Monday, August 31, 2009

Today I started my PhD program at Baptist Bible Seminary under Dr. Rod Decker. I'm taking two courses this Fall: Seminar in Greek Studies and Seminar in Advanced Theological Method. I'm entering new territory in my studies now and I'm swimming in the deep end of the pool with no floaties to help in the time of need!

This semester, in order to accomplish my weekly activities of preaching at least twice a week and at most five times per week, I need to read about 150-200 pages per day. This is definitely doable; busy--but doable.

I am reading The Gagging of God by DA Carson for my Theological Method course and I'm genuinely pumped for this course. I am absolutely convinced that we all come to our theological conclusions with presuppositions and a priori beliefs. I know I'll be stretched and challenged as I embark upon this new (and daunting) season of life!

God is good and I rest in His grace for He promises to walk with me through my studies and see me through till the end (and beyond too!). Soli Deo Gloria.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Joy of Hanging Upside Down

The joy of hanging upside down is, in fact, a highlight for me. Odd isn’t it? Not at all. One thing I absolutely love—if you didn’t know this already about me—is that I absolutely love upside down roller coasters. The old wood ones that don’t go upside down don’t float my boat. In fact, even the water rides are boring. The ones that I enjoy are those that take my stomach out of my stomach and then place it back in my stomach after a few loops, turns, twists, and twirls. Sound fun?

Well, don’t be too jealous. Today is that day for me! I’m taking our youth group to 6 Flags Magic Mountain (here in LA) for the day of fun! In fact, last year I rode Tatsu (a crazy coaster that goes upside down several times [but still not enough!]) with another kid in our youth group 5 times in a row—we didn’t even get off the coaster! I plan, yes, I have the internal yearning, to conquer that record by going 7 times in a row tonight!

Pray for me—that my head stays attached because I start my PhD program in three days (Monday, August 31st) and I can’t afford to lose my head. Though, if I do lose my head, I claim with the apostle Paul:

2 Corinthians 5:8 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Here are some notes I took from a great article. Enjoy!

Warfield, Benjamin B. “The Indispensableness of Systematic Theology to the Preacher.” In Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield—II. 2 volumes. Edited by John E. Meeter, 2:280–88. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980.

It is summed up in the propositions that “it is through the truth that souls are saved, that it is accordingly the prime business of the preacher to present this truth to men, and that it is consequently his fundamental duty to become himself possessed of this truth, that he may present it to men and so save their souls. (280).

It would not be easy to overstate, of course, the importance to a preacher of those gifts and graces which qualify him to present this truth to men in a winning way—of all, in a word, that goes to make him an “accomplished preacher” (280).

Systematic Theology is nothing other than the saving truth of God presented in systematic form (281).

“Give us not scholars, it is said, but plain practical men in our pulpits—men whose simple hearts are on fire with love to Christ and whose whole energy is exhausted in the rescue of souls (281).

“We must think right thoughts of God if we would worship him as he desires to be worshiped, if we would live the life he wishes us to live, and enjoy the peace which he has provided for us” Horatius Bonar, Gospel of the Spirit’s Love, p.22 (quoted in Warfield, p.285).

Concl: “The Systematic study of divine truth, or the study of Systematic Theology, is the most indispensable preparation for the pulpit. Only as the several truths to be presented are known in their relations can they be proclaimed in their right proportions and so taught as to produce their right effects on the soul’s life and growth (p.288).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why is it that some fall away in the Christian life?

I was reminded of a marvelous passage in Matthew 16 yesterday where Jesus told Peter that He was going to the cross. Unmistakably, Jesus unveiled His future on earth, yet Peter refused to believe it. In fact, not only did he refuse to believe what Jesus told him. Peter took Jesus and rebuked him! Imagine that!

Jesus clearly showed Peter that he had to go to Jerusalem, be beaten, scourged, rejected by the leaders, killed, and then rise on the third day. This was Jesus’ mission. This is what He came to do, namely, accomplish salvation for His own.

But Peter, to his dismay, found himself sharply chastised by Jesus. Indeed, Jesus called him “Satan” because Peter’s mindset was not in accord with God’s sovereign and perfect will but his own human and fallible desires.

Jesus rebuked Peter because Peter rejected the divine wisdom that He had just revealed—that he was going to go to Jerusalem, suffer, die, and rise again. This was, verily, the Word of God. It was divine revelation flowing forth from the lips of God Himself! Nevertheless, Peter rejected what Christ just revealed to him and told him that this must never happen! Peter had a different plan! He was certain that Jesus’ life was not going to end this way!

I think the application may legitimately be drawn from this passage for us as believers. Let us cling tightly to God’s Word. In the pages of Scripture we find the perfect, divine, inscrutable wisdom from God Himself! Let us never reject the divine revelation for our human reasoning!

Let us not forsake:

Divine Sovereignty for Human Speculation

Divine Wisdom for Human Wisdom

Divine Principles for Human Philosophy

Divine Knowledge for Human Ideas

To clinch this thought, Jesus Himself told Peter: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (ouv fronei/j ta. tou/ qeou/ avlla. ta. tw/n avnqrw,pwn.) Let us take heed: never consume your mind with the things of this world to the neglect of the things of God. Some, then, fall away from the Christian life because they substitute Divine Revelation for Human Reasoning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

some notes on 1 Peter 3:18-20 | compiled by geoffrey r. kirkland


1 Peter 3:18-20 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.


  • Did Christ really descend into hell after his death and preach?
  • Does this teach that people in hell will have a “second chance” to repent?
  • Why would Jesus need to go to hell if His work was “finished” and “accomplished?”

“Problem” Passages:

  1. The Apostles’ Creed—There are some old manuscripts of an early Christian document containing Christian doctrines (or, beliefs) from about 200AD. There is a phrase in some of the later manuscripts (from about 650 AD; that’s 450 years after the originals!) where the document reads: “Christ, he descended into hell.” The original Greek manuscripts have a word for hell which most often is translated “grave” or “the ground.”
  2. Acts 2:27—Peter is preaching and he quotes Psalm 16:10 and the simple point he is making is that Christ died and was buried in the ground (Sheol) and then was raised again. He simply endeavors to prove that Christ died and rose from the grave.
  3. Romans 10:6-7—Paul refers to Christ “descending into the abyss”. But the passage does not teach that Christ descended into hell. Rather, it teaches that Christ is not too far from you to believe in Him. You don’t have to ascend to the heavens, or descend far into the depths of the earth to find Him—he is near you!
  4. Ephesians 4:8-9—Paul says: “What does he [Christ] ascended mean except that he also descended into the lower, earthly regions?” The best meaning here is that Christ descended to earth (=incarnation, his human life) when he was born as a man. The passage in Eph 4 speaks of his incarnation as a human, not his descent to hell after his death.
  5. 1 Peter 3:18-20—Known as the “proof” text to some (i.e., JW’s) that after Jesus’ death on the cross, that he went to hell and preached to the spirits in prison and gave them a 2nd chance to repent and be saved.

*Accurate Interpretation Given the Context of 1 Peter:

The best interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20 given the immediate context of 1 Peter is that the passage is referring NOT to something Christ did between his death and resurrection, but to what he did ‘in the spiritual realm of his existence’ at the time of Noah (Gen 6-9).

In 1 Peter 1:11, Peter says that the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking in the OT prophets. This suggests that Peter could have thought that the ‘Spirit of Christ was speaking through Noah as well. Also, in 2 Peter 3:5, he calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness” (using the common Greek word for “preacher”). So it seems likely that when Christ ‘preached to the spirits in prison, he did so through Noah in the days before the flood (v.20).

Furthermore, the people to whom Christ preached through Noah were unbelievers on the earth at the time (cf. Gen 6:5-7), but Peter says that they are “spirits in prison” because they are now in the prison of hell awaiting that future day of eternal judgment where they’ll be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire (cf. Rev 20:11-15). However, when Noah was preaching to them, they were humans on earth but they died having rejected Noah’s message of repentance (cf. 2 Pet 3:5).

Given the context of 1 Peter 3:13-22 where Peter just told them to always be ready to give an answer to those who ask for the hope that is within them, this interpretation fits well because the believers are to continue preaching Christ and speaking the gospel regardless of how people respond (just as Noah continued to preach in his day to the people who rejected him therefore incurring God’s judgment by a universal flood).

Therefore, the conclusion is that 1 Peter 3:18-20 is referring to Christ preaching ‘in his Spirit’ through Noah when he preached to his contemporaries in Genesis 6—9 though they rejected him and his message. They died without God, without believing in him and are now in “prison” awaiting that future day when they will be eternally judged to the Lake of Fire.

Fascinated with Acts 14 this past week, I continue to marvel at the humility and the God-centered nature of Paul and Barnabas. In Lystra, Paul heals a man lame from birth and the crowds immediately chant that he is a god and make all the necessary actions to offer sacrifices to both Paul and Barnabas!

Acts 14:11-13 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us." 12 And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.

Certainly the temptation was present to allow pride to swell and infest their minds and their hearts. But they did not allow this to happen. Paul preached to them telling them to forsake their foolish (=vain!) idols and turn to the Living God who made heaven, earth, the sea, and all that is in them (v.15).

But we don't struggle with this day to day. I don't know about you but I don't have anyone attempting to offer sacrifices to me because they think I'm a god. Maybe this happens to you, but not to me.

However, I came up with five ways that we can--and often do--rob God of his rightful glory. Though we may not receive 'worship' from people bowing before us, we can certainly rob God of his glory in other ways. Here is that list:

First, If you don’t use your spiritual gift for the edification and growth of the church, you rob God of his glory because God is honored in His church.

Second, If you don’t evangelize, share the gospel, preach hell, damnation, repentance, and judgment with the glorious forgiveness and solution God offers to sinners who repent you rob God of his glory because God is glorified in the salvation of sinners.

Third, If you come to church physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually you’re absent, you’re hypocritically worshiping God and this robs God of his rightful glory.

Fourth, If you don’t tell others what God is doing in your life and how HE is working in you, changing you, growing you, maturing you, you rob God of his rightful glory because God is glorified when you tell others what God is doing and how he is working in your life.

Fifth, you pridefully receive praise, honor, and accolades from others while neglecting to give thanks to and point others to Jesus Christ, you are receiving the glory and robbing God of his rightful glory.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here's an offer for you. We're taking our church on a second trip to Israel, and we want YOU to join us! We have a number of spots still available and if you've always wanted to go, THIS just might be the opportunity for YOU to walk around, traverse through, and journey in the Holy Land!

Here is the sign up sheet.

Here is our itinerary.

December 25, 2009-January 6, 2010; $3300

Contact me if you have any questions,

Monday, August 17, 2009

You were an enemy of God; You are now a friend of God.

You were once hated by God; You are now eternally loved by God.

You were once hating God; You are now serving God.

You were under God’s wrath; You are now under God’s grace.

Here is a question I recently was asked from a woman in our church:

“I am reading through the book of Romans and it says (2:10) "first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." And then in the next verse ... "For God does not show favoritism."

Help me since I just don't understand how " first the Jew " is not favoritism.”

Here is my response:

Great question. The gospel is for the Jew first not because God is showing a sort of "favoritism", but because Israel ("the Jews") are God's chosen people, that is, God elected them to be His "special" people and His "treasured possession" out of all the peoples on the earth (cf. Deuteronomy 7). Remember, this is not favoritism--this is undeserved grace (same with YOU and Me and our salvation--God didn't show favoritism in electing and saving us, rather, His grace saved us though we were dead in our own sins!).

Also, Jesus said in Matthew 15:24 "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This is not favoritism, this is Jesus saying: I have come that Israel may have their Kingdom and their Messiah, but they continually rejected Him!

With all this background, Romans 1:16 says that the gospel is for the Jew first. Why? Because the gospel was offered to them first when Jesus came to offer to His chosen people their Messiah and their Kingdom (which they ultimately rejected by crucifying their Messiah).

Now, in Romans 2, remember Paul is arguing that ALL are alike under sin--totally dead in sin and unable

to save themselves--both Jews and Gentiles (everyone!). When Paul says in Rom 2:9 that distress comes upon the Jew first, then the Gentile, and then in Rom 2:10 that glory and honor and peace comes to the Jew first, then to the Gentile this is NOT favoritism, Paul is just keeping in line with the thought throughout the book--the Jews are God's treasured people (again, NOT favoritism necessarily, but sovereign election and choosing by God).

The whole point leads to Romans 2:11--there is no favoritism, all are alike under sin. There is no favoritism with God with the Jews over the Gentiles, because they are ALL sinners and under God's wrath in and of themselves. Just look at Romans 2:12 to prove this: For all who have sinned ... will perish...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Theologians call Jesus' perfect life his active obedience. When we believe in Christ, God counts us as righteous in Christ. That is to say, God imputes to us the active obedience of Christ; so, he sees us, regards us, counts us, declares us as righteous and holy, as Jesus is. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that "for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." God imputes our sin to Christ and his righteousness to us. God judges our sin in Christ, and he regards us as righteous in Christ. That is sometimes called double imputation: our sin to Christ, his righteousness to us. So, God not only forgives our sins, he gives to us the very righteousness of Christ. We are not only acquitted but we are positively good" (John Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, 149).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You have to give this little guy credit for going to an authority for help!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tonight I have the distinct privilege of preaching God's Word and the Scripture arresting our attention will be Psalm 32. Strikingly, Psalm 32 has some noticeable themes:

Sin is a theme of the psalm. There are three (maybe four, depending on one's interp.) distinct words for sin in the text. First, there is a word for "transgression" which specifically refers to rebellion against God in a sort of legal setting. Second, there is the most common term for sin denoting "missing the mark," or "deviating off of the correct/right path." Finally, a word most commonly translated "iniquity" in our English translations signifies that which is totally corrupt and twisted; almost a sort of criminality.

Forgiveness is another prominent theme. Again, three different words or phrases are found. First, the idea of a sin being "lifted up;" or "carried away" is one way David refers to God's forgiveness. Second, he speaks of God "covering" our sin as if our sin could be hidden from God's sight (amazing thought to try to comprehend--if you know what I mean). Third, he speaks of God not crediting our sins to us (this is the idea that Paul picks up in Romans 4 as he quotes Ps 32 in his masterful argumentation for imputed righteousness by faith alone apart from works).

Repentance proves to be another peak of the psalm as David speaks of his desire to: first, make known his sins to the Lord. Second, he does not cover his sins. Third, he confesses them to God. And fourth, he beckons that all who are Godly pray to God while He may be found.

Joy is the fourth theme of the psalm. Verse 11 offers three different verbs (commands!) to rejoice, be glad (exult!), and shout for joy!

I'm arguing that repentance must be a constant discipline in every Christian's life; and if it's not, then one has good reason to question his salvation and see whether he is truly in the faith (cf. 2 Cor 7:10; 13:5).

I call upon Thomas Watson--a good and helpful, though dead, friend of mine--to help solidify this argument:

Carnal Protestants [refuse to repent], who are strangers to godly sorrow. They cannot endure a serious thought, nor do they love to trouble their heads about sin. Paracelsus [a Swiss physician from the 16th c.] spoke of a frenzy some have which will make them die dancing. Likewise sinners spend their days in mirth; tehy fling away sorrow and go dancing to damnation. Some have lived many years, yet never put a drop in God's bottle, nor do they know what a broken heart means. They weep and wring their hands as if they were undone when their estates are gone, but have no agony of soul for sin (Doctrine of Repentance, 26).

And again:

One may leave sin for fear, as in a storm the plate and jewels are cast overboard, but the nauseating and loathing of sin argues a detestation of it. Christ is never loved till sin be loathed. Heaven is never longed for till sin be loathed. When the soul sees an issue of blood running, he cries out, Lord, when shall I be freed from this body of death? When shall I put off these filthy garments of sin and have the fair mitre of glory set upon my head? Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing (Zech 3:4-5). We are never more precious in God's eyes than when we are lepers in our own (Ibid., 45).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Philippians 1:3-6 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Monday, August 3, 2009

reasons to gaze upon heaven now.

When I erase all my excuses, I am utterly convicted as to how seldom I think about heaven. For believers who have placed saving faith in Jesus Christ as LORD, heaven is home. There is no other home in comparison to heaven for the Christian. Some reasons have come to my mind as to why we should gaze upon heaven now.

First, we must gaze upon heaven now because heaven is the eternal home for every Christian. Second, we must gaze upon heaven now because this forces us to live heavenly-focused lives instead of earthly-focused lives (which is what Hollywood and most other aspects of culture point us to). Third, we must gaze upon heaven now because that will transform us as we live through, endure through, and triumph through trials, struggles, discouragements, and persecutions in this life. That trials are tough is not the issue; the issue, rather, is how the Christian endures and perseveres through the trial with a God-centered and a heavenly-centered focus. When these are in order, the trial is manageable—yes, even more, the trial is profitable to strengthen our faith to the greater glory of God!

Fourth, we must gaze upon heaven now because that will force us to not store up treasures on this earth but rather to store up lasting, eternal, and glorious treasures in heaven. We will become less consumed with our earthly houses here and become more enraptured in our eternal dwellings made by God Himself. Fifth, we must gaze upon heaven now because this will inevitably remind us of the cross of Jesus Christ and the blessed gospel of God. Indeed, the only reason the Christian may gaze expectantly on heaven is because of God’s grace and mercy in sending Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice for sinners who place their faith and trust in Him. What a glorious reason to gaze upon heaven! For the cross and heaven to be daily gazed upon is to feed oneself with the insoluble nourishment from God Himself.

Sixth and finally, we must gaze upon heaven now because heaven is where the believer will meet his Savior, Redeemer, and Lord face to face. If there ought to ever exist in our hearts a lovesick passion or a longing to meet someone, it should be the Christians insatiable passion to meet Jesus Christ face to face—which will most certainly happen! As a wife expectantly waits for her husband to return home from a long journey to a distant land, so should the believer wait with an eager anticipation and an all-consuming passion for the blessed reunion with his King, Lord, Savior, and Friend.

May we live today—and every day—gazing upon heaven! Indeed, heaven is our home, not this earth. Let us live like Christians bound for glory, not Christians bound by this earth.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"You grow in knowledge of God as you know him more and more as Lord, as King. First, he is the one who controls all things. You will grow in your knowledge of God as you see more and more things as under his control: the present, the future, your own life, your sin, your salvation . . . second, you come to know God as the one who speaks with such authority that you must obey--in every area of your life: your social life, your moral life, even your intellectual life. You will grow in your knowledge of God when you come to bring every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5)" (John Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, 75).
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