

But her health was evidently in constant decline—one obituary mentions that it was so for her last twenty years. The Warfields never had children; we learn from the correspondence that this was a disappointment to them, but there is no evidence that it was due to her illness.

 

  1. B. B. Warfield is said to have been the one who “propelled orthodoxy into the twentieth century.”

 

Warfield was by no means alone in his energetic defense of the faith: there was Spurgeon and Orr and Bonar and others. But no one was so fully equipped to answer the onslaught of unbelief of the day and to expound biblical truth than was Warfield, and no one took up that cause with more energy. We do not doubt in the least that “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” would have continued to make its advance without him, but it was Warfield that God raised up for that important moment. God seems always to do that.

 

 

Fred G. Zaspel (PhD, Free University of Amsterdam) serves as the pastor at Reformed Baptist Church in Franconia, Pennsylvania, an adjunct professor of systematic theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the executive director of Books At a Glance.

WILL YOU STILL KNOW ME ?

Will You Still Know Me?

Will You Still Know Me? www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Sylvia Schroeder

“The doctor will just take this itty-bitty part,” my finger taps my daughter’s birthmark. I wear an intentional mask of cheerful confidence. “It won’t take long and it will be all over,” I say with a nod of assurance.

My six-year-old Heidi’s eyes are fixed, worried on that brown blotch.

Her outstretched arm holds still while I trace circles on her forearm around the dark splotch. She watches solemnly, her forehead puckers, her shiny eyes darken. I bend my eyes to within inches of hers, willing hers to mine, away from the stain on her arm.

“Will you still know me?” she whispers.

“Of course, I will,” I say pretending my heart isn’t melted butter. My blue eyes are level with her round dark ones.

Oh child, will I still know you? I will know you in a crowd of a thousand. I will spot you and call you mine. I will know you if you become an annoying adolescent with pink hair and black lipstick. I will know you when my hair is gray and my shoulders bend like a capital letter C. I will know you when my eyes grow dim and my mind fogs. My heart will jump at the sound of your voice. You will still be my sunshine when my days become dark.

I will know you.

“But if he takes my bookmarker,” she begins and her lip quivers. She looks up. Her clear blue eyes fill. “Who am I?”

Her “bookmarker,” that defining stamp born from the womb, always part of my Heidi, is now a foreboding pre-cancerous offense. It looks like a little mud puddle splashed against the inside white of her arm. The doctor wants it removed. She is scheduled for surgery in an hour.

Her questions crack into raw places in my heart and into my psyche.

In the mind of my little girl, the big questions of identity are condensed into one tiny birthmark, a symbol of her uniqueness, an assurance each morning that she indeed is Heidi, the joy of our lives. Her bookmarker anchors her place in an enormous universe.

Her dad and I walk down the hall next to the rolling metal bed that hugs our girl. She seems small against the white. An entourage of medical personnel walks with us. I squeeze the small hand in mine, not wanting to let go. In front of doors that will soon swallow our daughter, we lean over her and pray.

Then we stand tall, back away and wreath our faces in smiles. We wave her on her way as though she is about to go outside to play.

In my mind it is much more complicated. Her question reverberates like an echo in the canyon of my space. Will You still know me Lord, when they are all grown? Will You know me when my job is stripped, when I fail or become replaceable? Will You remember me after what I consider to be my very essence is gone? When the surgery of life has recut and reshaped me, will my being still matter? Will you know me?

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me,” David the Psalmist’s words whisper into my silent thoughts (Psalm 139:1).

I consider my markers. How readily I look to peripherals, accomplishments, and praise from others to establish my place in this sphere, to give name to my identity. What bookmarks me in my eyes is far different from the person God sees. He looks deep into my very core and loves the child He created.

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up….and are intimately acquainted with all my ways,” (Psalm 139: 2-3).

Sitting in a cold waiting room of life, I am humbled by God’s knowing.

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb,” (Psalm 139:13).

Set apart, cared for and loved, this is the ultimate mark of the believer. To know Christ and be known of Him is the pinnacle of existence. It is the identity for which we long.

In a tender proclamation of devotion, the Lord spoke to His people Israel saying, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” (Isaiah 49:16).

I stretch out my own arms in front of me. They are smooth and pale. I uncurl my fists, hold up my palms and close my eyes envisioning my name inscribed on giant nail scarred hands.

Jesus wrote my name in the pages of eternity. He inscribed me on hands wounded by the weight of the sin of humankind. I am bookmarked chosen.

When Heidi comes back, a white bandage covers what used to be a brown birthmark. Her eyes are open, searching for me.

I lean down, kiss her forehead and whisper, “I know you.”

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This article appeared on INFORMING THE REFORMING; Feb. 19, 2018.

SAFE HANDS ? by Mark Johnston

God’s Providence is a wonderful thing. The Westminster divines spoke of it in these terms: ‘God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions’ (WSC 11). The Heidelberg Catechism captures in warmer tones like this: ‘God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creature and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful   barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand’ (HC 27).

Both statements are true, but the Heidelberg definition resonates in a way that perhaps is not true of its Westminster equivalent. This is not because it is any less true; but, rather, it reflects the way we are wired to most fully receive God’s truth.

It shows how God has chosen to make his truth known in Holy Scripture: not just by reasoned proposition, as is typical of Pauline revelation; but also by poetry, prophecy and history – history in which the truth of who God is and how he works is ‘fleshed out’ in real stories.

The Heidelberg formulation deftly picks up on this in its reference to God’s ‘hand’ by which he upholds and governs all things. This is an anthropomorphism – a form of words by which God accommodates himself to our finite, fallen understanding. God does not have hands; but in his word he speaks of ‘his hand’ being upon all kinds of people, things and events as he steers the course of history.

We see this beautifully in the Genesis account of Joseph. For those who know the story (it is arguably the best loved of all the accounts of the Patriarchs), its punch line comes at the very end in Joseph’s words, ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…’ (50.19).  In the midst of the murk and confusion of human intent and action, God was quietly, but purposefully steering all things towards the goals he had planned from eternity. That is, the intermediate goal of ‘…the saving of many lives’ [from famine] through Joseph; but also his ultimate goal of  ‘…the saving of many lives’ [from hell] through Jesus.

God’s ‘hand’ in this unfolding story can be seen in many ways; but it is portrayed for us quite starkly in one particular episode: the ugly moment when Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt (Ge 37.12-36). At one point in the narrative, there is a surprising cluster of ‘hand’ references in relation to Joseph’s brothers intent to do him harm (37.21-22, 27). In that sense the author is signalling that, from a human perspective, the handprints of the brothers were all over this sordid incident. Their hatred for ‘the dreamer’ spawned a plan for fratricide.

But, against this backdrop we see another set of curious details. The brothers may have been trying to orchestrate one plan; but clearly there was another ‘hand’ at work steering the outcome in a different direction.

We see it in the irony of the ‘chance happenings’ that actually bring Joseph to his brothers in the first place and subsequently seem to seal his fate. Jacob had sent his son to find his brothers (37.12-14); but Joseph can’t find them. Instead a stranger ‘finds’ him wandering around in the fields and he tells them where they are likely to be (37.14-17). Then later, after Reuben has devised what he hopes will be a reprieve for his younger brother, a caravan of Ishmaelites comes over the horizon and the brothers’ plan to kill Joseph is changed as they saw an opportunity to make some money out of his disappearance (37.21-22, 25-27).

It’s only when we stop and ponder the interconnection of these events and the timings bound up with them that we realise there is more going on than meets the eye. The chance encounter with the stranger near Shechem combined with the moment the slave-traders appeared out of nowhere (this was not some busy Interstate highway) all flag up a different signal: there is another hand controlling these events. But the full disclosure of whose hand it is and what lies behind its operations will not become clear for many decades to come – and even with that, full disclosure would only become clear with the coming of Christ.

The significance of the link between God’s providence and his ‘hand’ becomes clearer as the history of redemption unfolds. Classically, reflecting on the twists and turns of his own life in light of his faith in God, David declares, ‘My times are in your hands’ (Pr 31.14-15). This elaborates on David’s cry made earlier in the psalm, ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ (31.5). He was acknowledging that from beginning to end his life was in God’s wise and loving hands.

It is, however, the denouement of David’s words that are so striking. It comes on the cross when Jesus takes them on his own lips, quoting them verbatim in his dying breath. But think for a moment about what was bound up with this calm committal. The hands into which he was entrusting his spirit were the hands that had knit his unformed body together in Mary’s womb, had led him into exile in Egypt in his infancy, had kept him in obscurity in Nazareth for almost 30 years, had taken him into the desert to be tempted by the devil. They had not only led him through the joys of public ministry; but its sorrows as well – culminating in his being despised, rejected, acquainted with grief and now immolated. As Peter would tell his audience on the Day of Pentecost, the human hands that crucified our Lord were directed by the hand of God himself (Ac 2.23).

So as Jesus uttered those words, ‘Father, into your hands…’, he knew they were ‘safe hands’ – not because they had made his earthly life run smoothly; but because he knew it had run according to plan, even through the darkness and pain, and would culminate in the joy set before him in heaven.

It is the deepest longing of the human soul to know that our lives are in ‘safe hands’ and none are safer than the hands of the God whose providence works in concert with his promise of eternal salvation.

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Mark Johnston is a pastor in Wales, a trustee of the Banner of Truth and regularly blogs at PLACE FOR TRUTH.

 

TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEX by Paul David Tripp

1. Sex is God’s good creation.

God in his great wisdom, for his glory and our good, has chosen to place us in a world where sex is a significant part of the human experience. The issue of sex is important and unavoidable because God, in wisdom and love, chose it to be.

Because sex is the creation of God’s hand and exists under the control of his sovereignty, we should approach it with reverence and awe, not with embarrassment and timidity. Sex came from him, belongs to him, and continues to exist through him—to him be the glory.

2. Sex can be dangerous.

Sadly, today sex—a beautiful creation of God—functions in the surrounding culture like a spiritual solvent eating away at the very fabric of the human community. It has perverse power to master your heart and, in so doing, determine the direction of your life. It gives the buzz that you’re in control while, at the very same time, becoming the master that progressively chains you to its control. It offers you an inner sense of well-being while having no capacity whatsoever to satisfy your heart.

It seduces you with the prospect of contentment-producing pleasure but leaves you empty and craving more. Sex holds out the possibility that you will finally be satisfied but instead causes you to envy whoever has more and better than you do. It sells you the lie that physical pleasure is the pathway to spiritual peace. Sex is the work of the Creator’s hands but tends to promise you what only the Creator can deliver. It is beautiful in itself but has become distorted and dangerous by means of the fall.

3. Suffering will impact your sexuality.

If suffering is every person’s experience, then you should expect suffering to impact your sexuality. You will suffer the reality that right here, right now, sex doesn’t function the way that God intended. You will face the redefinition, distortion, and misuse of sex. You suffer the temptation to take your sexual life outside of God’s clear boundaries.

You will suffer being blindsided by sexual temptation at the mall, on your computer, when watching Netflix, or, sadly, even when you’re doing a Google search on your phone. You will suffer women exposing their bodies in public or men treating women like they’re little more than physical toys for their pleasure. You will suffer the hardship of trying to protect your children from all the sexual danger out there, while you work to keep your own heart pure.

Because you know of all the seductive temptations, you will suffer issues of trust with those you love. Some of us will suffer sexual abuse, and others of us will suffer the exhaustion that comes from trying to keep our hearts pure. You will suffer misunderstanding and mockery as you try to stay inside God’s boundaries in a culture that laughs at the thought of sexual boundaries. Paul assumes that we will suffer, and if he’s right (and he is), that suffering will include our sexuality.

4. Sex cannot satisfy your heart.

Sex is powerfully pleasurable, but it cannot satisfy your heart. The touch of another person stimulates your body and your heart, but it never leaves you fulfilled. Sex connects you in powerful and dramatic ways to another person, but it has no ability whatsoever to make you a better person.

Whether we know it or not, every human being lives in search of a savior. We are all propelled by a quest for identity, inner peace, and some kind of meaning and purpose. And we all look for it somewhere. Here’s the bottom line: looking to creation to get what only the Creator can give you always results in addiction of some kind. The thing you hoped would serve you pulls you into its service. What seemed like freedom ends up being bondage. The thing is not the problem; what you’ve asked of it is.

God’s creative intention was to bring glory to himself by the pleasures he created.

5. God is at the center of your sexual world.

Our problem with sex doesn’t begin with lust, with bad choices, or with sexual misbehavior. Our problem with sex begins when we forget that God must be at the center of this part of our lives as he must be with any other. When you have no greater motivation in sex than your own satisfaction, you are already in sexual trouble, even if you don’t know it yet. How have you tended to put yourself in the center of your world of sexuality?

Whether or not you functionally recognize it, at the epicenter of your sexual world exists a God of awesome power, glory, and grace. Sex in its rightful place in your heart and life always begins by recognizing that he is at the center.

6. Sex is deeply spiritual.

Sex is not an a-religious thing. Sex is deeply spiritual. Your relationship to your own sexuality and the sexuality of others always reveals your heart. Your sexual life is always an expression of what you truly worship. Sex is deeply religious. In sex you are either self-consciously submitting to God or setting yourself up as God. In other words, sex is never simply a horizontal thing. Sex always connects you to the God who created your body, gave you eyes to see and a heart that desires, and tells you how you are to steward this aspect of your personhood.

7. Sexual sin starts with your heart.

Here’s where the words of Christ drive us: our struggle with sexual sin is not first a struggle with the environment in which we live or with the people that we live near. Our struggle with sexual sin reveals the dark and needy condition of our hearts. We are our biggest problem.

When it comes to sexual sin, the greatest sexual danger to any human being anywhere lives inside him, not outside. Isolation, changes of location and relationship, and management of behavior never work because they don’t target the place where the problem exists—the heart.

8. Pleasure is God-glorifying.

God’s creative intention was to bring glory to himself by the pleasures he created. Each pleasurable thing was perfectly created and designed to reflect and point to the greater glory of the One who created it. These things were designed to be pleasure inducing but also for a deeply spiritual purpose.

They were meant to remind you of him. They were meant to amaze you not just with their existence but with the wisdom, power, and glory of the One who made them. They were put on earth to be one of God’s means of getting your attention and capturing your heart. The pleasure of sex is meant to remind me of the glory of my intimate union with Christ, which only grace could produce.

Sex in a Broken World

Sex in a Broken World

Paul David Tripp

Best-selling author Paul David Tripp helps us see that only the gospel can redeem sexual brokenness, giving us a clear view of God’s original purpose for sex.

9. The pleasure of sex is no substitute for God’s grace.

It’s right to celebrate the goodness of God in giving you sweet pleasures to enjoy, and you should never feel guilty enjoying them as long as you do it within his boundaries and for his glory. It’s wonderful to celebrate the tasty pleasures of food, the stunning beauty of a fine piece of art, the sweet intimacy of sex, or the sound drama of a well-written piece of music. But as you’re celebrating pleasure, don’t forget to celebrate grace.

God’s grace has the power to protect you from asking of pleasure what you should not ask. God’s grace gives you the power to say no to the seductive call of pleasure when it is vital to say no. God’s grace offers you forgiveness when you have failed to do both these things. And God’s grace ushers you into the presence of the One who alone can give you the lasting satisfaction and joy that your heart seeks. So as you’re celebrating the physical pleasures of the created world, take time to celebrate the eternal pleasures of redemption.

10. Sex is intended to point us to God himself.

Since God created both you and sex, it is impossible to properly understand sex and participate in it appropriately if you are practically ignoring God and his existence. By means of creation you are his, and your sex life is his.

Sex that recognizes God’s existence becomes the beautiful, intimate, relational act of worship that it was intended to be. In the midst of all its physical delights, it does not forget God. It remembers that everything enlivened and enjoyed in sex belongs to him. It rests in his control and celebrates his care in the midst of the most intimate of human connections.



DID THE PURITANS UNDERSTAND SUFFERING ? by Carl Truman

Did the Puritans understand suffering?

Some years ago a student came to ask me if the Puritans had a theology of suffering.  Apparently he had been told by someone that they did not.

My response pointed to three basic facts.

First, the Puritans lived in a time before the discovery of antibiotics, analgesics and flush toilets.  Disease and pain and filth were thus part of everyday life.  A good day. a really good day, for a seventeenth century person would have involved something akin to a low-level fever which today would involve time off work.  A bad day would be… Well, best not to dwell on that if you want to sleep at night.   Read Samuel Pepys’s account of his bladder stone operation if you are truly curious.

Second, with catastrophically high infant mortality rates, scarcely a family would have been untouched by something that today would be regarded as exceptional and horrific.  John Owen buried all eleven of his children.  Imagine that.  And in all his voluminous writings, he never mentions these tragedies even once.

Third, the Clarendon Code of the early 1660s was legislation that led to loss of property and even liberty for many who held Puritan views in Restoration England. 

So the Puritans certainly suffered – physically, emotionally, politically.  But did they have a theology of suffering?

Well, few of them dwelt on their suffering in their writings so not really, no.  Not explicitly so anyway.  But implicitly even this silence indicated that yes, they did have a theology of suffering.  It was a theology that denied cosmic significance to the pain and injustice which they personally endured.   They simply did not consider themselves or their experiences to be that important.  They knew they lived in a fallen world.  That did not make them passive in the face of such.  But it did mean that they wasted little or no time complaining about it or seeing its as some major theodicy problem.  They and their lives were just not that significant in the grand scheme of things.

That is truly a bygone age.

 

As Philip Rieff once commented, “Formerly, if men were miserable, they went to church, so as to find the rationale of their misery; they did not expect to be happy.”  Or, to cite Paul: 2Corinthians 4:17.