David Brainerd on Preaching Christ and Him Crucified

David Brainerd concludes his journal (chronicling roughly 11 months during which God was producing a “great work” among the Indians Brainerd was evangelizing) with 4 closing observations, 2 of which I found to be particularly encouraging. We’ll look at the first today and the other later on in the week.

Like Paul, Brainerd saw first hand the power of preaching Christ and Him crucified. “First, I cannot but notice that I have in the general, ever since my first coming among these Indians in New Jersey, been favored with that assistance which to me is uncommon in preaching Christ crucified, and making Him the centre and mark to which all my discourses among them were directed… thus God was pleased to help me not to know any thing among them, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Thus I was enabled to show them their misery and undone state without Him, and to represent His complete fitness to redeem and save them. This was the preaching God made use of for the awakening of sinners, and the propagation of this ‘work of grace among the Indians.'” (Diary and Journal of David Brainerd, Vol. 2, pg. 159-160, 163; emphasis his)

photo: Donald Macleod

5 Stratiges for Fighting Sexual Sin

Doug Wilson, in the second chapter of his book Fidelity, lays out five practical helps for fighting sexual sin:

  1. Learn the gospel. Learning the deep truths of the gospel of grace trains us to renounce sin and to pursue righteousness (Titus 2:11-12).
  2. Learn about sanctification. Seek to understand the war currently being waged between our flesh and God’s Spirit in us. In learning this we come to understand that “Christ has redeemed our bodies and that he therefore owns them.” Thus, “when a man [or woman] commits sexual sin, he [or she] is vandalizing the property of another (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Fidelity, pg. 34).”
  3. Learn self-discipline and embrace suffering. A person who can control themselves in other areas will more easily be able to control their sexual desires. Suffering for Christ serves as a means of killing sin (1 Peter 4:1-3).
  4. Learn from bad examples. “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day… Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10: 8, 11).
  5. Run. Just as Joseph fled Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), Paul instructs Timothy (and by extension, us) to flee from sexual immorality (2 Timothy 2:22).

Your Best Life Now… or Later?

Earlier today I read a section from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress that caused me to pay closer attention to the way a Christians desire to enjoy God in heaven effects the way he views material gain. Let me frame the scene for you.

While Christian is on his way to Mount Zion (having left the City of Destruction), he stops by to visit the Interpreter. The Interpreter shows Christian multiple scenes depicting some aspect of the Christian life. In one scene Christian is shown two young boys, Passion and Patience, seated in a little room. Passion demands to have all of his “best things” now, while Patience, heeding their Governors desires, is content to wait to receive his “best things” at a later time. A bag of treasure is brought to Passion, who rejoiced in it until he had “lavished [it] all away, and had nothing left him but rags.”

The Interpreted then goes on to expound the meaning of the two boys:

“These two lads are figures: Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience, of the men of that which is to come; for, as here thou seest, Passion will have all now… [in] this world; so are the men of this world, they must have all their good things now, they cannot stay till… the next world, for their portion of good. That proverb, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,’ is of more authority with them than are all the Divine testimonies of the good of the world to come. But as thou sawest that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags; so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.

“Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts. First, Because he stays for the best things. Second, And also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.

To this the Interpreter responds, “Nay, you mad add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone… ‘For the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal.'”

After reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many Christians – myself included – are not characterized by a present contentment that is rooted in knowing that our “best things” will be had in the world to come. In other words, why do we seek to store up treasure for ourselves both here on earth, and in heaven? When, according to Jesus (Matt. 6:19-20), these two actions are mutually exclusive.

photo: hire sandy

John Owen on Limited Atonement

The puritan John Owen presents a fantastic argument against the idea that Jesus died for all of the sins of all people (“Unlimited Atonement”), while demonstrating the reasonableness of the position that contends that Jesus died for all of the sins of God’s elect (“Limited Atonement”).

CRTA:

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

  1. All the sins of all men.
  2. All the sins of some men, or
  3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

  1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
  2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
  3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

Now That's What I Call Shopping

I really like used books. I really like used book sales – especially when everything is $1 or less.

Having just returned from the used book sale at the Oberlin Public Library, I couldn’t help but share my newest acquisitions.

I went with the intention of finding and buying anything written by either C.S. Lewis or Robert Frost. Additionally,  I was hoping for anything Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes et cetera). Unfortunately I did not succeed in obtaining any of these. But, I did come across a few other noteworthy books that I promptly purchased.

  1. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. I know it’s a famous book, and I haven’t read much fiction in a while, so I bought it.
  2. The Greatest Thing in the World, by Henry Drummond. You can probably pick this up at your local Christian bookstore for $3, but I got mine for $1.
  3. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. From what I hear, the book is even better than the movie!
  4. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read and enjoyed it when I was younger, so I figured I might as well own a copy of it.
  5. J.B. Phillips – New Testament. I bought this primarily because of the nice verse-less single column text setting.
  6. T.S. Eliot – The Wasteland and Other Poems. Being severely deficient in my reading of verse, I figured this might be a good place to start.
  7. The Overcoming Life, by Dwight L. Moody. Since I’m attending (God bless) the school that D.L. Moody founded, I figured that this would be worth picking up.
  8. The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer. For 50 cents, I couldn’t resist this classic.

So there you have it. I bought 8 books for $5… now that’s what I call shopping!

Book Review – The Essential Edwards Collection

The Essential Edwards Collection provides and excellent introduction to the works of one of America’s brightest (and most prolific) theologians – Jonathan Edwards. This collection is comprised of four books that deal with Edwards thought on different topics (Jonathan Edwards on… Beauty, Heaven and Hell, the Good Life and True Christianity), and one book that serves as a brief biography of the divine (Jonathan Edwards: A Lover of God).

Intended for the “uninitiated,” this series is written in extremely accessible language, to help the reader glean insight from Edwards writings. By briefly commenting on different quotes from Edwards works Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney aid the reader to understand Edwards while also demonstrating how to interact well with Edwards writings. Each chapter ends with suggestions on how a reader can connect the truths they are learning from Edwards to their every day lives (which I think is a brilliant idea!).

On a more personal level, I really enjoyed the emphasis the authors put on the importance of both the local church and the family unit.

One critique – and it is minor – is that there are a couple of typological errors (for example, one of the illuminated first letters of a section was not italicized), but, being extremely few and far between, these do not hinder the readability of the books.

I think this is a great set of books, serving as a fantastic introduction to Jonathan Edwards. To whet your appetite to explore Edwards through this collection here is a fantastic quote from Edwards, as quoted in Jonathan Edwards on Beauty (pg. 37):

All creatures do continually live upon the bounty of God; he maintains the whole creation of his mere goodness: every good thing that is enjoyed is a part of his bounty. When kings are bountiful, and dispense good things to their subjects, they do but give that which the Almighty before gave to them. So merciful and so full of pity is God, that when a miserable man, whom He had no need of, who did Him no good, nor could be of any advantage to Him, had made himself miserable by his rebellion against God, He took such pity on him that He sent His only Son to undergo his torment for him, that he might be delivered and set free. And now He offers freely, to bestow upon those rebels, complete and perfect happiness to all eternity upon this, His Son’s account. There never was such an instance of goodness, mercy, pity, and compassion since the world began; all the mercy and goodness amongst creatures fall infinitely short of it: this is goodness that never was, never will, never can be paralleled by any other.

Books provided for free by Pure Publicity for review.