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Archive for July, 2007

Considering that it has been the case that the churches coming from the Reformed lineage seem, from time to time, to have no place for talk about spiritual warfare, it might seem even more an oddity that our most influential theologian had a very significant place for it in his understanding of the Scriptures and what is going on in the world. John Calvin writes:

“There is no reason why we should hesitate to shun the world, which contemns God and delivers up itself into the bondage of Satan: nor is there a reason why we should fear its enmity, because it is alienated from God. In short, since corruption pervades all nature, the faithful ought to study self-denial; and since nothing is seen in the world by wickedness and corruption, they must necessarily disregard flesh and blood that they may follow God. At the same time the other thing ought to be added, that God is he who has called them, that under his protection they may oppose all the machinations of the world and Satan.” (Commentary on 1 John 5:19)

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This past week the sermon was on John’s famous statement that “God is love.” In studying and preparing for the sermon this week I was struck by how different the Christian’s love is to be from the world’s. As a Christian, I am to image the love God has shown to us in sending the Son. Christian love is one of self-sacrifice; the Christian life is one of sacrificing our good or our desires for the good of others.

Furthermore, the motives of this love are different. First, they come from a heart of gratitude for what God has done for us. Second, they come from the Spirit recreating us, giving us the heart to respond in gratitude. We could not love in this way unless we are truly born of God, having the Spirit inside. And it is here at the discussion on motives that most clearly separates the Christian and the non-Christian (or even the “old man” from the “new man” on an individual, personal level). The one not being born of God, or of the world according to John, cannot love in this manner; their motives will always be for self-gratification. Yet, the call of the Christian is to give up everything, following the example of Jesus, to gain everything (of course even “gaining everything” has to be carefully nuanced).

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John Calvin writes in his first chapter of the Institutes:

“If, at midday, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth, is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus, too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness, will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom, will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy, will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.” (I.1.2)

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This week’s sermon was mainly based on 1 John 3:1-10, discussing what it means that the Father has loved us in such a way as to call us children of God. The majority of the sermon was spent on living as children of God and living in, or accepting in our being, that we are children. Of course, then I moved on to show that if we are born of God, sin has to place in us, we “will not continue to sin.” Instead, we will resemble our Father who has birthed us through the Holy Spirit. And this is a comfort for those who feel burdened by sin. If you are born of God sin has no control over you; you will not continue to sin, though it may seem daunting at the time. Sacramentally, this is seen in our baptism. We are baptized into Christ’s death and raised in newness of life in our union with Him. We are no longer slaves to sin, but sons (and daughters) of God, part of His household. (more…)

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See my friend Uri’s post on Barack OBama’s latest comments…click here.

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Last week I preached on that fact that God is light; He is pure, uncreated, undefiled light, meaning that He is truly and fully righteous, holy, just, loving, etc. And while this is God in His very being, “He is,” light is not a natural quality of man. We are brought into the light of God; God’s light is “imputed” to us through The Light which broke into the darkness. And it is only in union with The Light the World that we may walk in the light. (more…)

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For those of you who have been waiting for the church which I am pastoring to update their website, it has been done. You can click here or the link on the side bar. It is my hope in the future to make this site more interactive with the sermon on Sunday. But right now I have barely taken the time which should be put into studying and constructing the sermon. And the rest of the time we are busy settling in and getting to know the people God has called us to minister to.

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