F.M. Sciutto III

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

Posts Tagged ‘gospel

From the Garden to the City, Part IV

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I just finished reading John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology on my Kindle. At the time of my browsing Amazon, it was free. So, I decided to download it and read it whenever I had a few minutes here or there.

Instead of reviewing it in the traditional format, I am going to post some highlights from the book that I found interesting and helpful about discerning the use technology in the Christian life. I will let the author speak for himself on whether or not you think the book deserves to be read.

Redemption and Technology

“At one end of this story is a pristine garden prepared by God for humankind to develop and transform. At the other end is a glorious, heavenly city full of human creations, art, and technology. At the center is our Savior Jesus Christ crucified on a cross, the most horrific of all technological distortions, built by transforming a tree from the natural world into a tool of death. Yet in his resurrection, Christ redeemed even that tool, transforming it into the symbol of our faith that eternally portrays his power over death and sin.” (Loc. 440-44)

“The cross, then, is a symbol of the distorted creation turning on its creator. That twisted tree represents the twisted us, a humanity transformed by sin and bent toward death.” (Loc. 2334-35)

“And yet in his grace, God has still chosen the most fallen and rebellious of human creations as the place for his final restoration. God made a promise to the people of Jerusalem to restore their city, not because it was a good or worthy city, but as a symbol of God’s redemptive work in which he transforms unworthy things into holy things.” (Loc. 2362-65)

“The Old Testament visions of the future are focused on the removal of sin and the dwelling of God among his people, and the place of this restoration is always the city. Then at the end of the biblical story, when God takes the final step in his plan of redemption by restoring all things, the restoration of the city reaches its culmination. When John’s Revelation tells of God creating the new heavens and new earth for the resurrected and redeemed human race (Rev. 21:1), it makes no mention of God re-creating the Garden of Eden. Instead of a garden, John tells us that God will bring down from heaven a redeemed and restored city.” (Loc. 2370-75)

“At the same time when we see unspeakable evil conducted with and through technology, it is not cause for us to hate or fear technology but for us to hate the sin that shackles us all.” (Loc. 2480-81)

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From the Garden to the City, Part III

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I just finished reading John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology on my Kindle. At the time of my browsing Amazon, it was free. So, I decided to download it and read it whenever I had a few minutes here or there.

Instead of reviewing it in the traditional format, I am going to post some highlights from the book that I found interesting and helpful about discerning the use technology in the Christian life. I will let the author speak for himself on whether or not you think the book deserves to be read.

Idolatry and Technology

“We use our idols fundamentally as a way of meeting our needs apart from God, and this is our greatest temptation with technology—to use it as a substitute for God.” (Loc. 1311-12)

“We also use our idols, especially our technological ones, as a means of distraction. When we find something that offers us temporary relief from the curse of sin, instead of allowing its shortcomings to make us long for our Savior, we allow the technology to distract us from our obvious need of a savior.” (Loc. 1318-20)

“As our technology grows more and more powerful, the illusion of control becomes increasingly convincing. Today, our powers have grown to the point that in Western industrialized countries, we can go through our entire lives without the slightest physical need for God or other people.” (Loc. 1361-62)

“Although God is restricting the use of a particular medium—carved images—he does so for a very important reason. It’s not that God thinks images themselves are inherently evil. It’s because he recognizes that tools of technology never function as neutral, inert instruments. Instead the tools we use always bring with them values that shape the culture that uses them. If God had allowed the Israelites to make images of him, it might have appeared that he was like every other god, or a god among gods. Instead, by forbidding images of himself, God reinforced his identity as wholly other. He is not an idol among idols or an image among images—he is the one true God. Therefore, God decreed that the people of Israel were to approach him exclusively through the names, metaphors, and ideas found in the permanent, authoritative words of Scripture.” (Loc. 1948-54)

“In the online world, the great danger is that we are constructing an idol of ourselves and becoming distracted with our own beauty. Like Narcissus we may become trapped in a feedback loop of looking at ourselves, but never seeing beneath the surface to the deeper sickness that can only be healed in an embodied community of faith. We are continually tempted to construct a Tower of Babel unto ourselves rather than work together on being the people of God, conformed into the image of his Son.” (Loc. 2978-81)

From the Garden to the City, Part II

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I just finished reading John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology on my Kindle. At the time of my browsing Amazon, it was free. So, I decided to download it and read it whenever I had a few minutes here or there.

Instead of reviewing it in the traditional format, I am going to post some highlights from the book that I found interesting and helpful about discerning the use technology in the Christian life. I will let the author speak for himself on whether or not you think the book deserves to be read.

The Church and Technology

“While God’s words are eternal and unchanging, the tools we use to access those words do change, and those changes in technology also bring subtle changes to the practice of worship. When we fail to recognize the impact of such technological change, we run the risk of allowing our tools to dictate our methods. Technology should not dictate our values or our methods. Rather, we must use technology out of our convictions and values.” (Loc. 359-62)

“In our sin we attempt to live independent of our need for God and others, but God originally designed humans to function in a deeply interdependent way that reflects the tri-personhood of God.” (Loc. 719-20)

“Churches urge their members to go through the program in hope that they will all come through the process as uniformly mature Christians. Of course, it’s wonderful when everyone in our church gets the chance to be theologically and biblically educated, but we can easily err into treating the spiritual growth of a human soul as if it were a simple, mechanical process. Then when we purchase “proven tools for spiritual growth” that don’t seem to “work,” we assume that we need to find and purchase a different tool, never considering that such a thing might not exist.” (Loc. 1045-49)

“A good portion of the Christian life requires the ability to concentrate and focus on ideas over long periods of time. Spiritual depth requires the ability to pray for more than a few minutes, to read and memorize Scripture (not search for it online), and to love God with our hearts and our minds. This means that we must be careful to cultivate and retain the skill of deeply reading and deeply contemplating the things of God, something the Internet and digital technologies do not value. We cannot read deeply when we spend all of our time scanning or when we allow distraction to rule our minds.” (Loc. 2874-78)

“Our problem is not that technologically mediated relationships are unreal, nor is the problem that all online communication is self-focused and narcissistic. Rather, the danger is that just like the abundance of food causes us to mistake sweet food for nourishing food, and just like the abundance of information can drown out deep thinking, the abundance of virtual connection can drown out the kind of life-giving, table-oriented life that Jesus cultivated among his disciples.” (Loc. 3002-5)

From the Garden to the City, Part I

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I just finished reading John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology on my Kindle. At the time of my browsing Amazon, it was free. So, I decided to download it and read it whenever I had a few minutes here or there.

Instead of reviewing it in the traditional format, I am going to post some highlights from the book that I found interesting and helpful about discerning the use technology in the Christian life. I will let the author speak for himself on whether or not you think the book deserves to be read.

What Is Technology?

“Technology, then, is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. What we often fail to notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed.” (Loc. 548-50)

“Technology has the power to transform the world into the one we imagine, but it also has the power to transform our bodies, our mental capabilities, and our relational worlds.” (Loc. 630-32)

Technology as Savior?

“The allure of technology, then, is a promise that the right tools will bring about a better world. We continually tell ourselves that with technology we can take this broken world and mold it into the better one that we all desire.” (Loc. 541-43)

“Today our technological creations still honor God, and they are still a reflection of his creativity. But we must be careful not to believe the lie that the right tools will enable us to live independent from our Creator, the sustainer of life. Medicine may help us live longer, but we all still die in the end. And microphones might help us reach more people, but only a movement of God’s Spirit can save them.” (Loc. 1237-40)

“Yet we must also be careful to affirm that the redemptive capacity of technology is limited and temporary. Advances in technology can give us the illusion that it might someday overcome death, but this is a tragic and distracting lie. Clean water and ample medicine can only hold off death for so long—eventually death will find us all. Instead, we should view the redemptive capacities of technology as a temporary means of keeping humanity going while God does his work.” (Loc. 1761-64)

“But we must also be ardent in our insistence that the redemptive capacities of technology are limited and temporary. We cannot mistake their power for the power of the one who one day will finally redeem us. Instead, let us view the redemptive functions of our tools as a foreshadowing of what is to come.” (Loc. 2477-79)

More Than Just a Birthday Celebration

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While on break, an older woman with whom I work was talking to me about a Christmas tradition that her and her family do each year. She explained how she has a nativity scene, which was described as a nativity scene you could find in the majority of American homes around this time of year. However, the only piece missing in the scene is Jesus in the manger. He is left out until Christmas Eve, which then one her grandchildren carries Him out and places Him between Mary and Joseph.

So far, none of this sounds strange or out of the ordinary, does it? That is because it is not strange or out of the ordinary. Well, not yet anyway.

After Jesus is placed into the scene, she proceeded to tell me that her and her family then begin to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. That is what struck me as very odd. A song that is usually song during a child’s birthday celebration is sung at the time the celebration of the birth of Jesus takes place. After that, I just nodded my head and smiled. I had nothing to say to that. I was perplexed just as much as I was shocked.

Now, this is not a rant against the traditions that one may preform during Christmastime. My hope is to have people reflect on what they are celebrating during this time of the year and why. Christmas with no attention to the God who sent His Son into this fallen world to be an atoning sacrifice is shallow and, frankly, meaningless.

Christmas is more than just a birthday celebration for Jesus (considering He probably was not even born around this time of the year). A lot more. Yes, Christmas is a time in which family and friends are brought closer together, and those things are great, but that is not the reason and purpose of Christmas.

We should not forget the reason why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. It is because God the Father, in eternity past, made a plan with God the Son to redeem His fallen creation by taking on flesh because of His immense grace and love toward His creation. The Son then took on flesh by being conceived by God the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Being born of a virgin, a sin-nature was never passed to Jesus, and being conceived by the Holy Spirit, God the Son took on flesh. Jesus had to remain sinless in order to accomplish full atonement for His people’s sin by sacrificing Himself on the cross for His people’ sin; raising from the dead, thereby defeating sin and death; delivering His people from the bondage of sin, death, and hell; and presenting them as righteous before the Father. We must remember how the glory of the incarnation of the Son leads to the glorious cross where our innocent Savior was crucified for our crimes against God’s holiness, and then praise God for it!

We should not forget the purpose of Christmas, which is to look forward to Christ’s second-coming to Earth, His judgment and redemption of this fallen world, and when we, who are His, dwell with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth for an infinitely joyful eternity.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

(2 Peter 3:8-13 ESV)

It can be so easy to get swallowed up in the consumerism of the holiday and forget about the God who sent His Son to save us. We need to be deliberate in how we celebrate during Christmastime.

Praise God for sending His Son to satisfy God’s just wrath against our sin! Praise God for promising to send Christ again to finally bring His sons and daughters to glory and have them dwell with Him forever!

This Christmas, we need to share the wonderful Truth of the Gospel by presenting it with our words and deeds to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Written by sciuttfm

December 24, 2010 at 2:12 AM

“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).

“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