Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Geoffrey R. Kirkland l Associate Pastor CCC

Book Review of:

Ross, Allen P. Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006).

Without the life of the worshipper, the act of worship is

worthless” (337). This pithy statement aptly summarizes the

phenomenal work by Ross on biblical worship. I found myself

reading this book with a pen in hand, underlining in almost every paragraph, and even blogging numerous quotes from the book. In all, this may well be one of the best books I’ve read on a biblical theology of worship. In this brief review, I will note a brief summary of the book, give a few points which struck me afresh, and then raise a question or two which Ross raised in my mind.

The subtitle of Ross’s work is biblical worship from the garden to the new creation and this is precisely what Ross accomplishes. He traces the theme of biblical worship from creation in the Garden of Eden to perfect worship in glory face to face with God Himself. Within this tome, Ross incorporated chapters on who God is—his holiness, his transcendence, and his glory—which instilled in my mind the greatness and the power of the God that I worship. Furthermore, part 3 of this book summarized the development of worship in the ANE pagan world. It talked about pagan religions, religious systems, and various forms of worship among those religions.

Perhaps one of the best things about Ross’s work was the scholastic emphasis in the book—it was heavily researched and footnoted—yet worded and compiled in such a way that the newest Christian could understand. It took large topics such as the Tabernacle, its worship, its furnishings and summarized the meaning of it all in a matter of a few pages. This was extremely helpful in my understanding. Also, Ross talked about historical information such as the rise of synagogue worship, early churches, early religious sects (e.g. Pharisees, Sadducees, etc) which only enhanced my understanding of the biblical text.

As far as some points which struck me afresh I will only note a few. First, chapter 11 on the sacrifices in Leviticus clarified much for me in my understanding of what the sacrifices were all about and how they each played a crucial part in the worship life of the Israelite worshipper. Ross has a way of succinctly summarizing the offerings and bringing them to life in the mind of the reader. Second, at the end of nearly every section, Ross transitioned from the historical, cultural, geographical, sacrificial discussion to delineate a few applications. I found these applications to be very helpful and even insightful as I preach from the Old Testament and finding these application principles from ancient Israel. Third, the whole section on the use of the Psalms in the worship of Israel was helpful in my understanding of how some of the psalms specifically fit into the corporate worship of Israel. Fourth and finally, his final section on “basic principles for more glorious worship” was a superb summary of the book and also a practical guide for allowing worship to be more lofty and transcendent as I lead our church week by week in the music part of worship. If there is one principle Ross imprinted on my heart it is that worship is a response to the holiness, transcendence, and glory of God displayed in the life-commitment of the worshipper to love, serve, obey, and magnify God with all of life.

Perhaps the only question raised in my mind from Ross’s work was how to practically flesh some of these excellent principles out in week to week worship gatherings. Though the last chapter delineated some practical principles, for me, at least, it would have been useful to hear some of his thoughts as to the implementation of it in local congregational gatherings. Granted, the focus of the book was not so much the practical outworkings of worship as to giving a biblical theology of worship—which is precisely what he accomplished.

I have already shared some quotes with friends, family, the “blogosphere,” and will recommend that our Elder Board read through this book together after we finish our current study. I think Ross aids the Christian by giving such a lofty view of God and the absolute life-commitment of obedience that the worshipper must give to this Holy God in worship. I’ll conclude with one quote which impacted me greatly:

“The heart of the believer should race with anticipation for that day in

glory when praise and worship will be so magnificent. But until then, we may draw inspiration from these visions of the hope of glory as the Holy Spirit continually draws us into the presence of God. Among other things we learn that praise for our God and Savior will be, and must now be, boundless, endless, universal, majestic, and devout. True apprehension of the glory of the LORD is now and always will be overwhelming—devout worshippers fall before him in wonder and surrender” (487).

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Without the life of the worshipper, the act of worship is worthless"
(Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, 337).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“What God’s Holiness Demanded His Grace Provided”

The mind’s musing upon this adage provokes worship. I’m currently reading a book where this line is penned. I thought to myself “This is the perfect motto for Christmas.” What God’s holiness demanded—absolute righteousness—His grace provided—The Righteous Redeemer.

The holiness of God demanded that if anyone were to come before Him they must be absolutely, perfectly, entirely, and utterly spotless. I’m thinking of the biblical term of clean when I speak of spotless. Every human being must be clean—morally, spiritually, ceremonially—to come before Almighty God. This defines the purpose for the OT sacrificial system. The OT sacrificial system and purification practices delineate how impure persons may come before an eternally perfect God. And the answer rested upon God Himself taking the initiate and ordaining certain rights, practices, rules, sacrifices, cleansings and such. No human being could have ever imagined such a way of approaching God. Rather, no human could have attempted to do this because every human being is a sinner and cannot approach God in his own will (Isa 59:2).

But as our adage so clearly reveals that what God’s holiness demanded, His grace provided. His grace provided access to Him in the OT through animal sacrifices offered in place of the sinful worshipper. Transitioning to the NT, we find that Jesus Christ was offered in place of the sinner who believes. What God’s holiness demanded, His grace provided in Jesus Christ, the sacrificial sin-bearer. What God required of sinful human beings, God, in his infinite and eternal grace, supplied for us needy and dead sinners.

Again, it intrigues me that what God’s holiness demanded no human being could have provided. There’s not a human being on the face of the earth who could have ever approached God because of the inherent dead and defiled nature attached to the fabric of human beings. I couldn’t have done it. You couldn’t have done it. Paul couldn’t have done it. Moses couldn’t have done it. Only God could do it. And He did do it—in sending His Son—the one and only unique Son of God to this earth to live the perfect life we could never live and to die the death that you and I deserve to die. God supplied the necessary requirement to meet his holiness in the perfect, righteous, holy, undefiled Lamb of God who died for the sins of those who would believe upon Him for eternal life.

This Christmas, don’t disregard what God in His grace has provided to meet the demand of His perfect holiness.

Hebrews 9:11-15 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Many blessings to you this Christmas season,

pastor Geoff

Christ Community Church is hosting a free Evangelism Seminar on Saturday, January 10th from 10am-5pm (lunch will be provided!). One of the elders, Steve Lantz, will be conducting this seminar and it will be excellent. He has entitled it: "No Fear No Guilt Evangelism!"

Also, you won't want to miss two sessions on Israel's History and Geography seminar as well as the Old Testament Theology seminar to prepare our Israel travelers for our upcoming trip to the Holy Land! But anyone is invited. These are on Saturday Jan 17 and 24 from 7-9pm in the CCC Sanctuary. Come learn about the land and geography of Israel!

Call the CCC office for more info: 818.341.5750 or contact me:

Blessings and hope to see you there!
Today I overslept two and a half hours. Yesterday I overslept an hour and a half. I think it's time to get a new alarm clock!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Talking with a friend this morning brought to mind the core of the Christmas story, namely, Jesus Christ coming to earth to die. I heard a sermon last week which drove this truth home to my heart as the preacher expounded Matthew 1:18ff and ended up in Isaiah 53. The wonderful truths of these texts struck me afresh as I pondered how Christmas and Easter must not be divided.

As we draw near to the Christmas season and prepare for Christmas Eve services, family time around the Christmas tree, opening stockings and presents, eating lots of food and, of course, reading the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus, let us remember that the birth of Jesus must not be divorced from the crucifixion of Jesus. Furthermore, the crucifixion of Jesus must not be divorced from the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Then our perspective will be accurate as we ponder the historical reality of God clothing Himself in human flesh and living a sinless life (which He could do no other) and dying on the cross for sinners.

May we muse on the glory of Christmas afresh this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Don’t Make God a Liar

1 John 5:10 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.

What I find fascinating about this verse is the startling statement made by the Apostle John that the person who does not believe in Jesus Christ has made God a liar. The reason this is so is because God has borne sufficient witness to His Son, Jesus Christ, and the person who refuses to believe is calling God a liar. I am afraid that all too many people today have called God—and are calling God—a liar. Sadly so, I trust that many churchgoers may profess verbally God as true and Jesus as Savior but in the way they live their lives (that is, the theme of the book of 1 John) they deny that Jesus is the true Son of God and, hence, point the finger at God and shout “Liar!”

Elsewhere in 1 John, the themes of loving the brothers, believing that Jesus Christ has come from God, and the reality that a genuine Christian who is born from God cannot persist in ongoing sin prevail. But tucked away in the final chapter of this magnificent work is this statement that whoever refuses to believe in Jesus Christ has made God a liar. The only true God, that is. There is no other God. Therefore, to call God a liar is to damn oneself. To refuse to believe in Jesus Christ is reserving for yourself a place in the eternal Lake of Fire.

It intrigues me that John neglects to mention whether those who have heard or haven’t heard of Jesus Christ. His point is simply that if anyone refuses Jesus, who is in fact, the True God and the only means of Salvation (cf. 5:20), then he has called God a liar and is thereby destined for eternal hell. The plea and the message from this simple and straightforward verse is this: Don’t Make God a Liar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Currently, I'm studying Psalm 8 for our service tomorrow night and I've recognized this chiasm--that is, a literary device in Hebrew poetry where the first corresponds to the last element, the second then corresponds to the second-to-last element, and so on. Oftentimes, the middle element is the apex or the main point the author attempts to emphasize. In my study, I think I found a chiasm in Psalm 8. This would make the middle element v.6 (these are the Hebrew verse numbers by the way. For the English verses, just subtract one from the listed number) which is David's high point in the Psalm--the crowning of Glory in God's creation, namely, mankind.


2 Praising God for His Majesty

3Praising God from his creatures

4The Works of God Praising Him

5The wonder at God’s interest in man

6The crowning glory of God’s creation—Man!

7The wonder at God’s giving man dominion

8The Domestic Animals under man’s dominion

9The smaller creatures under man’s dominion

10 Praising God for His majesty


Monday, December 15, 2008

I read Luke 24 last night and this portion of Scripture struck me anew:

Luke 24:44-45 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

What this Scripture declares in no uncertain terms is that the God-Man, Jesus Christ, opened the minds of those while He was with them after His resurrection in order to understand the Scriptures. Jesus Christ sovereignly illuminates the hearts and minds of those who are His to hear, understand, and respond to the written Word. There can be no active initiated on the part of the sinner except the prevenient, irresistible, and intervening grace of God.

It would be amazing to have heard Jesus share the gospel with his followers from the Scripture--e.g. the OT. The Law, the Prophets, the Psalms (and the writings) all speak about the Messiah and have their fulfillment and perspective towards the coming deliverer. And Jesus was that deliverer!

May we never lose the wonder that, for those of us who are regenerated and born again, our salvation is solely because God opened our eyes in order to understand and respond accordingly to what His Word says. As a preacher this comforts me greatly to reckon that I don't save anyone--I can't! It is God who opens the eyes of the dead, radically depraved sinner still dead in sin, to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:33 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This morning I was reading on the virgin birth of our Savior when I came across this quote:

"The virgin birth is a sign of God's judgment on human nature. The race needs a redeemer, but cannot itself produce one; not by its own decision or desire, not by the processes of education and civilization, not as a precipitate of its own evolution. The redeemer must come from outside. Here, as elsewhere, 'all things are of God'. He provides the lamb (Gn.22:8).

[Karl] Barth is exactly right: 'Human nature possesses no capacity for becoming the human nature of Jesus Christ.' Also, the virgin birth is a sign that Jesus Christ is a new beginning. He is not a development from anything that has gone before. He is a divine intrusion: the last, great, culminating eruption of the power of God into the plight of man... (Don Macleod, The Person of Christ, 37).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From Gerald Wilson,

"I believe firmly that true worship incorporates acknowledging and repenting of sin. Only then do we realize how totally dependent on God and his gracious mercy we really are" (Psalms: Volume 1, NIVAC, 197).

I find this so refreshing and apropos to my life. I concur with Wilson in that worship engages both the heart and the soul which leads to self-examination which then results in repentance and restoration. Praise God for conviction that He brings through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (cf. Rom 8:9).

May we never shun repentance but rather embrace it in order to experience the mercy of God all the more and the grace of God to the fullest.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In preparation for my final sermon as we conclude the book of Revelation (tomorrow night---Rev 22:10-21), I found this quote which I must post for your edification.

Seiss pictures the church as a young lady waiting for her lover to return:

Fiction has painted the picture of a maiden whose lover left her for a voyage to the Holy Land, promising to his return to make her his beloved bride. Many told her that she would never see him again. But she believed his word, and evening by evening she went down to the lonely shore, and kindled there a beacon-light in sight of the roaring waves, to hail and welcome the returning ship which was to bring again her betrothed. And by that watchfire she took her stand each night, praying to the winds to hasten on the sluggish sails, that he who was everything to her might come. Even so that blessed Lord, who has loved us unto death, has gone away to the mysterious Holy Land of heaven, promising on his return to make us his happy and eternal Bride. Some say that he has gone forever, and that here we shall never see him more. But his last word was, “Yea, I come quickly.” And on the dark and misty beach sloping out into the eternal sea, each true believer stands by the love-lit fire, looking, and waiting, and praying and hoping for the fulfillment of his work, in nothing gladder than in his pledge and promise, and calling ever from the soul of sacred love, “EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS.” And some of these nights, while the world is busy with its gay frivolities, and laughing at the maiden on the shore, a form shall rise over the surging waves, as once on Galilee, to vindicate forever all this watching and devotion, and bring to the faithful and constant heart a joy, and glory, and triumph which nevermore shall end” (quoted in Walvoord, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 339).

These are some pictures from our time at the concert last week:

Elizabeth and I at home by our tree

Elizabeth and baby Kirkland in front of our tree

Elizabeth and Kelly (formerly in our youth group
now at Master's College)

Kelly and I at Master's

Elizabeth and Megan (on the Outreach Week team
to our church) at Master's

Kelly posing with her set at the Christmas concert

Friday, December 5, 2008

Perhaps this can happen. And perhaps this happened on Wednesday of this week at our mid-week service at church. I preached on Psalm 6 and I had a wonderful time. I'm not sure if things came out cohesively and cogently but in my heart and soul, I was greatly edified by God's Word.

I don't think I'm overstating the fact that this may have been--for me personally--one of the most edifying sermons I've ever preached.

If you so choose, you can listen to it here.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Here's the quote for today:

"What gives preaching its seriousness is that the mantle of the preacher is soaked with the blood of Jesus and singed with the fire of hell."

John Piper.

Friday, November 28, 2008

And this was my sermon last Tuesday at church. We are coming near the conclusion of this wonderful-- and understandable!--book in our study of the Sovereign Kingship and victory of Jesus Christ!

Here are some quotes I put on the outlines which I thought would also be profitable to post here for your enjoyment and musing. Think, ponder, consider, get excited for heaven (cf. Phil 3:20).

Todd Bolen: “Christianity would not be Christianity without its belief in heaven. Did you know that if salvation did not include the promise of heaven, that it would be a weak salvation indeed? This world is not our goal; the next is. If there was no heaven, we might be saved from the condemnation of sin, and we might be saved from the power of sin, but we would never be saved from the presence of sin. If there was no heaven, we would never be perfectly righteous. If there was no heaven, we would not be pilgrims and strangers in this land. If there was no heaven, we would have no hope.”

J.C. Ryle: The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler, is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. All these are subjects of deep interest to him. You are leaving the land of your nativity, you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new hemisphere. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about your new abode. Now surely, if we hope to dwell for ever in that “better country, even a heavenly one,” we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it” (Quoted in Alcorn, 5).

D.L. Moody said it this way: “there will be three things which will surprise us when we get to heaven – one, to find many whom we did not expect to find there; another, to find some not there whom we had expected; and three, and perhaps the greatest wonder – to find ourselves there.” (DL Moody, Heaven, 29).

Jonathan Edwards noted: Every Christian friend that goes before us from this world is a ransomed spirit waiting to welcome us in heaven. There will be the infant of days that we have lost below, through grace to be found above. There the Christian father, and mother, and wife, and child, and friend, with whom we shall renew the holy fellowship of the saints, which was interrupted by death here, but shall be commenced again in the upper sanctuary, and then shall never end. There we shall have companionship with the patriarchs and fathers and saints of the Old and New Testaments, and those of whom the world was not worthy…And there, above all, we shall enjoy and dwell with God the Father, whom we have loved with all our hearts on earth; and with Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior, who has always been to us the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely; and with the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, and Guide, and Comforter; and shall be filled with all the fullness of the Godhead forever!” (quoted in Alcorn, 329).

Jonathan Edwards concluded: “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”

I am so convinced and eager for heaven that I long for it. Remember what Paul said:

1 Corinthians 2:9 just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Elizabeth looking at the Pacific...
Yes, this is sparkling cider...
I'm a very happy man...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Lord interrupted my quiet time with this beautiful portrait that He painted this morning:

Psalm 113:3-4 From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In my study for Acts 8 this Sunday morning, I came across this excellent insight by William Kistemaker:

"Philip puts a penetrating question to the Ethiopian Eunuch: "Do you understand what you are reading?" This question is basic to confirming the Christian faith, for the Christian knows Christ only through the Scriptures. By reading God's Word, he increases his knowledge of Jesus Christ, his Savior. Thus Philip begins with the Scriptures, explains their fulfillment in Christ, and leads the Ethiopian official to repentance, faith, and joy.

The task of the preacher is to show Christ to his audience. For precisely this reason, some churches have a plaque fastened to the pulpit just below the open Bible and visible only to the preacher. The plaque has the words, "Sir, we want to see Jesus" (John 12:21). The average member of a congregation listens to the preacher only on Sunday, during the worship service. He comes not to hear views on a number of topics that may or may not relate to his life; he has come to meet Jesus. And he meets Jesus through the faithful exposition of the Scriptures. The preacher must be a workman "who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15, NIV) andopens the Word for his audience. The old adage is worth repeating:

Expound the Scriptures
Exhort the Sinner
Exalt the Savior

(Source: Kistemaker, Acts, NTC, 316-17).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My youth group has journeyed through the book of Revelation with me for the last 6 months or so--week after week. We are coming to the conclusion of the book and to the conclusion of time as we now know it.

Last night I did part 2 of our study on hell: "The Shrieking Cries of the Tormented in Hell Manifested." (I have to give it some title to seize the reader's attention.)

Here was my outline (it was more or less a topical study on hell):

1. Hell will be conscious torment in the presence of God (Rev 14:9-10)
2. Hell will be everlasting, unending torment without rest (Matt 25:46; Rev 20:11)
3. Hell will be shameful and conscience-stricken torment (Luke 16:24-28; Isa 66:24)
4. Hell will be black darkness, a bottomless pit, and awful fire (Matt 5:22; 13:50; Jude 7; Rev 19:20; 20:10; Jude 13; Rev 9:1-2)
5. Hell will be where God is glorified to destroy unrighteous sinners (Rom 9:22-23)
6. Hell will be where sinners will think about the opportunities they had to repent (Luke 16:24-26)
7. Hell will be angry and furious hatred toward God and all of God's Sovereign holiness (Matt 11:22-24).
8. Hell will be an infinite punishment because of offending an infinitely Holy and Righteous God (Rev 14:10; Hab 1:13; Ps 7:11-13)
9. Hell will be a lonely abode without friends, relationships, respite, or deliverance (Matt 8:12)
10. Hell will be the most severe punishment that it is possible for the Almighty and All-Powerful God to possibly bring upon sinners (Rev 14:10)

I concluded the message with a clear gospel presentation.
1. Acknowledge that God is holy and hates sin--YOUR sin!
2. Acknowledge that you are a sinner and fall short of God's perfect standard for holiness.
3. Acknowledge that you are in need of a perfect Savior who died for you on Calvary's cross--Jesus Christ!
4. Acknowledge and believe in Jesus Christ with saving faith which evidences itself after conversion with a life of obedience and holiness to bring God the greatest glory!

After the gospel presentation, I ended with this sobering reminder and challenged my hearers to take action and believe:

Hebrews 10:26-31 26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

You can listen to the sermon here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

“Consider the Cross”

the 2009 CCC youth winter retreat

Date: Feb 26 – Mar 1, 2009

Location: Big Bear, California

Lodging: The Robinson’s Home

Cost: $165.00 (scholarships are available)

(includes 2 days skiing/boarding, food, lodging,

transportation, and weekend notebook).

Text Box: Questions? contact pastor Geoff: 661.755.3846 or

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -cut here - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Name ________________________________ Age ________ Grade __________

Email ___________________________________ Phone Number ________________

Parent’s Names ______________________ Total Amount Enclosed _______________

Tentative Schedule of Events:

Thurs, Feb 26

7pm meet @ ccc

7:30 depart ccc

10:30 arrive big bear

Fri, Feb 27

7-8 breakfast

8-9 session1 “Consider the Savior of the Cross”

10-5 on the slopes—skiing or snowboarding

6-7pm dinner

7:30-8:30 session2 “Consider the Sacrifice of the Cross”

8:30à free time

Sat, Feb 28

7-8 breakfast

8-9 session3 “Consider the Supremacy of the Cross”

10-5 on the slopes—skiing or snowboarding

6-7 dinner

7:30-8:30 session4 “Consider the Significance of the Cross”

8:30à free time

Sun, Mar 1

8-9 breakfast

9:30-11 session5 “Consider the Demands of the Cross”

11-12 clean the house!

12:30 depart for ccc

3:30 arrive @ ccc

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tonight I have the (weighty) responsibility of preaching on hell. We've been going through Revelation in our Bible Study and we studied the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15) a few weeks ago. Tonight is part two of that sermon.

It's overwhelming. I'm not sure what else to say. It's overwhelming because it is so serious--and yet so many Christians think so lightly of hell. I have 10 points to my sermon tonight on hell. I've titled my sermon in such a way as to get their attention:

"The Shrieking Cries of the Tormented in Hell Manifested."

I've grown personally in my own study and I trust that many tonight will learn more about the horrors of being tormented by God forever in hell. I am thankful for God's grace. I'm thankful for Jesus Christ, who died in my place. I'm thankful that "I'm saved from the wrath of God through Him [Christ]" (Rom 5:9). Salvation is truly from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). Stay tuned for the update in coming days. I'll also post the sermon on our church website.

Till then, pray for me; that I would be clear, bold, unashamed, and Spirit-filled. At the same time, pray that I would be filled with God's Spirit so as to make the gospel overwhelmingly clear to those who will be present tonight to hear the gospel.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Called According to God’s Good Pleasure—A Study of 2 Timothy 1:9


tou/ sw,santoj h`ma/j kai. kale,santoj klh,sei a`gi,a|( ouv kata. ta. e;rga h`mw/n avlla. kata. ivdi,an pro,qesin kai. ca,rin( th.n doqei/san h`mi/n evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ pro. cro,nwn aivwni,wn(

Author’s Translation:

[God] who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but on the contrary, according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the eternal times.

It is evident from this text that the believer in Jesus Christ is saved by the sheer pleasure and grace of God. This is not a new concept. In the Old Testament, Israel was called by Yahweh to Himself simply because of His sovereign choice:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you

Just as God elected Israel to be His chosen people to the nations (Isa 42:6), so has God also chosen His own people—from every tribe, tongue, people, and language (Rev 5:9)—in order to be ambassadors for Him on earth (2 Cor 5:20).

I will endeavor to elucidate five marks of salvation from 2 Timothy 1:9. It is, to be sure, a theologically pregnant verse which demands the most scrutinizing and toilsome study—which this brief paper doesn’t exhaust, but hopefully this will shed light on some new areas of theology that may bring comfort and amazement as you understand more about God’s redemptive plan resulting in your greater awe and wonder of God’s election of you.

  1. Salvation is Based on God’s Initiative

We must understand that the reality of salvation being based upon God’s initiative is a common theme repeated in Scripture (Isa 43:3; Hos 13:4; 1 Tim 1:1; Tit 1:3; Jude 25). Specifically in this context, however, the phrase proving this is tou/ sw,santoj h`ma/j. The genitive participle refers back to the end of verse 8 (du,namin qeou/; the context of suffering hardship according to the power of God) is pointing back (anaphoric) to “God” (qeou; v. 8). That is why I choose to translate verse 9 as God who saved us. It is God’s doing. Salvation is God’s work. Even faith is a gift of God (Phil 1:29). Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that we unswervingly understand that salvation is monergistic, not synergistic. That is, that it is accomplished through the accomplished work of one—namely, God.

  1. Salvation is Grounded on God’s Electing Call

The next phrase to be studied reveals that salvation is grounded and instigated through God’s electing call, kale,santoj klh,sei a`gi,a|. We are saved by God who called us with (NIVto”) a holy calling, klh,sei a`gi,a. I think, given the context, that the dative construction is to be seen as means (by means of) rather than purpose/result (to/for). The point is not that Christians have been elected by God to live a holy life full of good works. No doubt, this is a theme in Scripture and a treasured reality (cf. Eph 2:10), but here, the point is not so much that God called us for the purpose of living a holy life but to show that in eternity past (see the end of v. 9), God called believers by means of His holy and perfect electing call! I believe that given the immediate context, this is the intended meaning. What, then, does it mean that God called by means of His holy calling? It means that—in eternity past—God elected believers unto Himself with a perfect, unique, monergistic, sovereign—thus, “holy”—call.

  1. Salvation is Accomplished is Not Because of God’s Foreknowledge

The next phrase to be understood from this verse unambiguously reveals that God has elected sinners unto Himself based on nothing that they would or could do. The phrase at hand is ouv kata. ta. e;rga h`mw/n. Again, I believe the point is not that believers are not saved according to works—though this is, to be sure, a repeated theme all through the Scriptures (Eph 2:8-9). Specifically, this verse is not a “proof text” that if a person lives a good life that he cannot work his way to heaven (though the concept is true and can be proven elsewhere in Scripture). Rather, this verse—given the immediate context—is clearly showing that God’s election in eternity past was not decided or determined based upon some foreseen “work” or “action” from individuals. In other words, God did not choose me because He saw my “works” and knew that I’d believe upon Him and, hence, chose me. The point here is that God—before the ages were ever established—elected individuals unto Himself not because of anything they would ever do (or could ever do). A commonly understood term for this is unconditional election. This is precisely what this verse is teaching.

  1. Salvation is Established Because of God’s Sovereign Purpose

So then, the question is asked, “If God didn’t choose me because He knew I would believe in Him, then why did God elect me?” Simple. avlla. kata. ivdi,an pro,qesin kai. ca,rin. Not to put too much emphasis on disjunctive markers but the contrastive particle avlla. is significant. It is stronger than the simple de. Not according to our works did he save us but—on the other hand—God saved us according to (kata) His own (note again, mongeristic salvation here, ivdi,an) purpose and grace. Again, it beckons us to recall God’s election of Israel in Deut 7:7–8 when God chose the nation unto Himself simply because “He loved them.” That’s it! No explanation needed! God chose Israel; God chose you; God chose me simply because He wanted to. God’s purpose demanded He elect you. God’s grace allowed Him to elect sinners like me and you. Of course, it’s understandable to see how the Apostle Paul, after giving a treatise on God’s future plans and faithfulness to His promises to ethnic Israel, exclaims in utter amazement and joy:

Romans 11:33 - 12:1 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

  1. Salvation is Enacting What Was Established in Eternity Past

This election was accomplished and attributed th.n doqei/san h`mi/n evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ pro. cro,nwn aivwni,wn. It’s all by grace! This salvation according to God’s purpose enacted by means of grace was given to us (*note the passive th.n doqei/san) in Christ Jesus. This salvation was given to the elect in Christ Jesus. Those who are in union with Jesus Christ are, in fact, the elect of God. But note the time that all this occurred, pro. cro,nwn aivwni,wn. I like the ESV which has “before the ages began” which is close to the original intent—before the eternal times in history and eternity past! God elected me and you—if you believe upon Jesus Christ and are forgiven of your sins—before the ages began! Not only does this reveal the utter omniscience of God (who knew us before the ages began) but also his Sovereign pleasure to elect and take joy in electing us unto Himself in eternity past! It is an accomplished action. It is inscribed in the Lamb’s book of life and it was penciled there before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). Praise God!

Therefore, may we then take joy in our salvation recognizing that God has accomplished our redemption for us, based on His own purpose and grace—not according to our good works—from all eternity past!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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