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Archive for the ‘Sanctification’ Category

Psalm 119:21 (ESV) – You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.

Reading through Charles Bridges’ commentary on Psalm 119, I came across the following quote regarding this verse which spoke powerfully to me…

“We wonder not at this expression of the mind of God concerning pride.  There is no sin more abhorrent to His character.  It is as if we were taking the crown from His head, and placing it upon our own.  It is man making a god of himself – acting from himself, and for himself.  Nor is this principle less destructive to our own happiness.  And yet it is not only rooted, but it often rears its head and blossoms, and bears fruit, even in hearts which ‘hate and abhor’ its influence.  It is most like its father, the devil, in serpentine deceitfulness.  It is always active – always ready imperceptibly to mix itself up with everything.  When it is mortified in one shape, it rises in another.  When we have thought that it was gone, in some unexpected moment we find it here still.  It can convert everything into nourishment, even God’s choicest gifts – yea, the graces of His Spirit.  Let no saint, therefore, however near he may be living to God, however favored with the shinings of His countenance – consider himself beyond the reach of this temptation… But can a sinner – can a saint – be proud? – one that owes everything to free and sovereign grace – one that has wasted so much time – abused so much mercy – so grieved the Spirit of God – that has a heart so full of atheism – unbelief – selfishness?  Nay, the very pride itself should be the matter of the deepest daily humiliation.  Thus the remembrance of it may, under Divine grace, prove an effectual means of subduing it in our hearts” (Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Psalm 119, Banner of Truth, pg 46-47.)

He concludes with the following prayer…

“Lord!   Teach us to bless Thee, for even Thy sharp and painful discipline which tends to subjugate this hateful pride of our hearts before our Savior’s cross!” (Bridges, pg, 47-48.)

Amen!

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There was an excellent post by R.C. Sproul over at the Ligonier Ministries Blog today.  Here is an excerpt:

“Our souls cannot climb out of the mire of sin because they are dead. Salvation comes not to those who cry out, “Show me the way to heaven,” but to those who cry, “Take me there for I cannot.”

Lest we see the sinner’s prayer as mere technique, we must remember that Christ raises the dead that they might walk. We do not mumble the magic words and then wait to die. Christianity is about spiritual growth as well. It is about work, the hard work of sanctification. Regeneration is monergistic, God’s work alone. Sanctification, the process by which we are made holy, is synergistic, God’s work with us…”

You can read the whole thing here http://www.ligonier.org/blog/2009/10/climbing-out-of-the-mire.html

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I came across an interesting interview of Matt Chandler (pastor of the Village Church) today on the topic of sanctification in the local church.  Here are some excerpts from the interview…

When you first came to faith, how did you understand the process of growing in Christ-likeness?

I grew up in a pretty abusive home. There was a lot of sin in my house. So after I got saved in high school, I still had a lot of really big issues. I had massive amounts of anger in my life, and I still struggled with lust. At the time I thought there were really only three sins—sex, drinking, and cussing. So I immediately tried to clean those things up. But I had no idea how hard it was going to be. I had been fed a gospel that said, “Do you want a better life? Do you want to be happy? Then come to Jesus.” But when my struggles with sin didn’t immediately go away, I felt I had been lied to. I felt I had been duped. No one told me how much deeper sin was, or how ruthless Jesus was going to be once he took over my heart.

What have you learned since then?

I’ve learned that the process looks different for different people in different locations and with access to different resources. It’s very complex, and that’s the error we make in many churches—we try to standardize the process for everyone. There is a guy on staff here with a very similar story to mine; he’s struggled with similar things. But God worked to sanctify him in a very different way than he worked to sanctify me.

But are there certain ingredients that are always present even if the process looks different?

I know there must be surrender. I know we need to have authentic relationships where there is openness and freedom to be honest about where we are and a willingness to let others tell us the hard truth.

One of the most painful days in my own spiritual development was when a friend had the courage to confront me about my sin. I was complaining about how much I hated some of the things I do. He said, “Sins aren’t things you do. Sin is about who you are.” I’d never thought about it like that. The awareness of my sinfulness was very humbling, and it sent me really running back to the Lord.

How did that change the way you seek growth?

It started making me very frustrated with the church. If you’re struggling with anger or lust and the church’s answer is a four-point sermon on how to get rid of it, and you do those four points and it doesn’t work, it leaves you frustrated. You feel like the church is either lying or is irrelevant, or you are more broken than anyone else…

How has that experience impacted the way you pursue growth at The Village Church?

We acknowledge that most of us do struggle with sin. Most of us wrestle. We work really hard to create an environment that says, “It’s okay to not be okay.”..

What does that look like at The Village Church?

It means having seasons where the whole church is doing the same thing, focusing on the same issue. These are the highly structured, mechanical parts. For example, right now we are in a five-week series on missional living. I’m preaching about it and all of our small groups are studying it. Even our children and family devotionals are using that curriculum. But there are other seasons that are not as mechanical. We try to create multiple lanes people can choose from, and there are on ramps and off ramps—ways people can enter structured settings and ways they can exit.

Where is the relational, organic component?

That is more covert. A few years ago, we approached 13 men in the church. They were all patriarchs—known for loving God, the Bible, and understanding our mission. We asked them to each seek out three or four young men and start pouring into them. It is a highly relational strategy that goes beyond just teaching the Bible.

Our young guys need to know the Bible, but they also need to know how to cook a steak and tie a tie. This is a fatherless generation. Discipleship needs to mean more than studying a book. It should also mean opening our lives to the people we are leading.

Are you doing the same thing with women?

Yes. We have godly older women connecting with younger women as well.

How is this different from a mentoring program?

It’s not a program. It is very organic. We’ve tried a more structured program before, but it rarely worked. If you have people signing up to be mentored and then pairing them, the miss rate is really high. You cannot just throw people together who don’t know each other and expect to see a deep bond form.

There are people I love, but that doesn’t mean I want to have dinner with them. And then there are people I just click with. It’s far better to help the patriarchs in the church understand the value of these relationships, and then set them free in the church to fish for people they connect with naturally…

There is a whole lot more in the interview which is worth reading.  You can find the whole thing here http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/2009/summer/thegoodfight.html at the Christianity Today Library site.

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