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D.A. Carson – Prayer for Power

15 Jan

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

To put the matter simply, Paul wants us to have the power to grasp the love of God in Christ Jesus, to the end that we might be mature. To be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” is simply a Pauline way of saying “to be all that God wants you to be,” or “to be spiritually mature.” A similar expression is found in the next chapter of this epistle, where Paul tells us how various people in the church are to serve “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:12–13). God himself, Christ himself, is the standard. God elsewhere says, “Be perfect, for I am perfect,” and “Be holy, for I am holy”; now he says here, in effect, “Be mature, be complete, as I am mature, complete.”

Do you see the stunning implication? Paul assumes that we cannot be as spiritually mature as we ought to be unless we receive power from God to enable us to grasp the limitless dimensions of the love of Christ. We may think we are peculiarly mature Christians because of our theology, our education, our years of experience, our traditions; but Paul knows better. He knows we cannot be as mature as we ought to be until we “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” That is why he prays as he does: he wants us to grow in our grasp of Christ’s love so that we will become mature, “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

~D. A. Carson~

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 196.

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Thomas Schreiner – God is Our King of Glory and Love

25 Jul


Focusing on God as King in the abstract apart from human beings does not do justice to the breadth found in the Scriptures. For the central message of Scripture also includes human being–the crown of creation–who are created in God’s image. Since God is King and Lord, it is his purpose and design that he be glorified in all things and by all people. Some have complained that such a God is narcissistic, but that objection misses the point. For God as King glorifies himself by giving himself to his human beings in love. God is honored as King when human beings receive and depend upon his love and experience his salvation. God’s glory and God’s love must not be placed into two separate compartments. Rather, God is glorified as Lord in his love for human beings. The sovereignty of God and his kingship take place in history, in the story recounted in the Scriptures, revealed supremely in the ministry and person of Jesus Christ.

~Thomas Schreiner~

The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2013) p. xii-xiv

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D.A. Carson – The Nuanced Love of God

29 May

What the Bible says about the love of God is more complex and nuanced than what is allowed by mere sloganeering.

~D. A. Carson~

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2000) p.24

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Vern Poythress – The Influence of God in Informal Arguments

23 May


The Bible indicates that unbelievers who reject the message of salvation in the gospel, the good news about Christ, have their eyes blinded by Satan:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:3-4)

This statement about the reception of the gospel indicates that the gospel deserves to be welcomed and believed. There is plenty of evidence, including the divine witness of the Holy Spirit that accompanies it (1 Thess. 1:5). But unbelievers are not persuaded by this evidence. They are blind to it. At some crucial points they do not accept the arguments, no matter how convincing these arguments may be in their own right.

Our hearts can easily deceive us. Even if we pride ourselves on our ability to criticize bad arguments, we are more likely to undertake a critique if our heart includes us to dislike the argument’s conclusion or to be suspicious of it. On the other hand, in practice we are more likely to neglect the task of critical analysis and to swallow a flawed or fallacious argument if our hearts tell us that the conclusion is pleasing…

On the one hand, emotion or commitments in the heart can sway people to reject good arguments, arguments in accord with sound logic. On the other hand, God can change human hearts, and he can give wisdom to people who love him. Rightly understood, love and logic go together.

~Vern Poythress~

Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2013) p. 46-47.

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Tim Keller – The Secret to Marriage

24 Apr


In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but sacrificed everything to bring us into union with him. And this takes us beyond the philosophical to the personal and the practical. If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind.

~Tim Keller~

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (New York, NY; Dutton; 2011) p. 38-39.

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D.A. Carson – The Love of God and Our Culture’s Idea

18 Feb

Suddenly the Christian doctrine of the love of God becomes very difficult, for the entire framework in which it is set in Scripture has been replaced.

To put this another way, we live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved. I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity.

The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.

~D. A. Carson~

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2000) p.11

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Mike Reeves: The Sharing God

14 Jan

Being triune, God is a sharing God, a God who loves to include. Indeed, that is why God will go on to create. His love is not for keeping but for spreading.

~Mike Reeves~

Delighting in the Trinity (Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic; 2012) p. 31.

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