Easter Extravagance – Some of all that Jesus did for me!

27 03 2010

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

This is a useful book of short devotional chapters by John Piper ideally suited to be read daily and appropriately relevant around the Easter season.  You can get a free PDF of the book at http://www.desiringgod.org/store/topicindex/90/660_fifty_reasons_why_jesus_came_to_die/ or you can access a free audio book at http://christianaudio.com/product_info.php?products_id=952

Have a blessed Easter.

Chapter headings:

1. To Absorb the Wrath of God

2. To Please His Heavenly Father

3. To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected

4. To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead

5. To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners

6. To Show His Own Love for Us

7. To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us

8. To Become a Ransom for Many

9. For the Forgiveness of Our Sins

10. To Provide the Basis for Our Justification

11. To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness

12. To Take Away Our Condemnation

13. To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis of Salvation

14. To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful

15. To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect

16. To Give Us a Clear Conscience

17. To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us

18. To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness

19. To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him

20. To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age

21. To Reconcile Us to God

22. To Bring Us to God

23. So That We Might Belong to Him

24. To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place

25. To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God

26. To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest

27. To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful High Priest

28. To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry

29. To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin

30. That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness

31. So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit for God

32. To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves

33. To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting

34. To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him

35. To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning

36. To Create a People Passionate for Good Works

37. To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love

38. To Create a Band of Crucified Followers

39. To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death

40. So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death

41. To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead

42. To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities

43. To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel

44. To Destroy the Hostility Between Races

45. To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation

46. To Gather All His Sheep from Around the World

47. To Rescue Us from Final Judgement

48. To Gain His Joy and Ours

49. So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honour

50. To Show Us That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good

The Trellis and the Vine – Lessons in Christian Ministry Revisited

27 03 2010

Almost finished this great book. Here are some other lessons to keep in mind in the face of Christian ministry.

Keeping the Big Picture in Focus

a. Remember what God is doing in the world.

Keep this overall perspective in mind in all of life and ministry.

“It’s the story of what God is really doing on plant earth. It begins with his plan to create all things by and for his Son, and it culminates in new heavens and a new earth, populated by a newly resurrected people of God who are united to Jesus Christ.” (p. 31)

b. Remember what God is doing in the world now.

“This is what God is doing now in the world: Spirit-backed gospel preaching leading to the salvation of souls.  It’s his program, his agenda, his priority, his focus, his project, or whatever other business-related metaphor you’d like to use.  And by it, he is gathering a new Christ-centred people as his very own; a quiet steadily growing profusion of leaves on the great vine of his kingdom.” (p. 35)

I wish they had said ‘fruit’ instead of ‘leaves, but Amen to that…

c. Remember God works through his Word by his Spirit

“The apostolic task is to preach; to bear witness; to proclaim the word; and to do so under the power and enabling of God’s Spirit.  The apostles affirm this priority in Acts 6 when they indicate how determined they are to keep devoting themselves “to prayer and the ministry of the word”.

“But it’s interesting how little the New Testament talks about church growth, and how often it talks about ‘gospel growth’ or the increase of the ‘word’. The focus is on the progress of the Spirit backed word of God as it makes its way in the world, according to God’s plan…  But the emphasis is not on growth of the congregation as a structure – in numbers, finances and success – but on the growth of the gospel, as it is spoken and re-spoken under the power of the Spirit.” (p. 37)

This is a helpful reminder…

From these observations Marshall and Payne draw three implications:

1. Is there anything more vital to be doing in our world?

2. The only growth that has any significance in God’s plans is the growth of believers.

3. Growth happens only through the power of God’s Spirit as he applies his word to people’s hearts.

“…what happens is the same [in every context]: a Christian brings a truth from God’s word to someone else, praying that God would make that word bear fruit through the inward working of his Spirit.” (p. 39)

Let us keep the focus on such ‘vinework’.  Everything else is trellis.