Why is Sinning Against an Infinitely Holy God Such a Big Deal?—An Analogy

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Many have wondered (myself included) how we as finite creatures who have not trusted in Christ will be punished eternally for finite sins. Consider this story as shared by David Platt in his booklet What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? (see my review here):

Azeem, an Arab follower of Jesus and a friend of mine, was talking recently with a taxi driver in his country. The driver believed that he would pay for his sin for a little while in hell , but then he would surely go to heaven after that. After all, he hadn’t done too many bad things. So Azeem said to him, ‘If I slapped you in the face, what would you do to me?’ The driver replied, ‘I would throw you out of my taxi.’ ‘If I went up to a random guy on the street and slapped him in the face, what would he do to me?’ ‘He would probably call his friends and beat you up.’ ‘What if I went up to a policeman and slapped him in the face? What would he do to me?’ ‘You would be beat up for sure, and then thrown into jail.’ ‘And what if I went to the king of this country and slapped him in the face? What would happen to me then?’ The driver looked at Azeem and awkwardly laughed. He told Azeem, ‘You would die.’ The driver got Azeem’s point and realized that he had been severely underestimating the seriousness of his sin against God (pgs. 4-5).

When we as finite creatures sin against an infinitely holy God, we are deserving of an “infinitely” just penalty—eternity in Hell. The magnitude of our rebellion against God is far greater than any human analogy can put into words. When viewed in this light, Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf is seen more clearly for what it is—glorious!


Book Review: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? by David Platt



What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? by David Platt More Info on Amazon.com  My Rating: 5 Stars

What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me?
by David Platt
More Info on Amazon.com
My Rating: 5 Stars

Following Jesus is More Than a One-Time Decision

Churches are filled with people who seem content to have casual association with Christ and give nominal adherence to Christianity. Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves acknowledging certain facts or saying certain words. But this is not true. Disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, and John show us that the call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it is a summons to lose our lives (p. 23)

It is possible to have a prayed a prayer to receive Christ with as much sincerity as you could muster and still not be a Christian. Following Jesus entails far more than repeating a short prayer. As David Platt makes clear in his booklet What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me?, there is a cost in following Jesus that is born out in one’s life. When we come to Jesus in saving repentance and faith, our thoughts, feelings, and actions are decisively changed by Him.

As we trust in Christ, he transforms our tastes in such a way that we begin to love the things of God that we once hated, and we begin to hate the things of this world that we once loved (p. 30).

Platt is concerned by the stories of so many folks who have prayed a prayer and then went on to live as if nothing had changed. The reality is, maybe nothing did change! The evidence that one has truly come to Christ is found in how one lives, thinks, and feels.

Platt is careful not to say that salvation is based on the changes in our lives. We are saved by faith alone in Christ’s finished work alone—in fact, no amount of works on our behalf can earn salvation in any sense. Faith trusts in what Christ has accomplished for us. We cannot save ourselves, and Christians know this.

Salvation happens apart from our works, but it always leads to works. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we will bear fruit. Not perfectly, but really bearing fruit. And ultimately, we want to bear fruit! In coming to Jesus, we taste and see that He is good and we begin to desire Him above all else! Our affections are decisively changed.

We discover that Jesus is the supreme source of satisfaction, and we want nothing apart from him. We realize that he is better than all the pleasures, pursuits, plaudits, and possessions of this world combined (p. 29).

All who profess to be Christians need to know these truths. Some may learn them, realize they were never saved, and truly turn to Christ for the first time. To God be the glory!

Platt’s booklet is a great reminder and summary of all of these truths. Therefore, I recommend this resource as very helpful for evangelism and discipleship to aid folks in understanding that following Jesus involves one’s whole being. In fact, this is one of the best, shorter resources I know of for such a purpose!

A couple more great quotes:

Jesus is not customizable. He has not left himself open to interpretation, adap tation, innovation , or alteration. He has revealed himself clearly through his Word, and we have no right to personalize him. Instead, he revolutionizes us. As we follow Jesus, we believe Jesus, even when his Word confronts (and often contradicts) the deeply held assumptions, beliefs, and convictions of our lives , our families, our friends, our culture, and sometimes even our churches. And such belief in Jesus transforms everything about what we desire and how we live (p. 26-27).

Jesus did not claim to be one dish on the buffet line of spirituality from which we can pick and choose the elements that best suit our taste. And if his claims are true, then his call demands everything, and we have no other choice—like those fishermen before us—but to drop everything and follow him (p. vii).

A Lesson from the Puritans on Spirituality

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If you haven’t heard, I’ve begun seminary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary! Last Tuesday was my first day and I’m loving the experience! Whenever I think about this opportunity I have to study God’s Word in this environment, I always feel a deep sense of being so privileged to do so. God has blessed me tremendously in bringing my wife & I to Louisville.

With moving early this month and now seminary life, we are pretty busy. But, I thought I’d take a moment (before January was gone) and share with y’all a quote from one of the books I’ve been reading this semester.

This quote comes from J. I. Packer in his book A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway, 1990). In the very first chapter Packer discusses some of the lessons the Puritans have taught him and he says this:

Seventh, the Puritans made me aware that all theology is also spirituality, in the sense that it has an influence, good or bad, positive or negative, on its recipients’ relationship or lack of relationship to God. If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride. So one who theologises in public, whether formally in the pulpit, on the podium or in print, or informally from the armchair, must think hard about the effect his thoughts will have on people–God’s people, and other people (15).

Many of you might have grown up being taught that the Puritans were legalistic, prudish, overly-serious, to-be-avoided, folk. If that is you, Packer would say that you’ve learned it all wrong. The Puritans were deep thinkers, yes, but equally so they were deep lovers of God and others, whose love and devotion permeated all that they did in practical ways. They were serious about their faith in a way that led them to practice it in all spheres of life for the greater good as well as God’s glory. We can learn something from their maturity, which, frankly, so many of us 21st-century, overly busy, rarely meditative, Americans lack.

From the paragraph above we are reminded to cherish what we learn about God (theology). It’s a great reminder for me, a seminary student, and I would suggest it’s a great reminder for you as you read your Bible, go to church, and attend Bible studies. I pray that whatever we learn about God would cause us to rejoice in Him, encourage our faith, and promote humility.  As I write this, I am mindful of Packer’s last words in the quote above. Please meditate on what you learn about God, so that the effect of my thoughts on you would be to the glory of God through your joy in Him!

Now, back to my hundreds of pages of reading for classes…

Merry Christmas from Logos Bible Software (& me!)

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This is a wonderful video highlighting key aspects of the significance of the birth of Christ for us. At the same time, if you’re not familiar with Logos Bible Software, this video shows off some of the software’s best features.

The software itself is FREE and they do offer a few FREE books here and here (with more added occassionally).

For the latest free Logos books, check here.

If you’re interested in having more efficient Bible study, I highly recommend trying out Logos. It can save you hours of time looking up things and show you connections in the Bible that you never knew existed.

Want to know more about Logos? Leave a comment here and I’d love to contact you individually about why Logos is so helpful!

And to everyone: Merry CHRISTmas!

Teaching & Preaching Biblical Principles is NOT Enough: we must connect the text to the Gospel

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Tim Keller in his book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (Riverhead Books, 2008, pgs. 129-130):

We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security. We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels we do not. Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity—all of these things serve as our heart’s ‘functional trust’ rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control. You cannot change such things through mere will-power, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts. We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it part of ourselves. That is how we grow.

The end of teaching and preaching cannot be biblical principles from the text. We must make connections with the Gospel with every text from which we teach. If all we do is teach biblical principles from a text (even if they’re all true) and do not connect the text to the Gospel, then we are implicitly telling our audience: “the key is to now go and do what I just taught you.” If our audience wasn’t reminded that it’s through the Gospel of grace that God empowers us to obey His Word, then likely many will try to obey out of sheer will-power. This kind of response would be the opposite of what we should encourage in people. Obeying out of will-power will neither lead to actually doing what the text requires nor to pleasing God.

As we prepare to teach Scripture to others, we must remember this about our audience (to slightly alter Keller’s words):

They cannot change [whatever the text says or implies they should] through mere will-power, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. They can only change permanently as they take the gospel more deeply into their understanding and into their hearts. They must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it part of their selves. That is how they grow.

As I reflect on the various opportunities over the years that God has graciously given me to teach God’s Word to others, I am deeply convicted by these words. I realize that much of my teaching has been just about biblical principles. Don’t get me wrong—that’s good on one level. Without trying to be prideful, I do believe I can say that I have taught a lot of truthful principles from Scripture (although I haven’t been without error). But, many of my messages were not clearly connected to the gospel. If I dare be honest, probably even most of my messages lacked gospel-centrality. Sure, I often talked about how to get saved—through repentance and faith in Christ. But, for the Christians who were present, my message for them was largely a challenge to live a certain way.

My great failing has been that I didn’t connect those challenges with the Gospel. I didn’t explain how they could obey. I merely explained that they should obey. I doubt that many listeners left the meeting thinking deeply about how God would empower them through His grace to follow His Word. Rather, if any thought about the implications of my message for their lives, their thoughts would have been along the lines of “how will I ever do what the Bible says I must?” with perhaps accompanying guilt when realizing that they couldn’t or haven’t.

One of my great hopes for going to seminary is to learn how the Gospel is at the forefront throughout all the Scriptures, and to be equipped to effectively teach and preach Scripture to others in this faithfully gospel-centered way. I cannot undue my mistakes in the past. Only God in His sheer mercy can redeem what others have heard from me that was not saturated with His Gospel of grace. From here on forward, I want any future speaking opportunities (should God graciously grant me some) to be saturated with God’s Gospel of grace. May God empower me through His grace to do so. After all, I can’t do this by sheer will-power. And I’m so thankful that despite all my failings, by His doing I rest in His grace and unchanging love for me.

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