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On the Relationship Between Assurance and Perseverance

16 Dec

Here’s a helpful, encouraging, and challenging talk on the relationship between assurance of salvation and the necessity of perseverance by Tom Schreiner of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Part 1

Part 2

[HT: Resurgence]

One of the Most Overlooked Aspects of Sin: Autonomous Human Reasoning (Part 2)

11 Oct

In Part 1, I described the monumental paradigm shifts that God has graciously been taking me through with regards to what Scripture calls sin. More than simply a breaking of an impersonal set of rules, it is, at its core, a radical self-centeredness that manifests itself in sinful deeds and desires.

But, yet again, God has been pleased to expand my understanding of sin to also take into account how the mind or intellect is involved in this radical self-centeredness. John Frame, in his book The Doctrine of the Word of God defines intellectual sin (or, “autonomous human reasoning”) as the following:

Intellectual autonomy is the view that human beings have the right to seek knowledge of God’s world without being subject to God’s revelation (Frame, DWG, p. 15-16).

In other words, the way I take this definition is to mean that in our sinful self-centeredness, all of us try to understand God’s world (e.g., psychology, sociology, ecology, ethics, theology, etc.) without ultimately subjecting ourselves to God’s Word.

Frame spends much time expanding and explaining that definition throughout his book, giving biblical grounds and support for it. For example, commenting on Genesis 3, he writes that “Adam and Eve make their decision to disobey God’s personal word to them [and] in their decision, they affirm their right to think autonomously, even to the point of contradicting God himself” (DWG, p. 16).

But suffice it to say that, according to Frame, because God “is there” and He “is not silent” (using Francis Schaeffer‘s terminology), we, God’s creation are obligated to trust and obey the words of our Creator.

The only problem is, apart from the Holy Spirit mercifully awakening us to our radical sinful self-centeredness to repent and believe in the Gospel, we will continue to try an understand God’s world without subjecting ourselves to God’s Word. And thus, we will continue to be blinded (2 Cor. 4:4) and enslaved in the snare of the devil (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

So, then, do you recognize any areas in your life where you are trying to understand this world – God’s world – with your own understanding? With your own wisdom? With your own reasoning – without humbly looking at it through the lens of Scripture?

In Part 3, I’ll share my most recent example (of what I am sure will be many more) where I was deeply convicted by the Spirit of an area where I tried to understand God’s world without subjecting myself to God’s Word.

What It Means When God’s Will Isn’t Clear

16 Sep

In this blogpost from Desiring God, Jon Bloom comes at this issue of discerning the will of God from a very different angle. That is, from my experience, most discussions having to do with discerning God’s will is focused on the practical how-to’s of figuring out what it is.

But, in this article, Jon Bloom reveals a deeper plan of God in making us wrestle with what his will is. Here’s a quick excerpt:

God has a design in the difficulty of discerning. The motives and affections of our hearts, or “renewed minds,” are more clearly revealed in such decision making.

If God made more things explicit, we would tend to focus more on what we do rather than what we love. Like Pharisees, we would tend to whitewash our tombs with the appearance of obedience — to impress others — rather than deal with the dead bones of our self-righteous pride.

But in decisions that require discernment, the wheat is distinguished from the tares. We make such decisions based on what we really love. If deep down we love the world, this will become apparent in the pattern of decisions that we make — we will conform to this world.

But if we really love Jesus we will increasingly love what he loves — we will be transformed by renewed minds. And our love for him and his kingdom will be revealed in the pattern of small and large decisions that we make.

Click here to read the rest of the article more fully, slowly, and meditatively. This is such an important article.

Also, I came across this blogpost by Stephen Altrogge which is a great supplement to Jon Bloom’s post.

Discerning Your Vocation – Affinity, Ability, Opportunity

25 Jul

Tim Keller explains in this four-page article what it means to discern one’s calling. Here’s a short excerpt from it below:

Your vocation is a part of God’s work in the world, and God gives you resources for serving the human community. These factors can help you identify your calling.

Affinity—“Look out.”
Affinity is the normal, existential/priestly way to discern call. What people needs do I vibrate to?

Ability—“Look in.”
Ability is the normal, rational/prophetic way to discern call. What am I good at doing?

Opportunity—“Look up.”
Opportunity is the normal, organizational/kingly way to discern call. What do the leaders/my friends believe is the most strategic kingdom need?

Your life is not a series of random events. Your family background, education, and life experiences—even the most painful ones—all equip you to do some work that no one else can do. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do“ (Eph. 2:10).

You can download the entire article here. For those who don’t have a Redeemer City to City account, you’ll have to register. It’s free and totally worth it for all the great content that they produce.

[HT: Redemer CTC]