Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meeting #1 - SC Reading Group

Let's worship the Lamb Who was slain from the foundation of the earth...

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
P. 23 - Whoso wants to climb Jacob's ladder, to see angels, to touch the stars, to become intoxicated with heavenly emotions, to stand near the Gate of Gethsemane and to have his heart wrung with feelings of adoration at the goodness of God - let him read on.

And when he is finished let him not see Charnock or any man. But let him gaze on the face of Jesus and cry out through choking tears: 'I have seen the God-Man in his agonies. Surely this suffering was damnation taken lovingly for me. To Thee, O blessed Christ, I give my heart promptly and sincerely'.
As Packer shows, there is a Godwardness about this book to which our day may be unaccustomed. But, may we be better acquainted with our God - through His Christ - because of our time in this book! Welcome to our first meeting, please share your thoughts about this week's reading.


Anthony Mathenia said...

An experimental (subjective, heart) knowledge of the crucifixion of Jesus is crucial for us. Packer does well in encouraging us to seek a warm hearted approach to these great truths and realities from Charnock. The cross is vital for our entire lives, not just the doorway to God (initial salvation experience), but our continued standing in fellowship with him while we live on earth, and our hope to worship Him face to face for all of eternity as well.

The cross is not only the meritorious cause of all salvation—but is the instrumental cause of all sanctification. As there is no other way of salvation than by the blood of the cross—so there is no other way of holiness than by the power of the cross.

Through the cross, that is, through union & communion with Him who suffered upon it, not only is there a fountain opened for our being justified before God, but a fountain that remains open for our constant cleansing of daily iniquities for our walk and fellowship with Him!

All our . . .
pardon & peace, acceptance & justification, happiness & holiness, wisdom & strength,
victory over the world, mortification of the body of sin and death, hope and confidence,
prayer and praise, gracious feelings, spiritual desires, warm supplications, honest confessions, godly sorrows for sin, spring from the cross!

At the cross alone can we . . .
be made wise unto salvation, become righteous by a free justification, receive of His Spirit to make us holy, and be redeemed and delivered from sin, Satan, self, death and hell.

To the cross we are to bring . . .
our sorrows, our trials, our temptations, our sufferings, in order that we may get life from His death, pardon and peace from His atoning blood, justification from His divine obedience, and resignation to the will of His Father from His holy example.

At the cross alone is . . .
the world crucified to us, and we to the world; sin mortified, and its reigning power dethroned; the old man crucified and put off, and the new man put on.

May God give us all grace to know Him, to determine to know nothing but Him and Him crucified.

JS said...

While reading the Intro I was reminded of an article by Bob Kauflin of Covenant Life Church. He had this to say when asked about the lack of references to the cross of Christ in modern worship music. I think it greatly mirrors what Packer is conveying and is a challenging word for us all today:

“We think the Christian life begins with Christ saving us from our sins and moves on to pleasing God through our good works and service. We don’t realize that the Gospel remains our only foundation, providing hope, joy, security, peace, faith, and assurance for our life with God. The New Testament writers were consistent in their focus on the significance of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for our lives”

We are often prone to forget that the cross is not only the “hinge and fulcrum of the gospel”, but is also central to the believer’s daily walk of faith. For example, as believers we should be driven to humility by the example of Christ (Phil. 2). For husbands, the atonement is our model for loving our wives (Eph. 5). By it we should be motivated to a zealous obedience and it should reinforce a radical separtion from all things worldly. As Packer points out, it is our call to devotion & consecration, and our model for enduring suffering.

O, the necessity of living the cross-centered life! Like the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:14 it should be our only boast!

I love this quote from page 11:

“Trusting, loving and following Jesus necessitates keeping the cross in view at all times. Our living Lord calls for what we may call cruciform discipleship, clear headed, open-eyed, and whole hearted.”

Emphasis on: whole-hearted.

Which made me think of this:

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” – Col. 3:4

Emphasis on: our life.

May we be whole-hearted in our devotion to Christ! May we run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus.

tuck said...

"Where the Lord Jesus is not confessed as God incarnate, crucified, risen, reigning, and where there is no focus on the personal knowledge of Christ crucified, there is no Christianity." pp.9-10
How sad is the fact that so many "believers" are superficial and anemic. Christianity seems to be a cultural or family tradition rather than a personal relationship with Christ. Through the Spirit, we desperately need to properly view Christ, specifically the cross, in away that causes us to continually turn from the sin, which once enslaved us.
"Trusting, loving, and following Jesus necessitates keeping the cross in view at all times." p.11
We would be so much more aware of sin if we viewed Christ's atonement for us at all times- not just the physical picture of the crucifixion- but understanding what it meant for God to pour out his wrath on His perfect, pure, holy, and blameless Son. We must ask God to deepen our understanding of how He fully displayed His hatred of sin by crushing His only Son. May we practice "All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood" p.13 Let the vain things of this world that distract us be sacrifices to His blood and let us savor the endless joy of knowing and treasuring Jesus Christ.

Jordan said...

It was my joy to pray for each of you by name this morning. Please remember to intercede for each groupie each week. No doubt, our first ten minutes together is the most significant portion of our weekly meeting.

# Anthony Mathenia
# Brad Nelson
# Brandon Sheridan
# Brienne Smith
# Bryan Smith
# Clif Johnson
# Cody McNutt
# Debbie Thomas
# Jake Shivley
# Jim Suggs
# Jonathan Hopper
# Jordan Thomas
# Justin Tucker
# Kevin Wilkins
# Kirk Benson
# Melissa Sparks
# Nate "Dawg" Sawyer
# Ron Franks
# Shaun Hair
# Todd Smith

Special thanks to those who have commented already. My heart was stirred by the things you shared.

The to comments that stood out to me most in Packer's introduction are on pages 10 & 11.

P 10 - "[the cross] is the centerpiece of God's eternal plan of grace." (emphasis on 'eternal plan').

God REALLY sent His only Son to be a propitiation for our sins! It happened! And (thank God that Packer is correct) the sending of God's Son was NOT "plan B." God, from eternity, has been setting the stage, and once set, sent His Son at the perfect timing (Gal 4:4), and has now exalted Him back to the highest place...all according to plan! May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His sufferings - indeed He will.

P 11 - The cross must shape our faith, and thereby reshape our entire lives.

On 10/5/06 how is the cross shaping your faith? Your life? These questions are penetrating me today. I'm only promised this moment, not tomorrow. There seems to always be an excuse of why today won't work for Christlikeness. Let's take a look at Christ today. Look at His cross. Look at Him. Today. Now. He is sufficient to save, to sanctify, and to enable us to life TODAY for His glory.

B.Nelson said...

"The way we all live in God's presence and under his eye, and that we must one day answer to him for the lives we have lived, and that our humanity is so out of shape through sin that we need a Savior as urgently as persons with brain tumours need a surgeon, are truths that never enter most people's minds."

This hits home with me because I struggle with sharing my faith with lost friends. If I found out that some of my friends had a deadly disease, and I knew of a special doctor that could cure them I would not hesitate to tell them and take them to see the doctor to be cured. Why then do I hesitate to tell them about the Greatest Physician of all, Jesus Christ who provided us all with a cure for our deadly disease the day He shed His precious blood on the Cross! Without Christ Crucified we would be hopeless. Praise God that He is merciful and the we do have hope because He sent His Son Jesus to die for us and give us hope. Why would I keep this hope to myself? Am I still that self-centered? Pray for me that the next time God gives me an opportunity to share my faith, that He will fill me with His Spirit and make up for where I am so weak.

KB said...

"The central fact in Christianity is the reality, historical, eternal, and inescapable, of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God in the trinitarian sense of being God the Son, who is the future judge of all human beings everywhere, and whom the gospel proclaims as Saviour, Redeemer and Friend to all who become His followers. Let us be clear that where Jesus is not acknowledged as God incarnate, crucified, risen, reigning and returning, there is no Christianity, whatever liberals in and outside the churches may say to the contrary. p.7.

-Christ is Central, regardless of current trends in and outside of our churches.
Even in Packers day, "The man in the street, sees christianity as a moral code rather than as good news of salvation, and Jesus as a dead teacher rather than a living Saviour, and spiritual life as New age-type meditation for self-improvement, and religous commitment as a hobby for those who care about that sort of thing.p.8. The very situation we deal with today.

Pray that the Lord would protect us from shallow thought and trendy attitudes towards the gospel, God almighty, and the one who Upheld the universe with the word of His power while in His mother Mary's womb.

Puritanism was nothing else than the application of the Bible to all life and thought with the aim of living to the glory of God.p.21.
-I would love to be called a puritan then.

May God grant us repentance and humility "to determine not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." 1 Cor 2:2

Melissa Sparks said...

My heart was stirred most over this sentence:
"Paul was so much taken with Christ, that nothing sweeter than Jesus could drop from his lips and pen." pg 17

I wanted to continue to read further but the Holy Spirit would not let me get away from those words. How I want to be "taken" with Christ and the cross so much more than I am now.Thankfully the Lord assured me He plans to captivate my heart more and more.

I was reminded in a study with some highschool girls a couple months ago how boring the story of the cross is to many Christians. I heard the girls make comments like "I've just heard that story so many times", or "Yeah, I know Christ died for my sins but it's just not a big deal anymore". My heart broke when I heard their thoughts and when I thought about how I was guilty for not being awe struck at the thought of Christ on the cross everytime I heard or read about it.
Since then the Lord continues to remind me how humbling that thought is and He's used it to quicken my affections for Christ as I remind myself that that story must never leave me un-amazed.

I also loved this line; "Christ and his death is the choicest subject for the wisest ear." pg 18

Those who want to have their hunger satisfied, their thirst quenched and their minds and hearts elevated to the highest level will due well to wrap their thoughts around the life and death of "the man Christ Jesus".

I simply want to love Him more.

Debbie Thomas said...

The others in this group need to be writing books. The verses that come to my mind are John 3:30 - 31.
I know John 3:30 is one of Jordans favorites.

Quo Vadis said...

Amen to what has already been said, and I plead that Jordan would show me mercy rather than the rack. (By the way, I tried to post yesterday afternoon, but this site was down for about 2 hours.)

I have had the opportunity to read almost everyone's posts and see that we are a group very consumed with the message and glory of the Cross and what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. Unfortunately, as many of you have already pointed out, that message is being diluted in most of mainstream Christianity today, so the result is that our churches and Christian subculture are losing our saltiness and the power of the full gospel to impact a culture that grows more post-Christian everyday.

I take hope in this book because this book places its hope in the glory of the grace of our God, and in historical Christianity, the times when the church has been most culture altering and world impacting are those times when the message of the glory of Jesus Christ are most emphasized. Today, I hope that we can sit at the feet of Charnock because he dwelt at the foot of the Cross and get a glimpse into the Puritan mind. The Puritans left such a tremendous impact on the Western world, and today the church can learn what it was that so drove and enamored these people. I anticipate that we will see more deeply and humbly the glory of Jesus Christ, and I pray that by seeing and savoring Jesus Christ we will be changed. Let us pray that everything else will be a loss except the "surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord". Maybe our Lord will have grace on us and choose to send revival into His church as His sons and daughters pursue the glory of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Brandon said...

My post will be short since it is so late but anyway. May main take away is that one without a right view of who God is namely his attributes then the cross will most assuredly be misconstrued. At the desiring god conference one theme was to be relevant well I feel that the Cross is relevent because one it is central even though is happened so long ago but in eternal eyes not so long ago. No matter where you are in your sanctification or if you have never been justified the cross is what we must look to. I feel that when you look at the cross and also his life leading to that moment and the death burial and resurection we see so much of what the Christian life is i.e. humility, obedience, love,wrath of God satisfied(Praise Him it is satisfied), most importantly GLORY. So want to know how to love want to know how to live in Christ and be what we are called to be Look to the Cross.