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Archive for June 2017

Not Just Love, but Spiritual Power, is a Central Gift and Mark of God’s Saving Work

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

“Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. (1 Cor. 4:18-20)

St. Paul says that “we have this treasure [i.e., the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ] in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Cor. 10:3-4).

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

St. Paul prays that believers will know “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Eph. 1:19)

St. Paul prays that the Father “would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph. 3:16)

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

St. Paul’s aim in life is to “know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Phil. 3:10)

St. Paul prays that the believers “will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” (Col. 1:10-11)

St. Paul says that he “labor[s], striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” (Col 1:29)

St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:11-12)

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Tim. 1:8)

St. Paul says that some folks are “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Tim. 3:5)

And these are just St. Paul’s expositions on the centrality of spiritual power in the lives of believers. The other NT writings would add to this. We should take several things away from the above Scriptures:

(1) The God of the Bible is a God of power, and He gives power to His children;

(2) the experience of God’s salvation is an experience of spiritual power, not just information transfer or believing new ideas;

(3) the power God gives is a power to comprehend truth, and a power in our characters to become people who live like Jesus lived, in holiness and righteousness;

(4) the power God gives enables us to defeat dark spiritual powers and overcome temptations to sin, i.e., to make progress in godliness and spiritual maturity;

(5) God’s power residing in believers is surpassingly great;

(6) having God’s power in our lives is a desirable thing and we should seek after it;

(7) we should labor for the good of others, not in our own strength, but according to God’s power, which will mightily work within us for their good.

There are many other implications of God’s power in our lives, which we should ponder. We should also consider whether we have given short shrift to God’s power in our lives to make progress in holiness, righteousness and godly character. Given that we have the fullness of God dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit, we should expect that we can make significant progress in godliness in this life, without succumbing to an unbiblical perfectionism or arrogance. The Bible’s teaching on our reception of God’s power should not make us think that we can make only miniscule progress in this life.

So let us, like St. Paul, seek to know Christ “and the power of His resurrection,” so that we might grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ and attain to the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature people, attaining to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ, . . . no longer children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but . . . grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” (Eph. 2)

-D

 

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Written by Michael Duenes

June 12, 2017 at 4:46 am

Posted in Duenes, Theology

That I Might Not Sin Against You

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Then I shall not be put to shame…that I might not sin against you… that I may live and keep your word…that I may behold wondrous things out of your law…that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart…that you may be feared…then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me…that I might learn your statutes…that I may learn your commandments…that I may live…that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth…that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually…that I may know your testimonies

In Psalm 119, these are some of the reasons why the author wants God and His commandments in his life. The Psalmist wants these results. We should consider our own lives and ask whether these are results we want as well, as we come to God’s word. Notice the blend of “learning God’s statutes and commands” and “keeping God’s commands.” We should desire to learn them, but also to keep them. God’s word has a primacy for the Psalmist. May it have primacy for us too. In Augustine’s famous words: “Take up and read!”

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 9, 2017 at 3:51 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Malcolm Muggeridge: They Represent Us Too Exactly

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In an essay entitled, England, Whose England?,  Malcolm Muggeridge asserted: “We like to persuade ourselves that our leaders betray the trust imposed in them and distort the aspirations of those who elect them. Actually they represent us all too exactly.”

Nowhere have I found this to be more true than when I am listening to some “conservative” radio talk show host blather on about this or that conservative politician. The host tells us that, somehow. Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan or some other politico has appallingly let us down, that we elected them to go to Washington and implement some textbook conservative platform. I’ve always found this notion to be absurd, as Muggeridge articulates.

It seems to me we largely get who we want. Conservatives vote for people who do not shrink the deficit because, well, we don’t want the deficit shrunk. Doing things like shrinking the deficit means other things, things we should like to retain very much, would have to go. Doing things like fighting overseas wars means that our boys would have to go and die, and we should like very much that they not go and die. The examples could be multiplied.

So I always wonder who this fictitious demographic is out there who allegedly aspires to have our political leaders do something different than they are currently doing. There’s a lot of whining and hang-wringing, and yet, somehow, inexplicably, the same types of people, with the same lack of character, with same lack of principle and same appetite for the status quo, keep getting elected. Fancy that!

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm

For the Wonderful Works He Does Among Mankind

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Some were wanderers, hungry and thirsty with no place to live . . . some lived in darkness, in the shadow of death because they had rebelled against God’s word and spurned his advice; they were brought low with hard labor and all possible helpers abandoned them . . . some were fools because of their sinful ways, bringing affliction upon themselves; they loathed food and drew near to death . . . Some were sailors who did business on the seas, who lost their courage and reeled and staggered like drunken men.

But in each case, they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. This is the story of Psalm 107, and it is a very encouraging saga. For it demonstrates that, no matter how bad our circumstances, and no matter how much those bad circumstances are of our own sinful making, it is always possible to cry out to the LORD for deliverance. Such a cry, made in sincerity, will not be ignored by our LORD. He will respond to us in love.

This is a great incentive to repent and turn to the LORD, to lift up our hands to Him in trouble, to never fear that He will reject us when we call upon Him. So call upon Him, and look for His rescue. Call upon Jesus, and wait for His mercy. No matter what you’ve done, throw yourself upon God, for He is our only hope and joy. And then, let us thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works among mankind!

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 2, 2017 at 4:42 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms