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Archive for January, 2010

God’s Heart for the Nations

97814335143711God’s Pursuit of a Moabitess and the Geneology of Jesus

All the calamities [in the story of Ruth] seem to be designed to get a Moabitess into the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth is one of the four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy (Matthew 1:5). God pursued her. He turned the world upside down, you might say, to include Ruth in the lineage of his Son.

Surely this is significant for us. Does it not mean that God’s blessings are free and undeserved? Ruth was an idolatrous Moabitess before God pursued her (1:15). She did not merit this pursuit. It was free. That is the way God pursues you and me. “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).

Not only that, but God moved the world in order to include a foreigner in the lineage of the Messiah. Ruth was not a Jew. Is not God showing us that his heart is for the nations—all the nations? The glory of Christ is that he comes from the nations and dies for the nations. His blood was shed for the nations, and the nations’ blood ran in his veins. The Jewish high priest prophesied better than he knew in John 11:51–52 “that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” “You were slain, and by your blood you ran- somed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

The redeeming work of Christ is free and undeserved. It is intended for every ethnic group on the planet. All ethnocentric and racist impulses are crucified in Christ. That too is what the story of Ruth is about.

Excerpt from A Sweet and Bitter Providence (January 2010).

January 18, 2010 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:25 pm | 1 Comment »

Sex, Strategic Righteousness, and Eternal Purposes

9781433514371A Call to Purity

The stars are beautiful overhead, it is midnight, he desires her, she desires him, they are alone, she is under his cloak . . . and he stops it for the sake of righteousness and does not touch her. What a man! What a woman!

And then comes a word of magnificent righteousness and self-control. He [Boaz] says in effect, “According to custom, Ruth, there is another who has prior claim to you, and I won’t be able to proceed until all things are duly settled with him.”

The mood of American life today is, If it feels good, do it, and away with guilt-producing, puritanical principles of chastity and faithfulness. But I say to you who are unmarried, if the stars are shining in their beauty, and your blood is thudding like a hammer, and you are safe in the privacy of your place, stop . . . for the sake of righteousness. Let the morning dawn on your purity.

Perhaps you are there in the seeming seclusion and safety of your apartment or on the road where no one knows you. Perhaps she seems so willing. She may already be in your bed. At that moment, a magnificent act of righteous manhood is possible. Say to her, “Because I love you, and because I love God, and because I have seen the connection between high purity and historic purposes, we will wait.”

I promise you, God will honor that. He will honor it more vastly than you can imagine. God honored the strategic righteousness of Boaz and Ruth with the last chapter of the story. It culminates in the promise of a coming king through Boaz and a Moabite. “Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David,” and David fathered the Messiah, Jesus Christ (4:21–22; Matthew 22:41–46).

Don’t be like the world. Be like Boaz. Be like Ruth. Profound in love. Subtle and perceptive in communication. Powerful in self-control. Committed to strategic righteousness.

Excerpt from A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper.

January 15, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,Sex,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:30 am | (3) Comments »

God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering

9781433511851“It is overwhelming to consider the suffering of those in Haiti today and in the days to come—those suffering painful injury with little care available, those sorrowful over the death of someone they love, those suffering the dismal living conditions of Haiti made even worse by the results of the earthquake,” expresses Nancy Guthrie. “To suggest that Christ is sovereign over this, and can be a source of comfort to the thousands who are hurting in this seems strange to the world. But it is true.”

Guthrie is editor of a new book releasing from Crossway in February, Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering. Included in this compilation are these thoughts from Jonathan Edwards, never more true or more needed than now:
(*Learn more about Nancy Guthrie’s story and ministry here and here).

There is in Christ rest for God’s people, when exercised with afflictions. If a person labour under great bodily weakness, or under some disease that causes frequent and strong pains, such things will tire out so feeble a creature as man. It may to such an one be a comfort and an effectual support to think, that he has a Mediator, who knows by experience what pain is; who by his pain has purchased eternal ease and pleasure for him; and who will make his brief sufferings to work out a far more exceeding delight, to be bestowed when he shall rest from his labours and sorrows.

If a person be brought into great straits as to outward subsistence, and poverty brings abundance of difficulties and extremities; yet it may be a supporting, refreshing consideration to such an one to think, that he has a compassionate Savior, who when upon earth, was so poor that he had nowhere to lay his head, and who became poor to make him rich, and purchased for him durable riches, and will make his poverty work out an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

If God in his providence calls his people to mourn over lost relations, and if he repeats his stroke and takes away one after another of those that were dear to him; it is a supporting, refreshing consideration to think, that Christ has declared that he will be in stead of all relations unto those who trust in him. They are as his mother, and sister, and brother; he has taken them into a very near relation to himself: and in every other afflictive providence, it is a great comfort to a believing soul to think that he has an intercessor with God, that by him he can have access with confidence to the throne of grace, and that in Christ we have so many great and precious promises, that all things shall work together for good, and shall issue in eternal blessedness. God’s people, whenever they are scorched by afflications as by hot sun-beams, may resort to him, who is a shadow of a great rock, and be effectually sheltered, and sweetly refreshed.

Jonathan Edwards: Christ is a Sufficient Remedy from Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering
January 14, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Crossway Staff @ 2:15 pm | 0 Comments »

Ashamed of the Gospel – Trackback Thursday

9781433509292“I am not ashamed of the gospel,” the apostle Paul wrote (Rom. 1:16). Out of deep concern with the seeker-sensitive movement and pragmatism within the church MacArthur writes, “Unfortunately, ‘ashamed of the gospel’ seems more and more apt as a description of some of the most visible and influential churches of our age . . . there is a fire in my bones that constrains me to speak plainly regarding my biblical convictions. I cannot keep silent when so much is at stake.”

In this newly revised and expanded edition of Ashamed of the Gospel, MacArthur traces the line of pragmatic philosophy from the seeker-sensitive movement through the Emergent phenomenon—explaining the danger of the pragmatic approach to church growth and the deep need for commitment to biblical doctrine in church leadership.

A reminder of how Trackback Thursday works: Simply link to the blog post from your blog, leave a comment on Crossway’s Facebook Page, or re-tweet Trackback Thursday on Twitter @Crosswaybooks. Winners are picked on Friday morning.

| Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:51 am | (3) Comments »

Seeing is a Precious Gift—and Bitterness a Powerful Blindness

God at Work in our Bitter Providence

She left her home with her husband to escape famine. Her sons married “unclean outsiders.” Then her husband and both of her sons died. In the book of Ruth, Naomi was no stranger to bitter providence.

Piper says, “Seeing is a precious gift. And bitterness is a powerful blindness. What would Naomi say if she could see only a fraction of the thousands of things God was doing in the bitter providences of her life? For example, what if she knew that God was choosing an “unclean” outsider, a Moabitess—just like he chose Rahab the prostitute (Matthew 1:5; Joshua 2:1) and Tamar who played the prostitute (Matthew 1:3; Genesis 38:15)—as the kind of person he wanted in the bloodline of his Son, so that no one could boast in Jewishness—or any other ethnicity? What if she knew that part of what God was doing was shaping a genealogy for the Messiah that would humble the world?

What if she could see that in Ruth she would gain a man-child, and that this man-child would be the grandfather of the greatest king of Israel, and that this king of Israel would be the ancestor of the King of kings, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe? If she had trusted God that such things were in the offing, she may have said, ‘Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.’ So the chapter ends with Naomi full of sorrow and with the horizon brightening with hope.”

Excerpt from A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper.

January 13, 2010 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 7:19 am | 0 Comments »