March 30, 2011
This past week, I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with a very thoughtful Jew, who unfortunately doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. As I reflect back on our conversation, I realize that too often we were talking about differences between Christians and Jews without talking enough about who is the main difference (Jesus). I think that this must happen to a lot of Christians – chasing rabbit trails in evangelistic conversations. Unfortunately, it happens too often with me.
To my shame, it was only in the last third of our hour and a half long conversation that something clicked in my mind to remind me that I needed to be encouraging my friend to consider Jesus. Jesus is, after all, the one we proclaim. While it’s good to be able to help folks wade through some questions on the Bible and epistemology, it’s crucial that we get to Christ and proclaim him in our conversations. Otherwise, they’re not really evangelistic conversations. So be aware of your tendency to travel down evangelistic rabbit trails and aim instead at proclaiming Christ. May God give us this grace and may he be pleased to work through us by his Spirit.
“Rabbit Trails & Evangelistic Conversations” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 23, 2011
There is a difference between confessional knowledge and functional knowledge. There are truths that we know in our hearts and confess with our mouths (that’s confessional knowledge) and then there are truths which we know in our hearts and live out in our lives (that’s functional knowledge). Too often, there’s a gap between the two. Lately I’ve been thinking about this as it relates humility and our capacity to sin. Having been born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are able to see sin in our lives and fight it. This we know in our hearts and confess with our mouths and yet too often that truth is not lived out in our lives. Functionally, sometimes we don’t fight sin or even suspect ourselves as being capable of sin. There’s a gap between our confessional and functional knowledge, and when there is a gap we slow in our pursuit of holiness and sanctification.
This is where I think that humility will be a great aid to us in following Christ, for humility helps to bridge the gap between our confessional and functional knowledge. If we humbly recognize our capacity for sin, and recognize that we have been redeemed and are being renewed in the image of God, then such humility will have a profound impact on our attitudes and actions. Such humility will encourage sympathy for those who are in the wrong, for we know that we too have been wrong (and will almost certainly be wrong again soon). Such humility will drive us to prayer, pleading for God’s mercy. Such humility will help us to be on guard against sin. Such humility will encourage us to fight sin. Ultimately, such humility will drive us to Christ and he is who we need to bridge the gap.
Christ was the one whom we needed to bridge the gap between us and the Father (justification), and he is the one whom we need to bridge the gap between our confessional and functional theology (sanctification). As many have said, “the strength of faith and faithfulness is not found in us, but in the object of our faith, Christ.”
“Confessional and Functional Knowledge” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 16, 2011
How often do you meditate on the gospel? How often do you unpack the deep truths of the gospel? How often do you stand back in wonder at the work of redemption by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? It would be good for your soul to take some time this week and unpack the gospel. Consider what R.C. Sproul says about the gospel.
“A Substitute has appeared in space and time, appointed by God Himself, to bear the weight and the burden of our transgressions, to make expiation for our guilt, and to propitiate the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the gospel” (R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross, p.81).
Consider unpacking the following words: substitute, transgressions, expiation, guilt, propitiate. To help here are some suggestions:
- What does it mean that Jesus was your substitute?
- What does it mean that you transgressed God’s law?
- What does it mean that Jesus made expiation for your guilt?
- What does it mean that you are guilty?
- What does it mean that Jesus propitiated God’s wrath for you?
“Unpacking the Gospel” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 9, 2011
During the Tuesday men’s small group last night, we studied Acts 4:12-13. We meant to study more, but we so thoroughly enjoyed thinking about those two verses and their implications for our lives that we did not move beyond them. Here’s what they say,
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Verse 12 is the conclusion of Peter’s statement/sermon before the Council, and verse 13 is the beginning of the Council’s reaction to Peter and John. There were many good reflections on these verses by the brothers present, but let me just name three.
First, salvation is found in the person, Jesus Christ. We are tempted to find salvation in our works or in institutions, but salvation is found in Jesus alone. When we come to faith, we come to faith in him – believing that he personally saves us by bearing God’s punishment for our sins.
Secondly, Peter and John’s boldness reminded us that we too need to be bold in our evangelism. We need to speak when God gives us opportunities to speak, and we need to be bold in what we say – that means we need to avoid accommodating the truth in order to make it more palatable to our hearers. When we’re accommodating, we’re serving ourselves more than we’re serving our hearers and Christ.
Thirdly, we reflected on how we want others to recognize us as having intimately related to Jesus by faith. While we are not physically with Jesus, the Holy Spirit certainly mediates the presence of the ascended Christ to us by faith. That is surely part of the reason the Apostles will occasionally refer to the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Christ” (see Romans 8:9, Galatians 4:6, Philippians 1:19, 1 Peter 1:11). We want others to see in our gentleness and boldness that Christ is at work within us because of our faith in him.
It is my prayer that this day each of us would place our faith in Christ, speak boldly for him, and more fully embrace him in faith.
“Reflections from Small Group” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 7, 2011
I thought this was fun and interesting.
March 2, 2011
During our study of Psalm 3 a few weeks ago, I offered some reflections on sleep. After having struggled with sleep over the past few nights I thought it might be good to remind you (and myself!) about the spiritual importance of sleep. You’ll remember that in Psalm 3 David reminded himself of the truth of who God is. He cried out to God in prayer, and when he mentions that he slept he was living in light of the truth. He lived in faith, confident that he would be delivered.
Frequently in the Scriptures when we see someone sleeping in the midst of a challenging setting, we’re to understand that they have faith in God. They are willing to lay down and sleep, entrusting themselves to the Lord, even during a circumstance when their lives are in danger. David recognized that his life was not in his hands. His life was not even in the hands of his enemies. David’s life was in the Lord’s hands. David slept and he awoke again because the Lord was the one who sustained him. I love how my favorite Baptist commentator John Gill reflected on Psalm 3:5. He wrote, “The psalmist committed himself to the care and protection of God; he laid himself down in his arms, and there slept in safety; the Lord preserved him, who is Israel’s keeper, that neither slumbers nor sleeps.”
Sleep is spiritually important. God has designed us with the need for sleep. He has built into our very lives a tell-tale sign that we are not self-sufficient. We can’t go on in our own strength without resting. Not getting enough sleep might display a prideful self-reliance that God does not intend. Sleep can be a practical way of displaying our dependence upon God.
Now, for many of us, sleep is something we want more of! It’s not something that we’re trying to resist, it’s just something that doesn’t happen because of the stage of life that we’re in. Some of us might get too much sleep, and that can be a sign of being slothful and lazy. Some of us, and this is who I’m really thinking about, might put off sleep because we feel that there’s to much that depends upon us, too much we’re responsible for, and it will fall apart if we’re not there to hold it together. If that is our disposition, then we need to examine our hearts because we may be struggling with sinful self-reliance. One way to fight that sinful self-reliance is to entrust our lives and work to God is to get more sleep.
“Just a Little More Sleep” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law