Friday, February 27, 2009

Vanity Fair

Now these Pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved, and the town itself as it were in a hubbub about them; and that for several reasons; for--

First, The pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people therefore of the fair made a great gazing upon them: Some said they were fools, some they were bedlams, and some they are outlandish men.

Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel so they did likewise at their speech, for few could understand what they said; they naturally spoke the language of Canaan, but they that kept the fair were the men of this world; so that, from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other.

Thirdly, but that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers, was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares, they cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears and cry, 'Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,' and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.

From The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan

So Christian and his companion Faithful had to pass through this town where a fair was set up by Beelzebub, Apollyon and Legion. Need I elaborate? Certainly Bunyan wants to emphasize the world we have to travel through as pilgrims on our journey to the heavenly city. We HAVE to go through this world, which is heavily under the influence and power of Satan. There is no getting around it. But for true Christians, he fully captures it doesn't he? What was it about these pilgrims that upset the people in the town so much? About their clothing? About their speech? And notice the attitude which the pilgrims had towards the "wares" that were being sold at this fair.

Is all this true of you and me as we travel through Vanity Fair? Remember, if it is, the world is not going to love us. One point in particular: Please dear Lord, help me to speak the "language of Canaan."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Effectual Atonement

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:6-11

Atonement: 1. reconciliation; becoming friends again with someone who had been an enemy; 2. being forgiven for our sins through a sacrifice acceptable to God. This was done through the shedding of blood--in the OT, animals were sacrificed, and in the NT, Jesus was the complete and final sacrifice to take away the sins of mankind.
Basic Bible Dictionary, the Standard Publishing Company, 1983.

Yesterday, I took the day off from teaching Sunday School (thank the Lord for my sub Sara), and was treated to a video presentation in the adult class on the doctrines of grace. The speaker was great, and while the primary focus was on the various doctrines distinctive to Baptists in particular and evangelicals in general, the doctrine of "effectual atonement" caught my thoughts and heart the most. Too much to write down here, but let me sum it all up by asking if you have any idea of the scope of the benefits which are ours by virtue of the atonement which we have received through the work of Christ Jesus. This atonement may be limited to only its beneficiaries, but unlimited in its blessings to these beneficiaries. Sound like double talk? Well it's not!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

O Sacred Head

The following hymn contains some closing words from our sermon today on the agonizing of our Savior in Gethsemane. He told His Father "Not what I will, but what thou wilt." So, it was the Father's will that the cup of wrath would not be removed. So He bore it:

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory,
What bliss till now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call thee mine.

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners' gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest Friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me thine for ever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to thee.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I blindly ask for what I crave,

With haughty heart and will so stout;

He oft denies me what I seek,

But gives me grace to do without.

~ Anon.