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Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce: A Must Read for Today's Generation

In just over 50 pages, John Piper gives a biographical study of William Wilberforce's life that I believe reveals the true heart behind the member of Parliament who fought for 46 years (1787-1833) to abolish the slave trade and then slavery in the British Empire. Piper shows us not only what he accomplished during his remarkable life, but seeks to go "behind the scenes" to what drove the man: A steadfast joy in God rooted in the Gospel. John Piper quotes often from Wilberforce's own book, A Practical View of Christianity, to give motives behind the actions. Piper reveals the the true Wilberforce, a view that you likely won't get from textbooks and that will be minimized in secular biographies. The great turning point for William Wilberforce was when God saved him as a young self-centered member of Parliament in 1785; that same grace that saved him sustained him and drove him toward incredible perseverance and accomplishment in many varied causes of social good.

This book is needed today. Toward making Christianity practical and relevant to today's culture and today's needs, many are quickly moving to jettison doctrine and even truth. Seeing so many professing Christians do so little to help the poor, sick, the voiceless in the world (an inexcusable omission that the Church must work to remedy), many say that we need a more Christian morals and less Christian doctrine. Here's what Wilberforce would have to say to that:

"From the neglect of these peculiar doctrines (human depravity, divine judgment, justification by faith alone, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and the practical necessity of fruit and devotion to good deeds - p. 22) arise the main practical errors of the bulk of professed Christians. These gigantic truths retained in view would put to shame the littleness of their dwarfish morality." (p. 71)

"It is a fatal habit to consider Christian morals as distinct from Christian doctrines." p. 72

Wilberforce took on a large number of initiatives for social good, but behind them all he realized that if one is to have a lasting influence for good he must deal with the root of the problems. Therefore, he attacked sin in himself and his nation not first and foremost as a societal problem. He commented that most of the Christians in England estimated the guilt of an action "not by the proportion in which, according to scripture, [actions] are offensive to God, but by that in which they are injurious to society" (p. 23). Likewise, the greatest good in his aims was the salvation of souls, not just the meeting of needs and the application of justice here on earth.

William Wilberforce accomplished many social goods, it could be argued that in human history he was one of those who accomplished most. He is one that we should all look to in order to emulate him in his diligence, his joy in God, his love, and his doctrine.

I pray that those, like me, who are dissatisfied with the inactivity of the church against the social ills of today would read this book. There are many liberal "Christians" with a sin-minimizing, self-glorifying, truth-questioning, doctrine-denying "gospel" promising a better morality, a better Christianity. Don't buy the lies. Run to the God of Wilberforce, learn the doctrines that drove him because then and only then will you make a lasting difference. Wilberforce says it well:

"The fatal habit of considering Christian morals as distinct from Christian doctrines insensibly gained strength. Thus the peculiar doctrines of Christianity went more and more out of sight, and as might naturally have been expected, the moral system itself also began to wither and decay, being robbed of that which should have supplied it with life and nutriment. (p. 8)

Lauterbach's Emergent Litmus Test

Mark Lauterbach has posted a summary of his thinking about the recent glut of reading that he has been doing on the emergent church. Rather than responding point by point he has come up with a litmus test to evaluate new models and new looks of "Christianity":

So, I suggest a simple litmus test for all thinking about new models and new theologizing . . .  does the cross dominate?  and does it have power and clarity to offend?  Or have we centered the Gospel around something else?  and have we removed the scandal of the cross?...

...the second litmus test is this: am I prepared to die for the truth of the Gospel?

What we Draw Them With Is What We Draw Them To

"What we draw them with is what we draw them to."

Neil Cole
Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens
p. 95

So let's draw them in through evangelism (telling them of God's love to forgive sins through Jesus' life and death on the cross is a necessary place to begin) and not entertainment.

My Flesh, God's Enemy

Sometimes we think of the flesh as our enemy; but it only hates us because God is in us: "The flesh wars against the Spirit" in us (Galatians 5:17)...

You can feel the hostility of the flesh whenever you approach God - it makes real love for him into work: Digging around the Bible to find a juicy new insight to impress your small group is like sailing the Caribbean, but poring over the Scriptures to find the Lover of your soul is like skiing up Mount Everest. Conjuring up a happy mood with some music you don't even know the words to is like solving 2 + 2 with a calculator. But savoring the glory of Christ and his tender love until your heart is softened toward him is like using mental math to calculate pi to the thousandth place. And giving a birthday present to your best friend is like forcing down some double-fudge brownies but giving up your extra bedroom to a homeless person in the name of Jesus is like eating the Rockies for breakfast...

If the flesh didn't mind God's wisdom, for example, the soul could meditate on the mystery of the gospel day and night without tiring, and find constant strength in God's plan to save him. But the flesh hates everything about God. Since it resists everything about God, it resists every way we try to taste him and know him and love him. And the more something enables us to find God and feast on him, the more violently the flesh fights against it.

It takes its battle to every quarter of the soul: When the mind wants to know God, the flesh imposes its ignorance, darkness, error, and trivial thoughts. The will can't move toward God without feeling the weight of stubbornness holding it back. And the affections, longing to long for God, are constantly fighting the infection of sensuality or the disease of indifference.

Kris Lundgaard
The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin
pp 46-48

January's Free Audiobook: Absolute Surrender

You can go to ChristianAudio's free book page and download this month's free audiobook. It looks like they will be giving away books every month. Looks like a good promotion since they suckered me in and got me to buy all of the Piper audiobooks they have. All of the audiobooks that I have heard from ChristianAudio certainly are professional quality, not inferior to any of the audiobooks that I have. Just go to the Free book download page, add the book to your cart, check out (making a new account if necessary), and then enter the coupon code JAN2007 when given the opportunity. You will not have to enter any credit card information and you will not be charged anything.

So far I have gotten Spurgeon's All of Grace and Bunyan's abridged Pilgrim's Progress for Young Adults which I have really enjoyed. I hope they keep up with the promotion.

They also have a separate promotion, where if you buy an 8 credit subscription, they will give you 4 extra credits for free. With 12 credits, you will be able to download about 4 audiobooks. At $25, that makes it $6.25 per high quality audiobook (some cost more than 3 credits, however), which is a steal no matter how you look at it. Great site. Wow

I am beginning a two-and-a-half-year-long study of the entire Bible with my small group. We are reading through the Bible together, book-by-book - one book every two weeks - along with Mark Dever's Message of the Old Testament / New Testament books. One of the biggest hurdles for me that I've long thought should be easily overcome is Bible geography. If only there was a simple and quick way to get a lay-of-the-land I could better understand what's going on in the stories that I'm reading.

Well, has done what I have wished for years would be done. They have tied Google maps in with the Biblical text, making known place names hyperlinked to the satellite view of Google maps. The site is still in Beta and constantly improving. This is not just another "cool" site, but a useful one that I think will help make the Bible come alive.



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