Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Contending for Our All

Well, now when I finish books, I will try to spend some time on here reflecting on what I learned from those books. If I didn't learn anything - than why did i read?
The first one i will post on is Contending For Our All by John Piper. I actually still have the little post-script still to read, but I am tired, so I wanted to get this on here before I went to bed.
This is the last installment of his the Swan series - biographies on some of the pillars of the Christian faith. This book contained: St. Athanasius (300s), John Owen (1600s), and J. Gresham Machen (1900s) - none of this chronological snobbery CSL talks about in his writings.
This is also a good reason to underline and take notes in the books you read:
Athanasius - I knew about him from the church history classes I've had both in seminary and in college. But, that was about all. I've read bits of his arguments - but not enough to be a "leading scholar" on him. The most important thing he did was help develop by thought the Nicean Creed. This is one way writers have described him...
"In the whole of our minute knowlege of his life there is a total lack of self-interest. The glory of God and the welfare of the church absorbed him fully at all times...deep reference and the discipline of a single-minded lover of Christ." - Love of Jesus, death of self.
"The nature of Christ was too important to obscure with vague language". This was talking about the no-compromise attitude that Athanasius had in regards to the deity and full-Godness of Jesus - the Eternal Son.
"Athanasius took his Christianity seriously enough to reject the pagan gods." We have pagan gods too - money, tv, self, popularity, relationships, etc. Do I love Jesus enough to reject these gods?
"And so today we should no conclude that the absence of consensus in the church means doctrinal stalemate or doctrinal insignificance." - There are many things that are getting swept under the rug for bigger issues, but the BIG issues need to be learned and kept and obeyed according to the Word: the infallibility and authority of Scripture, the ONE ness of Jesus in how He is the only way to eternal life, we all SIN. Some churches today don't preach the inerrant word - whether in music or the sermon, some think works will get you to heaven, and most don't preach on sin. "Sin, though committed by a finite person and in the confines of finite time, is nevertheless deserving of an infinitely long punishment because it is a sin against an infinitely worthy God."

John Owen - Puritan powerhouse in thought - probably the smartest puritan to ever exist, he was brilliant. I'm reading two things of his right now: The Mortification of Sin and Packer's preface to his Death of Death by the Death of Christ.
"In spite of all this administrative pressure, and even hostility because of his commitment to godliness and to the puritan cuase, he was constantly studying and writing, probably late at night instead of sleeping. That's how concerned he was with the doctrinal faithfulness to Scripture." I wrote in there beside that paragraph - rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
"holiness gave a divine luster to his other accomplishments, it shined in his whole course, and as diffused through his whole conversation." - What do I want people to say was my "thing" - holiness and God-likeness - would be the best one I could think of. Owen lived this out in his daily life.
"Owen's personal holiness and public fruitfulness did not just happen to him. He pursued them." - Enough said on that one.

J. Gresham Machen, Westminster and Princeton professor in the first half of last century. I truly didn't know much about him till this book. He started a break-away Presbyterian denomination from the PCUSA. He was single and died in the prime of his teaching.
This was his last thing he wrote hours before he died in '37
"I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. no hope without it." This is so true. Phil 2 says this as well. He was obedience to death on the cross.
"Consistent Christianity, I think, is the Christianity easiest to defend." This is what I mean when I say my life matches my theology - not the other way around.
"The sovereignty of God and his supremacy over all of life causes one to see everything in relation to more things because they all relate to God and God relates to all things." I'm so thankful that God doesn't consult me on matters - he doesn't answer to me.

Pick this book up - read it, learn from the lives of these men who loved Jesus, were victorious over controversy, and didn't back down from the Truth of the Word and the Sonship of Jesus and the Sovereignty of God.

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