Monthly Archives: August 2008

We become what we admire

It’s an interesting thought I came across reading the Pleasures of God.

Is it not true that we try to become like our gods? Whatever quality we admire of them, we try to imitate.

If we admire power, we become people who pursue power. If we admire wealth, we become people who pursue wealth. If we admire knowledge, we become people who pursue knowledge. If we admire a certain image, we will pursue that image.

It is a curious bit of our humanity that we always express admiration in one form or another. The common word used is to idolise. We idolise all sort of things. We idolise a certain lifestyle. We idolise a certain reputation.

And the word idolise is fitting, because an idol is that which takes the place of God.

How is it we admire idols, but we don’t admire God?

The Bible is clear about this. We are ungodly people who have exchanged God’s glory for man-made images. Our minds are depraved and we have no perception or knowledge of the beauty of the glory of God.

But God places in his redeemed a new spirit and a new heart, one that admires the excellencies of God’s glory in the face of Christ. And this is truly a gift. This is the very gift of eternal life, that we know God, and His Son Jesus, whom He sent.

As Christians, when we talk about becoming like Jesus, and being conformed to His likeness, it will never become a reality unless we first admire Him in all His excellence and beauty. If we do not admire Him, we will find it impossible to become like Him. It is only when we take the time to sit down with the Bible, and see Jesus within, and not just a set of rules and rituals, that we are truly changed into his likeness. For we can’t help but seek to become what we have seen and delighted in!

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

How have I not found the time to read this book before?

Must be those 3 accursed daughters of Adam the First: the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes and the Pride of Life.

Flee people! And go buy this book. It is full of precious insights and timely warnings for every Christian in every walk of life who will but take a little time to read Bunyan’s illuminating tale. The pages are literally soaked with Scripture. In this post-modern age, with all the rage of emergent liberalism and making Jesus and the Bible relevant, I find Pilgrim’s Progress a refreshing reminder of the fact that the Word of God is the lasting standard by which all doctrine must be evaluated. Too many books and other media forms which attempt to teach theology are sorely lacking in this. Phrases such as “The Bible says this…”, “God wants this…” abound, but no where are the words of Scripture to be found. No such flaw with THIS book.

Warning: Buying an unabridged version might give you a terrible headache. Slightly abridged recommended for the reader who would like to preserve the prose of the original but would appreciate the much needed modernising touch of archaic language.

Are you a Moralistic Christian or a Christian Moralist?

So perhaps the difference is a philological one. But the idea that lies behind the phrase is an important one.

Are you a moralistic Christian or a Christian Moralist?

The second word, i.e. the proper noun, is the primary designation of the person, and the first word is its adjective.

Simply put, are you a Christian who is moralistic, or are you a Moralist who happens to be Christian.

The key difference lies in which comes first. For the church, in a loose sense of the word, today is full of Moralists, who see religion as a matter of do’s and dont’s and happen to identify with the Christian code of laws, which they believe to be the main revelation of the Bible.

But the Bible calls us first and foremost to be followers of Christ, i.e. Christians. Followers in the sense of sinners who trust in Christ to pay the penalty of their sin and become their righteousness, nailing their old sinful selves to the cross and putting on their new selves, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It is in this light that they adhere to a new law. The law of Christ.

Moralistic Christians are firstly Christian, repentant and saved and made righteous and reconciled to the Father by the death of Jesus. Then they are moralistic for they are now subject to a new law, the law of righteousness, which leads to eternal life.

In the strict sense of the label ‘Christian’, all Christians are moralistic. But all Moralists are not Christian.

Which one are you?

The Cross of Christ, John Stott

A masterpiece.

In picking up this book, seeing that the first few pages were filled with good reviews by rather prominent pastors and theologians (such as Carson, Wells and Packer), and having not read any John Stott before, I had a good expectation of the value of the content, but was not prepared for its nature.

Make no mistake. This is a highly theological work on the cross of Christ. Stott constantly examines the history of biblical thought and makes countless references to philosophical and other theological works. He is extremely thorough with his exegesis of the text. I think I actually learnt some classical Greek reading this book.

With my volume measuring in at 408 pages, I thought it would be a short read. But the material is heavy.

Yet it is not complicated. There is much to be mined from these pages. In fact, I would be bold enough to go as far in saying there is no junk in these pages. I would classify it a ‘must-read’ for every Christian who is able to get his hands on such a book. It costs a bit more than your average book, but it’s really worth every penny.

And I think it would be worthwhile to conduct a group study of it too. I didn’t really use the study guide at the back, but I think that was down to my indiscipline and lack of accountability.

I’ll be picking up this volume again soon. Stott certainly has a gift for vividly painting the glorious realities of the cross. He has certainly refreshed my heart and mind, and renewed my wonder at the cross. I figured that you would easily pick him out from among the heavenly congregation – he’s going to be one of those really loud ones singing:

 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
   to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
   and honor and glory and praise!”

A Long One is Coming

Yes. I believe the next post might beat my previous record. What is it?

Why People Should Read.

Or Perhaps More Accurately The Importance of Good Theology and Why People Don’t Read.

So consider this the calm before the storm. If you can really consider what I write a storm. Unless you are referring to that sensational pain you get in your brain everytime you come here and see something new.

Also, what happened to the idea of reverting to shorter posts?

Well, sometimes there are things you just need to say, and those things may require a lot of words.

Come as you are, go as He is

This is the essence of the call of the cross of Christ.

Come as you are. All your fears. All your burdens. All your guilt. All your failures. Everything we wish to be kept hidden is to be laid bare before the foot of the cross, for Jesus to take upon Himself. All your accomplishments, all your talents, all your possessions, everything that you are, is to be laid bare before the foot of the cross, for Him to choose to use or bury along with your old self.

For we are a new creation. Jesus died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Jesus who died for them and was raised again. The old has gone, the new has come. And God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, to be the ambassadors of Christ.

Go then as He is. We left our old selves at the foot of the cross. We take our new selves, in the newness of life in Christ, clothed with His righteousness, as we go out into the world. We are to be His ambassadors, in word, in deed and in thought. This is a high calling, the ministry of reconciliation, of bringing people back into the fold of God, and it requires nothing less than the One who alone could and did fulfill it, by His death and resurrection.