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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Does the Trinity Matter?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8

Recently, I’ve been in contact with one of my former students, let’s call him ‘Gary.’ Gary is a fine young man, very bright and very dedicated to being trained for the ministry. Nevertheless I am deeply concerned for him, because Gary rejects the doctrine of the Trinity.

Now, there are some today who would wonder why that should matter, After all, they say, as long as he puts his faith in Jesus and tells others to do the same, who cares whether or not he agrees with me over the details of a 'doctrine' as esoteric as the Trinity. Can’t we just agree to disagree and go on from there? But while that’s fine when it comes to a non-essential issue like “should we use drums during worship?"; being sure about who Jesus is, is not a theological “side issue.” It is central to being “Christian!” In fact, many today have a “false faith” in a “fictional Christ” who cannot save! For no matter how much you believe in a man-made ‘christ’, if the one you’re trusting in does not exist -- in other words, if He is not the biblical Christ -- He can’t do you any good!

That’s why we must always go back to the Bible in order to learn Who Christ really is! It is there, in God’s inerrant Word, that we find God’s own explanation about Who He is and what He’s done. It is there in His word that we read of a God who is One God (Dt 6:4) and yet exists eternally as Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; John 14:16; 1 Pet 1:2, etc). It is through God’s Word that we understand that the Father planned our salvation from eternity, the Son purchased it by His life, death and resurrection, and the Spirit applies it when He opens our hearts to repent and believe the Gospel News!

My prayer is that you will think hard and strive to grasp the truth about Who Jesus is, making sure to measure your faith against the unchanging truth of God’s Word and not just the fragile opinions of man. And while you're at it, pray for ‘Gary’ that God would open His eyes and enable Him to embrace the truth as well!

Seeking Him!
Scott Lee

PS - A good place to being in your study of the Trinity is with James White here or here
He also has a good book on the subject called, "The Forgotten Trinity"
In addition, I would recommend Wayne Grudem, either in his Systematic Theology, or in a series of mp3 sermons
Finally, for a classic and interesting look at the Trinity, there is always Jonathan Edwards' little "Unpublished Essay on the Trinity"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Help from Piper for those who want to keep their eyes!

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Matthew 5:27-29

Hardly a week goes by that I don't find myself counseling a young man (or a not-so-young man) who is struggling with the issue of lust. We live in such a pornographic society -- a society in which people have frankly lost every vestige of common sense when it comes to living by what used to be normal standards of modesty and decency -- that most men must battle for their very lives to keep their minds free from sinful and erotic thoughts. We are, of course, sexual and erotic creatures. And God created sex to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. But our foolish society has ripped it out of its God-given setting and spilled it onto the streets and airwaves until it has become something harmful and destructive, rather than the the binding force for strong and stable homes it was meant to be. Biblically defined, then, any desire for sex outside of the marriage covenant of one man and one woman who are committed to one another in the bond of lifelong marriage is sin.

Given that, and the blatant perversion of our culture, "How can a young man keep his way pure?" Several years ago, John Piper wrote a wonderful article called ANTHEM: Strategies for fighting lust. I've found it such a help in my own life, that I wanted to reproduce it for you here. (You can also find the original on Desiring God's Website by clicking here)


Strategies for Fighting Lust

By John Piper November 5, 2001

I have in mind men and women. For men it's obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say "lust" I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.

A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say "possible and reasonable" because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say "unfitting desire" because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. "Avoiding" is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).

N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, NO!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7).

T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying "no" will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them "passions of your former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, "NO!"

H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try?" How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.

E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don't say, "That's just not me." What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don't be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don't have: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.

M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

Fighting at your side,

Pastor John

All I can say is "Me too!"
Pastor Scott

Thursday, February 7, 2008

He Must Increase!

"He must increase, but I must decrease. "
John 3:30

John the Baptist had it right. As long as I am “big” in my own eyes, and Jesus is “small,” everything else in life will be out of whack. I won’t see things as they really are. I’ll believe the lie that life ought to revolve around me and that my temporary happiness is really all that matters. Even my religion will serve my selfishness as I imagine that God is there to help me accomplish my own goals and figure out how I can have “my best life now.

As long as I stand big in my own eyes, I am incapable of seeing or responding to the One Who alone is able to set me free. No, it is only when I am forced to climb down off the pedestal of self-worship that I become willing to turn and see the One who is worthy of true worship. It is only as I cease serving my own desires that I discover the One I was made to desire and Who alone is able to satisfy my heart’s true need. It is only when I am made to step off the throne of self-exaltation that I find the self-forgetfulness that lets me begin to be happy in Him.

Of course, I would never do any of this on my own. It is only when God, by an amazing and powerful grace, turns my heart from its infatuation with me, and sets my eyes upon the beauty and glory that is Christ and Him crucified, that my heart and mind become willing to turn from self-love to Christ-love (and that by faith alone!) It is only when mercy has taken hold of me, that I am enabled to repent and believe the good news that God will save a sinner like me!

How glad I am that God has done this – and that He keeps doing it every day – as I am allowed to hear His Word and believe His Gospel and find in Him One Who is worth forsaking all to have! My prayer is that God, if he never has before, would do the same for you this morning.

In Jesus' Name,