Self Interest Isn’t (Always) Sinful

6a00e54ef4f376883401bb0875ae4b970d-800wiThough there are all sorts sinful forms of self-interest, self-interest itself isn’t inherently sinful. In fact, there are a lot of good forms of self-interest the Bible approves of and even uses as motivators to live faithful lives.

Wayne Grudem explains:

Much self-interest is good and approved by Scripture, as when Jesus commands us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6: 20), or when we seek to grow in sanctification and Christian maturity (1 Thess. 4: 3), or even when we come to God through Christ for salvation. God certainly appeals to the self-interest of sinful people when he says, “Turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33: 11). To define the essential character of sin as selfishness will lead many people to think that they should abandon all desire for their own personal benefit, which is certainly contrary to Scripture. (Taken from Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine) p. 491).

Deny the kinds of self-interest that drives you to sin, but not the kind that drives you to holiness.

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Hey Christian, Are You Happy?

Isaiah Early

Isaiah Early

J.C. Ryle:

How is it, people often ask, that so many professing believers have so little happiness in their religion? How is it that so many know little of joy and peace in believing, and go mourning and heavy-hearted towards heaven?

The answer to these questions is a sorrowful one, but it must be given. Few believers attend as strictly as they should to Christ’s practical sayings and words. There is far too much loose and careless obedience to Christ’s commandments. There is far too much forgetfulness, that while good works cannot justify us, they are not to be despised. Let these things sink down into our hearts. If we want to be eminently happy, we must strive to be eminently holy. (Taken from Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, John 14:21-26).

This doesn’t mean that all unhappiness in the Christian’s life is because of some lack of obedience, but I do think it accounts for much more of our unhappiness then we often realize.

For some more thoughts on Christian happiness, start here.

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The Saturdays Post(s)

Saturday Post

10 Resolutions for Mental Health. John Piper with a great list. I appreciated #10 a lot. “I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.”

Why the Local Church Really Matters. Six reasons why the local church matters. “As we prepare to worship God tomorrow, it may do us good to pause for just a few moments to consider the local church. What is the church? Why has God called us into these little communities? Does the local church really matter?”

Why Christians Love Books. “We can trace our evangelical bibliophilia all the way back to the beginning of the Christian church…”

What It’s Like to Experience the 2016 Election as Both a Conservative & a Sex Abuse Survivor. This one hurts.

A Loving God & the Love of God. “We may pride ourselves in thinking we are too loving to believe in Hell. But in saying this, we blaspheme, for we claim to be more loving than Jesus…”

How George W. Bush Handled Losing the Election to Clinton. It’s definitely a different (and not better) era. “Clinton had just defeated Bush in his 1992 re-election bid, yet Bush expressed his wish for the next president to succeed, and offered him advice about dealing with critics.”

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A Tender Jesus Isn’t Enough

istock_000052071536_mediumJesus is tender, meek, and mild. He is a precious friend who comforts us, nourishes us, and fills our souls with His peace. But, that is not all He is and that is not all we need Him to be. In our world of pain and darkness and tears, we need more than tenderness and intimacy from God. We need more than a friend.

John Piper explains.

I know that God is tender, and that personal fellowship with him is sweet, and that touching the heart happens through the brokenness of the still, small voice. I know this, and I love it. Jesus Christ is a precious friend to me.

But I also know something else. If, while I am having a tender conversation with my wife, a man breaks in and kills her and all my children and leaves me wounded on the living room floor, I will need a way of seeing the world that involves more than the tenderness of God. If pestilence takes out tens of thousands of my fellow citizens and half my church, my mental and spiritual survival will depend on more than the precious gifts of God’s intimacy…

Without a way of seeing the world that can deal with massive evil and unremitting pain under the supremacy of Christ, we will collapse in self-pity or rage.

(Taken from Spectacular Sins, p. 17).

This leads to the question, “Have you come to know God well enough to survive such an evil scenario?” Have you been readied for such events by God’s Word? Will your theology hold you up when nothing else does?

Jesus is your friend, yes. Praise God for that. Sing because of that. Rejoice! But, don’t stop there. God has more to teach you about Himself and it’s thrilling, satisfying, and desperately needed.

If you feel that you wouldn’t be ready for such tragedy, I can’t think of a better place to start than with this book.

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Feelings, Emotions, & God

emotional-statusFeelings are surprising, powerful, painful, pleasurable, and complex and because of that, a lot of people don’t exactly know what to do with their emotions. Some folks treat their emotions like they’re a curse and do all they can to repress them, ignore them, and eliminate them from their lives. On the other hand, others treat their emotions as if they are the most important thing in their life. What is most true and significant in their life is what they feel and nothing else. For them, emotions are god.

For these people, for whom emotions are god, John Piper shares a challenging and needed word.

My feelings are not God. God is God.

My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth.

My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” (Taken from Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again? Download it for free here.)

Emotions are not gross, but they’re also not God. They a gift given to us to enjoy in relationship with God and others as they’re aligned by God’s truth.

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A Russian King, a Slave, Some Wolves, & Jesus

Paul Washergray-wolves-snow-norway-e1440601501849:

Several years ago when I was in the Ukraine, they told me a story about a Russian Prince and his slave who were riding a dog sled in Siberia. Soon into their journey, they began to be chased by a pack of ferocious wolves. As much as they tried to outrun the wolves, they couldn’t. The wolves drew nearer and nearer and soon both men realized they wouldn’t be able to escape.

So, in great love, the servant threw himself off of the dog sled and sacrificed himself to the hungry wolves so his Prince would get away unharmed and survive. The servant died so the King could live.

As I listened to this story, one man said, “That’s a picture of the cross!”

To this, another man quickly responded, “No it isn’t. If that was a picture of the cross then the King would have thrown Himself off to save the slave. In the gospel, the King dies so the servants can live.”

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Why I Believe the Bible is God’s Word

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-38-02-pmAlthough there are many more reasons, John Stott does a good job summing up the main reason I believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible: because Jesus believed it.

To accept the authority of the Bible is a Christian thing to do. It is neither a religious eccentricity, nor a case of discreditable obscurantism, but the good sense of Christian faith and humility. It is essentially “Christian” because it is what Christ himself requires of us. The traditional view of Scripture (that is God’s Word written) may be called the “Christian” view precisely because it is Christ’s view.

The ultimate issue in the question of authority concerns the Lordship of Christ. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’,” he said, ‘and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (John 13:13). If Jesus Christ is truly our teacher and our Lord, we are under both his instruction and his authority. We must therefore bring our mind into subjection to him as our Lord. We have no liberty to disagree with him or to disobey him. So we bow to the authority of Scripture because we bow to the authority of Christ. (Taken from John Stott: The Making of a Leader, p. 356).

Among the many reasons why Christians believe the Bible is God’s very Word, top among them is because Jesus did.

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