Got to thinking about eyes

Yesterday after I posted about Joel Osteen and his blurb about his forthcoming newest book, I got to thinking.

What I was thinking about is how the worldview he is promoting is completely foundationally skewed. It is exactly backwards.

Here is part of what he says:

Instead, your declarations should be: I am closer than I think. I can raise this child. I can overcome this sickness. I can make this business work. I know I can find a new job.

Take your dreams and the promises God has put in your heart, and every day declare that they will come to pass. Just say something like, “Father, I want to thank you that my payday is coming. You said no good thing will You withhold because I walk uprightly. And I believe even right now you’re arranging things in my favor.”

and the phrase in my head was “if the eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Here is that phrase in context:

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 x “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where y moth and rust [5] destroy and where thieves z break in and steal, 20 x but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 a “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 a but if b your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 c “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God andd money. [6]

do you see it? two ways to look at the world. two types of eyes with which to view the world.  The healthy eye is spiritual, realizing that better and more lasting possessions come later, in heaven.  The bad eye is temporal, thinking that here in this world is the place to stockpile treasure.  The former is light, the latter is dark.

what about these eyes?  why that metaphor?

Here is John Piper on the topic:

So the flow of thought would go like this: Don’t lay up treasures on earth, but lay up treasures in heaven. Show that your heart is fixed on the value that God is for you in Christ. Make sure that your eye is good not bad. That is, make sure that you see heavenly treasure as infinitely more precious than earthly material treasure. When your eye sees things this way, you are full of light. And if you don’t see things this way, even the light you think you see (the glitz and flash and skin and muscle of this world) is all darkness. You are sleepwalking through life. You are serving money as a slave without even knowing it, because it has lulled you to sleep. Far better is to be swayed by the truth—the infinite value of God.

and here is John MacArthur:

If our eye is bad, however, if it is diseased or damaged, no light can enter, and the whole body will be full of darkness. If our hearts are encumbered with material concerns they become “blind” and insensitive to spiritual concerns. The eye is like a window which, when clear, allows light to shine through, but, when dirty, or bad, prevents light from entering. Poneros (bad) usually means evil, as it is translated here in the King James Version. In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) it is often used in translating the Hebrew expression “evil eye,” a Jewish colloquialism that means grudging, or stingy (see Deut. 15:9, “hostile”; Pr 23:6, “selfish”). “A man with an evil eye,” for example, is one who “hastens after wealth” (Pr 28:22). The eye that is bad is the heart that is selfishly indulgent. The person who is materialistic and greedy is spiritually blind. Because he has no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not. What is thought to be light is therefore really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is the darkness! The principle is simple and sobering: the way we look at and use our money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)

Do you see where I am heading? Joel Osteen writes about Your Best Life Now and It’s Your Time. The Bible says that our best life is yet to come in eternity with Jesus. The Bible says that our time is yet to come.

here, see for yourself(tent=earthly home=physical body):

Our Heavenly Dwelling

5 For we know that if k the tent that is l our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, m a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent n we groan, longing to o put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on [1] we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal p may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, q who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that r while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for s we walk by faith, not t by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we u would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to v please him. 10 For w we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, x so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

so, is your eye healthy or diseased? do you chase after wealth and security on this earth or do you emphasize laying up treasure for yourself in heaven?

do you really believe that your treasure in heaven is “better and more lasting possessions” than anything you can accumulate here?

32 But recall the former days when, after r you were enlightened, you endured s a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being t publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For u you had compassion on those in prison, and v you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had w a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has x a great reward.36 For y you have need of endurance, so that z when you have done the will of God you may a receive what is promised.

In closing, here is some advice from Pastor Piper:

So if you are emotionally drawn more by material things than by Christ, pray that God would give you a good eye and awaken you from the blindness of “the bad eye.”

calvinism and holiness today

courtesy of Iain campbell here is a different take than one would expect on the state of calvinism and holiness these days.

here is how it starts:

When I was a youngster and newly saved, it seemed as if the chief goal of all zealous Christians, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, was consecration. Sermons, books and conferences stressed this in the spirit of Romans 12.1-2, where the beseeching apostle calls believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, and not to be conformed to this world. The heart was challenged and stirred. Christ was to be Lord of one’s life, and self must be surrendered on the altar of service for him.

But now, it appears, there is a new Calvinism, with new Calvinists, which has swept the old objectives aside. A recent book, Young, Restless, Reformed, by Collin Hansen tells the story of how a so-called Calvinistic resurgence has captured the imaginations of thousands of young people in the USA, and this book has been reviewed with great enthusiasm in well-known magazines in the UK, such as Banner of Truth, Evangelical Times, and Reformation Today.

This writer, however, was very deeply saddened to read it, because it describes a seriously distorted Calvinism falling far, far short of an authentic life of obedience to a sovereign God. If this kind of Calvinism prospers, then genuine biblical piety will be under attack as never before.

The author of the book is a young man (around 26 when he wrote it) who grew up in a Christian family and trained in secular journalism. We are indebted to him for the readable and wide-reaching survey he gives of this new phenomenon, but the scene is certainly not a happy one.

The author begins by describing the Passion, conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book – large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with Calvinistic doctrine.

then he goes after John MacArthur and the Resolved conferences, C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Curtis Allen and Mark Driscoll. you should go read it to see what he says.

then he gets to the meat of his coconut:

Most of the well-known preachers who promote and encourage this ‘revival’ of Calvinism have in common the following positions that contradict a genuine Calvinistic (or Puritan) outlook:

1. They have no problem with contemporary charismatic-ethos worship, including extreme, heavy-metal forms.

2. They are soft on separation from worldliness [see endnote 2].

3. They reject the concern for the personal guidance of God in the major decisions of Christians (true sovereignty), thereby striking a death-blow to wholehearted consecration.

4. They hold anti-fourth-commandment views, taking a low view of the Lord’s Day, and so inflicting another blow at a consecrated lifestyle.

Whatever their strengths and achievements (and some of them are brilliant men by any human standard), or whatever their theoretical Calvinism, the poor stand of these preachers on these crucial issues will only encourage a fatally flawed version of Calvinism that will lead people to be increasingly wedded to the world, and to a self-seeking lifestyle.

Truly proclaimed, the sovereignty of God must include consecration, reverence, sincere obedience to his will, and separation from the world.

You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.

and then he gets to this:

A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm in the book is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists, this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents, and while maintaining sound preaching, it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every -error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.

True Calvinism and worldliness are opposites. Preparation of heart is needed if we would search the wonders and plumb the depths of sovereign grace.

This fellow Masters is very hard to please.

piper on driscoll

Here is a blog post containing six minutes of audio of John Piper discussing the controversy between John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Very interesting indeed.

If you want a more complete narrative of the fuss, Jonathan Christman has a nine part run down focusing on Phil Johnson and Mark Driscoll including Phil Johnson’s letter to Mark and Mark’s video response. Again, very interesting indeed.

Here is a page with all of the links to Jonathan’s posts about the matter. I found parts VII, VIII and IX to be the most interesting.

why doctrine?

via challies, here is John MacArthur talking about the importance of a sound doctrinal foundation prior to learning specific applications of scripture.

Of course, practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But if there is a deficiency in preaching today, it is that there’s too much relational, pseudopsychological, and thinly life-related content, and not enough emphasis on sound doctrine.

The distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if they’re not attached to divine principle. There’s no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of God’s Word. Before the preacher asks anyone to perform a certain duty, he must first deal with doctrine. He must develop his message around theological themes and draw out the principles of the texts. Then the truth can be applied.

sovereignty

John MacArthur nails it with the opening sentence of this post (the second and third sentences are excellent as well) which is an excerpt from the book Ashamed of the Gospel.

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation.
…..
Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have (Rom. 2:19, 20), so that punishment is just if they reject the light. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (v. 37); “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life” (v. 40); “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v. 44); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (v. 47); and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (v. 65). How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that? In Psalm 50:21 God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8, 9).

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33 the apostle writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33, 34).

Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong

Here are two blurbs from the new book Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong

the first one deals with the emptiness of chasing the “American dream”:

Until sinners submit to the truth about God, they will never acquire what it is they truly seek. They become like the Samaritan woman at the well, confusing the true remedy for spiritual thirst with the temporary satisfaction of an earthly spring (John 4:14). Sadly, the unbeliever attempts the whole of his life to quench the unquenchable with something other than God. So he pursues fame, money, power, wealth, fitness, work, wisdom, education, love, or any other created thing that can perhaps quiet the desperate cry of his empty soul. But none of the things he finds—whether politics or popularity or creativity or anything else this world offers—can ever answer the call of his heart. He can pursue happiness, but he will never find it. As soon as he acquires one desire it turns into dust; as does the next, and the next after that, until life finally ends in disappointment.

This is the cotton candy fate of the American Dream that befalls all who embrace the cult of celebrity. From a distance it looks so appealing—a big and beautiful ball of glistening spun sugar. But those who finally get it, and taste it, find that it isn’t very filling. Sure, it is sweet for a moment. But it doesn’t bring lasting happiness. After a quick melt in the mouth it is gone forever . . . then what?
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As Solomon learned after a lifetime of trial and error, if you want happiness in this life you must look to God.

the second one confronts the problem of evil in the world:

God’s sacrifice of His Son Jesus demonstrates His mysterious wisdom (Isa. 53:10). The Father’s unfathomable loss and the Son’s incomprehensible suffering were the crux of God’s predetermined plan for His own everlasting glory and our eternal good. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:32) The only appropriate response is to exclaim with Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom 11:33)
….
The realities of Heaven and Hell bring evil and suffering into sharp focus. “For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven” (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 28). God uses the troubles of our lives, culminating in the inevitability of our own deaths, to pry our grips off this world and refocus our hearts on what lies ahead with Him. As Maurice Roberts writes, “…the degree of a Christian’s peace of mind depends upon his spiritual ability to interpose the thought of God between himself and his anxiety” (Maurice Roberts, The Thought of God, 7). If a believer can keep his mind on God, no evil in this world can steal his peace. And that will be enough till Heaven.

go read the rest of the excerpts at the links above. Good stuff.

congratulations to John MacArthur

John MacArthur is celebrating 40 years at Grace Community Church this weekend. Congratulations to him and thanks to God who has enabled and empowered John to do what he has done so well for so long.

John MacArthur’s New Testament commentaries have been invaluable to me as I have taught the books of Romans, Hebrews, I Peter, Ephesians and Phillipians.