This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Category: Life

Making disciples of those in plain sight

I love this video from Rebuild Net­work.

Mak­ing dis­ci­ples of all nations includes the nation — the peo­ple group — where you live.

‘And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites …’

I’ve had the plea­sure this school year of teach­ing the 7-12th grade Sun­day school class at my church in a study through Matthew’s Gospel. We’ve got a really bright bunch of teens who are very good at think­ing deeply about the impli­ca­tions and appli­ca­tions of the text.

We had some espe­cially engag­ing dis­cus­sions in , which begins in : “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” We talked about how we should be giv­ing, pray­ing and fast­ing in a way such that we guard against doing it in a way so as to be seen by others.

How strik­ing is the warn­ing of . Yet daily I see pas­tors (and those who aspire to be pas­tors copy­ing those chatty pas­tors) post­ing 140-character per­sonal prayers. Are they not doing the social media equiv­a­lent of stand­ing and pray­ing “in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers” ()? So that they can be re-Tweeted or like-buttoned?

Why do those need to be on Twit­ter or Face­book? Is it so that they are seen by others?

Encour­ag­ing oth­ers to pray using social media is prob­a­bly just fine. Using social media so that your prayers can be seen by oth­ers? I think Scrip­ture coun­sels against that.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Don’t let that be you.


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trum­pet before you, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gen­tiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hal­lowed be your name.

10 Your king­dom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and for­give us our debts,
as we also have for­given our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temp­ta­tion,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, your heav­enly Father will also for­give you, 15 but if you do not for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, nei­ther will your Father for­give your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyp­ocrites, for they dis­fig­ure their faces that their fast­ing may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fast­ing may not be seen by oth­ers but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not lay up for your­selves trea­sures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for your­selves trea­sures in heaven, where nei­ther moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your trea­sure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of dark­ness. If then the light in you is dark­ness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two mas­ters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can­not serve God and money.

25 “There­fore I tell you, do not be anx­ious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than cloth­ing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they nei­ther sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heav­enly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anx­ious can add a sin­gle hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anx­ious about cloth­ing? Con­sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they nei­ther toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomor­row is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of lit­tle faith? 31 There­fore do not be anx­ious, say­ing, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gen­tiles seek after all these things, and your heav­enly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the king­dom of God and his right­eous­ness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “There­fore do not be anx­ious about tomor­row, for tomor­row will be anx­ious for itself. Suf­fi­cient for the day is its own trou­ble. (ESV)


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trum­pet before you, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gen­tiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hal­lowed be your name.

10 Your king­dom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and for­give us our debts,
as we also have for­given our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temp­ta­tion,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, your heav­enly Father will also for­give you, 15 but if you do not for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, nei­ther will your Father for­give your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyp­ocrites, for they dis­fig­ure their faces that their fast­ing may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fast­ing may not be seen by oth­ers but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not lay up for your­selves trea­sures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for your­selves trea­sures in heaven, where nei­ther moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your trea­sure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of dark­ness. If then the light in you is dark­ness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two mas­ters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can­not serve God and money.

25 “There­fore I tell you, do not be anx­ious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than cloth­ing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they nei­ther sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heav­enly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anx­ious can add a sin­gle hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anx­ious about cloth­ing? Con­sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they nei­ther toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomor­row is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of lit­tle faith? 31 There­fore do not be anx­ious, say­ing, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gen­tiles seek after all these things, and your heav­enly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the king­dom of God and his right­eous­ness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “There­fore do not be anx­ious about tomor­row, for tomor­row will be anx­ious for itself. Suf­fi­cient for the day is its own trou­ble. (ESV)


“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV)

An audacious statement

Studies in the Sermon on the MountOne of the most trea­sured the­o­log­i­cal tomes on my book­shelf is D. Mar­tyn Lloyd-Jones’ Stud­ies in the Ser­mon on the Mount, a work col­lected from 60 ser­mons by the Doctor.

In a recent dis­cus­sion on the role of law in the believer, I was reminded of some quotes from that book.

First, is the auda­cious state­ment of in which Jesus declares Him­self to be the ful­fill­ment of the Hebrew Scriptures:

It is, in other words, that all the law and all the prophets point to Him and will be ful­filled in Him down to the small­est detail. Every­thing that is in the law and the prophets cul­mi­nates in Christ, and He is the ful­fill­ment of them. It is the most stu­pen­dous claim that He ever made. (p. 163)

Is the Ser­mon on the Mount cod­i­fi­ca­tion, or is it a descrip­tion of the believer?  The “blessed are” state­ments of the Beat­i­tudes are indica­tive in the Greek; they are descrip­tive of the new crea­ture that is the believer.

About the Law — which Paul calls our pedagogue/tutor/guardian, Lloyd-Jones wrote:

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not treat us like that. It does not treat us as chil­dren. It is not another law, but some­thing which gives us life. It lays down cer­tain prin­ci­ples and asks us to apply them. Its essen­tial teach­ing is that we are given a new out­look and under­stand­ing which we must apply with respect to every detail of our lives. That is why the Chris­t­ian, in a sense, is a man who is always walk­ing on a kind of knife edge. He has no set reg­u­la­tions; instead he applies this cen­tral prin­ci­ple to every sit­u­a­tion that may arise. (p. 216)

Lloyd-Jones fur­ther explains:

What is of supreme impor­tance is that we must always remem­ber that the Ser­mon on the Mount is a descrip­tion of char­ac­ter and not a code of ethics or morals. It is not to be regarded as law – a kind of new “Ten Com­mand­ments” or set of rules and reg­u­la­tions which are to be car­ried out by us – but rather as a descrip­tion of what we Chris­tians are meant to be, illus­trated in cer­tain par­tic­u­lar respects. It is as if our Lord says, “Because you are what you are, this is how you will face the law and how you will live it.” (p. 21)

It is not a new set of let­ters (“For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” ESV).

Ulti­mately, the eter­nal stan­dard of right­eous­ness is Christ Him­self, the rev­e­la­tion of and reflec­tion of God, the per­fect image (Greek eikon) of the Father. He is and always has been the right­eous­ness that the Law pointed to. And He is the stan­dard of our right­eous­ness. No law has ever encom­passed His holi­ness, the only stan­dard that mat­ters.  No law, no let­ters can encom­pass the right­eous­ness that exceeds the scribes and the Phar­isees.  Only the liv­ing Torah, Christ whom the writ­ten Torah pointed to, is that righteousness.

Christ’s teach­ing, Paul’s exhor­ta­tions, all point to being that which we as new crea­tures are recre­ated to be.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; lis­ten to him.” ( ESV)

The Spirit of Christ, indwelling the believer and inform­ing him in His word is not a set of rules. Look­ing at God’s law merely as rules to fol­low inher­ently misses the heart and focuses on the exter­nal. What the Law pointed to was ful­filled in Him and in is being ful­filled in us. While it is shrouded in this body of death now, it is real­ized fully in glory.


17 “Do not think that I have come to abol­ish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abol­ish them but to ful­fill them. (ESV)


He was still speak­ing when, behold, a bright cloud over­shad­owed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; lis­ten to him.” (ESV)

180

Porterbrook ROC brings Porterbrook Network to Rochester, N.Y.

We’re very excited at Evan­gel­i­cal Church of Fair­port to be the 11th Learn­ing Site in the U.S. for the Porter­brook Net­work.

Our first fall term begins Oct. 3.

Update: we’re post­pon­ing the launch until Jan­u­ary 2 so that we can get the largest pos­si­ble participation.

More about the Porter­brook Net­work may be found on our local site’s web­site, porterbrookROC.com.

Porter­brook Net­work is a two-year church-based the­o­log­i­cal train­ing pro­gram with a sup­ported self-study struc­ture with oth­ers who are train­ing in a sim­i­lar field, church or geo­graphic affiliation.

Steve Tim­mis and Tim Chester, co-authors of Total Church and founders of The Crowded House, cre­ated The Porter­brook Net­work in the U.K. in 2006 in response to a con­vic­tion for churches to become more Gospel-Centered and for new Gospel-Centered churches to be planted.

The vision of Porter­brook is to equip indi­vid­u­als and churches to redis­cover mis­sion as their DNA, to become bet­ter lovers of God and lovers of oth­ers, and to pro­claim the Gospel through word and action for the Glory of God. Porter­brook is being used in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Italy, Ukraine, India, South Africa, and Aus­tralia, and Porter­brook Learn­ing mate­r­ial is cur­rently being trans­lated into Chi­nese, Russ­ian, and Italian.

A ‘letter from God’ by Sarah Palin

There’s been quite the hub­bub over the release of some 24,000 emails by Sarah Palin on Fri­day, June 10 — and a thud of dis­ap­point­ment from the media in find­ing no smok­ing gun among the 300 pounds of printed correspondence.

Now, this is by no means any sort of polit­i­cal endorse­ment of Mrs. Palin. (And no, it’s not an endorse­ment of new spe­cial rev­e­la­tion from God.) But this note, sent to her fam­ily in April 2008, is touch­ing — and it speaks vol­umes about her faith:

Con­tinue reading

Tempted and Tried

Tempted and TriedI was going to post a review of Rus­sell D. Moore’s Tempted and Tried but Mike Leake’s review at SBC Voices sums it up well enough: Review of Tempted and Tried | SBC Voices.

Just a few addi­tional comments:

Moore’s crisp writ­ing gets right to the point: temp­ta­tion is a dan­ger and sin is far more seri­ous than we usu­ally treat it. The author’s can­did warn­ings jarred me in sev­eral places; for exam­ple, when he calls us to be hon­est about sin: it’s not that we “strug­gle with pro­cras­ti­na­tion” but rather that we are “lazy.”

I highly rec­om­mend this book and I’d put this right along side some of the best works by Jerry Bridges on the subject.

Completed by the Spirit, Part 2: A Resurrection Like His

This is the sec­ond part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Empty tombIn the first arti­cle in this series, we looked at five propo­si­tions that Paul intro­duces in his epis­tles about our rela­tion­ship to the law and its rela­tion­ship to our sanctification:

First, law can­not cope with sin.

Sec­ond, it’s the love brought to the saint through the indwelling Holy Spirit that is ful­fills the law.

Third, it is the Spirit that pro­duces fruit in the believer, while the law in our remain­ing sin­ful flesh can only pro­duce sin.

Fourth, sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion – a growth in holi­ness — results from our union with Christ and Scripture’s exhor­ta­tions about what it means to be Christ-like.

Fifth, that the imper­a­tives Paul gives to us are not them­selves laws and are not given as laws or in the cat­e­gory of law, because they flow from the indica­tive of our reliance upon Christ and our posi­tion in Christ.

Before we address those five propo­si­tions indi­vid­u­ally in future arti­cles, we need to con­sider the escha­tol­ogy of our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. We will indeed be glo­ri­fied, Paul promises (). What is impor­tant now about that final and com­plete sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is what that state reveals about us – what that “not yet” tells us about our “already.”

Con­tinue reading


30 And those whom he pre­des­tined he also called, and those whom he called he also jus­ti­fied, and those whom he jus­ti­fied he also glo­ri­fied. (ESV)

Tchividjian: Too Good To Be True

I enjoy read­ing Tul­lian Tchividjian’s blog because of his unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to the Gospel — not just in our jus­ti­fi­ca­tion but in our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Many in the “reformed camp” can focus too strongly on our own wretched­ness and on law-based behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion in sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, while instead we should be rely­ing on the fin­ished work of Christ and grow­ing in grace by behold­ing Christ. That sort of flesh-based attempt at sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion leads to despair and a los­ing bat­tle against sin — rather than the joy and vic­tory we’re called to have — as I am argu­ing in my cur­rent series, Com­pleted by the Spirit.

Today, Tchivid­jian writes about his new ser­mon series enti­tled “Pic­tures of Grace:”

What the Phar­isee, the pros­ti­tute, and all of us need to remem­ber every day is that Christ offers for­give­ness full and free from both our self-righteous good­ness and our unright­eous bad­ness. This is the hard­est thing for us to believe as Chris­tians. We think it’s a mark of spir­i­tual matu­rity to hang onto our guilt and shame. We’ve sickly con­cluded that the worse we feel, the bet­ter we actu­ally are.

A friend refers to that feel­ing of guilt and shame as “Protes­tant penance.” Christ’s for­give­ness removes that shame. Under­stand­ing that grows us in the knowl­edge and like­ness of Him.

Orig­i­nal post: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/05/24/too-good-to-be-true/

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