Tuesday, March 30, 2010

“Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture…The call is: watch, study, attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read cannot be read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well…The devil…the world…and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent…This evil, shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring.”

—Martin Luther

Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm preaching on Ephesians 1:13-14 tomorrow night:

Greek: Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.

Translation: In whom [=Christ, 1:12] when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also when you believed were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the down payment of our inheritance, unto the redemption for His own possession, to the praise of His glory.

John Calvin rightly and wisely writes regarding the glory of God in Eph 1:14 (and repeated throughout in Eph 1):
The frequent mention of the glory of God ought not to be regarded as superfluous, for what is infinite cannot be too strongly expressed. This is particularly true in commendations of the Divine mercy, for which every godly person will always feel himself unable to find adequate language. He will be more ready to utter, than other men will be to hear, the expression of praise; for the eloquence both of men and angels, after being strained to the utmost, falls immeasurably below the vastness of this subject. We may likewise observe, that there is not a more effectual method of shutting the mouths of wicked men, than by shewing that our views tend to illustrate, and theirs to obscure, the glory of God (Galatians and Ephesians, Calvin's Commentaries 41; emphasis added).
We do well to remember the words of Mr. Calvin and seek to live for and express the glory of God!

I can't encourage all my readers enough to read this article. D.A. Carson writes on some of the trials that current theologians, scholars, and pastors face nowadays. I don't think I've read a more head-on, practical, and convicting, and scholarly article in quite some time.

Click here to read the pdf article from the book: The Trials of Theology, edited by Cameron and Rosner (2010).

Here's a quote:
This polarization of reading approaches [of the scrutinizing, objective study one employs in a seminary exegesis course and the devotional reading of the Bible] is to be resisted as an abomination. In your most diligent technical study, you should be trying to understand what God himself has said through this text, trying to think God's thoughts after him, worshiping God with reverence and joy as you deploy your newly learned 'tools' to think more critically" (111).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

God has laid it on my heart recently that the Christian life is not primarily consisting of quick, one-time, brief decisions. I'm utterly convinced that the Christian life requires a lifetime (ongoing habitual, persistent) pursuit of Christlikeness. Let me explain.

Many can say, "I believed" and "I confessed Jesus as Lord" but this is a quick one-time statement. The real evidence and fruit of that statement is 'proven' over the course of time—over the long haul.

Or similarly, many can fall into sin (regardless of what it is) and then come to the pastor and say, "I repent;" "I will change." But this 'confession' is proven genuine over the long haul; of the course of time as that person continually refrains from that sin and continues to hate that sin and loathe the sinful nature and sinful temptations and fly to Christ when those fleshly temptations arise again.

In other words, don't be deceived by quick, one-time, spur-of-the-moment Christian decisions. I believe God's Word clearly reveals (throughout!) that the Christian life is not a matter of one-time decisions but a lifestyle and a lifetime and a long and persistent pursuit of Christ and holiness.

Without holiness, no one will see the LORD. Therefore, heed the words of our Savior:

Matthew 7:14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. ("The gate is small and the path is narrow that leads to the life and there are a few who find it.")

Friday, March 26, 2010

I saw something this morning in James that I hadn't seen before in James 1:24. The text reads:

Greek: κατενόησεν γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν καὶ εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο ὁποῖος ἦν.

(Literal) Translation: For he looks at himself and departs and immediately forgets what he was like.

There are three verbs to discuss in this verse (excluding the last verb ἦν): (1) he looks (κατενόησεν); (2) he departs (ἀπελήλυθεν); and he forgets (ἐπελάθετο). Respectively, they are aorist, perfect, and aorist verb forms. The question we ask is why did the author change verb forms in the middle of a chain like this? What is he trying to convey? What is his intended point? If any? (Often, a change in verbal form like this is atypical and suggests emphasis/prominence.)

The middle verb (he departs, ἀπελήλυθεν) is the perfect verbal form in Greek. Porter, Decker and many others have suggested that the perfect verbal form is not necessarily referring to "tense" per se (past action with ongoing results) but that it signifies heightened prominence and "frontground" in the discourse. Very simply, it is the author's way of shining the spotlight on that particular element for emphasis.

The point in James 1:24 (especially in the context of 1:19-27) is not so much that the person 'hears' the word. But the point that James intends to get across here is that the person looks at himself in the mirror and then he is in the state of departing and leaving that mirror having forgotten what he looked like and the changes that need to be made.

The point? James is clearly drawing emphasis (from the Greek verbal form) on the man who hears the word, sees the word, knows the word, and yet he finds himself in the state of departing from the word unchanged as he totally forgets what he just heard and how he needs to respond.

Don't be this man who hears and looks into the word yet departs from it without making the necessary changes to grow in your sanctification. This person, James says, is "deceiving himself" (1:22).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This book [=the Bible] contains: the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you .

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure. It is given to you here in this life, will be opened at the Judgment, and is established forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its contents.

—author unknown.
Last night I preached on Psalm 57 and many commentators see it as a lament psalm. I agree with this in part because the end of the psalm ends in a psalm of praise. But the think that rocked me this week was how David wrote this psalm from the cave (see the superscription of Ps 57) while fleeing from King Saul. He found refuge in God and in God alone. He quieted his soul and refreshed his spirit in the LORD because of his determination and resolve to trust the LORD amidst hardships (vv.1-3). But verse 4 reveals that the hardship did not end. David’s refuge in God did not demand that the trial would come to an end. In other words, David continued to trust in God even when life continued to be “hard.”

I find that oftentimes these are mutually exclusive in our minds. That is to say, if I’m truly going to come to the LORD for refuge and shelter, and if God is going to come to me and be with me, then we somehow think that this will inevitably result in the termination of that trial or hardship. Not so! (Biblically, in fact, the opposite is true; read 2 Tim 2:12.) At any rate, this is the case with David.

He trusted in the LORD (vv.1-3). Then in verse four his enemies were pursuing him (panting for him; longing for him; yearning for him as a lion chasing its prey). But David knew that God would send his “lovingkindness and truth” (v.3b). His soul was in the midst of lions and fierce enemies (v.4).

Even after David prayed that God would be exalted above the heavens and that His glory would extend beyond the reaches of all the earth, David’s trial still didn’t end. He certainly counseled himself into trusting the LORD, remembering the sovereignty of God, and the unrivaled supremacy of His Lord. Yet notice verse 6: they have set a trap for my feet; they are attacking his soul; they dug a pit for him! David’s trial is not over, yet he trusts in the LORD.

Consider Daniel, the Lord chose to be with him in the lion’s den rather than to take him out and deliver him from the persecution altogether.

Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Lord chose to enter the fiery furnace with them rather than to pull them out and give them deliverance from the blazing furnace.

Consider Peter who was crucified upside down for believing in His Lord. Christ didn’t rescue and deliver him from that painful (!) death, yet Peter’s Lord certainly was with him during that trial.

Consider all the saints who have been burned at the stake throughout Church history. The LORD did not deliver them out of the trial and give them ease of life. No! Rather, God entered the trial and walked with them through the trial!

David used every persecution and every trial as an opportunity to praise and worship God. Every trial will either make you bitter or better; it will either make you christlike or complain; it will either cause you to exalt God or elevate doubt in God.

So, how do YOU respond to the trials and hardships in your life today?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In my research for my expository preaching paper, I came across this quote that encouraged me:

"Expository preaching is a most exacting discipline. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. . . . We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:2, 4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind."

—John Stott, The Preacher's Portrait, 30-31.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This week is especially exciting and busy for me. I am concluding one paper (Hebrews 1:5 and its usage of the OT) and beginning another paper (what is the role of dialoguing in preaching, if any?) for my PhD courses. I am super excited about these papers and have been learning a lot in my reading and writing.

I’m preaching Ephesians 1:7-12 tonight on the work of Jesus in our salvation. I am teaching that Jesus the Son actually redeemed us as our salvation is complete (7), God’s grace is sufficient (8-9), Jesus’ supremacy is all-encompassing (10), God’s providence is sovereign (11), and God’s glory is preeminent (12).

Tomorrow I’m preaching on Psalm 57. Psalm 57 tells us how to act if when we’re persecuted. David marvelously lays forth the plan for praying and asking God to be merciful (1), to finding shelter, provision, and God’s presence in the shadow of His wings (1b), and then David resolves in his heart to praise and worship God by exalting his glory, love, and truth (vv.3, 5, 11). It’s a marvelous and very apropos psalm for us today.

Saturday I’m preaching Revelation 20 on the Millennial kingdom and how the OT prophecies to national Israel are yet to be literally (!) fulfilled when Jesus is physically reigning on earth from the city of Jerusalem (cf. Isa 2, 11).

Sunday morning I’m preaching on James 1 on “how to listen to a sermon.” I read a book on the subject recently which really sparked my interest and the importance of the subject. Most “Christians” listen to a sermon a week (if they’re faithful in church attendance) which is about 52 a year. That’s about 500 sermons in 10 years and, say, close to 2,000 sermons in 40 years. Wow, how should we listen to, apply, and implement what we hear? James 1 gives the answer and I hope to faithfully, accurately, boldly, and practically expound the text for our people at CCC.

One of the greatest joys of my life is studying God’s Word. I would rather do nothing else than to study the Bible. The riches of God’s Word amaze me and the depth of God’s Word baffles me. And I only scratch the surface of the surface.

Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An amazing thought to mull over today...

"God poured out the infinite hell of his wrath upon His Son—who by the power of His infinite life could bear it—and thus God's wrath is turned aside from true believers, or propitiated (=satisfied), by the blood of Christ."

Source: Richard Philips, Chosen in Christ: The Glory of Grace in Ephesians 1, 103.

Friday, March 19, 2010

One of the challenges in a PhD program is that I have to read books—a lot of them! Some are wonderfully devotional, others are quite tedious, and still others are just flat out skeptical. Yesterday I spent an hour at an In-n-Out with one of these skeptics. He had not written a book denying the miracles of Christ. But he was a young man who claimed he “once was saved” and was very involved in a local church and he “felt right with God” yet now he denies any sort of biblical inerrancy (historicity for that matter!). He claims that the miracles in the gospels were myth. Why didn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul and Peter all make up the miracles that Jesus did?, he claims. These couldn’t have really happened. Really?

I listened to his story and his critiques for about 30 minutes without saying a word. I kept reminding myself that I’m so glad inspiration is where God through His Spirit sovereignly bestows conviction into the heart and soul of the believer (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14-16). But after he finished explaining why he has left the faith, denies the existence of the biblical God, rejects the Bible and its credibility and historicity, and spoke about his once-present feelings that he had toward Christianity, I finally engaged him in dialogue.

I shared the gospel numerous times including hell, judgment, wrath, and eternal conscious torment. I beseeched him to read the Scriptures since he said he’s been reading lots of material by atheists and others who deny the Bible. I said, we can all read materials about the Bible but why don’t you actually read the Bible. I talked about archaeology, I talked about Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, I talked about the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that have been found and how they relate so closely (oftentimes) to what we have in our Bibles today. I talked about Church history and how many have died for this faith. I talked about how ludicrous it would have been for the apostles to fabricate the miracles of Jesus and then a few years later die for that faith they made up! I talked about Thomas who said he would not believe until he saw piercings in Jesus (John 20) and then how Jesus showed him his nail-pierced hands and side and then Thomas believed. Then Jesus, however, noted that blessed are those who believe who have not seen. This is faith. We are called to believe by faith. I pulled out the tools from my kit to share the gospel with this skeptical guy who is very opposed to the historicity of the Bible.

While I was speaking, however, I took great comfort in knowing that it is absolutely nothing that I say that is going to convince this guy to believe. Nothing! I cannot say the right words. I cannot give him the right argumentation. I cannot contrive enough ‘proofs.’ What I do know is that God, if He so sovereignly chooses, will illuminate this dark and dead soul to the light of the gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ. It is God who will transfer this skeptic from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. It is God’s sovereign Spirit who will remove the hard-hearted and stubborn disbelief and replace it with a humble, believing conviction in God’s Word. I can’t do it. I just can’t. Nobody can.

At the end of the conversation, I asked to pray for the guy. I prayed the gospel. I prayed that God would save this man’s soul and give him eternal life and rescue him from the wrath to come in hell. I prayed that he would read the Bible and that God would open his eyes to the truth of God’s Word.

I am confident that God will do what He sovereignly wills. In sum, I shared the gospel as if everything depended upon me. Yet all the while, I reminded myself that I can do nothing (nothing, NOTHING!) to convert the guy. It is all, totally, always, absolutely, and fully God’s work. Period.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Late last night I received a phone call from a guy in our college group who was hanging out with a good buddy of his when he was shocked to hear the news that his friend was disinterested in the Christian faith and was no longer going to walk the walk. Startled, he called me and asked me some questions. He said that his friend just used to feel God but now he doesn't. He said that he once felt God's presence but now he doesn't.

I had this very same conversation with another college guy earlier this week in my office at church. Think about this theology for a moment. For the sake of the argument, if we base our theology on experience (which is what many [most?] professing Christians in America do) then what does that say about their theology? I felt God as I was singing the worship songs last week and reading my Bible, but this week I just don't feel God. I guess that means that God isn't with me anymore. That theology says that God was once with a person and then He abandoned that person. That is weak, flimsy, unbiblical, and super-subjective theology. And I would never want to believe that!

In Scripture we are never called to base our theology upon feelings. This is not to downplay emotions in worship and in the Christian life but emotions and subjective feelings ought NEVER to determine our theology. Scripture is overwhelmingly clear that we must rest our theology on the rock-solid foundation of God's unchanging (=UNCHANGING!) Word. This is why we believe in the immutability (meaning "God does not change"—ever!) of God. We believe in the authority of God's Word that does not change! What God spoke to Moses in 1400 BC is just as relevant to our culture today as it was to theirs then. What God spoke through Paul to the church in Colossae is just as relevant to our church today because God's word is timeless and unchanging. It is objective truth.

Sometimes in the Christian life we don't feel like reading our Bible. We don't feel like getting up early and praying. We don't feel like serving someone or having them over for dinner again. But this is the discipline of the Christian life. Sometimes the Olympic athlete doesn't feel like training yet another day, but he must in order to win the prize! So it is with the Christian. We run the race of the Christian life because we know there is a prize at the end. And we do so with joy and with great anticipation.

Therefore, do not live your life or never let your theology be grounded upon subjective human experiences (this was/is at the root of liberalism in the last few centuries). Rather, always base your theology on the unchanging, objective, and solid foundation of the Word of God.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some have thought over the years and centuries that God elects some to salvation and its blessings but that He does so on the basis of a choice, a response of faith, or some other good that he foresees in them. Inasmuch as this is a quite recent view (that is to say, it is not the historic, New Testament, viewpoint) the major flaw with this thinking is that it credits way too much good to human depravity.

When people have trouble with God’s sovereignty in election, their real problem is not with the doctrine of election—although they want to think that it is—but it is really with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary. They want to think that there is some good that motivates or causes God to choose us. This is quite a high view of anthropology!

John Calvin has it right when he states: “How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought or doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they plunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us.”

Therefore, let us glory that “salvation is of the LORD” (John 2:9) for He chose us according to the “kind intention of his will” (Eph 1:5).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

If this isn't straight gospel from the OT, I'm not sure what is...

Isaiah 59:1-20 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch adders' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. 6 Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.

9 Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. 10 We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. 11 All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities: 13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. 14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. 15 Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.

Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. 18 According to their deeds, so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense.

19 So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the LORD drives. 20 "A Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today on my bus I read a book on hell. It was very insightful, sobering, and motivational to share the gospel. I want to note some of the quotes that spoke to my heart:

"The death that each of us has to die one day does not make an end of man. All is not over when the last breath is drawn and the doctor's last visit has been paid—when the coffin is screwed down, and the funeral preparations are made—when "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" has been pronounced over the grave—when our place in the world is filled up, and the gap made by our absence from society is no longer noticed. No all is not over then! The spirit of man still lives on. Everyone has within him an undying soul...
--JC Ryle

"I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible and everything that it contains. I can find no Scriptural foundation for that smooth-spoken theology that pleases so many in these days, and according to which everybody will get to heaven at last."
--JC Ryle

"If you saw a blind man tottering towards a precipice, would you not cry out, "Stop!"? Away with such false notions of charity! ... It is the highest charity to bring the whole truth before men. It is real charity to warn them plainly, when they are in danger. It is charity to impress upon them that they may lose their own souls forever in hell."
--JC Ryle

"Here is a sobering consideration for anyone brought up in a Christian home but still uncommitted to the Savior. The deepest pits of hell may well be reserved not only for the notoriously wicked, but for those who from childhood were familiar with the message of salvation, yet never embraced it for themselves."
--Edward Donnelly

"We must remember that hell exists for God's glory ... In hell, and we can say this only in trembling reverence, God's glory will be unveiled in new and amazing ways. His kingly authority will be seen more clearly than has ever been possible before. Fresh aspects of His holiness and justice will be revealed to His wondering people."
--Edward Donnelly

"We can conceive but little of the matter. To help your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven or a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, and all the while full of vivid sense. What horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! How long would that quarter of an hour seem to you! And after you had endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had it to endure the other fourteen! But what would be the effect on your soul if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full for twenty-four hours! How much greater would be the effect if you knew you must endure it for a whole year! And how vastly greater still if you knew you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how your hearts would sink if you knew that you must ear it forever and ever! That there would be no end! That after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end and that you never, never should be delivered! ... This is the death threatened in the Law. This is dying in the highest sense of the word. This is to die sensibly, to die and know it, to be sensible of the gloom of death. This is to be undone. This is worthy of the name of destruction. This sinking of the soul under an infinite weight that it cannot bear is the gloom of hell. We read in Scripture of the blackness of darkness—this is it! This is the very thing. We read in Scripture of sinners being lost and of their losing their souls—this is the thing intended. This is to lose the soul. They that are the subjects of this are utterly lost...
--Jonathan Edwards
"Sin left untouched reveals an indifference to sin, a disregard for God's holiness, a rejection of God's command to repent, and, hence, a soul that is unregenerated and without the living breath of spiritual life."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Philippians 3:17-21 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

In Philippians 3 the enemies of the cross of Christ are noted by four characteristics. First, they are those whose end is destruction. These enemies have as their final end the destruction prepared by God for all unbelievers. This does not refer to extinction or a time of completion of suffering but rather a horrific, eternal, conscious eternity of torment (Matt 25:46). Second, their god is their appetite. The appetite and lusts of the flesh are their passions. They worship their “bellies” and that which satisfies their cravings. Third, their glory is in their shame. They not only glory in the wickedness of others but they glory in doing the wickedness themselves. The only thing these enemies of the cross of Christ have to boast in is their own wicked shame. Fourth, they set their minds on earthly things. Those who have their minds set on earthly things are, as Paul says, enemies of the cross of Christ. Notice the enemies of the cross of Christ are characterized by deeds of action. They prove by what they do that they are not cherishers of the cross of Christ but enemies of the cross of Christ.

But Paul contrasts them with true believers who have been transformed by the cross of Christ and are no longer enemies of God but are friends of God. It is these true believers who cherish the cross and marvel at the grace of God manifested in the death of Jesus in place of wretched sinners whose citizenship is in heaven! It is from heaven, Paul writes, from which we as believers await a Savior—Jesus Christ—who will descend and transform our humble bodies into conformity with the glorious body of the LORD Jesus Christ. This is only possible by means of the exertion of the power that Christ has to subject all things to Himself.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

That I get paid to study the Bible and preach the Word baffles me constantly, but I praise the LORD that He has sovereignly called me to such a vocation. I love what I do and I would never want to change it. This week is especially exciting for a few reasons:

1) I'm starting the book of Ephesians in our Tuesday night Bible study. Tonight is a jet tour through the book and what a joy it has been to read through this marvelous book. I'm embarking upon Ephesians for a host of reasons, a few of which are (a) to understand the supremacy and sovereignty of God in our salvation; (b) to give the gospel every week (and it's in the text too!); (c) to show how it is absolutely imperative to be what you are (live a life of obedience as a believer who has experienced the new birth. It should be fun.

2) I'm resuming my study on Wednesday night in the book of Psalms. We're on Psalm 55 this week. We're over one-third of the way through the book and I'm enjoying the study immensely. God is good and His character is infinite.

3) I'm going to the Shepherd's Conference with my dad @ Grace Community Church. What a joy to hear men like Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Rick Holland, Phil Johnson and many more open God's Word and faithfully proclaim the Word with all boldness and authority as mouthpieces for God Himself. Speak, O Lord!
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