Shai Linne coming to Nashville

Nov 22, 2014 | Ray Ortlund


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A real coronation

Nov 21, 2014 | Ray Ortlund


“When Christ uttered, in the judgment hall of Pilate, the remarkable words – ‘I am a king,’ he pronounced a sentiment fraught with unspeakable dignity and power.  His enemies might deride his pretensions and express their mockery of his claim by presenting him with a crown of thorns, a reed and a purple robe, and nailing him to the cross; but in the eyes of unfallen intelligences, he was a king.  A higher power presided over that derisive ceremony and converted it into a real coronation.  That crown of thorns was indeed the diadem of empire; that purple robe was the badge of royalty; that fragile reed was the symbol of unbounded power; and that cross the throne of dominion which shall never end.”

J. L. Reynolds, quoted in Mark Dever, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible (Nashville, 2012), page 77, footnote 33.

HT:  Matt Smethurst

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This is that mystery

Nov 18, 2014 | Ray Ortlund


“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.  He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”

“Learn Christ and him crucified.  Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say, ‘Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin.  Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine.  Thou hast taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.'”

Martin Luther, quoted in J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, 2008), page 85, footnote 31.

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The most important thing about any church

Nov 13, 2014 | Ray Ortlund


As Immanuel Nashville ramps up for the Paul Tripp marriage seminar this weekend, this was my devotional at the meeting of our elders and deacons last evening:

The most important thing about any church is not their structure, their governance, their systems, their musical style, not even the nuances of their theology within a gospel framework, whether Baptistic or Presbyterian or Anglican.  Those things matter.  But the most important thing about any church is its spirit.

We at Immanuel are poised for a significant surge forward in our impact.  Our Peace in the City campaign could be, in the hand of God, a catalyst for that strong move forward in many people’s lives.  We are praying for that.  We are praying for his grace in more people’s marriages.  We are praying for less misery and more romance, to the praise of the glory of his grace.

As we come to this momentous weekend, every man here has practical tasks to do, to make the Paul Tripp event successful.  Let’s do our best.  But we are aiming for more than a successful event – not less, but more.  We have in our hearts – this is essential to Immanuel – we have in our hearts a certain spirit.  Moses summed it up simply: “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

Moses prayed that wonderful prayer as Israel was poised for new advance too.  God was sending them into the Promised Land, but he said that he would not go with them.  So the people mourned (Exodus 33:1-4).  They would take the Promised Land, but they would not have the Promised One.  Moses couldn’t bear the thought of success without the Lord.  He said to God, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people?  Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).  Any nation, with enough guts and cunning, can capture a land.  Any group today, with enough boldness and smarts, can host a successful event.  And, as I said, we want to do our best this weekend.  But our spirit is to reach for more.  We long for the display of God’s glory among us.  We are Ground Zero for broken people to experience the resurrection life of Jesus.  And that goes way beyond the best that we can do.  It is his glory.  And we love his glory, and we pray for his glory.  And that Godward heart is the most important thing about this church.  God will bless that yearning.  God is able to put his hand on this church in such a way that he broadcasts to the world, “This is mine.  I am in this.  And anyone can come and be made new by my glory here.”  That is when a church becomes a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).

“Please show me your glory” is our greatest prayer.  It is asking the Lord to blow us away with his grace and mercy to the undeserving, so that we worship him and live for him and obey him with joyous new boldness.  And the watching world begins to think, “My life has fallen apart, and I need no one less than God to pick up the pieces.  So that church is where I will go, because God is obviously there.”

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Nov 12, 2014 | Ray Ortlund


“Dr. Malcolm C. Grow, the Eighth Air Force’s chief surgeon, told air intelligence investigators, ‘[These men] are not interested in democracy or freedom; they are interested in their buddies or their team.  The teams are the closest knit things that you have ever seen.’  As Fortress gunner Jack Novey recalled: ‘I can’t explain why we bomber crews, without any gung ho attitude at all, would put our lives on the line mission after mission against the terrible odds of those days. . . . Even when my fears were about to overwhelm me, even when I was physically sick, I kept flying my missions.  I didn’t want to let my crewmates down.  I would rather have been dead.”

Quoted in Donald A. Miller, Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany (New York, 2007), pages 88-89.

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The expansion of the soul

Nov 11, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

Dr. J. I. Packer
“I want to see a focused vision of spiritual maturity — the expansion of the soul is the best phrase I can use for it.  That is, a renewed sense of the momentousness of being alive, the sheer bigness and awesomeness of being a human being alive in God’s world with light, with grace, with wisdom, with responsibility, with biblical truth.”

J. I. Packer, quoted in Christianity Today, 6 April 1998, page 40.

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Trouble soon be over

Nov 09, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

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You have to trample on him to go there

Nov 07, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“The gospel does not say, ‘There is a Savior, if you wish to be saved'; but, ‘Sir, you have no right to go to hell — you cannot go there without trampling on the Son of God.'”

John Duncan, quoted in Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism (Edinburgh, 1995), page 97.

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Knowledge of God

Nov 06, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

“Sound Bible exposition is an imperative ‘must’ in the church of the living God.  Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term.  But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever.  For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth.  The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God.”

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (London, 1967), pages 9-10.

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John Wesley’s rules for Methodist evangelists

Nov 05, 2014 | Ray Ortlund

(c) DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

1.  Be diligent.  Never be unemployed for a moment; never be trifingly employed.  Never while away time; neither spend any more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2.  Be serious.  Let your motto be, Holiness to the Lord.  Avoid all lightness, jesting and foolish talking.

3.  Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women in private.

4.  Take no step towards marriage without first acquainting me with your design.

5.  Believe evil of no one; unless you see it done, take heed how you credit it.  Put the best construction on everything; you know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6.  Speak evil of no one; else your words especially would eat as doth a canker.  Keep your thoughts within your own breast til you come to the person concerned.

7.  Tell every one what you think wrong in him, and that plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your heart.  Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8.  Do not affect the gentleman.  You have no more to do with this character than with that of a dancing-master.  A preacher of the gospel is the servant of all.

9.  Be ashamed of nothing but sin; not of fetching wood (if time permit), or of drawing water; not of cleaning your own shoes, or your neighbor’s.

10.  Be punctual.  Do everything exactly at the time; and, in general, do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath but for conscience’s sake.

11.  You have nothing to do but to save souls.  Therefore spend and be spent in this work.  And go always not to those who want you, but to those who want you most.

12.  Act in all things not according to your own will but as a son in the gospel.  As such, it is your part to employ your time in the manner which we direct, partly in preaching and visiting the flock from house to house; partly in reading, meditation and prayer.  Above all, if you labor with us in the Lord’s vineyard, it is needful that you should do that part of the work which we advise, at those times and places which we judge most for His glory.

Quoted in J. C. Ryle, The Christian Leaders of the Last Century (Moscow, 2002), page 86.

Some of Wesley’s rules will strike us today as meaningful, even obvious.  Others of them will strike us as extreme and regimenting, especially outside an episcopal system of governance.  One consideration that might make his position appear less strident in its demands is this.  For a combat unit going into warfare, the disciplines of military life make sense.  The soldiers know that the success of their mission, and their very lives, depend on every man being at his best.

Men of war accept disciplines that civilians might not even understand.

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