Friday, March 31, 2006

Ephesians 1 - (7th Meditation) - Why?

Ephesians 1:4 - "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him."

Solus Christus exists to glorify God by treasuring Jesus Christ and spreading His eternal joy.

We see this as the theme of Bible.

God enables unworthy criminals to be acquitted, equipped, and inspired to glorify Him through faith in His Son, Who died a substitutionary death for His people and rose victoriously from the dead proving both (a) His ability to justify sinners before God and (b) His absolute reign over all things. The primary way God is glorified in such redeemed sinners is when they, by grace, ever-increasingly prize Jesus Christ as the most dazzling Person in existence. The primary evidence of glorifying God by treasuring His Son is displayed through a life surrendered to advancing Christ's kingdom until He returns. Or, in short, we exist to glorify God by treasuring Jesus Christ and spreading His eternal joy.

This truth is also packed into Ephesians 1:4.

Q: Why did God the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world?
A: That we should be holy and blameless before Him!

I worship as I consider the weight of this truth.

God, before creating the world, chose (1:4) to share His joy with something outside of Himself. That's amazing!

God, in "eternity past" although completely satisfied in His Triune relationships, and wholly Self-sufficient lacking nothing, chose (1:4) us in Christ before the foundation of the world. That's amazing!

Jonathan Edwards saw two causes for this choosing, one primary and the other secondary. According the Edwards the primary cause for God's choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world is owing to the value God places on the relationship He has with Himself. The secondary result of God's valuing His Triune relationship was spilt over in creation. He valued the relationship which lead to creation. I think Edward's nailed it! Notice also, that Ephesians 1:4 teaches us that God chose us "before" He founded the world, which excludes the possiblity that He decided to save us after the Fall! It was before creation, much less the Fall. That's amazing!

But Why??? So much remains shrouded in mystery--and thank God for an eternity to unpack it!--but much is clearly revealed for us in God's Word.

"That we should be holy and blameless before Him!"

That statement reveals three reasons that God chose us in Christ! Only Christ could (1) present us holy, (2) present us blameless, and (3) only Christ could accomplish the goal of our salvation which is to bring us before God! That, I think, is the goal of our salvation! To bring us to God holy and blameless--otherwise, you can't come before Him. But in Christ, we too can enjoy rejoicing in God for eternity--which is what He's been doing for all eternity! That's amazing!

I Peter 3:18 - "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God..."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ephesians 1 - (6th Meditation) - Who & When

This is the 6th meditation in our series. Now we are beginning to walk through 1:3-14 verse by verse and allow the Word of God to provoke us to worship!

Verse three is the fountain of the following 11 verses.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."

Verse three is the fountain of the following 11 verses because the next 11 verses provide additional explanations of verse three's amazing assertion!

Paul is answering the question "Who" in verse three. Who should be praised? The answer is God!

In other words, Paul is shouting to his Ephesian readers, "God be praised! Bless God! Bless Him because He's blessed you! God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing by giving you His Son, so bless Him! All of the blessings that were within God's unlimited reach ("in the heavenly places") have come to you in Christ, so bless Him! What are you waiting for? Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

In an earlier meditation we've already noted that verses 3-14 is one long sentence in the Greek. The run-on form of this sentence, in my estimation, is an indication of Paul's preoccupation with God (i.e., worship) during the moment he was being the Holy Spirit's inspired conduit of such breathtaking soteriological Himalayas. So my guess is that Paul's emanuensis was probably hearing Paul SHOUT this series of propostitions as he was worshipfully declaring what was to be written. If the Word is intended to compel us to worship God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, then surely the orginal reception of the inspired Word caused the inspired human author to worship too! Oh, that we would be as awe-struck by the Sovereign God of our salvation as Paul was in this text!

Verse three answers "Who" is to be worshipped. The answer is God!

Verse four answers "When" God planned to allow us to enjoy worshipping Him.

"Just as He (God the Father) chose us in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world..."

Are you worshipping yet?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Humble Pie

Hat's off to Bryan who won our Grace Church NCAA bracket challenge. Nate, we'll let him know in a few years that we let him win.

Good pickin' B!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Slow Blogging

Sorry for the infrequent posts of late. As I noted earlier, I spent the last week in D.C. We are having a great time this week as Tracy's family is in town.

Thanks for your prayers for our pastoral team. We plan to speak at length tonight via conference call. We touched base with each other on Monday evening and rejoiced as we discussed how each of us are experiencing much of God's grace devotionally. Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The Lord was so good and so gracious to us during our time in Belize, Central America. He granted us opportunities to share the gospel with people we visited in area villages and we pray that the Spirit would awaken them to the central truth of the gospel, namely the glory of God through the person and work of Christ.

It was also encouraging that two of our students expressed stronger desires to give their life 'magnifying God among the nations'. We praise the Lord for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Hope you're checking the Together for the Gospel Blog fairly regularly. More, I hope you'll be able to attend the conference!

T4G Blog
T4G Site

Monday, March 20, 2006


I Thank God for the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, in Washington, D.C. This congregation loves Christ and is being led by elders who are "worthy of double honor" (I Timothy 5:17). By God's grace I was able to attend a tri-annual event hosted by CHBC this past weekend called the "Weekender." The forty or so pastors, non-staff elders, church leaders, and seminarians in attendance were privileged to observe a healty church in action, and more, interact in what seemed like uninterupted perpetuation with the leaders of CHBC throughout the weekend. Although this is nearly the twentieth time CHBC has hosted this event, the elders, and other church leaders, gave us virtually all of their attention from the time we arrived (Thursday), until the time we left (Monday). These men served us constantly with their time, teaching, prayers, example, and dialogue. I trust that Christ will be praised and pleased with more "deliberate" biblical fidelity in Memphis among the future congregation of Grace Church due to my opportunity to enjoy this great weekend of worship and training on Capitol Hill. (The title of one of the 9 Marks Ministries books is, "The Deliberate Church").

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ephesians 1 - (5th Meditation) - "Christ"

For our 5th meditation on Ephesians chapter one, I'd like to highlight the key Subject of the chapter (which is the same key subject of every portion of Scripture!). I count 15 references that give us a clue to the main point of chapter one:

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love
5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Owen Intro - #1

(See last post for explanation):

"There are signs today of a new upsurge of interest in the theology of the Bible: a new readiness to test traditions, to search the Scriptures and to think through the faith. It is to those who share this readiness that Owen's treatise is now offered, in the belief that it will help us in one of the most urgent tasks facing evangelical Christendom today - the recovery of the gospel."

"Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be 'helpful' to man - to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction - and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was 'helpful', too - more so, indeed, than is the new - but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach people to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed."

"Accordingly, the themes of man's natural inability to believe, of God's free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for his sheep are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not 'helpful'; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered: it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be (and we shall say more about it later), the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth."

"Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of his redeeming work as if he had make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God's love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence 'at the door of our hearts' for us to let them in.

"It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need. And it is at this point that Owen's treatise on redemption can give us help."

J.I. Packer's 1958 Introduction to John Owen's "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ."

I'm beginning a new series of posts containing powerful quotes from J.I. Packer's Introductory Essay to a 1958 reprinting of John Owen's epic making work, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (From now on the titles in this series will read, "Owen Intro" with a corresponding # indicating which quote it is in the series).

This work from Owen is worth it's weight in gold! The introduction from Packer is of tantamount value!

NCAA with Grace Church

If you would like to join the tourney pool, send me your name and e-mail address and I will send you the group # and password.

I can't believe you called your mom so she would vote for you, JT, all-time low. I will have to call mine now, and maybe even the mother-in-law.

Notice yahoo! sports experts picked Arkansas to make it to the Sweet 16, before you Memphis fans hastily make your picks. By the way JT, is Minnesota in the NIT or are the folks up north silent this time of year. Also, did I mention the Hogs play their first two games in Barnhill South, when was the last time we lost in that building?


Monday, March 13, 2006

5 PM = 0" / 11 AM = 11"

Minneapolis schools very rarely shut down due to snow. However, today was a different story. On Sunday evening, March 12, at 5:00 PM, there was no snow on the ground, and no snow falling from the sky. Monday morning, March 13, at 11:00 AM there was approximately 11 inches of snow covering our back yard and snow was still falling from the sky! There are some places were the drifts are over two feet deep! Needless to say, all schools are closed and many kids are happy - especially three kids I know who don't go to school anyway. Of course, everyone has had enough of it already and now we're inside drinking hot chocolate.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pick Your Pastor

The "March Madness" NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is the best sporting event there is! Then, when you think it is all over..."One Shining Moment" breaks forth! Is this heaven?

Our pastoral team from Grace Church is competing against one another in the infamous bracket pool. Which pastor do you think will come out on top? Pastor Bryan? Pastor Nathan? Pastor Jordan?

(Hint #1: The preceding names of Grace Church pastors crescendo in order of who will win).
(Hint #2: There will be NO upsets).

Please "pick your pastor" by commenting below along with a brief rationale for your pick.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Emerging Church Movement"

Maybe you've never heard of "The Emerging Church Movement?" You will. Hopefully you will not be pulled into it's savvy way of making concepts such as "relational" and "missional" the idols of your heart.

The "movement," though difficult to define, is anti-ecclesiological, non-authoritarian, non-propositional, non-sermonic, Scripture-doubting, and in most cases, non-evangelical.

Like many things that our culture is sucked into, this "movement" has all of the emotional tags that would appeal to almost any person in America's younger generations (and, unfortunately, many in the older generations too).

Before you become the next proponent for an unhealthy thing, you should read this helpful critique of the "Emerging Church Movement."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

50 Reasons

Here's a great offer from Desiring God Ministries that is designed to help us "give away our faith."

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Go...that His Name be great among the Nations

Lord willing, I, along with 11 other people will leave early tomorrow morning for a mission trip to Belize, Central America. Included in this group will be 8 high school students I teach, who have never been on a mission trip. This trip will consist primarily of going village to village to proclaim the Gospel, as well as, various mercy ministries of distibuting clothes and food. I have been given the opportunity to preach at a bak-a-bush (bush church) on Sunday. Would you join with us in praying that the God of the Bible that we go to proclaim would make much of His Son Jesus Christ and would cause His Name 'from the rising to the setting of the sun to be great among the nations' (Mal.1:11)
'This is eternal life. That they may know you, the only God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent'. John 17:3
Team Members
Alan Hill,Beth Turner,Brittany McIntosh,Gabe Rivera Heather Mashburn,Jessica Stapleton,Jessica Wynn,Justin Smith,Richard Glenny, Jamie Sawyer, Roger Sawyer, and Nathan Sawyer

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

First Tuesday Fast

There is a (good) tradition at Bethlehem Baptist Church called "First Tuesday Fast." The office staff, and any others who can join them, skip lunch the first Tuesday of each month and pray together for Jesus to come back! Very biblical, very soul-stirring. I recommend implementing something like this into your life as a regular pattern - until He comes!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Scripture Memory - Yes You Can!

Previously, on Solus Christus, I highlighted a helpful Scripture memory tool. Because I'm learning of an increasing number of believers who are benefitting from this memory pattern I'd like to highlight it again. You can find it here. (Click the "writings" tab on the left side, then click "An Extended Guide to Scripture Memory").

For those of you who are thinking you can't memorize Scripture, I'd guess this tool will help you be able to memorize at least five verses per week. Of course, you must heed the admonishon to depend wholly upon the Spirit of Lord for the grace to do it!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Read the subheading on this site to know what "monergism" is. I agree!

Even though I've been recommending many websites to you recently, I couldn't pass up recommending this one as well. A wealth of great stuff! Once again, this is a site you should peruse liberally!

Robert Murray McCheyene

One of my favorite saints of yesteryear is Robert Murray McCheyne. Although he died at age 29, he had a tremendous satisfaction in Christ! As I quickly approach my 29th birthday, I'm challenged by saints like McCheyne to make good use of this "vapor" of a lifetime!

This is a solid poem written by McCheyne after he read a sermon by Richard Baxter entitled, "A Call to the Unconverted."

This is a site devoted to the preservation of Robert Murray McCheyne's work. You should spend some time playing on this site to acquaint yourself with one of those many men, "of whom the world was not worthy." (Hebrews 11:38).


Clyde Cranford

Clyde Cranford died in the year 2000 after spending the last eight years of his life making disciples and pouring the last five years of his life into me. I am deeply indebted to Clyde, and thank God for all of His grace to me through him!

I happily recommend Clyde's book, Because We Love Him: Embracing a Life of Holiness, to you. Many of you know that I was able to have this book published posthumously through Multnomah Publishers.

Ephesians 1 (4th meditation) - "Blessings In Christ"

In this series of meditations on Ephesians chapter one, I've already focused on selected phrases in verses one through three. The three previous meditations can be seen here: (#1), (#2), and (#3).

Now, I'd like to worship with you, in this fourth meditation, as we consider the weight of Ephesians 1:3-14 as a whole.

First, we will be helped to realize that verses three through fourteen were originally ONE LONG SENTENCE! The Apostle Paul would have miserably failed HS English class because of his propensity to use run-on sentences (c.f. Eph 3:14-21). However, God defies man-made rules, and shows that explosive-spontaneous-Christ-exalting-worship knows no lexicographical boundaries! Thank God that the writers of Scripture were FIRST worshippers, and a distant second, concerned with grammatical constraints. (It should be noted that the Apostle Paul, though weak in speech (see, II Cor 10:10), was an author par excellence!)

In the upcoming mediations I plan to unpack some of what follows. But for now, drink deep in meditation on the following list of "blessings in Christ" which are all found in verses three through fourteen of Ephesians chapter one:

(Note: Each of these blessings are flowing out of the key promise in verse three that we, "HAVE ALREADY been given every every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places IN CHRIST!")

1. Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world! (v. 4)
2. Chosen in be holy! (v. 4)
3. Chosen in be blameless before God! (v. 4)
4. Predestined for adoption as God's sons & daughters through Christ! (v. 5)
5. Blessed with all of God's grace in Christ (v. 6)
6. Redemption through Christ's blood! (v. 7)
7. Forgiveness of our trespasses through Christ's blood! (v. 7)
8. The wise and insightful purposes of God's will, which was set forth in Christ (v. 8-9)
9. Cosmic uniting of all things in heaven and on earth in Christ (v. 10)
10. Inheritance in Christ (v. 11)
11. Predestination in Christ according to the purpose of God who works everything after the counsel of His own will! (v. 11)
12. Hope in Christ (v. 12)
13. The praise of the glory of God is our privilege in Christ (v. 12)
14. Upon belief in Christ, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit, Who is the Guarantee of our inheritance in Christ (v. 13)
15. The praise of the glory of God is our Spirit-enabled privilege in Christ (v. 14)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Unexpected Growth

1 Corinthians 1:27
"but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong."

I want to encourage everyone to continue to be faithful in sharing the truth found in God's Word, which may often seem to be falling on empty ears. This morning, I had a student who is often made fun of for his physical stature, and for being slow, pray something similar to this, "Father may others see that You do everything just for You."

It's amazing what he has retained and what glorious truth He has prayed for the last couple of weeks, and this from the mind of an 8th grade boy often accused of being slow.

Join me in praying for the continued spiritual growth of Matt, and the blessed promise that God will continue to use my foolish and weak vessel to speak the truth to him.

Seen This?

I've seen this link in about a dozen places in the last two days, so maybe you've already seen it too? If not, you should.

Autistic H.S. Senior is leading scorer on Senior Night!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Invisible Children

Here's a riveting documentary of child abduction in Uganda. May God fight for these precious children as others are trying to force them to fight! I plan to watch the film at Bethlehem next month and give feedback on Solus Christus.

And the Answer Is...

I radically affirm a sentence I just read in a book. I wonder what you would put in the following blank. (Hint- the answer is not, "addition of more shiny things").

"There's only one thing that's biblically necessary for building the church, and that's the _____________________."

What would you put in this blank? I'll post the book's answer, which is also the answer I affirm, sometime soon. Happy biblical thinking!

Please post answers by clicking the link at the bottom right hand side of this post

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


If you find anything noteworthy on this blog, please supply a comment below our posts. You can simply click on the word "comments" below the post. We hope for you to use this blog as a source of interaction around many helpful subjects. Your thoughts will help stimulate others to gain insights on what you've enjoyed. Many blogs have multiple comments on every post, so don't be shy!

Getting the Gospel Right!

I gladly recommend to you the ministry of Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. You should especially check out his easy to read eight page work called "The Centrality of the Gospel" This brief treatment exposes many perilious trappings in our day such as "moralism," "legalism," "hedonism," "religion," and many more. Be helped by this brother's ministry!

Tim Keller will be among a hallmark of evangelical leaders who will be speaking at this Fall's Desiring God National Conference. Sell your house and quit your job to make it to this conference!

And Thus I Aspired

Romans 15:20
"And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation."

I have been dwelling in Romans 15 lately wrestling with the details of God's call on Paul's life. I am intrigued greatly by the aspiration of Paul to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel. The statement "And thus" comes from three phrases Paul mentioin earlier in this passage.

1. because of the grace given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. (vs. 15-16)

...and thus I aspire to preach the gospel

2. in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. (v.17)

...and thus I aspire to preach the gospel

3. I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me (v.18)

...and thus I aspire to preach the gospel

The reason Paul aspired to go to the ends of the earth was in Christ Jesus. It wasn't adventure, curiousity, or the challenge of reaching the next major city or country, but Christ alone. May God give us the grace to find reason in Him to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ today.