Thursday, April 29, 2010

I like what Walter Kaiser says. I think I'm wholeheartedly committed to this viewpoint.

He summarizes his view that there is only ONE meaning in Scripture and it is the meaning that the A/author (my way of saying both the human author and the divine Author) intended in some helpful axioms.

1. God’s meaning and revelatory-intention in any passage of Scripture may be accurately and confidently ascertained only by studying the verbal meanings of the divinely delegated and inspired human writers (138)

2. Only one verbal meaning is to be connected with any passage of Scripture unless the writer of the text gives literary and contextual clues that he has several aims in view for this exceptional passage (e.g., the two or three questions asked at the beginning of the Olivet discourse (138).

3. That single, original verbal meaning of the human author may be ascertained by heeding the usual literary conventions of history, culture, grammar, syntax, and accumulated theological context. And if it cannot be ascertained by THESE means then it cannot be ascertained at all (138).

4. This authorial meaning can be understood by all readers who will allow the writer to first say what he wants to say without introducing conservative or liberal prejudices as a preunderstanding (138).

5. The personal impact, significance, application, reception, and value this text has for particular individuals or situations is directly linked to the illuminating ministry of the HOly Spirit. The Spirit takes the single truth-intention of the author and in His convicting, comforting, teaching, and motivating power urges us to apply the principle taught in this text to scores of different situations (138).

And then he wisely concludes:
“Nowhere, then, does Scripture support the view that the Bible has a multi-track concept of meanings. If the human author did NOT receive by revelation the meaning in question, then exegetes and readers have no right to identify their meanings with God. Only by following the careful distinctions set forth in the authorial autonomy view can the Word of God be preserved for future generations and be handled as what it is indeed—the powerful and authoritative Word from God” (141).
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. “The Single Intent of Scripture.” In Evangelical Roots: A Tribute to Wilbur Smith. Edited by Kenneth S. Kantzer, 123–41. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1978.
I recently received this question from a friend from church:

I don't understand the relationship between freewill and God's plan. How do the two fit together? Any scripture and comments you have on the subject would be helpful. Thanks.

My Answer:
That is a great question and one that many people struggle with because there are so many issues involved.

First of all, with an issue like this, we must remember first that God is perfectly good and has all (infinite) wisdom and understanding.

Isaiah 55:9 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 11:33-34 33 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?

So, we must first understand that whatever God says HE fully and totally understands. We may not fully understand it because we DON'T know everything (but God does!). That's why He's God and we're not!

Second, the Bible declares time and time again that God is sovereign (=that is, God is the King and is in CONTROL of everything—absolutely everything).

Psalm 103:19 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

Psalm 115:3 3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

Isaiah 46:10 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';

See also Psalm 93:1; 97:1; 99:1; 1 Timothy 1:17; Ephesians 1:11 (and many more!)

So, we must believe that God has ORDAINED everything that ever comes about (God is perfectly in control; he never is OUT of control; he never has to go to "plan B". God never makes a mistake. Everything that happens (everything!) is in God's determined will/decree. That's a hard concept to grasp but this is the simple truth. I wouldn't want to worship any other God...would you? I'm glad I worship a God who is control of everything (even earthquakes, natural disasters, tsunamis, death, murder, government...etc.).

Third, we also know from the Bible that God has commanded man to "make choices."

Joshua 24:15 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,

Deuteronomy 30:19 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Acts 16:31 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-- you and your household."

And many many more...

So, The Bible also declares that even though God is in total and absolute control of everything, man also is called to "believe" or "choose" or "decide"... etc. This seems like an irreconcilable contradiction. But rather this evidence that we must believe in both truths. In the mind of God (the perfect all-knowing God) the two fit together beautifully. But in our human, feeble, finite minds, we're not sure how it all fits together.

So, here's my conclusion: God has ordained everything that ever happens (he's in control). Yet, I still have a responsibility (on the human side) to believe in the LORD, pursue Christlikeness and holiness, believe in the LORD, share my faith with my friends, etc.

Check out this verse that clearly reveals both truths:

Acts 16:14 14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart (God's control and sovereignty) to respond (human responsibility) to the things spoken by Paul.

And again...

Acts 13:48 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life (God's election and sovereignty) believed (human responsibility).

In heaven, we can ask the LORD how it all fits together and he'll explain it all to us! But for now, we have to submit to God's Word (the Bible) and believe what it clearly teaches, namely, God is in perfect control as the all-knowing and all-powerful King and yet we as humans are called to live life with all our might for God's glory and for His pleasure! I love the fact that they are NOT contradictions but they fit together beautifully in the mind of God. So we must submit to God's Word and accept both concepts as true and reliable.

I preached on this very issue at Church a while ago. You can listen to the sermon here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tonight I'm preaching Psalm 61 and the thrust of the psalm is being led by God to Himself who is our refuge and tower of protection.I found a few YouTube videos that may help put the images in perspective. Watch here and here.

I love what Spurgeon says...
How infinitely higher than we are is the salvation of God. We are low and grovelling, but [the protection/salvation of God] towers like some tall cliff far above us. This is its glory, and it is our delight when we have once climbed [onto] the rock and claimed an interest in it; but while we are as yet trembling seekers, the glory and sublimity of salvation appall us, and we feel that we are too unworthy even to be partakers of it; hence we are led to cry for grace upon grace, and to see how dependent we are for everything, not only for the Savior, but for the power to believe on him.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last night I preached one of the hardest sermons a preacher could ever teach. It wasn't hard because there were so many varying interpretations but it's hard because it such an unpopular message nowadays to proclaim. That message is on the Great White Throne judgment. I titled it: "Will your works damn you at the Great White Throne Judgment?"

I believe that this judgment is for non-believers only and that no believers will be at this judgment (Rom 8:1; John 3:18, 36). Nevertheless, this is one of the scariest portions of Scripture because there is no hope for the lost at this time. There is no second chance. The eternal Lake of Fire is the inevitable and sure outcome of this judgment for all who stand before the bar of God and are carefully scrutinized according to their every work to see if they can enter eternal bliss.

I preached this last night at a Rehab center and opened with a 10 minute anecdote on a man who died and was judged and condemned at the Great White Throne judgment. This story arrested everyone's attention. I urge you to listen and do what the Apostle Paul says: "Test Yourself to see if you're in the faith" (2 Cor 13:5).

Listen here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"If you ask me what is the first precept of the Christian religion, I will answer first, second and third, Humility."


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Listen to the sermon here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"To study John's gospel in detail for the first time is like becoming heir to an ancient, beautiful tapestry. Its artistry astounds. And the closer we examine it, the more we are awed by mysteries hidden from the casual observer. To understand the part we must stand back and comprehend the whole. And when we investigate its background and history, its value and uniqueness—even its message—acquire an entirely new depth" (Gary M. Burge, "Interpreting the Gospel of John," in Interpreting the New Testament: Essays on Methods and Issues, ed. by Black and Dockery [Broadman & Holman], 383).

Monday, April 19, 2010

“Let the pastors boldly declare all things by the word of God, of which they are constituted administrators. Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of the word. Let then enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan’s reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose, thunder and lightening, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God.”

—John Calvin

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some good soul food for the day...

The preacher is a herald; his work is heralding the King's message. . . . Now the herald does not invent his message; he merely transmits and explains it. It is not his to criticise its wisdom or fitness; this belongs to his sovereign alone. On the one hand, . . . he is an intelligent medium of communication with the king's enemies; he has brains as well as a tongue; and he is expected so to deliver and explain his master's mind, that the other party shall receive not only the mechanical sounds, but the true meaning of the message. On the other hand, it wholly transcends his office to presume to correct the tenour of the propositions he conveys, by either additions or change. These are the words of God's commission to an ancient preacher: "Arise, go unto Ninevah, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee."

The preacher's task may be correctly explained as that of (instrumentally) forming the image of Christ upon the souls of men. The plastic substance is the human heart. The die which is provided for the workman is the revealed Word; and the impression to be formed is the divine image of knowledge and true holiness. God, who made the soul, and therefore knows it, made the die. He obviously knew best how to shape it, in order to produce the imprint he desired. Now the workman's business is not to criticise, recarve, or erase anything in the die which was committed to him; but simply to press it down faithfully upon the substance to be impressed, observing the conditions of the work assigned him in his instructions. In this view, how plain is it, that preaching should be simply representative of Bible truths, and in Bible proportions! The preacher's business is to take what is given him in the Scriptures, as it is given to him, and to endeavour to imprint it on the souls of men. All else is God's work. The die is just such, so large, so sharp, so hard, and has just such an "image and superscription" on it, as God would have. Thus He judged, in giving it to us. With this, "the man of God is perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:17) This is enough for us.

Source: R.L. Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures on Preaching, 36-3

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Last night I preached Psalm 59 which records David's prayer to God when Saul sent men to surround David's house to kill him. That historical situation is recounted in 1 Samuel 19:11ff. Amazingly, David's prayer reflects a man who begs God for refuge, asks God to destroy the wicked, and resolves in his own heart to praise God in song.

Psalm 59 is quite amazing in the structure (which baffles commentators across the board) and in its dealings with the problem of evil (=theodicy).

In this prayer, David transitions from:
1. Deliver me, O God!
2. Destroy them, O God!
3. Delight in my praises, O God!

Feel free to listen here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The only problem was, Elizabeth wasn't a big fan...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Because it is my responsibility to share the gospel as if souls could die before the sun goes down I must evangelize with urgency. Meanwhile, because it is God’s sovereignty that opens the sinner’s heart to hear the word, accept the word, understand the word, and believe the Word, I evangelize with confident trust that God’s sovereign purposes shall be accomplished.

Last night I had the wonderful privilege of meeting and sharing the gospel with a man at a BBQ. It was quite a lengthy conversation and this fellow knew Scripture—or, I should clarify and say that he knew some ‘random’ Bible verses yanked out of context to suit his own purposes. At any rate, he told me that all roads lead to the same ultimate destination. He told me that God speaks to him and that he also believes in reincarnation. Fundamentally, he finally agreed with the statement I posed to him that all relations essentially teach the same thing: man must work hard and do good to attain the best that the divine has to offer in the next life. He agreed.

Then I shattered the thinking with telling him that is not what the Bible teaches—at all! The faith of the Bible is of an entirely different form than any and every other religion. It is not about man doing good and ‘earning’ the ultimate utopia; rather, it is about God—the perfectly holy, the impeccably righteous, and the unspeakably just God—coming to man and saving his sinful, wretched soul.

Amazingly, there were others who were sitting and listening to the conversation. It was a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ—and that salvation is only in Jesus Christ—not only to this fellow but also to others who were sitting at the table listening intently.

Every opportunity that God afforded me, I brought the issue back to the fundamental truths: (1) Everyone needs an objective standard (=the Bible); your thoughts, my opinions, another’s ideas will not do. That’s subjectivism and that leads only to debate and ideas. But God’s objective truth is unchanging and true. (2) Jesus Christ clearly taught that He was the only way to God the Father. Everyone who tries to get in the sheepfold any other way is a thief, a robber, and is destined for hell (John 14:6; cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5; Acts 16:31; Rom 10:13ff). (3) Everyone must come to grips with and answer this plaguing question: “How can I—an imperfect, unholy sinner—enter into eternal bliss with Almighty God who is perfectly Holy and CANNOT look upon my wickedness with favor?”

The night had to end because we had to drive home and put our son to bed. But I pray that God’s Word will work effectually in this man’s heart and soul. I pray that the other ladies at the table will take heart to what they heard from the truth of God’s Word.

I love evangelism. I love preaching the gospel. I love knowing that it’s my job to preach as if souls were going to die before the day ends and stand before a holy God with one of two destinies awaiting them. But I find greater comfort in the sovereignty of God who is the only One able to work in and change the dead human heart.

Isaiah 55:10-11 10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Just posted a book review on our church website of John Barnett's book, Word-Filled Families: Walk in Truth. It is an excellent book that definitely deserves a close examination by every husband, wife, and parent.

Read my full pdf review here.

Here's my conclusion:

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly commend this book to everyone who is married, considering marriage, engaged, with or without children (whether they haven’t been born yet (!), whether they are young children, teenagers, or out of the home) as this book will be a great encouragement and tool to convict you of sin and give the practical solutions to implement the recommended truths to your Christian life so that you can have a word filled family and, most of all, glorify the God who made you and created you to make much of him and model His relationship with you in your marriage (and, by extension, family).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Here are four helpful principles to remember:

1. Discipline must be firm, fair, and consistent.
2. A parent must know where his or her children are and what they're doing at all times, and be with them as much as possible.
3. Children need to see love demonstrated between the father and mother, and see genuine love lived out before them.
4. A family must be cohesive, regularly spending time together.

John Barnett, Word Filled Families, 179.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Or you may miss it because your subway is too packed...
Does the Bible really say that the righteous will rejoice at God's vengeance upon the wicked? Yes, it does.

First of all, the Bible no where advocates or condones people rejoicing over the downfall of the enemy because of personal vengeance. All vengeance must be left to the LORD (Deut 32 and Rom 12). Nevertheless, when the Christian has a God-centered perspective, it is absolutely reasonable—yes, required—that believers rejoice at the destruction of the wicked. (Again, this is not personal vengeance or gloating that the wicked are finally cast into hell.)

But in my sermon last night I provided seven reasons why the righteous will rejoice at the judgment of the wicked:

1. God commands it (Rev 19:1-10)

In a mysterious way, God commands believers to rejoice because His judgments are poured out upon the wicked. Just read Revelation 19:1 (which immediately follows Rev 17-18 and the cataclysmic destruction of Babylon, the false religious system and the false political system during the Tribulation; that is to say, it is no 'lightweight' judgment) when the believers "rejoice" and "sing" and "make music" when God's judgments are poured out.

2. God’s righteous and holy character is vindicated

This requires a God-centered perspective. We think often of the love and mercy of God—and rightly so. But when we mention the holiness and justice and wrath of God we recognize that God is the Judge who has every single individual before Him absolutely and undeniably guilty of eternal charges! For God to judge them eternally and violently is absolutely in tune with His holy character. Thus, believers must rejoice because GOD is being vindicated.

3. The unrighteous rebellion is finally judged

When God judges the wicked, the righteous should rejoice because all unrighteous rebellion will be judged. When God finally judges the lawless, their rebelliousness will be condemned with them and thus will eradicate rebellion on earth (cf. Rev 20:11-15 for this final judgment). That is one reason why believers should rejoice!

4. God’s power is displayed in showing his supremacy

God displays his absolute and unsurpassed power in destroying the wicked. Only God can do such a widespread and universal act. Thus, when God destroys the wicked and brings vengeance upon them, the righteous must rejoice because God's power and God's supremacy is beautifully and gloriously put on display.

5. God’s faithfulness and truthfulness is proven as he does what he has promised all along—judge the wicked; thus we rejoice.

God has promised since the beginning (Gen 3) that He would judge sin. No one can deny that. Thus, God has made promises all throughout Scripture (hundreds and hundreds of them) that He will destroy the unrighteous and deliver the righteous. When God does, in the end, destroy the wicked and bring His vengeance upon them, God is just showing that "He is faithful" and that "He fulfills His promises." This is simply to say, "God keeps His Word!"

6. God’s sovereignty is displayed showing no one has absolute dominion like He does.

No one has dominion and sovereignty like God. No one. For God to judge sin and sinners is part of his character. It reveals His absolute kingship. We must rejoice because God's sovereignty is revealed when He (and only He can do this!) brings His vengeance upon those who reject Him and rebel against Him.

7. The destruction of the wicked means eternal glorification in perfection for the saints.

Finally, believers must rejoice because the eternal destruction of the wicked means eternal glorification for the saints. When God finally and fully punishes all sinners, then the eternal state of glory will have come. Eternal judgment for the wicked guarantees eternal life for the righteous.

Note that none of these seven points includes the righteous rejoicing that the wicked are finally pounded with God's judgment (=this is vengeance and we must leave that to God). Rather, with a God-centered perspective—that is to say, that God does absolutely everything to magnify His Name and exalt His own Character—all of these points are not only reasonable, they are desirable and anticipated. God is a good God who must punish sin.

For the believer in Jesus Christ:
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
For the Nonbeliever in Jesus Christ:
Deuteronomy 32:35-42 35 'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.' 36 "For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free. 37 "And He will say, 'Where are their gods, The rock in which they sought refuge? 38 'Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, And drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, Let them be your hiding place! 39 'See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. 40 'Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, 41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me. 42 'I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword will devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.'

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I can do this cause I'm Jewish and I had a good laugh. And, I like the beat too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

The literal, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is incredibly important. It affects all doctrines…
  • Bibliology (=Bible) – Jesus’ resurrection is announced and proclaimed as undeniable historical fact in the true, inerrant, and inspired pages of Scripture. You deny the resurrection, you deny God’s Word as true and therefore make God a liar.
  • Theology Proper (=God) – Jesus’ resurrection reveals the absolutely unstoppable and unsurpassing power of God who can raise the dead to new life!
  • Anthropology – Jesus had to die and conquer death because man is so sinful and helpless that he can’t conquer death in his own strength
  • Christology – Jesus’ resurrection shows that He Himself has the power to rise from the dead—proof of his deity!
  • Pneumatology – Jesus rose from the power of the Holy Spirit who is God and able to raise Christ from the dead.
  • Angelology – The angels at the tomb were faithfully announcing that Jesus was not there—He had RISEN, just as he said!
  • Soteriology (=salvation) – The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that we as sinners have a living Savior who has conquered the grave and has secured our salvation.
  • Israelology – The resurrection of Jesus shows how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy to Judah about their coming Messiah who would “prolong his days” and “See his offspring again” (Isaiah 53:10) and it guarantees that Jesus will give spiritual life and raise the deadened Israelites to new spiritual life in the future (Romans 11:25-27).
  • Ecclesiology – Just as Jesus’ resurrection shows his life that he will live forevermore, so it is with the Christian who is spiritually resurrected. He now and forevermore is a part of the Church—the Body of Christ!
  • Eschatology – Jesus’ resurrection absolutely guarantees that He will come back someday and raise US and all who have died “in Christ” to be with Him in the glories of heaven to dwell with Him in eternal bliss and happiness!
Praise God that Jesus is ris'n from the dead!

Romans 4:25 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

These last few weeks have submerged me in the wonderful realm of preaching the Bible. More specifically, though, I've been grappling with the idea of expository preaching and if there is an occasion where "dialogue"—verbal, interactive dialogue—is acceptable during the Sunday morning church service (note my qualification of the Sunday morning service only; I deliberately have excluded such studies as the Sunday evening service, mid-week service, a home community group, etc.). In my thinking, reading, and consideration of God's Word, I am convinced that preaching via monologue is the best way to communicate on a Sunday morning.

One of the quotes I came across was from Jack Hughes. Enjoy!
Many pastors are struggling to keep their churches from becoming like the church of Sardis. They try biblical exposition, but something doesn’t seem to be working right. They faithfully preach the word, but contrary to the promise of God in Isaiah 55:11, the word of God seems to come back void. Their church doesn’t grow spiritually or numerically. People don’t seem to be responding. As they struggle to maintain a good attitude and fight the good fight, they see the church that doesn’t do expository preaching growing by leaps and bounds. Legions of cars pack the car park of the ‘seek sensitive church’ Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Wednesday night because it is meeting ‘felt needs’. . . . It can make an expositor have second thoughts. ‘Maybe biblical exposition is a cultural thing. Times have changed. Maybe expository preaching is out, and we should try something new.’ Snap out of it! Don’t even begin to entertain such thoughts. Satan is willing to trade solid biblical preaching for numerical growth. He would be glad to fill your car park if you will dump expository preaching. Satan skips with joy when expository preaching is substituted with anything else. He knows, if he can get rid of expository preaching, he can steer the church any way he wants. Satan knows that, when faithful preaching is set aside, the church will become vulnerable to his subtle deceptions and become ineffective.
From: Jack Hughes, Expository Preaching with Word Pictures, 8–9.
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