John Chrysostom Helps a Brother Out

This is a mosaic of Eastern church father John Chrysostom. It resides in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

John Chrysostom lived from 347-407 and from the sixth century on he was glossed Chrysostom (Gk. Golden Mouth) for he was a master preacher. What’s more, St. John has kept up with the times and even has his own website.

In Knowing God, J.I. Packer says,

John Chrysostom had [Paul’s letter to the Romans] read aloud to him once a week; you and I could do a lot worse than that.

Yes I suppose Dr. Packer is right, we could do a lot worse than that. So this prompted me to mirror Chrysostom’s practice though I’m doing my own reading.

I’ve read Romans a few times, successively learning something new. I’m not sure where God will take me as I embark on this new journey through (IMHO) the best of Paul’s epistles.

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Back from CIY, Thank God…

“I stab you in the face…” — Lewis the Unicorn

For the uninitiated, CIY is an acronym for Christ in Youth, our non-denomination’s (Restoration Movement) yearly summer youth conference. Starting this year the high school conference is now known as Move.

This year, our youth group went to the one held in Bolivar, Missouri on the campus of Southwest Baptist University.

This makes the second time I go to CIY, the first was in ’05 at Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee. Like last time, the conference featured some outstanding speakers and moving (no pun intended) worship sessions.

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The Invisible Church

The Church is not a building. She is a people. People who regularly attend church services go to church but may or may not be part of the Church.

This from J.I. Packer’s brief but treasure-packed Concise Theology,

There is a distinction to be drawn between the church as we humans see it and as God alone can see it. This is the historic distinction between the “visible church” and the “invisible church.”

Invisible means, not that we can see no sign of its presence, but that we cannot know (as God, the heart-reader, knows, 2 Timothy 2:19) which of those baptized, professing members of the church as an organized institution are inwardly regenerate and thus belong to the church as a spiritual fellowship of sinners loving their Savior.

Jesus taught that in the organized church there would always be people who thought they were Christians and passed as Christians, some indeed becoming ministers, but who were not renewed in heart and would therefore be exposed and rejected at the Judgment (Matthew 7:15-27; 13:24-30, 35-43, 47-50; 25:1-46)

Conversion: Not the Christian’s Responsibility

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,

so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
— St. Paul to the church at Corinth

There is a great deal of confusion regarding conversion to Christianity. Many are resistant to even hearing the good news of Christ and this should not surprise anyone given the Apostle’s words here.

I recall, with gratitude given the immeasurable grace of God, the days when my residence was in the darkness in which all men are born into, and can testify to the truth of Paul’s words.

Then there are those who take it upon themselves to be the motive force behind the conversion of the unbeliever, forgetting the clear testimony of Scripture (see above or see here) that this cannot be so in the case of true conversion, that is, the rebirth from which a new creature (in Christ) arises.

Currently reading J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, and he shares the following insight,

It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by His own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart.

It is the sovereign prerogative of Christ’s Spirit to convince men’s consciences of the truth of Christ’s gospel; and Christ’s human witnesses must learn to ground their hopes of success not on clever presentation of the truth by man, but on powerful demonstration of the truth by the Spirit.

The Christian’s responsibility is not to convert those around him, but to give testimony to Christ who has graciously redeemed him from the miserable natural state where he was but a child of wrath, deserving to face God’s Justice. The Christian’s responsibility is to echo the blind man’s reply to his Pharisee interlocutors,

Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

Books to Read

The “inspiration” for this post came from a comment made by j razz over at his blog (Blogged Down World).

It can be truly said that the wife and I are bibliophiles. We’ve gotten to the point where we buy more books than we have time to read and as a result the queue is getting increasingly long.

For what it’s worth, here’s the list of books that are sitting on my shelf (or numerous other places throughout our home) and which I know that God willing I will finish at some point in the future:

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