Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Here is a quote I came across in my reading for one of my classes that impacted my own heart as I preach and teach God's Word and often find myself (half) quoting Scriptures:

It is an . . . injustice to use the Word of God in a careless or deceitful manner. In all our efforts to establish doctrinal truth by quoting the Bible, we should quote it with exactness. They who would serve in the ministry of the Word should make it a point to store their minds with an exact knowledge of many important passages of Scripture, in order that they may be able, whenever occasion offers, to wield the sword of the Spirit carefully, skillfully, and with precision. It may be said that this requires a good memory, and this is undoubtedly true. Even the best may sometimes have difficulty on this score. If we are not sure of ourselves, it is best not to quote from memory, but to open the Bible to read what it says. Naturally, this requires a thorough acquaintance with the Bible and the ability to locate the necessary passages (Louis Berkhof, Textual Aid to Systematic Theology, 60).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The fight against sin produces godly character (Rom 5:3). So why would we want to eliminate something in our lives that can ultimately produce godliness and godly character. Why would we want it removed? Now of course, we don’t want to succumb to the temptation. We may struggle with this issue for the rest of your life—but keep pressing on. It will produce godly character. Be dependent upon Christ! Our goal is not victory in the sense of never worrying about it again. Our goal is Godly character and conformity to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).

—Dr. Street, Marriage and Family Counseling Class, Sept. 23, 2009.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some have said that theology is the "Queen of the Sciences." I think that it is better stated that it is the "King of the Sciences."

In one of my doctoral classes, a classmate said this:

Since science, according to Webster [he defined it above], is seeking to gain knowledge, understanding and systematizing of that knowledge, which is what theologians seek to do, and since many in the natural sciences hinder that investigation by their a priori assumptions, theology today is not only the queen of the sciences, it may be considered to be the only true science! Further, theology is the only science that can establish absolute truth because it is based on the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God.

Is this statement too radical to be true? I think not. I wholeheartedly agree!

Monday, September 21, 2009

In my reading this past week, I came across Louis Berkhof's three most important ingredients for a local church:

1. THE TRUE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD - This is the most important mark of the Church--John 8:31, 32, 47; 14:23; 1 John 4:1-3; II John 9. It means that its preaching must be true to the fundamentals and must have a controlling influence on faith and practice. Naturally, the Church that excels in its adherence to the Word of God is the best Church.

2. THE RIGHT ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS - The sacraments should never be divorced from the Word of God, as they are in the Church of Rome (=Roman Catholic Church). They should be administered by lawful ministers of the Word, in accordance with the divine institution, and only to believers and their seed (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:23-30).

3. THE FAITHFUL EXERCISE OF DISCIPLINE - The faithful exercise of discipline is quite essential for maintaining purity of doctrine and safeguarding the holiness of the sacraments. Churches that are lax in discipline soon find the light of the truth eclipsed, and that which is holy abused. The Word of God insists on proper discipline in the Church of Christ (Matt 18:18; 1 Cor 5:1-5, 13; 14:33, 40; Rev 2:14, 15, 20).

From Berkhof, Manual of Christian Doctrine, 286-87.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One of my most favorite themes to dwell on and pray about is the substitution of Jesus Christ in my place. He died for me. He suffered in my place. He took my sins upon Himself.

I was reminded of this again this morning in a prayer. Here's how it reads:

"Accept his worthiness for my unworthiness,
his sinlessness for my transgressions
his purity for my uncleanness,
his sincerity for my guile,
his truth for my deceits,
his meekness for my pride,
his constancy for my backslidings,
his love for my enmity,
his fullness for my emptiness,
his faithfulness for my treachery,
his obedience for my lawlessness,
his glory for my shame,
his devotedness for my waywardness,
his holy life for my unchaste ways,
his righteousness for my dead works,
his death for my life."
--Valley of Vision, 157

May we as believers never forget that God crushed His son for us (Isa 53:10). God gives us all of Christ's righteousness (=imputation) in exchange for our sin and defilement! What a glorious salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:21 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Savior’s Hard Demands for “Proving” Your Faith

John 8 describes one of the most public and yet one of the sternest scenes in the life of our ministry of our Lord in his contact with the Jewish leaders of the day. He spoke in John 8:12-29 about being the “Light of the World” (v.12) and how all will “die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (v.24). Obviously, John notes that “as He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him (v.30).

Jesus, the master teacher and preacher, gives a great lesson on responding to so-called “belief.” How would we respond when people claim to believe in Jesus? Isn’t it often the case that we’re so quick to affirm people’s salvation after they’ve prayed a prayer, raised a hand, walked an aisle, confessed to “know” Jesus, or whatever? Note the very next topic Jesus launches after many claim to believe in Him.

John 8:31-34 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free '?" 34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Many claimed to believe in Him (v.30), so he then preaches to “those who ‘believed’ in Him” saying: if you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine (v.31). Jesus continues later: the Jews who claimed to “believe” in Him are not understanding Jesus’ words because “they cannot hear [His] Word” (v.43). They who “believed” in Him are from their father—the devil. Jesus continues: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v.47). Again, Jesus is preaching to those who claimed to put their faith in Him!

Finally, his sermon led those who claimed to believe in Him to “pick up stones to throw at Him.” But wait—I thought that they believed in Him earlier in v.30? They said they believed in him; but theirs was a false faith; a temporal faith; a fake faith; a hypocritical faith! Let us “examine ourselves” (2 Cor 13:5) and make sure that we are not those who have the same faith as these Jews in John 8. Does your life show that you are continuing in God’s Word? Does your character and your speech and your actions show that you are truly disciples of Christ? Do the heart work. Search and find the truth. What does the fruit prove?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today is an atypical day for me. I left my house at 6:00am to try and beat the LA traffic because I had to go to the library at Talbot Seminary (=Biola University) to read two books for one of my PhD courses that the TMS library didn’t have.

After arriving here in great time, I was able to sit outside and read 1 Corinthians 12 in preparation for my sermon next Tuesday. Then when the library opened at 7:30, I got my visitor’s pass and darted upstairs to get my books before anyone else got them! I did get them (phew) and have been station in this little cubby for about five hours now.

I’m fascinated by looking at all of the students walking past the library on their way to class. I’ve seen some young people, some old people, some with their Bibles, most without their Bibles. I’ve seen guys in shorts, girls in athletic shorts. Most have been wearing flip flops (!!). Nearly 50% of those passing by have either been on the cell phone or texting. Not only that, here in the library, almost half of the student’s computers that I’ve passed are macs (I’m still not giving in!).

Regarding the two books I’ve read, the first was a book edited by DA Carson and Stan Porter on Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics. It’s one of the monographs that has a bunch of articles all discussing a minute—yet so important—aspect of biblical Greek, namely, verbal aspect. Does time play a factor in the Greek verb at all? Porter confidently says no. Fanning (an author of an article in the monograph) says mostly no though it can have some time aspect involved.

The other book I read was the marvelous dissertation by my professor and advisor, Rod Decker (Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect). That’s a long and complex title that simply refers to the study of the Gospel of Mark with reference to the Greek Verb. He asserts that the verb has no time factor inherent in it yet time is determined by context and other markers (deixis).

There you have it! That’s what I’ve been reading today. I must get back to my studies and then try to beat the traffic back home (so I’m not on the freeway for 2.5 hours!). Anyway, I figured this would be a good break for me to reflect on what I’ve seen while studying at a new place (which is nice every once in awhile).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here's a great quote from Dr. Street--from a course at TMS on marriage and family counseling:

Consider the family? It is tremendously important! Satan is opposed to the biblical concept of the family b/c of the important role that the family plays in the program of God. If we resist Satan—which includes, practically, having Godly families—then we will really glorify God. We can do this by shepherding our churches to know, understand, practice, and enjoy having Godly families!

John Calvin wrote:

“Whenever, therefore, our faith may be shaken by the confusion and disorder of human affairs, and when we are unable to explain the reasons of this disorder and confusion, let us remember that the judgments of God in the government of the world are with the highest propriety compared to a great depth which fills heaven and earth, that the consideration of its infinite greatness may ravish our minds with admiration, swallow up all our cares, and dispel all our sorrows” (Calvin’s Bible Commentaries: Psalms, Part II, 7).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here are two great quotes from my reading today. They’re both quoted in Carson, The Gagging of God:

Why do people choose the substitute over God himself? Probably the most important reason is that it obviates accountability to God. We can meet idols on our own terms because the are our own creations. They are safe, predictable, and controllable; they are, in Jeremiah’s colorful language, the “scarecrows in a cucumber field” (10:5). They are portable and completely under the user’s control. They offer nothing like the threat of a God who thunders from Sinai and whose providence in this world so often appears to us to be incomprehensible and dangerous … [People] need face only themselves. That is the appeal of idolatry (from David Wells, God in the Wasteland, 53).


Having imbibed a humanitarian and therapeutic gospel, ordinary German civilians “knew” that basically good human beings could not do such a thing. One of the great ironies of our century must be that in the era in which more “hell on earth” has occurred than ever before, doctrines such as sin, hell, and the wrath of God have lost their meaning in the church on an unprecedented scale (Harmon, “Correspondence,” ExpTim 105 [1994]: 247).

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