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Theological Term of the Week

religious persecution
hostility and ill-treatment because of religious beliefs:

  • In scripture: 

    You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 ESV)

    If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 ESV)

    As we witness the testimonies of courageous persecuted brothers and sisters in person or through reports, it is worthwhile to reflect on the words of Peter, “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19 ESV). In these words, Peter defines grace as being enabled to endure suffering due to one’s faithfulness to God. As we read the accounts of those who have suffered for the sake of Christ, we might be justified in saying that, from the world’s perspective, those who endure persecution are heroic. But from God’s perspective, Peter reminds us, they are recipients of grace. Peter stresses that enduring suffering is evidence that God is at work in one’s life. There is no glory for the sufferer. No hero worship. No merit for those who are able to endure hardship, no boasting of one’s achievements. It is evidence of God’s grace. It is all a work of God, from beginning to end. Is it any wonder that near the end of his first epistle, written especially to instruct persecuted believers to stand firm in their faith, the apostle writes, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10,11 ESV). 

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Heidelberg Catechism

Question 63. How can you say that our good works don’t merit anything when God promised to reward them in this life and the next?

Answer: This reward is not merited, but is a gift of grace. (a)

Question 64. But doesn’t this doctrine make people careless and wicked?

Answer: No.  It is impossible for those who are grafted into Christ by true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude. (b)

(Scriptural proofs after the fold.)

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Sunday's Hymn: I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art

I greet thee, who my sure Redeemer art,
My only trust and Saviour of my heart,
Who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;
I pray thee from our hearts all cares to take.

Thou art the King of mercy and of grace,
Reigning omnipotent in every place:
So come, O King, and our whole being sway;
Shine on us with the light of thy pure day.

Thou art the life, by which alone we live,
And all our substance and our strength receive;
O comfort us in death’s approaching hour,
Strong-hearted then to face it by thy pow’r.

Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness,
No harshness hast thou and no bitterness:
Make us to taste the sweet grace found in thee
And ever stay in thy sweet unity.

Our hope is in no other save in thee;
Our faith is built upon thy promise free;
O grant to us such stronger hope and sure
That we can boldly conquer and endure.

Attributed to John Calvin or Jean Garnier

Other hymns, worship songs, prayers, sermons excerpts, or quotes posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.


Linked Together: In Scripture

Two pieces of recommended reading for your weekend.

Most Important Passage
Michael Kruger says Romans 3:21-22 is the most important passage the whole of scripture

This passage is the basis for the great Reformation doctrine of sola fide–the idea that we are saved by faith alone and not by the works of the law… .

Romans 3:21-22 explains how sola-fide works, teaching us that faith in Christ is the sole instrument through which we receive a righteous status before God. Which is good news

[f]or those who doubt their faith and find their faith to be weak … Our hope is not in how strong our faith is, but in how strong and righteous our Savior is.

Read Kruger’s explanation of this passage.

The Psalms
Three reasons to study the Psalms:

  1. They are God-inspired poetry: “Studying the Psalms is a wonderful way to enter into the world of God’s inspired and inspiring poems!”
  2. They teach us how to talk to God: “The Psalms cover the full range of human emotions, spilling out in praise, thanksgiving, and lament. And in this way, they model for us how to approach our transcendent but imminent God in prayer.”
  3. They point to Jesus: “[The Psalms] point to the salvation found in Jesus Christ (as Jesus himself put it, Luke 24:44). A careful Christological reading of the Psalms can “make [us] wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15).”

Read the whole piece by Douglas Sean O’Donnell.


Thankful Thursday

On top of our short daylight hours, lately we’ve had clouds so low the sun might as well not bother rising because it’s going to be gloomier than gloomy anyway. But I’ve learned there’s no better time to acknowledge God’s good gifts to me than when I’m feeling grumpy. 

I’m thankful 

  • for something important that came in the mail. My sister and I are still working to settle my dad’s estate, and we’ve been frustrated with mail service between the U.S and Canada. But today, a piece of mail came right when it was expected. 

  • for a craft project done with the grandchildren. No one cried, no one died, and there’s a finshed project, to boot. As far as three-toddler craft projects go, that’s extremely successful—and something to be thankful for.

  • for trusty winter tires and safe driving on icy roads.

  • lamps and candles and a string of white mini-lights. 

  • that Jesus is the light of the world and will be the light of the New Jerusalem.

Also thankful today:

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment with your thanksgiving, post your thanksgiving on your blog, or tweet it. Give me the link by email or in a comment and I’ll add your thanksgiving to the list in the post.