Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: September 2015

Outdo one another in showing honor

Over the years, I have found certain seasoned, respected Christian leaders that I resonate with extremely well. One of those leaders is pastor / author Ray Ortlund of The Gospel Coalition. What he writes is both beautiful and profound! (Note: italics and bold mine)

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“They who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinistic, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be most gentle and forbearing of all men.”  (John NewtonMemoirs of the Life of the Late William Grimshaw, page 67)
 
“John Wesley never encouraged criticism of George Whitefield.  ‘Do you think we shall see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?’ asked one small-minded disciple.  ‘No,’ replied Wesley, and the man looked pleased that he had aimed his flattery well.  ‘No sir,’ said Wesley, ‘I fear not.  Mr. Whitefield will be so near the Throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get a sight of him.’”  John PollockGeorge Whitefield and the Great Awakening, page 244.
 
I am Reformed.  I am grateful for all I have learned from my Reformed brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.  But I am also grateful for others — Dispensationalists, Methodists, Charismatics and others who do not align with me in some aspects of theology.  Theology matters.  Our differences matter.  But what we share in common in Christ matters more.  And I not only accept that as a fact; I rejoice in it as a fellowship.
 
I am grateful for Dallas Theological Seminary, where I studied from 1971 to 1975.  I am no longer a Dispensationalist.  But I will go to my grave thanking the Lord for the biblical languages and exegesis DTS drilled into me.  Every day of ministry since my ordination in 1975, what DTS gave me has made a wonderful difference.
 
I am grateful for my Wesleyan brothers and sisters.  I don’t accept the traditional Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification.  But if I ever become half the Christian that Robert E. Coleman, for example, is, then I will be a better man than I am now.  I admire him, and others like him, as fathers in the Lord.
 
I am grateful for my Charismatic brothers and sisters.  I remain unpersuaded by some of their arguments.  But they taught me to stop treating a church service as mere doctrinal rehearsal; they helped me see it as an encounter with the living Christ.  They expect the Lord to do something, and they are right.
 
I am grateful for so many who are located elsewhere within the Body of Christ.  As I observe myself, it often happens that I notice a phrase or even a word finding its way into a sermon, something that echoes a Christian who contributed to me long ago without even realizing it.  And this includes some people, unlike my friends mentioned above, whom I don’t particularly like.  But they taught me.  They showed me something.  And I am better off for it.
 
Many disparate believers, in many ways, have helped me toward the Lord.  How could I be ungrateful?  I don’t believe that verses like Romans 12:10 apply only to other Reformed believers.  My heart has been stretched out beyond that circle, without diminishing my own convictions, and for that too I am grateful.
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And finally, below is an excellent recent discussion between Matt Chandler, Michael Horton and Tim Keller on “How to Disagree” (biblically and gracefully). It’s well worth 10+ minutes to watch! Selah!

How to disagree by Collin Hansen

Before the widespread accessibility of the internet, most theological debate moved at the speed of journal publishing, which is to say, slowly.  There was a time when perhaps two years would pass before an author would see critical reviews of his or her work. Today, controversial books will be dissected by bloggers and Amazon reviewers before most readers even know the book has been released.
 
This is just one way the terms of theological debate have changed, according to Michael Horton, who talks in this video with Tim Keller and Matt Chandler about how Christians ought to disagree among ourselves and with other theological opponents. You’ll hear them offer several nuggets of wisdom that all Christians would be wise to follow as they call on us to criticize when possible in the context of relationship and state our opponents’ arguments in a way they would recognize and own.

Weak Faith in a Strong God

Tim Keller, in his book, The Reason for God, writes…

“The faith that changes the life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word ‘trust.’
 
“Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. 
 
“Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch
 
“This means you don’t have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to banish all misgivings in order to meet God. That would turn your faith into one more way to be your own Savior. Working on the quality and purity of your commitment would become a way to merit salvation and put God in your debt. It is not the depth and purity of your heart but the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf that saves us
 
“Faith, then, begins as you recognize and reject your alternative trusts and gods and turn instead to the Father, asking for a relationship to him on the basis of what Jesus has donenot on the basis of your moral effort or achievements.

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