Undesigned Coincidences: Part 1

Here is another one you will need to click the link and go to the original site to finish the long article and be able to follow future material.

 

jesus Final

Nearly everyone has a concept of what it means for historical claims to be confirmed by a new discovery. Tablets unearthed at Kültepe in the late 19th century reveal that there was, as the Old Testament had said, a vast Hittite empire in the time of Abraham. An Arabic manuscript turns out to contain the Diatessaronof Tatian, settling once and for all the question of whether that second century harmony of the Gospels actually existed and whether it included the fourth Gospel. Excavations in Jerusalem reveal the pool of Bethesda and its five porches, by the Sheep Gate, just as described in John 5. A clay seal bears the name of Baruch, the disciple and friend of Jeremiah. An ornate first century ossuary bears witness to the prestige of Joseph Caiaphas.

This kind of confirmation, exciting as it is, suffers from several limitations. For one thing, we are largely at the mercy of time and chance for discoveries of this type. Archaeology and paleography are not experimental sciences; at best, one might begin digging in a promising location, but there are no guarantees as to what (if anything) one will find. Tempus edax rerum is one of Ovid’s memorable phrases—Time, devourer of all things. Many priceless treasures are forever lost: papyrus documents that rotted in the rain, scrolls that were burnt by the Bedouins to warm themselves at night, monuments and inscriptions that were gradually eroded away by the sands of time or crushed to powder under the boots of an invading army. And many others are as good as lost, buried in a garbage dump somewhere that we will never think to dig.

 

Now, if still interested, go to

http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2013/09/01/undesigned-coincidences/#more-12798

The honest way to commend God’s revealed truth

J.I. Packer in 1958:

The honest way to commend God’s revealed truth to an unbelieving generation is not to disguise it as a word of man, and to act as if we could never be sure of it, but had to keep censoring and amending it at the behest of the latest scholarship, and dared not believe it further than historical agnosticism gives us leave; but to preach it in a way which shows the world that we believe it wholeheartedly, and to cry to God to accompany our witness with His Spirit, so that we too may preach ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.’

The apologetic strategy that would attract converts by the flattery of accommodating the gospel to the ‘wisdom’ of sinful man was condemned by Paul nineteen centuries ago, and that past hundred years have provided a fresh demonstration of its bankruptcy.

The world may call its compromises ‘progressive’ and ‘enlightened’ (those are its names for all forms of thought that pander to its conceit); those who produce them will doubtless, by a natural piece of wishful thinking, call them ‘bold’ and ‘courageous,’ and perhaps ‘realistic’ and ‘wholesome,’ but the Bible condemns them as sterile aberrations. And the Church cannot hope to recover its power till it resolves to turn its back on them.

Fundamentalism and the Word of God, p. 168

 

I never get to the end of mortifying sin because

by JI Packer

I never get to the end of mortifying sin because sin in my heart is still marauding, even though it is not dominant. Sin is constantly expressing itself in new disorderly desires, as bindweed is constantly expressing itself in fresh shoots and fresh blooms. Once bindweed has established itself in your garden or hedge it is very difficult to get out because it is always extending itself under the surface of the soil. And sin in the heart is rather like that. But as blooms of sin break surface and I recognize them, I am called to — indeed deep down in my heart I want to — go into action with this prayer procedure for draining the life out of them. And I think this is a discipline every Christian has to wake up to right at the beginning of the Christian life and continue with as long as we are in this world.

Realizing our moment-by-moment dependence on God

by J I Packer

Realizing our moment-by-moment dependence on God the Creator for our very existence makes it appropriate to live lives of devotion, commitment, gratitude, and loyalty toward him, and scandalous not to.

Concise Theology, p, 22

The Elements in True Reformation

a blog post by Randy Alcorn

In his excellent (though unlikely titled) book Hot Tub Religion, J. I. Packer asks “What would a work of divine reformation in our churches today look like?” Great question, and I loved the six answers Packer—one of my all- time favorite people—offers.

J.I. PackerFirst, there would be a sense of biblical authority—that is, an awareness that biblical teaching is divine truth and that the invitations and admonitions, threats and warnings, promises and assurances of Scripture still express the mind of God toward mankind. The Bible would be honored again as the Word of God, and the perverse, pluralism of liberal theology, which addles the brains and blinds the hearts of many, would wither and die. The root of this pluralism is that teachers feel free to ignore some of the things the Bible teaches and to pull others out of context. The fruit of it is that God’s people are led astray into dry places and the Holy Spirit of God is completely quenched. Reformation always begins as a call from God to “come out of the wilderness” of subjective speculation and spiritual impotence and learn again in humility the true teaching of the written Word about grace and godliness, knowing that the secret of power for living lies here. Thus, unhappily, reformation always leads to controversy for some resist the message.

Second, there would be a spirit of seriousness about eternal issues. Heaven and hell would be preached about, thought about, and talked about once again. Life in this world would once again be lived in the light of the world to come, and the Philippian jailer’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” would be seen as life’s basic question once more. For most of this century the church, liberal and conservative, in all denominations, has been so occupied with this world that minds turned to eternity have been the exception rather than the rule. Sociopolitical, cultural, sporting, and money-making interests have dominated Christian minds rather than the laying up of treasure in heaven. A work of reformation would change that, not by withdrawing Christians from these fields of action, but by radically altering their perspective on what they are doing so that God’s glory and eternal values would become the chief concerns.

Third, there would be a passion for God, transcending any interest in religion or cultivation of religiosity. One’s relationship to God would be seen as the most important thing in the world, and a Bible-based awareness of the greatness and awesomeness of God, the eternal Savior-Judge, in whose hands we ever are, would displace all cheap thoughts of God as just a useful pal.

Fourth, there would be a love of holiness growing out of deep conviction of sin, deep repentance, deep gratitude for forgiveness and cleansing through the blood of Jesus Christ, and a deep desire to please God. Casualness about righteousness, cutting moral corners, areas of blatant self-indulgence, love of luxury, and broken commitments have disfigured twentieth-century Christianity at all levels. This would change, as indeed it needs to, for moral standards among Christian people. As in the world around them, seem to be getting worse rather than better. It is frightening to see how little believers nowadays seem to be bothered about personal sin.

Hot Tub ReligionFifth, there would be a concern for the church. Christians would catch the biblical perspective, in which the church is the center and focal point of God’s plan and the display ground of his saving and sanctifying wisdom (see Eph. 3:1-12). They would be deeply concerned about the image that the church presents to the world, and any form of unfaithfulness, carnality, false doctrine, formalism, disorder, or wrongheadedness in the church would cause them distress and send them to their knees. God should be honored, not dishonored, in his church, and the church should show itself strong in standing against the world and testifying to its Savior. These are universal Christian concerns at reformation times, and saints at such times will endure and risk anything in order to see the church move in the right direction.

Sixth, there would be a willingness to change—whether from sin to righteousness, or from lassitude to zeal, or from traditional patterns to new procedures, or from passivity to activity, or any other form of change that was needed. Believers would come together to praise, pray, encourage each other, and see what they could do together to advance the cause of Christ. It would be as if they had awakened after a long sleep. They would wonder how they were able to be somnolent, apathetic, and inactive for so long. What new things they would find themselves doing cannot be specified in advance beyond this general formula, but should God work in reformation, it is safe to say that newness of discipleship and change of ways in some shape or form would be the experience of us all.

With the audacity of a true non-theologian I would add that there would be a zeal, enthusiasm, excitement, and joy that would characterize one’s life that would be so infectious that the would would see a true reflection of the Man of Joy.

Holy Communion demands us of private preparation of heart

by J.I. Packer

I don’t think we can ever say too much about the importance of an active exercise of mind and heart at the communion service. . . .

Holy Communion demands us of private preparation of heart before the Lord before we come to the table. We need to prepare ourselves for fellowship with Jesus Christ the Lord, who meets us in this ceremony. We should think of him both as the host of the communion table and as enthroned on the true Mount Zion referred to in Hebrews 12, the city of the living God where the glorified saints and the angels are.

The Lord from his throne catches us up by his Spirit and brings us into fellowship with himself there in glory. He certainly comes down to meet us here, but he then catches us up into fellowship with him and the great host of others who are eternally worshipping him there.

We are also to learn the divinely intended discipline of drawing assurance from the sacrament. We should be saying in our hearts, ‘as sure as I see and touch and taste this bread and this wine, so sure it is that Jesus Christ is not a fancy but a fact, that he is for real, and that he offers himself to be my Saviour, my Bread of Life, and my Guide to glory. He has left me this rite, this gesture, this token, this ritual action as a guarantee of this grace; He instituted it, and it is a sign of life-giving union with him, and I’m taking part in it, and thus I know that I am his and he is mine forever.’ That is the assurance that we should be drawing from our sharing in the Lord’s Supper every time we come to the table.

And then we must realize something of our togetherness in Christ with the rest of the congregation. . . . [We should reject the] strange perverse idea . . . that the Lord’s Supper is a flight of the alone to the Alone: it is my communion I come to make, not our communion in which I come to share. You can’t imagine a more radical denial of the Gospel than that.

The communion table must bring to us a deeper realization of our fellowship together. If I go into a church for a communion service where not too many folk are present, to me it is a matter of conscience to sit beside someone. This togetherness is part of what is involved in sharing in eucharistic worship in a way that edifies.

~ “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper,” in Serving the People of God, vol. 2, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer (1998), pp.49-50.

Five marks of revived churches

by J. I. Packer

1.  Awareness of God’s presence: “The first and fundamental feature in renewal is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy and might.”

2.  Responsiveness to God’s Word: “The message of Scripture which previously was making only a superficial impact, if that, now searches its hearers and readers to the depth of their being.”

3.  Sensitiveness to sin: “Consciences become tender and a profound humbling takes place.”

4.  Liveliness in community: “Love and generosity, unity and joy, assurance and boldness, a spirit of praise and prayer, and a passion to reach out to win others, are recurring marks of renewed communities.”

5. Fruitfulness in testimony: “Christians proclaim by word and deed the power of the new life, souls are won, and a community conscience informed by Christian values emerges.”

God in our Midst ( 1987), pp 24-35

The floodlight of the Holy Spirit

eileanI had to add this graphic. It is Eilean Donan, my clan castle in Scotland

by JI Packer

The Holy Spirit’s distinctive new covenant role, then, is to fulfill what we may call a floodlight ministry in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. So far as this role was concerned, the Spirit “was not yet” (John 7:39, literal Greek) while Jesus was on earth; only when the Father had glorified him (see John 17:15) could the Spirit’s work of making men aware of Jesus’ glory begin.

I remember walking to a church one winter evening to preach on the words “he shall glorify me,” seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my message needed.

When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are so placed that you do not see them; you are not in fact supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you see it properly. This perfectly illustrates the Spirit’s new covenant role. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior.

Or think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us.

The Spirit’s message is never,

“Look at Me; listen to Me; come to Me; get to know Me,”

but always

“Look at Him, and see His glory; listen to Him, and hear His word; go to Him, and have life; get to know Him, and taste His gift of joy and peace.”

The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together.

Keep in Step with the Spirit, pp. 65-66

God’s ultimate objective

by J. I. Packer:

For God’s ultimate objective, as the Bible declares it, is threefold—to vindicate his rule in righteousness by showing his sovereignty in judgement upon sin; to ransom and redeem his chosen people; and to be loved and praised by them for his glorious acts of love and self-vindication.

~ Knowing God, p.172)

Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith

by J. I. Packer

Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigor, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks. This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not. The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians.

A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, p. 215