18 Thoughts on Psalm 116.15

Psa 116.15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of all his saints,” from which I infer:

(1) many things are said to be wicked in the eyes of the Lord, but the death of all His saints is not one of them;

(2) rather this moment is said to be precious in His eyes, which is a very blessed thing that it should be, as what is precious in God’s sight is really precious;

(3) that this preciousness is not confined to select saints, but all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, all our deaths are precious in the sight of the Lord;

(4) saints are not just the canonized of the Catholic religion, but every repentant person that has believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ is properly called a saint, one set apart by God in Christ and indwelt by the Spirit of holiness unto holiness;

(5) that this preciousness which is a preciousness in the eyes of the Lord is a preciousness inherited by the saints, not being precious in ourselves but as we appear to Him and come to Him in Christ;

(6) that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord because He knows that death is a conquered foe with regards to them all, and this is a sweet-smelling aroma of Christ to Him;

(7) that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord because it evinces His great redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, the removal of which means that we cannot be held by death, and so His effectual grace towards us is a precious thing for Him to observe as we come to conclude our sojourning;

(8) that this preciousness is so precious in His eyes precisely because He welcomes us.  That we should see Him is precious in His sight;

(9) that it is all of God’s full and free grace that any should be called a saint by God and so have their death considered a precious thing in His sight;

(10) that no matter the manner of the saint’s passing, it is precious in the sight of the Lord; no matter how terrible, how laborious, how young or old, how defiling or degrading, cut down in the prime of life or laid low by the effect of many days; no matter how we perceive it, if they be a saint, their passing is precious in the sight of the Lord;

(11) that God often sees differently than we do.  We see in part, and so we find it hard to call the death of a saint precious; but God sees, not in part, but perfectly, and so is pleased to call it a thing precious to Him;

(12) what manner of glory the saints do come into that God should call that entrance into it by death “precious”;

(13) how uninviting death must be, then, for anyone not a saint, how terrible a thing for anyone to die in unbelief;

(14) that all Christians ought to mourn when a saint passes, but that we ought not mourn without hope and eventual happiness because the saint that passes does so into the glorious presence of God (cf. Ps 16), and this is to make us satisfied in the goodness and will of God;

(15) that doubtless many who hear such things take them lightly, will pat me on the back and tell me how good these things written do seem to them.  These no doubt think these things fantasy, imaginary, unreal, because unseen, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Even now every person stands on the precipice of eternity, hanging by a thread, as it were, the mercy of God alone upholding them, though He has made no promise to unbelievers to hold them up any one second longer.  Such people do not know the danger they are truly faced with, and how they have most certainly lived all their lives on borrowed mercy and known it not one second.  If any person be like this, I do not want pats on the back, but repentance; not niceties but faith in Christ.  For

(16) as long as any person lives God may grant them to become one of His saints whose death will be likewise precious in His sight.

(17) Because of what God has done for us in Christ, the fear of death is removed, and it stands only in service of the saints.

(18) How this ought to free us for gospel ministry and for following Jesus even unto death.  Sin, Satan, the gates of hell and the world may do their worst, may take our lives because of the gospel, but it will only bring us to what God delights to call “precious.”  What a flame for the cause of Christ!

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Musings on Raising My Children

Many things concerning the raising of my children (in the fear and admonition of the Lord) have come to mind of late, but especially:

1) their need to know that I am a sinner that most desperately needed the salvation of God offered in none but Christ;

2) the importance of my approach to them for the purpose of discipline.  Discipline over a fit of rage is carried out in vain if I approach the discipline in a fit of rage;

3) the necessity of actually taking out the Bible so that they might see it, and reading God’s words to them;

4) of morning prayers for both of them, both privately and, humbly, in their presence;

5) of speaking frequently to them of what they already know (or have learned from us) and how it is a dangerous thing to go against what they already know, if what they know comes from good authority and a godly source.  Acting in accord with what we know, keeping with what we have already attained in the way of righteousness is essential in making progress in sanctification;

6) speaking to them of true love and true joy, which is a love and a joy not confined to self and not sought in self, but is found most highly in God and exercised most properly upon others, in order that they too might join in the love of and joy in God;

7) of Scripture memory;

8) and the use of the memorized passages in the prayers that I make for them, so that what they hear me praying, that they are most familiar with, knowing it to be a most blessed and happy and essential thing that I am praying on their account;

9) the necessity of confronting the temptation to set aside our word, occurring when they are playing with others.  The temptation is to do what the other child is doing.  Wrong or right, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is joining the parade.  But this is what the world does.  And even though they are of the world at this point, yet I find it a good thing to stress with them the importance of weighing anything contrary to our word and wisdom as something they ought not to do without first conferring with us.  They are to learn that our word is more valuable than their friends ways, and that their friends ways do not set aside our word and wisdom.  They must be taught to hold fast to our word when the temptation tempts them to do otherwise.  This is preparation for Christian discipleship and holiness;

10) that if there is a disagreement between Jenny and me, it is to be had in private, in peace, in pursuit of what is right and best in the way of advancing the gospel in our home;

11) that discipline is not mutually exclusive with mercy.  In fact, discipline carried out in love and for the sake of righteousness is a subset of mercy.

I’m positive there are more, but these are my most recent musings on the raising of the children that God has so graciously lent us for this season.

Christian Responses to the Tragedy in Aurora

While this certainly grabs at the heart of every American, it is somewhat nuanced for me in that I attended that midnight showing of The Dark Knight earlier this morning.  But in God’s providence, I watched in Louisville, KY and not Aurora, CO.  Still, the news was, needless to say, burdening and broadening.  Here are two responses from Collin Hansen and Al Mohler.  Praying for these families during yet another sin-evincing crisis, and for all the churches in the Denver area, that they will be granted wisdom, grace, spiritual life, and a gentle boldness in bringing the gospel of Jesus to bear upon the hardest realities of this world.

Fighting Sin With Worship, by Tim Keller

Originally part of a sermon, and recently posted at the Desiring God blog.

If you are a Christian and you are dealing with enslaving habits, it’s not enough to say, “Bad Christian, stop it.” And it is not enough to beat yourself up or merely try harder and harder and harder.

The real reason that you’re having a problem with an enslaving habit is because you are nottasting God. I’m not talking about believing God or even obeying God, I’m saying tasting —tasting God.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved it — moved to tears and moved to laughter — moved by who God is and what he has done for you. And this needs to be happening all the time.

Go here for the whole, really, really, really good excerpt on the enslaving nature of sin and the power of worship to set us free.

11 Reasons Why Working With Kids Is Not Second Rate Ministry, by Brent Osterberg

Sadly, children’s ministry in the local church can often be seen as second rate ministry, not much more than crowd control and waiting out the clock. This can be seen on the occasions when members looking to move on to bigger and better things will see children’s church or AWANA as merely something to cut their teeth on. Or when the church leadership, in a desperate attempt just to fill the volunteer gaps, will try and make children’s ministry as burden-less and non-committal as possible. Then, of course, there are those who take a shift with the kiddos just because they feel like they have to do something to serve.

Truth be told, I’ve thought all these things at one time or another over the years. Only now that my wife and I have kids of our own have I realized the crucial role that children’s ministry plays in the lives of the kids it serves, their families, and the church.

So then, in the hopes that more Christians and churches will begin cherishing this ministry and investing in it more copiously, here are 11 reasons why children’s ministry is not second rate ministry:

Go here for his 11 insightful reasons.

Jesus’ Doctrine of Scripture, by Kevin DeYoung

After working through four main texts (John 10:35Matthew 5:17-1912:38-4219:4-5) I provided a summary of Jesus’ doctrine of Scripture.

Jesus held Scripture in the highest possible esteem. He knew his Bible intimately and loved it deeply. He often spoke with language of Scripture. He easily alluded to Scripture. And in his moments of greatest trial and weakness—like being tempted by the devil or being killed on a cross—he quoted Scripture.

His mission was to fulfill Scripture, and his teaching always upheld Scripture.

He never disrespected, never disregarded, never disagreed with a single text of Scripture.

He affirmed every bit of law, prophecy, narrative, and poetry. He shuddered to think of anyone anywhere violating, ignoring, or rejecting Scripture.

Jesus believed in the inspiration of Scripture, down  to the sentences, to the phrases, to the words, to the smallest letter, to the tiniest mark.

He accepted the chronology, the miracles, and the authorial ascriptions as giving the straightforward facts of history.

He believed in keeping the spirit of the law without ever minimizing the letter of the law. He affirmed the human authorship of Scripture while at the same time bearing witness to the ultimate divine authorship of the Scriptures.

He treated the Bible as a necessary word, a sufficient word, a clear word, and the final word.

It was never acceptable in his mind to contradict Scripture or stand above Scripture.

He believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, all important, and all about him. He believed absolutely that the Bible was from God and was absolutely free from error. What Scripture says God says, and what God said was recorded infallibly in Scripture.

Jesus submitted his will to the Scriptures, committed his brain to study the Scriptures, and humbled his heart to obey the Scriptures.

In summary, it is impossible to revere the Scriptures more deeply or affirm them more completely than Jesus did. The Lord Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, believed his Bible was the word of God down to the tiniest speck and that nothing in all those specks and in all those books in his Bible could ever be broken.

Go here for his exegetical, theological, and logical work that leads to these conclusions, and for all eight sermons recently preached on the doctrine of Scripture.

How the Gospel Changes Our Apologetics, Part 1, by Tim Keller

Apologetics is an answer to the “why” question after you’ve already given people an answer to the “what” question. The what question, of course, is “What is the gospel?” But when you call people to believe in the gospel and they ask, “Why should I believe that?” —then you need apologetics.

I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what. “You have to believe because Jesus is the Son of God.” But that’s answering the why with more what. Increasingly we live in a time in which you can’t avoid the why question. Just giving the what (for example, a vivid gospel presentation) worked in the days when the cultural institutions created an environment in which Christianity just felt true or at least honorable. But in a post-Christendom society, in the marketplace of ideas, you have to explain why this is true, or people will just dismiss it.

Go here for the first part of this blog series by Keller at City to City.