Jefferson Bethke, the writer and creator of Why I hate religion but love Jesus has come out with another video - Sex, Marriage & Fairytales - which addresses some of the most pervasive problems in the church and it comes just in time for the release of Mark Driscoll’s new #1 New York Times Best Seller, Real Marriage.
By John MacArthur at GTY.org
"I pray that … you may know what is the hope of [God’s] calling" (Eph. 1:18).
In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase “the hope of His calling.” “Calling” here refers to God’s effectual calling—the calling that redeems the soul. Scripture speaks of two kinds of calling: the gospel or general call and the effectual or specific call. The gospel call is given by men and is a universal call to repent and trust Christ for salvation (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 17:30-31). It goes out to all sinners but not all who hear it respond in faith.
The effectual call is given by God only to the elect. By it He speaks to the soul, grants saving faith, and ushers elect sinners into salvation (John 6:37-44, 65;Acts 2:39). All who receive it respond in faith.
The hope that your effectual calling instills is grounded in God’s promises and Christ’s accomplishments (1 Pet. 1:3), and is characterized by confidently expecting yet patiently waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. It is your hope of final glorification and of sharing God’s glory when Christ returns (Col. 3:4). It is a source of strength and stability amid the trials of life (1 Pet. 3:14-15). Consequently it should fill you with joy (Rom. 5:2) and motivate you to godly living (1 John 3:3).
As you face this new day, do so with the confidence that you are one of God’s elect. He called you to Himself and will hold you there no matter what circumstances you face. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38- 39)!
Suggestions for Prayer:
- Thank God for the security of your salvation.
- Ask Him to impress on your heart the blessings and responsibilities of your calling.
- Live today in anticipation of Christ’s imminent return.
For Further Study:
Joshua’s call to lead Israel was not a call to salvation,but it illustrates some important principles for spiritual leadership. You might not see yourself as a spiritual leader, but you are important to those who look to you as an example of Christian character. Read Joshua 1:1-9 then answer these questions: 1. What were the circumstances of Joshua’s call (vv. 1-2)? 2. What promises did God make to him (vv. 3-6)? 3. What did God require of him (vv. 7-9)?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,www.crossway.com.
By John Piper at Desiring God (via Marshill.com)
Ask another question first: When Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, how did he obey that command? In John 11:43 it says, “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” That was a command to a dead man. The next verse says, “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings.”
How did Lazarus do that? How does a dead man obey a command to live again? The answer seems to be that the command carries the power to create new life. Obedience to the command means doing what living people do. This is extremely important. The command of God, “Rise from the dead!” carries in it the power we need to obey it. We do not obey it by creating that life. We obey it by doing what living people do—Lazarus came forth. He rose. He walked out to Jesus. The call of God creates life. We respond in the power of what the call created.
In Ephesians 5:14 Paul says, “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” How do you obey a command to wake up from sleep? If your house has carbon monoxide in it and someone cries out, “Wake up! Save yourself! Get out!” you don’t obey by waking yourself up. The loud powerful command itself wakes you up. You obey by doing what wakeful people do in the face of danger. You get up and leave the house. The call creates the waking. You respond in the power of what the call created.
I believe this is the explanation for why the Bible says paradoxical things about new birth, namely, that we must get ourselves new hearts, but that it is God who creates the new heart.
Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise your heart!”
Deuteronomy 30:6, “The Lord will circumcise your heart.”
Ezekiel 18:31, “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!”
Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.”
John 3:6, “You must be born again.”
1 Peter 3:3, “[God] caused us to be born again.”
The way to obey the command to be born is to first experience the divine gift of life and breath, and then to do what living, breathing people do—cry out to God in faith and gratitude and love. When the command of God comes with the creating, converting power of the Holy Spirit, it gives life. The evidence that it has come in this life-creating way is that we respond in life and faith and hope and joy. If that response is in us, we are born of God, and we have obeyed the command.
Dr. John Piper is the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Desiring God
I recently started the first book of my 2012 reading list (which is yet to be fully compiled). I’m not much of a reader when it comes to books other than the Bible but this year I’ve resolved to read 15 books. I’ll be Skyping with a good buddy of mine soon to determine what those will be but one out of those 15 happens to be one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m only half way through it. It’s called The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.
I won’t write much now on the book because I want to take it in its full context. I will say this, however, the book is absolutely convicting and has been one of the most helpful in understanding God’s holiness and why we must pursue it. I recommend this (or at least the first 7 chapters) to every young Christian who is wanting a deeper, more intimate understanding of who God is and how to pursue Him and His holiness.