thumb lick thursday [4.28.11]

Shifting Religious Identities

A new study shows American’s shifting spiritual choices, including rising numbers of people with no religion, within a generation.

The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

Preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance, and greater godliness. A good teacher or evangelist is first a good preacher to himself. [24] – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.

Preaching to yourself demands asking a lot of questions, both of God’s Word and especially of yourself. To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and point yourself to the truth. It is not so much uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of the truth you tend to forget. [32] – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.

Simply Herald Christ

Paul, in his own estimation, was not a philosopher, not a moralist, not one of the world’s wise men, but simply Christ’s herald. His royal Master had given him message to proclaim; his whole business, therefore was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness, adding nothing, altering nothing, and omitting nothing. And he was to deliver it, not as another of man’s bright ideas, needing to be beautified with the cosmetics and high heels of fashionable learning in order to make people look at it, but as a word from God, spoken in Christ’s name, carrying Christ’s authority, and to be authenticated in the hearers by the convicting power of Christ’s Spirit. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 52.

Preach Christ [and conviction of sin]

It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself and your failures and your inadequacy to meet life’s demands. Nor would it be saving faith it a man in that condition called on the Lord Jesus Christ just to soothe him, cheer him up and make him feel confident again. Nor should we be preaching the gospel (though we might imagine we were) if all that we did was to present Christ in terms of human’s felt wants. (“Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Do you want peace of mind? Do you feel that you have failed? Are you fed up with yourself? Do you want a friend? Then come to Christ; he will meet your every need”–as if the Lord Jesus Christ were to be thought of as a fairy godmother, or super-psychiatrist.) No; we have to go deeper than this. To preach sin means not to make capital out of people’s felt frailties (the brainwasher’s trick), but to measure their lives by the holy law of God. To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one in an all-around flop, but to realize that one has offended God, flouted his authority, defied him, gone against him and put oneself in the wrong with him. To preach Christ means to set him forth as the One who, through the cross, sets men right with God again. to put faith in Christ means relying on him, and him alone, to restore us to God’s fellowship and favor. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 69-70.

The Story of Jesus is True

Dr. Keller began his talk with listing three statements that he was going to prove. 1) Why it’s important that the story of Jesus is true. 2) Why it’s important the story of Jesus is about Jesus. 3) Why it’s important that the Gospel is not a set of bullet points, but rather a story. He spent the remainder of his message giving eight arguments that answered the above questions. After the talk, Keller stayed for a book signing. The event was sponsored by Lemuria Books, Reformed University Fellowship and Belhaven University.

your prayers prove you believe God is sovereign

People pray recognizing God’s sovereignty when they pray. When on your knees you know that you are not in control of the results of your prayers. Even if you deny God’s sovereignty and only embrace human responsibility, you still believe God is sovereign when you pray.

Here are three specific prayers followers of Christ pray that prove you believe God is sovereign:

1. You simply pray. Why do you pray? You pray because you either want something that you cannot have in your own strength or want to show your appreciation to God for what you have been given.

2. You give thanks to God for your salvation. You realize deep down that God is entirely responsible for the faith that drew you to your Savior.

3. You pray for the salvation of others. When you pray for the unsaved, you assume that it is God who brings them to faith.

Prayer, therefore proves that you believe God is sovereign. Indeed, God is in control and you pray because you know you are not.

If you want to know more about your prayers, the sovereignty of God, and evangelism read, J.I Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL. 1961.