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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Something worth fighting for?

A couple of weeks ago on the blog, we looked at the value of theological controversy.  There are benefits to the church when it has to defend the truth.  But it is possible to become so zealous for the truth that we become inflexible with those whose theology does not line up exactly with ours.  For some, theological debate becomes the focus of their Christian life.  Are there things in theology that are not worth arguing about?  If so, how do we know what those things are?  
I think the book of Titus helps to give us a guideline to direct us in this.  It does seem that there are points of theology about which it is not profitable to contend.  In our study of Titus last Spring, we saw this: But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless (Titus 3:9).  One of Paul’s concerns in his letter to Titus was that there were people in the church who were causing division by stirring up controversies.  He was so concerned that he gave this instruction: As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:10-11).
So should we resist all theological controversy for the sake of unity?  No, Paul teaches that there are some things about which we must stand firm.  I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people (3:8).  He writes something similar earlier in the book: Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you (2:15).  Insist on these things…declare these things…let no one disregard you.  The big question is, what are “these things”?
The short answer is the gospel.  In both ch2 and ch3, the apostle takes time to review gospel truths.  In ch2:
 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Then in ch3:
  4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
It is regarding the truth of the gospel that Paul wants Titus to insist and to make sure that no one disregards.  He exhorts Titus in this while also directing him to admonish those who engage in “foolish controversies.”  For this reason, I think we can formulate a broad principle regarding the points of theology about which we should insist: any point of theology that directly pertains to the gospel is one for which we should contend.
For example, we should insist on the literal death and resurrection of Christ.  Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:17, And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  This is not a point of theology about which we should agree to disagree.  If we lose these things, we lose the gospel.  Likewise, we should insist on substitutionary atonement, that is, that Christ died in our place in order to satisfy the wrath of God for our sin.  1Pet 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.  This is the gospel.  We cannot do without it.
On the other hand, there are some points of theology that do not appear to be integral to the gospel and therefore may not be a reason for serious controversy (as opposed to friendly debate).  It is my opinion that eschatology is in this category.  Eschatology is the study of the last things – what is going to happen in the end.  There are people who believe there will be a literal millennium (1,000 year reign of Christ on earth) in the future, others who believe we are in it now, and others who believe there is no millennium at all.  Some believe the church will be raptured before the 7-year tribulation, others believe the church will be raptured somewhere in the middle, and others who believe the church will be raptured after the tribulation.  While some of us find it enjoyable to discuss these things and engage in friendly debate about them, they are not essential to the gospel itself. 
Admittedly, there is some gray here.  Some may think a given doctrine is central to the gospel while others do not.  Still I think this guideline is valuable for helping us exclude certain areas of theology from the realm of serious theological controversy.  I would propose that we ask ourselves the question, is the gospel itself damaged if we allow for differences on this point of theology? 
Clearly there are things worth fighting for and others that are not.  I have proposed but one guideline for determining which is which.  I could propose at least one more and may in a coming blog post.  But I would be curious to see if you would suggest other guidelines?
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Thursday, June 21, 2012

God-given Resources for Sanctification

In the message on Sunday, I mentioned that just like there are three enemies of our sanctification – the world, the flesh, and the devil – there are at least three means that the Holy Spirit uses to help us in our sanctification.  I’d like to give you a little bit more on this than we had time for on Sunday.
Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of three ungodly influences that served as our masters prior to our redemption in Christ:
 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--
 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Before we were saved, we were in utter bondage to the influence of the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh.  Now that we are in Christ, we are no longer necessarily beholden to them.  The next few verses in Eph 2 expresses a change in our condition: But God, being rich in mercy… made us alive together with Christ (vv4-5).  The result is a transformation in the way that we live: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (v10). 
But that we have been freed from slavery to ungodly things and empowered for good works does not mean that the world, the flesh, and the devil have given up seeking to influence us, nor that we do not voluntarily surrender to them on occasion.  They still exert a strong pull.  The world hates believers and seeks to conform them to itself (John 15:19, 17:14; Rom 12:2).  The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and makes war against believers’ souls (Gal 5:17; 1 Pet 2:11).  The devil is on the prowl like a lion seeking to devour believers and lead them away from devotion to Christ (1 Pet5:8; 2 Cor 11:3). 
These are tireless influences.  They do not take time off.  They are relentless.  Praise God that He has given us tools to employ in the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and walk in faithfulness.
The first is the Word of God.  The psalmist wrote, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psa 119:11).  In instructing his son about how to resist temptation, Solomon wrote, For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress… My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart (Pro 6:23-24, 7:1-3).
Paul wrote in Eph 6:17 that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, part of the armor of God that enables us to stand against the schemes of the devil.  There are numerous ways to take in the truth of God’s Word.  We can read it, meditate on it, memorize it, and listen to biblical preaching and teaching.  But one thing is certain.  Time away from the Word will mean times of perilous temptation.  I was talking to a brother today who said the more time you spend away from the Bible the more you are going to drift spiritually.  Preparation for temptation demands a robust diet of God’s Word.
The second tool we’ve been given is the church.  Ephesians 4 paints a grand picture of God’s design for the church.  God has tasked the teachers of the church with equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.  The church builds itself up in love when each individual member is working properly, speaking the truth in love and serving one another (4:11-16). 
We are not intended to live the Christian life alone.  This is such a dangerous proposition that we are commanded not to forsake gathering together for mutual encouragement and to stir one another up to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24-25).  Not only is the church instructed to admonish, encourage, and help one another, but individuals should seek this accountability from one another (1 Thess 5:14).   Paul writes to Timothy to flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2Tim 2:22).  We are commanded to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another (Jas 5:16).  God has gifted every member of the body to benefit the body.  We are foolish if we neglect this resource in the fight against sin.
The third tool is prayer.  As we’ve seen in the Lord’s Prayer, expressions of dependence upon the Father for help in our fight against temptation are an essential part of the prayer life of a disciple.  God alone is sovereign over temptation.  Only our Triune God can help us in time of need.  This is why Jesus commanded the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt 26:41).  This is why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15-16).  We are therefore invited to come to Him for help.  How do we do this if not by approaching Him in prayer and asking for help?
Biblical sanctification has many facets.  One of them is knowing the enemies of our sanctification.  Another is knowing and using the tools God has given us for the fight.  It is difficult to imagine anyone experiencing great success in the face of temptation while neglecting the Word, the fellowship and accountability of the church, and prayer.  May the Lord move us to trust His Spirit to empower us for obedience while taking advantage of all the means He has afforded us for walking in obedience.  
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Practical Importance of Theological Controversy

I have to admit that I get tired of theological controversy.  Can’t we all just get along?  Why does everything have to be argued?  But in my better moments, while I understand that much of what we spend time arguing about theology is not worth arguing, theological controversy is important. 
There are at least three reasons why theological controversy is good for the church.  The first is that it serves to solidify in the minds of believers what is true.  Since the beginning of church history, believers have wrestled with theological controversies, and as a result, have come away with a more complete picture of the orthodox doctrines of the faith.  One of the earliest, the Arian controversy, came in the fourth century.  It was named after Arius, who argued that Christ was a created being, not equal with God.  Athanasius disagreed, arguing that the divinity of Christ was of central importance to the gospel.  The result of this controversy was a fuller understanding of what the Bible teaches about Jesus.
Approximately 100 years later, the Pelagian controversy began when a British monk named Pelagius argued for a high view of human moral responsibility – so high that Pelagianism came to be known as a religion where human effort, rather than divine grace, precipitated salvation.  Augustine challenged this notion, arguing that “humans were in possession of a will that was corrupted and tainted by sin, and which biased them toward evil and away from God.”[1]  In short, because of this controversy, the church solidified several important points about salvation, including the depravity of man and the nature of grace.
            A little more than a millennium later, there erupted the Protestant Reformation over the issue of the nature of justification, whether it is by faith alone or by faith plus works.  This resulted in the recovery of the orthodox faith after almost 1,000 years of darkness.  
            Each of these controversies, and many others in between, has served the church.  What we believe was challenged.  We were forced to defend that belief.  What resulted was a firmer grasp of what is true.
A second reason that theological controversy is important is that it causes us to reaffirm God’s Word as our final authority.  It forces us to ask, what is the final authoritative measure of what is true?  In some controversies, there has been a disagreement on the answer to this question, one side claiming the final authority of Scripture and one side claiming the authority of tradition or human wisdom or papal infallibility.  In other controversies, both sides agreed that the final authority is Scripture, but differed on the proper understanding of Scripture.
            Scripture claims for itself the place of final authority of what is true.  It is the objective standard of truth.  Jesus said of the word of God, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).  Paul writes that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:16), that is, what is written in the pages of the Bible are the very words of God and therefore carries the authority of God.  In our knowledge of Christ, which comes through the Scriptures, we have been given everything pertaining to life and godliness, everything pertaining to belief and behavior (2 Pet 1:3-4).   
            It is good for us to be forced to ask the question, “what is true here?”  Without being put in that position with something really important on the line, it would be easy to begin to drift without even knowing it. 
            So, the orthodox faith has always found its basis in the most accurate and faithful interpretation of Scripture.  In the ancient debates over the nature of the Trinity or the modern debate over gender roles in the family and the church, we have been given the opportunity to reaffirm God’s Word as our final authority.  This reaffirmation serves us not only when we are thinking about theological issues, but perhaps more importantly when we are thinking about how to live.  Recognizing the Bible’s authority over theological issues reminds us also of the Bible’s authority over us.
A third reason that theological controversy is important is that belief cannot be divorced from behavior.  What we believe determines the way we live.  So if we have been called to live holy lives it is important that we believe true things.  (It is common to make one of two mistakes in this area.  Some make the mistake of ignoring theological issues in favor of more “practical” concerns.  Others make the mistake of devoting themselves to theological debate without ever considering how belief should result in greater godliness.  The truth is that belief and behavior are inextricably linked.) 
So imagine the practical consequences of ending up on the wrong side of a theological debate.  One current theological issue is the debate over gender roles in the family and the church.  How we answer this question will have much to do with whether or not we are walking in obedience to the Lord in our everyday lives.  If we believe that God has not designed men and women to fulfill different roles in the family and in the church, we will act in accordance with that belief, and will end up violating Scripture in more than just our opinion.  We will violate it in practice.  If on the other hand, we embrace the biblical teaching that God has given different roles to men and women (Eph5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-7; 1 Tim 2:8-3:13; Tit 1:5-6, 2:1-8; 1 Cor11:2-16), we will live in ways that both glorify God and benefit us.
I began this post with a comment that much of what we argue about in theology is not worth arguing about.  That does prompt a question - how do we know what is worth contending for and what is not?  We'll consider that next week.

[1] Alister E. McGrath, Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998), 35.
 Posted by Greg Birdwell

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making Supplication for All the Saints

Toward the end of Ephesians, a book that lays out for us how God has designed the church to function, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18 ESV).  
Praying for one another is intended to be a regular part of our lives as a church family.  This is why our church covenant includes the pledge to “remember one another in prayer.”  At the members meeting on Sunday evening, I suggested a way for us to fulfill this commitment to one another in a systematic way.  For the benefit of those who were not in attendance, I’d like to repeat that suggestion with a couple of additional comments.
At our members meetings, we received in the information packet a list of the current membership, along with contact information for each individual.  This is perhaps the most important part of the packet.  The list is more than a handy phone list.  It is a list of all the individuals with whom you have made a covenant.  These are the people whom you have promised to pray for, support, hold accountable, love, and watch over.  These are the people who made the same promise to you.  The list is a visual reminder of the great responsibility that we have to one another.
What better way to fulfill our commitment to pray for one another than to pray through this member list on a regular basis?  The elders have begun doing this individually and together in our elders’ meetings.  We have found that it is a great way to make sure we are keeping track of people and praying for them.
For some, this may sound like a daunting task.  It is hard enough to find time to pray as it is; adding dozens of names to our daily prayer list is not going to help!  But this is something that could be tailored to fit your schedule.  There may be a few people who have the ability to pray for everyone everyday, but for most of us, it will be more manageable to break the list up and pray for a certain number of brothers and sisters each day.  For example, you could pray for Dave Allen through Jean Buttrom on Mondays, Susan Carter through Beth Durso on Tuesdays, etc.  That way, you could pray for everyone once a week.
Such a schedule may still be too much for some of us to manage.  Why not break the list up even further so that you pray through the list over a two-week period or over one month?  We should never make such a plan a legalistic “must,” but structure can help us to make sure we are fulfilling the promises we have made to one another.
But what if we don’t know anything about some of the people on the list?  For some of our newer members this will undoubtedly be the case.  Certainly, for those people you do know well, you can pray regarding specific needs you are aware of.  But for those you don’t know, there are some great passages in the New Testament that you can pray on their behalf.  Most of Paul’s epistles contain prayers that he lifted up for the recipients. 
Eph 1:15-19 - 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…
Eph 3:14-19 - 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
There are numerous such prayers in the New Testament, including 1 Cor 1:4-9, Phil 1:9-11, and Col 1:9-12.
You could even use a passage that is not an explicit prayer.  For example, “Lord, please empower Ross Silburn to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which he has been called” (Eph 4:1).  The Scriptures are teeming with passages that we could use as prayers for one another.
Still, coming to a name you are not familiar with could also provide an opportunity to reach out to that brother or sister via phone or email and ask them if they have any prayer concerns. Or you could schedule coffee or a meal to get to know them.  You could even invite a number of people you do not know well to share a meal at your home.  Getting to know one another will go a long way toward strengthening our church and making our times of prayer and fellowship more meaningful and fruitful.
So, those of you who received the member list on Sunday evening, please don’t lose it.  Use it.  If you weren’t there, let us know and we’ll send it to you.  May the Lord lead us to take seriously our commitment to lift one another up in prayer.
 Posted by Greg Birdwell

Thursday, June 7, 2012


What do we mean when we say that Scripture is “inspired?”  The term “inspiration” comes from 2 Timothy 3:16a, which reads, All Scripture is inspired by God.  The Greek word translated “inspired” is more literally rendered “God-breathed.”  When the Bible claims that all Scripture is God-breathed, it means that everything written there is “as much His Word as if He had spoken it audibly by means of breath.”[1] Said another way, the doctrine of inspiration teaches that what has been written in the pages of Scripture are the very words of God. 
Conservative evangelical theologians hold to what is called verbal plenary inspiration.  That inspiration is verbal means that the actual language recorded in the original text is from God, including the syntax, grammar, and word order.  That is, it is not merely the ideas or concepts that are inspired, but the actual words themselves.  That inspiration is plenary means that Scripture in its totality is inspired.  So, all of the Bible (plenary) in all of its parts (verbal) is the product of God’s out-breathing.  Certainly, these characteristics are upheld by Scripture itself in 2 Timothy 3:16, since the phrase “all Scripture” leaves out no component of the Word.
One issue that arises when we consider the inspiration of Scripture is the extent to which human writers participated in the process.  It does not take intense study of the Word to recognize that the different human authors have noticeably different writing styles.  If all the words of Scripture are breathed out by God, why would not every part of Scripture reflect a single style, that of the Holy Spirit?  2 Peter 1:21 is helpful here: For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  Here in the writing of Scripture we have an example of the interplay between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.  Peter clearly writes that “men spoke.” He also writes that their speaking was from God, that they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  Though we may not understand it fully, the transmission of Scripture was accomplished by the Holy Spirit working in human writers in such a way that what they most wanted to write was what He most wanted written. Therefore, the words were inspired by God and yet bore the style of the human writer.
The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture is crucial for the Christian life.  That Scripture is breathed out by God is what under-girds its authority.  Because the words themselves are the words of God they speak with the authority of God.  The Bible is not a collection of man-made wisdom, nor is it a blending of some divinely-inspired texts and some humanly-inspired texts.  To believe and obey the Word is to believe and obey God.  To disbelieve and disobey the Word is to disbelieve and disobey God.  Without a divinely-inspired Word, the believer does not have an authoritative truth to bring to bear on the issues of belief and behavior.  God has truly given us a wonderful gift in the Bible.  No wonder the psalmist wrote, In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches (Psa 119:14).

[1]Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 17.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prayer and Fasting

This Thursday the elders have asked the church to participate with one another in a time of fasting and prayer. While most of us may pray regularly and understand the blessing of communion with God, fasting may not be a discipline that many of us are as familiar with. Naturally, this may cause some to ask “What is fasting?”, “What is the purpose of fasting?”, or “How is prayer and fasting connected to one another?”.

Fasting is found throughout the bible and has been practiced since nearly the beginning of time. We read about it in the Old Testament and even Jesus is found talking about it in the New Testament. So what is fasting anyway? Biblically speaking, fasting is simply foregoing food and/or drink for a certain amount of time for spiritual purposes.

Scripture teaches there are different kinds of fasts. Some are total fasts where no food and/or water is taken (Duet 9:9; Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16; Luke 4:2). Others are partial fasts where only certain foods are eaten (Daniel 10:3). It seems that scripture gives some deference in regards to an appropriate fast. This should be especially comforting to our brothers and sisters who have difficult life circumstances such as particular dietary or medical constraints.

What is most intriguing about fasting is not the types of fasting but the reason and result behind this biblical discipline. Fasting is not something we do to solicit a wanted response from God. It is not a “work” done by us to prove to God we sincerely desire a certain thing. Rather, fasting is a gift of grace from God. It is given to us by God that we might benefit from it and he might be glorified through it.

We are utterly dependent on God. He alone is Creator, Provider, and Sustainer of all things. In a world marked with autonomy and self-sufficiency fasting checks our pride and reminds of us who God is. Since nothing in us desires to fast and fasting does not come from us fasting produces a much needed dose of humility.

David writes of this connectedness between fasting and humilty, "When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting" (Psalm 69:10). Isaiah agrees that the kind of fasting that God desires will be coupled with humility and frees us (Isaiah 58). David again speaks of humbling himself when he writes "...I humbled my soul with fasting..." (Psalm 35:13 NAS). Clearly in passages such as these, scripture teaches that fasting is a means to humility.

Fasting is an expression of our utter dependence on God for all things. Food may satisfy the belly for a time but God satisfies our souls for all time. Fasting allows us to be reminded of our helplessness before an all-powerful and all-caring God. When crisis or difficulty comes into our lives our bend is to lean onto our own understanding and resources. Fasting re-shapes that bend toward God, helping us to recognize our absolute need for Him.

John Piper put it this way, “When King Solomon saw his people sacrificing their riches to build the temple, in the same way that one might sacrifice food in fasting, he was not puffed up with the self-wrought virtue of his people; he was humbled that God had given such a grace of generosity. He said, “Who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from Thee, and from Thy hand we have given Thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14). This is the way we should speak of fasting. There is no ground of boasting here. Who am I that I should be able to fast? Nobody. There is nothing in me that would choose this for your glory apart from your transforming grace. And when Solomon looked to the future and pondered whether this heart of sacrifice would continue, he prayed, “O LORD . . . preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Thy people, and direct their heart to Thee” (1 Chronicles 29:18). And so we should pray about our own fasting and the fasting of the Christian church: O Lord, keep alive the intentions to fast that you have created, and direct the hearts of your people ever to you as the source of all their joy.”1

As we pray and fast this Thursday for wisdom, unity, and growth in Christ-likeness let us come together in a spirit of humility and dependence of the triune God who works all things according to His purpose. Our loving Father hears and answers prayer. He is not persuaded by simple outward deeds but our humble fasting coupled with prayer can be transformative. 2 Chronicles 7:14 reads, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Ezra 8 teaches this truth in this way, “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods” (v.21). Later in the chapter we are told, “So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty” (v.23) and “he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way” (v.31).

May God grant us strength and grace in our prayer and fasting and may we long to see His name glorified above all things.

1 John Piper, A Hunger for God,  pp. 177-178.

Posted by: Rick Jones