Pursuing Sanctification – God’s work or ours?

“John Owen says Christians need to ‘be killing sin, or it will be killing you.’

Yet from my experience most Christians aren’t employing everything they have at their disposal to kill sin or to pursue sanctification in any regard. The most I hear about this is the throwaway line, ‘I’m struggling with X sin’ but upon further questioning often those who say this aren’t struggling at all with a sin; they’ve often simply identified that they have a persistent sin, and yet do nothing about it.

Then when I reflect on my own fight with sin, I’m ashamed to realise I too often fall into the same trap of identifying sin without fighting it. I started to consider why this is the case for me. Why is it that I know about my sins, but I don’t fight them? And I have come to the conclusion that I (and I suspect many others) don’t fight sin because I don’t know what my role is in sanctification.

In order to figure it out I had to understand three things …”

– Daniel Bishop writes on what should be of vital interest to every Christian – at The Australian Church Record – Part 1 and Part 2.

Reading Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21–24)

“Paul’s closing greeting in Ephesians is a good opportunity to summarise what the letter is all about and to remember why it’s worth reading and reflecting on it.”

– Our thanks to ACL Council member Lionel Windsor for a challenging and edifying series reflecting on the Letter to the Ephesians. Here is the last instalment.

How long, Lord, must we call for help?

“In light of the recent Australian bushfires, we perhaps cannot be blamed for asking, Why is God allowing such a thing to happen? How can God turn a blind eye to the devastation that has come as a result of these fires – the loss of property, animals, even human life? Why doesn’t God do something about it? Why does God allow so many to needlessly suffer?

It is these kinds of questions that the prophet Habakkuk also struggled with, roughly six hundred years before Christ. …”

– Ben George writes at The Australian Church Record.

Spiritual Formation: the rise of a tradition

“Spiritual formation” seems to be an innocuous phrase, for Christians; a good thing to do, what we would want for ourselves and others. It is in use in general church circles, and in more formal literature. In particular, if one investigates developments concerning theological education, it is very clear that spiritual formation is what theological education should be about. …

“Spiritual formation” seems a reasonable thing for Christians to do, but what exactly does it mean, and why is it seen as the main purpose of theological education? …

– Church Society has published some excerpts from an article by Kirsty Birkett in the current issue of Churchman.

On Preaching, the Supper, and the Unity of the Church

“Recently, the well-known pastor and author Francis Chan made some alarming comments about preaching, the Lord’s Supper, and the unity of the church.

In this episode of Pastors’ Talk, Jonathan Leeman chats with Mark Dever, Bobby Jamieson, and Mark Feather about Chan’s comments in particular and the topics of preaching, the Supper, and unity more generally.”

Listen here.

Prayer: the heart of evangelism (Ephesians 6:17–20)

“One of the best things we can pray for is that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will go out to the world, both through us and through others.”

– Lionel Windsor nears the end of Ephesians and comes to a key passage.

(Photo: GAFCON.)

GAFCON ‘Life up your hearts’ devotions continued

GAFCON has been continuing to publish “Lift up your hearts“, a devotional which began in Advent.

See all that have been published here.

The importance of being a struggling Christian (Ephesians 6:14–16)

Do you ever feel like the Christian life is a struggle? Struggling is normal for Christians. In fact, it’s not just normal. Christians should be struggling!”

– Lionel Windsor continues his exposition of Ephesians.

Stand your ground (Ephesians 6:10–13)

“It’s easy to ignore the spiritual realities of life. But Paul reminds us we should live our ordinary, everyday lives in light of spiritual realities. …”

Lionel Windsor turns to this key passage in Ephesians 6, with a reminder of important spiritual realities at the start of 2020.

The gospel for the boss (Ephesians 6:9)

“Authority implies responsibility. Christians, who have a heavenly Lord and Saviour, have a special reason to be responsible in the way we use our authority.”

– Lionel Windsor turns to the exhortations in Ephesians 6:9 and their application today. At Forget the Channel.

Rejoice that He is with us

“Emmanuel is, for me, one of the most precious words in the New Testament.

The Greek word is a transliteration of the Hebrew phrase, meaning “God with us”. Although only occurring once in Matthew 1:23, where it is a translation of the Hebrew phrase that appears in Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8, it is rich in meaning and has become regularly associated with both Advent and Christmas carols. Jesus is our Emmanuel (or Immanuel to reflect the original Hebrew).”

– Archbishop Glenn Davies shares this Christmas reflection. At SydneyAnglicans.net.

Book Review of ‘God’s Good Design’ (2nd edition)

“All too often modern Christian teaching on the place of men and women in the church is in the context of argument and debate.

Fundamentally, the debate between those who would call themselves complementarian and those would call themselves egalitarian. However, even within those who hold a complementarian position there is debate between those who would disagree about where lines should be drawn. While this can’t be helped it can lead to some unfortunate consequences. Most notably we can deal ‘fast and loose’ with the text of the Scriptures, overstating arguments to support ‘our position’.

This is where Claire Smith’s ‘God’s Good Design’, first released in 2012 and now in its second edition has proven such a valuable resource. …”

– At Equal But Different, Phil and Victoria Colgan review the second edition of ‘God’s Good Design – What the Bible really says about Men and Women’ by Claire Smith.

Complementarianism: A Moment of Reckoning – latest 9Marks Journal

The latest 9Marks Journal focusses on the issue of Complementarianism.

It’s available here.

From this issue: Rosaria Butterfield, How Psalm 113 Changed My Life

“Pastor Ken Smith told us to open our Psalters to Psalm 113A in The Book of Psalms for Singing.

I jumped in with mouth open wide.

But before I realized what was coming out of my mouth, I sang the last lines of the psalm and implicated myself into what I believed then was hateful patriarchy and institutionalized misogyny. …”

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