Jesus in Every Season of Life

Our lives our filled with both joy and sorrow, gain and loss. John wants us to realize, as one writer observed: “Jesus is more than equal to either occasion. He has a place in all circumstances. If we invite him to our time of innocent happiness, he will increase our joy. If we call on him in our times of sorrow, anxiety, or bereavement, he can bring consolation, comfort, and joy that is not of this world.”

Richard Phillips, John: Volume 1 (pg. 281).

Grace Begets Grace

A thankful heart is constantly extending grace because it has received grace. Love and grace are uneven. God poured out on his own Son the criticism I deserve. Now he invites me to pour out undeserving grace on someone who has hurt me. Grace begets grace. 

Paul Miller, The Praying Life (pg. 134).

Pastorally Applying Scripture

Keller suggests twelve categories of people that the text may be speaking to:

  1. Conscious unbeliever: Is aware he is not a Christian (e.g., immoral pagan, intellectual pagan, imitative pagan, genuine thinker, religious non-Christian).
  2. Nonchurched nominal Christian: Has belief in the basic Christian doctrines, but with no or remote church connection (e.g., churched nominal Christian, semi-active moralist, active self-righteous). 
  3. Awakened: Is stirred and convicted over his sin but without gospel peace yet (e.g., curious, convicted with false peace, comfortless).
  4. Apostate: Was once active in the church but has repudiated the faith without regrets.
  5. New Believer: Is recently converted.
  6. Doubtful: Has many fears and hesitancies about his new faith (e.g., eager, overzealous).
  7. Mature/growing: Passes through nearly all the basic conditions named below but progresses through them because he responds quickly to pastoral treatment or knows how to treat himself.
  8. Afflicted: Lives under a burden or trouble that saps spiritual strength (e.g., physically afflicted, dying, bereaved, lonely, persecuted/abused, poor/economic troubles, desertion).
  9. Tempted: Is struggling with a sin or sins that are remaining attractive and strong (e.g., overtaken, taken over). 
  10. Immature: Is a spiritual baby who should be growing but is not (e.g., undisciplined, self-satisfied, unbalanced, devotee of eccentric doctrine).
  11. Depressed: Is not only experiencing negative feelings but also shirking Christian duties and being disobedient (e.g., anxious, weary, angry, introspective, guilty).
  12. Backslid: Has gone beyond depression to withdrawal from fellowship with God and with the church (e.g., tender, hardening). 

Andy Naselli, quoting Tim Keller, in How to Understand and Apply the New Testament (pg. 316-17).

The Uninfluenced Love of God

It is highly important, if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth. God’s love for me and for each of “His own” was entirely unmoved by anything in us. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary, there was everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “ no good thing” in me.

A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God (pgs. 100).

The Storyline of the Bible

The OT storyline that I posit as the basis for the NT storyline is this: The Old Testament is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his new-creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory.

The NT transformation of the storyline of the OT that I propose is this: Jesus’s life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-not yet new-creational reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign and resulting in judgment for the unbelieving, unto the triune God’s glory.

G.K Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology (pg. 16).

The Way of the Cross

Following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed him very far. It soon became apparent that being a disciple of Christ involved far more than a joyful acceptance of the Messianic promise: it meant the surrender of one’s whole life to the Master in absolute submission to his sovereignty….This was strong teaching. Not many people could take it. They liked to be numbered among his followers when he filled their stomachs with bread and fish, but when Jesus started talking about the true spiritual quality of the Kingdom and the sacrifice necessary in achieving it (John 6:25-29), many of his disciples “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). As they put it, “This is a hard saying: who can hear it?” (John 6:60). The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll. He was training leaders for the Kingdom, and if they were going to be fit vessels of service, they were going to have to pay the price.

Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism (pgs. 50-51).

The Supremacy of God

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotence is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.”…The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form “gods” out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a “god” out of their own carnal mind.

A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God (pg. 10-11).

Living Like a King

“For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (pg. 223).

Repetition in Scripture

Repetitions have diverse uses in Scripture.

In prayer they argue affection.
In prophecy they note celerity and certainty.
In threatenings they note unavoidableness and suddenness
In precepts they note a necessity of performing them.
In truths, like that before us, they serve to show the necessity of believing and knowing them.

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John, Vol. 1 (pg. 7).

Angel Ministers

Does the way seem long and lonely?
Does the silence whisper fear,
as if enemies were watching,
and no loving eye were near?
On each side are unseen friends;
every step an angel tends.

Angel-legions all about thee,
death and danger to repel;
angels o’er thee and before thee,
what are all the hosts of hell?
Perils thicken, tempests chafe,
fiends assail thee; thou art safe.

Angel-guards, how near and gracious;
angel-shields, how broad and bright;
angel-eyes, how quick and tender;
angel-hands, how full of might!
What a wondrous company,
pilgrim, waiteth upon thee!

Not the thousand times ten thousand
of man’s proudest war array,
not the steel of bannered squadrons
could thee shield so well as they,
sent from heaven as ministers
of the kingdom’s blessèd heirs.

Hopeless oft may seem the ventures
of the pilgrim-march below;
never will thy guards desert thee,
never fear to face thy foe;
caring for thee day and night,
in the journey or the fight.

Gabriel, Michael – who I know not –
may be leader of the host;
named or unnamed, they will keep thee,
fearing, fainting, danger-tossed;
wounded oft and battle-worn,
thou canst never be o’erborne.

Yet ’tis not angelic legions,
with their skill, and care, and might,
that can guard thee from the perils
of the darkness or the light.
‘Tis the King of angels who
can conduct thee safely through.

Lean on him to whom the legions
of the angelic host belong,
Captain of the heavenly army,
true and faithful, wise and strong.
Hands may slacken, eyes grow dim;
only, only lean on him.

Horatius Bonar, Until the Day Break: And Other Hymns and Poems Left Behind (pg. 6-8).