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Category: Theology

Flaming Ideas

Flaming Ideas

I miss teaching. Getting up on school days with nowhere to go has been very hard over the past few months. But more than that, I miss what I was teaching – the Biblical, Reformed view of Scripture, Doctrine, and History to teenagers who especially need this, as many of them prepare for college and all of them prepare for life. In a world where there are people who actually think they can change the DNA of their bodies by either imagining it or by surgery, we need people who can address that issue, and others, without compromising their Christian beliefs, but who can also show the compassion and love of Jesus Christ in the process. That’s what I miss.

I’ve been reading through Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality again, after having read it first about thirty years ago. It still holds up, as does most of what Schaeffer wrote. In addressing how salvation affects our lives, our thinking, and our thought lives, Schaeffer has this to say:

The preaching of the gospel is ideas, flaming ideas brought to men, as God has revealed them to us in Scripture. It is not a content-less experience internally received, but it is content-full ideas internally acted upon that makes the difference. So when we state our doctrines, they must be ideas, and not just phrases. We cannot use doctrines as though they were pieces to a puzzle. True doctrine is an idea revealed by God in the Bible and an idea that fits properly into the external world as it is, and as God made it, and to man as he is, as God made him, and can be fed back through man’s body into his thought-world and there acted upon. The battle for people is centrally in the world of thought.

This is what I was trying to accomplish in my teaching. This was why I got up every day. It was a great privilege and joy to be able to do this, however imperfectly, for seventeen years. This is why it’s so encouraging to read Francis Schaeffer and others like him – they’ve been through the battles, too, and they held firm.

We’ve got flaming ideas from God to share with people for His glory and their help! It’s just a shame that others, who should know better, don’t always see this or hold steady.

What does John Owen think of Jesus Christ?

What does John Owen think of Jesus Christ?

Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, Christ is and always has been, precious – the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls – everything that is good, useful, amiable, or desirable here or unto eternity. In, from, and by Him is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here, with everlasting salvation hereafter. By Him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful apostasy from God which is accompanied with whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By Him they are brought into the nearest relationship, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto Him, and the most holy communion with Him, that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of Him.

You’ll need to break this down a bit to take it all in. It’s like eating a nice, big, juicy steak. It will take a while to eat and you’ll enjoy every bite. This is why I love the Puritans, and especially John Owen, so much. There is probably no one alive today that could possibly cram so much theology into so small a space and still be orthodox and evangelical.

Now that you’ve heard John Owen, what do you think of Jesus Christ? Do you agree? Do you even know what Owen is talking about? Your life here, and your life hereafter in eternity, depends on your answer.

John Owen on Assurance

John Owen on Assurance

I cannot even begin to tell how much I appreciate John Owen. I’ve been slowly working my way through Volume 6 of his works over the last year or so, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it has been life-changing. That an English Puritan who lived in the 1600’s can have such an effect on someone today, is amazing to say the least. But when the foundation for his writing is the timeless word of God, the years have no effect when the subject matter is solidly based on that word and Him who never changes.

One of the areas that Owen and the rest of the Puritans often wrote about was the subject of assurance – how can we know we are loved by God when our own sin testifies against us? In his writing on verse 4 of Psalm 130, he gives 4 rules to guide us when considering this very question. Here is part of what he writes in the first rule:

If you look to have such an evidence, light into, and absolute conviction of, this matter [of assurance], as shall admit of no doubts, fears, questionings, just occasions and causes of new trials, teachings, and self-examinations, you will be greatly deceived. Regeneration induceth a new principle into the soul, but it doth not utterly expel the old; some would have security, not assurance. The principle of sin and unbelief will still abide in us, and still work in us. Their abiding and their acting must needs put the soul upon a severe inquiry, whether they are not prevalent in it beyond what the condition of regeneration will admit. The constant conflicts we must have with sin will not suffer us to have always so clear an evidence of our condition as we would desire.

I like how Owen views assurance as being different from security. I believe that what most of us think of when we think of assurance is not really assurance, but security. This security is similar to what we think of when we think of financial security – I’ve got this much money in this secure place and I don’t really have to think about it, because it takes cares of itself. But the Scripture never views our salvation in that way – that’s why there are so many warnings to those who believe. The warnings are there not because you don’t believe, but because you do believe!

When we consider that all of Paul’s exhortations to mortifying the deeds of the flesh were addressed to churches, not the lost world, we must assume that the members of those churches had things in their lives that needed mortification. They were not already perfect and neither are we.

Our perfection is in Jesus Christ, not ourselves. Even though our felt assurance of his love may fluctuate, his actual love for us does not. In that only may we be secure.