Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Twin sisters, twin faiths?

Fascinating programme on Radio 4 this morning, here; Anna Scott Brown bringing us the tale of identical twin sisters, one who has become a Christian, the other a Muslim, and how they are dealing with the terminal illness and imminent death of their (initially atheist) mother.

Its striking first because it cuts through the mushed-together presentation of religion that we so often get in the media; two sisters clear on the 'fundamental differences' between what they believe, so much so that they have each chosen in their will that the other will not look after their child in the case of each of their deaths.

Second, the huge difference that therefore follows in the assurance each of them holds. The near death of their mother is clearly focusing the issues. The Muslim sister is clear that 'Muslims will never say anyone is saved, it's between God and our hearts... and on the day of judgment God will judge and he is just.' Whereas the Christian sister is humbly confident, 'I believe I will go to heaven, and I want that for my Mum, but I don't know if she will, and that's really hard.' She goes on, essentially trusting that 'God has already made it better between you and God.'

And then thirdly, striking in the emotional trauma of a family going through suffering together. Close to her death the mother has a 'religious experience', believing she has met God, and bringing about a visible turnaround in her beliefs about life. Interestingly the Muslim sister is clear that this experience essentially hasn't been about Jesus and so shouldn't be classed as a 'Christian experience'. Credit to Radio 4 for bringing us real life stories that do highlight the differences between Christianity and Islam and for not portraying either as religious wackos.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Let's talk about Porn...

Tim Chester on his latest book, 'Captured by a better vision', with free download of the passionate introduction and second chapter, tackling the issue of porn head-on.

What difference does the gospel make?

Calvin's musings:

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

HT: Challies

Friday, February 05, 2010

Why Election is not a dry page of a systematic theology tome...

Piper on 7 reasons why teaching election is precious to him and why he believes God has pleasure in it...

1. This truth is biblical. That is, biblical not only in being found once in Scripture, but found throughout it, from God's election of Israel to electing individuals to be saved through Christ.
2. This truth humbles sinners and exalts the glory of God. Whitefield called it the truth that 'shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus'.
3. This truth tends to preserve the church from slipping towards false philosophies of life. It seems historically it often guards us from moving towards universalism.
4. This truth is the good news of a salvation that is not just offered but effected. God actually saves me; electing, predestining, calling, justifying, glorifying. It actually works.
5. This truth enables us to own up to the demands for holiness and yet have assurance of salvation. Knowing I am to be holy does not cripple me but spurs me, knowing too it is God's desire and active plan that he will achieve through me.
6. This truth opens us to the overwhelming experience of being loved personally with the unbreakable electing love of God. More satisfying than an offer, knowing securely I am his is deep joy.
7. This truth gives hope for effective evangelism and guarantees the triumph of Christ's mission in the end. As was a spur for Paul, David Livingstone and Peter Cameron Scott, founder of AIM, 'other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring.'

Taken from Piper's 'The Pleasures of God', where every footnote is a feast.