I Am Not What I Once Was

I am not what I ought to be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient!

I am not what I wish to be. I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!

I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’

—John Newton

Via: Tony Reinke

God’s Way of Peace

It is not by incarnation but by blood shedding that we are saved. The Christ of God is no mere expounder of wisdom; no mere deliverer or gracious benefactor; and they who think they have told the whole gospel, when they have spoken of Jesus revealing the love of God, do greatly err. If Christ be not the Substitute, he is nothing to the sinner. If he did not die as the Sin-bearer, he has died in vain. Let us not be deceived on this point, nor misled by those who, when they announce Christ as the Deliverer, think they have preached the gospel. If I throw a rope to a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more than that? If I cast myself into the sea, and risk my life to save another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more? Did he but risk his life? The very essence of Christ’s deliverance is the substitution of Himself for us, his life for ours. He did not come to risk his life; he came to die! He did not redeem us by a little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labour, a little suffering, “He redeemed us to God by his blood;” “the precious blood of Christ.” He gave all he had, even his life, for us. This is the kind of deliverance that awakens the happy song, “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

The tendency of the world’s religion just now is, to reject the blood; and to glory in a gospel which needs no sacrifice, no “Lamb slain.” Thus, they go “in the way of Cain.” Cain refused the blood, and came to God without it. He would not own himself a sinner, condemned to die, and needing the death of another to save him. This was man’s open rejection of God’s own way of life.

—Horatius Bonar
God’s Way of Peace

I Lay My Sins on Jesus

I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us from the accursed load;
I bring my guilt to Jesus, to wash my crimson stains;
White in His blood most precious, till not a stain remains.

I lay my wants on Jesus; all fullness dwells in Him;
He heals all my diseases, He doth my soul redeem;
I lay my griefs on Jesus, my burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases, He all my sorrows shares.

I rest my soul on Jesus, this weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces, I on His breast recline.
I love the Name of Jesus, Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes, His Name abroad is poured.

I long to be like Jesus, strong, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus, the Father’s holy Child;
I long to be with Jesus, amid the heavenly throng,
To sing with saints His praises, to learn the angels’ song.

—Horatius Bonar

Via: Trevin Wax

Dreams Unfulfilled

Yesterday morning I wrote a post about the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Yesterday afternoon President Obama released this statement marking the anniversary and pledging his support to protect abortion rights:

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

—President Barack Obama

I am certain that his statement was met with nods of approval and appreciation by millions of abortion rights advocates across this country. Normally I would laugh at a statement filled with such absurdly obvious contradictions but I cannot in this instance, since the consequences are so deadly – and I use that word intentionally – serious. When I read the President’s statement I was immediately reminded of the words of Gimli the dwarf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

It was Gimli the dwarf who broke in suddenly. ‘The words of this wizard stand on their heads,’ he growled, gripping the handle of his axe. ‘In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain.’

—J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers

I am struck by the lengths that abortion rights advocates go to de-humanize the object of abortion in order to appeal to the distinctly human emotions, ideals, and desires of the voters. It’s not a mistake – it’s a miracle of life. It’s not an unintended or unwanted pregnancy – it’s a baby. It’s not a choice – it’s a child. How can anyone consider it reasonable or noble when reproductive freedom for one human being comes at the expense of the life of another human being?

The Supreme Court decision handed down in Roe v. Wade, and supported by our President and millions who share his beliefs, has done, and will continue to do a great deal to ensure, in part, that Mr. Obama’s “hopes” are fulfilled. Abortion on demand creates and ensures the equality that he seeks to the extent that more than 500,000 daughters each year receive “the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities” as over 500,000 sons – the equality of death.

A short time ago I read the following Twitter post from Pastor David Platt that contained a quote from Pastor John Piper. I thought it would be a good way to bring an end this post:

Christ died that we might live. This is the opposite of abortion. Abortion kills that someone might live differently.

—John Piper

It is estimated that over 50 million abortions have been performed in the 38 years since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. So many lives lost, so many potential dreams unfulfilled…

Abortion: The Moral Issue of Our Day

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion under the premise that the right to privacy, guaranteed and protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, extended to a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.

In a speech marking the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2009, President Barack Obama made the following statement:

We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.

—President Barack Obama

Every year on Sanctity of Life Sunday, Pastor John Piper preaches a sermon on the topic of abortion. On January 25, 2009, he preached a sermon titled “The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy” and he responded to the remarks made by President Obama:

No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women’s health; you are authorizing the destruction of half a million tiny women every year. No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for a million helpless people every year. No, Mr. President, killing our children does not cease to be killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. Call it what you will, they are dead, and we have killed them. And you, Mr. President, would keep the killing legal.

Some of us wept with joy over the inauguration of the first African-American President. We will pray for you. And may God grant that there arises in your heart an amazed and happy reverence for the beginning of every human life.

—Pastor John Piper
The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy

Desiring God produced a powerful video titled “No, Mr. President” containing the audio from that sermon which included John Piper’s response to President Obama on abortion. I have posted this video before, but it merits watching again.

Reformation Trust, the publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries, recently released a 20th Anniversary Edition of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s book titled Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue. In the first chapter, Dr. Sproul makes the following statements on the debate over abortion:

Before discussing this question, certain points must be stated firmly and clearly. First, the vast majority of those advocating the pro-abortion and pro-choice positions are not arguing that women’s rights or individual freedom of choice carry with them the right to murder. I am convinced that if the most ardent feminists thought that abortion was in fact a type of murder, they would be as ardently opposed to abortion as they are in favor of equal rights for women.

Though there are many who believe an abortion is justified on the grounds that the developing baby is “unwanted,” very few of these people would be in favor of destroying the child after it is born. There are far fewer advocates of infanticide than there are of abortion. The reason for this is clear. In the minds of pro-abortion activists, an unborn baby is not a living human person. Once birth occurs, however, a different set of rules applies. Even in the case of the late-term “partial-birth” abortion procedure, or D&X, all but the most hardened pro-abortion activists argue that the child remains nonviable and nonhuman — and therefore the procedure, however grisly, does not rise to the level of murder.

I labor these points to underscore the reality that pro-abortion and pro-choice activists do not ground their position on some kind of claim for an inalienable right to murder. I am convinced that if somehow it could be proven conclusively that the destruction of unborn babies is in fact the willful destruction of living human beings, the debate on abortion would be all but over, and the law of the land would as clearly prohibit abortion as it does all forms of homicide. The abortion debate is not over whether or not murder should be legalized; it is a debate over whether or not abortion is a kind of murder.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue

Unfortunately the abortion debate has made headlines recently for reasons other than the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Earlier this month, news broke of a report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which revealed that in 2009, nearly 41% of pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion – the rate was 60% for Non-Hispanic blacks. Then this week prosecutors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announced that a physician that performed late-term abortions had been indicted on eight counts of murder. The horrific details were widely reported but the most vivid summary of the graphic nature of this tragedy was revealed in this article by Alisa Harris at the WORLD Magazine website:

Gosnell has just been indicted on eight counts of murder — one count for killing a pregnant woman and seven counts for killing living, viable babies. A damning 281-page grand jury report describes Gosnell’s abortion business as a “filthy fraud” and notes that public officials failed to act against him for decades, despite numerous complaints.

The grand jury report says that Gosnell’s offices reeked of cat urine, were stained with blood, and held jars of fetal remains — “a baby charnel house.” It says he taught his unlicensed employees to fake ultrasounds to make older babies appear younger so he could perform illegal late-term abortions. It also describes botched abortions, including one that left Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old immigrant, dead. According to the report, Gosnell used high medication dosages to induce active labor and then killed “live, viable, moving, breathing, crying babies” by cutting their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. It estimates that Gosnell made $10,000 to $15,000 a night performing abortions.

The grand jury report also describes decades of public officials’ inaction, saying outright that officials failed to act until a drug raid on the abortion center brought media attention to the unsanitary conditions inside. The Pennsylvania Department of Health stopped inspecting the center in 1993 despite numerous complaints from attorneys, a doctor, and a medical examiner. Gosnell also paid damages to five women and settled a civil suit after a woman died, but the suits did not bring investigations.

The report states, “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”

—Alisa Harris
A ‘Filthy Fraud’, WORLD Magazine

The complete Grand Jury report and testimony is available online in PDF format at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s website.

Is abortion murder? When you read details of events like this it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could come to any other conclusion. It is clear that good-intentioned people on both sides of the issue honestly disagree. However, one statistic can not be denied – in the United States alone, one unborn baby is terminated every 23 seconds while the political football of abortion is passed around. And the debate goes on…

HT: Justin Taylor for the statisitcs on abortion.

Say What You Believe

Great post today from Dr. John Piper…

Say What You Believe - Desiring God

We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.

In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe.”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

Call it what you will, this is my life. I believe it because I see it in the Bible. And because I have experienced it. Everlasting praise to the greatness of the glory of the grace of God!

—Dr. John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

I Am A Man

I Am A Man

This moving photo was included in an article titled “Racial Justice and the Godness of God” that was posted today by Dr. Russell Moore.

On a wall in my study hangs one of my favorite pictures. It’s a photograph of a line of civil rights workers—in the heat of the Jim Crow era. They’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, all of them bearing a sandwich-board-type sign. The sign reads, simply: “I Am a Man.”

I love that picture because it sums up precisely the issue at that time, and at every time. The struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in this country wasn’t simply a “political” question. It wasn’t merely the question of, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it from before the Lincoln Memorial, the unfulfilled promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (although it was nothing less than that). At its root, Jim Crow (and the spirit of Jim Crow, still alive and sinister) is about theology. It’s about the question of the “Godness” of God and the humanness of humanity.

White supremacy was, like all iniquity from the Garden insurrection on, cruelly cunning. Those with power were able to keep certain questions from being asked by keeping poor and working-class white people sure that they were superior to someone: to the descendants of the slaves around them. The idea of the special dignity of the white “race” gave something of a feeling of aristocracy to those who were otherwise far from privilege, while fueling the fallen human passions of wrath, jealousy, and pride.

In so doing, Jim Crow repeated the old strategies of the reptilian powers of the air: to convince human beings simultaneously and paradoxically that they are gods and animals. In the Garden, after all, the snake approached God’s image-bearer, directing her as though he had dominion over her (when it was, in fact, the other way around). He treated her as an animal, and she didn’t even see it. At the same time, the old dragon appealed to her to transcend the limits of her dignity. If she would reach for the forbidden, she would be “like God, knowing good and evil.” He suggested that she was more than a human; she was a goddess.

That’s why the words “I Am a Man” were more than a political slogan. They were a theological manifesto. Those bravely wearing those signs were declaring that they’d decided not to believe the rhetoric used against them. They refused to believe the propaganda that they were a “lesser race,” or even just a different race. They refused to believe the propaganda (sometimes propped up by twisted Bible verses) that they and their ancestors were bestial, animal-like, unworthy of personhood.

The words affirmed the thing that frightened the racist establishment more than anything. Those behind the signs were indeed persons. They bore a dignity that could not be extinguished by custom or legislation. I am a man.

The words also implied a fiery rebuke. The white supremacists believed they could deny human dignity to those they deemed lesser. They had no right to do so. They believed themselves to be gods and not creatures, able to decree whatever they willed with no thought to natural rights, or to nature’s God. The signs pointed out what that those who made unjust laws, and who unleashed the water-hoses and pit-bull dogs, were only human, and, as such, would face judgment.

The civil rights movement succeeded not simply because the arc of history bends toward justice but because, embedded in our common humanity, we know that Someone is bending it toward a Judgment Seat.

“I Am a Man,” the sign said, with all the dignity that truth carries with it. And, the sign implied, “You Are Just a Man.” If that’s so, then, as Odetta would sing, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” The truth there is deeper than the struggles of the last couple of centuries. It gets to the root problem of fallen human existence, and it’s the reason white supremacy was of the spirit of Antichrist.

Behind the horror of Jim Crow is the horror of satanized humanity, always kicking against its own creatureliness, always challenging the right of God to be God. However often this spirit emerges, with all its pride and brutality, the Word of God still stands: “You are but a man, and no god” (Ezek. 28:2).

The gospel that reconciles the sons of slaveholders with the sons of slaves is the same gospel that reconciled the sons of Amalek with the sons of Abraham. It is a gospel that reclaims the dignity of humanity and the lordship of God. It is a gospel that presents us with a brother who puts the lie to any claim to racial superiority as he takes on the glory and limits of our common humanity in Adam. Jim Crow is put to flight ultimately because Jesus Christ steps forward out of history and announces, with us, “I Am a Man.”

—Dr. Russell D. Moore
Racial Justice and the Godness of God

Please take the time to visit Dr. Moore’s site.

Take Comfort In Christ

Let all who trust in Christ take comfort in the thought that they build on a sure foundation. It is true that we are sinners, but Christ has borne our sins. It is true that we are poor helpless debtors, but Christ has paid our debts. It is true that we deserve to be shut up forever in the prison of hell. But thanks be to God, Christ has paid a full and complete ransom for us. The door is wide open. The prisoners may go free. May we all know this privilege by heartfelt experience, and walk in the blessed liberty of the children of God.

—J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes