Jesus-Followers Are the “New Internationalists”

Jesus-Followers Are the “New Internationalists”

In yesterday’s nytimes.com columnist Nicholas Kristof applauds Richard Stearns and World Vision for “doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.” World Vision is “the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization.” Kristof, who is no special fan of conservative Christianity, applauds the work and visionary writing of Stearns. Evangelicals, thanks to Stearns and World Vision and groups like it, have become “the new internationalists,” replacing “Democrats and liberals.”

Stearns is the author of the phenomenal The Hole In Our Gospel. Read it to have your world rocked.

Kristof has written a follow-up to his essay, clarifying some things. He has already received (as I write) 223 comments on the original essay.

Here in Monroe we’re part of Godworks, a Soup Kitchen and coming Food Pantry that provides meals every day in our community. Plus in my church we’re doing a lot of things like helping girls get out of sex-trafficking to assisting unwed mothers. So when I hear Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris tell me that religion is intrinsically evil I wonder what planet they are living on. Kristof’s essay does some more debunking of the Dawkins-Harris myth.

Human Dignity

Human Dignity

I like this quote on abortion from Gilbert Meilander’s Neither Beast Nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person (cited in Jewish Review of Books, Numer 1, Spring 2010):

“[E]ven bracketing entirely more general arguments about abortion—the ready acceptance of abortion of “defective” fetuses (or, now, assisted reproduction procedures in which “defective” embryos are selected against) violates the human dignity we share. It sets aside the fundamental bond of parents and children, inserting choice in the place of love and acceptance, and teaching us thereby that we must justify our continued existence, especially when we constitute a burden to others. That is inhumane in the most precise sense, for it drains moral significance from a relationship which deeply marks our human identity and which makes space in life for a love that need not be earned.”

Note Meilander’s reasoning: If we are a burden to others, we must justify our existence. Thus, this kind of “love” is something we must earn. That is precisely not the kind of love Jesus came to demonstrate. The earning of love on the basis of one’s talents, abilities, situatedness, productivity, potential, and beauty is anti-Christ “love,” the kind of thing Jesus came to overcome and defeat. Perhaps such “love” is better understood as hatred; i.e., a revulsion at having to live any part of one’s life with another who is a burden.

Regarding Meilander’s quote, Shalom Carmy of Yeshiva university comments: “The fact that many traditional rabbinic authorities would permit abortion of severely deformed fetuses does not diminish the profundity of this insight. There is a world of difference between the tragic recognition that parents may be unable to bear a burden, on the one hand, and the belief that such a fetus may be deemed unwanted and thus disposable, on the other.”

Meilander’s book has received some very positive reviews.

Auction + Luncheon for New Beginnings Mercy House Tomorrow

Auction + Luncheon for Mercy House Tomorrow

One of the ministries we support is New Beginnings Mercy House, which is headed up by Brenda Pawlicki of Redeemer.

Tomorrow we will have a Quilt & Art Auction + Salad Luncheon in our fellowship hall to raise money for Mercy House.

Sat., Feb. 27, noon – Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen
Monroe, MI
734-242-5277

Redeemer Ministry School Spring Classes

Redeemer Ministry School Spring Classes

If you would like to enroll in one of RMS’s Spring classes here is the information.

We are also receiving applications for our 2010-2011 class. If you want to spend 10 months of intense Kingdom of God study that is both academic and experiential, check our our website for more details.
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REDEEMER MINISTRY SCHOOL SPRING TRIMESTER CLASSES

Kingdom of God III: Historical Study of the Moves of God – Josh Bentley

Description: This course will survey many geographical locations throughout history that have experienced a sustained Move of God. There will be great attention paid to the origins, characteristics, and demises of each move of God.

Class meets: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9:30-11 AM

Apologetics – John Piippo

Description: The word “apologetics” means: to defend one’s faith. In this course students will especially learn to defend: 1) the existence of God; 2) the existence of and person of Jesus Christ, with emphasis on the historical resurrection; 3) the belief that God is all-loving and all-powerful even though there is evil and suffering in the world; and 4) the belief that Jesus is God incarnate, and that historically he rose from the dead.

Class meets: Wednesdays, 9:30 AM – 1 PM

Leadership – Jim Hunter

Description: This course will introduce students to servant leadership principles. Our basic assumption will be: leaders for Christ are themselves led by Christ. Students will not only study leadership principles but will engage in the practice of authentic servant leadership.

Class meets: Thursdays, 5-7 PM

Worship III: Creativity and Worship – Holly Benner & Gary Wilson

Description: Have you ever noticed how many different methods of worship are found in the Bible? Singing, clapping, dancing, building, shouting, kneeling, playing instruments, giving… the list goes on! We are the Body of Christ, and God has fashioned each one of us to give Him a facet of praise that is unique from the person next to us. Creativity and Worship will explore how to find the creativity inside of you and to use that to honor God. Gary Wilson will be teaching a portion of this class. Gary is an elder at RFC and also an art professor at MCCC.

Class meets: Fridays, 9:30 AM – 1 PM

Cost: $240/class. If you want to enroll in a class but cannot afford this please contact the church office – 734-242-5277. 

NOTE: We’re offering Jim Hunter’s Leadership class for $75/student. If you want to take the class but cannot afford the $75 please contact Dr. John Piippo at 734-242-5277.

Classes begin the week of March 23 and run through the first week of June.

Redemption

Redemption

My church family is called “Redeemer.” “Redeemer,” “redeem,” “redemption,” “redemptive” – all wonderful words about the move out of bondage and slavery into freedom. Like the movie  “The Shawshank Redemption.” Yes, Andy and Red finally get free from the prison’s physical constraints. But the movie is really about inner freedom, and release from inner demons that torment and imprison the soul. That’s the beauty of this movie. And that’s the longing of every human heart.

The apostle writes, in 1 Corinthians 1:30: “It is because of him [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” In this stunning statement the claim is that Christ does not merely bring redemption to us, but Christ is our redemption. What can that mean?

Andrew Murray writes that the word “redemption” refers to our “complete and final deliverance” from the consequences of sin. The redemptive being of Christ not only is our soul’s freedom, but our physical body’s freedom as well. To say that Christ is our redemption “points us to the highest glory to be hoped for in the future, and therefore also to the highest blessing to be enjoyed in the present in Christ.” (Murray, ch. 10, Abide in Christ) The redemptive activity of Christ brings full-being freedom to us. Experiencing this reality is available, not only in the future, but now. Redemption… now. Isn’t that the heart-cry of every prisoner?

Redemption Now overcomes, in us, the fear of death. Murray writes: “The believer who abides in Christ as his full redemption, realizes even now his spiritual victory over death… The resurrection of the body is no longer a barren doctrine, but a living expectation, and even an incipient experience, because the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in the body as the pledge that even our mortal bodies shall be quickened (Rom.8:11-23).” (Ib.)

For me this is not mere theory, but experiential reality, flying in the face of the atheistic approach to death as exemplified by, for example, Julian Barnes. I have personally been with many people as they were dying and as they died. I’ve known many who lived their human lives as if they were branches connected to a Vine (AKA Christ). In such people I see hope and expectation that is not of their own creating. It’s Christ in them, the hope of glory. In Christ there is life. Life Now.

The Pauline claim that Christ is our redemption defeats any idea that Jesus’ redemptive work lies only in the past or only awaits us in the future. When we accept the invitation to “abide in Jesus” we know life in a Polanyian way; viz., in an experiential way, like the person who knows how to ride a bike.

At the end of The Shawshank Redemption Andy communicates with Red. Here’s Red reading Andy’s letter.

Andy Dufresne: [in a letter to Red] Dear Red. If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you?

Red: Zihuatanejo.

Andy Dufresne: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.
 
If you’ve read this far. maybe you’d like to come a little further. If you are interested in Jesus, maybe you’d like to know more. If so, then step into Christ. Know Christ. He’s your Redeemer now and tomorrow. I can hear the prison doors opening…

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Brandon Robinson adds some thoughts on Murray, ch. 10:
Ch. 10 – Jesus as Redemption
To abide, is to know glory

In redemption, I am reborn as God’s child. The identity I constructed for myself out of rebellion to God’s word is defeated and forgotten. Gone, returned to dust, is the estranged me that struggled to attain anything that resembled a crown. And accomplished by the grace of sacrifice the new child of the King surrenders the crown that is his at the foot of the throne of the Godhead.

Experiencing the Full Measure of Jesus’ Joy

Experiencing the Full Measure of Jesus’ Joy

(A hummingbird, at “the cove” in La Jolla.)

Jesus, in John 17:13, prays “[Father] I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they [Jesus’ disciples] may have the full measure of my joy within them.” What does Jesus mean by “the full measure of my joy?”

The source of Jesus’ joy comes from his obedience to the will of the Father. The joy of Jesus lies in dwelling in the Trinitarian perichoretic union (what I am referring to as “The Big Dance”). In this union the Father, Son, and Spirit are in a loving, joy-filled unity about plans and values. Out of this unity flows, inexorably, “obedience.” When you love the Mission the living out of the Mission is a no-brainer. It’s not true that from obedience comes love. It is always true that from love comes obedience.

For example, let’s say you love Breyer’s ice cream. Which, BTW, you probably do. Along comes me, and I issue this command to you: “I command you to eat Breyer’s ice cream.” You say, “OK.” And it is your great joy to do this. Because from love flows joyful obedience. To accomplish the command, even to envisage the accomplishing of the command, brings joy.

Jesus once gave this conditional statement: “If you love me, you wilol keep my commands.” As an analogy to explain, consider this conditional statement: If it rains, the ground gets wet. But of course. Always. Necessarily. In the same way if you love Jesus, you will keep his commands. Of course.

Jesus loves the Father in a unitive way; therefore Jesus keeps the commands of the Father. Because he and the Father are “one.” They are of one heart and one mind. With this in mind New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger writes: “Jesus holds up his desire for his followers that they experience ‘the full measure of my joy,’ which is predicated upon remaining in the Father’s love and continued obedience to Jesus.” (Kostenberger, The Gospel of John, 495)

What this means for you and I is that we are promised the full joy of Jesus as we lovingly abide in him. To be where Jesus is, to follow after Jesus, to do the things Jesus does and even greater things than he did on earth – that’s when the joy-thing happens. And nothing can steal this joy from us. Not even suffering. The reality of the joy of the Lord is not a function of one’s life circumstances. This joy can be known in the midst of the world’s hostility. Remember that Paul writes the most about “joy” when he is in prison. For Paul there was nothing that could separate him from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)

Or, consider Jesus. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) “Joy” and “enduring the shameful cross” seem to be mutually exclusive things. Yet the claim is that they are not. The ups-and-downs of life do not serve to allow or disallow the experience of joy. “Joy” comes from the Jesus-connection, like a branch connected to a vine. Jesus has joy as he faces the suffering that is to come because his joy is not about the elimination of pain but doing the will of the Father.

My greatest joy-filled moments increasingly have to do with participating in the redemptive activity of Jesus. The “commands” of Jesus are life-giving. I have found that the cost of discipleship is far less than the cost of non-discpleship.

Is It Reasonable To Believe In Life After Death?

Is It Reasonable To Believe In Life After Death?

I just finished Dinesh D’Souza’s Life After Death: The Evidence. D-Souza is an excellent scholar, and an extremely clear and coherent writer. Of this book USC philosopher Dallas Willard writes: “An indispensable, electrifying book. Writing clearly, forcefully, and fairly, D’Souza covers an amazing range of arguments. I know of no better way to understand the issue of life after death than to get this book and just follow the argument.” (Back cover of the book jacket)

D’Souza gives eight reasons for the reasonability of belief in life after death.

#1 – “Near-death experiences show that clinical death may not be the end; there may be “something more.”” (220) NDEs don’t say what life after death may be like. But they do imply the possibility of life after death.

#2 – “Modern physics shows the existence of matter that is radically different in its attributes from any matter that we are familiar with.” (220) Therefore, “there is nothing in physics to contradict the idea that we can live beyond death in other realms with bodies that are unlike the bodies we now possess.” (Ib.)

#3 – “Modern biology shows an evolutionary transition from matter to mind that does not seem random or accidental but rather built into the script of nature.” (Ib.) As nature progresses from the material to the immaterial, so might we. “Minds” are not subject to the limitations of matter.

#4 – “Neuroscience reveals that the mind cannot be reduced to the brain.” (Ib.) D’Souza shows that reductive materialism is a dead end. In support of this one would do well to read J.P. Moreland’s brilliant and philosophically dense Consciousness And the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument. Personally, I find such argumentation very persuasive and, by abduction, find scientific materialism improbable.

#5 – “Modern philosophy makes a central distinction between experience and reality.” (Ib.) D’Souza employs Kant’s transcendental idealism to establish the existence of noumenal reality (i.e., another world beyond phenomenal/physical reality).

#6 – “Morality is best understood under the presupposition that there is cosmic justice in a world beyond this world.” (Ib., 221)

#7 – “Practical reason helps us to see that a belief in immortality is good for our society and good for our lives.” (Ib.) Of course this doesn’t, by itself, imply that there is life after death.

#8 – Someone, in history, has actually died and come back to life. That “someone” is Jesus of Nazareth. D’Souza devotes his final chapter to argue for this. D’Souza presents four historical facts that “have to be accounted for.” (223) They are:

1) Jesus was tried by his enemies, convicted, and crucified to death.

2) Shortly after he was buried, Jesus’ tomb was found empty.

3) Many of his disciples, to include a few skeptics, claimed to see Jesus alive in the flesh, and interacted with him following his death.

4) These disciples, inspired by belief in Jesus’ bodily resurrection, began a movement that proclaimed this event in spite of being persecuted and even martyred for what they believed.

What best accounts for these four historical facts? D’Souza cites N.T. Wright here, whose massive The Resurrection of the Son of God reasons that the best explanatory hypothesis for these four facts is that Jesus was resurrected from death. D’Souza writes: “the resurrection is believable because it makes sense of all the other facts listed above.” (223)

D’Souza’s book examines each of these eight points in depth, and carefully looks at the major objections to each one.

For every person interested in the question of life after death (which should include everyone), D’Souza’s book is a must-read.

Religion Is Not Essentially Evil

Religion Is Not Essentially Evil

(Thank you Gary Larson – one of the most creative cartoonists ever…)

Dinesh D’Souza is such a solid thinker and excellent writer. When he takes on the New Atheists he makes them look like simpletons (which, philosophically, Dawkins and Hitchens are, but not of course Dennett). Yet Dennett appears the simpleton when he makes a statement like “the belief in a reward in heaven can sometimes motivate acts of monstrous evil.” (In D’Souza, Life After Death, 196)

Maybe, but if so only for a very few. If there are a few who do monstrous acts of evil for the sake of gaining a reward in heaven, this does not logically impliy that all of religion is intrinsically evil. D’Souza pointed this out in What’s So Great About Christianity, and makes the point again in Life After Death. D’Souza scores points against this facile atheistic claim in the following ways.

  • Studies have shown that even radical Muslims don’t launch suicide attacks in quest of heaven. Typically they are driven by more mundane motives. For example, “they are corrupting our culture,” or “they stole our land.”
  • “The vast majority of people in the world believe in life after death, and yet hardly any of them launch suicide strikes in the hope of hastening their journey to heavenly bliss.” (Life After Death, 187) Indeed. I believe in life after death, but confess to have never even entertained the thought of becoming a suicide bomber, though I have had some anger issues.
  • “So the atheist attempt to indict all religion for the crimes of the radical Muslims fails.” (Ib.)
  • “In the last hundred years [atheist] regimes, led by people like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong -Il, and others, have murdered more than  100 million people.” (Ib., 189)
  • Dawkins protests against this kind of reasoning, seeking to minimize the crimes of atheist regimes by arguing that “individual atheists may do evil things but they don’t do evil things in the name of atheism.” (Quoted in Ib.) D’Souza responds by accusing Dawkins of historical ignorance. For example, “atheism is not incidental to the Communist scheme; it is absolutely central. The whole idea is to create a new man and a new utopia free of the shackles of traditional religion and traditional morality.” (Ib.)

Finally, D’Souza goes on to show  not only that religion is not toxic and bad for society, it is good for society. He supports this with points like these.

  • The great artistic achievements of the West are fueled by the sense of the transcendent. This sense “animates, even if implicitly, our sense of the good, the true, and the beautiful.” (Ib., 189)
  • “Several of the greatest ideas and institutions of Western civilization were shaped by a similar vision of transcendence.” (Ib., 190) For example, the cofre idea of Western liberalism, the idea of the separation between state and society, finds its roots not in ancient Greek culture, but in Augustine’s City of God. D’Souza spends several pages in this. D’Souza is especially qualified to speak on this issue.
  • The ideas of human dignity and human rights not only find their roots in a religion such as Christian theism, but are better explained on Christian theism than on atheism. For example, the first organized campaigns against slavery in America, early in the 18th century, were led by Quakers and evangelical Christians who were motivated by a biblical teaching: viz., “the simple idea that we are all equal i the eyes of God.” (Ib., 198) As before, D’Souza spends many pages establishing this point.

For anyone captivated by the current atheistic pop-idea that religion is essentially evil and non-beneficial to society, D’Souza’s analysis reveals that idea’s simple-mindedness. As New Atheist Christopher Hitchens says on the back of the book jacket: “Never one to be daunted by attempting the impossible, Dinesh D’Souza here shows again the argumentative skills that make him such a formidable opponent.”

Covenant-Welded Marriage vs. Cohabiting

Covenant-Welded Marriage vs. Cohabiting

(I bought these roses for Linda on Valentine’s Day.)

I was meeting with someone this week who cohabits with someone of the opposite sex. They live in the same apartment, have sex together, and act like they are married. But they are not married, by their own admission. This person asked me, “What is marriage, anyway?” By the look on their face I could tell they really wanted to know. Here are some things I told them, plus a few other points I’d like to make.

  • Marriage is covenant; co-habiting is not. At least not from God’s POV. Which is important to all of us who follow after Jesus. Co-habiting outside of covenant is not a Jesus-thing.
  • Marriage, Jesus-style, is a covenant-welding-together of a man and a woman. When Jesus says “What God has brought together, let no man tear asunder,” the biblical Greek word for “brought together” is: “welding.”
  • Marriage, which is the total God-designed thing from beginning to end, is a holy thing, in God’s eyes. The sexual intercourse act is holy. “Holy” means “set apart.” Sexual intercourse is to be set apart for God-welded marriage covenant relationship.
  • When I married Linda 36 1/2 years ago (!!!), we stood together in front of our parents, our families, and our closest friends. And, we stood before God. We life-committed to one another. God sealed our marital union. We spoke vows to one another. We have held to our vows. All of this fits in with Jesus’ idea about “What God has welded together…” Real marriage is a God-welding. Don’t mess with it, or try to tear it apart.
  • I meet co-habiters who are afraid of commitment. In general, out of my experience, a lot of co-habiting is done precisely out of fear. If the co-habiting shack-uppers claim to be “Christians,” they will often try to justify their co-habiting with an exhibition of outrageous hermeneutical tricks re. the biblical text. I have personally heard some of these arguments, which cause my jaw to drop in wonder and utter, “Are you serious?”
  • The fearful mistrust of the co-habiter is rooted in some deep stuff. Perhaps their parents split. So, the main model of marital union failed before their eyes. This kind of thing can build a deep mistrust.
  • I’ve met some co-habiters who are, I think, caught up in the current snowball effect of rampant cohabitation. Seeing so many who shack up together for a season justifies their own psyche. If “everyone” is doing it, I don’t feel so bad about it.
  • I have known a number of male co-habiters who just want to have free sex without lifelong covenant commitment. As soon as “problems” start, they are out of there. If kids are produced this is an especially sad situation.
  • Some people are just so flat-out desperate for love that they’ll live with anyone who will have sex with them and tell them “I love you.” 
  • I have to add that I’ve also seen a lot of marriages fail. They should not have. All divorce is failure. Again, if children are involved, this is so sad. But the co-habiter will be illogical should she then reason: 1) A lot of marriages fail. 2) Therefore, God doesn’t mind if I live with someone extra-covenantally if we stay together longer than some marriages. I don’t think so. The failure of a number of “Christian” marriages is precisely because one or both partners fail to follow Christ. This unfortunate situation does not change God’s mind about covenant marriage.

The National Institute of Child Health and Development reports:

“Cohabitation, once rare, is now the norm: The researchers found that more than half (54 percent) of all first marriages between 1990 and 1994 began with unmarried cohabitation. They estimate that a majority of young men and women of marriageable age today will spend some time in a cohabiting relationship. … Cohabiting relationships are less stable than marriages and that instabililty is increasing, the study found.”

I am not surprised by this. I’ve met a lot of people who have been married for decades. I rarely meet a co-habiting couple that stays together that long. But from the Jesus POV, for all of us who love Jesus and follow after him on his Kingdom mission, statistics do not ultimately matter. For us, even if 99.999% of the world cohabited, our question remains: “God, what have you designed for us?” The answer remains, as it always has: Covenant-welded marriage. I think there is something noble and heroic about life-commiting before God and family and friends, and then staying together and growing together through better times and worse times. Increasingly, I view such couples as radical, revolutionary, as heroes.

Some Upside-Down Kingdom Stuff on Holiness

Some Upside-Down Kingdom Stuff on Holiness

Here’s some beautiful upside-down Kingdom stuff from Paul, the apostle, with some comments added. From 1 Corinthians 1.

V. 26 – Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

Any student of the history of the Jesus-movement knows that it’s usually the unknown, obscure person that God uses to make a needed Kingdom-point. The rich and famous, the mega-people, may make some brief historical splash, the ripplings of their impact quickly fading. Instead, “Peter”-like figures are mostly what we see. It is instructive to remember that Peter was a mere fisherman whose fishing accomplishments, on their own, were not worth remembering. Peter was: 1) not influential; 2) not of noble birth; and 3) not a rocket scientist. In this regard think of yourself, and be glad.

V. 27 – But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

That’s you, O foolish world-thing. Me too, of course. Here the “wise” and the “strong” especially refer to the “proud.” The “autonomous.” Historically, for the most part, the proud and autonomous people come crashing down. This is but another famous ‘upside-down” move of God. Almighty God is looking for human fools who at least know that they rank among the foolish, so as to be mostly free of pride. Humility is the foundational human virtue when it comes to usability by God.

As Paul continues: He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (vv. 28-29)

V. 30 – It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

If you are a real follower of Jesus, then you are “in Him.” Stop before this truth – no trash-talking allowed. You had nothing, in yourself you got nothing, in Christ He becomes your everything. This includes your “holiness.” AKA your “sanctification”; i.e., your set-apartness for God’s purposes. Get this? Christ is your holiness. What does this mean?

Andrew Murray, in Abide in Christ (ch. 9), says that as we abide in Christ and Christ the hope of glory is in us, the set-apartness (holiness) that is His becomes our’s. That is precisely why Paul concludes: V. 31 – Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Jesus, who Himself was purely consecrated to carry on the mission of the Father, sets us apart and the Spirit empowers us to do the same. The key to the entire “life in Christ” thing is, again: not to strive and “work harder” at it, but to live your life in Him, attached to Jesus as a branch is attached to a vine.

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Here are some of Brandon Robinson’s thoughts on Murray’s Ch. 9

To abide is, an excellent embrace

In describing sanctification, Jesus’ provision of humanity’s holiness, Ander Murray says, “to have fellowship is to have something in common.” Moving from there, to fellowship with God at all, the very nature must be in common. This is the tragedy of the Old Testament. The people’s worship of God could only constantly pass through the blood of sacrifice, for the sake of His holiness. The people’s knowledge of God was restricted to knowing about Him – the stories, the songs, the traditions, God’s Holy nature, and His distance from their corrupt nature. The thought of actually knowing God, in a present, experiential way, could not have been associated with peace or excitement. Holiness is terrible to sinners.

Moving from here, to fellowship with God is the desire of His love. The holy God who is set apart exists in the love-fellowship of the 3-in-1 tri-unity. And humanity was created in an expression of this unity. Given the quandary of the sinful nature, that by holiness sin is excluded but by love the sinner is remembered, sanctification emerges as God’s delight in the multitude of created personalities. Sanctification is God’s testimony that because of His love, the specific qualities that comprise unique individuals are important. Holiness could have used broad destruction, eliminated sin and the sinner, and purified creation. Love sought a more excellent way, to both exemplify holiness and embrace the beloved.