Saturday, June 30, 2007

Job answers that for us:

Job 28:12-28 12 "But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 "Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.

14 "The deep says, 'It is not in me'; And the sea says, 'It is not with me.' 15 "Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, Nor can silver be weighed as its price. 16 "It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx, or sapphire. 17 "Gold or glass cannot equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold. 18 "Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; And the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls. 19 "The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, Nor can it be valued in pure gold. 20 "Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? 21 "Thus it is hidden from the eyes of all living, And concealed from the birds of the sky. 22 "Abaddon and Death say, 'With our ears we have heard a report of it.'

23 "God understands its way; And He knows its place. 24 "For He looks to the ends of the earth, And sees everything under the heavens. 25 "When He imparted weight to the wind, And meted out the waters by measure, 26 When He set a limit for the rain, And a course for the thunderbolt, 27 Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out.

28 "And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Job 19:25-26 25 "And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;

Of course we know that in the Old Testament, we do not have the fullest revelation (that we have now with both OT and NT) regarding the afterlife. Yet we do see a glimpse into the hope that Job of old had in his Deliverer. What is amazing to me is that this man, Job, being a godly man and a God-fearer was so certain that he would see his God, that this was really the only thing he could cling to during his time of horrific suffering.

Job said: "As for me." This phrase is clearly emphasized in the Hebrew. It says, "As for me myself, I know." Job knows with absolute certainty. There is no wavering. There is no possibility. There is no mere wishing. This is the certainty that the believer in God has.

Job further clarifies his certainty. He notes that his hope is that "his Redeemer lives." The word for "Redeemer" is the Hebrew goel from which we get our commonly-known phrase (from Ruth) "kinsman-redeemer." One who redeems is one who purchases and buys back to oneself for personal possession. It is the commercial term often found in the ancient marketplace (or city-square).

Job knows that his Redeemer lives. He continues in the very next verse by saying that after he dies, "yet from my flesh I shall see God." Job has the confidence that when his physical life is completed, that he shall with his eyes see his redeemer.

Oftentimes we struggle in perplexity at how much revelation the Old Testament saints understood regarding the afterlife, but here we have clear evidence that Job (clearly an early time from the Patriarchal period; c. 2000 BC) had the hope that when his physical and earthly life was over, that that was not the end of his existence. He knew with all confidence that for those who are "redeemed" they shall see God face to face in glory!

May all of us re-acquaint ourselves with this future hope of seeing our Redeemer face to face!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ten Conclusions About Preaching
by Adrian Warnock

1. Expository preaching should be defined as preaching that seeks to explain the main point of the portion of the Scripture selected.

2. Expository preaching does not always have to take place as part of a long series working slowly through a book. Series can be helpful, but they need not last a decade. One-off sermons on specific verses, a chapter, or even a whole book can also be expository.

3. We must not have an overly-narrow definition of expository preaching — thinking that there is only one way to preach. Instead we must encompass the many different styles of preaching which are helpful and biblically directed. We must also understand that whilst the message of a specific verse is, of course, unified rather than divided or contradictory, its meaning is usually rich and many faceted. Because of this, different themes may be drawn out of the same passage, giving rise to very different sermons from the very same portion of the Bible.

4. Any definition of expository preaching which is too narrow and excludes the style of such men as C. H. Spurgeon, who was probably the greatest ever preacher — just has to be wrong. To criticize CHS on these grounds and fail to hold his preaching up as a model worthy of emulation today is, in my view, inexcusable.

5. Expository preaching is not without its dangers, one of the chief of which is sounding too much like a Bible commentary read aloud.

6. Preaching needs to skillfully draw modern people into the Bible, explain the text, induce wonder, then drive the point home with a clear sense of how the people need to think, feel, believe, and act differently here in the 21st century.

7. Preaching is entirely dependent on the supernatural and sovereign activity of the Spirit, who equips both preacher and hearers for what is an impossible task and makes the words of the Bible live in its hearers hearts. Preaching needs to be passionate, emotive (though not necessarily emotional), and bring about a holy moment of experiencing the presence and voice of God through His Word.

8. Preaching God's Word is the primary way He has ordained for people to be saved, taught, equipped, matured, and encounter God. It is the hope of the church, and a restoration of true preaching has always accompanied true revival.

9. Our preaching should be targeted at and have something relevant for each of our different audiences — the unbelieving visitor, the backslidden, the new Christian, the mature Christian, and church leaders in the congregation. But, ultimately we are accountable to an audience of One before whom we must give an account.

10. Given the impossibility of this task, is it any wonder we need to be devoted to the study of the Word and to prayer, expressing our utter uselessness and unworthiness to proclaim God's Word? Surely we do well to conclude that we need the help of God in our preparation, personal lives, and delivery to make us instruments that He can use. When I read about preaching I do feel that we have barely scratched the surface, and that sadly a generation exists today that has mostly never heard preaching as it should be.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Mark 6:47-49 47 And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;

It is always amazing to me when higher critics (i.e. liberals) attempt to take the clear definitive statements of the supernatural in the Gospels and seek to explain it away as myth. One of which is H. J. Holzmann (1832-1910) who was a professor at Heidelberg and was among the first to advocate the Two-Source Theory of the Gospels. The two-source theory is a theory which bases the writings of Matthew and Luke on two primary sources: 1) The Gospel of Mark; and 2) Another Gospel known as "Q." This is terribly unfortunate and extremely critical. These higher critics want to explain away all supernatural and explain it away as myth. I adhere to the simple truth that each of the four Gospel writers - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - each wrote their own accounts and did not need to simply "copy" accounts from another Gospel writer. Instead, the four gospels beautifully complement one another to give us a full and marvelous vision of the beautiful Savior we have, namely Jesus Christ.

With that to say, I am preaching on Mark 6 this Sunday and am finding the account of Jesus walking on the water is subject to vast amounts of exegetical gymnastics by those who attempt to claim that Jesus was NOT really walking on water. I'm not sure how you get around it when the text says, "Jesus walked on the water," but I guess some try to explain it away.

Let me explain. The phrase in verse 48, "walking to them on the sea" literally could be translated from the Greek, "walking upon the sea." Liberals attempt to show that Jesus here was walking on the seashore and NOT on the sea. But this theory is debunked for the word here means "sea" (thalasseis) and NOT "seashore" (aigialos). This is a simple understanding of the languages that these "scholars" have failed to notice.

Others, however, attempt to say that the sea was not very deep at that point and thus Jesus was walking on a sandbar. Well, that is a nice and cute thought, but this theory also fails when one understands that the boat was itself sailing on the sea. How could a boat (carrying the disciples) be upon the sea if they are on a "sandbar?"

May I propose one final solution? That is, let us read the Scriptures at face value. If it says, "Jesus walked on water," then let's believe that Jesus Christ really walked upon the water! If it says that "Jesus fed 5,000 men with only a few small fish," then let's believe that Jesus really fed at least 5,000 people with this small amount of food.

It is (and oftentimes does bring a chuckle) humorous at times to read some of these crazy ideas from scholars who attempt to allegorize or explain away the supernatural in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, it is not humorous. It is saddening. It is discomforting. It is eternally damning. For a person to seek to explain away the miraculous is to agree that Jesus Christ is not really the God-Man. Thus, a person is lost and in need of salvation.

May we be those who read the Scripture and worship Christ to the ultimate glory of God because our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, did indeed walk upon the waters and then still the raging sea with the power sourced in him. To God be the glory!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil.

This morning, there are only four things that I want to emphasize this morning from this simple verse. And that is the four key characteristics of a righteous man as observed in Job:

1) Job was "blameless" (Heb "tam"). Tam is from the more complete (and later) tamam which means "complete," "beauty," perfection." Here with regards to a person it has the idea of "one who evidences much integrity," or one who is "morally innocent." Job was this kind of man. He was a man who was blameless before God. The writer of this book (which was most probably the earliest book of the Bible that we have) shows the man Job as a complete man. He was beautiful in his integrity before God. He was morally innocent. He had no charges that could be brought against him for his lack of moral character. He was blameless.

2) Job was also "upright" (Heb "yashar"). Yashar means "straight," or something that is "level." Regarding morality it refers to something that is "right," "pleasing," or something that is "agreeable." Job had this kind of character before God. He did that which was pleasing to God. He agreed with God in the way he lived his life and conducted Himself before the Almighty (El-Shaddai).

3) Job also "feared God" (Heb "virey elohim"). The point here is that Job - being a righteous man - was one who was revering God. The verb yarey in Hebrew means to "be afraid" or "fear something." It can have the idea of respecting or reverencing something or someone. But oftentimes it semantically means "to be afraid" (Gen 3:10; Deut 1:29). Part of Job's motivation to honor God, to be upright and blameless before the Almighty was because Job recognized who God really is. He understood the holiness, the sovereignty, the power and the authority that God Almighty alone possesses. Job had the right perspective and the right response to God's character.

4) Job finally "turned away from evil" (Heb "vesar merah"). The idea here is that he turned (perfect tense) from evil or wickedness. He didn't just reject evil or refuse to take part in wickedness, the verb is clearly the idea of turning aside and proceeding in the opposite direction. This was Job's character. He was one who feared God and honored God so much that anything that was not pleasing to God was hateful and unattractive to Job. Thus, he turned aside from it.

Looking at these four key characteristics of a Righteous man - as seen in the man, Job - I am convicted and also saddened because of the lack of men characterized by these four points in today's generation. May the Lord raise up for us Godly men who are characterized by blamelessness, integrity, the fear of God, and the rejection of evil for His ultimate glory!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:9 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Those who are desiring to be rich. The word here for desiring is better translated as determining. Those who have set their mind upon this task and are ready and eager to get the job done regardless of the sacrifice that is to be made. This is the single-minded focus of those who are determining to be rich. Notice also the infinitive “to be rich” is in the present signifying the ongoing desire to be constantly rich.

Here is what happens to them. They are the ones who are falling into trials and snares and many foolish and harmful desires.

The adjectives are worthy of a brief note here. Foolish is the Greek anoetos. The idea of this word has the idea of “unintelligibleness,” “one who is unwise,” “foolish,” “misunderstood.” It is used elsewhere in the Scriptures, one of which is Galatians 3 when Paul says, “O foolish (anoetos) Galatians!

The second adjective is “harmful.” It is from the Greek blaberos. It is only used here in the NT and it means “that which is harmful” or “something causing an injury.”

It is these kinds of desires that are produced when one has set their mind on pursuing monetary wealth in this life. It is an all-consuming task.

Not only is it just a mere all-consuming work here on earth, but effects that are eternal are present. Notice again that it is Paul who says that these things (those determining to be rich) “plunge men.” This verb for “plunge” has the idea of “one who is cast into the very great deep waters.” It is the same verb used in Luke 5:7 when both boats were filled with fish that they “began to sink.” This is the idea here. These men who are consumed with being rich are sinking down into ruin and destruction.

It is no wonder that our society is presenting this as a prudent and as a wise dream. But those who set their heart upon being rich – regardless of whether they obtain riches or not in this life – usually forfeit their soul. May we be those who are wise stewards with the money that God has entrusted to us – for after all, it is His anyway. But may we be those who are faithful to the tasks God has given to us and may be never be consumed with this all-encompassing determination to be rich in this life.

1 Timothy 6:7 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either

Sunday, June 17, 2007

1 Kings 2:1-3 As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 "I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. 3 "And keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,

1 Kings is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I love the accounts of the various kings of Israel and Judah with all of their humanness and frailties front and center. It shows me they are mere men and God uses mere men. But even before the division of the Kingdom of Israel, as King David was old in age and passing the kingdom to his son, he told him to "Be yourself a man" (v.2).

I have learned many things from my dad, but this is one of them. I have learned to be strong. I have learned how to be strong by watching him. I have learned how to show myself a man by watching my dad be a man. I have been in numerous situations with him over the years and have had the intimate privilege of seeing him relate to various situations and watching his integrity and Godliness flourish.

Also in this text, King David is advising his young son, Solomon, and he commands him to "keep the charge...walking in his ways, keeping his statutes...and what is written in the Law" (v.3). As I have learned from my dad, there is one main truth that I have been overwhelmed with, the passion to keep the charge by walking in his ways and keeping his statutes. My dad has exemplified this example for me and given me an excellent example of what it means to "keep the charge."

A good friend of mine, the book of Proverbs, says (which is actually King Solomon speaking here - the same Solomon who received the counsel from his father, King David, above in the text from 1 Kings 2):

Proverbs 4:1-4 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 3 When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 Then he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;

It is again the command I receive to heed the instruction and commands of my father. He has told me to "hold fast to God's word and keep His commandments and live." This is an example that all fathers ought to teach to their children. Keeping the commands of God, holding fast to his words, loving him wholeheartedly is what the Christian life is all about. It is about a lifestyle completely committed to the supremacy and Lordship of Jesus Christ over one's life. It is about living a life that is set apart from the world. It is about "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18). It is about teaching the Word of God and heralding the truth high with all authority. These are the duties of the Christian man. These are the truths that I have seen exemplified in my dad. And for that, I am grateful.
So Dad, on this Father's Day, I want to say thank you for not only commanding me and training me to obey the commands of God, to follow His word, to love His word and to "keep the charge," but more importantly than that, I thank you for being a living example (a tupos) as to what it means and how it fleshes itself out.
This is my praise for your example to me. Though it was given to younger men (by no means saying that you are "old" :=) ), but the principle still fits:

1 Timothy 4:12 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I was recently at an event when I heard a speaker say this phrase, “God believes in you.” At that point in the message I was listening, but now my ears really perked up. I listened as he continued to expound on his idea of God believing in me. Moreover, he ended his message by saying this exact phrase, “My faith in God is a reflection of God’s faith in me.” Thus, do I believe in God because God first believed in me?

Is this a truth that the Scriptures teach? This is what the question must boil down to. Forget psychology. Forget the feel-good ideologies. Forget the subjective seeker-friendly statements. We must ask, does this phrase align itself with the teaching of the Word of God?

The answer: No.

We must begin with a simple and clear-cut definition of what it means for God to believe in me. If you take the idea of “belief” here to mean that God loves me, or that he entrusts certain things to my care, then sure, God believes in me.

But this is NOT what the biblical definition of faith is. BDAG defines pistis (the Greek word for “faith” or “belief”) as “a state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted; trust, confidence; faith." If we try and take this biblical definition of belief, then God certainly does NOT believe in me. He does not hope in me on the basis of my reliability. I have no reliability. Neither do you. Neither does any other human being on the face of the earth. Why? We are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners.

Listen to the testimony of Isa 43:10:

Isaiah 43:10 10 "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

This verse certainly gives no hint of God hoping in us. Rather, we are to hope in God for he alone is worthy of all hope and trust.

Furthermore, 1 John 5:13 says a similar truth:

1 John 5:13 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

So we must recognize that biblical speaking, God does not hope in me. But now the question is begged…WHY?

Simple. Because we totally depraved. This does not mean that human beings are as bad as they could be. Rather it means that every aspect of every human being’s life is somehow and in some way tainted by sin. That’s it. God has no reason to hope in us. He cannot hope in us. For God to hope in us would infer that God is lacking in something and must hope in us to fulfill something that he cannot fulfill in and of himself.

If God were to really believe in me, then that would give the intimation that I have something good in me. And that is absolutely false – biblically speaking. Of course, after a person is regenerated and “born again,” then the “old nature has passed away and the new nature has come” (2 Cor 5:17). But even then, every single iota of “goodness” a person has at that time is all because of Christ.

I am convinced that I am such a wretched sinner that there is no good in me in and of myself. Anything good that ever comes from Geoffrey R. Kirkland is all an evidence of the grace of God to bring Him glory.

So I come back to the question at hand, “Does God Believe In You?” No. Read the Scriptures. Search them. Study them. Meditate on them. But you will NOT find a single passage hinting that God is believing in you to do something for His gain or personal benefit – as if he needed anything (Acts 17:25).

Let us be warned how we read and understand the Scriptures. Hear King David’s words:

Psalm 24:1-6 The earth is the LORD's, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the rivers. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Thy face-- even Jacob. Selah.
No...we're not pregnant yet. But we are preparing for those little ones to come in the future :=)

5 Reasons to have Family Worship at Home
June 14th, 2007 . by Joe Thorn

Deut. 6:6, 7“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down,and when you rise.”

1. It’s your job to train your children, not your church’s.
God gives you, the parents, the responsibility and privilege of discipling your children. Have you thought about it that way before? You are tasked with teaching your children to be the disciples of Jesus. Simply handing them over to the church for instruction, and assuming that is enough, is lazy and dangerous. It is lazy because it is a refusal to participate in one of our most important roles as parents, and dangerous because we are dealing with children whose lives hang in the balance. I want fathers to see themselves as the pastors of their families. I want parents to see their families as their most important ministry; far more important than anything else they are involved in. What I tend to find is parents who will spend hours preparing for and executing ministries in the church while giving little time and less thought to family worship.

2. It teaches parents how to talk to their kids about spiritual things.
For many parents, especially new parents, talking to children about spiritual things does not come naturally. It can be awkward. Regularly gathering with your whole family to read and discuss Scripture will help you develop your communication skills, and help you better understand the truth as well. C. Ben Mitchell once suggested to me that if I cannot explain the truth to a child, I might not understand that truth very well myself.

3. It provides a regular context in which spiritual conversations take place.
Not only will this force you to learn how to speak to your children, but it will give you regular opportunity to do so. Let me tell you what I have observed. Families that do not regularly gather for family worship have little opportunity for real, spiritual conversations with the kids. But those who do regularly gather for family worship not only have that time to discuss things, but wind up having other, more spontaneous conversations about spiritual things as well.

4. It allows parents to guide theological development.
Your kids are theologians - right now. They have beliefs about God and probably articulate those beliefs if you listen carefully. Their theology will continue to develop over time, and their best hope for good theology is the passionate, clearly articulated, Scriptural teaching of their parents. Let me also remind you that your kids are watching you, to see if the things you teach them are the things you really believe. And when they discover that what you said about God being sovereign and good impacts the way you receive suffering and affliction, their theology will begin to blossom.

5. It prepares kids for corporate worship.
Family worship is a great aid in getting your kids ready for corporate worship. It teaches them the importance and value of sitting still, listening, and truly engaging corporate worship. They learn that the Bible is holy, and worth paying attention to. They learn songs, and will enjoy singing them in church after learning them in the home. It also demonstrates the value of corporate worship itself, preventing them from thinking about worship as something private. The dominant thinking on worship that I encounter in the evangelical church today is that worship is almost exclusively a very personal/private encounter with Christ. Family worship can lead our kids to see that while worship is always personal, and we should find time to get alone with God, it is meant to be expressed and experienced in community.
Start small, be regular, make it fun, keep it simple, and lead your family in worshiping Jesus Christ for the glory of God, and the good of your home.

SOURCE: Excellent blog

Friday, June 15, 2007

Listen to this article:

"Don't be surprised if very soon your toiletry kit contains not only shaving cream, deodorant and toothpaste, but concealer, oil-absorbing face powder and brow gel.
That's because guys are relying on an increasing number of made-for-men products like these to put their best face forward."

"Experts say it's only natural that men would turn to makeup to look their best. Grooming, after all, has never been more acceptable. Last year, $4.8 million was spent on male grooming products in the U.S., a 7% increase over the year before and a whopping 42% increase from 2001, according to Euromonitor, a London-based marketing and research company."

"KenMen, a Montreal-based cosmetics line founded in 2004 by Lee Gilbert, includes skin tints, body and face highlighter, and skin correcting sticks (otherwise known as concealer)."

"Holly Doss, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist with an eponymous cosmetics brand, also believes discretion is the key to introducing men to makeup.
"Most of the feedback I've gotten," she says, "is that they want to buy makeup without ever having to leave their home. They don't want to go and try anything out in 'real life."
Doss, who has worked in the entertainment industry under the tutelage of celebrity makeup artist Trish McEvoy, primarily sells foundation and concealer from her unisex line to men who want to look polished, but not pretty. She says they like that they can use their fingers for a fuss-free application."


"In order to get that competitive edge, they have to look better," she says. "They're going to do whatever it takes -- and there are products out there that can help them achieve this."

This, unfortunately is not surprising to me. With the quick uprising in outer image and sexy appeal, both men and women are taking hold of this "cosmetic" idea and applying it to their face (or wherever on their body) to look "polished." I believe this is part of the feminization of our culture. A big time evidence of it. If you look around evangelical churches today, where are the men? Where are the husbands who are at home shepherding their wives, their children and their neighborhoods from the Scriptures? Where are the men who lead the daily devotionals at home over a meal with their whole family (something that has been also lost today).

In today's generation, instead of wanting to be at home with their wives (and even the term "wives" should be questioned in our culture), men want to be spending the time and money on themselves so they look better. It is all for the image. For the facade.

May we, who are actively serving in evangelical, Bible-teaching and Bible-believing churches, actively step up and be male leaders in the church. The Lord demands it and women need that male leadership.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Much of what is recorded in Acts is historical narrative, describing many (literal) events that happened during the beginning of the Church Age. It is essential that one understands the difference between prescriptive and descriptive passages of Scripture. Failure to heed this warning can lead to many misapplications of the Biblical text. The book of Acts is primarily filled with Descriptive/Narrative passages. We must keep this in mind before me make NORMATIVE certain events in Acts that where not meant to be duplicated. In short then, Acts shows us what authentic Christianity looked like in all of her blessed simplicity. This book provides us with many vivid illustrations of discipleship, evangelism, and Biblical church growth.

Acts 2:41-47 illustrates 4 noteworthy truths:

1. Genuine Salvation precedes biblical baptism (v. 41).
Approximately 3000 people “received the word” and were converted before being “baptized” in Acts 2:41. During the church age, genuine salvation always preceded baptism. This seems to be the clear cut teaching that is illustrated for us in verse 41. The practice of the early church and of the apostles is what many refer to today as “believer’s baptism.” Many other New Testament texts could be cited to support this point including a number of historical records in Acts (Acts 8:30-38; Acts 10:44-48; 16:29-34; 18:7-8). Again, these passages demonstrate the consistent practice of the apostles and the early church: people were saved and subsequently they were also baptized. The early church did not have a category for an un-baptized believer. In modern day vernacular, “you got saved and you got baptized.”

As the second member of the Triune Godhead, Jesus’ word in Matthew 28:19 is sufficient warrant for the baptism of believers. Jesus commanded his followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The imperative in Matthew 28 is to go and make disciples. Jesus’ clearly teaches us that baptism is only for genuine disciples (literally, baptizing “them”). Jesus and the apostles taught their followers that baptism was a matter of obedience. Personally I believe it is the first step of obedience after a person submits him or herself to the Lordship of Christ at salvation. Baptism is also about identification; both identification with Christ Himself and identification with the Church (which of course is Christ’s body). Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on behalf of the believer, while demonstrating the repentance of faith, and new life the believer has in Christ. Paul asked, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life“ (Romans 6:3-4; Col 2:12).

As we observe our next point (below) we’ll uncover a connection between baptism and one’s personal identification with the local church.

2. Formal identification with a local church appears to have been the normative pattern with the early church. (v. 41)
It appears that the early church clearly knew who belonged to their local assembly. Acts 1:15 says the church of Jerusalem began with “about a hundred and twenty people.” Specific names from this list are provided in verses 13-14. After Peter’s powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost many respond to his exhortation. Many repent and are baptized in the name of the Lord (vv. 41-42). Luke, the author of Acts, records that about “three-thousand” were added to the church. The Greek word for “added” is prostithemi. This word means to add something to an existing quantity. In the words of one teacher it “speaks of a deliberate, calculated act of adding a select number to a greater, existing whole.” Those who were genuinely saved proceeded to be baptized. Those that were baptized were then consequentially added to the early church. This same verb (prostithemi) is used again (in a different tense) in Acts 2:47. Luke says that “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The Greek word used to describe this revival (sozo) is a present passive participle. Luke wants his readers to understand that this was a continuous revival. As the gospel was clearly proclaimed the Lord himself was saving sinners on a consistent basis. This, if you will, was the first revival in the history of the church! Acts 4:4 records the continued spiritual growth that took place during the early days of the church. Acts 4:4 puts it this way, “the number of men grew to about five thousand.” One author commenting on the word ‘number’ writes, “the word here is the word arithmos from which we get ‘arithmetic’-the science of the computation of numbers.” It seems fair to deduce from passages like this one that when people repented of their sins they immediately were baptized and thus connected themselves to a local assembly (a church). The New Testament epistles do not have a special category for ‘Lone-Ranger’ Christians. As a New Testament saint, you were either part of a local church or you were not. God saved people, and those same people got baptized. Water baptism identified them with Christ and His church. This was of course a major step of faith for many Jewish Christians, especially during the days of heavy Roman persecution. As a pastor I’m amazed at the excuses some Christians make today as to why they have not been baptized. I’m also bewildered at the percentage of baptized Believers who aren’t formally identifying themselves with any local assembly.

One of the footnote questions that often arises from this conversation is as follows: Should baptism be a prerequisite for church membership? Personally I think you can make a good case that it should be but I don’t think one can be absolutely dogmatic about this. If you agree with the basic premises I provided above then you may choose to implement this into your church constitution. On the other hand, you may argue that one could identify him/herself with a local church today (with the intention to be baptized in the near future) and still official join the church membership. Unless I am missing some major exegetical arguments I don’t think the Scriptures demand baptism be a necessary prerequisite for church membership. Church tradition may in some instances demand it but I do not think God’s Word does. At the same time, I don’t see any major problems with churches that do make this a prerequisite for reasons I already listed above.

SOURCE: A great blog HERE.
"The grand design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the hearts of men."
~Cotton Mather

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yesterday I finished my last of four theology courses at Master's Seminary. This course focused on ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) and eschatology (the doctrine of end times). After three intense weeks of reading, exams and much writing, I found myself coming back to this thought repeatedly, "Why is eschatology so neglected today?"

It is not as though the Lord intended to baffle us with his doctrine. The writers of sacred Scripture (who were inspired by the Holy Spirit) wrote that which was understandable. They did not sit, write and chuckle to themselves in knowing that they would be penning words (and doctrines) that would be debated and argued for centuries to follow.

Rather, we must hold forth the perspicuity of God's Word. Perspicuity is a word that means "clarity." The Bible is meant to be understood. That is the normal logic of interpretation. If something is written, it is meant to be understood. There is no hidden meaning, there is no allegorical interpretation intended. If we abandon literal interpretation and succumb to some hidden spiritualizing of the text, then all objectivity is lost. Then what remains is a bunch of subjective and personal opinions - none of which bear any authority. What was written was meant to be understood.

Furthermore, it is not as though the book of Revelation is some cryptic manuscript that is different than Mark or Ephesians or Isaiah. The book of Revelation is the Apostle John's account of what will take place in the future. This is what Revelation 1:19 (the theme verse) says:

Revelation 1:19 19 "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.

As we spent many hours working through a plethora of texts on how the events in the end will take place, I am more firmly convinced than ever of my premillennial doctrine. More specifically, I can understand how others come to various rapture views (within the Premillennial camp), but I still come back to the Pretribulational eschatological viewpoint. That is, that Jesus Christ Himself will rapture the church (that is all believers of this age) before the seven year tribulation which will take place (Rev 6-19) on this earth followed by the Second Coming of our Lord with his saints at the end of the Tribulation so as to establish his Kingdom on earth centered in Jerusalem for 1,000 (literal) years.

Are there those that object? Yes. Do I love them. Absolutely. Do I understand their viewpoints? Yes. Do I break fellowship with them and call them heretics? Absolutely not. I cherish my brothers and sisters who differ. Yet, I myself am absolutely convinced that eschatology ought NOT to be a neglected doctrine for its 'so-called' inability to be rightly understood. Much of the Bible is about eschatology. The Bible is meant to be understood. Therefore, eschatology was written for our understanding for our hope in the soon coming of our Savior!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Of course... how can we go this long without a picture of my hero and model preacher, Steve Lawson. Notice that great book resting on his leg.
Below is an excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon’s account of his own conversion entitled “The Great Change-Conversion” from Volume 1 of his autobiography The Early Years (pp. 87-88):

"I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—


He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—”Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.”

Borrowed from this Blog.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Psalm 19:7-11 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

"How Firm A Foundation" (1787)
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Did you know?

Massachusetts has recognized same-sex marriage since 2004. Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, California, and New Hampshire have created legal unions that, while not called marriages, are explicitly defined as offering all the rights and responsibilities of marriage under state law to same-sex couples.

This, of course, is not surprising news, for this has been in the making for quite some time as it is still going on today. Here is a passage of Scripture I read this morning that may follow where we are as a nation today:

2 Chronicles 36:15-21 15 And the LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; 16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. 19 Then they burned the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its fortified buildings with fire, and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20 And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

Now I recognize that:

1) This passage is referring to Judah and their captivity to the Babylonians in 586 BC.
2) Destruction of the Temple and deportation out of their homeland was something the Jewish people were most grievous about.

But, I do see similarities between the nation of Israel, their rejection of God and his rejection of them (for that time) in allowing their deportation to Babylon and our nation today and our rejection of God. If you don't believe me...then just look around you.

Something to contemplate and pray about.

Mohler's blog is worthy to read today. It's on a similar issue. Read it HERE.
Here is a quote from Gire's book, Instructive Moments with the Saviour, which deals with some of the eternal aspects of death.

“Death. It is the most misunderstood part of life. It is not a great sleep but a great awakening. It is that moment when we awake, rub our eyes, and see things at last the way God has seen them all along” (Ken Gire, Instructive Moments with the Saviour, 75).

This is a sobering truth to think about. What is even more sobering is that so many will close their eyes in death immediately then to realize that their eyes are open to a Christless and Godless eternity.

Yet, for those who accept the free gift of redemption that Jesus Christ has bought us and payed the unpayable debt for our sins there is the biblical hope of eternal life. Remember, biblical hope is not some "mere wishful thinking towards the future," rather, biblical hope is being sure of that which is to come in the future; namely, our glorification.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It seems that I'm on some biographical hobbyhorse, but that's okay. Here are a few lines I found on my newest hero, Robert Murray M'Cheyne as penned by Iain Murray:

"M'Cheyne was often in later years to declare in his preaching - "O Christless man, you have pleasure, but it is only for a season. Laugh on if you will - your candle will soon be out. Your games, your dance, your social parties, will soon be over. There are no games in hell."

"It was M'Cheyne's custom never to accept mere professions of faith as signs of conversion. "It is holy-making Gospel," he declared. "Without holy fruit all evidences are vain. Dear friends, you have awakenings, enlightenings, experiences, a full heart in prayer, and many due signs ; but if you want holiness, you will never see the Lord. A real desire after complete holiness is the truest mark of being born again. Jesus is a holy Saviour. He first covers the soul with His white raiment, then makes the soul glorious within - restores the lost image of God, and fills the soul with pure, heavenly holiness. Unregenerate men among you cannot bear this."

"The constant aim of M'Cheyne's preaching to the awakened and converted was to bring them to see the vastness, completeness and freeness of the salvation brought by Christ. "Remember Jesus for us is all our righteousness before a holy God, and Jesus in us is all our strength in an ungodly world … He justifies sinners who have no righteousness, sanctifies souls that have no holiness. Let Jesus bear your whole weight. Remember, He loves to be the only support of your soul. There is nothing that you can possibly need but you will find it in Him." The most prominent cause of the absence of such ministries as M'Cheyne's to-day lies in the absence of his doctrine, for it is only the truth of God which the Spirit will honour and bless."

"Oh may we preach with such passion and urgency as M'Cheyne did!
You may think I'm talking about today's culture but I am actually talking about the 1700's, otherwise known as The Great Awakening. It was during this time that the great English evangelist, George Whitefield, was persecuted for his faith.

2 Timothy 3:12 12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Matthew 5:10-12 10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

At one point in Whitefield's life, while in London, a brutal attack came upon Whitefield in which he was nearly murdered. Whitefield noted:

"He [this accuser] suddenly rose up, uttering the most abusive language, calling me dog, rogue, villain, etc, and beat me most unmercifully with his gold-headed cane. But my hostess and her daughter hearing me cry 'murder,' rushed into the room and seized him by the collar; however, he disengaged himself from them, and repeated his blows upon me."

Furthermore, in 1757...

"On Sunday afternoon, after preaching...Whitefield narrowly escaped with his life.
In the time of sermon and prayer a few stones were thrown at him, which did no hurt. But when he had done and thought to return home the way he came, access was denied, and he was obliged to go near a half a mile through hundreds of papists. Finding him unattended, for a soldier and four preachers who came with him had fled, they threw vollies of stones upon him from all quarters, and made him reel backwards and forwards, till he was almost breathless, and all over a gore of blood."

The point here is this. What do we do when opposition, persecution and tribulation comes? Do we run? Do we apostasize? Do we stand firm on the truth of God's Word? We know what Whitefield did when this kind of persecution came. He stood strong, not even flinching once before his accusers, but continued to preach and herald the gospel truth of Jesus Christ.
Lest we think that we will have an "opposition-free" ministry, let us as preachers be prepared for the worst battles to come. However, we know that the closer we come to death in this age the closer we come to meeting our Savior face to face. May we take a stand for Jesus Christ in this age of "godlessness" (Eph 2:12) and preach truth to this culture that is so desperately in need of the merciful grace and saving blood of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I am reading the biography by Arnold Dallimore on George Whitefield. No, unfortunately, it is not the two volume set (though I do hope to get to that someday), but I'm reading the condensed version of Dallimore's large tome.
As I have been reading this wonderful and encouraging work on the life and ministry of this hero in Christian history who proclaimed God's Word fearlessly to thousands upon thousands in his lifetime, I have been greatly encouraged.
Whitefield was born in 1713 in Gloucester, England to a well-to-do, upper class home. Whitefield was converted when he was twenty years old (in 1735). These were the words he penned after his conversion expressing his new delight in reading the Bible:
"My mind being now more open and enlarged, I began to read the Holy Scriptures on my knees...This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light and power from above" (p.21).
Dallimore notes that we can visualize him at 5 in the morning in his room over Harris's bookstore. He is on his knees with his Bible, his Greek Testament, and a volume of Matthew Henry's commentary spread out before him. With intense concentration he reads a portion in English, studies its words and tenses in the Greek, and then considers Matthew Henry's exposition of the whole.
Then we find out that we shortly will see him preaching forty and more hours per week with virtually no time whatsoever for preparation, we may look back upon these days and recognize that he was then laying up a store of knowledge on which he was able to draw amidst the tumult and haste of that later ministry (p.22).
Whitefield once preached a sermon based on Romans 8:30 which reveals that a theological system was already forming in his mind. It was the system long referred to as "Calvinism," but which he preferred to term "the doctrines of grace" (p.27).
He was a traveling man and made numerous trips across the sea to America. His first brought him to Georgia to pursue ministry there and on his way the conditions on that vessel were wretched. Whitefield said that he wanted to minister to this lost group of people on the ship: "Oh, that I may catch them with a holy guile." So Whitefield had brought with him many tasty items of food and several medicines, and since there was much sickness among the passengers, he went among them every day dispensing of his supply and giving encouragement. Each morning and evening he read prayers on the open deck, although for the time being he did not attempt to preach, lest he deter the people from attending.
Whitefield was a master preacher. He was a gifted communicator and an eloquent speaker. In his own journal, he notes that he preached to 10,000 at one time, 20,000 at another time and 50,000 at other times. And he would preach 10 times a week! Think of this, before the electrical amplification of sound, congregations of people were undoubtedly the largest ever reached by a human voice in all of history. And this was the work of a youth of only 24!
One more quote will suffice for today: This is the writing of Mrs. Sara Pierpont (the wife of Jonathan Edwards) regarding the preaching of Whitefield:
"It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible. I have see upward of a thousands people hang on his words with breathless silence, broken only by an occasional half-suppressed sob. He impresses the ignorant, and not less the educated and refined...our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day-labourers throw down their tools to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected ...many, very many persons in Northampton date the beginning of new thoughts, new desires, new purposes, and a new life, from the day they heard him preach of Christ" (p.89).
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