“. . . holiness is more than middle-class family values” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 34).
Enjoying God Blog
Pope Francis (Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) made history in becoming the first Jesuit to be elected as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. But who are the Jesuits?
The answer to that question begins with a man named Don Inigo de Onez y Loyola, otherwise known as Ignatius (1491-1556). He was the youngest in a family of thirteen children who spent his early years seeking fame and fortune in the military. He "grew up a courtier and caballero, captive to the romantic ideals of medieval chivalry" (Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform, 410).
Both his legs were severely injured in a battle against the French in 1521, whereupon he spent much time in a hospital enduring excruciating pain and ultimately unsuccessful therapy. During long periods on his bed he studied and meditated on religious literature that focused on the life of Christ and famous saints in history. In March, 1522, he made a pilgrimage to a shrine near Barcelona. There he entered a cave at Manresa where he spent the next ten months in solitude. He underwent a profound spiritual experience that led him to devote himself to the church and the pope. After a brief trip to the Holy Land he devoted 12 years to study and eventually settled at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he, with nine other men (among whom was Francis Xavier), founded what would become the Society of Jesus (1534). They vowed poverty, chastity and obedience to the pope. The organization was recognized and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and Ignatius was elected its first general on April 7, 1541. He held that office until he died on July 31, 1556.
The Society's major functions included education, suppression of dissident elements, and foreign missions. In 1548 Ignatius published his Spiritual Exercises, "the Counter Reformation's manual of self-discipline for clergy and laity" (Ozment, 412). The focus of the treatise was on special disciplines or exercises designed to induce certain feel
“If the war on poverty is worth fighting, how much more the war on your own sin? The fact of the matter is, if you read through the instructions to the New Testament churches you will find few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the needy in our communities and no explicit commands to do creation care, but there are dozens and dozens of verses that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:13-16)” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 21).
Let’s me summarize what we’ve seen thus far. (1) God is not a miser with his mercy. (2) Paul prays for joy and peace because pleasure in God is the power for purity. (3) Pleasure in God is the fruit of faith in God.
Fourth, the purpose of pleasure in God is hope in God.
Why do we lack hope? Could it be because we’ve been “burned” by putting our confidence in something that we really didn’t need in the first place? We “hope” for a good paying job when we graduate. Some are “hoping” for a husband to wake up spiritually and get off the couch. Others “hope” for some way to cover next month’s car payment. But in the end, all we need is Christ. He is the object and focus and obsession of our hope:
Paul applauds the Thessalonians for their “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). What is our “blessed hope”? It is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). We are to “hope in Christ” (Eph. 1:12). The mystery of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
John Piper put it best when he said, “Sometimes what we need from the Bible is not the fulfillment of our dream[s], but the swallowing up of our failed dream[s] in the all-satisfying glory of Christ” (When I Don’t Desire God, 101). The reason that may not resonate with our souls or sound very encouraging is because we really don’t believe Jesus Christ is all-satisfying. We don’t savor him. And we don’t savor him because we don’t see him, and we don’t see him because we fail to look upon him as he has revealed himself in Holy Scripture!
Hope is ultimately beyond our ability to produce. When we do try and create it or crank it up, it either degenerates into presumption or soon gives way to despair.
“Even if you could enter heaven without holiness, what would you do? What joy would you feel there? What holy man or woman of God would you sit down with for fellowship? Their pleasures are not your pleasures. Their character is not your character. What they love, you do not love. If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here. Or as Spurgeon put it, ‘Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise’” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 15).
We return to Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:13 and take note of yet another of the five important truths found in it.
Third, pleasure in God is the fruit of faith in God.
It is from or through the Scriptures that joy and peace arise. Why do I say this? I say it because Paul prays in Romans 15:13 that God would "fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." The phrase “in believing” could as easily be rendered, “as” you believe or “because” you believe or “in connection with” believing. In any case, the point is that God will most assuredly not fill you abundantly with these if you don’t believe. Both joy and peace are the fruit of believing, which in turn yields hope.
But believe "what"? Belief is confidence placed in the truth of what God has revealed to us in Scripture about who he is and our relationship to him through Jesus. The “believing” Paul has in mind is confidence and faith and trust in (1) the person of God revealed in Jesus, (2) the promises of God articulated in Scripture, and (3) the power of God by which he makes it all come to pass.
Belief does not plant itself in mid-air, but in the firm foundation of inspired, revelatory words inscripturated for us in the Bible.
And it’s not just joy and peace that come from believing God’s Word. The Word of God is the spring from which the waters of faith arise. Paul says in Romans 10:17 that "faith comes from hearing" and that hearing comes "through the word of Christ." People are drowning in skepticism and suffocating from doubt. They desperately need faith, but it doesn’t just happen serendipitously. Faith doesn’t miraculously appear out of thin air; it comes only if and when we hear and treasure the word of Christ.
There’s still more. It is
In an earlier post I explained why prayers such as Romans 15:13 are so important and instructive. In this one I want to unpack Paul’s petition with two of five observations.
First, God is no miser with his mercy. Note the words “fill”, “all”, and “abound”.
Paul prays that God will “fill” us with joy and peace, not simply “give” or “impart” or “enable” us to experience these blessings, but that he might “fill” us with them! His emphasis is on the effusive, generous, expansive abundant, overflowing, and measureless way in which God answers prayers (cf. Ps. 16:11). We don’t simply “have” or “possess” these blessings: we are “filled” with them, inundated and awash and overflowing with them.
Note also that it is not “some” joy or a “fraction” of peace or “a small measure” of hope. Paul prays that we be filled with “all” joy and “all”. Not just a little here and there but with the totality of joy and the entirety of peace.
Furthermore, we don’t simply “hope.” Far less do we hang on by our fingernails. Rather we “abound” in hope! Again Paul points to the lavishness of God’s grace. God is no miser when it comes to his mercy. This is no tentative, anxious, uncertain, doubt-filled wish. It is a prayer for the overflowing and effusive gift of God’s grace.
Second, Paul prays for joy and peace because he knows that pleasure in God is the power for purity.
In yet another passage Paul stated clearly that his motive for ministry was the joy of God’s people (2 Corinthians 1:23-24). Whatever decisions he made, whatever he wrote in his epistles, was always based on what he believed would best serve their joy! Paul had some harsh things
In view of the recent tragic death of Rick Warren’s 27-year-old son, Matthew, perhaps we should give some deep consideration to the nature of suicide and the oft-asked question: Is suicide the unpardonable sin? But before diving into the deep end of this devastating topic, please pause and pray for the Warren family, as well as for others who have lost a friend or family member in a similar fashion.
Statistics can often deceive and be used to prove just about anything. But these don’t lie. They are sobering and serious (from the Associated Press, Public Health Service).
There are four male suicides for every one female; however, at least twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
Sixty percent of all people who commit suicide kill themselves with guns.
Guns are now used in more suicides than homicides.
Women are more likely to use drugs or poison than violent means; men are more inclined to use a quick, violent means of suicide such as a gun or hanging.
500,000 Americans survive suicide attempts each year.
Of those who commit suicide, only 25% are determined to have been mentally ill.
Of those who commit suicide, 80% warned someone that they were contemplating doing so.
The highest suicide rates are among people ages 35-49 and people 65 and over.
The suicide rate on American Indian reservations is 5x the national average.
The Bible doesn’t say much about suicide, other than to record the occurrence of six incidents where a person takes his life. In none of these is an explicit moral evaluation or judgment rendered: the case of Abimelech in Judges 9:50-57; the case of Samson in Judges 16:28-30 (although some are not convinced this is suicide in the strict sense of the term); Saul and his armor-bearer in 1 Samuel 31:1-6 (2 Samuel 1:1-15; 1 Chron. 10:1-13); Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23; Zimri in1 Kings 16:18-19; and Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27:5. It is wor
It’s been a while since Christmas, but my thoughts are still fixed on the holiday season. I only ventured out once into the shopping malls of Oklahoma City prior to Christmas Day, and once, I assure you, was quite enough. Although the atmosphere was in many ways electric and exciting and people seemed to be having a good time, I couldn’t help but wonder how these same people would be feeling the week after Christmas, after all the holiday festivities had died down and they suddenly discovered that life hadn’t changed much.
You see, for the non-Christian, Christmas is incredibly artificial. It’s a little bit like nitrous oxide or laughing gas that some dentists use to calm you down before a tooth extraction. It’s rather pleasant for a while and no one feels any pain, for a while. And then its numbing effect slowly begins to dissipate, and the pain of life returns in full force.
For those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Christmas serves only to give them an excuse to pretend that they somewhat like their family and that all is well and that there is hope for the future. But once the lights are turned out and the food is all eaten and family members have returned to their homes, life is still there, waiting for them. The problems they faced before Christmas haven’t magically disappeared, the broken relationships haven’t healed, and the bills they must pay have only gotten bigger and even more unmanageable.
So how is it any different for the Christian? Well, there are countless ways, but let me mention only three. For those who know and follow Jesus there is an abiding joy that no amount of family discord or financial pressure can undermine. For those who know and follow Jesus there is peace, a tranquility of soul and spirit that has the power to overcome whatever turmoil and tragedy we’ve yet to face. And there is hope;
I’m excited about a new biography of C. S. Lewis just released by Tyndale House. Alister McGrath, Professor King’s College, London, has written: C. S. Lewis: A Life, Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2013), 427 pp. The only other biography written by McGrath that I’ve read is his treatment of the life of J. I. Packer. This one looks to be quite good, if the endorsements are any measure of its quality. McGrath is applauded by such as Tim Keller, Eric Metaxas, N. T. Wright, and Alan Jacobs. Perhaps the most informed C. S. Lewis scholar of our day is my former colleague at Wheaton College and good friend, Lyle Dorsett. Dorsett writes: “For people who might wonder if we need another biography of C. S. Lewis, McGrath’s crisp, insightful, and at times quite original portrait of the celebrated Oxford Christian will change their minds.” As soon as I’ve had opportunity to read it, I’ll post on whether you should.
Let me mention one additional interesting historical fact. As many of you know, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death (he actually passed away in 1963 on the same day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated). But this year is also the 60th anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin. Stalin led the former Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. What a striking contrast between two lives: one who was wholly devoted to Christ for the sake of others, and the other wholly consumed with himself at the expense of others.