Quoteworthy: Calvin on Righteousness by Faith


Writing in his commentary on Galatians on Galatians 3:6 , Calvin clearly and succinctly lays out the start to finish of how we as Christians obtain the righteousness of God. Having brought up the question of whether or not faith is the cause of our righteousness, Calvin argues that having faith does not somehow earn or merit righteousness: righteousness is “enjoyed by faith only; and not even as a reward justly due to faith, but because we receive by faith what God freely gives.” Faith is more the mechanism through which we receive the free gift of righteousness than the proper cause of righteousness. Calvin continues:

Christ is our righteousness. The mercy of God is the cause of our righteousness. By the death and resurrection of Christ, righteousness has been procured for us. Righteousness is bestowed on us through the gospel. We obtain righteousness by faith. (emphasis added)

Beautiful.

Can Faith and Reason Truly Disagree?


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There can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who both reveals mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason. God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be opposed to truth. The appearance of this kind of inane contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained…or that mere opinions are mistaken for the conclusions of reason.

-The First Vatican Council on Faith and Reason, The Christian Theology Reader, 31.

 

In your experience, have you encountered (both personally and with others) more misunderstanding of dogma or more opinions taken for reason?

Book Review: The Daring Heart of David Livingstone by Jay Milbrandt


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In the past year or so I’ve been drawn to stories of great men of faith. This has led to me reading biographies of Hudson Taylor, Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, William Wilberforce, and others. It is inspiring to read of the paths these men walked in their faith, the challenges they faced in their lives, the sacrifices they made for their King, and the hope that drove them ever onwards. So when I had the opportunity to read a book about David Livingstone, I jumped at the chance. How would his testimony add to and compare with these other men?

In “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone” Jay Milbrandt focuses on the latter half of Dr. Livingstone’s life from 1857 to 1874. Milbrandt’s thesis is that “traditional biographers have largely overlooked [Livingstone’s] advocacy for abolishing slavery. In so doing they have missed the real story…If David Livingstone pursued one purpose, it was freedom from the African slave trade” (xi).

How does Milbrandt support this thesis? First of all, he paints a very impartial and (as far as I know) accurate picture of Livingstone. There’s no hero worship or whitewashing of sins here but there’s also no demonizing or unfair blaming. Milbrandt shows Livingstone to be a complicated man with many failings but many strengths as well. Livingstone was a poor leader, a failure as a missionary, unsuccessful in many of his scientific expeditions, and a largely absentee husband/father. But he was also a visionary, relentlessly determined, and passionately convinced of God’s providence in his life and the lives of others. This honest and fair treatment of Livingstone gives Milbrandt much credibility and reveals an imperfect man’s struggle to serve his Lord in spite of his failings.

As far as Livingtone’s purpose being the ending of the African slave trade, Milbrandt presents some convincing arguments and evidences, including Livingstone’s own words.

“If the good Lord permits me to put a stop to the enormous evils of the inland slave-trade, I shall not grudge my hunger and toils. I shall bless his name with all my heart. The Nile sources are valuable to me only as a means of enabling me to open my mouth with power among men. It is this power I hope to apply to remedy an enormous evil [in the East African slave trade].” (210)

As a result of his fame, Livingstone had a platform on the world stage and he used this platform to successfully galvanize the world to move towards ending the East African inland slave trade. Whatever else you think about this man, you cannot ignore his part in advancing the cause of freedom.

There’s much more to say about the book, but suffice to say that I enjoyed it and, while not perfect by any means, I give “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone” 4 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.

Monday Morning Music-Tuesday Edition!


“It is Well” by Bethel Music

“So let go my soul and trust in Him / The waves and wind still know His name”

I need to be reminded (often) that I’m not the only one know knows His name-my troubles know it too. Praise God. A beautiful song to carry through the week.

Monday Morning Music- “The Times They Are A Changin'”


Things are about to get a bit crazier around these parts. We’re moving this week and classes for me start next monday! It’s important to me that this blog stays a priority but it’s almost unavoidable that I’ll have less time to give to it (at least for a while). I’m finally getting excited about all this change but also know that it has the potential to not be easy. But when everything else is changing, I’m thankful that God stays the same and that we can count on him. He is our Rock, in whom there is “no variation or shadow cast by turning” (James 1:17, HCSB). Thank God (literally) for that!

 

ReBlog: Why You Settle For Less via Storyline


*Photo Credit: bark, Creative Commons
*Photo Credit: bark, Creative Commons

About a month ago in a post titled “Why You Settle For Less When You Know There’s Better” on the Storyline Blog, Cadence Turpin shared a simple story about a man and a maple tree. It’s stuck with me since then because it deals with a topic and some questions that I’ve been asking during our transition from the past season of our life into the next one: dealing with necessary change.

How many times have I been afraid to let go of a relationship, job or opportunity because it felt hard and I wasn’t sure if God was going to really provide something better?

The answer (for me at least) is many, many times. Change isn’t always fun. Or easy. Or exciting. But there are lessons to be learned in the midst of it. One I’ve been reminded of and learning in a deeper way is the truth in Isaiah 26:3-4:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

God is faithful. HE won’t change. He’s our sure foundation in the middle of all else. And that’s the first step: trust him. The rest will follow.

You can (and should!) read the original post here: Storyline Blog.

For those that read the article and/or have put some thought into dealing with change: what are your thoughts? Any insights or lessons learned?

Tweets of the Week 08.01.14


One of the defining characteristics of Twitter is that, for better or worse, you’re limited to 140 characters. While this can be frustrating at times, the forced brevity and succinctness can also lead to capturing some ideas better in a sentence or two than you might otherwise have done so in a paragraph (or more).

All this is a short introduction to what I’m testing out as a recurring feature here on the blog: Tweets of the Week. Every week or so I’ll compile some tweets that I liked or that impacted me from people I’m following and share them without (much) comment. So here’s the first few!

 

Keller

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Book Review: Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret


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I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me. -Hudson Taylor

This week I finished reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I’ve been reading more biographies lately, specifically of missionaries and other great men of faith. My interest was piqued when I read Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer but didn’t really become a priority until reading  Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot, which I briefly reviewed on Goodreads. I was deeply impacted by both of these men’s heart to know God, approach to life, and lasting legacy. And so I turned my attention to the life of Hudson Taylor.

I’ll confess right now that I didn’t know much about Hudson Taylor himself or the geopolitical and spiritual history of China in the 19th Century before reading this book. In that sense, the book was hugely educational and informative for me. I feel that I have a much better sense of Hudson Taylor’s life, beliefs, and impact, as well as a more complete knowledge of Chinese history (especially as it relates to Chinese believers).

The book was written by one of Hudson Taylor’s sons and daughter-in-law around 1932 and recounts all of his life, from his upbringing and conversion to his death. This lends a few advantages and disadvantages to the book. In the pros column I would say that the book’s comprehensive scope gives a wonderful picture of just how far God took Taylor and the amazing things he used him for. As the decades passed, Hudson Taylor’s belief in what God was able to accomplish continually grew until he was trusting God for answers to prayers that would frankly seem ridiculous without the innumerable assurance of God’s faithfulness he received. In this way, the book functions as a guide to understanding how Hudson Taylor could believe God and an invitation to the reader to trust in the same way.

The other side of the coin is that the book’s scope is just entirely too large to give a detailed account of everything it mentions. Many times it will sum up a missionary journey, a series of events, or even a few years in a few short sentences. In several instances, I found myself wanting more details, more substance, and more meat on the bones of the narrative.

But the authors’ concern is not so much detailing every single occurrence of Hudson Taylor’s ministry as in revealing the heart of the man himself. What was his spiritual secret that enabled him to accomplish all the amazing things he did? What drove him to push ever-deeper into inland China to reach the unreached?

In his own words, Taylor answers that question with a name: Jesus.

What, can Jesus meet my need? Yes, and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep are my soul-yearnings–Jesus can meet all, and more than meet.

And that is the book’s greatest aspect: a view into a heart blazing for Christ and burdened to share the gospel with the unreached. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul gives the Corinthian church one of the simplest pictures of discipleship and growth in Christ when he tells them, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Hudson Taylor was a man who loved and imitated Christ well. Tweet this May books like this encourage and embolden us to imitate him and others like him who, in the midst of all their human failings and shortcomings, fell deeply in love with Christ and pursued him with all they had.

 

What’s a biography that you’ve read lately? What’s a story you’ve heard that inspired or helped you in your pursuit of Christ?