Saturday, July 31, 2010

See my article here.
"Either, then, this Book is nothing but a base and blasphemous forgery, unworthy of the slightest respect of men, and specially unworthy of a place in the Sacred Canon; or it is one of the most directly inspired and authoritative writings ever given. But a forgery it cannot be" (Joseph A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 513).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

See my latest article: Leadership in the Local Church.
Emphasis in Mark – The Messiah is Here and His Kingdom is Offered.

Mark 1:15 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Mark 1:15 15 καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ• μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ.

Recent linguistic studies in Koine Greek have revealed a number of important features in grammatical studies. One such feature regarding the Greek verb is that it does not specifically connote “tense” (=time) but rather “aspect” (=viewpoint as the author chooses to portray an action). Also contained in this way of looking at the Greek verb is the idea of prominence in the verbal form the author chooses to use (as juxtaposed with the verbal forms that he consciously or subconsciously does not use). For example, the aorist verb form is usually background, the present/imperfect verbal forms heighten emphasis a bit. And the perfect/pluperfect verbal forms bring that particular verbal action to the frontground with all the spotlights beaming on it.

This is what Mark does in Mark 1:15. He utilizes two perfect verbal forms in a summary statement describing the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The two perfect verbal forms are Πεπλήρωται (“is fulfilled”) and ἤγγικεν (“is at hand”).

Accepting the notion that the Greek verb is a-temporal and that it rather reveals the particular viewpoint of the author as to how he wants to portray a given action as taking place (from outside, inside, or as a state of being), the two perfect verbal forms here bring emphasis to Jesus’ statement.

He emphasizes first that the time of the Messianic era is here. It has been fulfilled. It is present. It is “in the fullness of time that God sent His Son” (Gal 4:4). It is this perfect era of God’s giving of the Messiah to the nation of Israel and to the Gentiles. That particular time is fulfilled. He is here. He is on the scene. It is fulfilled!

Second, Jesus says that the kingdom of God “is at hand” (ἤγγικεν)—or it could be rendered: “has come near.” The emphasis here is on the reality that the reign of God in Jesus the Messiah (=the Kingdom) which is being offered to His people, Israel, has come. The Messianic King to which the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings have spoken of is now on the scene. He is here. His Kingdom is ready to be inaugurated if they will receive Him for who and what He claims to be.

The point is that even from the outset of Jesus’ public ministry, Mark emphasizes (in utilizing the verbal forms that he does) the purpose for Jesus’ coming:

1. The perfect moment on God’s sovereign time-table has come for the Messiah to come to His people and offer salvation, deliverance, hope, and forgiveness (cf. Dan 9:24-27). And,

2. The kingdom that this Messiah offers has come if only Israel would receive her Messiah and worship Him as He rightly requires. The kingdom has come near in the person of Jesus in His public ministry.

When reading the text noting the emphases that Mark brings to light, it is helpful in recognizing the things that he emphasizes so we can emphasize those things in our preaching and teaching.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This morning at the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Vikki Ortiz Healy writes an article which he titles: “Wired and Tired: Number of Teens Losing Sleep to Late Night Technology Use…”

She writes:

A relaxing summer evening for 18-year-old Ross Nikides last week went like this:

He and five friends brought laptops to another friend’s house to play “World of War Craft” and other Internet games against each other.

Around 4:15 a.m., one of the guys craved a milkshake, so they piled into two cars and drove around Carol Stream in search of an ice cream shop still open.

An hour later, they were back at the friend’s house, slurping down their drinks while checking Facebook and playing Xbox until they fell asleep — cell phones by their sides — around 6:15 a.m.

Indeed, she continues:

Hanging out with friends and staying up late may not be different from what some teens did 30 years ago, but new research suggests technological distractions that teens have access to today cut into their much-needed rest.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics last year showed that teens kept up their activities late into the night. After 9 p.m., 82 percent of the high school students surveyed were watching TV, 55 percent were using a computer online and 44 percent were talking on the phone — with another 34 percent sending and receiving text messages. Of that group, only 21 percent got the 8 to 10 hours of sleep recommended.

In a study of teens in Belgium in 2007, 40 percent of the 16-year-olds surveyed reported they were awoken at least once a month by a text message, which correlated with higher levels of daytime sleepiness.

Yet despite years of warnings about the risks of insufficient sleep — including poor school performance, obesity and, as presented in June at an annual meeting of sleep researchers, links to depression — teens and their parents say adolescent exhaustion remains a fact of life.

And the best parents can do is help balance their teens’ need for sleep with their need to keep up with today’s technology.

“Teens don’t value sleep because there’s too many things going on to distract them,” Nikides said.

She provides another example of a technological, sleep-deprived, teen:

One night last week, Ryan Cassidy, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, began playing Xbox at 10:30 p.m., using two-minute breaks within the game to play another game on his cell phone. After two hours, he moved to his laptop, on which he watched a TV program and checked his Facebook page during commercials.

Cassidy eventually decided to go to sleep at 2 a.m.

“I’ll wake up a little tired, and I know it’s because I stayed up late playing games or something, but to me, it’s almost worth it,” the Geneva teen said.

This article, though not shocking whatsoever, reveals what the average teen practically worships nowadays. Certainly many teens would quickly deny verbally saying that they “worship technology”—video games, Xbox, texting, cell-phones, movies, etc.—but practically these technological devices have won their hearts—and their minds.

The Word of God is not silent on this issue. The Bible clearly reveals that no one can serve “two masters” (Matt 6:24). “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). Whatever you spend most of your time thinking about, talking about, performing the action, strategizing, etc., that particular “thing” is your functional G/god.

Many parents—and teens—may take umbrage with the severity of this, but parents and teens must recognize the serious spiritual nature of this idolatry. The Scriptures repeatedly teach that idolaters will not enter heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived … idolaters … will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 10:7 7 Do not be idolaters,

Revelation 21:8 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Revelation 22:15 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

The Scripture speaks to this issue of idolaters. The current trend in our culture today is for young people (though this is by no means limited to them and them alone) to spend hours—multiple hours!—on the Xbox, texting, playing computer games, checking Facebook, or whatever. Do the heart check. Are you worshipping technology? Has the technology that you possess taken the place of worship in your heart, mind, and life? Parents striving to honor God and exalt His Word must monitor the technology use of their children and not allow them to commit idolatry in their lives. It is a heart issue. We want to get at the heart of our young people. We want to reform their hearts not only their actions. If the heart is convicted of sin then the life-change will inevitably flow. But if life-change comes about without heart-change then all that is accomplished is nothing more than Pharisaism.

So, who—or what—do you worship?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last night God blessed me with the opportunity of teaching through Ephesians 1-6 in one sermon. The major thrust of the book is simply this: God saved you, so now you walk in holiness. I think that the order of the book and the way Paul builds his argument is absolutely crucial in this letter to the church in Ephesus.

Ephesians 1-3 — God's Salvation Offered to You
Ephesians 4-6 — Your Sanctification for Christ's Glory

You can't have Eph 1-3 without Eph 4-6. And you certainly can't have Eph 4-6 (the 'works') result in Eph 1-3 (salvation). The beginning theme of God's sovereignty and sufficiency in saving dead sinners is the thrust of the first portion of the epistle. The subsequent chapters (4-6) merely show the high calling that true believers should then live to show that they are walking worthily of that salvation that God has sovereignly wrought about in them.

You may listen here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

While mom was at a Bible conference today, Kiah and I worked on our dancing skills...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Antioch's letter To the Ephesians (117AD)
"such a one shall go in his foulness to the unquenchable fire" (16:2).

Epistle to Diognetus (138AD)
when you fear the death which is real, which is kept for those that shall be condemned to the everlasting fire, which shall punish up to the end those that were delivered to it. Then you will marvel at those who endure for th sake of righteousness the fire which is for a season" (10:7-8).

2 Clement (150AD)
Nothing shall rescue us from eternal punishment, if we neglect His commandments (6:7).

"...when they see those who have done amiss, and denied Jesus by word or deed, are punished with terrible torture in unquenchable fire" (17:7).

The Martyrdom of Polycarp (156-60AD)
"And the fire of their cruel torturers had no heat for them, for they set before their eyes an escape from the fire which is everlasting and never quenched" (2:3).

"You threaten with the fire that burns for a time, and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment" (11:2).

Jesus (c.30 AD)
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire" (Matt 18:8).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here are six characteristics of a "coasting couple:"

1. Visual Lethargy
You stop listening to and watching one another carefully. You used to be on the lookout for problems that might arise and then quick to apply the proper remedy. But now things are lazy. There is no "watching". Things begin to creep in the marriage, the schedules get busy, eyes get lazy, and sinful tendencies enter that would never have been tolerated before. If you're here, you have experienced visual lethargy in your marriage.

2. Habit Inconsistency
Marriage necessitates the institution of good habits. The problem is that after a period of time, the marriage is not 'new' anymore and the relationship begins to 'break down' and good habits that once were integral in the marriage are now least important on the priority list. You used to get to the bottom of conflict before even going to bed (cf. Eph 4) but now you're lazy and just go to bed and say you'll talk through it "tomorrow"—which seldom happens. You begin to step away from wholesome communication and say things that would not have been allowed earlier in the marriage. If you're here, you have experienced habit inconsistency in your marriage.

3. Laziness
Lazy marriages doesn't mean that the 'marriage itself' is lazy but it means that the people are lazy. You forget that marriage is hard work. When you just say "it's ok" to everything and overlook every offense, sin, and conflict you know your marriage is suffering from laziness.

4. Impatience
Every marriage between the fall and eternity is in the middle of a lifelong process of change. Your marriage may be better than it once was but it is not yet all it could be. God designed the marriage relationship to grow, sanctify, and mature each person first and foremost in their walk with the Lord. Be patient. Love demands forgiveness and patience (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7).

5. Responding to Discouragement
When you quit responding in faith, hope, and love and begin to respond to one another in discouragement and fear and your practical, everyday responses are formed more by what you are afraid of than by what you hope for you know you are responding to discouragement. Certainly, marriage can be and is often discouraging. But remember, you don't get hope and faith from your husband or wife (=that's idolatry!). Rather, you get it from God Himself. Remember that God is your hope and can allow you to properly and biblically respond to discouraging times.

6. Dining with the Enemy
If you think you have arrived at the end of marriage and if you've let go the good habits that once made your marriage a relationship of unity, understanding and love, you are dining with the enemy. That means you have opened the door to the devil to have an evening of dinner with you and your family. When you quit paying attention, let go of good habits, allow yourself to be lazy and impatient, and respond to discouragement without attempting to make any lasting change then you have invited Satan into your marriage to do what he's best at--deceiving, dividing, and destroying.

I ask you: have you become "coasters" in your marriage? If so, learn from these helpful principles and don't dine with the Devil.

(modified from Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, 236-48)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wherever your heart is reveals where your treasure is.

Last night I taught part 2 of Ephesians 4:1. I have created eleven points reviewing Ephesians 1-3 and showing what God has done for us in our calling. At the end of each main point, I have a “so that” because Paul commands all believers in Eph 4:1 to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

One of my points last night was that in Ephesians 2:6, God has raised us up, and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ. My point was that every true believer who is united to Christ (= “in Christ”) is raised and seated with Christ in heaven spiritually. Because that’s the case, the believer’s home is heaven and the believer’s longing should be heaven.

The ‘so that’ of my point was to exhort my hearers to live for heaven not for this earth. After a couple of illustrations showing the folly of living for the here and now while neglecting to think about, long for, yearn for, meditate on, and live for heaven, I told them to set their minds on things above (Col 3:1-2).

But how do you set your heart on things above? We turned to Jesus in Matthew 6. He said:

Matthew 6:19-21 9 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

19 Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20 θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.

The point of these verses is simply this: don’t live and store goods in this present earth that is destined to perish. Rather, live for heaven. Store treasures there where nothing can corrupt or steal or destroy that treasure! But then you ask how? Verse 21 provides the answer: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Jesus says that whatever consumes your heart reveals the treasure in your heart and life. Very simply, whatever you think about, whatever you love doing, whatever occupies your heart and soul in this life, that very thing is your treasure. And treasures come in a myriad of forms—relationships, friendships, dating relationships, marital unity, financial gain, vocational reputation, church ministry, cars, video games, musical instruments, a house and on and on one could go in naming possible “treasures”. These are things that our hearts can be consumed with and what Jesus says is that it is the very thing that consumes our heart that is our treasure.

So instead of living for this earth and placing our heart upon goods in this life, we are to strive to set our heart upon heavenly things. Think about heaven; read God’s Word; engage in deliberate fellowship; partake in sincere worship. These are some ways in which the Christian can set establish his treasure in heaven.

Luke 12:33-34 33 "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fabulous words from the old German hymn Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
'Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, 'tis He, 'tis He!
'Tis the long-expected prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
By His Son, God now has spoken
Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
Was there ever grief like his?
Friends thro' fear his cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress;
Many hands were raised to wound him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on him their hope have built.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bunyan (d.1688) believed:

"This act of God in electing is a choosing or fore-appointing of some infallibly unto eternal life. Election according to God's good pleasure is: (1) eternal, having been executed before the foundation of the world, (2) unconditional, being totally independent or foreseen faith or good works, and (3) effectual, in that no impediment can hinder the realization of God's purposes. Finally, (4) election is "in Christ," since the Savior is the one in whom the elect were always considered and without whom there is neither election, grace, nor salvation."

Praise God for our Sovereign God!

(From Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 110).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, through-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies, whether he has health, or whether he has sickness, whether he is rich, or whether he is poor, whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence, whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish, whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise, whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame, for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it; he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him . . . This is what I mean when I speak of 'zeal' in religion" (Practical Religion, 130).
I enjoy Mr. Spurgeon and his brilliant insights into the biblical text. In drawing application from Psalm 68 and how God receives gifts and then gives gifts to His own (cf. Eph 4:7-8) Spurgeon provides some helpful thoughts.

I. The great blessings of the Christian ministry
1. Ministers are received for, and are given to, you by Christ. As men, and as sinful men, ministers are as nothing, and wish not to make anything of themselves; but, as the gifts of Christ, it behooves you to make much of them. If you love Christ, you will make much of your minister, on account of his being his gift--a gift designed to supply Christ's absence in a sort. If you fear God, you will be afraid of treating your pastor amiss, seeing he is the gift of Christ.

2. Ministers are not only given to, but received for you, of God the Father, as a covenant blessing, among the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. In this view, consider that Christ received nothing at his Father's hand but what cost him dear--cost him his life. Make much of the gift on this account.

3. Consider your unworthiness of such a blessing. you are men, mere men, and what is more, rebellious men, who had joined with Satan. And must you share the spoils? it is not usual to divide the spoils amongst rebels ... men that put him to death had these gifts given to them; and we should all have done the same.

4. The end of it: that the Lord might dwell among them. God dwells with his people by the means of ordinances and ministers. A church of Christ is God's house; and where any one builds a house, it is a token that he means to dwell there. What a blessing to a village, a country, for God to build a house in it. It is by this that we may hope for a blessing upon the means to the conversion of our children and friends, and for the edification of believers.

II. Some corresponding duties as answering to these your privileges.
1. Constant and diligent attendance at the house of God. If the house of God be God's dwelling, let it be yours, your home. If God gives you a pastor, do you thankfully receive and prize him. He hath not dealt so with every village.

2. Cheerfully contribute to his support. Christ has given you freely, and you ought to give him freely. Consider it is not a gift, but as a debt, and not as done to him, but to Christ.

3. Follow these things which make for peace, with which the presence and blessing of God are connected.

4. Shun those things that tend to provoke the Lord to withdraw his gifts, and to cease to dwell among you.

—Andrew Fuller's Sketch of a Sermon (from Spurgeon, Treasury of David, 1/3:161-62).

Monday, July 5, 2010

"God is a jealous lover, and He will tolerate no rival in His child's heart; no spiritual adultery and no alien friendship can be tolerated for a moment by Him." (Alexander Ross)
Indeed, I have my work cut out for me this week. The next psalm in line for our study is Psalm 68. Here are just a few quotes I've gathered regarding the historical interpretation of this difficult psalm.

"It is doubtless a difficult psalm to interpret. Dahood writes: “It is widely admitted as textually and exegetically the most difficult and obscure of all the psalms.”

Kraus (famously) writes: “There is in the Psalter scarcely a son that, in its textual corruption and disconnectedness, presents the interpreter so great a task as Ps 68."

In 1851, a commentator, E. Reuss, gathered 400+ commentaries on the Psalms seeking to understand Ps 68 and left the study thoroughly confused!

I have some good ideas as to the structure and content of the psalm. I'm convinced that much of the imagery of this psalm comes from historical events recounted in the OT—the exodus from Egypt, the march through the wilderness/desert, the conquest and distribution of the land of Canaan, and the victory over the kings of Canaan . . . In this psalm the character and person of God glistens forth in so many directions just as a beam of light hits a costly jewel and the rays of light reflect off in every direction.

Open the eyes of my heart that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law (Ps 119:18). But for now, back to work...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I appreciate what Walt Kaiser writes:

"The best argument for a single-meaning hermeneutic is to be found in observing what happens when it is removed from current conversation or writing. Communication itself is severely handicapped if not made impossible. If individual speakers or writers are not sovereign over the use of their own words, and if meaning is not a return to how they intended their own words to be regarded, then we are in a most difficult situation—everyone communicating, but no one in particular ever receiving (or knowing if he has adequately received) the message" (Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching & Teaching [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981], 47).

I am convinced that the meaning of Scripture is what the biblical author intended when he wrote the biblical text. I believe that what he wrote was the same as what God intended in the text. Thus, the A/author are one and the same.

As we open our Bibles in church tomorrow and read from God's truth, let's remember that our responsibility is to find the intended meaning of the passage and properly apply that meaning to our situation today for the glory of Christ in His Church.
Be encouraged by the sovereignty of God in Job:
אַף־בְּ֭רִי יַטְרִ֣יחַ עָ֑ב יָ֝פִ֗יץ עֲנַ֣ן אֹורֹֽו׃
וְה֤וּא מְסִבֹּ֨ות׀ מִתְהַפֵּ֣ךְ בְּתַחְבּ֯וּלֹתָ֣ו לְפָעֳלָ֑ם כֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְצַוֵּ֓ם׀ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י תֵבֵ֣ל אָֽרְצָה׃
Job 37:11-12 11 "Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. 12 "It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth.

That God controls everything on the face of the earth and beyond is a truth clearly revealed in Scripture. An amazing verse revealing the power of God and the sovereignty of God over the clouds as Job learns from Elihu that the clouds change direction and turn around by the guidance of God! The clouds do whatever God commands of it on the face of the whole inhabited earth.

The clouds exist to do God’s bidding. The clouds obey every command of God. There is nothing that ever happens apart from the sovereign allowance and providential working of God in permitting that particular “thing” to occur.

This, dear reader, is the sovereignty of God. I revel in the reality that God is this sovereign. He is sovereign over life and death, salvation and damnation, heaven and hell, hearts and minds, body and souls. Everything that occurs happens by the direct sovereignty of God.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recently in a doctoral seminar my professor exhorted all of us to create a vision and purpose statement for our personal lives and for our ministry.

Since I have already created one for our youth/college group and for the music ministry, I decided to go home that evening and work on a personal vision and purpose statement. I have called it "Geoff Kirkland's spiritual goals." With no self-serving motivation whatsoever, I have outlined it with an acronym G-E-O-F-F so that I can easily memorize it and not forget it!

I challenge you to do the same. It profits greatly to sit, think, pray, and write your own personal vision and purpose statement for life. Have fun!

Soli Deo Gloria.
"Grab your soul by the collar and thrust it into the rays of Christ's glory." — Rick Holland
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