Category Archives: Self-promotion

Severing Our Love Affairs

Thomas Schreiner, Galatians (Zondervan, 2010), 392:

The cross plays a bookends role in the letter [of Galatians], for just as Paul begins the letter by featuring the freedom won in the cross, so too he closes the letter by underlining the significance of the cross.

Paul’s only boast is in Christ’s cross, by which he is crucified to the world and the world is crucified to him (6:14). The cross and eschatology are inseparable. Just as the cross liberated believers from the present evil age (1:4), so too it crucifies attachment to this world (6:14). The opponents boasted in circumcising converts and took pleasure in external accomplishments because they lived to win the applause of others (6:12–13). They lived for comfort in order to avoid persecution.

The cross severs a love affair with the world and grants a person (by grace!) a desire to boast only in the cross. A new reality—a new age—has begun through the cross, and Paul summons the Galatians and all believers to find their joy only in the cross and to renounce any boasting in human accomplishments.

Humbling Orthodoxy

The doctrine of God’s divine election of unworthy sinners is a humbling truth. Or to use Spurgeon’s words, “a sense of election causes a low opinion of self.” That is the bullet point under which the following quote from Spurgeon comes to us, as recorded in a sermon delivered on July 1, 1888:

Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

Paltering with Synergism

Isn’t this so true of the struggle to release our grip on self-righteousness, self-respect, self-affirmation? From P. T. Forsyth’s book The Cruciality of the Cross [page 47]:

“A man needs something to make him confident that his past sin, and the sin he is yet sure to commit, are all taken up into God’s redemption, and the great transaction of his moral life is done. … It is not easy.

Theological belief may not be so hard. But for a man to make Christ’s atonement the sole centre of his moral life, or of his hope for the race, is not easy. Nothing is so resented by the natural self as the hearty admission of man’s native lostness and helplessness, especially when he thinks of all the heroisms, integrities, and charities which ennoble the race.

It is not always pride, it is often a mere natural self-affirmation. It is a native self-respect, which makes him shrink from submitting himself absolutely to the judgment of another. Even in his repentance he does not want to lose all self-respect. He feels he cannot amend the life of conscience, and repair the old faults, without, some remnant of self-respect to work from.

His new shoots must come from the old stump, which must not be rooted out. He is fighting for the one remnant of a moral nature which if he lost he fears he would be less than a man. He does not easily realise what a poor thing his self-justification must be compared with his justification by God, his self-repair beside God’s new creation. He does not feel how sterile the stump is, how poorly his moral remnant would serve him for his moral need, how that recuperative vitality is the one thing he lacks, how absolute God’s grace is, and how complete is the moral re-creation in Christ. He palters with a synergism which is always trying to do the best for human nature in a bargain with God.”

Fool Moon Rising

If you were a reader of this blog back in 2007, Tom Fluharty needs no introduction. You’ve already heard about my love and respect for this man. While my family and I lived in Minneapolis we met Tom, his wife Kristi, and their wonderful family and I doubt our lives have been the same since.

Tom is a world-class painter/illustrator and the only thing more amazing than his family and his artistic skill and his passion to lead worship in his local church is the story of how God broke into his life and converted him. I sat down with Tom two years ago in Minneapolis to record his testimony.

Today I’m honored to announce that Tom and Kristi have completed their first children’s book, Fool Moon Rising (Crossway 2009). The book is now available for pre-order and will be available at the end of September. Parents and grandparents now have at their fingertips an attractive book that will help them explain to their children the stark contrast between a self-glorifying life and a God-glorifying life. This distinction is a very critical lesson in life, but it’s not always a spiritual lesson that parents find easy to articulate to children, and especially in a way that highlights the importance of our Savior. This book does it!

I’ve read this book 20 times and I love it! My kids love it! I think any reader of Fool Moon Rising will be compelled by the lively illustrations and hear the unmistakable urgency of its message.

To help you get a feel for the book’s storyline, development, its purpose, authors, and to see examples of Tom’s illustrations, see the following website:

foolmoonrising.com

Here is the publisher’s description:

This rhyming, rollicking tale tells of a crime of cosmic proportions: the moon, blinded by pride, fails to see the true source of his abilities—the light provided by the sun. He boasts of his ability to shine, to change shape throughout each month, and to swell the tides. One day, overwhelmed by a piercing ray of sunshine, the moon repents of his pride and changes his ways, and from that point on he is happy to reflect the sun’s light.

This beautifully illustrated book introduces the concept of humility to children. Readers will be reminded that everything we have, including our gifts and talents, is from God. Just as the moon learns to boast only of the sun, children—and their parents—learn that to boast of anything other than the Son is utter foolishness.

Powlison on Self-Pity

“Feeling sorry for yourself is one of the strongest, most addictive narcotics known to man. It feels so good to feel so bad. Self-pity arises so easily, seems so plausible, and proves so hard to shake off.”

- David Powlison in the newest Journal of Biblical Counseling (Summer 2007, Vol. 25, No. 3) p. 7.

The silenced M’Cheyne learns humility

“July 8 [1836 diary] – Since Tuesday have been laid up with illness. Set by once more for a season to feel my unprofitableness and cure my pride. When shall this self-choosing temper be healed? ‘Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle,’ said I. ‘No, thou shalt lie in thy bed and suffer,’ said the Lord. Today missed some fine opportunities of speaking a word for Christ. The Lord saw I would have spoken as much for my own honor as His, and therefore shut my mouth. I see a man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ’s sake – until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ. Lord, give me this!”

- Robert Murray M’Cheyne in Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth: 1844/2004), p. 45

How much faith do we have in God?

Thank you Mark Alderton (Sovereign Grace Fellowship, Minneapolis) for the following quote!

Pseudo faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.

The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in.

The faith of Paul or Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends as certainly as Elijah when he stepped into the fiery chariot and went away in the whirlwind. It had a finality about it … It realigned all life’s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God.

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now, as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God! Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.

It would be a tragedy indeed to come to the place where we have no other but God and find that we had not really been trusting God during the days or our earthly sojourn. It would be better to invite God now to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure for our troubles, it is a sure one! Gentler cures may be too weak to do the work. And time is running out on us.

- A.W. Tozer (source unknown)

Why do we study? Why do we preach?

“Hard studies, much knowledge, and excellent preaching, if the ends be not right, is but more glorious hypocritical sinning. The saying of Bernard is commonly known: ‘Some desire to know merely for the sake of knowing, and that is shameful curiosity. Some desire to know that they may sell their knowledge, and that too is shameful. Some desire to know for reputation’s sake, and that is shameful vanity. But there are some who desire to know that they may edify others, and that is praiseworthy; and there are some who desire to know that they themselves may be edified, and that is wise.’”

- Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (Banner of Truth: 1656/1997) pp. 111-112

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