Groaning vs. Grumbling

I received some help some a surprising source last 41qW0aSJxHLweek. This is a sin that affects me deeply, even if not frequently. Usually I do a good job of managing things so that I stay in control. In those circumstances where things get beyond me, I resort first to grumbling, and then Stoicism. This paragraph nailed me:

There is a critical difference here we need to note. Groaning is not grumbling. When we groan, we must learn to do it without grumbling, trusting in the faithfulness of God and his promises

Groaning and grumbling can seem similar, but biblically they are quite different. Both are responses to suffering, but their sources and their direction are different. Groaning is a response to the weight of suffering, and it is directed toward God as an honest expression of pain, grief, and sorrow. Grumbling also reflects the weight of suffering, but it springs from anger and resentment toward God. It lacks a memory of his past faithfulness. Groaning expresses an element of hope in God, despite current sufferings, but grumbling reflects a lack of hope and faith and is accompanied by a sense of doom. In the Bible, we see that God responds to groaning with mercy, but he responds to grumbling with anger and discipline. Still, even when we grumble there is hope. God is slow to anger, he does not forget his promises, and even in his discipline his goal is to draw his people to him in grace and pardon.

Benjamin Mast, Second Forgetting, 84-85


Review: The Hole in Our Holiness

The Hole in Our Holiness: by Kevin DeYoung


Balanced, Biblical, and Encouraging Book on Holiness

This is another good book from Kevin DeYoung, this time on Holiness. Kevin is a great blend of a mind full of historic Christian doctrine, a background of stereotypical American evangelicalism, a great sense of humor, and a very readable style. This book is a brief formulation of a much misunderstood teaching in the Bible. Surrounded by antinomianism (however you define it) sinless perfectionism, “perpetually struggling” -ism, and external formalism, where is true holiness to be found? DeYoung starts with salvation and works all the way through.

He deals with several apparent paradoxes (“aren’t we already holy?”), and the often confusing relationship of the Christian to The Law (“His commandments are not burdensome.”)

Two of my favorite sections where “‘Effort’ is not a four letter word,” on the role of Christian striving after holiness, through the power of the Spirit. In other words “working out because God is working in us.” This short summary of his 2012 T4G message is pure gold (the message is classic, too). This aspect of the Christian’s holiness is often neglected, but absolutely vital. I highly recommend anyone wondering how all this works together do a word study on the greek word “energeo” in the New Testament – great, great stuff.

His section on true repentance, distinguished from the false, was also extremely helpful, sorting out the various responses a person has to their sin.

All along the way he draws on Lloyd-JonesThomas BrooksJohn MurrayJ.C. RyleJ.I. PackerJerry Bridges, and John Piper. He does a great job of drawing from the stream of all these great teachers, and applying it to today’s audience.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a short, balanced, practical, Biblical, pointed, sometimes humorous and definitely encouraging book on Holiness.

Dads: Stop Looking at Porn

Tony Reinke and Tedd Tripp (author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart) discuss “The Greatest Threat to the Christian Family”: Dads looking at porn. Tripp explores a couple of the effects and implications, both for the church and the family. I wish he would write a whole book on the subject!

Review: Wired for Intimacy

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers


The Neurobiological and Psychological Effects of Pornography

Repeated exposure to any stimulus results in neurological circuit making. That is how we learn. But what does pornography teach and how does it change those who regularly consume it? (p. 13)

Wired for Intimacy is an exploration of the physical, neurobiological, and psychological effects of pornography on men in particular, written from a Christian perspective. Living in a culture that is as hyper-sexualized as ours, with such unrestricted access to sexual content, presents constant challenges to purity. I find it extremely helpful to read books on this subject to keep my spiritual weapons sharp. This book was really helpful, from a different angle.

The first half of the book is a heavily detailed discussion about neuro-bio-chemistry, and includes a large chapter that is pretty much “Brain Biology 101.” It then widens out into broader areas of discussion as well: masculine identity, what it means to be an embodied soul, and the nature of true intimacy.

I found this book very helpful in stimulating fresh thought in these areas. I don’t know much about psychology and neurobiology, and I found these aspects fascinating. While the whole book was useful, a couple of paragraphs stood out as extremely helpful:

Pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context – intimacy between two human beings – and makes it a product to be bought and sold. By debasing the human body and valuing it in the same way we would something from the local convenience store, pornography promotes a human being’s sexuality as a product for consumption. (19)

As I come across suggestive women or images in my day to day life, I have often had this ringing in my mind: “Her sexuality is not a product to be consumed, for even a second. Not even if she is presenting it that way.”

The other was this:

Men share with women the same basic needs of humanity. The need for intimacy requires that we understand who we are and share that with those we long to be known by. As we become more intimate, the other speaks into us things about ourselves that we could not possibly know from the inside. We allow the one we are intimate with to discover us in ways we could not do on our own, and we do so with them. It is a process that develops and deepens over time. We know ourselves more fully because we are known more fully. The intimacy that we have with God and with others enables us to move along the journey toward either sanctification or depravity. Pornography corrupts the ability to be intimate. (43)

I had never thought about intimacy this way. I cannot know things about myself without opening up to others and allowing them to speak to me about what they see. This is a really helpful lens through which to view marriage, friendship, parenting, and other relationships, respectively.

I found this book to be a very helpful brick in the foundation of sexual purity. Of course this does not exhaust the spiritual and Biblical matters involved, but understanding the way our brains and minds work is an important step in realizing the harm, and understanding the solutions to this problem. God has created a full-orbed reality, with bodies and brains, as well as minds and souls. We are not just “brains on sticks.” I recommend this as a good exploration of another side of God’s multi-layered world.

“Maybe they have a way, and I’ve just not seen it…”

From the 1994 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference: Sanctification by Faith Alone.  In the panel discussion, featuring John Piper and Daniel Fuller, the following question was asked, and Piper relates his position on imputation and the covenant of works.  Note that by 2006, he published this, in which he said, “Many of his theological heroes have been covenant theologians (for example, many of the Puritans), and he does see some merit in the concept of a pre-fall covenant of works…”  “Some merit” is quite different than a “profound rejection.”  Anyway, here’s where he was at in 1994:

Question: Contrast your understanding of sanctification with Packer, Ryle, Bridges, especially in the practical of teaching, dealing with people differently, encouraging them in their christian growth.  What is the essence of the difference in theory and in practice?

Answer: Number 1, a profound rejection of the covenant of works. I’m persuaded that there is no such thing.  Dr, Fuller really didn’t persuade me of that, I just never could find it, I never could find it in the Bible.  And when I went out to Gordon,  and who’s the Old Testament guy out there that gets so upset about this?  Meredith Kline just turned red in the face when he was talking to me, like the whole universe was going to collapse if what I said was true, namely the cross would collapse.  That the fundamental issue on the covenant of works for Meredith Kline and most covenant theologians is you’re wrecking the atonement.  If you say that Adam was not asked to earn eternal life, which then the second Adam purchases by earning it through obedience passively and actively, then you have destroyed the fabric of the Bible, the atonement and ethics.  So one profound difference for all those three people you named is that Fuller and I reject their structure.  So that’s a theoretical difference.  The structure of the covenant of works is gone.

Now practically, I’m not sure how this works out, because I benefit so from reading these guys who have this profound difference. I mean, Owen, I was reading him the other night, and he said more clearly than any theologian I have ever read, he said, “Jesus earned our salvation by fulfilling the  covenant of works.”  He just said it very very clearly.  and I think the practical implication is that running through my system now is not a meritorious effort on the part of Jesus to fulfill the covenant that Adam blew, by not earning, but rather Jesus becomes a Christian hedonist, in that he knows that God is most glorified in him when he is most satisfied in God, and if you buy my definition of faith, as being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus that simply  means Jesus glorified his Father through trusting him all the way through the cross for the joy that was set before him. Never did he relate to his father as an employer, job description, by which he would earn wages called eternal life.  God never taught Adam or his second Adam to do the Galatian heresy.  I learned saying it that way from Dr. Fuller.  And I think that’s exactly right.  He never commanded the Galatian heresy as a wise way to live.  Rather he commanded faith, and faith is seeking to be so satisfied in God that if you have to die in order to get the fullest benefit of God, you’ll die.  If you have to die to bring the redeemed into heaven, if I have to die to carry this church to obedience, I’ll die.  But I will not sacrifice the joy of the fullest experience of God in that ministry and in that destiny.

And that’s my sanctification, that’s the essence of practical sanctification.  If we are holy to the degree that we are cheerfulgivers rather than begrudging givers, you cannot make people holy without making them happy.  And therefore my goal every Sunday is the advancement and joy of faith, Philippians 1:25.  Now I read parts of Owen that are almost exactly like that.  Read pages 82-85 of “Mortification” in volume 6, he talks almost just like that.

So I’m wound up saying the Puritans are inconsistent.  They don’t carry through the covenant of works thing, maybe they have a way of making it consistent and I’ve just not seen it,.  but i don’t find the structure, the theoretical thing right, so there’s a difference between me and those guys, and practically I don’t hear them, MacArthur’s just another good example, I don’t hear him doing what I said needs to be done, namely, calling people to be satisfied in God.  I think most pastors are really happy, are not really as upset as I am, when people are satisfied with their money, and satisfied with their second and third houses, and satisfied with their nice clothes, and satisfied with moving to the right neighborhood.  They don’t think that’s a real big issue.  I think it’s the issue.  You can’tbe a holy person without getting your satisfaction from God.