Systematic Theology

Guess what just arrived in the mail:
This is the german translation of Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”. It was recommended to our church and to me by several people, including Flo.
I’m really looking forward to reading in it!

Luke 17:1-4

I want to make 2 quick points in this passage that I read yesterday:

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
 

1. God’s sovereignty doesn’t exclude us from being responsible.

God has a plan, and he will fulfill it. But we still have a choice in our life. God allows the devil to tempt (and really tempts himself, because he has control over everything), but we are still held responsible for our deeds, as the first verse makes clear. This isn’t the only passage you can take this from. There are probably many more, but I can think of 2:
In Luke 22:22, Jesus tells Judas that he “will die as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed”. Again, we have both aspects of our life in one single sentence by Jesus.
The other passage I can think of is Romans 9:19: You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” I heard a good sermon on this passage once, in which the preacher also addresses this topic – I don’t really remember what he said, though. I can point anyone to it who wants to hear it. Anyway, fact is that we are sinful and God is just and must hold us accountable to our sin – even though, in a way, he has control over it: because he gives us choice.

What can we do with this knowledge?
I take comfort in God, because I know that he is good, and just, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I trust the Lord that he knows how to glorify himself. He may do with me as he pleases (he does anyway) and I am glad about it, for I know that he will do better than I would. I also work hard, fight the devil, try to die so that Christ may live in me, because: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15) (By the way, everyone should have studied James 1:2-18. This passage is really, really important). Finally, I have good faith, because “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Word is stronger that a double-edged sword. The devil can go right back home – his future doesn’t look so good anyway!

2. Love doesn’t ignore sin in a brother.

Okay, I already wrote a lot… I’ll keep this short.
There are several passages that teach how to deal with sin in the community. Matthew 18:21-22 would be another example, if you are interested. In short, the correct response to sin isn’t to ignore it. True, there is 1 Corinthians 13, but that’s not what that passage means.

If you love your brother, then rebuke him! If he is godly, he should be glad about any guidance he can get and try to conform himself to scripture. Then, when he repents, forgive him. This is where 1 Corinthians 13 comes into play. You don’t ignore sin, you forget and forgive past and acknowledged sins. By the way, this command is old: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. (Leviticus 19:17) As you can see, Moses already taught this as a basic rule for the community. Sin has to be fought, for the Lord is Holy. Sin cannot be tolerated in the community: either the sin, or the Holy Spirit have to leave. They cannot coexist. If we tolerate sin, we ourselves sin against the Holy Spirit in us and the others, as Leviticus teaches.

It’s important to guide our brothers and sisters in Christ within their daily life, so that they may “present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship.”

Luke 16:19-31 – The sufficiency of scripture

This will be a very short post, but I wanted to talk about this. During my first quiet time today, I really enjoyed this story. You should go ahead and read the whole context, but I’ll briefly talk about verse 31:

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
 

This is very clear evidence of the sufficiency of scripture. We have everything we need in the word – the living word – and should not have to ask for visions, or wonders to strengthen our faith. Jesus also said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. This passage reminds of the pharisees that wanted to kill the resurrected Lazarus because he attracted too much attention in John 12. It was just as Jesus said: someone rose from the dead, yet they didn’t believe. I’ll even go further and say that we don’t need evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to believe in him. Thomas could have believed when the others told him that they had seen Jesus. We should strive to strengthen our faith through scripture – we won’t regret it!

Isn’t it  amazing how much we have been given through the Holy Spirit?

Luke 13: 23-30 – God saves!

When reading Luke 13 today, I saw yet another example of God’s sovereign salvation:

23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,
24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.
30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

This passage underlines several important aspects of salvation.

First, not everyone will be saved. This shouldn’t be news, although it might be for some. We will only be able to be saved if we seek Jesus himself, rather than pursuing salvation for it’s own sake.

Second, we cannot save ourselves. Again, this shouldn’t be new to anyone. Only Christ Jesus, through his blood, can save us. If we stick to our own good deeds (which aren’t), to some romantic view of a loving God that forgets everything to save everyone, or even to some exotic religion, we will “not be able” to save ourselves. Romans 10:9 – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way, and it is HIM that saves us by his sovereign grace. The Lord will save whom he pleases, as he says in Romans 9.

And finally, the end is near. There is a time for choice, but that is running out. It is time to reach out and spread the word – for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). This passage teaches what will happen to the unrepenting – we need to let the Lord save people through us!

An encounter on the train

Yesterday, I met someone on the train home from germany. (off-topic: ICE3’s are awesome) I had experienced a lot of delay, but I was in a good mood, because I knew that God had me right where he wanted me to be. I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to talk about him with someone. Guess what happened: When I got my connection, I met a woman from Indonesia. We talked a little, and she looked like she prayed, so I asked her if she was a christian after my quiet time. It turned out she was a believing catholic! Our talk was quite encouraging for both of us, though I think she got more from it than I did.

It fits even better when I think of the fact that one of the sermons I had listened to that day was a sermon on God’s sovereignty by Paul Washer…

I’m back!

Hello everyone following this blog,
I’m back to writing. I will probably start slowly, but I’ll definitely work on making it a habit.

The last weeks were pretty intense for  me. I was a litte behind on my reading plan, and the english camp didn’t exactly help there; I also didn’t have much time during my visit in Germany, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on.

Besides that, I’m doing really well; I am well underway in making good time-spending habits for the holidays, listening to sermons and reading. I have had great talks at english camp, and my quiet times were abundant. I miss the people and the environment, but I’m also thankful about the time I have now – now it’s just up to me to spend it well.

I restructured the blog a little: I am learning too much by heart for that to be a category, so I made it a tag instead. I will also try to write more, and reflect more of the thoughts I have. (Though I have to admit that relationship did occupy most of my thoughts last year – I guess it was worth it…). If anyone has suggestions about the visual style and the content of the blog – or my writing, for that matter – I’ll happily take them by email.

It’s good to be writing again!

Courtship – how my relationship life will look like from now on

After spending a lot of time with prayer, in the word, and with Flo, I now know very concretely how I should (and will) behave. I’ll try to break it down for you in an understandable way.

Courtship, not dating

As was already visible from my previous posts, I learned that courtship was the way to go before The LORD. Anything else would be foolish, at the very least. What this means:

  • I will not begin a relationship before I can assume responsibility for her:
    1. Spiritual Leadership in Scripture
    2. Ephesians 5 – Give Life for Her – Protect her and care for her – for good or for ill
    3. Economic care
  • Then, I will go trough her father, so as to protect her from being confronted by a man.
  • I will aim for engagement without waiting for an unnecessarily long time.

Healthy distance – too bad for you, flesh

Following Titus 2:7, I will stay clear of her. This means that

  • I’ll keep the distance of a large study bible between us.
  • I’ll only hug her on greetings and farewells or special occasions.
  • I won’t, EVER, be alone with her.

I hope these resolutions are understandable to you. All I can do now is keeping a distance, getting to now her better by watching her, and growing in holiness and godly manhood. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk to her dad within 4 years or so.

How to confess yor sins – Daniel Kistenich

At the end of this sunday’s sermon, which I might post in the near future, our pastor gave us a short set of instructions on the right way to confess sins. 5 Points to sum up how you have to do it:

  1. Self-Accusing – Be like King David!
  2. Voluntary, unforced – Like water flows from a source. The forsaken son did this very well.
  3. With all your heart – Mourn, and repent! Again, the forsaken son is an excellent example.
  4. Specific – Say your name, date and time, exactly what happened, and don’t give any excuses or reasons! Don’t be like Adam – “The Woman you gave me”
  5. Find the Sin behind the sin – A “small” sin often comes from deeper within – jealousy, pride, egoism…

Be structured (as in, do it regularly), but don’t don’t let this keep you from being spontaneous!

The Garden – Appendix A from “Her Hand In Marriage”

A beautiful illustration of courtship.

As my horse trotted warily up the road, I could see the walls of a beautiful garden ahead. outside the gate was an equally beautiful woman. At the sound of my greeting, she turned and dropped a curtsey. “Good sir… Good morning.”

I looked at her, and then at the garden walls extending out to the right and left. Behind her was the garden gate. I said, “I am very thirsty… for something clean.”
She smiled, and her smile made me thirstier still. But she said nothing. “Is there Water here?” I asked. “There is a stream within my garden.” Her statement was simply a statement of fact; there was no invitation at all in it. I asked “May I come in and drink?” “No,” she said. “The lord of my mother’s garden does not permit that.”

“Why is this? Other women have let me drink from the gardens they tend.” I glanced at the fruit-laden branches witch were visible over the top of the garden wall. “You have a lovely garden, but those who let me drink had gardens  just as beautiful.” She laughed at this, and her laugh was merry indeed. “I have no doubt you have been in some lovely gardens. But was the water clean?”
“No,” I said, and in spite of myself, turned my head and looked down. She continued with a question. “Is that why you are no longer in the gardens tended by these women?”

I was ashamed so I did not answer her. Instead I looked past her into the garden. The path through the gate disappeared after a few feet, leaving the view of anyone on the road. “It seems like a shame for such a garden to go to waste.”
She seemed both puzzled and amused. “How does it go to waste?”
“Does any man drink from your stream?”
“No, but no man fouls it either.”
“But is that not a waste? Was not your stream made to quench the thirst of travelers?”
“I’m afraid you are seriously mistaken. It was made to quench the thirst, not of travelers, but of the lord of the garden.”
“Oh,” I said, “This garden has a lord?”
“No,” she said.

“Then I don’t understand. Are you speaking in riddles?”.
She smiled. “No, I am not. The garden will one day have a lord, although it does not yet. The stream is for him alone.”
“And who will your lord be?”
“When my mothers lord gives a blessing, the one whom I appoint.”
“How can the lesser appoint the greater?”
“How can it not be so? When my lord comes, I will grant to him my garden. But until I do, he is just another traveler.”
“And what do you look for? I am sure there are many who knock at your gate.”

At this she blushed slightly but looked straight at me. “I will not have a lord who does not have a lord himself – my lord must have taken an oath of fealty to the Landlord.”
“The Landlord? Who is he?”
“He is the owner of all the gardens along this road. In order to come into my garden, my lord must take an oath before the Landlord to tend the garden well. He must also swear that he will enter no other garden.”

I had never heard such words as these before. “How long must he stay out of other gardens?”
“Forever.”
“But what if he is born to travel?”
“Then he is not born for my garden.”
“I see,” I said, becoming a little angry. “Then why have I never heard of such an oath? I have been in many gardens.”
“Yes, you said that before. But was the water clean? Were the gardens tended? That is what happens when there is no oath.

“So that is all? If someone takes an oath before this Landlord, you will make him your lord?”
“Well, what else then?”
“There are many men who think they can tend my garden well, and who would be willing to swear an oath before the Landlord saying so. But that does not mean that my mother’s lord, or I, share their confidence.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I know the extent of the garden. I have a knowledge of it that cannot be gained from the road. But no man can share that knowledge until after I have made him my lord and husband. So I must have the measure of the man before.”
“So what must a man do? It seems like much work.”
She smiled once again. “There is much work. There is also much fruit.”
“So what must a man do?”
“The first thing is to-”
“Yes, I know. He must swear to the Landlord. But after?”
“He must return to me, and ask to see my mother’s lord.”
“And what would he say?”
“That depends on the man.”

At this parting comment, she turned and walked slowly back into the garden, pulling the gate closed behind her. I spurred my horse, which began to trot down the road. I did not know what to think, but I needed to find this Landlord.

Ephesians 5 – Voddie Baucham

Notes from a sermon I listened to a while ago.

The Love we are supposed to have to our wife is not some overflowing emotion, but the Love Christ  has for us. We are to sanctify her!

Turn to the Lord to receive motivation to love her, not to her.

We are to view her as a child of the king, who’s been entrusted to us, and our desire is that our love, that overflows for her, would be a sanctifying influence in her life for the love of Christ who loved us.
We do not only love her that way because she is a part of christ’s body, but she also is a part of OUR body.

The sexual union between a man and his wife is a living, breathing, all-inspiring expression of the ecstasy of the union the church awaits. We do not think highly enough about sex. We don’t respect, honor it enough.
so, don’t we dare make less of it!

Status

Hey everyone,

I am back from my holidays to France, so I will start posting sermon notes and stuff I didn’t  publish yet. I will start reading 2 books, so more content on that will come within the next 2 weeks.

Future Men, and Her Hand In Marriage, by Douglas WilsonThey talk about Manhood, and courtship in the modern world.

A dating sermon – Paul Washer

Another awesome sermon, I listened to this one on Tuesday ( 2 days ago)
Again, my full notes are available.

I will quickly sum up a few of the most important points.

Requirements for (any) relationship:

  1. Spiritual Leadership in Scripture
  2. Ephesians 5 – Give Life for Her – Protect her and care for her – stay with her if she needs you
  3. Economic care

Interest in Girls: Signal to start preparing → assume responsibility – Manhood (NOT SIGNAL FOR STARTING)

If clothing is a frame for your face, it is from God.
If clothing is a frame for your body, it is sensual, and God hates it.

If you spend enough time alone with a girl you are attracted to, you will fallFlee from youthful lusts! They are more dangerous than the devil!

 

please listen to the sermon and read my full notes if you are interested in this topic.

Sexual Purity – A sermon by Rick Holland

Yesterday, I listened to a very good sermon on sexual purity by Rick Holland.
My complete notes are available here:

I will sum up the 6 main points: Proverbs 5

  1. Learn from the Bible! → 1 Kings 3-4 Solomon’s wisdom came from God, So the Proverbs are good.
    Keep words ready on your lips to fight temptation.
    The DAD talks to his son about sex. Rick: about 10 years old.
    Do NOT forget the pleasure part.
    Reaction of the sons – blessing from God: they came back and asked questions! 🙂
  2. Uncover the deception of sexual sin.
    Not only women seduce men, men also seduce women!
    In the bible, flirting only happens in adultery or in the context of marriage!
    In these times, a 1 edged sword was a tool, but a 2 edged sword was purely a weapon → the temptress is a lethal weapon!
    The course of this woman’s life leads to death.
    She is persuasive and dangerous.
  3. Learn the value of a safe distance.
    Josef principle: RUN as far as possible. As soon as you start thinking about it.
    Romans 13: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision to the flesh with regard to its lust. ⇒ It is a contradiction for someone to say they want to fight sexual temptation, and to do everything possible to expose themselves to pornography.
  4. Unmask the Consequences of sin.
    Verse 9: Losing dignity
    Verses 10-11: Losing resources
    Verses 12-13: Remorse and regret
    Verse 14: Public disgrace
    Your Spouse will lose trust!
    You will lose your peace (of mind).
    Others will gain an opportunity to make fun of Christ!
  5. Unlock the satisfaction of marital fidelity!
    Cisterns where a privilege of the rich.
    ⇒ Satisfaction only comes from your spouse.
    Sex is ONE PART of expressing love.
    Song of Solomon 7: Be entranced not only by her body, but BY HER LOVE.
    If you are satisfied at home, sexually, you are not tempted as much outside.
  6. Unleash the power of god knowing everything.
    Verses 20-21
    Hebrews 4:13 EVERYTHING is revealed before God!
    Are you more afraid of other people or of God?

English Camp 2012 – Reutte 2

As everyone who reads this blog probably knows, I just returned from English Camp. I will probably edit or follow-up this post, as I have absolutely no Idea where to start writing.

These are the verses we learned by heart:

Jeremiah 29:13
Matthew 7:7
Isaiah 6:3
Isaiah 6:8
Ephesians 2:8-9
2 Peter 2:9

The messages of these verses where not new to me, but it’s really nice to know them by heart and to know exact formulations.

I was in a cabin with David & Alex Trieb, and David Leiter. My counselors where Mike and Will.

I really don’t know what I liked most – I certainly enjoyed every single aspect of the past week. Obviously, it is nice to be Camper of the Day and part of the Cabin of the Week 😉  I had lots of great, deep conversations with many of the counselors, mainly Mike, Will and Hope. But even the daily routine of our cabin was, – besides extremely funny, which is clear when you see who was in it – very deep. We enjoyed loads of deep conversations, fruitful bible studies, and great Q&A’s. David, Alex and me also went out for a run every morning, sometimes accompanied by other campers or counselors.

Is a girl more because of her relationship with you?

I found a very interesting statement in chapter 9 of EYMB:

I had little to offer a girl, but I wanted everything from her. It didn’t register with me that this was someone’s future wife, or that she was a real human with real needs that I could meet. Instead, it was all about me and making me feel good. Had I been godly, she could have become more because of her relationship with me. Too often, she was less because I took from her what only her husband should take.

This passage really hit me hard. What is more important to me: taking as much as possible, or giving as much as I can? I promised before GOD that every girl I know now or meet in the future, be she my friend, girlfriend, fiancée, wife, or even none of these, will become more, hopefully even grow spiritually because of me. And you know what the best part about this is? I know for sure that the HOLY SPIRIT will help me in making this happen 🙂

The Covenant with my eyes

Reading chapters 7 & 8 of EYMB, I heard about Job:

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.
Job 31:1

After further digging into this topic, I realized that this was what I had to do – so I did. I promised that my sin would stop from now on – down to every single little look. And than I prayed, brought this before GOD, and asked for his help in making this possible.

Hello world!

Yesterday, the 25th of July, 2012, was a turning point in my life. Realizing that I was much too loose in my fight against sexual immorality and porn, I started “Every Young man’s Battle”, which I had read before – but this Time I didn’t want to stop short. I wanted to do it right. After doing 2 Sessions in the workbook, based on 6 chapters in the book, I felt GOD’s presence in me stronger than ever. I prayed a lot and read a lot, until I decided, among other things, to start a blog documenting my daily life with the LORD.

Cover of Every Young Man's Battle