Saturday, March 31, 2007

1 Timothy 2:8 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

This has been a hard verse for many because of a few issues: 1) Where does it fit in relation to the preceding and the following verses; and 2) What does it mean to pray lifting holy hands?; and 3) What about the women, are men only to do the praying?

It seems clear from the conjunction oun ("therefore") that this verse is referring back to the previous verses. In other words, in most translations, the paragraph break comes after verse seven and then verse eight begins the new section continuing until 2:15. However this should not be the case. With the oun ("therefore"), it is referring to what has just been spoken. In essence, Paul has just stated the need to pray for governmental officials and how it is God who desires all men to be saved (including those in political leadership). Furthermore, Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer for the sins of all mankind. It was for this reason that Paul is an apostle and a preacher, namely, to get the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ out to a godless world. Thus verse eight forms a great inclusio (v.1 beginning with prayer and now v. 8 ending with prayer and everything from vv.2-7 is enclosed between this theme of praying). In sum, this verse goes with the preceding section. The beginning word "likewise" (hosautos) in v.9 shows that this is the new section/paragraph.

Second, we know that in the Scriptures, there are many modes and postures of prayer, but here the issue is not with the physical and outward posture of prayer, but rather with the inward posture of the heart.

To support this, Paul says that the men are to pray "lifting up holy hands" (1 Tim 2:8). What is interesting here is that the word "holy" is not the normal word "holy" in the NT (hagios). Rather it is, hosios which has the idea of "unpolluted" or "unstained by evil." Most think that when Paul speaks of 'hands' here, he is referring to the activities of life. Thus, the phrase here would have the idea of having an unstained life.

Third, Paul says, I want the men to pray (2:8). The word for "men" here is not the generic anthropos (a human being, mankind, etc), but rather it is aner (which always refers to a male gender as opposed to a female). Thus, Paul says that he "determines" (from the Greek word boulamai meaning to determine or command) that men do the praying. We must remember that the context of this chapter is in church life. Remember the theme verses of the book of 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:14-15 14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

Thus, we are in the context of the local church. This also finds support in chapter three where Paul commands Timothy to appoint elders and deacons in every individual church body.

The point is this. Biblically speaking, men are the leaders of the church when the church meets for corporate worship. When the church is gathered together in a public venue, it is the men who are to do the praying (1 Tim 2:8). It was the same with the Jews when they would gather in synagogues. A woman would never be permitted to pray in public, it was the man's doing. It is the same concept here. Thus, when Paul says, I want the men to pray "in every place" (2:8), this phrase "in every place" is used four other times in the NT (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 Thess 1:8 and here). All four of these occurrences all have the local church assembly in mind.

In conclusion, may the Lord give us:

1) Fervency in prayer.
2) Holy lives so that we may pray without reproach (cf. 1 Peter 3:7).
3) Men to step up to spiritual leadership in the local churches.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Paul in his letter to young Pastor Timothy notes that it is God who "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).

We must know that there are two desires mentioned in the Scriptures. First is what we may call God's desired will. This is what God would want and desire. It is the Greek word thelo meaning "I wish or desire." This is the word used here in 1 Tim 2:4. Second, there is God's determinative will. This is what God determines and there is nothing that can ever thwart his purposes. This is the Greek word boulamai meaning "I determine or desire."

It is here when Paul says that God desires (thelei) all men to be saved. In God's grace, mercy and loyal love, he would want all men to be saved an to come to the knowledge of the truth of the Gospel. Yet, because of the justice of God, he must punish sin. Furthermore, his desirous will is that all humans would be saved and not perish in hell forevermore. However, his determinative will is that his justice be displayed with absolute perfection. Thus, those who do not come to a knowledge of the truth are, in essence, rejecting Christ even now and forfeiting their own souls to the horrific torments of hell forevermore.

But following this, Paul gives the best news that anyone could ever hear. Namely...

1 Timothy 2:5-6 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.

It is at this perfect place that Paul makes known that there is only one God and one Mediator between the Righteous God and sinful human beings. I want you to know that the "one" is emphatic in both phrases. It could literally read as follows: One God, there mediator between God and men.

Notice that there is only one mediator between God and men, and that mediator is the man Christ Jesus. This is emphasizing the humanity of our Savior. The only redeemer for mankind is a man. Yet He is no ordinary man, He is the God-Man. This is vital to our faith.

Furthermore, notice there is only one Mediator. There is no priest required. No Mary. No Muhammad. No Buddah. No good works. No Peter or Paul or James or any other Saint. Rather, Jesus Christ Himself is the only mediator.

Hear it from his own lips:

John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

Notice the last phrase. This is the key of the verse. He is the way, truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through ME. This is plain and simple. If Jesus is not the only mediator, then there is no partaking of the salvivic grace of God. We are called to take joy in the fact that we have a mediator who gave himself as a ransom for many. In other words, Christ was given in exchange for another as the price of his redemption. What a sacrifice! What a love! He paid it all.
Every morning, as I begin my prayer time with the Lord, I read through a Psalm in the Hebrew and endeavor to pray my way through it. This morning, I was on Psalm 86. I read through the Psalm, put down my text, and prayed and worshiped. I worshiped God. I was so overcome with the majesty, glory, protection, honor and loftiness of our great God that I simply worshiped Him in adoration.

Furthermore, as I read through the text a few more times, a sermon outline became clear to me:

Here it is:

Psalm 86: A God of Strength
I. The Petition of the Godly (vv.1-7)
II. The Preeminence of God (vv.8-13)
III. The Protection received (vv.14-17)

Let me just go through very quickly and give you a few tidbits that greatly encouraged my heart this morning as I experienced the glory of God.

First, the Petition of the Godly (vv.1-7).

Psalm 86:1-7 Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy. 2 Do preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O Thou my God, save Thy servant who trusts in Thee. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, For to Thee I cry all day long. 4 Make glad the soul of Thy servant, For to Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 5 For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee. 6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications! 7 In the day of my trouble I shall call upon Thee, For Thou wilt answer me.

It is in these verses that there are six imperatives. David, as he is praying, is beseeching the Lord of Hosts and asking Him to give heed to his prayer; to listen to him. It is an inclusio - verse 1 and verse 7 say, in essence, the same thing. Thus these are "bookends" and everything is sandwiched in the middle.

Second, the Preeminence of God (vv.8-13).

Psalm 86:8-13 8 There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Thine. 9 All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; And they shall glorify Thy name. 10 For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God. 11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; Unite my heart to fear Thy name. 12 I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever. 13 For Thy lovingkindness toward me is great, And Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Here in verse eight, David cries out boldly and says "There is NO ONE like you" (in Heb. ein kamocha baelohim adonai). What a great statement. Furthermore verse 9 says that all the nations will come and worship (Heb. vayishtachavu). This word for "worship" here has the idea of coming to a superior, falling on one's knees and then bowing prostrate on the ground in absolute worship and homage before the Superior one. Did you catch that? We must worship God like this. This is monotheism. No polytheism. No other gods. Yahweh God is the only God there is.

Third, The protection received by God (vv.14-17).

Psalm 86:14-17 14 O God, arrogant men have risen up against me, And a band of violent men have sought my life, And they have not set Thee before them. 15 But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. 16 Turn to me, and be gracious to me; Oh grant Thy strength to Thy servant, And save the son of Thy handmaid. 17 Show me a sign for good, That those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed, Because Thou, O LORD, hast helped me and comforted me.

What a marvelous set of verses. Verse 15 has the familiar phrase that we find elsewhere in the NT (Exod 34; Psalm 103) that the Lord is "compassionate" (rachum) and "gracious" (chanun); slow to anger (Lit. "long of nose") and abundant with loyal love (chesed) and truth (emeth). This is the God that we serve and it is this God and Him alone that is able to protect the Godly when adversaries arise (vv.14).

Finally David concludes by saying that "you O Yahweh have strengthened me and you have comforted me." May we take comfort this day in the strength and the comfort that only the Lord Almighty can give.

Be encouraged this day. Worship God. Meditate on His Word. Be excited about him. Sing to him. Leap for joy in worship. And bow before Him in utter homage and laud.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The first note that I want to make is a rhetorical one. In the Greek, the first verse of chapter two has twelve words in it. Six of these twelve all begin with "p." Furthermore, when this letter would be read aloud by Timothy (and his hearers), this alliteration would be unmistakable for emphasis and to grab the listener's attention. Read it transliterated: "parakalo oun proton panton poesthai deeseis, proseuchas, eneuxeis, eucharistais huper panton anthropon." Just a rhetorical note that I think is significant.

Second of all, it seems that from verse one, Paul is encouraging young Pastor Timothy to make prayer requests for all men (panton anthropon). Paul gives this request in four Greek words for prayer:
1) Entreaty - a supplication, asking, prayer
2) Prayer - this is the most generic term for prayer
3) Petition - it has the idea of a request; a conversation; a meeting about something
4) Thanksgiving - a giving of thanks or a blessing

Paul notes in verse one how these are to be made for all men. But note in verse two how he further specifies as to whom these prayers are to be made. On behalf of Kings and all those in authority. Paul is commanding this young Pastor to pray for the government and for those in leadership. He is to lovingly care and pray for the kings and royal officials (cf. Rom 13:1ff).

Why would Paul do this? Well, read the second half of verse two:

1 Timothy 2:2 , in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

We pray and care for our government officials so that we may lead a tranquil (quiet, peaceful) and quiet (still) life with all godliness. Furthermore, verse three tells us, in doing this (that is, praying for our government officials and submitting to their leadership in tranquility and quietness) it is good and pleasing before God our Savior (1 Tim 2:3).

The point this morning? Let us not neglect those in leadership. For us here in the States, let us never forget to pray for our President, the cabinet, those in authority over us in our respective states in all the various governmental positions. May we lift them up in prayer and humbly and quietly respect them and honor them:

Romans 13:1-4 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There are two things to observe this morning:

First, 1 Timothy 1:16 16 And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Have you ever noticed this verse before and meditated on it? It says that Paul was shown mercy in order that Jesus Christ may demonstate (or show) his perfect patience. The word here is endeiknumi. It has the idea of one who demonstrates or proves something (whether by speech or by act). Thus, Jesus Christ here is the model for demonstrating biblical patience. And he demonstrated this patience with sinners!

Furthermore, it goes on to say that he demonstrated his perfect patience as a hupotuposin. You may hear the "tupos" in hypotuposin. This is the word for a "type." Jesus Christ is our prototype and example as to how to exercise biblical patience. He bore with sinners patiently until the perfect time came to atone for sins on Calvary's cross.

Let me ask you, do you practice this patience? Have you studied the life of our Lord and observed His patience and seen how you can imitate Him (Eph 5:1-2)?

Second, Paul also notes in v. 18 of chapter one:

1 Timothy 1:18 18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight,

This command is in the context of Paul charging Timothy to remain in the city of Ephesus to discard false doctrine and to appoint and train elders to teach sound (Lit. healthy) doctrine. Here in 1:18, Paul commands Timothy in accordance with the prophecies previously made, that is, that Christ is our hope (v.1); to command certain ones not to teach strange doctrine (v.3); to do all of this with love (v.5); to recognize the use of the law for the sinner (vv.8-11); to recognize that Christ Jesus strengthens his soldiers (v.12); and that he uses dirty, sinful, filthy people to do his work (vv.13-14).

It is with these words in the back of Timothy's mind that he is to go and "command certain ones not to teach strange doctrine" (v.3). Paul tells Timothy to do this in order that he may fight the good fight.

Paul says, Timothy, remember that the Christian life (and how much more the minister in the service) is a consuming war - not on earth but in the heavenly places. There is active war going on between the forces of light and the forces of darkness; between the minions of Satan and the angels of God. Timothy must never lose sight of the fact that this ministry he is pursuing is a war. Do we recognize this?

In fact, the word for "war" here is strateuo which was used often in the 1st century as referring to a "soldier going out to engage in warfare." It is interesting how Paul takes that imagery and plants it directly in the heart of the Pastoral ministry. May we never lose sight of this fact. Ministry is war. It is a battle. It is tough. It is painful. It is demanding. It produces sweat and bloodshed. Yet may we never forget that we have the most powerful One on our side:

1 Timothy 1:17 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul makes the (familiar) statement:

1 Timothy 1:15 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

One thing worthy of note regarding this verse is that Christ Jesus came into this world as a man (yet still fully God) for one purpose, to glorify the Father in redeeming a people purchased for His own possession. Jesus Christ is that Redeemer.

Yet in this verse, Paul's argument and reasoning is marvelous. For we must keep this in its immediate context. Remember that in verses eight through eleven he writes:

1 Timothy 1:8-11 8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

In these verses, Paul notes that the Law is not for a righteous man - as if there were even a righteous man on the earth. Of course, we know from Scripture that there is NOT one who does righteous all the time:

Ecclesiastes 7:20 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

Psalm 143:2 2 And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant, For in Thy sight no man living is righteous.

Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

1 Kings 8:46 46 "When they sin against Thee (for there is no man who does not sin) and Thou art angry with them and dost deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near;

So the point is made, there is NO one who continually does righteousness all the time. Everyone is tainted by sin. Paul proves this in vv.8-11. The law was NOT given for a righteous man (of course not, cause there is not a righteous man on earth). So, the Law was given for the lawless, rebellious, for the ungodly and then the sinners (Gk. Hamartolois). This is exactly the same word Paul uses in verse fifteen in speaking of those for which Christ Jesus came to save (Gk. Hamartulous).

Thus, in verses eight to eleven, Paul shuts up all humanity under sin (cf. Galatians 3:22 22 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe).

Paul here, with his wise reasoning, after shutting all human beings under sin declares that there is a Deliverer who came specifically to save these sinful beings. So when Jesus came into the world to save sinners, this is NOT some abstract, vague and pithy statement about some people who are really bad. No. This has to do with you; with me; with every single human being in the world who can be characterized by one word - sinner.

To God be the glory for his infinite wisdom and grace in saving a bunch of sinners for Himself and purchasing people by His own blood and for His own possession.

1 Timothy 1:17 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Paul writes:

1 Timothy 1:12-14 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

This text is amazing. Paul is expressing his joy and thankfulness that God has entrusted him with a ministry for His name's sake. In fact, even in v.12, Paul notes that "I give thanks," but literally in the Greek it reads, "I have thanksgiving/grace." Though Paul was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor (a dioktein; that is, one who is pursuing something with the degree of fervency as an athlete would so as to receive the prize), and a violent aggressor (hubristein).

In v.14, the first word in the Greek is uperepleonasen which literally means: "overfulfilled," "overflowing," "to abound exceedingly." This is what Paul is saying. Paul is known for taking a word and placing prepositions in front for added emphasis (as is the case here). Thus, Paul is so ecstatic and joyful that the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted a ministry to him that he literally says that the grace of God is "superabundant."

Have you thought in recent times that God's grace toward you is superabundant? We all - even in the womb - were to be destined for the wrath of God in the eternal flames of hell. Why? Because of our sin. Yet because the grace of God was superabundant towards us (out of his sheer grace), we have been born again to a new hope. God's grace is this great. God's grace is this abundant. It covers every sin. It leaves NO sin excluded. For those who trust in Christ, the grace of God truly is superabundant.

May we be those who bathe in the superabundance of God's grace towards us. For we are unworthy! But his grace far surpasses our unworthiness!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I have been completely overwhelmed by the Pastoral Epistles as of recent months and so I have determined to make it my ambition to know - I mean, really KNOW - them in and out. I want to make it my goal to understand these letters so well that I understand Paul's thought in every chapter and in every verse. I will make it my goal to be able to know and read the Greek text without any problem. This will come with work, time and labor, but it will be worth it. This morning I read 1 Timothy 1:1-4 in the Greek repeatedly.

I was struck by one significant (and yet fairly uncommon) word that Paul used:

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope;

What struck me this morning is that this word for "the commandment" is the Greek epitagein which means "authority or command." It is a very strong word. It is a military term that is not found very often in the NT.

It is also found in 2 Timothy 2:15 after a marvelous discourse on the Gospel and how we as believers are awaiting the "blessed hope" of our Savior who gave Himself on behalf of us to redeem us from every lawless deed, etc. Then after that wonderful Gospel presentation, Paul tells Titus:

Titus 2:15 15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

The word here in Titus 2:15 for "authority" is that same word epitagein. Paul had this authority of God Himself behind Him in his writing of this letter.

What a marvelous thought to ponder. That we have the very letter that Paul wrote with the absolute and full Divine authority behind him in every letter that he wrote. How amazing. May we as pastors heed this command know that when we are behind the pulpit preaching the Word of God that we must preach and teach with all authority (epitagein) understanding that we are heralding the Divine Words of God. This is a supernatural calling. May we be found faithful.
John 12:26 26 "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

This is one of those verses that I read this morning that seemed new to me. I must have skimmed over it before. But to think that Jesus - and this is a week before he is crucified - tells those who are with him that if they have the desire to serve Christ, they must follow Him.

How important it is for us to heed this command. We must serve the Lord but it requires a life of total allegiance and unreserved commitment. Jesus drives the point home by saying that wherever He may be found, His servant (who is constantly and unequivocally following him) will be as well.

Furthermore, This last phrase is what really encouraged me. Jesus says:

"if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."

Can you imagine what it will be like on that final day when we who have been faithful to the calling of following Christ will be ultimately honored by the Lord? Of course, this honor will not really be ours. For we will be so consumed with the Glory of God that the honor will be rightly given to Him whom all glory is due.

May we strive today - and every day - to live lives that are constantly, fervently, painfully, unequivocally, exhaustibly, single-mindedly and wholeheartedly committed to serving our Lord Jesus Christ? Why? So that we may ultimately bring Glory to the Father. For in so glorifying us, we will be glorifying Him for who He is and what He has done.

May we be these servants who are found faithful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Instead of listening to me, listen to Mark Dever as he shares his heart with these two lessons that have stood out to him in his ministry:

Read that blog HERE.

If everyone is as much into dancing as I am, then you will appreciate this lovely video that is perhaps one of my favorite scenes in all of "moviedom."

Watch it HERE.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Deep down I do enjoy cats, but these make me laugh.

Watch the one and a half minute funny video of CATS here.
Norman Geisler has a great quote regarding the historicity of the Word of God by saying:
The history of the Christian church is in overwhelming support of what the Bible claims for itself, namely, to be the divinely inspired, infallible, and inerrant word of God…this is true of the earliest Fathers after the time of Christ, as well as down through the centuries following them up to modern times" (Geisler, Systematic Theology, 1:282).

Here is some more evidence of the inspiration and authority of the Word of God believed through the centuries...

1. Belief in Apostolic Father’s View (70AD-150 AD)
a. Testimony of The Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (c.70-130 AD)
It cites the Gospel of Matthew after stating that it is what ‘God Saith’ (5:12). Furthermore, this letter also speaks of the New Testament as ‘inspired’ or ‘breathed out’ by God (2 Tim 3:16).

b. Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians (95-97 AD)
This man – a contemporary of the Apostles – says that the synoptic
gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke) are Scripture (ch. 2). He also speaks of his readers to ‘act according to what is written’ (ch.1).

c. Polycarp’s Epistle To the Philippians (c.110-135 AD)
Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John and he referred to the NT
several times as “The word of Truth.” He also cited texts from Philippians 2 and 2 Timothy 4 as the “word of righteousness.”

2. The Nicene Fathers (150-350 AD)
a. Justin Martyr (d.165 AD)
He spoke of the Gospels as “The voice of God” and added that “we must
not suppose that the language proceeds from men who were inspired, but from the Divine Word which moves them” (Geisler, Systematic Theology, 1:284).

b. Irenaeus (130-202 AD)
He wrote: “For the LORD of all gave the power of the Gospel to his
apostles, through whom we have come to know the truth, that is, the teaching of the Son of God…This Gospel they first preached. Afterwards, by the will of God, they handed it down to us in the Scriptures, to be “the pillar and ground” of our faith.”

c. Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD)
He held a strict view of the doctrine of inspiration. He noted:
"There is no discord between Law and the Gospel, but harmony, for they
both proceed from the same Author…differing in name and time to suit the age and culture of their hearers…by a wise economy, but potentially one…since faith in Christ and the knowledge…of the Gospel is the explanation…and the fulfillment of the Law.”

d. Tertullian (160-220 AD)
“The Apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the
operations of prophecy, and the efficacy of [healing] virtues, and the evidences of tongues; not particularly, as all other have. Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form [of advice] to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, a precept (Geisler, Systematic Theology, 1:285).

3. Church History (250-1700 AD)
a. Jerome (340-420 AD)
I beg you, my dear brother, to live among these books, to meditate upon
them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else. Does not such a life seem to you a foretaste of heaven here on earth? Let not the simplicity of the Scriptures offend you; for these are due either to faults of translators or else to deliberate purpose: for in this way it is better fitted for instruction.

b. Augustine (of Hippo) (354-430 AD)
When they write that He has taught and said, it should not be asserted that
he did not write it, since the members only put down what they had come to know at the dictation of the Head. Therefore, whatever He wanted us to read concerning His words and deeds, He commanded His disciples, His hands, to write. Hence, one cannot but receive what he reads in the Gospels, though written by the disciples, as though it were written by the very hand of the Lord Himself.

c. Martin Luther (1483-1546)
He noted that “This is exactly as it is with God. His word is so much like
himself, that the godhead is wholly in it, and he who has the word has the whole godhead” (Geisler, p.298).

Furthermore, “He is called a prophet who has received his understanding
directly from God without further intervention, into whose mouth the Holy Ghost has given the words…Thus, we refer all of Scripture to the Holy Ghost.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tomorrow a good friend of mine is out of town and he asked me to fill in for him in teaching the Greek class at the Master's College. I am excited.

As I was preparing for the course, read some of these quotes I came across. I am encouraged by these:

Martin Luther said: “The languages are the scabbard that contains the sword of the Spirit; they are the casket which contains the priceless jewels of antique thought; they are the vessel that holds the wine; And as the gospel says, they are the baskets in which the loaves and fishes are kept to feed the multitude…As dear as the gospel is to us all, let us as hard contend with its language”

John Piper says: “Weakness in Greek and Hebrew also gives rise to exegetical imprecision and carelessness. And exegetical imprecision is the mother of liberal theology."

George Whitefield said: “I now studied much, about 12 hours a day, chiefly Hebrew…and committed portions of the Hebrew OT to memory; and this I did with prayer, often falling on my knees… I looked up to the Lord even whilst turning over the leaves of my Hebrew dictionary."

Mr. Whitefield also said: “Though weak, I often spent 2 hours in my evening retirements and prayed over my Greek Testament”

Mr. Luther also said: “As dear as the gospel is to us all, let us as hard contend with its language.”

Lord willing, if I am a Pastor someday, I want to be like Knox, Zwingli, Calvin and Luther who were known for carrying the Hebrew Old Testament's and their Greek New Testament's with them. I want to be so familiar with these languages so that I can better understand the Word of God in the original language in which it was written.

Praise God for Greek and Hebrew. Praise God for the ability to learn and know and study and use these languages.

For Greek, I am happy with Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

George Muller, (1805 – 1898) who is famous for establishing orphanages in England, joyfully depended on God to meet all his needs and the needs of the thousands of children under his charge. In the text below, he lays out how he sustained a vital daily time with God. I have read nothing better:
It pleased the Lord to teach me a truth…I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished…Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer…Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning , early in the morning…
The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake or preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession or to supplication; so that I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers…
The difference between my former practiced and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time…but what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts…

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

1 Timothy 1:11 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

In this text, Piper says that this is "the good news of the glory of the happy God." One thing that impacted me this morning in reading a chapter of Piper's from the book The Pleasures of God was the fact that "God is most glorified and happy in His Son."

The radiance of Christ's face shines first and foremost for the enjoyment of His Father. Furthermore, the Father delights in the Son's supremacy and servanthood.

Note this: God did NOT take a holy man up to deity. Rather, he clothed the fullness of deity with a virgin-born human nature, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the God-Man, in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9). Mind boggling huh?

So the Son in whom the Father delights is the image of God and the radiance of the glory of God. He bears the very stamp of God's nature and is the very form of God. He is equal with God and, as John says, is God.

To not love God and to not delight in Him is a great loss to us and a great insult to God. Furthermore, the righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater.

So, there is only one fountain of lasting joy - the overflowing gladness of God in God. Without beginning and without ending, without source and without cause, without help or assistance, the spring is eternally self-replenishing. From this unceasing fountain of joy flow all grace and all joy in the universe.

SOURCE: Piper, John. The Pleasures of God. Multnomah, 2000.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Listen to this helpful quote I came across today:

"The idea that Christianity stands chiefly in danger from the forces of materialism, or from secular philosophy, or from pagan religions, is not the teaching of the New Testament. The greatest danger comes rather from temptations within and from those who, using the name of Christ, are instruments of Satan to lead men to believe a lie and to worship what in reality belongs to the demoniac (cf. 2 Thess 2:3-9; Rev 13:11)" (p.259).


"Instead of believers in the apostolic age being directed to listen to all views 'with an open mind', they were told how to 'test the spirits, whether they are of God' (1 John 4:1). For there are 'deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons' (1 Tim 4:1); false teachers 'who will secretly bring in destructive heresies' (2 Pet 2:1). There are words which 'spread as a cancer' (2 Tim 2:17)" (p.260-61).


Cyprian, a bishop in the city of Carthage c. 200AD wrote:

"It is easy enough to be on one's guard when the danger is obvious...but there is more need to fear and beware of the Enemy when he creeps up secretly, when he beguiles us by a show of peace and steals forward by those hidden approaches which have earned him the name of the 'Serpent' (p.261).

The fact that...

"the idea that the knowledge is enough to make a Christian is false. The devil believes Scripture, knows Scripture, uses Scripture, and yet remains unholy and in love with all that God condemns. it ought therefore to be no surprise that scholarly men can be familiar with the text of Scripture (as the Jews were with the OT) and yet remain unchanged. The corruption of the human heart is such that it needs more than knowledge" (p.269).

And one last quote from Martin Luther:

"We are surrounded on every side by angry and raging bishops and princes who wish we were wiped out. Still this is nothing in comparison with that spiritual battle...Satan is grasping at us with ALL his powers...We are on the battlefront whenever we teach the Word, whenever we preach and glorify Christ" (p.270).

Let these quotes be a sobering reminder to you. We live in an age when enemies come from without - though, of course, this does happen. Rather, we live in an age when the raging wolves come from within our OWN FLOCK.

Listen to what Paul says to the elders at Miletus:

Acts 20:29-30 29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

May we heed these words that Paul spoke to the elders and may we be those that are prepared to stand firm for the truth. May we never shrink away from the truth. Furthermore, may we never be so diluted into thinking that everything we hear in 'church' is right and 'biblical.' May we be those noble Bereans who tested the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).

Be careful. Sometimes, you need to be more careful as to what you hear "in church" than what you may hear "outside of church."

SOURCE: Murray, Iain H. Evangelicalism Divided. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It seems to me that Deuteronomy 28:36 is a good verse to recognize in understanding God's sovereignty:

Deuteronomy 28:36-37 36 "The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you shall set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone. 37 "And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the LORD will drive you.

We know that from this text, The Lord is prophesying that Israel will have a king (monarchy) in about four hundred years and how they will be driven out of their land. Later in the chapter, Moses writes...

Deuteronomy 28:63-64 63 "And it shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. 64 "Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.

Though Yahweh will exile his people from their homeland (Assyria, 722 BC; and Babylon, 586 BC), Moses writes in quoting the Lord that he will take delight in doing this. Ultimately, the Lord exiled his people for his ultimate delight and glory. How? We do not have all of the answers, but we know that God brings glory to himself in all that he does.

May we never forget this as we go through our lives day to day struggling with trials, temptations, discouragements and tribulations. God is bringing himself glory.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Pastors, "Be Holy." This is the cry that is blasting forth from the seminars here at the Shepherd's Conference @ Grace Community Church.

I just attended a seminar by Rick Holland (who is the man to the right in this photo) who did a seminar on "The Peril of Becoming Too Familiar With God." Sound like an oxymoron? Trust me, It can happen. In fact, trust the Biblical account:

Leviticus 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

It is here in this account that Nadab and Abihu - on their inauguration in the priesthood offer strange fire before the Lord. Why? They were complacent. They were comfortable. They thought they could do what they wanted and still honor God. They introduced their own ideas and methodologies into their worship and spiritual leadership. God does NOT allow for this.

What do we as Pastors need to understand more than anything? Rick said:

"The priests’ personal holiness is to be the necessary application of his understanding of the holiness of God. "
and again...

"The big question is: it can be very dangerous to be around the things of God for a LONG PERIOD OF TIME (saturated w/ truth) can lead to a familiarity that is very unhealthy.”
Pastors, remember this:

"My God will be my people’s God;
The God I represent, will be the God they reverence;
The God that I may treat trivially will be the God they also treat trivially.
May we be those preachers that are so overcome and so overwhelmed by the holiness, awesomeness, terrifying judgment that is ready to be poured out on all the ungodly that we first live lives of holiness before an omniscient God, and secondly, that we preach the holiness of God which in turn was manifested with Christ on the cross. May we always preach the cross.
Pastor, "Be Holy."

Monday, March 5, 2007

So today I had an hour to spare while I was waiting for a ring to be resized so I decided to walk to the Borders which is close by. I figured that I'd spend 30-40 minutes in no other place but the front shelves that hoist up the "Borders Bestsellers."

Upon entering Borders, this was the first book I found by Terrence Real, The New Rules of Marriage.

Upon opening the book I read that two of the six chapters of the Table of Contents had something along the lines of "Are you getting what YOU want? as the chapter title.

So I decided to flip through these chapters. I didn't get very far before I came across this statement: In speaking to the reading, Real writes that our view in marriage ought to be: "what can I give you to help you give me what I want." Though to be completely honest, I wasn't shocked to read these kinds of selfish and psycho-therapeutic phrases throughout the book.

Then I moved to the other side of this shelf. My eyes immediately were drawn to this book by John Shelby Spong, Jesus for the Non Religious.

Now, according to my knowledge of the Bible, those who are "non-religious" (to use Spong's vernacular) are "those whom the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36) and "he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:12).

However, this is not what I found in the book. I found Spong giving a lengthy discourse on who Jesus really is. What he does in the book is try to describe Jesus to those who are completely ignorant as to who Jesus of Nazareth truly was.

I read chapters that were all about the miracles of Jesus being misunderstood. In Spong's words, he noted that those who take the miracles in the Gospels (and especially those performed by Jesus), are clearly misinterpreting the biblical record and are ignoring the author's purpose for writing. Not too shocking, but yet very discouraging.

Then I flipped to another chapter that was titled something along the lines of "Was Jesus really able to raise the dead?" Well, according to my Bible, yes. According to my studies and what I said yesterday in my sermon at church about Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead (cf. Mark 5:35, 42). However, Spong seemed to be dogmatic that Jesus really did not raise the dead. This girl was merely sleeping. Furthermore, Lazarus was merely recapitulated. He was not really dead.

Being completely disheartened at this point, I walked yet one shelf over (still 15 feet from the front door of Borders at the Bestsellers table) and found this work:

As a preacher, when you see a bright blue book with big white letters that unmistakably and undoubtedly tell you "What Jesus meant, you want to pick it up and read it. This book by Gary Wills simply put the climax to my discouraging afternoon at the Borders Bestsellers table after about 40 minutes.

In this work, Wills goes through many of the statements in the gospels and endeavors to say what Jesus really meant - as if what Jesus spoke in the Gospel accounts is in some way vague (does anyone else see a similarity between this and the Emerging Church movement?) So, of course (foolishly) I open the book to the Table of Contents and find some chapters to skim. Though it ended up being more than merely skimming.

Perhaps the most striking statement that I read was when Wills made the audacious claim that Jesus Christ is clearly an egalitarian. Namely, that men and women have equal rights in the Christian ministry - there is no superiority, no heiarchy, no limited rights to women; everything that a man can do, a woman can do.

So this obviously captured my attention, being an advocate of biblical counseling and "not-so-much an advocate of secular psychology and egalitarianism." Wills said that Jesus said... but then he quoted from Galatians 3:28 which says:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Wills sought to prove that clearly in this statement we see that there is NO hierarchy in the Christian life - men and women have equal rights, just as slaves and those who are free, etc. The only (and it's a big one) problem with this statement is that he pulls this verse completely and absolutely out of context. For we know that beginning in Gal 3:23 (through v.29) he speaks of those who are under the Law as being shut up under sin (v.23), but yet the Law's purpose was to ultimately lead us to Christ by showing us our own inadequacies and failings before a Holy God (v.24). Paul then speaks of how faith has come resulting in Justification by faith and thus we are no longer under this "tutor" (that is, the Law to lead us to Christ). Why? Simple because we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (v.26). So what is Paul's point? Simply to express that all those who believe - by faith - in Jesus Christ are justified before God. That's it - whether one who believes is a Jew, a Greek, a male, a female, a slave, a free man, it doesn't matter, everyone has to come to Christ the same way - by God's grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Period. That's it.

In sum, my day today was...good, until about 3:30pm. Then I walked into Borders to see what the average person in the church pew is reading. This discouraged me.
Yesterday I preached twice at church. It was a long day and a tiring day. Paul says it this way:

1 Timothy 4:10-11 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.

When Paul says that we labor, he uses the Greek word kopiao which means "to toil, to labor; to toil with wearisome effort. In secular writings of the first century AD it meant "to be utterly exhausted."

Then he uses a second word, strive, which comes from the Greek word agonizomai - from which we get our English "agonize." It is an athletic term which was used in "contending for a prize;" "in training with such struggle to earn the reward." It also means: "to endeavor with strenuous zeal" and "to contend."

This is what Paul is saying. When it comes to the Gospel message. I am laboring and I am striving - Literally "agonizing" for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was blessed to experience a little bit of that agony last night. I was driving home from church and thinking about George Whitefield - one of my heroes of old - who used to preach 3 times a day. And at that, it was every day of the week!

Who am I to say that I am tired? However, for me, to labor and to strive in the high calling of proclaiming the "word of the Cross" (1 Cor 1:18), is pure and utter joy. I pray that the Lord would give me the opportunity to do this for the rest of my life. To be an Ezra is my goal:

Ezra 7:10 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Notice the three aspects to Ezra's ministry (which is a great model for every preacher):

First, he was a man who studied God's word.
Second, he was a man who practiced God's word. He had to make absolutely certain that the Word that he was prescribing to others to live out was a truth that he was already working on himself.
Third, he was a man who was zealous to teach God's word.

May we be preachers who agonize in the pulpit. Labor hard. Run hard. Study hard. Preach hard.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

In his excellent work, Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes mentions a quote by a famous radio talk show host. Bear in mind he is a Jewish man, not even claiming to be a Christian. Read his observation on p.78:

"One thing I noticed about Evangelicals is that they do not read. They do not read the Bible, they do not read the great Christian thinkers, they have never heard of Aquinas. If they're Presbyterian, they've never read the founders of Presbyterianism. I do not understand that. As a Jew, that's confusing to me. The commandment of study is so deep in Judaism that we immerse ourselves in study. God gave us a brain, aren't we to use it in His service? When I walk into an Evangelical Christian's home and see a total of 30 books, most of them best-sellers, I do not understand. I have bookcases of Christian books, and I am a Jew. Why do I have more Christian books than 98% of the Christians in America? That is so bizarre to me."

Christian, train your mind for godliness. Do this by reading, reading and more reading. Do this by study, study and more studying. Read the Bible! God gave us the revelation of Himself in His Word. Know it! May this be a reminder to us all. Praise God for His revelation.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Deuteronomy 4:7-11 7 "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? 8 "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? 9 "Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. 10 "Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' 11 "And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom.

This text shows both the transcendence (that is, that God is wholly different from mankind) as well as the immanence of God (namely, the nearness and the fact that God lives and moves among his creatures).

Merrill, in his great commentary on Deuteronomy says:

"The other side of the coin of obedience - and indeed, the divine response to it - is the presence of God among his people (v.7). The theology of the nations at large taught that the supreme gods were remote and inaccessible. Though they were perceived in highly anthropomorphic terms, they also were thought to be so busy and preoccupied with their own affairs that they could scarcely take notice of their devotees except when they needed them. It was in contrast to these notions, then, that Moses drew attention to the LORD, God of Israel, who, though utterly transcendent and wholly different from humankind, paradoxically lives and moves among them. The idea of the immanence of God is ancient, indeed, finding its first expression in the Eden narratives where God "walked about" in the presence of his people."

Have you contemplated today that this God who is completely holy, set apart, righteous, transcendent, just, wrathful, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and self-existing IS ALSO the same God who is loving, kind, gentle, forgiving, merciful, gracious, immanent and peaceful.

Do you recognize that we do not serve a God who is too remote and inaccessible. Namely, that he would only need us "when they need their subjects." But rather, the God of the Bible is near!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

You may think that locking yourself up in corner may work to study. And it may. But may I suggest a better (haha) "station" for studying?

If you have iTunes,

1) Go to the "radio" icon on the left bar;

2) Then click on "electronica" under the music genre;

3) Finally, 12 stations down is one called: "1.FM trance: Top selection of UK and European Trance."

I am convinced this is the way to go :-).... Try it!
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