Let Us Remember This, In Time

We need to be careful how we deal with those about us, when every death carries to some small circle of survivors thoughts of so much omitted and so little done –of so many things forgotten and so many more which might have been repaired!  There is no remorse so deep as that which is unavailing; if we would be spared its tortures, let us remember this, in time.

~ Charles Dickens, in Oliver Twist

 

 

 

Our Fellowship, Our Joy

This post is by Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston Salem, NC. You can find out more about him here or hear his expositions of Scripture at gbcnc.org. Reprinted with the gracious permission of the author.

 

Because of his encounter with the incarnate Son of God, John was compelled to broadcast this wonderful One to us and all who would hear.

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

The apostle makes the point that joy and fellowship are inextricably linked. God is the source of joy. The God/man is the means of appropriating that joy through our relationship to Him and then with His people.

As believers, each of us has been baptized into the body of Christ.  The body is vital connection and interdependence with coordinated work upon command from the head (Christ). While there is a common mission for the church there is also a common divine objective for each member of the body- the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ- our joy!

COACHING-1Being conformed to Christ’s image is not something that is done alone. The mind of Christ and the law of Christ require investment with regard to others. Each of us plays an integral role in the spiritual growth (the joy of becoming like Christ) of the other. Our lasting joy in the Lord is proportionate to our maturity in the Lord and love of/fellowship with His people.

This is why the apostle Paul told the Corinthian believers that they were fellow workers for your joy. Fellowship is what the apostle John did- the blessing he received from God he shared with those around him. What has been entrusted to you (God’s blessings) is for the express purpose of contributing to the joy of others.

The Most Successful Tyranny: Allan Bloom, Bernie Sanders, and History

Freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.

~Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind, (emphasis mine)

This paragraph points to what a liberal arts education is all about. Freedom of the mind does not equal intellectual obstinacy- it is a historical awareness that frees us to see our place in the history of ideas. Bloom’s point is easily seen in our political landscape. Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proclaimed that his campaign signals the beginning of a political revolution. Revolution. Maybe our situation warrants this kind of change, but I doubt it.

French Revolution

My guess is that his supporters (comprised mostly of my generation I’m told) don’t have the sense of historical backdrop with which to compare their own political ideology. ‘Radical’ and ‘revolutionary’ are terms that might excite a young movement looking for something to live for, but we need to be able to properly judge whether we’re trading one tyranny (whether real or imagined) for a worse. Bloom says that endeavor will require an education.

 

 

Our Very Miseries Will be Blessed- Calvin on Suffering

John_Calvin01When he wasn’t blasting the ‘effrontery’ of his opponents (dubbed miscreants and asses), John Calvin could write with gracious clarity and depth. The excerpt below shows the characteristic skill of his pen. I have long sensed a need to take more time to read passages like these with care. “Books,” says Thoreau, “must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”

Since I don’t have to work too hard to find material like this today, I have to fight the reality that the abundance of good reading can turn me in to a page skimmer rather than a reader.

We frequently read about great theologians- which is helpful, no doubt- but we need to devote time to hearing from them directly:

Faith does not promise us length of days, riches, and honors, (the Lord not having been pleased that any of these should be appointed us;) but is contented with the assurance, that however poor we may be in regard to present comforts, God will never fail us. The chief security lies in the expectation of future life, which is placed beyond doubt by the word of God. Whatever be the miseries and calamities which await the children of God in this world, they cannot make his favor cease to be complete happiness…

In short, if we have every earthly comfort to a wish, but are uncertain whether we have the love or hatred of God, our felicity will be cursed, and therefore miserable. But if God lift on us the light of his fatherly countenance, our very miseries will be blessed, inasmuch as they will become helps to our salvation.

Thus Paul, after bringing together all kinds of adversity, boasts that they cannot separate us from the love of God: and in his prayers he uniformly begins with the grace of God as the source of all prosperity.

In like manner, to all the terrors which assail us, David opposes merely the favor of God,- “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me,” (Ps. 23:4). And we feel that our minds always waver until, contented with the grace of God, we in it seek peace, and feel thoroughly persuaded of what is said in the psalm, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance,” (Ps. 33:12).

~ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion