The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

I first became a big fan of R.C. Sproul, perhaps surprisingly to some, through his apologetics teaching series "Defending The Faith," which aired on the NRB network. I was working at a Cracker Barrel at the time in the dish room, and would use the opportunity to talk about God and proclaim the gospel to my co-workers. One guy in his early 40's said he was going to be a pastor and briefly attended SEBTS, but had fallen away from the faith. He questioned the goodness of God, since God was supposed to be all-powerful, all knowing, and yet evil existed. I gave my best answer to that, which I felt was fairly satisfactory, but he had another tactic ready. "Well who made God then?" He asked.

I didn't know how to answer that one. For me, that was like asking why ice is cold. God by definition is unmade. I told him that, but he said that wasn't possible, that that didn't make any sense. I realized I had always accepted that God was unmade, but didn't really know how to prove that or show how that could be logical, so I simply told my friend that it was so, and that if something had made God, whatever made God would have to be God.

After my discussion with the guy, I sought out how to better defend my faith, particularly in this area, and that is how I came across Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. Now, I am at his Bible college, Reformation Bible college. I read The Holiness of God once on my own, then again for a class at RBC, taught by none other than R.C. Sproul's son.

The Holiness of God's first few pages starts out in essentially a story format. It is a true story, of R.C. Sproul's first real encounter with the holiness of God, but it is written in a fiction novel sort of way. This has the wonderful effect of drawing the reader in immediately, and gives the all-important sense that what Sproul is talking about is of the utmost importance. And after all, the holiness of God is the Christian's highest concern, for God says to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Sproul is compelled to rise from his bed at midnight, cross the snow-covered campus, and enter the chapel to pray. What made him so restless, so vexed in his soul, was what he had learned earlier that day in his philosophy class. Sproul says he was a new Christian that focused on Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, but had only a vague sense of God the Father, the first person of the trinity.

That day in philosophy class, however, began to shed light on God the Father. God the Father had created everything out of nothing. This is what Sproul could not grasp, what he could not fathom. Artists rearrange material to produce something, but God had no material to rearrange, not even a blank, empty canvas. He created space from nothing, and He filled space with all that is. The stars, planets, galaxies, and people, all the way down to blades of grass and grains of sand. This God was powerful, He could command things to be out of nothing, for before God created all there was, was Himself!

Sproul learned that God has the power of being within Himself. This also happened to be the answer for my friend from Cracker Barrel. God is pure being, He is the only thing that is not dependent on something else for its existence. He alone is Creator, the uncreated; all else is His creation, the created. And we are His creatures.

Sproul later explains that holiness, while it does mean to be morally pure, primarily means to be set apart, to be "other." God is set apart from us, indeed transcends us, most fundamentally because He is the uncreated being, He is pure being, He is the one who has the power of being within Himself. As such, God has Lordship over all things, because He has made all things. So to come into contact with the holy God of the universe is to come into contact with the One infinitely set apart, infinitely beyond and transcendent of ourselves.

I don't want to give much away. Suffice to say, if you desire to encounter the holiness of God so you can learn how different from us He is, how much greater He is, so that you can become more like Him and less like yourself, then you should get a copy of The Holiness of God. The teaching series form of this book was very instrumental in the development of Chuck Colson's faith as a new believer, and many others have testified to its impact on their lives.

A few highlights of the book are:

1.) Sproul discussing Isaiah seeing God being high and lifted up and Isaiah's reaction of "Woe is me!" Because Isaiah was met with the contrast between himself and God.

2.) Sproul illustrating how things that are considered holy in Scripture are things set apart for a special use/purpose.

3.) Sproul pointing out that the disciples were more afraid after Jesus calmed the waters of the sea because they realized they were dealing with someone beyond a man, something transcendently holy, for even the winds and waves obeyed Him.

4.) Sproul's discussion of how Billy Graham's presence alone at a golf tournament (or any minister for that matter), can cause others to feel a sort of "holy presence," or a pressure to be pure, such as not cursing around them or acting more proper than they normally would otherwise.

5.) Sproul's excellent chapter on Martin Luther, entitled "The Insanity of Luther," where we learn of Luther's torment (perhaps demonic) over guilt for his sin and eventual conversion to Christ and understanding of justification by faith alone, and that such justification did not violate God's holiness.

6.) Discussion on Uzzah, whom God killed for trying to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling by touching it as it toppled over. The reason? God had commanded no one to touch the Ark of the Covenant, and Uzzah made the mistake of thinking his hands were cleaner, less offensive to God than if the Ark hit the ground!

7.) A true story Sproul tells of offering his students grace on a paper they didn't have complete on time, only for the students in turn to take advantage of that grace. When Sproul decides to give them what they deserve, justice, they cry out, "That's not fair!" This example clearly showed me how we look at difficulties in our own life and think of them as being less than fair when in reality we actually deserve far worse.We demand mercy and grace as a right and get angry when we get what we deserve, justice, instead.

8.) Sproul's treatment of God's interactions with Job and how in the end Job recognizes the holiness and goodness of God when God points to His power and authority to create and make all things, holding them in place and causing the universe to continually function properly (see Job 38 and following).

9.) Sproul explaining that "God's glory is the outward manifestation of His holiness."

10.) Sproul's recounting the joy of his mother and the tears in her eyes when as a child playing stickball outside in the streets everyone ran out and celebrated noisily the end of WWII. Sproul says this moment left a deep impression on him forever, and he knew that peace was a thing to be celebrated.

That is just a smattering of the good things in this book. It is a one-sitting kind of read, has a chapter on being holy as God is holy, and will have you laughing at turns, crying at turns, but mostly leave you trembling where you sit or lay as you awaken to the holiness of God.  It is widely recognized as a classic, and one that I highly recommend.

James MacDonald, Preaching, The Elephant Room, the Use of Discernment, and True Wisdom

I was flipping through the radio stations as I drove over to McDonald's. On 107.3 I heard a booming, vaguely familiar voice, speaking about holy living. I turned back to the station and quickly realized this was none other than James MacDonald, of The Elephant Room fame.

I never heard of MacDonald until I heard about the Elephant Room controversy. So he started off on the wrong foot with me. But after hearing him preach for about five minutes, it is evident the man is a great preacher. I mean, he actually preaches. He brings one under the Word. By that I mean, he isn't merely teaching (though he is doing that too) but within the teaching is integrated a pastoral care, a shepherding. He sounds like he has authority over me and is trying to lead me into the way of righteousness, into the way that Scripture calls us. Not simply right doctrine, but right practice. A holy living, not merely a holy thinking. My disgust with non-Calvinist churches was their general neglect of theology and doctrine in favor of mindless action. But I am also finding it true that the reformed have a tendency to neglect application and exhortation in favor of simply trying to discern what the Bible says. True, right living starts with right thinking, but right thinking is thinking that takes what you learn about God from His Word and realizing that you don't match up to it. You are still a horrible sinner, saved to be sure, but a sinner nonetheless. And this life is primarily to be characterized by obedience, to a ceasing of sin, and then to a life that does what God says. 

MacDonald was talking about resisting the temptations of the flesh. And really, that's where our sin lies. So our preaching should be characterized by this, unless of course you happen to be so delusional that you think you do not sin very much, or perhaps you do know you sin much but don't think it matters since Christ paid for it and you are secure anyways. Both ways of thinking are characteristic of unbelievers, not believers. 

What puzzles me is that MacDonald can preach so well yet do something so stupid, like invite T.D. Jakes to The Elephant Room, and then adamantly defend him. And then, take shots at reformed folk. It's nigh unto Steve Furtick saying he enjoys reading both Jonathan Edwards (or was it John Piper?) and Joel Osteen. It's like affirming both ends of a contradiction. Then there is the whole matter of John Piper and Rick Warren...

The takeaway point is this: use discernment! Which is to say, get wisdom. Wisdom is rightly using the knowledge you have gathered. Ditches are everywhere, sin lies within us and all around us, and often times, we don't even see it. And worse yet, sometimes we do and we don't really care. But let us remember that if we are moving in the direction of greater indifference to sin, we are moving toward hell, and are proving to not be regenerate. We don't fight sin to keep salvation, we fight sin because we possess salvation. So if you are saved and remain indifferent to sin, rather than mad as hell at it, at yourself, then you need to realize that attitude itself is a sin, a lifestyle sin. I need to remember this. Preachers need to remember this and remember that their shepherding very much includes bringing the sheep under the purifying, double-edged sword of the Word of God. Convict, rebuke, and exhort us, please! I need to feel guilty and wretched and cold-hearted when I leave church, because I am. I always am. And the corrective is true wisdom, which takes orthodoxy and then brings the self under the orthodoxy, up near the white hot light that is the holiness of God, and sees all the filth that we still are. We are positionally pure, being in Christ, but practically we are still so dirty. And the Christian life is getting rid of this filth that still invades our flesh, that still entices even our regenerate hearts. Get wisdom!  Hear Proverbs 4:1-9, 

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Christina Grimmie, Fame, and Jesus

Christina Grimmie Singing "In Christ Alone."

I'm a fan of Christina Grimmie. I was a fan of Grimmie before she was well known. And when she becomes a household name (which she undoubtedly will be) I'll remind everyone that I was talking about her before most people knew about her.

I like Christina because she likes Zelda first and foremost. A girl that digs Zelda, I dig. She is also a great singer, with a voice not unlike Christina Aguilera.  Most importantly, however, she claims to be a Christian, and for once I actually believe it. Many young female singers have come claiming a Christian faith, had Christian parents (can you say Katy Perry?), and started out innocent enough. But through the magic of Disney, they have all become corrupted.

Or maybe not. Maybe when the Bible says that no one is righteous and no one does good (Rom. 3), it really means it. Maybe when God says that the heart is deceitful above all things, what He says is true (Jer. 17:9). You see, Scripture teaches that mankind has fallen into sin, that we indeed are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). This means that what we love is not Christ, not our Lord and Savior and Maker, but rather ourselves. And the root of sin is love of self rather than love for Christ. Sometimes, that is expressed through loving our favorite things more than God and apart from God. For the child stars that claim to be saved by the blood of Christ, they have shown they are not saved by their sinful lifestyle. How can I know this? Because Romans 6 teaches that the one who has trusted in Christ as Lord and Savior has been set free from slavery to sin and has become a slave of righteousness, a slave of Christ. If we have been buried with Christ through faith in Him, we shall be raised into newness of life as He was raised from the dead. And this new life will be characterized by following Him and loving Him more than anything, more than self.

So then, we can tell that one who professes to be saved from their sins by the life and death of Jesus Christ isn't actually being truthful if they still live for sin. Why? Because the change that occurs if you are saved is supernatural, wrought by God, and not yourself. The Bible teaches that when we trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, The Holy Spirit enters us, and Christ's love is shed abroad within our hearts (Rom 5:5). In other words, God has supernaturally worked a change of heart within us, so that we are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins but raised to new life, united to Christ by faith (Eph. 2:1-10). And since this new life is in Christ, it is a life that will follow Christ and His righteousness. The true Christian who has been saved now has a new heart, a new will, that desires to be obedient to God. Though Christians still sin, they will be convicted by the Holy Spirit within them and in time repent.

Britney Spears hasn't received new life in Christ. She never truly had a repentant heart. She still is dead in her trespasses and sins. So is Katy Perry, quite likely Miley Cyrus, and countless other young women who are pop superstars. This is plain by their lifestyles. Scripture says we used to go around in drunkenness, in lewdness and sexual immorality, before we were saved. Yet these girls persist and glorify in these sinful things.

My hope and prayer for Christina Grimmie is that she indeed has been united to Christ by faith, that she has received a new heart in which the Holy Spirit of Christ has been shed abroad. Because if she is saved, the Spirit will not let her fall away. And I have some hope that she is. She is eighteen already, and still changes lines in songs that have bad language or would be inappropriate to something acceptable. I haven't seen her sing more gaudy and sensual songs, even though she is known for covering songs of other popular singers, and certainly by pop music standards, she dresses quite modestly. She openly claims to be a Christian, and for Easter sang "In Christ Alone," which is one of those rare Christian songs today that actually has substance and good doctrine. So my conviction is that she has actually heard the true gospel, and has placed her faith in it, which is Christ dying for her sins- taking the wrath of God that she deserved- and fulfilling all righteousness on her behalf in His sinless life, in order to save her from her sins so that she can be changed inwardly and live for Him, as we all were originally created to do.

Here's to hoping, because fame and money has it's way of exposing our secret lives, our sinful hearts. If she is not a believer, that will become plain soon enough. And if she is, I believe that will become plain soon enough too. I am praying for you Christina. Hold fast to your faith, to Christ who is your strength.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Where Are The Shepherds? How Pastors Have Helped Lead America To Destruction

Romans 10: 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,[h]
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

It's easy to decry the state of the Church here in America. Chesterton has spoken of an inner joy for the Christian that is shrouded by an outer sorrow, and an outer joy that conceals the true inner despair of the unbeliever. But what scares me are the large number of Pastors and teachers who mask a morbid delight with a "concerned" bemoaning of the "imminent" destruction of our sinful, rebellious nation. The glee and delight comes from the prospect of persecution. I find this both repulsive and arrogant. To hope for our destruction so that we, the elect, can shine forth like the sun while all the non-elect Christian posers wilt under persecution and deny the faith, is about as abominable an attitude one can take in this most urgent crisis. For indeed, our nation is in crisis. Our nation's foundations have been ripped from beneath, postmodern thinking has a footing (which is a logical absurdity in itself!), and the average Joe walking down the street seems largely unaware of it all. Or worse, fully aware but to busy or preoccupied to care.

If the gospel were bursting forth like glorious day across the nation, if pastors and theologians were preaching sound doctrine with fiery, passionate exhortation, and if Christians were living faithfully in their callings as salt and light unto the world, then I'd say bring on the judgment of the Lord, bring on my persecution at the hand of the reprobate. But my grief is that the Church, the true believers, the elect, consist of half starved sheep because the pastors and theologians entrusted to them are the very ones happily rubbing their hands together, salivating at the prospect of the end of this nation's faithfulness to God. They will express this by saying things like, "Homosexuality, abortion, feminism, evolution, all this stuff is God's judgment, and will bring greater judgment as our nation persists in it. They have been warned, and it appears we are past the point of no return. This nation will be down the tubes in half a generation."

I would like to turn the gun around at the pastors and theologians who make these doom and gloom statements with hidden delight and say, "Yeah, and it's your fault!" We've been in a Christian cove for far too long. Our young people cannot defend the faith, and that's a sin (1 Peter 3:15). And they cannot defend the faith because they haven't been shepherded right by their shepherds and they haven't been parented right by their parents. We pass our kids off to public schools and Sunday schools, thinking both will do them some good, when in reality most Sunday schools do little more than tell cutesy stories. At least you might learn something at a public school. And the worst of the three is private schools, I know because I was in one for thirteen years. If you want to look at religious hypocrisy, from both student and administration, go to a private school. Pick a private school, virtually any private school, they are all cut from the same cloth, because they all have the same false theology and are all drawing teachers and pastors from the same weak colleges with bad teaching from bad professors.

Through and through the Church in America is sick because we have much ignored the grave warning of James in James 3:

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
Instead, the philosophy of today is if you really want to be a true, passionate follower of Christ, sign up to be a pastor or teacher or missionary. After all, as one of the pastors would say at the Christian school I went to, it isn't about your ability, it's about your availability. And that is a lie that people are believing in mass, and it is slaughtering the sheep.

Since Romans 10 teaches that one must hear the true gospel to be saved and have faith, it follows that one must continually receive the preaching of the Word, especially the true gospel, in order to be fed and grow properly as a believer who now has faith. Most churches get the gospel wrong, but then I think the ones that get it right think that's all there is to it and never get much past that. No, you don't ever leave the gospel, you just apply it rightly to all things. And as I've noted in other posts, a monergistic view of regeneration does not a reformer make. One can still easily misapply the gospel, even when one gets the doctrines of grace right, or think that the sovereign election of God only impacts how one is saved, when it reality it changes literally everything. And by literally everything, that's exactly what I mean. The very purpose of existence hinges on the sovereignty of God.

And then there is the problem of confusing preaching with teaching. Martyn Lloyd Jones said, "Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire." And I think that quote captures the essence of Paul when he speaks to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4,

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Preach the Word! Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. Why? Because sheep are dumb, and will drift away into fables and fantasies. They won't naturally bend toward sound doctrine. But you can't just talk about it like you are sipping beer and smoking pipes in a parlor. No, the preacher must exhort with the text. He must defend and contend for the faith. And the sheep learn by coming under this fire, by being the objects of which the preacher is rebuking, exhorting, pleading, and convincing, with sound doctrine and passionate patience. The sheep also learn by observing their shepherd. As we are to imitate Christ, we are to imitate our undershepherd, assuming he is actually shepherding at all.

But this isn't happening. Not even in many reformed churches I would wager. Cold, dead orthodoxy still reigns. Which translated means preaching the hard truths of Scripture impassionately, non-exhortationally, unconvincingly, with little rebuking of the sheep. This is wrong, and Lloyd Jones wouldn't, and didn't, like this kind of preaching one bit. He also said,

  I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.

Now I am saying that it is impossible for a shepherd to give his sheep food, to feed and nourish them, unless he exhorts, rebukes, and convinces. Unless the shepherd is preaching at his sheep, charging them as Paul charged Timothy, then the sheep have yet to be shepherded. They are but an audience coming to hear a wise man pontificate, to have their ears tickled, perhaps even by biblical truth and sound doctrine (!) at best, rather than coming to be struck by the shepherd's staff so that they can once again find the straight and narrow and this time stay on it, and rear their families to stay on the straight path as well. And I believe Lloyd-Jones is saying this too in the quote above. How can one receive a sense of God for one's soul, how can one really see His majesty and glory, and the love of Christ, and the magnificence of the gospel, when it is being delivered abstractly, to no one in particular, like a lecture where it is improper to blink to noisily? When we Presbyterians are more worried about the prim and proper, more concerned about putting on grave, serious faces for God on Sunday mornings, when we are more focused on maintaining the rigidity of our backs as we sit with good posture in the pew than we are on whatever little we might glean from the man droning on in the pulpit, we aren't gathering as sheep and we aren't coming to be shepherded.

To be sure, not all churches are this way, and some go the other way where it is proper to be silly and shout amen at anything the pastor says loudly, regardless of whether it is actually true of God or not. Amening heresy is a very bad thing, idolatry even, but being more concerned about how you appear in church rather than having your hearts and mind focused on the actual reason God tells us to gather is a form of idolatry too. Both are claiming to try and revere God and worship Him properly, some wanting to obey the command in Psalm to dance for Jesus, others wanting to avoid being incinerated by the "strange fire" that was wrongfully offered up by Aaron's sons Nahab and Abihu. Good in themselves, to be sure, but when the one side begins to say "look at me, I'm dancing for Jesus," and the other side says "Look at me, I'm avoiding the tomfoolery that God forbids that is about to get you struck," both are no longer worshiping God but telling God, "look at me." But in worship, we are supposed to be looking at Him, verging on self-forgetfulness, until the pastor yanks us with the hook of his staff behind our necks and reminds us of our sin.

We come to be fed. The pastor has about 30 to 45 minutes, once a week, to use his staff to straighten me, the sheep, out. If you come twice on Sundays you might get an hour to an hour and a half of correction. If words are to carry freight when written so each point is gold, the shepherd had better make each syllable, each turn of phrase platinum. In other words, this meal on Sunday better stick with me till next Sunday, else I'm going to be hungry again. But it is a rare case indeed for me to remember much of anything a pastor has said past Sunday lunch or the football game.

And why is this? Certainly because I am sinner, that is for sure. But I would say because preaching happens very rarely from the pulpit on Sundays, or any day for that matter. You may get a few good jokes in from the Joel Osteen crowd, a few seeker-sensitive pleas and plenty of pyrotechnics catered not to sheep but goats from the Perry Noble and Steve Furtick crowd, and then a cold, calculated college lecture from the reformed crowd. Or an in-your-face, loud and proud, topical sermon with Calvinistic hot sauce from the "New" Calvinist or the YRR crowd. But is any of that actual preaching? I don't think so. I get tired of talking about the problems in the Church or America and then talking about the same points of Calvinism to my same Calvinist friends over and over as if that's all their is to this faith, and as if repeating the points of themselves is going to somehow help me with this constant lust problem that I have, or this anger problem that my friend has, or this depression problem that she has, or this spirit of distrust that this other fellow has. Constant academia and having your head in the clouds, in trying to splice open the meaning of perichoresis, of uncovering the precise differences between and importance of supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism  is wearisome. And never, never, NEVER can it replace simply picking up your Bible and reading it AS A SHEEP LOOKING TO BE SHEPHERDED BY THE GREAT SHEPHERD HIMSELF. That is something I especially need to remember, and I bet you do too.

And if you were feeling me until I said, "and I bet you do too," then you have proven my point. Because preachers so rarely shepherd anymore, because they so rarely rebuke and exhort and convince and use their staff, the sheep become rebellious, like a child does when he is never spanked and gets away with most whatever he wants with but a mild scolding, if that. So of course one affects the other. Bad shepherding produces bad sheep, which translated means very carnal Christians result from a lack of preaching. And I don't care what flavor of bad shepherding it is, it all will lead to unsanctified lives for the sheep. To be sure I'd rather listen to a cold sermon by a 90 year old Presbyterian than go to a charismatic service where people are flopping in the aisles and keep on saying that we are the "Joshua generation," but the difference is negligible. I want both of them to just shut up.

Then there's the antinomian sentiments in both Calvinist and non-Calvinist circles. The mindset is basically you get fed on Sundays and give some special hallowing to church attendance; that is, if you tick it off and have good attendance and act very serious and attentive in church, then you've clocked in and clocked out for the week and can go merrily on your way, leaving behind what little bit of nutrition that might have been dispensed in the service to begin with, all because you got reminded of the gospel.

I hate making excuses for myself when I sin, because I know there are none. When someone pops off a "Yeah I really messed up there, but praise Christ for His sovereign grace and forgiveness" I can't help but think there goes someone leaning toward antinomianism. Why? Because, though that's true, the first thing that should be felt and remembered and publicly expressed is your bitter disgust with your sin, that it is serious, that it vexes your soul because the Spirit won't let you rest until you deal with it, not an appeal to Christ first as if that's that and how you act now doesn't matter a whit. When we are fully sanctified, when we are glorified in heaven, we can have that attitude that says "yeah but Jesus paid it all, and that's that." But no one in the midst of spiritual warfare, who has been commanded by the One slain for him, when he or she doesn't fight well or isn't really fighting at all, appeals to the slain one as a justification for our laxity, for our indifference to the remaining sin in our lives. He is our justification, of course, but he justified us and is sanctifying us to have greater disgust for our sin, not greater complacency and nonchalant attitude. The weight of sin for the believer is supposed to get heavier, not lighter, but in a completely different way than as before we were saved. Before we were saved, the weight was unbearable because we knew we were damned. Now the weight seems unbearable because we aren't damned and we know we should be. But the Christ's Spirit of love, which has been shed abroad in our hearts, bears all things (1 Cor. 13:7), and by this Spirit we are to wage war against sin and the flesh, and if we do so, we shall live (Romans 8:13).

I could go on, but I have church in the morning. And a tired sheep doesn't make for an attentive one. My lament is with everyone that makes up the church- the shepherds and the sheep, with my sinful self at the top of the pyramid. Sheep need to listen more, but shepherds especially need to actually start shepherding. This goes for the seminaries and Bible colleges too, I would imagine.

Because if America goes to hell, it will because the Church lead it there.