As another year passes by, and as eternity draws ever nearer, may our focus this year not be on how we might make things better but on how Christ makes all things new. May our resolutions not be to make something more of ourselves; rather may we resolve to know Christ and to make Him known.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite
As the evening sky over Sydney Harbour was once more set ablaze with fireworks, music and lightshows, I was reminded of the festivities that gained global attention some 23 years ago. It was the turn of the century, the beginning of a new millennium, and as around a million people gathered on the foreshore to ring in the new year the Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up in bright, copperplate, gold lettering: Eternity.
The word stood as a reminder of the message that had been emblazoned on almost every street corner from the early 1930’s to the late 1960’s.
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By Adam Nesmith — 2 years ago
Religious activity can make you feel “Christian”, at least for a little while. But if your Christianity is founded on you doing something for God, it has no root and will die in due time. A true, deeply rooted faith is founded in love for a person: Jesus. Anything less and you will either abandon the faith when trials or persecution comes or other desires will end up choking your faith. Don’t become distracted from the main thing: before you go “do something big for Jesus” or “go to Church” or “live for Jesus” start your day by simply asking “Do I love Jesus? Has my love grown cold for Jesus? Have I spent time with Jesus?”
“If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:22. Jesus after He rose from the dead asked Peter three times in John 21 “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” These are heart-searching and serious verses. Loving Christ is not an optional part of Christianity. Therefore, there is no better question to examine the state of your heart than simply asking “do I love Jesus or not?” Yet I have often found in my own life that this question can quickly become very abstract. How do you know if you love Jesus? Are there any objective tests to help you assess the state of your soul?
As is so often the case, J.C. Ryle in his book “Holiness” gives a clear and helpful answer on how you can know if you love Jesus or not. His words are worth your time and represent an excellent set of ways to examine yourself to determine if your love for Christ has gone cold. I quote his 8 marks of love below and for the rest of this post, I want to think through how these marks can help you know if you love Jesus. In fact, what Ryle gives below summarizes the Christian life itself powerfully and concisely.
If we love a person, we like to think about him.
If we love a person, we like to hear about him.
If we love a person, we like to read about him.
If we love a person, we like to please him.
If we love a person, we like his friends.
If we love a person, we are jealous about his name and honor.
If we love a person, we like to be always with him.
From “Lovest Thou me?” in Holiness by J.C. Ryle
You know what love looks like on a human level.
Ryle’s goal in this section of “Holiness” is simple: if you know what love looks like at a human level, then you already know what it looks like to love Jesus. Each of the 8 marks Ryle gives are based on the simple fact that if you love a person, you behave a certain way towards them. Likewise, if you don’t behave a certain way towards a person, chances are you don’t truly love them. If you love a person, you think about them, talk with them, want to be with them. You are concerned to please that person, you care about that person’s reputation. In short, your love for that person is demonstrated in visible outward behaviors.
Therefore, Ryle in these 8 marks wants you to simply ask “are these things true of me with regards to Jesus?” Do you think about Jesus? Do you long to hear from Him through daily Bible reading and the preached word? Are you concerned with pleasing Him and His opinion of you? Do you love the people He loves and died to redeem? When others speak poorly of Jesus, are you bold enough in your love for Him to defend His reputation? If the answer to these questions is “no” then perhaps your love for Christ has grown cold. You might say “of course I love Jesus!” but if that love is not seen in any of the ways Ryle lists, perhaps you love Jesus in word only.
How do you know if you love Jesus? Examine your life.
Asking whether you love Jesus isn’t a trick question or an impossibly abstract inquiry. Love for a person shows itself in inward delight and external expressions.
By Mark Evans — 1 year ago
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)
We can all recall a time when we had a seating assignment. Perhaps in schooling, at work, or around the dinner table, a particular chair may come to be known as your seat. We tend to size up the quality of our assigned seat by factors such as visibility, the ambience, and, above all, the surrounding company. If we’re off to a concert or sporting event, our first question may well be “Do we have good seats?” We intuitively recognize that where we sit and (more importantly) whom it is that we sit next to play no small role in our experience. Thus, as Christians, we do well to pause and ask the question, “Do we have good seats?”
Christians possess the most awesome of all assigned seats. How so? In this passage from Ephesians, Paul has just outlined the dreadful truth that mankind is dead in trespasses, in step with the age of this world, and by nature children of wrath. Far from making us victims, such realties are fully congruent with the desires of the corrupted heart and the passions of the flesh. Should we be offered a new and higher seat, we would resolutely decline, preferring instead our positions of autonomy.
But just as the tidal wave of despair is about to break, Paul interjects that great gospel conjunction “but,” as in “but God” (Eph. 2:4). How bleak our condition . . . but God . . . How ceaseless the diagnosis of death . . . but God . . . How settled in our seats of wrath . . . but God . . . For it was precisely in our state of death that God made us alive; namely by making us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5).
As an overflowing benefit of our life in Christ, Christians receive a novel assigned seat that postures us in the age to come. We have the best seat in all the cosmos: a seat in the heavenlies. Above all, we are seated with Christ Jesus. Since the believer is in Christ, then wherever Christ is seated, Christians are necessarily seated with Him.
Where, then, is Christ seated? As Hebrews tells us, it was “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). This act of “sitting down” crowns the truth that the Lord Jesus fully accomplished all the work that His Father gave to Him. To be a priest was to be “on your feet,” as it were, for a priest’s work was never done. To “take a seat” was not in the priest’s job description, as “every priest stands daily” (Heb. 10:11). The repeated sacrifices that could “never take away sins” required perpetual standing for the priests of old. But Christ’s single sacrifice was singularly perfect. That Christ lived, died, was buried, resurrected, ascended, and only then granted a seat at the “right hand of majesty” sets forth the irrefutable truth that His sacrifice was the “once for all” offering. Every reason to stand has been eliminated, and therefore “heaven must receive him” (Acts 3:21).
By Bill Peacock — 1 year ago
One action our denomination can take now is by making it clear to the world, our presbyteries, and our churches through Overture 15 that men who define themselves as homosexual cannot be elders in our denomination. Perhaps even more important is that we make this strong statement to our members, church courts, the world, and those struggling with same-sex attraction in our governing documents so that it is clear that Side B homosexuality is sinful and must be repented of.
I attend a church in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The PCA is one of the more “conservative,” or biblically sound, denominations in the United States. Yet over the last 25 years the woke progressive movement has been making inroads into the PCA like it has in many other denominations. These inroads have been made on biblical doctrines such as those related to the days of creations, race, and egalitarianism.
The most recent assault on God’s Word in the PCA is on the issue of homosexuality. Particularly what is known as Side B homosexuality, the idea that it is okay to be a “Gay Christian” with same-sex attraction as long as one remains celibate. Now, I welcome all same-sex attracted men and women to church, including those who are attempting to remain celibate. I do so because they, like me, need to repent of their sin. And unless they come to church, they are unlikely to hear that both same-sex sex and same-sex attraction are unholy and sinful in God’s eyes and something of which they need to repent.
Sadly, in the PCA there is a movement which proclaims that same-sex attraction is not a sin if accompanied by celibacy, that men and women can live their lives as Gay Christians. To address this and to speak to the culture around us, the PCA has adopted a number of “overtures,” or resolutions, at our recent annual gatherings (General Assembly–GA). The same is true this year; several of the overtures relating to homosexuality this year (Overtures 8, 15, and 29) would amend the PCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO), one of our governing documents. To be included in the BCO, each must be also ratified by ⅔ of our presbyteries, then go back for one more vote at GA next year.
I want to focus on one of those overtures here: Overture 15. It would insert the following into Chapter 7 of the BCO:
7-4. Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America.
Overture 15 highlights one problem currently facing the PCA; the committees and agencies of the PCA don’t always reflect the beliefs of the majority of elders and members in the PCA. It was rejected by the GA’s Overtures Committee, but resurrected on the floor of GA and passed by a majority of elders.
One reason why a majority of our elders approved this is because the PCA has at least one elder (and perhaps more) who describes himself as gay and same-sex attracted. And because during the several years this has been an issue, the presbytery this man belongs to has refused to remove him from office. And because the highest court in the PCA, the GA’s Standing Judicial Committee, has ruled against one attempt that might lead to his removal. And because, more generally, the PCA has dealt poorly with the Side B Gay movement in our denomination and the culture over the last five years.
The vote to approve the language in Overture 15 for inclusion in the BCO was very narrow: it passed with only 51% of the votes, 1094-1044, (a second vote approved Overture 15 with 54%). Because of the narrowness of the vote, many people predict that Overture 15 will not receive the ⅔ majority of the presbyteries needed to become part of the BCO. Elders from my presbytery, the South Texas Presbytery, will vote on Overtures 8, 15, and 29 on October 29. A few other presbyteries have already voted, while the rest will be voting fairly soon. You can follow the votes of presbyteries on this and other overtures here.