The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Christ-centered Christianity, from beginning to end (Part 3 — Jerry Bridges)

THE GOSPEL IS FOR BELIEVERS

Jerry Bridges has a great book on Christ-centered, gospel-centered Christianity entitled The Discipline of Grace. I haven’t completed my list of “top ten Christian books” but this one will probably be on it.

Bridges wrote an article for Modern Reformation magazine called Gospel-Driven Sanctification. Here are a few quotes from the article:

The Bible is far more than a rulebook to follow. It is primarily the message of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, with everything in Scripture before the cross pointing to God’s redemptive work and everything after the cross—including our sanctification—flowing from that work.

My story is not unusual. Evangelicals commonly think today that the gospel is only for unbelievers. Once we’re inside the kingdom’s door, we need the gospel only in order to share it with those who are still outside. Now, as believers, we need to hear the message of discipleship. We need to learn how to live the Christian life and be challenged to go do it. That’s what I believed and practiced in my life and ministry for some time. It is what most Christians seem to believe.

As I see it, the Christian community is largely a performance-based culture today. And the more deeply committed we are to following Jesus, the more deeply ingrained the performance mindset is. We think we earn God’s blessing or forfeit it by how well we live the Christian life.

Paul lived every day by faith in the shed blood and righteousness of Christ. Every day he looked to Christ alone for his acceptance with the Father. He believed, like Peter (see 1 Pet. 2:4-5), that even our best deeds–our spiritual sacrifices–are acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ. Perhaps no one apart from Jesus himself has ever been as committed a disciple both in life and ministry as the Apostle Paul. Yet he did not look to his own performance but to Christ’s “performance” as the sole basis of his acceptance with God.

So I learned that Christians need to hear the gospel all of their lives because it is the gospel that continues to remind us that our day-to-day acceptance with the Father is not based on what we do for God but upon what Christ did for us in his sinless life and sin-bearing death. I began to see that we stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don’t have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom. 8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude.

Yet even when we understand that our acceptance with God is based on Christ’s work, we still naturally tend to drift back into a performance mindset. Consequently, we must continually return to the gospel. To use an expression of the late Jack Miller, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

We must always keep focused on the gospel because it is in the nature of sanctification that as we grow, we see more and more of our sinfulness. Instead of driving us to discouragement, though, this should drive us to the gospel. It is the gospel believed every day that is the only enduring motivation to pursue progressive sanctification even in those times when we don’t seem to see progress. That is why I use the expression “gospel-driven sanctification” and that is why we need to “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

Bridges has much to say about about being dead to sin, definitive (or positional) sanctification vs. progressive sanctification, and motivation for living a holy life when its all about Jesus and not about us.

Read it for yourself: Gospel-Driven Sanctification

Grace and Peace

HT: Extreme Theology

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | Leave a comment

Christ-centered Christianity, from beginning to end (Part 2 — Me-centered or Christ-centered)

Warning: I’m not a big fan of The Purpose Driven Life. I’d rather have a forgiveness-driven life, or a cross-centered life. Warren’s book starts out well: “It’s not about you,” but then is mostly about you.


Chris Rosebrough at Extreme Theology has been contrasting Christ-centered theology with me-centered theology. Rosebrough puts much of the church planting movement, including The Purpose Driven Life, in the category of me-centered theology. He has two great diagrams that illustrate the difference.Diagram #1 shows me-centered theology. The most important thing is “changing lives,” and the Bible becomes a handbook for better living (he doesn’t mention Joel Osteen in this post, but it certainly fits the Your Best Life Now theology as well).extreme1.jpgIf this is the model for Christianity, then sermons are about how to have a better ____________, or be a better _____________. Bible study curricula—for youth or adults—ends up being all about character development or fixing this or that problem in our lives. Worship ends up being all about what we promise to do for Jesus or how much we love him. Jesus himself becomes the #1 example for how we should live our lives. Yes, he may have died on the cross for our sins, but after that, the Christian life is all about us getting our act together.

A more Biblical, Christ-centered model for living the Christian life looks like this:

extreme2.jpg

Christ is at the center, not I. Christ is not only the center of our justification—us being in a right standing with God because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in our place—but he is also at the center of our sanctification, which in this sense is the process of growth that occurs. We are as fully dependent on God for our growth as Christians as we are for that initial salvation from sins.

Christ is not only the author of our faith, he is the perfecter of our faith; the one who brings our faith to completion:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

In this theological system, the center is “Christ crucified for our sins.” The gospel is central, not just for our justification, but for our entire lives. The Bible is now much more than just a how-to manual, but a book with a much broader scope. The Bible is now no longer primarily about how to get our acts together, but the story of God and man’s relationship to God. Preaching becomes a proclamation of Jesus Christ as the one who saves us from beginning to end, rather than “Five steps to a happy marriage.” Worship becomes a proclamation about God and what he has done for us in Christ, rather than songs about how deep inside, we really, really, really love Jesus.

Here is my passion: The gospel, and the “Christian life” as a whole, is all about Christ and what he has done for us, not about what we do for God.

This does not mean that we aren’t to do good works, but more about that some other time.

Grace and Peace

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | 3 Comments

Bad fish, bad Wikipedia

I use Wikipedia quite a bit, mainly for getting public domain images for classroom PowerPoint lectures. I occasionally run across vandalism, such as this:

bad_fish.jpg

That is the entire article on “Fish.” I guess that is what you get when you have a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

Ninety percent of the time, Wikipedia is pretty good, but I look forward to whatever eventually replaces “Wikipedia” as a better, massive online source of information.

Grace and Peace

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Technology | 1 Comment

Christ-centered Christianity, from beginning to end (Part 1)

The Gospel isn’t just for beginners.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:3 NIV)

We enter into this Christian life by God’s grace through faith. But even with this as a foundation, Christians can then fall back on a works-righteousness that tells them that now that they have started by faith, they must now continue on by their own efforts. The gospel becomes something for beginners—for “sinners”—and then we enter a new phase that we call “discipleship.” This, I am convinced from Scriptures, is a false distinction. We start by faith, and then we live the entire “Christian life” by the same kind of faith. It’s not all about Jesus at the beginning, and then all about me from that point on. It is all about Jesus, from the beginning (justification) all the way through the rest of our lives (sanctification).

Keep it centered on Christ!

Grace and Peace

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | 1 Comment

Fish day

Today was fish dissection day in middle school Life Science at BCA. A good time was had by most of my students:

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fish5.jpg

fish6.jpg

Grace and Peace

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Science Education | 1 Comment

Shooting down a spy satellite

An animation of last week’s spy satellite shootdown is available from Analytical Graphics.

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

Mt Etna 2002

This image is Wikipedia’s “Today’s Featured Picture” and is a view of Italy’s Mount Etna from space:

etna.jpg

Here’s the description from Wikipedia:

An October 2002 eruption of Mount Etna, a volcano on the Italian island of Sicily, as seen from the International Space Station. Etna is the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes and one of the most active in the world. This eruption, one of Etna’s most vigorous in years, was triggered by a series of earthquakes. Ashfall was reported as far away as Libya, 600 km (373 mi) to the south.

Grace and Peace

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Geology | 5 Comments

Mars and Valentine’s Day

This item was originally posted in February 2007. It is now part of my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers of The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.

Today is Valentine’s Day, so…

Is Mars the planet of war? After all, Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty and love, while Mars was the god of war.

This Valentine’s day, let us resolve to think better of the red planet! Mars is really a happy, loving place, as indicated by the following images taken from orbit around the planet:

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Venus, on the other hand, is a deadly place, with searing temperatures, crushing atmospheric pressure, and sulfuric acid clouds. Mars really is a peaceful and homey place in comparison, the best planet in the solar system (other than earth) to take your sweetheart on this special day.

Grace and Peace

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Blog Recycling, Fun | 1 Comment

Christ and the wrath of God

Lightning is a picture of God’s wrath. We hear it said, “Don’t do that or God might strike you down with lightning.” Sinners deserve God’s wrath; to be struck with lightning.

Gene Edward Veith has a picture on his Cranach blog that pictures God’s wrath being poured out on Christ on our behalf:

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Christ took the lightning bolt that we deserved and died in our place. And he has risen from the dead, guaranteeing our resurrection as well!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
— 1 Cor 5:21 NIV

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
— Isaiah 53:6 ESV

Grace and Peace

P.S. The statue is Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Why have trees when you can grow them in Sim City?

AP/Yahoo News headline: Nature Giving Way to Virtual Reality

As people spend more time communing with their televisions and computers, the impact is not just on their health, researchers say. Less time spent outdoors means less contact with nature and, eventually, less interest in conservation and parks.

I’ve wondered about this as well. If children are not exposed to nature—if they are not hiking, camping, fishing, exploring, playing in streams—they are less likely to be interested as adults in preservation of wildlife and wild places. Having grown up in Montana, I spent a good amount of time in places like the the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park, and this has contributed greatly to my appreciation of nature as an adult.

What will playing video games develop an appreciation for?

Grace and Peace

P.S. Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4 are the only computer games I own.

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Environment | Leave a comment

Spider crater

spidercrater.jpg

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

A Spider Shaped Crater on Mercury
Explanation: Why does this crater on Mercury look like a spider? When the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft glided by the planet Mercury last month, it was able to image portions of the Sun’s closest planet that had never been seen before. When imaging the center of Mercury’s extremely large Caloris Basin, MESSENGER found a crater, pictured above, with a set of unusual rays emanating out from its center. A crater with such troughs has never been seen before anywhere in our Solar System. What isn’t clear is the relation of the crater to the radial troughs. Perhaps the crater created the radial rays, or perhaps the two features appear only by a chance superposition — the topic is sure to be one of future research. MESSENGER is scheduled to fly past Mercury twice more before firing its thrusters to enter orbit in 2011.

Grace and Peace

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

Or should it be the Weshouldhavecene?

Back in the mid-1980s, the perceived major disruption to the geologic time scale wasn’t climate change, but all-out nuclear war (which still would be, of course, rather disruptive). Geology published a serious and yet somewhat tongue-in-cheek article discussing the effects of nuclear war on stratigraphic nomenclature. Here’s the abstract from Postapocalypse stratigraphy: Some considerations and proposals:

An imminent nuclear apocalypse will be a geologically significant event characterized by widespread extinction and marked by a highly radioactive lower boundary layer. The concept of a fallout-enriched Cenozoic/postapocalypse boundary layer is significant in that such a horizon would constitute an ideal, global isochron that is both readily detectable and correlatable; the only other systemic boundary that appears to be analogous is the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. New terminology consistent with the established stratigraphic nomenclature is herein proposed for the major anticipated postapocalypse geochronologic units.

Their final suggestion for the post-apocalyptic age: the Weshouldhavecene.

Grace and Peace

February 1, 2008 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment

The geologic time scale — What comes next?

Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene. These are the epochs of the Cenozoic Era (which is also divided into three periods: the Paleogene, Neogene, and Quaternary).

Due to rapid changes on Earth caused by humans, some British geologists suggest that we are transitioning into a new epoch, the Anthropocene.

Here’s the story as reported by NASA’s Earth Observatory site:

MAN-MADE CHANGES BRING ABOUT NEW EPOCH IN EARTH’S HISTORY

Geologists from the University of Leicester propose that humankind has so altered the Earth that it has brought about an end to one epoch of Earth’s history and marked the start of a new epoch.

Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams at the University of Leicester and their colleagues on the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London have presented their research in the journal GSA Today.

In it, they suggest humans have so changed the Earth that on the planet the Holocene epoch has ended and we have entered a new epoch – the Anthropocene.

They have identified human impact through phenomena such as:

  • Transformed patterns of sediment erosion and deposition worldwide
  • Major disturbances to the carbon cycle and global temperature
  • Wholesale changes to the world’s plants and animals
  • Ocean acidification

The scientists analysed a proposal made by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen in 2002. He suggested the Earth had left the Holocene and started the Anthropocene era because of the global environmental effects of increased human population and economic development.

The researchers argue that the dominance of humans has so physically changed Earth that there is increasingly less justification for linking pre- and post-industrialized Earth within the same epoch – the Holocene.

The scientists said their findings present the scholarly groundwork for consideration by the International Commission on Stratigraphy for formal adoption of the Anthropocene as the youngest epoch of, and most recent addition to, the Earth’s geological timescale.

They state: “Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change (both elapsed and imminent) for recognition of the Anthropocene – currently a vivid yet informal metaphor of global environmental change – as a new geological epoch to be considered for formalization by international discussion.”

anthropocene.jpgThe original article—Are we now living in the Anthropocene?—is available to the public in the February 2008 issue of GSA Today, a journal of the Geological Society of America.

Geologic Time Scale — pdf file from the Geological Society of America

Thanks to: Geology.com News

Grace and Peace

February 1, 2008 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment