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The Whole Christ, by Sinclair Ferguson, is a very good book but a very hard one to read. I don’t mean it has too many big and hard words, although it does have some. I mean that I had to read through it slowly and carefully, giving quite a bit of thought to what Ferguson presented. In some areas, you could say the grass got pretty deep and just as thick. Having said that, I recommend it but with a caveat: it will challenge you.

Ferguson uses the “Marrow Controversy” of eighteenth century churchmen to bring to light the battle between legalism, antinomianism, and having assurance of faith. All three of these issues exist in the church today. We still debate the relationship between grace and law in the life of a Christian and the church. Does being saved by grace remove the need to be obedient to God’s Law as revealed in His Word? Does repentance occur prior to faith or is it a result of faith? Ferguson delves into these issues (and more) and maintains that legalism and antinomianism (a rejection of God’s law in the life of the church and believer) are actually very similar in their foundations, and not polar opposites. This point was extremely helpful to me.

Some books should be read once and put back on the shelf. Other books, like The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters, should be read and then read again. It will give you a greater, and growing, understanding of your faith and your assurance.

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“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Parents, you are ultimately responsible for the education of your children – both spiritual and academic. Through Moses, God commanded His people to “teach them (His words and commands) diligently” to their children. God will hold parents accountable for how well, or poorly, they have done it. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, friends, youth pastors, pastors, Sunday School teachers, Christian schools, and churches come alongside  and help. But that’s just what it is – help. God has uniquely equipped dads and moms for this task. Don’t neglect it or subcontract it out to other people.

Notice that there are three factors needed to “teach them diligently.” First, a love for God that involves everything we are and everything we have. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Second, a heart that delights in God’s commands – His Word. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” Third, a commitment to diligence. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” 

God gives parents the responsibility to teach and train their children and the ability, by the Holy Spirit, to carry it out. Since the Lord is our God, can we do any less?

 

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on John 20:1-21. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: In revealing Himself as the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ calls us by name, gives us peace, and sends us on His mission.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Doug Lundin, one of the elders, preach on “Covenanting Together” from 2 Kings 23:1-3, which included the elder’s and pastor’s commitment to us. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The covenant was a renewal of the heart, the Word, leadership, holiness, and communion with one another.

 

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Well-Driven Nails

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“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiaistes 11:12)

The wrath of God is regularly minimized and downplayed by Christians. We tend to focus more on His love or His grace, but we do so to our own detriment – we’re not portraying God the way He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture. Gavin Ortlund has some good insights on the subject.

Laws that allow assisted suicide aren’t the panacea many thought. In fact, many who want their diseases treated are being pressured into the financially cheaper option of suicide. “Right-to-die” has morphed into “duty-to-die.” Helena Berger writes about it in The Hill. This is a serious ethical issue and we need to think Christianly about it.

“Remarkable Biblical Memorization” is the title of an article written by Justin Poythress about his father, theologian and professor Vern Poythress. The piece is short, but you’ll be challenged by it.

What do students in a student’s ministry need? They need to take the Bible and their spiritual growth as seriously as they take their school studies and sports. Jen Wilkins makes the case.

“Jesus is Lord.” That seems like a simple statement, but it’s packed with meaning. When someone says it, they’re saying eight things according to Jesse Johnson. Jesus is Lord!

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The hour was dark – very dark for the British Empire and the rest of the world – as Nazi Germany was on a seemingly unstoppable march toward world domination. Winston Churchill, however, shone brightly in contrast.

Darkest Hour tells the story of Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister through the rescue at Dunkirk and his “We shall never surrender” speech to Parliament. With the exception of one scene (Winston riding the Tube in the Underground), the movie is historically accurate. Gary Oldman was fantastic in his portrayal of Churchill. He obviously studied the Prime Minister’s mannerisms and speech patterns. The makeup artists deserve some kind of reward for transforming Oldman into Churchill – unless his name was on the credits, you may not have known it was him.

Darkest Hour presents Churchill’s admirable qualities quite clearly. As an admirer and student of Churchill, I’m well aware of his less than admirable qualities as well (which were seen in the movie, too). He was flawed, just like all of us.

Churchill provided the courage needed to fight against, and ultimately defeat along with the Allies, the Axis powers. Providentially, Churchill was the right man for the right time. Churchill harnessed the power of words to motivate, inspire, and lead the free world in the battle against evil that was World War II. He was a needed counterbalance to Adolf Hitler, who also used words to advance his cause. Viscount Halifax, an opponent of Churchill in many ways, said of Churchill that he “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Indeed he did.

There are lessons for us to learn from Britain’s experience in World War II. Courage is always needed whatever our time or place, but it is always in short supply. It’s the rarest of virtues. Words are powerful: they turned the tide in World War II; they were used by God to create all things – visible and invisible; they turned the world upside down as the early Christians preached the gospel; and they changed the world in the Reformation as Bible preaching thundered from from pulpit all over Europe.

I highly recommend Darkest Hour. It’s a movie my Dad, who was a “Churchillophile” (if I may coin a word), would have liked.

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Luke 2:8-14 says,

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Rejoice, the Saviour has come! Repent and believe in Him.

Rejoice, the Lord has come! Submit to Him.

Rejoice, the Saviour and Lord is coming again! Prepare for Him.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

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