Seeking the Spirit’s Help and Power

At the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out; then the whole church was baptized with a sacred influence, and ever since then the Holy Spirit has never been withdrawn from the Christian church. “ I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” We often unbelievingly pray for the Holy Spirit as if he were not still with us, as if he were not perpetually resident among the sons of men; but he is here, always here – always dwelling in the Christian church.

Now consider who the Holy Spirit is: he is the blessed God himself – one person of the glorious Trinity in unity, and he is therefore the possessor of infinite power. In the world of mind he can work according to his own will, and can convince men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He can soften the most obdurate, he can turn to kindness the most cruel, and lead into light the most darkened….

This is the church’s power; let her seek more of it, and, possessing it, let her rest assured that the purpose for which she has been raised up will be accomplished…

From C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon entitled “Good News For Loyal Subjects,” delivered April 19, 1868.

Towards further Charismatic Chaos in Toronto

Toronto is moving towards further Charismatic chaos.

You may remember or have heard about the fiasco of chaotic worship services that engulfed the Toronto Blessing of the early 1990s. The renewal/revival services at Toronto Airport Vineyard (now Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) included

worshippers have exhibited unusual behaviours that they attribute to an encounter with God and the “fire of the Holy Spirit”. The most common described behaviours include hysterical laughter (or “holy laughter”), physical spasms or jerks, falling to the floor under the Holy Spirit’s power (aka “slain in the Spirit”) and speaking in tongues. Other less common behaviours include manifestations that resembled roaring like lions and barking like dogs.

Confession of Sin and Walking in Obedience to God’s Law

Tests of Faith

from 1 John 1:1-2:6

The first four verses are a key NT assertion of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. John makes a very strong assertion of empirical (based on sensory observation) validation of the Incarnation. By beginning in this way, John invites us to ponder as we read the ensuing letter how the incarnation of Christ permeates all that he says about the Christian life. At the outset John is also alerting us of his credentials to write about Christ: he was a personal disciple of Christ during his earthly ministry. With the preamble complete, John then turns to some preliminary tests of faith. The material is organized very fluidly, and this means that we cannot simply number the tests. We need to read slowly, noting themes that are introduced, succeeded by something different, and then picked up again. Here is a starting list: walking in the light rather than darkness; confessing sin and receiving God’s forgiveness; the need to love rather than hate.

The Word of Life

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Walking in the Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Christ Our Advocate

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Vast As The Ocean

Heart in mousetrap.png
The following is an excerpt from Pastor Tullian Tchividjian‘s recent blog post titled What is love? on his church’s blog.

For those who don’t know, Tullian is the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham.

Emphasis below in italics are Tullian’s; bold is mine:

From one perspective, true love is downright dangerous. In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal.”

To be sure, Lewis was not saying to avoid love. He was simply making the observation that real love is risky: it opens one up to the possibility of intense emotional ache. In fact, Lewis says, the only place outside of heaven where one can be perfectly safe from all the “dangers” of love is hell, and that’s because love is altogether absent there. Love, as the Bible defines it, is sacrificial. This, however, threatens our natural tendency to protect ourselves. We are afraid to give because we are afraid of being taken. But this self-centered fear is precisely why we so often miss out on true love. We have come to believe that love is first something we receive from others before it is something that we give to others. Someone once rightly said, however, that love is what exists between people who find their joy in each other’s joy. In other words, the real benefit of true love comes from loving others before it comes from being loved by others. To give, therefore, is to receive, not the other way around.

Continue reading Tullian’s post here.

Acutely Aware

There is not a day that goes by where I am not acutely aware of the sinfulness of my heart and the depravity of my flesh. Just because we are Christians and saved by Christ’s death on the cross, it does not mean that we are immune to the Adamic fall and the effects of original sin.

Because of Adam’s sin, all of us are imputed by it, and as a result, all of humanity sinned in Adam. Since we participated actually in Adam’s sin and were seminally there, depravity is total and we inherit both the corrupt nature and guilt of our first parents.

As Paul wrote in Romans 3:9-10,

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

Those of us seminarians and men in ministry are not immune to the corruption of the human nature either. We are tempted, and sometimes even sin. Even while we strive to submit to the authority of Christ in our lives, our fleshly bodies often fails us. While we who are baptized with the Holy Spirit do not want to sin, I myself can certainly testify that I often do what I do not want to do — the very things that we hate! The free will God has blessed us with only desires to attain its own pleasures and never the pleasures found in Christ. Whatever obedience we seemingly muster out of ourselves in this pilgrimage is the work of Christ in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus, it is not I who by my own strength obeys but it is God who enables me by grace to work out my salvation with fear in trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

As Paul himself testified in Romans 7:13-20,

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

As I suffer through the current heat wave in Toronto, I am again reminded of the truths in the those statements. It is very rare not to see a scantily clad girl on the street, at just about every corner I turn, wearing next to nothing and showing just about everything. Since it is the summer, modesty is out, immodesty is in-style and more popular than ever. The thirty-five degree celsius weather only exasperates the problem and provides plenty of meat for men to gawk at, women wearing even less because it is very hot and humid.
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