Acquisitions

New Study Edition--Completely Revised and UpdatedThe Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas (Hafner Library of Classics)

A couple of days ago I was out of town. Where did I go then during my free time? Of course, into a second-hand bookshop – Book Shop at SM! And – lo and behold! – 2 great finds:

  • Catholicism by Richard P. McBrien
  • The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Hafner Library of Classics)

Second-hand bookstores are such a blessing! Click on the pics to get more info on these books. Even though I'm an evangelical it's mandatory to learn all I can about Catholicism if I want to be a Filipino theologian worthy of the name.

Leaving Futurity in God’s Hands

“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord’. It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

— C.S. LEWIS, The Essential C.S. Lewis (First Touchstone Edition 1996) p. 376

True Theology

“What is it that true theology aims at? To gain understanding and wisdom in gospel mysteries by experience of personal knowledge of God in Christ, to gain an insight into the marvels of God’s plans and covenants through the ages, and to experience and partake of spiritual worship and obedient faith…. Above all, let those who undertake the study of theology and have no wish to squander away their time and efforts always keep in mind that their aim is to attain wisdom, and that wisdom is the spiritual, saving wisdom of the gospel.”

— JOHN OWEN, Biblical Theology (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2nd ed., 1996) p. 694

Honoring Christ

Last Sunday I preached on “Honoring Christ” from Philippians 1:12-20. Here’s the outline (point 1 was actually adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s N.T. Commentary):

HONORING CHRIST

(Philippians 1:12-20)

INTRODUCTION:

We honor Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino because they died for our country’s freedom. With all the more reason we should honor the Lord Jesus Christ because he died to set us free from the penalty and power of our sins (II Cor. 5:15). But how precisely do we do that? The example of Paul in prison gives us an idea of how we can honor Christ.

I. WE HONOR CHRIST BY REJOICING IN HIM IN SPITE OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

A. Paul was in chains, but instead of complaining he rejoiced because:

1. His chains gave him contact with the lost (Phil. 1:13)

a. The elite praetorian guard
b. The officers in Caesar’s court

NOTE: God is able to over-rule our “unfortunate” circumstances to further his own purpose of saving many lives. And if we realize this, we will rejoice instead of complaining. Examples: Susannah Wesley was the mother of 19 children – a very heavy burden – but she raised up John and Charles Wesley – the one, a great evangelist; the other, a great hymn writer. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt and, to make matters worse, was cast into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But God meant it for good, to save many lives (Gen. 50:20). I have read somewhere that, a long time ago, Vikings from the North would sometimes raid Christian villages, abduct the women from that place and make them their wives. But God used these very same women to witness to their husbands, thus resulting in their salvation. I know of a man who used to be an officer of a certain bank, but the bank became bankrupt. Today that man is a pastor, used by God in the saving of souls. So you see, God is in control of our circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be. For all we know God has allowed our circumstances to be what they are because he intends to save souls. Precisely because Paul was a prisoner the gospel reached Rome. And precisely because he was a prisoner he had access to the Praetorian Guard; the case would probably have been otherwise had he been free! Therefore let us not be dismayed by the circumstances God has allowed us to be in. For all we know our very failures, our very difficulties, are the very circumstances God intends to use to lead people to Christ.

2. His chains gave courage to the saved.

Yesterday I told the group of policemen I was preaching to that one reason why I am preaching today is because my late father – a dialysis patient during the closing years of his life – continued to preach the gospel even though he was to weak to stand; he preached sitting in his wheelchair. His example continues to inspire and encourage me.

B. Inspite of his critics Paul rejoiced because Christ was preached.

Paul was Christ-centered instead of self-centered. It didn’t matter what happened to him as long as his Lord was glorified. He was not affected by the malice of his foes because he lived for something greater than himself. He could afford to rejoice regardless of his personal fate as long as the cause of Christ was doing well (c.f., Acts 14:19-23). In fine, he was beyond the malice of his foes, for he lived for a cause greater than himself.

For the same reason he was beyond envy, for what mattered to him was not his personal influence or honor, but the honor of Jesus Christ. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, I must decrease.” There is no room for envy in the ministry. The ministry is not about competition; it is not about self-exaltation. It is about glorifying the Savior. Sometimes the Lord allows us to be humbled while others are honored. Nevertheless we will rejoice, for the ministry is not about this servant or that servant – the ministry is about the glory of Christ and his glory alone. Besides, the Lord knows best: it is possible that by humbling you and laying you aside he intends to accomplish much more than you ever dreamed of. In a sense, this is what happened to Samson (c.f., Judges 16:30). This too was what happened to Paul: if Paul had never gone to prison we would not have Philippians and Colossians today in our New Testament, for he wrote these epistle while he was in prison! I remember reading about Arthur W. Pink. He was a preacher of the gospel. But for some reason the doors to preaching were one by one closed to him. And so, not being able to preach, he resorted to writing. Today, many years after his death, he is considered one of our great Christian writers. His book, “The Sovereignty of God” is considered a classic of theology and has personally been a great blessing to me. His influence is all the greater because God laid him aside as a preacher and made him a writer instead. God knows best. Let us not seek great things for ourselves. As long as Christ is honored, even if we are laid aside, let us rejoice.

II. WE HONOR CHRIST BY REVEALING HIM IN AND THROUGH OUR BODIES (I Cor. 12:27; I Cor. 6:19, 20; Rom. 12:1; II Cor. 5:9, 10). Christ’s physical body is in now in heaven. On earth we are his body; we are his hands and feet. He preaches through our mouths; he heals through our hands; he visits the poor and those in prison through our feet.

A. This involves refusal to sin (Rom. 6:12, 13)

B. This involves readiness to serve (Rom. 12:11)

III. WE HONOR CHRIST BY RESTING IN HIM IN THE FACE OF DEATH

Death is an opportunity to testify to the grace of God – to the difference that Christ makes in one’s life even in the face of death. If in the face of death we remain at peace and courageous others may be led to ask what is the source of our strength. For unless the Lord returns in our lifetime death is just a matter of time for all of us. The question then is not whether we will or will not die. The question is: “Will we honor Christ in death even as we honor him in life?” This is the great challenge that will confront each one of us sooner or later. May we honor Christ in death as well as in life.

Early Church Fathers

I never thought I would find the man who would be able to read the 38-volume set of The Early Church Fathers from cover to cover. Yes, you read it right – 38 volumes, 2 columns per page, small print! Those of you who have seen the set know what I’m talking about. I have all 38 volumes in my library and I just know that I will leave this world not having even finished Chrysostom’s works in that set (God forbid that this be a self-fulfilling prophecy!). But here’s the man.

I’m Rich!

I was at Robinson’s last night during its midnight sale and when I went inside BookSale my heart leaped when I found out that new (second hand) books had arrived. So I went into action getting this, then that, and finally settled on the books listed below. I’m rich – in books! “Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7)

  • Addicted to Mediocrity (20th Century Christians and the Arts) by Franky Schaeffer
  • Psalms of Faith by Ray C. Stedman
  • Between the Testaments by D.S. Russel. “A brief… discussion of Judaism of the inter-testamental period….”
  • Reason to Believe by noted Oxford theologian Maurice Wiles
  • Thomas Merton’s Dark Path (The Inner Experience of a Contemplative) by William H. Shannon
  • The Quest for God by Paul Johnson (of Modern Times fame)
  • The Meaning of Creation (Genesis and Modern Science) by Conrad Hyers
  • Covenant (The History of a Biblical Idea) by Delbert R. Hillers
  • The Humane Imagination, a collection of legal essays by Charles L. Black, Jr. (Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law, Yale University)
  • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (translated by Rolfe Humphries)
  • Effective Bible Teaching by Jim Wilholt and Leland Ryken

Quotes on Free Speech

“Truth is not a piece of matter or a unit of energy that will survive pummeling and emerge unscathed in one form or another at one time or another. It is a fragile and ethereal aspiration, easily buried, difficult to retrieve, and capable of being lost forever. That is why every time an idea is censored, a person with an idea is killed, or a culture destroyed, we risk permanent injury to the corpus of human knowledge. And that is why it is always better to err on the side of more speech, more expression, more advocacy – even when the benefits seem distant and the costs immediate.”

— ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, Mill, On Liberty

x x x x

“The fact that speech is likely to result in some violence or in destruction of property is not enough to justify its suppression. There must be the probability of serious injury to the State. Among free men, the deterrents ordinarily to be applied to prevent crime are education and punishment for violations of the law, not abridgement of the rights of free speech and assembly.”

Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927) (Brandeis, J. concurring)

Rescue from Fearful Subjection to Sense

“…in matter of fact, the sinful spirit repents and protests it will never sin again, and for a while is protected by disgust and abhorrence from the malice of its foe. But that foe knows too well that such seasons of repentance are wont to have their end: he patiently waits, till nature faints with the effort of resistance, and lies passive and hopeless under the next access of temptation. What we need then is some expedient or instrument, which at least will obstruct and stave off the approach of our spiritual enemy, and which is sufficiently congenial and level with our nature to maintain as firm a hold upon us as the inducements of sensual gratification. It will be our wisdom to employ nature against herself.”

— JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, The Idea of a University