Men at War: Pursuing an Undistracted Passion for God, Part 2

John Piper:Men at War: “Pursuing an Undistracted Passion for God, Part 2″

Life is promised

The life promised (in Romans 8:13 ‘you will live’) is eternal life. This is the very opposite of the penalty: ‘if you live after the flesh, you shall die’. However, the word [life] may not only mean eternal life in heaven, but also the spiritual life in Christ which we have here, the Joy, and Comfort, and Vigour of our life yet in this world. This is a second motive for the duty prescribed: (Get this!!) the vigour, power AND comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh! ~ John Owen, The Mortification of sin the Believer – Chapter 1.5

What is Mortification

To ‘mortify’ means to put any living thing to death. To kill a man, or any living thing, is to take away the principle of all its strength, vigour and power, so that it cannot act, or exert, or put forth any proper acting of its own. Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called ‘the old man’, with faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, and strength. The’old man’ is uttery mortified and slain by the cross of Christ. He is said to the ‘crucified with Christ’ (Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.) and ourselves to be ‘dead’ with him (Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him). This takes place in regeneration. The work of the Holy Spirit [in regeneration], Who is planted in our hearts [during regeneration], also opposes the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.). This whole work is done by degrees (2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from [one degree of] glory to [the next] glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.) and is to be carried on towards perfection (Philipians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.) all of our days. Thus it is the constant duty of believers to render a death blow to the deeds of the flesh, that they may not have life and strength to bring forth their destructive influence. ~ John Owen The Mortification of Sin in the Believer Chapter 1.4

The Essential Owen

The links below are PDF copies of the William H. Goold edition of The Works of John Owen originally published in 1850-1853 by Johnstone & Hunter. These volumes, are the same volumes that are being published and sold today by The Banner of Truth Trust. I encourage you to buy these books in the form of a hard copy. Nothing can substitute reading a real book. But, since this edition is public domain and the downloads are free, this is the next best thing.

To download, right click and then select “save link as…” Then start reading! Enjoy!

John Owen, The glory of Christ Chapter 5 quote

This is amazing!!!!

1. Labor that your minds may continually be prepared for such heavenly contemplations. If they are carnal and sensual, or filled with earthly things, a due sense of this love of Christ and its glory will not abide in them. Virtue and vice, in their highest degrees, are not more diametrically opposed and inconsistent in the same mind than are an habitual course of sensual, worldly thoughts and a due contemplation of the glory of the love of Christ. Yea, an earnestness of spirit, pregnant with a multitude of thoughts about the lawful occasions of life, is obstructive of all due communion with the Lord Jesus Christ herein.

Few there are whose minds are prepared in a due manner for this duty. The actions and communications of most persons evidence the inward frame of their souls. They rove up and down in their thoughts, which are continually led by their affections into the corners of the earth. It is in vain to call such persons to contemplations of the glory of Christ in His love. A holy composure of mind, by virtue of spiritual principles, an inclination to seek after refreshment in heavenly things and to bathe the soul in the fountain of them, with constant apprehensions of the excellency of this divine glory, are required.

2. Be not satisfied with general notions of the love of Christ which represent no glory to the mind, wherewith many deceive themselves. All who believe His divine person profess a valuation of His love, and think them not Christians who are otherwise minded; but they have only general notions, and not any distinct conceptions of it, and really know not what it is. To deliver us from this snare, peculiar meditations on its principal concerns are required of us. As,

a) Whose love it is—of the divine person of the Son of God. He is expressly called God, with respect to the exercise of this love, that we may always consider whose it is (I John 3:16), “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us.”

b) By what ways and means this wonderful love of the Son of God acts—in the divine nature by eternal acts of wisdom, goodness, and grace proper to it; and in the human, by temporary acts of pity or compassion, with all the fruits of them in doing and suffering for us. (See Eph. 3:19; Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 1:5.)

c) What is the freedom of it, as to any desert on our part (I John 4:10). It was hatred, not love, that we in ourselves deserved; which is a consideration suited to fill the soul with self-abasement, the best of frames in the contemplation of the glory of Christ.

d) What is the efficacy of it in its fruits and effects, with sundry other considerations of the like nature.

By a distinct prospect and admiration of these things, the soul may walk in this paradise of God, and gather here and there a heavenly flower, conveying to it a sweet savor of this love of Christ. (See Song of Sol. 2:2—4.)

Moreover, be not contented to have right notions of the love of Christ in your minds unless you can attain a gracious taste of it in your hearts; no more than you would be to see a feast or banquet richly prepared and not partake of it for your refreshment. It is of that nature that we may have a spiritual sensation of it in our minds; whence it is compared by the Spouse to apples and flagons of wine. We may taste that the Lord is gracious; and if we find nor a relish of it in our hearts, we shall not long retain the notion of it in our minds. Christ is the meat, the bread, the food of our souls. Nothing in Him is of a higher spiritual nourishment than His love, which we should always desire.

In this love He is glorious; for it is such as no creatures, angels or men, could have the least conception of, before its manifestation by its effects; and, after its manifestation, it is in this world absolutely incomprehensible.”

Confronting the lie: God won’t give you more than you can handle

This is such a powerful post, I had to share it. Full credit to Nate Pyle at
He says; “I’m being transformed from one degree to another. Sometimes it is a joyful process. Many times it’s a painful one. I’m finding that as I follow Jesus I need to unlearn a way of being in the world and learn a new way of being. This blog is a place where I am working out that process.”

From Nate’s blog

Confronting the lie: God won’t give you more than you can handle

The past three weeks have been the most difficult I have ever gone through. These three weeks have been filled with illness, the terrible-three’s (the terrible-two’s are an out-and-out lie), a friend suffering the consequence of sin, a ministry I am a part of reeling in confusion and pain, having to cancel a trip to celebrate my parents 60th birthdays, and our family experiencing the emotional roller-coaster of finding out we were pregnant only to be told the pregnancy was ectopic and could be life-threatening to my wife if it was not ended.

Needless to say, I have had enough.

I know I am not alone. As trying as the last three weeks have been for me, I know some people who have dealt with far more for far longer. But that doesn’t change the fact that this has been painful for me and my wife. In the face of all this, I can honestly say I feel no pressure to be the “pastor” and have the answer for this. Honestly, even as a pastor, I have no answer for this. My questions before God about the reality of what my family has experienced over the last three weeks are the exact same questions anyone would ask.

Why not step in?
Why not act?
Why wouldn’t you make it right?
Why couldn’t you part the clouds and provide a moment for us to catch our breath?
Why everything at once?

Not only am I okay asking those questions, but I think there is something holy and sacred in being courageous enough to ask them. Don’t be fooled, those questions are only to be asked by the courageous. It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology. But insipid axioms do little in the face of the actual brokenness of the world. It is more courageous to ask the hard questions of God and wait for him to answer than it is to find hope on the side of coffee mug. Asking those questions requires courage because, in the end, it is very likely they will not be answered.

Ultimately, it isn’t about the questions. Behind the questions is a deep current of emotion threatening to overtake us. But too often, when the fracture in the universe threatens to swallow us up in pain we fail to get fully present to our emotions. In those moments I think we do one of two things. Either we ask the questions but never investigate what emotion is driving those questions, or we resort to some banal Christian slogan to try and make us feel better.

This experience forced me to look at one such statement that gets spouted often when people go through a lot: God won’t give you more than you can handle. If I may be so bold, let’s just call that what it is:


Tell that to a survivor of Auschwitz.
Tell it to the man who lost his wife and child in a car accident.
Tell it to the girl whose innocence was robbed from her.
Tell it to the person crushed under the weight of depression and anxiety.
Tell it to the kids who just learned their parent has a terminal illness.

Limp, anemic sentiments will not stand in the face of a world that is not as it should be.

Now that I have said how I feel, let me back up this argument with some actual Biblical evidence. This particular statement, that “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” isn’t even in the Bible. There is a statement that sounds like it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But notice that verse is about temptation. That’s it. You won’t be tempted beyond what you can stand up against. This text is not saying that you will not experience more than you can bear. That idea just isn’t Biblical. If anything the exact opposite is true. Look at this text.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8,9, emphasis mine).
Later, Paul will write it is when he is weak that the strength of Christ is seen. In other words, when we can’t do it any longer. When we are fed up. When it has become too much. When we have nothing left. When we are empty. When it is beyond our capability to deal with it. Then, in that moment, the strength of the God of resurrection will be seen. Until we get to that point, we rely on ourselves thinking we can handle it and take care of the problem.

Don’t hear me saying I am rejoicing because of the last couple of weeks. I am not. Not once have I danced around our house shouting, “Yeah suffering!” Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something. I don’t know what. I don’t know when. But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us. I am expecting God to restore us. I am expecting him to redeem this situation. I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something. I believe expectant waiting can only happen when we exchange our feeble platitudes for an authentic faith that engages God with the full brunt of our emotion and pain. Only then can salvation been seen.

But that exchange takes courage.

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photo credit: denzleah via deviantart


“Dwell in the midst of us
Come and dwell in this place
Dwell in the midst of us
Come and have Your way

Dwell in the midst of us
Wipe all the tears from our faces
Dwell in the midst of us
You can have Your way

Not our will, but Yours be done
Come and change us
Not our will, but Yours be done
Come sustain us”

This is A Church Without Walls!

For more information on getting involved with A Church without Walls, please visit

The Perseverance of Polycarp

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna in Asian Minor. He lived from about AD 70 to 155. He is famous for his martyrdom which is recounted in The Martyrdom of Polycarp and found in Henry Bettenson’s Documents of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1967, pp. 9-12). Tensions had risen between the Christians and those who venerated Caesar. The Christians were called atheists because they refused to worship any of the Roman gods and had no images or shrines of their own. At one point, a mob cried out, “Away with the atheists; let search be made of Polycarp.”

At a cottage outside the city, he remained in prayer and did not flee. He had a vision of a burning pillow and said to his companion, “I must needs be burned alive.” The authorities sought him, and he was betrayed to them by one of his servants under torture. He came down from an upper room and talked with his accusers. “All that were present marveled at his age and constancy, and that there was so much ado about the arrest of such an old man” (p. 9). He asked for permission to pray before being taken away. They allowed it and “being so filled with the grace of God that for two hours he could not hold his peace” (p. 10).

In the town, the sheriff met him and took him into his carriage and tried to persuade him to deny Christ, “Now what harm is there in saying ‘Lord Caesar,’ and in offering incense . . . and thus saving thyself?” He answered, “I do not intend to do what you advise.” Angered, they hastened him to the stadium where there was a great tumult.

“How Can I Blaspheme My King Who Saved Me?”

The proconsul tried again to persuade him to save himself, “Have respect to thine age . . . Swear by the genius of Caesar . . . Repent . . . Say, ‘Away with the atheists! [that is, Christians].” Polycarp turned to the “mob of lawless heathen in the stadium, and he waved his hand at them, and looking up to heaven he groaned and said, ‘Away with the atheists.’” Again the proconsul said, “Swear, and I will release thee; curse the Christ.” To this Polycarp gave his most famous response, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?”

The proconsul said again, “Swear by the genius of Caesar.” And Polycarp answered, “If thou dost vainly imagine that I would swear by the genius of Caesar, as thou sayest, pretending not to know what I am, hear plainly that I am a Christian.” The proconsul replied, “I have wild beasts; if thou repent not, I will throw thee to them.” To which Polycarp replied, “Send for them. For repentance from better to worse is not a change permitted to us; but to change from cruelty to righteousness is a noble thing” (p. 11).

The proconsul said, “If thou doest despise the wild beasts I will make thee to be consumed by fire, if thou repent not.” Polycarp answered, “Thou threatenest the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is quenched; for thou knowest not of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why delayest thou? Bring what thou wilt.”

The proconsul sent word that it should be proclaimed aloud to the crowd three times, “Polycarp hath confessed himself to be a Christian.” After the crowd found out that there were no beasts available for the task, they cried out for him to be burned alive. The wood was gathered, and as they were about to nail his hands to the timber he said, “Let me be as I am. He that granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, without being secured with nails.” The fire did not consume him, but an executioner drove a dagger into his body. “And all the multitude marveled at the great difference between the unbelievers and the elect.” (p. 12).

When we are so satisfied in Christ that we are enabled to willingly die for him, we are freed to love the lost as never before, and Christ is shown to be a great Treasure.

Tim Keller – A Biblical Theology of Revival

A Biblical Theology of Revival – Tim Keller (TGC13 Workshop) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.