Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors. He is well-known for writing Blue Like Jazz , Searching for God Knows What , and the recently released A Million Miles in A Thousand Years. I recently added his blog to my reader and came across a post that was too good not to pass on to others. I liked it because I know I am guilty of doing exactly what he describes his friend doing, and I liked it because it is a practical example of how a lack of deep understanding of the Gospel has subtle, yet disastrous, effects on how we live our lives. Here is an excerpt:
We were designed so our identity would be affirmed in a relationship with God. In other words, my feelings of self-worth do not come from within me, they come from an external source. That source was supposed to be God. But in the fall of man, that relationship was severed (it had to be as God could not mix or mingle with anything opposing him, not because He is a jerk, but because He actually defines what is good in the first place) and so after the fall, we continue to look for affirmation from an outside source, and that source is each other.
He ends with this:
So my question to you is, are you a slave to a jury of your peers? Do you always have to explain why you are right? How much do you care what religious people think of you? When somebody else is wrong, do you jump in quickly to tell them so, making yourself feel righteous? My answer to these questions is yes, I do. Doesn’t that stink? ……… I think we would be a bit more emotionally stable to understand self-righteousness gets us nowhere, and the jury of our peers is neither an accurate or authoritative judge. It really is a waste of your time to defend yourself to anybody but God Himself. And it’s even more of a waste of time to claim any defense other than Christ crucified. Imagine the time and energy we would save if we actually believed this to be true.
Read the whole post here.
As focused as we young adults are on self-development, what if the path to that development is actually learning to live with and love another person? We may be startled to find that the greatest adventure lies not in knowing oneself as much as in knowing and committing to another person. Sure, freedom is great—but as John Paul II reminded us, “Freedom exists for the sake of love.”
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Below is an apt description of the doctrine of Adoption from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XII
All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have His name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a Father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation. .
Also, in his sermon “Praying in the Spirit”, Tim Keller describes how our relationship to God is changed by adoption through the Spirit, and clarifies the language Paul uses to describe it,
Many of you have heard that the Aramaic word abba is best translated “daddy”…..but that is not completely accurate, it’s best translated “dadda”……an 8 year old doesn’t say this word, it’s an infant. It’s primal, it’s instinctive, it’s the very, very first word out of a kids mouth…..why would Paul use this language? What infants want when they say “dadda” is they just want dadda, they want to grab the neck, get up close to the face, or just see the world as daddy sees it up there…..Paul is saying that when you become a Christian, you get the Spirit, you get a new language…….it’s a desire for God himself, you’re after the nearness itself…the Holy Spirit creates a primal language where you just want to be with God, you have a thirst for Him.
Euan Murray, a Scottish Rugby player, has decided not to play games on Sundays. The article is a good read, and Murray has a few great explanations of idolatry (read them with a Scottish accented voice in your head),
He suggests that the path many professional sportsmen follow is “rotten”. He tries to explain. “All the shiny bubbles,” he says, holding out his big hands and shaking his head in sadness. “The money, the possessions, the fame, the great elusive relationship – all bubbles that appear perfectly spherical, all the colours of the rainbow. They’re bright and shiny and light as a feather, and you chase them because it’s good fun, but the minute you get them they burst and they’re empty.” He pauses. “I’d had enough of chasing bubbles.
and of Jesus work on the cross,
This is the tea, all dirty and horrible, this is me, yeah? That’s Jesus,” he says, motioning to the water. “Pure. He’s taken that filth upon himself and before God he says, ‘Punish me for it’. He’s been punished and look what he’s given me. That perfect goodness in the eyes of God. He’s declared me innocent.” He swills the dregs of the tea and smiles. Can it be that simple? “I’m ashamed of the things I’ve done. Of course I am. But I’m thankful I have a saviour. He’s saved me from that lifestyle. He’s given me a new life.
In Death by Love, Mark Driscoll shares a pastoral letter explaining how the doctrine of Christus Victor brings comfort to Katie, a friend that was tormented by demons:
….Three days later, Jesus your Warrior King rose in victory over death. Seeing Jesus alive, the Great Dragon (aka Satan) snatched you as his captive, drew his sword of law, covered with the blood of your sin, and thrust its razor-sharp point at your head, naming every sin you have committed….Smiling, Jesus stepped forward and declared that he already paid the penalty for your sins on the cross, canceled any right Satan had to hold you captive, and defeated your Enemy along with his servants and their works and effects in your life.
With fear in his eyes, the Great Dragon dropped his sword from your head and was overcome with dread as he understood the victory Jesus had won for you through his seeming defeat. Drawing his own sword of truth, Jesus landed a crushing blow on the head of the Great Dragon, shattering his helmet and bloodying his head. Jesus then stepped toward the Great Dragon and thrust the pommel of his sword against his mouth, shattering his teeth and sending them violently down his throat.
Then, with a blow to his armor, Jesus doubled the Great Dragon over, leaving him gasping for air and unable to bellow his curses and blasphemies anymore. With a crushing elbow to the back of the head, Jesus dropped the Great Dragon into the very dust in which Jesus himself had lain three days prior, and the blood of the Great Dragon of all his armor and clothing as his bowed head and bloodied mouth moaned in the agony of utter defeat.
Ashamed of your many years at the Dragon’s side, you stood off to the side alone, gazing at the ground until Jesus came to you. Taking your chin in his hand, Jesus lifted your face, looked you in the eye, and told you that your sins were forgiven, your Enemy conquered, and your life liberated from captivity, and that God is now your Father, new life is your gift, and heaven is your home. As tears streamed down your face, Jesus asked you always to remember to see yourself as he does, not in light of what you have done or what has been done to you, but rather solely by what he has done for you as your victorious Warrior King….
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Expiation, which basically means “removal,” accompanies propitiation and speaks of the work of Christ in removing or putting away our sin. Such is the symbolism of the two goats used on the Day of Atonement. The first goat represented Christ’s work of propitiation as it was killed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. The second goat represented Christ’s work of expiation in removing or blotting out the sins that were against us. The object of propitiation is the wrath of God. The object of expiation is the sin, which must be removed from His presence.
The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
Jesus Christ stands forth as our advocate and intercedes for us. God designed this, desires this, and delights in this. “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Christ’s advocacy is based on his propitiation—his infallible securing of the removal of God’s wrath for all who are in him.- John Piper