"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Monday, November 29, 2010

Athanasius on Sola Scriptura

[The Scriptures] are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.'

...But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for the Righteousness of Christ

Isaac Watts penned a line that I believe summarizes the gospel in one verse: "The best obedience of my hands / Dares not appear before thy throne; But faith can answer thy demands / By pleading what my Lord has done." This Hymn by Isaac Watts is simply headed: "The value of Christ, and his righteousness.

Phil. 3:7-9.

No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of thy Son.

Now, for the love I bear his name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to his cross.

Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake:
O may my soul be found in him,
And of his righteousness partake!

The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before thy throne;
But faith can answer thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Prayer

At the end of Morning Prayer, Rite Two, of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is this prayer which I think is a great opening to a day of ministry:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Death is not your Friend

Over the past 6 months, I have seen a lot of death. I've seen people seem to drift off quietly, like into a deep sleep. I've seen seemly endless chest compressions on someone drifting in and out of consciousness, scared and begging not to die. I've seen a man gag as the last breaths will not come into his lungs.

I've also seen many reactions to death. Seeming acceptance, perhaps hiding a denial. I've seen a raging at the world, God, or the random forces of nature. I've seen cheerful demeanor that accompanies words of celebration.

And in these times, I've heard many words about death. And of all the words I've heard, a certain class always makes me cringe. It is not the despair over death. It is not the anger over death. It is the belittling and minimizing of death. “He looks so peaceful.” or “death can be healing.”

Death is not your friend. Death is never good. Death is not peaceful, but the most violent thing that befalls man. Death is the ultimate curse (Gen 2:17). Death is last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death is what we look forward to ending (Rev 21:4).

When we see tears in the eyes of a mourner, my desire is that we will not belittle the reality of death. We ought not try to say that death is good. (inverse of Rom 14:16) We ought not call what is our curse and enemy good. But we can look forward to the end of death. Good may follow, but will never be death. Mourning and anger are not to be corrected when facing death, but truly expressed and addressed with a hope that is not death, but life.

Death is never good.

Death is not your friend.