F.M. Sciutto III

By His Free Grace Alone, To Be Treasured Alone, & For His Glory Alone

Posts Tagged ‘church

“He is coming for His bride, washed and cleansed by the Word, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish”

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From Rollin Grams of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:

In 2 Th. 1:11-12, we find the prayer of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy for believers living between Christ’s first and second advent: that God would work powerfully in their lives so that he might (1) count them worthy of his calling and (2) bring to completion their every good purpose and work of faith (vs. 11):

Note, first, that God’s calling is all about what we are called to be: worthy. God chose us to be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Second, faith is more than belief: it produces its own work. Faith works itself out in love (Gal. 5:6).

Third, this is God’s work in us. Given the task of working out our salvation in fear and trembling, we discover God at work in us to will and to do his good purpose (Phil. 2:12- 13). The marks of being God’s chosen people are belief in the truth and sanctification by the Spirit (2 Th. 2:13).

When Jesus returns, he is not coming simply for an elect people with faith in him (cf. Mt. 25:14ff). He is coming for his bride, washed and cleansed by the Word, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:26-27). The gospel is to be obeyed (2 Th. 1:8) so that the name of our Lord Jesus might be glorified in us (vs. 10, 12).

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“Boasting Only in the Cross”

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A great man in my life has recently moved him and his family across the country to plant a church. He and his family have many difficulties ahead of them with hoping their house sells, working full-time, and planting a church. However, what is most inspiring and encouraging is his Gospel-saturated view on everything. He is fully aware of the goodness of God and His unfailing mercy towards him. With difficult trials ahead of them, his boast is only in Christ crucified!

With seemingly insurmountable difficulties, he sees that God will work good for those who trust in Him and will make much of Christ even in the midst of suffering .

John Piper explains well how every good and bad thing shows God’s ultimate goodness, and without it, we would have nothing but condemnation:

For redeemed sinners, every good thing -indeed every bad thing that God turns for good – was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore, everything that you enjoy in Christ – everything you boast in, everything you exult in – is owing to the death of Christ. And all your exultation in other things is to be an exultation in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of Christ’s life.

Christ died for our sins on the cross and took away the wrath of God from us and secured for us, even though we don’t deserve it, God’s omnipotent grace that works everything together for our good (“Boasting Only in the Cross“, 20 May 2000).

My prayer is that they (and myself) continue to magnify the cross of Christ and that “His death becomes your death and His life becomes your life.” Only by faith in what Christ has done for us can we be crucified to the desires of the world and the desires of the world be crucified to us.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Written by sciuttfm

November 14, 2010 at 4:17 PM

A few thoughts on the new creation

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Whoever may be reading this, please know that I have not abandoned this. I have been busy with school and what not. I hope to have more time soon, so I can continue to write.

Recently, I have finished reading through Galatians while simultaneously reading through John Piper’s sermons on Paul’s respective letter. In the final sermon in his 1983 series, Piper presents a challenge for Christians by showing that Paul’s desire for God’s children was not to give them truths to believe but to show them that they are new creations, have died to the world and the world to them, and are now called to live in the freedom of the cross:

The history of the Christian Church is marred by groups who have ripped the heart out of faith by making it a dry, formal intellectual assent to certain truths. Paul prevents us from doing that by the way he ends his letter. The mindset of the new creation does not just agree that Christ died for sinners; it glories in the cross. It boasts in the wonder of the cross. It cherishes the benefits of the cross. The cross is the pride and joy of the new creation (“Only a New Creation Counts“, 28 August 1983, emphasis mine).

My prayer is that we will have the joy that flows from Christ crucified so that our boast may only be in Him.

I will conclude with an urgent plea from ending of that sermon (emphasis mine):

None of us will be saved because we are perfect or because anything we do earns God’s approval. The peace of God and the mercy of God are free gifts purchased on Calvary for all who walk by this rule—the rule of Christ- exaltation, not self-exaltation. Right standing with God is not merited by works. It is given freely to those who glory in the work of Christ on the cross. Therefore, I urge you to come to the cross. And if you are there, I urge you to glory in the cross. Christ crucified is the basis of all our prayers, the assurance of all God’s love, the certainty of full forgiveness, the ground of all our hope, and the fountain of midnight peace and morning mercies for ever and ever. Amen.

Written by sciuttfm

November 2, 2010 at 4:18 AM

To burn or not to burn?

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Normally, I refrain from voicing my opinion on current events, especially of the political kind, but I couldn’t remain mute on this because of things I have watched of late.

Now, if you haven’t heard of the controversy surrounding Florida pastor, Terry Jones, and his church’s (as of now, “suspended”) plan to burn Qur’ans on the anniversary of 9/11, then the only possible place you must be living is under a rock somewhere in the Adirondacks.

His desire is to “send a message to Islam and the pushers of Shariah law: that it is not what we want.” Last year, his church even posted a sign that stated “Islam is of the Devil” outside. Jones states that, as an American protected under the First Amendment, he has the right to burn Qur’ans because “it’s full of lies” (The New York Times).

He has been opposed from Islamic leaders around the world, President Obama, military generals, Sarah Palin, Angelina Jolie, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham), and other Christian organizations. Jones has said he has even received death threats from people. He has, however, mustered a small amount of support from across the nation.

With good reason, many are afraid of a terrorist retaliation, increased violence towards our troops, and, as Kevin DeYoung pointed out, increased danger for missionaries in Muslim countries as well. As of now, Jones has been swayed to hold off on the Qur’an burning due to an apparent promise to move the Islamic center in New York City.

Now, my purpose is not to explain why I do not believe that the Qur’an is the inspired Word of God and does not provide for man the way to eternity with Him (John 6:47, 10:28, 17:3; Titus 1:2, 3:7; Hebrews 5:9; 1 John 2:25, 5:11). Basically, it’s because of Jesus in His removing the wrath that I deserved for my sin and exchanging that for righteous standing before God, which is possible because of His sinless life on earth, His substitutionary death on the cross, His resurrection from death to life, and His ascension to Heaven.

As Christians, however, we do not need to rid the world of books, movies, or music that contain world views with which we disagree and think are filled with lies. We need to store God’s Word in our hearts, love as Christ loved, and proclaim His Word to the nations. We have no reason to fear those who are opposed to us, as we have the Truth, and it is the only solid ground on which we can stand.

Although we disbelieve the claims of Islam, we are still called to love Muslims, and through treasuring Christ above all earthly pleasure and comfort, we can be ministers of reconciliation to the Muslims in our own communities. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all we need to be ministers of reconciliation.

Instead of wasting precious time by giving Muslims a reason to feel malice towards us and hindering the work of God’s Gospel, let us pick up our Bibles, learn how Jesus loved those who hated and mocked Him, and love our Muslim neighbors by treating them with compassion and desiring their redemption, which can only come from the blood-bought sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

(Photo credit.)

Written by sciuttfm

September 10, 2010 at 1:53 AM

Missional Living

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Here’s an excerpt from Matt Chandler’s sermon, “What is Missional Living?”  I listened to it a few mornings ago on my way to UC and was shown how amazing the freedom in Christ we have is and how it gives us power to serve those whom He has given us.  Matt Chandler continues to encourage me in my faith in Christ, and I hope it encourages you as you go through your daily lives.  My prayer, especially for myself, is that I’ll live this way, intentionally showing Christ through everything I do and say.  If I am to claim to believe in the wondrous work that He has accomplished for me through His death on the cross and through His resurrection, then my life needs to show that He is my Prize, that He is my Treasure, that He is my All, that He is my Strength, and that He is my Lord and Savior.

“[….] Even in our area, you’ve got new movie theaters going up, you’ve got new shops going up, you’ve got a thousand different places you could spend your time, energy and money. But here’s the thing that’s just so disturbing to me. With all this stuff to do, why are we so bored?

“Can I tell you what’s killing us? The majority of us have compartmentalized our faith. And what I mean by that is church and Jesus and goodness and God exist when I’m around church and church things, but it has not bled over into my marriage, it has not bled over into my wallet, it has not bled over into my job, it has not bled over into my life, it has not bled over into how I see my neighborhood, it has not bled over into how I spend my coin, it has not bled over into how I treat my children, it has not bled over into how I see athletics, it has not bled over into what I spend my time doing.

“Most of us are unmoved by our faith because we’ve compartmentalized it into this little section and said, “I’ll be a good person,” and we’ll determine that by watching the news and go, “Oh, I haven’t mass killed anybody… Hey, I haven’t raped… I haven’t done that…” So we’ll compare against the darkness and go, “I’m not that bad of a person… I don’t cuss too much… I don’t watch inappropriate movies…”

“And so we’ll live in that really weird, boring, unchanging, unadventurous place where we’re neat Christian people going to a neat Christian church where none of the rest of our life is affected. And so that’s it, that’s Evangelicalism. […] “Jesus is great. He’s great… (on Sunday).”

“He’s not great because we love our money more than we love Him and His kingdom. And He’s not great because we love our kids’ chances of becoming professional athletes more than we love Him. So He’s great, but He’s great as long as He’s in where we want Him to be in. And that’s what makes us so powerless. Because few of us have been freed up to the slavery of trinkets and toys. I mean, we just play the same games as everybody else and just put Jesus’ name on the back end of it.

“If you’re a believer in here, be honest. Do you see your finances, do you see your wallet though the kingdom lens? Ask yourself, “How am I a minister of reconciliation? How do I use my money for reconciliation?”

“[….] Can I tell you how you engage culture? Quit seeing people as there to serve your existence, but rather see them as souls that God has created, loves and has invited in to the reconciliation. So this bleeds into everything we do.

“Do you know why you can’t get coffee here? Because I’d much rather you just pick it up on your way in where you know your barista’s name. Do you know why we don’t have a gym here for you? Because there’s three of them within a 12 mile radius. Go there. Do you know why we don’t have intramural sports here? Because I’d much rather you be right in the middle of a pagan world being a light of Christ. “Well Chandler, if you go to the gym and try to play on a basketball team, there’s a lot of potty mouths out there.” Yeah, I’ve been there. I know there are. I think you’ll be alright. I think you won’t catch that. “Well, I want to play ball in a godly environment.” Okay, be an agent of reconciliation. Be an ambassador of Christ and see what happens.

“We’ve been reconciled so we become agents of reconciliation. And that’s why I think so many of us are bored. There’s thrill that comes by being used by God. Don’t try to see this through the lenses of religion. Don’t go, “Oh, I had better do this or God gets angry.” No, you’ve been set free to do this. And once again, I always want to push freedom with you.

“Do you know how free it is to see your money not as yours, your house not as yours, your stuff not as yours, to be able to live in such a way that you’re open handed like that, to live in such a way that you see everything that you’ve been given as given to you not just for your own joy but for the mission and the kingdom of God in terms of reconciliation? [….]

Written by sciuttfm

May 27, 2010 at 12:58 AM