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For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Since we are united to Christ, God regards us in the identical way he does Christ. The Father treats us exactly the same way as he does his own eternal and beloved Son.
-Robert Letham, Union with Christ: In Scripture, History, and Theology, p. 53.
That is what it means to be hidden in Christ! The Father sees Christ instead of me. Thus, He relates to me as He relates to Christ for He sees the beloved Son in my place.
Oh to have this truth capture my mind!
When I feel anxious about desires unmet. When I feel distant from the Lord. When I feel that I miss out because of my striving to please the Lord. When I fail to please the Lord. When I feel the pull to give into sin. When I have no desire to do the things God wants me to do. When I feel unloved. And in pretty much ever other circumstance and thought this truth needs to be the determiner of how I understand and live in this world.
A very good perspective from Ray Ortlund for me as a young single man to keep in front of me…
The longer I live, the more I care about fewer things, and it’s good. Here are those fewer things:
1. God is patient. “. . . the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience” (Romans 2:4). Where would I be now, if God were not patient with me?
2. My wife is my most precious earthly treasure. “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4). And how I delight in my family!
3. Everything man-made will fail. But it’s okay. Everything God-made will last. “God’s firm foundation stands” (2 Timothy 2:19).
4. Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). When the gospel gets through, our relationships becomebeautiful.
5. I will die in just a few years. What matters now is lifting up a bold new generation for Christ. “I endure everything for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10).
6. God visits weakness with power, suffering with blessing, setbacks with progress. “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
7. The Bible is my oxygen. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). How could I live a single day in this world of illusion without God’s inerrant Word?
8. The grace of God is the endless resource for everything I face. “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).
9. The highest truth is God’s mercy for the undeserving. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It’s all I want to talk about.
10. Whatever else I lose, I must keep my own walk with the Lord. “But for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).
My pastor of preaching, Ryan Fullerton, recently went through the topic of singleness in his Sunday morning preaching. We as a church have been going through 1 Corinthians on Sunday mornings. Recently Ryan went through 1 Corinthians 7. Because of the number of single people in our church Ryan took the time to do a mini-series on God’s vision for singles.
I have heard and read a lot of things on singleness. Some of it was good and some of it was bad. It seems like every generation of the church has to figure out what to do with the singles. There is either the tendency to drift to longing for singles to stay single and do kingdom works or, in the generation I am in, to push them toward marriage. Things are “spiritually” romanticized to where the perfect match is suppose to fall into your lap or their is so much push that the idea is communicated that one can drive any relationship to a marriage with enough initiation. People run to courtship for the answer. Others run to dating. Suffice to say that there is a lot of rocking on this ship.
Ryan, however, did a superb job digging into the text and construction a biblical vision of singleness. On a ship that is being tossed to a fro much balance was given in these messages. I would commend theses messages to you. If you take time to listen to them you will not be disappointed.
Worldliness is whatever any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness to be strange. When we imbibe the Zeitgist (the spirit of the age) of worldliness, then we feel strange trying to think Christianly and act according to the Bible’s mandates. That is, when we think the world’s thoughts after it and do not think God’s thought after him, we will not be motivated to do the things that God wants us to do, but we will only feel comfortable acting in a manner that fits into the world’s way of doing things…
…this is why regular attendance at church is so important. At church we worship by hearing God’s Word, praising God, praying, partaking of the Lord’s and fellowshipping, all of which encourages believers and convinces them that they indeed are the ones who are normal and that the world is strange before God’s eyes.
-G. K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, p. 300
Wednesday morning of Together for the Gospel, we were encouraged to rely on the transforming power of the gospel by Thabiti Anyabwile. Thabiti laid out, during his message, nine marks by which we can ask if we are confident in the power of the gospel. What follows is what I was able to write down in my notes.
- We would position ourselves to be around the worst of sinners so that gospel proclaiming opportunities would arise
- Because the power of the gospel resides in the God who saves sinners there is no class of “more savible” than others. The gospel can penetrate the most lifeless person we can imagine.
- We should share the gospel slowly and clearly.
- We are not about quick tricks to get people to say a prayer. We are simply called to release the gospel and then trust it will have its effect.
- We would redirect our fears from man to God.
- God is sovereign, not man. God is the one who reigns, not man. He is the one we should aim to please, not man.
- We would endeavor to proclaim the gospel every Sunday.
- The gospel should be made clear in every service on Sunday so that both unbelievers and believers may look upon Christ. God has only one story that is told through the bible—the gospel.
- We would be careful with new converts and evangelism by not making a conversions like Paul’s standard.
- Our trust is not in methods or means but in the gospel.
- Study the gospel in deep ways.
- Preach to open eyes not just to impart information.
- Ask,”Is my confidence in myself or in the gospel?”
- We want people to look to the message and not the messenger (1 Cor. 2:5).
In this is love,
not that we have loved God
but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another,
God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
(1 John 4:10-12 ESV)
A worth while discussion about masculinity in the church has come up recently. What is helpful is that the discussion is among two complementarians who are working through how to be the most faithful they can in this setting to what the scripture says on this topic.
Michael Horton wrote and article entitled Muscular Christianity where he set out to critic a perceived problem of hyper masculinity being encouraged by some segments in the church.
To counter, Doug Wilson penned a response to Horton’s article where he pushed back by saying there is biblical reason for gender roles not specifically mentioned in Scripture.
I would encourage you to read each article.
There is the tension where, on the one hand, I would agree with Wilson that there is a perception of masculinity which we as Christian men are to communicate in normal things like speech, attire, etc, where we are distinguished from females. These things are culturally determined as Wilson points out. But, because all communication is culturally defined we must abide by it to communicate the glorious truth of gender distinctions. Thus, through the bible God sets the standard of masculinity, then we use culturally appropriate ways of communicating that biblical picture. For scriptural backing of this you can read Denny Burk’s post on 1 Corinthians 11 and read Wilson’s post to get the full articulation of this point.
On the other hand Horton raises a very important point where a perilous switch occurs. Cultural perceptions of masculinity become the standard and the bible is made to fit that perception. We are to start defining manhood by going to the bible and reading about how God defines men. Then we work through that meaning as it is communicated to others. But the problem occurs when we center manhood on a cultural icon of manhood—a “hunter” icon if you will. The man who has a 3 inch thick bread, who carries his weapon into the wilderness of the forest, and then slays his prey of deer or boar. If this is the pinnacle of manhood what does a man do if his wilderness is a cubicle where he settles insurance claims for customers? When the church features its annual men’s event in a hunter’s theme it can communicate to the man in the cubicle that he can come hang out with the real men. This is the issue I believe Horton is criticing. I believe he is right in signaling this out. The shift is subtle and so happens easily with many perceptions of manhood.